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A reminder

I'm distracted at present (sorting out the final edits to "The Delirium Brief", finishing the first draft of "Ghost Engine"), but I can't help thinking that it's about time we all re-read Umberto Eco's magisterial essay on Ur-Fascism, published in the New York Review of Books in 1995.

... The fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game does not change. The notion of fascism is not unlike Wittgenstein's notion of a game. A game can be either competitive or not, it can require some special skill or none, it can or cannot involve money. Games are different activities that display only some "family resemblance," as Wittgenstein put it. ... Fascism became an all-purpose term because one can eliminate from a fascist regime one or more features, and it will still be recognizable as fascist. But in spite of this fuzziness, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

It's a long-ish essay, but absolutely essential reading. Remember, Eco wasn't just speculating—he grew up under a fascist dictatorship. And if you look around the world today and can't see the relevance of this essay, I suggest that you look again. Not just Trump: look at the BJP in India, the recent coup attempt in Montenegro, the rise of Marine Le Pen in France, Vladimir Putin's Kremlin, and so on.

PS: See also Dr Lawrence Britt on the common core features of fascism.

Update: I am seeing a number of commenters qualify their denunciations of fascism by taking ritual strokes on the dead horse of communism (or "extreme leftism") at the same time. Stop it. We do not currently have a systemic problem with a communist international seizing the reins on power in numberous developed nations; you appear to be twitchily recapitulating the doctrine of false equivalence that the news media in the US have fed you, and it's a distraction and a snare.



We're on the wrong economy. I can't tell if fascism is a symptom of the overclass wanting to avoid loss of authority and status, or the petty bourgeois having a collective anxiety attack because they have no idea what the new economy is going to be, but I see it as an authoritarian response to the certainty of change. (A fairly specific response, built around not wanting the change and not wanting any risk to established social standing.) (And it is nigh-certainly both.)

Thing is, fighting fascism is pointless; it's got a great internal narrative about overt conflict. It isn't discredited among its advocates and followers by losing major wars. It's operating on a very deep level of insecurity and facts don't come in contact with that level of insecurity in any practical way. (Look at climate change denial. It's not about facts, it's about self-image.)

What is observed to work is the existing structures of social authority pursuing legitimacy through a deliberate, society-wide, large effort to define and move to the next economy. (This is what FDR got right, and why the authoritarian right has never forgiven him. They wanted the excuse for a forcible stasis. The next economy is what both Carter and Gore wanted, in varying degrees, and why the law-and-order right didn't mind the amount of cheating involved in making sure they didn't get to do it.) So if you want to be effectively anti-fascist, you can't just oppose fascists; that never works, because it energizes the fascists and exhausts you. There has to be an economic movement to something new, and it has to succeed -- people have to perceive their economic condition to be improving -- while increasing facultative human rights.

This would be pretty easy right now. (There's the pieces of that new economy available; there's the pressing need, and a narrative.) It's (I think) best to see fascism as an attempt to not get that economy because it would disadvantage a chunk of the existing overclass. Which is why you don't see very many young and technocratic politicians getting a hearing.


If you're right, then it's going to have to be a bottom-up, ad-hoc push against fascism, because as they seize the established levers of power from the top down they're going to try and block change. (The Elon Musk as revolutionary model of things -- it's not sufficient to say "fossil carbon emissions are going to destabilize agriculture", it's necessary to provide a whole rival vertically integrated power ecosystem that is manifestly cheaper/better than fossil fuels. As Musk seems to be intent upon.)

But that leaves aside social progressivism. Fascists tend to be racist and misogynistic, and while they may be lousy at suppressing a technologically-determined economic state change, they know how to beat down on minorities.


I think that bottom-up push is required, yes.

(The problem with Musk's model is you need a few hundred million as the minimum ante, plus a bunch of actually-difficult skills; the combination in individuals is rare. Getting some pension funds interested in taking a long shot with 20% of the capital, on the other hand...)

Social progressivism is (I think) looking at the problem from the wrong way round. The natural state of an urban commercial civilization is to figure out how to get along with everybody and to not fuss very much about social norms outside of those required for reliable payments and thus trade.

Social progress seems so hard because authoritarians hate it; the basic tool of demonstrating your authority is to invoke the fundamental primate status indicator of "I can hit who I want"[0]. Actual "I can hit who I want" would devolve into the hypothetical of an A380 load of chimps, so that won't work; it has to be ritualized, it has to have rules, but it still works to make people feel like they're not helpless[1].

The flip side, of course, is that authoritarian social organizations are small; civil ones are much larger, and get larger economies. The big economy versus purity and honour conflict goes to the big economy. So the authoritarians have to figure out how to get the civil economy to agree the authoritarians are in charge, and that's nearly always through fear.

(There's a sense in which fascism is inevitable once you get a commercial advertising mechanism turning everyone's fears up to eleven.)

I have no social skills at all so "the solution to fear is collective work" isn't something I know how to sell. I can try to figure out who is selling that and support them, though. Pretty sure there's someone like that just about everywhere, and the problem is finding them.

[0] also "I can fuck who I want"; an authoritarianism that doesn't control who you have sex with isn't legitimate on its own terms, which is why they're so focused on the subject.

[1] everybody is helpless. People are very small and can't do a lot of things. That's not the same thing as being hapless, and I think a desire to confuse those things or a world view unaware of the distinction is one of the major signs of social trouble.



Thanks for this bone to chew over!

To me the defining feature of Fascism -- at least the Italian version -- is the mixture or intermingling of business and single-party politics.

Anything else is optionally extra. Business meets politics is just the UK Tory party. Single-party politics without business usually has a more marxist feel.

(At least that's what I was taught in an English public school forty years ago.)


I can recommend taking a look at David Neiwert's writings as well, especially Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis. Unlike Eco's or Britt's more typological description, Neiwert works from Griffin's definition of fascism as "palingenetic ultranationalist populism".

The one "good" thing about Trump is that while I certainly view him as a fascist, he created a fascist campaign instead of a fascist movement. On the other hand, a lot of the various fascist movements and groups in the USA have hitched their wagon to his horses.

But the most important thing about fascism is that one shouldn't be obsesses about the (semi)-uniformed people in jackboots. Usually, they're clowns. It's the well-dressed people preaching unity against the outsiders that carry the real danger.


And ... usually the Fascists are, actually outsiders.
Not part of the traditional "ruling class" or grouping, & often regarded by the "Traditional" leaders with much suspicion.
Musso certainly fitted that model, as did Adolf - in fact the traditional right, even some of the ultra-right in 1933, thought they could & should put controls & guards on Herr Hitler - & thought they had - but he outmanoeuvred them, helped by a convenient fire, of course ....

K-J @ 5.
Be even more scared of Pence, then, because he really is a religious fascist & he will/could easily have many thousands of "SA" at his beck & call, good christians, all of them.


Does it matter whether it's single-party or not if all relevant parties collude sufficiently with the same businesses? Because that's what's been happening in the UK since, oh, at least 1997.


The Eco piece is one of two articles I recommend over and repetitiously over again. (The other is much better than its title 'Why Oppressed People Suck'.)

I first encountered it with the subtitle "Fourteen ways of looking at a Blackshirt".


I apologise for the rant coming to our host. Please delete is way off topic.

I am angry. Angry at the authoritarian right. Angry at the terrible press. But I am also angry at the guerrilla warfare against the very core of democracy fought by both extreme right and left, and the help they get from highly intelligent, progressive people like our host.

Democracy, like currency is a shared illusion. It exists, works, is possible because we collectively believe it is legitimate. But democracy is a system to take decisions, and decisions are constrained in all sorts of ways which limit the “will of the people”. This means you cannot, in principle, change brutally after an election the economic system -- this means you can get communisms, sure, but that implies abolishing democracy first, and hope it comes back after a transition. You cannot get “expedient” solutions in general without abolishing democracy.

Now for some arithmetic. There are about 25% of racists, with a gradient. Post-war, the unspoken consensus was to ignore them. There are about 30% "social-democrats", 15% "Tories", 20% centrists and about 10% “extreme”-left. This varies a bit with time, but it is about where we stand. Note that the tories, racists and some centrists form an easy majority, and so do social-democrats and centrists. That is your beige dictatorship. It's perfectly fine, and bends slowly towards justice because the left has a bit more weight.

But this is not the only majority possible: Tories, racists and the extreme-left can -- and did during brexit -- form an unholy alliance. Of course the idiots railing against neoliberal Europe got taken for a ride, and now, in minority power you get an alliance where the plurality is racists. That is how you break the beige, and democracy with it.

This is what has been going on for the last 30 years: social-democrats cannot get the centre and their left at once, so try to go to the centre (you get Blair). The right cannot get the centre then, so goes right to the racists (you get May). When the left goes left (hello, Corbyn), they open the centre, and the right wins (You get Cameron). If you wait long enough, the whole process moves slowly left.

Unless you want to break the process. Well, it's broken, now.

Why am I angry? because in this whole system the one group working against its objectives is the supposedly most progressive one. They are the people who won't vote for Clinton, abstain or vote against the EU, select Corbyn. They are the people who rail against democracy (“a fool's game with no real choice”), whereas the whole setup is designed to make them win in the long run and keep the racists in check.

Democracy is not quite broken yet. But I can guarantee from the noises I hear from the Bernie camp in the US, and from the Corbynistas, and the Mélanchonists in France, and the Grillists in Italy, and the podemists in Spain -- you get the picture -- that we are not getting a left-wing government in the next 30 years. How that is a good strategy is beyond me, and I am glad I have more than one passport. But keep telling them there is no democracy, and it will stay broken.

For my part, No-one on the Internet, I tell you this: there is real choice between left and right. It truly matters whether Labour, or the Democrats, or the Parti Socialiste, or the Sozial-Demokratisch Partei wins vs the Tories, the Republicans, the Christian democrats. But stray too far from the centre and pray you don't win.


You've made really interesting points, both on this post and your post above. One of the things that completely boggles me about our society is the way we relate to oil and gas. It seems to me that one of the very, very best things the U.S. can do is go all-electric, particularly with solar and wind, because this will mean that the U.S. can stop worrying about the Muddled East and have a completely different relationship with the other oil-producing nations, such as Russia or some of the African dictatorships.*

Then we can bankrupt our enemies by selling our electrical power stack to the rest of the world. (Evil laugh!)

The problem here is the power of oil economies, like Russia, or Shell, to support a total poltroon like Trump in order to ensure that he's elected and things go their way.

My fantasy about the oil companies is that we let them keep making money into the next paradigm by standardizing on a several different sizes of electric batteries (cars, big cars, trucks, semis/lorries, etc.) and letting the current gas companies build and sell them out of the current gas/petrol stations. Running low on charge? Pull into a petrol station and give them a few bucks. They'll pull your old battery, put in a new one with a full charge, and you're on you're way. Batteries live in an easy-access compartment and they only take a minute or two to change. Have a soda while you're waiting.

In the real world I did my part by buying a Prius. I'd have gone all-electric but I drive beyond electric range several times a month.

* Similarly I wonder why Iran wanted to build "standard" nuclear reactors when a similar level of investment would probably have given them the chance to perfect a thorium or pebble-bed reactor and sell the living heck out of it!


Yes, because there is still some sort of competition & different people/businesses/grouping fall in & out of fashion.
With a fascist corporate-state there is one grouping & that's it ...
[ I think ]


There are about 25% of racists
Make that about 5%, actually - but, they are very loud, very noticeable & certainly unpleasant.
And Ms May ain't no racist - unlike the madwoman from Grantham.
Stop punching shadows & look at the real enemy - who does exist - people like Farage, f'rinstance....
Or Corbyn & his Marxist followers ... whose antics are, in fact much more likely to dump us with real fascists in charge, yuck. [ Reminder: I have a really good, female Labour MP - Corbyn's nutters are trying to unseat her ]


I think the percentage of racists depends on where you are. In the city you'll absolutely have less racists regardless of where you are. In the U.S. you'll definitely have a lot more racists everywhere.

And maybe it's useful to distinguish between really hateful people and resentful people without a job who drank the Kool-Aid when told that Blacks were taking White jobs.


Oh, You wish they were only 5 percent. Except polls, in the UK and in the US, and the percentage of parties which are in essence only xenophobic in proportional systems tells us I may even be a bit optimistic.

Farage is the real enemy, I am not saying anything else. I am only saying he can only win with the help of the weird nexus of the extreme left, the conspirationists and the libertarians. The system was more fragile than previously understood because too many people refuse(d) to see that there is a large racist constituency (very authoritarian-xenophobic-conservative to be precise). Which is what happened.

And I note from the rest of your comment that we are in complete agreement. We just don't agree on the make-up of the electorate. I think you are an optimist.


It seems to me that one of the very, very best things the U.S. can do is go all-electric

In a general economic-numbers sort of way, yes. (In a long term survival likelihood way, hell yes.)

But the US is the Oil Empire; everything since the 1920s has been about control of the global oil trade, and that control is the foundation of American power. Fossil carbon is also what about 50% of the economy sits on.

A capable political coalition could set out to decarbonize agriculture, establish sufficiently broad renewable sourcing, and then move the rest of the economy while replacing the existing housing stock somewhat further uphill.[1] They'd have to hang or impoverish a big chunk of the existing power structure, though, because that group is not wrong to equate control of oil and power and is not going to give up power for anything. (We've seen them in Exxon's business decisions consciously decide to prefer human extinction to giving up any power.)

[1] if I'd been Obama, I'd have sent the Geologic Survey out to put in marker stakes for mean high tide level after 7m, 9m, and 35m of sea level rise from Galveston to Maine. There's probably a good minds-lock-with-denial reason to not do this, but still. It's the future we've got, and it won't get easier to deal with for waffling about it.


Regardless of the precise percentages, there's a spectrum. At one end, you have people who actively murder immigrants or black people, and those are relatively rare. This trickles down to passive supporters of overt racism, then those who aren't willing to call themselves that explicitly but are otherwise identical, then those who just need a thin disguise over explicit racism to accept it.

On the other side, you have people who insist that racism is over as long as nobody makes race an issue (which in practice means people with valid complaints should shut up), people who think overt racism is merely rude and not actually harmful, people who aren't willing to lift a finger to stop racism, and a bare handful willing to do anything about it.

You can see the problem here: as long as racists don't explicitly say that they're racist, only a few people will call them on it. If they're smart enough to have some semblance of a pretext for racist policies, they can probably push them through.


Y'all might benefit from clearly distinguishing racists -- "oh they're all like that", a general bug with the wetware we all struggle with -- and supremacists -- "I am better than them because heredity" -- when thinking about this subject.

There are a whole lot of quiet supremacists who wouldn't articulate their motivations in terms of anything recognizable as a racial or origin category, but they're still complete and unflinching supremacists.


Indeed. But I think that even you need to disconnect yourself from where you are and try to view things as if you were a Martian. Eco is right that fascism is a multi-dimensional continuum, NOT a simple category, still less the propaganda term which is its most common meaning. But let's take Britt's list.

The USA scores a definite match on 10 points, a partial match on 3 more and a weak match on 1. The UK still does a bit better, but it's more a matter of degree than kind; there are only two where we score a definite mismatch. I can't think of any period of history (at least since 1066) when we would have scored much better, except the period 1945-1979 and (to a lesser extent) 1918-1939. And, to set the record straight, the Nasty Party of 1945-1979 was Labour and its faults caused the end of that (politically) golden age.


Dear Philippa,

Precisely because we have FPTP here in England, we have had plural similar parties since at least the 1620s.

But there is still plurality, and that's probably more important than the precise theology they espouse.


We'd do even better by concentrating on something else other than racism.

In 2016 we've had the Brexit and Trump campaigns on both sides of the Atlantic. On both sides, the dominant campaign tactic for progressives - not the only tactic, but the first and most common - was to call opponents "racist". As the campaigns went on, this became SHOUTING "RACIST!" EVEN LOUDER.

How'd that work out?

Note that I'm not saying there aren't any racists, or that they didn't support Brexit/Trump. I'm saying that in a democracy you have to persuade people to vote for you, and this emphasis on racism doesn't.

Calling someone a racist might make them change their mind. The evidence we have from Brexit and Trump is that it's much more likely to generate a "f**k you!" vote against instead. And it also fails to motivate your own side: look how many protestors against Brexit/Trump on both sides of the Atlantic turned out not to have voted.


Interesting observations, and they raise some interesting questions.

What, for example, is the new economy?

The neoliberal consensus is in all but name a secular shift from production to rent-seeking: neofeudalism, if you will, and the reactionary forces we associate with authoritarian politics today are very, very keen on it.

But what of disruptive innovation and the information economy? Ask Peter Thiel, or the workers in an Amazon distribution centre.

What of the cooperative economy and open-source? Ask anyone who isn't the archetypal 'Chad and Brad' brogrammer about the meritocracy and openness of their culture.

What of the Dark Side of automation in a politically-backward country with no social security system and no concept of a Basic Income? Note this question has a working analogy in the practice of exporting jobs to countries with no labour rights or environmental legislation: the immediate effect is identical to automation - the wages, and the opportunity to add economic value, are no longer available in the local economy.

Or, indeed, of the nation that implements a 'basic outcome' of coerced labour and increasing malnutrition, wherein a comprehensive social security system becomes a channel for diverting money from the middle classes into rents and for-profit services that enrich a non-taxpaying overclass while doing nothing, or less, to mitigate the effects of poverty, let alone of automation and an unequally-distributed information revolution.

I could go on: your point about a new economy is valid and vital, but the only coherent vision of it, with a competent faction behind it, is the neoliberal consensus.

Which is to say: the study of politics, and of fascism in particular, begins with identifying the centres of power. And I cannot see another power centre - or a massively-decentralised social movement that mobilises power of its own - that offers any kind of economy at all. It sure as hell ain't Facebook, and I doubt that it's emerging from the internet that brought us 4-Chan, hate campaigns on Twitter, and the dominant brogrammer culture of the Bay Area.


Similarly I wonder why Iran wanted to build "standard" nuclear reactors when a similar level of investment would probably have given them the chance to perfect a thorium or pebble-bed reactor and sell the living heck out of it!

Same reason that Kurchatov's first A-bomb was a straight rip-off of Fat Man, even though he knew how to build a better, smaller, more efficient nuke: because it definitely worked.

Nobody has built a production-scale PBMR and run it for thirty years or longer, long enough to work out what the long-term failure modes are (things like neutron embrittlement of fuel elements/moderators/gas channels don't show up until you've been running a full scale reactor for multiple years). Iran has a lower per-capita GDP than most western nations, so the cost is proportionately higher. Unlike, say, the UK or Canada, Iran doesn't have the spare money to foot the bill for an experimental civil nuclear reactor program as well as a tried-and-trusted one (Canada went with CANU and the UK with first Magnox then AGR as their experimental alternatives to BWR/PWR technology). If you were running Iran, would you want to gamble a sizeable proportion of your GDP on an untried technology, or just opt for something that is less sexy but known to work? Your call.


Possible ray of hope: Exxon-Mobil flipped to supporting the Paris Climate Agreement. Yes, Exxon now support decarbonization, and said this after the Trump election. (Presumably they're trying to pivot their business model to take advantage of the way they see things going, and they now see climate change as an actual rather than theoretical existential threat to their ability to continue business as usual.)

If Exxon can make this cognitive flip, then the Republican hierarchy will follow within a handful of years if they want to keep the lobbying money flowing.


There is one jarring omission:

Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

What corporation benefits from rolling back Obamacare or privatising the NHS? Remember, the Big Four motor manufacturers were fatally weakened by tbeir social care costs, before the financial crisis brought them down; and I look forward to hearing about the corporate interests that benefit from a giant Wall replacing Nafta, or from Britain's disorderly exit from the European Union.

There must be some corporate interests that benefit - big oil, medical insurance, prison labour, investment banks (but not pensuon funds and retail banks), moron farmers in the mass media - but it isn't all corporate interests and I doubt that at it's anything like a majority.

I note that the serious money in election funding all stayed home in the primaries and, as far as we can tell, in the Presidential election.

The banks in London were horrified to discover that there was no channel of influence in Brexit: there was not and is not any coherent, effective, or even sane political figure or faction to offer money to, pre- and post-referendum; still less in the masochistically-destructive and delusional polity that is emerging in the Brexit era.

Money didn't talk: or rather, all the talking was from bit-part players and it feels like the headlining cast and the director missed the movie.

So this component of classical fascism is missing, or no longer relevant: perhaps the classic corporation, deploying capital into productive activity and creating value, is no longer an important political force in an economy dominated by rent-seeking.

The other factors in that list?

Yes, they are definitely in play. All of them.

And nobody imagined, back in the day, just how powerful a force for fascism there might be in the modern surveillance economy. I fear that we are nowhere near understanding it, even now.


The other is much better than its title 'Why Oppressed People Suck'.)

Thank you... I assume this is the essay you're talking about? Oppressed People Suck.


I know damn well what British and English plurality looks like.

Every single party that's had a serious crack at politics in the last 20 years has been happy to put me and mine in situations likely to kill us. But, y'know, they'll outsource the decisions so that's okay, right?


Dave, yellow card for being a patronizing wanker.

(Hint: you just mansplained the UK's electoral system to a Brit.)


My suspicion is that the Iranians naively assumed that they had the same rights under the various nuclear non-proliferation regimes as everyone else, and imagined that they would be allowed to create their own fuel for the slightly-odd reactor they own, (which IIRC runs on 20 percent-enriched uranium.)

In hindsight it's bloody obvious that they should have gone the experimental route, but had I been in charge at the time I'm not sure which way I'd have called it.


I second the recommendation to read David Neiwert's piece on right-wing extremism. He was working as a reporter when extremists moved into the area. He thought the best thing to do was to ignore the extremists, to not give them any free publicity. Then they started killing people.

This relates to the argument that we shouldn't call out racism because it's not a sure-fire tactic for winning elections. So? There are no sure-fire tactics for winning elections, except for "get more votes". Of course, racists hate being called on their racism. We are long past the days when mainstream political leaders could be openly racist. But if we don't call them on it, those days could come again. Silence just gives them a free pass. Already, whether or not the current PM and the President-Elect are racists themselves, they are beholden to racists and committed to racist policies.


If defeating fascism depends on a celebrity CEO grifter like Musk - who doesn't pay his engineers so they go and sue him - to redesign the world economy, WWIII is already a historical occurrence and we're just waiting for the calendars to catch up.


As I understand it, one of the defining factors in fascism is an unholy alliance between major corporations and an authoritarian government. (IMHO the difference between this and far-left socialism, in which the partners are authoritarian government and unions of which one has to be a member if one wants to eat, is so small as to be invisible, but I digress.)

And therefore one way to reduce the possibility of fascism is to reduce the power of corporations and expose the powerful individuals within them, who actually make the decisions attributed to the corporation, to rather more scrutiny and much more of the consequences of poor decisions.

I also think that this only really applies to major corporations; PLCs in the UK, for example.

Some possibilities:

Make fines for corporate crimes MUCH larger and proportionate to the size of the operation. For example, fines for fraud ought to be so large that the corporation has to sell off major assets to raise the cash.

Make corporate officers personally liable, criminally, for criminal offences committed by a corporation when the decisions made leading to those crimes are within the area of responsibility of the individual. As an example, all the people involved in the Bhopal disaster and the decisions leading to it ought to be in prison for life - at least. And so should Fred Goodwin.

Make lobbying within government buildings illegal. Long stretch in jail if you are caught illegal.

Some attention ought to be given to copyright and patent laws.

There is undoubtedly more. But this is a comment, not an essay.

One last thing: ALL the above ought also to apply to labour unions. They can cause astounding amounts of damage, for often trivial reasons and with very little in the way of consequences for the people making the decisions.


I do wonder why we're so tempted to ascribe the success of Fascism as down to power blocs and political/corporate interests (or insert opposite political view here, see American SF that describes European Communist Authoritarian superstates) because these things are constant, while Fascism appears cyclical.

I can remember the attitude of young Indian men on a visit there in 1995, just after the BJP overtook Congress - the aura was very similar. I've recently been in a debate / discussion / argument with a friend from school on the subjects of Brexit and Trump.[1]

The recurring theme seems to me, to be insecurity. Fascism offers certainty - you know your place in things, even if it's not at the top. The ideologue tells you that you'll be "great again", that you're special, that you're deserving - when the rest of the world doesn't tell you that. We see this "exceptionalism of the in-group" applied to nations by Nationalists, to religions by evangelicals / fundamentalists, to political parties by ideologists. We see the fanaticism of the otherwise-excluded in all of them, the "convert that takes it too far"; and we see the refusal to face facts, the insistence on faith (try telling a Young Earth Creationist that science proves them wrong, a Momentum member that Corbyn is unelectable, an SNP member that their independence white paper was economic fantasy, a Brexiter that immigrants are not a threat).

The Daily Mail gets its readers from somewhere; it was decades ahead of Trump, selling eyeballs to advertisers by telling the readers that they were deserving, that they were special, and that they shouldn't feel guilty about any of their successes. Then pitching fear of / hate for "the other" as a more effective way of defining the "in-group".

So - if the causes are bottom-up as much as top-down, how does a bottom-up solution look? And if we're all vulnerable to "unjustified faith in what we want to believe", how do we know if we're the gullible ones, if we're the ones on the wrong side of history? Is cynicism the answer [2], but does it make the cynics compare badly with the certainty of the faithful, Dunning-Kruger writ large.

[1] The problem with our school was that while it offered a necessarily structured environment for disrupted kids, it was perhaps too structured - we were mildly institutionalised as a result. I look at him, and can't help but wonder whether that's why, even as a thoughtful non-racist kid, he's become quite determined in his support for authoritarian candidates (and quite so gullible in his selection of news sources and fellow-travellers).

[2] "A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist".


A N other reminder ... the allotments where I have a plot have approx 70 "holders".
all skin colours & a real mix of names. And a real mix of backgrounds too ....
So, given that none of them are racists ... [ Because, if they were, they wouldn't be there ... ]
I don't know where you are speaking from, so if you are in (say) S Carolina, USSA, you might be correct, just not here (NE London) OK?


One of the interesting things done in the UK was the insistence that corporate tax returns be filed in electronic form; specifically, XBRL

Apparently, this caused a certain amount of upset in the corporate world, because it's now a lot easier to track exactly how much a CEO earns, what bonuses they get, how much tax is actually across multiple groups and accounts from the same corporation - you don't have to trawl through multiple glossy annual reports, each of which describes things in a slightly-different and arguable confusing way.

Transparency is a wonderful thing...


Dear Charlie and Philippa,

Apologies for any offence. I'm probably just a bit anxious about appearing in front of the MEPs for STOA tomorrow in Brussels.


We are long past the days when mainstream political leaders could be openly racist.
Unless you are "goatfucker" Erdogan, I presume?
Or Donaldo Trumpolini?



Three comments so far:

-One is that we're always fighting the last war, because that's what we have data on. In the present situation, that might be a bad mistake. That's not to say we don't have a problem, but it is to say that their theorists read things like Eco's essay too. Don't assume they'll follow the same playbook, and be ready for surprises. After all, why follow the tactics of losers if you want to win?

-A second issue is one brought up by Graydon above, that the US is the Oil Kingdom, and we're going to go down screaming with it. Well, yes and no. My grandfather, born in 1904, didn't have a nervous breakdown between taking care of his father's carthorse and buying a car. Massive progress can happen without civilization dying. This does not mean that there aren't people out there for whom the end of oil is the moral equivalent of extinction. However, they're the ones (like certain CEOs) who stand the highest chance of ending up in prison if that happens, and they're recruiting minions and using FUD to make sure that doesn't happen during their lifetimes. The US may or may not cease to be the #1 power in a post-oil Earth, but America doesn't have to die for the world to get off oil, or even for the US to get off fossil fuels.

--A third issue from Eco's essay is that there's this aging libel that all pagans are Nazis because Nazis used pagan symbolism (just as all environmentalists are Nazis because Nazis favored conservation of German plants). Ignoring, for a second, that a bunch of runemeisters died in the concentration camps next to the Jews, the gypsies, and the gay men, this just ain't true, any more than the idea that all atheists are Stalinists is, or that all American evangelists are Trumpers.


Well, yes. Now, back in the real world ....

The point of my #18 is that we are already stuck deep in the fascist mire, even if in a relatively mild form of it, and one of the characteristics of fascist governments is that they make any attempts at political change illegal as soon as they look as if they might have a chance. That's already been done in the UK, and I don't see it being reversed, so I don't see how we can get to there from here.


The recurring theme seems to me, to be insecurity. Fascism offers certainty - you know your place in things, even if it's not at the top.
Which goes a LONG way to explaining the almost-always consistent cosying-up together of fascist parties & the RC church, doesn't it?


The corporate power that is preserved is political. If you just want to maximize economic power across the entire corporate sector, all you have to do is set up free markets, invest in stocks, and let the best companies win. If you want to pick winners, that's different. Especially if you want to pick yourself.


"Fascism offers certainty - you know your place in things, even if it's not at the top."

I am reminded of Lord Vetinari's argument that the key to politics is to understand that what most people really want is for tomorrow to be very much like today.


The Republican Party have, AIUI, a more mature element that remember the 1970s oil shock, and OPEC behaviour, all too well - and who would deeply love practical fusion power, if only so as to tell OPEC members to go drink their oil and eat sand...


Yep, all set. Hotel near Gare Central booked, but no indication of the [bleep, bleep, deleted] Eurostar tickets. Damn, am I going to need some luck.

Still to return to topic -- and after a day annoying them on the guardian website -- tomorrow's motto in Brussels is: "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast!" (It's a damned shame I hadn't spotted the Red Dwarf T-shirts before.)


And the evidence for htem having an effect on republican policy is? I mean it's nice to dream, but all I've seen so far is drill and burn ideas within the party. What the capitalists do is something else again, but tea partiers don't care about climate change.
(meanwhile, David Rose lies about climate change in the daily mail, and there's nothing we can do about it)


"On both sides, the dominant campaign tactic for progressives... was to call opponents "racist"... How'd that work out?"

I think 9/14, 16, 17 are relevant here. I suspect that because for such a long time now it has been very rare to observe anyone, apart from a few obviously ivory-skulled thugs and yobboes, speaking or acting in an identifiably racist manner in public, and because if they do so act the disapproval and shame they attract so greatly outweighs any more positive reaction, people have by and large come to assume that the low incidence of public racism genuinely reflects a low incidence of racist views held privately or held without sufficient self-awareness for the holder to identify them as such, and to believe that calling out a racist is a reliable way to be cheered for winning the argument while the opponent crashes and burns.

But when a racist option turns up on the ballot, the whole idea of a secret ballot - that it makes it possible to publically profess one set of views while privately supporting and voting for a different set, without being found out - turns round and bites the nation in the arse. Suddenly we find out that there are a whole lot more actual racists around than we had any idea of, able to express their views without consequence through the ballot. Calling them out doesn't work because the accusation can only target an anonymous mass of voters and not identifiable individuals; the self-aware racists don't care, and the non-self-aware racists don't even realise it applies to them.

So much human behaviour is centred around projecting to those around an image of oneself which is at variance with reality that this really shouldn't be a surprise, but it still feels like one.


Yes. But the problem is that while that's fine in terms of Vetinari's pure autocracy, it doesn't work in situations where there exist competing factions trying to change things in order to justify their existence.

Has to be said, though, that if it was possible to have Vetinari as Patrician of the UK I'd be all for it.


It seems to me that one of the very, very best things the U.S. can do is go all-electric, particularly with solar and wind, because this will mean that the U.S. can stop worrying about the Muddled East and have a completely different relationship with the other oil-producing nations, such as Russia or some of the African dictatorships.
It can even be reasonably argued that drastically reducing US usage of global energy commodities (mainly oil, fungible) as a percentage of the economy is the conservative course of action, in the sense of reducing the sensitivity of the US economy to oil (etc) global price shocks usually due to supply interruptions.
This logic generalizes to other countries too. Oil price history over the last several decades should be a horror to real conservatives.


"It seems to me that one of the very, very best things the U.S. can do is go all-electric, particularly with solar and wind, because this will mean that the U.S. can stop worrying about the Muddled East and have a completely different relationship with the other oil-producing nations"

Not just the US. I have long thought that about oil use in general. When you have a large and puissant power bloc which nevertheless has the vulnerability of being critically dependent on some resource which fundamentally isn't theirs, it's not reasonable to expect the political consequences to be even vaguely desirable.

The other point in support is the very simple one that the supply is finite, and while it may be debatable how long it will take, nobody credibly argues that it will be all that long before the exhaustion of resources starts to make itself felt. The response to this undeniable projection, though, has been the collective burying of heads in sand; this has worked OK so far because of the usual contemptible economic nonsense effectively decoupling the price of oil from the difficulty of getting the stuff out of the ground, but that barrier to reality will be levelled once the difficulty becomes severe enough. And when this happens it will add a whole new dimension to the happy fun times alluded to in the previous paragraph, with oil companies sharking on the money becoming essentially an independent third player rather than simply a component of the aforesaid puissant but vulnerable power bloc.

What boggles me is that the above points have been so widely and effectively ignored when they have been so very very bleeding obvious for such a very very long time - much longer than we have been using oil; cf. Britain running out of timber to build ships so the all-important navy was dependent on imported wood. (Or, on a personal but surely universal level, from early childhood. "All gone!") For my part, they have been the cause of disappointment in the lack of development of non-fossil energy sources for as long as I can remember, well before anyone started whacking on about the climate (and the prevailing climate worry was that we were about to have another ice age). And it really boggles me that something so abstract, controversial, and dependent on trust in political and official institutions, as the assertion that observed climate alterations are due to human activity, should have apparently succeeded in influencing people's thoughts where things that are obvious to the pigeon in the street before they stop squeaking somehow failed. Humans are just fucking weird.

"standardizing on a several different sizes of electric batteries... Running low on charge? Pull into a petrol station and give them a few bucks."

I think that will have to happen if electric cars are ever to become popular. At the moment they are bought by people whose specific use case, contemporaneous ownership of conventional vehicles, general affluence, or personal enthusiasm, allow them to overlook the limited range, the enforced long wait when the range is exhausted, and the risk of being stung for several grand at some unpredictable future moment when the battery packs up. At the same time, those concerns are cited by common-or-garden car buyers as reasons to avoid electric cars. The third is a particularly significant discouragement to those majority who typically buy their cars second-hand - and a dependable prospect of second-hand buyers' desire for the car is an essential factor in the decision of non-enthusiasts to buy it new.

All three concerns are addressed by exchanging batteries instead of recharging them (and there is still nothing to stop you topping them up yourself as well). After all, there is precedent: when a propane-powered forklift runs out of fuel, you don't refill it, you just unstrap the empty gas bottle and exchange it for a full one from the gas bottle people.


Great analysis,

I would like to add a caveat. I doubt FDR really knew what he was doing. Don't get wrong, he had Keynes as a template. However, there are practical issues in implementing an economic theory. Would you recommend me an analysis of how the economy of 1945-1979 differed from Keynes theory. I realize they were broadly similar, but they likely had differences.

That's the problem. We don't grasp the new economy. For instance, we understand the necessity of basic income. However, there are a few things

1. Several LBJ's Great Society programs resembled a basic income in their first decade. However, they were slowly changed into the form we have now? How did that change happen,and how can it be prevented from happening in the future?

2. How would a free trade agreement between country with basic income and one without basic income look like? Not all countries had a communist revolution at the same time. Communism still hasn't oollapsed in all countries as of now.

If you don't answer these questions, you are ceding this ground to the fascists (especially if you don't address the role of how basic income societies handle immigration).

I have a few more issues where I think basic income is not really well thought out, but I don't want to derail this conversation.


Sorry, I meant to say that if you don't address the complexities of basic income, you cede the ground to the fascists. For instance, I can see Trump running for re-election on "We can't implement basic income unless we deport all Mexicans". How would you fight that?


What, for example, is the new economy?

Most essentially, one that does not have fossil carbon inputs.

More particularly, what I'd like is one where there are absolute income and asset caps on individuals (in terms of real median income); a recognition that the capital requirements of really long supply chains aren't sustainable (there's no useful feedback so such an economy throws itself off a cliff), so there's a tradeoff between comparative advantage and financial stability; where there's a recognition that profit, while necessary and a useful metric, is not a legitimate end, so that the economy can make a structural shift to a metric that measures value (as generally appreciating over the population); one where the generally realizable scope of choice in the future increases; one where there's an obligation to reduce neither disparity or diversity of the ecosystem; one where the food supply is heavily diversified because it's going to need to be.


The reason we're getting this round of fascism is very very simple.

A post-industrial economy has strong selection pressure for being something other than patriarchal/authoritarian supremacist forms of organization. (Because it's got drivers for advancement that are about co-operating in large groups with whoever can get their brain to do that.) If the cultural shift actually takes place, a whole lot of people, mostly men, become completely useless and have to contemplate at least their cultural extinction. They are expressing a strong preference for breaking the economy over their cultural extinction.

That's all there is to it; really bad insecurity management.

So the alternative to yelling about racism is a choice between "we need a new economy" -- which means, in practical terms, "I need enough power to run the guillotines round the clock for a year" (whether I do it that way or not, I'd need the power to force the great majority of the currently wealthy to submit) -- and "in the happy diverse future where we don't torture children into social conformity, you, your culture, and your measures of significance are insignificant, extinct, and risible, respectively". This is just precisely why there's such a rejection of reality going on; they don't like it, and they want to keep the social structures inside which they can believe they have significance. (Or inside which they can enforce by violence that they have significance.)


We are trapped in a form of social organization that arose to fight other people with spears, and any time things start getting too complicated for it, the impulse to start killing people until things are simple again -- until the basic primate band status rules suffice -- gets out of hand because for a lot of people that band status is all they've got and they really don't mind killing anybody suitably other to maintain it.

Another thing I think people forget is that CEOs and captains of industry are generally totally incompetent and helpless outside a very narrowly specific environment. They're not any more magically free of selection than anybody else is, and they're generally terrified of being pushed into an unfamiliar environment. This results in a really strong strain of pro-authoritarian-stasis.

So there's from-below -- give me back my small-group social authority and my right to enforce it with violence -- and top-down -- you aren't allowed to change things into structures I do not comprehend -- driving the whole fascist thing.

The bottom-up opposition is easy; encourage people to find value in work they enjoy, make training available, make personal security reliable. (There are still people you do need to get rid of to make that work, but I'm incapable of sympathising very much with anybody who thinks they have an innate right to slaves.)

Top down is very hard; I'm pretty sure the only systemic fix is you have to ban getting rich in some effective way. Which means your economy can't be in contact with economies where getting rich is permitted. I haven't got anything sensible to suggest about how to do that.


The problem with switching off fossil carbon isn't that we don't know how, or that people wouldn't like their electric cars, or that there isn't the possibility of economic growth by adopting the next wave of technology. The problem is that the people who have control now would have to surrender it, and we've seen (Iran-Contra; widespread voting fraud; plutocratic control of Congress and various state governments to forbid investigation of options...) that there's a really strong push to not surrender control. Great wealth isn't enough; it has to come with control or they don't feel safe. (See remarks to Martin about how incompetent most very wealthy people are outside their current narrow niche; also consider that there's very likely something involving cognitive consequences of abusive childhoods going on in some notable cases.)


Re Eco's piece, it could be argued that the democratization of mass communication via the Internet (including yes social media flawed and profit-driven though they be) and an explosion of television media sources is making #13 play out a little differently than expected. In particular, in the US at least, and also in other countries with competitive non-state-controlled media (even if profit-driven),
There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
is not really the case; viewership for mass entertainments (e.g. timewarnercable lineup, typical for Americans) is sparse enough (and often time-shifted) to often make small talk difficult, news sources use novelty to sell advertising space, and "selective populism" is not novel and in fact is a bit boring, or can be spun that way. And the Internet is famously fragmented and not single-voiced.
Contrarians could argue otherwise but might be wrong. :-) Better would be an argument that the "selective populism" just becomes more complex and tailored to subgroups/demographics.


FDR didn't know how to do what he wanted; that's explicit in FDR's own statements at the time. WHAT FDR wanted, on the other hand, he knew perfectly well. I think there's a lesson there, too.

The NDP -- a Canadian political party, ostensibly on the left -- has the bad habit of campaigning for votes it will never get because it wants to be seen as respectable by people who hate it as intolerably socialist. (This hatred has almost nothing to do with reality.) I don't think there's much political value in emulating the NDP in campaigning for votes you will never get.

(Personally, I do not see a basic income as inevitable or necessary; the amount of work involved in moving the coastal cities uphill is very great. We could have a full-employment economy for two generations. And then there are still questions about "collective guaranteed income" or "distributive guaranteed income" to answer.)

Trump's call to deport Mexicans has little to nothing to do with economic uncertainty and has a whole lot to do with a desire for loot and a desire to feel powerful by demanding submission on pain of violence.


"...for a lot of people that [primate] band status is all they've got and they really don't mind killing anybody suitably other to maintain it."

This is the problem... On the one hand, the need to legislate out the monkey. On the other hand, HOW do you legislate out the monkey? We are having this discussion partly because attempts at such legislation to date have turned out to be less effective than we had thought, and have in many cases succeeded only in getting the monkey to shave a bit more.

Best fire up that guillotine... estimating average consumption at somewhere around 100W, the power to run it probably only costs something under 40p a day.


Very well. I'll take your point on FDR.

"Trump's call to deport Mexicans has little to nothing to do with economic uncertainty and has a whole lot to do with a desire for loot and a desire to feel powerful by demanding submission on pain of violence."

That may be Trump's personal viewpoint, and the viewpoint of a (large?) part of his coalition. However, for people in the Great Lake States, immigration is tied with economic uncertainty. Their minds don't separate the two issues. Should that region become enamored with basic income, Trump's best bet would be to maintain the tie between Mexicans and the economic conditions. Otherwise, he's toast.

I'm personally lukewarm on basic income. On the one hand, it is the only game in town to combat the malaise we have as of now. Plus, we'll likely see it tried in a populace > 2 million soon.

On the other hand, its advocates so far present it in situations which don't capture the complexity of the global economy and the compromises necessary to keep the global economy growing. Still, that's not experience an economic theory gets until reality stares its adherents in the face in such a way that they'll lose power if they don't fix problems.


FDR passed Social Security by throwing the minorities under the bus. (Domestic workers and agricultural workers were excluded.) Even now, Social Security collects premiums from undocumented immigrants and provides them with no benefits. No private insurer would be able to get away with that. In other words, social welfare programs have been fundamentally unfair for a long time.

If Trump proposed a basic income, at the cost of deporting "Mexicans" (which presumably includes Guatemalans and Chinese but not Cubans) he could be reminded of the anti-immigrant Prop. 187 which effectively destroyed the Republican Party in California.


Yes, and apologies for my laziness in not posting the link.

That article has been much on my mind lately, as more and more conservative U.S. pundits deliberately confuse the real pain of some D.T.-voting workers with wisdom and immunity to being conned…and act as if a person with a legitmate grievance might not seek redress in a fashion guided more by bigotry than by good sense.


I'm not sure how badly Rust Belt people are doing compared with (say) a former buggy-whip maker in 1925 or a full one-third of society in 1932. It's bad, but how much of it is material want, which could be addressed by a better safety net, and how much of it were loss of status, associated with
0.) Not working a "man's" job,
1.) Not being the sole breadwinner, or a breadwinner at all, with a concomitant reduction in the ability to rule one's roost (home-local high status) ,
2.) Missing the status-sop you might have once got just for being a white man.


I have a feeling we're looking in entirely the wrong direction when we're pointing out our potential fascist dictators - and I get the feeling we're actually ignoring a rather crucial part of the whole "control of the media" thing. The point about control of the news/mass media is this: he who sets the headlines sets the agenda, and if the agenda is set in the right ways, you can implement fascist policies by stealth, gradually boiling your frogs alive.

Now, you don't do this by having just the one news/mass media organ - indeed, that's actually a limiting factor in the current climate. But if you have a single, successful voice in charge of a majority of the players, they can control the entire market in two ways. Firstly, they can control it overtly, by setting the topics for discussion and the ways these can be discussed in their own media organs. Secondly, they can control it by reaction - if Paper X sells huge amounts of advertising space, using tactics such as Page Three girls, regular reader prizes, distributing free copies on public transport and so on to boost distribution figures, and thus takes business away from Paper Y in the same city, Paper Y will usually tend to try and fight fire with fire. Hence the overall "sameness" of the majority of mainstream media - to the point where channel logos need to be a regular part of the TV experience so you know where you've landed in channel surfing during news hour (you won't be able to tell the difference from the content), and where newspapers have their logo on any piece of blank space they haven't otherwise managed to sell off to advertisers (because again, you can't tell one of them from another from the content).

Now, there's one particular corporation which has risen to the point where they control a majority share of the media market in at least two countries, and they're looking very hard at getting their third (and the driving force behind this corporation is a man who delights in the role of political king-maker). Oddly enough, the countries which this corporation is a dominant force in are basically in the process of facing "boiling frog" fascism of their own, or what I'd call "gradual uphill slope" fascism - the sort where you don't know how far you've gone until you turn around and look back, or look off to the side (and discover who your fellow travellers might be).

It's also worth noting: fascism plays on a lot of the same markers of toxic individualism which are starting to really surface hard in overall English-speaking Western Culture after a century of Hollywood storytelling. Things like the belief in every person as their own Hero (in the Romantic sense of the term), which are starting to turn around and bite US culture on the backside (through things like the "lone gunman" mass shooting phenomenon, where people who feel they haven't had a sufficiently heroic life decide to arrange themselves a Heroic Last Stand death) are also markers of the Ur-Fascism as identified by Eco.


You have forgotten, or ignored why the "calling out racist" idea does not work, or is grossly misused.
Firstly, the accusation is always made when the supposed victim isn't pure pink.
I give you Lutfur Rahman of Tower Hamlets, who ran a locally-corrupt semi-religious faction in inner London, until the electoral commission finally took him & his crooked followers down. He got away with it, because he simply repeated the "racist" call at every opportunity.
I incorrectly called islam "Medieval, intolerant, misogynistic & cruel" ( Well, it's a religion so what do you expect? ) - I was wrong in one particular - it isn't medieval, it's Dark Ages - but I'm banned from the Grauniad for being "racist".
We had a plotholder who simply would not cultivate & let the weeds grow, so we followed usual procedure, warned him, then told him to hand the keys back.
His prompt rebuttal was: "You're all racists"
Given that we have all varieties (see previous posts) this was clearly not true ...
Etc. etc, etc ad nauseam as Private Eye would say.

This "culture" allows real actual racism to flourish - the exact opposite of the intended action.
It also allows amazing religious oppression of sub-sets of many minorities in our culture, usually the females, of course, to be pressed down & silenced, because the male religious leaders all bleat "racism".
See innumerable posts from the National Secular Society for examples of this.

Very clever - not.


Yellow card for going wildly off-topic: there is currently no far-left international insurgency to worry about and it looks like you're tugging your forelock at the false-equivalence doctrine promulgated by the US news media. ("Here's some news about global climate change. And, in the interests of fairness, here's a denialist.")

Also? Your statement about states/unions is wildly off-base. (Source: some guys I knew who grew up and worked in East Germany, possibly the most doctrinaire of the Warsaw Pact states.)

I don't know what you've got against trade unions, but you seem positively crankish on the subject. Do shut up about it, please, while we're discussing actually existing fascism.


The recurring theme seems to me, to be insecurity. Fascism offers certainty ...
So - if the causes are bottom-up as much as top-down, how does a bottom-up solution look?

Wild speculation here, but might this account for the sudden and inexplicable popularity of the idea of a Universal Basic Income (an economic/taxation reform idea which was popular in the 60s then more or less dead by '75)?


"... TV or Internet populism ..." Eh? Not really the case? I would challenge Eco only because it wasn't in the future, even in 1995, and is PRECISELY what we have in the UK. It is a perfect description of the claimed support for Brexit.


Well, sort-of. It always was a damn-fool idea, much like true Marxism (withering away of the state and all that) and 'free enterprise' as a solution to hard problems. The reason for its resurgence is that gradual degeneration always causes wishful thinking, as well as often causing hate movements.

I don't know how observant you were when young, but do you remember the (correctly predicted) harm when benefits in kind were replaced entirely by cash, on the dogmatic grounds that the former were degrading? There are plausible solutions along the basic income lines, but they are not and cannot be monetarist.


Battery swap always seemed a good idea to me. Tesla offer the service on the USA today and it can be done in less time than filling a fuel tank of a car. But yet are giving up on the idea because nobody wants it.


So, given that none of them are racists ... [ Because, if they were, they wouldn't be there ... ]

Greg, that's a charming misconception, but it's a misconception nonetheless.

Racists aren't happy to rub shoulders with people they despise, but if they have to do so in order to have access to a [common] resource, they'll put up with it -- and usually they're smart enough to keep their mouths closed at the time. You only find out they're racists later, when you get them alone and they start bitching and moaning about "those people". Which they may well do in coded terms, rather than openly, or by proposing more stringent membership criteria for access to the common resource (that have the peculiar property of excluding people they disapprove of, but not people like themselves).

Unsubtle in-your-face racism is rare in face-to-face situations until the racists feel empowered by a sense that they're in the majority.

Do I really need to keep up with this public education program?

(As someone who grew up Jewish in the 1960s-1980s I thought everyone got the "this is racism and why it's bad for you: here's how to identify it 101" training in their pre-teen years. Sadly, nope.)


In the real world I did my part by buying a Prius. I'd have gone all-electric but I drive beyond electric range several times a month.
So do I, and I bought a turbo-diesel. I've since compared notes with hybrid drivers after completing the same ~200 mile journey on mostly 2-lane road on a number of occasions. The result is typically that I have burnt less fuel whilst completing the trip noticeably quicker.


The "America fixated on Middle-East oil" idea is akin to fighting the last war -- The US is the world's third largest oil producer, not far behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. It has the production capability to export oil if it was not barred by legislation from doing so. It's number 1 in gas production (equal with Russia which does export a lot of its production, again the US is barred by legislation from doing so).

If Saudi Arabia and Iran and the other big ME producers disappeared off the map tomorrow it wouldn't affect America in terms of its carbon-based fuel supply for mobile applications. The knock-on effects of that loss of production to the rest of the world would be something else, of course.

The reason America IS fixated on the ME? Equal parts of "We're here because we're here because..." and Team America, World Police.


There are engineering reasons battery swap isn't a good idea for cars as they are built down to a cost, size, road-handling, weight and body styling straitjacket. It's marginally workable for vans and trucks though.


There are lots of actions which might be, naively, perceived as being good conservative choices for governance in the United States ... but which are politically unrealistic because of the dependency of politicians on soft money for winning elections in a system which has devolved to a lowest common denominator of ten campaign dollars per vote.

A US conservative party that wasn't in hock to lobbyists and special interest groups but governed like Vetinari would instantly bring in a universal basic income and universal medical cover (to keep the capitalist consumers alive and liquid so they keep recirculating money -- poor-but-not-quite-struggling people are better at spending than rich folks), put Manhattan Project levels of research money into making fusion power work and rolling out electric vehicle infrastructure, build high speed rail -- or better, maglev -- corridors up and down the densely populated urban coasts and around the great lakes, decriminalize drugs, and drastically revise its foreign policy.

Richard Nixon might recognize it. Today's Republicans? Nope, not a hope. (Universal healthcare would piss off the insurance industry and the racist base, Universal Basic Income would piss off the fundamentalist/puritan base, Fusion would piss off the coal and oil inustry, HSR would piss off the airline industry, decriminalization would piss off the prison and police unions and the private prison industry, and so on.)

Entrenched interests hate change.


I suspect that may be down to people seeing the "battery pack" as part of the "engine" of an electric car rather than as being the "fuel tank"? I mean, even if the engine and gearbox were a unit that you could swap out and replace in 15 minutes (sounds fanciful, but Audi used to swap gearbox and rear suspension on their endurance racers in 16 minutes) would you see most people being keen on installing a power pack of unknown provenance?


"The USA is banned from exporting gas by legislation".

Er, not a statement I'd expected to see a Scot make because Grangemouth.


Have you seen how a Tesla accumulator swap works? Serious question; they actually go in from underneath the car using an automated hoist, and the pack is never visible to someone sitting alongside it.


The battery pack is a big part of the price and value of the electric car.

If you sold the car _without_ the battery pack and the battery pack was part of a subscription to a chain of service centres, battery pack swapping might be a more palatable model.

In general, though, pumpable fuels are likely to win this one. It's just that there weren't any available when Musk started Tesla and batteries were (just) good enough.


look we've had two EDL "rallies" round here, which greatly inconvenienced all the plotholders - we found we had to go the long way round & explain to the NICE policemen why we were there in total scruff ...
And everyone's reactions was: "Why don't these ignorant nasty morons ( & fascists) fuck off & leave us in peace?" { See also note at end }
Also, the way in which as far as I can see, everyone will help almost anyone else with difficulties suggests that no, there are none. One caveat: The plotholders are a self-selected group, so it's quite possible, or even likely, that any real racists wouldn't want to "join" in the first place (?)

Note: Ethnic origin of the holders in my "row"
Kashmir/Brit, W Indian, Brit, ME, Ecuador/ Columbian, Brit, Brit, Brit, Brit, Brit, Bangladesh, Indian ( Gangetic Plain, probably ), our MP's mum (!), Brit, Turkish (cypriot?). A similar mix occurs in the other three rows.
One benefit of the EDL/police presence was the free horse manure, from the mounted branch (!)


NOT maglev.
The great advantage of "conventional" high-speed rail is the "Use the same terminals" & inner approaches in cities solution.
See France & Germany for this.


Reading through those something kept niggling at the back of my mind:

Imagine you actually wanted to use that list of criteria. Not "use" as in like ammo to throw at your enemies at high velocity but use as actual criteria in some kind of actual test to decide whether a state had fallen into fascism.

The problem is that I feel pretty certain that if I picked pretty much any state in the world recognized by the UN, found someone who disliked that state and gave them that list and asked them to tick off as many boxes as applied then they could tick the majority.

I'm pretty sure I can make that statement without needing to narrow down the criteria other than picking any existing government anywhere and anyone who's likely to be uncharitable when interpreting the list.

Similarly if I performed the same exercise and picked someone who liked the state in question and was willing to be charitable then I'm fairly sure I could easily get back a list with few items ticked.

It feels like a horoscope.

So anyone reading that list will easily see their enemies ticking lots of boxes while their allies get a free pass.
Allowing for outright contradictions in the criteria makes it even easier.

So anyone inclined to believe we're living in a sea of fascism will look around and easily see that states are ticking boxes left and right.


A swappable battery pack in that format requires a big hole in the floorpan which weakens the chassis, requiring structural strengthening around it to maintain the steering and suspension geometry which adds weight which is a no-no for performance and range reasons as well as the knock-on effects of handling etc. etc. It also limits the size of the car to sedan or station wagon, no compacts with decent range permissible. Putting the battery elsewhere (in the boot/trunk etc.) alters the car's handling performance -- imagine driving a car with a dozen sacks of concrete in the boot and how that would affect its handling round corners.

Tesla packs occupy most of the car's floorpan, low and central between the wheels where the weight can be dealt with most easily in the engineering layout and the battery housing can be part of the rigid structure of the car. It's a lot more effective to build it in as a fixed element than have a plug-and-socket engineering solution which adds weight and volume to the design.

It's also easier for Tesla to install Superchargers than it is for them to build out lots of battery swap stations everywhere. The other alternative is a car-swap where you can trade in the car you're driving for a freshly-charged one at a station but that negates the sexy "ownership" thing that is part of car culture, especially in the US.

Vans and trucks are a better market battery-swap technology but there are other problems slowing the take-up of all-electric cargo vehicles, mostly down to payload capacity and wheel loading -- most vans and light trucks use similar or identical engines to cars, they are just geared down a chunk and burn more fuel per kilometre driven when loaded so the drive train and fuel tankage is a remarkably small part of the vehicle's overall mass. Electric drive requires larger and heavier batteries for the increased load over the same range or greater (some vans do 300km per day every day) and that extra battery weight eats into the total amount of cargo that can be carried. It's being worked on and there are some fleet exercises being carried out with electric-drive vans and light trucks but it's still not ready for the mass market, limited to light-load city delivery routes in the main.


The great disadvantage of "conventional" high-speed rail is the use of regular tracks and terminals, such as the risks of driving a 300km/hr train on 80km/hr track:

Shinkansen-style separated-track or go home.


While I like the idea of universal basic income and think it's likely to be the only hope for humans as automation takes every job I don't think that any party that could be called conservative could follow those actions. The evidence base for the practical effects of a universal basic income is almost non-existent and that kind of change has the potential to kill a whole mess of people.

It doesn't strike me as sound to assume that a smart, benign dictator like Vetinari would instantly throw one of the worlds largest economies into a totally experimental set of policies that just happen to align remarkably closely with the policies supported by a big chunk of Reddit.

Roll it out slowly in a few states to see if it actually works as hoped? Maybe.


Roll it out slowly in a few states to see if it actually works as hoped?

Something like this?


Just a small comment about electric cars:

We are always going to have a problem with the batteries, because a) batteries deteriorate b) batteries take time to recharge c) batteries, if they have decent energy density, are a potential source of fire and possibly even explosion - as Samsung Note 7 owners found out. A laptop battery for something like a gaming laptop has something like the energy storage of a hand grenade - and in some circumstances, turns into a rather nasty incendiary.

It seems to me that fuel cells, with a small backup battery (to allow for regenerative braking, which is a huge energy saver) using a liquid fuel like methanol, are the way to go. The latest designs don't need expensive catalysts any more, by the way. Methanol, in particular, isn't too difficult to make given a source of reasonably cheap electricity.

Advantages? Well, the existing fuel delivery infrastructure could be used. Also, doing it this way removes the (not often discussed) need to put in more electric cabling to allow for the greater need for power to recharge all those batteries. And, of course, recharging takes minutes not hours.

Another point: One way to reduce the possibility of fascism (or some other sort of totalitarianism, it really doesn't matter much to anyone suffering under it) is to decentralise power. And in this context, I mean physical power. It might be a fantasy, but at least one of the less well funded approaches to fusion leads to small units; large truck, small ship or a couple of dozen houses' worth. Which leads to the attractive prospect of being able to tell the electric company where to stick its bills; that's one centre of monolithic power gone.

Charlie, you ask me what I have against the unions? Simple. Demagoguery in the Arthur Scargill mould, for one. And the fact that over-mighty unions were at least half the reason why there are no significant British-owned car companies any more. (Detroit isn't doing very well these days, for much the same reason.) Sure, management obsessed with quarterly figures didn't help either. Apologies for the digression, but you did ask.


How would you fight that?

You mean other than by saying that it's not true? I know that doesn't always work, but there are ways to at least build on it.


Fletcher Christian, you echo many people's scepticism of lobbying when you write
"Make lobbying within government buildings illegal. Long stretch in jail ..."
This is a small point in the context of this thread, but I think it makes a wider contribution. For that reason, I'm taking some space to make it.
Please delete if you think it is too far off-topic...

There are four points here.
First, lobbying is an activity that all sorts of interested parties engage in, from NGOs, to trades unions, to small business federations, to large corporations, and even local/regional governments. Banning all lobbying would be profoundly undemocratic, and would actually lead to worse regulation. This is because a large part of lobbying is about providing information and points-of-view to inform the policy-making process. Blanket-banning only one category of interest group (e.g., corporations) would be profoundly unfair as well as discriminatory, and would not necessarily improve public policy.
Second, "lobbying" and "corruption" are two different things. Yes, some lobbyists engage in corrupt behaviour, but a) this is a fairly small proportion and b) corrupt behaviour is illegal anyway and in such cases it's a question of effective law enforcement (which is hampered by banning people from meeting inside government buildings).
Special note for the US: political donations play a big part in US politics, in a way that they don't in (e.g.) a European context. Donations are not lobbying; they are part of an organisation's wider non-market activities and there is a very clear argument for full transparency on donations (and for phasing them out). The US has a major problem with money, but you don't address that problem by banning lobbying.
Third, banning lobbying - overall or 'only' in government buildings - would massively _increase_ corporate power. Lobbying is a relatively level playing field. Yes, corporations have greater financial resources than NGOs, for example, but money is not actually a good predictor of lobbying success (reference, ISBN 978-0226039459). Banning interest representation opens the door to influence-by-other-means, including but not limited to coincidental meetings at elite events that require very deep pockets. Incidentally, that would also open the door to much more civil unrest.
Fourth, what you are reflecting is a deep lack of trust in political processes and in public officials. This is what makes the lobbying discussion much more widely relevant. The lack of trust is not entirely unjustified, but consider a) the underlying ideology that supports such wild scepticism and b) that the proposed remedy would be worse. Ultimately, the question to ask is, which side do you want to err upon, bearing in mind that we won't have a perfect system: either accepting some malfeasance as inevitable but ensuring broadly-acceptable political engagement, or massively reducing political engagement in a bid to squash malfeasance entirely?


Battery swap works for Tesla.


I see, and even agree (in the general case) most of your points. However, build an RWD EV and you free up the engine bay, most of which is fairly full of big metal castings as a place for the power pack. Build an EV from scratch (See Tesla, Renault Twizy and Zoe for example) and the underfloor battery space can become part of a backbone chassis or unitary structure.

Other reason(s) for rejecting the "change cars" model include "taking your stuff with you". For Dysprosium I had 14 assorted bags and boxes of stuff (mine and "other people's") and 2 jackets with me. With a ~200 mile EV range on a full charge and travelling from Dumbarton to Thiefrow that would mean swapping those items from car to car twice outbound and the same on the return.


So, the TGV in France & the ICE in Germany are total failures, or don't exist, then?
I think not .....


The structural redesign of an electric car has already been achieved, moving masses around and relocating equipment to balance the car and its suspension, steering etc. The "engine bay" of a Tesla is full of motor, transmission, control, cooling equipment etc. pretty much up to the rim why is why in part that the battery is in the floorpan and does form part of the structure there. It can only do that if it is firmly bolted or fixed to the rest of the chassis and that makes it difficult to remove and replace in a hurry, other than with some very exotic hardware. The alternative is to build a strong carrier/container which the battery pack fits into and that adds weight and volume to the floorpan while restricting the size of the battery somewhat. Supercharger stations are easier to implement and they don't have the problem of a minor shunt warping the battery container slightly and preventing the battery from being swapped.

As for the "charge cars" deal it's only a very few occasions each year you might have to deal with moving a lot of stuff from one vehicle to another at an exchange station, and it probably takes less time than battery swapping or fast-charging. Even refuelling a conventional IC vehicle would take several minutes in such circumstances. I'd trade that slight inconvenience for a ready-to-go electric car ten minutes later any day of the week. Smokers would be a problem though, or allergy to pets...

As an aside modern internal-combustion engines don't actually weigh that much compared to the variable load of 60 to 400kg of passengers within a structural max of 1800kg or so on the wheels. The engineering design has to take that into account to provide a safe, reliable and comfortable drive under all conditions and it's a tribute to the designers of today that they succeed in this almost as a matter of course.


And the fact that over-mighty unions were at least half the reason why there are no significant British-owned car companies any more
Except that Nissan & Mini & all the other British (Not Brit-owned though) car manufacturers in Britain still have those same Unions in them & the same workforce, just different "higher" management.
# - This ought to tell you something ....


No, they just have accidents and kill people because they try and operate high-speed trains on the cheap. Assuming you're willing to accept the deaths and injuries and loss of equipment and track disruptions then shared-line high-speed operation is definitely cost-effective. The smart money is on separated-operation track though.

As for maglev, the Japanese plans are to start running the Tokyo-Nagoya line at 500km/hr but they've already tested the track and current version of the prototype L-series train at 600km/hr plus with no reported problems. Operational steel-wheel rail is topping out at about 350-400km/hr and that's with (expected) track wear, overhead power and vehicle maintenance problems compared to previous-generation 300km/hr running.


From the description Mincome sounds more like a variation on unemployment benefit than basic income. most of the basic income proponents that I'm familiar with talk about schemes that aren't reduced if you earn other income since it's not a guarantee of a minimum income, it's a basic income that remains unchanged by other income.


Look, OGH has already said that this is a derail. While the deficiencies of the unions in the 1960s were a factor in the rise of UK fascism (and the demise of industries), 'at least half' is exaggeration. But please let's not fall into the sinkhole of this emotive history.


A number of the TGV lines are separate to the local mainlines as well - the Mediterranee and Rhone-Alps routes both deliberately avoid a number of cities in order to keep a clean route, with stations like Avignon located some way out of town and feeders into.

In contrast, the Dijon line through to Besancon is particularly slow due to using existing tracks, so they are in the process of building a new high speed line to replace that segment.


Sadly, nope, I agree, but you seem to be viewing UK racism (even anti-Jewish) through a porthole, as well as Greg, though yours is probably more centrally located. But UK racialism extends from murderous bigotry to merely "keeping oneself separate" socially, and I believe that most of it is still of the latter form.

My environment (1960s) was racist against Jews, being traditional upper-middle to lower-upper class, but not even to the level of "Racists aren't happy to rub shoulders with people they despise,". Er, no, definitely not. There was no real reluctance to rub shoulders, there was essentially no despising involved, and there was little employment etc. discrimination - it was entirely a matter of tribalism (i.e. 'them' versus 'us'). Such people implied that they could always tell and did keep a distance, but that didn't extend to refusing invitations to parties, discouraging friendship etc. It did extend to discouraging marriage, but there were and are good reasons in the case of Orthodox Jews (and similar Muslims, some Christian sects etc.) It was racist, for those reasons, but not to the level of the clause I referred to.

At what point does such discrimination cease or start to be racialism?


Seems pretty straightforward to me: If discrimination is based on the concept of "race" or "racial characteristics", then it's racism. Doesn't matter how "mild" it is, doesn't matter how much we wrong our hands and agonise over a "spectrum", it's still racism.


As things stand at the moment, the US is a petro-state. A very great deal of its power and transportation depend on fossil fuels, and much of the transport depends on oil. At the moment though, something very interesting is happening both in the US and elsewhere and it is based upon how fossil hydrocarbons occur in rocks.

In the past, oil wells depended on finding salt domes underground with impermeable rock over them. Oil and hydrocarbons from rocks below these salt domes tended to percolate upwards, so if you could find these structures you merely had to drill a well into them and oil was squirted back up at you.

Over time, we went from pressurised oil to pumping oil out of similar reservoir structures, but still essentially the same idea: hydrocarbons in permeable rock below impermeable strata: drill through impermeable strata and suck out oil.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) was the big break-through, combined later with horizontal drilling. Fracking lets you drill into an impermeable or less permeable shale where there hydrocarbons are present but are immobile, create your own crack network and let these hydrocarbons flow out through the cracks you created.

It turns out that there is way more impermeable rock which has hydrocarbons present than there are classical oil well formations, and the continental USA has quite a lot of these rocks. As such, fracking suddenly lets you get at way more hydrocarbons than you could do beforehand. Horizontal drilling lets you use one drill derrick to drill hundreds of well shafts, spreading out in a three-dimensional fan from one well-head; this saves costs because you do not need to keep moving the derrick.

TL,DR: Technology just made oil and gas cheaper, just as the Middle East reservoirs were running out.


You're also conflating zealotry and religious intolerance with racism and racial intolerance.

Racism isn't a dislike of other races, it is an inherent belief in the superiority of your own. And that is a far more insidious belief, which takes a lot of exposure to other races to break down.

A better religious analogy would be a sectarian one, such as the marriage of a Roman Catholic to a Protestant being disallowed by both sides, due to the inherent belief that either side would be sullied by allowing it to take place.


One alternative to electric batteries, assuming you have lots and lots of electrical power, is to use zero-carbon fuels. Hydrogen fuel cells show promise, but hydrogen is evil stuff to handle and store.

Recently though, some researchers at the University of Leeds demonstrated a long-lasting catalyst to decompose ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen. Ammonia is a much easier substance to store than is hydrogen (a standard LPG tank will cope), and we know how to synthesise it reasonably efficiently. So, if electric cars remain elusive, ammonia-powered cars are a possibility.

This is what has been going on for the last 30 years: social-democrats cannot get the centre and their left at once, so try to go to the centre (you get Blair). The right cannot get the centre then, so goes right to the racists (you get May). When the left goes left (hello, Corbyn), they open the centre, and the right wins (You get Cameron). If you wait long enough, the whole process moves slowly left.
I'm sorry, what? The last 30 years have seen much social progress, but also the privatisation of the NHS (the Tories are only finishing the job New Labour started), the proliferation of zero-hour contracts, and in general much erosion of workers' rights and state services (and civil liberties, let it be remembered). The left joining with the centre might have managed to get us on the slow boat to hell, but the speed of our trip isn't the problem!

The Eco piece was well worth a read, thank you.
I have to admit that I am concerned and unsure. One would hope that the mistakes of the past could be avoided, but the possibility of a fascist mindset gaining hold again seems worryingly strong.
The US already has a lot of the architecture in place, the pledge of allegiance etc.
It's probably been passing most by in the U.K., but the amount of facebook memes generated by a black American football player kneeling during the national anthem has been overwhelming this side of the Atlantic. I worry much more about the US than the UK, but we shall see.

So - if the causes are bottom-up as much as top-down, how does a bottom-up solution look?
Local political organizing to provide a believable non-fascist alternative, coupled with a 'muscular response' to make room for that organizing to take place is the classic answer. It doesn't always work, but it killed the NF and put a big dent in the BUF...

No, I am not. I was distinguishing them, actually. Reread what I said, more carefully.

The reasons for discouraging children (of, say, Anglicans or agnostics) from marriage into Orthodox Judaism (which are neither zealotry nor religious intolerance) do not really apply to Reform Judaism and do not apply AT ALL to non-practicising or atheist Jews. And it is treating the latter similarly to the former (as well as the automatic classification, even when irrelevant) that I referred to as being racist.


Ammonia is also highly corrosive, especially to mucous membranes. A burst ammonia tanker would not be good news.


No, they just have accidents and kill people because they try and operate high-speed trains on the cheap.
Where & when [ Always excepting Eschede, of course ]
You're talking utter false rubbish & codswallop.

Statistics & evidence - put up or shut up.

Also Mayhem @ 97
Yes, out-of town, there are separate lines.
But, where do the HST/TGV/ICE trains stop & passengers get On & Off?
London St Pancras, Lille TGV (& ordinary trains) Bruusel Zuid & Nord, Amsterdam Centraal ( & Schipol), Paris G d Nord & Montparnasse & Lyon, Köln HBF etc ad nauseam.


It isn't binary. It's a continuum. Looking at the United States in particular: (1) Trump has done a number of things to discredit democracy; (2) he acts in an authoritarian manner, extolling both violence and his own unique ability to save the country; (3) he has stoked nationalist resentment against "others", in this case primarily Mexicans and Muslims; and (4) he has appealed to a restoration of a mythical lost national greatness. All of these support the idea of Trump as a fascist.

However: (i) Trump doesn't have a coherent ideology; and (ii) he hasn't created a fascist movement or fascist party; (I recognize that the Republicans have a lot of horrible ideas, but they are not coherent).

Could I conceive of ways in which Trump could evolve into a fascist? Yes. But W also had views and did things that could be viewed as potentially leading to fascism. (He appears to have viewed the Presidency as something close to an elective dictatorship.)

You can certainly conclude that as first W and then Obama have increased Presidential power, the institutional constraints on Presidents have weakened, making fascism more likely. And, as faith in democracy has eroded (and it has) the ability of someone to change the American system from a democratic one to something else has increased.

Ultimately, I don't think we are imminently in danger of fascism because (i) people aren't desperate enough; (ii) Trump is not capable or necessarily desirous of putting the pieces together; and (iii) American institutions are still sufficient to prevent an actual dictatorship.

On the other hand...I'd give it about a 10% chance in the next 30 years...which is orders of magnitude higher than I imagined it would be in my lifetime.


Ahh, good point.
I grew up thinking of Semitic descended people and people who practice Judaism as two different groups with substantial overlap, one an ethnicity and one a religion. The Orthodox idea of them being inseparable is to me a cult based affectation, used to define and control an "in group" just as most religions do, so the idea that the justifications they proclaim are "good reasons" to anyone outside their group is rather a stretch to me. Valid, yes. Good, is up to debate.

Hmm. So are you saying that conflating people who strictly observe a religion with those that ticked the appropriate box in a census is racist, or is that a specifically only an ethnoreligous argument, meaning Jews, Sikhs, Alawites etc?


TGV and other supposedly-high-speed rail trains sharing low-speed ROW have an unenviable habit of hitting stuff at level crossings. I will repeat that, "level crossings". Proper high-speed rail is grade-separated for its entire route. Other accidents have involved the TGV running into other non-TGV traffic (freight and passenger) or getting hit by such.

Eschede happened on a high-speed section of track with no football specials or steam excursions permitted so it's not a track-sharing problem, just German engineering at fault.


Closer to the latter, but from the point of view of a goy, and it has nothing to do with strict observance, as such. The valid objection to one's children marrying into Orthodox Judaism is that it tends to be an exclusionary belief, and that often causes unhappiness and worse. Objecting to marrying people who merely happen to have Jewish ancestry is racist.


See Eco's comments on syncretistic ideology. Fascism isn't coherent. It is a mishmash of tenuous justifications for authoritarianism.

Trump evolving into a fascist is done. He was a garden-variety corporate authoritarian narcissist. Now he has linked up with a party that has a racist and xenophobic nationalist base, and is taking control of the government. That pretty much ticks all the boxes.


Charlie, I don't know how familiar you are with attempts to make a high speed rail line along the populated coast. The bottleneck isn't money

1. You need access to enough land to make a straight track. They've tried to use eminent domain for this, and its failed every time. The problem is that property rights activists have essentially defanged any agency which could acquire the land. The same is true in California (which is why their high speed rail project is so laughably lousy).

2. Right now, passenger trains share the same track as cargo trains (and the cargo trains have priority). You'd have to build a separate rail line for cargo. That ties into the same problem as 1.

I realize this is a common misconception in Europe that the US has shunned high speed rail due to costs. The real reason we've shunned it is due to property rights lawsuits.

Maglev would have the same problem.


Sorry. I read your comment incorrectly. Please disregard the above.


Yes, but Trump is unnecessary. You can have full-blown fascism without a dominant, egocentric or even fascist leader - As Eco said, Italy did have one, but his description doesn't mention the existence of a leader at all. My #18 was ignoring him (and May), and talking about the situation in (say) March 2016 - the USA is definitely a fascist state, and the UK is following along at its bootheels.


The Republican Party have, AIUI, a more mature element that remember the 1970s oil shock, and OPEC behaviour, all too well - and who would deeply love practical fusion power, if only so as to tell OPEC members to go drink their oil and eat sand...

Yes and no. Mixed into that is Nixon's price freeze on oil extracted in the US which meant that drilling gradually stopped in the US. Which meant that the middle east had strong but indirect control over our economy. Even when the controls were lifted there was this "logic" of "excess profits" written into the law ending the price controls.

There are many who believe the world would be much different if Nixon had not frozen the price of oil due to "outrageous" 3% inflation way back when.


Eminent domain isn't the issue, it's a long and painful process, quite rightly. The seizure of private property is a non-trivial matter. But it can be done and within a few years, if required. The U.K. are smart enough to put restrictions on the use of land that my be required for future infrastructure improvements, at least some of the time.
The real issue is well intentioned proptections for a lot of good things, wetlands, threatened and endangered species and their habitats, historical, cultural and archeolgical issues etc etc
The interlocking agencies one has to deal with at a municipal, county, state and federal level delay even the most well intentioned design process for linear construction for decades. Unless, and now it's relevant to the original topic, you just get the trains to run on time.


I realize this is a common misconception in Europe that the US has shunned high speed rail due to costs. The real reason we've shunned it is due to property rights lawsuits.

And even when you do deal with property rights the costs can get to be a bit north of astronomical once you start actually trying to do things like place stations in useful areas. Especially if the area isn't all that flat.

Been there. Go the t-shirt.


(Also # 109 )
Yes & No
Trumpolini is not, at present a fascist, though he's close.
But, contrarywise, look at the people he's picked, & they - Bannon, Pence etc, really are fascists.
Which does not make it look good.


Re: 'No private insurer would be able to get away with that.'

Really? Oh my ... you mean that all those medical practitioner and patient surveys, independent audits and growing pile-ups of lawsuits vs. US HMOs showing this as the preferred 'private insurer' business model are wrong? [snark]


'The mother lode of all class action provider suits was two suits certified as classes in 2002 and 2004, representing all 950,000 physicians in the United States as well as some physician groups. The first was brought against 12 for-profit carriers; the second was brought against 47 Blues plans and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association.

The suits allege that America’s largest health insurance companies violated federal racketeering and state laws by systematically reducing, denying, and delaying payments owed to doctors for medical care rendered to subscribers. Some of the publicized settlement agreements were: Aetna, $470 million; 35 BCBS plans and the BCBS Association, $128 million; Cigna, $440 million; and WellPoint, $498 million.'

And this is what happened to the 'doctors' (without whom these HMOs cannot exist) by the profit-is-the-only-thing business model. Now compound this umpteen times to get a sense of just how bad the damage done is to 'subscribers'/policy-holders.


Rex and David, thanks for the info.


A turbo diesel is definitely one of the really good solutions, particularly if you're in Europe and have access to clean diesel,* and I love the fact that a good diesel can burn any kind of oil available under most circumstances. I looked at the hybrids listed in Consumers and the Prius was the best in terms of mileage. My 2015 Prius got about 51 MPG on a 150 mile run last night, mainly on freeways. Note that a 2017 model would have gotten maybe 56 MPG. (Unfortunately, I'm on call for work 24/7.)

I'll be using the car in daylight hours in the upcoming week, so we'll see what kind of mileage it gets in traffic, which could be interesting because that will probably include some time in pure electric mode.

In terms of quickness, the car would happily have gotten well above 80 MPH and stayed there for hours, but probably at some cost to MPG.

Oddly enough, the Ford Fusion hybrid we rented last year, which is based on Prius technology and is about the same size, only got about 35 MPH on a 1400 mile drive to Oregon. Obviously Ford is doing something different than Toyota, but I'm not sure about the technical differences... Given the tendencies of U.S. car makers I would guess that it weighs more, goes faster and has worse aerodynamics.

* Unfortunately, clean diesel is not usually available in the U.S.


The battery pack could probably go into the space which used to be reserved for the drive shaft in a rear-wheel car, which is essentially about 4 cubic feet. This space could probably be expanded slightly without difficult consequences, and the engineering for structural issues is already complete in this design.


If anyone wants to get a good sense of how the whole "immanent domain" thing can go wrong in the U.S. just google "710 freeway extension."


Re: 'You can certainly conclude that as first W and then Obama have increased Presidential power, the institutional constraints on Presidents have weakened, making fascism more likely.'

Really? .... more like a load of ... Over the time period you mention, presidential power has been tremendously eroded by the stalemates and bickering of the two other arms of Gov't - Congress & Senate. (And, in W's case, a VP who excelled at behind the scenes maneuvering.) If anything, the past 30 year trend is to make the POTUS into a purely ceremonial/figure-head role. With DT as POTUS - probably hoping to be 'persuaded' by his inner team to take back the POTUS power and authority that an FDR wielded but because DT is nowhere near as bright nor as human as FDR will likely fail - to the point that Pence takes over and then does the genuine Mussolini number. (Assume personality transplants will be available so as to allow Pence to pull this off ... fascism and cult of personality seem to go hand-in-hand.)


Just wanted to say thanks for your excellent posts on this topic - much to digest.

Also, while I like/agree with this ... 'The bottom-up opposition is easy; encourage people to find value in work they enjoy, make training available, make personal security reliable.'

But not sure what you mean by this ... '(There are still people you do need to get rid of to make that work, but I'm incapable of sympathising very much with anybody who thinks they have an innate right to slaves.)'

Please elaborate/provide examples ... thanks!


Shinkansen had to be wholly new stations/tracks (as Nojay probably knows but Greg may not): Japanese railways pre-Shinkansen were narrow gauge, Shinkansen was the first standard gauge track (wide loading gauge) in Japan.


An interesting dimension to future political battles. This reminds me of the Trump Cruz primary debate. Of the two, I preferred Trump. What a time to be alive


The "engine bay" of a Tesla is full of motor, transmission, control, cooling equipment etc. pretty much up to the rim

No it isn't; the engine bay is largely empty -- replaced with a "frunk" (front trunk). Don't believe me? Go look at the barenaked Model S chassis on display in the Tesla showroom on Multrees Walk.


I'd give it about a 10% chance in the next 30 years...

Optimist: I'd say 25-50% within 4 years.

It all depends on whether the financial sector goes crunch again, and how well or badly the next crisis is managed. Under Trump, I'd say the odds on a crash -- and on the crash being handled as horrendously as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans -- are much higher than they would have been under Clinton (where they'd still have been a serious risk issue, but the calibre of appointees would have been somewhat higher to say the least).


We had a plotholder who simply would not cultivate & let the weeds grow, so we followed usual procedure, warned him, then told him to hand the keys back.
His prompt rebuttal was: "You're all racists"
Given that we have all varieties (see previous posts) this was clearly not true ...

But you actually obviously ARE cultivated-plant supremacists who hold racist positions towards weeds!



It all depends on whether the financial sector goes crunch again, and how well or badly the next crisis is managed.

Pretty much everyone around Trump is a gold bug. None of them are good at math. Most of them have a sort of idolatrous reverence for the Gilded Age and see dilution of the currency and ending the circulation of gold as FDR's first great sin.

I have not been able to rid myself of an expectation that, should there be a financial crisis, the Trump administration will respond by putting the US dollar back on the gold standard at twenty dollars an ounce.


But not sure what you mean by this ... '(There are still people you do need to get rid of to make that work, but I'm incapable of sympathising very much with anybody who thinks they have an innate right to slaves.)'

Every now and again a case makes the papers where a nice upper middle class couple hire a nanny from overseas; they confisticate the nanny's passport, work them eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, neglect to pay them (often at all), and prevent them from communicating with anyone outside the household. (Sometimes threats, sometimes violence.) Since it made the papers, this is one of the cases where those responsible were caught. They inevitably seem incapable of recognizing that they did anything wrong.

Same with the restaurant owners who confisticate the wait staff's tips, or the landlords who see a requirement for critical repairs as an opportunity to coerce sex from tenants. (No sex, no repairs, and you can get freeze/try to function with no lights, etc.)

Civil society has to start somewhere around "no slaves".


Oh yes he does!
Japanese older railways are what was "African standard gauge" ( because Japan is mountainous. )
3'6"" - initially built by British contractors ....

But, where your standard track gauge is "Stephenson" = 4'8.5", then there's no point (pun!) - you can save humongous amounts of dosh, using the final approach-tracks & stations that already exist / can have bolt-ons added.


RE: '...nice upper middle class couple hire a nanny from overseas...'

Know some Canadian couples who've hired nannies from overseas, i.e., Europe and Asia. My understanding is that people entering Canada - regardless of their job - have a protected legal right to hold onto their passports, birth certificates, etc. Bottom line: Neither recruiters nor employers are allowed to take/keep any workers' passports away from them. And, it is not lawful to say in any hiring process or make this a condition of employment that the worker has to hand over their passport for any safekeeping, guarantee or anything else. Just plain not allowed. Employers/recruiters only need to see/verify that the passport/work visa are valid.

(Using the Canadian example because based on some of your previous posts, I figure you for Canadian. Think this is also the case in most Western and even some Middle East countries, i.e., Bahrain)


Four years would be extremely fast for a new financial crisis. Even assuming Trump is serious about gutting Dodd-Frank (which is a pretty valid assumption) he will only partially achieve this and that will take one to two years. Thereafter, it will take some time for leverage to rebuild to potentially catastrophic levels; at the earliest it would probably take 6-8 years before we can have another major financial crisis in the United States. If that happens, the first reaction is going to be to elect the Democrat who is likely to be a non-fascist.

If that Democrat is unable to ameliorate the situation, then we could have a real problem, but even that very unhappy scenario is a dozen years in the future.


I should be very slow to suppose there's an expectation of financial stability out of late capitalism.

There are lots of folks making nervous noises about what the ECB is saying. There are lots more folks making nervous noises about the prospect of a Fed rate hike; all those long and capital-intensive supply chains exploiting comparative advantage unravelling is not very different from a bank run only there's absolutely no way to stop it once it goes. (No matter how fast you provide free capital, once it goes, it's too late.)


Ah, now I understand. The British and their love of Gardens, Categorized Plants and "no weeds".

Wildflower guru: the woman who knows meadows Telegraph, Feb 2015.

Ah, but of course:

Steve Webb says government considering faster timetable for higher state pension age of 70, affecting millions of workers

Pension age may be about to rise again, says former minister Guardian 28th Nov 2016

Hmm, where has that been sung before?

State pension age to 'hit 70 by 2050' Telegraph, Sept 2015.

Oh, right. "Weeds". From muppets who don't understand ecology. Brilliant.

Spare me the Hollow Men who didn't understand their Ecology and made it into flat boring lawns ruled by chemicals and decimated the fucking planet while killing off most of the life that supports it.

But, punch-line: only they get pensions and free(ish) healthcare and so on: because they don't give a flying fuck about their eternal souls because they bought into the idea of the "get out of jail for free" cards of Abrahamic religions.



They're all locked in for a full-on "youth vrs old" war.

This time we're thinking the "Fields of Flanders" isn't going to work.


You fucked the World.
You fucked your children.
You fucked the Browns.

And you fucked your allotments because you're fucking children and know nothing about ecologies.


Oh, and I'm well aware you're the most awakened parts of the pie.

That's the fucking sick joke.


Expectation of financial stability would be putting it rather more strongly than I'd be willing to as well. However, I do think that at least in the United States, given the response to 2008 which, while limited, was not wholly inadequate, we don't currently have the conditions for a serious financial crisis.

A fed rate hike is not remotely going to trigger a financial crisis. The system just isn't highly leveraged enough. As for supply chains unraveling due to lack of capital - if anything the large corporations who are at the ends of these supply chains are swimming in cash.

There are a number of issues surrounding the ECB (and more particularly the repo market) in Europe and the municipal finance market in the United States. The problems in the second do not seem big and critical enough to touch off a crisis.

If Europe totally screwed up its response (e.g. allowing an uncontrolled collapse of Deutsche Bank) you could have an American financial crisis (though I can't be sure that you would). This does not seem like an outcome that Germany would or could permit and Germany has the power to stop it.

Of course, the triggers for these crises are impossible to predict in advance, so what really should give comfort or cause fear is the degree of leverage and interconnectedness in the financial system. This is a lot lower than it was eight years ago and will take some time to rebuild.

Over the longer term you are correct: we will eventually have another financial crisis.


I think Eco's points about fascism are rather narrow. For a more wide ranging description, I recommend: "Fascism in Action: A Documented Study and Analysis of fascism in Europe". This was a US House of Representatives study published in 1947, when the German, Italian and Spanish versions were still fresh. It also includes Japan. It goes into extensive detail on not just the cultural control, but also the state's control of business, finance and foreign policy.

As megpie71 pointed out upthread, fascism has been a slowly boiling frog phenomenon in the West. It is quite clear that many features of fascism are being slowly introduced, rather than suddenly. For example, preferred businesses have been created through lack of monopolies enforcement, crony capitalism, and state procurement, particularly in the arms sector. In education, erosion of local control of content, publishers' control of textbook content to meet the standards required by the most illiberal states. Civil rights are being eroded, although more quickly and obviously since 9/11. Finance is controlled by the Fed in the US, and an increasingly small number of major banks which also "control" the legislature. In the US, we haven't seen the rise of a charismatic leader who will implement fascism, like Hitler, Mussolini or Franco, but we have seen a slow movement of society in that direction. IMO, Trump is more a follower and enabler of those forces. I suspect the real fascist is Pence, who without Trump as POTUS, would quickly enable the Tea Party controlled Republican Congress to pass legislation that would look fascist to all but the most blind observer. What we have going for us, is that a key fascist feature, a one-party state, looks well-nigh impossible in the US. But never say never.


Various notes.
--Totalitarianism is a distance, not a direction.
--Fascism became a synechdoche because they had a relatively abstract general philosophy rather than a mere parochial plan of action. As such they were tapping into and defining something that already existed, just as they claimed.
--Traditionalism is an aspect of the cult of preservation, one that contradictorily made progress possible. You can't build if you constantly have to reinvent the wheel.
--New age stuff being suggested as fascist tinged suggests that also in ligh tof "rejection of modernism" perhaps much of the green program (other than bright green) could be fascist tinged.
--Regarding item 7: people always seek advantage. When I found I couldn't compete with illegal aliens in the job market (growing up in Texas and through my own foolishness having developed no marketable skills) I asked myself what advantage I had, and thus used my citizenship to join the Army. Similarly, when you play a game against a computer AI you win by figuring out what is the human advantage, what do you have that the computer doesn't (hint, it's not speed).
--Regarding item 9. Obviously Valhalla will be a feature of the golden age.
--P.S. Mozi was NOT an Ur-fascist. He proposed society be built around hierarchical systems fueled by moral meritocracy (ultimately alliegant to objective ideals) and social mobility, and that it feature both loyalty and noblesse oblige (to the extent of polling). If you think ANY social system doesn't resolve to hierarchy you are ignoring something. And finally, he wanted the inevitable hierarchies to be morally meritocratic.


Perhaps, barring some other ideology resisting entropy, fascism is simply a natural force that exists in humanity, a default tendency of civilizations. Rather than a conspiracy.


Just a side comment. Franco wasn't charismatic at all: short, chubby, almost bald, shrill voiced, and an awful public speaker to boot! And Hirohito was so far from being charismatic as human beings can be (actually I have read most Japanese were unable to understand a single word he said, courtly language being a living fossil) so it's probably no coincidence that in both Spain and Japan religion wasn't a support but a key ingredient of tyranny, far more important than in Italy or Germany.


People that wangle slavery like conditions in the modern world don't think they have a right to own slaves. They don't conceive of "rights" at all, except as a line of BS they can use to gain advantage.


This is how my mother (who recalled the FDR era upside down raised arm flag salute) explained it to me, and how I understand it and thus why it's not necessarily a bad thing. The pledge of allegiance emerged as a way of fighting fire with fire. People were coming to America from all kinds of countries with authoritarian regimes to which (it was feared) they might still be loyal, so the idea was hit upon of asking everyone to swear a new allegiance similar to the supposed former ones and thus capable of replacing them.


In the US the contest between the two parties has been for our left and right to compete to court the middle. But there are huge populations for whom ideas independent of the unidimensional left-right spectrum are vital. It is a coalition of such that Trump innovated to capture, rather than the traditional post-nomination center-shift. Instead of trying to hit the bullseye he was throwing darts randomly all over the place.


To qualify: As I understand it from the Huffington Post, race based discrimination is only one necessary component of racism. There also has to be a power dynamic. That is, the race based discrimination is only racist if it's being practiced by a group that has more power. If a robber from a downtrodden group picks you as prey because of resentment at your power group membership that isn't racism. Which sounds like something a racist would say, except really it's all postage stamp categorizing, this creation of labels and then placing of things in bins. Reduction of resolution. Really things are just what they are.


Agree. It isn't the lobbyists that are the problem, it's the creeping rigging of the system (to borrow a phrase) to make the lobbyists with the money so influential.


... a one-party state, looks well-nigh impossible in the US. ...
Don't need to these days.
You have a totally faked "democracy" like Putin's Russia, or Gaotfucker Erdogan's Turkey, with rigged polls & semi-terror for opponents & away you go ....
[ P.S. Franco's Spain was still highly extant in 1947, still killing & torturing opponents ]

You are horribly correct about Pence, though.


hierarchical systems fuelled by moral meritocracy

And - who will guard the Guardians?


There is a huge evidence base regarding the effects of universal basic income. It's called retirement. The segment of people on some form of pensions is a huge test group. Or did I misunderstand? The only issue with extending what we know about retiree world to society generally is that young people with basic incomes may act differently than the way old people do. Here again, though, there is precedent. Inheritance, and allowances. The children of the well to do essentially demonstrate what young people with a universal basic income would act like. The roadblocks are political and practical. It's a good goal, but a long way off, so should be treated with proper perspective.


Oh bugger:



Well, the idea is that it's a sort of moral code. Everyone treats everyone else on the basis of their evaluation of their morality and competence, while at the same time rendering benefit of the doubt to current status. So you help promote good people to power and help drag bad people down from power, whether they are above or below you. If the system works properly it will self improve, placing only the authentically moral at the top. If the system becomes or remains corrupt, it will naturally break down because bad systems are inefficient. So good news is the world will be fine, in the long run. Bad news is if you happen to part of the bad part when it's fixing itself. So when it's working lets keep it working.


America is in the ME because
(1) a bunch of people hate us, so let's give them soldiers to shoot at instead of American civilians. And do it at their place, not ours.
(2) you have to keep in practice
(3) and 2 is a great way to extract lots of money from the big bad guvmint

Only 1 really has any merit, and even then I think the whole hate thing might wrap itself up if we just lay low for a while instead.


I thought "medieval" aka "middle ages" covered the whole period roughly from the fall of the western roman empire to the final fall of the eastern roman empire (or the plague of 550 to the plague of 1350) with the roughly the first half being called the "dark ages" and the latter half the "high middle ages". So the dark ages would be part of medieval. Anyway, it's not so much a specific year range as a stage of development, like the "iron age" which varied by region. For example, the Arabian peninsula in 600 was still basically the boondocks of the Roman Empire, there it was still antiquity. There, got a pin stuck in it and put it in the right cabinet.


--History doesn't circle, it spirals. Same old thing with a new twist.
--Traditional media are getting consolidated, but the internet undercuts that. So, internet, watch your back.


It's not primarily any of those loaded (but essentially right) questions. It's the idea that things are supposed to be a certain way and that is being undermined, which it is. Propagandists are happy to supply targets to blame for the undermining. And the American left, both infiltrated and inept, is happy to constantly supply said propagandists with ammunition--specious pie in the sky stuff only serves to embarrass, but never serves to reveal the true nature of those pushing it.


The progressives who got things done always did it with the understanding that they could make a good deal by creating something eternal by sacrificing something temporary. This is to be contrasted with those who jump to the end, as soon as they get any power, and blunder into the trap of getting some isolated gain (with a string attached to pull it back) at exorbitant political cost. FDR and LBJ knew what they were doing.


People are a mixed bag of different drives, many mutually contradictory at the same scale as Eco's fascism is full of eclectic contradictions. Different characteristics worked at different times in the process of evolution, so what we get born with is a mixed bag of "maybe you'll need this" stuff. Experience in life then tells us which kind of situation we're in, and the appropriate primal equipment is activated, the rest put back in storage. You can't remove monkeys from any system. At some point there is always a human deciding what things are, or just making things up and calling them something different. The only thing that really works is mental revolution.


"America doesn't have to die for the world to get off oil, or even for the US to get off fossil fuels"

Maybe not 'die' but certainly change a lot. The US economy is in a state that would normally mean the currency would devalue enormously. The US dollar maintains its value because it's the only currency used for trading in oil. Any state that tries to trade in another currency has a very poor time of things (I'd say, 'ask Saddam how it worked out for him trying to trade oil in Euros', but he's no longer around to ask).

If people stop using oil then either the US needs to enforce another vital commodity has to be traded in US dollars, or devalue their currency until it takes a wheelbarrow of it to buy bread.


Well if we want to talk about autocrats and gardens, there's always Marvell:

And, if we would speak true,
Much to the man is due,
Who from his private gardens where
He liv’d reserved and austere,
As if his highest plot
To plant the bergamot,
Could by industrious valour climb
To ruin the great work of time,
And cast the kingdom old
Into another mould.

There's a data point in this theme about the Tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine, Queensland under which the Australian Labor Party was formed in 1891 and which was poisoned with Roundup[TM] in 2006 by an unknown vandal.

Oh and welcome to the new persona, same as the old persona, res ipsa loquitur and all that.


Yeah, the example I chose was based on the 2 cars proceeding along the same route in the same weather and traffic conditions, and removing the artificially low distance and hence battery friendly "standard mileage/emissions testing" that the EU and USA require from the study.
The Prius would do better in stop-start driving (but that is truly rare for me; the last time I had to do it for more than about 100m was going to Dysprosium, when I was passing through the M6-M6(T)-M42 confluence which is a worked proof that 9 into 4 doesn't go!)


...the stalemates and bickering of the two other arms of Gov't - Congress & Senate.
Which is just incorrect. The 3 arms of government are:-
1) Executive; for the USA this is the POTUS and cabinet.
2) Legislature; for the USA this is the Congress, made up of the House of Representative and the Senate (House).
3) Judiciary; aka the "court system".

The "log jam" you refer to is the result of the Executive proposing bills which are unpopular (with them) to the Legislature.


In the US the contest between the two parties has been for our left and right to compete to court the middle.

From north of the border, it looks more like your right and extreme right competing. (Your Democratic Party is about where our Conservative Party is, politically.) Anything that would be "left" or "moderate" in Canada just isn't on the table.

I suspect that it appears the same to Europeans, but would be interested in hearing from an actual European on that.


Precisely. The USA doesn't have huge reserves, but that's not an immediate issue - its critical dependence on oil is the way that its control of the trading is used to enforce its hegemony.


I suspect that it appears the same to Europeans,
Pretty much yes, with the note that the UK swerved sharply to the right during the Tory B Liar years.


We had the same thing under Harper. He said (at the beginning of his decade) that we wouldn't recognize Canada when he was done, and he was nearly right.

Which is why Leitch and the others of her ilk worry me — next to them Harper looks like a moderate (just as Preston Manning now looks like a moderate, and he was once the crazy wild right-winger). Canada tends to follow the US by about a decade, and we have our own Tea Party[1]…

I find it interesting that friends of mind from China prefer the Conservatives. A pro-business party not overly concerned about environmental or human rights issues, which weakens annoying labour laws, and fully understands guanxi. For all the Right natters on about "Communist China", they have more in common than not. :-)

[1]Well, not quite our own. They circulate American Tea Party emails with "Mexican" replaced by "immigrant" (and lately "Syrian").


So, stop working almost entirely or develop a coke habit?
Not very encouraging.

But more seriously: the problem is that those are not even vaguely decent groups to compare to. Trust fund babies do not form a natural RCT because they're missing the R, the C and the T. Elderly people who've worked all their lives are also likely to treat the money they've saved differently to people who've had money dropped on them.

Interesting you didn't include long term welfare recipients as a third group to compare to since while they're just as awful as retirees and trust fund babies they're not significantly more awful.

It could be like trying to decide if a treatment worked by recruiting your entire intervention arm at a homeopath's waiting room and then recruiting your entire control group from an STD clinic. The groups aren't representative of the population.


Randomised Controlled Trial, AFAICT.


""America doesn't have to die for the world to get off oil, or even for the US to get off fossil fuels"

Maybe not 'die' but certainly change a lot. The US economy is in a state that would normally mean the currency would devalue enormously. The US dollar maintains its value because it's the only currency used for trading in oil. Any state that tries to trade in another currency has a very poor time of things (I'd say, 'ask Saddam how it worked out for him trying to trade oil in Euros', but he's no longer around to ask).

If people stop using oil then either the US needs to enforce another vital commodity has to be traded in US dollars, or devalue their currency until it takes a wheelbarrow of it to buy bread."

Well, that is the problem. The other unmentioned problem is that the US military (#1 in the world, as we keep reminding everybody) largely runs on oil. Thing is, I suspect our military (especially the Army) would just as soon not run on oil, because they know how much blood and money it costs to, say, ship a truckload of oil to Mosul for the war, and they hate the cost. Thing is, there aren't any electric tanks, destroyers, or jets, and no plans to make them yet.*

This huge military is one big-ass reason that Washington doesn't go off oil, just as having a large small arms industry is one big reason that the US doesn't dismantle the NRA, the small arms industry's wholly-owned lobbying firm. The number of civilians killed is (AFAIK) an unfortunate side effect of keeping our industries alive so that they can provide our soldiers with guns. Before the NRA got into this position, gun makers were going out of business, because the guns they made between wars lasted for upwards of a century, and there were no wars to keep them in business. Now they're selling heaps of plastic guns, anti-lead ammunition laws mean that old guns no longer work in places like California (can't get the right-sized ammo for old guns unless you make it yourself), and we've got all these brushfire wars around the world that need guns. And we've also got the NRA working hard to keep all this going.

Incidentally, the revolution in warfare that would trash all this big iron stuff is (most likely) cyberwar. If some rival can discombobulate that US military by trashing their communications and databases, that's the cheapest form of renewable warfare around, and if we need intelligent infrastructure to avoid severe climate change, such attacks are well-nigh inevitable. Need I go into the future of climate-neutral warfare? The downside is that if carrier battle groups can get hacked, they'll be unavailable for humanitarian missions, which is one of their more useful roles. That could be a big problem for the world too.


Against which currency do you imagine the US Dollar would devalue?

It is certainly true that historically, the fact that oil was traded in dollars was an important support for the status of the USD as a reserve currency.

Currently, though it is hard to see which other currency the large oil producers would want to hold in size.


Thing is, there aren't any electric tanks, destroyers, or jets,
{cough}CV(N){/cough} or they did at least build a prototype of a B-36(N)...


The Euro and/or the Yuan?


With regard to the previous comment, the question is also which other currency anyone else would want to hold in size. Apologies for breaking this in two.


Well, lets think about these. The Euro has a political structure that is problematic because you don't have a unified fiscal authority and coordinated bank supervision. It is unclear how much commitment Italy for example has to the Euro and a large percentage of the EU would be served by massive deflation. (Note that if the D-Mark existed, that would be a valid alternative reserve currency.)

The yuan is not fully convertible. In addition, it is subject to explicit valuation manipulation and the idea of the rule of law is not fully developed in China. Chinese statistics remain unreliable and there is a severe credit bubble in China. How much of your money would you really want to hold in this currency?


If you are into the Big Box of Labels, which you probably are not, the orthodoxy I was taught 20 plus years ago was Late Antiquity (Constantine to Charlemagne); Dark Ages (850-1050); Medieval/High Middle Ages (1050-1450); Early Modern (1450-1792). And yes the past is not evenly distributed; so many of these categories fit better for certain places than others. And you can have more fine distinctions, like 12th Century Renaissance (which was dominated by native literature/models as opposed to the big Renaissance which was dominated by a Latin/Greek revival.)


{cough}"sub-prime" mortgages{/cough}

Tell me again how a credit bubble is only a bad thing if your currency is not used for international trade.


Who said that? In a situation where there was an alternative, the status of the dollar as a reserve currency would have been seriously damaged by the credit bubble and subsequent events.

(The USD is not in a good position here; it is just least worst. There is no credible large size alternative. There are small ones such as CHF, but that can't really function as a reserve currency due to lack of size. )


I think what we're seeing here is a clash of understandings about what an allotment is actually for. Those who have them understand that the name of the game is to use that plot of land to grow food, with aesthetics being a secondary concern, and finally not annoying one's neighbours also being a concern.

So, one might expect an allotment to have a shed, water supply and a few paths and maybe a flower border, but most of the area will be devoted to growing the best possible food that the land there can support. Plants growing that are not food, or are out of the carefully-tended borders are weeds. Weeds have the characteristics of being fast-spreading, hard to eradicate horrors which most gardeners would really like to minimise the growth of.

Part of this is not putting up with a source of weed seeds in the plot next door; this is annoying as well as being aesthetically rather ugly. The herbaceous borders of an allotment are where the ecology is, where the predatory beetles make their home and where the various predators of garden pests "tick over" in between doing sterling work killing pests for the gardener. Even farmers now plant Beetle Banks in fields, to replace the hedge rows they were paid to remove in latter years (a silly policy, IMHO; to facilitate big machinery you only need pull out a few years of hedge at the corners).

But this is the essence of an allotment: controlled nature. Uncontrolled nature is what happens elsewhere, and don't you forget it!


I don't yet know how the Prius does in really heavy traffic. We'll see over the next few days. I'm also testing the mileage from the speedometer and the gas tank, and not currently taking the car-reported mileage very seriously.


In the world of semi-hereditary posts portioned out to a closed hierarchy in a semi-feudalist power structure: Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell, has been appointed to Transportation, a post once held by Elizabeth Dole, while Bob was Senate Majority Leader. A decent editor would never let you put these silly sub-plots in your dynastic war novel.


Not a European, but from a New Zealand perspective I'd agree. Although our libertarian party quietly died a few years ago, we still have raving right-wing loonies on our political scene. You know the ones, absolutely unelectable, even by the standards of the most conservative establishment types.

The thing is that in the USA, those same raving right-wing loonies would still be unelectable... because they'd be too left-wing. There's general agreement that climate change is occurring, for example, that unrestricted ownership of firearms is not a good idea, and that a national-level health-care system produces better outcomes. What America calls a left-wing party looks much more our hard-right wing, and what the US right-wing looks like... well, it's hard for us to imagine.


Wait, seriously? Who's our Tea Party? I know about Kellie Leitch's idiocy, but us having a Tea Party is news to me.


Not super related, but even in my neck of the woods, the crazies are getting a little more vocal than usual. One individual seriously told me he was a "nationalistic libertarian", and made comments about how all government is tyranny, and our school's Christian youth group that I used to go to for social reasons has taken a hard turn to the right this year, from quietly evangelical to hardcore fundamentalist.

My survival of the first day of that group where they tried to tell us Genesis was 100% true and inbreeding couldn't have occurred on Noah's Ark because the genome hadn't finished "falling" is proof-positive that despite rumors to the contrary, I am indeed blessed with the virtue of patience.


Took me two days to catch up with this thread, even with skimming, after the long weekend, and I've a number of points that I'm surprised no one's brought up (if I missed seeing it, sorry).

1. Fascism: the definition I prefer is the one used by the first fascist leader who put it into practice: Mussolini, who liked to quote that "fascism is more properly called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power". If you don't think that's scary enough, you're missing a lot of history.

For example, I don't know about the UK, but in the US, for many decades (mid.late 19th Cent, early 20th), there were "company towns", where you lived in company houses (which they took money out of your paycheck for your rent), and they paid you with company scrip, *not* dollars, and was good only at the company stores.... and it was all set up so that you were *always* in debt. Want to leave? You've got no money, and their enforces would visit you to collect "what you owed".

There are *heavy* echoes of this today. Well, 20 years ago, when I was working for a Baby Bell, in IT, so I was "in management" (and thus unable to join the union), shortly after being hired, I and a few others were treated to a "meeting you must attend" for a hard sell for us to contribute via paycheck autopay to the company PAC. And then, when Congress was considering deregulation of telecom, we were *required* to email our Congresscritter and Senators, and the President of the Division (or was it the head of Ameritech - can't remember), *required* us to send them a copy of the letter we sent our reps. (Don't like it, we can always hire someone else.)

Look, the reason that a government - at least a democracy or a republic - should not be run like a business, as I realized a few weeks ago, is that businesses are *monarchies", with an absolute ruler, the CEO. Fascism sets up a CEO for the country, who makes sure his nobles (company CEOs) control the rabble - you and me.

Trumpolini thinks he's just been hired CEO of America, Inc,

2. The left in the US isn't even a joke. For all *real political power*, it doesn't exist. It's a bunch of organizations calling themselves socialist, and have no more power than a high school club. The guy I've mentioned before, that I met early this year, who was 29 and running on their ticket for VP (Constitutionally not eligible) "was making a statement". Unfortunately for him, all he was saying was that socialism is in the dustbin of history, to any ordinary American. I don't ever remember any of them running for city, county, or state offices, much less Congress or the Senate. (On the other hand, just wait until I win the lottery....)

3. Rail transit: a century ago, with steam locos, the Pennsy and the NYC offered NYC to Chicago in 18 hours. Now? Except for the northeastern corridor, Amtrak operates over leased lines, and the rr co's don't want to maintain their tracks to high-speed passenger traffic, but to lower speed freight traffic. Hell, after 9/11, for several months, even the airline pilots' union was saying that for under 300-400 mi, trains made more sense, since they went right downtown....




Look, the reason that a government - at least a democracy or a republic - should not be run like a business, as I realized a few weeks ago, is that businesses are *monarchies", with an absolute ruler, the CEO. Fascism sets up a CEO for the country, who makes sure his nobles (company CEOs) control the rabble - you and me.

I will recommend, again, Jane Jacobs' book Systems of Survival. In it she argues that virtues for government are vices for businesses, and vice versa.

Her books the Nature of Economies is a sequel, and also quite good.

And if you're feeling too cheerful, try Dark Age Ahead.


Mussolini, who liked to quote that "fascism is more properly called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power"

I'd recommend John Ralston Saul, especially Viltaire's Bastards and The Unconscious Civilization.

More relevant to this discussion is The Collapse of Globalism, written a decade ago, in which he argued that globalism was under attack.


In a way, I can see globalism being under attack... from the bottom. One major factor is that folks in developed countries, like the UK and the US, are trying to get/keep jobs, while "mision statement: ROI, ROI, ROI, nothing else matters" CEOs are busy hiring workers from the undeveloped world, producing a race to the bottom.

Of course, that's going to cut into their profits, but that's way, way down the line, like, a year from now, and long-term planning by MBAs is next quarter.


That was part of Saul's argument, IIRC. It's been a decade since I read the book, and I may be conflating it with other works, but he was pointing out that renewed nationalism was a means of opposing globalization.

Time to dig it out, I think. It's a hardback, and in a box somewhere, so I won't have a chance until next week — but I'm thinking it bears rereading (if only to clarify in my mind what Saul says, as opposed to what others have argued).


What a coincidence, I got "The unconscious civilisation" at the weekend.


If we're going to recommend Jane Jacobs -- and certainly we ought -- I will put in a plug for Cities and the Wealth of Nations. Just what the title says with a deep view of history. Highly informative.


Look, the reason that a government - at least a democracy or a republic - should not be run like a business, as I realized a few weeks ago, is that businesses are *monarchies", with an absolute ruler, the CEO. Fascism sets up a CEO for the country, who makes sure his nobles (company CEOs) control the rabble - you and me.

One reason to severely limit corporate size (and thus power) is that right now, fascism is more or less inevitable because the only way you can make yourself even vaguely secure in your person and prospects is to climb the corporate ladder and get rich.[1]

"You get what you reward", and what's been rewarded is rapacious autocracy.

[1] this is not accidental and explains much of why the US right is so absolutely determined not to help anybody. Helping people dilutes the systemic push to their desired outcome.


Oh and welcome to the new persona, same as the old persona, res ipsa loquitur and all that.
Except "her" comment has been nuked ( I think )


As I said in a a vanished post ... We have 10 beehives on our plots & people do plant or allow-to-grow plants which are not DIRECTLY useful, but which attract pollinators (Not just honey-bees)
There's also the other wildlife:
The birdies, including 2 sorts of Woodpecker (well-inside London) & the feral foxes, whom we encourage, because they eat rats & pigeons.
Yes, ecology is complicated.


The company store thing sounds very similar to what they did with the navvies building the railways. We called it "truck". Navvies were paid in "truck tickets", valid only at the "truck shop", which sold rotten food at exorbitant prices; they were paid in arrears, so had to get an advance in order to eat until the first pay day, which put them in debt from which they could never extricate themselves.

Eventually we got the Truck Act which stipulated that people had to be paid in coin of the realm, but there was a lot of resistance from those who benefited from truck systems, and there were two or three preceding attempts at Truck Acts which ended up with legislation which was too weak, evadable or unenforceable to do any good.

Unfortunately this is no longer in force; it was repealed towards the end of her reign by BLOODY THATCHER, as part of the long-term, persistent (as in, it's still going on) policy of forcing people into submission to parasitism by the banking system: no longer can you insist on being paid in cash, so you effectively can't get a job without a bank account, and if you aren't enough of a good little conformist zombie to qualify to have all your transactions available for government inspection via the banking system you're quite fucked.

The modern incarnation of keeping people in subjection by means of inescapable debt is more subtle, has greater long-term persistence, is independent of specific relationships with an employer, and is pretty much completely self-enforcing; a more evil proposition altogether.

It operates by the policy - which again persists through changes of government - of encouraging house prices to rise and rise to completely stupid levels, while propagandising people to believe that they are somehow better off for it; the usual human tendency for people to believe what they're told even if it is contradicted by what's in front of their eyes appears at this point. So once someone has managed to get to the point of being able to buy a house, they are then fucked with an enormous debt that will be hanging over them until they're nearly retired, and carries the threat of losing the roof over their head and going right back to square one. They are therefore shit-scared of losing their job and will take any crap their employer throws at them because they don't dare risk speaking out against it. The subjection persists across changes of job, is a free gift to the employers, is essentially impossible to legislate against, and on top of all that is self-perpetuating by way of this weird turkeys-voting-for-Christmas brainwashing virus it carries: people hammer closed the fastenings of their own fetters, and then refuse to admit they are even wearing them.


Here are a few suggestions

1. Do we need an industrial version of the Agricultural Adjustment Act

Remember that when FDR took over, automation was driving radicalism within the rural states (both fascists and communists were popular within these states). This act didn't stop automation, but it did tamp down on the radicalism enough to gave the market time enough to act. After WWII, most developed nations adopted a version of this act.

2. Retiring boomers will play merry havoc with the electoral college. Heck, it's possible that it won't be until 2028 that a President wins both the popular vote AND the Electoral College (when this phenomenon exhausts itself).


Do you even need a president? Ignoring for the sake of argument the amount of yelling and screaming involved in the transition, what would happen to your system if you had a head of state who never made any decisions, but just existed to put the official imprimatur on decisions made in the houses of hot air and to hobnob with other heads of states?


this is not accidental and explains much of why the US right is so absolutely determined not to help anybody. Helping people dilutes the systemic push to their desired outcome.
Thank you & yes ....
BUT, but, but, ummm, errr ..
Why do people vote for this?
I can see why the "controlling claque" would want this, but how do they manage to gull approx 50% of the population - a considerably larger proportion than ever actually voted for either Musso or Adolf, incidentally.
Especially given the still-within-living memory horrible examples?
Why do, f'rinstance, the US populace, lots of them fear universal healthcare, even though it's known that it's both cheaper & more effective?
[ "The boss" phrased it as: "Why do people in the US hate each other so much?" ]


Sensible; the reason I could meet these guys at journey end so regularly is that we were going to a ferry port. We had time and a handy gas station so fuelled up there since fuel was about 10% cheaper than on the island we were heading for.


I was working for a Baby Bell, in IT, so I was "in management"
You were working for a small cheese? ;-) Ok, I know what you actually mean, but that is an image that will at least attempt to pass us Europeans' minds.

for under 300-400 mi, trains made more sense than planes, since they went right downtown
That depends on where you are and where you're going.
For instance, and ignoring our shared dislike of Thiefrow airport, planes have made more sense than trains for Charlie and I for the last several London Eastercons, because the venues and accomodation were at the airport, so we really didn't want a service that deposited us "right downtown" and hence over 1 hour from our destination. In my case it was also quicker and easier to get to my (hypothetical) departure airport than to the "right downtown" railhead.


In the US model the POTUS is not only "Head of State", but also the head of the executive branch of the national government.


Why do people vote for this?

People mostly vote their tribal affiliation; careful considered rational voting is effectively unheard of.

So creating a voting coalition should be understood as an act of ethnogenesis, and when's the last time you saw a positive portrayal of collective action in any form of media?


Yes, I think fear of male obsolescence in a “feminized” technocratic society is creating a huge counter-reaction, worldwide. But rough men do still rule on some level, and continue to want to rule, which means there are big opportunities for leaders to exploit their anxiety by forming fascist parties and warbands – ISIS giving us a taste of the sort of civilization-wrecking havoc they can cause. I think these things go in big historical cycles, civilization->dark age->civilization, and it's not clear how the fascist phase can be stopped once it gains enough steam.


and it's not clear how the fascist phase can be stopped once it gains enough steam.
Actually, it is very clear how it is stopped.
By spilling lots of blood & treasure.

And no-one ever listens to the warnings until it's too late.


I think that's what Pigeon is getting at. Why not make the President a "head of state" only role, like the President of Germany, the Monarch in the UK, or the equivalent viceroy in Australia, Canada and NZ? For the USA this would require converting the executive role to something emerging from their equivalent to a parliament.

Currently the USA is much more like an absolute monarchy (with an elected king) than a constitutional republic. The President of the USA has powers that the British head of state hasn't held since Cromwell (the story I've heard is that the US founders had meant follow the UK example in terms of such powers, but were poorly advised and entertained misconceptions about how it actually worked. I'm sure this must be wrong, but it's the best explanation I've come across so far).

It's no surprise that the role of a Prime Minister depends on Cabinet (it's all in the name) rather than the other way around.

The USA could actually do this with limited constitutional change - for instance requiring that Cabinet be made up of elected members of Congress. With the current system it would still be appointed by the President - but in theory in the UK, Australia, Canada and NZ the Cabinet is appointed by the Queen. There's a convention that the leader of Cabinet must hold the confidence of the House of Representatives (or Commons or whatnot). The only step you need to take further then is to stipulate (by constitution or just by convention) that the President is NOT a member of Cabinet. Everything else more or less follows from those three points.

But this couldn't last, whether stipulated by constitution or by convention, so long as the President is elected by a direct vote independent to Congress. The reason is that such a role could always claim a popular mandate and abrogate executive power to itself, no matter what. So the method of selecting the President would have to change too. Germany's method looks nice. Australia's is a bit weak. The UK's is just wrong.

The real problem with this isn't the constitutional mechanics, but the way that federal congressional districts are currently defined - which is by state legislatures. American gerrymandering is as much a spectator sport as American football. Which means you'd get US Prime Ministers like Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich.


Erm, that's "arrogate" rather than "abrogate". But it isn't that good a word anyway, I could have thought of a more common one, like "take". Never mind.


It's a very specific value of "male", and it's one with no just claim to the name of a man in any traditional set of masculine virtues. (Just the fours -- forthrightness, forethought, fortitude, and forbearance -- is a hard fail, and that's a very sparse and minimal set of masculine virtues.)

That's, in a lot of ways, the problem; patriarchal norms are built on the bottom fifth of the male population who are both expendable in wars and very very motivated to have society compel some woman to marry them, because without the compulsion it's not going to happen. We've stopped expending them (whether through wars or work) and the coercion is greatly diminished so there's a much larger surplus of people adopting "say I'm good and desirable and the best or I'll hurt you" as their insecurity management strategy. (Why you'd believe anybody's praise under those circumstances is, I think, both depressing and illuminating to contemplate.)

And, yes, environmental lead and terrible child-rearing practices. What you do with the adults is still highly problematic because the effort of turning into someone anyone wants, socially, may not be one they could make; it's surely not going to be one they do make, statistically. (Especially since the get-copies-into-the-future parts of that social cluster's practices vehemently discourage any such change.) You get what you reward and the only rewards available to that social cluster arise from collective violence or the threat thereof.


Unelectable? Have a look at Australia. Our Senate now has a loony climate change denier, who also buys into the "sovereign citizen" movement. We have our "One Nation" party, four senators. And others, bully boys in the mainstream parties.

Beware of thinking someone is unelectable.


I'm not sure this "bottom fifth" you refer to is as class-bound as putting it in those terms would suggest. I think that all kinds of faulty masculinity, all the ways that our society constructs men in pathological ways, are just as present at most or all social levels.

And like all outcomes of intergenerational brutalisation, addressing the problem requires breaking the cycle. And that might require impossible things, like forgiveness, trust, even love. Which I suppose is your point.


"bottom fifth" = in the judgement of the women. This is one of the great strengths of patriarchal forms of social organization; they create the conditions of its perpetuation.

"faulty masculinity" is pretty much all of it. That doesn't mean the faults are all equivalent at personal scales. (E.g., Dick Cheney, good dad.)

The fix, an there should be a fix, is an act of ethnogenesis; it's not going to be one which presumes universal inherent value. (Not going into two hungry generations it's not.)


"bottom fifth" = in the judgement of the women. This is one of the great strengths of patriarchal forms of social organization; they create the conditions of its perpetuation.

Isn't polygamy the patriarchal form of marriage? If this 'bottom fifth' of men are marriageable due to monogamy don't they just (approximately) marry the the bottom fifth of women (in the judgment of men) in an equilibrium?

And polyandry has swung the to the other extreme. It seems that a stable patriarchal society with polygamy really needs some combination of male infanticide, high male death rate constructed through war or other risky enterprise, and eunuchs.


patriarchal norms are built on the bottom fifth of the male population who are both expendable in wars and very very motivated to have society compel some woman to marry them

Well, it does explain why male BNP/EDL supporters mostly appear to be stupid, fat, and bald / shaven-headed. Note, though, that the bottom fifth have generally been rejected by the military - for being too stupid, too fat, or too lazy...

...perhaps pre-welfare-state, expendability would more likely to be driven by industrial accident and disease; pre-industrial-economy, by adding starvation. Agriculture, fishing, and unprotected factory work are unforgiving of carelessness.

It does show how far we've come in a century, that starvation, illness, and workplace injury are no longer the immediately fatal concerns they once were for the UK.


The situation in USA seems to provide a real show. A pity that it has not been condensed into a 2.4 hour movie. A couple of beers and some popcorn would do nicely.

One interesting sidenote is that the result of the election seems to benefit Mr. Trump's business interests quite nicely. If he does not distance himself from his business empire, then we might be seeing a quite intriguing mix of business interests and national interests. That might be a change since previously the presidents have not had a personal interest in sending marines to protect US business interests. Direct involvement could even be more honest.

Anyway, Mr. Trump seems to be determined to make real changes. Time will tell what they really are.

Another interesting thing to note is that in the US political spectrum the Democrats seem to be more right than the conservative parties in most continental European countries. Someone like Marine Le Pen might be too left for most of the US democrats in economics and social politics (excluding some tendencies of the Front National).


Responding to your three paragraphs in order: you have touched on a hidden truth, nonsense, and precisely.

The so-called patriarchical aspects of the (current) western world are nothing of the sort, and (to a large extent) are maintained by and benefit women as much as men. We have a society which promotes particular harmful mindsets and behaviours that are associated with a Y chromosome, but that is NOT the same - and, critically, it means that attempting to change it by educating men is doomed to failure. And it is AT LEAST as much a failure of femininity as one of masculinity. Most of the beliefs and actions of people who style themselves as 'feminists' are as obsolete, often bogus and even vicious as Owen Jones style 'socialism', orthodox Marxism or the 'free enterprise' dogma.


@ 213 - 216
Err ..
You seem to be assuming, contra the evidence, that only males suffer from these faults.
A hell of a lot of women voted for Trumpolini, which suggests otherwise ....


"Well, it does explain why male BNP/EDL supporters mostly appear to be stupid, fat, and bald / shaven-headed. Note, though, that the bottom fifth have generally been rejected by the military - for being too stupid, too fat, or too lazy..."

Only in the present times. Earlier the Army definitely found you something to do if you understood commands with at least two words in them. Only after the weaponry started to get a bit complicated some dandy skills like reading or being able to count big numbers like eleven or twelve have started to be important.


Look, the reason that a government - at least a democracy or a republic - should not be run like a business, as I realized a few weeks ago, is that businesses are *monarchies", with an absolute ruler, the CEO. Fascism sets up a CEO for the country, who makes sure his nobles (company CEOs) control the rabble - you and me.

That has become the dominant model, but it is not the only viable model: consider collectives such as co-operatives, the old building societies and mutuals. All of which versions of business have suffered massive attrition since the late 1980's onwards in favour of share issuing oligarchies.

Another similar issue has been governments claiming that national finances should be run like a households. If any metaphor is to be used, a farm is much more appropriate, in that additional or better used manpower can increase yields and more importantly one can increase ones "money" in the form of seed which can be traded, used, or reinvested to increase GDP, sorry harvest returns.

(Not that the farm is an ideal metaphor, just better.)


Trumpolini has just stated that he's going to "step down" from governance roles in his businesses' .....

However, I suspect an Ernest Marples style total con trick.
[ All the shares will go to his wife & children/cousins, who will still do as he says ]


Nah, yes. I assume that there is going to be a responsibility transfer to next generation. Such a transfer may very well be real, Mr. Trump is a bit old to have two full-time jobs. He might be taking the new one seriously as long as it amuses him. That does not make Mr. Trump unable to send marines if some insubordinate country does not give the best property for the next Trump Tower.

Well, it is good to be a king.


Yes, patriarchy is a system that harms and is kept in place by all of us, but it teaches those of us who identify as men and are mostly comfortable in 'standard' masculinity we need to be providers, suppress our emotions, be comfortable with violence, etc; it teaches people who aren't to fear for their lives - for good reason.

Here, patriarchy in one sentence, with supporting statements: beliefs about maleness construct both toxic masculinity and toxic femininity. Who do men fear "looking gay*" in front of? Who in theory are all those unrealistic beauty standards geared towards?

*read 'effeminate'/'feminine'


You have completely missed my points, starting with the very beginning: "The so-called patriarchical aspects of the (current) western world are nothing of the sort".

While there ARE patriarchical societies in the world, and even patriarchical communities in the west, the aspects of the UK and USA that are normally damned as patriarchical are completely different and have almost nothing in common.


All I'm getting in your posts on this topic is a conclusion without any argument (evidence). IOW, please fill in the blanks because 'completely different' and 'nothing in common' lack content.


Thank you for putting politely what I could not.


Technically correct - thanks. I generally lump together the politicos as one group and SCOTUS as a completely separate bunch because of how each group gets their power, scope of their permitted and actual influence, proclivity to censure, permitted interaction with citizens, tenure, etc.


The current system isn't what the founders wanted. The founders envisioned a governing system where

President = Head of State
Speaker of the House = Prime Minister

Powers that the president DOES NOT have include the ability to declare war, create a budget (which is why the US hasn't been at war since WWII; we've just been in police actions). Heck, they gave the President the power of Commander in Chief to avoid making the Speaker too powerful.

State governors have also had greater powers. Before the Civil War, it was possible for a state government to have Test Acts, which were basically a religious requirement to hold public office

The states rights people have a point when they say that the structure of government has changed massively since the early 19th century.


And you aren't going to get any more, not least because it would be a major derail, and because you are asking for a logical impossibility. The onus should be on the people who claim that we live in a patriarchy to demonstrate it, rather than simply using strident claims.

But you could start by looking up what patriarchy actually means, rather than using it as a term of abuse (in the same way that "fascist" is abused), and look at the society we live in. E.g.:

You could then follow it up by reading about the psychological difference between genders, especially as regards P- and S-power and their effects in our society. I have mentioned "The Winner Effect" before, which describes my point better than I can. Then ask again.


From your link:

The consensus among modern anthropologists and sociologists is that while power is often preferentially bestowed on one sex or the other, patriarchy is not the cultural universal it was once thought to be.

Obviously true.

However, some scholars continue to use the term in the general sense for descriptive, analytical, and pedagogical purposes.



Considering that the US abolished the draft (conscription) January 1973 leaving the enlisted to be made up of volunteers only, (to me) this means that an increasing proportion of altruists were being removed out of the civilian circulation - reproductive and otherwise. Since obvious sociopaths are usually weeded out - although few apply - this further increases the concentration (overall incidence) of bad/selfish apples within the civilian population.

Following increased rates of suicide, PTSD, etc. - or at least increased media coverage of these problems - the military requested the medical/healthcare community to come up with new screening tools as per below.

What personality dimensions are sought can be tweaked so that the personality make-up of the military could at some point be made up of truly only the like-minded therefore unrepresentative of (and possibly - unsympathetic to) the diverse public it is supposed to defend.

On-going bad press re: sexual misconduct and bullying of females in the military, also adds pressure on Command to do something, i.e., screen out potential bullies, sexual predators, etc. therefore more reliance on psych testing.

Next - given that more military activity is tending toward sitting behind a screen vs. marching with 80 pounds of gear, there's less pressure to select for large numbers of males with the most desirable physical characteristics. This in turn allows for even more psych screening re: the temperament and tech skill sets Command wants.


I drove it almost 300 miles yesterday and it looks like it's on track to get about 470 miles out of a ten-gallon tank (U.S. Gallons.) I'm still figuring out exactly how to drive this particular car for mileage; part of the problem is that the engine's sweet spot seems to be about 65 mph and I tend to drive it at closer to 75. :)

Doing 65 will be easier for today's planned driving, so we'll see what happens.


I tell people that I'm a second generation feminist. The third generation can go suck eggs.


For instance, and ignoring our shared dislike of Thiefrow airport, planes have made more sense than trains for Charlie and I for the last several London Eastercons, because the venues and accomodation were at the airport,

... Which explains why I drove. (420 miles each way.)

Please don't be putting words in my mouth without checking first?


The more information has been provided on the nature of Mr. Trump's government, the more I tend to agree with OGH's opinion. The opinion being that Mr. Trump is at least somewhat in line with the fascist tendency.

I do, however, wellcome it (although, historically, I would expect to be on the losing side after the-type-of-government-you-do-not-want-to-name takes all the power). If the only way to get rid of the cockroaches during the midwinter time is to burn the house, then so be it.

Although I am quite affluent with the current regime of the so called "Western Democracies", I am completely fed-up with the Beige Dictatorship and the power of the multinational oligarchy over individual countries. If the end of the current trend requires the end of quite a few other things, then so be it.


You wrote:
I drove it almost 300 miles yesterday and it looks like it's on track to get about 470 miles out of a ten-gallon tank (U.S. Gallons.) I'm still figuring out exactly how to drive this particular car for mileage; part of the problem is that the engine's sweet spot seems to be about 65 mph and I tend to drive it at closer to 75. :)
If the vehicle has cruise control, USE IT. I drove from the DC metro area to Kansas City for Worldcon, and that's a hard two days (we're talking 8-10 hours a day of just driving), and I was in my minivan... and once through the mountains, I was getting a *consistent* 27+ mpg - the vehicle, new, is rated at something like 21 or MAYBE 23. I even broke 28mpg once.

And you don't accidentally go faster than you want, which helps, also, to avoid speeding tickets.



I like it! I make a distinction between liberated women and womens libbers - my experience is that the former have no more time for the latter than I do, often based on similar experiences (including listening to their nonsense).


Any scholar that is going to use a term with a meaning other than its established one will define it. If you have thought things through enough to be able to define what YOU mean by patriarchy, it might be possible to respond. If you haven't, there is obviously no point.


By the way, speaking of modern American businesses and business practice, for 20 years I've been talking about starting the ultimate modern business: I buy a color printer, and design and print artistic stock shares, and sell *them*. And, if someone wants to resell them, I get a 10% cut (at least).

See? It's pre-downsized, the only "employee" is me, the CEO and president, my computer and printer are fully amortized, and there's no other resources needed, other than good-quality sheets of paper, and the stocks, of course, are well-worth the paper they're printed on....



I'll have to see if a modern cruise control works better than the ones I am familiar with (and hate.) Cruise control is difficult if it doesn't recover well after braking.


Okay - got what I think you meant ... basically this:

'One problem we need to be aware of is that winners sometimes fail to help others become winners as a consequence of the effect that winning has on their brain and behavior. Being placed in an environment that allows one to win tends to increase testosterone levels, dominance behaviors, and the probability that one will continue winning. The emergence of dominance hierarchies in the animal kingdom is a function of how winning a challenge with one animal increases the probability of winning another challenge with other animals (Landau, 1951). Winning increases testosterone levels, even amongst apparently coolheaded chess players (Mazur et al, 2002). Winning and empowerment also increase dopamine levels in the brain, which is associated with increased motivation and positivity in the context of goal pursuit-- people become less cautious, more goal oriented, their sense of control increases, and they become over-optimistic in relation to the time it takes to achieve a goal (Weick and Guinote, 2010). Increasing people’s sense of power experimentally will boost their motivation and executive control (Smith et al., 2008), and may help them to think in more abstract and creative ways (Smith et al., 2006). However, boosting people’s sense of power does not necessarily lead them to become altruistic enablers of others. In fact, experiments that increase people’s sense of power can make them more self-centered, less empathic and less likely to factor in the perspective of others (Galinsky et al., 2006), while also making them less socially disinhibited (Keltner et al., 2000). High-power people are also more likely to think that although others should follow the rules, the rules don’t apply to them – they are more ‘forgiving’ of their own transgression and more harsh in their judgment of others' transgressions (Lammers et al., 2009, 2010).'

Okay - fits the current topic thread and discussion, and your point (I think) is that the above is more salient and problematic than the notion of 'patriarchy'.


I've been trying to locate research that shows concrete and measurable benefits of altruism and/or at least policy formulation that recognizes that the 'other' is also human. So far ... note that this is still very early search ... best that I've found is Thomas C. Schelling (Nobel Econ 2005).*

Most Important Thing That Didn't Happen in Last 60 Years

His book The Strategy of Conflict** (revised 1980) is available for free download here. Schelling is often considered a games-theorist although he says he hadn't studied game theory until after writing some of his best known work. Impressive CV in real-world and theoretical policy.

* Kubrick consulted Schelling for his film 'Dr Strangelove' to figure out what events and types of people would be most likely to precipitate this type of event.

** How can you not like an author/academic/policy theorist who titles his first chapter section: The Retarded Science of International Policy.


You push the button that says resume. Holding that speeds you up, while push and release just gets you back to where you were.



Modern cruise control is fantastic, and even works well with manual cars. Tap up to go faster, down to go slower, or middle to pause/restart it. Automatically disengages if you touch the brake pedal, but not if you accelerate, so you can overtake people and it will bring you back to your set speed afterwards. Also no longer tends to be stupid on steep hills, thrashing the revs to maintain a nominal speed. That's the driver's job ;)

It's a godsend on motorways or any form of long monotonous journey, especially when you don't know the speed limits well.


That's part of it, but there's more. P-power people regard success as a zero-sum game, and success is their relative position; i.e. they 'win' by harming themselves if they harm other people more. S-power people regard success as achieving objectives (e.g. changing society for what they regard as good). We are dominated by P-power people, and there is an association between P/S-power and M/F gender.


I played with it today on my way to the jobsite. The car told me that my mpg was 65, so it definitely works. It seems like the real sweet spot was right about 67 mph.


I'll have to see if a modern cruise control works better than the ones I am familiar with (and hate.)
So were you happy with the cruise control?
You're driving a drive-by-wire car. The user controls are just ways to inform the computer of user desires; hopefully they implemented the cruise control sensibly.


Without saying I necessarily have nothing meaningful to contribute on this topic, I'd like to point out that google search on it is complicated by the fact there is a power company in South Africa called "P&S". I find that amusing enough to point out, and there's a more serious digression/rabbit hole to wander down about the effects of named things on search engines in this age, how interventions at the right scale can game the way people approach knowledge discovery going forwards.


"Patriarchy" as it is commonly understood in feminism refers to a system of power relationships, most of which favor one gender over the other, but which also favor certain men over other men. The term developed from one particular scholar who grounded her understanding of this system in its historical development in one specific region. So, the original denotation of the term may be flawed. But so much scholarship has been written using the term "patriarchy" that it is fairly easy to know the connotation of the term as used in these contexts. And it is more effective to delve into that research and learn how it is being used than to request/demand that people go back and rewrite all of those texts using a neologism with a "more proper" etymology.

If you took a thousand random people born into such a society, over the course of their lives, you would find the power differentials in most situations favoring the male side of the sample. You would find individual women with more power than x percent of men* and you would find situations where the system burped up an outcome that was more favorable to women usually, e.g. modern child custody. But if you had to bet on one gender to be born into, you would probably pick male.

*If you corrected for other factors, however, you would probably find fewer women with more power than men similarly situated for race, class, etc.


I tell people that I'm a second generation feminist. The third generation can go suck eggs.

Why not just just say you're racist? Because the major split between the two was caused by a bunch of "coloured girls" explaining that they also wanted to be treated as human.

FWIW, I'm more an anrco-postmodernist feminist than generic 3rd wave. Arguably the defining characteristic of 3rd wave is that there is no unitary core in the way that suffrage and work rights were for first and second wave.

"they hate political correctness, but if you use the wrong labels for them they get extremely upset".


Re: 'zero-sum game'

Ahhh ... even more reason to read Schelling as he discusses zero, non-zero sum and cooperative strategies ... plus brinkmanship, asymmetric information, tipping points, etc.

There's also Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation.

Another article on my to-read list is Jessica L. Weeks' Autocratic Audience Costs: Regime Type and Signalling Resolve because this author was mentioned in a tribute UC Berkeley Events seminar honoring Schelling:

There are three videos from this seminar, with three different speakers/panelists per video. Most of the speakers discuss how Schelling's work has been applied in various disciplines rather than a recap/summary of his theories/articles:

Schelling, Strategy, International Relations (1:21:11)

Schelling and Scary Stuff (1:25:20)

Schelling, Micro Motives and Macro Behavior (1:28:09)


I'm definitely not a racist, and have no problems with a feminism which is intersectional on multiple issues. (We have family members who are females of color, so non-racist feminism is actually a pretty big deal as far as we're concerned.)

My problem is more with modern feminism in general, as exemplified by a story about my daughter. She started a new college and joined the feminist club, which I was very happy with. She went to two meetings, had to skip a meeting, then discovered at the fourth meeting that the club had broken up during the third meeting over extremely ugly and angry differences between the pro-sex and anti-sex feminists. At that point I looked around at modern feminism and decided that it had become an academic intellectual exercise in which the major issues were scholarly and petty rather than broad and practical, and that 3rd wave feminism had pretty much crawled into its own naval and died.

Thus I am a second-wave feminist ally (minus the racism, and with added respect for LGBTQ issues.) I do understand BTW, that I'm leaving out considerable historical and philosophical detail...


There are two things to be careful of here.

One is that the US military apparently recognized PTSD in WW1 (shell shock) and WW2. They stopped recognizing it in Vietnam for various reasons having to do (AFAIK) with following managerial and psychological theory that turned out to be wrong (as in chaplains advising soldiers who had lost comrades to "not get sad, get even."). That backfired badly on them, as Vietnam vets became the poster children for PTSD.

It's unclear whether the PTSD rate is currently going up or down, but our ancestors did suffer it. A psychologist made a really good case that the Iliad is about Achilles succumbing to PTSD, for example.

As for remote control warfare, it doesn't shield people from PTSD. Apparently drone pilots get PTSD at the same rate as do ground combat soldiers (e.g. Not bleeding yourself is not enough to keep you from getting traumatized.

Indeed, as I'm finding, "vicarious trauma" is enough to cause real trouble in people as diverse as environmentalists (raises hand), child welfare workers, cops, social workers, climatologists and health care workers. While I wouldn't class this as quite the same as combat PTSD, the "pre-traumatic stress disorder" experienced by climatologists is a version of this. It's becoming increasingly obvious that "soldiering on" is an inadequate response to trauma. It may be the only option (as in warfare), but when other options are available, they need to be part of the lives of people who are routinely exposed to the trauma of others, human or not, in person or not.


Yes - have heard of 'vicarious trauma' and its link to depression etc.

(BTW, I got a 404 error for the article link.)

The VA is currently funding a lot of research on PTSD - not sure whether they're looking at specific generations of military or what though.

Found this (below) which suggests that VietNam vets have the highest PTSD rates of any generation. Although the article doesn't say what type of training these soldiers had (vs. previous generations/wars), I'm half-wondering whether the systematic verbal dehumanization of the enemy during any talk about the enemy (which peaked during Nam) is a factor esp. when you see that the more marginalized US socio-ethnic groups end up with the highest overall and lifetime incidences of PTSD. (I.e., If VN people are less-than-human and okay to kill, this must mean that in the eyes of my WASP compatriots, I'm also less than human and don't deserve to live.)


'Findings from the Congressionally mandated National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study indicate that nearly one-half million Vietnam veterans —15.2% of the men and 8.5% of the women who served in Vietnam—suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) fifteen or more years after their military service. Current PTSD prevalence rates for Vietnam veterans are significantly and substantially higher than the rates for their comparable Vietnam generation peers, which range from 0.3% to 2.5%. Additionally, the current prevalence rate among male Vietnam veterans was found to differ significantly among race/ethnicity subgroups: 27.9% among Hispanic men, 20.6% among black men, 13.7% among white/other men. Multivariate analyses indicated that although background factors are significantly related to the current prevalence of PTSD, the current prevalence is much higher among Vietnam veterans than among era veteran and civilian counterpart comparison groups even after background differences are taken into account. These analyses also demonstrated the important role of exposure to combat and other types of war zone stress in the current prevalence of the disorder.'


Let's try this link:

As for the VA thing, I suspect it wasn't about dehumanizing the enemy (see our treatment of the "Nips" or the "Gooks" in the two preceding wars. Rather, I'd suggest that there were two problems. One was that soldiers were supposed to man up and ignore their own emotional trauma. The other was that berserkers were rewarded. Unfortunately, berserking seems to be caused by PTSD (or linked to it, or an extreme form of it. Apparently, when a soldier has gone that far, if they ever get totally sane again, they will be very different people than they were before). That's my non-psychiatrist understanding. In any case, it looks like the Vietnam military culture actively, if not knowingly, encouraged PTSD among soldiers in a way that it previously had not.


Seeing an adult decide that "modern feminism" is a waste of time and should be ignored because a young person they know saw an argument at university... wow.

My experience is that this is more about the young people discovering things process, and less about the fine print. You could easily find similar stories about a multitude of clubs.

One of the major splits in my friendship circle at university was between two factions of the local SCA group, which eventually resulted in there being two SCA groups with a combined membership of perhaps 50 (the Barony of Southron Gaard on one side if you want to look it up).

When you combine peoples tendency to factionalise with youthful vigor, the thrill of discovering NEW! IMPORTANT! EXCITING! things, hormones, inexperience at navigating differences, and often new levels of difference (the "other" is not just from the other side of the street, they're from an entirely different *city*) there's a lot of potential for excitement, and it's often realised.


The pro-sex vs anti-sex stuff is complicated and there are really solid arguments on both sides. It's also broad. Unfortunately there's also some subtlety, and understanding generally requires accepting that your intuition is wrong, and your experience limited. Many adults struggle with this, especially when it comes to sex, which makes it unsurprising that college kids fail too.

I could point to a huge number (the Australian unit is the fucton, generally the metric fucton although the older unit is still used). Anyway, a huge number of people who are nominally adults who come down on one side that exact debate through either ignorance of, or inability to consider, the arguments of the other side (the Roman Pope, the Prime Munster of NZ, Lada Gaga...).

This is not simple stuff like "abortion: good or bad?", it's ... hmm, simple examples... "two drunk people have sex: when is it rape, and of whom?" and "the sex industry contains both slaves and enthusiastic amateurs: outlaw or regulate?" (note that in the latter case "fishing" or "mining" could be substituted for "sex" without affecting the truth of the statement).


Next - given that more military activity is tending toward sitting behind a screen vs. marching with 80 pounds of gear, there's less pressure to select for large numbers of males with the most desirable physical characteristics.

Errr..... not really.

In fact, the advent of risk-aversion among politicians wary of casualty rates, means that increasingly effective (and increasingly heavy) body armour is now mandated of everyone.

The irony being that women on foot patrols in Helmand in 2010 were carrying far more than men on foot patrols in Belfast in 1975. There has actually been a push for infantry soldiers to carry more, not less. The course joining instructions for soldiers attending one of the leadership courses at the School of Infantry in Sennybridge would suggest training with a minimum personal load of 50lbs or so in the early 1990s. By the late 1990s, the School was pointing out that the minimum load in the infantry section in the attack was 32kg (60+lbs). By the late 00s, typical patrol loads exceeded 40kg (80+lbs).

The average line infantry unit in Helmand, and its supporting troops (often including women) were routinely carrying loads that pre-Falklands era were regarded as the preserve of Commando and Paratroop units.


In my 2003 car, with its older and somewhat dumber cruise control, I take over if I want fuel economy. The CC doesn't recognise a hill climb early enough, so it drops a gear or two and revs the engine hard, whereas when I'm in control, i allow some speed to wash off in the climb to prevent the engine from high revving. CC is best on mostly flat roads, like outback New South Wales, but not when crossing the Great Dividing Range.

I never use CC with towing either, it just tries too hard to hold its speed. I expect modern cruise controls are smarter and can be set for economical operation.


Considering that the US abolished the draft (conscription) January 1973

So why did I have to register with Selective Service when I turned 18, in 1989?
Conscription was not abolished, it was discontinued. There is always the possibility of it being brought back, there just hasn't been a lack of people willing to enlist. Every few years someone suggests bringing it back, and if they do it'll likely include women, since the Senate voted to add them to Selective Service registration this past June.


Interesting comments - adds a few other factors, such as self-inflicted wounds are the main problem, foreign policy community is the same (closed) bunch therefore difficult for new ideas to percolate through, the US is the only major western power that uses amateurs (major campaign donors) as their ambassadors, spends 25% of its time on the campaign trail vs. governing, increased use of exaggeration of foreign threat by gov't to rouse public support, bad behavior by gov't is no longer as likely to get punished, field trips paid by US military for policy consultants/think-tank which results in favorable op-ed pieces and thereby promotes the current military strategy, etc.

Follies and Fiascoes: Why Does US Foreign Policy Keep Failing? (1:08:39)

Published on Sep 2, 2014

Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs, discusses US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War at IDEASpHERE at Harvard Kennedy School on May 16, 2014.


"Currently the USA is much more like an absolute monarchy (with an elected king) than a constitutional republic. The President of the USA has powers that the British head of state hasn't held since Cromwell..."

Yes, that's just the sort of thing I was getting at. The system as it stands seems excessively vulnerable to a single point of failure if the President turns out to be a penis. But my knowledge and understanding doesn't go much beyond that, and certainly not far enough to draw any useful conclusions, so I thought I'd put the idea out there to give (mainly) those who live under it a different model to consider both its advantages and its disadvantages. (Not the difficulties of transition; they're the next thing to consider once (if) you decide it's a useful idea at all.)

I realise that the system is said to have been designed to cope with such a failure, but it seems to me that it "copes" mainly by driving into a swamp and sitting there spinning its wheels until a new President comes along - who may or may not be able to get it to winch itself out. Which isn't necessarily the sort of thing I'd disapprove of; I think it is a good thing that the desire of governments to Do Something regardless of what it is in order to justify their existence should be so stifled by internal bickering that the Something never gets round to actually happening, thus confining the government's effectiveness to those occasions where an emergency arises sufficiently genuine and sufficiently serious to unify most people's agendas in dealing with it. But the American system doesn't really seem to achieve either of those points.

(Search engines - it baffles me that there still exist commercial organisations who think it's a good idea to name their stuff by a single, conventionally-spelt, common word, thus rendering it unsearchable because every bloody web page in the world has that word on it somewhere.)


There used to be a belief that PTSD in soldiers was related to whether they felt they had a Just Cause. Many American soldiers in WWI, Korea, and Vietnam often wondered what they were doing there, while WWII was considered to be righteous fight for freedom, therefore they had more motivation to fight. We now know that's nonsense and that the WWII vets were better at covering (not all, of course), often by, as you say "Manning Up", or by self medicating with alcohol. Obviously both of those methods have serious downsides.


"other types of war zone stress"; Vietnam had a lot of small unit actions plus significant numbers of conscripts (people who hadn't decided to go), doubt as to the cause, plus unit cohesion and command quality issues.

PTSD involves your brain getting stuck in not being safe; if the environment is one in which it's much harder to feel safe in the first place, even compared to a common-or-garden war zone, the PTSD rate will go up.


My 2015 manual transmission car has cruise control. Hills are no problem since the car is manual. If I need to change down I can resume in a lower gera to maintain speed. Most of my driving is on rural roads and I find cruise control really helps in most situations. I can accelerate to the safe speed for the journey and select cruise control in sixth gear. If there are sharp corners I change down or touch the brakes to drop out of cruise control and then ensure to accelerate out of the corner to the safe speed.
For motorway use I envy my son-in law's reactive cruise control which keeps a safe distance from the car in front.


My Z4 with manual will handle shifting gears properly, with no need to resume the cruise control. (If the clutch is pressed for more than a second or so, it starts chiming a warning.)

268:'ll likely include women, since the Senate voted to add them to Selective Service registration this past June.

Well, never mind: Lawmakers Drop Plan Requiring Women to Register for Draft.
Or as my mother (Cpt. USArmy Ret.) said when she shared the article "That sucks." One more step toward the American right's version of "The Handmaid's Tale"? If they're removed from combat positions soon, we'll know.


The second gas tank came in right around 49 miles a U.S. gallon. Not bad, I think.


I wrote, "I looked around at modern feminism and decided that it had become an academic intellectual exercise in which the major issues were scholarly and petty rather than broad and practical, and that 3rd wave feminism had pretty much crawled into its own naval and died."

So my problem is with 3rd Wave feminism, not "modern" feminism. The way you quoted me edges up to being deceptive - most of the concerns of 2nd Wave feminism are, unfortunately, still very modern. (I say "unfortunately" because they should have been settled long ago, and in favor of feminist concerns.)

I'm aware of the issues you brought up and I'm following them, though not closely. I'm not coming to any particular conclusion since these seem to be "petty" in the sense of meaning "small" rather than having a broad appeal to some sense of justice, and people are making conclusions about right and wrong based on the particular circumstances which apply to any given iteration of the issues.

"Don't rape anyone" has a broad appeal. "Two drunk people have sex: when is it rape, and of whom?" doesn't have that same broad appeal, though the practical applications are obvious (and kudos to anyone who can navigate that minefield without unnecessarily damaging the lives of a couple college kids.)


... Which explains why I drove. (420 miles each way.)

Please don't be putting words in my mouth without checking first?
That wasn't my intention, particularly since I also drove (other recent comments explain why public transport (esp with changes) was unsuitable). All I intended to do was demonstrate that there are times when a terminus "right down town" is at a disadvantage relative to the air hub an hour or so out.


"I looked around at modern feminism and decided that it had become an academic intellectual exercise"

I wish :-( The second wave wanted equality of opportunity; the third wants equality of success, irrespective of relative ability or effort. Perhaps worse, is the way that it demands ill-treatment of (often vulnerable) men, in order to achieve that. I have already been dressed down for giving examples of that, from my personal experience, and for pointing out that many 'clear' cases where women are disadvantaged are NOT discrimination against women as such.

The sexual assault morass is as bad, but all sides are to blame for that.


Not quite. When a group is not acting together in a difficult situation, it increases stress on the members that are trying. As does a conflict of objctives/ethics in a single person. So, there IS a 'just cause' factor - just not a major one.


Universal Basic Income would piss off the fundamentalist/puritan base,

And the racists - "all of hose wellfare queens sponging off ..... yadada".

Fact Is:

The majority of the neoliberal ritual gutting of the welfare states in Denmark and Sweden has been done by under the pretense (marketed by Dansk Folkeparti and Sverigesdemokraterne as such and never actively denied by their co-conspirators, the Social Democrats) that the "reforms" would mainly hurt immigrants.

Things became a good deal clearer when "Sverigesdemokraterne" recently caught the neoliberal brain-rot-affliction and welshed on their promise of "Swedish working conditions in Sweden" - or maybe they realized that putting immigrants and swedes on the same level would drain the supply of people fighting over the lower-paid jobs and cost them votes?

I do think that there is some unwanted change on the way - it appears that people are now realising what is going on and attitudes are changing; The racists beginning to line up with the arabs on issues they *do* agree on; the "why they will always hate us and will kill us once they are many enough"-discussion is dying down quite a bit recently, in Denmark.

Or maybe "The Great and Good" are finally beginning to realize that killing demand by endless austerity with the muslims as the bullet-sponge for the backlash, will rather a lot sooner than planned kill both the EU and Deutsche Bank and then "They" will be in the shit too - or at least having to postpone the purchase of a new island, which just isn't done.

So, The agitprop is changing. To change policies.


The sex wars predate third wave feminism, so blaming that disagreement on it seems...odd?


I'd have said the third wave recognises that more impacts on an opportunity's availability than just whether or not one is allowed apply (I'll once again point out orchestras moving to blind auditions), but we've had this fight before. Feminism is about systemic problems; why do so few people think it looks for a systemic solution?


Congratulations Elderly Cynic. Until your last comment, I thought you might be doing the satirical Poe rather than just general trolling and MRA type dissatisfaction :)

I give you 10/10 for mansplaining feminism (and your reference to Encyclopaedia Britannica was inspired. You didn't go or Wikipedia either. Who gives a shit about all that scholarship about feminism when you can quote Encyclopaedia Britannica and also out of your own arse. (Note to Feymary, next time EC is on a mission from god about his favourite science or engineering topic and points to empirical evidence, point him back to EB). FFS.

Sorry Charlie, realise this is a derail but we are so close to comment 300??

And Jesus Moz. I get your not EC but 'Why not just just say you're racist? Because the major split between the two was caused by a bunch of "coloured girls" explaining that they also wanted to be treated as human.'

WTF? 'coloured girls'?? Girls? Some of the women you are calling girls were in their 70s & 80s at the time. You are talking about feminist women not little kids. The split was far more complex and you obviously missed the fact that there were and still are shitloads of women of colour in both 2nd & 3rd wave (some prefer to see themselves as black women) are you really trying to say this was some kind of bitchfight between the ladeez? (Girls sorry)

Intersectionality was totally a reason for the split but race was only one facet of that (and it beggars belief that the people who cite that don't even know who the 2nd wave coloured women were and are in feminism) and another important part of the split was (and still is) whether men could be feminists or whether they would be allies. You're Australian Moz. Tony Abbott said he is a feminist. the same man fighting against gay marriage and abortions. Fuck that.

The other stupid thing in the discussion above is the whole 2nd or 3rd wave thing. most women supports bits they think will work from either. They get labelled one or the other but it's usually from men trying to box women in rather than how they see themselves.

Apologies for the rant all. The 'girl' shit started at 6am this morning onsite and it 7pm now.


Even that apparently reasonable approach still ignores its harmful aspects. 'Positive discrimination' is a nice, cuddly term, but the simple fact is that it requires (negative) discrimination against those who are not beneficiaries. And, as I say, it gets a lot worse, including the ill-treatment of vulnerable men, mainly by denying that they are discriminated against. All of that I can witness from experience.

Yes, there is still more and more serious discrimination against women than men, but that is NOT helped by creating discrimination against men. It's not just the race to the bottom, but the fact that it is the most vulnerable people (of both sexes) who suffer.

There is a HELL of a difference between fighting for social justice and fighting for equity (even if it were done across the board, and not just in the fields where the warriors are disadvantaged). But the former is a hard ethical and practical problem, and so not easy to turn into slogans and political campaigns.


Perhaps I should point out that an almost identical definition of paternalism occurs in every dictionary I have looked at, including the OED, and has been used in that sense in anthropology for as long as that subject has existed. The meaning that I assume you espouse is a revisionist one, dating from only 1970, and I have never seen it used outside polemic.


Sorry. I've been trying to push a "current feminist concerns and thought are valid!" line, but reading back I've been ...less than successful.


Oh well done Sir.

'Perhaps I should point out' (you stupid woman, get on board with my priorities already)

'an almost identical definition of paternalism occurs in every dictionary I have looked at'

because looking at feminist scholarship is beneath me, I mean, what do those little girlies have to contribute to the conversation anyway???

'The meaning that I assume you espouse is a revisionist one, dating from only 1970, and I have never seen it used outside polemic.'

Well of course you haven't seen it outside a polemic because it's become abundantly clear you don't see women as human. Outside of dictionary definitions anyway. And if you are referencing 1970 as your benchmark...

God forbid those pesky things got the vote... oh wait!!

Brilliant satire my man, seriously. Can't wait to catch up with you at the gentlemen's club next week over a lapdance hey what??


You don't owe me or anyone else a sorry :)


'Positive discrimination' is a nice, cuddly term, but the simple fact is that it requires (negative) discrimination against those who are not beneficiaries

Not giving you extra is not the same as taking stuff away. Go back and look at anonemouse's picture again. The adult figure is not being discriminated against when they don't get a box - they don't need one.

Positive discrimination is the idea of giving those that need it more, so they are equitable.

Ideally neither group would need any form of discrimination, that's the removal of the barrier entirely. But that brings us back to systemic discrimination - should the ball game only be available to those that paid for a seat, or is it simply the seat that they paid for, watching is free.


Since no-one has mentioned it, and I've not seen it mentioned anywhere else, a key to understanding the recent Ur-Fascism is ecology (and this goes beyond Dugin / the Black Baron).

Short version:

#GamerGate / Twitter etc exposed that the interconnections of the 'click-bait' journalism, personal ties (via both old and new social medias) and the ever-faster news cycle leads to a self-organized 'schooling' effect[1]. i.e. some outrage (real or not - this is important for the Alt-Right / FB / 'fake news' angle) will occur, then a slew of similar articles (e.g. 16 on the same day from various outlets, all similar in tone) will launch as a reactionary 'attack / response'. Trolls have been playing havok with this since 2014 or so (c.f. Ms Wu).

Bannon is on record (and Breitbart has been using the same technique since the ACORN take-down via Libertarian Blogs / the online right-wing US media sphere) as using Breitbart to gain a Right-wing 'revolutionary' media sphere where the Alt-Right / Fascist Right will eventually be tamed, leaving a 'healthy' Right-Wing order replacing the old Republican grandee arborescent model (! Does he really believe this? The amount of ex-GS members in Trumps transition, notably Jewish, and his forays into European Hard Right / Catholic Rome says he probably does, which is even worse, as it means he's already planning purges of his own). That point where he managed BioSphere 2? Probably more formative than you'd imagine.

People like Thiel noticed it too - given his capabilities (Social Network tracing/mapping), he went after Gawker but in a larger sense, acts like a Shark towards these schools. (Or perhaps a Tuna). Trump is doing it via Twitter - lots of noise / moves, the school will follow, just on the larger stage of the 'Big Six'; during the campaign this was via TV, of course.

Contra to the Dugin / Serkov model, where Performance Art with a director is the key, the American version is much more organic (due, largely, to a larger $capital spend, and a depth/bredth of media which is limited, but certainly larger than Russia's - and yes, we're including all the online media / blogosphere here).

That's the key - and I'm not sure anyone has worked it out yet (apart from in a reactionary / intuitive manner backed up by watching viral spread of memes etc on their online graphs / data scrapers). The main good point is that (most) of the HN / Silicon Valley types don't really understand ecology.

Once someone does work that out, well.

The End of the Anglo-American OrderNYT, long-form, 29th Nov 2016.

NYT article roughly rehashing last conversation on this blog (still on-going).

[1] The individual agents know each other, and organize to publish in a similar time-frame: the Vanguard organize the message, the rest follow for the clicks. It's entirely predictable at the moment, which is why it got eaten.


A few days ago I wondered whether some Internet-based orgs would move their servers over fears of what the incoming administration might do to current online freedom. News has it that the largest not-for-profit digital library in the US is in fact sufficiently concerned about this that they are planning on building a copy of their contents in Canada.


'Motherboard - The Entire Internet Will Be Archived In Canada to Protect It From Trump

As Donald Trump careens towards the Oval Office, promising jail time for flag-burners along the way, an organization that archives the internet for anyone to peruse aims to create a full backup in Canada in order to protect the digital library from censorship.

The Internet Archive is a US-based nonprofit that has been archiving the web for 20 years. So far, they’ve cataloged petabytes worth of web pages and claim to continue to archive 300 million new web pages each week. Their massive database allows the organization to run services like the Wayback Machine, which anyone can use to visit an archived version of most web pages, sometimes dating back years.'


Note: 'Tis the fund-raising season for every non-profit ... this group included.


Sorry, but you aren't thinking it through! That's fine, and we are (probably) all agreed, in a non-competitive context.

But the contexts used in this thread (and by FAR the more important) are the competitive ones. Consider selecting a single candidate from 1,000 men and 1,000 women, where men's 'merit' is Gaussian(1.1,1) and women's is Gaussian(1.0,1). How do you proceed? As I said, it's a hard ethical and practical problem, and all simplistic solutions will be unjust to someone.


You are wrong in all respects. Yes, I have read feminist academic papers etc., as well as corresponded and even assisted such researchers, and I also have close friends who are serious, senior and female academics (including one specialising in the historical position of women in society). I could say a lot more, but I won't, except to say that I have stood up for vulnerable minorities and against discrimination all my life, and don't propose to change now.


You try and select the best performing candidate according to your stated criteria, and not let unstated and unexamined biases (presumably those with stated and examined biases would not be let on the interview panel) prejudice your assessment of the candidates, preventing you from hiring the actual best performing candidate. Like you're supposed to.*

The only way this is "unjust to somebody" is if there's a presumed winner the actual best-performing candidate supplants. Which, given we live in a sexist society, generally means a woman got a job a man "should" have had, which is (I'm sure you agree) just straight-up sexist.

*This leaves aside the arguments about jobs that should be reformed to make them more accessible to and friendly for children's primary caregivers and parental leave, jobs where internal candidates are passed over for "better qualified" external ones, jobs with unstated criteria twice as important as the stated ones (which is a bullshit way to run an applications process), etc etc. You gave a scenario, I'm working within it.


Look EC, if what you said in your last comment was true (and for the sake of argument, let's assume it is) then why point me back to 1970 when I was 3 years old and expect me to run with that.

If you are so well read on feminist academic papers why quote encyclopaedia Britannica above? Why not cite those feminist papers you have read? Why haven't you quoted them in support of your position. Who are they, can you let me know cos I am always happy to meet new feminist women I don't know (we won't agree on everything but there will some core stuff we WILL agree on like the pay gap, violence against women, reproductive rights etc)

If, as you claim, you have stood up for minorities all your life and don't intend to change now (and I would welcome that), why then, did you do all that sneery 'women's libber' (as opposed to 'liberated women' (obviously the women you approve of) above?

Shit or get of the pot, my man.


*off* the pot not *of* the pot, thank you autocorrect.


I don't get it, no. In what competitive context between two equal candidates is a male clearly superior? If they aren't equal candidates, why are they being compared in the first place?

Aside from physical activity, where the female outliers are less powerful than the male outliers, in a modern world of sedentary intellect or tool based occupations ... what makes a male superior?

Honest question, not accusing anyone of anything.


Without endorsing this position, here's my best guess: a man and a woman have the same education and are of the same age. If the man gets the job, it is expected that he will prioritize the job over anything else. If the woman gets the job, she might do womanly things like get pregnant, which is the occupational equivalent of temporary disability. The hiring committee may well assume this is the case, regardless of whether this particular female candidate has any predilection for child rearing.

Let us say that family life does impose some cost on one's professional value. It is still structural sexism to believe this cost should fall disproportionately on women and that this follows inevitably from "natural" choices voluntarily made by women.

If you take an isolated case, e.g. one job opening, and see a man without a family related gap in his work record losing to a woman, who has had allowances made for a family related gap, you might cry foul. There should be a systematic solution where men and women have equal chances and equal expectations. But in the mean time, what is the correct response for our hypothetical job opening? If we give the job to the "more qualified" man every time, then you get a systematic discrimination and see a slower or nonexistent change to the social order we would like to see.

So where do we draw the lines for each case? And what's the best way to get to a new social order with less gender imbalance? We can say that men and women are now theoretically free to have less rigorous expectations, but in reality it will take a long time to dismantle those ingrained attitudes. Even if people were absolutely free of gender roles from this point on, it would take a long time for the changes to move down the pipeline; so you are basically saying women over 30 are going to be hosed at each stage of development relative to their male age peers.


Abilities in a population form a distribution. I was giving a concrete (and fairly realistic) example where the distributions had the same shape, but that for men averaged 10% higher than for women. The chance of the best candidate in 1,000 of each being male is higher than a half, so you end up with a disproportionate number of men.

If there is political or other pressure to balance the number of the sexes, it becomes necessary to adjust the selection to prefer women (i.e. discriminate against men). And, yes, that happens - but, because the gender difference is fundamental and not part of the selection, it has other harmful effects (both for the group and the individuals concerned). But, as anonemouse points out, it is sometimes the lesser of two evils.

As far as your second sentence goes, there are many examples. I mentioned P/S-power above, but there is also mathematical/logical ability, which is associated with the Aspergers spectrum and a Y chromosome. Yes, there are plenty of female mathematicians etc., but there will always be a preponderance of male ones. See Baron-Cohen etc. for that sort of thing, though he is far too simplistic.


Agree --- the list of what went wrong in Viet Nam seems to grow longer the more I read about it. Can't find the article just now but a few years back I posted a link to US Mil (Pentagon?) article that looked at 'success rates' for getting enlisteds to actually fire their weapons at the enemy. Believe that the training was successful at this but did not take into account the cost to these soldiers for 'successfully' firing their weapons.

Other things that Viet Nam vets had going against them:

- Drug use among the highest ever recorded - access to heroin esp. - not to mention military-supplied uppers and downers;

Introduction to the Special Issue: Drugs, Wars, Military Personnel, and Veterans


'During World War II (1935–1945) and the Korean War (1950–1953), newly synthesized amphetamines were widely distributed to military personnel as pep pills (Bergen-Cico, 2011; Miller, 1997; Rasmussen, 2008). Many became dependant while in the service and continued use after the war. During the Vietnam War (1955–1975), heroin use and abuse became more common among military personnel to cope with the challenges of conflict in a setting of dislocation and devastation (Bennett & Golub, 2012; Bergen-Cico, 2011; Courtwright, 2001; Robins, 1974). As contemporaries observed, however, most military personnel ended any use of heroin within a few months of returning to civilian life as the context of on-going destruction changed (Robins, 1974; Robins, Davis, & Nurco, 1974; Zinberg, 1984).

Recent research suggests that the use and misuse of alcohol and prescription opioids (or POs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet) are the signature substances associated with OEF/OIF/OND military personnel and veterans; for many, the consumption of these substances is causing additional challenges both for military personnel and veteran populations (Institute of Medicine, 2012). Other reports suggest that many military personnel use various substances such as Dexedrine, NoDoz, and Red Bull as “go pills” to maintain alertness and energy and substances including Ambien, Restoril, and benzodiazepines as “no-go” pills to come down, obtain needed sleep, and suppress anxiety (Bergen-Cico, 2011; Finkel, 2009; Golub & Bennett, forthcoming; Senior, 2011).'

(BTW - re: Ambien - this drug has been linked to psychosis, and discontinuation does not always reverse the psychosis ...)

- Anti-war rallies at home and being treated as killers/enemies of humanity when they returned home;

- High unemployment at home;

- Age - this was a young group of soldiers killing and dying -- which inspired the world-wide hit song '19' (Tom Hardcastle)

- Pop-culture - more hit pop songs against the war than for it; ditto for movies (Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now vs. Green Berets)

- Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a little girl running naked with her skin on fire after her village was napalm-bombed

- Agent orange - defoliant that killed flora and was later also linked to a whole slew of medical problems thereby adding/exacerbating PTSD because leukemia and other disease symptoms e.g., weight loss, depression, etc. which instead of being looked at as symptomatic of a potentially serious medical problem were often dismissed with a 'man-up!', with or without a contemptuous slap on the back.

'Effects on U.S. veterans

Studies have shown that veterans have increased rates of cancer, and nerve, digestive, skin, and respiratory disorders, in particular, higher rates of acute/chronic leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, throat cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, Ischemic heart disease, soft tissue sarcoma and liver cancer. With the exception of liver cancer, these are the same conditions the U.S. Veterans Administration has determined may be associated with exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin, and are on the list of conditions eligible for compensation and treatment.[71]'


That's another aspect, where both sexes are discriminated against (in different ways), both by the situation and by out-and-out sexism. But let's consider just the former.

Consider two people with the same abilities and effort: A works full-time for 40 years, and B works for 40 years but half time for 10 years in the middle. Should they be paid as much over their careers, or even be as senior as each other at the end? It's a hard problem, ethically and practically.


I don't think we have the data to know this. We would need a relatively large sample size from gender neutral opportunity societies and/or a much better grasp of the relation between genetics and complex abilities. I don't share your optimism that our knowledge is that comprehensive and settled.

Plus if we had that kind of definitive grasp on the subject, then people might start tinkering with the genome to get whatever type of social order they wished. So "always" is not exactly appropriate either.


Ostensibly, B's career total salary should be 7/8 of A's based on the facts given, reflecting that B has only worked 7/8 of the time units.

Against that, what if B worked on more technically challenging projects during the years when they worked half hours?


Right, it took a million well lawyered-up doctors in a class action suit to finally kick some insurance weasel BEhind. Now figure the odds on the recent Trump push for deregulating interstate health insurance. My father lost all the premiums paid in, when an out of state life insurance company went out of business some decades ago, after multiple name changes, corporate mergers, and such shell game maneuvers. Probably just the tip of the iceberg and the reason all those interstate regulations were set up in the first place. Can't happen with health insurance, can it, with all those still living benefit claimants? Not till it suits the business model anyway, at least not until the exit strategy kicks in, aaaand there they go! Just look at the sky full of glorious golden parachutes! Now about all those busted out hospitals, what were you saying about Single Payer Public Health Plan? Like universal medicare, but.. do all those Canadian doctors ever get paid? Patients must be dyin' like a bunch of sick old Canucks up there, not like us trim, non-smoking, active senior teetotalers down here in Trumpland, talk about virtue being its own reward, where's my last insurance bill, clip it to the flag there I feel like pledging allegiance RIGHT NOW!


My father lost all the premiums paid in, when an out of state life insurance company went out of business some decades ago
I'm confused. How can this happen more readily simply because the HIC has, say, an FL zip code and you live in, say, CA than if you both headquartered in the same state?


Re: '... the reason all those interstate regulations were set up in the first place...'

Understand what you're saying ... but like 'the right to bear arms' the sovereignty of individual states esp. re: commerce is never going to go away. Plus, unlike fire arms, there's even less possibility that SCOTUS would ever rule against state sovereignty. However, moral suasion to persuade each state to independently protect its electorate against corporate fraud might work, provided they could get SCOTUS to provide a framework/mechanisms for chasing after inter-state corporate fraudsters. (Redefine/re-scope FBI mandate and redefine 'fraud'?)


Once someone does work that out, well.
Interesting take on this, thanks.
Related, and not sure it has been linked here yet; there is rapidly emerging/increasing interest in technological solutions to limiting(and other verbs) the "fake news" problem and related problems.
How to solve Facebook's fake news problem: experts pitch their ideas
and that links a large open google docs brainstorming document started by Eli Pariser
New Media Design: Solutions for Fake News (that's a preview link; edit link)
Full of links [1] and ideas, some of which won't work and some of which have some promise. Still reading it slowly and carefully. (It intersects with some brainstorming being done with a work friend).
I expect that some interesting new tools will soon emerge at the consumer level (e.g. browser plugins) and maybe at the platform level (e.g. facebook), and that they will be backed by new algorithms and approaches (and methodologies, for the human touch) for identifying (and rate limiting, blocking, neutering) misinformation, emotion-targeting communications, etc.
An arms race will ensue, obviously, but more concerning/interesting is that this new work and new (and highly motivated) techie/academic interest will probably nurture much more rapid progress in more effective approaches for generating and disseminating and measuring the effect of (for closed loop control) ... propaganda (need a new word here).

This is a long way of arguing that fascism will probably not play out the way it did in the past; it will be much more sophisticated, playing large numbers of overlapping subgroups in the population simultaneously. Orders of magnitude more causal tendrils treading through our global reality than in the past, and many at the speed of light; a qualitative difference.

[1] e.g. Resolving Conflicts in Heterogeneous Data by Truth Discovery and Source Reliability Estimation (2014)
and look at the copious citations in google scholar


Sorry EC, can you elaborate on exactly what P/S Power actually is? I'm guessing it ties in with but I'm not finding anything obvious with the same terms. Stupid Paddy Power buying all the SEO.

As for mathematics ... everything I've read suggests the gender gulf in mathematics is cultural, not physical. Finland, Sweden and other egalitarian societies show almost no difference in standardised test scores, whereas highly separated societies show substantial difference. However the same analysis shows that girls have a far tighter deviation from the mean - boys may be higher but they are also far lower. I suspect that is also cultural, because I would say that by age 15 girls have already learned in many societies that to get by, they need to aim for almost but not quite as good as a boy in order to reassure them instead of challenging them.


Eh? I never said that we had precise data - we don't, which adds extra problems. My point was that this is necessarily a hard problem, ethically and practically, and therefore any simplistic solution is likely to be unjust to someone.


Re: '.."fake news" problem and related problems'...

A couple of easy non-tech ways to quell fake news is to require that (a) people speak/comment only about their own personal experiences, or (b) provide hard data. Of course, considering that a certain percentage of people are in fact clinically delusional (a) may be a tough call to make.

Approach (a) has been used by cities/countries when opinion studies show increases in crime rates. What usually happens then is that the city/country/police authority commissions its own study which asks individuals if they personally had been a victim of crime (ever, within past [time frame], type of crime, etc.). This reaction/follow-up helps clear the air as the actual 'crime victim' survey stats usually end up showing lower crime rates. And, it also helps the authorities because it provides data to cross-check against their own records to see what/whether they're missing/ignoring something.


See #246 for P/S-power.

School test scores aren't well associated with real mathematical or logical ability, because they are mostly about learning and applying techniques to known problem specifications. There are similar abilities (e.g. communication) where women tend to do better than men. The differences have shown up on brain scans and tests on very small children. How much is cultural and how much innate is hard to measure, but the data doesn't fit with the differences being entirely cultural, or even that the cultural differences account for most of the gender differences in places like the UK.


Re: '... propaganda (need a new word here)'

I propose ... 'simtruth' ...

Should be pretty easy to grasp the intended meaning of this word, i.e., simulated truth, even by those hearing/reading it for the first time .


7/8 implies that maternity leave should not be paid. And their relative seniority? As I said, it's not simple. I was considering the case where all other aspects were the same - obviously, other differences change things.


Sorry EC, I must be slow today. What exactly do the letters P and S stand for?
@246 suggests a binary set of powers, but doesn't explain very clearly to me.


Comedy Gold my son, you are the gift that keeps on giving. I'm still wondering if this is a Poe - you tread that beautiful line between satire and odiousness.

'I never said that we had precise data'

Well yeah, if you don't look for it, you won't find it. (Especially on encyclopaedia Britannica)

Hard data (on the other hand) you might find close by. In the other hand or maybe the one you are typing with. And it does seem you keep pushing the 'hard' data line so I'm tempted to believe you have it well in hand.


Enjoy your evening EC and thanks for the laughs.


I presumed that the period represented part-time work, rather than block leave (whether through maternity leave or long-term sick leave).


Googling 'simtruth' produced a Thai blogger Sim whose blog name includes 'truth' ... otherwise this neologism is baggage-free apart from a reference in an 1866 book on teaching math in US public schools (The analysis of written arithmetic: book first, designed for public and ... By Stoddard A. Felter)


I propose ... 'simtruth' ...
That'd work for fake news/misinformation, but not for the broader collection of techniques used for basically deliberate mass mind control (for other than purely short-term-profit-maximizing commercial purposes :-) through communications.

Another link that caught my eye: Guanxi in the Chinese Web (2008, only 3 cites)
Guanxi is a type of dyadic social interaction based on feelings, trust, and the development of friendship. In this paper, we define the concept of guanxi as it is applied to the interaction between web sites. We show by analyzing the local linking structure between Chinese web sites and the content of Chinese web documents that interaction between Chinese web sites can be seen to exhibit two types of guanxi: strong guanxi and cheap guanxi ...



Political power and Social power.


I think you want to be replying to Elderly Cynic at 272, because I don't recall addressing the sex wars.


That's a really intelligent take on all this, very well presented. You might be on the road to becoming fun again.


The problem is that we don't want anyone to give up their free speech rights. We do, however, need to get rid of fake news sites. My personal preference would be to eliminate the right to describe yourself as a "news" site. You can post whatever you want; Photoshopped pictures of Hillary performing fellatio on an elephant, for example, but once you've been caught doing that, you can't call yourself a news site anymore.


I was addressing "She went to two meetings, had to skip a meeting, then discovered at the fourth meeting that the club had broken up during the third meeting over extremely ugly and angry differences between the pro-sex and anti-sex feminists."


"simtruth" = LIE

Actually, it ain't that simple, unfortunately.
A lot of people spout untrue nonsense, because they beleive it to be true.
The most frequent example of this comes under the heading of religion, of course ...
But I hope it illustrates the difficulties that may arise.


There's an old word that covers it quite well:

Bullshit, which is stuff produced to win, where its truth or falsehood is irrelevant.

"the bullshitter is someone whose principal aim—when uttering or publishing bullshit—is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate an impression that something is being or has been done, words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter being discussed." (Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit)


Oh. Those sex wars. That was more the catalyst for my decision than anything else, and more a matter of my being upset that my daughter was denied a feminist club because two factions decided to have a war than what the war was about. (In other words, it was one of those parent moments.) That being said, I have to note it's one of the things that puzzle me most about feminist theory on either side of this question.

Speaking personally, my freedom is big enough to accommodate both those who want "the freedom to have sex" and those who want "the freedom to not have sex," and within the scope of my GREAT BIG FREEDOM there's no need to either reconcile the two positions or argue about who's right.* I view the extremists on both sides as minor irritants, but they're easily avoided.

* I suspect there's something going on which is close to biological because some interesting reproductive strategies are being implied by the two sets of behaviors, but that's no reason to fight about it. In dealing with other gene-spreading strategies, something like "Joanne has decided upon a reproductive strategy which involves mixing her genes with multiple other sets of genes, and I should respect her strategic choices" is much more appropriate than "Joanne's sexuality is anti-feminist" or "Joanne, what a slut!" nx


My favorite point to bring up when discussing these things is that eliminating bias in hiring is a hard problem.

The Ur-example is classical orchestras. Classical orchestras adopted very strict policies of hiring only the best players - The goal is to be a perfect meritocracy, at least as far as hiring goes. They found that the only way to not end up with overwhelmingly male orchestras despite that stated goal is to conduct the audition with the musician sitting behind a screen and shoe-less. Just the screen didn't suffice, because the sound of heels when you walk into the audition room reduced your chances of being hired enormously. This despite music being a pretty darn liberal field politically.

Essentially nobody except orchestras go this far. This is in an off itself a good reason to view any claims that your company ended up overwhelmingly male or white, or japanese due to a policy of strict meritocracy with extreme skepticism.

Is your hiring process as color and gender blind as that of a symphony? Do you strip out names and photos and personal details that gender applicants before the hiring board sees applications? Do you conduct interviews with a screen and vocoder in place?
Because if not, you're probably passing up top talent because your own biases blind you to it, and making sure there is some diversity in your hiring is simply a way to counter that cognitive error.


It's worse than that :-( If there is an association between population A and success, and the testing method is not perfectly reliable, then the optimal selection strategy can be to choose a member of population A even if the member of population B appears to be better during test. So is using the optimal strategy discrimination or not?

Harking back to the original topic, this is also the principle of profile-based policing, and I hope that I don't have to describe the harm that causes. But that is why the approach of authoritarian regimes (and fascist ones, in particular) of targeting certain populations isn't necessarily just irrational prejudice, which makes it a lot harder to counter.

Incidentally, there are known gender differences in the use of written language, as well as social ones, so it isn't enough to remove just the overt markers.


What is the received wisdom about sex inequality in jobs where the differences between men and women (on average, natch!) really matter? The second most obvious difference (first, collectively, being actual sexual characteristics both primary and secondary) would seem to be physical size and strength, particularly upper body strength; and this matters in such careers as firefighting and infantry (and probably artillery) combat. Maybe law enforcement, too, in the UK anyway because the cops don't routinely get issued with guns.

My opinion is rather simple. People who can do the job should get said job; people who can't should not. And use unbiased test procedures to find out. There are undoubtedly some women with the upper body strength to carry a casualty out of a burning building and down a ladder, but there won't be many. On the gripping hand, if a woman can cut it in this sort of physical job she shouldn't be prevented because of her sex.

Incidentally, regarding military service there is one more point. Jobs not requiring much physical strength might well be better performed by women; the job of fighter pilot comes to mind, although I admit that I might be in error there.


Feymary, I'm sorry that you missed the scare quotes, and I ask you to re-read what I wrote while questioning whether perhaps I might be a pro-feminist troll, rather than anti-feminist.

That's why I added a paragraph that you seem to have ignored. I was attempting to signal that I do know a little about the subject and thus my caricature should be seen as a troll-response rather than a serious attempt to summarise feminism.

WTF? 'coloured girls'??

You seem not be aware that that is a common term used to refer to them, especially by old white men like the one I addressed that remark to. If not, please take it from me that yes, someone like Trump could indeed regard that as a polite way to describe a group of non-white feminists of any age mix.

The split was far more complex and you obviously missed

I apparently didn't mention it, but I have written a whole BA thesis describing one tiny aspect of some things done in a tiny little country on the edge of the world, by second wave feminists... I think you're leaping to conclusions based on insufficient evidence.

are you really trying to say this was some kind of bitchfight between the ladeez?

Yes, yes I am. There are genuine questions about whether men can be feminists or just allies, so I am very much inclined to the view that internal splits within feminism are exactly "bitchfights between the ladeez". You wanna fight dirty, I can do that. Don't let the hole the sun shines from fill your soul with shit, though.

Intersectionality was totally a reason for the split but race was only one facet of that

If you want to have a serious discussion about that, can I suggest that getting angry and ranting at trolls is a poor launching point?


I agree that it can be a hard problem, particularly in application. But you are also making some very absolute statements, e.g. boys will always be better at math. So at best, you are confusing me as to your actual stance. As feymary suggested, if you have an association with a particular branch of feminism, then you would probably be better off elaborating on that. Instead you are coming off, possibly unintentionally, as someone making a blanket statement about most feminists from the last few decades.

One of the things most feminisms agree on is they don't want men to treat women as fungible. Just blasting a large group of feminist scholarship with little specificity is going to land you in that bucket as far as many are concerned.


physical size and strength... matters in ... maybe law enforcement, too

There's been some interesting research done in NZ (but not made freely available, bastards), comparing rates and intensity of "use of force" by police against other measures of effectiveness. This was prompted by the neoliberal cleanout of (expensive) old beat cops and the resulting rise in use of force incidents while the violent crime rate was falling.

One conclusion was that (in shocking news) the significantly more experienced officers were much less likely to both use force and be attacked, compared to younger officers and especially to the newer officers of all ages who had passed through the new, cheaper, "accelerated training program". A similar pattern can be seen comparing male and female officers or similar experience levels, and interestingly also with Maori and Polynesian officers compared to Pakeha (officers who are not Maori or Polynesian).

That suggests to me that physical strength isn't necessarily critical in Police Officers. It may be more a case of "use the tool you've got", so a bigger, stronger officer is more likely to use force.

To me, officers using force is undesirable, which says we might want to actively select officers who are less likely to use it...


Along similar lines, I've encountered a potential employer who shifted an interview from 0930 (gave me time to drop children at school etc before interview) to 0845 (would have to ask my wife to handle childcare) specifically because they discovered I had kids, and one of the awkward squad "suddenly" discovered that they couldn't stay for an 0930 interview. It took me pointing out the coincidence in timing for the hiring manager to realise that this had happened repeatedly, and mostly caused problems for female candidates.

This sort of thing is far more insidious than out-and-out sexism, not least because until I'd pointed it out the hiring manager (who did not have children of his own) didn't even clock that moving the interview forwards by 45 minutes would impact on childcare arrangements. It simply wasn't something they'd considered, as normal opening hours for childcare were out of their practical experience.

In this case, it was a single individual being malicious - but it wouldn't surprise me to discover that lots of companies have policies that have similar effect, and that aren't questioned from a "is there indirect discrimination happening here when our policy collides with social reality?" perspective. After all, what could possibly be sexist about asking someone to come in early without much notice?


I am confusing you because I am not taking an absolutist position and am not siding with any particular dogma - note that, when I say that men are better at mathematics, that is a shift in the (overlapping) distributions, and not a categorical statement. As I said, I know and have even worked with feminists, and was damning a particular category of them - which includes the ones that treat men as fungible and are happy to discriminate against vulnerable men because (overall) women are discriminated against.


I have also been asked to take on someone else's work because she needed more time for her children. Well, she had a resident husband and I was effectively a sole carer of two young children. When I pointed this out, I was told that I could handle it because I was a man. What would you call that?


Yes - I've read some scholarly papers on BS ...

From the comments so far, seems there's a range of not really true truths to name so maybe they should be better situationally defined. We could also consider this the next step in the evolution of truth, i.e., the commodification of truth, where everyone can get their favorite flavor/version. As in other commodities, the real stuff (news) costs more, but fewer folks can afford it as part of their regular diet. Taxonomists could puzzle out and draw lines between different generations and siblings (versions) of 'truth' as well as develop appropriately erudite nomenclature.

Sim-truth - simulated 'truth' that is derived via social media but with no data or first-hand account/witness to probe or provide confirmation;

Qua-truth - 'truth' that derives its truthiness entirely by being obscurely/remotely connected to an established (let's call it Prime Truth) truth even though all of the other (subscript) truths also associated with this Prime Truth are deliberately ignored/suppressed even though they have been demonstrated to be even more closely related ... smug and sells lots of books;

Op-truth (optical truth) - 'truth' that looks real but only in the most obscure and remote/low incidence circumstances - but very, very flashy when it does happen to be true;

Or-truth (orthogonal truth) - 'truth' that connects two completely unrelated facts/factors and is consequently accepted without verification because each is in some way related to a third ... contemporary version of the syllogism;

Alt-truth - 'truth' that comes just this close to being true/factual when parsed in minute bits and each bit is analyzed only by itself but when the statement is examined in its totality as one idea, it expresses something completely unfounded and unprovable;

Greg -- think you're referring to 'the gospel truth' (as spoken by the unconditionally faithful);

Terms such as propaganda, PR, advertising, infotainment all convey some level and form of information management and need to be used as they are currently defined.


Re a taxonomy of fringes of truth, fun.
Another collection of categories, interesting because it was used for real:
VOLUME ONE Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report
Pages 110-114 (sample quotes):
Factual or forensic truth - "The familiar legal or scientific notion of bringing to light factual, corroborated evidence, of obtaining accurate information through reliable impartial, objective) procedures, featured prominently in the Commission’s findings process (see chapter on Methodology and Process)"
Personal and narrative truth - "By telling their stories, both victims and perpetrators gave meaning to the multilayered experiences of the South African story. These personal truths were communicated to the broader public by the media."
Social truth - "the truth of experience that is established through interaction, discussion and debate"
Healing and restorative truth - "the kind of truth that places facts and what they mean within the context of human relationships - both amongst citizens and between the state and its citizens."

Then there's John Locke on real/chimerical and and trifling/instructive. (Not my thing but maybe somebody might want it.)


I've been trying to locate research that shows concrete and measurable benefits of altruism and/or at least policy formulation that recognizes that the 'other' is also human.
Before I forget to ask, did you find anything interesting yet on this? (Am assuming you're not asking about biology, which has lots to say about altruism, mostly depressing.)
I've linked this previously, depressingly accurate:
There's been a lot of confusion recently about moral behavior. It's actually a matter of one simple rule: The more a living being is like you, the nicer you must be to it. Carry around this handy chart, consult it as you come across organisms, and act accordingly.


"Ultimately, I don't think we are imminently in danger of fascism because (i) people aren't desperate enough; (ii) Trump is not capable or necessarily desirous of putting the pieces together; and (iii) American institutions are still sufficient to prevent an actual dictatorship."

It's secondarily Trump; it's primarily the GOP (plus the 'liberal' MSM and Big Business). The current situation is that the GOP controls all three branches of government (the Supreme Court is just a matter of months). They control a majority of state governments, and have exercised that power ruthlessly - the number of voters they've purged from the rolls vastly outweighs Trump's margin of victory in key states.
They clearly intend that real democracy not exist any more.

The MSM mainly focuses on deliberately fraudulent scandals, and excused all behavior on the right.

Trump is stocking his cabinet with experienced looters: the current estimated net worth of his selections is $35 billion US dollars.
That's over 100 times the net worth of the Bush II cabinet.

I would bet on the economic sh*t hitting the fan in the first term, because (a) the looting will be several times as fast as in the Bush administration and (b) the world is in a shakier state (e.g., Brexit).


"... a one-party state, looks well-nigh impossible in the US. ...
Don't need to these days."

This is important:

Gerrymander districts so that the Out Party can't win a majority without an overwhelming and highly unlikely wave election.

Multiple points of blockage controlled by the In Party (BTW, this *is* a standard feature of the US states of the Old Confederacy). This means that the Out Party can't win substantial power without multiple victories over several years, giving plenty of time for a counterattack.

A corrupt court system (in the US, Bush v. Gore, where 5 Republican justices shut down the counting of the votes so that their guy could win).

Demonization and prosecution of political opponents. Aside from 'Locker her up!', the Clintons have been through a vast number of highly partisan, professional and well-resourced investigations. As each came short of anything, the GOP just moved on to the next.

A corrupt media system - in the US, just review any honest account, and remember that the participants are *proud*. I recently heard a New York Times reporter refer to Trump's torture policies as 'torture-like activities'. BTW, the New York Times refused to call Bush's torture 'torture', because that would not be neutral.


Don't be too complacent. There's always that equivalent of the Reichstag Fire, or in America, the Twin Towers. That's what we have to watch out for.

See, authoritarian leaders *love* them some big, showy, scary attacks, especially if they inflict more noise than damage. To make this clear, if the 9/11 hijackers had gone after, say, the Glen Canyon Dam or Shasta Dam, they could have crippled the west coast and tied up the US military in disaster relief for months and crippled our ability to retaliate, much less go into Iraq. The Twin Towers were symbolic horrors, but the attack didn't seriously damage US infrastructure, especially our military infrastructure.

What authoritarian leaders do with such incidents is that they use them as an excuse to militarize and slap down democratic norms, even impose military law, all in the name of fear. Then they and their cronies clean up on open ended government contracts needed for the emergency. Bush and Co. made off with some part of a trillion dollars, and I'm sure El Cheeto Grande is thinking along the same lines. It's become such a common play that even US wildland firefighters are trying to create a fire industrial complex to profiteer off the billions of dollars in emergency funds used to fight fires, and they're using fearmongering as a way to get around inconvenient laws.

So, lax, corrupt, sloppy, yes, that will be the Trump administration. But that very sloppiness is also bait for an idiot terrorist to give them the excuse to put on the jack boots that are waiting all polished in their closet, so they can go out and terrorize the public into seeing them as saviors.

One of our jobs, if we don't like this plan, is to make sure it is *very thoroughly* publicized throughout the regime of such a ruler, so that if such an attack takes place, people don't automatically fall into a fascist line with the fearmongerer in chief. One way to do this is to mercilessly show their sloppiness and note repeatedly their deliberate lack of preparedness made them to blame for the attacks.


Oh, for those figuring that the Trump administration can't trash the world's economy in only a few years, note that every single foreign policy guy he's looking at is a firm believer in 'Iran delenda est'.

What are the odds that the US attacks Iran in the next year or two?
What happens to oil prices? What happens to any economic activity which assumes *some* sanity on the part of the world's superpower?


One final comment - the directory of the FBI very openly and very illegally intervened in the election in the last week. On the other hand, he refused to sign on to the intelligence community's conclusion that his preferred guy the other candidate was in bed with Putin.


Really? Interesting.


Essentially nobody except orchestras go this far.

Actually my all county band did this back in the late 60s / early 70s. Which led to some, ah, interesting results.


There are undoubtedly some women with the upper body strength to carry a casualty out of a burning building and down a ladder, but there won't be many.

Oddly enough I personally know of one young lady who made the cut. And she was definitely not your typical jock. It was more about working hard at it and sheer determination.


Going along with one of the topics under discussion to me it seems you've put forward some very strongly held opinions as solid facts. Not everyone would agree. Even some who voted on the D side of the ballot.


I had some firefighting training when I was on the Emergency Measures Team (while working as an engineer). Enough to learn that it takes a lot of muscle to move those hoses, especially when under pressure, and that being small (120 lbs) is a huge disadvantage. (I didn't lose my grip on the hose — I was just too light to control it.) Some jobs require large strong people, and that's all there is to it.

My sister, who was bronze-level triathlete, is a paramedic. I remember her very adamantly saying that she didn't want physical standards for firefighters lowered for women. (IIRC that had been advanced as a means of getting more female firefighters, because most of the female candidates couldn't pass the strength tests.) It was a long time ago and my memory isn't that clear, but her words were something like "I don't want to be trapped because some chick who got a pass on the strength requirement can't lift me if I pass out". If you couldn't do the task, then you were endangering everyone on the team.

The emphasis, of course, being on 'task'. You need to be able lift a certain deadweight in full gear, or control a hose under pressure, because that's part of the job. Ideally, that's exactly what you do: demonstrate that you can do the job.

The problem comes when the strength standard is set higher than required for the job, acts as a way of filtering out people who might be quite good at it in practice.


What is truth?
Is truth unchanging law?
We both have truths
Are mine the same as Yours?

Or if you want the original:


I hope we don't go after Iran. That would be bad on so many levels I don't even want to think about it.

the tl;dr version is:

Afghanistan 30.55 million. still the graveyard of empire
Iraq: 33.42 million. Status: failed state (once a cobbled together set of Ottoman provinces, now possibly the start of the civilization crumbling)
Iran: 77.45 million. Status: former Persian empire, intact.

Note that Iran is bigger than Iraq and Afghanistan put together. If we've been unable to handle either of the other two, what makes anyone sane think we'll be able to handle Iran, in anything other than the "break things and make everyone miserable" sense?

Oh yeah, we hate Iran because the Mullahs (like the rest of the world) believe climate change is a serious problem. Riight.

We'll see. Right now El Cheeto Grande is all bluster, BS, and bullying as a prelude to cutting a deal. It's not clear what (if anything) he can or will do when he gets stuck in a corner. That's why I'm worried about what we'll get into when we get hit by a terrorist attack and decides he gets to use the bully pulpit.


"The world's in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,"
Said the old father of wild pigs,
Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.

"Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
And the dogs that talk revolution,
Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
I believe in my tusks.
Long live freedom and damn the ideologies,"
Said the gamey black-maned boar
Tusking the turf on Mal Paso Mountain.

Full poem at:


Speaking personally, my freedom is big enough to accommodate both those who want "the freedom to have sex" and those who want "the freedom to not have sex,"

If it's between consenting adults, why is it anyone else's business?


Amazing number of people -- male and female, religious and atheist, politically right or left, -- are convinced it is their business.


(The problem with Musk's model is you need a few hundred million as the minimum ante, plus a bunch of actually-difficult skills; the combination in individuals is rare. Getting some pension funds interested in taking a long shot with 20% of the capital, on the other hand...)

Yes and no. You have to start somehow, but if you show that it's profitable it's just a matter of time before others jump on the bandwagon. Aren't some oil companies investing in the renewables already?..

And while you need a huge investment in R&D when it comes to all-electric vehicles, there are other ways. GM algae tuned for biodiesel/ethanol production were developed some years ago and what's needed now is a cheap way to cultivate those. And to develop those you need less than 10 people and minimal investment (I happen to know about such a startup in Siberia; they've made some amazing progress already and they're far from only ones in the world). And biofuels allow for smoother transition to the renewable energy.

[...] the basic tool of demonstrating your authority is to invoke the fundamental primate status indicator of "I can hit who I want"[0]. Actual "I can hit who I want" would devolve into the hypothetical of an A380 load of chimps, so that won't work; it has to be ritualized, it has to have rules, but it still works to make people feel like they're not helpless[1].

So... appeal to the instincts (as humans are amazingly – and disturbingly – similar to chimps in this regard) versus appeal to reason, yes?

(There's a sense in which fascism is inevitable once you get a commercial advertising mechanism turning everyone's fears up to eleven.)

Maybe not inevitable, but much more easily implemented. It's no small coincidence that the rise of fascism had happened at the time when mass media became a thing. BTW, I've heard a tale about Hitler being envious about USSR's "wired radio" – basically audio broadcast to every home from the central station (radio receivers of the German population were much harder to control and it's much easier to receive "subversive" broadcasts in Europe than in the middle of Siberia).

[0] also "I can fuck who I want"; an authoritarianism that doesn't control who you have sex with isn't legitimate on its own terms, which is why they're so focused on the subject.

I'd like to point out the bonobo model where it's more like "Let's sex the conflict away!" – everyone can have (consensual) sex with everyone else and it's nobody's business. So... use of violence and control over sex (authoritarian) versus sex as a replacement for violence (liberal? progressive?).

Speaking of authoritarians and control over sexuality, it's the recurring theme in all the libertarian SF (hey, they're funny if a tad dogmatic!) – Good Libertarians always spend a lot of time shagging each other, not unlike bonobos.


The great advantage of "conventional" high-speed rail is the "Use the same terminals" & inner approaches in cities solution.

IIRC China has the largest HSR network in the world. For some reason they've built it as a parallel to the existing rail network (must have something to do with all the cargo trains and slow passenger trains). Far as I know it's bleeding money due to travel being impractical for the long distance (13 hours vs 3 hours by plane from Shenzhen to Shanghai) while the price is comparable. And regardless of the method of travel you'd arrive in the middle of nowhere and have to spend a long time getting to the city proper (taking regular train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou is actually faster than taking the HSR). There is some middle ground where HSR is the best choice, but in general I do not see it as a viable choice for a big country (Europe seems to be just the right size for the HSR to work though).


I'm referring to truth as established by Physics & Engineering & Mathematics. And/or historical events that are known to have happened & are well-testified by either witness evidence &/or archeological or other investigation.

Admittedly that's the "gold standard".
The other thing to watch out for is the standard politician's bait-&-switch, where they utter a truth & conflate it, immediately, with something that is half-true or false or "merely" a matter of opinion.
A technique that appears to be as old as politics, incidentally.


I don't think we are imminently in danger of fascism because (i) people aren't desperate enough;
If a sufficiently powerful person ( TrumPence ) or group ( The ultra-right of the GOP ) have control of the lever of power - & they have, then the "desperation" of the people is irrelevant.
By the time they wake up, it will be much too late as the fascists ( or whoever ) already have "legitimately" grabbed all those levers of power & control.


Two recent things on climate change:
And, depressingly:

Hopefully, the former may be implemented soon enough to at least mitigate the latter.
SOmeone will take it up [ There's MONEY to be made ] even if TrumPence ignore it ....

And yes, the Mullahs of Persia are mad & evil by our standards, but going to war with them would be utterly bonkers.
& Trump has just appointed a strongly anti-Persian man in "defence".
Oh dear.


Re: fascism, I'm Italian and I graduated with Renzo De Felice, the leading, albeit controversial historian of fascism, so let's sya I'm somewhat knowledgeable. I'm not sure that classical model (one-party state, party militias, state-controlled labor and business unions ) will resurface as such. I suppose it's more probable a mix of illiberal "democracies" (Orban, Putin, Erdogan) backed by support earned by post-truth policies tailored to look "spontaneous" while being astroturfed:
Look at the Italian FiveStars Movement

I witnessed their ascent since 2013, and at the beginning it looked as a uncouth but radical LEFT movement. In hindsight it was a very smart use of apparently "spontaneous" and "grassroot" use of wedge issues. In 2013 no party was able to get the majority for a confidence vote, so the centre-left coalition asked for their support. They ridiculed the centre-left leader (a Corbyn lite) in a streamed live debate while blaming the left for not allowing a crazy scheme of theirs, keeping the old pre-election government in charge and legislating in the parliamentary committees, something blatantly anticonstitional. It was refused, and soon the web was full of photoshopped pics of left leaders portrayed as Fascist strongmen, Greek colonels from the '70s and Nazis. It seemed a grassroot raction, while in fact it was managed from above and no one has experienced that use of social media, I debated hotly with their influencers as they were real people, not being aware of the strategy.

New fascism will be this: post-truth manipolation via social media, a 24/7 Two Minutes of Hate against everyone stepping outside the line, while we'll be nominally under democracy and rule of law.


Same underlying bias, different expression. In this case, the assumption is that (for whatever reason), women can't be asked to balance more work with childcare - they "need" the childcare time - but men can, because you'll find a way to make it happen.

That, in turn, is long-term harmful to both sexes - it's a feedback loop. Women can't be expected to do more work, because children. Men can't be expected to look after children, because work. If it follows to its limit, you end up with the 1950s housewife stereotype - women either keep house and do childcare, or they do low-level work like typist or cleaner because they can't be trusted with anything more senior (as they'll run off to look after kids at a moment's notice), while men are stuck if they can't put in a minimum of a 40 hour 9am to 5pm work week, as "clearly" childcare is women's responsibility.

And that's the issue with irrational discrimination - it hurts both sides in different ways.


Separate lines for HSR can run into the city centres just like the existing slower commuter and regional express lines. It's just not a good idea to save a few pennies by having HSR share lines with slow traffic assuming you want it to be fast, safe and efficient end-to-end. The terminals can be put in the city centres too, sharing space with existing rail infrastructure or new-build -- the Tokyo terminus for the various shinkansen lines in Japan is adjacent/integrated with the original Tokyo railway station that caters for the local commuter lines, the regional limited-express lines and the Metro.

As for the Chinese, it's a big country and the way they're building out HSR is to put in a lot of lines and link them together. It's unlikely anyone other than a railfan would take a 13-hour HSR trip compared to a 3-hour flight but the fact the line runs continuoulsy between, say, Shanghai and Shenzhen means a lot of people can make fast journeys between intermediate stations.

China is also building out its airport infrastructure but the short-haul puddle-jumper market is being taken care of mostly by HSR, at least on the eastern coastal and central regions where most of the population live.


China is building HSR because they have to. The amount of people traveling internally in China is far to high for air-traffic or road to be a viable solution. Not enough throughput. As far as anyone can tell about anything in China, it is a big success too, economically. The finished lines run solidly in the black - the system as a whole does not, but that is down to the fact that they're pouring capital into expansion at a staggering rate, not because it's a failure.


Agreed - there was definitely an internal change with that lot.


Just to put to bed any idea that the established GOP aren't fully on-board with the New Fascism, evidence:

House Science Committee Tweets Climate-Change Denying Breitbart Article, Debunked by Scientists NBC News 1st Dec 2016

.@BreitbartNews: Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists Global Committee on Science, Space, and Technology 1st Dec 2016

And yes, that's a senior USA Official committee using Breitbart to 'disprove' climate change. Straight past Fox News, onto the New Real Kings[tm]. The silver lining is that Murdoch is probably spitting acid.

Looking it over, I think they're at stage #2 of disbelief - they've no idea how it worked, but they've got control of everything and are currently testing boundaries / gloating / laughing manically at the Deal Made.


It remains up to the American Military to wonder if they're going to allow the madmen to run their House into the ground: Climate change will stir 'unimaginable' refugee crisis, says military Guardian, 1st Dec 2016 (interesting for the links to which militaries were involved)

Point of reference for UK readers: here's a typical slice of American YouTube personalities / channels at the moment (there are loads of these - from FPS Russia onwards; they boil down to "shoot expensive explosive stuff with big guns"): Guns vs Gun Safe YT "Demolition Ranch" May 6th 2016 10:33.

This is one of the medium-low end budget types - ironically sponsored by an E-book publisher (!?!) which is why I listed him (no, really: he's sponsored by them, they pay for all the ammo).

For those who don't watch the videos - ignoring the usual cache of AK74s etc, he has an Armalite AR-30 .338 Lapua and some other larger gun shooting .50 BMG rounds[1]. Searching around (so on a list!), this level of weaponry is fairly commonly available.

I'll let Martin and co. explain if that's worrying or not. Especially once everyone begins to understand what Trump's cabinet is really about. (Hint: gutting the State, entirely).

[1] Not a weapons nerd, but I do note from the wikipedia: The Barrett M82 .50 caliber rifle and later variants were developed during the 1980s and have upgraded the anti-materiel power of the military sniper.


I agree with that. While my points ARE relevant to fascism, I would prefer to call a halt to the diversion.


"Not a weapons nerd, ..." You don't need to be - you just need to have read some memoires of WWII (e.g. Popski's Private Army). 0.50 was the calibre used against essentially unarmoured vehicles and equipment, and would penetrate most walls.


Unfortunately, the USA seems to have signed up to Saudi Arabia's anti-Shia pogrom and Israel's lies. Anyone who claims that Iran is the "principal state sponsor of terrorism" is clearly using a form of Newspeak. I am as concerned as others about Trump's selection, but Clinton was herself one of them.

When (not if) the USA takes its economic and cyber war against Iran a further stage, whether that leads to catastrophe will depend very much on whether Europe backs the Saudi/Israel/USA axis or says "we want nothing to do with this". I am betting that the UK will bleat a bit, and then do its usual poodle imitation - if so, Brexit means that we are less likely to be able to take the EU along. See? I can think of a bright side to Brexit.


Especially once everyone begins to understand what Trump's cabinet is really about. (Hint: gutting the State, entirely).|
No - misapprehension.
The state remains, as an enforcer for the gang to "cleanly" remove all the money, whilst making sure any protest or reaction is suppressed, brutally, or otherwise.
Almost-classical fascism, in fact


I'm not so sure.
The slowly-rising tide of protest against Saudi is growing.
Unfortunately, added to by everyone who goes "All muslims ar EEEVILLL!"
Which currently enables the establishment to ignore it, for the time being.

The second most obvious difference (first, collectively, being actual sexual characteristics both primary and secondary) would seem to be physical size and strength, particularly upper body strength; and this matters in such careers as firefighting and infantry (and probably artillery) combat
You missed a career where being able to muscle about heavy weights is (though somewhat less so, with technology) a day-to-day requirement: nursing and home care. I wonder why?
Speaking personally, my freedom is big enough to accommodate both those who want "the freedom to have sex" and those who want "the freedom to not have sex," and within the scope of my GREAT BIG FREEDOM there's no need to either reconcile the two positions or argue about who's right.* I view the extremists on both sides as minor irritants, but they're easily avoided.
AKA the third wave position on the sex wars. :-P
(Couldn't resist. Sorry. Done now.)

"Yes, there are plenty of female mathematicians etc., but there will always be a preponderance of male ones." I am not confused. You are saying specific things that undermine your more general stance. It's not on me to infer which one is your true position, though I will give you the benefit of the doubt that your intentions are closer to the feminist side.

With regards to your childcare situation, that's why we call it "patriarchy" as opposed to, say, Penis-Town. Men suffer under patriarchy. You just gave a great example. Feminists did not target you; systematic patriarchal assumptions sandbagged you. Women may not have pushed as hard to fix this as some other issues, but they had to fight pretty hard just to get consideration for childcare factored in the first place. They pushed back on one assumption "women with kids should not work," but did not fight "only women do childcare" as hard as they could have. To be fair they have a lot on their plate.

There are about 10 million different feminisms and some of them are full of BS or are poor at dealing with particular situations. However, the overall tone of the discussion seemed to be that these types of feminism were dominant in the discourse these days. I think it is appropriate to push back on that impression.


This is basically the genius of Sojourner Truth, who I think is one of the most under-rated philosophers of the 19th century. That work is too hard for a "woman," but slave women do it routinely. A "lady" needs several months to recover from child birth; a "woman" needs several weeks; a working class woman needs two days; a slave woman needs six hours. It's all universal, until it becomes inconvenient. Then magically it ain't. Then gloriously The Truth resurrects when it suits certain interests.

(And mortality being what it was, the same patriarchal landscape was full of men coping (or not) with child care 'cause dead wife and no relatives close by and no spare cash. But a "Man" has steady incomes, female dependents and servants.)


Re: ' ... find anything interesting yet on this? (Am assuming you're not asking about biology, which has lots to say about altruism, mostly depressing.)'

Thanks for the links, and I would be interested in altruism as studied in biology.

So far, best I've found - because I'm most interested in the intersection of what this researcher specializes in: neuro/econ/psyc, etc. - is this:

The nature of human altruism
Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher
University of Zurich, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, Blumlisalpstrasse 10, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland

(Originally published as a Review Article in Nature Vol 425, 23 Oct 2003)

Thanks to Charlie's blog and the folks posting here, I now have 8-10 different international policy, economics, etc. papers on my reading pile, plus Schelling's book, plus a couple of books on neuro ... and haven't even stopped by the book store yet for my holiday armful of SF/F books.


Not sure if your against, for, or adding to my comment.

The lady in question pasted the physical tests. Full gear, oxygen tank, breathing, helmets, etc... and carried the needed weights through smoke required distances to pass. IIRC gear was over 200 pounds. And yes could handle the hoses and such.


Do you know any statistics at all? I am not sure how to explain any further if you don't, and I don't understand your confusion if you do.

Patriarchy has a specific meaning, which is used by all serious anthropologists and sociologists, and is where the most senior male (usually the oldest) takes the lead. In USA/UK society, not merely is the most senior man not automatically the leader (and it's often a woman), but women impose the 'rules' on men as much as or more than men do, and there is a lot of discrimination by women against men. That is almost completely unlike patriarchy, and real scholars don't call it such.

Furthermore, the discrimination against men is supported and even demanded and imposed by the sort of feminists I was describing. I don't want to derail further, but could describe how and give concrete examples.


Something else to consider about incoming US gov't ... not just anti-science, but also anti-academe, as per most of the international policy and economics authors I've been reading. Basically, it seems as though many/most GOP politicians and their public have regressed to pre-WW2 economics and political theory which itself was premised on a pretty vile portrait of humanity. Consider the difference in thinking about how the 'other' should be treated in WW1 reparations vs. WW2 Marshall Plan. (One bankrupts a country/society, the other helps rebuild it.)

Sorta like bio ... it's okay to learn how cells divide and the function of various organs but learning about evolution (how the whole bio thing came to be) and ecology (how different layers of bio interact) is taboo.

real scholars don't call it such
"The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we make this distinction clear, men will continue to fear that any critique of patriarchy represents a threat."
--bell hooks
If you don't think she counts as a real scholar for the love of clarity please state your definition of real scholarship.

In USA/UK society, not merely is the most senior man not automatically the leader (and it's often a woman), but women impose the 'rules' on men as much as or more than men do, and there is a lot of discrimination by women against men. That is almost completely unlike patriarchy, and real scholars don't call it such.

I for one am going to get the popcorn in to see how that statement is reacted to, because it's rather opposite to what I see in the world...

...just by way of example, can you explain why women are proportionally underrepresented at the senior levels of politics, industry, and the military?


Why do I need to understand statistics for an issue which does not have enough clean data to be analyzed? That was my point several posts above and you seemed to sort of concur. I don't think we have historical data from societies where women had the same opportunity to become mathematicians and I don't think we have enough understanding about how genetics affects complex activities like doing high level math. Ergo I don't think we cannot say things like men will always be over represented in mathematics. If you think we have sufficiently useful data, then that's where we disagree. If I am confused, it is because I thought you backed off the idea we had such data.

Women will probably never play in the NFL or do other things which require a certain level of certain kinds of muscle mass they rarely achieve (neither will most men.) But as someone pointed out, a nurse might have to move a patient and if she cannot manage it, the general reaction is not usually that most women cannot handle being a nurse. Because nurse is a term with female connotations in our society, we will react to that nurse as an individual, not as representative of women. But if a female infantryman or fire fighter screws up, a common reaction will be women don't belong there in the first place.


There are rumours, based on Trumpolini's statements, that "Net Neutrality" will be removed & the US FCC stripped of regulatory power over the net in the USSA - leading to:
A race to the bottom
And exorbitant "last mile" charges
And probably censorship, too ....


This video might interest some folks here - definitions and differences between empathy vs. compassion, social intelligence, literal empathy, affect, mentions other research/ers in this field, etc. Also urges to better define (and weigh/value) what is meant by empathy because empathy is not all good.

Paul Bloom lectures "Against Empathy" (1:15:24)

Published on Sep 29, 2015

Paul Bloom draws upon his research into psychopathy, criminal behavior, charitable giving, infant cognition, cognitive neuroscience and Buddhist meditation practices to argue that empathy is a poor moral guide and we are better off without it. Bloom is Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Cognitive Science Program at Yale University, and author of "Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil" (Crown Publishers, 2013).

His lecture at Holy Cross, held September 24, 2015, is one of the Deitchman Family Lectures on Religion and Modernity.

The article below re-caps key points of the above:


Yes, we have enough data for reasonable statistical analyses. It's not the result of controlled experiments, but those are ethically and practically impossible. Statistics is precisely about how to reason under such circumstances, and how to draw reliable if qualified conclusions. It's largely irrelevant, anyway, because I was explaining why and how relatively small systematic shifts can cause large discrepancies in the proportion of populations in a sample of extremes.


If you seriously think that those decide the structure and attitudes of society, you are delusional.


One question (I am glad you studied with De Felice, btw, so you can see the whole issue better than someone who could rely only on the Italian δόξα on the matter) - one element that seems to be missing in all the comparisons between Mussolini and Trump (or Mussolini and Berlusconi, Mussolini and mostly whoever in the West World, actually) is that Mussolini was able to leverage large numbers of veterans from WWI.
That is, people who had no problems resorting to violence, could work in a coordinated manner, and who, predictably, had not been able to find satisfying employment after the end of the war.

So, who are the Camicie Nere of the modern Mussolini epigones?

Trump, Berlusconi (I am personally convinced that Berlusconi had very little in common with Mussolini, but this is maybe a discussion for some other day), Orban, all the Right-wing heads of state arrived there through elections.
If Marine Le Pen or Hofer or some other Right leader will get to the top in other states, it will be - once again - through elections, not by their militias marching on the capital or by being backed by the Army.
(Mussolini got enough votes to be represented in Parliament, but he never got a clear majority vote, and had to resort to violent intimidation to become "Prime Minister").

Note also that at the time the Red Scare was a much more credible threat (see for example the Hungarian Soviet Republic ) - but even fear of Socialism was not enough to gain a majority of votes for Mussolini.

To reiterate: Mussolini got power through the use (or threat) of violence, and at least initially he was (wrongly) seen as someone that could be manipulated and used as a tool against socialism and communism.

Now there is no violence and no clear "enemy" that can conveniently be used to rally voters (and more powerful conservative players) to back these people.

How comes? Or, alternatively, what has replaced these two elements?


Adding anecdata, I think. My sister was upset that in order to increase the number of female firefighters, there was a move to eliminate (or ease) the strength requirements for women. (In her city, at that time.) I may be confounding it with other cases, but IIRC it was something about setting the requirement at whatever would have the same percentage of women pass as men passed their (higher) requirement.

As an emergency worker herself, she thought that was very wrong. The requirement was a practical test (drag hose xx distance while in full rebreather gear etc.) and administered the same for all candidates — and my sister saw it as a fair test of what the job requirements actually were.

And I think that's a key point: the test was a practical one: drag the hose while wearing gear. It didn't test specific muscle groups to see how strong you were — it just measured performance of a real task. Some departments tested strength using a bench press, which ignored a whole bunch of necessary muscles and measured muscles that tend to be stringer in men — in other words, and unrealistic (and biased test). But the solution to biased tests is to fix the test, not alter the pass criteria of different subgroups. (Not always — or even usually — an easy solution to implement, but it's what we should be aiming for.)


if a female infantryman or fire fighter screws up, a common reaction will be women don't belong there in the first place

Or as expressed by Randall Munroe:


Re altruism, this is a recent decent survey (full of refs). (The author's style is an easy fit to my mind, so am biased a bit.)
Neural, cognitive, and evolutionary foundations of human altruism
See in particular the section on "Empathic Concern" since you linked to a polemic (or whatever he calls it :-) on empathy in another comment.
Also check (or whatever) for more by/co-written with the author (Abigail Marsh), in particular recent work on "extraordinary altruism" (about anonymous kidney donors).
I personally suspect that variation that includes some individuals who express non-kin altruism is adaptive at the species/clade level (e.g. reducing probability of extinction), but nobody that I've read has managed to prove anything like this. (Counter examples very very welcome!!!)


This is a comment on a topic which has drifted out to sea and hasn't been seen for awhile, but renewable energy could be sold to older people (and is) as 'saving money'--but hasn't been sold to them as 'remember the 1970's, and wouldn't it be fun to watch all those ragheads eat dirt?' Those of us who remember the 1970's would indeed be delighted to watch certain Middle Eastern figures eat sand, and if this spirit was played to, well, there would be a lot more enthusiasm for such energy among a sector who so far seems to be lagging in it. This has been alluded to in earlier comments, but perhaps not quite the same way I've done in this one.


I quite agree on women in muscular jobs--I was a nurse's aide, and I typically lifted or rolled or moved larger loads than in an awful lot of 'male' jobs at the time (1970's). Though I will have to admit that if not for the drawsheet I'd been there yet with one really, really large stroke patient. Though there are some lifting jobs that greater strength is needed, or hope you're not alone on the floor (the orderly is always on break and the hoist is on another floor). This is why I wrote a little story called "Need a Lift?" about telepresence working in Olaf, The Lifting Robot, and how things can still go really, really wrong. (see
--it's in the Feb 2016 issue).

Anyway, there are lots of really physical jobs that women do, but somehow get paid less for, isn't that a coincidence?


And because women know that, it can really change the stakes when we're doing stuff that mostly men do.

I'm no firefighter, but I used to play tournament chess. And whilst I'm no Carlsen or Polgar, I wasn't too shabby then. When I sat down to play competitively, it was almost always the case that my game was being played for different stakes than the other games going on around me. When I won (especially early on in my playing days) my opponent was likely to be 'teased'/shamed/bullied by other players for 'losing to a girl'. If I lost, it just went to show that girls can't really play chess. So I really hated losing. I don't know whether that difference in stakes / pressure made me a better player or not. Stereotype threat theory would suggest 'not'. But then again, because the stakes felt higher, I probably studied more than I would have otherwise.


MO at #358:
...and some other larger gun shooting .50 BMG rounds[1]. Searching around (so on a list!), this level of weaponry is fairly commonly available.
Indeed it is. And it will be usually proudly shown to anyone who asks (I've asked, about littler such guns).
Long range sniping was a part of the American founding mythos; early rifles, e.g. the Kentucky Rifle) were used before and during the war of American independence and there are well-known US Civil War stories as well, e.g. snipers at Gettysburg and elsewhere, and continuing through to the present day, and I'm not a war/gun nerd [1a] either.
Somehow we (the US) have managed to avoid (excepting JFK) political assassination at range. The training (including civilian long range target shooting/hunting with scope) and weaponry are present.
[1a] Parents were familiar with guns though. My father was company marksman in WW2/Europe (infantry under Patton), and once shot out a window in a farmhouse at 1500 yards with service rifle with iron sights. Perhaps some luck was involved. Quaker mom used to shoot targets with a 22 rifle (rimfire) on Sundays as a kid, because that was an acceptable Sunday activity.


Now there is no violence and no clear "enemy" that can conveniently be used to rally voters (and more powerful conservative players) to back these people.

How comes? Or, alternatively, what has replaced these two elements?
In the US, there was/is no recent (2015/16) real threat of violence from followers (yet), though police (generally leaning right) violence can be/is oppressive to some subpopulations, and there is a mild mostly unfounded fear in some the left-of-center people that some unhinged one will put a bullet through their house, and there are probably other examples specific to subpopulations. Some brief history of well-known examples.

The enemies are clearer though. Terrorism/Islam("radical Islam" when not among known vetted friends), immigrants, and a long tail of other Others, as needed.


"get SCOTUS to provide a framework/mechanisms for chasing after inter-state corporate fraudsters. (Redefine/re-scope FBI mandate and redefine 'fraud'?)"

Making America safe from interstate health insurance ripoffs probably would drag the FBI into it, a retired agent I talked to in the '60s said he'd spent much of his career trying to track down guys who went from state to state writing bad checks. I was surprised at this so I asked him how come the FBI got called in just to chase bounced checks, he said any time it goes over state lines that makes it an interstate offense and a Federal agency has to take charge of it. Must not be as much of a problem now with credit databases available for merchant reference, and charge cards in wider use.


Having read the open brainstorming doc New Media Design: Solutions for Fake News (of the day; it keeps growing) (worth a look!), it's now my professional [1] opinion :-) that tech for this problem will quickly turn into a fast arms race with attackers and defenders sharing some core algorithms. Hard to predict past a couple of iterations and the early tools will gel some path dependencies.

One item that disturbed my eye was the section "Surprising Validators" by Richard Reisman (referencing a blog post in 2012 that I missed at the time, Filtering for Serendipity -- Extremism, "Filter Bubbles" and "Surprising Validators"), where he argues
This offers a way to more intelligently shape the “wisdom of crowds,” a process that could become a powerful force for moderation, balance, and mutual understanding. We need not just to make our “filter bubbles” more permeable, but much like a living cell, we need to engineer a semi-permeable membrane that is very smart about what it does or does not filter.
As is said (sarcastically), "what could possible go wrong?" with techniques for manipulating the wisdom of crowds?

[1] Been involved in the defense side of several tech arms races, including early malware and spam.


I just had a horrible thought. If aliens arrive on Earth anytime in the next four years, Trump will be President. "No Kang, really, Earth is the greatest planet ever. It's yuuuuge! And the Ferengi? We'll build a space-wall and the Grand Nagus will pay for it!"


I had the same thought a couple of days ago. shudder


We can't talk about how to deal with Fake News until we know the scale of the problem

I don't know if I can manage the formatting, but the numbers of the sites are their ranks in the US and globally. I won't post this here since it might be against house rules, but I've used a popular porn site as a control (due to the old adage about porn on the internet). Since I'm probably on thin ice already, I won't link to the porn site.

Breitbart: 36, 231
Fox: 37, 221
Huffington Post: 33, 161
Porn site: 34, 60

In short, I think it's too late to do anything about Breitbart. It's interesting that many US conservatives have been leaving Fox News as too moderate.


The limitation of schadenfreude is that there needs to be some schade to begin with. Alas, many oil-rich countries are also near the equator, and several are investing heavily in low-cost, high-output solar electricity generation. I would not be surprised if in the 2030s one of the desert kingdoms was the leading producer of aluminium, or if cheap synthetic petroleum was a leading desert export.


It's a big bullet; it's no more worrying than access to other military / paramilitary weaponry, they're all lethal. It has the possible advantage of being hideously expensive (several dollars per round of ammunition) compared to a (very) few rounds per dollar for typical military ammunition, and eating up the barrel life of the firearm (after a few thousand rounds or so, the barrel wear means reduced accuracy; and that's a thousand-dollar replacement), so the enthusiasts need very deep pockets. It's also why they hand-load their ammunition, i.e. assemble it themselves from component parts; it's a lot cheaper than buying it ready-made from a factory.

You can actually shoot 0.50 in the UK, legally (although it has to be a bolt-action rifle) the problem is finding an accessible rifle range that will allow it. Most ranges have a safety template that is dependent on being able to contain likely or reasonable ricochets; more powerful ammunition requires a much larger safety area to remain cleared. So, for instance, the rifle ranges at Castlelaw (just outside Edinburgh), point toward the city but have the advantage of a hillside and a much-reduced footprint to keep them safe. However, they're limited to a maximum of 7.62NATO or thereabouts.

Frankly, large-calibre shooters don't worry me. For far less cost, and far easier access to a license, a teenager can buy a second-hand car and try to show off to his friends. That worries me.


Yes. This was common in the UK, until the EU forced us to make such practices illegal (to screams of persecution from the people who later became Brexiteers). I doubt that it will return, because social attitudes have changed. It still occurs targetted against unpopular minorities, and I expect that to increase as the UK becomes more fascist.


Separate lines for HSR can run into the city centres just like the existing slower commuter and regional express lines. It's just not a good idea to save a few pennies by having HSR share lines with slow traffic assuming you want it to be fast, safe and efficient end-to-end.

Well, the Chinese system (which I use as an example due to being most familiar with it) favors terminals at the outskirts of the city. This decision leads in turn to lengthened travel times. And they chose to build their HSR system specifically because of the problems inherent in trying to mix conventional and HSR trains on the same line. And judging by the scale and timing of China's HSR projects (they seem to have really taken off after 2008) they were using it as a way to soak up all the excess money and boost employment in addition to, you know, building the railroads.

As for the Chinese, it's a big country and the way they're building out HSR is to put in a lot of lines and link them together. It's unlikely anyone other than a railfan would take a 13-hour HSR trip compared to a 3-hour flight but the fact the line runs continuoulsy between, say, Shanghai and Shenzhen means a lot of people can make fast journeys between intermediate stations.

As far as I can tell many people just ride a couple of stations – quite often just buying standing tickets. So while taken 13-hour journey is not usually impractical, taking a short 1~3 hour journey usually beats the bus and taking the plane would be too expensive.

China is also building out its airport infrastructure but the short-haul puddle-jumper market is being taken care of mostly by HSR, at least on the eastern coastal and central regions where most of the population live.

More like they were forced to upgrade their airports. There was a crisis in 2011-2013 when the average delay for some destinations was about 3 hours (the problem's mostly solved now). And it looks to me that the newly-built rail system is intended to replace not the short-haul planes (there were not much of those to begin with) but the buses – which are slow, polluting and don't allow for easy control of people's travel (you need to produce the ID to buy the train or plane ticket while the bus drivers would just take anyone).


China is building HSR because they have to. The amount of people traveling internally in China is far to high for air-traffic or road to be a viable solution. Not enough throughput. As far as anyone can tell about anything in China, it is a big success too, economically. The finished lines run solidly in the black - the system as a whole does not, but that is down to the fact that they're pouring capital into expansion at a staggering rate, not because it's a failure.

Ahh... the amount of people traveling in China is subject to huge fluctuations, as basically the whole country goes to their ancestral homes and then back during Chinese New Year. They don't even try to build the system that can take this kind of load effortlessly so it's everybody crying bloody murder and trying to get any ticket at all starting January. And after thinking some more about the changes since 2013... well, I can actually see how they could have managed to make the lines profitable (or at least stop them being such a huge drain of money). Like running their D- and Z-trains (which run at 200~250 km/h – the HSR is limited to 300 km/h for now) on the same lines, for example. Or by offloading the passenger traffic to the new network and boosting the speed of cargo trains that use the old rail network. Oh, and dismantling of Ministry of Railways may have helped too (bribes can lead to huge cost overruns). Also the costs associated with land rights in China would be much lower than in the US (why pay when you can evict?).

And let's not forget that HSR in China is a vanity project (they're big on those) and from the very beginning was seen as a way to boost R&D in all the related fields so the costs incurred would be recovered elsewhere (like China's problem-ridden steel industry being supported by huge orders for all those rails, maybe?). Anyway the Chinese government is anything but stupid so if the project is still going on they must find it profitable – just maybe the profit is not generated from ticket sales (I don't have sufficient data on that).


Your story provides a nice dose of optimism. In this scenario, would the female patients receive smaller fee rebates than the males?


Less worrying, actually. It's a standard big game calibre, even today, and in itself is more dangerous than the ~.3 calibres only because it carries 4-5x the impact (and hence flies slightly further and more accurately). UK law quite rightly treats the (semi-)automatic property as being more important.



I took your comments on board given all your comments, not just the one I pulled you up on.

You seem to think I see EC as a troll. Well yes and no, he's a fixture here and has done his usual thing, refusing to engage after a certain point and talking around (rather than to)his detractors.

He seems to be an honest chap from where I stand (ie he walks his talk and even though I don't agree with most of what he says, I find a lot of his comments useful.) I'd be fairly confident that if I was his neighbour and showed up bleeding on his front doorstep he'd make sure I was sorted out.

I'm not sure what you intended to convey with your original comments. maybe you thought you were being ironic or edgy. You claimed to be a feminist while claiming there was little difference between miners and sex workers. (PTSD rates disagree with you (they're about the same as combat veterans who I also support)and you probably watch Jack the Ripper shows without thinking those women were not OHS stats while miners were at the time)(And you Do know that's one of the big MRA points don't you??)

There's a really fine line between being sarcastic, ironic and contributing. You missed the mark at my end. Having questioned your approach, you came back spinning seeming to think I wanted a war with you. ie 'you want to fight dirty?' You missed 'bitch' but it was totally there.

I didn't want to fight at all actually, I'm too tired to bother. You seem to see yourself as being so much better than EC. You claim a BA thesis while quoting MRA stats. (and there's no such thing in Australia unless you did Honours, maybe you did and if so, would love to read your thesis)

EC never tried that one on. I would love to think this was just a misunderstanding and would be happy to be convinced but I won't be holding my breath cos I'm too young to die :)

Thanks all for the continuing conversation


I stop engaging when my opponents descend into gratuitous abuse, gross misrepresentation of what I say, the creating of straw men, the denial of known science and facts, and damning me for not providing proof when they haven't even provided evidence. I accept that many people get confused by over-simplifying what I say, because I almost always look beyond the events to the causes, and am not good at explaining such things in simple terms.

I am prepared to allow you some liberty, as someone who may have suffered personally from discrimination, but there are limits to my tolerance. I suggest that you reread your own postings, as if they were addressed to you.


Awwww EC, Internet hugs to you.


So I finally got around to reading Eco's essay (his writing is not something you skim on the bus and forget – that's what the libertarian SF is for). And about halfway through I've got an impression that his definition of Ur-Fascism is a bit too broad. Broad enough, in fact, that you can find it's elements in just about every society – at least, if we stipulate that the society in question may qualify even if some of the criteria do not apply.

Medieval China springs to mind almost immediately. You have traditionalism in heaps and more syncretism than you can shake a stick at (eventually combining Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism as well as various folk religions – you have to work really hard to get more syncretic than that!). While intellectuals were venerated throughout Chinese history (brief setback of Cultural Revolution notwithstanding), those intellectuals were required to reiterate the same ideas throughout the centuries – essentially serving to reinforce traditionalism (this is still so ingrained in the Chinese society that many people are literally unable to think outside the set of templates they were taught).

And of course China was the Middle Kingdom surrounded by barbarians (To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.). The same barbarians were at the same time half-animals (due to them being barbarians) and a constant threat (due to them having a nasty habit of conquering China).

In the end only two of the 13 criteria do not apply: Cult of heroic death and control over sexual behavior.

So... are the criteria too broad or were we living in fascist societies for most of the human history?..


Why would we build a wall to keep out ourselves?

The Ferengi were explicitly written to parody current humanity, particularly modern America. Plus I can see Trump absolutely loving them. The Vulcans on the other hand would probably just spread fake science like climate change alarmism. [yes, the last sentence is snark]


You claimed to be a feminist while claiming there was little difference between miners and sex workers.

Just to sort this one out, Moz claimed that the rates of human trafficking were similar between miners and sex workers, not that the work was the same, or that they were the same kind of people.


Yes, we have, to some extent, just as we have been living in democracies, to a lesser extent - the consent of the people and all that. These things are a matter of degree, not kind. For all its merits, that essay neither stated that nor indicated at what level he regarded the criteria satisfied.


Um. Humor?

Can anyone actually imagine the Grand Nagus paying for a wall? On the other hand, Trump would certainly believe he could convince the Grand Nagus to pay for a wall. Consider the actual nature and outcome of that particular conversation?

To take what you said one step further, however, I can definitely imagine that The Grand Nagus was modelled after Trump.


What Moz said (and I quote)

'This is not simple stuff like "abortion: good or bad?", it's ... hmm, simple examples... "two drunk people have sex: when is it rape, and of whom?" and "the sex industry contains both slaves and enthusiastic amateurs: outlaw or regulate?" (note that in the latter case "fishing" or "mining" could be substituted for "sex" without affecting the truth of the statement'

He's equating fishing and mining with sex work in his own words. He's also saying abortion is simple stuff. And from the words above he says rape is like a 2 way street where men are equally raped by women. (of whom??? wtf? Men are almost always raped by men statistically)

Hey, but happy days, what would I know?


One of the issues I've been following is the current moral panic involving sex workers, thus I automatically equated "slaves" with "human trafficking" because I understand how that particular rhetoric is framed.

The flip side of all this is whether you believe that Moz is truly insisting that fishers are performing oral sex on the Halibut, or that hookers use pick-and-shovel on a coalface all day, so it's also the only interpretation that makes sense.

I would definitely agree that Moz's idea was poorly phrased and too reliant on someone understanding a particular bit of rhetoric.


...itself is more dangerous than the ~.3 calibres only because it carries 4-5x the impact (and hence flies slightly further and more accurately)

Not quite.

When the British Army carried out the trials for its "Long Range Rifle" requirement, it specified the anti-materiel requirement to be "hit and break an engine block at 1500m". There were four credible entries that made it to the trials phase; three were 0.50BMG, the fourth was 0.338 Lapua Magnum (because Accuracy International put in a bid from each calibre).

The winning rifle was the AI in 0.338, because IIRC it turned out that not only could it break engine blocks at a mile, it was consistently more accurate than all of the 0.50 rifles across the full temperature requirement (they test hot dry desert, hot wet jungle, temperate, and arctic); with the added benefit of being somewhat lighter and cheaper, too. Similar requirements from other armies have resulted in similar selections; the competitor for Lapua being the traditionally American 0.300 Winchester Magnum.

The 0.50 niche (apart from the traditional Heavy MG role - long range, high accuracy not critical) is the close-range high-accuracy destruction of stuff; I think that the British Army uses it for rifles in EOD teams, for getting rid of suspicious stuff from 300m or so...


It's a standard big game calibre, even today, and in itself is more dangerous than the ~.3 calibres only because it carries 4-5x the impact (and hence flies slightly further and more accurately).

Ummm, no. .50BMG is not a standard big game calibre for many reasons. It is more dangerous than a regular .30 (7.62/7.65/8mm) or .22 bullet (5.56mm and similar) due to its penetration characteristics since it is intended as an anti-materiel round to destroy trucks, planes etc. As such it does not materially deform when it hits animal tissue.

Ammunition intended for taking game are either

A: long-range rounds with mushrooming tips designed to expand in the body cavity on impact and initial penetration. This ensures maximum energy transfer and shock to the target and increases the likelihood of a "stop" without exiting the target and wasting energy outside their body. These sorts of rounds would be used against deer, elk, rams etc., thin-skinned animals which don't pose a direct threat to the hunter (usually).

The Geneva Conventions bar hollow-point or soft-nose designs for military ammo, requiring a solid round with a complete cupro-nickel jacket (Full Metal Jacket or FMJ) to prevent just such damage. The .50BMG round has such a jacket.

B: Rounds for heavy and dangerous game such as rhino, elephant and the like. They are large-calibre heavy bullets (.416 Rigby, .577 Nitro Express, .600 Nitro Express etc.) but with a round nose, sometimes steel-jacketed since they may hit heavy bone. They are fired at quite short range (for elephant it can be a few yards) and need to be able to penetrate a lot of tissue or even bone such as the frontal area of an elephant skull. Breaking up or mushrooming in thick muscle or bone in a very large animal will not guarantee a "stop" but a bullet designed to penetrate like the .50BMG could well go through the target and exit, wasting a good chunk of its kinetic energy on the nearest tree or mud bank instead.

Choosing a round for the game being hunted is like choosing a club from a golf bag, it depends very much on what the target is. The .50BMG is not a good choice for any game hunting other than BMPs and A-10s.


I may have been mistaken, though various ~.5 calibres used to be standard, and I read just recently that some wardens were carrying 0.50 calibre rifles to protect tourists. One of the bigger dangers there is Cape buffalo, where there really isn't a practical shot to stop one trotting to the attack except straight at the head, which is inches of horn backed by inches of bone. Elephants are soft targets by comparison.

My point about the danger stands. From a public protection point of view, all automatics and most semi-automatics are far more dangerous than any bolt-operation rifle of any calibre.


No, the telepresence work would be offered at the same rates. In fact, there would be no difference between the male and female patients because the robot is doing the lifting. And because of differing attitudes about viewing nudity, Frank is very much an exception and allowed to do it mainly because he had some medical training and could recognize problems when he saw them.

But yeah, the story came out of frustration with lifting heavy patients.


And I liked the way that you showed how the casual / zero hours contract problem is not simple. I regret that your books seem to be Kindle-only (and Nook?)


Again, no. The defining feature in terms of danger is the training of the firer and the presence of a magazine, not whether that magazine feeds manually, semi- or fully-automatically.

A well-trained Lee-Enfield user (i.e. the average British infantryman from the last two World Wars) is perfectly capable of firing their bolt-action almost as quickly as it is possible to aim. Military snipers are almost always armed with bolt-actions rather than semi-automatics, and they are statistically the most dangerous small-arms users on the battlefield.

The fact that "weapon X can fire at 550-650 rpm" is often quoted, but utterly irrelevant. Firstly, there are only 30 rounds in the magazine, so emptying it in 3 seconds rather than 3.5 makes little difference; and belt-fed weapons (unless water-cooled) will burn out if you fire them at that rate (and carrying a belt of even 50 rounds on the gun is awkward enough). Firing a military rifle on full-automatic is only done at close quarters (room to room) because otherwise, you're just making noise. Even short bursts of two to three rounds are going to climb off-target at more than 75m or so (I once tried, couldn't hold short bursts onto a head-and-shoulder target at 100m)


What is it about "From a public protection point of view" that you didn't understand? The principal danger is from someone who flips his lid and starts killing unpredictably, and it's not well-trained people who are the problem (or even those with my level of training). Bugger the fire rate - it's how many people he will kill before he can be taken out of action. As I said, the UK's lawmakers have understood that, which is why the law is what it is.


Yes, of course Violence can always appear on the scene, and is may already be there but we I am talking of a different threat level.

Fascist supporters had already used plenty of overt violence against socialists/communists actively fighting them during strikes (something that for sure gained them approval from rich landowners and rentiers) but after the election they organized a march towards the capital (Rome) and the regular Army was ready to use lethal force to stop them (it didn't happen in the end because the King refused to actually sign the order).
I cannot think of anything remotely comparable in USA or Europe in the last 50 years.

And the same applies to the "Enemy": of course there is always an Enemy somewhere, but the threat of a Communist revolution in the 20s, especially considering events like the Hungarian uprising was considered a credible threat.
Terrorism may create incredible damage and kill hundreds of people (e.g. 9/11) but the idea that a whole sovereign state (in the West) could become an Islamic dictatorship after an uprising is something else entirely.


Ah, I see. I don't understand, and you're right. Sorry, I should have realised.

Just out of curiosity, then, please could you understand why a six-shooter 0.45 (you know, the gun that won the west) is still legal? Or a semi-automatic rifle such as a Walther G22? Or a semi-automatic shotgun? Or a lever-action rifle, used as military cavalry weapons in the 19th Century? I even know someone who took up 0.50BMG target shooting in the UK.

Because, foolishly, I thought that the UK's lawmakers were largely operating on a knee-jerk, "something must be done", basis. Hence the SNP's recent insistence that all airguns must be licensed, against the advice of Police Scotland? Or the banning of pistols for the Olympic target disciplines, but allowance of black powder pistols? (Demonstrated when one enterprising gunsmith then manufactured a black-powder magazine-fed pistol that was suitable for the Olympic rapid-fire discipline)

Now it happens that I am uncomfortable with civilians holding paramilitary weapons within the UK, and felt that the removal of military-calibre semi-automatic rifles and pistols was justifiable; but am not going to insist that my opinions are "right" in other nations, or even across the whole UK.

I might also point out that the most recent lethal incident in the U.K. was Derek Bird; firing one or two shots at a time, and driving on. Shotguns have not been banned since; but because I'm currently renewing my Firearm Certificate, I've been going through the revised procedure which now closes the loop by requiring my GP to enter an "firearm holder" code on my NHS medical records, and provide a certificate that I have received no treatment for stress, depression or relevant mental illness.

But I would note that I'm still far more at risk from an incompetent or drunken driver, than a firearm holder.


Minerva Owl @358 Looking it over, I think they're at stage #2 of disbelief - they've no idea how it worked, but they've got control of everything and are currently testing boundaries / gloating / laughing manically at the Deal Made.

Yes, this is my feeling too - they won it, but are not sure how. Although there was some inkling towards the end of the campaign that things were not going well for the Dems, indicated by an unusual trip Clinton made to Michigan.

So - if they really feel they lucked out, they might not just be testing boundaries; they might feel this is their best and possibly only chance to lock things down.

We saw something like this in Australia, when the Coalition got control of both houses of parliament. They went overboard with reactionary legislation, that in the end turned out to be electoral poison for them. They overreached.


PrivateIron @ 367

Could you clarify: was ST a hypocrite, or was s/he pointing out hypocrisy? Your post reads either way for me.


I assumed people know who Sojourner Truth is or can easily google her. I was not being ironic when I called her insights great. She was pointing to explicit hypocrisy, but these days she is usually read as having illustrated the socially constructed nature of identity and social/political/economic relationships.

If this was a problem for the crowd in general, let me know. Maybe I will elaborate at a later date, if I ever find the time.


And humor. It was a ramp up on the humor, not a confrontation.


I can see them having a great time and both claiming they got the better of the deal. The Nagus might build the wall, but put all of his high tech retail stores on the other side, adding a tariff onto the profit he would probably already be extracting from us primitive screw heads.


Yep. That's Trump negotiating with the Nagus in a nutshell.


I thought 2016 and 2020 would be a final putsch, I am sorry, push for the Republicans before Texas flips demographically. I under-rated their chances this time. I thought Congress would grind Obama's already makeshift policies to a standstill during Clinton's term and get their real shot in 2020. Whether America goes down the worst road is probably dependent on who gets appointed to the Courts and how much stomach some Republicans have for holding power on these terms.


Indeed. Trump would fancy himself a Ferengi...and then get taken to the cleaners. He'd boast about his "great business skill" as they laughed their way back to Ferenginar with the profits.


The article on neurobiological bases of altuism was rather odd. Although nominally interdisciplinary, it seems to predicate a strict biological view of the world, so misses an obvious possible mechanism that could explain many of the "puzzling" cases: what if individual organisms define kin in different ways, thus leading to different kinship networks? Then it is perfectly logical to sacrifice some of one's own advantage for the network: Francis of Assisi seems to have included all animals in their network and Buddhists and vegetarians are encouraged to do so also, Jains include all living things, deer (and many people) dynamically include anything that sounds like Bambi in distress, due to past trauma some people include random strangers chance met but not immediate family, and so on. The zero-sum biologists being surveyed seem to have decided on a prior (biological) definition of kinship network, complete with weights neatly indicating degree of relatedness and getting smaller with genetic distance, while organisms with brains quite possibly have less rigid and more surprising notions of kin, especially if they are not locked into a rigid zero-sum framework.

Your theory that more flexible kinds of altruism are beneficial at a different level to pure genetic relatedness, then seems quite plausible, and generates many hypotheses that should be testable.


Yes - that's the HOPE.

Unfortunately, as seen today:
1] Trumpolini is amazingly thin-skinned, reacting badly to mockery from a TV show
2] If Pence becomes POTUS we're in deep shit
3] They will (even more) rig the voter-registrations numbers - something unbelievably illegal here ( We learnt not to, after the Prod did it in NI ) to try to fix the next election
4] There probably won't be an open 2020 election anyway - even if there is one, it'll be as valid as one of Putin's or Erdogans.


Forgot 5] Utterly reactionary shites in Supreme Court
And correction to [2] - "even deeper shit" (!)


I never said that the law was entirely rational - that would be too much to ask. Are you only just being asked about mental health issues and to give permission for your doctor to disclose them? I have had to do that for at least 20 years, perhaps 30.


Prove, no, but there has been some pretty convincing evidence. The behaviour has been observed in most social animals, the statistical/genetic analysis shows that it would be preferred by evolution, and there is MRI data for its existence. As András Salamon says, it is muddied by the idiots who push everything into rigid categories and a zero-sum framework. The truth is rarely pure and never simple!


Your (3) is too rose-tinted about the UK. The recent change to individual registrations was partially to reduce the effect of the student vote, which was helping Labour. And there have been a lot of similar, partially politically-motivated, changes. But I agree that rigging registrations is heavily constrained in the UK.


What's new is the requirement for a formal statement by the doctor (who will charge £50 for same), and a formal request to add a marker tag on NHS records. Remember, even nearly two decades after the Cullen recommendation, we still haven't got a single common firearm licensing database or scheme; it's the responsibility of individual Constabularies.

Previously, this area was handled by asking two named referees who actually knew you, rather than your GP who hasn't ever talked to you (I last saw my named GP seven years ago, for ten minutes, and he's since left the practise to be replaced by someone I've never met). I've acted as a referee, and the licensing officers have generally asked sensible questions of someone, having established how and how well you know them. "Is their home situation stable?" was one such question that could be expanded as necessary. This is still happening, and quite right too.

Note for the Americans - having a universal healthcare system means that you register with a particular surgery close to your house; they act as the gatekeeper to further healthcare, and you are added to a particular doctor's "list". If unwell, you call or visit the surgery; I've always been able to see a doctor (or nurse practitioner) the day I called. In an emergency, you shortcut this and go direct to the Accident & Emergency department of the nearest hospital. Treatment comes first, paperwork comes second.


Interesting. Where I live, the requirement for a flag on NHS records is at least 10 years old, probably 20, but I am not required to produce a formal doctor's note (as of a month or so ago). Of course, my licence is only for shotguns, but I didn't see any difference in the form on those respects for rifles. As you say, Constabularies differ.


Note for the Americans - having a universal healthcare system means that you register with a particular surgery close to your house; they act as the gatekeeper to further healthcare, and you are added to a particular doctor's "list".

That's the NHS. Canada operates differently.

I have an Ontario Health Card, which is all I need to produce to get medical care. I have a GP, but many people don't. There are drop-in clinics with GPs on duty within walking distance of most city-dwellers, at least in the bigger cities (people who chose to live in driving-only suburbs have to drive to their doctors too, though). With a drop-in you may get the same doctor as last time, or you may get a different one.

Unfortunately, all-hours clinics are a lot rarer (and many people don't know about them) so the Emergencies of hospitals are always full of non-emergencies (especially on weekends). Wait times can hit 12 hours (especially for cases of "I've had this rash for a week and I want someone to look at it").

To see a specialist you need to be gated in by a GP, so if you don't have one you need to visit a drop-in clinic or wait at the Emergency to be examined there.


The Guardian has a nice piece with comments by historians on how Trumpism and Fascism compare.


Thanks for the article - have only read the Abstract so far .. and will check your other reference.

Re: '... variation that includes some individuals who express non-kin altruism is adaptive at the species/clade level (e.g. reducing probability of extinction), but nobody that I've read has managed to prove anything like this. (Counter examples very very welcome!!!)'

Quite a few examples ... humans and animals ... e.g., a lioness with two cubs in tow who tears into her mate (lion) that's about to try and eat an abandoned young fox for a snack. Makes sense from a species-benefit POV because a baby animal is okay for a snack, but a full-grown animal is good for a few days for the entire pride. However, not sure whether an adult animal that save another species infant animal would continue to treat that animal as non-prey/kin even into adulthood.

Or, a lioness stalking wildebeasts for lunch ends up temporarily adopting a newborn wildebeast that may be imprinting on her.

Baby Wildebeest Treats Lioness Like Mom

Then there's adoption, marriage, special interest clubs, school/work environment, etc. Kurt Lewin's Field Theory was one of the first to study types and strengths of relationships based on psychological and biological distance, environment, etc.

I think that there still is an expectation that because 'physics rules!' when we think of science, that biology, psychology and the other messy sciences will (of course) follow the same rules as the normal physics we understand, i.e., gravity or planetary movement. However, there is accumulating evidence that simple Newtonian physics while sufficiently predictive at our species' directly observable scale is nowhere near as useful/predictive as quantum physics (which is much more messy) at extreme ends of the scale.* Psych unfortunately did not have a simple, usable Newton in its early development, although William James comes close.

Psychology as a field has been around for about 150 years but because the brain and human interactions (with human and non-human) environment are so many and so complex, and available tech/tools so limited, plus a history of getting side-tracked, it seems that more recent researchers are formulating their studies more cautiously in order to get each small bit right. Then because there are so many small bits, you need another layer of researchers who patiently combine and contrast interactions between various bits - on a per slice of time as well as developmentally/longitudinally. Plus, psych's subject is a combination of the stable and the dynamic ... which could change depending on other factors, etc.

An analogy that I use in assessing psych/neuro is: how much slack would I give a gardener living in Florida when he/she tries to cultivate a garden in her/his back yard that will nourish his/her family using plants from other parts of the world. They're all plants, so what's the big deal? (If you garden, you know it is a big deal.) Or, how much slack would I give a geneticist who works with about 20,000 genes in total but each gene may or may not interact with one or more genes depending on organ/part of the body, different physical environments, different age/development stage, etc. Personally, I think that both these fields need a lot more data at many different levels of interaction before we can feel that we finally have 'the answer'.)

*QM - okay, okay ... I know I'm in over my head when broaching QM, so feel free to enlighten me and/or offer a better analogy.


Proving the benefits of altruism in the abstract is fairly easy. The hard part is demonstrating that the constraints on the probabilities and benefits are such that it happens in any particular case. Lion and fox or wildebeest almost certainly has no benefit, and is probably just a side-effect, but protecting unrelated lion cubs probably does.


Re: '... that it happens in any particular case.'

Agree - this is the hard part. Then again, you could say the same for, let's say, an electron or a photon. (Which one of three potential candidate electrons will make the jump to that higher energy shell? Which slit will that photon go through 'first' ... à la Young's experiment?)

Prediction tends to be based on stats which usually means large numbers ideally whole populations or at least large sample sizes. Not aware of anything that claims it can accurately predict a specific behavior of any one complex system, such as a human, 95+ percent of the time. But if you know of one, please share.

Seems that quite a few people expect any predictions re: human behavior to be completely incremental and linear whereas what actually happens is 'jumpy' (stochastic) with thresholds, conditions, delays, etc.


That's the NHS. Canada operates differently. I have an Ontario Health Card, which is all I need to produce to get medical care. I have a GP, but many people don't. There are drop-in clinics with GPs on duty within walking distance of most city-dwellers

FWIW Australia is much the same. I have a "medicare® card" which I can produce to get discounted GP visits (free from a "bulk billing" clinic).


I'm going to give up on trying to be concise, in the hope that writing more will be less ambiguous.

You claimed to be a feminist while claiming there was little difference between miners and sex workers.

I disagree with everything in that sentence. If you can do me a favour, I'd like to see you explain how my only mention of miners translates to what you've said above. Here it is again:

moz:"the sex industry contains both slaves and enthusiastic amateurs: outlaw or regulate?" (note that in the latter case "fishing" or "mining" could be substituted for "sex" without affecting the truth of the statement).

Which I thought, and admittedly communication is as much about the recipient as the originator, but I thought I was speaking specifically about who was involved rather than how they feel or what happens to them. No mention of PTSD at all, as far as I can see. I thought my claim was of the form "there exist...", not even reaching the level of "the numbers are comparable" let alone "the outcomes are statisically similar". I suggest you're reading me in a very hostile way, to the point where you're injecting things that aren't really supported by the text.

It's possibly worth noting that professionally I am an engineer, and thus tend to put important caveats into statements. I'm aware that in social disciplines this isn't done as much, and that is one of the reasons I found that study quite difficult. Thus to me the following are two very different statements: "there are white camels", "white camels exist in similar numbers to other colours". The first is a claim that "there exists more than one white camel", the latter is a statistical claim about the relative frequency of such camels. They're in some ways claims from different fields - logic and statistics. (this is the "black swan" example modified to select animals with very different populations - in Australia white swans are very rare but in the northern hemisphere it's black ones that are rare. That difference makes discussions of black swans bizarre unless the originator specifies their sample population. For example, down here a "black swan event" is one that happens every day and is the common, expected outcome. In the north it's a very rare, almost unimaginable event).

The MRA part of my claim is, partly, accurate: I do think there are times when a woman has sex with a drunk man and neither think it's rape, where if the sexes were flipped some people would see it as rape. I think that the feminist arguement that it isn't usually the case should be made carefully so as to allow for both men who are actually raped in that way (assumption of charity: no feminist would wish to deny such a rape victim acknowledgement of their situation), and ideally to avoid undermining the claims that consensual sex is possible in that situation, and also that it is probable hat more women are raped that way than men. Yes, some MRA's will argue at least some of those claims. Some feminists will also argue them (including but not limited to the ones who argue that consent can't be given by drunk people).

You claim a BA thesis while quoting MRA stats

Again, can you link to where I provided any stats? And for all you're tracking EC, you don't seem to be tracking me very well. But I'd rather remain sort-of-vaguely-anonymous than provide you with a link to anything I've written in that field (the topic is both politically sensitive and not really relevant to this discussion). I simply observe that some people submit theses as part of a BA degree.

And FWIW "simple stuff like abortion" was said in a very specific context: that of discussions between novices. In which context "abortion is simple", is to me a measure of complexity of dicussion topic. Compared to that we could say "the earth is a computer similation" is easier to discuss than "is abortion good" and both are easier than "can drunk people consent to sex", while "the existance of sex slavery is a reason to ban the sex industry, but the existance of fishing slavery is why we shouldn't regulate fishing" is rated {X35: for mature audiences only}. But I think it stands in a more general sense: abortion is a simple discussion for a lot more people than sexusal consent is.

My take, as I hinted before, is sympathetic to an anarchist view that sexual consent can't be separated from consent more generally, and that human societies deal very poorly with consent (yes, that is understatement, because I'm not sure how to put it strongly enough to be realistic). I could summarise much of the abortion debate in a few hundred words, but I don't think I could summarise the questions and contentions around just sexual consent in ten times that number. They range from simple stuff like: can a mentally impaired person consent? through to complexities like: is it ethical to try to establish a "fair trade" system for guest sex workers? I could spend days unpacking either of those, but they have immediate concrete implications for real people, who need answers right now (is every sex partner of a mentally impaired person necessarily a rapist? Now define "mentally impaired"...). If a heterosexual polyamorist talks as if his polycule consists only of him and a number-greater-than-one of his female sex partners, does that negate the existance of his male metamours?

I'm also still laughing at you for deciding that "two drunk people have sex" must necessarily involve a man and a woman.


A biologist, a physicist and a mathematician all went to Scotland for the first time. Shortly after crossing the border, they saw a black sheep.

"Oh, look!" said the biologist. "Sheep in Scotland are black."

"Hmm, well," said the physicist. "We can at least say that in Scotland there exist black sheep."

"All we can really say", said the mathematician, "is that at least one sheep in Scotland is black on at least one side."

...FWIW I understood your point perfectly well at the first posting; it is an interesting question whether that was related more to my basic agreement with it or to me also tending to assume statements are something approximating logical propositions and having difficulty with those that are not.


Under the NHS you don't have to "produce" anything, you just turn up. People do have an "NHS number" which is unique to the individual, and you can get a "medical card" which lists it, but the only use I've ever had for said card is as a form of ID in situations completely unrelated to anything medical, and I suspect that most people don't have one and don't know what their NHS number is.

However, how well "turning up" works varies considerably from one area to another. If I want to see a doctor, it will probably take several days from first contact. This creates difficulties such as that an ordinary cold can cause me severe problems due to its exacerbation of existing chronic respiratory problems and I need stronger symptom relief than is available without prescription, but there's no point making an appointment since the infection will have passed off before I can get one. It's also really difficult to maintain a relationship with a particular doctor, since getting an appointment with halfway usable celerity requires having to accept the first free slot which any of the ten or so doctors in the practice has; waiting for "my" doctor to have a free slot would often involve so long a wait that the online appointment booking system just can't handle it.

I used not to care about things like this when I was in Martin's position of not needing to see a doctor for several years in succession, but that isn't the case any more...


An important point concerning the fake-news side of things is raised in an article Charlie RTed earlier this evening:

Said point being that fake news sites are arguably less of a problem than the hateful shite produced by Google's predictive search dropdown thing in response to innocuous keywords like "Jews" or "women".

I found it quite an eye-opener since I have blocked that predictive thing ever since it first came out on the grounds of it being nothing but an annoying pain in the arse that slows things down while providing no benefit - even in the unlikely case that one of the suggested queries happens to be what I want, it still takes more time to switch from keyboard to mouse and select that option than it does to just finish typing the query myself. So I had no idea that anyone using Google without blocking all the shite it throws at you - which is nearly everyone - is being encouraged to read such toxic garbage all the bloody time, regardless of their propensity to visit sites likely to carry actual fake news.

It also demonstrates a problem that exists a step further up the chain in attempting to report on such matters: conflict of interest. The reason it happens at all is simply another aspect of the same problem that causes Google's search results in general to be so polluted with useless junk that I've given up using it: the intention behind Google's selection of results is not to provide people with the closest match to the information they were seeking, but to provide results which cause people to see the greatest possible variety of Google's fucking adverts - which is itself a sub-problem of the swamping of signal by advertising-inspired noise all over the internet in general. But the Guardian, being a newspaper, ie. a means for selling advertising space in its own right, carefully omits to point out that behind the problem they are reporting on is a larger problem in whose perpetuation they have an interest.


So if I'm visiting England, I can just turn up at a doctor's office, get an appointment, and the NHS will take care of the bill?

I was under the impression (from Martin) that you had to be a patient of a particular practice, and assumed that when being accepted there that they'd done all the paperwork and got the necessary numbers for billing. (My doctor has my OHIP number on file, so I haven't had to show my card in years.)



My last visit to the surgery was last Friday morning, as a result of falling in mud and cutting my hand — it's quite difficult to clean a would using only your non-dominant hand.

So I cleaned myself off, went round to the surgery, and asked to see the practice nurse. They took my name, looked up my records, and a few minutes later I was having my hand examined.

The nurse and I agreed that it probably wasn't a real problem, given that though the gash was full of mud, it wasn't deep enough to draw blood. But she gave me a anti-tetanus shot on the principle it was 34 years since my last one. So one small jab and a plastered hand later, off I went to work, an hour late.

So, British NHS, my own practice, I wasn't asked for any ID, but my name was required so they could pull up my records. In your case, if you're not on their records, they're going to have to escalate and it'll be rather different.

For non-urgent treatment, the latest proposal is that patients will have to show their passports. If you can't show you're a British citizen, then some form of payment guarantee would presumably have to be worked out.

(There is a European health card I can carry when in mainland Europe which identifies me to other countries health services, on the basis that reciprocal cover is provided. Visiting the US, I just suffer much higher travel insurance premiums.)


Pretty much. Patient comes first, paperwork second (although there is a mechanism for passing on the costs of treatment for foreign patients, back to their home country, it's not always pursued fully).

There was a blog post by a US doctor describing her experience when her son had an eye injury while visiting London - she was explaining to other Americans that the treatment she had observed was first-class...


As a foreigner, generally speaking yes. They take your details, and if you don't have travel insurance it is up to the NHS to chase the overseas equivalent for payment. Usually it is paid for by the foreign government eventually - it's a cheap form of diplomacy, and it works both ways. The same process happens in much of Europe, Australia and NZ. Hospitals are different, due to increased expenses - in France for example you can't be discharged until you or your insurer or *someone* agrees to pay your bills.

As a british resident, it is a bit more complicated - they really don't like you going to GPs outside the practice you are registered at, though they usually will reluctantly see you if you're far enough away. Resourcing is an issue too - it can be hard to register for a convenient practice, especially if you rent so move every so often.

Waiting times in London for me have been between 2-5 days for a GP - my area is busy and underresourced, plus the hospital who treated me (and has all my history) is outside the area my GP is supposed to refer, so I usually have to go to A&E to get back in the system for my hospital which adds a few hours on to the process, and I get an appointment with a specialist a week or so later. On the other hand A&E charges their costs back to my GP, so it's a good way to encourage the practice to be more available as they are a LOT more expensive.
On the gripping hand all treatment are free, as was the superlative physio system that got me walking again. Yay NHS.


"For non-urgent treatment, the latest proposal is that patients will have to show their passports."


(as you may guess, I'd not heard of that yet.)

That would leave me right up shit creek, because I don't have a passport. (Reason: no point. I can't imagine anything I might want to do that (a) can't be done in this country and (b) would be something I'd want strongly enough to set aside the amount of shit involved in travelling to another country. And AIUI passports are now biometric, so there's a reason to avoid having one.)

Fortunately I'm reasonably confident that even if it does get implemented - which from the tone of the article and the BMA comment in the antepenultimate paragraph seems less likely to happen than the overt message makes out - the reality that actually quite a lot of people in the UK don't have passports will supervene over the dumb-arsed but all too common assumption that "oh everyone has one", and arrangement will be made for such people so they are not forced to get a passport just to see the doctor. Maybe that "medical card" I mentioned will finally have a use for itself.


Whelp, there goes the dominoes (while Trump pokes the Chinese Dragon via Taiwan):

Matteo Renzi concedes defeat in Italian referendum and steps down as prime minister Telegraph Live feed, 5th Dec 2016.


For those wondering if it could get worse before 2017, well... *looks at market, bonds and banks*.


But the ray of sunshine, via Austria:

Anton Mahdalik, a Freedom party member of the Vienna city council, criticised former Ukip leader Nigel Farage for contributing to the party’s defeat after claiming on Fox News that Hofer would hold a referendum on Austria leaving the EU. “That didn’t help us, it hindered us,” he said, saying that an overwhelming majority of Austrians support EU membership.

Hofer himself described Farage’s comments as a “crass misjudgment”, adding that “it doesn’t fill me with joy when someone meddles from outside”.

Austria rejects far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in presidential election Guardian 5th Dec 2016

Yep, that's correct: Farage saved Austria from a Far-Right leader.

2016, Edgar Rice Burroughs, "The Land that Irony forgot". (Hmm. Memory fogged. I'm sure that that novel was mentioned somewhere).


Fascist regimes which are likely to come to power in industrialized countries today differ in one significant respect from their predecessors - demography.

These regimes will come to power in aging countries with falling population. So they will not be concerned with territorial expansion, just the opposite, they would want to close their borders to foreigners.

Russia and some Eastern European countries (for example, Hungary, Romania and above all, Serbia) are an exception, because they have large populations of ethnic compatriots living outside their national borders. Hypothetic fascist regimes there are quite likely to be aggressive (of course, they would see it as defense of compatriots, not as an agression), however, their war aims again would be more or less restricted - none of them would want to annex any new territories populated by, say, Muslims or other undesirable elements.

But if the UK or France or Germany or indeed Italy get fascist regimes tomorrow, they won't represent any real threat to the world peace.

And consequentially, these regimes might prove to be more durable than fascism of Mussolini or nazism of Hitler (Franco regime which differed from them primarily by peaceful policies survived for decades)


Anyhow, since this is all Old Dead Ideas getting rehashed, and the President-Elect of the USA is using Twitter to destablize the U.N. and Atlantic Accord... #WildHunt2017.

Here's something that will blow the minds of a majority of people:

Extremely High Definition Snowflakes Imgur gallery.

(No, really, it will)

Worth checking out for all those "special snowflake" memes and for those Comp lit people who like to pretend that 'brain computation / consciousness' is a simple formula. Pro-tip: it's a bit more hard-core than that.


Regarding Empathy. I've some serious responses to that long-piece, but it'll be a formal response. He's wrong, and he's also wrong about the issue he's attempting to address.


You DO have a National Insurance Number, I assume?
Quote that, for starters.


If you think that she is tracking me, you have understood neither of us.

Incidentally, I agree with your posting. There's more to the various morasses than than but, as I said, I don't want to derail further.


OK, so there's a way of blocking Google's "predictive" ( I.e. fucking advertising ) in searches.

HOW / Where?
Do tell.


Open google page, Settings > Search Settings > Google Instant > Never show Instant results. Apply.

No idea how sticky the selection is based on logins etc.

I also presume that this moves you into tracking section #2.


See Moz, you didn't even do me the favour of responding to me personally. You just set up a general beacon to all assuming I would read this. (Which I did, but I had to go back and check) That's one of the major differences between you and me. You expect to send a general broadcast whereas (as a woman) I expect to have to work for it, respond to your comments if I want to be heard at all and track down your response etc. You've never had to make yourself heard, have you? You just assume people will listen to you.

I work in engineering myself and have to do this a lot on a professional basis even when I am better qualified and experienced. And even when I'm the boss, it takes time to get my (usually,really lovely and 100% male team I inherited) on board. You lost me on the swan analogy (and if I tried that one in a meeting I would be excoriated for being a woman & too rambly etc).

I will agree with you 100% that I pulled you up on MRA stats you didn't quote. My bad, it was MRA memes you threw in, not actual stats. (When did MRA's ever quote peer reviewed stats :) )

Getting back to miners and fishermen as opposed to sex workers, when did you ever hear about enthusiastic amateur miners or fishermen? Do they exist (and thanks Troutwaxer - I did take your comments on board) and which fisherman gave a Halibut a blowjob?? (or was it the Halibut giving the fisherman a blow job)

I'm really not sure where you are coming from on the whole 'it's morals' on the sex worker thing. Have you ever been bent over as an engineer? Forced to have sex as part of your job? I dunno but I'd be surprised.

On your LOLs you assume sex is between a woman and a man, I will take that and raise you 'who the fuck to do think you are assuming my preferences' which it's clear you did. The empirical evidence is clear that both men and women are 97-98% raped by men. It's a no brainer. It's ugly but it's evidence. Stating that doesn't make me some kind of harridan, (unless you're a creationist)

I have to admit, it was really hard to listen to anything you said after you accused me of fighting dirty. (But I still tried). I stood up and disagreed with your take on feminism and suddenly I am fighting dirty?? (You as a man, me as a woman?) I don't know what you were hoping to achieve. But thanks. In the future, I'll be taking 'fighting dirty' as a compliment.

I don't want to dox you on your thesis. I have noticed how you have changed your tune from relevant to feminism in a minor way to not relevant at all.

I wish you well


On this, we 100% agree EC.


From the next thread, where it was deemed off-topic - should be OK here (?)

Charlie said: June/early July next year (assuming we survive that long.)

I'm beginning to wonder.
Trumpolini is showing himself amazingly thin-skinned & well as the usual arrogance & incompetence we've come to expect.
I know it would give us a Pence as POTUS, but is there a mechanism for removing a Pres if obviously insane?
Before the idiot gets all of us into a major war?
USAians - have you any information?


Not there - now what?
There's a text-box upper centre with grey-out "Search Settings" showing.
Typing "Google Instant" gets me a null "Don't know what that is response ....

Um, err ....


OOps - low-down in advanced settings there are 2 "prediction" setings which I can turn off ..
We'll try that (!)


/Tangent (but related to "why Authoritarianism thrives" and very dangerous nose wiggling territory of the Stand on Zanzibar kind - note the authors and their locations):

Host posted a paper recently (Brain Computation Is Organized via Power-of-Two-Based Permutation Logic Frontiers, 15th Nov 2016 - full text) N = 2i − 1 is the equation they're positing:

Through evolution as more neurons became available, the brain evolved with a greater capacity to expand the “power-of-two”-permutation-based permutation wiring and consequently, to extract more relational patterns (i gets larger as N is bigger based on the equation of N = 2i − 1), thereby leading to higher abstraction of categorical knowledge and more intelligent behaviors. Over time, when the random connectivity strategy may no longer be sufficient and efficient to ensure the desired outcome, evolution exerts its selection force to develop nonrandom organization to execute this power-of-two-based permutation logic to efficiently deal with environments in which animals lived. This is supported by our findings that specific-to-general cell assembly patterns in the CA1, BLA and cortex (combined from L2–6) all differed significantly from the independent random-connectivity model.

Aside from whether this is a valid answer (it certainly is not, btw - I'll let the science focused reader wonder why they're modelling boundary interactions like they are), the real issue of the paper comes a bit later on:

The Power-of-Two-Based Cell-Assembly Logic Does not Require Adult NMDA Receptors

One of the key questions is whether this power-of-two-based, cell-assembly logic should be formed by learning in adulthood or pre-configured by development, or both...

We then used forebrain NMDA receptor KO mice to assess whether learning is necessary to the observed coding logic. It is known that synaptic proteins are metabolically turned over within hours, days or week(s). This means that learning-induced synaptic connectivity should drift significantly over time (Shimizu et al., 2000; Wang et al., 2006; Choquet and Triller, 2013). We have shown that the NMDA receptor-based SRR is crucial for maintaining the stability of synaptic connections established by prior learning (Wittenberg and Tsien, 2002; Wittenberg et al., 2002)...

Interestingly, we found that deleting the NMDA receptor had minimal effect on the specific-to-general connectivity logic in all three circuits, suggesting that the power-of-two-based logic is not dependent on learning in adulthood. This finding is in line with the emerging evidence that specific input patterns in the cortex were largely independent of NMDA receptor function (DeNardo et al., 2015). It also fits with the reports showing pre-organized spontaneous firing patterns or sequences in the visual cortex, hippocampus, and entorhinal cortex (Tsodyks et al., 1999; MacLean et al., 2005; Dragoi and Tonegawa, 2013; Mizuseki and Buzsáki, 2013). It will be of great interest to examine how neural ontogeny and circuit development lead to such a remarkably deterministic blueprint (Gao et al., 2014; Wilber et al., 2014).

This is a very dangerous piece of reductionist nonsense.

Background reading:

NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity are thought to underlie the assembly of developing neuronal circuits and to play a crucial role in learning and memory. It remains unclear how NMDAR might contribute to the wiring of adult-born granule cells (GCs). Here we demonstrate that nascent GCs lacking NMDARs but rescued from apoptosis by overexpressing the pro-survival protein Bcl2 were deficient in spine formation. Insufficient spinogenesis might be a general cause of cell death restricted within the NMDAR-dependent critical time window for GC survival. NMDAR loss also led to enhanced mushroom spine formation and synaptic AMPAR activity throughout the development of newborn GCs. Moreover, similar elevated synapse maturation in the absence of NMDARs was observed in neonate-generated GCs and CA1 pyramidal neurons. Together, these data suggest that NMDAR operates as a molecular monitor for controlling the activity-dependent establishment and maturation rate of synaptic connections between newborn neurons and others.

Distinct roles of NMDA receptors at different stages of granule cell development in the adult brain eLife Oct 16th 2015 Full text, note author location again.


Thalamocortical Interactions Neuroscience. 2nd edition, NCBI

We also determined that NMDARs differ at thalamic inputs onto
FS and RS cells, and that they contribute to the recruitment of RS
cells. Although most investigations of NMDARs have focused on
their role in synaptic plasticity, several studies have demonstrated a
crucial role for NMDARs in normal synaptic transmission and the
processing of sensory information in the cortex (Miller et al., 1989;
Armstrong-James et al., 1993; Gil and Amitai, 1996; Kasamatsu et al.,
1998). Unfortunately, the specific stage at which NMDARs are in-
volved in the transmission and processing of sensory information in
the cortex has remained a matter of speculation.

Postsynaptic Mechanisms Govern the Differential Excitation of Cortical Neurons by Thalamic Inputs UoC, Journal of Neuroscience, 2009 PDF, legal.


It's related to snowflakes, that's all I'm saying.

Minvera Owl