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I take issue with the narrative I’ve heard some friends repeat that throwing soup at a painting is at least “courageous”. I think the left is sometimes too quick to bestow that accolade on people who do sort of shocking but low personal risk stuff (she’s a trust fund baby who might spend a night in the clink at worse but probably not). It makes progressives look deeply unserious.

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Another thought that comes to my mind about this is that I often think that amateur hour civil disobedience protestors learn the wrong lesson from the Civil Rights Movement. One reason those protests were so effective is that they were doing illegal things that they wanted to demonstrate should be legal. No one serious thinks that throwing soup at a Van Gogh should be legal.

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Let me add that there were plenty of downright silly civil rights protests. In Oakland, and perhaps other cities, protesters filled up and then abandoned grocery carts with random food, all to protest employment discrimination.

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Coming up with artfully compelling protest schemes is genuinely really hard. Sitting in at a segregated lunch counter? Forceful message. Die-in to protest cyclist deaths? Makes sense to me.

Smearing soup on a painting? Because "What is more important? Art or life?" These two things are not in tension. They are both important. Conceptually, it's muddled and bad.

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I was told by someone who was in Berkeley in the 70s that to protest the opening of a new 7-11 they were going to have a “barf-in” where they would take an emetic and throw up on the floor. If I recall the story correctly it didn’t actually happen, though.

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https://www.wweek.com/culture/2016/05/04/big-trouble-in-little-beirut/

This happened to Dan Quayle in the 1990s.

"Quayle came to Portland for a $2,500-per-person Republican fundraiser at the downtown Hilton on Monday, Sept. 24. While the vice president was raising money and support for Republican representative Denny Smith (not re-elected) inside the hotel, 300 protesters gathered outside. Flags were burned. A man took a shit on a photo of Quayle.

Suit-wearing Reed students swallowed colored food dye and vomited red, white and, unintentionally, green."

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"...it didn’t actually happen, though"

More's the pity: a bunch of dirty hippies with upset tummies is a pretty funny picture.

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All they did was make a big mess at Safeway and that’s a shame. The world could definitely use protest ideas that draw more attention to the object of the protest than too the protest itself

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The Vox article the other day made me want to punch someone…

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/culture/23414590/just-stop-oil-van-gogh-sunflowers-protest-climate-change

Like, how is it possible that people are so disconnected from others that this sort of navel-gazing, lotus-eating, bullshit enters into their minds?

Is it reflexive contrarianism? The desire to feel superior to the sheeple who instinctively recoil from this behavior? I just don’t get what the writer, her boss, and her editor were thinking when they decided to authorize, write, and publish this?

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Hey, that would be an A paper at Vassar.

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Me: [please be the Simpsons clip]

Me: woo hoo!

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I almost thought of prefacing that with a Simpsons Did It, but given the nice anticipation it gave you, I’m glad I didn’t.

Someday, Milan is going to get teased very friendly with the Boorish Manners Of A Yalie line when the appropriate time comes.

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This is one of those things where the people who -care- about their little stunt (art/history lovers) are also the ones that are probably more likely to be liberal and generally opposed to oil.

The more low-brow conservatives who like rolling coal and will want to keep using oil even when there is a better alternative...generally don't care about some froo-froo art getting vandalized.

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I think that’s pretty uncharitable towards “low-brow” conservatives.

I’ve seen plenty of people in Philly’s art museum standing reverently in front of a piece of art, and when they snap out of it and talk to the folks they’re with, it’s with a southern twang or a deliberate rural Pennsylvanian accent.

Not to mention the occasional Amish attire.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

“They did what? Aw hell naw! Throwing tomato soup at Van Goghs Sunflowers? What’s next? Throwing lobster bisque at Klimpts The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I? Randy, get in the goddamn truck!”

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Didn’t bother to read the vox piece. I’m sure you’ve been to art museums plenty of times, but I encourage you to go again soon and observe the crowds more closely. In the big museums they’re huge, diverse, very international. This new stunt is literally an outrage for all humanity. The people against it would easily outnumber its supporters a thousand to one.

Also, I wonder when is the last time you actually spoke to an art historian? Why on earth do you think most people who devote their life to the study of art would support this? That’s pretty ridiculous libel there, my friend. I’m sure there are some Twitter freaks who match such perverse views but they are no different from anti vax doctors. They don’t teach you anything about the profession as a whole.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

Based on your response and David R's, I think that I must have communicated my point very poorly.

I'm aware that there are plenty of solid conservatives who can and do appreciate art. Even Trump conservatives and some 'low brow' types.

But I think that it is fair and correct to say that, in general, the people who care about art and art history tend to be the left side of the political spectrum.

Which means that they are probably sympathetic to their cause already.(albeit probably not as extreme)

Which means that the vandals' tactics are particularly counterproductive. Alienating allies and eliciting a shrug from many of their enemies.

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Alienating people from being "against oil" (production and transportation) is a step forward for effectively addressing climate change. :)

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>>Is it reflexive contrarianism?<<

I'd guess (and it's strictly a guess; I'm not overly familiar with Romano's work) they write for a narrow audience (of like-minded persons) instead of a wider, more general audience.

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I don't read it becasue it does not let me talk back. It's even worse than the NYT

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I'll say this about Vox. I really feel that their target audience isn't me, so I don't read it. It's like when it became clear I wasn't in the target audience for Salon.

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Stop ranting. The article was just fine. Before I read it, I had no idea the painting was undamaged. That’s an important, under-reported fact which makes me much more sympathetic to the activists.

I would have preferred a different tack in the article, focusing on why throwing soup on glass ever got so much attention. Because it’s rather strange that throwing soup on glass got so much attention, its also worth asking whether the activists might have better achieved their goals by smashing through the glass and destroying the painting.

In any event, your post is a dreary slew of pejoratives lacking analytical rigor, which is very much your mettier.

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Speak of the devil, it’s Reflexive Contrarianism, his very own self!

You get triggered every time someone proposes mass transit investments, but you expect me to believe you’re fine with attempted vandalism in the name of climate activism?

Laughable.

Please just leave me *be*.

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Your reading comprehension needs work. I never said I was fine with what the activists did. I said the linked article was “just fine” because it centered an important, under-reported fact, then explained in general terms how I might improve it.

I’m perfectly capable of empathizing with activists whose goals I don’t share. Perhaps lack of empathy is your disconnect?

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To the David's. I believe both of you should consider trying to have fewer enemies.

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He’s apparently even more bored than I am at work, because he’s been following me around like a lost puppy nipping at my heels for weeks, spending disproportionate amounts of time and effort responding to my comments.

With an unending stream of mild, whiny ad hominem attacks, nitpicking, and general irritation.

If there were some “there” there I would be less annoyed, but Jesus Christ…

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I don’t know where I first heard the story but I knew from the beginning the painting was undamaged. Do people think it was damaged?

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Aaaaand this is why Matt left Vox. Also Aja is the worst of the worst.

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The other funny part for me here is that I know plenty of artists who think Van Gogh is overrated and a drama queen and that’s why his artwork is so ubiquitous. They’re gnashing their teeth now because his art has now been elevated again.

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“It’s ok to do this because Van Gogh is overrated anyway” is… it’s an argument that someone could make, I guess.

Lol.

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I think someone could write a long article contrasting contemporary attitudes on the relationship of politics to aesthetics with those of the mid-20th-century. Nowadays, it seems like people use politics to justify attitudes that are fundamentally aesthetic – the politics of "anti-cringe". But in the 1950s people like Clement Greenberg in his essay "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" were arguing that bad aesthetics *create* bad politics – that art that's "lowbrow" is a strategy to keep people complacent subjects of totalitarianism. So past generations of soup-throwers might have claimed even more ridiculously that Sunflowers is harmful in itself, who knows.

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Maybe combine this with article on the political aims of Socialist Realism.

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These people would never want to throw soup at Van Gogh. That just draws attention to the artwork. They want it pulled out of rotation more often and left in the back room to gather dust and taken off postcards and shopping bags.

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Fine, but surely you must admit that this is a complete irrelevancy?

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Not everything has to be for or against a given rhetorical position. Sometimes we can just make comments about interesting things. I think it’s funny that there are a lot of people who don’t like Van Gogh who are now forced to publicly say how terrible it is that the painting was attacked when they’ve disliked it their whole lives.

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I know everyone says this now, but legit that piece could be satire. Thornily brilliant satire.

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I’m confused here. The painting was unharmed. I don’t think it was a courageous act, but why did it make you want to punch someone?

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“Oh, your dog is fine, they missed when they tried to run it over, why are you still mad?”

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They knew it was under glass and wouldn’t be harmed. They took a risk, but a small one. There has been an increasing trend of attacking paintings and art objects recently, which it would be good to understand.

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Did they know that? Nothing I’ve seen suggests they did, and the one without glass was also subject to a similar stunt.

Reflexively defend it all you want, you’re wrong in the eyes of probably 90% of the public and that alone makes it a bad idea.

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I’m not defending it and think it is counterproductive. I’m trying to understand your visceral reaction.

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"There has been an increasing trend of attacking paintings and art objects recently, which it would be good to understand."

I think it is understood, but the explanation is unspeakable in 21st Century discourse.

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You willing to venture it here?

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To be fair, Vox has a pretty deep bench of writers who could have produced this take.

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Slow Boring needs to do a hostile takeover of Vox and then immediately engage in Elon Musk-style mass layoffs.

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Yeah, imagine a Vox with Matt Yglesias in charge! 😉

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I'm not a big fan of mass layoffs in general. It's disruptive and may not actually solve the problem.

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You forgot the /s tag.

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I seriously guessed before I even clicked.

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What we need is for both a left wing activist and a right wing activist to do the same freakout stunt back to back, and watch everyone's heads explode as they try to defend the one they agree with and condemn the one they disagree with.

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“Throw a _____ at _______ “ to achieve your political objectives today!

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I'm imagining one of those charts where you pick things out of a list based on your birth month, date, and the first letter of your name or something. Birth month is a verb – "throw", "destroy", "deface", "glue" etc.; birth date is an object – "red paint", "glitter", "garbage" etc.; first letter of name is the target – "onto a painting", "at a politician's house", "into the river", "blocking the highway" and so on

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Stop imagining and start pitching to McSweeney’s!

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For a less freakish but real world example, when lefties were so outraged over the Republican Senate blocking Merrick Garland's example, angry that he didn't even get a hearing, I kept telling them that if John Paul Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in February 2008, Senate Democrats would (and should!) have done the exact same thing.

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Ehhh, I think I disagree. Harry Reid would've wanted to, but the Dem base back then was pretty blase about the SC, especially compared to the GOP base. I don't know he would've had the support for a move that bold.

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I would be more inclined to agree if the entire ideological balance of SCOTUS wouldn't have been on the line. But in this case I think Reid would have found a way.

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...shoe...President Bush...

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My prediction for how this would play out is everyone would shift seamlessly to arguing over which activist was being treated worse in the aftermath.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

"It makes progressives look deeply unserious."

You're being too kind here. Not only do these "progressive activists look "deeply unserious" they appear to be over-privileged lunatic idiots. I mean let's all find more creative ways to alienate pretty much everyone who might be sympathetic to their pet causes.

I'm a life-long Dem/liberal/sorta progressive and my first reaction to this story was to fantasize that I was there when it happened so I could kick the living shit out of these dummies. (I'm not kidding; I had a gut-level feeling of wanting to do violence. And I'm not a violent person.) And it's a good thing I wasn't because I'm the one who would land in the clink.

I have slowly come to despise the "cultural Left" and their activists due to these kinds of antics.

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Amen! I too had the violence fantasies.

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Guarantee you these loons are on the Haliburton's payroll.

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I do hope the people doing that will be prosecuted and spend some serious prison time. The potential damage from these stunts is incalculable. If current laws don’t offer sufficient deterrence they should be amended asap. Also, update security protocol in these museums for heaven’s sake. Museums literally have only two jobs: protect the art for posterity and display it for the public, in this order. They’re kind of failing it right now.

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What do you throw on what to protest lack of permitting reform and a net tax on CO2 emissions? :)

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Concentrated sulphuric acid on a natural gas pipeline!

Makes only marginally less sense than soup on a priceless work of art…

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I recall that concentrated sulphuric acid (96%) is not very corrosive. It can be stored in steel containers. So probably wouldn’t be the ideal pipeline protest fluid. Somewhat diluted sulphuric is very corrosive.

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Been a decade and a half since my last chemistry class but that rings a bell; without water there’s really not much to allow any sort of reactivity.

Just to clarify, I did mean “concentrated” in the colloquial sense of “strong” rather than “the maximum concentration achievable by dehydrating.”

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It's not courageous to deface another person's property for a cause that will be celebrated by your peers. Defacing your own property or challenging your peers, knowing that you will lose social status are courageous.

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Thank you so much on noting that we should have encouraged more outdoor activity. This in my mind was overwhelmingly the biggest failure of pandemic policy, and I was seeing it as early as near the beginning when we were doing insane things like closing off playgrounds. It was so critical to run a cost/benefit analysis to demonstrate that getting more people outdoors would in turn keep them away from far more dangerous behavior indoors.

But we didn't. And my guess as to why is that we ceded too much authority to the public health crowd, who through this experience I've noted are some of the most neurotic people on the face of the earth. That's understandable given what they study. But it shouldn't have meant turning the keys entirely over to them on societywide policy, since most people are nowhere near as neurotic as them. That should have been strictly within the realm of elected executives to decide in a more holistic manner, who have a better read on how important socialization is to most people.

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Someone from local government in my town went around and zip tied all the basketball hoops together when Covid hit to prevent people from using them. They also closed all the playing fields. Luckily, some enterprising soul eventually got a ladder and cut the ties so we could play again. Then they zip tied them again. Then they were cut again, and the town gave up. I was happy.

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Philly removed the hoops from our park. Someone put up bucket rims. Those got removed and someone put more up.

In the meantime I was cutting ropes off the playground equipment so the little kids had something to do.

Never again.

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*so the little lower-income kids had something to do

City Councilperson, Jr. just had mommy and daddy buy something for the backyard.

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Generally speaking all of these problems came with the weird usurpation of power by the public health experts, who as you mention are extremely neurotic, but who are also just deeply ignorant of tons of stuff. In particular they seem to have very poor instincts on human behavior, as you mention, but also very poor instincts on social dynamics, economics, and really just every dimension of policy besides public health.

The way this is SUPPOSED to work is that we let them be ultra-neurotic worriers, they advise the government, and the government is the central nervous system that factors in that advice as well as the advice of many other groups to then conduct policy. This is why it doesn't matter that the CDC has absolutely absurd advice about alcohol consumption, sexual behavior, and all kinds of other random stuff -- because no one actually thinks that the CDC's advice is governing policy.

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I also think there’s a huge class element. Pretty much all public health people talk about the importance of making sure public health efforts help people with lower incomes. Our pandemic response was very much driven by people who were not very familiar with the lives of people who were not upper middle class.

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This was the key error IMO - the Covid Czar should have been in charge of policy and recommendations. It should be a political appointee who, for example, balanced the science against the interests is political groups like teachers unions. Instead this was foisted in CDC officials and put them in a position of trying to do two incompatible things at once - offer the best science-based advice while adjusting that to political reality.

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The media’s celebration of that guy who dresses up as the grim reaper and wandered around Florida’s beaches telling people to go home was one of the low points.

What’s really sad is that I saw at least one “how risky is this activity?” Chart from a state medical association that claimed going to a museum was medium risk and going to a beach was medium high risk. I can also remember multiple healthcare workers claim that we absolutely knew that beaches were a major source of spread.

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I wanted to punch my screen every time I saw a news agency use a picture of people on the beach as the featured image of reckless behavior.

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So did I. I think my blood pressure spiked at least 20 points every time someone told me "we have to close the beaches and parks because if we let people got to the parks and beaches, people will think it's okay to do stuff inside. Not everyone understands this like us" Seriously? Mice understand the difference between indoors and outdoors. I'm pretty sure that the number of Americans who do not understand the difference between inside and outside is infinitesimally small.

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The best part is the photos were always taken with a depth of field that made it look like they were all sitting on top of each other, when in reality they were probably 20 yards apart.

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I have to admit that this was one where I reflexively bought the party line. Never again, he said with total confidence!

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founding

The media celebration of that guy wasn't due to COVID. They saw the potential future for Governor DeSantis and ran story after story if there was an anti-DeSantis angle to it.

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I kind of wonder how much of the COVID hawks are just like >80th percentile introverts for whom stay inside and read books and play video games only ever rose to mildly annoying at worst. I’m very much in this group though I’m vaxxed and relaxed but it all seems strange how much of a fuss it caused.

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So I've generally agreed on this line of thinking all through the pandemic and I don't disagree with it now. It seemed crazy to me to close playgrounds and beaches even in Spring 2020.

That said - one thought that's entered my brain is, if outside is so much safer, how did respiratory diseases spread throughout history among rural people and animals? Cave bats are one thing, but if covid came from civets, for example, aren't they basically outside "at the playground" all day? Ditto for pigs, cows and birds that were the originators of most other communicable diseases in human. Bird flu must be spreading mostly outdoors, right?

I'm still "team outside" if there's another pandemic, but something here doesn't quite compute for me.

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The important thing is (as MY noted in "The Myth of the Urban Plague", https://www.slowboring.com/p/urban-plague) rural doesn’t mean outdoors all the time. What matters is being within four walls with other people, whether that’s in a city of 100,000 houses or a village of just 10. Even a nomad's encampment can do it—a fully enclosed tent is just as bad for air circulation as any skyscraper. (Probably worse, actually, since once the doorflap is closed the only HVAC is a hole in the roof.)

Throughout history, people in rural communities have lived communally and indoors. Whole families in one room, and big extended ones too. All together, doing the literal domestic stuff of life—cooking, eating, cleaning, making and fixing things to use, socializing, sleeping. And they tended to bring their animals inside as well. Herders and farmers could and did spend time with their cows and sheep and pigs and chickens indoors—sometimes in dedicated barns, but sometimes they brought the animals into the home.

And so it’s no mystery how respiratory diseases spread in the premodern world—same as they do in the modern world, by people spending time with each other indoors. The main difference these days is that they usually don’t have a cow in the living room.

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That's a good answer and maybe that's most of what I'm missing.

Would you say that could explain how such diseases spread among cattle though? Some of the diseases seem to go back to pre-domestication times.

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I mean, on one level, there's always going to be some risk. But I think it's a bit simpler than that; even when they can't build shelters, many animals tend to pack together in herds. The animals we domesticated--cows, sheep, pigs, even chickens to some degree--in particular tend to have a strong herding instinct; that's part of why we domesticated them!

As many researchers noted, the benefits of being outdoors are substantially reduced when you're outdoors and packed together like sardines. And which animals tend to be packed together like sardines, even in the wild? Ones that herd. (Or flock, if they're birds, or sheep for some reason.) Combine that with the longer timescales we're talking about when we talk about premodern and prehistoric disease spread (decades or centuries or millennia, not weeks and months and years) and you roughly have a picture of how this worked ages ago.

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I can't speak for civets, but for a typical peasant family with one pig, that pig would absolutely be inside in the same space as the people in many places and times, at least in the winter.

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Very good point. I'm not sure if this works for cattle, though, which seems to be enemy #1. It's maybe worth mentioning that the little evidence we have often suggests the general area of Egypt / Sudan as the place where the virus made the jump.

Also, I was just looking up TB and the genetic evidence seems to suggest it was circulating in both humans and bovines 17,000 years ago. Maybe there were cave cows at that time but I just don't see that as the likely explanation.

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I can’t speak to the TB cave cow thing, but I can say the evidence suggests that the Ancient Egyptians spent a lot of time with their cows indoors (in houses and in barns/sheds). Certainly rural modern Egyptians have no qualms letting barnyard animals into their houses. I remember seeing goats wandering pretty freely in the non-touristic neighborhoods of Luxor, which isn’t even particularly rural, and my grandfather said something like that about his childhood in the Delta.

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You've convinced me.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

Lol, thanks! I also just remembered (and how could I forget) that even in the cities, modern Egypt is still overrun by animals, or was very recently. Rag-and-bone men in Cairo and Alexandria still use donkey-pulled carts (or they did when I was there 10 years ago), and the chicken butchers on every street keep live chickens in cages. And at Eid, you see lines and even temporary pens of live sheep, goats, and cows lined outside butcher's shops to be slaughtered for at least a week ahead of the holiday.

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founding

What fraction of an average person’s infections before the 20th century would have been respiratory viruses? How often would people have “a cold”?

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I don't quite follow why this would be relevant? I especially don't follow why the fraction would matter, as opposed to the rate per year or something like that, but maybe I'm missing something.

All I can say for sure is that R>1 for centuries. These diseases were circulating, somewhere, amongst humans for that entire time, and amongst animals for possibly even longer.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

> if outside is so much safer, how did respiratory diseases spread throughout history among rural people and animals

Stupid question: did they?

My lazy assumption is that the "disease portfolio" facing humans (or cows) in the early modern era looked a lot like the one facing our ancestors (or proto-cows) 100,000 years ago, but I have nothing to back that up. The various waves of frightful pandemics among natives of the New World post-1492 hints that my lazy assumption might be a bad one.

Maybe it's cave bats all the way down?

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All the respiratory diseases that I know a little about are pretty old and have been circulating thoroughly for a long time. Measles, smallpox and TB go back to Roman times. Influenza has been around since at least the 1500s. There were cities back then, to be sure, but I'm reading a book right now about early colonial America, and these diseases were spreading and killing amongst the colonials in their dispersed farming villages, also.

In any case, the animal evidence is even harder to dismiss. Cows seem to be the #1 originator of communicable human diseases (measles, smallpox, RSV, probably TB) and they live outdoors. Bird flu is spreading right now in wild populations.

There's something I'm missing here, too, in any case. Maybe the answer is as simple as "outdoors is lower-risk than indoors, but not as risk-free as some think". But I dunno.

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That’s probably it, at least for TB.

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I think this is part of general civic weakness across much of American life.

Political leaders often didn't feel like they had a mandate to dictate policy. So instead, they delegated to the public health professionals. Instead of having to confidently articulate a policy position, they could just say "listen to the experts." I think many politicians felt a lot more comfortable delegating those choices than having to make tough tradeoffs.

Public health officials, having not tasted what power is like in 21st century America, gladly stepped into the breach and started telling everyone what to do. They started with a lot of political capital and goodwill, but spent it down very quickly, and the result was a mess.

Now the public health institutions are discredited with half of America. This also makes them beholden to the half of America that still likes them - from now on, public health institutions will find it very difficult to stand up to liberal professionals, who make up their base of support. In political terms, they don't have much choice anymore but to operate as an arm of the democratic party. This is really bad for a lot of reasons, but may have been inevitable given the structural factors in play.

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Good analysis. I still think that pivoting to cost benefit analysis is not only correct for getting the best results, but probably also the best way to free themself from "progressive" bias.

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To back up, the PH folks should not be recommending behavior and policy per se. Their job is to give people and public policy makers the information on the health "costs" for the individual and other people so the decision maker could then weight those up against the benefits of the behavior or policy.

A WAY to give the information would have been be with examples

.

Indoor cocktail parties? Not a good idea.

Outdoor BLM or Trump rally? OK if you can keep your distance.

Church services? Depending on local conditions, OK if not too crowded, people wear masks to keep their (possible) infection to themselves.

Indoor dining? Depends on density and ventilation, with and without UV air recirculation.

Close schools and day care? That's a tough one. Here is how to think about risks of community spread, but the costs to parents time and children's education? That's not our area of expertise.

Disinfecting surfaces? Not worth the trouble now that we know it spreads as an aerosol not droplets.

Visiting a dying relative? Of course.

[MY examples are MY guesses about what sensible PH experts would have said.]

And the information/example messages should have changed as more was learned about the spread, prevalence (varies locally) number of people who are vaccinated (varies locally).

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At a time when more & more people in the West are described as lonely, alienated, and without strong social connections- the trend towards 'let's have everyone white collar work out of their living room and never leave their house' is just utterly bizarre to me. Why would anyone think more social isolation is a good thing? I'm with Matt, I think that remote work is likely a negative trend in modern society, but is probably unstoppable. Speaking just from my industry, I can tell you that all the software engineers want to work 100% remotely, and they can simply choose not to work for companies that won't accede to that. They have all the leverage. So, hello increasingly lonely & isolated America.

I am hearing lots of rumblings from people at large companies, including the FAANGs, that productivity is markedly down from remote workers

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One thing I have noticed is that people often don’t realize how lonely they are working from home until they start going back to the office. And that’s also when they realize how bad the loneliness was making them feel.

People often underestimate how much benefit that they get from social interaction. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone and there are good reasons to like working from home

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I absolutely think I would have cracked and gone off the deep end in bad, self-harmful ways if we hadn't been allowed to come back full-time in June... of 2020.

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founding

No one thinks that social isolation is a good thing. But each bit of social isolation comes from something people want, like religious freedom or a parking spot or not having to commute.

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I think we should come up with a solution to social isolation other than "sit in a cubicle for fifty hours a week".

rec sports leagues!

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I think that social engagement, like exercise or reading, is one of those things that is good for people and which they enjoy doing while they're doing it, but without a routine or even an obligation it's hard to get off their duff to do it. Work does serve that purpose, though perhaps it's overkill.

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There's really no substitute for being with people you've been with for thousands of hours though. I won't say it's better or worse, but it's markedly different to be in an identical setting (say a happy hour) with people you've known for a long time versus people who are all open to meeting you but whom you don't know, and certainly different (and better) to be in either versus with people who are all doing their own thing, taking up space, and don't want to be bothered.

Also having some kind of routine and a purpose beyond mere gathering tends to make the group not fizzle. This is why a D&D campaign can easily last longer than a hangout group. Large events can also help here, but they're very much in the "meet people" category rather than "be with those you've been with", and most events only happen once or twice a year.

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There seems to be a huge round of tech layoffs happening at lots of the large companies. I wonder if that is going to change the balance of negotiating power for new hires to insist on 100% remote.

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I think most adults in the US live with a spouse or children. Many of them would gladly sacrifice time spent socializing with coworkers to gain time with their families. It doesn't seem obvious to me that the trade makes them more socially isolated.

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I was referring more to younger people who don't. But for the older crowd- who on Earth wants to be locked in a house with their spouse or child all day, and you can't get away? You're with them during the day and then also the evening, the weekend..... Um no thanks. Some separation is good.

I'll put it to you this way- did you hear a lot of enthusiasm during the pandemic for everyone being locked away in their home? "Sure, this Covid thing is bad, but at least I'm stuck at home with my spouse and children and literally can't get away ever, it's been wonderful". Did you hear that much?

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My wife wasn’t wfh but wouldn’t you both be in your offices throughout the workday, and then you only spend a little time with each other at lunch and a break?

Maybe I’m just imagining stuff but if remote teaching had been a permanent part of my life instead of a weird year and a quarter replacing the few hours I spend with adult coworkers with lunch and a dog walk with my wife seems like an unqualified plus.

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I have the opposite take, 24 hrs/day with family is difficult, and I've been married 40 years, love my wife and raised two children to happy adulthood. Time at the office was a sanctuary and a blessing of human contact.

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Opposite take for me too. I was already far less productive while at home (at a big tech) to the extent that I had to work until midnight to get even half of my normal velocity, and I can't even imagine being able to juggle that with other responsibilities like a relationship, kids, or pets. I'd strongly like to have kids someday but can't really see how living with someone else would be possible for me in a world where the rules have changed to be able to rug away my 50-60 hours a week of escape at the slightest safety provocation.

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I don't know about all. Early this year it was 60% most/all in general*. I can buy that it is higher among software engineers.

We are officially hybrid with no requirements. Our seating is organized as 1-2 teams per room ("open office" within rooms), and that has a large influence, as to whether people can expect some company (good for coming in) or will be lonely in a large room (bad). For some teams, everyone is fully remote and only come in when there are special events. For others, almost everyone comes in daily. There are some people (usually leads/managers, but also other gregarious kinds) who have a soft pull, and they set an example for the whole team. Groups of people who come into the office have lunch together, and tend to come in and leave around the same reasonable times. In my team, we tend to notify others in advance if we expect to WFH, and others co-ordinate accordingly. I have been nearly 100% in-person for the last 1.5 years. If I ever look for another job, I expect to reject 100% remote positions unless I run out of options.

* https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2022/02/16/covid-19-pandemic-continues-to-reshape-work-in-america/

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It seems very bad.

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Law firms are also starting to crack the whip about getting people back into the office with more serious repercussions, especially in a potential recession economy

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Listening to you on the EK show and i gotta say, you two still have great podcast chemistry. There's a reason those weeds episodes during the dem primary were my favorites, i appreciate the combo

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

Listening to Bad Takes made me feel like it is hard to find a good podcast partner for Matt because Matt often seems to want to jump over the base level discussion into something more specific or obscure and it felt like Ezra was the only one that trusted him enough to do that and that let some of the Weeds episodes get to interesting places. (Some examples of where this doesn't happen are the Chess episode of Bad Takes, the Anti-Asian hate crimes episodes of the Weeds or the Welfare reform episodes of the Weeds.)

For Bad Takes it seems like they would be well served mapping out the conversation before recording(perhaps they already do) because it feels like they don't have a solid idea of what form the discussion is going to take and what the actually interesting point of disagreement might be.

Its possible the format is just tough for them because they start off discussing a random tweet or whatever but then when they try to abstract the discussion a bit they get pretty lost.

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Goes to show the non-uniformity of aesthetics; on bad takes i personally like that the hosts seem to be on some level discovering what the other thinks about the topic. Human preferences are a multitude!

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I think I like that format more for things like sports and movie podcasts where the hosts' opinions feel less predictable and the deeper analysis isn't really the point. With political shows it feels like if you know the hosts a bit you can guess most of their starting point of views pretty regularly. Bad Takes feels like it takes too long to get to the actual discussion for a show that is only about 45 minutes long.

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doesn't happen or does happen?

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Sorry that was a bit unclear. Those episodes are times where it seemed like the cohosts did not let Matt jump ahead to the more specific discussion that he wanted to have.

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Bad Takes just doesn't work, they should abandon it as a failed experiment and move on, there's no point to making a bad podcast that nobody will listen to.

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Agree, I subscribe to Bad Takes but I confess that Matt’s co-host on that show is not my favorite among his interlocutors. Really enjoyed this episode of EK.

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I like Laura. Matt is matt no matter who he talks to, but ezra is best when hes friends with the guest since it becomes more conversational. Pour one out for Jane Coaston who i think is criminally underutilized presently by the times

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I wish they would change the Argument back into a left-right-center with Jamelle Bouie, Ross Douthat, and Jane.

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That would be so much better than what they're doing now.

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That would be awesome!

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The Argument has been so bad lately. Just really shallow discussion of some very mainstream progressive hot topic with all people that agree. I do really like Jane and wish she could do a podcast that would allow her to expand on her own arguments more and have someone else host the Argument with a typical left, right, center format.

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Agree on Coaston. Sane, empathetic, unique voice.

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I think in the few episodes Matt and Laura have done together, their chemistry has already got noticeably better. I think it's already quite good but hopefully can keep improving.

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Fair point. I found the episode about the Queen especially annoying, but I like the more recent ones more (including this week’s, even though I have no interest in Kanye West and was completely unaware of the situation that generated the take at issue).

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Yeah the Queen one wasn't great...tbf Laura clearly has very strong feelings on the matter due to family background which is fine, just didn't bring the best out of her as a podcaster

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I think in the Queen episode, Laura actually had the better side of the debate (Elizabeth herself was a political actor who chose not to do more good in the world) and I started on Matt's side but moved to hers, but it all got sort of tangled in a way that was hard to follow. I feel like if they recorded the same episode in a year it would be much better. In terms of the interrupting thing, I don't know how they record, but they need a non-audio signal (eg do video chat and hold up a finger to say wrap it up or have a chatroom and type "want to break on X") so that it's not quite as jarring as being in the middle of a sentence and then cutting in.

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Anyone have any refs for good Matt / Ezra episodes other than this week’s EKS. I started following both of them post Weeds so I haven’t listened to much of their stuff together.

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Their 2020 primary debate recap episodes are pretty good but are pretty specific to that time obviously.

The early Weeds episodes with Matt, Ezra and Sarah are generally pretty good. The focus is often specifically healthcare but there are some other topics they get into.

Specific Episodes I enjoyed were:

Land value taxes, soda taxes, and carbon taxes - oh my!

Our undemocratic primaries, Obama's new fiduciary rule, and the challenges of information polarization.

Free College, Email Extravaganza and the China Shock

Those are mostly pretty old but the topics are still relevant in most cases.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

Matt, if you're interested on the impact of remote work on productivity/growth, there was recently an econ conference at Stanford that focused on remote work. (see here: https://www.remoteworkconference.org/) Most of the research was focused on US workers, but not all.

The results were broadly that workers like remote work (and so it will probably stick around) but that fully remote work seems to be bad for feedback/mentorship -- especially for young workers -- and knowledge spillovers.

There was one field experiment run (in Bangladesh I think, so external validity is something to think about for the US context) that showed that mandated hybrid resulted in the best work outcomes: specifically, they found that hybrid workers send more emails, send more unique information in their emails, are rated by managers as having higher work productivity, and receive a higher wage increase than workers in either the mostly remote or mostly in-office groups.

One paper did find that remote work's negative impact on science collaboration has decreased as technology has gotten better, looking at scientific coauthors from geographically distant locales. So the results are at least somewhat mixed.

Not at this conference but I think I saw a paper in Science suggesting that remote brainstorming resulted in worse outcomes than in-person, as well.

So IMO I think the research mostly supports your POV, that remote work will stick but (fully remote) is bad for feedback/productivity/growth

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Thanks! More creedence to my feeling that hybrid work is the way to go, barring unique circumstances of the job.

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i feel the same way, and probably not coincidentally, i'm also not a fan of fully remote personally haha

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To expand on my own top level comment, I'm in one of those professions and jobs where fully remote works best for productivity, and since I also work independently it is just not practical for me to lease out office space. But if I was part of a team on a regular basis, I'd probably want to meet in person about once a week just to get some camaraderie. The pandemic really revealed how miserable it was to be forced not to have that.

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Hybrid needs to be forced hybrid though or you just end up with people in an empty office bc nobody works in-person on the same day

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As someone who was recently forced to move from hybrid to fully remote for medical reasons (recovering from surgery), I cannot agree enough. Can't wait to go back to the office...2 days a week. Maybe even 3!

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I've worked hybrid for a while now but I think to really make the most of it you have to specifically build the workweek around it. Meetings should be on days when your team is in-office, and then your individual work can be remote.

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founding

Scientific collaboration is an interesting case. Everyone is such a specialist, that you get big gains from collaborating with the right person, that easily outweigh the losses when that collaboration is across time zones.

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Absolutely right, but even here, people working on similar problems will try to concentrate at specific universities because it's so much easier to collaborate in person. Like a department trying to establish a critical mass in a certain sub-field.

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This *perfectly* lines up with my experience at our consulting engineer clients. Entry/junior-level and mid-level managers and up *hated* WFH and wanted it dead ASAP. It is impossible to get graduate and new-to-this-sector employees trained and mentored.

Mid-level individual actors fought tooth and nail to keep it. Finally senior folks had no choice but to put their jobs under threat despite the difficulty of hiring replacements because the only things that were getting done were the most basic day-to-day design tasks.

Now virtually everyone is back to hybrid, except the completely irreplaceable; nationwide program managers, crack design technology and automation process guys, etc.

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Yeah, I've made the point here before: Mentoring young employees is really, really hard over Zoom.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

I’m sorry but MY’s conspiracy theory of politics is a bit silly. If you must reduce all politics to one sentence then the left seeks change to improve things and the right seeks to protect the things that are already good *from* change. Both are genuine human interests and that’s why both have had and will forever continue to have varying degrees of popular support. Neither is in its essence a conspiracy although individual politicians and organizations on *both* sides have known to use conspiracy theories from time to time to advance their cause.

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Yeah that struck me as silly too. Maybe the Trumpist right really is just falling for conmen because they don't want higher taxes, although that probably is not the full reason. But has he never read Hayek? The old, non-Trumpist right, which admittedly a lot smaller these days, still actually believes things like economic growth lifts all boats, the price mechanism is important, and markets are better at distributing resources than central planners.

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But what is annoying about that old "non-Trumpist Right" is that in power it doesn't do anything to promote economic growth -- low deficits and immigration -- or trust in markets -- free trade, regulatory reform.

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??? Do "Democrats" want 100% redistribution or the economic policy of "Europe?"

My beef with "Democrats" in not with how MUCH they want to redistribute (or combat climate change or promote acceptance of religious/ethnic/racial/gender identification diversity) but that they do not chose efficient, growth compatible means to do so.

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"Protect the things that are already good" does not lead logically to Republican positions on taxes and the welfare state. That's where the flimflam comes in.

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I’m attempting an abstract definition of progressive vs. conservative politics, you can’t assume that in a country with two parties whose coalitions are in constant flux they would perfectly align with the ideal type at any given moment.

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It's reductionist, but has some truth to it. There is a fundamental issue with opposing redistribution to the median voter. Democrats can win with a vanilla economic distribution argument and call out Republican BS. Unfortunately they've encumbered this message with social policy.

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There is no homo economicus, something that my seems to forget. Voters have more than just economic interests nor do they think about those in a purely selfish rational fashion. Non of this requires conspiracies or lies. That gop is currently steeped with both doesn’t prove that they must and historical and comparative examples to the contrary abound.

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True. What is odd (from my right of center perspective) about the US recently is that that the Right does not seem to be protecting things that are good -- livable planet, inclusive growth (immigration, low deficits, free trade), ethnic/religious/gender identification diversity.

And the Left does not "sell" what it thinks is good as "good for everybody" positive sum changes and sometimes just messes up the cost-benefit analysis of the change.

And both for getting so MAD at the other side for their opinions.

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Oct 22, 2022·edited Oct 22, 2022

P.S. I gave a super reductionist ad abstract definition on purpose, because MY did, but it’s obviously a limited heuristic. However I’d argue that it does fit *some* current debates. Immigration for instance: a conservative stance can be (doesn’t have to be but *can* be) framed as: country’s population is fine as is, let’s keep it that way. Left version is- let’s add more people, despite the disruption , because ultimately not will make things better.

Likewise lgbt acceptance- conservative position: current attitudes to sex etc are fine as they are since I’m happy with them (“I “ here in fact being 90% or more of population). Left says, no, we need to make change despite the temporary awkwardness for everyone to make a more just society and ultimately you too will thank us for it because you don’t realize yet that the status quo is bad.

The environment is tricky - but even there if the status quo is the use of oil then you could frame it conservatively.

Now OF COURSE you can find a more sophisticated conservative argument precisely for the opposite of many of these- eg enviormentalist position that agrees that reforms are necessary to ultimately preserve the status quo of the climate itself; gay marriage protects the family structure, trans inclusivity reinforces gender norms etc. that’s why the heuristic is limited but I still think it has its uses

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Dueling reductionisms! :)

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Yes, us politics is f_d up right now. But here’s a hot take (?) look at the uk. I think their party system is doing much much better, despite the fact that their country is in greater economic trouble.

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WRT the question about zero tolerance toward aggressive masculine behaviors..,A daycare teacher told us at the end of a day that our 3 year old son was interrupting girls all day and not letting them talk. I think this was a weird way to frame his behavior if he was being disruptive he’s not a disruptive kid but my wife and I were like “uh is she trying to say our 3 year old is sexist or something?” I think there is a little bit of hypersensitivity toward typical little boy behavior these days from my admittedly limited experience.

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Is it not possible that your three your old is being sexist? Obviously not through consciously sexist thought, but maybe he has learned that interrupting this particular person always seems to result in positive outcomes (ie the girl doesn’t object or push back and he always gets to say what he wants)? That feels like relevant feedback to give to parents. Without more context I have no idea what’s actually happening since you’ve not provided more context but it feels like “a three year old is too young to be sexist” is a reductive way to dismiss this feedback.

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Oct 22, 2022·edited Oct 22, 2022

It’s far far more likely that the daycare teacher is biased in her perception than a three year old in his behavior. I’d go as far as to say it’s a slight warning sign of casual misandry, but of course one cannot say based on one small anecdote.

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I’d argue it’s little kid behavior , not little boy behavior. Girl toddlers can wreck havoc just as much as boy toddlers. The sexism is in the eye of the beholder.

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So this was a great mailbag, as usual, with one exception: the bizarre conspiracy-theory version of conservative politics: "And the right’s strategy is to obfuscate".

What about the statement from last week's mailbag, "I don’t think questioning people’s sincerity is productive"? Maybe that doesn't apply to approximately fifty percent of our country - or, more charitably, to a large share of our politically active class?

In order to stand by that view of American politics, even if you want to question the right's sincerity, I think you have to either repudiate markets as a mechanism for advancing social good (which Matt obviously does not), or buy into the proposition that economic interests are the only genuine interests (or both). If you accept that people genuinely have non-economic priorities, it's easy enough to invert that critique and conceive of the American left as a conspiracy to bribe the electorate into accepting their high status as natural ("reality has a left-wing bias") and their cosmopolitan cultural preferences.

The original question is interesting, though! Why do Republicans keep nominating hapless lunatics and con men? I can think of at least two reasons. First, political talent is hard to come by in the first place, and the Republican party is suffering from a brain drain that is partly self-inflicted (by amplifying resentment of educated elites) but also driven by the left's tendency to treat conservative opinions as bad manners. Second, celebrity and its close cousin notoriety are much more important factors that we typically credit - far more important than, e.g., command of policy, at least in a representative democracy.

(Incidentally, this is why I disagree with Matt's recent, related off-hand remark on Bad Takes: he contrasted Republican's promoting meritocracy with the distressing candidates they promote, noting that they were extremely weak on policy. I don't think this is a contradiction at all: policy knowledge is not a core piece of a contemporary American politician's skill-set.)

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I would offer a somewhat different point on the bad candidates. Republicans didn't elect nutjobs that much until Trump, so this is clearly all because of him and not some longer term weakness in conservative theory. Trump made politics exciting so lots of people want to copy what he did, and Trump brought lots of first time voters and populist Democrats over to the Republican party, which makes it even more difficult for the establishment to implement discipline.

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FWIW I think both parties have a history with nut jobs, but Trump was by no means the first. It amazes me that Steve King held office as long as he did, or Sarah Palin

And I don’t mean because of their views. The mystifying thing is that the electorate in those places could have gotten EXACTLY the same

policy outcomes even if they’d elected someone less obviously incompetent and/or toxic

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From what I have heard of Palin, she was always crazy but she hid it very well and was actually extremely effective for the short time she was in politics before entering the national stage. After she went national all of her work was undone, and she quit to become a celebrity. But for a time she seemed to be getting difficult things accomplished for her state.

There have always been nuts in both parties, but this is the first time the nuts have had so much power and influence.

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Matt is presumably led to this view by the related observation he keeps hammering on that Republicans’ actual policy agenda, if they win elections in the near future, is big welfare state rollbacks. The “capitalism with a welfare state” cohort is the center left, not the right.

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But the "capitalism" part is also in jeopardy. We'll get larger deficits (becasue the will not in fact reduce transfers by much is anything) but will get less immigration and more distorted (n different ways than Democrats are likely to do) trade. If the "full Bernie" Republican nightmare ever comes try it will be 100% their fault.

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100%. Very out of character and disappointing. Who hurt you Matt?

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Much better answer to the question, thx!

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

I have a question for the community: how off-putting do regular Americans find Democrats' accusations of racism and other forms of oppression against each other? I witnessed a mini Twitter pile on the other day and I was shocked for a few days by how nasty it got. Maybe I'm naive but I've just never seen people treat each other that way IRL, let alone ones supposedly on the same side

Twitter is not real life but there's wide coverage of progressive institutions becoming paralysed by various accusations of oppression. I actually find it slightly weird Kamala Harris went out of her way to criticise Biden over race during the primary and then became VP.

I wonder if it's one more thing about Dems that repels normies.

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You have a sampling problem. None of us are regular Americans, so how would we know?

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I have two friends, the first whose name is ethnically South East Asian and sounds sort of like an uncommon racial slur, and the second who lives with his girlfriend. My second friend's girlfriend was investigated by her company's HR because he was talking to my first friend in the background of her Zoom call. The HR department apparently asked for proof that it was my actually my first friends given name. As a result of this, my first friend is now thinking of just asking people to pronounce his name wrong going forward. I was kind of shocked by this on two levels; how invasive a company could be in response to something said by someone who wasn't even an employee, and that it would be so insensitive, in its own way, toward a visible minority.

Obviously this isn't the fault of Democratic politicians, but it's not hard to draw a line between the ideology espoused by a certain kind of Democratic voter, and this emerging mode of anti-racism that's very anti-social.

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There is a ton to unpack in this shocking story, but I think one point is about remote work. Basically hr is now treating your home like the office because you work from home. Presumably investigating you for you boyfriends actions while visiting you at work would appear less egregious ?

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I suspect the nature of remote work is playing a role here, but I don't think something like this would have ever even escalated to the level of an investigation if it had taken place in an office a decade ago.

The point that Matt highlights from Lukianoff and Haidt seems basically correct to me. There is a cadre of adults moving into society that have learned to resolve conflict by calling on authority figures for help. Remote work only encourages this behavior by making interpersonal communication more difficult. If a miscommunication like this had occurred in person, it would be a lot easier to pick up on context clues or gently ask clarifying questions without reaching out to HR or a supervisor.

The Coddling of the American Mind actually pointed out that a lot of this behavior began with the iPhone generation, i.e. those millennials that were born in the 90s and had access to smartphones and remote communication. I think the constraints information technology have placed on our communication is shaping our culture in unintended ways.

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Good points ! As I said, a lot to unpack in this sad anecdote. I was just pointing out one aspect, you added more and there is more to be said.

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Democrats need to learn how to distance themselves from this kind of thing. What Sista Sonja said was actually worth denouncing. We don't really need to appeal to that "certain kind of Democratic voter;" they will not vote for Trump anyway.

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This is one of the bigger reasons I've drifted away from progressivism. The relentless focus on race sort of made sense when it was 90% directed outwards at Republicans*, but once the firing squad assumed a circular formation...I dunno, it's just really weird and alienating as a coloured person to sit on the sidelines while neurotic white libs have overwrought meltdowns amongst themselves about internalized racism and white privilege/supremacy. Or whatever the terms are now. Something something allyship?

Meanwhile I go through almost all of ordinary life not feeling particularly oppressed, or...I don't know what victims of racism are supposed to feel, really. So it ends up feeling hugely performative: a giant black hole for leftist time, energy, and money, which seems to achieve little concrete besides DEI sinecures. I don't get it. Surely it'd be better to spend that effort on actually raising material living standards, and other real-life improvements? <insert Matt spiel on tedious racial gap analysis here>

*who seem to be gaining minority voters anyway, so...revealed preferences strike again.

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founding

"The relentless focus on race sort of made sense when it was 90% directed outwards at Republicans"

Quoting from Twitter: "I never thought leopards would eat MY face," sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People's Faces Party.

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I disagree. I think you do get it, perfectly.

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Fair enough - I'd be much happier to be wrong, though. It was comfortable living in the leftist tent with friends and family; I didn't really plan on getting evicted to wander the streets of Heterodoxia. In the same way I'd prefer Bryan Caplan to be wrong about the signalling function of education, the world would be a brighter and more just place if such cynical conclusions were proven incorrect. I *want* claimed do-gooders to actually be doing good, and noble ideologies to show some oblige.

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but is a hegemonic, corporate-sponsored, anti-working-class, self-satisfied left even left at all ? 🤔 With the risk of engaging in no true scotsmanism , i'd suggest you haven't left the ranks of the left, but joined them. it's never been fun out here, but it's the right place to be.

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One of my best friends from college repeatedly called me bigoted on FB for wanting to protect womens’ sports from gender dysphoric men. We used to travel somewhere together every Labor Day, we went to the Adirondacks in 2019, Maine in 2021 but no where in 2022 because of his churlishness and my insistence on protecting archetypes of female excellence.

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You can definitely be skeptical about the participation of trans women in women’s sports (or biological males’ participation generally) but intentionally Misgendering them and adding insult to injury with transphobic (yes!) phrasing (“protecting women”) is a rather a douchey way to go about it, and makes one doubt you sincerely wish to engage in civil disagreement.

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Exactly, I think I mostly agree with people like David A. on this topic but I find the transphobic language like "gender dysphoric men" to be really off-putting.

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Sorry, but I'm really going to be blunt: what makes "gender dysphoric men" transphobic? If someone says, "I am a transwoman," that immediately and logically presents the question of "trans" from what? Answer: A man (no one transitions to become a "transwoman" from anything else). Why is one transitioning? Answer: Because one believes they were born in the wrong body, i.e., suffers from gender dysphoria colloquially if not by strict DSM criteria. "Gender dysphoric man" is a factual statement and necessarily imputed by the adoption of the euphemism "transwoman."

Conversely, if you wanted to take the position that use of "autogynephilic men" is transphobic, that would make sense since someone identifying as a "transwoman" is not imputing that they derive sexual enjoyment from the identification!

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I'm rolling my eyes at the veneer of politeness here. You think you're being cute. You know why it's transphobic- because trans women have (as a group) asked to be referred to as "women" and not "men", and calling them "men" is a way to deny them that. It is intentionally disrespectful. It is a running joke on Scrubs that Doctor Cox shows disrespect to JD by referring to him as a girl and with girls' names, even as he repeatedly expresses that he finds it annoying and demeaning. You can dress it up with whatever mental masturbation lets you pretend you're not being an asshole, but you know you are.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 22, 2022

If David Abbott was specifically addressing someone as "a gender dysphoric male," who said, "I prefer to be called a transwoman," I would say you have a point that he's being offensive (see, e.g., your Scrubs example), but he wasn't addressing someone in that capacity.

There are attorneys who make a big deal out of saying, "I'm not a litigator, I'm a trial lawyer," and if such a person insisted that I introduce them as a "trial lawyer" or refer to them as a "trial lawyer" in speaking with them, I'd do that, but it's not an act of hatred toward self-identified trial lawyers to use the term "litigator" while talking generally about the category of attorneys whose practice primarily involves appearing in court.

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Really? You have no idea why "gender dysphoric men" is transphobic? It is because you are referring to transwomen as men.

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As an actual trans woman, no, I don't understand why that factually-accurate-if-possibly-deprecated term is transphobic. Semantic stopsigns. Assuming bad faith on the part of others for not calling a spade by the current up-to-date approved term for spade seems to, itself, not be particularly charitable? The whole Slow Boring project revolves around focusing on core areas of value agreement to build together on, not getting hung up on preferred framings or ideological point-scoring. You gotta actually win first, and *then* there's plenty of time to (mixing metaphors here) debate whether it's more proper to capitalize the b in Black or whatever.

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Except this is like claiming its "legalphobic" to identify me as being an "attorney" instead of a "lawyer" -- they're synonyms.

To put it another way, the only people who can *transition* (a term transgender individuals routinely use and thus presumably is not offensive!) to being a "woman" are natal males. (A natal female does not need to *transition* to being a woman because she becomes one by definition just by passage of time.) If one's reason for feeling the need to alter one's body is due to the sense of being born into the wrong body, i.e., that one's physical state does not match one's psychological state, that's dysphoria. The specific dysphoria here concerns gender, i.e., it is gender dysphoria. A characterization that one is "transwoman" is synonymous with the characterization of being a "gender dysphoric male." You can claim one usage is more polite than another in conversation with someone in the sense that they may prefer one characterization to the other, but David Abbott wasn't speaking to someone else who was asking to be called a "transwoman."

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"Gender dysphoric men" is what psychiatrists call them.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

Psychiatrists do not call transwomen "gender dysphoric men"

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Of course they do: It's the clinical term.

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

"Douchey" is a good way to put it. I think the sports argument is dumb, but I don't even see the point in arguing it with (a hypothetical*) someone who wouldn't even show someone the respect of treating trans people with dignity as a good faith starting point.

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I’m not misgendering. I am calling people with y chromosomes men because they are. They want to be women, so they are gender dysphoric. If I wanted to be a dolphin or a tree, it wouldn’t make me one even if I got a really cool costume.

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In other words, "my friend doesn't like me anymore because I'm rude to other people".

Shocking.

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If you could echolocate schools of fish while wearing your dolphin costume I would be happy to proclaim that you are a dolphin. Because I am not a bigot.

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when a gender dysphoric man gives birth, i’ll call her a woman

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Whoa! Tread carefully!

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You seem pretty sure about what the "sincere" way to disagree civilly is. Maybe he did not know that "trans women" is OK to say but "dysphoric men" is not. And who gets to decide that?

Come on people! We have a new social phenomenon here. It's going to take time and experimentation to figure out what the best way to deal with it.

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But read the whole sentence, please: “ wanting to protect womens’ sports from gender dysphoric men.” he is categorically labeling a vulnerable minority as a threat. It’s in this context that I wrote what I wrote. But you know what? Fine, let’s say he didn’t know. I would then suggest to him that if he doesn’t enjoy being ostracized (genuine question in this case) he take the comments here into account. It’s very easy to play the victim of censorship when in fact people are simply taken aback/distracted by your rudeness not your actual policy positions. I agree that codes of behavior are something that needs to be learned, but one must learn them if they actually want to be taken seriously.

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