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Andreas Schou

Andreas Schou 

Occupation: Snake Parliament

Location: Mountain View, California

Followers: 8,682

Following: 228

Views: 35,859,922

Cream of the Crop: 12/07/2012

Added to CircleCount.com: 12/24/2011That's the date, where Andreas Schou has been indexed by CircleCount.com.
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6
reshares per post
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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 195

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2016-07-22 04:12:31 (195 comments; 1 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

Most reshares: 84

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2016-07-10 04:22:57 (64 comments; 84 reshares; 601 +1s; )Open 

On the day after Philando Castile died, America's second largest cop site shared this.

American policing is deeply, deeply sick. 

Most plusones: 601

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2016-07-10 04:22:57 (64 comments; 84 reshares; 601 +1s; )Open 

On the day after Philando Castile died, America's second largest cop site shared this.

American policing is deeply, deeply sick. 

Latest 50 posts

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2016-07-25 23:59:33 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

___

2016-07-25 01:19:34 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

Mostly I emphasize how the economic populism in the Trump movement isn't new. On economic issues, poor whites and blacks in the South were naturally aligned. It should surprise no one, then, that Jim Crow followed the defeat of a major Southern populist movement which had been building an alliance with blacks. The great fear of Southerners going back before the revolution has always been an alliance between the indentured and free workers. It messed with that "cavalier utopia" so many second sons dreamed of.

Racialization of the welfare state turned Southern whites against economic populism, sort of. Whites were still on board with the welfare state, they simply saw black people as undeserving. With no way to cut off blacks, they'd rather shut it all down. So they did.*

But the focus is now on immigrants. They're the new bogeyman

Immigrants are people... more »

Mostly I emphasize how the economic populism in the Trump movement isn't new. On economic issues, poor whites and blacks in the South were naturally aligned. It should surprise no one, then, that Jim Crow followed the defeat of a major Southern populist movement which had been building an alliance with blacks. The great fear of Southerners going back before the revolution has always been an alliance between the indentured and free workers. It messed with that "cavalier utopia" so many second sons dreamed of.

Racialization of the welfare state turned Southern whites against economic populism, sort of. Whites were still on board with the welfare state, they simply saw black people as undeserving. With no way to cut off blacks, they'd rather shut it all down. So they did.*

But the focus is now on immigrants. They're the new bogeyman

Immigrants are people they can do something about. So good news: the welfare state is gaining acceptance because the people whites most want off the rolls can, in fact, be kicked off essentially on account of race.

Hopefully, Andy actually picked up that bulk hard liquor.

*And this gets fractal. Whites overestimate crime, drug use, and so on among blacks. So when they implement policies meant to restrict welfare targeting criminals and druggies and other ne'er do wells, they don't expect to see the welfare rolls look the same. But they do; because blacks are more upright than whites on some measures, no less on others, and an uneducated black man is no more able to navigate welfare than an uneducated white man. People aren't that different, so radical results were never in the offing.___

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2016-07-23 04:28:44 (15 comments; 0 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

Okay, what?

Okay, what?___

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2016-07-22 23:36:22 (60 comments; 1 reshares; 25 +1s; )Open 

No. Because appointing someone other than a pro-life, bank-deregulating empty suit isn't about shoring up a left flank. It's about picking a VP which actually plays to the dynamics of the race.

The "left flank" of this race cuts right through the edge of Trump's coalition. For educated white professionals, there's genuinely no real dispute: even in the conservative fraction of those voters, they're inclined to vote for austere economic policy and lower taxes, but they're not particularly inclined to vote for Trump in large numbers. Because they're often looking for actual policy: policies which support large corporations, free trade, and laissez-faire economics.

A large portion of Trump's base -- white voters without post-secondary education -- hates big banks and large corporations as much as the average Occupier does. Unlike the Republican... more »

No. Because appointing someone other than a pro-life, bank-deregulating empty suit isn't about shoring up a left flank. It's about picking a VP which actually plays to the dynamics of the race.

The "left flank" of this race cuts right through the edge of Trump's coalition. For educated white professionals, there's genuinely no real dispute: even in the conservative fraction of those voters, they're inclined to vote for austere economic policy and lower taxes, but they're not particularly inclined to vote for Trump in large numbers. Because they're often looking for actual policy: policies which support large corporations, free trade, and laissez-faire economics.

A large portion of Trump's base -- white voters without post-secondary education -- hates big banks and large corporations as much as the average Occupier does. Unlike the Republican voters of previous races, who (eventually) voted for whomever they were told to vote for, Trump's base expects the President to actually do something about the worsening economic conditions across much of low-wage, rural America.

Trump promises that he will take the gains which went to non-white Americans, expropriate them, and hand them over to the white majority. That is horrifying, but in a completely amoral sense, it's easy to see why some part of the country might be enthusiastic about that sort of zero-sum banditry against the country's most vulnerable.

Clinton, as it stands, promises nothing but small-bore tinkering with economic policy. Which is not enough. It's like she doesn't even recognize why she nearly lost to a not-ready-for-prime-time ideologue: she was offering more of the same to a part of the country which, in absolute terms, is still doing better than most, but which in relative terms has been in decline since the beginning of this century.

If she wants to cut into Trump's numbers rather than simply double-down on her own, she needs to make a choice which offers, or at least promises to offer, something which is better than the alternative. And that means some read-meat populism, not a candidate which stands for precisely the same trends which nearly lost her the nomination.___

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2016-07-22 04:12:31 (195 comments; 1 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

___

2016-07-22 02:53:31 (45 comments; 0 reshares; 36 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, RNC Capstone Speech: Trump of the Will. Cristalnacht. I have never seen such genuinely terrifying incoherent rage in American politics.

Capsule Review, RNC Capstone Speech: Trump of the Will. Cristalnacht. I have never seen such genuinely terrifying incoherent rage in American politics.___

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2016-07-21 23:53:30 (32 comments; 3 reshares; 31 +1s; )Open 

This is not unprecedented. The city of Toronto, upon discovering that it couldn't impeach or recall Rob Ford for smoking crack on the job and possibly threatening to kill private citizens over the video of it, made Rob Ford king of Toronto. The City Council took away all of his powers and left the office of mayor effectively powerless.

This is not unprecedented. The city of Toronto, upon discovering that it couldn't impeach or recall Rob Ford for smoking crack on the job and possibly threatening to kill private citizens over the video of it, made Rob Ford king of Toronto. The City Council took away all of his powers and left the office of mayor effectively powerless.___

2016-07-21 02:42:11 (13 comments; 0 reshares; 31 +1s; )Open 

Of "things which might save America," Cruz's amoral careerist opportunism was not high on my list.

Of "things which might save America," Cruz's amoral careerist opportunism was not high on my list.___

2016-07-21 01:52:17 (19 comments; 3 reshares; 49 +1s; )Open 

A: For god's sake did Laura Ingraham finish her speech with a literal sieg heil?

S: Yup, looks like it.

A: Does Google Shopping Express still deliver liquor in bulk?

S: Okay, good.

A: For god's sake did Laura Ingraham finish her speech with a literal sieg heil?

S: Yup, looks like it.

A: Does Google Shopping Express still deliver liquor in bulk?

S: Okay, good.___

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2016-07-19 21:39:44 (56 comments; 4 reshares; 36 +1s; )Open 

“A mixture of gullibility and cynicism had been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. The mixture in itself was remarkable enough, because it spelled the end of the illusion that gullibility was a weakness of unsuspecting primitive souls and cynicism the vice of superior and refined minds. Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make peopleb... more »

“A mixture of gullibility and cynicism had been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. The mixture in itself was remarkable enough, because it spelled the end of the illusion that gullibility was a weakness of unsuspecting primitive souls and cynicism the vice of superior and refined minds. Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness."

— Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

(Quote, and the application thereof, via Adam Serwer.)___

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2016-07-19 19:47:18 (17 comments; 2 reshares; 50 +1s; )Open 

Metaphorical shitshow becomes literal shitshow.

Metaphorical shitshow becomes literal shitshow.___

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2016-07-19 04:36:08 (11 comments; 3 reshares; 30 +1s; )Open 

Melania Trump stole a whole paragraph from Michelle Obama's speech.

Click to hear Melania and follow Michelle's words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Ei2dSDsFY&feature=youtu.be&t=2m4s

It's literally a plagiarized passage about the importance of hard work. ~@Matt Pierce, LA Times

Melania Trump stole a whole paragraph from Michelle Obama's speech.

Click to hear Melania and follow Michelle's words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Ei2dSDsFY&feature=youtu.be&t=2m4s

It's literally a plagiarized passage about the importance of hard work. ~@Matt Pierce, LA Times___

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2016-07-18 20:45:39 (90 comments; 2 reshares; 29 +1s; )Open 

This is as trivial as it is true.

Across time and across cultures, men have been responsible for the vast majority of violence. This article attempts to make out that perfect regularity to be unexplained or somehow variable, but it isn't: men are the problem, at all places and in all times, and they are so consistently the problem that it almost strains credulity to blame it on nurture rather than nature. I mean, everywhere else in primate biology, testosterone levels (and testosterone receptivity) are highly correlated with use of violence. There is no reason to believe that humans are an exception.

Lumping the problem together this way doesn't even propose a solution: violence is a problem which mostly afflicts men, just as ovarian cancer is a problem which mostly afflicts women. It's difficult to read an article that says, trivially, "and the problem is men"... more »

This is as trivial as it is true.

Across time and across cultures, men have been responsible for the vast majority of violence. This article attempts to make out that perfect regularity to be unexplained or somehow variable, but it isn't: men are the problem, at all places and in all times, and they are so consistently the problem that it almost strains credulity to blame it on nurture rather than nature. I mean, everywhere else in primate biology, testosterone levels (and testosterone receptivity) are highly correlated with use of violence. There is no reason to believe that humans are an exception.

Lumping the problem together this way doesn't even propose a solution: violence is a problem which mostly afflicts men, just as ovarian cancer is a problem which mostly afflicts women. It's difficult to read an article that says, trivially, "and the problem is men" and take the proposed solution to be anything other than "fuck men's problems with violence (but black men in particular) until men, as a class, get their shit together."

And fine, okay, if you want to take the point as being "there are large numbers of men who are defective in a way that virtually no women are," I'll happily wave that banner. But the only solution to that I see is gendercide. I don't see anyone actually advocating for that. But, worse, this fails to engage anywhere where its analysis might be complicated by the actual facts on the ground.

Once you look at the rates of victimization in the types of crime discussed, especially around police shootings, it's pretty clear that men aren't just the perpetrators, but also the supermajority of its victims. Only 1.7% of the people shot by cops every year are women. About 75% of non-police homicide victims are men. If you look at stranger homicides, including deaths due to mass shooters, the number shoots up to 90%. The only area of homicide that's dominated by women victims is intimate partner homicide, and the best known solutions to that are completely orthogonal to the problems with state violence and mass incarceration.

Do I see anything about how policing strategies are often driven by using notional (and relatively low and sharply declining) rates of public violence against women as a warrant for broken-windows policing? Not really. How about the strongly male-biased patterns of victimization in the various types of violence discussed? Nope, not that either. How about the uncomfortable willingness of mainstream feminist/criminal-justice lobby groups to pressure states and municipalities to drop measures which create police accountability? That was mostly prior to the 2000s, but still -- there's nothing there.

Men are at fault here, sure. But there's nothing unusual or helpful about explaining that men are at fault. Unless you have a proposal to eliminate or make germline-level changes to human males, explaining that the thing which is always true is still true won't solve your problem. ___

2016-07-16 05:34:16 (4 comments; 1 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

+Faruk Ahmet writes, "What else concerns you about the protests?"

My response: Only that some idiot Kemalist lieutenant or other small-time actor will actually attempt to do what the military's done in the past, except without the competence or consent of the military as a whole, and it'll be used to justify extraordinarily repressive measures.

So not really concerns about the protests proper, but concerns about the way in which escalation might be used as a way to frame this as a more bilaterally problematic conflict than it has previously been.

Yeah.

I'd like to highlight +Faruk Ahmet's response to my question about the possibility of a secularist coup in Turkey, and comments on the unusual stability of post-coup governments in Turkey:

It shouldn't be that surprising, I guess, since the general stability of the governments successing the coups was a result, not completely, but largely, of them being an almost natural extensions of the army—or of the discourse and politics (Kemalism) the army represented. Until the mid-50s, it was a single-party regime, and the line between the army and Atatürk's party CHP was a really fine one. The coups were The Regime's way of re-winding the clock. This is almost not even a metaphor—It's funny how periodic it was, every ten years, like clockwork: 1960, 1971, 1980... The last successful intervention of the army was in 1997. Ten years after that came the Ergenekon Trials—the current ruling party AKP's crackdown on the military.

Is there still a lingering fear of a coup? Technically, I guess that's not impossible, and some liberal intellectuals voice their suspicions in this regard from time to time but it'd be a tremendous surprise to everyone if it were to happen. AKP did its best to make sure, with Ergenekon, that the suppression of the military was as complete as possible. I don't even know the current High Commander's name, and for a Turkish citizen, not knowing the High Commander's name was unthinkable just 5 years ago.

Maybe we should wait for another 5 years, for the 10th year anniversary of Ergenekon and see if the Clock-of-Coup is still working.

In other words, Erdogan's prosecution of high-ranking military commanders seems to have done its job: the Kemalist old-guard which otherwise might have conducted a coup in response to public unrest now seems unable to do so. Which alleviates some of my concerns about the ongoing Turkish protests.___+Faruk Ahmet writes, "What else concerns you about the protests?"

My response: Only that some idiot Kemalist lieutenant or other small-time actor will actually attempt to do what the military's done in the past, except without the competence or consent of the military as a whole, and it'll be used to justify extraordinarily repressive measures.

So not really concerns about the protests proper, but concerns about the way in which escalation might be used as a way to frame this as a more bilaterally problematic conflict than it has previously been.

Yeah.

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2016-07-16 00:03:34 (10 comments; 0 reshares; 16 +1s; )Open 

A counterexample to Betteridge's Law.

A counterexample to Betteridge's Law.___

2016-07-15 22:26:33 (19 comments; 4 reshares; 13 +1s; )Open 

For live video of what's going on in Turkey (viz., a coup), scroll over to Turkey and take a look. Ankara and Istanbul are both interesting.

For live video of what's going on in Turkey (viz., a coup), scroll over to Turkey and take a look. Ankara and Istanbul are both interesting.___

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2016-07-15 18:48:41 (11 comments; 1 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

"Sometimes people get so used to being marginalized that it becomes part of their identity. They want the safety of not really mattering, not wielding responsibility, remaining in the wings to catcall and jeer at authority. West prefers to stay in his cozy leftwing ghetto where he can be stroked and applauded, and not have to make any real hard decisions."

-- +Steve Yuan​

Food for thought. You'll have to click through to read all of it.

“I’m voting my conscience.” is the battle cry of people who won’t meaningfully consider what their vote means for other people.
___"Sometimes people get so used to being marginalized that it becomes part of their identity. They want the safety of not really mattering, not wielding responsibility, remaining in the wings to catcall and jeer at authority. West prefers to stay in his cozy leftwing ghetto where he can be stroked and applauded, and not have to make any real hard decisions."

-- +Steve Yuan​

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2016-07-15 18:10:30 (21 comments; 10 reshares; 78 +1s; )Open 

Let's take the counterfactual but very similar "In Defense of Military Unions."

Doesn't sound like a great idea, does it? The reason is simple: militaries and paramilitary organizations like the police are coercive instruments of state power. Since at least the 1500s, It's been recognized as fundamentally important to stability that that coercive power remain in the hands of the state. And since the Roman republic, it's been recognized as critically important to democracy that that power be utterly subordinate to democratic institutions.

This is why the military offers recruits only two options: take the terms which are offered or remain a civilian. It's why the military severely curtails soldiers' civil rights. Because everything we care about in our society depends on the consensual illusion that political power comes from somewhere other than the... more »

Let's take the counterfactual but very similar "In Defense of Military Unions."

Doesn't sound like a great idea, does it? The reason is simple: militaries and paramilitary organizations like the police are coercive instruments of state power. Since at least the 1500s, It's been recognized as fundamentally important to stability that that coercive power remain in the hands of the state. And since the Roman republic, it's been recognized as critically important to democracy that that power be utterly subordinate to democratic institutions.

This is why the military offers recruits only two options: take the terms which are offered or remain a civilian. It's why the military severely curtails soldiers' civil rights. Because everything we care about in our society depends on the consensual illusion that political power comes from somewhere other than the barrel of a gun.

Police are less dangerous, but not much less. Police unions create contractual relationships with the state. Those contractual relations have the force of law. And that private law supervenes on democratic attempts to create police accountability, because -- in criminal matters -- the management of police departments is the very authority to which the police are accountable.

In all other labor organizing, labor and management are negotiating over the usual subjects of contracts: how much is labor paid; what are the conditions of retirement or disability; how many hours are worked, and when. But the primary subject of negotiation between police unions and city governments is policing strategy and citizens' civil rights.

It is utterly impermissible for governments to negotiate with private parties about civil rights in a way that actually supervenes on public law.___

2016-07-14 20:14:04 (22 comments; 15 reshares; 54 +1s; )Open 

Twelve Better Foreign Ministers than Boris Johnson: A Comprehensive List

(1) David Cameron, Who Doesn't Actually Have a Job Right Now
(2) Any MP Except Boris Johnson
(3) A Wax Model of Boris Johnson
(4) Boris Johnson's Hair, Glued Onto a Rock Which Sort of Looks Like Him
(5) Microsoft's Tay
(6) A Markov Chain Trained on the Daily Mail's Comment Section
(7) Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
(8) Oswald Mosley's Skeleton, Used As a Marionette
(9) Max Mosley, Now That That Nazi Orgy Thing Has Blown Over
(10) An Email Autoresponder Which Just Sends Poop Emojis
(11) An Email Autoresponder Which Just Notifies Foreign Leaders That Boris Johnson is Out of Office
(12) A Framed Photograph of a Middle Finger


Twelve Better Foreign Ministers than Boris Johnson: A Comprehensive List

(1) David Cameron, Who Doesn't Actually Have a Job Right Now
(2) Any MP Except Boris Johnson
(3) A Wax Model of Boris Johnson
(4) Boris Johnson's Hair, Glued Onto a Rock Which Sort of Looks Like Him
(5) Microsoft's Tay
(6) A Markov Chain Trained on the Daily Mail's Comment Section
(7) Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
(8) Oswald Mosley's Skeleton, Used As a Marionette
(9) Max Mosley, Now That That Nazi Orgy Thing Has Blown Over
(10) An Email Autoresponder Which Just Sends Poop Emojis
(11) An Email Autoresponder Which Just Notifies Foreign Leaders That Boris Johnson is Out of Office
(12) A Framed Photograph of a Middle Finger
___

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2016-07-14 18:14:11 (28 comments; 1 reshares; 19 +1s; )Open 

"Neoreactionary who literally opposes women's suffrage to speak at GOP convention."

"Neoreactionary who literally opposes women's suffrage to speak at GOP convention."___

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2016-07-13 23:15:38 (12 comments; 4 reshares; 22 +1s; )Open 

I was born into that shitty town, maleness, full of broken ideals and misplaced machismo and repression and there are some good people stuck living there. They are not in charge. They did not build it. And I don’t feel okay just moving out and saying “fuck y’all — bootstrap your way out or die out, I was never one of you.” I want to make it a better, healthier place—not spend all my time talking about how shitty it is and how anyone who would choose to live there deserves it. And to me that means considering them with charity, even when they make it difficult to. [...]

Because it’s not a small deal that the words “not all men” have become entwined inextricably with male fragility and whininess. It makes it awfully easy to insulate the (largely cis-)female perspective on what males are. To begin a statement with those words—“Not All Men”—is to give grounds to anyonewho wants to laugh at the res... more »

I was born into that shitty town, maleness, full of broken ideals and misplaced machismo and repression and there are some good people stuck living there. They are not in charge. They did not build it. And I don’t feel okay just moving out and saying “fuck y’all — bootstrap your way out or die out, I was never one of you.” I want to make it a better, healthier place—not spend all my time talking about how shitty it is and how anyone who would choose to live there deserves it. And to me that means considering them with charity, even when they make it difficult to. [...]

Because it’s not a small deal that the words “not all men” have become entwined inextricably with male fragility and whininess. It makes it awfully easy to insulate the (largely cis-)female perspective on what males are. To begin a statement with those words—“Not All Men”—is to give grounds to anyone who wants to laugh at the rest of it. But here is the truth: not all men are what you think they are. Man does not mean what you think it means. Generalizing harshly and broadly but implying “you know which ones I mean” is an intellectual and rhetorical laziness that is not allowed to pass anywhere else in these communities. Because we don’t get to choose who our words and behavior affect, we are obligated to choose them carefully.

The rest of this essay is worth reading, but it's this that hit me.

I spent most of my life living in the places where the problems are, knowing that I had the choice to be held blameless. If I disclaimed trying to fix them. If I declared war against the less sympathetic victims. If I carefully rationed my sympathy for people who are still doing harm. If I denied the ways in which I am both wounded and uplifted by the fact that I come from a place where people were hurting, and are still hurting.

I have left both literal and metaphorical places where people are still doing harm and nobody notices. It's made my life easier. But what led me out of those places was the same empathy which I am being asked to deny to the people I've left behind, and is that what anyone really wants?

I don't think so, but I also don't know. ___

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2016-07-13 19:13:56 (72 comments; 5 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

A little note: if Jill Stein wins every state where (a) she's on the ballot, and which (b) sent their electors for a Democrat in the period between 1996-2012, she loses the election 268-270, and Trump is President.

This assumes no vote-splitting effects, which is insane, and that all states not taken by Stein are taken by Trump, which is also insane. If Clinton wins any state where Stein isn't on the ballot, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and Paul Ryan becomes president.

Jill Stein is on a speaking tour. She is not running for President in any meaningful way. 

A little note: if Jill Stein wins every state where (a) she's on the ballot, and which (b) sent their electors for a Democrat in the period between 1996-2012, she loses the election 268-270, and Trump is President.

This assumes no vote-splitting effects, which is insane, and that all states not taken by Stein are taken by Trump, which is also insane. If Clinton wins any state where Stein isn't on the ballot, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and Paul Ryan becomes president.

Jill Stein is on a speaking tour. She is not running for President in any meaningful way. ___

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2016-07-13 18:47:04 (12 comments; 14 reshares; 37 +1s; )Open 

Delightful.

Delightful.___

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2016-07-12 18:21:23 (16 comments; 0 reshares; 13 +1s; )Open 

"Could H.A. Goodman write a take so hot that he himself could not read it?"

-- Brandon Clarkson

"Could H.A. Goodman write a take so hot that he himself could not read it?"

-- Brandon Clarkson___

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2016-07-11 21:48:23 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, Swiss Army Man: Basically, a feature-length Sigur Ros video written by Eric Wareheim and directed by Terrence Malick. (5/5)

Also, its soundtrack deserves an Oscar.

Capsule Review, Swiss Army Man: Basically, a feature-length Sigur Ros video written by Eric Wareheim and directed by Terrence Malick. (5/5)

Also, its soundtrack deserves an Oscar.___

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2016-07-11 20:47:28 (45 comments; 3 reshares; 29 +1s; )Open 

In other news, the EU has established a "right to explanation" for all algorithmic decisionmaking.

I am worried about how to implement this.

Because of things like this.

Amazon today has decided to give me a glimpse of an extremely unpleasant parallel universe.___In other news, the EU has established a "right to explanation" for all algorithmic decisionmaking.

I am worried about how to implement this.

Because of things like this.

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2016-07-11 18:25:37 (10 comments; 3 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

Ken Moore of the Collective Black People’s Movement (CBPM) said that he was asked to look into Johnson by an unidentified black activist group. When he discovered the Army veteran was discharged for sexual harassment, he labelled him “unfit for recruitment.”

Malik Shabazz, former chair of the New Black Panther Party, told The Daily Beast that the background check system described by Moore effectively blacklisted Johnson from membership in black nationalist and black liberation groups across the country.

If true, this indicates that black-wing militants have better vetting policies than many US police departments.

Ken Moore of the Collective Black People’s Movement (CBPM) said that he was asked to look into Johnson by an unidentified black activist group. When he discovered the Army veteran was discharged for sexual harassment, he labelled him “unfit for recruitment.”

Malik Shabazz, former chair of the New Black Panther Party, told The Daily Beast that the background check system described by Moore effectively blacklisted Johnson from membership in black nationalist and black liberation groups across the country.

If true, this indicates that black-wing militants have better vetting policies than many US police departments.___

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2016-07-10 21:23:48 (4 comments; 5 reshares; 41 +1s; )Open 

It turns out that a certain website that +Andreas Schou commented on and I reposted has quietly changed its title.

Luckily, I found a browser tab that had been opened before that, and made some screenshots.

The text has also been changed. The first bold headline used to be

“Follow the commands of a police officer or risk dying.”

There you go, you can commence to calling me all kind of horrible names and even call me a racist. I don’t care because that advice will save lives.

It's now:

“Follow the commands of a police officer or risk injury or possibly worse.”

There you go, you can commence to calling me all kind of horrible names and even call me a racist. I don’t care because that advice can save lives and prevent so much of what we have seen in recent years.

Later on,
Take... more »

It turns out that a certain website that +Andreas Schou commented on and I reposted has quietly changed its title.

Luckily, I found a browser tab that had been opened before that, and made some screenshots.

The text has also been changed. The first bold headline used to be

“Follow the commands of a police officer or risk dying.”

There you go, you can commence to calling me all kind of horrible names and even call me a racist. I don’t care because that advice will save lives.

It's now:

“Follow the commands of a police officer or risk injury or possibly worse.”

There you go, you can commence to calling me all kind of horrible names and even call me a racist. I don’t care because that advice can save lives and prevent so much of what we have seen in recent years.

Later on,

Take someone not doing what a police officer tells them to do, resisting or worse yet, fighting and combine that with additional information like the suspect may have a gun, etc. and it is not a stretch to see that person shot or worse, dead. It is all too common.

became

Take someone not doing what a police officer tells them to do, resisting or worse yet, fighting and combine that with additional information like the suspect may have a gun, etc. and it is not a stretch to see that person hurt, shot or even worse. It is all too common.

What does it tells us about American police culture that in popular outcry, explicit mentions of death get removed from an article that justifies police who shoot at people, but all the euphemisms and an explicit passive-aggressive invitation to submit to authority stay in place?

I humbly submit that this suggests a belief that there's nothing wrong with murderous police, as long as this murderousness is clad in "politically correct" verbiage. And that is a problem worthy of deeper analysis.___

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2016-07-10 04:22:57 (64 comments; 84 reshares; 601 +1s; )Open 

On the day after Philando Castile died, America's second largest cop site shared this.

American policing is deeply, deeply sick. 

On the day after Philando Castile died, America's second largest cop site shared this.

American policing is deeply, deeply sick. ___

2016-07-08 22:27:35 (9 comments; 0 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

Blowtorch-Marsala Peaches, For Lack of a Better Name

You'll need:

A bottle of marsala you might consider drinking. You'll have some left over
Some brown sugar
A whole nutmeg
A half-stick of cold unsalted butter
Some reasonably-firm, but still seasonal, peaches
A vanilla bean. Or some vanilla sugar. Or some real vanilla extract.

Cut up a half-stick of unsalted butter into small dice and have it ready for later.

Pour enough marsala to get a fairly deep layer into a shallow pan. Halve your peaches, remove the pits, and get the marsala up to a rolling boil. Add a couple tablespoons of sugar and your vanilla bean. Take the marsala off the heat for a moment and taste-test its sweetness. If it's fairly but not cloyingly sweet, add your peaches, face down, to the marsala. 

Let simmer for a little while on low to... more »

Blowtorch-Marsala Peaches, For Lack of a Better Name

You'll need:

A bottle of marsala you might consider drinking. You'll have some left over
Some brown sugar
A whole nutmeg
A half-stick of cold unsalted butter
Some reasonably-firm, but still seasonal, peaches
A vanilla bean. Or some vanilla sugar. Or some real vanilla extract.

Cut up a half-stick of unsalted butter into small dice and have it ready for later.

Pour enough marsala to get a fairly deep layer into a shallow pan. Halve your peaches, remove the pits, and get the marsala up to a rolling boil. Add a couple tablespoons of sugar and your vanilla bean. Take the marsala off the heat for a moment and taste-test its sweetness. If it's fairly but not cloyingly sweet, add your peaches, face down, to the marsala. 

Let simmer for a little while on low to medium heat -- enough to let the peaches give up some of their juices to the sauce. Remove the peaches, then grate in a few pinches of nutmeg, wait for the boiling to come down, and see if the concentrated marsala drips off the back of a spoon in a slightly syrupy fashion. If it's started to do that, remove the pan from the heat, add your butter to the marsala, and whisk like hell. If you've done it right, the butter should emulsify into the sauce, and not form a layer on top. 

Now consider adding a pinch of salt. You don't have to if you don't want to, but a small amount of salt often improves this sort of sauce. Consider more nutmeg, too. Next, you'll need the following:

Some paper towels
A kitchen torch
A few tablespoons of white sugar
Some sliced almonds
Some clotted cream, ice cream, sweetened marscapone, or something similar and dairy-ish

Pat the cut side of the peaches dry. Top with a relatively thick coating of white sugar. Blowtorch until you've got a thick layer of glassy caramel on top of your peach half.  Serve candied peaches, dairy element, and sliced almonds topped with a very generous drizzle of nutmeg-marsala syrup. Delicious.___

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2016-07-08 21:03:39 (36 comments; 37 reshares; 127 +1s; )Open 

My voice is the white voice you'd expect: concerned, sympathetic, liberal in the way that members of the majority have been taught to be. But I don't pay a price for speaking out. I never will; all I get are plaudits from mostly the white people standing next to me.

Voices from unexpected quarters, under the worst circumstances -- the people who will genuinely pay a price for what they're saying, and when they're saying it -- are more valuable than mine. Even if they come from people I don't like. Even if they come from people who, in other respects, believe in things that I think are monstrous. Even if the words are weaker than mine. Because I can't speak to the people that Paul Ryan speaks to. I can't convince anyone who isn't already half-convinced. I can't evoke doubt.

So it's the unexpected voices that I'm most glad about today: the... more »

My voice is the white voice you'd expect: concerned, sympathetic, liberal in the way that members of the majority have been taught to be. But I don't pay a price for speaking out. I never will; all I get are plaudits from mostly the white people standing next to me.

Voices from unexpected quarters, under the worst circumstances -- the people who will genuinely pay a price for what they're saying, and when they're saying it -- are more valuable than mine. Even if they come from people I don't like. Even if they come from people who, in other respects, believe in things that I think are monstrous. Even if the words are weaker than mine. Because I can't speak to the people that Paul Ryan speaks to. I can't convince anyone who isn't already half-convinced. I can't evoke doubt.

So it's the unexpected voices that I'm most glad about today: the police chief who vocally spoke out against police militarization on the day after his officers were murdered, the right-wing pundits saying no, this is a problem; we have to speak out; the pastor who organized the rally and resisted the lure of retaliatory violence at a time when it seems so compelling.

Not because they're good people, though some of them are. Because they're speaking to people whom I can't speak to. And it's only when those people are convinced that there will finally be an end to the violence.___

2016-07-08 19:53:20 (10 comments; 1 reshares; 22 +1s; )Open 

Oh dear. No, this is not good. Some explanations of what's going on here:

This is a trial of chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cells. The theory behind this is relatively simple: you take a monoclonal antibody which targets a particular cancer; you remove a host's own T-cells; you modify the T-cells to present the monoclonal antibody. Then, so the theory goes, your own immune system targets the cancer. And it seems to work. In previous trials, all of which were small, this therapy has flat-out halted treatment-resisted acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

In other words, it took terminal patients and put them straight into remission. But this latest trial? It took terminal patients and killed them. And this seems to be for one of two possible reasons:

(1) CAR-T modifies T-cells to react to human tissues. Now, cancer is a misbehaving human tissue, but it's... more »

Oh dear. No, this is not good. Some explanations of what's going on here:

This is a trial of chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cells. The theory behind this is relatively simple: you take a monoclonal antibody which targets a particular cancer; you remove a host's own T-cells; you modify the T-cells to present the monoclonal antibody. Then, so the theory goes, your own immune system targets the cancer. And it seems to work. In previous trials, all of which were small, this therapy has flat-out halted treatment-resisted acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

In other words, it took terminal patients and put them straight into remission. But this latest trial? It took terminal patients and killed them. And this seems to be for one of two possible reasons:

(1) CAR-T modifies T-cells to react to human tissues. Now, cancer is a misbehaving human tissue, but it's still close enough in almost every regard to human that your immune system is likely to cause some collateral damage on the way to killing the cancer that's killing you. Previous trials have shown cytokine storms (i.e., "total, global immune freakout") to be a possible side-effect of CAR-T.

And if that storm of cytokines includes, for instance, IL-1β, your immune system now has a universal passkey to let itself across the blood-brain barrier. Resulting, possibly, in cerebral edema and then death.

This would be extraordinarily bad, because the mechanism of action also causes the side effect.

(2) In order to get your modified T-cells to take root, your oncologist first has to ablate some of your natural immune system. This is especially the case in leukemia, where immune quorum-sensing tends to perversely cause immunosuppression: your body thinks that it has too many immune cells (it does, but broken ones), and so it stops producing good ones.

To get around this, CAR-T first has to burn your immune system to the ground. And this is where things get weird.

Because your body is full of latent viruses. If you're like most people, you're constantly dealing with low-grade viral encephalitis. The JC virus is on a slow burn in your brain, infecting oligodendrocytes through one of their serotonin receptors. Since your body can produce new oligodendrocytes, and your brain's innate immune system can clear out JC virus faster than it can spread, you'll be just fine.

Until you're myelosuppressed.

Once you are, your brain's terrible, low-grade immune system can't contain the JC virus. In a single flash-fire infection, it burns out most of your oligodendrocytes. And you're fine, for a couple weeks, because -- in doing so -- it didn't destroy the infrastructure of your brain. But you're soon going to need myelin. And the cells that make it are dead. Which means that you're dead.

So it's possible, if this isn't an acute immune reaction, that CAR-T would work fine, so long as you don't burn the immune system down in the process. But I'm not quite confident of that. ___

2016-07-06 19:55:43 (39 comments; 17 reshares; 61 +1s; )Open 

Some people are surprised that Clinton isn't going to be indicted for mishandling classified information. Ignore that for a moment, and just consider the general state of American law. If I told you the following was the law, what would you think about its constitutionality?

Routine, passive receipt by a system under your control, of a particular sort of information handled by your office on a day-to-day basis, can be a serious felony. Even if you don't read it. Even if the information has been disclosed to the public. Even if you are the person at the head of the office which determines proper handling for that information.

Two obvious questions arise. First: what is the criminal act? Is it "receipt?" What can you do to avoid committing a crime if you are sent illegal materials? And second: what is the mens rea? Do you have to intend to receive information? (How do... more »

Some people are surprised that Clinton isn't going to be indicted for mishandling classified information. Ignore that for a moment, and just consider the general state of American law. If I told you the following was the law, what would you think about its constitutionality?

Routine, passive receipt by a system under your control, of a particular sort of information handled by your office on a day-to-day basis, can be a serious felony. Even if you don't read it. Even if the information has been disclosed to the public. Even if you are the person at the head of the office which determines proper handling for that information.

Two obvious questions arise. First: what is the criminal act? Is it "receipt?" What can you do to avoid committing a crime if you are sent illegal materials? And second: what is the mens rea? Do you have to intend to receive information? (How do you intend to receive information?) Do you have to be reckless about it? Grossly negligent? Is it strict liability?

"Purely passive, felony upon receipt, strict liability" is pretty clearly unconstitutional. "Active solicitation, felony upon receipt, intent" is pretty clearly constitutional. And it turns out that the courts addressed the constitutionality of the not-quite-spying provisions of the WWI-era Espionage Act. in Gorin v. United States,.

As it turns out, it's not unconstitutional -- but only if you read in some requirements that aren't clearly in text of the statute itself. In order to violate the law, you have to (a) transmit national security information with either (b) intent to harm the interests of the United States, or (c) knowledge (real or constructive) that the transmission would harm the interests of the United States or benefit some third party to the detriment of the United States.

Even if you can squint hard enough to make out a case that an unclassified email system inadvertently containing classified information gives anyone "reason to believe" that U.S. interests would be harmed, there is only one case that I'm aware of involving the prosecution of a third-party recipient of national security information: U.S. v. Rosen, from 2005. It was dropped largely due to the court's skepticism that the prosecution could be sustained.

The case against Clinton, had it been brought, would likely have been dropped as well.

(A note for ex-military readers: while you were in the military, the UCMJ, not the Espionage Act, governed your treatment of classified information. The standard set by the UCMJ is substantially higher than the standard for civilians, for reasons similar to the reason that "quitting your job" was a felony while you were enlisted. The analogy is not particularly close.)___

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2016-07-06 19:41:28 (38 comments; 0 reshares; 36 +1s; )Open 

Remarkable. The catastrophic own-goal that is Brexit has managed to decapitate everything but the Lib-Dems, who managed to autodefenestrate by forming a coalition with the Tories.

Don't these people do politics for a living? 

Remarkable. The catastrophic own-goal that is Brexit has managed to decapitate everything but the Lib-Dems, who managed to autodefenestrate by forming a coalition with the Tories.

Don't these people do politics for a living? ___

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2016-07-04 19:17:57 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

I'm not sure that Taleb actually knows anything, I've never been sure he does. Regardless of the topic, it seems to get burned back until he's playing incompetently with cultural symbols like some latter day Kircher. Here it's freedom and slavery.

His explanation of diplomacy, for instance, crumbles internally. Autocrats are free, you see, but not autocrats you can name. Oh, except Putin! He's obviously free. That's why he's so incompetent, he can afford to be.

He's just on and on like that. He always has been. Anyone who knows anything about ancient autocracy knows that it was fragile. Knows that, to the Greeks, its fragility was its civic strength. Knows that we only remember the more successful dynasts. Knows we've forgotten that essentially none have retained their thrones, great or not.

Taleb is a symptom of a much deeper disease in... more »

I'm not sure that Taleb actually knows anything, I've never been sure he does. Regardless of the topic, it seems to get burned back until he's playing incompetently with cultural symbols like some latter day Kircher. Here it's freedom and slavery.

His explanation of diplomacy, for instance, crumbles internally. Autocrats are free, you see, but not autocrats you can name. Oh, except Putin! He's obviously free. That's why he's so incompetent, he can afford to be.

He's just on and on like that. He always has been. Anyone who knows anything about ancient autocracy knows that it was fragile. Knows that, to the Greeks, its fragility was its civic strength. Knows that we only remember the more successful dynasts. Knows we've forgotten that essentially none have retained their thrones, great or not.

Taleb is a symptom of a much deeper disease in dilettantes: the belief that you know something because people cheer your bullshit.___

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2016-07-01 22:14:19 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 38 +1s; )Open 

dammit britain

dammit britain___

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2016-06-30 16:40:33 (30 comments; 1 reshares; 44 +1s; )Open 

Ship is sinking; captain always goes down with ship; Tories presently playing musical chairs in order to avoid being captain. 

Ship is sinking; captain always goes down with ship; Tories presently playing musical chairs in order to avoid being captain. ___

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2016-06-30 16:20:05 (6 comments; 2 reshares; 26 +1s; )Open 

From comments:

"Yeah except I went to one of these concerts and waved my hands like I didn’t care. After the show I found I had purchased a charolais breeding bull and thirteen black angus calves."

From comments:

"Yeah except I went to one of these concerts and waved my hands like I didn’t care. After the show I found I had purchased a charolais breeding bull and thirteen black angus calves."___

2016-06-29 18:01:35 (10 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

The article mentions an important point: that many techniques employed by campaigns show no effect, even when the campaign is very lopsided and, so, difficult to see how the other side would be canceling them out.

Which brings me back to an important point: much of the reason Trump has little campaign infrastructure is because he doesn't believe in it. He sees massive rallies which make the news as the most important part of his campaign. The people in the rally will talk to others and the media will make sure that applause lines are disseminated. (All those things, liberal reader, you cringe at are applause lines and your cringing is what makes them standing ovations.)

He's been heavily criticized for this but unfairly. Much of what campaigns do really is pointless. That may go doubly so for the Republican nominee because their voters have much higher turnout. While a... more »

The article mentions an important point: that many techniques employed by campaigns show no effect, even when the campaign is very lopsided and, so, difficult to see how the other side would be canceling them out.

Which brings me back to an important point: much of the reason Trump has little campaign infrastructure is because he doesn't believe in it. He sees massive rallies which make the news as the most important part of his campaign. The people in the rally will talk to others and the media will make sure that applause lines are disseminated. (All those things, liberal reader, you cringe at are applause lines and your cringing is what makes them standing ovations.)

He's been heavily criticized for this but unfairly. Much of what campaigns do really is pointless. That may go doubly so for the Republican nominee because their voters have much higher turnout. While a Democratic campaign with an effective turnout operation could turn a rout into a landslide victory, a Republican campaign would accomplish much less. There are simply fewer Republican voters not already voting and, so, less for a turnout campaign to do.

As Vox reported, political scientists have been very excited about the Trump campaign for this reason. Because it's not doing the standard campaign exercises, it's a major test of effectiveness. In many important markets, ads for Clinton in some markets may actually run nearly unopposed simply because she has bought most of the desirable air time, for instance. But the major question has been whether "it's the economy, stupid" or if factors like the economy explain all the variance because there simply isn't any other variance at hand. The symmetry of the campaigns, both professional operations, ensures that only issues neither side can possibly control will matter.

This isn't just an issue in political science, either. It affects every study which relies on the presumption that high variance exists in the real world. Twin studies, for instance, implicitly rely on the assumption that parenting varies widely, thus separated twins will have constant genetics and variable parenting. However, parenting may not vary much in ways which matter and you could probably make a decent case that it shouldn't: it would be weird if humans, alone among animals, did not have an inchoate ability to bootstrap to parenting best practices, or a good approximation of them. So this question of what happens when you know your variable is, well, variable isn't just a niggling detail.

The point here, though, is easier: there's a lot of reason to think that Trump's campaign is less dumb than people think because there's plenty of research which suggests that campaigns waste their resources on deeply ineffective techniques. We will, with luck, soon see whether we should have been taking that suggestion all along.___

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2016-06-28 20:43:59 (58 comments; 1 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

What's particularly concerning about the reaction both to Brexit and to the rise of Trump is the way these episodes are framed as requiring exceptions to the usual democratic rule. They're called threats so monstrous that we must abrogate the democratic process to combat them. [...] Forget Plato, Athens, Sparta and Rome. More recent history tells us that the descent into despotism always starts in this exact same way. There is always an emergency that requires a temporary suspension of democracy.

(1) The "usual democratic rule" in Britain is that referenda are not used. The "usual democratic rule" in the United States is that party delegates have substantial autonomy in selecting a candidate. These are, perhaps, not good rules, but they are the usual ones.

And the specific rules (and cases) are even more damning. This one, unlike the electoral... more »

What's particularly concerning about the reaction both to Brexit and to the rise of Trump is the way these episodes are framed as requiring exceptions to the usual democratic rule. They're called threats so monstrous that we must abrogate the democratic process to combat them. [...] Forget Plato, Athens, Sparta and Rome. More recent history tells us that the descent into despotism always starts in this exact same way. There is always an emergency that requires a temporary suspension of democracy.

(1) The "usual democratic rule" in Britain is that referenda are not used. The "usual democratic rule" in the United States is that party delegates have substantial autonomy in selecting a candidate. These are, perhaps, not good rules, but they are the usual ones.

And the specific rules (and cases) are even more damning. This one, unlike the electoral reforms, as specifically and intentionally nonbinding. With Trump, are we supposed to not be conflicted about the prospect of democratically electing a candidate who promises to go on a felonious torture spree immediately upon taking office?

Sure, Brexit is equivocally democratic, except that the British seem to be somewhat shell-shocked about the fact that the catastrophe which was predicted actually happened. But with respect to Trump: seriously, are we really claiming that concerns about the rule of law can never counterbalance concerns about democracy? This isn't disreputable. This is perfectly mormal.

(2) This aside, Taibbi's offhand historical analysis is a dumpster fire: "More recent history tells us that the descent into despotism always starts in this exact same way. There is always an emergency that requires a temporary suspension of democracy."

No, history tells us no such thing. Maduro and Putin and Mugabe and Yanukovich and even Hitler were democratically elected leaders who ran on a platform of unlimited political violence against their enemies. And won. And, unsurprisingly, declared states of emergency after their own actions caused them.

Can you think of a single significant leader who actually started out as a credible democratic leader and then suspended elections based on some sort of excuse? I literally can't even think of an example of the pattern he describes, other than Marcos and probably Kagame. (Whom someone pointed out in another thread.)

(3) The lever the British electorate pulled isn't connected to the results they want. Steel and coal aren't coming back to Sheffield; the former is produced vastly cheaper in China, and the latter is in sharp decline. Immigration from the former colonies isn't controlled by the EU, and immigration from the EU will be demanded as a condition of privileged access to European markets.

But, of course, the eventual recourse of con artists and demogogues is to look to the victim and ask, "Are you really going let those eggheads call you a dupe?" This is a time-honored method of pulling dupes back into the fold. ___

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2016-06-28 18:04:02 (31 comments; 2 reshares; 30 +1s; )Open 

What fresh hell is this? 

What fresh hell is this? ___

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2016-06-27 23:17:19 (41 comments; 19 reshares; 58 +1s; )Open 

A Couple Questions and Answers on the Legal Authority Underlying Brexit

Q: So, the referendum passed, right? Britain is leaving?

A: Yes, it passed. But no, it's not leaving yet.

Q: Why's that?

A: Because the referendum was advisory, not binding. What sets off the process is an Article 50 notification, which hasn't happened yet.

Q: A what?

A: Article 50(2) of the Lisbon Treaty. Here, it's short. I'll quote it for you:

A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the... more »

A Couple Questions and Answers on the Legal Authority Underlying Brexit

Q: So, the referendum passed, right? Britain is leaving?

A: Yes, it passed. But no, it's not leaving yet.

Q: Why's that?

A: Because the referendum was advisory, not binding. What sets off the process is an Article 50 notification, which hasn't happened yet.

Q: A what?

A: Article 50(2) of the Lisbon Treaty. Here, it's short. I'll quote it for you:

A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

Cameron is resigning, so he's not doing that.

Q: But, surely, the next Prime Minister is going to do that, right?

A: Well, we don't know who the next Prime Minister is going to be. Let's just punt, though, and say that it's going to be Boris Johnson. He's vocally anti-EU, and ...

... oh, wait, he wants to wait before getting out? Okay.

Q: But if the Prime Minister pulled the trigger, it would start the two year process to get out of the EU, right?

A: Uh...

Q: You're hedging.

A: Uh... where does it say that the Prime Minister has that power?

Q: You're the answer section. You tell me.

A: Okay, I'm cheating. Most of the UK's constitutional system isn't actually written down. But, theoretically, the Prime Minister would leave the European Union by invoking the Royal Privilege.

Q: The what?

A: The power of the Queen. Which devolves to the Parliament. Which the Parliament then grants to the Prime Minister. Which the Prime Minister uses to invoke Article 50 and leave the European Union.

Typically, that's how the Prime Minister deals with issues of foreign relations. And that's what seems to be contemplated here.

Q: And there's some kind of problem there?

A: Let's assume that some rogue Prime Minister decided that he wanted out of the EU, and -- without consulting with Parliament or his ministers -- he pulled the trigger on Article 50. What result?

(Note that this abrogates a lot of British law.)

Q: I don't know -- the Article 50 process starts?

A: Yeah, maybe -- if the Law Lords agree. But here's the thing: it requires them to come up with some really novel law. Typically, because the UK is a parliamentary democracy and not a serial dictatorship, the Prime Minister doesn't have the power to unilaterally abrogate statutes.

As one would expect.

Q: But there was a referendum!

A: The referendum was advisory. Can a purely advisory enactment grant the Prime Minister powers which he is constitutionally denied?

Q: That seems less clear. But this seems like an issue of UK constitutional law. Why does the EU have to care?

A: Because of Article 50(1). Which says this:

"Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements."

Q: So, what, Parliament has to sign off on it?

A: Maybe. And that isn't even getting into the problems caused by Scottish and Northern Irish home rule: they're both bound to EU law semi-directly, and not even the UK's Parliament clearly seems to be able to abrogate their consent to EU law. ___

2016-06-27 19:52:31 (12 comments; 7 reshares; 36 +1s; )Open 

Two interesting facts, when in conjunction:

(1) For the past ten years, it's been believed that the NMDA receptor system, which largely handles central pain response, is deeply involved in depression. Why? Because ketamine, a NMDA agonist, was extraordinarily effective at treating depression.

Very recently, however, irregularities in the dose-response curve for males and females led researchers to a surprising conclusion: one of ketamine's metabolites, an AMPA agonist, is actually responsible for it's antidepressive effect. So it's quite possible -- even probable -- that pain response and depression are only loosely coupled.

(2) Childhood trauma correlates very strongly with chronic back pain after acute back injury. In fact, almost nothing correlates as strongly with chronic back pain as childhood trauma. This seems to indicate that... more »

Two interesting facts, when in conjunction:

(1) For the past ten years, it's been believed that the NMDA receptor system, which largely handles central pain response, is deeply involved in depression. Why? Because ketamine, a NMDA agonist, was extraordinarily effective at treating depression.

Very recently, however, irregularities in the dose-response curve for males and females led researchers to a surprising conclusion: one of ketamine's metabolites, an AMPA agonist, is actually responsible for it's antidepressive effect. So it's quite possible -- even probable -- that pain response and depression are only loosely coupled.

(2) Childhood trauma correlates very strongly with chronic back pain after acute back injury. In fact, almost nothing correlates as strongly with chronic back pain as childhood trauma. This seems to indicate that there's some kind of important backdoor from emotional trauma into pain processing.

Ten years down the road, it's going to be interesting to see what shakes out. ___

2016-06-24 21:44:59 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

So, I realized that I had a huge pile of uncategorized posts. So I made a collection to categorize them.

This is that category.

So, I realized that I had a huge pile of uncategorized posts. So I made a collection to categorize them.

This is that category.___

2016-06-24 21:35:16 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 19 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, Portal 2: Basically, I Have No Mouth, but I Must Scream. But with way more laughs than I remember.

Capsule Review, Portal 2: Basically, I Have No Mouth, but I Must Scream. But with way more laughs than I remember.___

2016-06-24 21:34:04 (6 comments; 1 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, District 9: South African Michael Scott joins interstellar Gestapo, followed by an action-movie retelling of The Fly.

Capsule Review, District 9: South African Michael Scott joins interstellar Gestapo, followed by an action-movie retelling of The Fly.___

2016-06-24 21:32:48 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 15 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, Black Swan: Showgirls, written and directed by Peter Greenaway. 

Capsule Review, Black Swan: Showgirls, written and directed by Peter Greenaway. ___

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2016-06-24 18:44:20 (8 comments; 3 reshares; 90 +1s; )Open 

lulz

lulz___

2016-06-24 15:24:27 (42 comments; 3 reshares; 39 +1s; )Open 

One quick fact about Brexit: the referendum isn't actually binding. What's binding? The PM's invocation of Article 50. There's still a chance for Cameron not to do it 

One quick fact about Brexit: the referendum isn't actually binding. What's binding? The PM's invocation of Article 50. There's still a chance for Cameron not to do it ___

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2016-06-22 20:51:54 (17 comments; 3 reshares; 15 +1s; )Open 

And on the subject of corporate Satanism, it turns out I posted this as well.

Responding to comments on a reshare of a post which I originally reshared from +gwern branwen probably far too meta, but +Yonatan Zunger got me thinking about hypothetical Satanism again. It probably has a lot to teach us about organizational behavior. 

So, to summarize:

The devil, being immortal, might be expected to be more reliable than mortals, because any betrayal puts an infinite number of future contracts at risk. However, this explanation does not account for the information available to bargainers. If information from previous transactions does not spread to the general pool of bargainers, then betraying those whose information seems unlikely to reach others becomes a rational strategy.

This initially seems fairly far removed from everyday concerns: no natural people are immortals. But consider that a large proportion of human social behavior is dedicated to the construction of synthetic immortals. 

In governments, corporations, unions, and nonprofits, human societies have attempted to construct groups which have no fixed membership, no fixed expiration date, and objectives and intents separate from those of their constituent parts. Corporate personhood, in other words, is not simply a legal theory, but the actual objective of providing a separate legal identity to a particular group.

For the same reason which we would expect the devil to be unusually reliable relative to mortals, we should expect corporations and some governments to be unusually reliable. For similar reasons (viz., immortality), we should expect synthetic immortals to have very long planning horizons. But this does not actually appear to be the case: large organizations seldom have the high reliability and long planning horizons which their immortality would imply.

There seem to be a few reasons for this. The first -- imperfect information -- is shared by both the devil and synthetic persons.  The second -- discreteness -- is a problem even given near-perfect information. So let's go back to the devil to tease out the problem:

In a world with a well-structured market for human souls, and a lot of independent Satanist press, the devil is once again a reliable bargaining partner. Betrayals will be rare. At all points, he'll be accountable for the decisions he makes. If he betrays a bargainer in this very open graph, and everyone becomes aware that the devil is unaccountable, he'll suffer the consequences for all eternity. 

This is boring for the devil, so he devolves the authority to bargain for souls to Hell's board of directors. They've been given instructions to bargain on the devil's behalf, taking all factors into account. Each board serves a ten-year term, and then cashes out at the end of the term based on the number of souls bought. (And betrayals are worth even more!)

In the first years, this synthetic devil might behave exactly like the natural one. But by the time the end of the term rolls around, Hell's board of directors is at increasing risk of becoming an unfaithful agent of their principal: even though the board is a continuing body, the individual interests of the board members are aligned against the continuing interests of the organization. They want to cash out as much as possible before the end of their term, and so are inclined toward risky betrayals and short-term thinking. 

There is no simple solution to this problem: the shorter the time horizon for board membership, the greater the risk of unfaithful agency. And if the definite term of membership becomes 'zero,' with members able to cash out whenever it is profitable for them to do so, the risk of unfaithful agency is determined by the natural reliability of individual demons over a limited span, not the game-theoretical downsides of betrayal over an extended span.

In the real world, the markets' mania for high liquidity and swift accountability for low returns, political reformers' mania for term limits, and cypherpunks' insistence on transparency as a panacea for government and political corruption may be less useful than we might naively imagine. Our response to the failure of our immortals needs to involve refactoring the rules which govern their agents and objectives, not just making the results of their decisions transparent. ___And on the subject of corporate Satanism, it turns out I posted this as well.

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