Open Thread and Link Farm, Ride Art Like An Elephant Edition


  1. Talking Dworkin with trans folks who were taught to hate her – Ehipassiko
    Thanks to Grace for the link.
  2. How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk – The New York Times
    If you’ve already maxed out how many NYTimes articles you can read this month, try getting to it via the Google Search link instead.
  3. And for a contrary view, Is Hillary Clinton really the foreign policy super-hawk she is portrayed to be? – Vox
    Okay, but by making the primary question asked “is Clinton more hawkish than Republicans,” the article sort of puts its thumb on the scale. I mean, yes, she’s not as hawkish as the Republicans, that’s almost a given. But that doesn’t mean she’s not too hawkish. And although Clinton favors the Iran deal now that it would be ridiculous to oppose it, iirc she was opposed to negotiating with Iran when the policy was just starting out.
  4. Are Men Really Harassed Online More Than Women? – Forbes
  5. Clinton emails: Past cases suggest Hillary won’t be indicted – POLITICO
  6. Having Feelings About Rejection Doesn’t Make You a “Nice Guy” – Brute Reason
    “‘Nice Guy’ is an important concept because it allows us to describe and discuss gendered patterns that might otherwise remain invisible…. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if the concept is still as useful as it originally was, because its meaning has become diluted to the point of uselessness.”
  7. Democrats Have Gotten More Liberal Since 2008, But Not Enough To Nominate Sanders | FiveThirtyEight
  8. Trust Us: Politicians Keep Most Of Their Promises | FiveThirtyEight
    Although the article doesn’t say so, this is one reason a left campaign like Bernie Sanders’ can be important: pushing Clinton to the left during the primary may have a good chance of affecting how she governs when (if) she becomes President.
  9. But alas! the creature grows degenerate.
    This discussion of a jewelry ad starring Gwyneth Paltrow was entirely worth the ten minutes it took me to read it. (Click on “Next” to see the second page of discussion.)
  10. A brief history of menstruation in outer space.
  11. Mysterious as the Trans Side of Mulan
    From the title, I anticipated this article would interpret Mulan as a trans man. But it actually interprets her as a trans woman.
  12. Courts Pretty Much OK With FBI’s Occasional Stints As Child Porn Distributors | Techdirt
  13. The Hidden Dangers of AI for Queer and Trans People by Alyx Baldwin | Model View Culture
    Also some interesting points about facial recognition software and race.
  14. I really like where this discussion of werewolves and the changing orbit of the moon went.
  15. Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech | The American Conservative
    “Trump’s foreign policy speech yesterday veered between a few sensible comments and a large number of contradictory and worrisome assertions.”
  16. Clinton’s Delegate Lead Would Triple Under GOP Rules
    And if the GOP used the Democrat’s rules, they’d definitely be heading to a contested convention.
  17. ‘Normal America’ Is Not A Small Town Of White People
    It’s New Haven, CT.
  18. The disastrous, forgotten 1996 law that created today’s immigration problem
    Written by Republicans, but signed with some misgivings, but basically with enthusiasm (or an eye on political gains), by Bill Clinton.
  19. House Democrats won’t say they think they have a shot at a majority — is that a huge mistake?
    “A question Democrats may want to ask themselves is when, exactly, they are hoping for a more politically congenial environment than a presidential election year with Trump leading the opposition ticket?”
  20. Nordic Countries Do Actually Soak The Rich
  21. Night Vale and trigger warnings. “What’s that concept called?”
  22. Five short poems about “what if people call themselves toasters now?”
  23. Teen birth rates are at an all-time low. We still don’t know exactly why. – Vox
  24. Glenn Hauman: Neil Gaiman Does Not Need A Pity Hugo | ComicMix
    Arguing that Gaiman and other “human shield” Rabid nominees should decline their Hugo nominations this year. Honestly, I agree – it would be best if all the people nominated who were on the Rabid slate withdraw from consideration – but that’s not going to happen. And I don’t have the stomach to vote “no award” for the human shields, or even to criticize them for not withdrawing.
  25. Hugo Awards: 3-Stage Voting: kevin_standlee
    This is interesting, and Kevin Standlee is someone whose ideas always deserve a respectful hearing. He defends his proposal a bit more in comments here.
  26. Analysis of Slate Voting for the 2016 Hugos
    From this estimate, there were about 205 “rabid puppy” voters; several people quietly declined nominations; and E Pluribus Hugo might optimistically have cut the number of Rabid nominees in half, but wouldn’t have eliminated the effects of slating.
  27. “There is no Klingon word for ‘deference,’ and Plaintiffs are entitled to none.”
    From a case in which Paramount is suing fan Star Trek filmmakers, an amicus brief on behalf of speakers of Klingon, arguing that Paramount cannot own a language. It’s pretty awesome.
  28. Conservative Media Lash Out At John Boehner For Calling Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”
    Sometimes I can’t help but love election season.
  29. The new age or the stone age: we either deal with the costs of trade or they deal with us
    If we want to continue seeing the benefits of trade – and we should – then we need to start dealing with the problem of people harmed by trade.
  30. How Politically Correct Should the Workplace Be?
    I love “fictional dialog between two improbably calm and stiff-talking people as they discuss an issue” as a genre.
  31. Kansas Lawmaker Equates Contraceptives with Eugenics
    “The best way to repudiate eugenics is to empower poor women to make their own choices.”
  32. Zootopia – A Physical Accessibility Near-Utopia
    By the way, I really enjoyed Zootopia, and if you’re not allergic to kid’s animated films I highly recommend it.
  33. Facing Years in Prison for Fleeing Abuse: Cherelle Baldwin’s Story Is Far From Unique
    Update: After almost three years in jail, Cherelle Baldwin was found not guilty.
  34. Abortion Opponents Move the Goalposts (part 3)
    “Instead of looking only at deaths directly associated with the medical effects of abortion, they’re looking at every time a woman who has had an abortion at some point in her life dies. Not even kidding.”
This entry posted in Link farms. Bookmark the permalink. 

27 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Ride Art Like An Elephant Edition

  1. 1
    Jameson Quinn says:

    That statistical analysis of Hugo results and the potential effects of EPH is pretty well-done. The assumptions are reasonable and the consequences are correctly worked out… with one exception. He basically underestimates the number of slate winners under EPH by something between 1/2 and 1, tending towards 1.

    Unfortunately, I can’t comment over there (registration issue) so I’m commenting here. Also if I made the comment there I’d get into a discussion and there are things I can’t say for now so I should avoid getting into discussions until I can. Which is frustrating because there are things I want to discuss, even things I could say now, but shouldn’t because it would be better to wait until I can say it all.

  2. 2
    Charles S says:

    #20 on Nordic tax rates is pretty strange. The top tax rates in the Nordic countries cut in between 100% and 125% of median income, and only Sweden has a huge jump from below-median to above-median tax rates. Calling taxing everyone from a little over median on up at the same rate “soaking the rich” seems pretty silly.

    From the last paragraph, I take it Demos is a moderate left organization in favor of higher tax rates on rich people, but the argument that “soaking the rich” is an appropriate description of what Nordic countries do is a very strange argument to make in favor of that agenda.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Charles – thanks, point well taken.

    Jameson – I’m eager for your article to eventually come out. When it does, please feel free to let me know (via email or comments) so I can link it.

  4. 4
    Ben Lehman says:

    Was Clinton opposed to the Iran deal in 2008? She certainly wasn’t by the time she was Secretary of State: she pushed for harder sanctions from Russia and China, and got them, as leverage to get Iran to the negotiating table. It worked.

    I looked, and the only thing I could find about it is a line in the debates where she was opposed to meeting the heads of state of Iran and Cuba during her first year of office and without pre-conditions. Which, as it turns out, was how things played out anyway, as you can’t just dive into head-of-state level talks.

    But it’s possible you recall something I don’t.

    Also, I feel weird with you assigning her “hawk” status despite her being less hawkish than every Republican. I mean, I would agree, intuitively, that Clinton is a hawk. But what’s the baseline? Who’s the center? What are we comparing her to? Who, in the US government, isn’t a hawk?

    I have mulled this over and I think my comparison is to the US foreign policy consensus? Which makes Clinton a very slight hawk. But I wonder what your point of comparison is (as it obviously isn’t the median US elected official)?

  5. 5
    Mandolin says:

    Also, I feel weird with you assigning her “hawk” status despite her being less hawkish than every Republican. I mean, I would agree, intuitively, that Clinton is a hawk. But what’s the baseline? Who’s the center? What are we comparing her to? Who, in the US government, isn’t a hawk?

    I have mulled this over and I think my comparison is to the US foreign policy consensus? Which makes Clinton a very slight hawk.

    This, thanks.

    (Although is she really more hawkish than consensus if we include both parties?)

  6. 6
    Sebastian H says:

    “Also, I feel weird with you assigning her “hawk” status despite her being less hawkish than every Republican.”

    Is she less hawkish than every Republican? I think there is a serious argument that she is more hawkish than Donald Trump–although I’ll admit that pinning him down isn’t super clear since he is a mess.

    She is definitely more hawkish than Bush I , and at least as if not more for interventionalist policies than Ronald Reagan. So in that context she seems pretty hawkish.

    This feels very my-teamist. Her stance on Syria is more hawkish than Ronald Reagan’s on Lebanon, and he was ripped into by the left for Lebanon. If she were someone that we didn’t feel compelled to support, no one would have any trouble ripping into her foreign policy.

    So she is equally hawkish with most of the Republicans *this cycle*, but more hawkish than Republicans who almost define what we traditionally talk about as way too hawkish.

    She is very hawkish.

  7. 7
    pillsy says:

    She is definitely more hawkish than Bush I , and at least as if not more for interventionalist policies than Ronald Reagan.

    She’s also more hawkish than Robert A. Taft.

    It seems a little weird to judge her in the context of party coalitions from 25 years ago.

  8. 8
    Sebastian H says:

    “It seems a little weird to judge her in the context of party coalitions from 25 years ago.”

    Why? Is hawkishness more of a relativist measure or a absolute one? Are wars worse when Reagan starts them but better if Clinton does? That seems weird.

    The way I think about hawkishness is something like ‘likelihood of starting or continuing an armed conflict given a certain set of circumstances’.

    Mostly dovish people will still continue an armed conflict if their capitol city is invaded, but that makes them non-strict pacifists not hawkish. Most hawkish people wouldn’t invade a country over an insult to the presidents wife, but that doesn’t make them doves.

    So if the scale goes from ‘strict pacifists’ on one side to ‘would start a war over insults to my wife’ on the other side every sane person falls somewhere in between, but in a way that can be pretty well talked about. Nearly everyone would have gone to Afghanistan in response to the WTC attacks with Afghanistan continuing to harbor bin Laden, so that isn’t as hawkish as going into Iraq, or Libya, or now Syria.

    So with that understanding of hawkishness, it makes perfect sense to order Clinton up against past presidents with similar levels of US power projection and say whether she is more or less hawkish than them.

    In that context “somewhat more hawkish than Ronald Reagan” makes sense. You seem to be positing some sort of relative scale i.e. “not as hawkish as Cruz”. I guess that is fine for the limited purpose of voting for her instead of Ted Cruz, but is that the only way we are allowed to talk about Clinton?

  9. 9
    pillsy says:

    Is hawkishness more of a relativist measure or a absolute one?

    I think it’s pretty obviously a relative measure. Something like pacifism might be a plausible discussed in absolute terms, but that’s not really on the table for Presidential candidates, and given the duties of the office it’s not clear to me it even should be.

    Are wars worse when Reagan starts them but better if Clinton does?

    No, but Reagan was operating in such a different environment, both in terms of national and international politics, that I don’t see comparisons are very likely to be meaningful. For one, it means trying to consider what Reagan’s foreign policy would have looked like in the absence of the Cold War, which an invitation to pondering the imponderable.

    I guess that is fine for the limited purpose of voting for her instead of Ted Cruz, but is that the only way we are allowed to talk about Clinton?

    I think it’s also important to, like Ben said, compare her to the overarching US foreign policy establishment, if only to understand the scope of what you’re up against when you criticize her.

  10. 10
    Ben Lehman says:

    So, just a point of clarification.

    When I say “less hawkish than every Republican” I actually mean “less hawkish than almost all elected Republicans.” In terms of registered party members, there’s a huge swathe of opinions, including a fair amount of isolationists, and in terms of elected officials, you have people like Rand Paul, who I hesitate to characterize as “doveish” but is definitely less pro-war than Clinton. But these officials are rare.

    Generally, when I say “the US foreign policy consensus” I mean “the state department, a few decisions makers at DoD, and influential IR professors” probably the group of people represented by Foreign Affairs magazine. (The bulk of the magazine, not literally every article it’s published, because damn, it publishes a pretty wide swathe of articles.)

    (lengthy thing about US military intervention doctrines snipped.)

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:


    In 2007, Clinton took a significantly harder stance on Iran (and other countries) than Obama, famously calling his willingness to meet with Iran (and others) without preconditions “naive and irresponsible.”

    As for her stance on Iran while she was Secretary of State, once the agreement existed she supported it. But it’s not clear that the agreement would have existed if she had been President. From Foreign Policy:

    Hillary Clinton also served as the Obama administration’s guardian of the corollary on Iran. The secretary of state almost invariably took a hard line on Iran during national security meetings. According to a recent article in Politico, Clinton pushed for “detailed contingency planning in the event diplomacy failed” and was prepared to “consider granting Israel approval to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites,” which would have destroyed any chance of a nuclear deal. Clinton favored a deal, but considered it less likely than the president did. Jake Sullivan, who succeeded Anne-Marie Slaughter as head of Policy Planning and now serves as Clinton’s chief advisor on foreign policy, says, “The president and the secretary were aligned on a two-track strategy, but the president probably put more emphasis on diplomacy and the secretary of state put more emphasis on pressure.”

    That, however, doesn’t fully capture the difference between them. Obama believed, or perhaps intuitively felt, that differences among states, as among people, often stemmed from misunderstanding, mistrust, tangled history, and the like, and thus that agreement could not be reached absent some kind of effort of mutual recognition. As Dennis Ross observes, “President Obama’s view was that we had to work with our adversaries and seek to change their behavior by looking at their grievances. I think that Hillary looks at adversaries through the lens of how they define their interests. A focus on interests means recognizing the reality of power relationships, and the need to use power in defense of your interests.” For Clinton, rivalry with Iran — or Russia, or China—was a given, not to be softened by New Year’s messages or admissions of past guilt.

    Clinton’s views scarcely mattered at the time, because Iran was not prepared to seriously negotiate the nuclear issue until Hassan Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president in 2013. Perhaps a President Clinton would have driven a harder bargain than President Obama did. What is far more likely, though, is that Clinton’s harsh critique would not have afforded Rouhani the political space he needed at home to justify the painful concessions he had to make.

    The author, James Traub, is on the whole pro-Hillary Clinton, so this isn’t coming out of animus towards her.

    This article by Peter Beinart is also relevant.

    Of course, on Iran, Clinton is miles better than Trump, who has pledged to immediately break the Iran agreement as President.

  12. 12
    nobody.really says:

    Tony award nominations are out. And you’ll never guess which show got a record-breaking 16 nominations.

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    Re: Charles @2 regarding in turn #20 – “Tax the rich” is a meme thrown around in various contexts. What I’d like to know is, who are the rich? We are talking money, after all, a most quantifiable thing. Here we see wealth quantified as % above or below the median income. Of course wealth is not purely dependent on annual income. Someone who owns a lot of property may not have a high income (if they are not leasing or renting it) but has property they can sell and get money from that.

    But, in any case – what constitutes “rich”? It seems to me that if we are going to have additional social spending based on taxing the rich, what’s “rich” and how much money can be gotten in that fashion?

  14. 14
    Ben Lehman says:

    Again, what she called “naive and irresponsible” was meeting with these heads of state in the first year of his presidency without preconditions. Which, of course, he did not do.

    The other article that you excerpted seems to be a pretty good summary, though.


  15. 15
    Charles S says:


    You’ve asked that many times, and I’ve responded substantively many times, and it is a tiresome question. You have to look at actual policy proposals to see what people’s specific plans are.

    In this case, what the Nordic countries demonstrate is that one definition of “tax the rich” that works perfectly well is everybody pays higher taxes than in the US, and people who are above median income pay even higher taxes.

    The most common proposals in the US for taxing the rich involve increased taxes on people making more than $250k, and further taxes on people making more than $1m and $3m (I think, you can go look this up if you are actually interested).

    Obviously, income taxes don’t apply to people who are asset rich but income poor. There are certainly proposals made to tax wealth (and we already tax property, although generally not progressively), but they aren’t nearly as common as proposals to modify the income tax rates.

  16. 16
    Charles S says:

    Also, we’ve pretty much developed a rhetorical consensus around what constitutes “the rich.” They are referred to as “the 1%”, with some disagreement about whether that should be counted based on income or wealth, and plenty of people pointing out that it is really the 0.1% and the 0.001% who really run the show.

  17. 17
    Charles S says:

    In 2014, income taxes on people making more than $250k accounted for half of all Federal income tax revenue (and had an average aggregate tax rate of 25%), so if we raised income taxes on those making more than $250k to an average of 50% (so, inline with Nordic countries’ tax rates), we would have a 50% increase in Federal income tax revenue. Federal income tax is about 50% of Federal revenue, so that would increase Federal revenue by a quarter, about $800 billion per year.

    So, indeed, soaking the rich would raise quite a lot of money.

    (edited to add: $250k is a bit below the 1% income line, but that is the number available, and the average total rate of 50% would presumably be achieved by an increase in marginal rates, so the 2 percenters would only get a little soaked).

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    For Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Divergent Paths to Iran Nuclear Talks – The New York Times

    An interesting article from the NY Times about the Iran Nuclear talks. I hadn’t realized the extent of Kerry’s involvement before he was Secretary of State.

    Relevant to the discussion here:

    After she left the State Department, Mrs. Clinton diverged from Mr. Obama on a central tactical question: whether to impose harsh new sanctions on the Iranians after they elected Hassan Rouhani, who had run for president seeking better relations with the West to ease Iran’s economic isolation. Mrs. Clinton was swayed by many in Congress, as well as by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who argued Iran was so desperate for a deal that tightening the vise would have extracted better terms.

    “She would have squeezed them again,” a person who has worked with her for several years said, “and the only debate is what they would have done.”

    Mr. Obama feared that ratcheting up the pressure would undercut Mr. Rouhani, unravel the sanctions coalition and doom his diplomatic efforts. He persuaded the Senate to hold off on new sanctions. Mrs. Clinton never made her differences with Mr. Obama public, and she has publicly endorsed his nuclear deal, though with more caveats than her former boss.

    It’s impossible to say if Clinton was right about that or not. But I do think this (although not this alone) supports my impression that Clinton is more skeptical of diplomacy than democrats like Obama and Kerry (neither of whom are as dovish as I’d prefer).

    But, focusing on the Iran deal, Clinton is within the bounds of reasonableness. There’s reason to doubt a deal would have been reached if she had been President rather than Obama; but now that the deal exists, she supports it. Trump, in contrast, says that if elected he will immediately seek new sanctions on Iran before trying to “renegotiate” the deal, which is basically saying he will break the Iran deal. There’s no question about which candidate’s approach to Iran is more belligerent and more likely to bring about direct conflict.

  19. 19
    Harlequin says:

    I feel like I may have discussed this on here before, so apologies if this sounds familiar. :)

    Over in the Trump thread, nobody.really excerpts a Slate Star Codex essay, beginning with:

    There are certain theories of dark matter where it barely interacts with the regular world at all, such that we could have a dark matter planet exactly co-incident with Earth and never know. Maybe dark matter people are walking all around us and through us, maybe my house is in the Times Square of a great dark matter city, maybe a few meters away from me a dark matter blogger is writing on his dark matter computer about how weird it would be if there was a light matter person he couldn’t see right next to him.

    This actually isn’t possible, or at least not with our current dark matter theories.

    Why do we think there’s dark matter? It’s not just that there’s more stuff than we can account for. It’s that the stuff is distributed differently than ordinary matter. The first evidence of dark matter (Fritz Zwicky ca 1930) was a bunch of galaxies moving too fast to be bound together by the gravity of their stars and gas–that’s the “not enough stuff” argument. But the second was Vera Rubin ca 1970, who found that the stars in galaxies with disks didn’t rotate like they should if the only gravity was coming from the stars and gas. Stars further out should have rotated more slowly, because they were farther away from where most of the matter was, but instead they rotated as fast as stars closer to the center. There are a bunch of hilarious explanations in the original paper, but the one we now think is most likely is that galaxies are embedded in “halos” of dark matter: fuzzy balls, dense at the center and getting less dense as you go out. So dark matter has a different distribution than the disks of ordinary matter in the galaxies, and that’s why the stars were rotating oddly: it was no longer true that so much of the mass was concentrated in the centers of the galaxies.

    So, dark matter can’t interact much with ordinary matter or we would already know more about it. It also can’t interact much with itself, or it wouldn’t form those roundish halos. It doesn’t feel friction, or collisions, or anything–the particles don’t interact except through gravity. (Or, they might a little, but it’s really really weak.) We know that, because if it did, it would form things like disks, and it doesn’t–everywhere we’ve been able to detect it, roundish balls. And without those forces, you can’t form complicated structures. So, there’s no dark matter people or dark matter planets. Or, if there are, it’s not the kind of dark matter astronomers and physicists are usually talking about.

    (That’s been bugging me about that essay for years, it feels good to finally get it out. :) )

    Edit: To be clear, I’m not trying to be a buzzkill–I think what we DO know about dark matter is really awesome! GIANT FUZZY BALLS OF STUFF WE CAN’T UNDERSTAND. EVERYWHERE.

  20. 20
    nobody.really says:


    When did you meet my cats?

  21. 21
    Pesho says:

    Since when can we detect dark matter? You are talking about it as if it more than a hypothetical construct that physicists use to make the observed universe fit our current theories.

    You know what else was used for the exact same purpose? Phlogiston. Science marched on, and most people draw a blank when they hear the word.

    We can hypothesize the existence of dark matter, and we can assign it properties such that it balances observable galaxies. We can come up with ways it could behave, and we can say “Oh, if it’s composed of only weakly interacting massive particles (another hypothetical) , and is present here, here and there, it will explain what we see”.

    But that’s it. We have not been able to observe it, and we are in the process of devising ways in which we could falsify our existing theories.

    And, by the way, the dark matter (whatever the term actually labels) obviously interacts with normal matter, or we would not be able to observe the effects that we are trying to explain with it. Just because it’s just gravity and weak forces does not mean it can’t interact much. It interacts exactly enough to explain the observed facts, because it is hypothetical.

    And the author of the original article most certainly did not actually think there were dark matter people walking around. Is it a good metaphor? Was it even a metaphor, given how poorly understood dark matter is?

  22. 22
    Harlequin says:

    Sorry, yes–all the “doesn’t interact much” statements should have had “…except through gravity” caveats on them.

    It’s true, we haven’t detected a dark matter particle yet. But we detect the influence of its gravity all the time, in lots of ways (including in ways you can’t explain just by modifying the theory of gravity you use). The lines of evidence include:
    – the cosmic microwave background, from which you can get the ratio of the amount (mass density, to be specific) of matter that interacts with photons to the amount of matter that doesn’t, which is about 1:4; this would be much closer to 1:1 without dark matter
    – Not enough normal matter to generate the amount of gravity we can detect (as mentioned above)
    – Normal matter not distributed the way the total matter seems to be (as mentioned above)
    – In particular, detectable offsets between gravitational fields and ordinary matter, which are harder to generate simply by modifying gravity (see the Bullet Cluster)
    – the density profiles of matter associated with e.g. galaxies, which look very similar to the profiles you get from simulations that include dark matter (and not very similar to other plausible profiles from matter with different kinds of interactions)
    – various kinds of modeling cosmological signals, such as the clustering of galaxies, where our models match the data but might not without dark matter (probably the weakest bit of evidence here)

    There are also some reports of direct and indirect (annihilation products) detections, but they’re very contentious still and I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on them.

    In any case, if dark matter exists–which, yes, it may not, though I think chances are good that it does–there are certain very specific requirements on what it can and cannot be like, even though there are also broad areas we’re unsure about. I don’t at all think the original author thought there were actually dark matter people around–but if they were referencing dark matter as currently understood by physicists, the thing they describe is literally impossible, not just unlikely. It could be possible under some other model, but that model wouldn’t be the dark matter that physicists are talking about, which is what the original author referenced at the start of their analogy.

    (Disclaimer: at least one of the subfields I mention above is something I have worked on, so there’s probably some parochialism here!)

  23. 23
    Harlequin says:

    @nobody.really: Surely you already knew your cats had tremendous cosmic power!

  24. 24
    dragonsnap says:

    TL;DR A cataclysmic wildfire is burning in northern Alberta, forcing the evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurry and its over 50 000 residents. See end of comment for links to photos, videos, more info, etc.

    As some of you may know, I’m a citizen and resident of Canada. There is an apocalyptic wildfire (officially an “extreme wildfire”) 85 000 hectares in size burning in and around the oil sands city of Fort McMurray (a.k.a. Fort Mac or by its airport code, YMM) in northern Alberta. Fort McMurray has about 88 000 residents, though some only live there part-time. The entire city was evacuated on Tuesday, with over 50 000 people leaving — either by the road to the north, or the road to the south, and some from the airport (all scheduled flights were cancelled but WestJet sent empty planes up for “mercy” flights to help evacuate stranded air travelers).

    The emergency response seems to be well-coordinated and well-communicated so far, with assistance from other provinces, federal resources, Canadian Armed Forces, and the oil companies who operate to the north of Fort McMurray, but it’s very much an ongoing situation. Many evacuees are stuck on the highway, having run out of fuel (tankers have been dispatched by the provincial transportation commission to refuel these vehicles). One of the nearby towns an evacuation centre was set up in (the community of Aznac) had to be evacuated itself, along with all the displaced people from Fort McMurray who had taken refuge there.

    Though the many oil sands mines are well away from the fire, operations of many of them have been reduced to allow for the evacuation of non-essential employees, and to open up room in the work camps for Fort McMurray evacuees. The government of Alberta is planning to in the next few days evacuate — either by air, bus, or personal vehicle — everyone from Ft. McMurray who fled north, as there are many more resources available to the south, especially in Edmonton.

    So far, there are miraculously no reports of injuries or deaths from the fire, although there was one fatal motor-vehicle collision on a highway in the region (it’s not clear at that point whether this collision was related to the evacuation or not). The fire is expected to continue to grow there is significant rain — and in the meantime conditions are hot, dry and windy, and the fire is large enough that it is creating its own weather systems.

    Here are some absolutely harrowing photos of the devastation: link.

    And a dash-cam video from one of the evacuees, along with an account of his experience and a map of the burned areas of the city: link. (more videos here)

    Here is the live-blogging stream of the CBC if you want to follow along: link.

    The CBC Edmonton home page has many many stories about the fire, including many accounts of courage, resourcefulness, generosity, and kindness: link. And of course other media sources such as Global and CTV (television); Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald (city/provincial newspapers); and the Globe and Mail and the National Post (national newspapers) all have coverage too.

    Two more pieces that stood out to me amongst the many I’ve read the past few days: one about donations being collected in Lac-Mégantic (a train carrying 72 tanker cars of crude oil exploded in the downtown of this Québec city in 2013); and a photo of fire fighters resting for the first time in 30 hours.

  25. 25
    nobody.really says:

    What are Trump’s chances of victory? We’ll have a new measure tomorrow.

    That because Trump just proposed to reduce the national debt by persuading the holders of US bonds to accept something less than full payment.

    Today, people lend money to the Feds on very low terms because they anticipate that there’s no risk. Once Trump’s in office, all bets are off. How much will it cost to finance the national debt then? There’s no telling — but presumably investors will demand a higher return to compensate them for the added risk. Unless they don’t think there will be any added risk because they don’t think Trump could ever get elected.

    So check bond rates tomorrow. If they don’t rise, that tells you that the investor class is persuaded that Trump has no chance of victory.

  26. 26
    Ampersand says:

    Trump’s Comments on U.S. Debt Seen as Non-Starter by Bond Market – Bloomberg

    So Bond rates did rise, but it’s hard to tell how much of that is that investors don’t expect Trump to win, and how much is that they simply don’t take what he says seriously. As the article notes, one of Trump’s people has already “walked back” Trump’s comments.

  27. 27
    nobody.really says:

    Trade is good. International trade is good. Classical economics says so. The only people who dispute this are Trump-induced demagogues.

    Yeah, admittedly, Nobel-laureate economist Paul Krugman argues that the benefits of international trade are exaggerated and the costs minimized:

    [M]uch of the elite defense of globalization is basically dishonest: false claims of inevitability, scare tactics (protectionism causes depressions!), vastly exaggerated claims for the benefits of trade liberalization and the costs of protection, hand-waving away the large distributional effects that are what standard models actually predict. I hope, by the way, that I haven’t done any of that; I think I’ve always been clear that the gains from globalization aren’t all that (here’s a back-of-the-envelope on the gains from hyperglobalization — only part of which can be attributed to policy — that is less than 5 percent of world GDP over a generation)….

    And, admittedly, classical economics doesn’t account for externalities. US domestic public policy does attempt to correct for externalities through, for example, establishing labor and environmental standards. When the US trades with foreign entities, domestic firms that must conform to US labor and environmental standards are at a disadvantage relative to foreign firms that don’t have to conform to such standards.

    Fortunately, the US can demand that foreign entities conform to strict labor and environmental standards through the negotiation of international trade deals. And foreign entities so eager to do trade in the US that they’ll accede to US demands. That way, everyone gets the benefits of free trade AND labor/environmental standards.

    Uh oh — Greenpeace Netherlands released leaked US trade documents purporting to show that in negotiating international trade deals, the US has been trying to weaken, not strengthen, environmental and labor standards.

    Well … crap.

    That’s the problem with demagogues: They’re so unreliable. You can count on them to be unreasonable, but you can’t count on them to be wrong.