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Online Dating Is Great!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.09.16

A nineteen-year-old messaged me to ask "What were those early internet blogs like?" allowing me to respond "Pretty much like they are now, it was just slower to comment when you had to enter everything on a punch card and send it in USPS."

In terms of actually meeting people, I have no hope. As a new idiotic internet toy, this is definitely entertaining.


 

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Growing Up

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.09.16

What the fuck is going on that multiple rightwingers are issuing measured, reasonable statements about Dallas? Is it possible that a few conservatives here and there have decided to act like grown ups? (I know they are swamped by those issuing calls for race wars and so on, but still, for a topic that has been front and center for the past three or four years, this is the first time I've ever heard a group of them act like reasonable people.)


 

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NYC Meetup Thursday Friday, Monday, or Tuesday Sunday at 6:30?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.09.16

Barry Freed's around. Time and place TBD -- could be the usual Fresh Salt at 6:30, but I'm actually off work this week, so if anyone else wanted to move it uptown more, I'd be good with that.

Lurkers, as always, welcome.

(Oh, hey, have I mentioned that I put up an OKCupid profile? Good lord this is a strange, strange experience.)

Location: Dive Bar, 96th and Amsterdam, Sunday at 6;30. I'll probably be at least moderately sunburned.


 

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Vent here

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.08.16

I'm feeling kind of news-glum. Lurid K suggested, "What about a personal check-in thread (lot of ppl seem to be using this site feature lately) that explicitly invites lurkers also to vent and ask for advice?"

Sounds good to me!


 

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Alton Sterling

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.07.16

I'm sure you guys have been discussing it already, but we should have a thread. This is not to detract from the fascinating topic of Clinton's private server or anything.


 

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Asymmetry

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.06.16

I have argued this exact phenomenon before:

[M]any universities have adopted tenure-extension policies that give new parents greater flexibility. Typically, this means extending the seven-year period of tenure evaluation, usually by an extra year for each child. In practice, these policies are usually gender-neutral, giving dads an extra year to establish their reputations, just like moms. Universities typically adopted such policies in the 1990s and early 2000s, while about one-fifth chose not to do so....The policies led to a 19 percentage-point rise in the probability that a male economist would earn tenure at his first job. In contrast, women's chances of gaining tenure fell by 22 percentage points. Before the arrival of tenure extension, a little less than 30 percent of both women and men at these institutions gained tenure at their first jobs. The decline for women is therefore very large. It suggests that the new policies made it extraordinarily rare for female economists to clear the tenure hurdle.

In fact, I discussed it with lady economists at one of these very large land-grant research universities who were losing out!


 

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Clinton Email Discussion Thread

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.05.16

Like I said, a nothingburger.


 

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Only trying to help.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.05.16

Wow. This takes "Christ, what an asshole" up to a whole new squeaky pitch. The last paragraph is the worst.


 

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Farage out

Posted by Ben
on 07.05.16

He wants his life back. WTF is even happening over there anymore, guys.


 

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Stupid scheduling policies

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.05.16

1. My kids' swimming lessons. Each Monday is a sign up day, for the week beginning 7 days later. You can only sign up for 1 week at a time. It fills up within a day. Then you can't pick your times until the scheduler contacts you, that Saturday. Then you let her know some potentially free times (4 lessons must fit in 1 week) and she calls different instructors and then calls you back saying it only sort of fit, how about this modification, and you triangulate back and forth. Then you do it again the next week.

2. My plastic surgeon. I got a call while I was doing kid stuff, and returned the call the next morning. It turns out I'd missed my chance to schedule any procedure in October. "Sorry, if you don't answer when I call, I go on to the next person," said the scheduler, "and now October is full."
"What!" I said, "When does November open up?"
"We don't know," she said. "Maybe within a week, maybe four months from now."
"So if I miss your call, I have to wait until December?"
"Yes," she said, "We have patients who have been trying since April."
Since then, I've called her every morning to cheerily ask her if today is the day that November opens up. Perhaps eventually we'll feel comfortable enough with each other to have a constructive conversation about how else scheduling could be accomplished.


 

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Deluge - Chapters 15 and 16

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.05.16

Mossy Character writes:

15: A mine for mine and a loan for a loan

Tooze describes the wrangling over reparations at Paris, and how reparations intersected with debts. [For the sake of readability I've converted figures to dollars, and rounded heroically.]


--------------------

France's economy had suffered badly in the war: they had gone from net creditor to debtor, and northern France had been devastated by the Germans. They hoped to restore industry by retrocession of Alsace-Lorraine and by transfer of Saarland coal production to France until sabotaged mines could be repaired. They also wanted to continue wartime economic cooperation for reconstruction and development. The US was utterly opposed to this, wanting to restore business as usual immediately. This left France no choice but to pursue reparations to gain the funds they needed. [Tooze presents this as a binary choice, reparations or cooperation, which strikes me as implausible. France might have borrowed what they needed, given some cancellation or rescheduling of war debts; this would have entailed international financial cooperation, but fallen short of the central planning involved in wartime cooperation.]


--------------------

The projected cost of French reconstruction was $15bn; they initially wanted at least $22bn total reparations, of which France would get at least 55%. They also wanted cash in hand as soon as possible, as they were short of dollars and needed to borrow in New York. The US and France soon agreed on $29bn total reparations (close to the eventual number agreed in 1921), but Britain had different aims.

Britain had also suffered severe losses, but they were less dramatic than the damage on the continent, and they feared their claims would be overlooked in the shuffle. British losses were in sunk shipping, in debts [though it was still a net creditor, if I read the numbers correctly] and in lost foreign investments, almost all of which had been liquidated at the outset of the war. [These things were among the foundations of British power, so they had real interests at stake.] They also wanted reparations large enough to weaken Germany significantly, and to get at least a quarter of the total themselves. Britain therefore demanded $52bn total. This was about five times Germany's prewar GNP, and considered impossible by the other allies.

Britain tried to square that circle by asking France to reduce its share, which didn't fly; and then escalated instead by expanding its claims to include war pensions. Wilson eventually supported this last, but everyone recognized it would imply a final sum Germany couldn't possibly accept. Eventually all sides agreed to postpone final decisions until May 1921. In the interim, Germany would pay $5bn in 1919-20, and issue IOUs for payments of $5bn in 1921, $10bn from 1921-1930, and a further $10bn conditional on German economic health. Including the latter, that made $29bn total, the same as the US-French number, and close to the eventual 1921 figure. France wanted to make the IOUs tradable, in hopes of selling them for the dollars they needed; the US was reluctant, and arranged to have a veto on such sales.

--------------------

[Tooze talks at length about Keynes and his The Economic Consequences of the Peace, which I take to be historiographical infighting. My takeaway is: at Paris, Keynes proposed cancellation of inter-Allied debts, no reparations, and a new debt issue to stimulate recovery; and this was rejected by the US. As an alternative, he proposed a massive German bond issue, jointly guaranteed by the Allies, to be divided between reparations and economic stimulus; and this too was refused.]

Given the weight of war debts, all European countries (except Britain) were forced to tie their reparations policies directly to their own debts. Italy proposed, with French support, that the US write down debts, thus giving political cover for reduced reparations. The US interpreted this as a threat of default and responded by threatening to cut off credit; the proposal was dropped. For a sense of scale, France's debt was four times larger than the indemnity imposed by Prussia after the 1870 war; cancellation of all debts would have meant net gains for France and Italy [and Russia, though they had repudiated theirs anyway], and net losses for Britain and America.

The US rejected all schemes for debt relief. Whereas Keynes and his ilk (including American bankers) believed massive, international, public action was required to stabilize everyone's finances and restart peacetime economic life, the US held that any action would increase debts and inflation, and prolong the presence of public money in the economy, which they believed unnatural; and Americans wanted tax cuts, thus prohibiting any write downs. In recognition of reality, the US did grant a two-year moratorium on interest payments, but insisted all debts would be paid in full.

Small-governmentism aside, American logic here (shared by future President Hoover) was that the US could not coordinate with the Entente, as this would limit US freedom of action. By instead dealing bilaterally with each country, the US could maximize its leverage; and, by using that leverage to reduce reparations, it could befriend Germany. Further, the US couldn't ally itself with the Entente, as this would provoke Germany, Russia and other defeated powers into forming an opposing league of their own. [Which happened anyway: Rapallo, Axis, Ribbentrop-Molotov.] More abstractly, Wilson and Hoover thought the collapse of the European ancien regime wasn't finished yet, and America shouldn't associate with reactionary powers [pot, meet kettle]. US freedom was the 'great moral reserve' of the world (said Hoover) and had to be preserved.

--------------------

[So, to preserve its world-saving moral capital, America will: screw over its allies; consort with its enemy; impoverish Europeans so that much richer Americans can have tax cuts; and actively sabotage any policies that would demonstrate any generosity or magnanimity or even common sense. I don't get these people. It's one thing to be a usurer and an asshole; greed I understand. But being a usurer and expecting people to admire you for it is something else entirely.]

------------------------------------------

16: In the narrowing gyre

Tooze discusses the acceptance of the Versailles treaty in Italy and Germany, despite massive misgivings, aiming to illustrate the forces pulling the new world order together.

--------------------

In Italy the broad coalition formed after Caporetto was disintegrating by the end of 1918; both the far left and far right were strengthening. The Italian foreign minister, a right-winger, was alone at Paris in rejecting the new norm of self-determination, instead pushing the extensive annexations the Entente had promised Italy in the London Treaty. Italy was offered instead leadership in the Balkans via ethnic Italian enclaves on the Adriatic, including Fiume, which had not been promised at London. Italy then demanded both Fiume and the London annexations, giving Britain and France enough room to wiggle out of their London commitments, and declare Fiume Yugoslav.

Wilson then appealed to the Italian public to accept this in the name of the 14 Points, and suspended financial assistance to Italy. The Italians took this as a direct challenge to the right of the government to represent its country [American presidents seem to make a habit of this down to the present], and were appropriately insulted; the prime minister received a strong vote of confidence. However, Italy was not vital to the Entente: Britain, France, and the US having agreed on the terms of Versailles, Italy's agreement was dispensable; it didn't have enough weight to argue, and was dependent on American money and British coal.

Unable to respond to Wilson's humiliations, the foreign minister and prime minister resigned. The new PM signed the treaty, but found it domestically impossible to drop the Fiume claim, and proposed internationalization instead; meanwhile fascists occupied the city, and the army couldn't be relied upon to evict them. The government called a general election hoping for a mandate. The fascists were crushed in the election, but so were the governing Liberals; they survived with support from the Catholic party. The left won heavily and behaved radically, staging strikes and land seizures and joining the Comintern.

Despite humiliation and being robbed of the Adriatic, Italy signed the treaty. The country couldn't be revived without American money, and opting out of the new treaty system was too dangerous. The American world order could attract members by main force, even in the face of serious unpopularity.

--------------------

The German government was outraged by the terms offered at Paris, but knew it had to accept them; it therefore stage-managed a nationalist outcry to pre-empt the nationalist right. To the Allies they offered disarmament, $24bn in reparations, on easy terms, and asked in exchange reduced territorial losses. The Allies agreed to a plebiscite in Silesia, but nothing more; they gave Germany a week to accept the terms or be invaded.

If it signed, the government faced threats of rebellion from the army, the Junkers, and the Prussian state government. Its own Paris delegation advised rejection: the terms were insulting, inconsistent with the armistice terms, unjustly assigned Germany sole responsibility for the war, and required Germany to sign a treaty it couldn't honor. Accepting the terms would give an appearance of consent to a peace that was in fact dictated, and make Germans complicit in the Allies' crime. 'Surprisingly serious consideration' was given to simply refusing the terms and letting the Allies invade, in the hopes that justice would later be done in the court of world opinion. But this appealed to a League of Nations world order that would only exist if Germany signed the treaty; and the Entente might simply strip Germany, taking the industrialized west and leaving the rest to rot.

Germany couldn't get progressive internationalism without 'making a down payment', and that meant accepting the terms. On the plus side, the treaty kept Germany intact and sovereign, where invasion risked total destruction of the country; Bavaria, Württemburg, Baden and Hesse declared themselves in favor, counter to Prussia.

Politically, things got desperate: the SPD and Centre parties were badly divided; the government fell; threats of military rebellion mounted; Hindenburg talked about a last stand; the navy scuttled itself in Scotland, in violation of the armistice. The president didn't want to sign, but there was no majority for rejection, and the country wanted peace above all. Essentially, everyone in government realized there was no alternative to acceptance, but no-one wanted to bear responsibility. Eventually, only hours before the deadline, the Assembly voted to accept.

The stab-in-the-back legend starting growing from this point; Freikorps elements attempted a coup in March 1920, but were defeated by a general strike; which morphed into the Ruhr Uprising, which was put down bloodily by the army and Freikorps. Despite all this, successful Reichstag elections were held in June. The centrist parties (the peace majority in the old Reichstag) were punished for their association with the treaty, falling from 75 to 45%; the Leninist communists got only 2%; the nationalist right made gains; but the big winners were liberal nationalists led by Stresemann. He was by this time committed to internationalism, and looked to American economic self-interest to hold it together.

--------------------

[This chapter brought home to me again the folly of the armistice. The Germans were right that the peace was essentially dictated, not negotiated, but that reflected the actual balance of power: without Wilson's intervention the Allies would have won outright and Germany would have had to surrender unconditionally. The terms likely would have been the same, but more blame would have stuck to the army, that had undeniably lost the war, and less to the democratic parties that ended up signing the treaty. As Tooze puts it, there was massive waste of "democratic political capital" in Germany in 1919-20. Without Wilson snatching peace from the jaws of victory the progressive democrats would have gone into the 1920s far stronger, and the army far weaker.]


 

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Seems Legit

Posted by Ogged
on 07.04.16

So in the Olympic year that the Russians have been banned as a team for doping, our representative in the marquee event is going to be a twice-suspended guy running the fastest times of his career at the age of 34.



 

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Another hate

Posted by Ben
on 07.03.16

Klosterman satisfyingly reviewed. Certain commenters will appreciate this remark: "He is given to little eruptions of fake humility ("I don't know" followed by a portentous paragraph break. "I really don't")."

However, one must also hate the author of the review (and the Times and its entire editorial apparatus) for allowing "nonplused", so spelled (apparently a recognized variant, though), to appear in a context in which to all appearances "unfazed" would have been more appropriate. (The fact that one can't really be certain whether "unfazed" or "nonplussed" is actually the more appropriate word merely shows the unclarity with which the offending sentence was written! Unfazed on the grounds that the superficial Klosterman doesn't stop before offering up his twaddle; nonplussed on the grounds that the twaddle is indecisive!)


 

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A Small Hate

Posted by Ogged
on 07.03.16

I've seen Wesley Morris praised a lot, and occasionally I check him out and each time I think...but this isn't very good. This time, I thought: this sucks. Am I missing something? Other than the racist guilt that makes everyone else praise him, I mean.


 

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Suki Kim

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.03.16

An investigative journalist spends six months undercover in North Korea, only to have her book repackaged as a memoir, which turns the whole experience on its head.

As my publisher began to promote my book, several journalists took to the internet to denounce me. They called me "deeply dishonest" for going undercover. They slammed me as a "selfish person" for using my access at the university to write a "kiss-and-tell memoir." They accused me, without any evidence, of "putting sources at risk." In their eyes, it seemed, I was a memoirist treading on journalistic turf, a Korean schoolteacher who sold out her students for a quick buck.

and

When the first review was published by Kirkus, I was shocked to see the words "deceive" and "deception" three times in the first paragraph. The Chicago Tribune questioned my ethics: "Her book raises difficult questions about whether this insight is worth the considerable risk to these innocents, none of whom knew her real reasons for being there." The Los Angeles Review of Books went even further: "Her dishonesty has left her open to criticism, and rightfully so. The ethics of her choice cast doubt on her reliability (another de facto peril of memoir), and her fear of discovery appears to have colored her impressions and descriptions with paranoia and distrust." My book was being dismissed for the very element that typically wins acclaim for narrative accounts of investigative journalism.

and

I would like to report that I took the reaction to my book in stride, that I weathered all the accusations and dismissals with patience, that I understood their causes and effects. But I did not. The rage I felt was deeper than any other emotion I had ever known, as if I had been holding it in for a very long time--not just since the end of my yearlong book tour, much of which I spent in bleak hotel rooms sipping bad wine from the mini-bar, but since I first arrived in America as a foreigner at age 13, mute and powerless.

It's super infuriating!

Via E. Messily


 

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