Re: Naltrexone

1

Isn't there something of a history of "This wonder drug will eradicate addiction without preachy nonsense" snake oil cures?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:20 AM
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On the plus side, more and more places are allowing over the counter sales of Narcan, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. One step forward, one step back, rock-step-1-2-3.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:22 AM
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Maybe? That doesn't sound like it applies here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:22 AM
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Why must we be so blockheaded about everything.

I believe we've answered this question.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:23 AM
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I wonder about 1. What I've read about these drugs makes them sound so good, that it's hard to believe they wouldn't be used more if they were actually that effective. Largely because insurance companies pay for treatment, and effective pharmacological treatment would have to be hugely cheaper than the other alternatives.

(I'll believe that AA is wildly overrated, no problem. But I'm systematically skeptical about new drugs that fix everything.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:27 AM
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"If it was really $5..."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:29 AM
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I was not aware that AA was bogus. I thought it was reasonably successful.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:29 AM
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4. I can't for the life of me remember the referenced thread of what I said that was apparently acceptable.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:30 AM
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It is reasonably success if you measure success among people who stick with it. The problem is how many people don't. I wonder if any medication that you need to take before drinking wouldn't have a similar problem. That is, if you tell somebody "here's a pill that makes drinking no fun," you've got to wonder if being willing to take the pill isn't the deciding factor in its success.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:32 AM
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9 to 8. And, more obliquely to 1 and 5.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:33 AM
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We used to see people taking naltrexone in our studies. I can't remember anybody remarking that it was unusual or particularly effective. But we never looked at it directly. It gets a little complicated if somebody is both drinking and using heroin.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:35 AM
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7: here is a long article on the topic. It is reasonably successful if you ask AA, but, one, stats other than that are hard to come by because "anonymous" and, two, measuring success among people who stick with it per se means measuring whether it worked for people it worked for. There is a great deal of empirical evidence (e.g. from europe) that other strategies (medication, harm reduction) work as well or better in terms of outcomes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:46 AM
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That was like 15 years ago.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:46 AM
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9: So, basically, "It succeeds reasonably well with people who succeed with it, but most people don't"?

I think the supposed success of the "makes drinking no/less (probably "less") fun would be the combination of weaning you off higher levels of drinking without suffering the horrific consequences of going cold turkey combined with minimizing the thing where having one drink loosens up people's self control and then they have fifteen more as a result. But who knows. Addiction is bizarre and, AA claims aside*, we really don't have obvious solutions to the problem.

*As far as I can tell AA is ninety percent "join the not-drinking-but-obsessing-over-not-drinking church!" or something.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:50 AM
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13 to 11.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:51 AM
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14.2 is a good point on how it would work for some, but it's pretty obvious that there are large numbers of people who drink exactly because it loosens up their self-control. I don't know how many those are compared to those who start out with just one and go all √Čtienne Lantier on things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:55 AM
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To make this more complicated, let me ask what people would think about making it a legal requirement to take naltrexone if you hit a certain level of alcohol-related criminal activity? Say after your second DUI or your first drunken brawl. Or what if it was an option for a lesser sentence or the return of your drivers license?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:05 AM
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9,12: The complicating factor IMO is that there's a pretty complicated overlap between a) sticks with AA and b) consistently wants to stop drinking.

There are many people who will SAY "I'd like to stop drinking" in the face of say a sentencing judge or a relative who might possibly front some more money just this one more time. The statement and the actual intent differ for many. Possibly this drug will be useful for some such individuals, especially if they need to drive home after work.

I would say that the variation among individuals in persistent motivation to stop drinking is basically impossible to measure, so very difficult to compare similar populations. Court-ordered prescriptions that have a short-term effect makes a lot more sense than court-ordered 12-step participation, since step 1 is actually wanting to be there.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:08 AM
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The people I know for whom Naltrexone or Antabuse or drugs like work are on it and in AA. Like, AA alone didn't squelch unmanageable cravings, but the drugs alone didn't work because not least because people (1) didn't reliably take it and (2) would often drink to obliteration despite taking it and experiencing discomfort or lack of physical craving because on a pretty profound level they wanted to be very, very, drunk even though they really, really didn't--and AA (which I give 7 out of 10 as a thing in the world) created the support structure that addressed, that existential longing. I don't doubt that other things could address that longing, but it's not NOT a part of at least some subset of addiction/alcoholism. Was it here where I read that there was recent research showing that Native Americans were not, in fact, genetically prone to alcoholism, but just deeply fucked over?

I read something about Russians implanting some capsule that made you violently ill whenever you drank as a cure for alcoholism? I don't remember outcomes but I don't remember being impressed with them. There are naltrexone implants, which would overcome at least the problem of compliance but I am not seeing anything about their use for alcoholism--curious why Finnish study relied on pills. Implants seem to show promise heroin and amphetamine dependence. Can't tell from the abstract whether patients were concurrently in AA/NA/other treatment.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:11 AM
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Yes. Court-ordered 12-step seems pointless to me. I know it's relatively common because I know people who have been down that road. Also, it can't help people who actually want to quit to be stuck with those who only want their drivers license back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:12 AM
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What I've read about these drugs makes them sound so good, that it's hard to believe they wouldn't be used more if they were actually that effective. Largely because insurance companies pay for treatment, and effective pharmacological treatment would have to be hugely cheaper than the other alternatives.

Assumes strategic planning ability not in evidence - and I think the norm among insurance is to weasel out of such coverage rather than to try to prevent it - hence the long slow march to the equity act, which is only now being implemented and may be some time before really reaching fruition.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:13 AM
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which I give 7 out of 10 as a thing in the world

For purposes of comparison, what do you give Arby's.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:13 AM
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The value of a support community shouldn't be underestimated.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:16 AM
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14. Successfully stopping addictive behavior is actually life-changing for many people, I think the evangelism and over-the-top enthusiasm for the program come from that for lots of people. Also, unlike churches, AA (wisely IMO) does not accept large donations from members, does not own property, so there's nothing material to fight over. All that said, yes, many people who the program has helped are obnoxious when they talk about it.
Basically, I'm disputing 0.9 as a figure, and am definitely willing to give a sympathetic rather than analytically rigorous listen to someone successfully putting a life back together.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:17 AM
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Of course that's usually called parity rather than equity - slipped my mind.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:17 AM
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16 - What I was gesturing at is that they could probably loosen up their self control a little, but the added cost of another drink would affect how much self control they'd need to lose to just keep going for a while.

One of the problems I think is that AA is both very successful (not necessarily as a program, but as an organization), and entirely premised on the idea that harm reduction is completely impossible and can never happen and anyone with a drinking problem is incapable of ever having a drink ever in the future without relapsing, which I'm pretty sure we know is false but also is a strong undercurrent/conventional wisdom among a lot of people at this point.

As far as 18.2 goes I'm guessing there are a lot of people who both would like to stop drinking and who would very much like to not stop drinking as well. I'm mainly suspicious that the overlap between sticking with AA and actually/consistently wanting to stop drinking is helpful as a thing to think about. It looks to me a lot like "if they don't have guns/whatever-prevention-step-is-in-question they'll just find a different way to commit suicide" which, yeah, is true to some extent but very not true for a larger one. The benders associated with alcoholism look to me, with no real knowledge, a lot like vicious circles and adding speed bumps somewhere along the line can help a lot with things like that.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:17 AM
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23: It's possible that any specific program your average person in Finland gets more community support than your average American. But they don't see very chatty, so I can't tell.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:18 AM
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re 22: 4.5, would be a 5 except it was the first big franchise to securitize which I feel is sketchy illuminati business.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:22 AM
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I don't think suicide is a very helpful analogy. It's also banned.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:23 AM
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26.2 Addicts make excuses-- harm reduction protocols along the lines of " take a no-drink pill verifiably at 3PM every afternoon" may indeed reduce the number of horrifying evening DUI fatalities or episodes of drunken family abuse, and "work" in that sense.
But in addition to people who who drink too much opportunistically and become worse for it, there's a pretty big population who drink actively seeking oblivion-- all of the mouthwash early in the morning, say.

Basically, I'm arguing against examining AA's sweeping claims too literally, because it really does seem to work for many who are otherwise out of options, and does not seem to be a megalomaniacal organization. AA doesn't acknowledge that there's a spectrum of addictive behavior, because "Oh, but my case isn't that bad" is not a productive conversation-- the steps exist for the people who need them, rather than for the disinterested outside reader.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:35 AM
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In the sense of "impulsive decisions made under conditions of high stress can be prevented in a surprising number of cases by adding apparently minimal obstacles" sort of way?

Also re:24, AA was built out of explicitly religious movements/with openly religious views that were later softened/smoothed out a lot as it got older, but I think it's still a pretty fair comparison. Also while "this worked for me in a really important way" can explain a lot about people talking positively about it, but there's the fact that it's literally the twelfth step of the program as well.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:42 AM
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Arby's at 4.5, strongly dispute. Popeye's possibly a 4.5.

Baseline is zero, right? The PA judge who sold innocent kids to for-profit prisons, 0. Profiteering televangelists, 0.2. Where's unfogged? 6 or so, 5? Higher or lower than the really good Peruvian chicken place a mile from my house?

Not actually sure that a scalar-valued assessment of merit makes sense; how would you directly compare say Miles Davis with Teach for America?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:44 AM
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AA works if you work it. If you don't, it doesn't. They're pretty clear about that up front. I also think it's pretty clear that at least for alcohol there is a large subset of alcoholics that really can't have just one drink, and it's great to give those people a supportive community to help that not happen.

Basically I am extremely pro-AA. Putting aside its effectiveness at curing alcoholism -- and I'm totally willing to believe that for some subset of alcoholics there may be other options that work as well or better in achieving that specific goal -- it's also one of the great American contributions to world spirituality (probably second only to the black church) -- the model of honest open confession in a small group that's committed to seriously listening to others equally, regardless of class, race, social status, gender, etc., as well as the complicated threading of a belief in lack of control over one's life and exercising the will to change your life. And at creating communnity. All of that is pretty obviously rooted in protestant christianity but it's enormously helpful to people who aren't protestant christians. Basically more people who aren't alcoholics should have resources like AA.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:44 AM
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I think the possible harm from not examining AA literally is that there's a population of addicts for whom the AA model doesn't work well, but who are maybe not unhelpable. And when you give AA a pass on unexamined dogmas, you may be harming those people by depriving them of help that doesn't fit the AA model.

Like, not that I have a huge amount of faith in the drugs described, but if there's someone out there who won't comply with AA, but who would benefit from a prescription and some non-AA support, if AA is occupying the whole mental space of addiction treatment that guy is SOL.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:45 AM
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35

34 to 30.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:45 AM
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AA is fine for what it is. (Ideally it would become a community more inclusive of different approaches, but who knows if that's possible.) But it shouldn't be the default for court-ordered or medically-referred therapy.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:48 AM
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32 -- so far, the only plausible calibration metrics that I know of are (1) rat orgasms and (2) my capricious whims.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:48 AM
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12, See OP.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:51 AM
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I don't disagree with 36 (at least court-ordered -- doctors should prescribe what they think will work) , but, really, courts should have a range of options because different things will work for different people at different times and courts neither in fact have nor plausibly ever can have enough specific information to know what will work for any one individual.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:51 AM
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34. I agree that such populations exist, and tried to describe some such people in 30.1. Spineless self-abusers are an identifiable subpopulation that create the same social problems as dedicated addicts, and the former can be helped by outside intervention more than by small groups like AA.
Devoted atheists are another class, and there's offshoot AA-like groups for these folks in bigger cities. Something like a "not suitable for everyone" label, maybe that would solve the problem? AA is suitable for some, is the main reason I'm pushing back at the "this isn't defensible in the general case" criticisms, which are basically valid, but I argue are irrelevant.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:56 AM
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32 - Yes, enslavers of children including PA judge are 0. Most mountains are 10. I feel like the rest should be easy to calibrate from that.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:57 AM
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Something like a "not suitable for everyone" label, maybe that would solve the problem?

Right, that's all I think is the issue. This is all third-hand anecdotal, but I have the impression that for addicts trying to get treatment, any rejection of the AA model (including the secularized AA model) is likely to be perceived by the medical community as a rejection of any effort toward sobriety: if you want help, you get AA (or something very AA like) or nothing at all.

If I'm wrong about that impression, then this isn't a problem. But if it's a real problem, then AA needs some pushback against the implication that it's the only thing that works.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:00 AM
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doctors should prescribe what they think will work

In theory yes, but a lot of PCPs want to wash their hands of substance use issues as quickly as possible (don't see it as in their aegis) and will be inclined to just give a shove in the direction of AA and not look into the details more.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:06 AM
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generally vv on board with 33--and think it's worth noting that the Finland study was in, well, Finland. AA and its spirituality are uniquely American in a lot of ways and as a result may--or may not be! uniquely suited to helping American drunks. I would give it an 9/10 except for--and this is linked to the problem identified in 34 and 42--the fact that for a decent and vocal subset of folks in AA, the belief that AA is the only way is in fact necessary to their own recovery. It's a big structural problem.

Also, court ordered AA makes me flinch bc First Amendment problem, not bc I'm afraid it doesn't work. (I don't think it does work in that situation, except to the extent that court may be the think that tips someone over into desperation, but not sure a court could reliably order something better.)

Also the recovery industry is like, largely garbage. 1.5/10. That's a different though related problem.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:10 AM
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Arbys Anonymous


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:13 AM
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Also in response to 42, I think part of the problem is that our understanding of addiction depends on total desperation--so if you are rejecting AA, it's not because it won't work for you, its because you are not at the point of desperation where you will grasp at any solution even if you would normally be resistant to, say, the spirituality of AA.

This may in fact be TRUE--that is, recovery from addiction may dependent on total abjection, there might not be intermediate interventions or room for argument. But idk if that assumption has been sufficiently tested.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:15 AM
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Is AA free/low-cost? Does that factor into its popularity?


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:26 AM
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47 -- yes and yes. I think sometimes you get roped into bringing coffee.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:27 AM
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probably second only to the black church

OTish but man, people who want to know why no one non-white is talking about black-on-black violence need to go to more relevant funerals.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:32 AM
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I see DC, states, and health plans as the most realistic places standards are going to be changed in the future, because of increasing coverage requirements, especially in Medicaid. Historically substance use treatment has been something Medicaid has covered extremely paltrily, capacity permitting.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:35 AM
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Sadly, I've gotten pretty close to this stuff recently. A friend has struggled a lot with alcoholism. My take-aways from what I've read:

Support groups work. AA is a support group and works in that sense, but it isn't better magic than other support groups.

There is a growing counter to the desperation theory in 46, a technique called CRAFT. In that technique, forcing people to "hit bottom" is just counterproductive and makes it that much harder for the alcoholic to climb back out. They do better from a solid life, not a broken life. I have to say, my impression of CRAFT was that it was very, very, very close to modern dog training: disrupting bad patterns, ignoring bad behavior and rewarding good behavior. Success in CRAFT is measured in getting the alcoholic to a shrink (CBT strongly preferred), so I don't know whether it gets them to stop drinking after that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:37 AM
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Wilson was known to drink two quarts of whiskey a day...He was given the hallucinogen belladonna, an experimental treatment for addictions

Ethics committees sure have lost their sense of humor.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:39 AM
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In the sense of "impulsive decisions made under conditions of high stress can be prevented in a surprising number of cases by adding apparently minimal obstacles" sort of way?

That really doesn't fit at all with what I've seen or experienced about drinking. Also, it doesn't mesh with history. It's pretty well known that adding very large obstacles to drinking really didn't do much to curtail drinking except among those who really didn't want to drink much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:42 AM
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My take-aways from what I've seen:

Holy fuck is it hard to get anything other than AA for alcoholism. Her doctor shunts her to AA; the Kaiser addiction program requires outside meetings, but there are only AA and NA meetings available. If you balk at AA, you are told that if you fail at AA, you will die. (I've witnessed that.) Wanting anything other than AA is evidence that the alcoholic isn't ready to heal.

Socioeconomic class is a real problem for trying to attend AA. My friend just couldn't share when her problems were handling expectations at a nice professional job or middle class debt for nice things, but the rest of the people at the meeting have lost their kids and gotten fired and will be evicted in a week. I mean, Roger Ebert found meetings he liked and so meetings must include people like Roger Ebert, but I heard about the schizophrenic woman a whole lot more than I heard about possible peers.

The platitudes. Some were good and now I use them myself. But she got endless platitudes in place of thought.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:48 AM
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54.3 is the most depressing of all.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:51 AM
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CRAFT is in line with what I think are interesting therapeutic approaches for people close to addicts and alcoholics (as opposed to Al-Anon, which makes me itchy even though it seems to have helped people I love), giving them interventions other than "detaching with love," which is the Al-Anon model.* I'm skeptical about CBT without a support community for ultimately curbing problem drinking, in part because you have to decide to use the interventions you are taught in CBT, just like you have to decide to take a pill but who knows! The nice thing about AA at least in big cities is that early on you don't have to decide anything; you just go into a meeting and slump and let people carry you for a while. Idk how that would work in smaller towns where there aren't virtually around-the-clock meetings.

The cycle of addiction itself is pretty miserable even without the loss of attachments and world goods, and the emphasis on CREATING consequences for the addict seems misplaced?

*This is probably known to everyone but Al-Anon is not AA, it's for people close alcoholics; I didn't know that until I knew it.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:52 AM
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The obvious lesson is that if you have problems you don't think the rest of the group will be able to relate to, talk about reviewing movies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:55 AM
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I love the Ebert story about being in a meeting with a couple of other guys who were also on Chicago TV news, and having another alcoholic come into the meeting, do a double-take, and say "Great, now I'm hallucinating."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:56 AM
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I have also seen (well, heard about right after) a lot of generosity at AA. She was welcomed, phone numbers pressed on her, offered support for non-drinking at any time.

If you're in that cult, you're IN. Also AA will absorb as much of your life as you choose to give it, which is probably good for people who need to fill up their lives with something that isn't drinking. But AA is shameless about taking top priority, over family, over job, over anything.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:56 AM
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52: Weirdly...

Also re:53 it's hard to imagine much of anything short of force that's going to get people who really sincerely want to keep drinking as much as they do to stop drinking that much. If all you needed to do was to get someone to say their name backwards and all interest in alcohol would disappear it would probably still take a superhuman effort to get them to quit. People who get caught up in binging but would rather not are a different group entirely. And in the context of an article about a bunch of studies that have shown that naltrexone has a significant effect helping people who do want to be helped I'm not sure how far you can take that skepticism.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 10:59 AM
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Honestly aching for your friend in 54 Megan. I actually stopped going to my meetings after a couple of years for the opposite reason--I was going at 7:30 in the morning; too many professionals, not enough deeply disturbed folks literally bleeding from the ears.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:00 AM
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Also, the Kaiser addiction program is now something like fifteen opiate addicts to one alcoholic. There are barely any (two or three) alcoholics in the therapy rooms anymore.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:02 AM
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56.* what? I'm completely confused.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:03 AM
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Al-Anon is a separate support group for family and loved ones of alcoholics, not an alternative spelling of AA.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:04 AM
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Close _to_ alcoholics, I assume.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:06 AM
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63: AA is the 12 step group for alcoholics. Al-Anon is the... auxiliary? 12 step group initially for spouses but broader now.

I have largely unfounded opinions about it that I am freely sharing because I got a new lawyer job after you all told me to a few weeks ago, and am basically killing time until it starts.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:07 AM
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That is kind, Stabby. She's doing better for a couple months. Who knows? It might last.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:08 AM
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64 i can't be bothered with prepositions i have important feelings to share


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:09 AM
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Well, I'll be damned. That sure explains a lot of things I'd been confused about.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:09 AM
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Is there another organization called Alc-Ano for a different group of people?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:11 AM
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The vodka-aquarium burgers were not a hit, but for an entirely different reason than you assumed?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:12 AM
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67 - I am glad. Rooting for her.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:13 AM
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Thanks. I'll tell her the internet supports her.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:17 AM
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For example, I've always wondered why my father attends weekly Al-Anon meetings, but (1) drinks regularly and (2) isn't an alcoholic. (His father was an alcoholic, so that makes sense.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:17 AM
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It is a good thing the answer came up in an Unfogged thread because otherwise there is no possible way you could have gotten your father's behavior explained.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:23 AM
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All of that is pretty obviously rooted in protestant christianity but it's enormously helpful to people who aren't protestant christians. Basically more people who aren't alcoholics should have resources like AA.

This is a good point. It's striking how many screenwriters make their protagonist into an alcoholic purely so he can go to an AA meeting and deliver exposition.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:24 AM
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"I read something about Russians implanting some capsule that made you violently ill whenever you drank as a cure for alcoholism? I don't remember outcomes..."

Let me guess, violently ill drunk Russians.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:25 AM
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Narconon sounds sort of like it ought to be AA for drug users but actually it's a branch of the Church of Scientology. All very confusing.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:26 AM
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75: I mean, yes I see now that I could have googled, but it literally never occurred to me that "Al-Anon" might be anything different than "Alcoholics-Anonymous."


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:27 AM
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At some point, this blog will literally contain all that is worth knowing about the world. We need more, not fewer, hardcore adopters of a sola scriptura position, where scriptura=Unfogged comments.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:28 AM
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I was thinking that you could ask your father directly. (Although maybe you aren't close.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:28 AM
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Also re:53 it's hard to imagine much of anything short of force that's going to get people who really sincerely want to keep drinking as much as they do to stop drinking that much.

Often the same for drugs. I think it was Bave who recently mentioned he'd had a lot of clients who simply weren't interested in stopping.

Everyone's going to get a real good look at this for the foreseeable future. Mass decarceration with shit diversion programs or no diversion plus the continued erosion of middle and lower class wages and stability is/going to be a massive ongoing clusterfuck.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:32 AM
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And in the context of an article about a bunch of studies that have shown that naltrexone has a significant effect helping people who do want to be helped I'm not sure how far you can take that skepticism.

I looked up a couple of studies. It's certainly effective, at least in the short term. It's also hard not to notice that the placebo in these, while less effective than naltrexone, is really remarkably effective. It is reasonable to assume whatever is happening there, a lot of it has nothing to do with whatever naltrexone does to your receptors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:35 AM
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To be clear, I think they should give naltrexone to anybody who asks for it and isn't taking heroin. But some skepticism is in order when you see a study reporting a 78% success rate.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:38 AM
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I think it was Bave who recently mentioned

May have been my better half. My clients, mostly not being natural persons, can't get high.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:45 AM
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The Supreme Court says they can.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:45 AM
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The Chief Justice Roberts Cure for Addiction: incorporate!


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:45 AM
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dammit.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:46 AM
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Hooray.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:46 AM
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We need more, not fewer, hardcore adopters of a sola scriptura position, where scriptura=Unfogged comments....

I know that some Christian groups treat the Bible that way, but half the comments here contradict the other half! How could someone possibly... oh, right yeah I guess that could work.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:48 AM
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85: Ah, so it was.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:48 AM
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The Supreme Court says they can.

This is where Lehman Brothers went wrong. They were totally strung out.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:52 AM
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That was 78% down to 10 drinks a week or so, which could look pretty varied across the population ("I don't have a drinking problem! I only get hammered on Saturdays!") But more importantly it was that percentage of people who went in specifically to get help in the first place, which is going to leave out a sizable contingent of "No I don't have a problem" and "Fuck-Everything-Get-Hammered" drinkers (probably a not insignificant portion of whom get pushed into AA at some point for a short period of time by courts/etc.). So dramatic magical effects? Probably not. But someone that seriously reduces the thing that reinforces the drinking/keeps you in the habit is, in a particular and probably not too small percentage of alcoholics, going to have a pretty serious benefit.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:53 AM
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I'm not arguing against you on that point.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:54 AM
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Re the Russian implant. Turns out what they do is give you something that makes you feel terrible, with a defibrillator nearby to scare you extra, while putting a drop of alcohol in your mouth. Then they tell you that they are injecting you with the same substance and that it will last for years and if you drink you will feel that sick like you just did again and maybe die. Then they inject you with antabuse that lasts maybe a week, (or just saline).

I don't think for a second that would work outside of Russia? Seems to depend on a dr.-patient relationship even more hierarchical than we have here even with jerk surgeons. Contrarywise AA has limited traction in Russia because historically opening up to strangers has not been a great idea there.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:54 AM
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This supports my theory about how Russians love their children but aren't really that keen on the other adults.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 12:03 PM
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Relevant, just came out:

Patients, providers, and consumer advocates allege that health plans may appear in compliance with the MHPAEA, but the pattern of denials of mental health and substance use treatment and lack of access to network providers tell a different story. They claim that plans are using more subtle ways to make mental health and substance use treatment less available than treatment for other conditions, including more frequent utilization review, "fail first" requirements, and applying stricter medical necessity criteria. In addition, patients report having trouble getting timely access to network providers for mental health and substance use treatment.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 12:39 PM
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Did I imagine that there were recently changes made to NIMH (maybe?) funding guidelines that requires research target a specific biomarker/gene/circuit? If I did not make that up it's bananas, though google is not helping me. I remember becoming aware of this in a taxi, not sure if I was reading on my phone or the radio was on or I was chatting with someone or if this is some very strange, specific dementia.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 1:04 PM
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I never heard of it but everybody is talking about "biomarkers" around me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 1:07 PM
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19/77: I thought that was how Chantix worked. You smoke, and then you throw up and feel like you're about to die. Eventually you don't want to smoke anymore.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 1:11 PM
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That's how smoking itself works at the start.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 1:14 PM
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100: No, it just doesn't feel very satisfying. It was originally supposed to be an antidepressant (didn't work), but instead, it blocks nicotine receptors (shorthanding).

The drink then throw up stuff is Antabuse.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 1:53 PM
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I'm a bit curious about why 62 has happened. Has Kaiser managed to select for opiate addicts and against alcoholics? If so, unintentionally or intentionally? I get that opiate addiction is a big problem these days, but has it actually become 15 times as much of a problem as alcoholism? Is it just a statistical fluke of Megan's region? Is getting help for opiate addiction cooler or more socially acceptable these days?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 1:54 PM
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102: Anecdotally, you also get weird, disturbing dreams. (Two examples among people I know who've taken it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 2:01 PM
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Nicotine gives you weird dreams, if you fall asleep wearing a nicotine patch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 2:03 PM
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103: Possibly because the first thing most people try for alcoholism is nonmedical interventions.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 2:24 PM
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Maybe opiate addicts have health insurance?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 2:57 PM
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Thanks Obamacare.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 2:58 PM
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Not sarcastically.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 3:03 PM
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109 is not to imply that everything I fail to label as "Not sarcastic" is sarcastic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 3:29 PM
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110: Only 50%? With the other 50% puns?


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 3:30 PM
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I don't even keep track enough to say.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 3:33 PM
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But 110/112 are sarcastic right?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 3:39 PM
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I saw this posted elsewhere a while back and basically, AFAICT, the claim that AA isn't scientific isn't news and the claim that researchers have really found "more effective" alternatives is simply false. AA is obviously a messy, ad hoc solution to a messy problem, but it isn't thriving in spite of the existence of a wonder-drug that would solve everything.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 3:43 PM
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(Whoops, no, this is a different article.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 3:46 PM
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Was that also in the Atlantic? I think I read something like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 4:30 PM
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||

omg, Paris is under siege and a death metal band my hipper friends have heard of is being held hostage and my brother was in the hospital for three days for idiopathic lung blood clots and my ex-sister-in-law has been officially ruled an abusive psychopath and cannot contact my nieces by any means ever and I feel like everything is happening all at once help.

|>


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 4:40 PM
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Nothing you can do right now can change any of those things. But you can tend yourself. Turn off media and make a care package for your brother. Cookies and a sweet note. Pick out books your nieces might like and wrap them up and address a package to mail tomorrow. If you have an animal, tend your animal.

If you're in California, go for a walk, because it is fucking gorgeous out. You do not have to follow every detail. The news will be the same tomorrow.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 4:46 PM
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Seriously, put your phone away. It can't help them and can hurt you.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 4:47 PM
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More anecdata: a close family member of mine is in AA and considers it to have saved his life. IDK what percentage of people it works or doesn't work for, but I'm very grateful it exists.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 4:54 PM
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Sound advice, Megan, which means y'all won't be getting updates on this situation tonight.


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 4:58 PM
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We care and want you to feel better this evening.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:00 PM
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117. This is a horror and all I can think of are snarky things to say. I think Megan is right. (I also think 117 is al and if so that is a near intolerable load.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:03 PM
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What Megan said.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:04 PM
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Ah, 121 reveals it was Abraham Lincoln. My typing is slow.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:19 PM
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A friend of a friend was apparently getting updates from someone who escaped the Eagles of Death Metal* show. The combination of this horror with a reasonably obscure American band that I've seen play at a little club is like a sick joke.

* Not actually death metal; it's a Queens of the Stone Age side project.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:29 PM
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If it had happened here I would have had a couple of dozen friends at that show.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:50 PM
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60: Weird indeed. From the link:

One dose of the hallucinogenic drug
LSD could help alcoholics give up
drinking, according to an analysis of
studies performed in the 1960s.
A study, presented in theJournal of
Psychopharmacology, looked at data
from six trials and more than 500
patients.
I still wonder how the researchers got to their study though.
"This chemical does weird shit, let's give it to alcoholics."
"Ok!"
Sixties, I guess. Also, congrats to Stabby on the new job.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:53 PM
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I have been in a class for 2+ hours. What the fuck is happening in Paris?! 100+ dead?!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:55 PM
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And fuck, Paris. This shit just keeps getting worse.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 5:55 PM
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128: I think some of those experiments were conducted by the people around Timothy Leary and Ram Dass before they were fired and left academia respectively. They were independently interested in using LSD in pretty much any therapeutic context they could get funded for running a trial in (including giving it to people in prison to prevent recidivism).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 6:08 PM
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Facebook, shockingly, being useful with their Safety Check.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 6:17 PM
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That would explain it . One wonders what they might have produced if they hadn't been shut down - those look like significant results. And I think some commenters here swear by LSD?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 6:20 PM
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There were a fair bunch of studies conducted around the time, and you still see something showing up now and again when someone can slip it by the government, about using psychedelics in therapeutic contexts.* They do actually tend to have substantial effects on some kinds of things, and 'gain new perspective on yourself/the world' probably isn't a crazy thing to get out of a solid dose of LSD. The schedule I classification for them has always been a bit ludicrous.

*Mushrooms help reduce anxiety/general unhappiness for people confronting terminal illnesses; MDMA works really great for helping people open up to therapists, and helps with PTSD, etc.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 6:53 PM
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134 - I don't think the end states of the canonical LSD and AA experiences are all that different.

132 - Yes; before it got set up I had a dozen frantic texts out to the French family, who I realize were fielding dozens of same. What an absolute nightmare.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 6:59 PM
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The NYT one on mushrooms and people with terminal illnesses is pretty interesting, actually, and suggests that LSD may help with cluster headaches (??)*.

It also includes this adorably square bit:

"On psychedelics," Halpern says, "you have an experience in which you feel there is something you are a part of, something else is out there that's bigger than you, that there is a dazzling unity you belong to, that love is possible and all these realizations are imbued with deep meaning. I'm telling you that you're not going to forget that six months from now. The experience gives you, just when you're on the edge of death, hope for something more."
If psilocybin can so reliably induce these life-altering experiences, why have the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have taken magic mushrooms recreationally not had this profound experience?

*From what I can tell most of our brain related medical research works on the principle of "this problem looks like it might be a problem with your brain and this drug affects your brain - let's give it a try!" so, I guess, why not test that.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:07 PM
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I agree with m'lud up there. AA is sort of bullshit in that it is not something scientists determined was best after controlled studies comparing other methods. but if naltrexone could make you not be an alcoholic more people would be taking it. I love AA as you know; my mom, too, did a short period of outpatient rehab when she started AA and has then, like me, not had a drink since her first meeting. "rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path"--this is both an obvious source of confirmation bias and pretty true IME. wishing both megan's friend and the great emancipator my best.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:07 PM
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135.1 - Jaw clenching, mild muscle soreness, a little trouble falling asleep?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:09 PM
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why have the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have taken magic mushrooms recreationally not had this profound experience?

Wait, what? Total oneness with the universe is a huge part of the appeal!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:19 PM
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138 - well a sense of belonging to the universe but ime the trouble falling asleep holds true too. (Recovery has if anything made me more not less curious about psychedelics, idk if that is a bug.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:28 PM
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140 was me


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:29 PM
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as was 135 wow i'm doing great tonight


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:36 PM
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132: One of the few benefits of the internet of things/health sensors panopticon society should be the ability to detect disastrous attacks really quickly via vital signs and adrenaline spikes and such.
But of course, we'll end up monitoring things like AA attendence instead.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:38 PM
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143 feel like my personal adrenaline spikes in response to like, friendly smiles on public transit and emails that end with "Thanks." would really skew the data there.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:43 PM
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I also thought it was hilarious that they blinded the study, and gave them niacin as a control because facial flushing is totally something someone could mistake for a solid dose of shrooms. I have a lot of trouble believing anyone was sitting in that room thinking "man, I wonder which group I'm in..."


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:46 PM
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138 - All I ever got was trouble sleeping. (And an impaired sense of humour.)


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:47 PM
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144 Heh, true, very noisy data. But massive spikes from a bunch of unrelated people in the same place could trip alarms.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:51 PM
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It's just so awful.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:56 PM
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also re 137 I love it too deeply even express though how connected I feel waxes and wanes--but I never figured out a clear difference between me and people it didn't? Hasn't yet? worked for, some of whom, at least to me, were as desperate and willing and ready to work as anyone I've seen.

I'm just deeply grateful but I spend a lot of time--too much--? pained by that unfairness


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 7:57 PM
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||

So, um, Paris. What's going on there? Maybe we shoudl have a thread.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:00 PM
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This summer I participated in a two-month-long paid drug study on the effects of suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone). The night before the morning of dosing we also had to take naltrexone. While many in the study quit before the end because of the effect of buprenorphine on their body (intense nausea), I handled the opioid just fine (I felt high for five hours, even having taken the two antagonists) but did not care for naltrexone at all.

As best as I could tell, naltrexone defeated the effectiveness of any endorphins that were in my body. This was an uncomfortable spot to be in because I regularly exercised (mostly bicycling) for about two hours per day, so after the naltrexone dose I could feel an entire week's worth of accumulated soreness and stiffness in my muscles. The worst was that stretching did nothing and sleeping was impossible. Thankfully, the odd discomfort only lasted for the night.

I've got nothing to add on the addiction front (other than: don't drink, blaze it everyday), but if you want to feel bad in a weird way for about eight hours, follow a strenuous exercise session with a big dose of naltrexone.


Posted by: protoplasm | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:50 PM
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My Facebook has only one person reporting that they are safe in Paris. Which is one more than I expected to see. Also, a woman a year ahead if me in high school just died of Lupus. Which I didn't think was supposed to be fatal very often to people that young.

Anyway, Facebook walls of the dead are weird. Three days from pictures of touchscreen terminals with signs reading "Penis broken-Use finger" to dead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 8:54 PM
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Yeah, the Facebook thing must be calming and efficient. I don't use it, and I don't usually bother my friends at times like this, but I pinged a close friend (mentioned earlier) by email just in case. He wrote back right away and we exchanged kid pictures. He said he was especially relieved that he & his wife had stayed in that night and didn't have to deal with trying to call each other in the aftermath or wonder how they were going to get home. Also that he dreads waking up tomorrow morning.

Also, a woman a year ahead if me in high school just died of Lupus.

Ugh, I'm sorry to hear it (and for your loss, however tenuous). That's also a threat to one of my inner circle, younger than I. She survived a giant pulmonary embolism, which is one serious Lupus risk and what eventually got her the diagnosis, but I forget what the other systemic issues are... but maybe don't remind me actually.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:18 PM
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I saw
speculation
a month or two ago that Al Queda needed to stage a really spectacular attack if it wasn't to lose leadership to Isis entirely. Maybe this is that.
Which would also fit if this attack was by AQ in the Arabian Peninsula (like Charlie Hebdo was) - apparently AQ in Pakistan is so besieged and battered the real center is now AQAP.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 9:31 PM
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I have a cousin who is a professional hockey player in France,* who lives in Paris. His mother reports that he is "ok in Paris for those of you worried." He's a good guy, and this comes as a relief to his friends and family.

*What this means is that, although he is a better hockey player than probably 99.98 percent of the North American population, he was not a good enough hockey player to make the NHL, and therefore had to go to Europe (to pursue a career in hockey, I mean: I guess he could have stayed in Canada to become a real estate agent, or an insurance agent, or something like that).


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:02 PM
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|| Omitted:
How do those prosecutors keep getting my celphone pics ?
Do they have special access to snoop on youth or will they keep snooping when I'm 18 or older?

nytimes.com/2015/11/14/us/prosecutors-in-teenage-sexting-cases-ask-foolishness-or-a-felony.html
|>


Posted by: Carlos Danger II | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:19 PM
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I was going to comment in despair on this worst of days, but I had a bourbon and am watching Disney's The Cat From Outer Space and feel better.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:31 PM
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I'll join you in the whisky. Disney sadly is not available ATM.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:48 PM
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Good ol' Sandy Duncan


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-13-15 11:51 PM
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154. It has now been plausibly claimed by ISIS.Do not read unless you're feeling strong (In French).


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 5:35 AM
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160: That makes me want to walk into the cathedral and ask where I sign up.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:24 AM
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There's something about reading "Allah est le plus grand" that makes it sound childish if you translate literally. Our god is the biggest, nyah nyah nyah.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:14 AM
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160: Trying to see the silver lining, Isis is so vile they hopefully will alienate all local (as in, Middle Eastern) support faster than al Queda ever did.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 8:11 AM
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Yea. That seems too optimistic. This is another large deployment of U.S. ground troops.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 8:18 AM
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Also, fuck this doom and gloom. While these puerile fuckers are murdering people Myanmar is very probably about to be become an open, functioning democracy. That's 50 million people, while Isis is scrabbling for landlocked desert. Progress is still winning.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 8:21 AM
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164: I agree optimistic. But is there any appetite for major ground deployments, even in France? Too soon to tell, I guess.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 8:26 AM
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I don't think the argument from vileness works for Isis. So long as its core strength is in the dispossessed Sunnis of Iraq and Syria it is no more going to alienate them by atrocity than the Red Army alienated the Soviet people by the manner of its advance through Prussia. Let's face it, the Red Army treated the German women worse, if possible, than Isis has treated the Yazidis; we all went in for the bombing and massacre of civilians and as for what is done to prisoners of war, it's worth rereading "If not now, When?" and the passage about how "the Siberians" would sever the spinal cords of captives and leave them to die slowly, paralysed from the waist down.


This isn't an argument about moral equivalence. I don't think that what we did to Iraq, or even what Assad is doing in Syria, is remotely comparable to what the Nazis did in Russia. I am simply trying to maintain the narrow point that when your core support really hates the victims of atrocity there is essentially no atrocity you can perform which will disgust them.

That it may disgust and horrify Western potential recruits is another matter. We can hope so.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 8:49 AM
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If there's one thing the last couple millennia have taught us, it's that humans can justify pretty much anything to themselves given the right arguments and preconditions. Personally, I don't see what would be so great about leaving behind your friends and family and the relative safety and comfort of life as a 2nd generation refugee in the US to go to some awful broiling desert and kill people, but clearly others do not share my preferences. Ergo, I doubt there are too many actions that AQ/ISIS could take to significantly alienate its base of potential recruits among the marginalized young men of the Islamic world.

Look at the atrociousness of regular 'Merkin white boys who kill their classmates or random strangers simply because it's fairly easy and they don't see an alternative, after all.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:02 AM
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That it may disgust and horrify Western potential recruits is another matter. We can hope so.

We can and do hope so, but the proportion of ISIS recruits from the west is relatively trivial compared to other regions. What will stop or at least slow external recruitment is when they stop looking like winners and start looking like just another dodgy gang in the failed states of Syria and Iraq. Stuff like this is far more important in terms of their reputation than anything that happens in Europe or the United States.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:04 AM
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So long as its core strength is in the dispossessed Sunnis of Iraq and Syria
True. OTOH back in 2007 (?) the US did clear proto-IS from western Iraq by cooperating with Sunni militias, which had in fact been alienated. The problem of course is the Sunnis will remain dispossesed so long as Iraq isn't actually partitioned.
Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:16 AM
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You can't partition Iraq without making a checkerboard out of Baghdad, can you? I'm no expert, but the partition fantasy seems unworkable (and none of the Iraqis I talk to -- obviously a very unrepresentative bunch of people -- seem even remotely interested in it). So it looks like the country is fated to be Lebanonish. Which can only work if the majority finds a way to give the minority security autonomy and maybe slightly disproprtionate power. If it has to come from the outside, and maybe it does, then maybe Iran has to find a way to make it happen. I suppose they have to first recover from the delusion that victory can be won with force.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:28 AM
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so long as Iraq isn't actually partitioned.

Aye, there's the rub. Baghdad will not give up its claim to the north, and Iran will go through the motions of formally supporting them in diplomatic channels because they like having a client state in southern Mesopotamia; Turkey will oppose anything that brings a recognised Kurdish state any closer, especially with their exciting new government; and the west has a knee jerk response of wanting to maintain Sykes-Picot. So the Iraqi Sunnis, and the rest, are pretty well fucked.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:29 AM
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Lebanonish beats the hell out what they have now. AIUI Baghdad was essentially ethnically cleansed in the 2005-07 period, so all remaining Sunnis are on the western edge of the city. Which still creates a Berlin wall situation but would be workable.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:34 AM
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172 Fully agree, sadly.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:36 AM
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Charley, the ethnic simplification of Baghdad is almost a done deal as far as I can see. In the greater scheme of things, I'm sure the Sunnis would prefer to remain in some sort of united Iraq, but as you suggest, Lebanonisation would take major constitutional reform, which the present regime isn't interested in. That's one reason a number of places welcomed ISIS until they realised what they were dealing with.

Some problem do not have a solution, in politics as in mathematics.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:50 AM
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Yeah, I think there are still Sunni majority pockets in different spots, and still some pretty mixed areas. As shown on the second map: http://citiesintransition.net/fct-cities/baghdad/ Even with the ethnic cleansing, you still end up with a high proportion of the Sunni Arabs of Iraq living in Baghdad, and having a significant role in the life of the city.

(The other day, I'm looking out the window, watching snow fall in the mountains, dreaming of skiing, and the phone rings. Iraqi client says sorry about the delay in getting those documents to you; a car bomb went off just up the street, blowing in all the windows, knocking over all the file cabinets, shutting down the internet. Human remains thrown up and down the block.

Lebanon isn't a very attractive goal today, but, as you say, there's a whole lot of room for improvement.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:54 AM
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Mossy, have you changed your 'nym, or have you arrived recently? If the latter, has anybody seen the fruit basket?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:54 AM
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chris: Long-time lurker.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:57 AM
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176: And I see Baghdad is still a lot more complicated than I thought. Ugh.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:07 AM
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Analogizing everything to Hitler is of course the armchair foreign policy of fools, but one aspect in which ISIS is like the Nazis is that they are apparently much crazier, and much worse, even than exisiting expectations for crazy, evil regimes. It makes them much harder to deal with. Something like appeasement/containment could work for Mussolini or even Stalin. But, because Hitler was even crazier it couldn't work for him. There does seem to be a parallel worth drawing to ISIS.

Hoping they'll go away if they can only be reasonably contained and disgust even Moslem populations doesn't really seem viable, because ISIS is next-level nuts. It seems like the only option is (a) to try and take them out where they are and restore some order to Syria or (b) have Europe face an ever-increasing wave of refugees fleeing ISIS, which, especially now, it will want to turn away, along with the entire West facing more attacks like we saw last night.

I think our moronic Iraq war is about as close to a proximate cause for the creation of ISIS as you'll find, so United States militarism certainly is (partially) responsible for these deaths in Paris. But absent some military intervention in Syria and Iraq to defeat these assholes I don't see, now, how we get out of this situation. The status quo of tolerating ISIS and hoping it'll get defeated without too much work or outside help on the ground, while Europe is faced with a massive refugee crisis and radicalized terrorist threat from ISIS, sure doesn't seem to be working. Maybe I'm wrong and the Paris attack and Kurdish attack are the beginning of the end for these sons of bitches, but I'd guess not.

In any case, if there's ever a legitimate cause for war, France has one.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:20 AM
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I was just reading this -- http://www.juancole.com/2015/11/kurdish-fighters-centers.html -- comments are interesting. It may be that IS can be defeated in Iraq. If, as Cole thinks, the French are going to further step up bombing in Syria (they'd already escalated in September), along with the Russians, maybe that's how IS goes down. IMO, our main involvement ought not be military, but diplomatic: working overtime to cut off outside support for IS.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:35 AM
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(Including support emanating indirectly from Congress. Sheesh.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:37 AM
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hoping it'll get defeated without too much work or outside help on the ground
I kind of support this by default just because outside forces have such a terrible record at effective counterinsurgency.

I agree the next level craziness warrants a next level solution but I think that permanent success will require partitioning Iraq and/or Syria.
Like chris y said upthread that in turn would require a real diplomatic revolution , possibly including permanent Western rupture with Turkey.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:38 AM
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180. I fully agree that France has a legitimate casus belli, as the United States had in Afghanistan in 2001, but not Iraq in 2003. Whether increased intervention is wise at this point is, however, another question in my view.

ISIS haven't won anything significant on the ground for a while now; they are more likely to lose significant territory, as per the link in 169. I suspect that atrocities like Beirut and Paris- soft targets away from their centre of operations, if they represent a change of strategy, also should be taken as a sign of weakness. They no longer have the capacity significantly to expand their territory, so the only way they can continue to recruit dumb kids from the Arabian peninsula is to look as scary as possible and hope nobody notices they aren't actually advancing anywhere.

So would French boots on the ground at this point, bearing in mind that France was the most recent colonial power in Syria, be a wise idea? Me, I dunno, but I wouldn't rush in if I were Hollande.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:42 AM
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working overtime to cut off outside support for IS.
This is the thing. Turkey de facto supports IS by opposing the Kurds (AK ideology aside) and any long term solution would involve Kurdish independence in Iraq and Syria. And breach with Turkey would be such a big deal I wonder if letting IS fester wouldn't be preferable.
Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:46 AM
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182. What!!!??? Really!!!???


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:46 AM
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Oh, whoops.

184 You'd think any French ground force would be pretty closely coordinated with the Russians and the Syrian government -- they'd be insane to try anything different -- and aimed at killing particular people, not remaking Syrian society. (ie, what the Afghan war should have been.) So, I don't know if the colonial past will mean much.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:48 AM
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187.1 not to 186! But to linking an article already linked.

182 referring to pushing the admin into supplying material to "moderate" opposition types who turn them over to either the IS or local AQ outfit. The delusion that the US should be acting against Assad at this point in time is still quite strong.

185 If we have to choose between France and Turkey over the viability of IS, I think we can make that choice.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:52 AM
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165 Myanmar is becoming an open and functioning democracy which is committing genocide, or "ethnic cleansing" if you prefer, against the Rohingya. And Aung San Suu Kyi has remained silent where she has not indicated tacit assent. Fuck the lot of them.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:52 AM
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180: My concerns with American (or European) direct military intervention with actual troops on the ground are 1) It's what ISIS seems to want. So much of their behavior, like videos where they behead someone while taunting Obama by name, this latest attack in Paris & etc., has clearly been in a provoking "I dare you to come and get me" vein. They must believe that US or European troops in the region would be a win for them. Of course, they also seem to be crazy, so maybe they haven't thought things through.

2) Even though ISIS seems so bad that it's hard to imagine anything worse, surely the lesson of the last 15 years is that US intervention in the Middle East can always make things worse, no matter how bad they are now.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 10:53 AM
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The available options on the ground in Syria seem to be:
1. Assad. Like Saddam Hussein only not as competent.
2. ISIS. The remnant of Saddam Hussein's officer corps, led by psychopathic ideologues.
3. A bunch of local gangs, some of which are more or less connected to AQ and others of which are beneath AQ's contempt.

Good, innit? Arguably it isn't possible to devise a helpful strategy for this because it's FUBAR. Priorities should be, first, to help the Pesh Murga keep the nutjobs out of as much of Kurdistan as possible, so that the Kurds can live in continual mild fear instead of mortal terror; second, to prevent the expansion of ISIS held territory as far as they can from the air; and there is no point 3. If the west is seen as supporting Assad, they will be seen as the enemy, unavoidably.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:12 AM
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188 last. If the choice is France or Turkey then sure, France.

190.2 Exactly.

189: 'Fuck everyone' is usually where I end up. But:
1) Said genocide presumably being conducted by the military government that's probably on its way out.
2) Negotiated endings to terrible governments often involve letting murderers get away with murder (see SA, Chile). I think Su Kyi is smart enough to know that.

Also: when I said 'ethnic cleansing' happened in Baghdad, I was getting at the result, ethnically segregated neighborhoods. I know that that happened because of horrific, maybe genocidal, violence.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:18 AM
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surely the lesson of the last 15 years is that US intervention in the Middle East can always make things worse, no matter how bad they are now.

Should be tattooed on the forearms and foreheads of every Western leader with a military capable of intervention in the region.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:18 AM
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191 I'm not sure there's any option at all that amounts to either the US or the UK not being seen as the enemy. Of radical Sunni factions, anyway.

That said, I'm not suggesting that we support Assad, just that we don't entertain the fantasy that acting against him would be in our interests at all. Let Russia, Iran, Assad, and France destroy IS in Syria and Anbar, while we work to neutralize Turkey, and supply materials and air support to the Kurds. I don't think we have to commit one way or the other to an independent Kurdistan to decide to help them defeat IS. Yes, there's the problem of where the boundaries between the Kurdish "region" ought to be within Iraq (and Syria?) but that's going to have to be sorted out after.

Ideally, one of our predominantly Sunni friends could take the lead in bribing Sunni leaders in Iraq and Syria to reject IS -- it worked before -- but they've mostly cast their lots the other way, it seems.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:25 AM
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192.4(?) Much of the persecution has been coming from outside the military government, notably Ashin Wirathu and his 969 movement. I haven't followed the elections closely enough to know how any parties sympathetic to them have fared. But Suu Kyi's silence when it mattered, notably during the series of anti-Muslim pogroms that took place from 2012-2014, spoke volumes.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:26 AM
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192.1 France is in a fairly good position right now to force the choice, if it wants to.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:29 AM
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194.2 makes good sense to me, though Lord knows I don't know enough to know for sure.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:35 AM
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Alienating Turkey would be a mistake with lasting repercussions (again, see 190.2). Surely there could be a way to, if not exactly bring Turkey on board, at least have them sit on the sidelines (with assurances of no Kurdish state on their borders or the like) while the French do whatever it is they're going to do (the Legion?)


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:44 AM
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Wow, the Rohingya situation is awful.
I had never even heard of it, only the long running wars in the north east. Leaning more toward fuck the lot.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:46 AM
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I'd sign up to 194, but Assad is a busted flush. The SAA is not an Alawi only outfit. Gary Brecker says that a third of Alawi men of military age have already been killed, and numbers weren't high to start with. So really you're talking about Russia and France doing the business on their own, which doesn't sound promising.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:53 AM
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not s/b now, otherwise it makes no sense.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:53 AM
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with assurances of no Kurdish state on their borders or the like

That would mean no Kurdish state. Kurdistan is on the Turkish borders. It would be a horrible betrayal- how much do you mind that?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 11:56 AM
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202 I know, but were the Kurds ever going to get their state? And if they did wouldn't that mean a full scale invasion by Turkey? What then? I think they'll have to settle for some kind of regional autonomy much like they've had for the last couple of decades. Or we bring Turkey to the table and have them come to terms but this would mean guarantees that current Turkish borders would remain as they are. I don't think they'd agree to that but one can hope. A greater Kurdistan with territory taken from Turkey is a complete non-starter and would also constitute a betrayal of a long-standing NATO ally.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 12:15 PM
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Territory from Turkey just flat out will not happen. Under what circumstances would Erdogan go for anything like that? None.
I see Erdogan as rather a malefactor here, from our perspective, and I don't see that we have a lot of leverage.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 12:37 PM
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Based on this Juan Cole post it sounds like part of France's response will be to step up bombing of ISIS-controlled oil infrastructure. (Ironically, their air campaign so far seems to have been focused on training camps suspected to be preparing for terrorist attacks in France.) As he notes at the end, France does have a history of sending ground troops in to stabilize various of its former colonies in Africa, so it's certainly possible they'll do the same in Syria though not clear if they actually will.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 1:35 PM
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I wonder how bogus AA is. There is crappy stuff about it but I know people who have benefitted a lot from it. It is, if nothing else, support available 25/7 (as an HR person bafflingly said at an open enrollment thing this week.) I sometimes envy that part of it.

I go read comments now.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 4:17 PM
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You're name-checked in a couple.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 4:48 PM
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And 206.1 is pretty much where the thread ends up. Really there's not much reason to read it but by now I guess you probably have.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 5:34 PM
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||

Jackmormon and Mr. Blandings are now married.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:10 PM
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Good cake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:18 PM
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Huzzah!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:18 PM
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Congratulations.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:19 PM
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I like to imagine 209 as a performative utterance. It's appropriate to the history of their relationship, even.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:19 PM
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We have good cake also, but only for a birthday in the house.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:19 PM
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Coool!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:21 PM
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LB has the power to marry commenters at will. It's part of the shrink-wrap agreement you enter into when you start commenting.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:33 PM
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Congratulations to Jackmormon and Blandings!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:35 PM
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Félicitations and go gateaux!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:40 PM
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Huzzah!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:43 PM
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Congratulations to Jackmormon and Blandings!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 6:46 PM
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Is there a form for suggestions as to who should be next?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:00 PM
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Yay!


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:01 PM
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That's what people do at weddings, try to set up passing acquaintances with each other.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:02 PM
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I'm sure there's some sort of backchannel for shipping commenters.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:19 PM
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I assume that's what "the other place" refers to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:23 PM
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Congratulations to Jackmormon and Mr. Blandings (who make a very fine couple indeed)!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:28 PM
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Oddly, I was just talking to a friend (about my dating lack of success) about how a number of couples have met here. Which is to say, congratulations!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:41 PM
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227 Also don't forget how a fair number of couples came about through crowdsourcing dating advice to the Mineshaft. Give it a whirl, fa!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:45 PM
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Also don't forget how a fair number of couples came about through crowdsourcing dating advice to the Mineshaft.

I'm not sure how much credit for that can go to the quality of the advice.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:47 PM
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Boss niece!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:52 PM
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Is anybody here giving dating advice with any goal in mind but their own amusement?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 7:59 PM
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HUZZAH!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 8:02 PM
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Boss Niece is my new math rock band.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-14-15 9:45 PM
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Evviva Blackmormon!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 12:35 AM
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Reading 234 out of context was puzzling. Congratulations to Blandings and JM! (I assume you knew this was happening and it's not just a sudden fiat from LB)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:06 AM
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Many congratulations to JM and Mr Blandings.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 5:24 AM
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230, 233: It really is unfortunate that the Boss Niece thing didn't work out because that is such a great pseudonym.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 5:28 AM
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203. I've seen it argued that the Iraqi Kurds actually benefit from their links to Baghdad since there's less oil in their part of the world and they get a cut of the state revenues without more than paying lip service to the state. That might not apply to Syrian Kurdistan; maybe redraw the borders of "Iraq" to include them.

An Alawi mini-state in north west Syria, whether technically independent or just arms length, seems to be necessary by now, for humanitarian reasons.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 5:30 AM
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There is still at least some oil in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, resulting the infrastructure that France has been bombing and presumably will soon be bombing more intensively. Not nearly as much as in the Gulf area, of course, so the Kurds may still be better off inside Iraq than outside it, assuming a central government that continues to be willing to distribute revenues throughout the country.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 5:39 AM
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Congratulations, JM and Mr. B!!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 5:58 AM
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Congrats!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 6:49 AM
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Congratulations, JM and Mr. B!

What is the count now on Unfogged marriages?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 6:54 AM
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Congratulations to jm an mr b!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 6:54 AM
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Congratulations to jm an mr b!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 6:54 AM
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Twice!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 6:55 AM
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congratulations!!!
peep: I think two?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:00 AM
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Three, I thought.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:02 AM
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This is the third. AC and Weiner, Sifu and Blume, and now JackM and Blandings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:05 AM
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Congrats.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:10 AM
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Congratulations!

A few more weddings and you can start advertising: "Stuck out with Match.com? Try Unfogged!"


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:30 AM
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Only really one choice for the TV ad pitchman.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:42 AM
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Wry Cooter is still available.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:53 AM
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Huzzah, JM and Blandings!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:53 AM
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Wry Cooter is still available.

...laydeez.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 9:26 AM
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Congratulations, Jackmormon and Mr. Blandings! May your (additional) years together be long and joyous.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 10:11 AM
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Congratulations to the happy couple!


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 11:00 AM
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Thanks, everyone! I think it went well.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 11:43 AM
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Yay!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 11:44 AM
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I'm confused. Are these unfogged couples couples who knew each other before they started commenting and then got married, or have people actually met and fallen in love through comments?

"While your 2,000 word contrarian comments about really obscure topics first attracted my attention, it was your commitment to pedantry above all that really won my heart"

"It was your ability to insert cock-joke puns in even the most serious of subject matter that made me know you you were the one."


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 12:12 PM
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259.3 I too have always wanted my own ekranoplan. Let's camp on the veldt and hunt aurochs with our atlatls.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 12:20 PM
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Unfogged: home of the contrarian cock joke


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 12:23 PM
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In honour of which

There once was a young man of Kent
Whose prick was so long that it bent
To save himself trouble
He put it in double
And instead of coming, he went


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 12:24 PM
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||

Well, I for one am shocked -- shocked! -- that such an eventuality as this should come to pass:
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/us/politics/many-say-high-deductibles-make-their-health-law-insurance-all-but-useless.html?_r=0

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 12:25 PM
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263

I can't actually read anything about healthcare in the US because it is making me too angry. The whole healthcare-industrial complex (pharma execs, health insurance execs, high-level hospital admins, Republican governors, Joe Lieberman) will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 12:31 PM
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This seems like the right thread. I have a question for people who know more than me, is there any legitimate reason why Saudi Arabia is a better ally in the ME region than Iran? Given the activity there in the past 15 years, is there any reason why Iran should be viewed as "naturally" less aligned with American interests than any of the other major powers we view more favorably (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey)?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:20 PM
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259.1 -- It really is the latter: Watch Out!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:21 PM
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265: It turns or history matters.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:35 PM
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Or s/b out.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:35 PM
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2. ISIS. The remnant of Saddam Hussein's officer corps, led by psychopathic ideologues.

So you're saying this is the rare situation where taking out the people at the top would accomplish something? Saddam Hussein's officer corps, led by other members of Saddam Hussein's officer corps, wouldn't be bad at this point.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:37 PM
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267

So...we're still butthurt about being called "The Great Satan" almost 40 years ago?

(Without the typo your response was poetic if a lot more cryptic)


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:40 PM
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They're still pissed about what we did before that, so I don't see why not.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:41 PM
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Well, the sanctions might have had something to do with that.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:43 PM
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265: The lack of "Death to America" grafitti everywhere?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:44 PM
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273

That definitely seems worse than funding Al-Qaeda!


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:47 PM
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270 And they're still mad about that thing in the 50s, yes.

269 I hate agreeing with the militarists, but while you can apparently always find 10-20 guys willing to engage in a suicide attack for some cause or other, the organizational, logistical, and motivational skills necessary to get those guys into the right place with the right weaponry is much much less common. Core Al Qaeda isn't now capable of a big operation, it seems, and it may be that if you kill 300 particular guys, ISIS devolves into ineffectual chaos.

I guess we all knew that ISIS is the bastard son of the Iraq War, but that Nation article on interviewing ISIS captives really drives it home. Who are the fighters, mostly? Young Iraqi men who's teenage lives were wrecked by our insane war.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:48 PM
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275

"That thing" being overthrowing their democratically elected government to install an oligarchy? I suppose that's one way to put it.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:54 PM
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It was Britain's idea. But yes, baring Hitler 2.0 or something, there won't be anything like a friendly relationship until everybody who can remember before 1981 is dead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:56 PM
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Because "We'll forget what they did and they'll forget what we did" isn't actually a workable thing in the domestic politics of either place even though it would almost certainly get a majority in both places if you put it on a referendum or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 1:58 PM
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Things were able to normalize sooner with Vietnam because mistakes started by the French are generally less damaging than those started by the British.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:05 PM
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Honestly, I think officially funding Hezbollah is different enough from deniably looking the other way while friendly folks fund Al Qaeda that you get into a different slot. Especially with regard to the body count in Israel.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:09 PM
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278

Sure, but the "what they dids" aren't even remotely proportionate. We overthrew their government and have instituted almost 40 years of punishing economic sanctions against Iran. They said mean things about us and held 52 American hostages for over a year some 35+ years ago.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:10 PM
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Or Lebanon.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:10 PM
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282 to 280.

And taking over an embassy is a pretty big deal. It's not like there are lots of other examples so that you can tell if the U.S. response is within norms.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:12 PM
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270

Also, not to go all Godwin, but ISIS is looking more like Hitler 2.0 than anything we've seen, well, since Hitler 1.0.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:28 PM
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I'm having trouble understanding what you're arguing here. The Saudi government is probably full of bigger dickheads than the Iranian government, but it's not exactly inexplicable why the US is allied with Saudi Arabia and not Iran.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:36 PM
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To pick a different example -- objectively Pakistan is worse than India in every way, but the process by which the US became closer to Pakistan than India is not very mysterious.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:38 PM
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Hasn't Hezbollah been pretty quiet wrt Israel for a while now?
Re:265: Saudi Arabia has loads of money, a great deal of which they spend buying way more weapons than they need from American manufacturers.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:41 PM
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286: you might want to take another look at the column marked "number of genocidal massacres overseen by current head of government" for those two. (India is ahead 1-0). But generally, yes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:44 PM
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285

I'm not asking why, historically, SA became our ally and Iran our enemy. I'm asking why, given everything, is this STILL the case? Like, we can change foreign policy, and we can cooperate with our former enemies. We got over WW2 and Vietnam a hell of a lot quicker than we got over...Iran holding some people hostage? Overthrowing their OWN government? It seems like a weird sticking point, and it seems like, given shifting alignments in the ME (Iraq's our friend! Now it isn't!), why can't our attitude toward Iran shift a whole lot quicker? I can think of lots of not very good reasons, but I'm wondering if there's more policy-justified one that, at present, Iran seen as on par with N Korea, given how not insane the leadership seems to be. So far, no one has come up with much of one.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:55 PM
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284: oh, come on. ISIS isn't even the most Hitlery thing in the last 20 years. It isn't even the most Hitlery thing in the last 20 years in Iraq. Remember? Dictator who modelled himself on Hitler, had moustache and ridiculous uniform, assassinated rivals, gassed civilians, hanged Jews in public, several terrifying secret police forces, invaded most of his neighbours, launched V-2 rockets at cities? (6, 7. S blank D blank A blank. Come on, think back.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 2:57 PM
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Maybe they tried but couldn't find anybody to staff the embassy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 3:00 PM
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ISIS is, it would be more accurate to say, the most Saudi thing we've seen since Saudi. Give them twenty years and they'll be shopping in Harrods.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 3:01 PM
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291: plus, it takes two... not sure there is much support in the Iranian government for getting close to the U.S. At best there was a kind of common-enemies thing going for a bit in Afghan but that didn't last long...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 3:03 PM
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There's also the fear of a repeat of 1973. Being friends with Iran then didn't save the U.S. when the Saudis got angry, because Saudi was and is the world's swing producer, and Iran wasn't and isn't. And being friends with Iran would at present mean making the Saudis angry because they are leading the opposing sides of the massive middle eastern proxy war that is at present, in its various theatres, killing about ten thousand people or so a month.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 3:10 PM
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I don't remember as much death to America rhetoric coming out of Vietnam in the lead up to restoring relations.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 3:26 PM
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287.1 -- Everyone on earth is using a longer time horizon than 10 years (which it isn't) of non-overt hostilities.

I read somewhere way back when that the Iranians were pretty surprised to be lumped in as part of the axis of evil back in January 2002. And not just because they weren't part of any axis at all with Iraq.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 3:30 PM
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294 -- We're on the side of Iran against IS/Al Qaeda and Saudia in one theater and on the side of Saudia and IS/Al Qaeda against a faction we're pretending are Iranian puppets in another theater. No one can be mad at anyone.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 3:33 PM
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273/295: Have I posted this link here before? It puts "Death to America/etc." in a different perspective, and probably a valuable one.

I think the only real reason Iran is the enemy is that they've been sold that way (on both sides, and accurately on at least one) for too long. The current agreement is a good starting point, but the kind of good starting point that has results decades later when Republican President So-and-so has a Nixon goes to China moment. We're too fully invested in not-Iran for things to change quickly. (With Vietnam we weren't particularly, well, aware of the existence of Vietnam in the US, and it was very much a Vietnam-V-Vietnam war with us also on one side*; with Germany large chunks of the US had wanted us to jump into WWII on the German side, so whatever war-animosity there was faded pretty quickly for a lot of people.)

*Why did the Vietnamese not stay angry? Probably just a combination of the US not actually starting the whole thing, the fact that all sorts of other negative things happened after we left (blameable on the people who won, to some extent) and also a really undeniable benefit to friends-with-the-US once the communist thing stopped being such a big deal.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 4:47 PM
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Also, we're much farther away than China.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 4:51 PM
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Iran is a great enemy because they really can't really hurt us but they insist on playing the cartoon villain. Giant rallies shouting "Death to America" is about as cartoonishly villainish as you can get without an Antarctic submarine base filled with easily-killed henchmen. Also Iran has been funding groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel and as long as that goes on there's no way to get significant momentum behind normalizing relations.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 5:03 PM
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I had the impression that there was a fair potential after 2001 for the US to start being less adversarial with Iran, given the strong mutual interest in Afghanistan, they were making overtures, and Bush pissed it all away.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 5:13 PM
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Also it seems that Israel is on the Saudi side against Iran. That one I understand even less than the US. I guess it's about Hezbollah.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 6:54 PM
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I have an unrelated question. The Pantheon is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. I'm assuming that's because soon after it was finished people forgot how to make concrete and didn't relearn the skill until after the invention of insurance underwriting and the discovery that earthquakes are more of a "when" thing than an "if" thing.

But it's not very big at all. A fifty meter diameter dome would beat it. Why has nobody done that just to get a "first"? It's got to be way easier than building the world's tallest building or whatever people pull to get their city a tourist attraction. If you put it somewhere without a history of recent tectonic activity (apparently central Italy qualifies) and didn't have it occupied at all times (say it was for tennis courts or something) it wouldn't be that dangerous.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 7:08 PM
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ISIS would just come and blow it up


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 7:41 PM
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303

Have you sent a proposal to the Omaha city council?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 7:50 PM
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They already have the glory for being the location for the invention of the Reuben. They don't need to get greedy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:08 PM
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Plus, I don't want my name to appear in the paper there. Too many people who know me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:14 PM
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Wonder what the second largest concrete (unreinforced) dome is.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:15 PM
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Unless somebody has been building them since the Romans, I suppose it's still the Temple of Echo (aka the Temple of Mercury) in Baiae, Italy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:21 PM
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Wherever it is, we know it dried harder.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:21 PM
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To Buttercup's question there is no real good reason other than what ajay pointed out here: because Saudi was and is the world's swing producer, and Iran wasn't and isn't.

And so we put up with them financing all sorts of heinous shit in the region, not to mention the heinous shit they get up to in their own country that goes unremarked upon in the US media.

I think Iran would be a natural ally in the region but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon due to suspicion and bad blood on both sides of the equation.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:23 PM
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Ironically, if we'd pulled the ultimate imperialist dick move in the 70s and had invaded Saudi Arabia and toppled its government to seize and protect the assets of Aramco for Chevron and Exxon after the Saudis nationalized it when we supported Israel in the Yom Kippir war (instead of just letting the Saudis pay off the oil companies) the entire world would probably be much better off right now. Fuck the Saudis.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 8:54 PM
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"Kippur" and there are probably a bunch more errors in there. But anyhow if we'd just committed to go all-in on imperialist blood for oil in the 70s we could probably have killed off Wahhabism as well as prevented various oil crises, and maybe even prevented the decline of the Ford Mustang #ironyofhistory #funcounterfactual.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 9:00 PM
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Overloaded with bullshit right now, esp. given this morning's police killing in N. Mpls. So instead of talking about that, did we ever note the existence of this blog: https://municipaldreams.wordpress.com/

It seems like the kind of thing folx here might grok.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 9:03 PM
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The Yum Kipper War was fought in an attempt to get something better than jarred gefilta fish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 9:10 PM
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(The reuben was invented in Omaha???)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 9:20 PM
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Wikipedia puts forth two theories, Omaha and an island off the coast of New Jersey. But that's just because they go out of their way to accommodate any viewpoint that has adherents who can type.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-15-15 9:24 PM
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"with Germany large chunks of the US had wanted us to jump into WWII on the German side"

Not _very_ large chunks. You may be confusing it with WW1 but even then not so much, not by 1917. But AFAIK even the Lindbergh/Coughlin/King crowd wanted the U.S. either to stay out completely or just concentrate on Japan. Not much support for the U.S. actually joining the Axis.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 12:24 AM
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I'm not even sure how that would have worked. The U.S. was three thousand miles of hostile sea away from any of the combatants in the actual war. They could have tried to invade Canada again, I suppose?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 12:30 AM
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312 is facile, bro-libertarian, InstaPundit-level analysis. And yet it's probably true.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 12:34 AM
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320: it would be funny to see the "FREE SAUDI" rallies. I suppose they managed to get "FREE TIBET" rallies, so PROGRESSIVES FOR FEUDAL THEOCRACY! would have been an existing support structure.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 2:52 AM
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275,2 The problem with taking out 300 guys, which would certainly be worth a try as a better option than taking out 30,000 guys and missing the 300 who matter, is that western armed forces are still largely structured to fight the last war (Vietnam). Seriously decapitating an organisation/state like ISIS would require much better intelligence, much better trained personnel, and much better precision weaponry than any western power can deploy at the moment. Remember that taking out Usama bin Ladin required the entire Pakistani High Command to look the other way.

On the other hand, the Arabian peninsula is likely to becaome uninhabitable by the end of the century, so we've got that to look forward to.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 4:03 AM
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western armed forces are still largely structured to fight the last war (Vietnam).

They really, really aren't. I mean, count the light infantry and military police battalions. The US army wasn't even structured to fight Vietnam during Vietnam.

Seriously decapitating an organisation/state like ISIS would require much better intelligence, much better trained personnel, and much better precision weaponry than any western power can deploy at the moment.

Actually disruption attacks against states have been a western speciality since the AirLand Battle doctrine was developed in the 1970s. What we are terrible at is dealing with the consequences. But we can disrupt like anything. (Yeah, yeah, Uber joke goes here. DISRUPT is what the military calls a formal effect, like DESTROY or DAMAGE or DENY or FIND or SCREEN, and has a very specific meaning.)

Remember that taking out Usama bin Ladin required the entire Pakistani High Command to look the other way.

Debatable... they may well not have known it was coming in advance. Given that the last time we tried something like this, they tipped him off in advance...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 4:19 AM
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What we are terrible at is dealing with the consequences. But we can disrupt like anything.

But this is worse than being incompetent at disruption. It gives people ideas. The modal ISIS grunt is a guy in his 20s who was a teen in 2003 and hasn't slept safely in his bed since. We know this because when captured they tell us. Actually killing or capturing al-Samarrai and his circle is the easy bit, but I was including the hard bit under intelligence and training. Some political imagination would also help, but that isn't the forces' problem as such.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 4:30 AM
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If you need a scaling-and-scoping study on really hammering ISIS, here's one from a fairly senior French army officer:

http://lavoiedelepee.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/detruire-daech-ou-laisser-vivre-letat.html

He concluded (back in July) that it was well within reach, but not within the bounds of what anyone was up for politically. If they're going to attack Paris twice a year, though...


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 4:47 AM
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Wasn't 319 part of War Plan Red? Yes, I believe the idea was to invade Canada in the event of hostilities with the UK -- in fact, one of the concerns was that Canada would declare itself neutral before the US could invade.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:26 AM
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If you have to wait around for the U.S. government to be on your side before you invade Canada, you just don't want it bad enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:28 AM
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322.last: Watts Up is the internet's central hub of climate denial. You might want to find another link.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:31 AM
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327: all (or, OK, both) failed invasions of Canada have had the US government on their side, and all (or, OK, both) successful invasions of Canada have not. The only conclusion possible is that the US government is secretly on Canada's side.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:41 AM
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You're either forgetting the Fenians or exaggerating their success.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:43 AM
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Or the complicity of the U.S. government, just to be complete.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:48 AM
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Were the Fenians really trying to invade Canada, rather than just damage stuff in it? I'm thinking of invasion in the sense of marching in and taking the place over here.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:53 AM
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That's conquest. I don't think they were attempting conquest.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:56 AM
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Anyway, judged by the number of parades I've been to where a given event was mentioned, it's one of the most important occurrences in history.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 7:59 AM
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333: right, OK, all failed conquests of Canada have had the US government on their side.

I've just looked up the Fenian raids. "Let's invade the second biggest country in the world with a few hundred guys and hope that the most powerful military superpower in the history of the world doesn't notice!"
The lunatic mismatch of assets to objectives is really quite something. Is Rumsfeld an Irish name?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:08 AM
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I think the point was to make it clear that they were going to fight regardless of the odds. The strategy was sound, on the scale of generations.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:11 AM
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332: See The Invasion of Canada.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:17 AM
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And we're back to ISIS again, aren't we? Or rather AQT. "You have all the watches, but we have all the time." "You love life but we love death."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:18 AM
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I keep meaning to get a print of that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:19 AM
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And, yes, as 337 notes, "Fenian" like "Paki" is one of those words that is quite unexceptionable in the US but which you really should be very careful about using on this side of the Atlantic.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:20 AM
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338: Not really. There's a world of difference between "We love death" and "By fighting we can make the costs of holding this territory far higher than any possible benefit you can gain by holding it."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:21 AM
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321, we here in America found similar arguments very effective in the struggle for modern governance against the brutal and medieval Native American regimes.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:24 AM
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340: What do the English have against liquor stores in New England?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:25 AM
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That comic has a really good likeness of President Johnson, considering the simple medium.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:26 AM
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That's actually a good likeness of O'Neill. I had to look that up because I didn't have a very good idea of what he looked like. He's buried in Omaha, but I don't think that was related to the invention of the Reuben.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:29 AM
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326: don't forget the Canadian counter to War Plan Red, Defence Scheme No.1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_Scheme_No._1

We're talking a Canadian pre-emptive strike here.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:51 AM
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What do the English have against liquor stores in New England?

Inconvenient location?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:53 AM
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The piece linked by Alex in 325 is really good. It is depressing, if understandable, how much of US military strategy since 1940 has been "use bombs dropped from the air and hope that somehow that works."


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 9:20 AM
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340, re "Fenian": Over here--outside of the sort of Irish-American circles that Moby knows, or what I imagine the bars funding the IRA in Boston were like--it sounds at best very old fashioned, only used in reference to the aforementioned raids. I was shocked that it's still occasionally used on your side of the water, e.g. here. I feel like if you were going to identify with the losers of any of the Irish uprisings, I'd pick a different set, as that particular one was one of the more incompetent.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 9:49 AM
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328. OK then, Nature,


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 9:52 AM
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349: I was thinking more of its use as a pejorative for "Catholic" as in the football song about being "up to our necks in Fenian blood".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 10:05 AM
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348: There's a decent case that in Korea the horrors of our massive air campaign shaped the psychology of the DPRK. Something similar may be at work with ISIL.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 10:20 AM
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352: Similarly, I've heard the argument that the U.S. bombing of Cambodia helped shape the Pol Pot regime.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 10:26 AM
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353 -- "helped shape" might go a little far (because those guys took next-level crazy to the next level) but it is certainly 100% true that Pol Pot never would have come to power without the US bombing and thus to the extent that anyone is responsible for the Khmer Rouge insanity besides the Khmer Rouge itself, it's us.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 10:29 AM
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352: I'd be interested to read someone making that case: I would assume it's just Stalinism plus siege mentality. I don't think the DPRK wasn't as nutty immediately after the war as it became later.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 10:40 AM
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351: Didn't realize that. I am as always amazed at how many words the people of the Islands of the North Atlantic have co-oped to be slurs for other peoples of those islands.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 10:49 AM
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re "Fenian": Over here--outside of the sort of Irish-American circles that Moby knows, or what I imagine the bars funding the IRA in Boston were like--it sounds at best very old fashioned, only used in reference to the aforementioned raids.

Just to be clear, the circles Moby knows are pretty much also only using the word in reference to those raids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 11:01 AM
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355: I don't have the knowlege to make the case; I just remember Bruce Cumings being pretty convincing on the subject. Pointing to Stalinism plus a siege mentality is a bit of question begging, though. Why there, and and not, say, Cuba?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 11:10 AM
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Bizarre Stalinist regimes with siege mentalities were a dime a dozen in the 50s, though -- Romania, Albania, China (then), East Germany, and the Soviet Union itself. It's the enduringness of the Stailnism that makes NK stand out; to me, that largely seems like a case of "we've taken things this far, better double-down on the crazy or we will for sure be murdered by our own people," but I don't really know anything about North Korea.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 11:18 AM
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Why there, and and not, say, Cuba?

1. The Cuban revolution took place after Khrushchev's secret speech; only Maoists (including Kim Il Sung) thought Stalinism was clever by that point.

2. Castro wasn't a mainstream* Communist until it was made clear to him that the Soviet Union was the only major power willing to support him**. He didn't give up on a sort of "third way" approach until the Bay of Pigs.

*I would have saif orthodox, but since he was in alliance withe the Partido Ortodoxo at the time of the Moncada Barracks raid, that would have been confusing.

** See also Ho Chi Minh.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 11:24 AM
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355 et al

Most Stalin scholars claim lots of the nuttiness of Stalin & Stalinism was due to a siege mentality.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 2:33 PM
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The UK got plenty bombed and then went utterly insane and ushered in an era of nightmarish egalitarian social democracy. You could say the same about Germany.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 3:26 PM
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362: It was the era of high lead exposure. The rich have smartened up and remembered their goal is to keep down the poor as much as possible.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 4:20 PM
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The probability of social democracy is sinusoidally related to the number of tons of explosives dropped.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 4:24 PM
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359: Albania and Romania were pretty nutty right up to the end. And after it, in Albania's case.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 4:52 PM
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"You may as well go ahead and let the TV educate me," isn't the sound of winning parenthood.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 5:21 PM
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Maybe, maybe not. But I bet if you wrote up a bit saying that it was you could have a lot of fun trolling some of those competitive parenting forums where people talk about how much research went into their bespoke vaccination schedules and how much more invested in their child they are than people who just use the one-size-fits-all schedule that other, less virtuous parents do.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 5:54 PM
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368

their bespoke vaccination schedules

That's great.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 11-16-15 8:28 PM
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369

Wait, JackM and Blandings is arguably the fourth Unfogged marriage. Do Becks and Ficke count? They might have met in comments here, although they really knew each other more through real world friends, I think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:27 AM
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370

They count, but then I'm missing one.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:32 AM
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371

Unfogged: like ChristianMingle with cock jokes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:32 AM
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372

370: The one who should not be named? Didn't he marry someone who I'm not sure if we're allowed to name, but I don't remember anyway?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:35 AM
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373

370: See 248. LB names the unnamable.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:39 AM
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374

Are we sure ChristianMingle doesn't have cock jokes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:41 AM
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375

Ah, right. From olden times.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:42 AM
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376

374: https://twitter.com/coldandnervous/status/325802266315591680


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-17-15 7:57 AM
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