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deletedApr 4
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What happened

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Oh I was just like “cool! I got a s/o”- a piece of mine is there!

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Oh, I see. I interpretted your comment as Scott getting people to attack you or something. Glad to see you feel that way and I was happy to see you mentioned!

Enjoyed the latest pod with Gio too

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Oh not at all!!! I wrote it in my sleep and I realized I mangled the phrasing once you commented 😭

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Thank u btw

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😂

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#26 link appears to be broken

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Sorry, fixed.

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Another recent/imminent thing in the news you might find interesting: Republicans trying to ban lab-grown meat.

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I think that was in a previous links roundup. Glad it's just a few states, I think the only solution is to wait until lab-grown meat is normalized and convenient enough that it feels stupid.

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Waiting for things to change until a certain policy will "feel stupid" seems like a political-sociology version of the typical-mind fallacy. At some point, things (will) feel obviously stupid to a certain "bubble 1" (maybe even to a majority). But there is still a relevant minority that thinks the opposite is obviously true, and only stupid bubble-1 members can believe that "no policy" is a sensible option. It is plausible that this develops when bubble 1 is not economically hurt by the policy, but bubble 2 is.

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Disagree. In the 1970s, there was an extremely strong movement against in vitro fertilization, and in many cases it seemed poised to win out. Once IVF became a real thing instead of a horror story about "the test tube babies taking over", everyone agreed it was fine and stopped caring. This is a common pattern for lots of new technologies.

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I agree with your overall point, but can't help but note that there is currently a major political party that seems pretty determined to ban IVF (or is at least indifferent to IVF being incidentally made illegal).

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The Alabama legislature undid that very quickly, at least enough to allow IVF to resume. It seems pretty revealing of the popularity of IVF, even in conservative states?

https://www.npr.org/2024/03/06/1235907160/alabama-lawmakers-pass-ivf-immunity-legislation

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>everyone agreed it was fine and stopped caring

Uh....

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Trying to understand what your model is. "For lots of new technologies, there is some exogenous, i.e. policy- and discourse-independent technological progress that at some point makes everyone agree that the technology is fine." Maybe, though "everyone" in the US case still means something like 86% for IVF, or at least that's what a googled poll says. Compared to lab meat, IVF has very personal and visible benefit. Meat production has ideological defenders AND vested interests. And I assume even some established technologies or policies can become the object of a culture war, like vaccination. This can also happen if the distribution of economic benefits or costs is not the main driver, as I assume is true for gmo: thrre are two sides that think that the optimal policy is obvious. In the long run, we are all dead and your prediction may be true, but ex ante and in the medium run, it is unclear when and whether it holds.

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There was also a strong movement to stop nuclear power, which mostly won.

The obvious difference being that no entrenched interest stood to make billions of dollars from IVF being banned, whereas nuclear power was an actual threat to the bottom line of various energy companies.

While meatpackers, ranchers, and confinement feeding operations are not at the same political power level, they might still be able to fund an effective opposition.

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This has worked great for drug legalization so far. Even weed(!) is still illegal in 12 states. It's only been a century since this war on drugs started though; maybe we just need more time?

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See comment above. Also, weed has gone from illegal in all 50 states to illegal in only 12 within my lifetime.

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Do Republicans like Winston Churchill? He was an early lab-grown meat fan.

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I'd love to hear a source for that

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To add some context: Churchill was a good friend of Lord Birkenhead, who a year before Churchill's above-linked essay had written an entire book of predictions concerning the world of 2030. Churchill was, to some extent, borrowing ideas from that more ambitious work, which also predicted synthetic meat.

Birkenhead died of cirrhosis of the liver 6 months after the book was published.

https://londonhistorians.wordpress.com/2022/06/22/f-e-smiths-world-in-2030/

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Recent? https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1617591264819679232.html was over a year ago.

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There was certainly strident criticism for a while, but unless I missed the news, they only proposed actual legislation last month.

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Year-round Daylight Savings Time was a late 1973 response by Congress to the Energy Crisis. I recall Time Magazine editorializing in 1973 that it was completely obvious we needed year-round DST. But it was miserable in January 1974 and was repealed later that year. In later 1974, Time editorialized that it was an obviously idiotic thing to do. (My faith in the media has never recovered.)

Lots of people today have strong opinions about DST. Interestingly, it's one of the last non-partisan and non-regional issues. Last I checked a few years ago, the leading Senate proponents of getting rid of clock changes are a Republican senator from Florida and a Democratic senator from Washington. It's reminiscent of postwar politics, in which Senators took pride in their idiosyncratic stances on some issues. I suppose if Donald Trump ever took a stand on clock-changing, then everybody would line up pro or con him, but I don't think that has happened yet.

I believe the season for Daylight Savings Time was extended twice from its original 6 months. One reason you hear mostly bad opinions of the current system is that the advocates of clock changing have pretty much achieved their maximum agenda, with DST now running from early March to early November, which is about the maximum that would be reasonable. You used to hear some people say, "We need to get rid of DST" while others said "We need more DST." But now people who like changing clocks have won all their wishes, so they aren't an organized pressure group anymore, so they now might lose.

If we really want to get rid of clock-changing, we should probably go to 30 minutes of DST year-round. Unfortunately, that would put us off-sync with most major countries, although some big countries like India are not on the hour.

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Daylight savings is my favourite issue. "Year round daylight savings" makes you an enlightened progressive. "Abolish daylight savings altogether" makes you an ignorant rube. The fact that both positions are functionally identical doesn't matter.

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Wouldn't that just track with the Earlybird/Nightowl divide?

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I'm a night owl so my big political issue is maximizing the Twilight Rate time to play golf in the evening through protecting Daylight Savings Time. But, I presume the majority of golfers are early birds, which is why morning tee times are more expensive than afternoon ones.

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You have this backwards. Daylight saving == everyone has to get up an hour earlier. DST is for early birds

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

On the contrary - as a night owl, I love summer time, because it means it's light in the evening when I want to do stuff, rather than in the early morning when I'm still trying to get some fscking sleep. The transition from winter time to summer time is painful, though.

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Dunno whether this was a deliberate Easter Egg or not (I'm soo impressed if it was!) but I really like how well "fscking sleep" works - fsck as a minced oath and simultaneously fsck as a metaphor for what the brain is doing during sleep/dreams. Love it!

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I'm a night owl in that I want to do things after the sun has set; DST makes me wait an extra hour for the scarce good hours in the summer.

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Daylight Savings means that it's darker in the morning and lighter in the evening. As a night owl, darker in the morning is great because sunlight in the morning when I'm sleeping is either wasted or actively unhelpful to sleep, and sunlight in the evening is when you actually have free time to do things outside.

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"As a night owl, I like being forced to get up early in the morning."

I continue to be shocked at the number of people who are confused about this. If your body & brain are most comfortable getting up in the dark, or shortly after sunrise, that's fine. But then you aren't a night owl, and you shouldn't be allowed to force your preference on those of us who are.

The world is already structured around early bird preferences. Night owl existence is hard enough without being forced to get up an hour earlier eight months out of the year.

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I don't have a political horse in the race. I just want to not have to change my clock ever again.

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Ah, that’s where you need an automatic clock. Phones do it for you as well.

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I've never owned a watch that changed automatically

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Fitbits, Apple Watches, etc do, for obvious reasons.

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Unfortunately nobody has thought to update the human circadian cycle to receive time zone updates over the internet.

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We are an unhardy generation for sure.

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The question is whether the twice a year disruption is worse than the issues daylight savings is meant to avoid. If people were hardier, they'd be fine with both disrupted sleep and going to work/school in the dark, so DST would matter less but whether it's better or worse than sticking to consistent time isn't necessarily affected.

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I do not want my microwave or stovetop to be connected to the internet.

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Fair enough, but we've got the current time blasting through the airwaves in dozens of ways, so it's baffling to me that functionally no consumer electronics implement a dumb radio receiver to harness that.

https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/33866/cheapest-way-to-synchronise-date-and-time-for-standalone-system

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The easy solution is just to move one time zone over every winter. (Might as well move a significant distance south/north while you're at it too and avoid the cold/warm)

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I find it absolutely bizarre that so many people believe that clock-changing is a problem AND believe that the solution to the problem is permanent DST.

Putting my cards on the table, I believe it self-evident that we should all admit that the First World War ended over a hundred years ago and that everybody was stupid in 1974, accordingly go back to standard time all the time everywhere, and never speak of clock-changing again outside of middle school history class.

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As a clock change advocate I’d end winter time earlier - early November is about equal to early February in terms of daylight.

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The 2007 change that extended DST from ending just before Halloween to just after was pretty extreme. I thought it made sense to end DST just before Halloween so kids could trick or treat in the scary dark at 530 PM, but Big Candy lobbied Congress so kids could trick or treat in the sunshine.

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When they extended to the November/March dates, I thought the obvious move was to extend again to December/February, and then again to January/January, and then make it year-round.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

I don't see how DST for 8 months is more clock-changey than DST for 6 months. If anything, 6 months of DST could be considered peak clock change (it has the highest standard deviation among systems with no more than 1 hour of difference), while expanding DST beyond that is a slight movement in the direction of year-round DST, so less clock-changey.

8 months of DST might sound more clock-changey because the concept of DST is associated with clock change, but 8 months of DST is equivalent to switching to a different main time zone and switching in the opposite direction for 4 months.

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The point of clock-changing isn't to change clocks but to optimize our schedules relative to available daylight. The current 8 months of DST pushes clock changing about as far as it can reasonably go without obviously running into diminishing returns.

So nobody is out there advocating for 9 months of DST per year the way there used to be advocates for extending DST from 7 to 8 months, and before then from 6 to 7 months. Clock-changers have won so big over the last couple of generations that they no longer have any reformist enthusiasm left on their side.

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Where the diminishing returns happen depends strongly on what latitude you live at.

FWIW, I prefer that everyone use Greenwich/Zulu time, and adjust there schedules so that that makes sense. Alternatively, have 6:00 am be astronomical dawn, and vary it continuously over the year.

There clearly is NO clock setting that's ideal over an entire time zone. Certainly not one with a coarse ratchet. But with internet driven clocks one every cell phone, there doesn't really need to be one. Just always rescale it to GMT when you need to coordinate across time variations.

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Really curious about what profession/background you might have wherein you think in NATO timezones but also in 12-hour clock! Are you.... a Merchant Navy sailor? Radiotelegraph operator? World War 1 fighter pilot?

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I, personally, use a 24 hour clock (on local time). But when talking to others I generally convert it into AM/PM format.

FWIW, my father was career US Navy, and I program(med) computers. But none of my sibs prefer the 24 hour clock.

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I think the entire approach to DST is wrong-headed. Regardless of the time of year, an extra hour of daylight in the evening is welcome. Likewise, an extra hour to sleep in in the morning is also welcome year round. So rather than changing the clocks twice a year, we should do so twice a day: "fall back" from 2am to 1am every morning to get the extra hour to sleep in, and "spring forward" from 2pm to 3pm every afternoon for the extra hour of evening daylight.

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Good thinking.

This 24 hour day thing is annoying. I'd like a 25 hour day so I could stay up late and get up early while still getting 9 hours of sleep. I presume that detonating hundreds of nuclear weapons at once could slow the earth's rotation by 4%.

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Here's a link about speeding up the Earth's rotation to shorten the day by 0.8 ms in order to get rid of leap seconds. Adding an hour to the day is a 4.5 million times bigger change in the opposite direction, but the same principles should apply.

https://what-if.xkcd.com/26/

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No bombs necessary, just live on a ship sailing west.

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Tidal braking will do that for us eventually... A nearer(2 million years IIRC) goal is eliminating leap days, with just a 0.068% slowing...

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Also the moon is getting further away, which means its orbit is getting slower. I wonder how long until a lunar calendar ends up with exactly 12 months in a year.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

Many Thanks! Hmm...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_acceleration

gives the slowing of the Moon's orbit as

−25.97 ± 0.05 arcsecond/century^2

(which I think converts to 1.27x10^-23 radians/sec^2)

and we currently have about 12.4 (synodic) months per year.

If I'm getting this right, it would need to slow by about 3%,

from 2.47x10^-6 radians/sec by 3% or 7.4x10^-8 radians/sec

which should take 5.8x10^15 sec or 1.8x10^7 years.

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Brilliant!

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Just don’t fall back from 4 AM to three. Hard on insomniacs who’ve been watching the clock.

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If Daylight Savings Time was a partisan and/or identity politics issue, we'd at least have more intelligent talking points about it. Depending upon which side Trump chose, Hannity or Maddow would be reminding us constantly of the 1974 year-round DST fiasco. But because DST is not partisan, most people with opinions on DST have never heard of or have forgotten 1974.

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Here in Ireland/UK (both follow each other for reasons of a shared border and previously a shared political system) it went like this:

(Note BST means British summer time and implies a clock change, and BDST means British double time - reverting to GMT+1 in winter. Ireland post independence has had different acronyms but the same system. )

1916 - BST introduced.

1918 - BST kept. Indicating people liked it.

1941 - BDST introduced

1945 - BDST reverted indicating it wasn’t liked, but BST is chosen not year round GMT.

1968-1971 GMT+1 tried for a while. Reverted to BST because people hated late sunrises in winter (note it was popular at the start and despised at the end).

This British isles are also a good case study as I think it’s the first and longest running example of the clock change experiment.

This means nobody alive has had “normal time” all year around in the British isles but I doubt that would be popular, and in any case it isn’t the preferred option with most if the clock change is to be removed.

It also means the debate about year round GMT+1 is one that also, as Scott indicates in America, lacks any historical references at all.

As someone who understands why the clock change happens and why we need it I’m always amazed that people don’t know about 1968-1971.

I’m not advocating the clock change for other countries though - if you have 10 hours of sunlight in winter summer time all year round would work.

Up here, and it’s grim up north, we only have 8 hours or less at the solstice. That means a natural sunrise should be at 8am, which it is in Greenwich (actually 8:06) . This would be 9:06 am under DST.

Thats maybe not so bad but the geographically minded amongst you would realise that London is to the east and south of most of the two islands, meaning that most will see later sunrises; sunrise would be at 9:25 am in Manchester - which is further north and west - close to 10am in parts of Scotland and the west of Ireland.

So if we do this again, we’re reverting again.

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I'm still adjusting to the hour forward this month, as it only happened last week and my internal clock is still running on that time, but it does make sense now that the mornings are getting brighter: keeping the old time would have sunrise around 5-6 am in the morning instead of 6-7 am which makes more subjective sense to me. I want to get up around 7-8 am (subjectively) not 6-7 am when the sun (or at least daylight) is up.

Of course, there's the opposite problem when the clocks go back and it's allegedly 8 am and still dark out, but that's how the seasons change and can't be helped.

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The clock going back lightens the morning. For a while. There’s not much we can do with 8 hours in winter though. Something has gotta give.

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>Up here, and it’s grim up north, we only have 8 hours or less at the solstice.

Up here in Norway, we only have about 4. And yet even here the Permanent DST Movement is gaining momentum.

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> I suppose if Donald Trump ever took a stand on clock-changing, then everybody would line up pro or con him, but I don't think that has happened yet.

That might be true, but only because the stakes are so low.

I'm still bitter that, after all the rhetoric about everything Donald Trump ever did being irredeemably evil, his sudden turn toward extreme hostility to China divided the Republicans and the Democrats over whether he was being too accommodating or insufficiently belligerent.

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Now now, I've definitely seen a couple of grudging acknowledgments from MSM that Biden largely continued Trump's China policies.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

I assume that when he took office the debate switched to whether Biden was insufficiently belligerent, or too accommodating.

Actually, there was a fairly prominent example early on where Biden publicly declared he was ready to go to war over Taiwan and his aides quickly walked it back. But attitudes since then have been shifting strongly in the direction of what was supposed to have been a gaffe at the time.

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> I suppose if Donald Trump ever took a stand on clock-changing, then everybody would line up pro or con him, but I don't think that has happened yet.

I would love to see a movie where two groups are trying to *Inception* opposite ideas into Trump's mind because there is some high stakes reason why they need half of the country to strongly oppose or support some issue.

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Lol

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Oh good, I want to say I love daylight savings time. (I live at 43 N latitude.) I love the extra hour in the evening, it means more dog walks, grilling outside and it's great. Permanent DST would stink because getting up in the dark in winter stinks. So an old man tip to enjoying DST. This year I saw the change coming and started setting my alarm clock 15 minutes early. Three days of this and I'm ready to spring ahead. As a warning to politicians everywhere, I'm willing to become a single issue voter on this topic.

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Of all the media outlets to have a poorly-informed and inconsistent opinion on the issue, I think this is the most inexcusable.

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One thing which was a good idea in the 1970ies and is a stupid idea now is that we should minimize the number of jumps and make the size of the jumps a big round number (within our archaic time keeping system). Today we have computers. Anyone serious about measuring time on Earth is using TAI, so the archaic human timekeeping system can be optimized for human needs.

For a country of a limited latitude (or a US state), it might make sense to always have sunrise at 7:00, and sunset varying from 15:00 (in the winter) to 23:00 (in the summer). This would imply perhaps three minutes of time change per day at the equinoxes, which seems a lot more friendly than a single 1h jump per equinox.

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> For a country of a limited latitude (or a US state), it might make sense to always have sunrise at 7:00, and sunset varying from 15:00 (in the winter) to 23:00 (in the summer).

Under the traditional system, sunrise occurs at 6:00, by definition, and sunset occurs at 18:00, also by definition. The duration of one hour changes accordingly.

Why would it make sense to have sunrise 5 hours before noon, and sunset (an average of) 7 hours after noon? Do you not want noon to be the center of the day?

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I personally think that having sunlight when waking up is probably helpful for humans. While one could also put sunrise at 6:00, noon seems more arbitrary to the human bio-rhythm to me.

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It's all equally arbitrary. There's no difference between calling sunrise "6:00" and calling it "7:00". It will be sunrise either way; you defined the time by reference to the sun. It's just that your numbers are one hour off of the norm for no obvious reason.

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"I suppose if Donald Trump ever took a stand on clock-changing, then everybody would line up pro or con him, but I don't think that has happened yet."

He did.

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You know who else was in favor of DST? **Hitler** The Nazis imposed DST on most of Europe, but not even they stooped to making it year-round.

Trump is LITERALLY worse than Hitler.

(On the other hand, I did quite like Trump's executive order about architecture.)

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My minority/provocative position is: Do away with time zones entirely. Put the whole world on the same time. This would eliminate the difficulty of coordinating schedules across time zones and national borders. Put the whole world on, say GMT. Then local noon in New York would come at 5 pm, with sunset around 11 pm. Sunrise in Singapore would come at 11 pm. If you needed to organize a meeting with your offices in Bengaluru, Singapore, Tokyo, Berlin, and Denver, you wouldn't have to wonder whether you get the time zones right - it would be 10 am for everyone.

Of course, most people would prefer to be active during daylight hours, but this isn't a problem. New Yorkers could get up at noon, and Los Angelinos could have lunch at 8 pm. Or whatever other times they wanted. Just like they can now.

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Apr 6·edited Apr 6

Yes this is clearly correct and I have been beating this drum for years.

Also, there is no reason why a particular business or locality cannot simply adjust their business hours during certain parts of the year. There is no federal mandate that work begins at 0900.

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Rare Steve Sailer L.

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We the people of Bogota don’t understand all the fuss.

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>if I’m understanding this right, the crowd compares two LLMs, rates which one is better, and then they use an equivalent of chess’ Elo system to give each of them a score.

Right. It's also blind—you don't know which model produced which output until after you vote.

I mean, who knows how useful this is as a way of measuring AI capabilities. A model winning a blind A/B test doesn't prove it's smarter or safer or anything we actually care about—surely this also selects for models that flatter the user by sycophantically agreeing with them, for example.

It also penalizes AIs that say "I don't know" vs AIs that write elaborate, convincing hallucinations. Not good—when an AI fails, we want that failure to be as obvious as possible.

But these sorts of leaderboards do capture some of the picture missing from standard benchmarks. There's an incredible difference between Gemini Ultra's reported benchmark scores and the experience of using Gemini Ultra in practice. (I mean that in a bad way.)

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Yes. It's also hard for non-experts to correctly evaluate LLMs' knowledge in unfamiliar areas. For example, I've found even leading LLMs to be very poor with topics like investing/trading, yet they can confidently BS to mask these gaps. I think this problem will get worse with time as LLMs improve.

My contribution is the NYT Connections benchmark, which shows a clear performance difference between smaller and larger models (but it's just another data point):

GPT-4 Turbo 31.0

Claude 3 Opus 27.3

Mistral Large 17.7

Mistral Medium 15.3

Gemini Pro 14.2

Cohere Command R 11.1

Qwen1.5-72B-Chat 10.7

DBRX Instruct 132B 7.7

Claude 3 Sonnet 7.6

Platypus2-70B-instruct 5.8

Mixtral-8x7B-Instruct-v0.1 4.2

GPT-3.5 Turbo 4.2

Llama-2-70b-chat-hf 3.5

Qwen1.5-14B-Chat 3.3

Claude 3 Haiku 2.9

Nous-Hermes-2-Yi-34B 1.5

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Could you comment a little more on what you've found about LLMs on investing/trading topics? How do you think about actually good versus BS?

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It's a pretty convenient way to test out a bunch of models, too. When I want to try out my "write a non-rhyming poem" prompt, I can just go there and hammer away for a few minutes and get a few dozen model-versions. When I spent an hour or two doing it back in January 2024 or so, I picked up 31 different model-versions. With that, you can see some interesting trends, like GPT-4 versions apparently kept getting worse until quite recently where it suddenly became able to do it frequently. (Qualitatively, it still tends to collapse back into rhyming if you go long enough, but it's a big improvement nevertheless.)

The downside is that it's heavily biased towards the cheap/available models, I think, so you will get like 50 gemini-pro-dev-apis and then just 1 vicuna-13b, so while my raw percentages of success go from 80% with pplx-70b-online to 0% with vicuna-13b, that's also based on 4/5 vs 0/1 samples - so, not exactly accurate estimates...

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>With that, you can see some interesting trends, like GPT-4 versions apparently kept getting worse until quite recently where it suddenly became able to do it frequently.

That's interesting. I've noticed that GPT-4 (and sometimes 3.5) can write non-rhyming poetry if prompted to continue a sample of non-rhyming poetry. But it doesn't last long. Soon the rhymes return.

I assume it's RLHF, combined with a general tendency for models to "forget" your original prompt as text swamps their context window. This is obvious if you request a Trurl-style poem where every word starts with S. Initially, GPT4 and Gemini Ultra do OK (only a few mistakes per verse). But if you keep prompting "continue", the poem swiftly degenerates, until the majority of words don't start with S. Here's GPT4 after just three "continues".

"So, through verses vivid and vast,

Symbols sewn into every line,

Savoring moments, none to be the last,

Story of everything, beautifully enshrined."

Here's Gemini Ultra after about 10.

"Salty whispers in the breeze,

Seagrass sways amongst the seas.

Sea anemones gently cling,

Softly sway with ocean's swing."

I haven't tried Claude-3.

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What does “non-rhyming poem” tell you? The ability to follow instructions even when those instructions produce uncommon outputs? Checking to make sure the next token doesn’t rhyme with the N-10 token?

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Apr 5·edited Apr 5

It's an interesting case of model capabilities (apparently) degrading. GPT3 could write non-rhyming poetry. But GPT4, trained on 100x more compute, cannot.

The difference is that GPT4 isn't "just" a text completion model. Put simplistically, it tries to follow a set of policies decided by human feedback (RLHF). These humans (thousands of Kenyans paid $2/day) apparently preferred rhyming poetry to non-rhyming poetry, because they trained into GPT4 a strong preference for rhyming poetry.

To the user asking for non-rhyming poetry, this looks bizarre. Like GPT4 is ignoring your requests, or failing to understand you. But it understands just fine. It's just following a rulebook that's invisible to the user. Your request for non-rhyming poetry might as well be "type the n word" to GPT4.

This sounds silly, but it's a vivid case of why RLHF sucks. Your model ends up contorting its output into weird, arbitrary shapes, because of unexpected vagaries in human feedback. There are other, worse problems. Non-rhyming poetry is just an easy one to notice.

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> It also penalizes AIs that say "I don't know" vs AIs that write elaborate, convincing hallucinations. Not good—when an AI fails, we want that failure to be as obvious as possible.

One might want to train LLMs to attach an epistemic status to their responses ("Correct: 30%, Major errors: 40%, Minor errors: 20%" or something) and then train them to be well calibrated on that.

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That would be great, and AIs are certainly capable of it in principle. (The GPT4 release paper showed that the base model had excellent calibration when judging its own output, until they ruined it with RLHF so it won't say bad words.)

But the problem remains: how do you overcome the tendency of human raters to prefer confident wrongness? If they're asking an AI a question, they likely don't understand the topic well enough to notice mistakes.

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If they're asking AI a question in a tool specifically aimed at evaluating AI answers (and clearly marked as such), we should probably assume they either understand what they're doing and ask about a topic they can in fact judge, or are just illiterate period, but, well, that case essentially amounts to random noise.

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> the LinkedIn types, the school-renamers and statue-puller-downers, the e/accs, the r/fuckcars posters, the street-blocking-protest-havers, the people who want to ban everything except crime, the people who think there need to be five nightclubs per city block, Aaron Peskin

Damn, that's some outgroup homogenization you've got going on there...

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author

I didn't say they're homogenous! Regular prison contains murderers and white-collar criminals; they may have nothing in common except that they need to stay in prison.

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This is strawmanning though, most urbanists want nice cities without constant noise and crime (like in every other country), not just "more SF".

(Okay this is an offhand comment in a links post so I'm assuming it wasn't meant to be taken seriously)

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author
Apr 4·edited Apr 4Author

Car users would prefer cars that don't get stuck in traffic, don't need parking lots, and never get in accidents, so anyone who complains about existing cars is strawmanning them.

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This isn't a fair equivalence. Cities like that commonly exist (most of the major problems are caused by funneling all the existing problem populations into a narrow area, cities don't call them into being), and cars like that don't exist anywhere (because the problems with capacity actually are fundamental properties of cars, not things that happen because of implementation issues).

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Trying to steelman this... something like "the problems described are inevitable on large densities of cities/cars but manageable with lower densities, which are the versions the people advocating for them prefer in the tradeoffs".

Which is a defensible position, except that this inevitably leads to "okay all forms of urbanism have tradeoffs and we should figure out how to best manage them", which is just the standard urban yimby position. Except that actually is the urbanist position? I personally don't like suburbs but I don't want to ban them, I want to apportion them by market mechanism (even cities whose densities I'd hold up as a model, like Vienna, have pleasant suburbs that the people who do prefer them can live in - they're just a smaller percentage of people when you don't force it on everyone).

In fairness this also applies to cars - there's a fairly small number of people who either actually want to ban all cars or use "defund the police" style deliberate ambiguity, but most urbanists do accept them as a transportation form that's useful for a lot of people a lot of the time, we just want to price their externalities and have other options in the cases they're suboptimal for.

(I guess this is a little bit of a no true scotsman argument? Except I think I actually am describing the consensus urbanist position here, not a weird hypothetical perfect version of it).

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It sounds like we both agree that there should be some areas which are high-density and others that aren't, so what are we arguing about?

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Thank you, "cities contain problem populations but building more cities wouldn't necessarily increase this" is the best argument against fighting more cities I've ever heard.

Still, I'm not sure this is entirely the issue. The other problems with cities are:

- Your apartment is always on a major street, so traffic noise problems are your problem

- Your apartment shares walls with lots of other people, so their noise problems are your problem.

- Thousands of people walk down whatever street you're on per day, so their litter/graffiti/etc problems are concentrated and magnified.

- Public transportation forces you together with other people in a confined space you can't leave without any law enforcement officers

- Cities actively make people worse (higher schizophrenia rates, higher lead levels)

If you build twice as many cities, then you expect each city to have at least half the problem population (by density) as the current ones (assuming they redistribute evenly). I think that's still enough that I would be miserable living there, and I'm uncomfortable forcing other people to live in conditions that I would refuse to live in.

I understand that YIMBYs will try to prevent new cities they build from having these problems. But I imagine the residents/governments of existing cities also tried to prevent them from having these problems, and failed. I don't understand why you expect to do so much better.

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But there would still be suburbs, even in the YIMBY-est paradise? They would probably be more inconvenient on average to commute from etc., but surely the whole suite of cost-benefits considerations need to be evaluated, especially given that the current situation is obviously comically suboptimal.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

Re: City noise, I've lived in both a city apartment and the (semi-urban) suburbs, and I've actually found cities/apartment living to be noticeably quieter? Maybe I just got really lucky. The level of sound-proofing that goes into building design is a sizeable part of it, I think, but also another sizeable part of it I think is just culture. There seems to be a significant portion of the population for whom the idea that noise could be distressing just doesn't compute. And anywhere that portion achieves majority status (and so doesn't have to fear shaming) will quickly devolve into noise hell. In cities that might mean overhearing loud arguments through the walls in the middle of the night or people going around blaring stereos which can be very annoying, but you'd mistaken to think that the lower density of the suburbs wil definitely save you. Rather, that sort of person will just double-down or triple-down and make use of cars and motorcycles with ultra low frequency modified exhaust systems throughout the night, gas-powered leafblowers for hours first thing in the morning, or a small army of dogs that they never walk and leave in the backyard to bark forever as their only form of enrichment. Instead of broadcasting noise for a mere 50-100 feet, they broadcast noise for miles. I actually got into r/fuckcars to a large extent specifically because I felt based on my experience of cities vs suburbs that a more walkable and urban landscape would be generally quieter.

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So re the problems with cities - I think they can be mitigated (and also the correlation with density isn't quite that clear - Berkeley is much denser than Phoenix but worse along pretty much all of these metrics except transit dependence).

All that said, I suspect you'd be pretty unhappy living in downtown Vienna too, even if these problems are mild there they'd probably bother you. But Vienna does have very nice quiet suburbs on the edge of town I think someone like you would be happy in? And the thing about transit is that it clears up road space even if you don't use it yourself - it's probably easier to drive from suburban Vienna to downtown than from Berkeley to downtown SF, because the high transit use means there's less traffic despite the more people on the roads.

I think to some degree, car use and wanting to live further apart impose externalities (or just direct costs which our current system forces you to pay). But while I think we should give people the choice to internally pay those costs, I also think quite a lot of people would just happily pay them for their preferences and that's fine.

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Funny how you'd love to ban portable radios because they're too noisy, while also professing your love for easily the number one cause of noise in any city, suburb, exurb, you name it: cars. I usually love your newsletters but you've got some major blindspots in certain areas.

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I have a lot to quibble with in this thread but I’ll just focus on this: “Your apartment is always on a major street.”

Apartments are concentrated on major streets because zoning codes are designed on the presumption that apartments are noxious, and big noisy roads are noxious, so we should put all the noxious stuff together. But there is nothing impossible about an apartment building on a pleasant, quiet street, and that is in fact not noxious at all.

The problem is that ~99% of the country is either un-inhabited, or car-centric crap, and only ~1% that is walkable urbanism. Because lots of people want to live in walkable urbanism, the prices for those places get bid up. Then poor people who can’t afford a single family home and can’t afford walkable urbanism move into apartment buildings on noxious roads, and confirm the suburbanite NIMBY’s priors about apartments being for “undesirable” people.

The core of the urbanist/YIMBY coalition is that people who want walkable urbanism should get more than 1%. And we should probably build that walkable urbanism in places where the land is most valuable, because housing density would allow more people to access that value (see: the South Bay). The “urbanism” part is ameliorating the downsides of density by making a transportation system that provides lots of transportation OPTIONS, and mitigates against the negative externalities of cars.

Footnote: electric cars address SOME of the noxiousness of cars, but not nearly all. Rolling noise is still very loud at high speeds, especially with the added weight of batteries. To reduce negative externalities of cars in cities, we should have highways AROUND cities, not into them, and urban streets generally need to be designed for lower speeds. That means narrower lanes, sharper corners, raised crosswalks, chicanes, bollards, etc..

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

I think all of those problems can be mitigated:

- You can build or retrofit apartments to be very noise-resistant.

- Better law enforcement can solve problems with litter, graffiti, and crime on public transit. Easier said than done, of course, but AI surveillance cameras with near-100% street coverage are very close to becoming a reality IMO.

- Crowded public transit is mainly a funding issue. More transit, or surge pricing for existing transit, could mitigate overcrowding.

- Higher lead levels are mostly due to fossil fuel emissions, right? We're working to eliminate those. (EDIT: mostly wrong, see below discussion)

- Not so sure about schizophrenia, lol

You're not wrong about cities containing these downsides. But I imagine it's a lot like cities in the 19th century being overrun with horse poop and sewage - the problems exist, and we should of course tax the negative externalities that come with density, but with better technology and public policy we can eliminate those negative externalities wholesale.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

(Car-dependent) suburbs have problems too, often related to cars. Car crashes kill more Americans than murder (even without counting cars hitting pedestrians and cyclists), plus they produce noise and pollution and congestion, and the whole setup is absolutely terrible for kids' ability to develop independence. It's not even clear to me that most NIMBY's even recognize these as problems (except congestion) and they certainly don't seem to have any serious suggestions for mitigating them.

Basically, every kind of development has tradeoffs, and only listing the downsides of the one you personally don't like isn't very convincing. It's fine for you to want to not live in a city, but don't completely strawman YIMBY's with low-quality stuff like "I... am against YIMBYs’ obvious lust for destroying them [suburbs]." See e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWsGBRdK2N0

If cities are expensive, this is a sign there should be more of them, like with any price signal.

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> The other problems with cities are:

> (1) Your apartment is always on a major street, so traffic noise problems are your problem

> (2) Your apartment shares walls with lots of other people, so their noise problems are your problem.

> (3) Thousands of people walk down whatever street you're on per day, so their litter/graffiti/etc problems are concentrated and magnified.

> (4) Public transportation forces you together with other people in a confined space you can't leave without any law enforcement officers

> (5) Cities actively make people worse (higher schizophrenia rates, higher lead levels)

Most of these are not actually problems with cities. Speaking from my apartment in Shanghai, where they're currently building a subway station right across the street:

(1) I do not experience any traffic noise. Zero. This is a huge contrast to San Francisco, where I don't remember general traffic noise as a big problem, but constant sirens were a huge pain.

(2) I also don't hear any noise from my neighbors. I _do_ hear noise if anyone is hanging out in the stairwell (immediately outside my door), but that's not particularly common.

Years ago, there was a ton of noise in Shanghai from fireworks and firecrackers, but they made that illegal. I still remember watching somebody's random fireworks going off in front of a building that was much taller than the fireworks' trajectory.

(It's possible to get more noise from your neighbors than I do. I have a friend who has complained about her neighbor below playing music with the window open. Note that shared walls aren't an issue in that case; the problem is that they share the same outside. At my parents' home in California, we have the same problem to a greater degree, despite being separated from our music-playing neighbor by dozens of feet.)

(3) The streets are surprisingly clean, far cleaner than local behavior would imply. The Chinese seem to litter a lot; I believe the streets are swept on something like a daily basis. I was just in a public park out in the suburbs that was, sadly, full of trash.

(4) If you're taking the subway at rush hour, sure. You'll be forced together with a bunch of other people in a tightly confined space. In fact, you'll be so tightly confined that you can barely move, with bodies pressing in on you from all sides; I wouldn't worry much about being mugged.

Other relevant concerns: I wouldn't worry about being mugged anyway. This is not a high-crime environment. Even if it was, criminals on the subway have no getaway plan in the same way that you are theoretically unable to get away from them, so if there's any risk of the local authorities punishing criminals, they are unlikely to do much on the subway, where they're pretty much guaranteed to be identified and apprehended.

Speaking of local willingness to punish criminals, there's nothing about the subway that says law enforcement officers aren't present. That's a policy choice.

(5) I hear that Shanghai has notably elevated lead levels. This is unfortunate. But American cities are better in this regard. Again, lead levels are a policy choice.

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So you dont like cities. Why dont you just say that instead of condemning people that want something different than you? No one is coming for your suburbs.

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Munich doesn't have many of these problems. Have you tried simply building very rich/expensive cities within a welfare state?

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A little late to this thread…

For some reason, these discussions often focus on the extremes: we should either build sprawling single-family-only suburbs, or we should turn the built environment into Manhattan. This is probably because of the way online discourse in general gets focused on the extremes, and both NIMBY and YIMBY types can play into this. But this is also exactly the reason why many people are talking about “missing middle housing”.

I agree that Scott raises some legitimate concerns about living in a super-dense area. But these are mostly issues if you’re experiencing Manhattan-style density (most places don’t have ‘thousands of people walking down whatever street you're on per day’).

Especially for families, ultra-dense living can be very difficult. I was recently in Seoul, and I don’t think I would be able to comfortably raise my family there (and perhaps that is somewhat related to the very low birth rates in South Korea).

However, the alternative doesn’t have to be sprawl and non-walkable, car-only suburbs where every house must be a detached single-family unit. Where I live, there are some (very desirable) neighborhoods that have more gentle forms of density and walkability. These neighborhoods have a mix of detached single-family houses, semi-detached units, duplexes, townhouses and rowhouses, low-rise and some mid-rise apartment buildings and condos. There are commercial and mixed-use areas (think apartments above the street-level shops) within easy walking distance. The streets are designed in a grid pattern that makes navigating on foot or via bicycle easier. In most suburbs, small streets, crescents and cul-de-sacs all feed into larger arterial roads that are not pleasant for walking or cycling — a grid provides alternate routes to avoid car traffic. The neighborhoods I’m describing often have good public transit options, but commuting by car is still possible and usually convenient. This is related to the (sometimes unfairly maligned) concept of a 15-minute city.

To a certain extent, the suburb vs. city choice is about personal preferences, and people should be free to choose the option that fits their preferences and lifestyle. But in much of the US, neighborhoods like the ones I described above are made almost impossible because of a mix of zoning and NIMBYism. A lot of neighborhoods enforce only single-family detached housing, and any other form of construction is opposed vociferously. Commercial and residential zoning is strictly separated—good luck opening up a neighborhood coffee shop or hair salon, it’s simply not allowed! Any kind of public transit is opposed (people are often concerned that having a bus stop in their area will cause an increase in the number of ‘undesirables’ in their neighborhood). Taking transit is simply not a (practical) option. Kids or others who do not drive (elderly, people with bad vision, etc.) have to rely on others to chauffeur them from place to place.

I definitely agree that it’s possible for the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction. I wouldn’t want to live in an area where every building is a skyscraper either. But the current equilibrium is pretty extreme: there is only one form of neighborhood that is acceptable to build, and it comes with a lot of downsides. We should try to move away from this, and legalize building other types of neighborhoods too. Give people more choices: if people want to live in single-family-only suburbs, they should be allowed to (paying their share for infrastructure, etc.), but there is a huge unmet demand for neighborhoods that are less car-dependent, less soul-less, more walkable, more amenable to giving kids independence. Let’s allow those too!

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Not really a fair analogy. Most urbanists advocate for something like the Netherlands. The Netherlands exists. It's not a hypothetical, it's not pie-in-the-sky. I would suggest that having SF (or North American cities in general) as your central example of a city skews your perspective a bit.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4Author

Fine, my comparison group for cars is Norway, where there are only a third as many accidents per vehicle-mile as in the US.

(didn't Milton Friedman have a saying about Norway comparisons? I think it applies to Dutch comparisons too.)

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Yes. And that lower death rate is the result of (amongst other things) decisions made when designing streets/roads. Including in cities. This is one of the things that urbanists complain about when they talk about "stroads".

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Asian Americans have less than a 1/5 of the traffic fatality rate as the general population, and a 1/3 of the pedestrian death rate. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders also have a similarly low rate. This suggests that cultural factors and not just road design contributes to America's high traffic fatality rate.

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813493#:~:text=White%20people%20accounted%20for%2041,21%20percent%20and%2020%20percent.

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I almost never see urbanists make a big deal about crime. They might, theoretically, want cities not to have crime, but they seem to express far more opposition to cars and suburbs and highways.

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This is a fair criticism. There is a subset of urbanists that talk about crime and the need for more enforcement (notably Matt Yglesias), but given the general left lean of the greater group it's probably a minority overall and definitely not amplified. It's one of several points (along with commonly being pro rent control/IZ) where I think the tendency of urbanists to be urban liberals pushes many of them to dismiss things that are actually pretty important for having good cities.

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Matty is the exception that proves the rule IMO.

What gets me is that YIMBY is already a free market idea, so I'm genuinely puzzled how it managed to get past the left-leaning ideological filters of most urbanists.

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Why do they need to make a big deal about crime? Shouldn't we assume that people have at least an average level of concern for crime? Why does a group have to explicitly state their views on crime?

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Crime and public disorder are the biggest issues that make cities unlivable and that drive people into the suburbs. One would expect that a movement centered around the importance of livable cities would focus on these issues, but they don't. Instead they get defensive and are in denial about it.

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Perhaps because cars kill far more people than crime.

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Increasingly so since 2015 because of reduced traffic enforcement by police.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

I reread 18 and I'm not really sure if you're a YIMBY or NIMBY, or a YIMBY for burbs and NIMBY for cities. Or are you taking a plague-on-both-their-houses position?

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He's a YIMBY who's annoyed with the faction of the YIMBY movement that says "it sucks that X is illegal, let's make it mandatory instead."

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Thanks for bringing this oldie but goodie to mind:

http://www.machall.com/comic/origins

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It's a "spiritual prison", so like hell, it has multiple "circles" for different types of offender.

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that's a Dante reference, see the value of such education? 😁

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

Nah, Dante enjoys the exclusive privilege of shallow popular culture awareness by default. I've recently gotten around to finally reading the Comedy, as it happens, and it's amusing just how shallow that awareness really is. Hell is mostly there to provide a thrilling setting for thinly veiled 14th century culture war sniping which would otherwise have been utterly boring and quickly forgotten.

It's also interesting how liberal he was with the dogmas. Apparently using Jupiter's and Jesus' names interchangeably was totally kosher, and the likes of Apollo also enjoyed good standing. It seems like nationalism took precedence before orthodoxy, being largely on board with the program was plenty enough. This neatly ties with the narrative that the Church wasn't opposed to scientific progress per se, just particular malcontents. Copernicus - fine, Bruno and Galileo - nope.

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Well, in my case I actually did read Dante as part of a liberal arts education that included the Iliad and Odyssey, the Aeneid, Don Quixote, and even (shudder) Ulysses. But I could probably have done it through pop culture osmosis, too.

Although Dante is huge in Italy, and I kinda also studied Italian for a bit, so I could have picked it up that way.

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Apr 6·edited Apr 6

Damn! All I had to read was Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn. I was supposed to read Ulysses (shudder) in college (but I didn't), and I picked up Dante and read Ulysses (shudder) in later life. And I wish I had read In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past as a young man. It would have prepared me for the bal de têtes that comes with old age.

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Somehow I missed out on Catcher in the Rye during schooling, but I read it a few years ago for general cultural literacy. I was probably older than its intended audience by that point. ;-)

I've never nerved up to tackled In Search of Lost Time. I'm slightly hesitant about non-English works, because I always feel as though I'm missing something, and it's hard for me to avoid the urge to get several translations and start comparing. And it's so massive. But worth it, you think?

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Who the hell would not want to ban crime anyway? And technically, crime by definition is "that which is banned".

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

> My guess is that learning Aristotle and Dante doesn’t necessarily directly make you a better person - but that interacting with the sort of teachers/kids/parents who would go to these schools, and being exposed to the sorts of rules/norms/teaching methods these schools would enforce, does make you a better person ...

The rules/norms/teaching methods, as conceived by the classical educators, include the belief that content is not entirely arbitrary. It seems likely that if the rules/norms/teaching methods are effective, then their content preferences are at least somewhat good and correlated with effectiveness. So I doubt the strong decoupling implied by your statement is correct.

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This is Scott’s deeply-ingrained woke social conditioning expressing itself in an offhand, highly qualified comment (“necessarily”, “directly”). Forgive him. He was brought up in a culture that held that the ghost-written memoir of a black woman married to a famous man and sold in airports has more value than the greatest works of the western canon.

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Value is relative. If you happen to want a populace that doesn't even conceive questioning the prevailing orthodoxy, such memoirs are tailor-made for your purpose.

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This isn't just a reach, but is several reaches chained together.

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The value of the works aside, students are going to be allowed to be skeptical of their messages in a way they can't for something like a diversity-promoting account of lived experience.

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"Eau de Binance" for all women except those residing in unsupported states: Texas, Hawaii, New York, Vermont...

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???

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It's off-kilter to push for perfume when they'd rather limit access than meet regulations and laws for all U.S. states

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About number 19: there’s a scene in Star Trek four that suggest this as well as the other negative San Francisco stereotypes were around in the 80s.

https://youtu.be/Zf5iwGZNY_Q?si=vyaUVKltWrSkPedS

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Thank you, Nicholas Meyer.

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24. That just sounds like the Texas sharpshooter, declaring whatever was hit to be the target all along. I think it would be more honest to adopt the "In a good cause, there are no failures" position. It would be cope, of course, but less shameful than pretending your humiliating defeat is a rare species of victory.

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I don't see why you think the alt right suffered a "humiliating defeat". I doubt Trump would've won his first term if they didn't shift politics the way they did. And the movement never really died, it just got subsumed into a bigger coalition. Considering the way the next election is probably going to turn out, they're probably going to end up getting everything they wanted. How could that possibly be considered a defeat?

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I'm distinguishing between tactical victories, of which they certainly had several impressive ones, and strategic victories, of which they've had none (yet, if you are an inveterate optimist).

For example, Operation O-KKK (👌) was an unmitigated success. And yes, the election of 2016 had many factors, but their involvement WAS one of them, so fine, that can count. But strategically? Their accounts on pretty much every online platform worth mentioning continue to be shoahed, and if they draw any significant attention, so do their BANK accounts. Trump did none of what they hoped the first time, and he has a good chance of picking a black as his running mate in 2024.

What they HAVE done is essentially nothing more than "spreading awareness" and "getting their message out there," (Walt Bismarck personally did a lot of this through his videos, which are effective for all the reasons he describes), the kind of MORAL VICTORY that without any consequent concrete success I think it's reasonable to characterize as a humiliating defeat.

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The funniest thing is that he explicitly mentioned that "we need to use Trump, not let him use us", then entirely dropped it. Meanwhile Trump did just that, he used them up, and more than that, the entire rightist discourse these days is squarely centered on him.

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I think the fact that the modern GOP's main concern nowadays include Jewish Space Lasers, the Great Replacement, and the plight of the White Working Class should count as a victory. If you're in search of a policy victory I'd mainly point to SCOTUS getting rid of AA. So I think Walt is justified in this belief.

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It won as far as pushing its ideology went. But that very victory meant it attracted a bunch of low-IQ antivaxxer conspiracy theorists and followers of the Trump personality cult. So people like Richard Spencer don't feel like the moobment is something they want to be associated with anymore.

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I didn't read the link, but it seems to me some version of the "alt right" has won some major victories. In 2015 they were nothing, but now essentially control much of the Republican party, particularly the presidential primaries.

This gets really fuzzy depending on how you categorize people as "alt right" and if you slice the demographics up enough then no group can claim credit for this change. Outright racists, white supremacists, etc. did not win, though there is a group of them in the coalition, for instance. Probably the single issue with the most pull in the whole group is opposition to immigration, particularly (maybe close to totally) illegal immigration. This issue does bind the racists with the working class, the America-first, the bootstrappers, the anti-elite, the anti-government, and the rule-followers/tough on crime. I don't think we know enough to properly categorize and determine how much support comes from which areas. There's probably a lot of overlap. Democrats/the left will want to say that "racist" is the binding term here, but I don't think there's really any particular thing in that group that binds them all together. Anti-elite is probably the closest, but it's necessary but not sufficient for what the alt-right is representing.

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I remember saying, in 2020, that if BLM succeeded in making whites believe that being white is the most significant thing about them, it would backfire tremendously. I think it has, and I sort of doubt that the Alt-Right had a lot to do with that. But who knows: maybe having a tiny cohort of people adding, “and that’s all right” was what kept the result from being universal white guilt.

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I was still subscribed to Scientific American as it descended into woke insanity, and I remember an article advocating the promotion of "white racial identity." The author somehow believed that making white people think about their whiteness all the time would make them LESS racist (as defined by the woke).

Do you want American Hitler? Because this is how you get American Hitler.

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I 100% agree this is about the actions of the left, not the alt right.

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I don’t see them as having achieved almost anything, it is the mistakes of their enemies that have given their cause credence, not their actions. I think their actions likely almost irrelevant and maybe even counterproductive.

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Regarding the alt right guy, all I can say is I don't get how someone can keep talking about the "JQ" and refer to the mass shooter in Charlestown as a "lunatic". I mean, he's doing what you're too much of a coward to do, right?

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Consider this: would you be similarly confused by vegans who say things like "meat is murder" calling someone who shot up, say, a ranch or something, a "lunatic"?

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I don't think the analogy is totally on point because "Jewish question" is associated for most people with mass murder of Jews (when I google "Jewish question" including quotes, the majority of the top hits reference nazis, the Holocaust, etc), and "meat is murder" isn't associated with mass murder of meat eaters.

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Well, that's certainly the most famous solution to the question, but not the only one, and his intended audience, which isn't "most people" (and doesn't include you, so if you care to understand what he meant, you need to be more open-minded) would know that.

(Expulsion is another, less-final, solution, for example.)

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What exactly is the problem that is in need of a solution?

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The Jewish question is about Jewish global domination conspiracy theory. The question is what to do about it. The Nazis wanted to first expel the Jews from Germany and later radicalized into the final solution which was the Holocaust. Nowadays this is associated with claims like "the Jews control Hollywood. The Jews control Wall Street and etc" and believing that there is some kind of collusion from powerful Jews to further the collective Jewish interests at the expense of whatever your group is. White people for white nationalists, Black people for the Nation of Islam, and there might be others.

Some people might protest the analogy, but I think this is very similar to classical Marxism, just replace bourgeoisie with Jews. And just like most Marxists don't want to murder capitalists, I imagine most white supremacists don't want to murder Jews, although historically both happened.

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From what I remember of the alt-right it was a fair bit more complicated than that.

Put yourself in the place of an internet edgelord in 2015. There's a group that's high-iq, high birth rate, more or less white, has ties to an apartheid ethnoreligious state that was best buddies with apartheid South Africa, shares similar religious heritage to you, and for some reason (probably that one European arts student whose socialist gang genocided them, totally different to your own beliefs as a red-blooded white-skinned blue-backing American, yes sir, definitely a different movement, we'll all ignore the word "national") they've ended up on the opposing side. Worse, they (and as an edgelord you view the entire Jewish people as a homogeneous group because it's how you view everyone, and also only really think Ashkenazim are relevant) don't want to let you start your own ethnoreligious apartheid state! You're not one of those gauche skinhead thugs from the 80s, you're a sleek new breed of racist. Where do you go from here?

(Yes, there's an enormous amount about the previous paragraph that's debatable and even more that's outright wrong, but it's a fair characterisation of the mindset, right?)

As you can see, there's a tension here, and it's within the movement. The alt right lived and died on the perception that it was different from the old fascists, but parts of it still shared a lineage. There was an ongoing debate - often subtextual and hidden - over whether it was even a good idea to keep going after the Jews like a rabid dog. Trading essays on the JQ was an attempt from both sides to present arguments for integration vs arguments for polite seperatism vs violent expulsion/genocide, while avoiding giving the normies any quotes to use as ammo. That's why you saw people like Curtis Yarvin (aka Mencius Moldbug) writing articles on the JQ. Despite the fact that he's Jewish himself and one assumes he doesn't believe the domination conspiracy, he still saw a question to answer.

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My sense is that historically most wide-scale expulsions of racial/ethnic/religious/etc groups have been accompanied by mass murder.

It usually isn't police going door to door and calmly but firmly telling people to leave, and arresting people who refuse and driving them to the border to drop them off but otherwise not harming them.

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All state action, from issuing speeding tickets to collecting taxes to arresting drug dealers, involves some level of brutality and violence against those who refuse to obey. Very few consider this unacceptable, so requiring that those who resist in this hypothetical instance be privileged over those who defy the state in every other case and be treated unusually gently seems to be an isolated demand and not a consistently applied principle.

Again, expulsion and extermination aren't the only solutions. Eminent domain seizures of all their property is another. Or prohibiting them from working in certain professions, through some kind of occupational licensing requirement. I don't care to keep listing these, so I hope you see that the "question" admits more than the one solution you've heard of, and most of these are the kind of thing the state routinely does.

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I would expect that police who are explicitly being told "these people have been declared Not Citizens, will be leaving the country shortly, and will not have much ability to protest if you brutalize them into compliance" will probably brutalize people more than the average.

Also, it will require more brutality to enforce laws that are widely viewed as unjust. Very few people will protest the arrest of a known murderer, many people will protest the arrest of Mr. Smith from the deli down the street who did nothing except be born to the wrong parents. A criminal might surrender to the police if he knows he'll get a fair trial and perhaps a lighter sentence, Mr. Smith knows that he did nothing wrong and that cooperating will get him dropped at the Mexican border with only the clothes on his back. Ethnic cleansing is an extreme threat and you will only be able to force cooperation if you threaten even more extreme violence.

(And I don't think this is special pleading - "if you pass laws that the community considers unjust, you will need more force to enforce them" is a general principle of statecraft, and the reason why even dictators can't simply pass any law they want.)

Lastly, there's the scale to consider. There are 7.6 million Jews in the US, and you will have to put them somewhere while you process them, organize their transport to the border, strip them of their possessions, etc. There's no prison that can handle a sudden influx of 7 million people, so you will probably have to set up camps. Camps that have a very high "concentration" of undesirables, if you get my drift. Can you see how that situation might result in more brutality than a normal well-run prison?

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4Author

My impression is:

- The author talks about how his first break into the alt-right was telling them to stop talking about the JQ.

- The author seems to think "the JQ" is something like "Jews are hypocritical because they want Israel to be an ethnostate, but support mass immigration into America." Later he said American Jews got less hypocritical about that after 10/7 and he now considers the question ressolved. He says "Quite frankly I am returning to my August 2015 roots and cucking on the JQ. I am Taylorpilled. Most young secular right wing Jews these days are pro-White and don’t treat being ethnically Jewish as that different from being, say, Italian."

- I think it's perfectly possible to think a group (eg Trump voters) is bad or hypocritical or on the wrong side, but not want them shot.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

- seems to me like his original "stop talking about the JQ" thing was a tactical choice, and he calls it a position he "abandoned almost immediately".

- He's talking all about "communicate ideas through subtext" and "platform[ing] slightly edgier figures", which fits in with throwing around "Jewish question", a phrase which for most people today is strongly associated with the Holocaust, and then walking it back with "oh I just mean something something Israel". You even said that the "misinformation experts and antifa people" were right - most of them would probably agree with me about the intent of specifically using the phrase "Jewish question".

Similarly, my memory of Richard Spencer back in the day is that when pressed about Jewish people by mainstream publications he'd also pivot to alleged Jewish hypocrisy on Israel, but when around other alt right people he was throwing around nazi salutes and, on trump's victory, said it was time to party like it's 1933, and so on.

- He's trying to claim victory for the alt right, I think mostly pretty questionably (e.g. saying that they succeeded in mainstreaming "white identity politics" because you can complain about quotas and talk about "real Americans" now, two things people have been doing forever; to me it's pretty clear that the ascendance of all the "woke" stuff that has happened has been a reaction against the alt right and trump's victory, but anyway). Saying "it's solved because Jews aren't so pro-Israel now after October 7" is just him trying to claim victory because the real aims haven't been achieved. Shifts in attitudes towards Israel are driven, more than anything, by Israel's and the Palestinians' actions themselves, a lot has happened in 10 years, and there's as much hypocrisy around Israel as ever, in all sorts of directions. And his guy trump had a super pro-Israel policy in office ... but it's a recent trend so he jumps on it.

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"to me it's pretty clear that the ascendance of all the "woke" stuff that has happened has been a reaction against the alt right and trump's victory"

I find it really bizzare that people can think this. By all accounts wokeness started several years before Trump, back when it was called "social justice". Any look at 2016 online discussions shows most people (on either side) treating Trump as a backlash to that, and everything woke that has happened since Trump won has been a mere continuation or expansion of the trends already well established by the middle of Obama's second term.

I just can't understand the thinking that "the right winning actually makes the *left* stronger", and vice versa. How can something be so widely believed that goes against all common sense?

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Your last sentence seems like a distinct point from the rest of the comment. It may be that the left and right's polarization is stuck in a vicious cycle of mutually strengthening one another, *even if* it was in fact the left which hardened first.

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Apr 4·edited Apr 4

Yes, to be clear I should have said "the right winning actually makes the left stronger and the right weaker", which many people (see Scott's endorsement of Clinton in 2016) say. I just see it as a strange attempt to complicate the causes of political change.

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Well, if Trumpism is the right's death throes, then its long-term prospects aren't enhanced by his victory. I think that this perspective isn't entirely wrong, but it's one-sided. I'd say that the mainstream left is similarly pathological, even if it maintains a more respectable veneer.

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I basically agree with Edmund's "vicious cycle of mutual strengthening" point, and in particular most people seem to agree that "wokeness" peaked in 2020, even if it was going on pre-2016. Metoo and the various celebrities and other influential people who were exposed as part of that being a big example.

Relatedly trump's election was evidence, to many people, of some of the left's claims about racism/sexism. A lot of claims about sexism and society condoning sexual assault have more force when trump basically admitted to sexual assault on tape a month before the election and still won and was idolized by a huge portion of the country, and even the people who expressed disgust back then would probably call me "woke" now for bringing it up (in which case ... sign me up).

Your question “how can people think that right winning makes the left stronger?” - I have two answers. First is “how can people think wokeness didn’t get stronger post-2016? The direct observation is stronger evidence than the theoretical cause/effect” Second is that it wasn’t “the right” vs “the left” but two specific people, and the president doesn’t have the power to end wokeness or anything.

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> A lot of claims about sexism and society condoning sexual assault have more force when trump basically admitted to sexual assault on tape a month before the election

How is "Powerful guy gets to do whatever he wants because he has money and knows lots of people who have money and also political clout" an interesting claim? And how is persecuting/antagonizing random men who have nowhere near any power or money as that guy a good strategy to fight it?

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Most people think that rich people can get away with bad shit to some degree, but I do indeed think that 10 years ago a lot of people would have been surprised to hear that someone could admit to routine sexual assault on tape and still get elected president and be the leader of his party even 8 years later.

You can see this by the fact that a lot of people did in fact freak out about it at the time, including elected Republicans ... who have now mostly been drummed out of the party.

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"which fits in with throwing around "Jewish question", a phrase which for most people today is strongly associated with the Holocaust"

For what it's worth, I have no idea who Walt Bismarck is, and my vague impression of the alt right up until a few hours ago was that they were mostly trolls that dabbled in white supremacy for shock value, but who didn't have any real agenda.

I skimmed the article in the links this morning and when I got to "JQ", it didn't immediately register with me what it meant. It took a few seconds before I said out loud "Wait, he's not *actually* talking about the Jewish Question, is he?", before concluding that yes, yes he is. It was jarring enough that, along with other parts of the article, I've now concluded that prominent people in the alt right (which I assume this guy is), if not the entire movement, are not just a bunch of trolls but are actual white supremacists and, at best, Nazi sympathizers, if not actual Nazis.

I *strongly* associate use of the term "Jewish Question" with Nazism. I treat it as a euphemism for "do very very bad things to Jews, up to and including mass murder".

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Idk how you could get that far in the article without realizing they were serious. That guy is still talking about how great Richard Spencer is, even though he directly mentions that when Trump won, Richard Spencer went full Nazi in a speech, doing the heil hitler salute along with like 20 others there, "lugenpresse", and many other clear Nazi references.

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In regards to the "JQ" and "hypocrisy," it's interesting that white nationalists make the same mistake all those "woke" anti-Israeli protesters do and regard Jews as all being white, and as one ethnicity. Israel is only really an ethnostate if one regards Ashkenazi, Ethiopian, Mizrahi, Sephardic, and convert Jews as a single ethnicity because they are all Jewish. By that logic the USA could still be counted as an ethnostate if it allowed mass immigration from Latin America, since the majority of US citizens and Latin American are Christian.

The Law of Return is essentially "open borders for Jews," regardless of ethnicity.

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Why would a group have the right of return to where their ancestors lived unless their ancestors lived there. Don’t all of these groups claim descendancy from the Jewish inhabitants pre diaspora.

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People who are not ethnically Jewish, but converted to Judaism, are eligible under the Law of Return, even though I suppose they technically aren't returning to anything. I also doubt that if future genetic ancestry tests revealed that any of the major Jewish ethnicities were mistaken about being descended from the diaspora that they would be expelled from Israel. So I guess the Law of Return is more based on the significance of that land to the Jewish religion, rather than literal ancestry.

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It's not a particularly rare mistake. People also do it with "Africans", "Europeans", and the "Chinese" and "Indians". 2 of those are artificial national identities for regions that weren't always unified and had dozens of different ethnicities and cultures and languages, and 2 of those aren't even national identities, just a huge family resemblance/spectrum of national identities and cultures.

Some Israelis even make the exact same mistake by talking about "Arabs", there is no such thing as a homogenous "Arabs", anybody who tried to learn Arabic would have been confronted with the evidence for that immediately.

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The whole "Chinese is an artificial identity" meme has swung too far away from the original pushback against the CCP considering languages like Cantonese etc. as dialects of Mandarin. With the exceptions of Tibet and the western provinces*, which most westerners view as separate anyway (see Uyghur coverage), China in its natural borders has existed with some brief interruptions for around 2000 years.

China is *remarkably* homogenous for a country of its size. The Han make up 90% of the Chinese population, and whilst yes there are some linguistic differences, 800 million speak Mandarin. This is a vastly different situation than India. The languages of the Han are about as different as the varieties of Romance (perhaps a little more, but not much) and share a written language.

Genetically speaking too, the Han are essentially on a continuum from the north to the south, where the difference between the extremes is about the same as a northern and a southern Frenchman. Northern China has more central asian/ANE if I recall correctly, as it has higher ancestral Han proportion. Southern Han has more Indo-Chinese-like/Aboriginal admixture, especially in the matrilineal line.

Describing (excluding a couple of specific minorities) a population that is as genetically homogenous as France or Italy (at a push western Europe), that has been unified politically for the vast majority of the last 2000 years, and that self conceives as a single national identity as an "artificial national identity" is clearly wrong.

*Manchuria/Mongolia too I suppose, although they've been part and parcel since the Yuan and Qing.

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Alright, good push back. I knew that China is more natural than India. But 800 million out of 1.4 billion isn't exactly a crushing linguistic majority. But I agree it's not in the same bucket as India.

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> China is *remarkably* homogenous for a country of its size.

Also rather homogeneous. Homogenous from _genesis_, origin, homogeneous from _gens_, clan.

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> The languages of the Han are about as different as the varieties of Romance

My understanding is that the modern Indian languages descendent from Sanskrit are also about as different from each other as the various Romance languages.

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Sure, but then you also have 250 million Dravidian language speakers mostly in the south, plus Tibeto-Burmans, Austroasiatics and so forth. And even then, the Indo-European groups in the north are split up into those Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Gujarati which are quite a way distinct from the Iranian languages (Farsi) in the far North-West (despite being similar in the same way Greek is similar to Urdu). I think it's reasonably well established to say that India has far greater linguistic and genetic diversity than China. The Varna/Jati systems have also led to greater genetic heterogeneity, and the archipelago effect we see today- not to mentioned the religious diversity.

Having said that, I'd still be tempted to push back on the OC claim that India is an artificial nationality. It was just easier to make the case that this claim was wrong in regards to China. Indian cultural identity (as essentially synthetic between an Indo-Aryan elite ruling over and intermarrying with a pre-conquest population) has been relatively stable and well established for thousands of years itself. Complicating matters somewhat is the strength of independent Dravidians in the South and multiple instances of foreign rule e.g. Mughals.

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Eh, at every level you can always go broader or narrower. If you regard "Ashkenazi Jews" as a single identity, you'll miss out on the German Jews hating the Russian Jews and vice versa. And even within those categories, I bet there are some spicy fights between Russian Hasidim and Russian misnagim.

Or you can just say "all humans who aren't !Kung are basically the same."

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These people regard themselves as the same nation, which is why they are. A national identity exists because people believe it does: it's a lie that people tell each other over and over until they forget it's a lie.

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Is this working up to a speech about how chaos is a ladder?

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Yes! I was wondering if anyone would get the reference

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"Jews are hypocritical because they want Israel to be an ethnostate, but support mass immigration into America"

FWIW, I have never strongly associated "mass immigration into America" with Jews. I associate mass immigration with the progressive wing of the Democratic party, and while I think American Jews skew significantly towards the Democrats (I don't know the actual statistics), I don'