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Linky Friday #150: Burning Fuel

Sports:

[S1] A new study on NFL coaching diversity suggests that the problem starts way before head coaches, as white coaches are more than twice as likely to be promoted to coordinator, regardless of experience.

[S2] The University of Idaho remains on an island in FBS football with little opportunity to find its way into a regionally appropriate football conference. As such, they run the risk of being the first football program to drop to FCS. New Mexico State may not be far behind.

[S3] What’s the opposite of an uplifting sports story? This is the opposite of that.

[S4] This is sort of an uplifting story, I guess, but it seems odd to make a movie out of a kid whose claim to fame is 1.5 games.

[S5] Right on! Some professional athletes are planning ahead and living within their longer-term means.

Food:

cooking flame photo

Image by liber Linky Friday #150: Burning Fuel

[F1] Support from an unexpected source: Campbell’s comes out in favor of mandatory GMO label.

[F2] Pork rectums, it turns out, need to be (for some consumers) deboned and inverted before they can be sold.

[F3] Behold, the accomplishment of the ramen noodle.

[F4] Texas loves breakfast tacos. How much? More than 400x as much as the rest of the country.

[F5] Everything you ever wanted to know about Tabasco Sauce. Well, fifteen things. Also, everything you ever wanted to know about Nutella. Well, 25 things anyway.

Resources:

[R1] Welp, climate change saved the planet! But, erm, we may be overdoing it.

[R2] FuturePundit thinks that we may be looking at a population explosion.

[R3] Conspiracy theories are losing their stigma, and they have enormous traction when it comes to global warming. Which makes sense, as since people don’t want to believe it’s happening are likely to want to latch on to any reason to believe it won’t.

[R4] I think this FEE piece on low-flow toilets has passed its sell-by date. Though they were bad for a while, toilets seem to have turned the corner on flushing effectiveness. Low-flow showerheads, though: still pretty bad.

[R5] Canadian oil fields are looking at self-driving trucks.

[R6] A sort of real life version of Wyatt’s Torch in Pennsylvania, albeit without the ideological symbolism.

Government:

wildfire photo

Image by The U.S. Army Linky Friday #150: Burning Fuel

[G1] Kevin Drum asks if society owes his mother reparations for raising him. Well, that’s not quite what it’s about, which is the politics of means-testing.

[G2] Adam Millsap argues that we’re spending enough on infrastructure, at least at the federal level.

[G3] Filed under “Regulation for the sake of regulation being a thing”, Robert Reich and Matt Rosoff square off on whether or not the tech industry needs more regulation.

[G4] One county in Alabama has abducted as many children as all of the strangers in the country combined. Relatedly, The Nation’s Michelle Goldberg takes a skeptical look at the CPS.

[G5] The politicians and the bureaucracy. Jason Kuznicki said the one that we see is not as important as the one we don’t.

Cities:

urban fire photo

Image by Neil Kremer Linky Friday #150: Burning Fuel

[C1] Adam Ozimek asks if we should really abandon struggling cities? Lyman Stone says yes.

[C2] “All major U. S. cities [Except NYC and state capitals] north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi have decreased in population from their peaks nearly 60 years ago.”

[C3] The Guardian has a couple of articles on the privitization and gating of cities. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry looks at those private cities. The whole concept makes me think of this article on post-democracy.

[C4] Tyler Cowen believes that Canada desperately needs a research and development cluster to be innovative in the knowledge economy… but it may not actually be worth the cost of trying to develop one.

[C5] Patrick Clark argues that when figuring out where to live, we should look at where people are already moving instead of hypothetically nice places that for some reason people don’t seem to actually want (in as large numbers, anyway).

Transportation:

plane fire photo

Image by DVIDSHUB Linky Friday #150: Burning Fuel

[T1] Well, in Texas‘ defense, they probably also have the most roadway on which speed traps can be found. Even so, South plus a lot of municipalities plus countless layers of law enforcement make for a bad combination for motorists.

[T2] If we want to help minorities, maybe we should buy them a car.

[T3] Kevin Klinkenberg argues that we need to get people out of their cars. He’s right about the dangers, though the progress we’ve made on automobile safety has really been quite phenomenal. And in any event, the death of Americans’ love affair with cars has been greatly exaggerated.

[T4] I don’t really actually find this proposed airline seat configuration to be all that disturbing. Maybe because I won’t have to sit with strangers, though.


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255 thoughts on “Linky Friday #150: Burning Fuel

  1. S3: As a non-sports fan what really interests me about this story is how the needs of fans often conflict with the needs of owners to run their teams as a business.

    R3: I think this is because it is easier to find fellow believers thanks to the Internet. Before than you always had to reveal yourself and looked unhinged in public to find other conspiracy theory believers.

    C1: I guess we can just leave the cities as modern ruins and let nature take them back.

    C3: One think that globalization and free trade is doing is creating a new international elite that have more in common with each other than with their fellow country people of lower-economic status. They go to school with each other, date, sleep with, and marry each other, work with each other, etc. Its a sort of recreating the aristocracy that existed in Europe before World War I. The monarchies that managed to survive were the ones that nationalized themselves in the face of growing nationalism. It also seems like we are returning to feudalism with corporations replacing lords though.

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    • S3: It seems to me that this mostly shows that the NHL really hasn’t been paying attention. We are far past the point where any sensible organization doesn’t understand the dangers of throwing a decision open to internet voting.

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        • I classify it as the fourth of the big three American team sports. It made a bid some years back to expand the big three to four, but it failed. The result is that it exists in to weird intermediate status: bigger than niche sports like lacrosse, but not really a major sport. Ordinarily I would say that this intermediate status is unsustainable, but hockey benefits from having a heartland (Canada and parts of the upper Midwest) where it is a major sport. So long as this holds up, the status quo can last indefinitely. It also benefits from its direct competition, the NBA, being the smallest of the big three.

          The only sport with a similar status is soccer. MLS clearly is a thing, but only its most avid fanboys claim it is in the big three category. I question whether its middling status is sustainable. Its problem in growing is that it is competing with world football, the Premier League in particular. If you want to see a game live, MLS is your best shot, and its attendance numbers are actually pretty good. But if you want to see a game on TV, you can see a much higher quality product by watching the Premier League. This is a conflict between Americans only caring about American teams and Americans only wanting to watch top-level competition. Somewhat to my surprise, our parochialism seems to be losing out in this. The result is that MLS TV ratings are minuscule.

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          • NHL is a major regional sport but had mostly foolish aspirations of being more. It might have been able to grow but did it in the worst way. As you say in the upper midwest, also the northeast, it is big. But it is mostly a niche sport outside of those areas. A smaller league like the NHL has to be smart, alas they never were. To much expansion into cities with not enough support and getting rid of teams in places where they were beloved like the smaller canadian cities.

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            • And interestingly, the NHL is intent on expanding the league by two more teams within the next coupla years. I think there should be a real worry about dilution of talent, for one thing, but your other point is right on target as well. Lots of hockey fans in nontraditional markets are very fair weather wrt attendance and simply won’t go to games when their team isn’t competitive. (Me for example!) On top of that, I think the NHL needs to do something pretty drastic to bring excitement back to the games. There’s talk about making the net bigger (since goalies now wear really oversized equipment) but I think they should make the sheet about 10% bigger and let those guys skate.

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              • I”ve never thought dilutation of talent is that big of concern myself. I played hockey for years adn even against a few guys you played high minor league. In an NHL game almost nobody will notice or care that a few guys might not be quite as fast or good as some of the others in the middle of game. Heck every team has to have a worst player. If the game is good nobody will care if the worst player isn’t that good. The issue it making the quality of games good; if the play is exciting and open then its a great game to watch and the worst players can’t drag down the game into a holding/grabbing match.

                The NHL needs to only put teams in place where they will have strong support. Well first they need to except lots of places will never have strong support.

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              • And interestingly, the NHL is intent on expanding the league by two more teams within the next coupla years.

                I haven’t followed this in particular, but a good guess as to motivation is that the league will charge substantial buy-in fees to the new franchise owners, which in turn will be divvied up between the existing franchise owners.

                Once one realizes that a sports franchise has value apart from its tangible assets and player contracts, a buy-in fee makes perfect sense. Why should a new franchise be free, when you would have to pay good money for an existing one? But it also provides a perverse incentive to the existing owners to over-expand.

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            • Chivas USA. What a disaster… The futbol franchise equivalent of JUST SHOUTING THE SAME QUESTION at someone who doesn’t speak English. MLS forgot that just because someone is an immigrant, that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to recognize when they’re being patronized.

              Growing atomically – like if team USA manages to pluckily not be slaughtered in Copa America Centenario (leading to full-time expansion of the tournament continent-wide), or maybe co-branding to break Liga MX’s monopoly on Spanish-language networks – is probably worth the effort, though.

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    • [S3] I never quite understood how calling something a “conspiracy theory” was ever seen as some kind of automatic counterargument.

      For one, if someone presents a theory in which a number of entities have conspired with one another to achieve some end, saying that it’s a conspiracy theory isn’t a rebuttal, it’s just a demonstration that you understood the theory presented.

      For two, implicit in the idea that all conspiracy theories are false just by dint of being conspiracy theory, is the theory that nobody ever conspired with anybody else to achieve some criminal end, which, if it were accepted, would be wonderful news to many convicted conspirators.

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      • I think it’s more than many conspiracy theories require actions that, in human history, cannot actually be achieved in secret. Often involving people who are working with motives that are, bluntly, crazy. Or who end up working against their own self-interests.

        And then add a “And everyone who isn’t in on it is also an idiot”. Like chemtrails. If that were true, all it takes is ONE aircraft mechanic, FAA inspector, aerospace engineer, or random worker on the field to snap a few pictures. Like literally that couldn’t be kept secret.

        Or the “Moon Landing Was Fake” — another “couldn’t be kept secret”.

        People might conspire to do LOTS of things. Successfully conspiring to do anything big, and then actually not getting found out in short order? Pretty hard.

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        • We did go to the moon but the *FOOTAGE* was fake. We couldn’t get the signal including video back to Earth so there was alternate footage created to show the people at home “live” while the real footage was being captured on the moon itself where astronauts were told to recreate scenes similar to the ones seen by everybody on television.

          When the astronauts got back, the footage was switched and the new footage was shown every time they showed the astronauts walking or jumping or golfing on the moon.

          Now everybody remembers the real footage instead of the stuff that was originally shown on the tv back in 1969.

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        • I fully agree that the conspiracy theories you cite are lunacy – but they’re lunacy on the terms of standard logic, not because they’re conspiracy theories.

          Incidentally, as I alluded to below, there are plenty of photos that “prove” chemtrails – of course they turn out to be photos of either the water ballast tanks used in safety testing passenger planes, or of real-life chemical dispensing planes – the water bombers used for fighting forest fires.

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    • The story has weird echoes of the Hugo Awards. “A bunch of fans got together and pranked the vote. In order to keep them from winning, we will take an action that severely damages the credibility of our organization. We had to destroy the village in order to save it from Communism.”

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      • I don’t think it’s the same? I’m not well wrapped on how sportsball All Star voting goes, but there’s no primary for the NHL All Star selection, just a few slots where fans can write in the player they like, no? If the Hugos were designed that way and Mr. Beale could have gotten 3000 people to pony up US$50 to vote for the people he chose, it would have been far less offensive (it would have been pretty offensive, because the vast majority of the Puppy slate was painfully thin gruel) than gaming the nominating round to force people to vote for message milfic.

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      • I suppose if you don’t know how the Hugo awards worked, then it would.

        Of course, even a vague familiarity with Hugos would quickly indicate how they weren’t similar at all.

        The problem with the Hugos is that the short-list was done with an election system that could be easily gamed with a small number of voters, as long as those voters chose identical ballots. It’s a known failure system for that style of voting. The end result is as few as 10% of the people bothering with the nomination ballots can take control of entire categories, filling them with only their candidates.

        Of course, doing so egregiously gets you smacked down by the majority when it comes to actual voting, which makes sense. (If you’re a majority already, you don’t need to game the system to ensure the ballots hold only your nominees.) And, IIRC, the voting system being changed to filter out such ‘slate’ voting.

        (In fact, the proposed changes would punish ANY slate voting — whether deliberate or through some weird group think effect, without bias — and would, as a side effect, tend to make works heavily popular with a minority of the nominators far more likely to appear on the ballot. Of course, since this gives the original gamers of the Hugos everything they said they ever wanted, they’re rabidly against it.)

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      • By “severely damages the credibility of our organization”, you mean “severely damages the credibility of our organization among people who already think we don’t write real sci-fi and just write artsy fartsy stuff that don’t sell well and thus don’t matter.”

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      • Erm, what, exactly, do you think the Hugo Award people did that damaged the credibility of anything?

        A small group of people gamed the ballot choices. The Hugo Awards responded by…letting the ballot go forward. At which point the crappy choices on the ballot got beaten.

        That’s sorta the opposite of what happened with the All-Star game. To be analogy of the All-Star game, it would be like the NHL had let Scott be in charge of a team, and that team had been horribly beaten.

        Now, the Hugos changed how the voting worked for the *future* (Which is what the NHL should have done), which hardly is some sort of credibility problem. Especially since the Hugos ended up with such a poor ballot.

        And I don’t mean the ballot was bad subjectively, like I don’t agree with the stuff on there. The Hugos in 2015 ended up with a great many ‘no award’ for the first time in history (There were as many in 2015 as in the entire history of the organization before that point, and the last was 38 years ago!), so clearly something had gone wrong with the nominating process in the *objective* sense.

        The Hugo Awards does not exist to constantly *not* give out Hugo Awards. If the nominating process starts *producing* ‘No Awards’, the nominating process needs changing.

        And, meanwhile, in other categories where a non-Puppy slipped in, that won in a *blowout*, which is also a problem. I mean, yes, sometimes there are blowouts, but there were a lot of them, indicating those areas of sci-fi either had one strong entity in the entire year, or that any good competitors to that entity did not make the ballot, somehow. Which is also an indication that the nominating process was broken.

        Again, I am not talking subjective. I am not making the claim that what was on the ballot was ‘worse’. That is a subjective claim. I am saying that the *voting results* indicate that was not a very good ballot, because ‘No award’ should not win that much, and there should not be that many blowouts. Voters voted in such a way to indicate they *really didn’t like* 90% of the frickin ballot, which means, *objectively*, it was not a good ballot.

        Granted, they had changed the nominating process for the future *before* that ballot produced such bad results, but that just indicates they were paying attention. The results just proved the point.

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          • That series sorta had one useful idea in the entire thing, namely, how recording your entire life sorta stops crime dead. Period, end of story.

            And even they did that wrong, IIRC. I don’t actually remember that dumbass book, but I think they’d open it up on ‘court order’, but even that is wrong. You don’t need that, and it would be a rather large disincentive to the system.

            And the Neanderthals were so damn *smug* about everything. But, then again, non-humans being smug about things that humans are Obviously Doing Wrong is sorta a Robert A. Sawyer trope.

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            • But I will admit I like the WWW series, mostly because the non-human intelligence in *that* was too new to be smugly morally superior to humans. Plus it was a pretty fricking clever premise to start with….a ‘computer intelligence’ that is not an ‘artificial intelligence’ or a ‘rogue program’.

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                • The WWW series is about the internet becoming sentient.

                  Not, like I said, some AI, or rogue code. It’s not a computer program.

                  It’s literally malformed packets bouncing around on the internet, using routers and connections as neurons. It becomes self-aware when the Chinese temporary cut themselves off from the internet for a week or so, and it realizes it ‘lost’ something, and then that comes back, and it realizes it, uh, actually exists.

                  At first, it has no idea of the outside world. It figures out how to see data on the internet, but has no idea what any of it actually means. It can’t even understand text, much less decode data streams. (No matter how smart you are, figuring out what stuff means when you literally have no concepts of *anything* is not very workable.)

                  But then our other protagonist shows up, a blind girl who has an experimental implant that can receive neural encoded video images, and a camera/computer that encodes things for that. Basically, doctors are trying to decode how her brain *should* receive vision, and are trying to put those signals directly into her brain. As part of debugging, this also gets sent over the internet, and that data has enough information for it to decode, somehow. (Not sure exactly how that works. Seemed plausible in the book, does not seem plausible now. Perhaps I have missed a step.)

                  It eventually figures out the physical universe exists, and starts trying to communicate with her, and eventually succeeds, and it, along with her, learn how to actually see and read and whatnot.

                  …and, that’s the first half of the first book, and the rest of the series is pointless ambling. Seriously. The story really goes nowhere. Eventually, the government figures out something is going on, and tries to kill it, so it reveals itself to the public.

                  Blah blah super boring outside of the original premise, which was, I will grant, clever. And *without* Sawyer’s normal moralizing.

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              • No, Private Eye has the somewhat related idea of a device that can seen anywhere in the past, which is so common a trope it’s actually been completely deconstructed several times. And in Private Eye it’s just used as a plot device, instead of actually addressing what such a thing would do to society.

                What is happening in Hominids is, basically, total life blogging, on ‘government’ servers. (Things in quotes because this is all in a parallel universe where the dominate species is Neanderthals, who are so much more awesome than us, so probably don’t a government as much as awesomesupergovernment.)

                Actually, everyone over there has a *computer* in their head, sort of, one that, as far as I can tell, is not fully under their control and will happily hand the government evidence on crimes they commit.

                Granted, it’s not specifically monitoring *for* crimes and reporting on purpose, but because the writer is terrible at science fiction, the negative aspects of ‘The government has access to everything you’ve ever seen and done’ are not touched on. A total lack of imagination also mean no data mining of any sort, despite computers in that universe being essentially AIs. (They are smart enough to translate back and forth in real time.)

                Instead, this is presented smugly as ‘We have stopped all crimes from happening’.

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                  • Heh, I don’t know about ‘fan’. I didn’t actually recognize the name, and had to Google it.

                    But after I read the summary, I realized I have read the story, I think, or one with an identical premise. Which is, I think: Premediated murder is illegal, but, in some sort of weird compromise, fits of rage murder isn’t, right? Or has much less penalties? So a guy spends years rigging something up where he will get attacked, unknowingly, by the guy he wants to kill, and responds by ‘accidentally’ stabbing him with a letter opener he’s always playing with?

                    But I’m not so much a ‘fan of Golden Age sci-fi’ as ‘When I was growing up, I read every sci-fi book I could find…and the libraries around here do not have a budget and a lot of *really* old stuff is on the shelves..’

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        • Pedantically, they’re stuck with the same nomination system this year. Which the same group has already decided to game again. (Last I checked, several months ago, they were proposing not to call slates slates, instead they’d just take a list of nominations for each category and reveal their “top 5 choices” or some other hilarious method).

          The Hugo charter/constitution/whatever they call it — requires any change to be ratified at two separate Worldcons. There was something like 12 freakin’ hours of debate on multiple proposed nomination changes (including “leaving it alone”), and the E Pluribus Hugo* system was ultimately voted for. It has to be voted for again this year, and then would take effect in 2017. It’s nice in that it’s transparent to nominators. It’s a pain to hand count, but doable.

          Any election system can be gamed, of course. The problem with the Hugo’s current methodology is you can game it without needing things like “polling data”. EPH could be gamed, of course, but only if you had solid polls — and even then, you’d be gaming at the edges. (You might finesse a work on or off, for instance). It’s not trivially gameable, which was the 2015 problem.

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          • Yeah, I knew that, I was just trying to simplify.

            Here’s a question, though: Did they debate the change before or after the results were announced?

            Because, like I said, there are completely objective reasons the nomination process should be changed, based on the voting outcome.

            The Hugo Awards cannot keep *not* giving out Hugo Awards and maintain any relevance.

            Nor will anyone take the results seriously if the ballots keep having categories with four choices that no one likes, in essence having an unopposed election of the other thing.

            And if *both* of those things start happening at once…

            So, without any reference to anyone ‘gaming the system’ at all, the nomination process needed to be changed just based on the results of the vote! It would need to be changed if these results had just started happening *without any cause*.

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            • There was a lot of debate prior to Worldcon — unofficial, blogs and such — about what to do about the fact that the gentlemen’s agreement to NOT exploit the nomination vulnerabilities had been shredded.

              It doesn’t take much sway to offer a proposed amendment to the Worldcon rules — there’s a business meeting devoted to it, and I believe that meeting was the day after the award ceremony. Normally the meeting runs an hour or two. In fact, I think anyone with a Worldcon membership can offer an amendment.

              Prior to the business meeting, a lot of the big names (the folks who people listen to) had coalesced around two proposals (4/6 and EPH. I personally favored a different form of weighted voting, but while algorithmically simpler and more elegant, was a lot more difficult to hand count and a lot more difficult for voters to grok. It was even more transparent to the people voting though), both of which the business committee approved. Both only apply to the nomination stage.

              And both were debated for a very, very long time. Nobody was really happy at tinkering with the nomination rules. A lot of people were of the opinion the Unhappy Canines would get bored and go away (George RR Martin was not in favor of rule changes, for instance).

              I suspect it’ll be debated for a lot longer this year, although another slate might move some of the people off the fence on changing the rules — especially of No Award has a good night, because you’re quite right — Worldcon would, by and large, prefer to be able to give out Hugos rather than embarrass idiots.

              Weirdly, some people seem to think if No Award hits a category twice in a row, it’ll get dumped. No idea where that comes from.

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        • “At which point the crappy choices on the ballot got beaten.”

          “No Award Winner” is…not the same thing as “beaten”. Keep in mind what actually went down at WorldCon.

          *********

          The point is that the thing had a lot of cred by saying it was the fans’ choices, the fans who determined what got it, that it was the fans who were important. And then, suddenly, it turns out that the fans’ choice is, um, not allowed to win because reasons.

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            • What you said. It wasn’t even close. The fans massively rejected the slates. Massively.

              I don’t think DD thought this through, but just in case — I hope he clarifies who he thought was overriding the fans here.

              It’s like claiming “President so-and-so” claims to be “pro-Democracy” yet was elected over the will of the American people. When So-and-so won with 65% of the vote, in a record turn-out year.

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              • This. It’s possible – not true (as copiously documented), but possible – that there was a plurality that obeyed “The Man” to put the curs down in a purely political piece of totalitarian theater. The problem is that you can’t tell who was and who wasn’t part of the cabal because the vote was so freaking uniform.

                The only way “anti-canid conspiracy” flies is if you assume that SF fans (who are one of the most fractious groups around) spoke with a single mind at the command of their superiors (they’re also one of the groups least submissive to authority). That a group that can’t even agree on how to classify some of the most beloved and seminal works in the field somehow managed to maintain strict voting discipline at the time, and even stricter message discipline thereafter.

                It’s easier to believe that Jackie shot JFK.

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          • “No Award Winner” is…not the same thing as “beaten”. Keep in mind what actually went down at WorldCon.

            Guys, I’m suspecting that doesn’t understand what ‘No Award’ is. So let’s start this over:

            No Award is not the group running the Hugos deciding to not give out an award.

            No Award is a *ballot option*. It’s basically ‘None of the above’. People can *vote* for it.

            And they did, this time.

            No Award *won*. In five different categories.

            Because ‘No Award’ won in those categories, the Hugos…didn’t give out a Hugo Award in those categories.

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            • I think the last really spectacular No Award was when the Scientologists tried to stuff the nomination stage.

              And to point out — you have to list “No Award”. It’s not the “I left it blank’. If it’s works A-E, and you vote “A,E” it’s not read as “A,E, No Award”. It’s just “A,E”. If you leave the category blank, it’s not a vote for “No Award”.

              You have to physically select “No Award”.

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          • Um, yes it is. “No Award” means that the majority of voters, when faced with the ballot options, said “None of these deserve it”.

            It’s MORE than being beaten. Being beaten means “More people liked another person’s book more than yours” which is a pain I’d love to share (I mean being a Hugo winner is tops, but I’d be thrilled to just be on the ballot).

            “No Award” is worse. It meant that a majority of the voters, in a ranked preferential system (which is nicely accurate at judging relative merits and rankings), said “Your work shouldn’t even be here”.

            Losing just means someone was better. Being told “You weren’t even good enough to play” is just something else entirely.

            What do you think actually happened at Worldcon, besides the — really high numbers, in fact — of fans rejecting those works? Who do you think voted for them, if not fans?

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            • They’d Rather Be Right won a Hugo.
              Hominids won a Hugo.
              Forever Peace – Haldeman’s “Emanuelle in Bangkok” – won a Hugo.

              Last year’s Hugo voters felt that, compared to these, giving puppy nominees a Hugo would be embarrassing.

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              • Yep. Although that brings up the “Is it as good as Dune” argument which is pretty stupid. It’s not up against Dune. So really even books I rather dislike from the Hugo’s past list, you have to judge against their competitors and time and place.

                We still hold horse races despite the fact that it’s really unlikely any horse will ever be better than Secretariat. They still get awards though! Even some of the same awards Secretariat did.

                I’ve read two of the three you listed — and I can’t remember them well enough to say “Eh, it was a crappy year but they weren’t that bad” or whether I’d say “Obviously, No Award needs to be used more”.

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                • S’true – “worst-ever Hugo winner” is faint praise only relative to other Hugo winners. On an absolute scale, it’s a massive compliment. Every winner has been at least competently written and at least had enough in the way of ideas to make it stand out.

                  To use a different analogy, everyone in the Baseball Hall of Fame – with one or two exceptions from the very beginning when historical knowledge wasn’t very good, and some sincere mistakes were made – was a very good player. On a given day, they were usually the best on the field. Most years, they were the best on their team unless that team was historically good.

                  If we gamed the BBWAA nominating process (as opposed to the pre-2017 Hugo process, it’s not actually that bad) so that the ballot consisted of the infield for the 1979 Seattle Mariners (Bruce Bochte, Julio Cruz, Mario Mendoza, and Dan Meyer), most likely none of them would get a single vote. As is only right – Bochte was a solid player but basically just another guy, and the other three were (in Mendoza’s case, historically) bad, in an absolute sense much less as a HOF comp.

                  This is, as I see it, exactly the Hugo situation last year. Not only were none of the puppy works worthy of the award, they weren’t even comparable to the worst that had ever received the award. Not even in the conversation. They weren’t even good.

                  I don’t write for publication. I get a lot of ideas, and occasionally even am driven to create a draft. But I never go back to revise to the point I can show it to someone. Why? Because (as you might guess from my posting style) I’m crap at writing readable prose.

                  And the puppy works I read reminded me too much of me.

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            • I dunno these days. JCW is, of course, in furious form because he’s of the opinion that the vile NA crowd is both illegitimate and cheated him out of the “Hugo that was his due” (hilarious, because if you took NA off the ballot the highest he placed was 2nd. He placed last quite a few times. He only places 1st, once, if you void ALL ballots that had NA on them, IIRC).

              He also thinks he was due up to 5 Hugos, because apparently he thought he could win more than once per category.

              Mostly I think they just feel NA is somehow illegitimate as a vote. Because they didn’t exploit their way onto the ballot to lose. (of course, both Vile Day and JCW have stated that the Hugo’s are worthless and no one pays attention to them, while also throwing a hissy fit to get one so….not exactly paragons of logical thinking. Torgeson and Carreria aren’t any better).

              We’re talking a mess where one of the SP supporting authors literally SWATed another author, and where SP’s are still pissed at GRRM for the audacity of inventing his own awards to give out. (Probably because they didn’t get any).

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  2. F4: [Puts down breakfast taco.] That’s weird, I don’t really know anyone who eats breakfast tacos that often, though I did find this tweet from some random person, presumably in Texas:

    Eating migas tacos for lunch and wondering why I eat anything else, ever.— Chris (@MixingChris) January 11, 2016

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      • Good point. I think the question of whether it raises or lowers it depends entirely on whether you’re anonymous or not. If you’re using your own identity, one wrong tweet can destroy you. If you’re anonymous, you can dump turds into the collective punchbowl all day long and never deal with any backlash.

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        • Anonymous deals with backlash but mostly from the US gov’t.
          People who decide to be dickish towards Anonymous really ought to know better.

          On the bright side, Netflix hasn’t canceled my (currently free) account. We’ll see whether I get to actually pay them money or not next month.

          Piss off Amazon, and not only will you pay, the people who buy your house will ALSO pay (the address has been banned, not just you). (net cost to piss off amazon: $8.50, to do hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of financial damage).

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    • It’s simple economics: while demand for assholes has not seen a significant increase over the last few years, methods of asshole delivery such as Twitter have produced vast increases in supply, resulting in a great deal of downward pressure on the cost of assholeness. Eventually the market will self-correct, but until then we’re going to have to live with an overabundance of cheap assholes.

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      • What I am more curious about is whether these guys are assholes in their real lives and if not what stresses and such cause them to be assholes on-line. Or does the Internet just expose the fact that a lot of people are bullying assholes

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        • I’m being silly with the economics stuff, of course, but the truth is that the internet has produced an excess of assholeness since the days of BBSes and Usenet. The distance, anonymity, etc., make it really easy to both see the people to whom we’re being assholes as less than human (or not human at all), and to treat the internet as an outlet for all the frustration and bitterness we’ve built up in the offline world.

          Since the mid-90s at the latest, people have perpetually rediscovered internet assholery. Freddie is basically building his reputation on the claim that the internet has suddenly become mean, for example.

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  3. S3: People suck

    F2: The Chinese are the true geniuses of head to tail eating.

    C1: You can’t really talk about abandoning cities unless you are talking about race and racism in the United States. Cities went into their initial decline because white flight. Cities are coming back now but the plan to abandon cities does damage to a lot of people who can’t move. How about rural areas? Can we abandon them (I guess in some ways we have). One of the things that strikes me about various rancher protests is that they are mad as hell about their way of life dying and being no longer profitable. I don’t see why the ranchers and rural dwellers deserve more sympathy about dying locations than city dwellers.

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    • C1: I think you guys kind of have it backwards. People talk about Detroit instead of Liberty County because the downward spiral of the latter is accepted, while there is more desire to save the former[1]. There has been talk about how to save family farms and certain industries, and perhaps sort of ways of life[2], but the sticks have been stagnant and hollowing out largely to the sound of a rapturous shrug.

      [1] Which I think is logical, to an extent. I am far more concerned about Detroit than Liberty County.

      [2] Which is not as comparable as you might think. In the case of Detroit and Cleveland, no one is saying anything about urban living as such, just urban living in that particular place. When it comes to the hollowing out of ruralia, though, we’re talking about something more universal. One is mostly about moving people from a place to a similar place, the other about moving people from a place to a very different place. The latter is not unjustifiable, of course, but it’s a different sort of thing.

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        • The sticks have been dying for ages and noone gives a fish unless said sticks are located in Iowa and New Hampshire.

          Well, “noone gives a fish” might be overkill. There’s an array of programs at the federal level, many left over from the 1930s. There’s another array of programs at the state level. For example, most states have some sort of program to try to get medical care providers to stay in or move to the sticks, usually by subsidies. Parts of the State Department care very much that the huge overproduction (relative to US internal needs) of grain crops continues, since those exports are a big deal in places like NAME. Think Egypt has had problems in recent years? Ain’t nothing compared to what happens if US grain exports disappear from the world market. Egypt imports almost 400 pounds of grain per capita each year, and subsidizes the domestic price enormously.

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    • Let’s of things worthy of discussion here, but I’ll pick out this one: “Can we abandon them [rural areas] (I guess in some ways we have).”

      You can’t really say we’ve abandoned them, given the number of programs that pump cash into rural areas (starting in some cases back in the 1930s): crop supports of various sorts, RUS (originally REA) money for utilities, subsidies for communications (first phone and now high-speed data), state K-12 education equalization funds, and state programs to try to keep the rural health care system functioning to name some. Instead, I would say that we’ve determined that’s not enough money to keep the population of rural areas from shrinking (in relative terms almost everywhere, in absolute terms in some places).

      There are lots of possible reasons for why failing cities don’t get the same kind of help. Race is no doubt one of them. That there are cities that are thriving is another. The perception of mismanagement is another (eg, 20% of Flint’s city budget, and 35% of their general fund budget, goes to pension and health care for ~1900 retirees). That industrial grain farming is important on several levels is another (ask the State Department what happens to the MENA countries if the US stops exporting grain and soybeans). Another that I claim matters is regionalism — failing small cities are heavily concentrated in the northeast quadrant of the country.

      And some part of it is just selfishness — the suburbs increasingly feel like they’re “taxed out” and want to keep their money for themselves.

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      • I remember reading an article (maybe NYT?) that talked about the hiring of Rex Ryan and Mike Tomlin. The article talked about how the NFL had prospective head coaches record videos of themselves that were catalogued and which teams could look through to get an initial look at a candidate. It described Tomlin’s interview: he was poised, polished, I believe it spoke of him in a suit and tie, etc. Then it described Ryan’s: off the cuff, relaxed, cuss words. Basically, each guy showed his true self. Which is a good thing.

        But I remember thinking, “Tomlin could never get away with a video in which he presented himself like Ryan.”

        As long as we have members of the old boys’ club making decisions, we’re going to see them skew towards guys who “seem” like the right kind of guy.

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        • But I remember thinking, “Tomlin could never get away with a video in which he presented himself like Ryan.”

          I just read a great ESPN article [1] that makes a similar point about Cam Newton. The Bills called, asking him to dinner, and Newton’s brans trust (which included his father and Warren Moon) insisted he wear a coat and tie.

          1. I know, but it really is. And not even written by an ex-Grantlander.

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  4. S5: The image of the destitute former professional athlete has been valid as long as there have been former professional athletes. On the other hand there always have been some professional athletes with financial sense. Ty Cobb invested his salary well, in Coca-Cola and the nascent automotive industry. He was a millionaire when he retired from baseball. As far back as the 1870s a few athletes leveraged their names into lucrative businesses. Al Spalding is the most notable example. Far more people know the name from his sporting goods business than do from his playing achievements (which are pretty notable in their own right).

    I suspect that there is a class element to this. Spalding’s family was not wealthy, but its background was middle class, with all the sense of proprieties that carried. They guys who drank through their salaries tended to be from a working class background.

    I don’t know anything about that Ravens player other than what is in the linked article, and in turn what it links to. But I note that he has a master’s degree in mathematics and is talking about getting his Ph.D. after he retires from football. This suggests he is not a guy who sees playing in the NFL as his purpose in life.

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        • My first instinct was that it would be in the owners’ best interests to offer those services directly to the players so the players know how to make the most of what they get paid. Win win, right? Then I realized that if the player knows that he can’t actually own a fleet of helicopters with a $2M contract, he might agitate for more money. Better to let him sign the contract for $2M and figure out the helicopter thing on his own later.

          Maybe delivering the bad news that $2M is substantially less than infinity is a good job for the players’ unions.

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  5. S5: The guy does not seem to be a star player.

    Plus there is a fine difference between being financially responsible and being a miser/frugal. It is probably financially responsible to have roommates and housemates. This doesn’t change the fact that I am 35 and like having my own space.*

    The cult of extreme thrift and miserlyness always perplexed me. You don’t need to buy a 300,000 dollar sports car but you don’t need to be a Yugo either. There are lots of cars at different price points. There is a difference between eating at expensive restaurants every day and insisting that all you need is raw veggies and instant ramen. The attitude of the cult of thrift always seems to end up being “Don’t have fun. Don’t go out. Don’t eat nice food. Don’t go on vacation. Just work and save. Work and save.”

    That sounds like a recipe for psychological burnout and miserly.

    *Having a space of my own is very important to me. This might be a minority position among my cohort who seem to think roommates are just the way things are always even if they have well-paying jobs. I know people with rather high salaries who still have roommates.

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    • Don’t have fun. Don’t go out. Don’t eat nice food. Don’t go on vacation. Just work and save. Work and save.

      Basically, the vast majority of the human race’s existence until perhaps the last hundred years. When we figured out enough automation to raise productivity and make a somewhat bigger fraction rich enough to get out of that rut. At the expense of the climate, since it took fossil fuels to power that.

      Don’t mind Cain, he’s just grumpy this morning.

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    • I used to know a guy (in the sense of “know” of we were in the same hobby group and were sometimes in the same room at the same time) who a a twelve-year career as an NFL lineman, which is pretty darned good (and lucky). He was with the Bills during their run in the early ’90s of reaching the Superbowl and then losing it. Even the losing players get a nice bonus. One year he used his to by an RV, but my understanding was that he mostly socked away his money in the expectation of needing it later. I no longer have even indirect contact with him, so I don’t know how that worked out.

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      • Just to be clear, I am not opposed to saving but I am not an extreme Puritan or Calvinist about it either. A lot of this can be raising and culture. My mom believes that it is important for people to learn to live on their own including for psychological reasons and not being too emotionally co-dependent and needy. I was raised as such.

        Likewise I am too old to deal with the quirks of random people from Craigslist.

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    • ““Don’t have fun. Don’t go out. Don’t eat nice food. Don’t go on vacation. Just work and save. Work and save.””

      The assumption here is that the only “fun” things are those which cost money… specifically going out (where, exactly?), eating nice food, and going on vacation.

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      • The only fun things? Nyah. Lots of things that are actually fun? Well, yeah.

        Other things that are fun may not cost a lot of money, but they cost time and require a certain degree of security and relaxation to enjoy.

        And quite a few things that are really valuable to well-being are tremendously expensive. My understanding is that short commutes to work pay huge dividends in terms of making people happier, and that certainly matches my anecdotal experience, but such things are rarely cheap. Certainly they’re way less cheap than getting, say, a nice flatscreen TV.

        Indeed, I think that has a lot to do with why the “thrift” stuff gets up my nose: it so often seems to focus on the cheap fun things that relatively poor people can afford, while glossing over the much more expensive things that rich people can afford which provide a lot more room to have fun.

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        • Sure. But we also need to differentiate between spending no money ever and being moderate.

          Pizza and a movie can be just as, if not more, fun than the opera and eating at the new cool hip joint.

          I guess I don’t really see the “cult of extreme thrift”. The few people I have encountered who do seem to operate under such a mindset do so because they need to.

          Me? Funds are tight. I’m a single dad with two kids in day care, earning a PreK teacher’s salary, and receiving fairly modest child support. I’m a foodie but put most of my money into where I live because I wanted a safe, secure place for my boys and a walkable neighborhood I could take advantage of with and without kids. But I commute an hour each way. And I pack lunch every day. Despite working in one of the most vibrant food neighborhoods in the city. You could look at me at the lunch table with my little tupperware of the same food I had yesterday and think, “What a miser!” Or you could understand my situation, understand I have to make judgement calls about where I spend my money, and opt for certain things and not for others.

          Ultimately, why judge?

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          • Well, I’m arguing against judging. I think a lot of people, myself included, have seen a lot of judgmental crap hurled at poorer folks “living outside their means”, with the bulk of that judgement being based on things that either aren’t really very expensive (a decent TV) or aren’t just luxuries (a smartphone or Internet access).

            I suppose, looking back upthread, that may have been casting the same sort of shade in the opposite direction. I don’t really think really great, either.

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    • The attitude of the cult of thrift always seems to end up being “Don’t have fun. Don’t go out. Don’t eat nice food. Don’t go on vacation. Just work and save. Work and save.”

      This is because that ‘culture’ exists only as a way to criticize other people, almost always poorer people. No one is actually doing it.

      Well, a few people are, but they probably have psychological issues of some sort, or have some very specific goal in mind like retiring early.

      But it’s mostly ‘You should be less poor, which you can be by never actually spending money. If you do not do that, your lack of money is your own fault.’.

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      • What is the line between being content and meekly accepting your place in the world?

        I am not Christian so I don’t believe in their idea of suffer in this world for reward in the next. And my view is that the idea of contentment has long to do with keeping people in their place.

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        • I would think that if it involves another person, you should pretty much stick with the whole “content” thing.

          How many services are you entitled to? How many goods created by another person are you entitled to?

          Alternately, how much of your goods/services should I be able to require from you?

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        • “…meekly accepting your place in the world?”

          You don’t have to meekly accept it. But you also need to position yourself to do more. Going into debt because you’re 25 and want to live downtown and eat out and wear high end but only have a temp job is irresponsible. And if that is the path you want to set for yourself, so be it. Choosing not to do those things unless/until you can afford that is far from “meekly accepting your place in the world”.

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      • Joe Rogan (actor/comic/podcaster/sports commentator) likes to say that the wealth sweet spot is basically where you can live like a two income professional household without working and going beyond that, people start to lose their minds. His line was, “Once you have a certain amount of money, everything is free,” but you have to have a definition of “everything” that is limited to the things a person with a regular job might reasonably want to buy. If your definition of “everything” includes your own private jumbo jet, you’ll probably never be rich or happy.

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        • Happiness is a thing for small people. Ambition is the urge to stand athwart the world, and want still more.

          If you have enough for yourself, what little that may be, you can always adopt… an orphanage if you like. You’ll find children work quite well for their supper.

          If you love making creepy chimeras out of stitching people together or feeding live people to snakes, the world’s probably better off if you’re never happy. I wish we lived in a world where things like that didn’t happen, truly I do.

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    • I’d like to stand up a little for the culture of thrift. Your average thrifty person isn’t trying to be buried with it; they just have bigger goals and want peace of mind. Car dies and you need a couple g to get it running? Thrifty people don’t stress about that. Sudden opportunity to take a trip if you can rustle up some cash in a hurry? No worry for the thrifty person. Planning on getting a nicer home? Nicer whatever? Often you scratch the paint on a thrifty person and there’s a big spending item in their future.

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      • I’ll stand up behind your standing up. I’m on the thrifty side and one big reason is the one you mention. I like to travel so i’m thrifty about other things so i can travel in peace. Also it does feel good that when i recently needed a minor car repair, which always a pita, money wasn’t a concern. It was in the bank…plunk down the card and pay the bill. That feels good.

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      • Re your examples. Emergency expenses is a good example for car stuff but it is also used by the GOP as reasons against healthcare reform. The other complicated issue is that a lot of fiscal policy is directed against thrift like low-interest rates.

        For trips, isn’t that more of an issue of personal preference?

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        • Personal preference on what? Not putting it on a credit card?

          The point is that thrifty people aren’t living lives of calvinist privation, in many cases they likely have MORE expensive tastes (just longer term) than you do, and thus have to save to be able to afford them.

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  6. F4: I thought the thing was BF burritos? So much work to stay current!

    F5: Tell the nutella thieves, I’ll trade them a case of nutella for a bottle of pappy van winkle 27 year old.

    R4: Nah, it’s still a problem. My Master Bedroom toilet is a constant PITA because of this.

    G1: Trying to figure out how I’m “free riding” on stay at home mother’s work. I don’t have kids and the kids these days won’t be supporting me when I’m on Social Security (which will have defaulted by then).

    C4: This has been a problem for a long long time. I blame the drug war.

    T3: “We can provide real, meaningful options of how to get around. We have the money; we have the knowhow. Now, we just need to care.” Really? How you going to get me, to and from work in 45 mins each way, for less than 30 usd a week? How’s that gonna happen when I end up working 12 hours one day, 9 the next, 13.5 the next day, and have to go to the grocery story on Friday and haul my 20 pounds of cat litter home?

    T4: Try it on an intercontinental flight lasting 16 hours and let me know what you think.

    C1: This seems pretty much dead on. “it’s that the promises made assumed population would grow forever alongside rising incomes. These promises cannot be fulfilled, and most be broken. ” You can say the same thing for the Federal Gov’t, and sooner or later, the Feds will default.

    C3: Private City? Todos Santos anyone?

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    • [T3] We can provide a lot options to a lot of people, not necessarily all options to all people.

      If you live in a suburban or rural area 45 minutes’ drive from your place of work and without any sort of rail link to it, that represents a somewhat conscious and deliberate choice to exclude yourself from any reasonably foreseeable non-driving options as they become more widely available to others who have different living and working situations.

      I’m not condemning your choices – presumably your living arrangement matches your priorities, which is great and all. It’s just not a general argument against walkability and transit orientation being feasible.

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      • No dude,
        I live in between two major metro areas. It’s just that the rail lines go north to south and the metros are for surburban commuters for the respective cities, and do not include areas “in between”. It’s all hub and spoke and there is no spoke to spoke travel without going into the central switching hub and back out on another line. Think wash dc, going in on the yellow line and changing to the red line. So I either have to drive to a mass transit and park (defeating the purpose of mass transit) and then get on transit or drive. Now, why would I want to drive 30 mins to a transit location and then take transit for another hour?

        Additionally, the transit options aren’t really an option when I have a 13 hour day. On those days, it’d probably be a 2 hour transit ride since i’d be out of “commute” time. Oh yes, this makes a lot of sense.

        No, what it represents is poor design by the transit officials to 1) not include or plan for, an area where clearly sprawl would create a merger in the two areas 2) not designing a spoke to spoke capability but only designing a hub and spoke.

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        • That kind of sounds to me like it backs up the quote “We can provide real, meaningful options of how to get around. We have the money; we have the knowhow. Now, we just need to care.”

          That is, we (should) have learned from the past mistakes in transit design you describe. It sounds like you live in an area where commuter transit could well be feasible – if budget, expertise, and political capital were applied to make it so. But it hasn’t been, because our collective priorities are elsewhere.

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        • Spoke-to-Spoke rail transit is very expensive. Unlike various versions of Sim City, the real world cannot afford to run rail everywhere. So planners and politicians bicker for a decade or more and then rail lines get set down.

          The idea is to encourage people to live on the rail line that serves their needs. If you live on line X but your work is on line Y, the planner would say move, change jobs or suck it up. Option 4 — increased taxes for increased service — is not available.

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          • I am “sucking it up” by driving 45 mins to work each way. This is the closest I can live to work and still afford it and not live in a 400 square foot apartment.

            But that’s what all the neo urbanists want me to live in anyway isn’t it?

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    • Damon: G1: Trying to figure out how I’m “free riding” on stay at home mother’s work. I don’t have kids and the kids these days won’t be supporting me when I’m on Social Security (which will have defaulted by then).

      Social Security’s not going to be gone. At worst, they’ll raise taxes to pay all scheduled benefits. At best, they’ll raise the retirement age and/or limit benefit growth to inflation in order to keep spending in line with revenues.

      Even without Social Security, though, retirees depend on younger people. If you have your retirement savings invested, that contributes capital, but you need workers to do something useful to that capital. Even if you just save up enough cash to last the rest of your life, you still need workers to produce goods and services. What good is cash if there’s nothing to spend it on?

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      • “At worst, they’ll raise taxes to pay all scheduled benefits. At best, they’ll raise the retirement age and/or limit benefit growth to inflation in order to keep spending in line with revenues.”

        Alan, that’s a default. Any reduction in benefits or increases to taxes to pay for SS constitute a change in the understood agreement between payer and “insurer”. No, it’s not a legal default, but it’s a social one, one congress has performed several times.

        “retirees depend on younger people. ” Given that you’ve basically said that “everyone depends upon one another in a developed economy”, I would depend upon younger people no more than I would older or middle aged people.

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        • First, you cannot call me Al.

          That aside, you’re applying the logic of private debt to politics, which doesn’t really work. The problem is that the people who made those promises (past politicians) are not the same as the ones who are expected to deliver (future workers). So either retirees have to accept less money than they were scheduled to receive, or workers have to pay higher taxes. Thanks to politicians being politicians, someone has to get a raw deal.

          So why should it be retirees? Because retirees never paid taxes high enough to cover the benefits they’re scheduled to receive. People retiring this year have not even paid the current 2 x 6.2% tax rate for their entire careers, much less the higher tax rate that would be required to cover scheduled benefits. I don’t see any reason their benefits shouldn’t be limited to what can be paid for by the tax scheme they themselves paid in under. Arguably this is perfectly fair, and not even the lesser of the evils.

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          • Sorry Brandon, no sure where Alan came from :)

            Of course I can call it a default. The terms have been changed. You may not AGREE with my interpretation, but I’m also not using it as a legal definition. Gee, if you’re so concerned about past politicians making promises for future ones, you must have major issues with all laws. The ACA is set up like that as well as every multi year funding scheme. I will agree with you that someone is going to get a raw deal because politicians are politicians, and yet you seem ok with that. I happen to think we should honor our obligations and not add more onto them and then decide what we’re going to cut because way too much was promised. Better to promise too little than too much.

            “I don’t see any reason their benefits shouldn’t be limited to what can be paid for by the tax scheme they themselves paid in under. Arguably this is perfectly fair, and not even the lesser of the evils.” Except retirees on SS VOTE and they’ve been told for decades that it’s an entitlement and they’ve “paid their fair share into it.” What politician wants to be on the wrong end of that voting record?

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  7. R3: I think that the biggest reason that the term “conspiracy theory” has lost its sting is that a surprising number of the conspiracy theories that only crackpots used to believe a couple of decades ago have since been confirmed as having actually happened.

    MK Ultra, COINTELPRO, CIA drug trafficking, Operation Big Buzz, Operation Sea-Spray, Operation Northwoods, ECHELON, and I’m sure that I’m forgetting some important ones.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that “well, because this one happened to be true, we can assume this other one to be true”. That said, if you want to argue that the government would never deliberately spray Paraquat on marijuana plants in order to deter marijuana use, the counter-argument of “the government deliberately poisoned alcohol during Prohibition” pretty much requires a better argument than “the government wouldn’t do something like that” when it comes to the Paraquat discussion.

    Besides, nobody died from marijuana Paraquat poisoning anyway.

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    • To have a conspiracy that doesn’t leak, one needs to accomplish ones objectives with a minimum number of meetings, and relatively efficiently even then. This proves difficult for bureaucracies in general.

      And the difference between “decent people trying to fix something awful” and a conspiracy often isn’t that large, where there’s any light at all.

      Only the freemasons let remote figures speak from the shadows in their meetings, and that’s because they’ve got a sense of humor.

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    • If i was running a secretive cabal controlling the world, like The Stonecutters, i would love for people to be obsessed with every darn conspiracy. Most of them would be wrong and people would spend their time screaming about chemtrails. Any real evidence of wrong doing would be lost in the static of aliens and fluoride is killing us all.

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        • I do believe in contrails…i see them daily. What can i say, i’m a fan of high altitude condensation and live near an airport. But those chemtrails people need a visit from Screws r’ Us.

          Can something be a conspiracy theory of it is openly known? Is every secret a conspiracy theory?

          Conspiracy theory, to me, sounds like far more than just a secret or somebody doing something bad. It’s theory with thin or no evidence of nefarious actors trying to do terrible things that only a few can see while he rest of us are blind.

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            • Why would they need to hide a delivered chemical in the exhaust plume?

              The number of ways that Chemtrails fail as a covert delivery system is legion. The fact that people still believe them tells me a lot of people failed to pay attention in High School Physics & Chemistry.

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                • It’s worse than that. The logic goes that it’s hidden in the contrails so no one will think it’s dangerous (it’s just contrails, after all). Problem is, there is no reason for a plane, flying at 35,000 feet, to leave any evidence that it is spraying anything. No one on the ground is going to see a spraying plume unless someone is incompetent and has no idea who Boyle, Charles, and Bernoulli were.

                  And that is before we even talk about how the chance that anything sprayed into the air at 35000 feet is going to hit the ground in any significant concentration (crop dusters fly low for a reason), or how the chemtrail conspiracy would require the cooperation of the airplane manufacturers, the airlines, the ground crews &/or the fuel providers, etc.

                  Chemtrails, right up there with the towers being brought down with pre-placed explosives.

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              • I’ve often wondered why the chemtrails people don’t ask themselves this. You can probably aerosolize black latex paint fine enough that a cloud of it wouldn’t be visible from ground level. Why is the cabal doing such a bad job of hiding their poisons?

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                  • Depending on whose lunatic theory you believe, the chemicals may not be dispensed along with engine gas, but rather from separate aerosol nozzles.

                    There are collections of “smoking gun” photos going around showing ‘chemical’ tanks in modified passenger planes, which (obviously) hold the sinister chemtrail chemicals.

                    From which, I learned that once they’ve done all they can with computer simulations and scale models in wind tunnels and whatnot, passenger plane safety testing involves building the first real full-scale plane, and filling it up with water tanks connected by pumps. Then they can test the plane’s behaviour with different simulated passenger seating arrangements (“now we test what happens when there’s something cool out the starboard side and half the passengers from the port side run over to see it”)

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                    • I used to work for Boeing, in Propulsion Aerodynamics & Flight Test. I’ve spent so, so many hours crawling (quite literally) inside the guts of the turbines and nacelles…

                      There just ain’t no effing room in them for any kind of sprayer system that is not the fuel nozzles or the fire extinguisher system. You can’t just squeeze one in aftermarket, so it would have to be in the original designs. Designs I’ve studied quite a bit. Seeing as I spent quite a lot of time fixing turbines in the Navy, I’d spot some strange, extraneous system on the plans, or the mount points for where the aftermarket system would go, or I’d notice it when looking at a plane that came in for an engineering evaluation.

                      It’s not there. The only chemicals in the contrails are combustion products.

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                • Actually, isn’t there a particular quirk of human psychology that makes this true? People rather like thinking they hold special wisdom, or know things other’s don’t.

                  Conspiracy theorists (or stuff like sovereign citizens) have that in spades. They know things. Things that make them special.

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                    • I dunno, inner mysteries were the defining features of many religions, they’re often a lot of the draw for secret societies, fraternal orders, etc.

                      They don’t have to be important, but people generally like the notion that they’re special, part of the elite, part of the inner circle, or otherwise ‘in the know’ in a way the poor plebes aren’t.

                      Conspiracy theories are a loner’s version of that.

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          • Can something be a conspiracy theory of it is openly known?

            Probably not. I suspect that it can be prior to it being openly known, though.

            Is every secret a conspiracy theory?

            I think that there probably has to be some concerted effort to keep the secret a secret and to discredit the people who are telling the truth.

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        • “Do you honestly believe that the NSA is collecting your phone metadata without a warrant?”

          Yes I do. Why? Because I received an email from a lady friend, who was back home in Iran visiting family. The NSA sucks up ALL email traffic from foreigners coming into the US, ESPECIALLY from countries like Iran.

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    • And Obama is going to declare martial law so he can stay president. Of course, if he can use his dictatorial powers to force the oil companies to stop suppressing the pill that turns water into gasoline and the auto companies to release the 100-MPG carburetor, it’ll be mostly to the good, even if Hillary continues to murder all the people that know the truth about Benghazigate.

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    • Eh, it’s not like conspiracy theories never involve excessive and weird skepticism about actual conspiracies. A conspiracy really was behind 9/11, after all–a conspiracy involving a bunch of jihadists who flew airplanes into the WTC, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

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      • Oh, conspiracies happen all the time… They’re usually minor things.
        Even the one about “let’s fix the global economy, guys, I think we broke it good this time” didn’t manage much, although they did try. Gov’t did better.

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      • Allow me to change the subject to something that we know that the government would never do (for real) in order to conflate the things that we know the government would never do (for real) with your nutty conspiracy about giving placebos to African-Americans with venereal diseases in order to see how their diseases progress.

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    • Of course, this doesn’t mean that “well, because this one happened to be true, we can assume this other one to be true”.

      I think we need a different term for ‘conspiracy that people postulate exists based on a bunch of completely random things that cannot possibly be the most reasonable way to do anything’, and ‘conspiracy that people postulate exists because of leakers’. Those aren’t really the same thing.

      The second of those might, or might not, be true. Sometimes leakers are actually unbalanced people, or just liars, but sometimes they are telling the truth.

      But the first of those, the conspiracy theories that are things like ‘this person looks sorta like this person’ or ‘they said ‘let’s pull it’ during the WTC attacks’…are pretty much never true, at least not past a certain level of complexity.

      And they are *obviously* not true, and anyone with the slightest logic would see they aren’t true, because none of them are actually reasonable ways to do *anything*. The supposed actions of the conspirators usually cannot lead to any logical goal, and this is because the supposed actions of the conspirators are just random cherry-picked facts that sound a bit odd if you tell them in a certain way.

      I once had a *really odd* discussion with a 911 Truther about ‘holographic’ airplanes flying into the WTC. (He didn’t assert actual ‘holograms’, just some sort of trick to make other planes looks like those planes.) This appears to be based on some ‘fact’ that the planes that supposedly did crash were spotted elsewhere, and the ‘fact’ that some of the supposed victims were alive elsewhere or didn’t exist.

      I couldn’t quite understand this theory at all, even in the Truther context. They killed *thousands* of people, why would they care about the people on the planes? And why, especially, would they use a *different* plane, and then *sell off the supposedly crashed plane*? Did they become absurdly crash strapped?

      Same with the whole ‘The owner of the WTC was in on it and had it destroyed as part of an insurance scam’. Yes, because the US government, in the midst of committing treason and mass murder, stopped to play along with an insurance scam. And the owner, for some reason, didn’t notice the next logical person for them to murder was *him*.

      Seriously, these were *real* Truther beliefs, at least at one time. Someone notices some odd thing, or just invents some odd thing (You can make anything sound odd.) and it get wedged into the conspiracy without any consideration whether or not it could make sense towards accomplishing the goal.

      (Of course, those in the know are aware that’s why they’re *doing* such crazy things…to make it easy to dismiss!)

      I mean, there are a few conspiracies where the facts actually *do* point somewhere. JFK, after getting tough on the mob, is assassinated by a guy who is then immediately killed by someone with mob ties before trial…yeah, okay, there is a logical theory there that hold together. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it *hold together*. (And then gibberish is immediately introduced by trying to have multiple shooters or whatever, none of which advances the ‘Dead JFK’ that presumably would be the goal here.)

      Likewise, the ‘conspiracy’ that oil companies were paying for a bunch of research to deny climate change was, uh, hardly a conspiracy. We have the smoking gun now, but, we all knew what was going on before that.

      You can tell these apart from the gibberish because they *actually make sense*. What the villains in the stories are doing is a logical way to accomplish a set of goals that would be good for them.

      MK Ultra, COINTELPRO, CIA drug trafficking, Operation Big Buzz, Operation Sea-Spray, Operation Northwoods, ECHELON, and I’m sure that I’m forgetting some important ones.

      See? All of those we know about because someone *said* they were happening, or the government just admitted it later.

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      • My argument is *NOT* that any given conspiracy theory ought to be given credence.

        Odds are, any given conspiracy theory is a crackpot theory.

        My argument is more that the defense against any given crackpot theory that “the government wouldn’t do such a thing” is not a particularly good counter-argument in and of itself.

        (See also: The Catholic Church sex abuse coverup and the whole tobacco thing if you want evidence that both sides do it as part of a defense of the government doing that sort of thing? I guess?)

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        • But how many people make the “gov wouldn’t do that” defense. I’m sure its happened but that seems pretty more. The more likely attack against CT’s are things like; you failed science above 9th grade or you have no evidence or you are just saying “bad things happen, therefore conspiracy”. Hell i hear more people using “the gov does bad things” as the justification for why their CT is correct then saying the gov wouldn’t do that.

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        • Oh, yeah, ‘The government wouldn’t do that’ is, frankly, not a very good argument against anything.

          I mean, if we lived in an alternate universe where the 911 Truther theory was ‘The hijackers on 911 were in the employ of the US government, or were US government employees posing as those men, which the government had killed. This was a plan to cause us to go to war’, that would be much, much harder to dispute.(1)

          But, the thing is, that *isn’t* the theory, or logic, of Truthers.

          Their entire premise seems to be that the US government spent a lot of time and effort making sure the WTC would fall, with explosives and whatnot, because…why? Isn’t the goal here a war? Who cares about that building, or if it’s damaged or destroyed?

          Oh, wait, now they’re veering off into the destruction of government records, which I’m pretty sure the government could do with, you know, a document shredder. And now they’re yammering about an insurance claim, which, uh, I’m pretty sure people don’t commit insurance fraud in the middle of their mass murder and treason. And a theft of a few million dollars worth of gold, which, uh, the government does not need. Etc, etc.

          1) I mean, not to make my first sentence a lie, but I would dispute that on the ground ‘I don’t think the US government would do *that*’…not because the US government wouldn’t do bad things, but because it wouldn’t do *that particular* bad thing when there were a lot of lesser bad things it could have done to send us on the warpath against bin Laden. That would be, frankly, really really excessive. Blow up the Washington monument or the Statue of Liberty something, kill a *dozen* people.

          Which, considering how people think about tragedies, would probably have worked *better*, considering they could have spent time telling us all about each individual who died. 3000 is reaching ‘statistics’ territory.

          And nothing would have stopped them from doing something and then doing something else if the first wasn’t enough. Which would actually make it seem more like a ‘war’ to start with.

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    • In my lexicon, it’s only a conspiracy theory if it (a) requires selective credulity regarding the available evidence, (b) violates Occam’s Razor.

      So “Oswald was a Mafia plant, and Jack Ruby rubbed him out to cut the chain of evidence” isn’t really a “conspiracy theory” because it isn’t contradicted on the face of it, and does explain everything we did witness without multiplying explanations too far. “The driver was conspiring with Oswald, and turned around to fire the third bullet”, OTOH, contradicts physical evidence, has to explain away the lack of method and motive, and requires hyper-competence and a draconian code of silence from organizations that in all other aspects might as well be lost reels from Marx Brothers movies.

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      • Personally, the only JFK assassination “conspiracy theory” I’ve ever found even vaguely plausible is this one. Cover-ups to hide a massive fuck-up by the government (like, in this case, a Secret Service agent accidentally blowing the head off of the POTUS) seem massively more plausible than the other sort (to cover up a conspired assassination plot).

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        • I’ve never been convinced we *need* an explanation either of how the government behaved after the assassination (Governments can behave weird during tragedies, especially if they are trying to save face or present a strong front.), *or* how Oswald fired so quickly (It’s been demonstrated plenty of times that that reload and shooting speed is possible.), just like we don’t need an explanation for the second bullet trajectory. (And this theory is the first I’ve ever heard that thought we needed to explain the *third* bullet trajectory!)

          But that theory at least has the advantage of not having people behave in completely idiotic and surreal ways to assassinate someone, just panicky ass-covering by the government. But, like I said, I’m not sure we *need* to explain panicky and ass-covering behavior by the government after what had just happened!

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        • Yeah, I saw the documentary about that one on the Hitler Channel. It seemed to hold together, but then it would, since all the photos and exhibits were from the family of the guy who came up with the theory.

          I don’t have the knowledge of minutiae to be able to evaluate whether the main claim (entry wound lower than exit wound ==> shooter was below) is true. I’d be interested in seeing what a neutral third party (i.e. someone not putting forth their own pet theory) thinks.

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        • Yeah, to be clear, I’m not saying I believe it’s true. It’s just the only one I’ve heard that sounds plausible. Every other one I’ve ever heard immediately sets off the alarms on my bullshit detector.

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  8. No commentary on the huge establishment bombardment on Trump’s positions? You can hear the cannons at NRO firing from here. The old flagships’ giving him both barrels.

    The hypocrisy in it is intense of course. Trump is the harvest that the GOP establishment sowed and has been sowing for decades. I’m looking forward to seeing if the establishment conservative media still has what it takes to put him down. I can’t make up my mind if I want them to succeed or fail, a failure would be manifestly, richly, deserved. They taught their base to listen to shysters and now only shysters seem to be getting through to their base.

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  9. F1: Not so surprising, Whole Foods and many other large retailers were big supporters of California’s effort to require GMO labeling.

    As I said back then (and keep saying) it won’t work, for the same reason that Prop 65 didn’t work. It will quickly move from “label if you do” to “label if you might” to “get sued if you don’t label“, and it’ll be nothing more than a lawsuit factory. The intent of Prop 65 was to scare consumers into preferring things that didn’t have that label; consumers responded by not giving a shit.

    What proponents ought to be doing is pushing for a “GMO Free” certification, the same way that there’s an Organic certification. But that won’t get people woo-woo scared about GMOs, so obviously we aren’t going to do it.

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    • There’s already a GMO Free certification. They do a very good job of shaking down companies that try to say they’re GMO free without actually paying for it.

      I think you’re right about the Prop 65 problem. Everything may contain peanuts as well, which isn’t that helpful to people with peanut allergies.

      The best part about the whole thing is that the body of evidence indicates that there’s no compelling health concern reason for labeling in the first place. It’s more along the lines of requiring companies to label if their food was grown near power lines because there’s a vocal minority of moms who don’t vaccinate their kids and also don’t want them exposed to electrons.

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      • The best part about the whole thing is that the body of evidence indicates that there’s no compelling health concern reason for labeling in the first place.

        Ayup, that’s the thing that tipped my views on this issue to where they are now. Initially I was of a mind that if people thought mandatory labeling served a legitimate purpose (for health or whatever reason) then go ahead with it and label up. Now I’m of a mind that there’s enough labeling on GMO-free products that interested consumers suffer no harm by NOT imposing those labeling requirements.

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  10. [S5] It seems like a big part of the problem with pro athletes and money is age related. When you’re fresh out of college at age 22, you’ve probably never had a regular job with a normal monthly income. You’ve never built a household up a piece at a time at a rate commensurate with your income. If you grew up poor, you don’t have any real experience seeing money budgeted for savings and investment. If you grew up middle class or well off, the savings budget was probably hidden from you, and your view of the world is a little skewed because you remember your parents in their 30s and 40s after years of accumulation. You probably don’t remember how the lived at 22.

    I’m pretty financially sophisticated with a good grasp of numbers, but I still do a lot of eyeballing and gut feeling when it comes to larger expenditures. Do we landscape the yard this year? Maybe… but I’d feel more comfortable if we put it of until next year so we can do X, Y and Z this year. No detailed numbers attached to it. Those instincts come with experience. Learning it in a low stakes world where a mistake means buying too much IKEA furniture and getting an eviction warning one month instead of seeing millions of dollars disappear is a step those guys end up skipping.

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