Re: So Many Links

1

Comedy is tough in how much it leaves practitioners of older styles just hanging out there exposed. Nobody complains how Meryl Streep doesn't make them cry anymore.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 6:13 AM
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Boy Crossfit people are insufferable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 6:24 AM
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I'd read the McCandles thing earlier. What a creepy way to die.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 6:28 AM
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We can't hire people, because we won't/can't raise wages. It's crazy. Last set of vacancies we advertised -- 3 or 4 posts -- we had less applicants than posts. We have work, which is funded, which we can't do, because we can't fill the positions.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 6:54 AM
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We have similar issues. Basically, the people setting the wages (or at least setting the range for the wages) are totally removed from the people getting the work done.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 6:56 AM
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re: 5

Yeah. We are also in the process of employing my trainee in a full-time post. I wrote her job description expecting the committee to grade it at grade N, and they came back with N-1. Which is crazy. Lots of existing staff on N are doing way way less responsible and difficult jobs, and N+1 wouldn't be wildly out of line for what she does.

I expect there's central pressure on to hold down 'grade inflation' within the wage hierarchy.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:10 AM
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Another reason to not get a tattoo.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:13 AM
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||

Ibrahim Jaafari's Wikipedia page is mildly hilarious, particularly the part about how he was forced out as Dawa party leader in favor of Maliki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibrahim_al-Jaafari
|>


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:14 AM
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The issue here isn't so much that they are fighting over the classification of the job, but that salaries across the board having really moved since the recession.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:15 AM
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I wrote her job description expecting the committee to grade it at grade N, and they came back with N-1. Which is crazy. Lots of existing staff on N are doing way way less responsible and difficult jobs, and N+1 wouldn't be wildly out of line for what she does.

I am getting promoted, and boy howdy are the job grades a mess. But I may still make out because some of the people I will supervise have been there forever, and my salary should get adjusted so that it's more than theirs.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:30 AM
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re: 9

Well, that's the issue here, too. In the sense that grade N salaries are way under the market rate for grade N jobs. So they either need to move the salaries up by 25% across the board [not going to happen] or allow us to advertise formerly N jobs as N+1 posts, so we can get people in.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:32 AM
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It gets confusing here because each grade comes with a salary band that is very wide. The published upper limit is about 225% of the lower limit. However, the actual upper limit without permission from somebody so high up I've never even met them them is the midpoint between the upper and lower limit. So you get a lot of people applying for jobs that actually won't pay anything like what the applicant was expecting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:37 AM
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13

Anyway, I've been at the highest grade possible for someone in my line since about two years after I started here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:40 AM
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I feel like there's a thing happening now -- along the lines of what happened with unfettered greed at the end of the '80s -- where middle management-y executive types have internalized the idea that holding down wages is a moral good. So they aren't just doing it because they hope that they can get away with it, but they realize believe very strongly that by keeping wages (and thus, indirectly, inflation) down they're actually helping society on some level. Preceding comment is deeply inchoate but anyhow thought I'd throw that out there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:40 AM
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Pretending there has been no increase in the local cost of living seems to be a deeply held belief on the part of local executive types.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:42 AM
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Ah, in our case, the difference between N.1 [bottom of grade] and N.7 [the usual top of grade] is about 25%. So even though we have a bit of discretion to recruit someone in at N.[>1], it doesn't solve the recruiting problem. N.7 [i.e. 25%] might just about get people in the door although it's very hard to recruit people in a top of grade, but really, I think we'd probably need to add more like 30-35%.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:42 AM
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I'm firmly in the camp that believes McCandless was an idiot who Darwined himself. The romanticization of a guy who took off with little preparation to test himself against the wild and failed just strikes me as profoundly stupid.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:42 AM
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I think 14 is right. It's sort of a paternalistic witholding-the-ipad-so-the-dears-learn-to-work-hard thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:44 AM
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re: 13

I got regraded. But it took a lot of hoop jumping and the fuckers kept moving the goalposts.

'You need to line manage at least one member of staff to be a P grade, regrade will be backdated to the date you start recruiting minions.'
'OK, we have advertised for minions for me.'
'Did we say one member of staff, we actually meant two.'
'OK, I now have a second person about to start working for me.'
'Did we say we'd backdate it? No, we mean, you'll get it once both people are fully in post.'

It took over a year, and was absurd.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:44 AM
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20

If I recall the book correctly, he'd actually been testing himself against the wild for a fairly long time and with reasonable success in other places.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:44 AM
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21

20 to 17.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:45 AM
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19 makes me feel bad because I don't have any more minions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:46 AM
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23

I haven't read the book, but I have a tendency to confuse this guy with Grizzly Man, in whom I found a compelling desire to punch. Not so exasperating that I regretted watching the show, but the kind of person who tugs at my inner bully.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:50 AM
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I have two, or maybe three. It varies. Two direct reports and one or two people who are line managed by someone else but report to me in terms of their actual day to day work. More are getting added at the moment to that list via the wonders of matrix management.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:50 AM
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I'm not even sure the person I technically report to would recognize me. The person I actually report to is in another state. This suits me very well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:55 AM
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20: I've only read the Outside magazine article, but I came away with the impression that he was a son of privilege who was grew up isolated from the consequences of his actions. I dealt with too many of that kind of person in college to have any sympathy.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:57 AM
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27

Although it does make it basically impossible for me to ask for a raise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 7:58 AM
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28

In that case, you may as well declare this your level of incompetence and comment freely here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:00 AM
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29

But I may still make out because some of the people I will supervise have been there forever, and my salary should get adjusted so that it's more than theirs.

Gee, that'd be nice. I'm a solid 20% behind two people I supervise. (Well, one. The other is out on leave and may not return.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:00 AM
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28: Well, yes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:02 AM
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31

That was my exact thought process a couple of years back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:03 AM
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32

It was maybe a bit more broad than "comment here". It was a general decision to find non-professional outlets for ambition.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:04 AM
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33

17: so did you read the article?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:06 AM
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non-professional outlets for ambition.

Great, now we have two commenters building killer robots.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:07 AM
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35

So the regular bar visits are part of a plan?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:08 AM
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I'm firmly in the camp that believes McCandless was an idiot who Darwined himself.

17, 33: The thing that's funny about Krakauer's oddly triumphant piece is that the heretofore unknown toxicity of those plants only obtains if you're already starving. So, yes, okay, if not for those peas he might not have starved to death but he was still starving.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:09 AM
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37

I think part of the problem is that wages really do seem to be sticky on the downside. So employers are reluctant to raise wages to meet an (apparent) temporary shortage of supply, because then they will be stuck with a wage scale that is too high if they overshoot. I know I was surprised after the last tech recession to find out from a friend who was a manager in the field that salaries basically hadn't changed at all for those who were still employed at a time when basically nobody was advertising vacancies, period. As someone who was out on my own making around 10% of what I had been previously, I would have happily taken a job at 70% of my former salary during that period as long as I wasn't putting myself at a permanent disadvantage. Lots of other good people were out of work then, too. But the system isn't set up to adjust that flexibly. Instead, you seem to get long periods of relative stability regardless of demand, followed by relatively sharp discontinuities.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:10 AM
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20: That's my impression from the book as well. His final act in Alaska was still stupid, but not quite as stupid as would be if, say, I went out and tried to live in the Alaskan wilderness tomorrow.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:10 AM
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33: Yes. He had some bad luck but he still put himself in a position where a small piece of bad luck was fatal, and he did it on a quest for nothing worthwhile.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:10 AM
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It seems to be toxic regardless, it's just especially bad if your calorie intake is low.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:11 AM
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36: I think he was deliberately trying to live life on the edge and taking risks that he didn't need to take, if that's what you mean. But plenty of men his age do that. Most of them around here seem to do it on public streets with absurdly powerful motorcycles. His way seems better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:12 AM
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41 to 39 also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:12 AM
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McCandless was an idiot who Darwined himself

I think the linked piece speaks directly to this. Obviously, he put himself in a dangerous situation, but if what killed him wasn't something easily foreseeable, but an extremely unlikely confluence of factors, including the fact that his book on edibles was straight-up wrong about what was poisonous, then he's more unlucky than dumb.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:12 AM
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Re: Robin Williams, the news of his death has me thinking back on some of his lesser known films. I have a soft spot for The Best of Times. Seize the Day is incredibly depressing and seems to be basically unknown.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:13 AM
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40: per my understanding of the article (and the wikipedia page on lathyrism) their won't be any toxic effects unless you're both in a severe calorie deficit and doing lots of physical labor; did you get a different impression than that, or do you just mean that it is toxic whether or not that toxicity is deleterious?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:17 AM
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If you think he's a rich kid isolated from consequences, it seems that...he would have agreed with you, and tried to live a different way. Alaska was, if I recall, after some months (years?) of already wandering and doing some pretty hard labor.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:17 AM
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47

The kayaking across the international border on the Colorado thing was, I admit, pretty rad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:18 AM
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I'm actually not super sympathetic to the guy. It bothered me that his family had no idea where he was or what he was doing. I'm just responding to the "obviously an idiot" charge.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:19 AM
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Worth noting that Krakauer's tests may not have been as conclusive as he thought.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:19 AM
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46: He worked in a grain elevator in South Dakota. If I recall the book correctly, the people he worked with and for there spoke highly of him. Even with the whole "speak well of the death" thing, I would think that meant he was capable of hard labor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:20 AM
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"the dead" not "the death".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:22 AM
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14 and 37 seem right. I don't know if managers think that the economy is bad, therefore everyone out of work should be willing to work for minimum wage, or what, but it seems like pay increases have become anti-American.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:26 AM
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14,37,52.

Can I collect consultants fees for the following words? "Bonus" "ninety-day hiring bonus"


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:37 AM
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No Mr. Bonus. I expect you to die.


Posted by: Opinionated Goldfinger | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:41 AM
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Alaska was, if I recall, after some months (years?) of already wandering and doing some pretty hard labor.

So I went looking for a song/monologue about running into a crazy German tourist in Alaska which I found (On this page scroll down to "This Machine Kills Fascists - 2001" and play "How I Ended Up In Wiseman, AK").

[At Gates Of The Arctic National Park]. Probabl as remote as I'd ever been or am likely to be. Been there about three hours and this German fellow comes walking out of the woods says, "Hi, my name is Roland" I say, "well, Roland, what's your story? What are you doing?" He says that he'd never been outside of Germany before in his life and he got it in his head to go up to Alaska. He flew over to Anchorage and hitchhiked the seven hundred miles, or whatever it is, up to this village called Wiseman Village, which I'd never heard of before. He spent a week there and got it in his head then that he was going to hike a hundred miles over the mountains, just bushwhack it, to a place called Anaktuvuk . . .

It's a good story, worth listening to.

But, while looking that up, I found this surprising story about that performer.

For Davidson, best known around these parts as a musician of some note, it's a striking life transition: After years as a nomadic bohemian -- living in the Alaskan wilderness, trading firewood for moose meat, hopping cargo ships to Europe -- he's finding himself at ritzy private dinners with Warren Buffett.

"I never thought I'd be doing this," he said with a soft chuckle. "These sorts of things are like, 'Wait, what am I doing here? I'm just some schmuck who lived under a bridge.' "

So the restless son has a new adventure: managing the legacy of a father whose shadow he spent most of his life trying to escape.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:47 AM
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Think of German tourists in the wilderness reminded me of this story. It was painful for me to read it, but I couldn't stop.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:49 AM
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55.last: so that's how you get those sweet hobo consultant gigs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 8:51 AM
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I think part of the problem is that wages really do seem to be sticky on the downside. So employers are reluctant to raise wages to meet an (apparent) temporary shortage of supply, because then they will be stuck with a wage scale that is too high if they overshoot.

The same management types who are concerned about the lack of downside wage flexibility are also concerned that inflation will kill us all. But if there was a comfortable inflation target, that would mean in slack times, real wages would go down, and there is your flexibility. Instead, we are stuck with a 2% inflation target that really means "better keep it way below 2%."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:26 AM
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45: I was going mostly by the "known to be toxic since Hippocrates"; also, looking at the wikipedia page I'm not sure where you're getting support there. The only related bit I can see (on skimming!) is the claim that you wouldn't be eating grass peas unless you didn't have anything else to eat, which may be true but doesn't indicate that if you had other things to eat and also for some reason ate grass peas you'd be fine.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:35 AM
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I (the manager/owner) am a rational market actor. They (the employees) are greedy and entitled.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:39 AM
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Having high inflation to force real wages down seems like an awfully imprecise tool. The wage increase decision is made at a sub-sector level, while inflation is across the board. Nevermind that it affects savings, too. And it doesn't look like it'd help in this situation--the truckers' real wages have gone significantly down, which is why they're having trouble increase or even maintaining employee levels.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:43 AM
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59: I was looking at the wikipedia page on Lathyrism which mentions famine and labor as a possible cause, and this section of the Krakauer piece:

[ODAP] affects different people, different sexes, and even different age groups in different ways. It even affects people within those age groups differently .... The one constant about ODAP poisoning, however, very simply put, is this: those who will be hit the hardest are always young men between the ages of 15 and 25 and who are essentially starving or ingesting very limited calories, who have been engaged in heavy physical activity, and who suffer trace-element shortages from meager, unvaried diets.

As well as this section:
According to Dr. Fernand Lambein, a Belgian scientist who coördinates the Cassava Cyanide Diseases and Neurolathyrism Network, occasional consumption of foodstuffs containing ODAP "as one component of an otherwise balanced diet, bears not any risk of toxicity." Lambein and other experts warn, however, that individuals suffering from malnutrition, stress, and acute hunger are especially sensitive to ODAP, and are thus highly susceptible to the incapacitating effects of lathyrism after ingesting the neurotoxin.

Also, the variety mentioned as having been known to be poisonous since the time of Hippocrates is a different variety than the kind McCandless is supposed to have ingested.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:44 AM
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I hope no one takes this very personally, but I should like to believe that we can do a little better than the "he was stupid/privileged/spoiled/a trust fund brat/etc." mélange that the Internet whips up for every dead white kid without pristine Jennifer-Lawrence-in-Winter's Bone Appalachian credentials. One can get that pretty much anywhere angry keyboards gather.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:48 AM
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The wikipedia article mentions famine as a possible cause only insofar as it says that people only eat grass peas during famines.

The Lambein quotation doesn't strike me as dispositive; it doesn't say that you can eat ODAP-containing foods in quantity (as McCandless was doing) and be fine if your caloric intake is high enough, for instance. There's a lot of daylight between "you can have this stuff occasionally if your diet is otherwise varied and sufficient" (even supplemented with "this is especially bad if you're already suffering from malnutrition") and "this is only toxic if you're already near-starving". If you think it's fine to eat and it's plentiful and so you eat lots of it, that's not "occasional consumption".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:52 AM
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63: Don't worry, Flippanter, we all consider your BOSS experiences to provide you with sufficient cred.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:53 AM
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There's a lot of daylight between "you can have this stuff occasionally if your diet is otherwise varied and sufficient" (even supplemented with "this is especially bad if you're already suffering from malnutrition") and "this is only toxic if you're already near-starving".

Fair enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:58 AM
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The wage increase decision is made at a sub-sector level, while inflation is across the board. Nevermind that it affects savings, too.

Being applied across the board is a feature... can't get more democratic than that. Salaries go down for burger flippers and upper-management alike. And those sub-sectors where wage cuts aren't needed can have their annual raise to keep up with the times.

And, yes, inflation does affect savings - if your savings is in cash - but more importantly it effects debt, and helps people who owe money not have to pay as much back.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:05 AM
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It sometimes feels like fear of inflation is really just part of a deep hatred of the late 70s, and a feeling that the era was ugly, stale, Carter, depressing, etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:10 AM
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I guess what I was thinking was that wage stickiness is probably an issue that varies greatly by sector. And likewise with wage increases; in high-inflation times, management in well-paid sectors is probably more willing to increase wages [citation needed]. The starting point of this discussion was a sector that, evenfacing inflation sufficient to lower real wages significantly (the average pay for truckers decreased by almost 10% in a decade) and insufficient workers, isn't willing to raise wages.

Savings in cash is not a property of the very rich, or even the regular rich, but is of the middle-class and lower (but not of the poor). So that's somewhat regressive. I guess I don't have a good sense of whom decreasing debts helps the most; so much debt is homeownership-related, and for the really nasty payday loans you'd need really outrageous inflation to make them tenable. High inflation would also mean correspondingly high interest rates, so you help people when the inflation rate raises but the market is going to adjust to that, and if you systematically do that (which you surely wouldn't) you get a hyperinflationary spiral.

So again, this doesn't seem like a good solution to me to just working around wage stickiness. (But I admittedly don't know as much of this as I'd like, and am mostly trolling for stronger arguments.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:17 AM
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So again, this doesn't seem like a good solution to me to just working around wage stickiness.

If you lived off the land in the Alaskan outback you wouldn't have to worry about wage stickiness.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:21 AM
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If I paid myself in grass peas, I probably wouldn't have to worry about much of anything.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:22 AM
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Hold on, inflation doesn't apply across the board either - CPI is an aggregate. Wasn't there some study recently showing it's effectively regressive - more for rent, childcare, etc. than for luxuries? And it affects you more the more of your money is in non-interest-bearing forms. Looking for the actual study, this seems to be a Cato talking point - obviously not to say that inflation is bad when adding pros and cons - but still, not equal impact across a company's hierarchy.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:26 AM
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72: on the other hand, inflation is good for people with debts (which get inflated away) and that's going to be the poor, primarily.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:29 AM
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True.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:30 AM
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When I said "across the board" I meant it affects all sectors (in terms of wages); I wasn't thinking so much in terms of buying power. But that is interesting; I didn't realize that necessities inflate more than luxury goods. That seems intuitively sensible but I don't have a good theory for why that might hold.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:30 AM
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I don't think it's a general rule that luxuries inflate more than necessities. I think it's a specific thing you see now because of increasing inequality and greater sucks-to-be-poor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:32 AM
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But I admittedly don't know as much of this as I'd like, and am mostly trolling for stronger arguments

Maybe a stronger argument is the general trade-off between the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation. You can keep people employed if you are willing to print money, and you can kill inflation if you are willing to drive the economy into recession, a la 1982.

Of course, juicing inflation to increase employment is a remedy that's been completely off the table since 2008, and we've had quite the slow-ass recovery to show for it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:35 AM
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So I had no idea what the distribution of debt/income ratio was, so I did some searching around and found this. Indulging voluntary temporary illiteracy and using only the pretty graphs at the end, to my surprise the debt/income ratio (in the US, varies a bit for other countries) for the bottom 95% is almost the same as the bottom 50%. I wish they had broke that out a bit more.

I guess people at the lower end of the income distribution probably have loans with greater leverage so they're probably paying higher interest, so even with all else being equal they're probably better served by higher interest. But if they have any savings, it's going to hurt them there--and that penalty is probably progressive at the lower end and then switches over to regressive somewhere in the middle income range.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:38 AM
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76: So...is that really caused by inflation, then? Isn't that just decreased demand for fancy toys?

77: I agree that there's a tradeoff there, and I'd be willing to accept a lot more inflation to increase employment (up to a point, of course). It just doesn't seem like it would handle this situation: if an individual trucking firm decides to increase wages (and hence prices) and overshoots, even though they know they can eventually depend upon inflation to decrease real wages, they may be in the short run uncompetitive with the firms that don't decide to do that. It seems like a collective action problem.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:43 AM
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But if they have any savings, it's going to hurt them there

Well, maybe. If there was inflation, there would be higher interest rates, and savings accounts might actually come with a decent return. I remember my first savings account in 1986 had a 5.25% interest rate. These days my "high interest savings account" gets 0.75%.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:44 AM
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79.1: In practice I don't see how you separate "inflation" from "increased demand for a basket of goods". I'm not much of a monetarist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:45 AM
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if an individual trucking firm decides to increase wages (and hence prices) and overshoots, even though they know they can eventually depend upon inflation to decrease real wages, they may be in the short run uncompetitive with the firms that don't decide to do that.

I think they are still probably in a better position than if they had tried to raise rates without being able to rely on inflation to eventually bail them out. So the inflation actually reduces their risk, which should make them more likely to give that raise in the first place.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:49 AM
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Wouldn't various episodes of inflation have equally various distributions across CPI components? I mean, there isn't one "inflation" that reoccurs to a greater or milder degree,there are just changes in many different prices that are abstracted into CPI.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:59 AM
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81: Yeah, maybe I'm taking too doctrinarian of a definition of an abstraction I don't really understand.

I also don't really know what the attraction of having a high return no-risk investment is when inflation is high, unless the difference in rates actually increases. Is that the case? That when there's higher inflation, the variance in savings accounts/CDs/etc. rates increases, guaranteeing that at least one out there is going to be actually awesome in real terms?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:04 AM
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I didn't realize that necessities inflate more than luxury goods.

To clarify, not necessarily. I don't think there's nearly as much inflation with, say, food or clothes.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:05 AM
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I don't think there's nearly as much inflation with, say, food or clothes.

In general or right now? Because right now food inflation seems second only to gasoline in what's going to impact people in terms of what they're buying.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:08 AM
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Because right now food inflation seems second only to gasoline in what's going to impact people in terms of what they're buying

Boy, this country is weird.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:09 AM
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Clothes seem to be getting cheaper, possibly because of all the fabric being saved by the shortening of the shorts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:11 AM
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What's so weird about that? Gasoline is a common input in the production of approximately everything, at most stages in the process.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:11 AM
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89: gasoline? Not oil, not petrochemicals, not diesel fuel, but gasoline per se?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:13 AM
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Food and gasoline prices are not considered in the "core" CPI index because they bounce around so much. For instance, right now global food prices are dropping because everyone was planning for an El Nino that doesn't seem to be panning out, so we are looking at having some major surpluses this fall. On the other hand, food prices will probably bounce up again when it turns out that not having an El Nino means California won't be getting any rain this winter either.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:13 AM
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Oh, hey, I was wrong about food. CPI-U by category, annualized growth, seasonally adjusted, January 2004 to January 2014:

All items: 2.6%
Food and beverages: 2.9%
Shelter: 2.4%
Fuels and utilities: 4.4%
Household furnishings and operations: -0.1%
Apparel: 0.7%
Transportation: 3.5%
Medical care: 3.9%
Recreation: 0.8%
Education and communication: 2.4%
Personal care: 2.1%
Tobacco and smoking products: 7.4%


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:14 AM
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89: I mainly meant fuel (and the point's even more true if in you include all petrochemicals), including diesel fuel, but fair enough, I should have clarified that. Aren't the prices of diesel and gasoline strongly correlated in well-off industrial nations?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:16 AM
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Oops, annualized wrong. Chop those percentages down by about a tenth.

Within those categories of food, not as much variation - cereals/bread/rice 2.9%, meat/fish/eggs 2.9%, fresh fruit/veg 2.2%, dairy 2.4%, sugar and sweets 2.6%, full service restaurants 2.7%, limited service restaurants 3.05%, alcoholic beverages at home 1.6%, alcoholic beverages away from home 3.3%.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:24 AM
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|| The list of fields medal winners leaked. First woman fields medalist, also first winners for each of Indian, Iranian, and Brazilian descent. |>


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 11:39 AM
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I didn't know there was a Brazilian mathematical tradition.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:01 PM
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Oh, there are infinite mathematical traditions, or could be, if you believe Godel.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:10 PM
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Some joke about bazillion/brazilian.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:16 PM
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WRT McCandless, it seems to me that this is the kind of incident that is very heavily class/race/gender marked. It's always white guys, and usually middle or UMC white guys, who are going off to test themselves against nature or whatever. Brings to mind the commentary of the local residents of the area they did the first "Survivor" series in Africa around -- "We've been surviving here our whole lives, could we have the million dollars?" As I said some years ago when we were talking about that guy on the wilderness survival trip who died of thirst, I think these guys are smart enough, they're just missing the point. Aboriginal lifestyles aren't about going off by yourself and half-starving (or fully starving, as the case may be) to death, they're about community, and technology, and culture and all the other things that our lives are about. Something tells me that, before you go out fasting for three days on your vision quest, your aunt makes sure you have some good rich soup in you.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:19 PM
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98: Too hip for the room, I guess.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:20 PM
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Lambein sounds like a pill sheep take instead of counting each other.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:24 PM
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||
I've got a friend, working actress and model, who is moving out to LA in a few weeks to live the dream. She's still looking for a place -- anyone have any lines on relatively cheap accommodations? She's got money saved up, and works hard, and has some LA connections already.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:24 PM
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97: By a diagonal argument, there are uncountably many mathematical traditions.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:33 PM
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99: I don't think the white guys are trying to replicate an aboriginal lifestyle. They want to "live off the grid" in the sense of not having a support network. A traditional community is still a grid, in a way. There are occasionally folks from the dominant culture--who are admittedly probably mostly white males--who go to live in, say, native villages in Alaska off the road network, right? That doesn't seem like the same thing.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 12:42 PM
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No, that's my point -- they want to get in touch with some imagined essence of aboriginality, but without making the commitment to actually live in a community or engage with all the messy business of working with people or hearing about things that challenge their worldview.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:08 PM
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Can I collect consultants fees for the following words? "Bonus" "ninety-day hiring bonus"

You're about six years too late with that. The driver shortage was already acute before the Great Recession, and was temporarily masked by it. Back in the middle of the aughts, all the big truckload carriers started poaching drivers with signing bonuses, on the theory that you only have to pay them once, and it doesn't ratchet up your cost structure. Naturally, drivers started bouncing around between jobs just as soon as they had stayed the minimum period: driver turnover in the industry reached ~125% annually! (And that's after accounting for the drivers in more stable jobs: union positions, dedicated fleets, and short haul routes.)

My company did a modestly successful project to help a company with driver retention. One of the things we quickly figured out: don't treat the drivers like shit and they'll stay longer. That bulletproof plexiglass screen that separates the driver from the dispatcher? Take the damned thing down, you're making the poor guys feel like criminals (which, to be fair, some of them used to be, but let's not dwell on bygones). Cokes available in the break room for the admin staff, but not for the drivers? WTF? Put a fucking refrigerator full of Cokes in the driver waiting area and tell them to take one for the road, too. And replace that moldy carpet while you're at it. They managed to materially extend their average driver tenure for a trivial amount of additional money.


Posted by: Presidential, but who am I kidding, really? | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:12 PM
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||
NSFW, duh: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118273/my-buddy-photos-world-war-ii-soldiers-bonding-naked

Did these bros ice each other?
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:22 PM
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They managed to materially extend their average driver tenure for a trivial amount of additional money.

No everybody likes to drive after taking enough drugs that time becomes tangible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:26 PM
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I had assumed that it isn't an imagined essence of aboriginality, but something else entirely (which is why I was making the distinction from those who try to integrate into aboriginal communities). Maybe I'm being too generous, but I think you can invoke the tropes (and they are tropes) of "holding out entirely on your own against the wilderness" or "becoming closer to nature" without seeing it as a return to a native or primitive form, or a stereotype thereof. I think those are orthogonal. But they're probably often related. (As is pretty obvious, I do not generally associate with such people.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:27 PM
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Time is already tangible, Moby. We feel time whenever we trace our hands over the grain of wood, or feel the prick of stubble or the smoothness of long hair on our fingers. What do we grasp when we take a stack of unread magazines out to be tossed but time itself, mingled with failure?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:32 PM
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but without making the commitment to actually live in a community

Well, part of the desire is to get the fuck away from other people, which is rather the opposite of "living in a community."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:40 PM
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...a stack of unread magazines out to be tossed but time itself, mingled with failure?

You mean Newsweek?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:43 PM
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That was me. I blame Tina Brown.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:44 PM
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I don't remember Into the Wild that well - I read it 15 years ago and haven't read any follow-ups including this one, or watched the movie - but McCandless actually didn't seem like the person people rip him for being, but also his decision to go alone seemed pointless and tragic because whatever it was he appeared to be finding out - I think he had a journal - didn't really seem to justify the whole venture. Like he'd gone all that way just to get a bit older and come to conclusions about himself and the world that many people come to just as a part of ordinary life. But maybe I'd read it differently now.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:55 PM
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109 and 111: agree.

I've known a few guys like that, and they are mostly pretty anti-social and into a fantasy of independence. None were as far along the scale as Chris McCandless though.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 1:57 PM
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105: Wanting solitude is racist! Let's go get those eremitic bastards! I gotcher vow of silence right here, Thomas Merton!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 2:21 PM
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Oh, I have unironically beaten myself up a la 116 before. Possibly earlier today.

IT seemed like McCandless was so thoroughly punished for his hubris that the posthumous pile-on was a lot more about Jon Krakauer and the entertainment industry than it was about any sins he'd really committed. I don't remember if anyone died trying to find him, though.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 2:26 PM
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Nobody even knew he was gone. From my recollections of the book, I mostly felt sorry for his parents (who hadn't any idea where he was) and the last person who dropped him off when he hitchhiked up there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 2:29 PM
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And him, because of the whole starving/sitting paralyzed/death thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 2:31 PM
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Regarding McCandles, has anyone mentioned Thoreau? Because someone should.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 2:44 PM
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Not much of a connection there -- living in a shack in the woods a mile or two from town and going home to your mother's for dinner every week or so is, while a clearly a valuable literary exercise, not all that tightly connected to the kind of wilderness survival McCandless was doing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 3:19 PM
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What about Farley living in a van down by the river? Any connection there?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 3:39 PM
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117.last is right. I don't begrudge McCandless his right to do something stupid that got him killed, in fact I stand firmly in favor of letting people do exactly that. It's the romanticization of foolhardiness that sticks in my craw. He wasn't a hero. He was a fool. A sad tragic fool.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 4:42 PM
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There's a fine line between hero and fool, Togolosh.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 4:55 PM
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||

NMM to Lauren Bacall

|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 5:12 PM
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Not so fine, Rob. Not so fine at all.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 5:31 PM
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125: Oh, what a shame. She lived a good long time, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 5:38 PM
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And was apparently a first cousin of Shimon Peres.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 5:39 PM
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I don't think the white guys are trying to replicate an aboriginal lifestyle. They want to "live off the grid" in the sense of not having a support network.

Not needing a support network is, it seems to me, what the persona of `white guy' is (persona, not any necessary state of being of men of mostly European ancestry). It's what the libertarians are so desperate to fake.

tl;dr Patriarchy hurts men too.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 5:44 PM
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117 and 123 and 124

I support the right of people to be fools, but I don't support the people who decide to take them too seriously.

125

"Just put your lips together and blow." (In "To Have and Have Not".)

Was you ever bit by a bee?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 5:46 PM
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I haven't read the book or any of the follow-up articles, but I can say that togolosh's reaction to McCandless is widely shared among Alaskans. This from 117 is definitely right, though:

IT seemed like McCandless was so thoroughly punished for his hubris that the posthumous pile-on was a lot more about Jon Krakauer and the entertainment industry than it was about any sins he'd really committed.

Veteran Alaska journalist Craig Medred has had a long-running dispute with Krakauer over the details of McCandless's death, and he wasn't convinced by Krakauer's evidence in his latest article (the one ogged linked) either.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:40 PM
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Not much of a connection there -- living in a shack in the woods a mile or two from town and going home to your mother's for dinner every week or so is, while a clearly a valuable literary exercise, not all that tightly connected to the kind of wilderness survival McCandless was doing.

Well, by Alaska standards McCandless wasn't all that far from town either.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:44 PM
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Admittedly, I have not actually read the book, just the Wiki and that huge debunking article that was posted before here. So maybe I have McCandless's particular motivations all wrong. Certainly the donating-his-college-fund-to-Oxfam thing is a point in his favor. But I think there is something peculiar to white guys, and white guys in the US specifically, about this fantasy of "survival" as being, at its core, about going off, by yourself, enduring environmental hardships, and "triumphing". What's everybody else doing every day? I'm as sick of the quotidian realities of life in a postindustrial oligarchy as the next subscriber to Soldier of Fortune magazine, but there's this ideology that you see in these guys like McCandless or fellows who pay five grand to get half starved to death, that isn't just about smelling the fresh air and not checking your smartphone. Some of them mix it up with overt misconceptions about aboriginal life, and some of them misread Thoreau, and some of them get their ideas from other sources, but it seems like they all have a skewed vision of what "survival" should mean, that leads to the same place.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:46 PM
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There are occasionally folks from the dominant culture--who are admittedly probably mostly white males--who go to live in, say, native villages in Alaska off the road network, right?

Yep. I know several of them. Usually they're there because they marry Native women, but there are occasional cases of people making an effort to get away from society in a manner similar to what I understand McCandless was doing. Even they tend to maintain more connections to local communities than McCandless-types do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:47 PM
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The general issue is very interesting. I'm not sure I'm totally convinced by Natilo's argument that these guys are trying to reach some misunderstood version of aboriginal life, but it certainly seems plausible at least for some. In the context of Alaska specifically, it's striking how different the lifestyle is between white people who move here to get "off the grid" (but usually not off, or at least far from, the road system) and Natives living villages far from any road. The former often live in dry cabins either without electricity or with their own generators (increasingly supplemented with solar/battery systems), while the latter all have electricity and most have piped water too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 9:56 PM
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about this fantasy of "survival" as being, at its core, about going off, by yourself, enduring environmental hardships, and "triumphing".

I don't think that was what he was doing. Unless I remember it all wrong, he'd been moving from social setting to social setting for a while, then decided to be alone more in hermit/monk traditions than in Man vs. Wild Discovery Channel traditions.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:20 PM
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As a kid I read Hatchet a fantasy of this sorts that was l, as far as I can recall and despite the title, divorced from any overromanticism of Native Americans. Silly, maybe, but I just spent an hour playing a game where you build a space program for little green muppet people, so who am I to judge?

And yay for late night teo knowledge drops!

On white males marrying into native villages, there was a great blog from way back written by an Anglo from Montreal who married into an Inuit village in far northern Nunavik. Very good read. Wish I remembered what it was called. If definitely sounded like they had most of the modern conveniences, although they'd be expensive, in short supply, and on back order (rare supply ships would come in the summer months).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:31 PM
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I have known two people who spent seasons alone in fire-towers, places where they were off the road grid, and they were odd to start with and got odder. One of them became a superb lutenist at the same time, if I understand correctly.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:35 PM
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If definitely sounded like they had most of the modern conveniences, although they'd be expensive, in short supply, and on back order (rare supply ships would come in the summer months).

This is definitely the case in Alaska, at least, although I understand Canada is a bit different. Typically there's at least one barge per open-water season, with fewer as you get further north. If you absolutely need something in the winter (in my world this is usually fuel) you can fly it in, but at much higher cost. "Winter" in this context generally means approximately September or October to May or June, again depending on exactly how far north you are.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:36 PM
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I do remember thinking that Krakauer was describing McCandless' "quest" (or whatever he was doing) as having a lot more depth than it actually seemed to have (once I got to the end), and I think that's part of why I never went back to look at the book again. If I still have a copy, I might read it again. I'm toying with the idea of doing a multi-year, probably at least a decade or more, project of reading every book I packed away during the last 10 years as I take them out of their boxes and donate, sell, or recycle them.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:38 PM
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Then again, I also really enjoyed Island of the Blue Dolphins, so maybe I've drunk so deeply from this misunderstood Native American survivalism well that I can't even recognize it in myself. (To be fair, that book makes clear that the Native American protagonist's survivalist situation is not the norm and in fact due to colonialist meddling.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:39 PM
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And yay for late night teo knowledge drops!

Thanks, I really appreciate that. "Late night" is funny for me, though; it's only 9:40 here, and the sun is still up.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:41 PM
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141: I've never read Island of the Blue Dolphins, but I think it's generally pretty well-received among people who have expertise on the culture involved. Anyway, romanticizing Native Americans is so deeply ingrained in white American culture that I'm not sure there's any point in trying to eradicate it entirely. Recognizing it when it appears is probably good enough.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:44 PM
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This is the problem with being around smart people. I'm tempted to troll to get them to say knowledgeable things about which I'm too ignorant to even know what questions to ask. So: expect many more references to Alaska to work into my arguments inappropriately.

The sun has been down here for...almost five and a half hours. Hrm.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:46 PM
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expect many more references to Alaska to work into my arguments inappropriately.

No problem; I'll gladly weigh in on any inaccuracies or even just interesting points.

The sun has been down here for...almost five and a half hours. Hrm.

Check back in January and you'll feel quite fortunate.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-14 10:59 PM
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But I think there is something peculiar to white guys, and white guys in the US specifically, about this fantasy of "survival" as being, at its core, about going off, by yourself, enduring environmental hardships, and "triumphing".

I know several guys who are neither white nor in the US who are massively into the solo-survival thing. Speaking as a member of an aboriginal culture myself, you need to get some more diverse friends, Natilo.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:28 AM
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I don't know if Scots really count as aboriginal. How much Pictish do you speak?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:36 AM
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Because who can resist an m-fun reference?

"Most effective German allies were probably the Finns, who held off the Soviets for quite a while and eventually persuaded them to go in the other direction. (Through a great deal of collective loss-of-self/transcendence, rather than good food and conversation, I imagine, though 'fun' is not the word that immediately springs to mind.)"

http://www.unfogged.com/archives/comments_5622.html#424735


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:41 AM
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I don't know if Scots really count as aboriginal

Well, we've been in Scotland about twice as long as the Maoris have been in New Zealand...

How much Pictish do you speak?

None, of course. The Picts are completely different from the Scots!
In 1200, "the Scots (originally Irish but by now Scotch) were at this time inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and verce visa)."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:53 AM
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Doug! (Wow, it's been a long time since I read Fistful of Euros with anything approaching regularity.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:53 AM
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The Picts are completely different from the Scots!

Right, in that the former are at least colorably aboriginal whereas the latter are not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:55 AM
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the former are at least colorably aboriginal whereas the latter are not.

Depends on your definition of when the origin is. No one's truly aboriginal except the Kenyans. The Scots have been in Scotland longer than the Polynesians have been in Polynesia (including NZ, as I mentioned); longer than the Caribs have been in the Caribbean; longer than the Bantu have been in South Africa; before the Anasazi started building their cities.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:03 AM
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I will grant that the Picts were definitely colorable - hence the name - while the Scots weren't.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:03 AM
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Comity!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:04 AM
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"The Picts, or painted men (e.g. The Black Watch, the Red Comyn, and Douglases of all colours.)" - 1066 and All That again


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:07 AM
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No one's truly aboriginal except the Kenyans.

Not even them, really, which is sort of my point. The exact chronology of the expansion of the Bantu languages is still a matter of dispute, but it was definitely many thousands of years after the initial expansion of Anatomically Modern Humans out of Africa.

The Scots have been in Scotland longer than the Polynesians have been in Polynesia (including NZ, as I mentioned)

Again, the exact chronology of the expansion of the Polynesians is disputed, but yes, it's at least probable that the Scots were in Scotland before the Maori were in New Zealand, making them not quite the absolute last people in the world to inhabit their traditional territory before industrialization. Congratulations.

longer than the Caribs have been in the Caribbean; longer than the Bantu have been in South Africa

Again, the exact chronology of these migrations is disputed, but I'm not going to dispute it here.

before the Anasazi started building their cities.

This, though, is totally wrong. Interpreting Anasazi settlements as "cities" is controversial in itself, although I think it's justified at least for Chaco. However, looking at Anasazi culture overall, and the cultural sequence that leads to Chaco and Mesa Verde, there isn't much dispute at this time that there's a substantial amount of continuity since the Basketmaker II period, which extends back well into the BC era.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:19 AM
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I don't think anyone really believes that the Scots displaced the Picts. The numbers involved in the settling of Dal Riata would have been small, if it was a settlement at all. Some historians think that a long-standing culture existed spanning the Irish sea between south west Scotland and the northern part of Ireland. So the 'Scots' as a people distinct from the Britons and Picts were just as 'native' to the land.

I think increasingly the view for England is that the waves of immigration from Europe in the period immediately after the Roman withdrawal led to a replacement of the local elites, and massive cultural changes, but the genetic origins of most of the English population remained indigenous. In the 'arrived sometime between the Ice Age ending, and beginning of written history' sense of indigenous. The situation in Scotland is likely to be similar.

To the extent that you can describe anyone as indigenous, the people who live in Scotland and aren't descended from recent immigrants, are indigenous. Much as is the case in other parts of Europe. I'm not sure what really hinges on that, though. It's not like we still [largely] speak the same languages* that were spoken 1000 years or more ago, or share much that would be recognisable culturally.

* I don't think anyone even really knows what language the Picts spoke. The assumption is that it was a P-Celtic language of some form, but the evidence isn't decisive.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:19 AM
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The 'Dal Riatic' Scots arrived [if they arrived] sometime around the 4-5th century. But, even if they did arrive [rather than already being there] the numbers would be small. Scotland wasn't empty when/if they arrived, and the people who were already there didn't all die or disappear.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:28 AM
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Thanks ttaM - yes, the quotes from 1066 and All That were a hint that I wasn't arguing entirely seriously...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:28 AM
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On a related subject, IIRC they sequenced the DNA of a Mesolithic skeleton found in Cheshire and found that the teacher in the local school was a relation.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:30 AM
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I don't have any objection to anything in 157. My point, to the extent that I have one, is just that the people who currently inhabit Scotland have little if anything in common with the people who initially colonized it 50,000 years ago (or whatever) from Africa, much as the people who currently inhabit North America have little if anything in common with the people who initially colonized it 20,000 years ago (or whatever) from Siberia.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:32 AM
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On a related subject, IIRC they sequenced the DNA of a Mesolithic skeleton found in Cheshire and found that the teacher in the local school was a relation.

And how well could they have conversed with each other?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:36 AM
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re: 161

Well, if you believe some of the genetics research, the people who live in the British Isles are, substantially, exactly the same people [in the genetic sense] being descended directly from the people who colonised the islands when the ice went away. That's not quite the same as the situation in North America. But yes, culturally, entirely different. Successive waves of elite replacement, acculturation, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:38 AM
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re: 162

Probably about as well as any modern person from an indigenous background could speak to someone from multiple thousands of years ago. i.e. not at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:39 AM
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161: The people who initially colonised Britain weren't even human. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_heidelbergensis


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:40 AM
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162: well, people from Cheshire aren't very good conversationalists.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:41 AM
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Further to 164, my instinctive guess would be that non-written languages would change much faster than written ones over time, so while I might be able to have a comprehensible conversation with someone from the time of James IV, a modern Navajo wouldn't have a clue what a pre-Columbian Navajo was talking about. But I'd be interested to hear if that's actually the case.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:44 AM
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164: Well, yes, and through some astonishing quirk pf history a very large portion of the people currently inhabiting North America also have DNA astonishingly similar to that that of prehistoric Britons. If only there were some way to interpret this striking parallel.

164: Yes, exactly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:45 AM
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168.1: so, wait, you're arguing that the British don't count as aboriginal in Britain because they aren't aboriginal in North America? Or... actually I am confused about what you are arguing.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:49 AM
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re: 167

As someone who's studied Old English, Middle English, and various forms of older Scots, I'm pretty sure that I could get by just fine with someone from the time of James IV. In fact, I'd be surprised if you couldn't read a text from that period as it's that different from modern Scots English.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Scots#Sample_text

The orthography makes it look more alien than it really is.

Early Scots probably not much more difficult:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Scots#Sample_text


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:50 AM
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Not that different, I mean.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:50 AM
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If the argument is that there's no such thing as an aboriginal culture, then fair enough, I agree. Pretty much no one in the world lives in a way that is substantially similar to the way their ancestors lived 1000 or even 500 years ago, let alone in the way that the first people to settle their territory lived.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:54 AM
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Further to 164, my instinctive guess would be that non-written languages would change much faster than written ones over time, so while I might be able to have a comprehensible conversation with someone from the time of James IV, a modern Navajo wouldn't have a clue what a pre-Columbian Navajo was talking about. But I'd be interested to hear if that's actually the case.

When it comes to Athabascan languages specifically, I think most evidence suggests that this isn't actually true. The Athabascan languages in general are renowned for their conservatism, which is one reason the Athabascan family was easier to identify than many others. So it's clearly not the case that non-written languages as a rule change more rapidly than written ones.

That said, it's not clear where the intelligibility boundary actually lies with unwritten languages in general. Again, some work has been done on this with the Athabascan languages specifically, but without many results so far.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:56 AM
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173: interesting, thanks. This is based on divergence within the family over a known period?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:58 AM
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174: Not a known period, exactly, since it's not actually possible to derive specific calendar dates from linguistic divergences (despite what Morris Swadesh said 70 or so years ago). The general consensus these days is that these sorts of divergences need to be calibrated by what's known from independent, mostly archaeological, evidence, which isn't necessarily well-calibrated itself.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:06 AM
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It's very clear in a qualitative sense, however, that the Athabascan languages within Alaska are much more diverse than those outside Alaska, which implies that the protolanguage was spoken in Alaska or very close to it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:09 AM
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Which, given the wide distribution of the family today, implies a relatively recent series of migrations of groups speaking languages descended from the original protolanguage.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:11 AM
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172: Yeah, that's more or less what I'm arguing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:16 AM
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But I'm also arguing in part that modern British citizens/subjects should feel some responsibility for the expropriation of Native populations in North America. We pulled the triggers, but you gave us the guns, and a substantial portion of the profits that followed went to you rather than us. And the Scots shared in that, not to the same extent as the English necessarily, but enough that it's worth bringing up.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:29 AM
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And the Scots shared in that, not to the same extent as the English necessarily, but enough that it's worth bringing up.

I think it would be extremely dubious indeed for Scots to claim less responsibility. Possibly the smaller partner in the union, and all that, but active participants* in colonisation and Empire.

* not always entirely willingly, viz the 'Clearances', but often, pretty damned enthusiastically.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:40 AM
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The second link in 170 is difficult mainly because it's full of technical language about mediaeval tenure. Is the 1581 thing really middle Scots? South of the border 16th century English is generally regarded as early modern.

I'm inclined to believe Teo's assertion that unwritten languages tend to be conservative. An Arcadian Greek of the 4th century bce, whose dialect was rarely written down except for the odd inscription, could probably interact with a bronze age ancestor who wrote, if anything, Linear B. Whereas I doubt if I could understand my 13th century ancestors at all.

Or try this bit of Yola, again rarely written down, from the 19th century:

MAI'T BE PLESANT TO TH'ECCELLENCIE, - Wee, Vassalès o' 'His Most Gracious majesty', Wilyame ee Vourthe, an, az wee verilie chote, na coshe and loyale dwellerès na Baronie Forthe, crave na dicke luckie acte t'uck neicher th' Eccellencie, an na plaine grabe o' oure yola talke, wi vengem o' core t'gie ours zense o' y gradès whilke be ee-dighte wi yer name; and whilke we canna zei, albeit o' 'Governere', 'Statesman', an alike. Yn ercha and aul o' while yt beeth wi gleezom o' core th' oure eyen dwytheth apan ye Vigere o'dicke Zouvereine, Wilyame ee Vourthe, unnere fose fatherlie zwae oure diaez be ee-spant, az avare ye trad dicke londe yer name waz ee-kent var ee vriene o' livertie, an He fo brake ye neckares o' zlaves. Mang ourzels - var wee dwytheth an Irelonde az ure genreale haim - y'ast, bie ractzom o'honde, ee-delt t'ouz ye laas ee-mate var ercha vassale, ne'er dwythen na dicke waie nar dicka. Wee dwyth ye ane fose dais be gien var ee guidevare o'ye londe ye zwae, - t'avance pace an livertie, an, wi'oute vlynch, ee garde o' generale reights an poplare vartue. Ye pace - yea, we mai zei, ye vast pace whilke bee ee-stent owr ye londe zince th'ast ee-cam, proo'th, y'at wee alane needeth ye giftes o'generale rights, az be displayth bie ee factes o'thie goveremente. Ye state na dicke daie o'ye londe, na whilke be nar fash nar moile, albeit 'constitutional agitation', ye wake o'hopes ee-blighte, stampe na yer zwae be rare an lightzom. Yer name var zetch avancet avare ye, e'en a dicke var hye, arent whilke ye brine o'zea an dye craggès o'noghanes cazed nae balke. Na oure gladès ana whilke we dellt wi' mattoke, an zing t'oure caulès wi plou, wee hert ee zough o'ye colure o' pace na name o' Mulgrave. Wi Irishmen ower generale houpes be ee-boud - az Irishmen, an az dwellerès na cosh an loyale o' Baronie Forthe, w'oul daie an ercha daie, our meines an oure gurles, praie var long an happie zins, shorne o'lournagh an ee-vilt wi benisons, an yersel and oure gude Zovereine, till ee zin o'oure daies be var aye be ee-go to'glade.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:41 AM
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re: 181

Yeah, middle Scots runs quite late. Almost up to the Union. Partly, I think, because Scots only diverges from middle English fairly late. So early Scots and middle English from the north east of England, are basically the same. Then the middle Scots period is more distinctly Scots in vocabulary and grammar.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:49 AM
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Yeah, if we're just plausible hypotheses, I could see an argument that a written language, and especially English, would be more susceptible to change, as it's easier to import and spread foreign influences. Old English, which was technically written but without a widely literate population, has relatively few Latin loan words, for instance, and those there are heavily concentrated around ecclesiastical matters. The French influence on Middle English and the second wave of Latin influence on (early) modern English is much more widespread, arguably because increasingly wider sections of society were literate.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:50 AM
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While we're on the subject of linguistics, the latest Language Log post is fascinating, and to me at least, very surprising. I would not have expected any geographical difference at all.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:54 AM
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181.2: then again, I think I'd have a better chance of understanding someone from 1500 than he would have of understanding someone from 1000. And the language has been much more written since 1500 than in the 1000-1500 period. Plus IIRC there are all sorts of examples of a written culture serving as an anchor to slow language change; like the Koran in Arabic, say. As I say, though, I'd be interested to hear from someone who knows whether there's a general rule.

I'm not quite sure why teo feels the need to suddenly throw in an accusation of complicity in genocide in 179, but I assume it's because he's sore about being shown to be wrong over the history of the settlement of Scotland.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:55 AM
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185 written before seeing 183, which also sounds plausible, I suppose. You mean that if you're using a written language then you can get exposed to a much (geographically) wider set of influences than if you're just communicating with people face to face?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:58 AM
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184 Fascinating indeed.

I was born in "um" territory and moved to "uh" territory as an adult. I still "um," at least in speech, as I don't tweet.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 4:56 AM
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I'm confused by teo's point as well. I've come up with a couple of possibilities, but I'm not terribly sure which he meant, or if they're all wrong:

1) "Aboriginal" is an incoherent concept, and doesn't apply to the Scots or to anyone else, like the Navajo. No one is aboriginal. (Overall, I don't think this is what he was arguing, but 172 supports this.)

2) "Aboriginal" is defined in a "I know it when I see it" sense, and a significant element is whether the 'aboriginal' people can be described as colonizers or colonized. The Scots, in general, are colonizers, so are not aboriginal anywhere, while the Navajo are colonized, so they are an aboriginal people.

3) "Aboriginal" is defined as "having not only genetic but strong cultural continuity with the first human beings to ever live in a region". By this definition, I think Native Americans (some rather than all, I suppose, but I'm not sure which), Polynesians, and Australian aborigines are aboriginal, but no one else is -- Europeans, Asians, and Africans are all disqualified because there was pre-modern history in which people of one culture moved into areas occupied by people of another culture. Scots are not aboriginal because their culture isn't a direct descendant of Pictish culture, whereas Navajo are because their culture is a direct descendant of people who moved into an area previously unoccupied by humans (I don't actually know if this is true).

Teo, are any of these close?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:46 AM
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3. And the Basques, Berbers...

Arabic shows strong conservatism that predates the Qur'an. In its classical form it retains more features of proto-Semitic than Biblical Hebrew and examples of Arabic epigraphy dating back as far as (IIRC) 4th or 5th century BCE though extremely rare* are intelligible as Arabic even though the script is certainly not Arabic.

*There are far more examples in the 4 or 5 centuries preceding Islam.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:56 AM
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Scots are not aboriginal because their culture isn't a direct descendant of Pictish culture

With the additional caveat [along with the other factual issues already raised above] that 'Pictish' culture, to the extent that we really know anything abut it at all, probably never covered all of what's now geographical/political Scotland.

E.g. the area where I'm [and ajay is] from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Votadini

Not Picts.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:57 AM
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Can we ever really say that a person is descended from another?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:59 AM
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re: 191

In what sense can we not? It's standard usage, no?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:06 AM
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Aren't we really saying that some people are subordinate, temporally?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:08 AM
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No. [Short answers, etc.]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:10 AM
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I just don't like the idea of ranking people.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:12 AM
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That's not what it means in this context. As I'm sure you know. I'm assuming you are trolling here? As per the other thread the other day.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:13 AM
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Birthday order just isn't as clear cut as mental illness.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:16 AM
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190: actually I think my lot were from the territory of the Epidii. The move to Heroinopolis happened quite recently.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:28 AM
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197: Does anybody really know what time it is?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:31 AM
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That's so funny, I was walking down the street one day, and a man came up to me and asked me in a really awkward, convoluted way, a similar question.

Clocks keep us in a box, man.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:34 AM
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re: 198

I don't even know where my lot were from. Probably somewhere in the region that became Dal Riata [Ayrshire / Lanarkshire / Ulster] but there's almost certainly a mix from both sides of the Irish sea. I'm not, on the whole, that fussed about genealogy [although I have a relative on my Mum's side who did that side of the family] once it gets back past immediate ancestors. I've no reason to doubt that the basic roots of the family are in Ulster and the south and west of Scotland, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:34 AM
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201: I had a slightly odd relative who traced the family back to Uther Pendragon but frankly I doubt the soundness of his methodology.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:39 AM
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If you really ant to be pedantic about it, the term "aboriginal" isn't useful, because it's conceptually derived from pre-evolutionary ideas, notably that the original races of humanity were created in different locations (and that superficial differences between them reflect that they were created with suitable attributes to those locations.) Nobody believes that any more, except possibly the Southern Baptists.

If you use "aboriginal" simply to designate the first population to occupy a particular territory, then you are basically looking at native Americans, Australians, Polynesians and to stretch a point Khoisan peoples in southern Africa (Evidence suggests that Khoisan peoples have lived in southern Africa for an amazingly long time, but which peoples, and how they were related to modern Khoisan peoples is another question.) In those cases you're talking about entire continents in which peoples have moved around and interbred and ethic groups split and fused for tens of thousands of years, so it's not a very useful concept. Eurasia and most of Africa are far too mongrelised to identify "aboriginals".

tl;dr. The only true aboriginals on earth are in the remoter parts of Polynesia and the Andaman Islands.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:40 AM
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I don't really get the concept of "indigenous" being used, either. The Scots are maybe the only people in the world that have a legit claim to being top-tier colonized and colonizers, at roughly the same time.

Also I feel like Highland and Lowland culture is different enough (including linguistically) that this should somehow be worth mentioning here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:43 AM
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202. Not this lad?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:52 AM
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188: The kingdom under the MacAlpins was syncretic; there definitely remained at a minimum a Pictish substratum. Scottish Gaelic has many Brythonic-ish features that Irish Gaelic doesn't have, because of that as well as continued contact with Cumbrians in Strathclyde/Cumberland (for a while, anyway). And ttaM's point about Pictish control is correct; I don't really know what the western seaboard looked like before my namesake moved in, and the south (most of the Lowlands/southern uplands) was always purely Brythonic and later Anglo-Saxon. And never mind the Norn speaking Norse in Caithness/Orkney/Shetland, and Foreign Gaels all about the islands in general. All this diversity is reflected, as 204.2 alludes, in the regional variety in the minority languages (various dialects of Scots in the Lowlands, Gaelic in the Outer Hebrides.)

203.last: And the Icelandic!

204.1: In Acts of Union and Disunion Linda Colley claims that the Scottish weren't really colonized; I haven't read it but I think the point is that the Scottish upper class was co-oped and continued to be the main extractor of wealth from the poor, and main instigators of things like the Clearances. Of course, they were encouraged by easier access to London markets. Not sure if I buy it, admittedly. Will have to read that on vacation.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:55 AM
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202: I traced my family back to Charlemagne like eight different ways on Ancestry. At first I was excited, but then I realized that it was bunk and borrowing from other peoples' trees quickly leads to spurious connections. (But at least Charlemagne was real.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:56 AM
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Linda Colley claims that the Scottish weren't really colonized; I haven't read it but I think the point is that the Scottish upper class was co-oped

Isn't co-opting the local big wigs a pretty tried and true colonization technique?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:59 AM
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I'd think there's a good chance it isn't bunk. I mean, that far back, there's a strong possibility you're descended from anyone, but descendants of Charlemagne(royalty generally) are much more likely to have preserved records. So if you can trace your ancestry back a long distance, it's very likely because you're attached to a well-documented family tree with someone impressive at the root. (Doesn't mean there aren't going to be phony connections, but not everything's necessarily going to be phony.)

Buck's family does genealogy a bit, and the strain that they've got furthest back is the one that's cousins with the presidential Adamses. That makes perfect sense to me -- people preferentially preserved records of those family connections because they were interesting, and lost track of the dozens of random farmers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:03 AM
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208: It wasn't merely coopting the bigwigs; I mean that the bigwigs maintained most of the profits. I think that's a little different from, say, colonization in West Africa where the African bigwigs were getting a small fraction of what went overseas.

(Admittedly, those bigwigs might decide to go buy London real-estate or build fancy country homes south of the border. There are many "Scottish" nobility these days who live in Dorset or Gloucestershire or wherever.)

209: I don't think it's bunk in terms of actually being true, just the documentation: almost all upperclass Europeans are descended from him, and there very much was a strong degree of Farewell to Alms downwards mobility. I think most anyone with any Western or Central European ancestry is descended from him. The problem is that people on Ancestry--who are exactly the sort of people who want to believe they're descended from famous dead people--are very quick to say "oh hey, here's a documented person with a name sorta like my relative, must be the same," even ignoring the particulars of the situation--lots of cases where a woman would have to give birth at age 6 or 60 or -20. In my case, one branch of my family goes back to the Puritans, and since they have many documented survivors it's not surprising one was quick to decide that they're actually descended from Baron Someguy, and then that information gets passed around and becoming increasingly inaccurate.

I do have some good information on the farmer ancestors, and I would have more but for the Irish blowing up their main records office in their Civil War. Note to future revolutionaries: don't store your gunpowder in an archives building! I mean, unless you really want to cut ties with the past.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:14 AM
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Aren't effectively all ethnic Europeans (and a lot of non-Europeans) descended from Charlemagne (or any other 8th century person you'd care to name)?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:15 AM
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208. Yes, one of the best, and more important in informal empires than formal ones (see Latin America, passim and post-colonial Africa). But in the case of Scotland the co-opted ruling class largely fused with their English opposite numbers very quickly. There was a Scottish Prime Minister of the UK 55 years after the Acts of Union.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:16 AM
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Also 210.1 is true.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:17 AM
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211 before seeing 209. Aristocrats definitely have more traceable lines to Charlemagne, but all whiteys have a bit of the Frankish Emperor in us, what can we say.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:36 AM
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If for some reason anyone ever decides to read the truly horrible Saxons, Vikings, and Celts (known in Europe as something like Blood of the Isles), let me save you some time: the only useful conclusion is that Y-chromosomally we're probably disproportionally descended from successful warlords. (His turn of phrase was something like "we've all spent a few generations in the testicles of warlords," which is memorable and evocative, but ew) And of course there's that old straw about some measurable percentage of Asia being descended patrilineally from a single male from about eight hundred years ago.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:44 AM
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209: "cousins with the presidential Adamses" means "traceably descended from Charlemagne," at least by this account which of course could not possibly be spurious. It came up because my mom's family has Adamses too.

Anyway, I don't remember enough biology to be sure, but given how chromosomal crossover works and that chromosomes are not infinitely divisible, at this point very few descendants of Charlemagne could claim to have any of his genetic material, yes?


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:46 AM
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163: Is the idea that modern British people are descended from the Ice Age inhabitants based on recent (i.e. the last 5 years) research? My impression is that basically all hypotheses based on older genetic research have collapsed under the weight of fuller DNA sequences. (The most famous being that the conclusion from earlier genetic testing there are no living Neanderthal descendents.) From what I can tell, the picture is now incredibly muddled, and nobody is really sure what happened in prehistory.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:51 AM
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I take Robert E. Howard as my go-to authority on the ancient inhabitants of Britain.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:56 AM
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217. Post-Ice Age inhabitants. The entire archipelago was under a sheet of ice during the last glaciation, so nobody lived there. I think we're really discussing post-Younger Dryas for practical purposes. As far as I know (and these things change rapidly) it's still accepted that there is a significant substrate which goes back to the Mesolithic, but the pattern and scale of subsequent incursions is much more complicated than previously thought and hotly disputed.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:00 AM
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It's going to really confuse the issue when we find out time is circular.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:02 AM
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given how chromosomal crossover works and that chromosomes are not infinitely divisible, at this point very few descendants of Charlemagne could claim to have any of his genetic material, yes?

Well, all of us have more than 99% of the same genetic material as Charlemagne, given that we're all human.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:09 AM
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Assumes facts not in evidence.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:14 AM
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This is, after all, the internet.


Posted by: A Dog | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:17 AM
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216: A man who is patrilineally descended from him would have a very similar Y-chromosome, with some mutations. I think all his legitimate male descendants died out but I'm sure at least some of the Carolinians had illegitimate children.

Men directly inherit their Y-chromosome from their father; everyone directly inherits their mitochondrial DNA from their mother. Neither of them are mixed, so examining those is much more useful for trying to do historical population genetics.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:17 AM
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It would be bizarre if the Mesolithic Britons (there were a lot of them) weren't substantially the ancestors of today's Britons, unless we imagine that the Celts/Romans/Saxons just genocided everyone and slept with no women, facts for which I believe there's zero evidence. I think the dispute is over whether there's much evidence of any substantial population displacement through colonozation by invaders or whether you just had a change in chieftains more similar to the Norman Conquest. My understanding is that there's very little evidence to support the colonization hypothesis.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:22 AM
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Isn't Charlemagne descended from the offspring of Jesus and Mary Magdalene? Does that make all of you Europeans, part-God? That explains so much.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:24 AM
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If I understand it correctly, Jesus was too busy chilling out in Britain (where he presumably helped the Celts subjugate the native people) to sire the line that became the Merovingians in France.

(Unless you follow the New Chronology, where Jesus is probably the same person as William the Conquerer, so it's all true. In multiple ways.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:26 AM
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Where does Halfordismo stand on the policy of genociding everyone and sleeping with no women anyway?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:26 AM
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A man who is patrilineally descended from him would have a very similar Y-chromosome, with some mutations.

Right, but people patrilineally descended are probably a pretty small proportion of the descendants, right? And (assuming chromosome bequeathal is random across them all, which. I have no idea) not very different in the aggregate from how many of his descendants have, say, his chromosome 13, except for the phenotypic expression.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:28 AM
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The entire archipelago was under a sheet of ice during the last glaciation, so nobody lived there

This assumes they didn't have magic tents like in The Day After Tomorrow.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:28 AM
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And (assuming chromosome bequeathal is random across them all, which. I have no idea) not very different in the aggregate from how many of his descendants have, say, his chromosome 13, except for the phenotypic expression.

But chromosome 13 goes through crossover at meiosis - the two copies lock together and basically swap chunks around. So the c13 in any one of your gametes (sorry for being personal) is a mixture of the two c13s in your cells - one of which came from your father's sperm and one from your mother's ovum. But Y chromosomes don't (because you've only got either none or one per cell). If you're a man, then 50% of your sperm cells will carry a Y chromosome, and it will be identical (give or take a few mutations) to your father's, and your father's fathers.
"And your father's father's father's".
Indeed.
"And your father's father's father's father's."
Shut up, Reg.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:34 AM
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227: Did that give away that I haven't actually read The Da Vinci Code? Humiliation!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:35 AM
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Just last week, my hairdresser (plausibly) boasted that he was descended from a cousin of Charlemagne.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:41 AM
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229: Yes. As far as we know, the only remaining direct male-line descendent is a Mr. L. Prosser, of the West Country.

I think I agree with the rest of 229, but I just realized I don't really understand genetic recombination. So off to Wiki and to ponder.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:44 AM
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234 before 231. That's approximately what I was thinking happened. Does that also occur to the mother's X chromosome during meiosis, since the sex chromosomes aren't autosomes? If not, it seems like the X chromosome might follow the logic in 229.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:45 AM
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"the mother's" in 235 should be "women's".


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:46 AM
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Matrilineal lines can be studied through Mitochondrial DNA. Dad contributes an X chromosome also, so it's not like the Y, barring a couple of small super-interesting regions on X that are shielded from recombination. The fascinating RNA gene H19 is on one of these I think.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:51 AM
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That's what I was curious about--being shielded from recombination. Then it would work like in 229; there are presumably people with the super-interesting bits of Charlemagne's X chromosome, but we'd have no way to even begin to identify them.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:53 AM
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210.2 -- In the pre-internet era, scholars worked out that something like 125 17th century immigrants to New England (or maybe all mainland English colonies??) were demonstrably descendants of English royalty. Out of, what, 30-50,000 people? I'll guess that modern research has added fewer that 10% to the 125, and maybe subtracted 10% as well. There are some, but most of what you see on the internet is fiction.

Looking from the other direction, though, how unlikely is it that a person with 17th century English colonial ancestry can trace, in one line or another, back to one of the 125? My parents can each be traced to one, but only one. Out of, what, 4,000 ancestors alive at that time.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:57 AM
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Mitochondrial Eve porn would probably take people to some deep, dark psychological places.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:57 AM
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Or is 240 just Clan of the Cave Bear? I never read the books but I remember Darryl Hannah walking around naked.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:59 AM
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What's the current opinion on Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza's work?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:06 AM
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231: There you go, I don't know what I'm talking about. I just had the high school understanding that one chromosome from each pair gets passed on.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:10 AM
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Every European descends from Charlemagne, sure, but the real trick for Anglo-Americans is showing a descent from the Prophet. I see that the supposed line for many of us USians has been rejected.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:17 AM
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I thought the real goal was a descent from antiquity. Weird attempts to show Queen Elizabeth or whoever is descended from Roman nobility (or Antigonids, or..) via the medieval Caucasus.

But on descent from The Prophet: Very interesting. As a side-note, in Crusader Kings 2 you're able to trace back the genealogy of your characters over previous generations, including characters that aren't in the game but are historical and provided to get the families right. E.g., it has the entire list of Byzantine empires. It also tracks Sayyid/Mizra status, which means that it needs to include Mohammed. Every other character gets a (usually randomly generated) portrait, but they respectfully, thankfully, and uniquely have some Arabic calligraphy for him instead.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:23 AM
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I kind of enjoy the ridiculous royal genealogies from the Middle Ages, where the king's ancestors include every one from Noah to Achillies to Caesar & etc.

Maybe there's a niche market opening up for doing genealogies like that for the current crop of billionaires.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:35 AM
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The real goal is filling the void.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:36 AM
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At my standard hourly rate, I'd be happy to work up the link between Bill Gates and Ragnar Lodbrok. (Which is for all I know, actually demonstrable. I think one can get from most of the 125 to RL).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:42 AM
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I thought it wasn't totally clear that Ragnar Lodbrok was an actual historical figure, though I'm going to keep on believing that he was.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:49 AM
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|| If a tree near a property line is hit by lighting and explodes, causing damage to the owner's house and neighboring properties, is the tree owner liable for the damage and cleanup? Asking because this happened with a tree that I think is a neighbor's, and trying to decide how to move forward. (Partially worried because the tree might actually be ours, but I don't think so; I don't want to press to hard on this because I don't want to be the dickish neighbor, but at the same time don't want to be forced into paying for things that aren't my responsibility.) |>


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:05 AM
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250: Why not just sue the tree?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:08 AM
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250: The first step is to call your own homeowner's insurance company. They should pay your cleanup costs (except for the deductible), and then they can go after your neighbor if they want to. If you don't have homeowner's insurance, but your neighbor does, then the first step is to tell him you have a claim against his insurer. He may be less hostile if you phrase it that way.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:17 AM
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250: I'd bet damage would be covered by his homeowner's insurance. I'd check whose tree/where the property line is first. I wouldn't expect much in the way of cleanup, though. I think I'd talk to the neighbor if I had damaged stuff but would clean debris myself, since that might not be easy to be reimbursed for (unless it's really extensive). If you file through your insurance, your premium may go up at the next renewal.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:25 AM
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252: I do, but our agent actually cautioned us against making a claim for small things (since, uh, there's some sort of relatively small fee then for a few years subsequent); but yeah, I guess I should be contacting them. I'm going to talk to the neighbor (well, the neighbor's landlord) tonight to see. Thanks.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:27 AM
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Tree law differs state by state. That's all I know about tree law.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:29 AM
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253: The damage to our house was cosmetic (the top of the tree scraped against a painted wall; I'll repaint that once everything else is taken care of). A third neighbor lost a gutter, and the guy who I think owns it had minor damage to his gutters. The big issue is cleaning up the tree, which is spread across all three properties and blocking the third neighbor's driveway--I guess I should look into if that's something covered by insurance (this really does seem like the sort of thing insurance should be for, anyway--I'm not sure what you can do about lightning strikes, and they are presumably rare modulo having a weird configuration). Most of the tree is still standing and as it's an ex-tree is probably at risk at falling over and should be removed.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:32 AM
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I'd work up the link between Halford and Ragnar Lodbrok at a 20% discount from my normal hourly rate.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:34 AM
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244 Huh. Looks like I'm descended from that woman, through Robert Abell.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:38 AM
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I bet there's a connection between Halford and Úlfr "Kveldulf" Bjálfason.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:55 AM
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I'm descended from humans that lived thousands and thousands of years ago! Isn't that amazing!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:58 AM
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I just don't feel comfortable with that kind of hierarchy. You live side by side with all people.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:08 PM
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I take Robert E. Howard as my go-to authority on the ancient inhabitants of Britain.

Right on!


Posted by: OPINIONATED CROM | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:10 PM
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260: [citation needed]


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:22 PM
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Err, that was funnier in my head.

"So Many Links" seems to have changed meaning throughout this thread.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:23 PM
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I think 255 is right. My dad had a neighbor's tree limb fall on his fence and said that it was his responsibility to fix the fence and move the tree debris. Or maybe he was being nice. I don't know.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:28 PM
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Tree law differs state by state.

Yes. I've had to deal with this multiple times before, what with living in Hurricane Alley. For the most part, a tree that falls on your property is your responsibility, no matter where it started.

"The law of fallen trees in North Carolina is based largely on the legal theory of negligence. According to this theory, for you to be liable for damages caused by a fallen tree, you must have known the tree was hazardous and the hazard must have been obvious. By failing to eliminate a known hazard, you would be in breach of a duty to protect your neighbor's property. Barring negligence on your part or liability under some other legal theory applicable to specific and unusual fact patterns (such as strict liability, nuisance, or trespass), you would not be responsible. The cost of removing the tree and repairing any damage would 'fall' on your neighbor rather than on you or your insurance company. The theory of strict liability does not apply in North Carolina. Therefore, liability can be shifted to you only by nuisance or trespass theories, but they apply only in rare circumstances, and the majority of cases are based on negligence."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:42 PM
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If you can trust randomly googled insurance company sites, maybe PA isn't so different.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:50 PM
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In which case, sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 12:50 PM
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I have a bow saw you can borrow. It won't be any good if the branches are over 6" thick in diameter (or about that).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:02 PM
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What if you live on the border of a state, and your neighbor's tree from the next state over falls on to your land? Does that go under Federal jurisdiction, or one of the states?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:18 PM
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Does that go under Federal jurisdiction, or one of the states?

Or the Lorax?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:31 PM
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266-269: Thanks. I checked with my dad and he also understood the law similarly. That's good; I don't think anybody can feasibly be held negligent. I would be up for cutting it up (and thanks for the offer), but 1) it's actually thicker than that since the top of the trunk that fell in our yard, 2) it's pine so it won't be good for firewood, and 3) we're leaving the country on vacation on Friday for a few weeks. I'm hoping I can split costs with the other homeowners but have them actually handle getting someone to remove the debris from all the properties.

The landlord is super-intimidating, since Googling him has revealed he's a 94 year old Holocaust survivor who escaped from a ghetto and spent two years hiding in the underground.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:41 PM
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And the two years were 1978 and 2011.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 1:43 PM
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I would have thought lightning strikes were excluded from insurance cover on "act of god" grounds.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:01 PM
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Your insurance doesn't cover damage from lightening?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:05 PM
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Lightning, that is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:07 PM
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||
I am trying to finish writing a journal article (that has taken me about two years too long), and feeling paralyzed. I'm criticizing some of the work in my issue area harshly, and the thought of putting it out there in public, or not being able to put it out there in public, is terrifying.

Related: I go up for tenure in two years. This has also become terrifying. Where did all of my self-confidence go?
|>


Posted by: President Wall-E | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:08 PM
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I don't really know - it's a block policy for the whole apartment building. I vaguely feel lightening hitting the building would be covered but maybe not damaging a tree.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:12 PM
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If for some reason anyone ever decides to read the truly horrible Saxons, Vikings, and Celts

I'll stick to the Cher song.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:41 PM
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Now I'm seeing Cher in the "Half-Breed" video, except in Viking drag instead of Native American.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 2:42 PM
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it's pine so it won't be good for firewood,

Really? I seem to remember pine being nice for campfires.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:24 PM
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Wall-E, that sounds painful. Are there any commenters in your discipline who might be willing to listen to you less presidentially? (Obviously you don't have to answer that; just a thought.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:29 PM
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I don't think there are any regular commenters here who are in my discipline (which is probably a good thing!). The problem is really just that I fell off the publishing horse around the time that I was writing my dissertation, and after a few years away from that process it's hard to trust the world with the bit of writing I've managed to accomplish.


Posted by: President Wall-E | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:38 PM
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281: Doesn't work so well with a chimney because sap or something turpentine related.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 3:51 PM
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277: No advice, but sympathy. I hope your article is easy for you to finish and is well-received. I hope you have an immensely productive two years and wow everyone with tenure voting privileges.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 5:10 PM
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281, 284: Hardwood burns cleaner, makes less soot and as Moby says, doesn't coat the chimney with flammable resin. Another thing to avoid is scrap lumber, the sort of thing guys regularly threw in fireplaces when I was a kid. Coats the chimney with creosote or similar compounds, which are flammable.

Maybe I should be the host of the American version of the Norwegian Firewood Show.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 5:54 PM
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Talked to the dude and he agreed to handle it completely; turns out he thought we were the other neighbor, who I guess he had some sort of beef with. He spurned our offer to split costs (although maybe he would be okay if we threw in a little bit--we weren't quite sure, sometimes his English was hard to understand). Ended up in a very long conversation where he told us significant portions of his life story (including repeated mentions of seeing people gunned down in front of him, and his time in the partisans), how he worked up from almost nothing, how we should keep ourselves healthy, how much you can trust Russians, and how religion and the bourgeois are the cause of all problems (his closing salutation was "if god exists, god help us"). He was also originally a carpenter and it turned out he was the original builder of our house (our house and the house next door are of similar design.) Nice guy in general, so again we were lucky.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 5:56 PM
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284, 286: Aha! Thanks. I actually have a fireplace now, and didn't appreciate that I actually need to know stuff in order to use it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:06 PM
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I'm curious on the Russian question.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:25 PM
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"if god exists, god help us"

New mouseover text!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:30 PM
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287 He sounds like a wonderful character and now you've got a wild story about the history of your house. You made out good.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 6:36 PM
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289: After his time as a partisan he somehow ended up working for the Red Army, building boxes to transport bombs in. He had been interviewed a couple times about his life, and he had said (and still feels) the Russians saved the world (and he was quite pissed by people who were angered by him saying that); they completely won the war, the Americans had little to do with it, and without them we'd be under the boot of the Axis today. (While I see his point, I don't entirely agree with him.) He also married a Russian woman. In general, his stereotype was that Russians will always be honest with you and help you if you're in a bind, but if you betray them they will destroy you. Regarding the current unpleasantness I think he's anti-Ukrainian due to the (western) Ukrainian pogroms during the war. In general he had a more-Russian-than-the-Russians vibe, which is so rare these days.

291: Yeah, pretty much! He said we could come to his hundredth birthday in a few years, if he lives that long. He had a very clear sense of his own mortality. He even said, in the nicest way possible: "I hate you...you're young and you have your whole life ahead of you!" He constantly pleaded with us to treat our bodies well. Very ghost of Christmas future.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:23 PM
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Yea. Hating youth and all its possibility is the way to go.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:45 PM
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To be clear he meant he was envious of the potential.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:53 PM
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he had said (and still feels) the Russians saved the world (and he was quite pissed by people who were angered by him saying that); they completely won the war, the Americans had little to do with it, and without them we'd be under the boot of the Axis today. (While I see his point, I don't entirely agree with him.)

It's certainly truer than it gets credit for, at least vis-a-vis the Germans.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:54 PM
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295: Fully in agreement on that part. In a world where the Soviets had lost, it would have been horrific for a lot of people in Eastern Europe--I think much more so than how bad it was for many Eastern Europeans after the war, but I'm not sure. I think the Western Allies could have won on their own, but the war would have gone on much, much longer and be nastier (nuclear weapons in Europe). But alternative history is a (fun) schmuck's game.

But yeah, it's weird to talk to somebody who's really, really pro-Soviet Union. Epsecially somebody who had actually been there.

(Russia also helped vis-a-vis Japan in making clear that the Japanese had no hope of winning or even forcing a conditional surrender.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:58 PM
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294: Po-ta-to, Pot-at-o.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 7:59 PM
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People who enjoyed the DNA portion of this thread should definitely read my upcoming post on ancient DNA! (Whenever I manage to finish it.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 8:55 PM
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On the "aboriginal" stuff, I don't remember quite what my thought process was last night (it was very late and I was very tired*), but my basic position is LB's 1 in 188: it's an incoherent concept, and no one is "really" aboriginal. It was actually Natilo who introduced the term into this discussion; I don't generally use it myself and don't have strong opinions about how it should be defined. Similar issues apply to other terms such as "native" and "indigenous," though, so I do have a position on the overall issue.

I agree that 179 seems to sort of come out of nowhere in tone. I just get kind of touchy about this specific topic, which has come up before on Unfogged, because I'm very, very attuned to the implications of colonialism for both colonizing and colonized populations, on account of both my background and my job.

Basically, the point is that in settler societies there's an important distinction between the experiences of descendants of the colonizers and those of descendants of the pre-colonization population. This usually involves the former oppressing the latter in various ways, although it can be much more complicated than that. In non-settler societies, this dynamic doesn't exist at all. It therefore annoys me when Europeans claim to belong in the same category as the colonized people in European-descended settler societies, when they're clearly much more similar culturally and historically to the colonizers. (The Scots are a bit of a special case here since they have a strong claim to be a colonized people themselves, but I think the dynamics of that situation are rather different from, say, the Americas.) Those claims just tend to set me off. Sorry, ajay.

*So tired, in fact, that when I did fall asleep shortly after my last comment here I ended up oversleeping and delaying the chartered flight I was on this morning. Sorry, very patient co-workers! Thanks for waiting for me!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:08 PM
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I remember how in 1989, at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I explained to my coworkers elementary facts about the Potsdam and Yalta agreements, which had been controlling until just that moment. I felt I had known these things since childhood, and that the power of the Soviet Union, its suffering and triumph, were simple facts about modern life. They, American lawyers, had never heard these things, had been raised somehow in complete ignorance of them.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:09 PM
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298: Looking forward to it!

299.3: If we need a Anglophone European comparison Ireland is probably better than Scotland. There was a settler population (Presbyterians in the north, Anglicans generally in the upper-class), and although things have obviously changed greatly there's a lot that's comparable (although doing so is probably fraught) to the decolonization process elsewhere (except that the settlers and the settled, in the North, are roughly similar in population...having trouble of thinking of any other similar cases. Bolivia, maybe?).

300: I suspect if I ask my younger coworkers what they know about the Vietnam War (a similar timespan ago to WW2 in '89), their knowledge would be pretty abysmal. Mine's not great. The Soviets are a special case since they went from being "good guys" to "bad guys," but as a people we're not great at history.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 9:21 PM
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chris y's 203 is also excellent. Although to this:

If you use "aboriginal" simply to designate the first population to occupy a particular territory, then you are basically looking at native Americans, Australians, Polynesians and to stretch a point Khoisan peoples in southern Africa (Evidence suggests that Khoisan peoples have lived in southern Africa for an amazingly long time, but which peoples, and how they were related to modern Khoisan peoples is another question.) In those cases you're talking about entire continents in which peoples have moved around and interbred and ethic groups split and fused for tens of thousands of years, so it's not a very useful concept. Eurasia and most of Africa are far too mongrelised to identify "aboriginals".

I would also add North America in with Africa and Eurasia, and probably South America and Australia too although I don't know as much about the details. I'm a bit dubious about the Khoisan as well; there have been some recent arguments about whether it really exists as a language family the way Greenberg orginally defined it (essentially "non-Bantu languages with clicks"), which has implications for the interpretation that Khoisan languages and their speakers go "all the way back" in their current locations.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:50 PM
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Which, on rereading, is more or less what chris originally said. Anyway, I agree.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:51 PM
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I should also probably respond to this:

I'm inclined to believe Teo's assertion that unwritten languages tend to be conservative.

I made no such assertion! What I said is that the Athabascan languages specifically are noteworthy for being unusually conservative. It may well be true that unwritten languages are more conservative than written ones, but Athabascan is way, way out on the conservative end of the spectrum. (English is pretty far out on the other end.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 10:56 PM
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||

I hate my birthday! I never realized it before, but it's coming up and I'm mopey and Mrs K-sky pointed out that I get this way every year. Fuck you, odometer.

|>


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:16 PM
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Eh I think that the incoherence and the massive gulf between what post-colonial political activists use it to mean and what people who generally use the word in English mean means it's just as legitimate to claim to be indigenous to Scotland or England as to claim to be indigenous to New Zealand. It's just very unlikely that "being an indigenous Scot" is a useful category, whereas "being an indigenous Australian" is.

Also I think the idea that you can derive indigeneity from the division between European colonists and colonisers is a bit sus. There are people who are indigenous who have never been colonised and there are people who have been colonised who aren't indigenous --- which Indian groups are indigenous? What relationship do they have with the Anglo-Indians?

Rather, I think, better to acknowledge that indigeneity is a flawed concept of essentialist/racist anthropology and just treat it as purely useful/not-useful question, without any attempt to relate it to anything underlying.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:21 PM
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It's just very unlikely that "being an indigenous Scot" is a useful category, whereas "being an indigenous Australian" is.

Right, this is the point I'm trying to make.

There are people who are indigenous who have never been colonised and there are people who have been colonised who aren't indigenous --- which Indian groups are indigenous? What relationship do they have with the Anglo-Indians?

Fair enough, but I think compared to the Anglo-Indians all Indian groups that were there before the nineteenth century are indigenous for practical purposes.

Rather, I think, better to acknowledge that indigeneity is a flawed concept of essentialist/racist anthropology and just treat it as purely useful/not-useful question, without any attempt to relate it to anything underlying.

Well, right. I don't think there's any point in trying to rigorously define "indigeneity" (or any other comparable term) in terms of underlying commonalities or whatever. When it comes to specific situations, though, which is where this usually comes up in my day-to-day life, it's not typically hard to determine who's indigenous and who isn't. (In practice that decision has usually already been made for me by someone else, in fact.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:28 PM
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WHAT'S WRONG WITH BEING INDIGIAN?


Posted by: OPINIONATED ANTIRACIST NIGEL TUFNEL | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:35 PM
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Fair enough, but I think compared to the Anglo-Indians all Indian groups that were there before the nineteenth century are indigenous for practical purposes.

Anglo-Indians were in India before the 19th C though. (And the Anglo-Indian population is minuscule, at that.)

But even for practical purposes how do you define indigeneity between say, an Anglo-Indian, a north Indian Muslim descended from Persian invaders in the 13th century, a high caste Brahmin who probably descends from Aryan invaders in the 2nd millennium BCE (but maybe thinks Aryans are indigenous to India), a city living Telegu speaking south Indian, and a hill tribe?

Because in India probably only the last would be "indigenous", I think --- but it's still probably useful for them to use that term.

So I don't think that the coloniser/colonised divide is a reliable way of deciding and I think it's more complex.

(This isn't to disagree really, just to quibble because I have real work I should be doing.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:42 PM
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Again, fair enough, and the distinction I'm making here might not make any more sense for India (which isn't really a "settler society" in the sense I mean anyway) than it does for England. (Note that I didn't say "Britain" there.) As an aside, the CEO of one of the main electric utilities in rural Alaska is Anglo-Indian. Maybe I should ask her for her take on this some time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-14 11:51 PM
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I'm a bit dubious about the Khoisan as well

This is why I hedged my original comment about them with so many qualifications that it was practically meaningless by the time I finished. I'm glad I did. This paper from 2012 (OK, it's a Nature Communication, but whatever) suggests that all Khoisan populations are admixed with southern African Bantu speaking peoples or East African pastoralist peoples or both. To the very limited extent that I can read about population genetics without my brain exploding, t appears to say a lot of other interesting stuff as well, but that's by the by.

I provisionally withdraw my provisional claims for Khoisan aboriginality.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-14-14 1:11 AM
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"if god exists, god help us"

Is he a character by Dostoevsky?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-14-14 1:13 AM
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Catching up:
Does that also occur to the mother's X chromosome during meiosis, since the sex chromosomes aren't autosomes? If not, it seems like the X chromosome might follow the logic in 229.

Men's X chromosomes do not recombine during meiosis because they only have one. So a woman will have one X chromosome that is identical to her father's, and one that is a reshuffle of her mother's two. But she will pass on to her children a reshuffle of her two. So X chromosomes aren't conserved over generations in the way that Y chromosomes are.

In humans, anyway. In birds the female is XY and the male is XX. (Well, the term is actually ZW and ZZ, but same thing.)
The platypus has five X chromosomes. Go, platypus!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-14 1:36 AM
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What I said is that the Athabascan languages specifically are noteworthy for being unusually conservative.

I hear they have forty-seven separate words for "bow tie".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-14 1:37 AM
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310 -- yeah, like I say I was just nitpicking to avoid doing real work.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-14-14 6:29 PM
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310 -- yeah, like I say I was just nitpicking to avoid doing real work.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08-14-14 6:30 PM
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