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Linky Friday #149: Pirates, Poindexters, & Confederados

Science:

Image by Podknox

Image by Podknox Linky Friday #149: Pirates, Poindexters, & Confederados

[S1] The seventh row of the Periodic Table is now complete with the addition of four new elements. Will a heavy metal element could be named after Motorhead’s Lemmy.

[S2] There are a number of bad studies on ecigarettes, but just in time for the New Year UCSD ran an unusually bad one, which the media accepted uncritically. San Diego Union-Tribute’s Bradley Filkes asks “What went wrong?”

[S3] Google says that their biggest obstacle isn’t the NHTSA, but rather… snow. Obama, however, seems to be going all-in.

[S4] According to Anna Maria Barry, MSG was taken down by flawed science and xenophobia.

[S5] Scientists are apparently giddy over rumors of a breakthrough in gravitational waves.

[S6] A satirical study about the efficacy of mothers’ kissing booboos got a lot of attention and some criticism for not being clearly labeled as satire.

Culture:

Image by greg westfall.

Image by greg westfall. Linky Friday #149: Pirates, Poindexters, & Confederados

[Cu1] Has the Episcopal Church been suspended from the Anglican Communion over its views on gay marriage?

[Cu2] The New York Times looks at some of the changes in store for Sesame Street under HBO management. Not sure I like the changes, but it is what it is I suppose.

[Cu3] Huh. It seems to me that Jia Tolentino of Jezebel is less than impressed with your resolve not to read books by white men. Seriously, she makes a good point that energy is better spent actually promoting alternatives rather than expressing what you will and will not read.

[Cu4] Sam Wilkinson passes along this remembrence of MST3K.

[Cu5] Sam also passes along a look back at the inherent injustice of Monte Irvin’s career.

Healthcare:

doctors on strike photo

Image by alisdare1 Linky Friday #149: Pirates, Poindexters, & Confederados

[H1] Some hospitalists in Oregon are in revolt over managed care bringing in of contractors, while junior doctors in the UK are on strike.

[H2] A ruling in New Mexico may mean that they can’t get doctors in Texas.

[H3] PPACA may be making Americans more conservative about health care.

[H4] Erika Wesley points out a JAMA study on how our over-reliance on c-sections may be costing lives. My wife’s employer has an impressively low c-section rate… which is causing problems because doctors who are performing obstetrics are having difficulty getting the numbers needed to keep their privileges.

[H5] What are you hiding? Kathryn Watson reports that our private medical records are not as private as we might hope.

Resources:

wind power photo

Image by Luis Alves Linky Friday #149: Pirates, Poindexters, & Confederados

[R1] The last of Britain’s coal pits have been shut down.

[R2] Uh, oh… are we looking at Peak Wind? Bjorn Lomborg thinks we’re focusing too much on wind power.

[R3] Also, you can go too solar, it turns out.

[R4] Fossil fuel prices are really low right now, adoption of wind and solar is high. A while back, Ramez Naam wrote of the disruptive power of renewables.

[R5] Here is definitely a place that solar power could come in especially handy: Remote cellular towers.

Copyright:

[Co1] This post on the continued strength of piracy makes the faulty assumption that everything pirated should be purchased, but otherwise makes a pretty good point about streaming not being an especially good strategy by content-producers to combat piracy.

[Co2] I didn’t know this, but in late 2014, courts ruled that it is (or at least can be) legal to tell people how to strip DRM for their own personal use.

[Co3] It’s all in the title, though they misspelled “fowl”: Dutch Rubber Duck Artist Cries Foul Over Giant Philly Rubber Duck

[Co4] Stephen Witt says goodbye to piracy. It’s hard to know where “life stages” ends and “things are different now” begins, but it tracks the experiences of a lot of people. As streaming has become easier, and as my generation has gotten more money, piracy has become more redundant. The notion of paying to pirate is one of the great ironies of it all, though.

[Co5] Along similar lines, Daniel Starkey says that piracy gave him a future.

[Co6] Jason Kuznicki wrote about how modern intellectual property law makes us feudal tenants.

Latin America:

rio de janeiro photo

Image by Rodrigo_Soldon Linky Friday #149: Pirates, Poindexters, & Confederados

[L1] Vox introduces us to El Paquete, Cuba’s clearinghouse for smuggled America media.

[L3] Peru is pretty pissed at Greenpeace for a stunt on some ancient landmarks. Also, a lost city in Honduras.

[L4] Brazil has no Black Lives Matter movement, but maybe they need one.

[L5] Here’s another article on the Confederados. The settlement of Confederate self-exiles who escaped to Brazil.


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141 thoughts on “Linky Friday #149: Pirates, Poindexters, & Confederados

  1. Cu4: Man, some of my best, and hardest, TV laughs were at MST3K. And often over something little, but brilliant and unexpected.

    For example, I remember a sequence in one episode involving radiation creating some sort of monster. Early in the movie, pre-monster, this exchange occurs:

    Narrator: …the most feared word in nuclear science…

    Tom (I think): Oops!

    Narrator: …radiation.

    I died.

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    • Even a passing familiarity with how the refugee process works, or just a quick check of Wikipedia, would have told you that your comment totally misunderstands the situation. The initial screening of refugees is almost always done by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. To come to the United States you need be referred for resettlement, usually by UNHCR (or another NGO authorized by the US gov), and then you are vetted for refugee status and resettlement by the US Refugee Admission Program.

      Edited to add that this process keeps the United States government from having to deal with the millions of people who would apply for refugee status and resettlement in the US, who are either not actually refugees, or are not qualified to resettle in the United States, or both.

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  2. H3: Check out the chart. There are some real surprises.

    1. Democrats want to cut assistance to the poor *more* than Republicans do.
    2. Democrats want to cut scientific research slightly more than Republicans do.
    3. Republicans want to spend more on space exploration than Democrats.
    4. Republicans want to increase spending on highways and bridges more than Democrats want to.
    5. Democrats want to decrease spending on the environment. And they want to decrease it even more than moderates want to!

    I’m suspecting that some of this is explained by compensatory effects. Republicans want to drastically cut health care spending, so they can afford to be less stingy when it comes to assistance to the poor. But still, who would guess that Democrats would be more willing to cut assistance to the poor than Republicans?

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    • The charshows changes between the 2004-2008 surveys and the 2010-2014 surveys, and the question isn’t “would you want to cut” or “how much would you want to cut,” but “Do you think too little money is spent on… ?” So we don’t really have any idea the relative amounts that the two groups would want to spend.

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      • And its changes in values whose baselines are different. The numbers are probably, ex-rectum, something like “in 2006, 85% of democrats and 35% of Republicans think the government spends too little on the poor. In 2012, it’s 78% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans”

        Plus, one of the frequent refrains from PPACA and single payer advocates is that the US *does* spend too much on health care, esp compared to the results. So there’s no contradiction, philosophically, to be in favor of reform & increased government involvement, and still be in favor of less spending.

        (now, whether or not you can, in fact, have more government involvement, better results, and less spending, all at the same time is a different, and unanswered question. But based on the similar dynamics in education, it doesn’t look good)

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        • Is there anybody who didn’t think we spend to much on health care and that the level of growth of costs wasn’t unsustainable? Yeah i know most conservatives sort of forgot about that once there were discussions about the ACA which might do something to correct the problem but still the issue was widely known.

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          • There’s that. One of the dynamics which drove the Limbaughization of our current politics is that Democrats were Tax-and-Spenders. Which, going back thru the post war years, where Democrats largely controlled Congress, is true. But the myth has outpaced reality since then, seems to me. Well, sorta, anyway. GOPers still adhere to the “cut taxes” mantra even while their policies explode the deficit and national debt. Cynically, there’s a twisted (incoherent) Norquistian logic to it: deficit-spend to break the system!, at which time the remnants can be easily drowned in a bathtub. (See, for example, the debt-curves under Reagan and GWB.)

            Kolohe is right to say that more gummint involvement AND less spending is certainly logically possible, so long as the implied conclusion is kept in mind: that the functional incompetence of our federal gummint constitutes a barrier to believing such an outcome is possible in practice.

            EG., as much as I’m drawn to national single payer from a solutions-based perspective, I have no illusions regarding the likelihood of our federal gummnt’s ability to administer such a program effectively or efficiently.

            (Personally, I’d like to see state-based single payer programs gain some traction.)

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    • The healthcare cutting thing that makes for the article’s lede seems like a particularly weird interpretation of the data, and one which really ignores much of the substance of the policy rationale for Obamacare. While that probably isn’t going to have much impact on Republicans or Independents (on the reasonable grounds that they’re likely to find the policy rationale unconvincing), Democrats are likely to expect it, and a major driver of reform was concern that healthcare spending was too high. In addition to the big ticket items like exchanges and Medicaid expansion, there were a ton of measures designed at “bending the cost curve”.

      Democrats are also more likely to be sympathetic to adopting single-payer or NHS-style socialized medicine, and one of the most common arguments for those systems is that they’re cheaper than what we have in the US.

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    • So other people have posted good replies about something something cost overruns etc. But it gets even simpler:

      The question asked was whether the government spends too little money on health care. Given that the ACA was passed and implemented, isn’t the simplest solution that people are satisfied with the new spending it included?

      Look, last year when I was unemployed and couldn’t pay my gas bill, I though I was spending too little on heating. This year, I have a new job, keep my house warm, and no longer think I’m spending too little on heating. That doesn’t mean I’m suddenly much more bearish on the furnace. If anything, the opposite.

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  3. S3: I have been raising this issue repeatedly every time the subject of autonomous cars comes up. I have yet to see a response along the lines of “Thank you for raising that very good question. Here are the strategies researchers are using to solve this…” So now it turns out the strategy is to not sell autonomous cars in places where it snows. Brilliant! Here’s my prediction: Whenever this thing gets past the press-release stage into the expected-to-make-money stage, it will turn out to feature a full set of controls, and the car will be fully autonomous except when it isn’t.

    In related news, we had a potential client come in the other day. He had been rear-ended. This usually is our bread and butter, but in this instance his car had stopped suddenly. This makes the case more problematic, as the guy behind you can argue contributory negligence, which is a deal killer in this jurisdiction. But upon further conversation, it turned out that he hadn’t applied the brakes: the car’s collision avoidance system had. It is prone to misinterpreting stuff like steel plates on the road as obstacles to avoid colliding with, resulting in collisions. One can but admire the irony. In the meantime, there is a recall, and in this particular case the manufacturer is effectively accepting liability.

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      • Perhaps it is just a question of what frequency to use, but with those sensor domes on top of the car the other issue is snow collecting on the sensor itself: a significant issue in heavy snow. Then there is the matter of salt spray, so a really good heating system would not itself be sufficient. You need some equivalent of a windshield wiper and fluid system. And redundancy: In a standard car, when the wiper leaves that annoy streak right at eye level, you can scrunch down and look under it.

        I’m not saying that these problems are unsolvable: just that there is a resounding silence on the topic from the publicists and enthusiasts.

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        • I have a post in the queue for the 18th that takes a look at self driving cars, it might be worth holding off on in depth discussions until then.

          Re: keep in mind Google is primarily a software company. They are much more interested in, and have the experience with, software. Their hardware is very likely COTS or somewhat modified COTS and the best choice for what they are trying to do, which does not mean it’s the best choice for the final product.

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          • I’m looking forward to that post and discussion, Oscar. I’ve long held, as I believe you do, that jumping directly to fully autonomous vehicles is an unrealistic fantasy. Rather, what we’ll see — and are seeing! — is the steady accretion of more and more sophisticated “driver assistance” features along various dimensions of the driving task.

            My current ride is dubbed a “Smart Truck” by virtue of incorporating Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure warning, and Adaptive Cruise. The first and third of those rely on a radar sensor embedded in the bumper and the Lane Departure system utilizes a video camera looking out the window. When they work they work reasonably well, but both sensors are buggy as hell and frequently confused. It’s all very much at the first-generation, early-adopter stage. I’ve heard from drivers that have had to have their trucks towed because the collision system was convinced you were running into something and wouldn’t release the brakes. Less seriously, but still a PITA, my system will occasionally complain that the front radar sensor is blocked (by what? Generally nothing discernable) and disables adaptive cruise. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that’s the ONLY cruise mode available and it’s set up to allow an extra 2 mph in cruise vs using the pedal.

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              • It’s superhydrophobic, so it’ll repel any liquid with a surface tension near or above water (pure alcohol might have a low enough viscosity as to not bead up as much as water, for instance), so salt spray should roll off just like rain.

                As for windshields:

                9. Can NeverWet be applied to glass?

                Yes, but the glass will no longer be transparent. NeverWet dries to a Flat Frosted Clear color, therefore, it should never be applied to windshields or automobile windows. NeverWet will work on any glass that you want to have superhydrophobic properties, but don’t need to see through.

                Rain-X does something similar, and can be bought as a wiper fluid.

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    • I don’t understand why self-driving cars that don’t work well in the snow is such a show stopper. A very large chunk of the US population lives in places where snow basically never falls, much less accumulates. We probably don’t sell a lot of convertibles or motorcycles in places that are constantly freezing cold or rainy, but they’re still viable products.

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  4. H2: the linked article is more of an outline for the second part of a good article, so it doesn’t really give much information. Why New Mexico courts would have jurisdiction in something like this is not obvious to me. It would have been nice to be given some hint. Even better would be a comparison of medical malpractice law in the two states. Instead all we get is a bunch of doctors bitching. The problem is that doctors seem oddly prone to urban legends about med-mal law. Either that or they are lying. It isn’t always clear. But when you read some doctor talking about how he orders a bunch of tests that he knows are unnecessary because he needs to cover his ass, he either has never sat down with an actual lawyer and discussed the topic, or he actually is getting paid for those tests: qui bono, dude. In any case, doctors are as a class completely unreliable sources for information about med-mal law.

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  5. Cu1: I am interested to see how this plays out. The Anglicans, like many denominations, evangelized heavily in Africa a century or so back. The result often is that Africans now constitute the majority within many denominations. How this plays out depends on the ecclesiastical structure. The Methodists, for example, are unusual in not really being organized along national lines. Its General Conference is a worldwide body. Most Protestant churches, however, are organized as national bodies independent from one another. There often is a worldwide body, but it is for conversation and coordination of international charities, and doesn’t have the power to tell anybody what they can and cannot do.

    The result is that the United Methodist Church officially is down on The Gay because this is what the General Conference says, but it is trivially easy to find a UMC congregation in the United States that is cheerfully willing to overlook niceties of official policy. Churches like the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are OK with The Gay, both de facto and de jure. In both cases anyone unwilling to live with this has gone elsewhere.

    There is a Lutheran world body, the Lutheran World Federation. The Lutherans did comparatively poorly in the ‘Convert Africans’ sweepstakes, so the LWF is dominated by Europeans and Americans. The largest constituent church is the Church of Sweden (though this is because the church in Germany is organized on regional lines). The upshot is that the LWF is OK with The Gay, and if the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania doesn’t like, they have nonetheless come to terms with sitting in the same room with people who disagree with them.

    The Anglicans were wildly successful in the ‘Convert Africans” sweepstakes. They had an unfair advantage, what with having an Empire over which the sun never set. So the Africans now dominate. The Church of England itself is unofficially OK with The Gay (or, as my mother put is, they invented it) but they feel an obligation to be discreet about this. The Americans don’t care, or at least don’t care enough to act differently. Hence the three year suspension.

    What will be interesting is if in three years, the Episcopalians are let back in and everybody pretends that the issue has been resolved, or the Anglicans rinse and repeat. It isn’t in the cards for the Episcopalians to recant, so it may be that they will end up taking their tea in a different room from everyone else.

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    • Haven’t there also been a few Episcopal congregations a few yeas ago that broke with US Church because of LGBT issues*, (i.e. the dissenting congregation were against what would be considered equal rights in secular language), and tried to re-brand as Anglican, and some others re-joining The Roman Catholics?

      (I’m also thinking that the Roman Catholics may have won the Christian convert Africans sweepstakes, just in terms of raw numbers. Of course, the Roman Catholic governance structure is completely undemocratic – though that also doesn’t mean it’s immune to politics)

      *edit – I think, reading the links, some of it was also about the role of women in the church.

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      • This discussion requires both history and vocabulary first, for which I apologize in advance:

        The Ur-church of the Anglican communion is, of course, the Church of England. You know the story: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and all that. As the English went out colonizing, clergymen went along, both to serve the English colonists and to convert the natives. This, in the course of time, resulted in various national churches descended from the CofE. “Anglican” came to be the generic name for the tradition. In due time an international body was formed, known as the Anglican Communion.

        This process occurred earlier and more haphazardly in the US. The CofE never set up American dioceses during the colonial period, so the various parishes were cut off after the Revolution. They arranged some semi-bootleg consecrations and organized, taking the name “Episcopal,” which simply means they have bishops. In the course of time the they joined the Anglican Communion.

        There is a long history of schisms from the Episcopal Church. Episcopalians profess a horror of schism, so there is a mandatory ritual of the small number splintering off denouncing the vastly larger church as being the true schismatics. Traditionally this occurred over big stuff like revising the Book of Common Prayer. The recent round is most visibly about The Gay, but really about Episcopal Genitalia.

        It is counter-intuitive, given that the Episcopalians have been ordaining women since the 1970s, that this would only arise now, but there is good reason based on Anglican ecclesiology. They, along with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, claim what used to be called Apostolic Succession but now seem to go by Historic Episcopacy. This is the notion that Jesus appointed the disciples, who in turn appointed successors, with an unbroken chain reaching to the present day bishops. The key is that only true bishops can create new bishops or priests.

        Under this theory, a false priest is only a limited danger. Episcopal parishes have wide latitude to choose their own priests, so a parish that considers a female priest to be an impossibility need simply not hire one. Female bishops are another matter. If a female bishop is a false bishop, it follows that any priest she ordained is no priest at all, even if possessing the proper genitalia. So a parish considering hiring a priest would have to investigate who ordained him, and who consecrated that bishop. following the chain backwards as far as necessary: sort of like doing a real estate title search.

        Putting this together, the reason for the recent schism has far more to do with Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori than it does with Bishop Eugene Robinson. This tends to get confused in the popular press, because people understand The Gay issue, while the Episcopal Genitalia requires explanation. Most people that were unwilling to tolerate things split off, with the help of a new round of semi-bootleg consecrations, this time with the help of some African bishops.

        The word “Anglican” naturally offers itself to anyone splitting off from the Episcopal Church. Nowadays it is, in the US context, almost (but not quite always) a code word ensuring people that there will be no lady priests, and if any of the male priests are gay this will be decently closeted.

        The Catholics did make a bid to pick these people up, but it has seen very limited success. That link you gave is an exception. There also is a faction known as “Anglo Catholic” (aka the “Oxford Movement”) but this is something else. They generally don’t have anything to do with the current schism. (Hint: Their liturgical theater is absolutely fabulous. Search them out, if you enjoy that sort of thing. You won’t see it done better anywhere. These are not, however, people who want to subject themselves to any potential anti-gay witch hunt.)

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          • It is still sometimes used that way. There is a parish in New Jersey, St. Bartholemew’s in Cherry Hill, that is a member of the Episcopal Church, but has a sign out on the highway proclaiming it to be “Christ-Centered Bible-Based Anglican.” I take this as being an assurance that there will be no priestly lady bits found there, even though they haven’t made the leap to Nigeria. (Only a cynic would suspect that the real property explains this reticence.)

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    • I suspect that just like with the issue of women in the priesthood, the Anglican Communion will steer around to ignoring American dissent and then most 1st world churches will start joining it.

      Ejecting the ECUSA is a non-starter. We provide too big a chunk of the finances for the worldwide AC. I was surprised they went this far, since the risk of having us ‘take our ball and go home’ is something they can’t afford. I suppose they figure there are still enough congregations in the US who still oppose ‘The Gay’, as you put it.

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  6. Cu3: I wonder where books by Jewish authors come in on the white or not debate. Are you supposed to hate Michael Chabon and Philip Roth because they are of European? Or are they cool because they write about the Jewish experience? How about gay, Jewish, of European origin Tony Kushner?

    I think one of the big perplexing issues in social justice is how to treat Jews. On the one hand there are only 14 million Jews in the world and what not.* On the other hand, many Jewish-Americans are of European origin and high on the socio-economic scale. Abnormally high considering their numbers.

    *This number always surprises people. People always think there are many more Jews in my experience

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    • The modern Social Justice movement basically seems to consider Jews or at least Jewish-Americans privileged white people with privilege for all intents and purposes but also potentially a good source of auxiliary staff for the cause or funding. Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex noted that a lot of the “Nice Guy” mocking imagery in Social Justice mirrors some rather classical anti-Semitic imagery. The exception is when they are going against White Jew haters like Neo-Nazis or are trying to present Evangelical Christians as false allies of the Jews than Jews become a non-privileged minority. Basically, Jews are white privileged people unless it is convenient for Jews not to be so in a given moment in social justice.

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          • A fair point. There is definitely an is/ought issue.

            And I was sloppy with my language. I think “privilege” is best discussed as a noun rather than an adjective. People can have or be denied privilege; they are not inherently privileged or not.

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        • This is important. When we liberals use the word privilege it is a form of dogwhistle where it references things that we understand but are invisible to conservatives.
          The white working class Trump voters see themselves as scrappy bootstrappers and proudly go on about how self made they are.

          Being told by educated people how privileged they are sends them into a confused rage.

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            • Understood. My point is that, by getting sucked into the debate about which authors are too privileged for their works to be worth reading, we’ve gotten sidetracked from a more fundamental question. (Actually a few more fundamental questions.)

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              • Oh, I agree. I wasn’t trying to say who should or should not be included but was responding to the broader question about how we define “privilege”.

                I’m curious, , what are some of those questions you have in mind?

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          • The problem is, you don’t know the value of a work until after you read it, and you’ll never read even a small fraction of everything, so each thing you read implies thousands (or more) that you did not read in its place. Furthermore, the value a work has to you will vary depending on who you are, so just because a bunch of middle-aged white guys get brain boners over Phillip Roth, this does not mean I’ll find the same value there. I might. I might not. To find out I have to read.

            Or not read, cuz maybe I can kind of predict what Roth will bring to me, based on all the other “mid-century misogynists” I have read (or read about, as the case may be).

            So we all search through an opaque space, with imperfect clues. For many of us (me!), the term “straight white dude” implies a certain middling viewpoint that we’ve seen before. And indeed, enough with the endless parade of dudely authors who thinks they’re edgy, but for whom I just see sexual inadequacy and preoccupation. Blah. The point is, reading books by different sorts of people can be an excellent search strategy.

            It’s not like I don’t read plenty of stuff by str8 white dudes.

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    • Are you supposed to hate Michael Chabon and Philip Roth because they are of European?

      You’re not supposed to hate them. You’re just supposed to strongly imply that their ideas should be devalued a little bit.

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  7. Gaelen:
    Even a passing familiarity with how the refugee process works, or just a quick check of Wikipedia, would have told you that your comment totally misunderstands the situation.

    Are you new here?

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  8. S6: Poe’s Law is what it is but will satire really be as funny if it has to be labelled as such.

    Co1/Co4/Co5/Co6 are related. There is a lot of content out there that people want to see but can’t because the content providers probably came to the right conclusion that they couldn’t make that much money off streaming. A lot of production companies also seem to want to make sure that the home audience as better access than foreign audience. I’m a big fan of the Murdoch Mysteries, a Canadian detective show set in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is on Season 9 in Canada but you can only stream Seasons 1-7 in the United States on Netflix. Likewise, the BBC baking show the Great British Bake Off, has been a surprise hit outside of the United Kingdom and in it but you only have two seasons, and not even the first ones, available in the United States legally via streaming. The BBC seems to allow some pirating on YouTube of their documentaries but will delight specific episodes.

    Basically content providers and copyright holders are sitting on a lot of movies and television shows that people want to see but they can’t release because they can’t profit enough of them because the audience is too small. Current copyright law means the sane option is to sit on the material and not let anybody watch it or only release it in a small area like the home country where chances for a profit are higher. Just releasing everything streaming is going to be a giant lost for many countries.

    L4: Race relations in Brazil make race relations in the United States look positively straight forward. Slavery lasted a generation longer in Brazil than it did in the United States but because it was country wide rather than tied to a particular geographic area, Brazil managed to end it peacefully. The Brazilian government encouraged European immigration to “whiten” the country but never felt compelled to formally or informally declare Afro-Brazilians and other Brazilians of color second-class citizens like Americans did. Likewise, inter-racial sex and romance never caused nearly the same level as moral panic in Brazil as it did in the United States. In many ways race relations in Brazil were much better than in the United States despite slavery lasting a generation longer. However, there was enough surface equality that made it possible for White Brazilians to ignore the actual racial disparities for a lot longer than was possible in the United States.

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    • I’m not really sure how to compare the US and Brazil, but my Brazilian friend tells me that, yes, many Brazilians are racist as all hell. Which definitely seems weird to an American; FWIW, my Cuban friend tells me the same of Cubans, and I have actually seen that with my own two eyes: straight-up old-school literal “we don’t want to serve blacks at this restaurant counter” – style racism (this would have been in the mid-to-late 90s). I was gobsmacked that such a thing still existed, but she wasn’t surprised at all.

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      • Cuba is another example that makes American race relations look straight forward. On the surface, Cuba is a lot less racist as a society than United States like Brazil. Even before Castro, the Afro-Cuban contribution to Cuban culture was always acknowledged and there were no official segregation laws, it was in fact illegal. Interracial sex and romance did not cause as much moral panic as it did in the United States. Yet, there is a lot of bellow the surface hatred against Afro-Cubans even after the Revolution that could manifest itself.

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        • The Dominican Republic is very similar. No real legal discrimination, but a very pervasive attitude that promotes whiteness and denigrates dark skin. Add in the prejudice against Haitians and it becomes even more complicated and toxic

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      • My guess is that the driving difference between the United States, Cuba, and Brazil has to do with both religion and how the Americas were settled by the English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Cuba and Brazil are heavily Catholic countries and the Catholic Church emphasized the need to convert African slaves and the Native Americans to save their souls more than the Protestant churches did. It wasn’t perfect but the Roman Catholic Church did teach that they might be slaves but they are also humans with souls and need to be treated as such to an extent. Protestant England and the Netherlands and latter the United States were much more comfortable with treating Africans as things than Catholic Church as a matter of theology. This latter reflected how Africans were treated in the latter societies that came from the colonial era.

        Fewer Spanish and Portuguese women migrated to the New World compared to English women. This meant that interracial sex and relationships was going to be more open and less of an open secret than it was in the British colonies simply because of demographics.

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        • Protestant England and the Netherlands and latter the United States were much more comfortable with treating Africans as things than Catholic Church as a matter of theology. This latter reflected how Africans were treated in the latter societies that came from the colonial era.

          Not real sure about your historo-theological work, there, Lou. I’ve mentioned that my grandmother’s generation/family (deep South) was deeply, deeply racist and blatantly held blacks to be inferior; but were still compelled by their (Protestant/Baptist) religion to treat black people charitably, as one would anyone who had been chosen by God to be “unlucky” – (say, a mentally-handicapped person, as a rough analogue in their worldview).

          Blacks weren’t “things with no souls”; they were Christian brothers and sisters, albeit ones with diminished mental capacity and impulse control; like a sibling that had substance abuse problems and scrapes with the law, they might want to see (in their minds) “tough love” type-controls implemented on black people, and deeply feared mixing the white and black races; but they were also, weirdly, compelled by their religion to, at times, treat black people better than they perhaps otherwise would’ve (a low bar, but still). For example, my grandmother and her sister had their poor black neighbors to eat at their own tables, and brought them food from their own gardens, when times were tough, and attending funerals and such. They treated them like family at times, in part because their brand of Christianity said they must.

          I’m not saying that their condescending and suspicious attitude towards black people wasn’t bad, and it allowed a whole host of behaviors that were wrong to go on; but it was considerably more-nuanced than I think you are making it out here, and I have to snort at any suggestion that Catholicism somehow comes out ahead in the historical “how to treat other races in the New World” contest.

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            • Well, sure. But the point Lee is trying to make is about how black people continued to be treated in the Jim Crow era and beyond and why, and his thesis just doesn’t track with my experiences, nor what I understand the historical record and mainstream theology of either Catholicism or Protestantism in the New World to be.

              I am also of the uninformed, tentative opinion (arrived at just now as I type!) that the differences between, say, Brazil and the US may not be that one is more or less racist than the other; or that one has more or less racial problems and tensions than the other; but that the US may be simply expressing its racial problems and tensions more transparently.

              In part because we have a two-party system, in which racial issues and resentments can be used easily and clearly and profitably as a wedge by both sides; and in part because, since we fought a war over slavery and people died, we clearly said that racism is something worth fighting over. We drew a bright line, and forever marked ‘racism’ as a life or death issue here.

              This was the right thing to do; but it may have the unintended effect of making racial problems a “battle” that we feel we must still be fighting, and that needs to be fought.

              Again, I believe this is the right thing to do; but that mindset, may contrast us with those countries that never fought and drew such a bright line, that simply continue to more or less muddle along, and kick their racial problems down the road to a degree that make the US look positively-diligent and proactive in its attentions to its own (Brazil is one place where the cops shoot even more people than here).

              If Brazil looks like it’s got fewer racial problems – maybe it’s because they just don’t talk about them as much as we do.

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              • There is a very large element of treating race problems as the elephant in the room in Brazil and Cuba but there are substantial ways where they have done better than the United States on a non-superficial level. This includes getting much less worked up about interracial sex and marriage even if most White Cubans and Brazilians weren’t exactly thrilled about it. Paying lip service to the idea of racial equality even if not entirely sincere isn’t a bad thing.

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          • It wasn’t so much ‘catholicism’ as it was ‘Iberians that just had the inquisition and hadn’t yet had the counter reformation and had first mover advantages and smallpox’

            Catholicism in the western hemisphere has long been a different thing than Catholicism in Europe and a different thing than Protestantism in the western hemisphere. Catholicism in North America only started with its modern ‘conservative’ manifestation since the end of WW2.

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    • Depending whom you asked, you got different answers as to the ethnic heritage of the family we stayed with in Brazil.

      The father said his ancestors were German and Portuguese.
      The mother said her ancestors were Portuguese.
      The daughters said their ancestors were German, Portuguese, and Indigenous.

      Though neither parent would cop to having indigenous ancestors, we guessed by their appearances that the indigenous ancestry the daughters claimed (and appeared to have) was on their mother’s side.

      There were some old portraits of the father’s ancestors in their home, and one picture there – one of those black and white photos colourized by hand painting it – was really odd looking, until we realized that the man in it was black, but the photo was painted as though he were white. Looking at the father afterward, it seemed reasonable to guess he might indeed have had a few ancestors who were black.

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      • All of what I know about Brazil is from my voracious reading and talking to a few Brazilians in the United States but that seems about right. Race in Brazil is a real interesting topic. They avoided enough of the deeper and more obvious problems of race that existed in the United States to make their claims about being a “racial democracy”, their words, plausible. Yet, there is a racial hierarchy and whites are on top. During the 19th and first part of the 20th century, the Brazilian government explicitly encouraged immigration to make the population more white (so did Argentina and Uruguay), etc.

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    • There’s also the strange case of “QI”, which the producers rightly realized would be a niche show at best in the USA (which is why we have so far had a grand total of three episodes, each aired once, on BBC America). So they only paid for use of copyrighted/trademarked material in the UK. As a result, not only are they not streaming it, they are forced to actively hunt down and eliminate bootlegged YouTube streams and have the offenders pulled.

      And of course “Only Connect”, which you’d think would have the same issue but doesn’t pull unofficial streams. The lack of official streams is probably because of the potential US audience for a quiz show that has a difficulty level akin to classic Jeopardy, only roided out like late-career Barry Bonds – and contains British cultural references obscure enough to stump native pub-quizzers. It basically consists of me and 500 other masochists.

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  9. Co2: My first e-reader was a nook, so I stuck with B&N for books. For every DRM’ed ebook I bought from them, I made an unencrypted archival copy. In hindsight, that was a good choice. First they discontinued the nook reader application for the Mac. Now they’ve managed to break “read on the web” to the point that I can’t read books I’ve purchased in a browser on the Mac. Mostly I bought non-fiction, and I want it on my Mac, on the screen where I’m writing. That’s apparently impossible now, at least with the legal copy. Fish ’em; I’ll buy my ebooks elsewhere.

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  10. [S2] Science is from Earth, science journalism is from Uranus…

    [H4] I’m really glad we were able to get midwifery care when our daughter was born, and that in Alberta midwifery is a properly regulated medical profession. I get the impression that it varies from US state to state, from “midwifery is punishable by five to ten years imprisonment” through”if you can spell ‘midwife’ you can be one” to “medical profession with almost as much required training as a surgeon.”

    Apparently there are some obstetricians in our city with such high c-section rates that on the rare occasions they oversee a vaginal birth, nursing staff refer to it as a “failed cesarean.”

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  11. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/district-leaders-furious-walmart-wont-build-stores-in-poor-neighborhoods/2016/01/15/3425f5fa-bbb3-11e5-99f3-184bc379b12d_story.html

    So the idiots that run DC didn’t think there would be any consequences for raising the minimum wage and making the city a difficult place to do business?

    “Evans said that, behind closed doors, Walmart officials were more frank about the reasons the company was downsizing. He said the company cited the District’s rising minimum wage, now at $11.50 an hour and possibly going to $15 an hour if a proposed ballot measure is successful in November. He also said a proposal for legislation requiring D.C. employers to pay into a fund for family and medical leave for employees, and another effort to require a minimum amount of hours for hourly workers were compounding costs and concerns for the retailer.

    “They were saying, ‘How are we going to run the three stores we have, let alone build two more?’?” Evans said.”

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  12. L3: Hopefully the Peruvians will find these bozos and lock them up for a decade. Jeebus. Just like those idiots out west that walk on the crypobiotic sold even after the ranger tells them not to.

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