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Rites Of Passage
Posted by Ogged on 08.26.16

Atrios writes,

the general "don't leave my sight until you're 16 at which point here's your 2 ton death machine" phenomenon is very weird to me

I think the question contains the answer. Parents are completely responsible for their childrens' safety, and all parents have, at the very least, a background buzz of worry about their kids at any moment. Rites of passage are ostensibly about the child becoming an adult, or more adult-like, and therefore involve some element of independence and danger, but I think that danger is also for the parents, in that they have to accept that death might also come for their children, and the parents have to take a step back from the task of keeping it at bay.

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Posted by Ogged on 08.26.16

I thought everyone knew this, but apparently not. Also, nice to see it mentioned that driving slightly too slow is more dangerous than slightly too fast, which anyone who drives regularly on American highways could have told you.

More: Why are traffic fatality rates in the US significantly higher than in Western Europe. Is it that Americans are dumber (plausible), that more open space equals higher speeds and two-lane country-road death traps (my hypothesis), something about our traffic planning (busy intersections with no arrow for left turns, for example) or something else?

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Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 08.26.16

For a multi-day protest of about 3000 people, this has gotten very little coverage. I mean, it's not like the importance of taking over a national wildlife refuge or protesting the Feds not letting your cattle graze on their land, but maybe it can aspire to that kind of importance.

Via E. Messily

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Guest Post - Divide and Conquer
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 08.25.16

Nick S. writes: Claire McCaskill talks about how much she invested in helping Todd Akin win the Republican primary in 2012

Akin's track record made him my ideal opponent. ...
Using the guidance of my campaign staff and consultants, we came up with the idea for a "dog whistle" ad, a message that was pitched in such a way that it would be heard only by a certain group of people. I told my team we needed to put Akin's uber-conservative bona fides in an ad--and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him. And we needed to run the hell out of that ad.
It started to work. Our telephones were ringing off the hook with people saying, "Just because she's telling me not to vote for him, I'm voting for him. That's the best ad for Akin I've ever seen!" A man wrote a letter to the editor of the Springfield News Leader: "I think it's time for someone who may be too conservative. Thank you, Senator McCaskill, for running that ad. You have helped me determine that my vote needs to go to Akin."
... I was more than ready for a celebration. That day--August 7, 2012--felt like my own election, even though I had no opponent in the Democratic primary. Never before had I been so engaged and so committed to another's race.
... I understood the enormous risk I had taken: I had spent millions trying to control the outcome of the Republican primary. If it worked, some would call it political genius; if it failed, and especially if I went on to lose in November, it would be called the stupidest thing I had ever done. I was fully aware of the risk and would have felt terrible if Todd Akin had become a United States senator. On the other hand, if you went down the list of issues, there was not a dime's worth of difference among the three primary candidates on how they would have voted if they had become senators. Getting Todd Akin as the opponent in the long run made it more likely that Missourians would not be represented by someone who held those extreme views.

via Brad DeLong

Heebie's take
: That is so conniving! I couldn't find the actual commercial online, unfortunately.

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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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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:

@OWTH petition to change your band name to "vagenda of manocide" pic.twitter.com/tw8FrThQ0I

— Jeff Wetter (@alilmascara) August 24, 2016
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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.

France "burkini ban": Images of police on beach in Nice fuel debate https://t.co/UerxdE5hdw pic.twitter.com/56ndXi3XRC

— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 24, 2016

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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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