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No words.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.10.17

This is making me blind with rage:

I think more white-hot fury than I've felt at any point since November 8th.


 

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Hotseat Regime Change

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.10.17

I would like a rule that for every thinkpiece written about the mysterious rural American and his folksy hardtimes, there must be three thinkpieces written about the morally bankrupt white suburban American and why they're so mysteriously unrepentent assholes at the voting booth. There could be historical pieces, linking them to white flight and policies such as redlining that helped create a higher density of unrepentent assholes in the suburbs. There could be profiles, looking at young families like the Jensens, who seem like nice people until you start asking them about their gut feelings about the good schools and the bad schools, and why saving a few dollars in taxes is worth having a president who guts the EPA and the public school system, and why they mysteriously can't actually point to lower tax rates. There could be coldly statistical pieces, pointing out that strictly as a business venture, aligning yourself with the GOP is actually a losing proposition - think What's the Matter with Kansas? for the suburbs. Very careful statistics making the point that a rising tide lifting all boats is preferable to maintaining your superiority by descending into poverty more slowly than everyone else.

Let's anthropologize the shit out of shitty UMC suburban white people until apolitical UMC white people absorb the vague notion that they should distance themselves from that group. UMC white suburbanites should either have to get defensive and consciously defend their choice to align themselves with the RNC or they should switch teams, but no more hiding out. We've made rural America defensive and tribal; that horse is so dead and boring and I no longer give a shit about understanding their poor feelings. But I would like suburban asshole Trump supporters to be in the hotseat for a while, now.


 

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Messaging And Strategy

Posted by Ogged
on 02.10.17

1) Native American teams should all change their mascots to The Whites, and have them do stereotypically white things, like dress in blue and beat the fans with a baton.

2) In retrospect, "When they go low, we go high" should have been "When they go low, we crawl through the sewers to rip out their guts while they shit."


 

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Things I Like

Posted by Ogged
on 02.09.17

This tweet landed right at the intersection of my affection for Gene Wilder and my contempt for the Donald, and it made me laugh out loud.


Multiple LOLs for this one, from the golden age of American entertainment.

More nostalgia, but I just discovered Live From Daryl's House and there are a lot of good bits. Joe Walsh is great, Billy Gibbons is awesome. It's good nostalgia!


 

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Universal Yums

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.09.17

And now for some lighter fare, I think this looks incredibly fun. For $14/month, you can get a box of junk food from a country around the world. Here's a list of past boxes.

I can't quite figure out the finances of it. It must be a side project for someone with access to lots of different countries, but that seems like either:
a) it would involve a different point person in each many country
b) it would involve a lot of travelling
c) the food isn't representative because it's all actually from a single entity with an international presence, like Lays or something.

It seems like the shipping costs would eat up the profits, but maybe there's an international grocery store in New York or something that's already importing all this stuff. I bet that's it.

Anyway, I totally want to try it.


 

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Guest Post - the death of Little Vic

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.09.17

J. Robot writes: I think we had talked about this on the blog right after the young man died?

Heebie's take: This is the guy that allegedly shot himself while handcuffed in the backseat of the police car:


Victor White, not trusting the police, immediately began his own investigation of the case. He uncovered a number of apparent inconsistencies in the official narrative. Among the most glaring was the assertion that Little Vic had shot himself in the back. Before making the autopsy results public, the parish coroner at the time, Carl Ditch, told White that the bullet entered his son's chest, White says, contradicting the original news release. Ditch noted that the bullet had entered the side of his chest, beneath the right nipple, and exited under his left armpit. But Little Vic was left-handed. White was incredulous: "You're trying to tell me that my son, while handcuffed, reached his left hand all the way around the front of his chest and shot himself from the right? I said: 'No, sir.' "

There were inauspicious coincidences. The incident took place in a part of the patrol-center parking lot that had no surveillance cameras. The back-seat camera in the cruiser in which White died was turned off, as was the microphone. When White picked up his son's possessions, Little Vic's wallet contained only $91. But White believed that his son was carrying about $1,400. When White told the officer that there had been a mistake, she withdrew the bag and disappeared momentarily into the property room, exclaiming: "Oh! I must have missed these before." She pulled a pair of $100 bills from the wallet. "I just looked at her," White says. "I said: 'Ma'am, do you really think I believe that?' "

 

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How to Blog Trump.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.08.17

I keep getting stuck in how to blog in these weird times because take, for example, male senators stepping up (and being allowed) to read King's letter on Sessions this morning. What on earth is there to say about such a thing, besides feeling angry? There's no analysis that I can contribute, nor any way it would generate much to discuss here. It's just straightforward.

I used to overlook major news events if they felt too straightforward for this exact reason - what would I say about it? What would anyone discuss? - except for the occasional open thread. (Nevermind that I never have anything to do with the actual direction of the thread, and also that I'm terrible at predicting what you'll squabble about.) But back then, the ratio of non-news threads to news-threads was higher than it feels like it ought to be now. I'm having trouble finding my footing in these recent weeks.


 

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Guest Post - Border Wall

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.08.17

Presidente Frontera writes: The Atlantic did a short documentary on people in Brownsville affected by the border wall. I've seen it in person and it's still jarring to me to see it cut through the neighborhood I went to school in.

Also interesting are the conversations with white conservative landowners whose properties are cut through by the wall. One really believes we do need to secure our borders but still leaves water and soda outside her home for immigrants to take.

The comments on the video are interesting, too. No one who lives near the fence, regardless of their feelings on immigration, believes the wall is anything other than an insult and a waste of money.

Heebie's take: The documentary is only 6 minutes long. Basically, the border wall does not actually occur on the border, because the border is a river with banks and there are various rules in place. So it winds along a little bit north of the river, and so there is a teeny bit of the United States south of the fence, significantly enough that people's lives are affected.


 

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Thinking Fast & Slow - Chapters 7-9

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.08.17

Lw writes: These three short chapters are heavy on exposition and summary; they are light on support.

Chapter 7 considers the effects of the aggressive associations made by S1 detailed in chapter 6 on the judgements produced by S1. First, confirmation bias is described and asserted (the claim is that S1 with its web of associations leans towards confirming external claims, with S2 providing disagreements only when it sets down the spliff and can get its lazy ass in gear). Second, aggressive associations are applied by S1 to people as well, with a halo effect-- positive human attributes for one attribute (made-up example: intelligence) extend to other human attributes (example continues, to generosity). Lastly, Kahneman points out that S1 has extremely limited scope; S1 considers what it knows only, and is not influenced by the possibility of additional information. This habit leads to overconfidence, to a susceptibility for framing effects, and to "base-rate neglect" or a neglect of reasoned prior knowledge (eg, but shark attacks are rare). There's an experiment described to show confirmation bias presence when system 2 is busy doing doing something else that meets the falsifiability threshold.


Chapter 8 details two modes of comparative assessment that S1 manages effectively, and mentions limitations. S1 is good at instantaneous averages-- given a set of instances, S1 successfully and accurately identifies a typical element in the set. Remember that S1 never shuts down-- if you're perceiving, it is doing its thing. S1 is not good at sums, however (ie, thinking about set cardinality is an S2 responsibility, slower, not automatic). His example here is an experiment where people are asked to instantaneously respond how much they would spend to save 200, 2000, and 20000 birds from horrible death. I hope this was done in the seventies, because a) basically identical amounts, the point of the experiment, of b) under $100. A second effective mode of S1 is intensity matching-- effortlessly translating an unusual attribute for an individual to its "equivalent" (weakly implied but not clearly stated to be statistical) in another dimension. The thought experiment example is comparing degree of precociousness with unusual height.

Tangential remark-- every single one of K's stimuli is visual. I am curious how much of the modes of action K describes are tied to specifically visual input, but I am not up to searching for auditory equivalents or of approximately equivalent assessments of people who are blind. K does not mention this-- for what he has written, seeing and S1 thinking appear synonymous.
There are examples wedged into this chapter of the work of a colleague of K's, Todorov, concerning snap judgements of trustworthiness of political candidates based on facial characteristics. I skimmed one paper, was not much satisfied with degree of isolation of the variables under study from how well dressed the people assesed were or their basic health. Half-assed, not my field, etc-- but if the outcome is to claim that firmness of jaw matters for judgement, then ceteris paribus is important.

Chapter 9 points out that S1 dislikes having no answer to give, so it (honestly, can we just write he) substitutes simpler questions to answer when presented with stimuli that exceed his competence, but does not mention the substitution. K tells us that S1 also suggests that people are strongly predisposed to weight affect over thought-- if you dislike tattoos you are likely to believe that their risks outweigh benefits. (explanatory link of father and sonhttp://boingboing.net/2008/03/19/father-and-son-sport.html).


Each of these chapters ends with a few illustrative sentences, I think intended to provide anthropomorphized summaries suitable to S1 of the chapter's ideas. My paperback copy of the book indicates 27 printings in 3 years, nice to see that K has found so many readers. K mentions in the introduction that his intent is partially to provide a sort of self-help guide to help people understand their own thinking, a laudable goal. His writing is labored in places, and in this book (to my taste) well-supported statements about instantaneous human behavior in the lab get aggressively extrapolated. Perhaps the intention to write a self-help guide is in conflict with a more precise exposition limited in scope. Part of this is individual taste-- both in myself and others I like certainties, hunches, and opinions clearly separated, but I know there are many different ways to think. Kahneman and Tversky both bravely and succesfully tackled questions at the limits of falsifiablity and spent decades thinking about difficult problems. Reading K's blend of knowledge and hunches is a privilege.

Nevertheless, I feel that there is a fairly substantive difference between what are basically weightless activities studied in the lab and life. The person studied responds this way or that, they know that there will be no consequence for them next week beyond desultory payment. The lab studies K has cleverly designed and which he cites seem to me to be suggestive but only possibly dispositive because of this methodological inaccessibility to human decisions that matter.

Heebie's take: Oh god, this means I'm next week, doesn't it. [Checks]. Nope, Nathan is up next.


 

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Guest Post - Purity

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.07.17

Nick S. writes: John Holbo's latest post, re-stating his thoughts about Jonathan Haidt is worth reading.

It is long, and structured with an unnecessary number of twists and turns. But, in fact, my favorite parts are his sarcastic asides about how he would connect liberal values to both the "six foundational values" that Haidt writes about and, the related anthropological concepts of Clean/Dirty, Sacred/Profane, High/Low. For example, this is remarkably well stated.

'Keep your laws off my body' is a fine counter-example to what [Haidt] is saying, not an appropriate illustration of it. 'Keep your laws off my body' is effective rhetoric because it super-charges the autonomy/no-harm values with an overlay of profane/sacred. To a first approximation, any time someone says 'keep your x off my y,' as a slogan, they are constructing a dirty/clean dichotomy. Also high/low. 'Keep your laws off my body' challenges conservative law-makers to shrug off the heavy hint that they are dirty, no-account low-lifes, unfit to associate with decent folk. 'Your laws' rhymes with 'your paws'. It's a nice bit of table-turning on Republican taste in legislation-as-slut-shaming. Republicans need to learn to suppress their bad, carnal desire to suppress women's sexual autonomy! It's pervy! The law should be a noble thing, not some old panty-sniffer: Vote Democrat!
And this is where the pussyhats enter, stage left - mobile, marching, sacred space from which the pussy-grabber-in-chief is implicitly excluded as profane.
But surely pussyhats are symbols of justice and liberty, not holiness! (This caused considerable controversy in the previous thread.) I say, against this: one thing can have two properties (though that may seem a mad thought!) Moral symbols can be polyvalent. This is hardly the first time, after all, that a group has managed to make potent use of the fact that both poles - clean/dirty - imply 'don't touch!' So if you can, paradoxically, manage to combine them, you get an extra strong jolt of power. ...

and this bit of snark

Conservatives - and Mark Lilla - wonder why liberals don't talk about Yale and Halloween costumes. Honestly, the reason is because, unlike Lilla, we haven't lost our sense of moral proportion. Unlike conservatives, we don't seek to apologize for greater wrongs under cover of indicting far lesser ones. Maybe it's wrong to pass over any wrongs. But I say, if you are going to ignore wrongs, better to ignore lesser ones. (And for sure conservatism is not a political philosophy of 'let justice be done, though the heavens fall.' So that's some serious process hypocrisy, if they are flying that flag over the Yale Halloween costume controversy.)

 

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Whatever.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.07.17

Fuck DeVos.


 

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The election is becoming the past.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.07.17

So are the investigations into the Kremlin's role in the election completely shut down and dead now? Was that brief flurry a few weeks ago all of it? Why aren't newspapers working with that spy guy Steele and making hay out of this?

It's going to go down as an open secret that the Kremlin plus Comey illegally tipped the election, the same way that Nixon sabotaged the peace talks to end the Vietnam War. We'll all know it happened, and it will become one of these idiosyncratic nuggets of history that we wow our grandkids with.

Remember when businesses didn't like Obama because businesses hate uncertainty, above all else? They hate uncertainty like Obama. Just hate it.

I started off with a point, in the first paragraph, but now it's just deteriorated into a general inability to cope with the political reality.


 

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It's Minnesota, But Colder

Posted by Ogged
on 02.05.17

Is the NY Times Op-Ed page trying to fill the Gawker vacuum? This piece is heavy on polemics and snark (Trudeau's hair; really?), but something that purports to compare Canada and the US on progressiveness without mentioning refugee policy (or family leave, or any goddamn evidence contrary to its thesis) can't be taken seriously. But I am curious what our Canadians think about the comparison. Obviously Canada has its own long and ongoing story of racism and reaction, but how would you compare 2017 Canadia to 2017 (or hell, 2015) America?


 

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The Clown Show

Posted by Ogged
on 02.05.17

There's the fact that Team Trump literally doesn't know how to turn on the lights in the White House, and an "up yours" from the Times,

For a man who sometimes has trouble concentrating on policy memos, Mr. Trump was delighted to page through a book that offered him 17 window covering options.

And of course Trump's obsessive TV-watching, but this is the lede, and I have no idea why they buried it.

Mr. Bannon remains the president's dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump's anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.

Bannon wrote up an order putting himself on the security council, and Trump signed it without knowing what he was doing. That's astounding, but it's almost more amazing that Bannon keeps pride of place after that. Trump is so insecure about his own ignorance that he's totally dependent on Bannon, and can't imagine governing without him, and Bannon knows it. Editors need to keep putting Bannon on magazine covers if we want to save the republic. Also, wow, the leaks.


 

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