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Friday whatevery

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.04.19


Climate change activists' plan to spray fake blood on the Treasury did not get off to the best start.

Extinction Rebellion protesters used a hose from an old fire engine to spray 1,800 litres liquid at the 100 year-old building, but they quickly lost control of the powerful water jet.

There's a photo and footage of the gore at the link. Annoyingly, the frozen still from the footage doesn't actually appear in the footage, but it's still fun to watch.

Also, why does Greta Thurnberg make some men lose their fucking shit like babies? I hate to spill pixels over it, but it's just because they're emotionally stunted fucking toddlers who feel like their piles of status and wealth and right to women are threatened by what she's saying, instead of by the underlying reality. The answer is not more interesting than that.

Finally, Mossy sends in, "Let it never be said that I don't share animal pictures with the internet."

It's a short fascinating read - swimming camels! - and the photos and layout are gorgeous, but it's also a major bummer.


 

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Guest Post - Greta would be disappointed

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.03.19

Nworbie writes: A rather frightening story in the WSJ about the car business in the US.

The median-income U.S. household with a four-year loan, 20% down and a payment under 10% of gross income--a standard budget--could afford a car worth $18,390, excluding taxes

But of course that's not what they buy. They buy far more and the money for the dealerships is in the loans that they take out.

The paper finds a 22-year-year old who buys a new car for a notional $27,000 but ends up borrowing $36,000 for it. He's a machine operator at a plastics factory. The repayments represent a quarter of his take home pay.

After the GFC, when all the big car companies had to be bailed out, the industry switched, like every other one, from selling things to extracting rents.

So far this year, dealerships made an average of $982 per new vehicle on finance and insurance versus $381 on the actual sale, according to J.D. Power, a data and analytics company. A decade earlier, financing brought in $516 per car and the sale made dealers $837.

All this gigantic machine is fuelled by Wall Street: the loans are bundled into bonds and sold on almost as soon as they are made. No doubt some of our pensions, if we have them, are invested in this way.

It's just a tiny illustration of the immense changes that would be needed to switch to a genuinely sustainable economy. Nobody, well hardly anyone, needs a new car. But without the financial machinery that keeps people buying them, millions of robots and hundreds of thousands of people would lose their jobs and their purpose in life.

In an ideal world, many fewer people would need a car at all. But the conversion of the US to a place where public transport worked properly would be the undertaking of decades and probably hugely unpopular. Everyone would be happier and better off at the end of the process, but it's hard to see how a democracy can get there. In the meantime, because the present system is built on illusion, there will always be a huge reservoir of disillusion to be tapped at will by demagogues.

"First the Left came for your guns. Now they are coming for your cars!"
It's pretty much the slogan of the Gilets jaunes already.

Heebie's take: The article is paywalled, so I haven't read it. But my immediate question is what proportion of people at various income levels buy used cars, and so aren't included in this. (Although I suppose people finance the purchase of used cars as well?)

This line from Nworbie above - "the industry switched, like every other one, from selling things to extracting rents" - really resonates, though. The whole world is one big company store.


 

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Mushy voters

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.02.19

Is the moderate middle is a myth? This link is using data based on YouGuv surveys, which seems like a really poor source of information on low-information voters.

Forgetting the link above, even though it prompted this post, the basic idea is a compelling story to me: that ~35-40% of voters call themselves moderates, a similar big share call themselves independents, and yet another chunk call themselves undecideds, and when you look at their policy preferences, they're mostly not a single centrist block. (I wonder if it's not more useful to parse them into low information and high information voters. Also I recall hearing here that the vast majority of independents vote reliably partisan, even if they don't like the label.)

Here is my personal belief: that the 2020 election will be won on the strength of get-out-the-vote (and get-out-the-registration-to-vote), not courting centrists. Progressive policies are just much stronger than centrist policies, and we should run based on that.


 

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ATM: Should I stay or should I go now?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.01.19

JFK writes: Dear Mineshaft--

I never thought it would happen to me, but recently whilst swiping on a dating site, I happened to match with a woman I dated seriously for about six months three years ago. We flamed out pretty spectacularly back when, but not in a way that left either of us hating the other.

I spent the next three years actively dating, with an eight month relationship that also involved declarations of love and meeting of children before ending less spectacularly, plus one other semi-serious relationship and a bit of getting around, with an extended dry spell over the past year. She, on the other hand, essentially didn't date for 33 of the past 36 months, only to find a bunch of dudes either intimidated by her (she's a successful lawyer/public speaker with a high 4-digit Twitter following) or expecting her to subsume her career to their needs.

So we've reconnected and been on a few dates. I was hesitant to move forward as honestly she's projecting way-too-serious vibes way too early, but decided to go ahead because she's objectively pretty great and I should let her be an adult and risk heartache as her own person.

Last night she came over and proverbial deals were sealed. It was wonderful, but in the course of pillow talk she semi-obliquely dropped the L-word twice.

Mineshaft, we've been on three or four dates since reconnecting (depending on how you count the first meeting, where I was uncertain if the meeting was romantic). I like her, I think she's amazing, I see potential for long-term, but I am in no way ready to say that I love her.

I am willing to be exclusive. We're both extremely busy professionals with demanding careers and adolescent children on slightly off-kilter parenting schedules. But I feel like she is rushing to be where we were three years ago, before the conflict that ended our relationship the last time--she hints that she has "plans" she won't reveal to me in order to "win the war." I just want to keep things low key to see if we can grow together and see if we can find our way past the minefields that ended things last time.

I'm not scared of commitment, but I feel like she's spent the last three years thinking of me as the one who got away. While I happen to think I am awesome, there are plenty of women to testify I'm not that great. I don't know if I should let things continue on the theory that it will only hurt her more when we break up later--but my only objective reason for beaking things off is she likes me too much too soon. Which seems like a weird reason to break up, since I do like her a lot and do see long term potential.

Gut says break it off. Head says let it ride and see what happens, since she's an adult and capable of judging risk. What sayeth The Mineshaft?


Heebie's take: Oh JFK, my dear. Stop trying to work everything out on her behalf. Here's what you need to do:

1. Work out your boundaries super clearly with yourself. You said above that you're okay with being exclusive. What's the line that feels true to yourself - no moving in together until your girls are out of high school? Seeing each other at least 2-3 nights a week but not 5 nights a week? Stake out what's important to you, in order to keep your life feeling whole and balanced and stable, and what you're flexible on.

Is it important to you to have emotional parity - ie, if she loves you but you feel awkward not yet reciprocating - or logistical parity - ie both of you have matching expectations of time spent together per week, and of how long people date before moving in together? Or both?

Also, is the issue from three years ago resolved in a way that meets your needs?

2. Have a conversation where you:
a. ask questions and find out what she's thinking. Is she trying to pick up where you left off? She may just sincerely love you and be euphoric that it's working out, and not have expectations about moving the relationship to a different stage. Or she may feel internal pressure to find someone to live with and marry as soon as possible, and would not be happy if that's not compatible with what you want. What is she looking for?
b. communicate clearly your boundaries - what you're okay with and what you're not okay with.

3. Then take a few days to figure out if there's common ground that you're both okay with.
a. If it is not in the cards, cry, cry, masturbate, cry.
b. If it does seem like it will work out, hooray! Explicitly plan on revisiting this conversation in 6 months or so, as a maintenance check-in and to see if both of you are still in the same headspace.


 

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Guest Post - Apocalypse?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.30.19

Mossy Character writes:

Their sole reason, according to a new report: profit. [...] almost every major pharmaceutical company in the world has given up on research into new antibiotics.
I expect the story is more complicated. Enlighten me, reprobates.

Heebie's take: I mean, this is consistent with all my preconceived beliefs about pharmaceutical companies. It's no more businessy than the kind of decisions any other corporation makes, it just seems callous because human lives are not valued. Having a profit motive is just at odds with the vast majority of health care, because the stakes are too high. The solution has to come from the public sector.


 

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