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Guest Post - Clinton

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.25.16

Nick S writes: One of the eternal questions about Hillary Clinton as a campaigner. Why is it that she inspires respect more than affection, and does that reflect poorly on her (as either a person or a politician)? Three links:

Vox asks a number of prominent feminists for their comments about Clinton, and gets a number of responses like these (in response to the prompt, "On what having Hillary Clinton as president would mean for feminism and politics") which, whether positive or negative, are not what I would call affectionate.


Kathleen Geier: Hillary Clinton's true feminist legacy remains to be seen. In any case, it will have little to do with whether she succeeds in shattering the glass ceiling of the presidency. Instead, it will rest on whether she enacts the kinds of feminist public policies that could be game changers for working women.

In a recent fivethirtyeight chat it is fascinating to watch Claire Malone wrestle (in real time) with her sense of how gender stereotypes have shaped Clinton's career:

clare.malone: I think the "right" answer for other candidates if they had an email problem would be really opening up on a different front -- trying to sell a narrative of the candidate as a full human being, a person with a great personal story. A person who can command a crowd. Clinton can't or won't do that. She has basically made it clear that we only get to know her so much, and in some ways I think that inaccessibility (which is central to her persona now) has made the emails worse than it would for another candidate.
... BUT
I think we do have to acknowledge that when we say that Clinton is a historically disliked candidate (as measured by her unfavorables), she's historically disliked in no small part because she's lived a life antithetical to what a lot of Americans expect out of women. She's not here to make you feel good and cuddly -- she's a woman of ambition who makes a lot of men feel emasculated, quite frankly (and to be clear, that's their problem).

There's an interesting contrast in the Wired magazine endorsement of Clinton which, interestingly, takes a moment to defend and endorse the messiness of politics.

Now, it's true: Engineers, the heroes of WIRED, often misunderstand politics. They tend to confuse political problems with technological ones (because those are the ones they know how to solve), and they get impatient with the inefficiency, ugliness, and open-endedness of governing. If you think WIRED's ideal future is an engineer's future, you've misread us, and I apologize for being unclear. Making policy based on ideas, science, evidence, and compromise--as we believe Hillary Clinton will do--is not an approach to building a fully optimized system. When human beings are involved, optimization is asymptotic; you aim for it but never reach it. Clinton's approach is merely prudent.
It's also skillful. Among those who've worked with her, Clinton is renowned for how well she listens and works in teams. And of course her inauguration would start to remedy a certain hiring bias that the nation's HR departĀ­ment--the electorate--has displayed over the past 241 years.


That last perspective is closest to my own, and yet, taken out of the context of this election there's a hint of Broderism in the elevation of "compromise." That makes me think that, in people's judgements of Clinton we may be seeing the convergence of three different elements. First that, as Claire Malone put it, Clinton, "lived a life antithetical to what a lot of Americans expect out of women" and that lead directly to her being inaccessible. Secondly that the current media (and social media) landscape rewards a certain kind of faux-intimacy. Thirdly that, as a reaction to the 90s (and the Bush administration) Democrats have much less patience with the idea of compromise and more of a desire for candidates who represent a clear ideological vision. I think the first of those factors makes it significantly more difficult for Clinton to fit the demands of the other two.

As an example, take Kathleen Geier's comment, quoted above. One could imagine many candidates for whom somebody would say, "If they could get elected running on such an explicitly feminist platform that would be a significant victory." But Clinton doesn't inspire that reaction, she gets, "I don't care what she says, can she deliver meaningful policy change. That is both a completely reasonable position and also somewhat begrudging. I think that fact reflects both that memories of Clinton's support for Welfare Reform, for example, makes a lot of people skeptical about her policy instincts. But I also think, on a more symbolic level, that Clinton does not come across as a politician with strong ideological commitments and that is both a reflection on her personally and of the fact that she's spent so much time as a public figure being attacked (including many deeply sexist attacks). One of the things that people take a sign of ideological commitment is the willingness to take strong stands without apologizing, and it feels like Clinton has spent a lot of time either apologizing or (more frequently) dodging demands for apologies in a way that makes her look insular rather than forceful.

Heebie's take: My prediction is that Clinton will win, comfortably, but not quite the landslide that Obama vs Trump would generate. But then once in office, Clinton's numbers will climb, in the opposite pattern of Obama's, compared to campaigning.

I've said this before, but Obama's ultimate brilliance is as a campaigner, and his problem has always been that he stopped campaigning to govern, ie "you should never stop courting your wife" sort of thing. He never sold his choices very well to the public, and the choices he made were not necessarily the ones you'd think that Campaign Obama would have chosen.

In contrast, I do believe that thing about how Clinton's popularity surges when she's holding office, and crashes when she's aspiring to more power, and I think the pattern will continue: once she's instated and the dust settles, her popularity will surge.



 

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Nuts

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.16

We've talked vagendas and we've talked mandom, but only now can we finally talk about this:



 

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As If To A Child

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.16

I've never been to France. In my life, I've met two French people in passing. Tell me about it.




 

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Guest Post - Stories of Addiction

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.24.16

Trivers writes: I haven't seen Chris Arnade mentioned on Unfogged before, but I've been following him for a while and this fantastic interview of him popped up on my news feed. Arnade is a physicist by trading and worked for decades as a bond trader on Wall Street before quitting to photograph and chronicle stories of addiction all over the country. Along the way, he's spent time with them and become a part of some addict communities -- though he is not a user himself.

His coverage is sympathetic, touching, and brings light to lives that are all too easily and all too often swept under the rug. His photo series can be found here.

There are too many great quotes in this to have an easy time picking just one, but I think this gets an important point across:

One thing that people don't like to admit is how the act of using a drug is a very social process. People's first experience using a drug is very often because someone else showed them how to do it, or told them what it was like to do it. When a person goes into a crack house or a heroin den, not only do they get to use drugs to provide a moment of relief from that severe trauma, but they also meet people who've had equally traumatic experiences they can relate to. It's like, "Wow, you too." Finally they have someone they can relate to who doesn't look at them like they're disturbed, or dirty, or uncomfortable. It's a very accepting community that provides them with a sense of belonging - which we all need. So that makes it much harder to address the issue of what to do when looking at drugs and crime. They've finally found inclusion and relief though using drugs. Because again, drugs do two things: one is they numb the memory of that pain, and the other is they provide a person with a social network. It may not be the social network that you or I may approve of, but on the streets they have family, often for the first time. There's a very universal human desire to be included, to be social. And a lot of street addicts are people who haven't been included by the broader society. They're outcasts because civil society is too uncomfortable sitting with what's happened to them, and how they're acting because of it.

Heebie's take: It is an important point. It reminds me of those studies that show that the rats can skip a heroin dose when they've got a happy enriched environment with no ill effects.

Also the pictures are both sad and humanizing, and if you click on one, you get the back story.



 

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Imaginary Senses

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.23.16

So, for Thorn and those of you with aphantasia: can you hear a melody in your head? Or is it strictly visuals that you can't conjure up?



 

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Guest Post - Tickling

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.23.16

Chris Y writes: The links between competitive tickling and homophobia laid bare!

Heebie's take:

The film is one of those that ruins nice things for you. The lights go down on an audience that enjoys the intimacy of a sly tickle, that sees the laughter as pure and joyful. They leave with their balloons popped.


 

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Departiers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.22.16

This really happened: Hundreds of Americans wash up illegally in Canada after river party. When you actually read the article, it seems more and more reasonable.



 

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Guest Post - Artistic Alibi

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.22.16

Lw writes: Zany trial where a painter is asked to prove that he did not paint a particular painting. I like many of Peter Doig's paintings quite a lot, I'm sorry there are not more of them in my city.

The artist is standing trial at the Federal District court for Northern Illinois, a defendant in a bizarre case in which he's been accused by an art dealer and a former corrections officer of denying that he created a painting. The painting is potentially worth millions, if it is shown that Doig--whose record at auction is $25.9 million--created it. It is signed "Pete Doige 76."

Heebie's take:
The actual painting can be seen at this link.



 

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Land and Inequality

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.22.16

I posted this in the comments last week:

We say we want housing to be cheap and we want home ownership to be a great financial investment. Until we realize that these two objectives are mutually exclusive, we'll continue to be frustrated by failed and oftentimes counterproductive housing policies.

which I think is an astute point.

Then later I was reading this thing. I think we don't like Orzag and Bloomberg View is suspect? And I'm pretty sure we still love Piketty? But all the same I am not a critical reader enough to evaluate this argument:

In the lasting debate over Thomas Piketty's book on outsized returns on capital, a significant fact has been obscured: If you exclude land and housing, capital has not risen as a share of the U.S. economy
...
Stiglitz thus urges that policy makers distinguish between wealth, which includes land, and productive capital, which doesn't. The distinction is important because an increase in the value of land and housing -- unlike an increase in other forms of capital, such as computers and equipment -- doesn't necessarily increase our capacity to produce goods and services. It doesn't imply that we have any more land to use.
Stiglitz also argues for imposing a land value tax, to directly address this source of increasing wealth inequality. Economists have long favored such a tax, because it does little or nothing to distort incentives: Since land is roughly fixed in supply, there's little one can do to escape a land tax. Indeed, from the perspective of economic efficiency, a land value tax scores higher than even a value-added tax, which is typically seen as the most efficient form of taxation.

Is that reasonable? It's written using reasonable language. I don't know!



 

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In Pittsburgh 8/23 and 8/24

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.21.16

With the kids, touring colleges. Tell me what tourist things I should do: Warhol Museum? Duquesne Incline? And anyone Pittsburgh local who wants to have dinner one of those nights with me and a couple of surly teenagers should.

Update: Okay, Tuesday night. Who's in for dinner, and where should we eat? We're staying in Bloomfield, so, walking distance from there.



 

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How You Treat The Bro-iest Of These

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.16

Twitter lets me outsource my trolling.


I won't say there's an analogy here, but we have a drunk guy who was in a scary situation, and his story sorta kinda hews to the facts (also, language barrier), but there are omissions and inconsistencies and...let's be careful how hard we are on him, no matter how satisfying a target he makes.



 

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