Re: Boom

1

And as young people continue to spurn the suburbs for urban living, more of them are moving to the very heart of cities -- even in economically troubled places like Buffalo and Cleveland.

That's right, motherfuckers: come to Cleveland; we're economically troubled!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:35 AM
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What an... interesting choice of illustrative photo.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:42 AM
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The chart explains why my neighborhood has one hipster bar, but not two hipster bars.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:44 AM
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When I saw the article, what's now the fourth photo, of a woman riding a bicycle, was at the top.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:44 AM
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Ah, I had the creepy clown.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:46 AM
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Not having clicked the link, please let it not be Richard Florida.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:47 AM
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As noted in 5, he's wearing a mask.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:49 AM
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I thought it was odd that they mentioned Buffalo and Cleveland together when their chart shows lots of young people moving to Buffalo and almost none to Cleveland.

I also think it's odd that so many people want to move to Houston. Maybe they're all petroleum engineers?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:50 AM
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I found that article unsatisfying for reasons I'm having a hard time putting my finger on. I don't think the relative change graph makes sense without the absolute number graph, maybe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:52 AM
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Yep, I think that's what bothers me. The change is relative to the city baseline. So Houston has 50% more recent college graduates than it did ten years ago but... how many is that? The rate of change is low in San Francisco and Boston and New York because... they're already full of those people? Weird, unsatisfying article.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:55 AM
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The full report has absolute numbers. But the rate of change is informative by itself, no? SLC might have relatively few of these folks, but if there's been an influx, it's probably more attractive than the absolute number would indicate.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:00 AM
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Well, not really. The rate of change for a city with a very small population is going to be more variable.

They're also using the weird MSAs (like the SFBA one that doesn't include Silicon Valley) we've talked about here before.

Table 6 in the report seems useful, and like it has enough information to draw conclusions.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:06 AM
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So, for instance, between 2000 and 2010 downtown Houston gained around eight thousand new college-educated residents between 25 and 34, and Denver around 10,000. That isn't nothing, but DC gained 33,000. SLC gained less than 2500.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:09 AM
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Our household has seen a 100% decrease in young college grads in the last decade, because we all got old. But if our kids move back in after college, we might be able to reverse the trend!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:09 AM
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By the way, everybody, I did 100 burpees this morning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:14 AM
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Boom.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:16 AM
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SLC gained less than 2500.

Get in early, be the hater, not the hated.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:17 AM
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The economic effects reach beyond the work the young people do, according to Enrico Moretti, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "The New Geography of Jobs." For every college graduate who takes a job in an innovation industry, he found, five additional jobs are eventually created in that city, such as for waiters, carpenters, doctors, architects and teachers.

I think I discovered why Sify was unsatisfied with the article. Am I crazy or does this paragraph just assume we know what "an innovation industry" is? Whereas in fact we haven't a clue, except that it doesn't include the industries that employ waiters, carpenters, doctors, architects and teachers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:17 AM
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I also think it's odd that so many people want to move to Houston. Maybe they're all petroleum engineers?

I like defending Houston. I wouldn't live there, but you can have a perfectly hip 20-something life in lower Westheimer. And if you are, to take an example, a gallery-represented artist, the oil money has the nice side effect that there are people around who can and will buy your art. The parts of the city where young college grads live are also less painfully white than, for example, Austin.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:18 AM
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a perfectly hip 20-something life

That's sounds so wonderful! What are the components necessary for this magical mode of existence?

I


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:23 AM
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I think maybe I find it frustrating because the general premise ("gentrification: catch the fever!"/"downtowns rule, suburbs drool") is one I'm reasonably in agreement with, but the report seems to do a poor and/or inept and/or misleading job of effectively backing that up (and the times article is way worse but that, eh, what can you do).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:24 AM
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19 is right. There's a whole lot of hell to Houston, but also some really great parts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:25 AM
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They got peep. That's what happens when you question these things too closely.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:26 AM
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The thing that frustrates me about these articles is that they often don't take major factors into account. So, for example, it seems indisputably true that young college grads today are more ethnically diverse than before, more willing to use public transit or bicycle, and more interested in living in central cities.

However, it's also indisputably true that they have unprecedented levels of debt. It's hard to buy a car, let alone a house, when you have tens of thousands of dollars in debt and only a low-wage service-sector job to pay for it all.

I get very irritated by conversations (mostly IRL, and mostly with people who should know better because they work on these issues professionally) that optimistically chalk everything up as a choice: Young people are CHOOSING to marry later! Not own cars! Not buy houses! Work as freelancers! The sharing economy! Rah rah brave new disruptive...blah.

Shorter me: There are some very interesting trends in the generation of people under 30 now, but it's difficult to separate out life-stage trends from cohort trends,* and circumstance-driven trends from actual preferences.

*Hat tip to friend-of-the-blog Kieran Healy for this.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:33 AM
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20: Blood of the working man, same as for anybody else.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:33 AM
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Is it still the case that you can't be outside for more than five minutes in Houston, because of the poor air quality and heat?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:35 AM
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that most of you are not getting the Boom Clap Sound of My Heart earworm from this post, like I am.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:37 AM
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24 gets it right. There are articles about how young people aren't buying houses, and how this trend has surprised everyone, and since mortgages are often cheaper than rent it really is weird that young people aren't taking this opportunity to own a house. Just the idea that everyone involved in writing the article has not considered that people are putting off buying a house until later, because they need to pay off other debts and have no expectation of job security... it's weird. Things must have changed fast.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:37 AM
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Young people are CHOOSING to marry later! Not own cars! Not buy houses! Work as freelancers! The sharing economy! Rah rah brave new disruptive

I can't decide if this is more or less obnoxious than the trend ~5 years ago or so with baby boomers publishing articles trolling younger generations by complaining that "These young people aren't embracing adulthood like we did. Why when I was 27 I was married with kids and owned a house! What's wrong with these crazy kids?"

Well, you entitled shit, maybe graduating into the job market with no debt in 1970 was a bit different than doing the same thing with massive debt in 2008. Grrr...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:46 AM
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Pwned by 28.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:47 AM
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Back in my day, people were pwned by 21.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:49 AM
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I mean, these are even articles in the business press, not vague trend pieces by the likes of David Brooks. Economic trends are defying all predictions in terms of establishment of new households and rate of "first-time homebuyers" among all homebuyers. Economic trends are defying all predictions in terms of reduced interstate mobility. Who could have predicted? Well, don't you look at any OTHER economic trends?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:51 AM
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Somewhere recently I saw one of those linked articles about how kids these days aren't buying cars and houses and it even went so far as to complain about the dire economic consequences of these flighty young people deciding not to buy pricey things, as if carless 20-somethings are irresponsibly grinding the whole world to a halt with their selfish lifestyle choices.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:59 AM
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What I honestly cannot believe is the degree to which people whose job it is to understand this stuff are not getting it.

I just talked with someone who did a major survey of new college grads about their intentions to stay in their current city, move, etc. Dozens of (well-developed) questions in their survey tool and not one that even acknowledged debt. Not ONE.

I am starting to believe it is because the people handling this stuff are sufficiently elite that their own kids don't have college debt. So it's invisible to them.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:12 AM
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31 is good stuff.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:12 AM
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Even to acknowledge the existence of debt is to admit that David Graeber has won.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:14 AM
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There are articles about how young people aren't buying houses, and how this trend has surprised everyone, and since mortgages are often cheaper than rent it really is weird that young people aren't taking this opportunity to own a house.

And so weird that young people somehow haven't managed to save up the 20K+ needed to access this opportunity.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:16 AM
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33.last: Core USAian message of the 60 years: Be very afraid--but buy lots of stuff while you are. You need to freshen the fear every once in a while. Bush just said the quiet part loud in this bit of video that will be seen as era-defining (and universally mocked) at some distant point in the future.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:16 AM
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I haven't read the article: are the college grads moving to Houston from afar or have local universities started admitting and graduating larger classes. I have the impression based on the highly unscientific sample of library job listings of a couple years ago that some Texas colleges and universities may be expanding.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:17 AM
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It's those tight yoga pants and skinny jeans - they can't bend down to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:18 AM
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34.last: College debt is so basic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:18 AM
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37 is off by an order of magnitude, outside of Columbus.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:30 AM
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I'm being generous in where people might live.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:37 AM
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I'm no longer a young recent grad, but I worry I'll be priced out of the Bay Area if I don't try to jump to a higher paid field, and have been thinking about other places to live. But young college grads tend to be more ok with shared apartments/houses.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:52 AM
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You'll be priced out of the entire Bay Area? What about Vallejo?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:55 AM
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40 No it's those saggy pants, with which youngsters must stay off the lawns of any decent suburban neighborhoods.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:58 AM
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44: I thought that everyone was always already priced out of the Bay Area.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:59 AM
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Don't bore me with whiny stories about how tough you have it, no one cares. The important thing, though, is that when I'm ready to retire you buy all the stock in my 401k, and when I'm ready to downsize, you buy my house for at least twice what I paid for it.


Posted by: Entitled Boomer | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:00 AM
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I'll move before doing a long commute from Vallejo, which is about 70 miles from where I live now.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:02 AM
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Craigslist suggests that the least expensive one bedroom or studio apartments are about 1400/1500 per month in this part of the Bay Area. And some places that listed around 1450 six months ago now list at over 1600, which is not an encouraging trend.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:11 AM
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Neither of my kids has or will have high levels of debt relative to their cohort; my son's will be literally negligible.

So it'll be interesting to see how much they take advantage of this to buy houses, start families, or even buy cars. Certainly the deals are there because of how many others are excluded.

But my guess is that they won't, partly because of inhabiting a world where nobody does those things, and renting/sharing, using public trans etc. are taken for granted. The impact of expectations is large, even on those who are less effected.

My daughter bought a car, it's true, but she needs to be able to leave and return to Hyde Park—actually Woodlawn—at night, travel to various schools under study, and go shopping for groceries, etc. My wife was amazed at the simple, cosmetically-flawed car my daughter chose to buy.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:19 AM
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My wife and I don't have any debt, and we haven't bought a house. We have enough for a down payment. But it seems like you should have some sort of expectation of staying in one place, before you buy a house. Or start a family.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:26 AM
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OT, but you know I was talking about how the Apple SIM meant you were beholden to the carrier you wanted to leave to facilitate leaving? and therefore the hard SIM is the physical manifestation of your right to choose both carrier and device? well looky here. if you pick AT&T on one of those things, YULE NEVER LEAVE. Unless of course you remove the Apple SIM and swap another in.

http://recode.net/2014/10/24/att-confirms-apple-sim-gets-locked-to-its-network-but-says-switching-carriers-still-easy/


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:28 AM
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My daughter bought a car, it's true, but she needs to be able to leave and return to Hyde Park--actually Woodlawn--at night, travel to various schools under study, and go shopping for groceries, etc.

I'm confused by this sentence: it sounds like you are saying she bought a car for unique reasons such as grocery shopping and her job. Is that what you meant? Because I think those are big reasons most people use cars.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:39 AM
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I like to listen to the engine idle when stuck in traffic.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:46 AM
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I think those are big reasons most people use cars

True enough, but most people in her circle haven't done it; she's a bit anomalous, and I'm ticking off reasons why she's beyond the tipping point, despite sensibility. Most of her friends use zip cars or something like it once in a while. And she uses the Jackson Park el without compunction during the daytime.

So living in Woodlawn is the determining factor in her case. Also being able to afford it.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:49 AM
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Last night we gave away a futon we had listed on Craigslist to a 20-something guy who came and picked it up with a zipcar. That event is probably enough to write a trend piece right there.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:54 AM
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53: so it's neither better nor worse than a hard SIM in the case of AT&T?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:00 AM
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And violating SOOBC, a blog regular unexpectedly showed up at my door because he happened to be the buyer on another thing we had listed.
No, not read.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:00 AM
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There's an Atlantic article on this that definitely mentions debt and precarious jobs.

If young college graduates are insecurely and scantly paid, are they actually going to help the economies of the places they're moving? Even if their productivity is getting skimmed by others, are those others going to be locals or megacorps?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:11 AM
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48 is great. I've been wondering for a decade how the eternal increase in property prices was supposed to unwind. Last time I asked actual capitalists, they sighed and shook their heads and implied they've moved a lot of their money out of the country.

There's got to be a way to make a mint on a huge insupportable delusion, but I guess it requires timing the market, hah, never mind.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:14 AM
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If young college graduates are insecurely and scantly paid, are they actually going to help the economies of the places they're moving?

Obviously. It's like you've never heard of the creative class.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:29 AM
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What is the "Jackson Park el"? The southern end of the Green Line?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:30 AM
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58: The stupid thing is, if you go in to an Apple Store they'll give you another SIM free. So basically it's just AT&T being dicks because they can.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:31 AM
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53, 58: We have a thread for that, you know.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:33 AM
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I'm not going to click through, but I wonder wrt the OP if we're talking people from Houston who've decided that they don't really have a future in already saturated Boston or Atlanta, and have moved home. Or is it people from Boston heading out to the wild west?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:34 AM
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64: If there is an AT&T SIM in your device, you're already doing it wrong:-) It's a pity because the Business Solutions bit of the company does some interesting stuff with OpenStack and such, but the wireless operator and the RBOC are just awful. from today's Q3 results: what you won't say what speeds your customers are taking, unlike all the competitors? WHY MIGHT THAT BE?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:39 AM
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The southern end of the Green Line?

Yes. I predate the colors.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:40 AM
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TV was black and white, but the world still had colors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:44 AM
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Those are color photographs of a black and white world.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:45 AM
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"The world is a complicated place."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:46 AM
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No it isn't.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:49 AM
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60.2: In the case of Pittsburgh (and this piece was widely linked in my FB circles), there's 2 parts: one is the kids who come to work for Google or some CMU spinoff/startup, who are helping to build up the city's position in these industries; the other is the kids who come because there's a certain amount of buzz about the city. And a big part of the buzz is that it's still a cheap place to live* with opportunities to have an impact, and so even an indebted grad can move here without a particular job in mind and either find interesting work or get involved in things that are happening (e.g., 3 guys who are running, no joke, a consignment sneaker store for used Jordans and the like; apparently they're doing well).

To some extent it's the Floridian idea that young people are full of energy and ideas, and that this will somehow translate into a successful city, but in this case I think there's something a bit more concrete to it, in that, in contrast to Portland ("where young people go to retire"), people seem to come here in order to be productive. Not that selling overpriced used sneakers is especially world-improving, but part of the Pittsburgh ethos seems to be about doing/making things in an economically viable way.

*scanning Craigslist, I see: a 1-bedroom apt in a house a couple blocks from here, in the heart of a very desirable neighborhood, for $800; a brand new downtown 1 BR for $1350; a Section 8-eligible 1 BR in my neighborhood (a few blocks the other way) for $581; a 2BR, 2200 SF half a double in Moby's 'hood for $1600; getting into less desirable (but still fine) neighborhoods, I see 3 BR houses for $875, 2 BR for $700, etc.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:50 AM
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50: There's a 1-bedroom in the building next to ours that's available and a friend was looking so I asked the landlord. He said he's asking $2095. For a 1-bedroom apartment in an outer borough. It's just madness. I assume someone will take it just the same.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:54 AM
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73: My sister's boyfriend started a pie business. Pittsburgh has this weird-for-it vibe of being a place that's becoming hip but still hard-working. Anyhow, she has a nice place in Edgewood or somewhere, works downtown, radio DJs sometimes, pays her loan debts, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:58 AM
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Edgewood is the burbs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:02 PM
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Heh. $2000/month here gets you either a house (usually in nice neighborhoods) or a luxury apt. (in a VERY nice neighborhood).

$3000 gets you a 5 BR/2.5 BA Neocolonial (ca. 1900) on a nice street in a good neighborhood, on over 1/4 acre with an outdoor fireplace.

And mind you, all this is after 5 + years of an improving housing market.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:04 PM
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65: Thank god you posted that. I was going nuts trying to remember the name of that thread.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:05 PM
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an outer borough

Oh come on.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:06 PM
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||

I hope that my original comment doesn't suddenly go up.

I just had lunch with someone who voted for Don Berwick in the primary and is thinking about voting for Charlie Baker. I am starting to really worry that Coakley is going to lose.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:06 PM
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The $3000 place in 77 is in Edgewood. You could bike to the Google offices in 10-15 minutes, and drive Downtown in 15 minutes most of the time; probably 25 minutes during rush hour.

Anyway, the important thing is to get more info on this pie business. Is it located in the ancestral Calahometown?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:07 PM
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The $3000 place in 77 is in Edgewood. You could bike to the Google offices in 10-15 minutes, and drive Downtown in 15 minutes most of the time; probably 25 minutes during rush hour.

Anyway, the important thing is to get more info on this pie business. Is it located in the ancestral Calahometown?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:07 PM
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Oh, are we comparing how nice a place you can get for $3000/month in our towns?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:08 PM
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I don't know if I'm allowed to break the SOOBC to share the correlation between the price of Smearcase's NYC place and our 6-bedroom, but that was eye-opening. I semi-deliberately live in a low-cost place because it makes life easier. Conditions here are essentially the same as Pittsburgh, which I assume is why the sports fans hate each other so much.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:08 PM
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I think there's just the guy making pies here. I mean, other people make pies, but this guy does nothing else.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:08 PM
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58 to 82.2


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:09 PM
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85 to 82.2. Sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:09 PM
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Coakley is almost certainly going to lose (again.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:11 PM
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It appears there is nothing to rent for 3K/month, actually. The most expensive thing I can find is this house, 2809 square feet for $2,250/month. Oh well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:11 PM
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I am starting to really worry that Coakley is going to lose.

Starting to worry?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:14 PM
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79: What, it's not as if I'm making up the Oakland-Brooklyn thing.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:15 PM
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91: It's more that it fits into a long long line of ex-New Yorkers moving here and then immediately complaining about how much better NYC is at everything and have you seen what people call pizza here and you call this a deli? Not that that's really on you.

Plus I'm really over San Franciscans turning up their noses at the East Bay. I live here and I like it goddammit it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:21 PM
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90: I was worried before in an abstract way, but this feels more real. I kept holding on to a belief, often reported in the media, that polls in Mass underrepresent Democratic turnout.

I suppose that more of the Berwick voters ( including me) should have voted for Grossman.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:23 PM
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92.2: speaking of reactions common enough to be kind of a thing, I have bad news about recent-ish transplants to the east bay indignantly standing up for the awesomeness of the east bay...


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:25 PM
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It appears there is nothing to rent for 3K/month, actually.

Same here.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:27 PM
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92.2: look man, I've personally displaced too many Miwok, Ohlone, and Pomo to count. My bona fides are impeccable.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:34 PM
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I like it better than San Francisco, FWIW. I don't think I do much of the comparing-it-to-New-York thing, except vis-a-vis public transit. Or rather, I do compare them sometimes, but try to be fair about it being a two-way comparison. I recently admitted to Bave that one's food life is probably better here and of course the weather is no contest.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:37 PM
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||

Hey, this is far too stupid for an ATM, and kind of topical: how much candy should one buy for trick-or-treaters if one is on a "destination" trick-or-treating street?

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Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:38 PM
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One piece for each child.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:40 PM
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I feel like 99 might be impractical.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:42 PM
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I think 99 is more useless than impractical.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:43 PM
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97: nah, you just hit a sore spot (and I'm cranky for other reasons). And yes, public transit here sucks compared to NYC, but then again so do most other cities in the world.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:44 PM
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(Oh yeah, and Tweety, you realize I've never lived in SF, right?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:45 PM
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If you're on a "destination" street for trick-or-treating, your go to source of advice is definitely the person who wrote this letter to Slate.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:46 PM
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)

I didn't but I didn't say where you'd been transplanted from. Not, canonically, New York, but coulda been all kinds of places.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:47 PM
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104: oh well anybody not-local we'll shoot, obviously. But kids from one street over it'd be nice to give them some candy after maiming them.

(No seriously I don't think it's a destination on that scale. But our neighbors seem to be pretty into it and I've seen a couple of things on goofy local news sites about trick-or-treating in [ town ] that mention our street.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:49 PM
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You could ask your neighbors how much they give away each year. Old people often count.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:51 PM
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I will. But I think, like, Thorn at least has experience with this. And asking unfogged is basically my first reaction to pretty much any mild conundrum.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:53 PM
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You do want to consider topography. If your front door is level with the sidewalk, kids are more likely to stop. If they have to climb 20 steps to hit just one house, they sometimes don't bother.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:53 PM
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I agree with Moby asking neighbors. Except I've forgotten how many I bought last year (I think 1000?) and just know they were gone after 90 minutes. And that was in the rain! But people here are very polite about it being first come first served, etc.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:53 PM
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108: You should have exactly 165 "fun size" Mars bars.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:54 PM
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24. What will be interesting to see is what happens if the economy turns up a bit more. The "kids" (often nearly 30) who live in multi-person apartments, haven't married, don't own a car, etc. at nauseum will do what their parents and grandparents did: get married, have kids, move to a suburban locale with better schools.

Or they won't. I know at this stage of their lives my kids are very urban-oriented and mostly thinking about issues like earning enough money to have an apartment of their own, or one with just one roommate. But they aren't making big enough money to do that yet.

The real determiner will be how many people in their cohort stick it out in urban school systems that are often (at best) hit-or-miss in quality once they reach the married-with-children stage.

It's all about the schools.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:55 PM
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JRoth, I think they call themselves the Pie Guys? They're in the city, and I heard they were thinking of pairing with a coffee shop or something. (Details not relevant from 1500 miles away where no one is giving me pie.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:55 PM
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109: 10 steps but the porch has spooooky lighting and a skeleton.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:55 PM
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98. As much or a little as you want, if you are willing to turn all your lights off and hide until the rush is over.

We have one bag, but we're not on a destination street. More like an "OMG I'm going there!" street. (Not sketchy, just dark.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:57 PM
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113: This guy?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:57 PM
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sb. "not going there."


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:57 PM
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Just be prepared to spend the later part of the evening huddled silently in your darkened basement.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 12:58 PM
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116: yes!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:01 PM
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105: the class of 2018 has never lived in a world where I didn't live in the East Bay.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:02 PM
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The real determiner will be how many people in their cohort stick it out in urban school systems that are often (at best) hit-or-miss in quality once they reach the married-with-children stage.
It's all about the schools.

I have two friends, independent of each other, who have reached the "Job I will probably not get fired from in the next 5 years" stage and therefore have started thinking about kids. There is this incredibly intense cognitive dissonance between "I can't imagine living in the suburbs and having to drive everywhere, that would be infinitely worse", and "But it is infinitely better, if you have children."

I guess this is the same thing you saw in the first couple of seasons of Mad Men, but nowadays we don't even have the seduction of car culture and whatever sort of futuristic appeal the suburbs had back then. I mean, if you've gotten past the feeling that "city" = "poverty" = "crime", there's no reason to live in the suburbs, except the schools. The schools aren't even a proxy for something like freedom, or parks and fun recreation activities. Just schools.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:24 PM
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What? No magnet schools?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:32 PM
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I think some of this discussion should separate out at least (a) in your 20s and low or lower-middle income because you are at the beginning of a career (that's maybe slow-developing and has a lower entry salary because of the economy) and (b) in your 20s and low or lower-middle income because you are precariously employed or unemployed, with no real career trajectory to speak of. Among the college-educated, b's are disproportionately represented among millennials compared to earlier generations, but they are still a very small fraction, I believe. The real people getting hit are millennials who aren't college-educated, but they are not the subject of the article in the OP.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:33 PM
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I feel like a broken record about this, but I'm in a not excitingly expensive part of NYC, and the schools have been really absolutely fine. I wish I could figure out if the schools I've interacted with have been flukily acceptable as urban schools go, people who can't deal with the thought of sending kids to urban schools have some kind of actually valid, reasonable expectation for their kids' school that we did without and I didn't think of, or if they're just being deluded about how bad urban schools generally are.

I can totally see not wanting to send your kids to actually bad schools, but it completely throws me seeing people take it as an offhand assumption.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:34 PM
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Probably obvious, but that was me.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:34 PM
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if they're just being deluded about how bad urban schools generally are

We're basically going with this assumption until proven otherwise. Our town has notably worse schools by most ratings than the surrounding towns, but the parents we know with kids in them generally love them, and the ratings seem (as best we can tell) specifically and intentionally designed to penalize schools for having some students from poor families.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:38 PM
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But you grew up in the city too, right LB?

If you come from a suburb or small town, and always wanted to live in the city, and now you live in the city and you still think it's great... you still haven't had the experience of being a kid in the city. So it still feels like a big risk to try raising kids in this way.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:41 PM
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Another thing that happens is college-educated people having kids earlier than they would if they were perfectly in control/perfect economic rationalizers. Some people have kids while they still can't choose to move to the `burbs!* So they raise a kid or two in little apartments (the size of Levittown starter ranches, AFAICT) and walk to the parks and are regulars at the museums' kids days and drive out to the wilderness on an occasional weekend.

But they make the city schools better because they have the cultural capital and they need to.

*Also, two-income living and driving the kids places is barely compatible with the suburbs -- especially when the jobs are likely to move across town.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:43 PM
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124: There's a lot of factors, but I think an important one is the idea that suburban schools don't let anyone fall through the cracks. That's obviously not true in any literal sense, and I don't know if parents-to-be even articulate it that way, but there's an unspoken anxiety that I can only really ascribe to an inchoate fear that little Estelle won't get everything she needs from City Grade School.

And then there's just the underlying assumption that urban schools are inherently inferior to suburban, which leads to lots of motivated reasoning - stories about bad urban teachers are proof that the system is broken, stories about bad suburban teachers are shrugged off as aberrations.

Part of my evidence for this is that Pittsburgh schools are, by all measures I've seen, better than most urban districts, and pretty comparable to the average suburban district, but the conversation around them is grounded in the (unspoken) idea that they're basically DC-grade*.

*AFAIK, DC is one of the few large urban districts** in the country that substantially underperforms even after you take SES factors into account

** that is, not getting into small, broken cities that of course have broken districts - thinking here of some of the old steel towns


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:44 PM
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126- You may have noticed that math test scores in your town, on fractions in particular, had a large jump this past year. I know why...


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:45 PM
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Our experience has been that the schools in Chicago our kids, and now my wife's brother's kids have attended/are attending are very good, and better than they were. Not just a few lead-fumes years ago, but forty and fifty years ago. My kids'—admittedly selective—urban high school was better by a lot than the UMC high school I attended and on the same level as the one on the North Shore everyone always talks about. Locals are a different story, and the kids from our neighborhood who went to our local high school did not do so well. How much of that is selection bias, how much is expectations, how much is culture, I don't know.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:46 PM
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Although ironically I have to explain that the jump needs to be analyzed for statistical significance before making this argument to policymakers.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:46 PM
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"two-income living and driving the kids places is barely compatible with the suburbs"
Just wait until there are self-driving cars though!
At the suburban school I went to, kids who were "falling through the cracks" were pushed into vocational or special ed programs. Whether this actually helped them be successful later in life or just made the district look better, I can't say.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:48 PM
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Post-WWII Bay area urban "core", according to some sources anyway, is SF-Oakland, maybe Alameda-Berkeley too.

Anyway, re: one-bedrooms in Oakland, in the South Bay, in new construction, every building I've looked up that's had a "we're renting" banner visible from a transit line has about $2250 as the lowest rent. I filter those out of Craigslist searches.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:49 PM
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and the kids from our neighborhood who went to our local high school

Yeah, the NYC high school system definitely has soft spots -- I don't understand it perfectly because I haven't had to. But the impression I have is that there are varyingly selective/specialized/interesting high schools enough for somewhere around half the students, and they range from very very good to really fine, and the selectivity is loose enough that if you're a middle class parent who's paying attention at all (or a working class parent in the position to do the same sort of form-filling out and so on), your kid can go to one of the schools that is at least fine. But the completely non-selective district high schools that take everyone else are, at least for some of them, not great places to be.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:52 PM
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On the word of mouth stuff, it's probably worth acknowledging that the discussion is, if not poisoned, at least skewed, by racist trolls who know that you can basically get away with saying any damn thing you want about urban schools. It leads to a baseline that's very much in favor of suburban schools, because it's not as if there's anyone (other than bored teenagers) who expends energy on slagging suburban schools.

I'd add that Drum posted a chart a couple weeks ago showing that public schools are like Congresspeople: everyone hates the system, but likes their own Rep. Most Americans think their local schools are fine, but that public schools in general are crappy. Furthermore, and tellingly, Republicans very much skew this distribution, because they're convinced that every district but their own is shit (again, see "racist trolls").


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:56 PM
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DC is one of the few large urban districts** in the country that substantially underperforms even after you take SES factors into account

The long shadow of Michelle Rhee...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:57 PM
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Gaskells apparently has to move out of the lakeside Oakland hall it's been in. I blame gentrification. (I don't know; complicated volunteer organizations fall apart in other ways.) Anyway, possibly Last Chance to See, and more importantly Do.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 1:57 PM
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I can totally see not wanting to send your kids to actually bad schools, but it completely throws me seeing people take it as an offhand assumption.

Yes, this drives me absolutely up the wall. Especially siblings who live in completely affluent places.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:02 PM
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"they range from very very good to really fine...your kid can go to one of the schools that is at least fine"
Well that's not good enough for my kids, I expect near mint or better and sealed in a UV-resistant mylar bag.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:03 PM
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135 also roughly describes our schools.

We're probably remiss in discussing this without citing status anxiety. Depending on your milieu, for the average UMC white*, sending your kid to an urban school is a bit like driving a beater or wearing thrift store jackets - it's a valid choice, but one that's fraught and anxiety-ridden.

Ned's anecdata suggests that this anxiety supersedes other ways in which non-"Leave It To Beaver" living has been normed.

*possibly other groups as well, not going to speculate


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:04 PM
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136 is well taken, but then surely a great many more people move to a place where they think the schools will be better than move to a place where they think the congressman will be better.

I would guess that a big part of the anxiety isn't about the school qua school, but about the other students. Are they going to be thinking about colleges? Elite or JCs? Are they going to be stealing lunch money? Even the non-racist parents are ending up in the same place from classism.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:04 PM
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Oh, I have another anecdote for the anxiety -- listened to some grandparent-age successful people talk about how the small-apartment, parks and public schools childhood reminded them of their upbringing when almost everyone thought that was a fine middle class standard, and then in nearly the same breath -- I'm not sure the parents in question didn't overhear -- they were reassuring each other that the insulated life was the right one.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:09 PM
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SP: we put the kids in the self-driving cars, seal them in Mylar, and have them circle the block until suppertime.

upshot: a generation of hackers. Also kids who carry awls.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:12 PM
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Just musing on my own limits: I'd feel like I had to find an alternative if the local high school didn't offer what I considered to be sufficiently many AP classes. For elementary and middle school, they'd have to be...I'm not sure where I'd draw the line. I hope I'd send the kids to any of the elementary schools in town, but the reality is that I'm not actually being asked to make that decision. (Yet! Redistricting school zones is coming up, and geographically we're getting bussed across town, so who knows. Maybe I'll get my A Little Princess moment yet.)

(Or if any specific kid was really unhappy at the school, we'd respond accordingly. I'm thinking about things I'd pre-emptively worry about.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:13 PM
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127.2 is basically me. Grew up in the suburbs, spent my entire adult life in big cities. I'm cautiously optimistic about raising urban kids and sending them to public school, but I really have no idea what I'm doing.

My kid is going to a Spanish immersion preschool (it's the closest, cheapest and least-silly option), which paradoxically makes me feel So Much More White.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:24 PM
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we put the kids in the self-driving cars, seal them in Mylar, and have them circle the block until suppertime.

Do you even comprehend how many millions of years of evolution resulted in our finely tuned ability to circle blocks mindlessly?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:25 PM
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I'd feel like I had to find an alternative if the local high school didn't offer what I considered to be sufficiently many AP classes.

I took exactly one AP exam (worth 3 college credits) and look at me now: commenting on the Internet in the middle of a work day!


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:28 PM
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Schools are always a big part of it, but other reasons I've heard for people to move out of central city apartments: having a yard, closer to parks/outdoors, city transit poor enough they're already car-dependent. Obviously does not apply to all cities, and cities do have homes-with-yards neighborhoods.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 2:49 PM
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closer to parks

IME cities almost always win on this metric.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:03 PM
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It's genuinely hard for me to tease "bad schools" into the separate components of UMC anxiety, lightly spackled racism, and genuinely bad schools. We're in suburb that's a five-minute walk from the city limit in a that has a schmancy school system -- it produced a future winner of the Bancroft Prize! -- but even that gets a lot of "oh, it's not what it once was" which seems mostly to match up with unspoken fears about sending your kid to a majority-minority school district.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:03 PM
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it produced a future winner of the Bancroft Prize!

Yeah, but is that something to brag about?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:08 PM
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My sense is that at the elementary school level, it's all very low stakes for people in your and my position. If the schools you're looking at are grossly functional and pleasant, then your kid probably isn't going to take any meaningful academic damage that you can't address by letting her borrow whatever you're reading. In high school, where there's more academic content, there's more at stake.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:10 PM
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Yawnoc! Meetup?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:15 PM
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I think what I'd struggle with is my sense that at the most underperforming elementary schools, they've got such shitty arts and music, and so much time dedicated to getting kids to pass the standardized tests. Like music class and art class once a month, or so I'm told. I'm not sure how dreary the students find it, or if they just roll with it. Also I occasionally get jealous when my parents report all the innovative, disruptive curriculums that my nieces and nephews get at their hoity-toity private schools.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:22 PM
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154: Maybe? The other thread petered out without any concrete proposals.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:27 PM
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||
Is there a generational thing about it being fine to read what other people are typing or something? My coworker earlier in the day asked me what that unfogged thing I'm always reading is, without any "didn't mean to read over your shoulder" or anything.
|>


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:29 PM
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When did AP classes become a thing? When I took APs you just signed up for the test. There were no classes.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:31 PM
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155: Our default elementary school (since shuttered) would have been flatly unacceptable: it was designed to be an intensive catch-up curriculum for kids entering grade school with 0 academic capacity, and would likely have led Iris to drop out at the age of 7. There are definitely schools in underperforming districts that are simply not good fits. But I think that H-G's heuristics are apt ones: if the school includes creative outlets (or at least some sort of enrichment program), then it's likely going to be acceptable, and certainly won't scar the child for a year or three.

One of the weird things about this whole deal is the way parents imagine that even one subpar year will scar their kids forever. I mean, we were kind of anxious about switching Kai from Waldorf to public, but that's because he's genuinely a weird kid, not because kids are so fragile. We wouldn't have let Iris go to the really wrong school, but we would have accepted any other assignment, even if we weren't wholly enthusiastic.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:33 PM
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158: Really? That was not the case at least as far back as '83, at least in Miami.

Actually, I believe that I have heard of places that would let you take the AP test whether you'd taken the AP-level course or not, but since the standard classes didn't necessarily cover the relevant material....

In my HS, at least, honors classes morphed into AP classes in 11th and 12th grades; that is, if you took honors English in 11th, you'd take AP English in 12th. I know that's not universal, but it did give lots of kids access to the AP test.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:36 PM
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I have been surprised by the opposite - parents doggedly insisting kid continue in private school making him/her miserable. Expensive, misery inducing situation! This makes less than no sense to me.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:36 PM
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157: While I'm almost certain that it's OK to kill this person on manners alone, you're kind of obligated to do so by the nature of the SOOBC.

Josh, what's the preferred East Bay method?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:38 PM
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158: I'm your age or older, I think (high school graduating class of '88), and in my school there were AP classes that led up to AP tests -- it might have been possible to take a test without taking the class, but it would have been a special exception. So, maybe my school was odd, or maybe yours was, I don't know? But classes aren't all new.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:38 PM
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There were neither honors nor AP classes at my suburban No Cal high school. And there was a decent percentage of students who didn't take either the SAT or ACT. I just signed up for the ones that seemed doable, checked out some books from the library, and took the tests. Did fine.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:40 PM
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My sense is that at the elementary school level, it's all very low stakes for people in your and my position.... In high school, where there's more academic content, there's more at stake.

Alternatively, if you want to game the college admissions process, send your offspring to the high quality schools for K-8, then drop them on an underperforming school district in an impoverished area for high school. Bingo: valedictorian and surprisingly strong test scores for someone from such a disadvantaged area. Works even better if you can switch jobs around the time applications are due, so the "parents' occupation" question can be answered with "unemployed".


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:40 PM
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No Cal high school

I had no idea there were diet schools.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:40 PM
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161: Oh, that's just standard bloody-mindedness: "I'm paying all this money for you to go to this great school, so you'll stay there and get educated whether you like it or not." Same spirit as mandatory athletics, music*, etc. If it's a good school, the hating of it proves that it's doing a good job. Only poor schools are proven bad by miserable kids.

*one of Iris' classmates is the son of a pair of Symphony musicians, one of whom has volunteered to man the bake sale table on Election Day. Her message said that she was basically free that day, except "I have to practice - ugh." Nice to know that even the pros find music practice a chore.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:41 PM
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165: Who says consultants don't provide real value?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:43 PM
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I do love me some voting cupcakes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:43 PM
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The more votes you cast, the more baked goods you can buy!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:50 PM
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It just blows my mind that commitment the theoretical benefit of a particular educational institution trumps the actual lived experience of someone you share dinner with each night.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:52 PM
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166: apparently the whole thing was "lite"!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:53 PM
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someone you share dinner with each night

Or not. That might be part of your explanation right there.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:55 PM
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Pros should find practice extra exhausting as they do it right.

Yawnoc! Breeze! Lurkers! I propose tomorrow, Tuesday the 27th, at 6pm, at the 5 Spot (1502 Queen Anne Ave N).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:56 PM
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someone you share dinner with each night.

I wouldn't take that part of it for granted.

My HS had no AP in the late 60s, and they're the kind of place that would be all over it. There was honors.

My wife's North Shore HS was proud of being an AP pioneer, and also jealous of the scores. She and a classmate, already admitted to the UofC and Stanford respectively, decided to skip the AP exam for subjects those schools wouldn't credit anyway. The school threatened their AP credits, and followed through on the threat.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 3:58 PM
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I went to suburban schools for K-8 and then an urban high school, but the suburban schools were mediocre and the high school was truly excellent, so all of the default assumptions on this kind of thing seem weird to me. How common are magnet schools? I'm only dimly aware of how things work here but it seems like there are surprisingly few high schools per city and surprisingly many cities per small geographic area so it's pretty vastly different from the system I grew up in.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:01 PM
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It also seems to me like the only actually important thing in K-8 is that the kid is happy or at least not abjectly miserable, and it's only in high school that things start to take on some kind of approximate relevance for possible future life options.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:05 PM
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My high school (early 90s) had both honors and AP classes, so some kids ended up taking Honors English and AP English; Honors Civics and AP History. I could have taken (at least) four AP exams, but I only took one (Calculus; I don't remember if there was Honors Calc or only AP).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:07 PM
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I think the high school I went to had a major impact on where I went afterward because the scope of options that seemed realistic to people there was a lot wider than what would have seemed realistic to my parents or my local suburban high school. But for children of UMC parents, that also seems like less of an issue: if I ever have a kid it might be more important for them to be around people who are capable of imagining paths that don't involve getting a PhD.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:08 PM
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I completely blew everybody's minds in 12th grade by eschewing AP classes and taking Graphic Arts. At least I'll be employable when all these computers get replaced by silk-screening machines.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:08 PM
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Who says consultants don't provide real value?

You should see my business plan for buying low cost real estate in the heartland to set up full-service temporary rental housing for families wanting to go this route. "Why pay tens of thousands for college admissions consultants that do little or nothing to improve the odds of admission? With Square State Affirmative Advantage, you can double, even triple your child's chances of getting into a top college."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:09 PM
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I was using "someone you share dinner with each night" as a milder tie than "the child whose happiness is to a greater or lesser but for heaven's sake at least partially entrusted to you". But I take your point. Interestingly in the one example most vividly in my mind right now, there are shared dinners, but also a massive cultural commitment to French schooling even though there seem to be some pretty yucky intrastudent dynamics in one class cohort that are acknowledged by the parents to be extremely unpleasant for the kid.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:11 PM
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179: You have a PhD and you don't imagine paths that don't involve getting a PhD, like, every day?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:13 PM
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Talking to my former advisor the other day I realized that he thinks that it's completely unreasonable for anyone to take into account their opinion of a particular location when deciding what job to take, but that once someone accepts a job he thinks they're completely unreasonable if they don't choose to live near the best school in the area.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:14 PM
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I also graduated HS in '88 (Southern California suburb), and the AP tests there were definitely linked to taking the AP courses. I don't think I ever heard of anyone just taking the test.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:15 PM
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I wouldn't think tests would ever be linked to taking the course. If you're willing to pay the fee, the College Board is willing to take your money.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:17 PM
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176:

My daughter had a close friend in HS whose parents had moved to the city while she was in HS. She thought the urban selective so much superior to the well-regarded suburban one she'd left that she couldn't get over it.

My kids feel very proud and lucky when comparing experiences with the people they encounter who went to suburban high schools.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:19 PM
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186: Quite possibly. I don't think we investigated beyond what the school said (or implied) about it.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:19 PM
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Anyway, I was hoping for some links to some of the more egregiously oblivious "Millennials Y U No Spend" pieces. Didn't have time to actually look for them until now.

Here's the wisdom of Jay Novak, CNBC producer.

Don't know what the point of this is, but the headline alone includes TWO non sequiturs.

Have kids! Why? Why not!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:23 PM
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That last one looks like the headline was changed from "shouldn't" to "should" at the last minute.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:24 PM
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I took at least 5 AP tests for which I hadn't taken the corresponding class. I don't know what good I thought it would do me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:24 PM
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Well, I just found out weekend before last that greyhound has far more restrictive policies on unaccompanied minors than when I was packed off age 8 to visit the grandparents, resulting in the loss of a much anticipated night on my own. So I'm a bit bitter and suspicious right now. But at least back in my day you just signed up and took the test, wasn't a big deal. Also SAT prep was unheard of in my town. Nowadays I am hearing all kinds of alarmist shit from fellow French school parents re math questions on the SAT being impenetrable to those taught à la française. Better half and I luckily got over any potential upset with a few minutes chat, difference seems to boil down to whether your kid is comfortable estimating certain things, he seems fine with that, so we are solidly back in not paying any mind mode.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:31 PM
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I don't recall anything ever about AP classes or tests at my No Cal high school. It was probably going on, but I was interested in other things.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:32 PM
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We're talking about American kids who speak English fluently? I can't believe there's any problem that couldn't be overcome with a weekend or two with review books to make sure they had all the English language math vocabulary.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:33 PM
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This piece from the Southwest Journal, one of the top newspapers in Minneapolis, is very reasonable. So is this one. I can't find the one that really annoyed me with its "Buying instead of renting is a free lunch - and there are even programs to help first-time buyers, as long the seller will take a 3% down payment instead of 20%, which they won't" attitude.

The feeling that real estate is a good investment qua investment, as in a thing that will go up in value, may just be gone. It makes sense to pay a mortgage instead of rent because it's kind of the same thing, except at the end, hey, you've got a house, or at least part of one. That sounds pretty good, except for the massive transaction costs, property taxes and the likelihood of paying two mortgages for who knows how many months when you move.

But the idea that your house will then be sold to someone else who pays a much bigger mortgage, and you pocket the profits, that does not seem intuitive.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:34 PM
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I took 2 AP tests, plus the equivalent Russian language one put out by whoever. I think I got a 3 on the History and a 4 on English? Something like that. Anyhow, at my (big, urban, multiple magnet programs) HS, you basically didn't hear about the AP tests unless you were in the class. I don't imagine anyone would have had a problem with rando student taking them, but it wasn't marketed at all.

To the OP: I'd like to see the raw numbers, and yuppies-as-a-percentage-of-downtown residents over time, not just the percent increase.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:34 PM
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149. Very few cities have a public transit network that makes it easy to change jobs and get to the new one easily. Even fewer cities have a public transit network that makes it easy to live in the suburbs and try that. (Mostly hub and spoke networks.) So you can get kind of stuck either way, unless you have a car.

I wouldn't mind working in Kendall Square or the South Boston "Innovation District" but the commute, even with commuter rail, would be extremely annoying.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:35 PM
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As for the bad school scarring some kid for life, that's about the kid stealing Junior's lunch money (and then punishing Junior for complaining about it), not the English teacher who doesn't believe in diagramming sentences.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:36 PM
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Yes! Although to be fair the entire approach to math teaching has been very different from the beginning. The school has to teach both, I think to maintain accredited status, so the 20% of instruction in English is spent in "American math" and English. They had a random year of US social studies/history somewhere in there as well. At any rate we've seen the math work side by side all along and there are major differences. But still, the only thing concrete in the test anyone has been able to cite to me is the estimating thing. This is underwhelming to me as something to get all worked up about.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:40 PM
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198: Do they still diagram sentences? We did when I was in school, but I had some vague sense that it's become an anachronism, like learning to use a slide rule (I believe we were the last class in my school to learn anything about slide rules).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:40 PM
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195.1, second link: Many of those who may be able to buy also cannot afford the typical down payment of five percent.

Five percent is typical? I had been under the impression that it was somewhere between ten and twenty.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:47 PM
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From the link in 189.2: "If millennials really want a higher paying job, they'll make the sacrifices necessary and make it happen."

What the actual fuck?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:52 PM
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Semi on topic, Bret Easton Ellis on dating/Slating millennials: "Generation Wuss". He actually uses some of the structural stuff people are talking about in this thread to diagnose the putative wussiness, which seems ... Brooksian.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:54 PM
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MAYBE MILLENNIALS SHOULD CONSIDER GETTING SOME STUDENT LOANS AND GETTING A DEGREE,

IT SEEMS RISKY BUT WILL PAY OFF.

THAT'S WHAT OTHER GENERATIONS DO


Posted by: OPINIONATED JAKE NOVAK | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:56 PM
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AP stuff. Never underestimate UMC college admissions anxiety. If they could get a leg up to Harvard or damned-by-Halford UofC they'd be willing to take courses in weasel skinning ... assuming there's an AP for it.

200. There are few places where retro chic has led to a small resurgence of diagramming, but mostly it's dead, dead, dead. Schools don't do cursive writing much either.

201. There's actually a new program from the Feds to support 3% down mortgages.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 4:59 PM
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196 was me.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:01 PM
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Those longing for diagramming & cursive - go French. Although it makes more sense to diagram in a language with actual grammatical rules rather than a hot mess of exceptions-embedded-in-exceptions.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:01 PM
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||

Rosalynn got home from a week away at a conference and as we were getting softly reacquainted, she remembered one of the big speeches and interrupted the flow of events to ask, "Have you ever heard of David Brooks?"

It took about ten minutes to recover.

|>


Posted by: President Carter | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:07 PM
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203. Does he know any millennials, other than his roommate/whatever?

I'm an old fart but I know a fair number of millennials and for the most part they are wusses in pretty much the same ratio as other generations.

I'll take my anecdotes over his, and mine aren't from taxi drivers roommates.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:09 PM
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199: Funny. My daughter's (German) school didn't have anything in English, but English, and she got a Maryland diploma. (Rather than stay on a year for abitur -- which was a 13 yr thing back then.) If they had American history at all it was grossly mistaught.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:11 PM
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155: Check on whether that's actually true. I know it's Texas and all, but even in my sad little state, school rankings include a score based on what classes beyond the ones that count for the tests they offer and how good the curriculum in those classes is. The art teacher we hired this summer is super awesome, and each class sees her at least once a week, I think.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:25 PM
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It just blows my mind that commitment the theoretical benefit of a particular educational institution trumps the actual lived experience of someone you share dinner with each night.

The parents that I have known that have been most incapable of seeing this point have been intensely insecure with regard to other parents. They also tend to be vocal about seeing their preferred educational route as the only possible "safe" path for their child.

Their faith in a guaranteed life-outcome approaches superstition, IMO. And their fear of making an educational choice outside the well-trodden path is hard to fathom if you are the type that has a lot of confidence in your own judgment.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:33 PM
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I thought the Ellis piece was pretty good, especially since it's Snark meets Smarm. (But apparently Snark lives with Smarm and wants Smarm to have a good life. Metaphysical romcom.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:37 PM
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If they had American history at all it was grossly mistaught.

So, consistent with American curricular standards, then.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:42 PM
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207.2: do we actually have enough linguists here that it's worth trolling them?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:53 PM
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||

MIT conducts unprecedented survey on campus sexual assault climate. Survey gets 35% response rate; 17% of female respondents and 5% of male respondents report being assaulted.

||>


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 5:56 PM
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I'm imagining an "American School" in a foreign country, for locals as well as expats. Bryant, Longfellow, Parkman and Prescott. Solemn instruction in bare-handed baseball, jacks and mumblepeg. Every boy must carry a pocket knife, and is expected to get into a fistfight at least once a semester.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 6:44 PM
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My high school has greatly expanded its AP offerings which I see as part of the general red queen's race of college admissions. I took every AP class they offered (aside from the language ones I hadn't learned) but they didn't have world history, only had calc AB not BC, no physics, only had English language not lit. So I took US history, chem, bio, Eng language, calc AB, French (actually maybe I took a physics even though there was no specific course?) and got 5s on everything which actually let me skip a few courses at MIT (intro chem, bio, calc) or take higher level intro (physics.)
But now that course load would be considered slacking- need to take physics, calc BC, European history, literature, etc. and even then, everyone else is doing the same to make sure they get in to the right places.
And looking at the marketing page- WTF is AP Capstone? It would be awesome if it had to do with building pyramids but I'm guessing not.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 6:55 PM
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I wouldn't think tests would ever be linked to taking the course. If you're willing to pay the fee, the College Board is willing to take your money.

I really wanted to take the AP English exam in HS, but we didn't have any AP classes. They'd had them in the past, and I tried to get the teachers/administration to help me sign up to take the AP English language exam on my own, but they completely stonewalled me.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:10 PM
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Wow, they have 30 tests now? I'm glad that wasn't true when I was in high school; I probably would have been crazy/stupid/hypercompetitive enough to take five or six more if they existed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:26 PM
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Yeah, I regret doing quite as much AP stuff as I did (6 or 7, I think) because eventually I reached a point in college where the registrar thought I ought to have graduated because those classes counted too, when I'd thought the point was to knock the basics out of the way in high school so you could just take whatever 300-level classes you wanted to for fun.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:40 PM
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My school would only teach how World War II ended in AP history classes to encourage enrollment in them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:48 PM
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My high school world history class got to around 1800 on the last day and the teacher tried to fill in the rest by shouting something like "and then Napoleon came to power and tried to conquer Europe and there were lots of wars and Bismarck and that led to World War 1 and then 2 and now we're up to date" as the bell was ringing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:51 PM
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222: Funny, my school taught that WWII ended in Germany and Japan.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 7:57 PM
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I've written a comment or wait two comments here before about the AP European History exam so I guess I shouldn't repeat myself.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:00 PM
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History class comments repeat themselves. First as tragedy, then as farse.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:13 PM
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215: Probably, yeah, but I for one am not going to take the bait.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:24 PM
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Solidarity, Teo.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:27 PM
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Speaking of bait for Teo, I just learned that when they say "Before Present" in archeology, they mean "before 1950." They should use 1960, for greater compatibility with SAS.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:35 PM
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150: There are parks, and then there are parks. Also, there's closer and then there's closer.

So for example, SF has great parks and if you live there, you probably live near a few of them. But the open space around the bay has a lot more to offer as far as hiking and mountain biking and even lake and river stuff and - the key point - if you're going to be driving for those activities anyway, SF isn't that convenient. And if you're leaving the Bay Area altogether, getting out of SF can add a surprising amount of time to your trip.

But SF has better beaches than the East Bay, definitely, given that the East Bay basically has none. Some nice shoreline parks, though. I really like what they've done with the South Bay shoreline, which I remember being much more salt evaporator-y than park-y when I last lived near here.

(I will acknowledge that I'm biased by growing up in the East Bay and by having spent most of my fairly brief residential time in SF in Richmond and Sunset neighborhoods, which are not easy to get into or out of if you're heading east.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:46 PM
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crazy/stupid/hypercompetitive enough to take five or six more if they existed.

My oldest is taking six AP classes this year and has credit for six previous AP classes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 8:54 PM
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It seems to be something of an arms race.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:03 PM
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I just learned that when they say "Before Present" in archeology, they mean "before 1950."

Yeah, this allegedly has something to do with radiation from atomic bombs throwing off radiocarbon dating, but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that that's about when radiocarbon dating was invented. For a while in the early years of the technique at least some archaeologists would use the actual year the analysis was done as the "Present," and report their dates to a precision of one year counting back from then. Archaeologists love statistics, but they're generally not very good at it.

The "Present = 1950" thing is really annoying, though, especially since a lot of archaeologists still report dates only in years BP even though there's no reason to do that unless you're dealing with radiocarbon years rather than calendar years, and there's really no reason to do that for most time periods of interest to most archaeologists.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 9:13 PM
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228: word. I minored in IE linguistics. of course, part of it was taught by classicists, so, in a bizarrely outdated and incorrect fashion that pretended--no, I guess was sincerely averring--not to know anything about laryngeals. or, like hittite. or even sanskrit really, if it came to that. and, I mean, the theory was first articulated by de saussure in the 1880s or some shit (granted it's undergone modifications and has disputed aspects) so they should have ought to have done known that already. my linguistics adviser (from the linguistics department) was married to one of my classics profs (and macarthur grant winners) who totally, utterly loathed me with the burning hatred that can only be summoned by a smart attractive woman who surrounds herself with solely male, semi-worshipful followers and hangers-on. so that was totes awk.
217: narnia's american school is uniquely american in having such things as armed guards with assault rifles (I think gurkhas, for some reason? or whoever has their hats smashed on in the extremest fashion, army rangers, then?), the worst bullying problem of any of the international schools, the worst drug problems of any international school, the highest tuition of any international school (32K narnian dollars per year IIRC, but maybe $35K), and a poor placement record--they recently have gone four or five years without getting anyone into an ivy, much to the hand-wringing dismay of parents. and there are like 3000 students pre-K-12th. they have an american football field despite having, until last year, no one to play besides themselves. a new school was started, but now apparently their students are bullied on the buses to/from games by the narnian-american-school kids LOL.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:03 PM
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I minored in IE linguistics.

Huh, I didn't know that. Unfogged is just crawling with hidden linguists, I guess.

of course, part of it was taught by classicists, so, in a bizarrely outdated and incorrect fashion that pretended--no, I guess was sincerely averring--not to know anything about laryngeals.

Wow. Bizarrely outdated indeed.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:10 PM
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234.2 is like a perfect microcosm of the US. Fractal nationalism.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 10:11 PM
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Liberals want to live like this. But conservatives want to live like this.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:17 PM
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From the link in 237:

Notably, the suburbs do not have a great deal of appeal for any ideological segment. And across age, gender and other demographic categories, there is no group that expresses a clear preference for living in the suburbs.

I wonder how many people live in areas that are borderline suburbs, bordering on small town in one direction or urban area in the other, and so think of themselves as not actually living in a suburb.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:26 PM
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"Suburb" isn't a very well-defined concept to begin with, so probably a lot.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:27 PM
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238: What is a suburb but an area of medium density between the city and small towns? Has sprawl so impoverished our national landscape that we can only imagine suburbs surrounded completely by other suburbs, with no urbs in sight?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:42 PM
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That's a huge range, though, with a lot of internal variation.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:44 PM
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Plus, especially in the South and West, many medium-density "suburban" areas are well within the limits of the main city in a given metropolitan area.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:47 PM
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Some towns in southern and central CT seem to have that ambiguity w/ small town going for them. Or against them. Although there's also "suburb of what" to throw into the mix. Stamford/Bridgeport*/New Haven are all cities, at least by CT standards. Admittedly, I've never spent much time in those towns so they may be clearly suburban to people who live in them.

In the Bay Area: Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito - suburbs or urban areas that are heavily residential? Berkeley seems like an easy case to me (I'd say still urban), Albany and El Cerrito I'm not sure and I've lived in one and went to junior high in another. I would guess that most people who live in those towns work elsewhere, but I'm always surprised at how near their workplaces many people live.

I could probably go on** and bore people to death and never even pretend to define suburb so as to not be proven wrong.

*Largest city in CT, I think.

**Or maybe not. I haven't lived in many places.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-27-14 11:58 PM
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According to the federal government, a suburb is a place where you would never consider walking to the store for a gallon of milk, but you can hit your nearest neighbor's house with a frisbee.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:06 AM
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A suburb is also a place where you probably have a frisbee.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:07 AM
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This reminds me of a maybe not intentionally disingenuous tv news report (not Fox, probably CNN) I saw years ago where the reporter interviewed a "small town" mayor to get an idea of how some national policy was playing locally and I looked up the small town and it turned out to be near O'Hare, and looked a lot like a suburb.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:09 AM
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Although there's also "suburb of what" to throw into the mix.

Yeah, this comes up in New Jersey too. Edison, for example, is the fifth-largest municipality in the state by population, but it's clearly "suburban" in development pattern. But what is it a suburb of? It's almost twice the size of New Brunswick, the nearest community to be plausibly "urban," but it's far enough from New York that it doesn't seem quite right to call it a New York suburb either.

And then there are the municipalities right across the Hudson from Manhattan (Jersey City, Hoboken, etc.) that are among the densest communities in the country, but clearly subordinate to NYC in the regional hierarchy. That's more a blurring of the urban/suburban boundary but still makes "suburb" hard to define.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:10 AM
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According to the federal government, a suburb is a place where you would never consider walking to the store for a gallon of milk, but you can hit your nearest neighbor's house with a frisbee.

So, this means Cambridge and Somerville aren't suburbs of Boston? I bet people walk to the store for milk there. (Boston-area commenters feel free to correct me.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:14 AM
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I would certainly walk to the store when I lived in NJ, in a community that would certainly be considered suburban by any criterion except walkability.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:22 AM
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248: Only small towns know the true meaning of ultimate frisbee.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:27 AM
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250 not to 248. The "248:" was for a comment I started writing about how some small towns probably have enough houses but few enough groceries that, depending on where you lived, you probably wouldn't walk to the store for a gallon of milk.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:29 AM
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I dunno, IMO actual small towns (as opposed to suburbs and small cities) tend to be pretty walkable.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:32 AM
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I think I actually meant "IME" in 252, but "IMO" is true as well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:36 AM
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I find the use of suburb to mean "sprawl" very confusing - NZ (maybe Commonwealth?) usage simply uses it to mean sub-part of a city. (I guess what American usage use neighbourhood for.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:37 AM
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I think this is where I'm not sure how small a town has to be to be a small town. When I was driving through the Sierras and Sierra foothills last week, some of the towns seemed walkable but barely able to support a market, while others were extended enough along the highways that I'm not sure what the distances would be like for walking to a store.

Also I'm only talking about houses on outer edges that could still pass a frisbee test, not the whole town as possibly not walkable. But again, some places I think of as towns may be small cities.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:39 AM
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I think this is where I'm not sure how small a town has to be to be a small town. When I was driving through the Sierras and Sierra foothills last week, some of the towns seemed walkable but barely able to support a market, while others were extended enough along the highways that I'm not sure what the distances would be like for walking to a store.

Well, this is all very subjective. But I do think there's a certain type of small but very compact (though not necessarily very dense) community type, generally associated with nineteenth-century railroad-oriented development, that is quite walkable and generally able to support at least basic local retail needs, which I would class as a "small town."

There are also communities of approximately the same size that are more sprawling, either because the local topography precludes compact development or because the community in question dates to the twentieth century and is more highway/automobile-oriented in layout.

To give specific examples in eastern California, I would say Lone Pine and Independence are examples of the former type of development, and Mammoth Lakes is an example of the latter. In Alaska, Seward and Palmer are examples of the former and Tok of the latter.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:50 AM
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Is Coos Bay a city? Some of those Oregon coastal towns, and they're all smaller than Coos Bay, have a drawn out along the highway look to them and Coos Bay itself probably stretches beyond walk-to-get-milk-ability. The Tsunami Gallery in Gardiner, OR, not far from Reedsport, gets a walkscore of 20 and a quick google map search for grocery doesn't turn up anything all that nearby, but streetview shows houses within frisbee distance.

I should go to sleep before I start streetviewing every highway I've driven down.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:54 AM
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I've never been to the Oregon coast, so I don't really know, but I suspect the communities there would fall into the "topographically driven sprawl" category regardless of size.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:01 AM
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I find the use of suburb to mean "sprawl" very confusing - NZ (maybe Commonwealth?) usage simply uses it to mean sub-part of a city. (I guess what American usage use neighbourhood for.)

Yeah, in American usage "neighborhood" refers to a sub-part of a city, while "suburb" refers to a formally separate community that is in close proximity to and economically dependent on a city.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:05 AM
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"Urban" and "suburban" as descriptions of development patterns correspond generally to "city" and "suburb" as types of municipality, but not exactly, as we've been discussing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:07 AM
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Right, I'm just saying that, given those geographies, the frisbee-milk criteria probably pulls in as "suburban" parts of some small towns.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:07 AM
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261: Probably, yeah, but I don't really buy the frisbee-milk criteria anyway.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:09 AM
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Why buy the frisbee-milk when you can get the plastic-cow for free?

(I'm saying this is a reason not to buy it.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:12 AM
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Exactly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:13 AM
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248- Please, obviously bike, not walk.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 3:33 AM
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OT, here's a strong case that the self-driving car will never deliver:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/10/google_self_driving_car_it_may_never_actually_happen.single.html

"the car depends on a perfect map of absolutely everything, which at the moment is prepared by a man with a red flag, sorry, special mapping car driven in the usual way. we have no plan at the moment to keep the map up to date"

also, the 700,000kms of test driving? that's 700,000kms back and forth along the same route. given that the whole concept is based on following a really detailed map, this doesn't promise much.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 3:45 AM
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I always get a little confused about the city-suburb thing. Obviously we're not part of the city that's across the river and thus state lines, though I could walk there to buy milk if there were reasonable places to buy milk downtown, which there mostly aren't. So that seems suburban, right? But our schools are considered urban, high-poverty schools, which does seem right. (Again, if the vast majority of parents in our neighborhood weren't white-flighting their kids to richer places, the high-poverty part would also be less true, though at last weekend's birthday party I heard that the talk of the Montessori is how much better things are getting at the primary school where the girls go and supposedly the trend is changing.) But I wouldn't feel right saying I'm urban because we're clearly a streetcar suburb of the big city, but not suburban the same way the ring of cities south of us and the other urban suburb are, nor basically rural like the ring around them.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 3:48 AM
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managers come and ask me "what do you think about Google Glass/Cars/Boat whatever"? and I always tell them "Google is a huge advertising company that employs the world's best data centre company. its top executives also have a really sweet train set".


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 3:48 AM
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But I do think there's a certain type of small but very compact (though not necessarily very dense) community type, generally associated with nineteenth-century railroad-oriented development, that is quite walkable and generally able to support at least basic local retail needs, which I would class as a "small town."

The tiny town where I went to elementary school and where my mom grew up was exactly like this. Railroad tracks through the middle, places for trucks to unload clay. A thriving little business strip even when I was a kid. I used to walk there with my grandmother, who had run the local lumber yard up through the mid-80s. Now everything is closed except for the post office, and there's nowhere to walk to. The elementary school closed around 20 years ago. Everything has moved out around the interstate highway exits, and the only place to buy milk is the gas stations there.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 4:08 AM
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I grew up near (though not in) several small towns of the type that Blume describes, minus the railroad, and the odd thing about them is that no one walks there except teenagers and drunks who have lost their drivers license, sometimes not even them. The towns may be perfectly walkable, but they are also uncrowded enough to make them perfectly driveable: there's no traffic and parking is never a problem. Attempting to walk somewhere is likely to be interpreted as a problem - people will stop and ask if you need a ride.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 4:48 AM
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248. I'd say Cambridge and Somerville are urban, not suburban, but given all the proposed definitions thrown around, where do the suburbs start in the Boston area?

Or maybe Boston is an outlier and doesn't really have suburbs, just nearby small towns. (I'm thinking places like Lexington and Concord, which have actual town centers but also lots of space here and there.)

When I go to California I see lots of what people like to call "sprawl," where you don't walk to the store and can hit your neighbor's house with a frisbee without even letting go of it. That's what I think of when I hear the word "suburb," not small towns like you see in MA.

Another example of sprawl-burbs is all the residential development around DC, where they turned fields into cheek-by-jowl houses all the way up I-270 and all over Northern VA. Just houses and shopping malls, a la Arcade Fire.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 5:12 AM
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Yep. They do that. If you are drunk, they want to know where the party is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 5:14 AM
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I took some extra AP exams that seem silly. Should have taken an AP science and AP Euro. Instead AB Calc. (BC was only offered to people who had already gotten 5s on the AB exam the year before. AP French language, AP US history, AP Latin (Virgil), AP French lLiterature, and AP Latin (Catullus/Horace).


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 5:39 AM
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On the city/suburb thing, as far as I can tell, a huge chunk of the city of Toronto is just suburbs that the province merged with the actual city. So, living in a suburb of Toronto means that you're pretty far out, and it's all just sprawl anyway.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 5:45 AM
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The problem is people seem to be defining everything as "a suburb of..." when it's entirely possible to still be urban but not be the biggest city around. So Cambridge can be urban while Boston is too, Jersey City/NYC, etc.
Somerville is one of the highest density cities in the US (highest in MA), and it's not because of skyscrapers, it's because it's tightly packed triple deckers and almost no green space.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:16 AM
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I'm imagining an "American School" in a foreign country, for locals as well as expats. Bryant, Longfellow, Parkman and Prescott. Solemn instruction in bare-handed baseball, jacks and mumblepeg.

I learned to play baseball at the local American school. We had a few Cub Scouts events there too. But I didn't actually attend it.

Or maybe Boston is an outlier and doesn't really have suburbs, just nearby small towns.

To give the obligatory UK perspective, that's basically what a suburb is over here. We don't really have space for sprawl, in the sense of loads of detached houses with no commercial development. Well, except in Milton Keynes, which is bonkers.



Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:18 AM
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There are several degrees of detached housing sprawl in the U.S. My neighborhood has mostly detached houses, but they lots that are measured in square feet (usually about 3,000 or so). In my parent's neighborhood, each house would have a lot five or six times as big. Out in the actual exurbs, the lots would be two or three times as big as that (that is, one or two acres).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:23 AM
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Or, as they say on the continent, a hectare or so.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:24 AM
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275: yeah I think there's a useful distinction between "a suburb" (a city or town bordering and part of the MSA of a larger city) and "the suburbs" (cities, towns or regions that have some relation to a central city but fundamentally car-oriented with single family homes and copious green space. So parts of the city of Boston definitely count as "the suburbs", as do parts of Brookline and Cambridge. The term is not terribly useful places where almost the whole city follows suburban development patterns (most of the west), but in older east coast cities it has I think a pretty clear and obvious meaning.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:26 AM
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We joked when we moved from old apartment between Central/Inman out to where we are now that we were moving to the suburbs.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:29 AM
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One of our neighbors from our old place in Inman saw us recently and said "oh, how are the burbs? What town did you move to again?" Yeah, we're about a mile and a half away from you, now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:33 AM
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Pretty much anywhere feels more suburban than Inman.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:34 AM
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That would make complete sense in Pittsburgh. A mile and a half is a long way. From my house, it would get you to three or four different suburbs and maybe five other city neighborhoods.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:35 AM
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At one point I counted the number of bars (including restaurants with bars) within two blocks of our apartment and came up with, I think, eleven.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:36 AM
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And you moved because...?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:39 AM
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This summer, I went to a bar in Inman.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:39 AM
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285: our landlords thought they could sell the triple-decker for 1.5 million, which didn't bode well for our rent.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:41 AM
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283: it's a long way here, and we did in fact move along a vector of increased suburbanity. Not nearly as suburban as she was thinking, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:43 AM
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Anyhow, now we only have one bar (well, and one goofy rock club that's open sometimes) within two blocks but there are several more inside of a half mile and I walk past an awesome brewery on my way home every day, so it all works out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:44 AM
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Not nearly as suburban as she was thinking, though.

Actually, not nearly as suburban as we were thinking, either.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:46 AM
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The bar is the building with the white front trimmed with green. I think there was a sign outside when I was there, but it's not there in that picture.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:48 AM
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I've only got one bar within a two blocks (side streets, I guess) now. Extend that to four and it'd be up to around 20 though.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:49 AM
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Surely pooping in the sink gives it a more rustic feel.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:49 AM
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271: Newton is a suburb. Brookline is a streetcar suburb, though parts are not that different from Brighton, and Allston-Brighton almost joined Brookline. Newton is definitely a suburb despite being organized as a city.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:55 AM
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Well, except in Milton Keynes, which is bonkers.

When I first heard of this place and how it came about, I nearly cried. (I also think that I was confused about the spelling and pronunciation.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:58 AM
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Hmm, I'm five streets from the downtown street, which has I don't even know how many bars, and there are, um, 7 on our side of that street. There are at least three strip clubs and a stripperwear store on the main street. Maybe we're not suburban?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:58 AM
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I'm starting to tell people that the Bible calls for greater urban density (Psalm 122:3: "Jerusalem, which is built as a city that is connected together.").


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:58 AM
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Stripperwear stores are pretty much the essence of suburbanity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:59 AM
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We're nearly two miles from the closest local equivalent to a stripperwear store.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:01 AM
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Teo - who can't defend himself at this hour - seems to be taking a weirdly prescriptivist* approach towards defining suburbs. There was a time when focusing on the economic relationships among municipalities was relevant - and so it mattered whether a town like Hoboken was central or dependent on NYC (or Newark) - but that's no longer the case, given the death of industry and the dispersal of employment across metropolitan areas. It's an important part of the history of a metro's development - did Somerville grow as an independent center that eventually flowed seamlessly into Boston, or was its growth beyond its small town origins wholly a creature of Boston? - but it tells us nothing now, because much of Somerville is more urban in form, and at least as connected by transit to the metro center, than some neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. It would be really weird to have a definition of suburban that made Somerville "suburban" and my neighborhood of detached houses with front and back yards and no mixed use "urban".

Meanwhile, the common usage of "suburban" (which I think Yawnoc captured pretty well) has nothing (directly) to do with economics or history, and everything to do with form: car-dependent, strictly separated uses, most housing single family detached, most retail highway-oriented**, most non-retail employment in office parks and industrial parks. There are traditional SES connotations of "suburb", but those are blurring, if not vanishing, as older automotive suburbs age and poverty moves in to places that look like Levittown.

People talk about "exurban", but I'm not convinced there's a definition that you could rigorously apply that would capture what people currently mean by it yet wouldn't also have applied, 25 years ago, to places now excluded from that meaning.

On a semi-related note, I'm working with a contractor who refused to pick up a drawing from the printer because he "hates the city." I clarified that the printer is not in the city, and is in fact closer to the airport (which is a stone's throw from the county line) than to the city, but apparently his definition of "city" encompasses anyplace where most of the land is in some way developed. He apparently lives on 7 acres, and then has 100 acres out in the country. I like him personally, but I suspect we'd have trouble talking for more than an hour about anything unrelated to construction.

*unless I'm using that term wrong

**not nec. interstate, also state highway


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:05 AM
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Talbot's?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:06 AM
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2.5 miles to what AFAIK is the nearest stripperwear store, which also somehow has army surplus stuff?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:13 AM
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When I first heard of this place and how it came about, I nearly cried. (I also think that I was confused about the spelling and pronunciation.)

You nearly cried in sympathy with Milton, who you thought was keening?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:15 AM
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I'm in the city limits, 6 miles from downtown, 1 miles from the nearest milk (a gas station/convenience store), in a neighborhood of 13,000 +/- sq ft lots. Suburban, for certain.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:16 AM
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Pertinent to previous conversations here, the biggest stripperwear store when I was growing up was The Th/ng Shop, which eventually I guess went out of business or relocated or something and has been replaced by The Th/nk Shop, an advertising/design agency.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:31 AM
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234.2:
I was afraid that might be true, without knowing anything about it, while typing my whimsy. You'll notice I left out football, the leather-helmeted thin-padded version seeming ridiculous in the absence of anyone to play with, although that doesn't seem to have stopped the US-Narns. Very hard to balance the desideratum of a rough masculinity that is not brutal and not stupid.

I'm sure the school memories of 20th century American authors whose schooling would have been before 1900 was what I was thinking about. Something like Albert Jay Nock's Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, although his school had a very classical curriculum and he remembered it as perfectly indifferent to placement or anything else beyond its own idea of education.

However obviously tinged with nostalgia, there is something there and it survives quite late. In Edwards Park's memoir of WWII air combat, Nanette, he notes how all the senior pilots in his squadron were liberal arts grads. One flight leader, facetiously, quotes Matthew Arnold's Forsaken Merman:"COME, dear children, let us away;. Down and away below" as they dive into combat over the Pacific.

It's obviously a mistake to expect schooling to accomplish this goal except adventitiously. The manhood project has always been extracurricular in this country: think of Richard Henry Dana or TR.

This is what I was about for years as a post-adolescent, with my series of physical and somewhat dangerous outdoor jobs. My son shows definite tendencies in this direction at the moment, Charley's too I think.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:32 AM
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I was afraid that might be true, without knowing anything about it, while typing my whimsy. You'll notice I left out football, the leather-helmeted thin-padded version seeming ridiculous in the absence of anyone to play with, although that doesn't seem to have stopped the US-Narns. Very hard to balance the desideratum of a rough masculinity that is not brutal and not stupid.

Oddly enough that's the least ridiculous part of it from my perspective. You can still have competitive school sports without playing other schools. We played rugby at my school without playing against any other schools (and of course we had our own idiosyncratic sport that we didn't play against other schools because nobody else plays it).


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:36 AM
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The Thonk Shop? Edgy.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:45 AM
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I endorse 300. Places like Somerville are not suburbs in any currently meaningful sense.

Of course, having grown up in Southern California, my standards for what counts as a suburb are pretty high.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:46 AM
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307:

I get that about rugby, or my suggestion of primitive baseball. Although there are pickup and touch-football games, almost always not organized, American Football is intrinsically intercollegiate in its full suited-up full tackle form.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:47 AM
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I get that it's always that way in the US. But as a Brit (well, culturally-mostly-British American), I'm not in the least surprised that an American school in Narnia would have a football field so that the kids could play (it could well be organised intramural play). I'm struggling to remember who my American school baseball team played against. Maybe other American schools? There aren't that many in the UK.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:53 AM
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|| Should a certain Junior University be burned to the ground? Yes it should. Along with a funny little college (and yet there are those who love it). |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:56 AM
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||
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/montana-election-mailer-state-seal-stanford-dartmouth-professors

Ok, maybe hold off burning the institutions to the ground to see if they fire everyone involved in this phony "research" project.

|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:03 AM
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Yes, the important thing is to make sure junior faculty who did something ill-advised have their careers destroyed. That'll fix things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:12 AM
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You want to protect these researchers? That experiment is totally unethical.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:20 AM
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The seal usage is boneheaded, but I don't see how it's not research. They're doing it in some places and not others and seeing what the differential impact is. There seems to be some pearlclutching about them going against the official line that judges are nonpartisan. And "you have a responsibility not to affect election outcomes" seems balderdash - what about when the Perry campaign brought in political scientists?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:23 AM
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A candidate deciding to use the latest, greatest research findings in their campaign is different from an external research scientist sending out mailings that look partisan about ostensibly non-partisan candidates.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:27 AM
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And yes, it's research. That's not what's being contested. It's just unethical research.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:27 AM
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Were they partisan? The description I saw just said they used standard PVIs to accurately describe candidates and their position relative to political leaders. Arguably pointing that out in Montana- he's like Obama!- could be damaging, but it's just describing facts using a common calculation.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:29 AM
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This sort of research is problematic (if only for university reputation reasons -- people do seem to love their Frankenstein metaphors), but the obligation to not influence election outcomes doesn't really make sense. It places political science in a pretty funny bubble, where people study really important things without any hope of practical application.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:30 AM
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Were they partisan? The description I saw just said they used standard PVIs to accurately describe candidates and their position relative to political leaders.

I'm not saying it was partisan in intent, but isn't this partisan in effect?!

Also, it's totally insulting to Montana. Haha, you're our little petrie dish.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:33 AM
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There seems to be some pearlclutching about them going against the official line that judges are nonpartisan.

Yes, this is what I find pretty ridiculous about the outrage. What, you hold a non-partisan election and that means it's bad manners to talk about the ideologies of the candidates? That seems exactly backwards, I would think a nonpartisan context is where that kind of information would be especially useful. (No position on whether political scientists have some sort of professional ethics obligation to steer clear of influencing voters.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:34 AM
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but the obligation to not influence election outcomes doesn't really make sense.

It doesn't? Tampering with the democratic process is fair game? I would be furious if some researcher did something that inadvertently caused higher turnout in a very conservative region, in a race that I cared about deeply.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:34 AM
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places political science in a pretty funny bubble, where people study really important things without any hope of practical application.

Well, there's a difference between affecting election outcomes as a consultant or activist or just from publishing your research, and doing it as collateral damage in the course of activities that are supposed to be *studying* the electorate, especially if you're doing it by misleading them about what they're reading and doing.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:34 AM
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It's not research!

They sent a Rove styled and inspired mailing to a substantial portion of the electorate in a race where the Koch brothers are trying to buy a seat, running a guy with virtually no qualifications. Every aspect of this thing is phony, and as it gets looked at more closely, that will become apparent. Is there anything remotely objective about how the positions of the candidates were presented? How the recipients of the flyer were chose? The text? The selection of the race?

The only thing the grossly unqualified candidate has going for him is the accusation that Justice Wheat is somehow aligned with President Obama. A mailer that says exactly that isn't "research" -- it's political activity.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:35 AM
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314: There's no way this went through an IRB. They'll be gone, with cause.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:35 AM
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They put the university names on the flyer. They're so fired.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:37 AM
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Also:

"We understand that the presence of the Montana state seal caused confusion about the origin and purpose of the materials used in that state," Anderson said in an emailed statement. "We apologize if it was not clear that the intention of the mailing was entirely scholarly."

Give me a fucking break.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:37 AM
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Placing "research" in quotes suggests that this is not research.

If this is "insulting" to Montana, then there's presumably something fundamentally offensive about a lot of political science research that suggests that human beings are not God-like autonomous agents.

The stigma against partisanship / interfering with the "real world" is really to protect the reputation of researchers, who may otherwise be exposed to charges of bias and self-interest.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:38 AM
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I mean really -- the public statement is that they were measuring how telling voters more about candidates affects turnout. And then they tell us nothing at all but parrot one guy's Koch funded ads.

Unless you can pay Stanford tuition with 3 dollar bills, this thing has bad faith written all over it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:39 AM
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If this is "insulting" to Montana, then there's presumably something fundamentally offensive about a lot of political science research that suggests that human beings are not God-like autonomous agents.

No, it's insulting because it's saying that this hillbilly backwater state is so inconsequential that it would make a great laboratory setting.

The stigma against partisanship / interfering with the "real world" is really to protect the reputation of researchers, who may otherwise be exposed to charges of bias and self-interest.

No, it's to protect the real world.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:40 AM
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It's to protect both, but the universities are going to be more worried about protecting the reputations of their other researchers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:42 AM
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Although what Carp is saying and what I'm saying are at odds with each other, about whether or not the researchers were vested in swaying the election in a particular direction.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:42 AM
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332 is a fair correction.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:43 AM
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Here's some stuff on the sow's ear on whose behalf this "research" is being conducted: http://intelligentdiscontent.com/2014/10/26/other-than-being-unqualified-inexperienced-and-unmotivated-lawrence-vandyke-would-make-an-excellent-supreme-court-justice/


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:43 AM
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teo has destroyed my life's work.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:45 AM
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They also sent flyers to other states (I believe CA, NJ, NY) but no one gave a shit, I think because of the "nonpartisan" Montana judge election fantasy.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:47 AM
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So I dug up Kyle Dropp's research. He appears to be an actual political scientist with an interest in the determinants of voter turnout -- on his website he links to one working paper showing that voter ID laws reduce Deomcratic turnout, and another showing that restrictions on polling place hours reduced turnout in Montana but not in Minnesota and the evidence in Vermont was mixed.

It does seem like a pretty good cover for his real lifelong dream of getting some Republican hack judge elected.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:48 AM
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Other states were NH and CA. No one filed complaints there.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:49 AM
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It's not a problem if only some of the people get mad that their election is being influenced, but other people in other states don't?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:52 AM
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How'd they choose this race? How'd they choose the number and recipients of the mailers? How'd they decide how the candidates positions would be depicted? Why did they ignore the most salient issues in the race?

I'm not saying they profs are incapable of legitimate research, but this isn't it, and when the internal details come out, that's going to be very clear.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:52 AM
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This article has Stanford saying the Dartmouth IRB approved it. Carp's article is more recent and says Dartmouth has refused comment. So I'm wondering what happened there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:52 AM
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Anyone look up whether the researchers have donated to political campaigns in the past?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:52 AM
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Adding Montana as a location without adding any local involvement seems unwise. It's not a coincidence that there are no complaints in CA and NH, but people up in arms in Montana. They should have added a collaborator with local knowledge. But it seems like an easy mistake to make, and I don't understand why people are seeing something sinister.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:56 AM
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I do see from the fact that it puts Wheat, a Koch target, right next to Obama, when that has a lot of other associations and isn't a great way to simply inform people, so it could be intended for campaigning with the veneer of objective research. Your calling it Rovian, Charley, sounds histrionic - from the PDF, practically all this was was a title and some charts, even though the inclusion of Obama on it, again, could be malevolent.

It also says explicitly similar mailers went to parts of California and New Hampshire, not just Montana. So "petri dish" = also histrionic.

I still hold that if the intent and effect is purely to inform and not to slant, any effect on the race is a legitimate one. It's unethical tampering only if it sends misinformation about the race, or about how to vote, or something like that.

And although an IRB might have helped them catch problems, sending out mailers seems like exactly the kind of thing everyone is annoyed requires IRB approval.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:56 AM
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The only actual document I've seen is the one at that TPM link, where is Carp getting this thing about parroting Koch adds? The entire this is two PVI graphs, showing Obama, Romney, and the four candidates for two races.
340- No, but it falsifies the idea that they consider Montana a backwater petri dish.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:58 AM
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Your calling it Rovian, Charley, sounds histrionic - from the PDF, practically all this was was a title and some charts, even though the inclusion of Obama on it, again, could be malevolent.

90% of all Republican electoral mailings are just a picture of the opponent next to a picture of Obama and maybe a chart.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:58 AM
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ads not adds- that's an odd autocorrect


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:58 AM
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Rodden is a senior fellow at Hoover. Bonica has a commercial thing that rates candidates and sells the ratings to campaigns.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:59 AM
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If they were actually doing it as a veiled attempt to influence the election and had no research goals in mind then, sure, they should be fired. But this is a hell of an elaborate way to accomplish something that could be accomplished -- is attempted frickin' constantly -- by a Rovian direct mail outfit. If I were to assume good faith I would suspect that Montana is a good place to test this stuff because voter population is relatively small and candidate information is artificially limited by the nonpartisan election thing.

Now, I'm not particularly saying we should assume good or goodish faith, but assuming specifically bad faith seems to assume some baffling strategic planning on the part of the bad actors.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:01 AM
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347: OK, I defer to you there.

Given 338, I think it's even odds that this was an innocent mistake.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:01 AM
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Obama at the far left?

Take this with you to the polls?

I can't believe that anyone thinks this remotely legitimate.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:02 AM
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349 thickens the plot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:02 AM
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345.3: Not really. One thing IRBs are especially important for is when deception is part of a research project. I think that's pretty broadly acknowledged. (You could argue that they hadn't intended to deceive, but that they used the seal is a pretty clear indication of why researchers aren't allowed to make their own determination of what is exempt from review.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:04 AM
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I still hold that if the intent and effect is purely to inform and not to slant, any effect on the race is a legitimate one. It's unethical tampering only if it sends misinformation about the race, or about how to vote, or something like that.

Wow, I strongly disagree. Scientists stumble upon one weird trick that happens to convince everyone to stay home on election day! Find out how!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:10 AM
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354: True.

Funded by the Hewlett Foundation, it seems. Are they a likely source of shenanigans?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:11 AM
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If I were to assume good faith I would suspect that Montana is a good place to test this stuff because voter population is relatively small and candidate information is artificially limited by the nonpartisan election thing.

Ie a petrie dish.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:11 AM
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I think it's pretty easy to see why they picked Montana. There just aren't that many Nov. 4 nonpartisan judicial elections to choose. It's clearly a scholarly relevant question to figure out whether the affects they're trying to measure are different in non-partisan elections than partisan ones. It also probably makes sense to pick a state that's roughly the same size as a congressional district.

Using the seal seems quite questionable, and someone is going to get in trouble for that. But I just don't see what could possibly be the argument for bad intent. Of all the elections you think the one they care most about is the Montana Supreme Court? Why? That's bizarre unless you're actually a Montanan.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:14 AM
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By that standard all social scientists have complete contempt for humanity. It's like they think we're fruit flies!


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:14 AM
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355: I'm not even sure what scenario you're picturing, but if there were information that when objectively presented somehow suppressed turnout, that would also be unethical if you knew it was likely to happen. I said "intent and effect".


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:16 AM
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There just aren't that many Nov. 4 nonpartisan judicial elections to choose.

I don't know if that's true or not. It's very common in the west and midwest. Nebraska non-partisanly elects an entire legislature, but judges are appointed and run for retention.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:16 AM
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359: You're supposed to disclose clearly when someone is participating in an experiment, and you're not supposed to meddle with highly consequential aspects of people's lives just to see what happens.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:17 AM
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The study is beyond outrageous. As someone who regularly works in communities where there are deceptive mailings and it's hard to establish trust in the first place, using a government seal is just beyond the pale in every possible way.

It's not just about this one particular study, it's about undermining public faith in future mailing that are allegedly from government agencies.

Also, my INTERNS know not to pull crap like this.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:17 AM
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Scientists stumble upon one weird trick that happens to convince everyone to stay home on election day! Find out how!

Or scientists have concrete evidence that this one weird trick convinces everyone to stay home on election day, and people can make a stronger case that Republicans shouldn't get away with using this trick.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:18 AM
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Non-partisan judicial elections are very common.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:19 AM
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361: I didn't do an exhaustive check. But of the first few states with similar setups the election dates weren't Nov 4. I'm not saying Montana is the only one, just that there probably weren't very many to choose from.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:19 AM
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365 was exactly the page I looked at, but I clicked through on the first several links.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:20 AM
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360: All I can think of off the top of my head are those claims about how East Coast election results end up suppressing voter turnout on the West Coast if the race looks like a slam dunk or something. But I'm sure there are plenty of situations where mere information has a consequence.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:20 AM
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This is very close to home for me. I have worked extensively on projects around Voter ID education, immigration scam alerts, public health (including, right now, Ebola) alerts, and dozens of other high-stakes information dissemination by public agencies. Undermining public confidence in government institutions is a very, very serious offense in my book.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:20 AM
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We have nonpartisan judicial elections. A campaign like this, aligning my preferred candidate with Obama, would pretty much secure the shitty candidate's win.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:21 AM
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Er, sorry, the links didn't work. I had to go to other pages on that website. Like http://judgepedia.org/Arkansas_judicial_elections,_2014

If I understand right most of these runoffs aren't happening, because someone won in the initial election or because the person is unopposed.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:21 AM
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There are tons and tons of research situations where it would be really great if you could demonstrate cause and effect, but you can't because it would be unethical to affect the outcome, and so you're forced to do observational and correlational studies. I find it totally bizarre that you all are crying "poor researchers! How can they study us if trying to influence elections is off-limits!" and "Their intent is not to favor one side or the other! They're trying to discover how the election will be altered!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:23 AM
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358 -- Neither Koch brother is from Montana, and yet they've been pouring plenty of money into this race.

355 -- My guess is that the mailers went mostly to Republican leaning precincts, with the hope of increasing turn-out that would otherwise be lower because the two federal races might not be close. (We have that worry over here, especially in legislative districts where the Dem is running unopposed). We'll see.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:35 AM
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370 -- It's the transparent intent of the mailer.

If it was research, then the research topic would be 'does mass mailing an obviously unqualified candidate's over-hyped pitch induce people to vote for him in greater numbers than in the control precincts.' Which is bullshit.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:38 AM
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There are tons and tons of research situations where it would be really great if you could demonstrate cause and effect, but you can't because it would be unethical to affect the outcome, and so you're forced to do observational and correlational studies.

There is research good but barred by ethics, but you're still just asserting a priori that affecting the outcome in any way would constitute unethicality. What values are violated?

I find it totally bizarre that you all are crying "poor researchers! How can they study us if trying to influence elections is off-limits!" and "Their intent is not to favor one side or the other! They're trying to discover how the election will be altered!"

At this point I'm more open to the possibility this is some weird ratfuck, though I'd like to get more information.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:42 AM
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Of course by "good" I mean effective, not necessarily moral.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:43 AM
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374: outside of this particular race, the general process of ideologically aligning lesser-known candidates with better-known candidates according to some quantitative (scalable) protocol and using that to "inform" voters seems like something that is not inherently malevolent.

The fact that high-profile figures tend to serve as lightning rods for the opposing party seems like a pretty serious research limitation though, and is also what makes the mailer look like a partisan document.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:47 AM
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375.1: She mentions observational and correlational studies. The unethical part is the manipulation without informed consent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:49 AM
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There is research good but barred by ethics, but you're still just asserting a priori that affecting the outcome in any way would constitute unethicality. What values are violated?

I don't know how to phrase it as a value, exactly, but it bothers me that this might have a large, negative outcome on a group of people who did not agree to have their local election tampered with, for research purposes. It's the petrie dish thing. The election is real, and it matters to people's lives.

(Obviously lobbyists and Koch brothers and so on are also trying to influence elections, and my rules for which of those I disapprove of vary according to circumstance, but that's a separate conversation.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:49 AM
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If Bonica's shtick is to suck up data so that he can summarize candidates on a simple scale, and Dropp's shtick is to figure out how interventions affect turnout, then I can see how this collaboration arises without any ratfucking. Which is not to say that there wasn't any.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:54 AM
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I'm agnostic on whether or not there was ratfucking going on in this case. If this sort of thing is considered reasonable research tactics, Republicans will be using it to employ ratfucking in 3...2...1... (And even if it is always kept in the domain of purely curious little research wabbits, the petrie dish thing.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:58 AM
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378: To be as clear as possible, I'm no longer defending this particular research: some level of deception seems to have happened, possibly intended, possibly not.

I'm now trying to talk about something broader: heebie, you seem to be saying (355, 379) that any influence on an election, even with informed consent, even with nonslanting information and 100% neutral choice of subjects, is a priori unethical? 379 doesn't really help me: it boils down to "it's tampering" which I continue not to follow. It could be tampering depending on the intent and effect; then again, it might not.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:59 AM
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If this sort of thing is considered reasonable research tactics, Republicans will be using it to employ ratfucking in 3...2...1...

I could see that in theory, but the methods in this case seem to be the type that would be pounced on even more readily if Republicans did them - not exactly pioneering. There has been a criminal complaint, after all.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:01 AM
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Anyway, if there is not reply from the Dartmouth IRB in a few days, I'll make a Kickstarter for money to bribe somebody to see what happened.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:02 AM
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377 -- The measurement here was of the donors to the candidates, not the actual positions of the candidates. I have no idea how they rated the ideological position of the various donors. Probably by looking at their donation history.

If they'd sent a pro-Wheat flyer to a third of precincts -- maybe comparing one guy's 13 month in-state legal career to the other guy's 35 year in-state legal career -- it would look a lot more like legitimate research.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:02 AM
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any influence on an election, even with informed consent, even with nonslanting information and 100% neutral choice of subjects, is a priori unethical?

I haven't thought through the parameters exactly, but here is one major problem: it affects a whole lot more people than just the people who are in the study. If it affects the election, then it affects the entire jurisdiction - minors who come up before the judge, etc. All sorts of people who did not consent.

So, I think my answer is "yes" - it's a priori unethical. That because the stakes are high in an election, it is unethical to run a study trying to measure the impact of a variable that you deliberately introduced.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:06 AM
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(In our most recent hotly contested mid-term Supreme Court race, the vote was 164k to 148k. The loser had overtly identified himself with the Tea Party current. 100k mailers is a big deal in this little dish. In that same election, Justice Wheat won retention 245k to 69k.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:21 AM
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Justice Wheat won in every group but those with celiac disease.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:25 AM
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388 -- The other incumbent up for re-election this year is Justice Rice.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:32 AM
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We have one Supreme Court justice who just resigned (because emailing whole bunches of porn*) and a former justice who only today asked for permission to stop her appeal of her sentence for using public resources for her election campaign.

* This is one of the ripples of the Penn State sex abuse case. When the new attorney general investigated to see why it took so long to prosecute, she found that half the state officials were mailing porn to each other.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:36 AM
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389: Surely you're not trying to claim Halford is behind this!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 10:38 AM
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Ok, they're sending everyone a letter. https://www.scribd.com/doc/244771158/Letter-to-Montana-Stanford-Dartmouth


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:11 AM
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Ie a petrie dish.

Petri dish. Mary Tyler Moore played a Petrie dish on The Dick Van Dyke Show.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:24 AM
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If that bothered you the first time I wrote it, I have bad news about my next 50 comments.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:47 AM
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392: Which grant is going to pay for 100,000 letters?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:52 AM
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394: Not the first time, but by 357 I'd had enough.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:57 AM
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The continuance of this thread has made this keep playing in my head. Hopefully I can pass it on.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:03 PM
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395- The presidents' offices sent it, it comes out of the indirect.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:05 PM
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393: I really enjoyed that.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:10 PM
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Within the last week both my wife and I have gotten letters in the mail reminding us that while our vote is secret, the fact of having voted is not, and giving us little reports and "scorecards" of how well we've done, individually, at voting over the last several years, by listing elections and whether we voted in each one.

It's kind of creepy (although I've known that the records are public for decades), enough so that I'm wondering what the actual intent of the mailing is.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:17 PM
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I think that I've read that it ups future participation -- being told that "We know you voted, you good citizen you!" makes people more likely to vote again in the future.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:19 PM
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It's kind of creepy (although I've known that the records are public for decades), enough so that I'm wondering what the actual intent of the mailing is.

Sasha Issenburg talks about that technique in The Victory Lab. Some academics ran a well-designed experiment and proved that it works to increase turnout. But candidates are reluctant to use it, at least when it can be traced back to them. So the only question in my mind is whether it's a bunch of researchers trying to replicate the experiment, or if there is some independent third party expenditure group using it for real GOTV efforts.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:33 PM
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It's America Votes running the campaign, though I can't say I know anything about them.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:51 PM
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Sasha Issenberg


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:51 PM
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Sasha Issenburgh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 12:53 PM
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Suppose a political scientist decides to trial a method of raising turnout in a close race, and the close race goes to the Dem on the votes of people who aren't usually voters - is that unethical?

(There's a great study from Aberdeen in the 70s on door knocking & turnout, where the researchers quite literally say "look it's a ward dominated by council housing in Scotland, Labour's going to win no matter what we do" as a way of avoiding that complaint.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:03 PM
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Somehow the study in 402 doesn't bug me as much as the Montana one. Maybe because it's completely free of election-specific content?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:12 PM
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Suppose a political scientist decides to trial a method of raising turnout in a close race, and the close race goes to the Dem on the votes of people who aren't usually voters - is that unethical?

I probably wouldn't blow any whistles.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:13 PM
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What whistles do you have to blow to get elected around here?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:19 PM
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It just seems to me that "non-interference" isn't really the rule I care about - what we want (or what I want) is to ask whether the interference itself is ethical.

& arguably, in this case, it wasn't - firstly, with the use of the seal, and secondly, it's arguably the case that the non-partisan graph is actually really fucking partisan given that Romney and Obama are not comparable figures.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 1:46 PM
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Have the Democrats decided the key to voter turnout is sending emails out that make you feel like you're being stalked by a crazy ex-lover?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 2:12 PM
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I think I'd like that better than the people showing up at my door asking me if I remembered to vote.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 2:15 PM
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Using data from Canada's 2006 census on before-tax average income, the researchers grouped the CMAs into eight "neighborhood types" based on three key variables: homeownership rate, share of population living in a detached single family house, and share of people who commute by car. The eight community types range from the most "urban" (Category 1), where none of these three variables are more present in the neighborhood than in the metro as a whole, to the most "suburban" (Category 8), where all three factors are greater than across the metro area.

and the rich live in detached houses and commute by car even if in urban neighborhoods, although this is weaker in Vancouver and for the `creative class' (it is a Richard Florida article).

Reasonably crisp definition of urban/suburban, though. I have sometimes amused myself by describing wildland-interface dwellers as suburban (job and sustenance not from their land: not rural; driving to get there: not urban) to their faces.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 2:21 PM
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Have the Democrats decided the key to voter turnout is sending emails out that make you feel like you're being stalked by a crazy ex-lover?

Their allies are experimenting with various methods, apparently.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 2:21 PM
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408: What differentiates your stance here from 323, except for it favoring Republicans instead of Democrats?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 3:22 PM
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Mostly 408 was a joke. But I'm not particularly fussed if things work in favor of Democrats. I'm a hypocrite.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 3:43 PM
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I just heard on the radio that the latest from Stanford is that these were a couple of assistant profs who didn't know what they were doing.

The fellow who was looking to demonstrate the value of his position comparison software certainly knew what he was doing when he didn't get IRB review at Stanford.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 4:51 PM
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Does Stanford have any sort of IRB reciprocity agreement with other universities?

Who is the target audience for the position comparison software anyway? Is this something where the Koch brothers pay him money so that he can tell them what candidates they've contributed to in the past?


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:00 PM
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Standford and Dartmouth writing a bunch of letters doesn't seem like a fair recompense. I think, to be fair, Montana ought to be able to send out 100,000 letters on Standford and Dartmouth letterhead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:06 PM
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100,000 recommendation letters, for ambitious Montana students!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:07 PM
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Those ambitious students had better apply to lots and lots of things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:08 PM
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419: I like it! Several years
' worth of 109% admissions of montanans to dmouth & Stanford!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:13 PM
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420. South Dakota students can get admitted anywhere because diversity. Montana not so much.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 6:33 PM
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Shit like this does not help people in my discipline argue that Congress shouldn't cut all of our (non-security) research funding. On the bright side, at least it happened in my least-favorite subfield.

More to the point, actual experiments such as these are a) pretty rare in political science, and b) clearly require informed consent. I'm really quite stunned that an IRB approved this.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:03 PM
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If it makes you feel better about your discipline, they wouldn't give me a Ph.D.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:10 PM
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Member, club,etc.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:12 PM
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424 I bet when the IRB stuff is out -- and everything is going to be disclosed -- it's going to turn out that the profs were less than completely forthcoming to the Dartmouth IRB about what exactly they were going to do: how races would be chosen, what the messages would be, how they would measure results, etc.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:30 PM
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IRBs are kind of really picky about what written materials you are going to use.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:37 PM
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And if the IRB wasn't picky about that, then I think you've found your candidates for firing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:39 PM
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I'm pretty sure Carp is right about the lack of forthcomingness. It appears to be already known that they dodged the Standard IRB.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:42 PM
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That seems pretty wack, then.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:46 PM
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Despite what I said above, being intentionally misleading to the IRB about whether your study needs to be reviewed does seem like a perfectly reasonable grounds for firing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:53 PM
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425: These days, nothing makes me feel better about my discipline. Or academia, for that matter. Have actually started looking at the federal jobs website.

427: if they were less than forthcoming, the IRB should have required more information. I mean, when I consider the amount of information that I have to submit in order to request an IRB exemption (which is, in theory, a lower level of scrutiny), and then I compare that to this situation, the mind boggles.

Even survey research that is entirely anonymous requires a prominent consent statement, AFAIK, and experiments (rare as they are) are typically done in artificial lab settings. My friends in this subfield, some of whom were taught by a prominent advocate of the experimental method in polisci, are appalled.

At the moment, I have no reason to believe that these assholes actually had any ill intentions. The fact that they didn't forsee or appear to care about the effects of their research, though, is far too typical of my discipline, and a total disgrace.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:55 PM
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430: What does 'dodging' mean? Assuming that both IRBs are competent, you only need the approval of one.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 7:58 PM
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No one ever gets informed consent for their effects-on-turnout experiments, do they? It would defeat the purpose...

I struggle to see how this is different from "Getting out the Latino Vote: How Door-to-Door Canvassing Influences Voter Turnout in Rural Central California"*, where Michelson literally runs a door to door turnout operation targeted at Latino voters that gets more Democrats to the polls than would otherwise have.

* Melissa R. Michelson in Political Behavior, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 247-263.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:07 PM
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433 You think they coincidentally picked a race with Koch money in it, coincidentally prepared flyers supporting the Koch candidate, and coincidentally chose who to send the flyers to? And just bumblingly used the seal?

434 The pres of Stanford says failure to go to a Stanford IRB was a violation of university policy. I'm going to guess he's not just saying a thing like that off the cuff.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:13 PM
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434: The letter mentioned in 392 says they violated Stanford policy by not sending it to the Stanford IRB.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:14 PM
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435: The point is that, if you need for some reason not to obtain consent, you should have to justify to your IRB why you are not obtaining explicit informed consent; what your plans for debriefing participants might be, and why; and if you are being misleading in any way, why and how you are not being thoroughly honest. You're also supposed to outline the expected harms and benefits to the participant population.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:19 PM
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436: I missed that part.

438 matches my own experience.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:22 PM
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It seems like a minor point, but for some reason it really bothers me that there's an anonymous source defending the research in the TPM reporter. I don't see why the source merited protection or being quoted at all, but unlike #gamergate, I don't think my discomfort with this is about journalistic ethics.

Instead, I wonder, who comes forward anonymously to defend political science research that, if not for this story, would be fairly obscure? Did they seek out the reporter? Did the reporter just call around and find someone who wouldn't go on record but also wouldn't have spoken up without being contacted? The source even mentions the Kochs specifically, which I wouldn't have thought significant until reading this thread.*

*I read the article last night and did wonder "why mention the Kochs?" when I got to that paragraph.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:29 PM
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435: I can't read the paper to see what she did there, but this article seems to describe the same thing. If it does, the differences are pretty clear. There's no content besides "go vote" (that is, no information about the candidates) and there's no hint of them being official.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:29 PM
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Also, no deception. They're straight-up saying "we're trying to get you to vote."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:33 PM
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Right - but I am assuming that this went through the Dartmouth process where they dealt with those issues.

I'm not super familiar with the political science literature on this kind of turnout experiment, but this seems to be broadly in line with other experiments that have been carried out, like Gerber & Green and Nickerson etc.

(Apart from the state seal thing which is just fucking insane.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:35 PM
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This PDF appears to describe the supposed purpose of the research. (Source: someone on Twitter)


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:37 PM
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441: I did get ahold of the paper--my university VPN is being super unhelpful for just clicking through to stuff on Google Scholar this week, but I worked it out--and that's correct (though the intervention there was door to door). The GOTVsters also identify themselves as students of California State University, Fresno, though the paper doesn't mention any mention of their work being part of a study. But yep, super content-free and also no pretending to be any particular other thing they're not.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:37 PM
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Right - but I am assuming that this went through the Dartmouth process where they dealt with those issues.

They clearly didn't, though, or else the IRB was grossly incompetent, because look at the results.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:38 PM
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I filled out an IRB application last year detailing a project where most of the people studied were studied in the 1950s, pre-IRB. The study was of the entire population of a prison and while there was a 1950s version of informed consent, you probably couldn't do an identical study today. The main issue for our purposes was data protection, since there was a lot of deeply personal information in the files and some of the people may still be alive.

It wasn't clear that we needed IRB approval, since the study was already done (but never published), and I heard later that the IRB took another look and ended up waiving the usual approval process for the project (archival processing) while retaining the need to look at what later researchers might want to do with the data once it's ready for public access.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:39 PM
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It would be hilarious if they told both Stanford and Dartmouth they were going through the other one's IRB but didn't go through either, and neither school bothered to check.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:39 PM
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Hilarious in a gallows-humor sort of way, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:41 PM
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Given that the head of Dartmouth signed a letter that doesn't mention avoiding the Dartmouth IRB and does mention avoiding the Stanford IRB, I think it's clear that Dartmouth got something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:44 PM
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"Oh you mean the Dartmouth IRB. I thought you meant the Dartmouth Review."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:44 PM
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The seal use is completely insane, I agree 100% on that.

I don't see the content thing as being particularly convincing - is specifically targeting Latinos (knowing they are more likely to be Democrats) content free?

And is not offering information about candidates better? Don't we value an informed electorate?

Suppose the mailer hadn't used the state seal and had been clear it was from Dartmouth & Stanford (with out saying it was part of a study into turnout) but otherwise contained the same information - would that have been ethical?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:45 PM
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450: Yes. Sorry if I made it sound like I thought otherwise. But what on earth did they get?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:45 PM
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452: Yes. No problems at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:54 PM
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450 was to teo.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:56 PM
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Oh ah.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 8:58 PM
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It's just that the political scientists quoted in the TPM piece seem outraged that anyone would do a thing which could change an election outcome - but of course turnout experiments run that risk all the time, and tend not to attract condemnation.

Is it that political scientists shouldn't do things which change people's minds about who to vote for but whether to vote is fair game?

(Side thought: obviously, I think a voter suppression experiment would be outrageous.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:01 PM
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Obviously I didn't read the letter. Thanks for the correction, Moby!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:04 PM
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453: I've thought this through with my sneaky hat. My guess is that they sent a request for exception, which, without the deception, would be pretty much automatic because the data collection is only precinct level turnout. Those approvals last a long time and don't require any monitoring. The lack of monitoring would make it easy to change the materials.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:05 PM
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457: That's another thing. Actual political science experiments about turnout or anything having to do with shifting an opinion don't just send a mailing. I used to work with a guy who did experimental surveys. You have to hit people over the head to get a change in opinion you can measure. Either this is the worst research design ever funded or they're really more advertising that research.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:10 PM
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459: My thought also.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:22 PM
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460: It is hard to generate detectable changes in opinion but it is easier to generate them in turnout.

The basic premise of this research is that turnout is depressed in some elections (such as primaries and non-partisan judicial elections) because moderates and uninformed voters do not have good informational shortcuts to figure out where candidates stand.

Now it turns out that Montanans are fucktards who would vote for a turnip if the other guy was once mentioned in the same sentence as Obama, proving that turnout is not necessarily a good in itself and that these political scientists are playing with fire. (Also, seriously, WTF was up with that seal?)


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:26 PM
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Although it's pretty easy to guess what they were thinking about the seal: it makes the mailing look more official and more likely to be paid attention to.

Really not seeing any evidence of ratfucking at this point.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:33 PM
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460, these guys are doing something different from a survey. It's the "Biggest sample size possible, so a 0.01% increase may be statistically significant" approach.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 9:35 PM
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They're intervening in the election to see if they can change the result. It's apparently just a coincidence that they're doing so in support of the Koch candidate, and that their mailer underlines the sole pitch of the Koch candidate.

I don't know whether that's "ratfucking" and I don't care: they'll be fined, I think, and should be fired. And I hope Sen Tester can follow through and make sure there's no federal funding ever for anyone who thinks this kind of shit is remotely ok.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:15 PM
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They said they would be providing voters with "non-partisan information in visual form." Are they liars, or are they idiots?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:22 PM
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I think it's pretty clear at this point that they're idiots. The jury's still out on whether they're also liars.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-14 11:25 PM
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At this point, I think idiots are as mythical as unicorns. Someone appears like an idiot is just not a good liar.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 12:23 AM
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457 - the point is that nothing might happen. It's an attempt to model something that might happen in reality - it's actually quite a neat experimental design, in that the results are something you could actually use to help design your turnout raising campaigns.

(It's stupid because they fucked it up & now the main question is "will turnout change after a really weird period of media engagement for really strange reasons".)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 2:30 AM
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it's actually quite a neat experimental design, in that the results are something you could actually use to help design your turnout raising campaigns.

It is not. It is an idiotic experimental design, because there are plenty of examples of actual campaigns sending out mailers on the veldt, and you could observe them doing so with their own money, and see what effect it had on voter turnout, with a little cooperation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 3:39 AM
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I'm basically with Keir. I don't really get the idea that the simple fact that a study might affect the outcome of an election makes it inherently unethical, as opposed to any unethical activity (ie misrepresentation, deliberate voter suppression, fraud) that forms part of a study. I'd be more concerned, from a research integrity point of view, about the possible results of an election affecting the study.

None of this is to say the specific mailer in question was ethical or competent.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 3:41 AM
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It's not a "simple fact that the study might impact the outcome of an election." The study is an attempt to impact the election, to see if they can do so.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:13 AM
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470 sort of seems to miss the point of doing an experiment as opposed to just observing things in the world. For one thing, why would any campaign be interested in publishing their strategies for increasing (targeted) turnout for the whole world to see?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:13 AM
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(I don't think they randomly chose which side to intervene on, but somehow none of you folks are willing to see how the world actually works.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:14 AM
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And anyhow, I don't really see how saying to a campaign "we would like you to implement this particular turnout-manipulating strategy that we believe will help your candidate" is actually better from a research ethics standpoint. They're still using their research in a way that could shift the electoral outcome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:16 AM
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473 -- After an election, it wouldn't be hard to analyze what was actually done.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:20 AM
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It's not a "simple fact that the study might impact the outcome of an election." The study is an attempt to impact the election, to see if they can do so.

Sure, and in the abstract, I don't see the problem with that, provided it doesn't involve [other] ethical breaches and the study answers interesting questions rigorously. Lots of people try to impact an election, in ethical ways and otherwise. An election is nothing if not an excercise in getting lots of people to see if they can impact an election. I don't see why researchers should be absolutely barred from doing so on principle. To the extent that (emotional, career, financial, whatever) investment in an election's outcome influences the results of a study, that's a problem, but the other way around seems pretty innocuous to me, again, at least in principle There are clearly many ways to do it unethically, just as there are when you're running a voter registration drive or an election campaign.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:26 AM
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For one thing, why would any campaign be interested in publishing their strategies for increasing (targeted) turnout for the whole world to see?

IIRC, that's pretty much what Rick Perry did in his gubernatorial campaign. He allowed a couple of academics to run their randomized controlled experiments for the benefit of the campaign (mostly around shifting public opinion as measured by polls rather than increasing turnout), and afterwards they got to publish their results. I don't know whether they were paid by the campaign or just permitted to use the campaign as a laboratory.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:30 AM
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It's presumably not the easiest thing in the world, as you are dependent on the campaigns for good data, but I assume that's the vast majority of what happens. But there are lots of important things (like manipulations that affect turnout) that it prevents you from studying in any kind of well-justified way; while campaigns might be covinced that increasing or reducing turnout among certain populations would benefit their side, the way they select those populations is going to be inherently confounded. In fact, studies of turnout are going to be almost completely confounded by the fact that increased turnout almost always helps Democrats.

Now, I'm not saying that they were above-board about wanting to study interventions about turnout and uninterested in shifting the electoral outcome for nefarious reasons -- I'll believe almost anything of the Hoover Institution, even though this seems like it'd be a fairly ridiculous way to accomplish what that would imply wanting to accomplish -- but to say that it's an "idiotic" experimental design because you could just ask the campaigns is reactionary and silly. It might or might not be an unusable experimental design because the potential bad outcomes are too serious; I'm not talking about that question either. But interventions in live elections done without the input of -- or coöperation of -- either campaign seem pretty obviously like an experimental tool that could get results that you could not get otherwise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:30 AM
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I don't have any objection to academics running whatever "experiments" they want to elections that affect your rights.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:32 AM
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As I say, that's not the point I'm addressing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:33 AM
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Here in the petri dish, it kind of matters a whole lot more what you're pouring in, than why you're pouring something in, or what you hope to learn from poisoning the solution.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:40 AM
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I could imagine that. But I was responding to heebie's assertion that (paraphrasing hopefully accurately) you can't learn anything from experimental research of this broad type that you couldn't learn from nonmanipulative contact with campaigns.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:49 AM
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462.1: The mailers that did increase turnout had specific information about the recipient. That's a whole different deal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 4:57 AM
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470: Actually, I quite like experiments. But you are right about there being lots of campaign mail sent on the veldt. That's why I think trying to determine the effect of a single piece of mail isn't a well-designed experiment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 5:19 AM
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Or, if it is a reasonably designed experiment from a methodological standpoint, it's because the use of the state seal is sufficiently misleading to make their piece of mail more effective.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 5:23 AM
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This article seems to support the 459/461 guess as to what happened with the IRB.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 5:49 AM
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Charley, people interested in studying the determinants of turnout are almost certain to be left-leaning, because higher turnout is a Democratic ideal and Republicans almost always benefit from lower turnout. This particular election appears to be an exception.

I mean, isn't it possible that 2 Stanford profs and a prof who recently got his PhD from Stanford, one of whom specializes in the determinants of turnout, one of whom specializes in the aggregation of donor data, and one of whom specializes in the presentation of visual data, all got together and did a "research" project to study how visually presenting a summary of donor data impacts voter turnout? This doesn't sound like something that you would need Koch brothers money to fund. And if I was a Republican political operative who stumbled upon the truly genius idea of tying someone to Obummer, I don't think it would occur to me to look for a political science research project to implement my strategy. But maybe I'm not very Machiavellian.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 5:51 AM
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488: Firefighters and arsonists study many of the same things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 5:55 AM
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I find it a little bit funny that this mailer is evil because it summarizes information about who donates to each candidate... and obviously such a sinister move could only have been funded by the Koch brothers. Follow the money!

If only there were some consulting firm that could dig through the funding sources... that would be a genuinely valuable service.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:09 AM
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I would say it's misleading. You only need to report donations to candidates. Independent expenditures, which represent the vast majority of the political expenditures of somebody like the Koch brothers, aren't reported.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:12 AM
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People keep repeating that increased turnout tends to favor Democrats. If I were a Republican-favoring person, I'd be very interested in research that found ways to increase turnout without favoring Democrats. Such research would be worth its weight in gold.

That aside, regarding questions as to why anyone would take such a convoluted route: as we've seen, use of the state seal has raised a shitstorm (in a way that I suspect wouldn't have occurred without the seal), the kind of shitstorm no candidate would want to risk. The actual competence of this thing is pretty low, regardless of intent, but this level of plausible deniability for partisan actors is pretty valuable. And mind you, you don't need a vast, coordinated conspiracy: all you need is sufficient winks, nods, and gentle direction ("Hey Researcher, you ever wonder how much more effective slanderous mailers would be if they appeared to come from the state?").


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:18 AM
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492.1: Old white people. Their turnout is already high, but if you could squeeze out a little more, that would help. Probably evangelical churches, too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:22 AM
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ways to increase turnout without favoring Democrats

Show Wheel of Fortune at the polling place?


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:28 AM
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487: I enjoy that article's framing of "embracing the experimental methods of psychology" as constituting "deeper problem in the discipline".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:39 AM
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495: I assume Krosnick put it better than that. He's been doing various experiments at the intersection of poli sci and psychology for decades.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:42 AM
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Yeah I don't think they really meant it like "the worst thing you can do as a field is be like psychology". It just entertained me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:51 AM
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Independent expenditures, which represent the vast majority of the political expenditures of somebody like the Koch brothers, aren't reported.

Yeah, but that's irrelevant in this case. The basic issue is that while everyone here knows that someone who receives right-wing money should be dismissed out of hand, voters in Montana are wired very differently from us and apparently think that people who receive left-wing money should be dismissed out of hand.

As a result of this new development, it is now apparent that anyone who studies voter turnout and candidate funding sources is likely to be a right-wing mole, instead of a hero intent on bringing democracy to the masses.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 6:54 AM
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Old white people. Their turnout is already high, but if you could squeeze out a little more, that would help. Probably evangelical churches, too.

Problem is, if you go to the highest concentrations of old white people, like an actual retirement home, you also get the ones who are so old that they remember the Depression, and they aren't as Republican as the ones between 65 and 80.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 7:04 AM
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the kind of shitstorm no candidate would want to risk

So these professors took on this risk instead. What was their payoff for doing so? Were these guys really having a hard time getting grant funding? Do junior faculty at Stanford and Dartmouth really have nothing to lose if they get busted as political operatives?

Or, you know, maybe they thought seal = more attention = bigger likelihood of results. Which was really stupid but doesn't require a super-elaborate black-flag operation.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 7:05 AM
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Fortunately for Republicans, those old people tend to be really racist. Hence the absurd issues manufactured for no other reason than to put "Obama" and "Africa" in the same sentence in the news reports.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 7:06 AM
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I WAS AN OBAMA SYMPATHIZER, UNTIL I HEARD THAT HIS HIP HOP BARBECUE DIDN'T CREATE JOBS


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 7:13 AM
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500

I'm less concerned that they're Republican moles and more concerned that intellectually and ethically problematic research gets funding.
487

If they got IRB approval and then didn't follow the protocol without filing for an amendment, that seems worse than not doing an IRB in the first place, as it would imply they knew their original research wouldn't be approved so lied when originally seeking approval. The less sinister reading would be that they changed methods and didn't think through the consequences, but that would require a level of stupidity that would almost have to be intentional.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 7:29 AM
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Incidentally, I could see the choice of the Montana state judgeships as resulting from an assumption that nonpartisan judicial elections would be relatively uncontroversial and not highly campaigned on, making it easier to look at independent impact of mailers. Although it would of course have been foolish not to check the specific races, that probably the case more often than not across the country, especially compared with legislative and executive races.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 7:52 AM
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It was foolish not to have a local collaborator, or at least an expert in Montana politics.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 7:54 AM
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And anyhow, I don't really see how saying to a campaign "we would like you to implement this particular turnout-manipulating strategy that we believe will help your candidate" is actually better from a research ethics standpoint. They're still using their research in a way that could shift the electoral outcome.

Who is funding the mailers, for one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 8:21 AM
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An election is nothing if not an excercise in getting lots of people to see if they can impact an election. I don't see why researchers should be absolutely barred from doing so on principle

Because the point of an election is to reach some sort of consensus-decision on how we should govern ourselves. Researchers are not contributing to "how should we self-govern" whatsoever. It's arrogant to try to impact an election for motives not related to the outcome of the election.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 8:23 AM
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Charley, people interested in studying the determinants of turnout are almost certain to be left-leaning, because higher turnout is a Democratic ideal and Republicans almost always benefit from lower turnout. This particular election appears to be an exception.

No. Both sides benefit from understanding what contributes to which kind of turnout. If something increases turnout, Republicans can target their likely voters.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 8:24 AM
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The project isn't supposed to be increasing turnout -- it's supposed to be getting the people who are already turning out to vote in the races where they didn't feel they had enough of a stake to pick one guy over the other. That is, they want people already voting for Steve Daines for the Senate to also vote in the Supreme Court race, now that they are "informed" of the critical fact that the guy with 30 years experience as a Montana lawyer (and 4 years deciding cases) is an Obama clone, and the guy with 13 months as an ideologue whose qualifications are not taken seriously by anyone who worked with him, or many of the previously serving justices, is pretty much just like Mitt Romney.

All over the country, Republican candidates are trying hard to link their opponents to the President. This happened in 2010, as well as 1994. It's very effective, and in no way is limited to Montana. I suppose the mirror image took place in 2006 -- although sfaik only in Connie Morella's district in 2002. Surely this is taught in Poli Sci 101, and the whole just fell off the turnip truck thing with how could they have guessed that identifying a candidate with the president in a late midterm -- rather than non-partisan imagery they said they were going to use, whatever that might mean -- might be politically significant has a pathetic ring to it.

I don't know these guys, and maybe they really are stupid enough to have unknowingly stumbled into the Koch race with the Koch pitch: they should still be fined and fired. If they want to work to change election results, they can work for candidates. 'Even liberal professors at elite schools think Justice Wheat is just like Obama' has already been uttered, and will be for the next week. Thanks a lot.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 8:32 AM
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504 -- They'd have had to avoid looking at either 2012 or 2010. In 10, the TP justice lost, while in 12 the TP and outside money candidate won.

The dirtiest race I know of right now is our JP race. Lots of charges and counter charges, complaints (and at least one finding of a violation) to the commissioner on political practices. (Here, unlike some places, JP is a pretty important position.) One of the first salvos showed just how hard it is to run a non-partisan race in a partisan world: before the 5 way primary, the candidate who's married to a Dem legislator racked up a ton of endorsements, including pretty much every elected Dem in the county. How does that fit with the judicial canons? If there's ballot drop off in that race it'll be because people wish they could both lose.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 8:58 AM
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If someone told you last week that they were interested in telling voters where candidates' money was coming from, would you have thought that this was some kind of nefarious right-wing plot?

Somehow I've gotten the vague impression from your comments that this Montana judicial candidate is funded by the Koch brothers, so I'm guessing not.

I agree that it's really incredibly stupid to not consider the fact that high-profile leaders that everyone has an opinion about are also lightning rods for the opposition, and that sitting Presidents serve as drags in midterm elections.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 9:08 AM
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So maybe there's some sloppiness with their California mailer too: https://twitter.com/mikejopek/status/527291971459493888


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 9:10 AM
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511 -- There's been lots of that -- whose money is from out of state, what independent groups are spending what in the most expensive judicial election in history. The flyer doesn't tell anything about that. Is the instate legal establishment more liberal than out of state right wing organizations? Holy crap, now that we can tell voters that, they'll vote in these elections.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 9:15 AM
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I don't want to defend the "non-partisan" chart -- it is information that can only be used in one very predictable way if it is used at all (do you like Obama -- vote for the guy closer to him; do you like Romney -- vote for the guy closer to him). And it's also incredibly stupid that they don't even explain donor ideology, so the straightforward way of interpreting the chart is actually wrong.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 10-29-14 9:32 AM
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400: Alaska version of the same in the news "Alaskans Furious Over 'Vote-Shaming' Letters Sent By Super PAC."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-30-14 10:22 AM
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This stuff reminding me of stupid election tricks 2004 edition when Dawkins (I think*) helped organize a "Brits call Ohioans to tell them their morons if they vote for George Bush" effort.

It was letters, I see, and organized by The Guardian.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-30-14 10:27 AM
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Why waste a good idea on a state Supreme Court race when you have bigger problems?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-31-14 12:53 PM
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517: I just came over to this thread so I could post a link to that. "ELECTION VIOLATION NOTICE" indeed.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-31-14 3:14 PM
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Stupid voter-registration tricks New Mexico-style.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-31-14 3:37 PM
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