Re: Unclear Motives

1

Why is everyone so obsessed with the motives of the Planned Parenthood terrorist being "unclear"?

I assume this is a rhetorical question, but at risk of mansplaining, so they can avoid labelling actions that have been incited and to a certain degree endorsed by a powerful domestic political movement terrorism.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:07 AM
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Britsplaining, I think, rather than mansplaining.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:09 AM
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Nana nana nana nana Britman!


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:11 AM
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This does feel different from past times terrorism has been committed against clinics or doctors who perform abortion. I don't think we had this kind of reaction when that doctor was assassinated in church, but I might be misremembering.

I've heard similar complaints about the way the local police are responding to the obvious anti-muslim hate crime crime here in Pittsburgh--they refuse to speculate on motive--but I figure that's just because the federal anti-crime investigation hasn't been officially opened yet.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:15 AM
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I think this is a rare case in that it's 1) tightly connected to specific comments by a presidential candidate that are 2) demonstrably false and inflammatory. If you accept that he did it because he thought PP was actually selling baby parts (as opposed to the usual "baby murders" rhetoric), that pretty much hangs a lot of responsibility on Fiorina's lies.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:20 AM
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It seems like its marginally relevant to distinguish between (a) unhinged crackpot with "baby parts" as just one flavor in the lunatic gumbo vs (b) well-organized terror cell executing a campaign of right-wing violence. Either way Fiorina, the people who edited that video and the entire Republican field should be ashamed of themselves (when is that not the case?) but in scenario (a) you can shrug and say, "People do crazy shit."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:32 AM
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There is a thing where it seems very natural to medicalize rightwing American terrorism (actually, maybe just American terrorism. I'm thinking rightwing, because there's more of it, but the Unabomber fits into the same pattern.) Like the guy who shot Gabby Giffords -- there was a clear pattern of political rhetoric leading up to it, but he also, IIRC, had some serious psychiatric illness going on.

This guy looks like the same sort of thing -- yes, it's an act of political terrorism, but it's also coming from someone who appears to be of questionable sanity.

I don't really know how to think about this, though: what's the causal relationship between heated political rhetoric and violence, when the violence is perpetrated by someone who looks likely to have been violent even without political motives.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:36 AM
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"Parts is parts"


Posted by: Opinionated Carly Fiorina | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:37 AM
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It also follows a large attack by religious extremists (of the wrong religion, I mean) that that entire end of the political spectrum was aggressively hyping and using to push all kinds of creepy bigoted shit against members of that religion. They're (rightly) freaking out about the possibility that this is going to lead to people going "Ok so how about Christians then can we start having the FBI raid evangelical churches?" It's also similar to the freakout that you see them get up to whenever something really awful happens with a gun and they want to distract from the fact that lots of guns everywhere might not be a healthy thing that makes everyone safer, so expect to see that showing up soon as well.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:39 AM
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Agree with 7. If they can label him as crazy, then no further explanation of motive is necessary, 'cause crazy people gonna do crazy shit. Who could have predicted that he would have seen our inflammatory rhetoric as a call to arms? There's no predicting what crazy people will do!


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:41 AM
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I imagine it's partly because spree shootings seem like they're in the news more these days than they were 10 or 20 years ago. This is both an anti-abortion thing and an anti-gun thing, so the media has to be really, really careful not to be wrong about certain things, because God forbid you insult people who care what God forbids.

Also, it kind of feels like more of a culture-war thing. It reminds me of that Lee Atwater quote about how political debates become more and more removed from the underlying issues, but the driving force is still definitely racism. This has some of that, to the extent that the gun control debate is about racism, but also has a lot of anti-women and and basic living-in-a-civilized-society stuff.

Twenty years ago George Tiller and David Gunn were shot and they genuinely were primarily abortion providers, and even late-term abortion providers, and they weren't particularly famous except in their home states and to anti-abortion nuts. (I haven't looked most of this up but that's the impression I have.)(To prevent any confusion, Tiller was murdered in 2009 but was shot and merely wounded back in 1993.) That's very direct and specific. Whereas Planned Parenthood spends more than 90 percent of its resources on non-abortion activities and is mainly just about general gynecology, and as far as I know there was nothing particularly infamous about that one branch office in Colorado. But it's the latest bugaboo just because.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:47 AM
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Maybe "no more baby parts" meant he went there because he wanted to buy baby parts, but they were out of baby parts so he got real mad.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:49 AM
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12 was pwned in the other thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:52 AM
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7: My thought is, who cares? What sort of excuse is it that he's nuts and has a gun? Look, if you spread enough lies and hatred around, it's going to be one of the less sane ones that acts on it. (Not directed at you, but Christ almighty am I sick of that line.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:01 AM
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There is a qualitative difference between, "We play with fire and are shocked, shocked when someone gets burned," and, "We manufacture flamethrowers." But that is setting a really, really low bar for responsible behavior.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:09 AM
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7, et al:

I'd put Oswald, maybe also Sirhan in the same category.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:10 AM
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as far as I know there was nothing particularly infamous about that one branch office in Colorado

Aside from being in Colorado Springs, which is basically Ground Zero for a certain brand of crazy religious Conservativism.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:17 AM
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I had no idea about that. I thought it was just the air force.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:21 AM
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Plenty of Islamic terrorists are also crazy, and it doesn't seem like it earns them any slack.

The Fort Hood shooter was both Islamic and crazy. The right was very focused on overlooking the "crazy" to get to the "Islamic" in their rush to make sure everyone referred to that incident as "terrorism."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:21 AM
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I was mildly surprised that there was a PP office in Colorado Springs at all. Those were some brave-ass folks long before this happened.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:22 AM
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Wasn't there a lot of "was Dylan Roof just mentally ill, we can't be sure he was racist (or "racially motivated") just because he killed people at an African-American church" in the media? And that seemed a lot clearer.

It's very different than school shootings where people are clearly not motivated by rhetoric surrounding Common Core or charter schools or vouchers or free lunch programs. Political motivation and mental illness are not mutually exclusive.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:23 AM
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It does seem worth maintaining a distinction between organized quasi-military terrorist movement/politically-inflected lone crazy person terrorist. Operation Rescue and some of the right-wing militias are definitely in the former category; the shoe bomber and maybe this guy are in the latter.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:25 AM
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I thought it was just the air force.

I think a lot of the Air Force's recent problems with not respecting religious pluralism is a result of its close connection to Colorado Springs, which is also home to the Focus on the Family Industrial Complex.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:25 AM
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It does seem worth maintaining a distinction between organized quasi-military terrorist movement/politically-inflected lone crazy person terrorist.

Until it provides cover for the politicians not to take responsibility for inciting the latter.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:29 AM
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It does seem worth maintaining a distinction between organized quasi-military terrorist movement/politically-inflected lone crazy person terrorist.

I think so too, which is why I think "terrorist" is too politically fraught a word. There is always pressure to label this or that to be terrorism, or that maybe the phrase "Act of Terror" just isn't good enough. The Sons of Liberty were terrorists, but its not actually helpful to describe them as that. We end up getting in fights over the word, instead of clear discussion of the acts.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:29 AM
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Drunkenly chucking crates of tea into Boston Harbor should not have been particularly terrifying, even to a bunch of chinless Brits.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:38 AM
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And that seemed a lot clearer.

Did it? Both seem equally 100% clear to me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:38 AM
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22: Yeah, I think that's right. I sympathize with Heebie's point in 24, but I think it's worthwhile maintaining the distinction, but still placing responsibility on politicians for riling up the crazies.

I wonder if anyone's going to ask Fiorina about this directly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:40 AM
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It seems to me that as far as the "play with fire"/"manufacture flamethrowers" distinction goes the right wing press is reasonably on one side of the line, but the majority of the pro-life movement is on the other*. I mean, even people who manufacture flamethrowers go on about using them responsibly and so on ("this is just for entertainment not doing something dangerous! we vaguely suggest in a wink-wink-nudge-nudge way that using it in the middle of the woods or to clear your driveway of snow is probably unwise!"). They may not actually be buying guns for people, but in a lot of these cases there's more than a little pointing out where to go, why to do it, and so on.

*Yes, I know, there are lots of people who identify as pro-life but clearly could not care less one way or the other. But once you get down to the movement it's pretty direct what's going on.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:41 AM
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27: I think they're both pretty clear if you're not in the business of manufacturing doubt but I thought Roof was more explicitly on the record.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:47 AM
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31

We should ban analogies again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:47 AM
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The line between "lone crazy person" and "militant pro-lifer" has been blurry for years. The anti-abortion crowd practically invented the tactic of publishing people's names and addresses along with "This person is killing babies every day! Won't anyone stop him!?" in hopes that some "lone crazy person" will act.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:48 AM
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22: Yeah, I think that's right. I sympathize with Heebie's point in 24, but I think it's worthwhile maintaining the distinction, but still placing responsibility on politicians for riling up the crazies.

Yeah, I mean ultimately the terrorism label is neither here nor there, except to the extent it gets people to take the incitement to violence seriously. But the problem is the incitement. And the ensuing violence, obviously.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:49 AM
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28- They did:


Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said the suspected shooter at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic was "deranged," but dismissed any connection between anti-abortion rhetoric and the shooting as "left-wing tactics."
"This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don't agree with the message," Fiorina said during an interview on "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." "The vast majority of Americans agree: What Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong."
....
"Whether it's Black Lives Matter or pro-life protestors, protesters should always be peaceful and respectful," Fiorina said.

The last bit is what makes her a pro.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:50 AM
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I'd put Oswald, maybe also Sirhan in the same category.

AFAICR there is no reason to suppose that Oswald was mentally ill. He was never committed, he was never diagnosed with any mental illness, he never exhibited any symptoms that might imply mental illness.
Sirhan's defence tried to argue that he was of diminished mental capacity, but unsuccessfully.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:50 AM
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I recommend The Mind of a Madman by Richard Orange on Anders Breivik. Not that it speaks directly to this thread, it's just an interesting delve into the saga of Breivik's trial, with a special focus on how the official psychiatrists apparently tried to diagnose him with debilitation far out of keeping with reality.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:18 AM
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They tried to diagnose him with being debilitated by being far out of keeping with reality or they strayed far from reality when trying to diagnose him with debility?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:22 AM
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32: The Christian Identity wing of the pro-life movement even has a name for these types of vigilantes: Phineas Priests.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:30 AM
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"Hey, where's Perry? I'm going to spear him for being a mammal/bird abomination."


Posted by: Opinionated Phineas Priest | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:33 AM
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37: The latter. Diagnosed him to an extent suggesting he shouldn't even be able to perform daily tasks.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:46 AM
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35. What motive was claimed by/attributed to Sirhan at the time? I forget.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:49 AM
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42

Kennedy was going to sell aircraft to Israel.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:28 AM
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Sirhan was a Palestinian, and attributed the assassination to RFK favoring Israel. As far as anyone knows, Sirhan was politically motivated, but a lone wolf.

Ironically, the assassination led to the election of Nixon rather than Kennedy, so it had an enormous effect on the course of U.S. policy in just about every area except U.S./Israel relations, where Nixon and Kennedy were not far apart.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:34 AM
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He wanted Israel to do their shopping with Nixon in charge.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:34 AM
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Kennedy was going to sell aircraft to Israel

Weren't they already buying the Skyhawk? I'm sure negotiations for the Phantom II were well underway by '68 as well.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:41 AM
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36

I haven't read the book, but I was going to mention Breivik as an example of someone acting extremely rationally (to go by the Weberian definition of instrumental rationality), but was basically chalked up to being crazy. Setting aside that killing a bunch of people in cold blood requires some sort abnormal antisocial tendencies, from what I read of his manifesto, he had a clear political vision and a very accurate understanding of how to carry out maximum damage to achieve his aims, i.e. kill children at a Social Democratic summer camp to 1) damage the next generation, 2) shut down a means of "indocrination" and cause maximum fear and upset to Social Democrats.

Also, today my school has been shut down by a terrorist threat, and we've been told to stay inside as much as possible. No idea what it could be about, my first guess would be some kid freaking out about finals, but who knows.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:02 PM
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They arrested one of their own students.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:04 PM
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45: Huh, my son's school also (presumably the same one).


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:05 PM
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47: Look again. There's an "I" in there.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:06 PM
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It's probably more or less the same thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:07 PM
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51

I mean, it's not somebody from Urbana.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:08 PM
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AIHPMHB, a few days after the Utoya shooting, I was sharing a table in a crowded coffee shop with a strange man. After some random small talk, he then asked if I were "German or Swedish." I didn't really say anything, and then he launched into his crackpot theory about how Obama had set up Breivik as part of his Islamofascist conspiracy in order to make white supremacists and proud Europeans look bad.*


*I was reading Carl Schmitt at the time, so you could argue I brought it on myself. OTOH, to ethnically profile, the dude looked like a middle aged Jewish man, so vaguely pro-Nazi comments really came out of left field.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:09 PM
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I was reading Carl Schmitt at the time, so you could argue I brought it on myself

He saw your book? I happened to be reading The Concept of the Political on the el myself a couple of months ago, and wondered if there'd be any reaction. Very unlikely, I concluded.

My daughter didn't have any classes scheduled today.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:18 PM
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52: Would Being and Time attract right wing crackpots as well? You could do the experiment by carrying a copy around in public.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:22 PM
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53

Yep, and made a vaguely approving comment about it, which when he made it I assumed was more about the academic importance of reading politically repugnant yet influential thinkers, not an approval of Schmitt's politics.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:23 PM
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50: Just another random school out in the middle of the flat part. Fortunately my son is pretty much a troglodyte anyway, so was perfectly happy to have an extra day to play video games get his work done and prepare for finals.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:28 PM
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Have you ridden the red line from Belmont, around 7:30 a.m., in 2014?

I ask because a woman who did had UofC library books in Scandinavian languages, mostly Danish I think.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:30 PM
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Seconding 32. Violence doesn't need top-down organization when it's easy to get weapons and it's aimed at public, civil society. Raising the likelihood of occurrence is effective enough. (Dual to _Seeing Like a State_?)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:46 PM
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Seconding 32. Violence doesn't need top-down organization when it's easy to get weapons and the target is public, civil society. Raising the likelihood of occurrence is effective enough. (Dual to _Seeing Like a State_?)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:46 PM
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Thirding?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 12:47 PM
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the wapo wrote a reasonably good article on how white shooters--even cop-killers--somehow magically get captured alive or, in the case of dylan roof, taken out to get a burger on the way to the jail, while black children can get shot in 1.2 seconds carrying a 'gun' in an open-carry state, or straight executed when they wander away from the police with a three-inch folding knife. then they disabled comments. I was annoyed (for the first time in the history of newspaper article comments), because I wanted to see what anti-blm wingers would say. as near as I can figure from responses elsewhere to the colorado cops' denunciation of people who raise this issue as "morons," it's that while surrendering, the white people in question were moving slowly and obeying the cops' commands. I'm a little unclear on how this relates to the pre-surrender stage during which the guy is shooting strangers in a movie theatre. do black people just need to learn how to call 'timeout' or something? keep their fingers crossed behind their back while they fire at people?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 1:28 PM
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I was reading Carl Schmitt at the time, so you could argue I brought it on myself.

I was dismayed when I found myself on the subway looming over a seated Orthodox Jewish couple, H.'s Introduction to Metaphysics in hand.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 2:30 PM
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So, apparently the potential shooter had threatened to kill 16 white male students in revenge for the La/quan Mac/Donald shooting.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:35 PM
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64

I don't think many UC graduates go into policing, but I could be wrong.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:39 PM
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Watching a police officer use the Socratic Method to let a suspect realize what his rights are would be pretty good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:41 PM
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Which allows us to guess about the threatener but not much more.

Actually, last night I thought if there were a Lqn connection, it would be from the other side, based on J/mie K/lven's being so much of that community.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:42 PM
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I could see myself launching a disquisition on Fielding and the Bowe Street Runners in that role.

Not really, no.

Just as you can't indite a people, you can't condemn a profession. But they've got to get to the bottom of this, and the story develops continuously.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:46 PM
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as near as I can figure from responses elsewhere to the colorado cops' denunciation of people who raise this issue as "morons," it's that while surrendering, the white people in question were moving slowly and obeying the cops' commands.

That's pretty much the "argument" (such as it is) that I've seen, yes. It helps to keep in mind the absolutely extraordinary implicit bias that causes people to perceive blackness itself as a weapon, while whiteness is of course innocent until really, definitely, for sure proven guilty.

Peak whiteness for today? Allegedly one of the white supremacists who shot at the Minneapolis BLM protesters called his friend from HS, who is now a cop for advice on how to surrender to police custody. Social capital + privilege FOR THE WIN.

Sigh.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:48 PM
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65: I've linked this here before, when I was trying to talk x.trapnel into joining the police force.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:52 PM
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That was long enough ago that I'm claiming I forgot about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 3:57 PM
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Apparently the threat was not credible, the guy is being charged under interstate commerce laws, and he lives with his mother, whose greatest consolation is probably that he didn't actually get himself or anyone else killed. While surely the happiest mass shooting story in recent years, still really depressing.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 4:10 PM
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And he appears to have taken the offending post down almost immediately. Which presumably won't keep it from messing his life up very badly. Ugh.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 4:19 PM
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Don't blame me. I've always advocated for peaceful, nonviolent burning of the University of Chicago to the ground and salting the earth where it stood.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 4:41 PM
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61: These objections get brushed off because the people making them tend to base them off of a couple media examples and can't be bothered to say look at a few years of something like the NYPD'S annual firearms discharge and enforcement reports.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 4:57 PM
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Hey look it's another unrelated person whose motives are unknown and we should definitely never jump to the conclusion that decades of repeated incitement to (exactly this kind of) violence on the part of a massive well funded part of American public life is involved.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 5:10 PM
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The constant-and-often-silly-defense-of-police schtick is fine, gswift, but don't shoot so low! Why insist that people pore over massive amounts of data that would, obviously, have no evidence one way or the other because it is the police involved describing what happened which would defeat any detailed/complicated signs of bias, when you could demand that they do years worth of psychology studies on issues like this one?

Oh, right. I guess in this case the 'what-police-said' data is a better thing to insist on.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 5:32 PM
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76: They're really not that complicated there dude and they have handy easy to read charts and graphs on things like racial breakdowns on suspects who fired on the police, suspects killed by the police, etc. (Spoiler: for blacks that first one is a higher number than the second.)


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:02 PM
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Black people without guns have a very low rate of shooting at the police.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:13 PM
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To be clear, for the NYPD at least, that's percentages, not absolute numbers. That is, as one would hope, the absolute number of persons killed by police after shooting at police is much lower than the absolute number of people who shot at police to begin with (and, of course, the number of persons shot at by police is a tiny person of the number of criminal shootings subject to police intervention).

For the racial breakdown, the number of black people who are shot at by the NYPD because they are involved in shooting or shooting at police is slightly lower (on a percentage basis) than the percentage of shooting incidents or shooting-at-police incidents that involve black suspects. So, for the NYPD at least, there's very little evidence that there's a systematic, department-wide racial bias that manifests itself in a greater willingness to shoot blacks who are armed, as opposed to other offenders who are armed. The same may or may not hold true for other police departments -- generally, for the larger departments, IMO it probably does hold true.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:18 PM
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Let's try that again:

To be clear, for the NYPD at least, that's percentages, not absolute numbers. That is, as one would hope, the absolute number of persons killed by police after shooting at police is much lower (less than half) of the absolute number of people who shoot at police to begin with (and, of course, the number of persons shot at by police is a tiny percentage of the number of criminal shootings subject to police intervention).


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:20 PM
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What do those statistics have to say about black people who were not shooting at the police who were killed by the police vs. white people who shot at the police in the context of a mass shooting and were not killed by the police? What are the stats on stopping for a burger with a mass shooter in custody in South Carolina?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:31 PM
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But, generally, there are way, way fewer shooting incidents involving police than people think. E.g., in NYC, a city of more than 8 million people, there were 79 incidents, total, in which -- for any reason, including accidental discharge, firing at an aggressive dog, whatever -- an officer fired a gun. There's not really any evidence that those incidents particularly targeted black suspects over any other suspects. So, if you're looking for evidence of police brutality or systematic racial bias, you're probably going to want to look at things (like, e.g., stop and frisk) other than shooting incidents.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:33 PM
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That is, incidents in 2014.


Posted by: RT | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:37 PM
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81 -- that if you want to draw broad conclusions about police conduct, you probably should look at more than anecdotes, but if you want to condemn conduct in any particular instance, it's fine to look at anecdotes?


Posted by: RT | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 6:38 PM
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I think pointing out NYPD statistics to people who are saying that shooting at the police in Colorado Springs looks like a form of resisting arrest to people claiming there was no resistance to the arrest is basically changing the subject. It's not puzzling that people might wonder why one person with mental problems but no gun gets shot at the end of a rapid sequence of events because they're deemed too much of a threat to apprehend alive while another, who actively shot and killed people, is taken into custody after a long standoff.

I don't think it's bad when the police arrest someone instead of killing them, mind you. I do wonder how many shootings by the police are the result of moving too fast.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 7:21 PM
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Well, the claim, as I understand it, is that the non-deadly response the Colorado shooting in one case, but the deadly use of force in .. other cases? is evidence of systemic racial bias (as opposed to something else, like a difference in tactics). For (some) larger departments, there's pretty good evidence that there's not, in fact, a systematic racial bias in whether shots are fired by officers in remotely comparable incidents, which means that the blame for the difference, if it is blamable, should probably be about something other than perceived systematic conscious or unconscious racial bias by police officers.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 7:44 PM
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Maybe we need to hear more about white on white violence.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 7:53 PM
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A white guy just killed a white police officer out in the burbs here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 7:56 PM
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Isn't the point obvious? We certainly know from all kinds of evidence that (1) in cases where the exact same thing is being done black people are perceived as more violent/threatening/dangerous than white people are, (2) black children are perceived to be older (and more threatening) than similarly aged white children, (3) black people are often perceived to be suffering less/in less pain/etc. than white people (when in the same circumstances), and so on. And all of these things are going to have a significant effect on police behaviors no matter what else is going on.* So it's not at all strange to point out situations where, e.g., a white person is wandering around with an AR-15 and compare it to situations where a black person is doing that and take what happens as indicating a broader social problem.

If you want to try to use police data you're going to have to find a way to control for how the officer's perception of the situation affected (1) how they described it in their report, (2) how they acted in response to it, and (3) how the person responded to being treated in one way rather than another.** And you can do that if you have a lot of data, but you need something like the "wait just as many white people have marijuana as black people do when searched in this county but white people are almost never searched and black people are searched constantly" data sets and not the (hopefully) much smaller "white people are shot by police like this, but black people are shot by police like this" stuff that we get. Luckily we have all this other data, though, and as long as we're willing to go out on a limb and assume that (1) when you have police officers who display some racial bias in one situation it's not unreasonable to suspect that they might do it in other ones and (2) police officers are not wildly psychologically abnormal human beings to the point where we can't apply what we know of human psychology to them any more than we can to giant squid, then we can start pointing out stuff like this as particularly glaring examples of something we already know is happening.

*And if "else" is latent-to-not-so-latent racism the answer is that there's almost certainly some else going on in an awful lot of cases.
**It's certainly not hard to see how even a moderate version of the above effects can make the difference in someone's perceptions between "the intoxicated suspect lunged for my gun" and "the intoxicated suspect tripped on his own feet like an idiot and fell right over in front of me". If you're looking for information on officer related shootings that first one will fit tidily into one category and the other won't show up at all, even if they were equivalent. Or (in a way more extreme case) the difference between walking up to someone holding a gun and carefully saying "Ok dude can you please set the assault rifle down because we're worried you might be a crazy person" and running at someone with a gun drawn yelling "PUT THE GUN DOWN" could, for the exact same person, get very different results.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:10 PM
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British white guy Tyson Fury just took the heavyweight boxing title away from Ukrainian white guy Vladimir Klitschko, but it was such a boring fight that I hesitate to call it violence.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:14 PM
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That comment started off promisingly with "Fury" but I nodded off at "Vladimir Klitschko".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:18 PM
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Tyson Fury sounds like a guy who hates chicken or D.C. retail malls.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:22 PM
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Fury's a really weird dude, it has to be said


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:24 PM
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MHPH, the data collected has literally zero to do with officer perception or description in a report, unless you think that the NYPD (or other people who collect data) are systematically lying about the race of people involved in shooting incidents. The data we do have suggests that police shootings are (slightly) less likely to be targeted against whites than against blacks in major departments. If there was systematic bias going on in connection with shootings (in those departments) you'd expect to see exactly the opposite. Frankly, on this and other issues, you are sort of a moron.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:24 PM
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Sorry, that should be flipped -- less likely to be targeted against blacks than against whites, based on persons involved.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:28 PM
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How is somebody supposed to get informed when people keep reporting the stats backward?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:35 PM
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Let me get this straight, what the officer says happened, how the officer responds to what they perceive is happening, and what happens when officers interact with people in fraught circumstances are all unaffected by the way the officer perceives the situation, or that how the officer perceives the situation is of very little influence on those things so that the biases that we know are there somehow don't affect things? Or is it that somehow the data collected controls for that influence? Or is it that obvious and well known psychological biases whose effects we see showing up in other cases in those same departments in those same cities somehow disappear when it comes to this one specific kind of thing? Because that's the kind of stuff that would have to be true for what you're saying to actually work well as an argument.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:40 PM
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Let me get this straight, what the officer says happened, how the officer responds to what they perceive is happening, and what happens when officers interact with people i

are all things that have literally zero to do with statistics that are compiled based on every single incident in which a police officer fired a weapon based on an encounter with a suspect. You are a moron!


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:43 PM
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To be clear -- there is an incident. The officer fires his weapon. The race of the suspect involved is noted. These aren't questions about the justifiable use of a weapon, but about whether an officer-involved shooting happened at all.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 8:45 PM
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Do you have a citation for that? Because I had always read that the statistics on police shootings are known to be very incomplete and very much not of the "officer fires his weapon and there's a report." At least not a report to any central body putting out statistics. The FBI's count is known to be low. As noted
here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:01 PM
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less likely to be targeted against whites than against blacks in major departments

controlled against the number of black people involved in shootings in general, right? I.e you're way more likely to get shot by the cops if you're black than if you're white but that's (arguably) owing to the prevalence of gun violence in black communities in general.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:05 PM
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So, this would seem to indicate that whatever these magical NYPD statistics say, it doesn't obtain for the whole country:
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/01/black-americans-killed-by-police-analysis


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:05 PM
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in major departments

So, now we're just cherry-picking statistics willy-nilly? Ferguson's not a "major department," and it's pretty obvious there that we're not talking about one weird outlier case, but a systematic practice of oppression based on race.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:09 PM
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I'm just talking about the NYPD's statistics, which were discussed above. The LAPD puts out a similar use of force report. The statistics generally address all shootings (in the LAPD case, uses of force) regardless of cause or justifiability.

You can look through the NYPD's firearm discharge reports here and at the LAPD's use of force reports here (you have to play around to find other years). Other departments probably have similarly publicly available reports but I haven't read through them.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:09 PM
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I hadn't noticed we had switched to talking about the NYPD only. What does proving the NYPD can manage some good stats say about the Chicago police? Obviously New York is going to be better than Chicago. It's just a better city in every regard except airport Starburst-availability.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:13 PM
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101 -- yes. Which is what drives me so crazy about this whole discussion. Black people are definitely 100% more (disproportionately) likely to have horrible interactions with the police. That's almost entirely because (a) black people live in disproportionately high crime areas where they are are also massively disproportionately victims of crime and (b) we have laws, especially drug laws, that have encouraged shitty police tactics. The police are mostly competent, sometimes incompetent civil servants, who may or may not be individually racist, but the racial disparities in policing are almost entirely driven by actual, structural differences in American life, not the individual racism of police officers or even departments. But people get off on the notion that it's all the fault of mean 1950s racist mustache cop, for some reason, which is a gigantic fucking distraction.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:14 PM
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102 -- those numbers, and most other similar compilations that have been looked at by people who take this issue seriously, consistently demonstrate the same thing, which is that (a) black people are (disproportionately, not absolutely) likely to die from police shooting than white people but (b) if you adjust for crime rate and interactions with the police, black people are somewhere between slightly and very disproportionately less likely to be shot by the police than white people. Which is not a good thing and does not mean that this issue is not linked to racial discrimination! But means that the problem is almost entirely driven by actual systematic inequality -- including the inequality that produces different crime rates -- and overall police tactics (systematic racism, if you like), not individual racist police officers. But people love to hate individual cops because mustaches or high school pot smoking or something.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:20 PM
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s/b a "more" before likely in the first sentence.


Posted by: RT | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:22 PM
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How is insisting on more transparency and accountability when somebody does get shot by the police a gigantic distraction from a structural fix as opposed to a necessary step in any structural fix?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:23 PM
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"This won't completely solve all racism" is hardly a valid criticism of an attempt at reform.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:24 PM
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How is insisting on more transparency and accountability when somebody does get shot by the police anything that I don't agree with or even could arguably impliedly be seeming to disagree with?


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:33 PM
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I don't see how anything but the current spate of protests might get that sort of transparency or accountability. We certainly don't have it now, whatever you think of NYPD's stats.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:36 PM
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Where did I say anything about protests? I think protests that result in e.g. body cameras are great. I do think a lot of the rhetoric especially here and especially by MHPH is pretty misplaced or borderline moronic.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:41 PM
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You seem to be arguing that we shouldn't worry about systematic racial bias in police shootings as if it were proven not to exist. Which would largely make the Bureau of Land Management movement pointless or just a local issue in Cleveland, Chicago, or other absurd places.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:44 PM
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Well this has certainly been a revealing exchange.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:44 PM
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Specifically, revealing of why arguments over these sorts of issues at places like this tend to be so frustrating.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:47 PM
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144 -- no, I'm arguing that the racism worth worrying about in black interactions with the police is actually structural and linked to the general status of black people in this country, and not just (on a broad scale) the fault of individually racist police officers, despite people's apparently overwhelming enthusiasm for moving the conversation in that direction. I do find a lot of the #BLM discussion deeply stupid, particularly the college student version of it, but that's to be expected, and I'm all for it if it results in some basic sensible police reform, which it might.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:50 PM
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I still think that they need to remove the prosecution of police officers accused of crimes from the office of the exact same prosecutors who work with that force every day, This Chicago thing being buried for a year illustrates that again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:51 PM
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Fine by me!


Posted by: RT | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:53 PM
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I agree that college students are stupid, but don't see what that matters. And I don't think that these kinds of actions are putting the focus or fault on individual racist police officers. The focus is being put on structural factors that inhibit public knowledge about these shootings and that protect the individual racist officers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:53 PM
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Basically it seems like we mostly all agree on the big-picture issues but nevertheless seem to find an endless series of less important things, mostly points of rhetorical emphasis and so forth, to argue vehemently over.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 9:56 PM
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And?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:00 PM
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And it's annoying and frustrating, at least for me. Other people seem to enjoy it, admittedly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:02 PM
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I mean, we should have more horrible puns, but hardly anybody does that these days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:02 PM
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Be the change, yo.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:03 PM
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We should also give more bad relationship advice, but the single people apparently all stopped dating or mentioning it here or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:04 PM
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Stopped dating, at least in my case.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:05 PM
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Yeah, I'd be curious to hear whether anyone involved in this multi-year debate feels that his/her position has moved much. More entrenched, more ambivalent, etc.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:07 PM
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I still think Teo will find somebody if he keeps looking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:10 PM
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127: Mazel tov! When was the wedding?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:10 PM
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129 is probably right but I think I need to sort out some other stuff first.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:11 PM
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130: You think I wouldn't have invited you?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:11 PM
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That is what I think, yes.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:14 PM
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Instead of sort stuff out for yourself, you should just find somebody who completes you. Then, if you still have problems, it's their fault.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:14 PM
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133: Fair enough. I still might, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:16 PM
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Also, I've been reading lots of stuff on hiking. Apparently, if you walk far enough (like Mexico to Canada far), you find yourself if you aren't eaten by a bear.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:17 PM
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I'm not sure what the multi-year debate even is. I can't actually recall any discussion of any practical step whatsoever towards police reform here. It's mostly been fake-litigating specific incidents. Or generalized white-hot rage against cops vs. people who do not have generalized white-hot rage against cops, but without ever discussing any specific step.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:17 PM
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By the time you get to Alaska you get eaten by a bear even if you have found yourself.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:18 PM
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I think I need to sort out some other stuff first.

That hooker and PCP addiction is a hard pill for any marriage to swallow.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:18 PM
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I can't actually recall any discussion of any practical step whatsoever towards police reform here. It's mostly been fake-litigating specific incidents. Or generalized white-hot rage against cops vs. people who do not have generalized white-hot rage against cops, but without ever discussing any specific step.

Well, yes, exactly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:19 PM
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And has that changed anyone's mind about anything? I suspect not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:21 PM
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I really don't think I qualify under "white-hot rage" against cops. I just don't understand how some of these cases don't get prosecuted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:24 PM
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Goodnight whitey moon.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:46 PM
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Goodnight Moby.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:48 PM
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...jumping over the moon.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 10:48 PM
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I'm still convinced, ten years later, that active steps toward political reform is a poor metric for evaluating unfogged comments.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:18 PM
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We could try quality of dick jokes, but that's an awfully high bar.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:20 PM
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I think there's a lot that could be done in terms of access to information and records retention, fwiw.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:23 PM
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147: We are, like the artist and truth, at three removes from political reform.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:29 PM
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Pretty sure I shared around the Campaign Zero set of proposals.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:31 PM
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But did you share it with white-hot rage?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-30-15 11:47 PM
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Almost nobody in Alaska (nor in Canada) ever gets eaten by a bear.

Well, except for that unfortunate and seriously deluded 'Grizzly Man,' who thought he should join a colony of bears after losing the part of 'Woody' in the sitcom Cheers. A fatal mistake, and a misdirection of his white-hot rage, surely.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 12:04 AM
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An awesome mistake you mean.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 12:27 AM
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152: Well, there was also this guy. But yes, fair enough, bear attacks are actually very rare.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 2:43 AM
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I still think that they need to remove the prosecution of police officers accused of crimes from the office of the exact same prosecutors who work with that force every day

you could have some sort of commission, responsible for investigating complaints against the police, that would be independent! call it the ICPC or something.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 4:28 AM
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We should also give more bad relationship advice, but the single people apparently all stopped dating or mentioning it here or something.

Well, I am intending to go & buy some condoms because an opportunity to re-set my years out of date Tivo might arise this weekend.

Otherwise there hasn't been much to mention though I did forget to recount a painful dating encounter about two months ago, probably because I preferred to forget it.


Posted by: Queen Maeve of Connacht | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 4:55 AM
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155: That would make government in the US less broken in some way, and is therefore impossible.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 5:53 AM
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We are the new Americana, getting high on legal drama.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 5:58 AM
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Raised on bigots who say reform is Nirvana.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 6:05 AM
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Queen Maeve, the price of your favours has historically been a prize bull, yes?
While I'm all for realistic adjustment of standards with aging, I can't help but feel that you deserve better than a tivo upgrade.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 6:08 AM
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156 is a fantastic update! I'm not ready for advice yet, I don't think, but I know just the reprobates for the job when the time comes.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 6:38 AM
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||
My SF&F book club is going to read an Octavia Butler book for our January selection. The poll includes Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Dawn, Wild Seed, and Fledgling. This poll was my suggestion, but I have not actually read any Butler. Does anyone have thoughts as to whether there is a particular one that I should advocate for as the best intro to Butler's work? I think this will probably be the first Butler that many/most in the club have read.
|>


Posted by: Airedale | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 6:42 AM
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Parable of the Sower is maybe going to be the, I hesitate to say friendliest? It's in a post apocalyptic idiom that will probably feel pretty familiar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 6:46 AM
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Hmm, I've read all but Wild Seed. I don't think Fledgling would be a good first one because too much of it is a fairly standard vampire story. Kindred is the traditional suggestion, I'd think, and certainly time travel/slavery/mystical connections between the present and past give you plenty of conversation points, but Dawn would be good if you've got people interested in First Contact-type stories and Parable of The Sower is an urban postapocalypse. They're all very good and so it's more a question of what people will enjoy or find sufficiently challenging.

What other things has your group liked? It sounds like a fun project!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 6:49 AM
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I don't think Fledgling would be a good first one because too much of it is a fairly standard vampire story.

You like the sparkling, Mormon vampires?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 6:52 AM
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I mean, it's specifically about vampires who differ genetically and historically from standard vampires and from sparkly Mormon ones, but the tone and the arc of the story are more what I meant.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:05 AM
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FWIW, I have only read Parable of the Talents, sequel to Sower. It was really good and scarily plausible. Also really unpleasant to read.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:24 AM
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FWIW, I have only read Parable of the Talents, sequel to Sower. It was really good and scarily plausible. Also really unpleasant to read.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:24 AM
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Doubly unpleasant.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:25 AM
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AIMHMHB, I really enjoy the fact that the Nebraska capitol building is a huge tower topped with a statue of a guy spreading seeds called "The Sower".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:28 AM
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I didn't particularly want to include Fledgling, but we typically include five books to choose from, and it seemed like the most obvious choice to round out the poll.

There probably has not been complete unanimity on any of the books we've read, but I think there was a generally positive consensus on, for example, the first two Ancillary books, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Hyperion. Reactions to China Mieville, Anathem, Among Others, and The Sparrow were fairly polarized. Of course, often the books that are not particularly well-liked by the club, or not liked by all the members, still lead to good discussion (sometimes even better discussion).

Some of the members have read a lot of SciFi over the years and others are pretty new to it. Luckily no members of the Puppy persuasion.


Posted by: Airedale | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:33 AM
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Of Wild Oats?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:36 AM
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Speaking of cross-jurisdictional comparisons. The chart by county is interesting.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:11 AM
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170: Speaking of statues, I love how Fort McHenry has a statue of Orpheus playing a lyre to commemorate the national anthem. It's impossible to imagine a similarly un-bellicose monument being put up today.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:11 AM
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Speaking of SF: Has anyone here read the entire solar series by Gene Wolfe, and is it worth it?
I've read Book of the New Sun and Urth of the New Sun and enjoyed them a lot, but not been blown away. I know there's supposed to be supremely clever stuff going on but most of it went over my head, and I'm not sure I'm up for another seven (?) books of Severian doing his thing in super polished prose.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:15 AM
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175: I think I stopped at about the same point! I felt the same way about those books.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:17 AM
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155 - or "Independent Police Review Authority"?


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:19 AM
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175, 176 - the next series (Long Sun) only involves Severian very very peripherally and is a completely different story (with a much more likeable main character and more straightforward plot, although the ending is full of wtf-ery). I did not like the final trilogy (Short Sun) very much.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:22 AM
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175: I didn't make it even that far. I got to the play near the end of The Claw of the Conciliator, and could not make it past it. Perhaps I should have just skipped the play, but I kept thinking I would get something out of it if I tried hard enough, and then I just lost interest entirely.


Posted by: Airedale | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:28 AM
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176, 178 - Thanks. It's not that I don't like Severian - one of my favourite characters really - it's more that it feels so far like one damn thing after another with nothing but wtf at the end.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:29 AM
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Severian kills Dumbledore.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:32 AM
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169 - Thing is, that play gets a clever callback at the end of Urth of the New Sun; so clever I suspect that if I re-read I'll have a different experience of the whole series. And Wolfe has a reputation for that level of complexity. OTOH I'm wary of the enourmous length of the thing.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:35 AM
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And the level of wtf in Urth is such that 181 might actually make sense.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:36 AM
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one damn thing after another with nothing but wtf at the end.

So, too life-like?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:37 AM
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If you didn't like Book of the New Sun, I don't know what the others are going to do for you. Give it a couple years and read New Sun again.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:37 AM
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185: Or you can wait a few years, and then you'll have an even longer list of books you can read instead.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:51 AM
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170: Speaking of statues, I love how Fort McHenry has a statue of Orpheus playing a lyre to commemorate the national anthem...

So, the message is something like "this song represents and/or results from something about us which is truly great and because of that thing we could have accomplished something unprecedented except we're also impatient and/or arrogant boneheads and screwed the whole thing up and it's too late, and also we'll be torn apart by crazy people"?

I mean, I'm not saying there isn't something to that, but it's still an odd thing to go with when you're making statues.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:57 AM
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162: I've only read Kindred, and that was quite recently. While it isn't a happy story, I found it approachable and an easy read; it's a little didactic but not overly so. Given Butler's esteemed reputation, I was worried that it'd be completely over my head, but it's well written and leaves a lot to discuss even (especially?) for someone who doesn't know a lot about America's racial history going in.

So, similar question: if someone has read Kindred, what's the best second Butler book to read?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:06 AM
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184 - Possibly that's the point!
185 - I did like the New Sun, but didn't love it. What was your reaction after New Sun?
186 - Exactly. Oppurtunity cost.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:14 AM
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we could have accomplished something unprecedented except we're also impatient and/or arrogant boneheads and screwed the whole thing up and it's too late, and also we'll be torn apart by crazy people

A concise history of the country, except we're still waiting on the "torn apart by crazy people" bit. Maybe if Trump gets elected...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:15 AM
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164/171: Dawn is an interesting twist on first contact; autonomy issues and gratitude weirdness really make it different than a normal "hail and well met" alien encounter. The alien incomprehension feels well grounded.

Parable is interesting for its contrasts to young religions and cults. If your group is looking for post-apocalyptic, it's an great choice.

Fledgling is vampires, made a bit weird by the (kind of) child protagonist and family of choice themes. Like Thorn, I suspect it's a little too standard vampire society-ish.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:22 AM
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180 - ahh, long sun is also pretty much one damn thing after another so maybe not.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:25 AM
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192 - I guess what I'm asking is, is the rest of the series just more of the same, or is there some cumulative payoff?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:29 AM
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191 to 188, too. I'd say Dawn or Sower are both good starts and in either case you'll probably want to keep going with the next books or book respectively.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:31 AM
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187: I think you're overthinking it. Orpheus was such a good singer that he made stones weep and ravening beasts leave him alone. Clearly a song like the the national anthem could only have been composed by a luminary like that.

If you want to limit your mythical figures to those with life stories that are uplifting and inspirational overall, you don't have many to choose from.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:35 AM
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193 - not really. You get a bit of a sense of why things are kind of fucked up in Long Sun if you've read Old Sun, but the links are very tenuous and don't really contribute a lot.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:38 AM
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Orpheus was such a good singer that he made stones weep and ravening beasts leave him alone.

That fact pattern supports two very different hypotheses.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:40 AM
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Almost nobody in Alaska (nor in Canada) ever gets eaten by a bear.

Eaten, no. Mauled, though...
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/01/british-climbers-escape-grizzly-bear-attack-in-canadian-rockies


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:45 AM
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196 - Ok, looks like no then. Thanks, Unfoggers!


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:45 AM
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"this song represents and/or results from something about us which is truly great and because of that thing we could have accomplished something unprecedented except we're also impatient and/or arrogant boneheads and screwed the whole thing up and it's too late, and also we'll be torn apart by crazy people"

I can't think that many people share your heartbroken regret that the United States was not successful in annexing Canada.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:47 AM
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198: In the east, we only have black bears. They're different and less prone to mauling.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:50 AM
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I can't think that many people share your heartbroken regret that the United States was not successful in annexing Canada

I certainly don't but many people are somewhat baffled by Canada's existence. It is as it were dissonant.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:51 AM
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194: Thanks--based on a quick skim of the Wikipedia pages, figure I'll go with the Parable books next.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 9:51 AM
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202 is right. You drive North and are in uncanny valley not-quite America full of weirdos, some of whom speak French. What the hell.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:04 AM
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Anyhow I am fucking fascinated by Canada. There are so many mysteries. For instance, why is Clamato beloved of Canadians and Mexicans, but not Americans?


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:07 AM
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That may explain why there used to be Spanish language ads for Clamato juice in the NYC subways in the eighties. I always wondered.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:09 AM
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Maybe Clamato would be beloved of Americans if the people running the ads had put them in English.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:11 AM
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I personally would be very willing to try Clamato if I had no idea that the name was a portmanteau.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:12 AM
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I'd like to think that I approached poutine with an open mind, but I still found it pretty disgusting.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:12 AM
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But maybe somebody would respond to a Reece's-style "Hey, you got your clam juice in my tomato" ad?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:12 AM
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Clamato?
(googles)
"Clamato is a drink made of reconstituted tomato juice concentrate flavored with spices and clam broth."

GOD IN HEAVEN.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:17 AM
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I actually like Micheladas a bunch, but Clamato is the food product that sounds most like a venereal disease.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:17 AM
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200 - But think of the maple syrup ajay! Right now Canada's global strategic maple syrup reserve vastly exceeds our own, posing a serious threat to American pancakes everywhere (in America). This danger could have been so easily avoided if we had only somethingsomething and thereby successfully defeated the British Empire and taken control of their North American holdings.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:21 AM
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I've never actually had a Clamato, but it doesn't sound terrible to me. I mean, if you like clam broth, and I do like clam broth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:21 AM
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213: the answer to that is conservation of your own domestic reserves. If you'd just stop putting it all over your bacon, and used HP Sauce instead like God intended, there'd be enough maple syrup for everyone's pancakes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:24 AM
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From what I've heard clamato mixes well with gin.

I'm not sure how that works, exactly, but I've heard it from multiple places and there's a classic cocktail that mixes the two so I'm going to assume it works and suggest it to other people but never try it myself.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:25 AM
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216: this is some sort of in-joke isn't it, like hunting haggis. A cocktail consisting of gin, concentrated tomato juice and shellfish soup? Sure, MHPH. And I bet you top it off with a shot of kerosene and a nugget of frozen spinach.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:27 AM
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214: But cold clam broth?


Posted by: Airedale | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:27 AM
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Wait, not on the bacon?? Next you'll be saying we shouldn't be putting it on the scrapple either!

Restraining our consumption is clearly not the solution here. We need to go in and seize someone else's maple syrup for ourselves. Anything else would be unAmerican.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:27 AM
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YOu say "clamato" and Tigre says "Clamato!!??!! You gave me CLAMATO?"


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:30 AM
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There are probably by now quite a number of multi-drug resistant North American foodstuffs.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:31 AM
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A Caesar is a generally superior drink to a Bloody Mary, and anybody who enjoys Bloody Marys has already crossed the seafood-in-your-cocktail rubicon, so what's the big deal. (Well, unless whoever we're talking about has been careful to only order vegan Bloody Marys, which I suppose some people are.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:32 AM
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Ha! Admittedly I don't particularly understand the appeal of a bloody mary in any form, so adding clam juice or gin to it doesn't make much of a difference to how appealing it seems to me, especially when a prairie oyster works better for hangovers anyway. But there you go.

Appropriately enough it is also of Canadian origin.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:33 AM
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There's seafood in a Bloody Mary? If you're just counting the Worcestershire sauce, I think that's a stretch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:39 AM
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||
This may be the biggest misuse of the phrase "Frequently Asked Questions" that I've ever seen. I'm fairly certain I could think of several questions that are more frequently asked than these ones, like "Why?", "No but seriously why?", and "Is this still an extended joke or are you genuinely doing this?"
|>


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 10:53 AM
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What was your reaction after New Sun?
The first time I read it, I was twelve, but I liked the language and the ideas but found it kind of a slog. The second time, I thought, "What an perfectly formed jewel of a book!", and I kept thinking about it for weeks. Also, "This guy's kind of a fascist."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 11:11 AM
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224: why is it a stretch? Worcestershire is made with fermented fish. Doesn't seem that different from reconstituted claim juice as far as distance from the actual ocean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 11:49 AM
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156. I'm recently single, have been dating someone very nice for three months. She's age-appropriate (I'm pushing 50), but has dropped out of her previous high-stress line of work a few years ago, not working a regular job now with uncertain plans for the future, so is pretty different from basically all the actually type-A or ideationally type-A people in my social circles.

We're getting along really well (reciprocally whirly-eyed), I'm into her but kind of think she might be into me more. I feel like I should be conflicted since I have the structural advantage of steady income, but am not. I check in explicitly with her about how she's feeling about things reasonably often, she says great. But she's whirly-eyed. Basically, I am disoriented by having a relationship with someone who likes me and agrees with a lot of what I want.


Posted by: Abe Lincoln | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 12:12 PM
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I've never heard of Clamato but I really like Manhattan Clam Chowder.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 12:58 PM
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228:

Basically, I am disoriented by having a relationship with someone who likes me and agrees with a lot of what I want.

Abe, were you married for a long time before becoming single? These symptoms are not uncommon in such a patient. Relax. Enjoy them. Worst comes to the worst you can always have her executed for treason, or witchcraft[1] or something like that.

[1] Count her nipples carefully. This could be important in future litigation. Who says discovery is the dull part of lawyering?


Posted by: King Henry VIII | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 1:47 PM
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These symptoms are not uncommon in such a patient.

That's what I'm finding too. So weird.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 1:49 PM
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"King Henry VIII, relationship counselor" needs to be a regular thing.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 1:49 PM
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Abe, were you married for a long time before becoming single? These symptoms are not uncommon in such a patient.

Fascinating.

Good on you Abe, and Queen Maeve. It's a relief, isn't it?


Posted by: Paul Atreides | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 1:51 PM
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227: It's highly processed and mixed with much else. It's not just some smashed seafood.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 2:04 PM
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234: I don't think clam broth can be accurately described as "smashed seafood". "Slightly seafood-flavored briny water"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 2:13 PM
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Does it have vinegar and sugar in large amounts?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 2:16 PM
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I feel like this is a trick question.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 2:21 PM
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I feel like I'll be convinced when Worcestershire sauce makers start advertising "Now with more fermented fish!"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 2:25 PM
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So I have purchased my supplies. I wasn't intending to buy them near the office since I often bump into people I know in the local shops- then I was in the chemist anyway and as I was being served by a nice friendly but unknown young woman I selected a box more or less at random. She pointed out that while they were €14.95 for a box of 14, the special offer was two boxes for €18. "They're great value", she said, and I bought them not wanting to seem like someone who wouldn't need so many.
But this is a bad omen, guys. The narrative structure of my life is such that a plentiful supply of preventatives means I will end up sleeping alone and the supply wil gather dust and cobwebs.

I should explain that after my recent dabbling I have decided I don't like the "dating" thing. I had a classic "meet cute" over a flat tire where a pleasant chap offered to change my wheel. The AA were already on the way but I accepted his suggestion of a coffee in a nearby establishment. He asked for my number and then whether we could meet for a drink later in the week. That was all fine and I met him though I found it a bit hard going - with no mutual connections the conversation seemed a bit strained. He walked me home & while I did kiss him, I wasn't sorry to see him leave and the next day I woke up apprehensive about having agreed to see him again. I talked myself into going ahead with it but I should have trusted my instincts. What was worse was he brought me to an expensive restaurant - this was just heaping coals of fire on my head. I spent the meal wishing I could chew my leg off to escape and though I was watching for my chance to split the bill he obviously paid behind my back. Then he wanted to go for a romantic walk on the pier during which I had to tell him I just wasn't feeling it. After that I wanted to get a taxi home but he insisted on driving me home. Not fun.

The whole set up just seemed weird and artificial. The current situation OTOH is more the now-traditional one in the islands bits of the Anglosphere viz. get drunk & look what happens. That is, a friend of friends, whom I have met twice in the pub and chatted a fair bit, propositioned me at the end of the second night. He managed to do so entirely by the use of eyebrow movements/ general facial expressions. This cracked me up & I was quite tempted but through bad planning I had been drinking without having eaten and I knew I needed just to go home alone and pass out. I declined but in the general terms of "not tonight". Anyway there are things on in the next few days including a couple of nights out and I was expecting to encounter him again. Now I fear the omen of the condoms bodes ill.


Posted by: Queen Maeve of Connacht | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 4:45 PM
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Poke holes in all of them to let the bad luck out.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 4:52 PM
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Maeve, for whatever it's worth I also thought of dating as an unpleasant obligation. My outlook after a few: not feeling it is no problem, nobody failed.


Posted by: Abe Lincoln | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 4:53 PM
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164: This is late, but I've had a lot of success teaching Wild Seed, and very few of my students had read Butler before.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:00 PM
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I declined but in the general terms of "not tonight".

I'm picturing Queen Maeve also communicating this entirely through the use of eyebrow movements / general facial expressions.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:33 PM
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Thanks all for the input on Butler. Seems like we will probably do okay with any of the choices except perhaps Fledgling. So it will probably end up winning the poll somehow.


Posted by: Airedale | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 7:53 PM
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Airedale, that one has interesting stuff too! It just wouldn't be my choice.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 1-15 8:17 PM
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Update: the scriptwriters of my life are taking the piss. It's the interval in the am-dram I'm in. I see a certain person in the audience (hereinafter Fergus after Fergus Mac Roy). No doubt he will be coming for a drink with us after the show (is a friend of some of the others). Except I'll only be going for one drink because my mother is here to see me tonight and is staying with me.


Posted by: Queen Maeve of Connacht | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 2:12 PM
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So, lots and lots of eyebrow movements, explicit mention of having family houseguests, and some kind of suggested next thing you're both likely to show up at (enlisting 'some of the others' to help it along). You've made a financial investment in prophylaxis, no sense letting it go to waste.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 2:17 PM
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(Have I mentioned that one of the most depressing aspects of my Peace Corps service was the government issue first aid kit, in the form of a largish attache case in blue plastic, half full of actual first aid materials and the other half full of hundreds of condoms? On lonely nights I could hear them laughing at me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 2:19 PM
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It would be worse if they laughed when you had guests.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 2:32 PM
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If I'd had guests more often, the condoms might not have been laughing at me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 2:47 PM
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Just seeing your replies now but kinda/sorta did some of that; mentioned the guest straight off, did some bits of flirting, we have a couple more nights of this so he knows where I'll be tomorrow night and Sat. But yes sniggering condoms as they go out of date is definitely a fear.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 6:48 PM
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250: Optimist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 7:10 PM
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Sounds like a promising start, Maeve!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 7:18 PM
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lots and lots of eyebrow movements

Just remember to use contraspection.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 3-15 9:38 PM
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I should add that this is not going to be anything serious. Fergus is clearly a bit of a man-tart, in that cheerfully hedonistic, genuinely likes women way that's been discussed here in the past.


Posted by: Queen Maeve of Connacht | Link to this comment | 12- 4-15 7:23 AM
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Mart?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-15 7:28 AM
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Doesn't work for me - though that is where I'd go if I wanted a prize bull.


Posted by: Queen Maeve | Link to this comment | 12- 4-15 8:48 AM
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