As we all know, it is impossible to tile the plane with regular pentagons. However, suppose you were willing to use slightly non-regular pentagons (with different alterations on each tile) so that it *appears* to be a regular tiling. Is there any easy method to figure out how to do this and what the minimum maximum deviation from regular you would need is?

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Did you check this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_tiling

This has points where four pentagons touch. If such points are to be removed, then deviations from regularity increase a lot...

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I am also interested in this question!

Maybe we can start with filling Lobachevsky plane with pentagons and then applying some mapping function back to Euclidean. (ah no, it seems it won't work if you need tiles to be about same area)

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Are you thinking of something like a Penrose tiling?


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Guy with a high-end products/leather consulting/reviews business is named Tanner... Tanner Leatherstein. Now, is that nominative determinism or just a clever nom-de-plum for marketing purposes?

Either way, funny enough to mention. https://www.tannerleatherstein.com/about

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Seeing as I can't find any record of anyone else with that last name, I'm going to say nom de plum.

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Leatherstein is an implausible half-English half-German construction.

The full German version Lederstein does seem to be a real surname.

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This open thread is at the point where things start to wind down, so I’m just going to throw out a joke:

It’s late at night and a man is getting ready to go to bed when he hears a knock on his door. He opens it and looks down to see a snail.

“Yes,” it says. “I’d like to talk to you about buying some magazine subscriptions.” Furious at being disturbed, the man rears back, kicks the snail as hard as he can, and storms off to bed.

Two years later there comes another knock. The man answers and again he finds the snail, who looks up at him and says, “What the f*ck was that all about?”

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Oooh, saviour of the thread, with snail jokes!

There was this winemaker, see, who wanted to rid his vineyard of grapevine snails. So he hired a couple of people, gave them a little bucket each, and sent them to collect snails. At closing time, they came all back with their buckets full of snails, except one, who happened to be a retrained civil servant.

So they went to look for him, and found him in the vineyard, desperate, with the bucket empty. He explained: "Well, yes I saw the snails and went to collect them, but then: chop-chop! They all ran away!"

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https://interessant3.substack.com/ Three Interesting Things Once a Week. Pretty simple.

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I see a motte-and-bailey fallacy in every argument I *hear* that has someone say something like "Our personalities are determined by a combination of both nature/genetics and nurture/environment".

Obviously, that statement is true: both genetics and environment shape our personalities. But when people say it, there's something else going on.

The emphatic statement is: "it is a combination! We say this in iconoclastic opposition to the FOOLS who believe it to be either/or!", and the context is usually in "response" to some scientist who just showed that there is a genetic component to [homosexuality/obesity/what have you] (and who probably worked their fingers to the bone in order to do so).

But the scientist fully accepts that, aggregated across many people, it is a combination, and their little gene is one factor - so why on *earth* would people be so emphatic about this very obvious fact?

The truth is that their interest is in believing a different statement: "environment plays a larger role than genetics" - that statement is their bailey. They won't say it out loud, because it'd mean they'd have to define "larger". But they believe it, and they like believing it. It allows them to pour scorn on lots of things they don't like, things which have changed the environment of people growing up. They can use this to promote their preferred solutions to problems, without engaging with the question of how much impact their solutions would have.

When they say stuff that comes from their bailey, if you say "but genetics plays a significant part in that problem, and we may want to consider anatomy-level solutions to it, for example one study found that-", they will say "Ah but do you not see, people are this way due to a COMBINATION of genetics and environment!", and then that's it - if you reply back, no matter how quantitative you are, they will be taking you to disagree with their facile motte.

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Similar to the people who always say that correlation doesn't imply causation. Certainly an incredibly important mental model to keep in mind when doing science, but the more interesting follow-up to a correlation, is to try to explore various causality models, rather than dismissing the pattern outright.

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What if the person just wants to have an accurate understanding of the world, and thinks it really does seem like personality has both genetic and environmental influences?

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The other two repliers to you comment have done a good job of saying what I think.

Let me emphasize for a fourth time that I think that personality has both genetic and environmental influences.

In fact, it is completely boringly true: absolutely everyone believes it (try and find me someone alive today who unambiguously states that they do not believe it).

That's if we take it at face value. My claim is that you shouldn't take it at face value, because it is a "motte": a facile statement that, in practice, is used to backhandedly imply that the person they are speaking to does *not* believe it.

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>What if the person just wants to have an accurate understanding of the world, and thinks it really does seem like personality has both genetic and environmental influences?

Then its weird for them to emphasize that because virtually nobody is claiming it is entirely genetic (but on the other hand, many people scoff at the idea that personality is heritable).

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Then they should try to take account of both aspects and possibly control or otherwise identify/test the individual components.

The way OP presents it it's more about using the phrase to ignore the discussion on one side.

I don't recall seeing it much besides to argue against something being mostly one side (and presenting an absurd/noncentral example) though it seemed to be more of a "whaboutism" then what the OP mentions.

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Surely this is not surprising, though? I mean, this is what people are like. Which means, parenthetically, it must be adaptive to tribal survival, and it's interesting to speculate why.

My thought would be that it's a high-risk-high-reward gambit: let's say you're a proponent of changing the environment to solve Social Problem X. Someone comes along and offers very sound scientific evidence that the environment has a 1% effect on X. If you maintain your faith in your solution, despite good evidence ot the contrary, you are embarking on a high-risk-high-reward path. It is very likely you will turn out ot be wrong (so that's the high risk), but if you happen to turn out right -- the research was mistaken, or it turns out the environmental mod you champion turns out to be unexpectedly and spectacularly effective -- then you will reap an enormous reward, because you'll have been a prophet. So that's the high reward.

Presumably if most people in the tribe behave this way, it's a disaster, but if a relative handful do, this allows the tribe to cover a few highly-leveraged bets at low cost. (If a bet doesn't pan out, all that happens is one member of the tribe is exposed as a fool or charlatan.)

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I had a professor in my psych undergrad who opened up a class by promising to fail anyone who wrote as a conclusion in any test question or assigned essay that some trait was both the result of genetics and environment.

That's because this is a trite statement and not at all what we're interested in when talking about nature vs. nurture. What we're interested in explaining is variance - why some people are one way and other people are another. More specifically, what we want to know is the relative contribution of hereditary factors and environmental factors, which varies based on what population comparison we are making. (e.g. Height is highly heritable in America right now, but if you want to explain the variance in height in America between 1900 and 2000, it's mostly environmental factors that explain it. )

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>>>mostly environmental factors

Has someone done the math on this?

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> The truth is that their interest is in believing a different statement: "environment plays a larger role than genetics" - that statement is their bailey. They won't say it out loud, because it'd mean they'd have to define "larger". But they believe it, and they like believing it. It

I think we need to coin a Mind Reader fallacy. If a person doesn’t say something out loud how the fuck do you know what they are thinking?

I see this pretty often here. People willing to assign a set of unproven attributes, unspoken positions etc to their - sometimes simply imagined - ideological enemy.

Now I am not accusing you of the following. It’s just an exaggerated example.

“I voted Democrat.”

Oh so you are _for_ Black Lives Matter protestors burning down cities!

“Uhm no, I’m pretty much against that.”

This is rationalism?

Should I assume merely by the tone of your original post that you believe blacks are dumber and more prone to violence than whites?

I could imagine that possibility but it would be stupid to assume it’s true because you didn’t say it.

You and I don’t know each other beyond what we say out loud here.

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This is a very interesting comment, because there's something tricky to articulate here. I would like to assume you have read about motte-and-bailey, the references are this: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/03/all-in-all-another-brick-in-the-motte/ (shortish post listing examples) or this: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/07/social-justice-and-words-words-words/ (bombastic but very culture war heavy, in fact one of the most CW SSC posts) - either one is fine.

I'm absolutely convinced that Motte-and-Bailey is a big part of political discourse. A very current example is Kanye's "white lives matter" thing (sorry for CW but I think it can be throwaway!) - everyone knows not to take that phrase at face value. But with your comment, you're pointing out something negative about the use of "Motte-and-bailey". And I think it's right to do so, because MaB is in some sense "the good/sophisticated version of strawmanning"

"Bob strawmans Alice" = Alice said X. Bob, immediately after Alice said X, gave gave an argument against Y, demonstrating clearly the foolishness and nastiness of Y. But Alice objected that she did not actually believe Y, she only believes X.

"Bob accused Alice of having a motte-and-bailey" = Alice said X. Bob, immediately after Alice said X, gave an argument against Y. Because Bob knew that when people say X, it's really a motte for their bailey. Their bailey is Y.

Everyone hates being strawmanned, myself included. So, motte-and-baileying too much is bad. I'm not sure of a good, bullet-proof solution to this, other than taking extremely large amounts of time and care with arguments against individuals.

But why exactly would so many people so consistently say "personality it is a combination of genetic and environmental influences" in response to me saying "a study recently found a genetic influence on X"? Even though, again, everyone knows that statement is true?

There's a pattern. You're right that I can't be certain about them believing "environment plays a larger role"! But I think the widespreadness of this belief is the best explanation for the pattern I've observed.

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I think I had a handle on M&B but I did go back and read the SSC posts

This is so tricky without actual examples.

I can think of a number of reasons why some would assert “but it both!” other than some hidden agenda.


Not a directly applicable example but if it’s 104 degrees in the shade chances are you will hear someone say “Hot enough for you”.

IOW Sometimes it’s just a vocal tic that people automatically deploy in certain circumstances.


Related to habit. Hmm this may not apply to what this guy just said, but it’s commonly accepted that ‘it’s both’ so if I don’t feel like thinking very carefully at least nobody can say I’m _wrong_.

Group think:

No explanation necessary.

Foul mood:

I had an argument with my wife this morning, so I’m not conceding anything today.

Petty dominance game:

If I disagree I won’t cede any of my - imaginary - power.

In the end your thesis may be correct but I’m probably a lot older than you so I can’t avoid remembering all the times I’ve incorrectly surmised other peoples’ motivations. At least not without putting my liver at risk. jk

I don’t think my theory of mind is any wackier than the next guy’s but experience has taught me to be very careful about saying “I know what you are thinking.”

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>I don’t think my theory of mind is any wackier than the next guy’s but experience has taught me to be very careful about saying “I know what you are thinking.”

As I already explained to you, we can infer it from the implications they think this statement has - namely those that imply environmental differences are what is important.

Your exapmle with Democrats and BLM is extremely poor. Those are two distinct things, whereas Hamish is directly talking about different statements about the exact same thing - heritability.

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I can see why those things would cause the person to say "but it both". But I don't see why it would create a general pattern of people saying that rather than something else.

I wouldn't say I *know* that a given person is motte-and-baileying. Just that, at this point, I think they are around 70+%. And it's very annoying, because if it really is the case that 50+% of the time I am talking to someone who disagrees with me about something, they should just come out and say that thing. That would probably lead to a more interesting discussion for everyone, and in any case it would be a more honest one.

To put it differently, they should defend their bailey, instead of pretending that I am attacking their motte (when really their motte is boringly true / in no way something I would deny).

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Having slept on it I can offer my own bit of mind reading of hidden motivation. Fear of starting a discussion that will wander into eugenics.

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Haha, well don't worry, I just read YOUR mind ;) the wonders of language! I do not agree with Emil Kirkegaard, but I do agree with Toby Young.

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>I think we need to coin a Mind Reader fallacy. If a person doesn’t say something out loud how the fuck do you know what they are thinking?

By inferring it from the implications they believe follow from their declarations of "combination!"

Countless times I've heard people say something to the effect of "intelligence is affected by genes but its also affected by environment, so that means we should still be providing more funding to schools". This obscures the extent that environmental variations explains intelligence variation and therefore whether a given funding increase could be expected to provide an adequate return on investment even taking "environment" naively, but it also completely ignores how much of that fraction IS a result of educational variation specifically.

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Give me an example of a person who wrote an autobiography that no one cared about or bought.

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There was one called Nobody Gives a Shit What I've Been Through, but I didn't read it.

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If I wanted to put some time into answering this question, I'd look into getting API access to the Amazon reviews and/or sales rank data. Amazon categorizes books as memoir, and within that category, there are sure to be some items with no sales and no reviews (or only bad reviews). The authors of those are who you're asking about.

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There's a Reddit thread for best and worst autobiographies, that's as close as I can get to ignored.


Confessions of a Sociopath sounds like it's in the running. Apparently it's heavy narcissism from someone who's not actually a diagnosed sociopath.

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How would anyone know about it?

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Ain't no such critter - everyone got a momma.

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What does the expression "For a cool [amount of money]" mean?

I've heard it many times in my life, but have never understood what "For a cool" added to such statements.

I found this definition online, but is it right?


You can use cool to emphasize that an amount or figure is very large, especially when it has been obtained easily.

[informal, emphasis]

Columbia recently re-signed the band for a cool $30 million.

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I believe cool actually refers to the lack of hyperbole.

The phrase dates backs to the 1700s but was also the title of a famous early 1930s novel satirizing Horatio Alger.

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Seems to be a bit of a vague one. Cool in this instance can be short for 'cool headed', in which case the amount of money is the whole of the amount listed no exaggeration or undercounting. Alternatively, it could be cool as a descriptor in which case it's as you found it, signifying the amount of money is surprisingly large.

So, to use an example. A meal that cost a cool twenty would have cost exactly twenty bucks. A meal that cost a cool two hundred is an approximate but this was remarkably high for a meal.

Hope that helps.

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Does anyone else ever make it a point to click-through Substack emails to new posts, so that supported bloggers get better "engagement" numbers on email blasts? Or is that not how such things work anymore?

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every time. what else would i do?

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Someone pseudonymous is booting up a blog on the mindset of privacy concerns at https://psyvacy.substack.com/ - are there any others adjacent to this topic out there?

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If India managed to maintain it's caste system largely unchanged for thousands of years, why did the caste system in the Southern United States so rapidly collapse?

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A cursory glance at the Wikipedia page suggests that the caste system very much did not exist largely unchanged for thousands of years...

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Genetic analysis demonstrates that the anti-colonial rhetoric of WP is incorrect.

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I’m guessing you’re looking for something in Western culture, not the fact that the Confederacy lost the civil war.

There’s Christianity and the fact that chattel slavery was not a big part of the European culture that first settled the United States.

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>I’m guessing you’re looking for something in Western culture, not the fact that the Confederacy lost the civil war.

But the lower castes did not lose an analogous war, because such war was never fought. Which means that losing a war cannot possibily be the fundamnetal explanation.

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I should have specified I meant the early 20th Century Jim Crow state of affairs.

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I’m confused. The Jim Crow era was a period when whites were trying to re-establish the caste system.

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the Southern United States.

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And the founding of the United States was throwing off the English caste system. No more state-granted noble titles, no more "jury of your peers", All Men Are Created Equal.

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I think this is very naive. The early US had extremely powerful families that took the place of British nobility.

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Not really. Some early powerful US families attempted to set themselves up in the manner similar to which the British aristocracy functioned: buy big tracts of land, then live idly off the rent. The massive and ever-expanding availability of land in the US made this model non-viable and both flattened the class system and made it much less calcified as people were able to rise in wealth and prestige via trades and trading.

There were certainly powerful families but economic differences made the social structure of revolutionary America very different.

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I'm continuing my 2 year hobby of memorising a monthly poem. I'm still looking for recommendations, under the loose criteria of having a rhyme scheme, being at least somewhat significant culturally, and shorter than ~50 lines. What are poems that have resonated with you? In particular I am also looking for poems dealing with grief and loss.

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At Henry's Bier, by John Berryman

At Henry’s bier let some thing fall out well:

enter there none who somewhat has to sell,

the music ancient & gradual,

the voices solemn but the grief subdued,

no hairy jokes but everybody’s mood

subdued, subdued,

until the Dancer comes, in a short short dress

hair black & long & loose, dark dark glasses,

uptilted face,

pallor & strangeness, the music changes

to “Give!” & “Ow!” an how! the music changes,

she kicks a backward limb

on tiptoe, pirouettes, & she is free

to the knocking music, sails, dips, & suddenly

returns to the terrible gay

occasion hopeless & mad, she weaves, it’s hell,

she flings to her head a leg, bobs, all is well,

she dances Henry away.

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Naming of Parts,

Ars poetica https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/17168/ars-poetica

The Shield of Achilles https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=26040 and

Repose of https://dailypoetry.me/hart-crane/repose-rivers/

all lack the rhyme scheme, but I love them all. Second the recommendation of The Oracle, and the Kipling (Ford o Kabul River is another).

Oh, and also Lady of Shallot. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45360/the-lady-of-shalott-1842

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I strongly recommend Clive James' "Japanese Maple":

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.

So slow a fading out brings no real pain.

Breath growing short

Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain

Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see

So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls

On that small tree

And saturates your brick back garden walls,

So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends

This glistening illuminates the air.

It never ends.

Whenever the rain comes it will be there,

Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.

Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.

What I must do

Is live to see that. That will end the game

For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,

A final flood of colours will live on

As my mind dies,

Burned by my vision of a world that shone

So brightly at the last, and then was gone.

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Well, for a killer one, there's Seamus Heaney's "Mid-Term Break" (c'mon Substack, let us format comments or at least keep line-break formatting instead of clumping it all together):

Mid-Term Break


I sat all morning in the college sick bay

Counting bells knelling classes to a close.

At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying—

He had always taken funerals in his stride—

And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram

When I came in, and I was embarrassed

By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble'.

Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,

Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.

At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived

With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops

And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him

For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,

He lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.

No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four-foot box, a foot for every year.

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Kipling's "Hymn to Breaking Strain" is a favorite of mine.

I also like Houseman "The Oracles"

My favorite Kipling poem is "The Mary Gloster," a Browning monolog that I think better than Browning's, but it is more than fifty lines.

"They flee from me that sometimes did me seek" by Wyatt is short and good.

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Derek Mahon is a favourite and I love his account of Horace's eleventh ode (carpe diem)

Don’t waste your time, Leuconoé, living in fear and hope

of the imprevisable future; forget the horoscope.

Accept whatever happens. Whether the gods allow

us fifty winters more or drop us at this one now

which flings the high Tyrrhenian waves on the stone piers,

decant your wine: the days are more fun than the years

which pass us by while we discuss them. Act with zest

one day at a time, and never mind the rest.

"The days are more fun than the years...." is a sentiment I try to bring to mind very frequently.

In rather different vein, Emily Dickinson's poems are nice and short for remembering, and this one moves me very much

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted opon Earth –

The Sweeping up the Heart

And putting Love away

We shall not want to use again

Until Eternity

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Wonderful and moving poem indeed!

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Since it's spooky season, what about The Raven? I don't know if it's the right length, but I love Kubla Khan. And how do you feel about Robert Service? The Cremation of Sam McGee is really fun and spooky (and deals with loss).

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The Raven is actually my project for next year! I think having 24 shorter poems under my belt, it will be time to try something longer and the Raven has been a favourite of mine for a long time now.

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Dirge Without Music


I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned

With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.

Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.

A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,

A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love ,—

They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled

Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

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And, of course, also by Millay:


by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age

The child is grown, and puts away childish things.

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.

Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course

Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour,

And they gave one candy in a pink-and-green stripéd bag, or a jack-knife,

And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.

And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,

And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion

With fleas that one never knew were there,

Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,

Trekking off into the living world.

You fetch a shoe-box, but it's much too small, because she won't curl up now:

So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.

But you do not wake up a month from then, two months

A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night

And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God! Oh, God!

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,

—mothers and fathers don't die.

And if you have said, "For heaven's sake, must you always be kissing a person?"

Or, "I do wish to gracious you'd stop tapping on the window with your thimble!"

Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you're busy having fun,

Is plenty of time to say, "I'm sorry, mother."

To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died,

who neither listen nor speak;

Who do not drink their tea, though they always said

Tea was such a comfort.

Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries;

they are not tempted.

Flatter them, ask them what was it they said exactly

That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;

They are not taken in.

Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,

Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake

them and yell at them;

They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed; they slide

back into their chairs.

Your tea is cold now.

You drink it standing up,

And leave the house.

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Don't know many. I guess I'll suggest O Fortuna. Do they have to be in English?

Don't think The Spider and the Fly count as grief or loss, but it's 44 lines.

The Logical Song, by Supertramp? Music counts as poems, right?

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It seems to be popular in our host's circles to reference The Hymn of Breaking Strain, a poem by Kipling. (For instance, it was explicitly used in Unsong and obliquely referenced in Project Lawful.) It rhymes, is roughly 50 lines long, and is somewhat about loss.


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"Margaret, are you grieving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leaves like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah! As the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you wíll weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sorrow’s springs are the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It is the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for."

I don't usually like Hopkins, and I still have trouble with bits of it, but it may be the only one of his I've memorized.

"They shut the road through the woods

Seventy years ago.

Weather and rain have undone it again,

And now you would never know

There was once a road through the woods

Before they planted the trees.

It is underneath the coppice and heath,

And the thin anemones.

Only the keeper sees

That, where the ring-dove broods,

And the badgers roll at ease,

There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods

Of a summer evening late,

When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools

Where the otter whistles his mate,

(They fear not men in the woods,

Because they see so few.)

You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,

And the swish of a skirt in the dew,

Steadily cantering through

The misty solitudes,

As though they perfectly knew

The old lost road through the woods.

But there is no road through the woods."

There's likely plenty better suited to your query in Kipling, and certainly plenty worth memorizing, but this does deal with loss, in a way, and is one of his better-known ones. I think it's the first poem I ever memorized.

There's always The Sally Gardens; I know it as a song, but it was a poem first. Or Do Not Go Gentle.

Ozymandius is loss in a different sense. ("I met a traveler from an antique land...")

I will chime in again if I think of others. It's a fascinating query.

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Thank you for these, they are lovely. The Road Through The Wood is a good one, I've always been a fan of Kipling.

Do Not Go Gentle and Ozymandius are already in my repertoire!

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Another (short) good lesser known Robert Frost poem is "I Have Been One Acquainted With the Night".

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I'm over 70 and one of the things that occasionally bugs me is that my motivation for doing anything has gone (not that I need to do much, but I really enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing something). I understand that testosterone is not the answer; ideas?

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Adderall is energy and motivation in a little white pill. It's not very good for you, but in your place I'd put it on the list of possibilities. Sartre used amphetamines to power through the process of writing his final book.

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Have you had your test levels checked though?

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I'm much younger than you, but suffer from Chronic Fatigue, which I think gives me some insight into what you're feeling. David Friedman's suggestion below is a good one, but the other part I'd add in is the importance of spending time with other people, in person. If you like games, play against other humans. If you like reading, talk to people about the books you're reading, or make a point of sitting and reading together. Spending time with younger, more energetic people should also help - I gather grand-kids are good for that, if you have them :)

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I have a one hour skype with my grandson once a week.

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I am also over 70. A good many years ago I concluded that if I spent all my time playing — arguing online, reading fiction, playing computer games — I felt stale. So I committed myself to spending two hours a day, seven days a week, on writing projects, broadly defined. In addition to making the rest of the day feel like an earned vacation, it also gets me into doing things that give me a feeling of accomplishment. I have finally managed to complete a poem I had been thinking about doing for a couple of decades, have written chapter drafts for what should end up as a book or two on a range of topics largely inspired by my accumulated blog posts, somewhat over a thousand of them.

Might work for you, might not, but once you are committed to spending the time you may end up finding interesting things to spend it on. Certainly I did.

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Hang in there Owen.

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I can highly recommend Huberman's video on Motivation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA50EK70whE

It goes through all the mechanisms (physical and mental) that they have researched which affect Dopamine, Epinephrine and Acetylcholine - He goes through all the tools that affect these three and I would highly recommend looking at this

The item that is not covered is hormonal precursor / impacts on motivation and Focus.

If you are interested in this and want a deeper dive into Dopamine and Motivation he has another indepth dive here: https://youtu.be/QmOF0crdyRU

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I feel dumb offering suggestions to someone older and wiser than me, so sorry if any of this comes across as obvious.

Do you get out often? I find walks and a change of scenery motivates me like nothing else. Grab a coffee, say hi to a stranger, look at buildings, birds... By the time I get home I'm shaken out of whatever monotony was keeping me unmotivated.

I also watched Don Hertzfeldt's 'It's Such a Beautiful Day' recently which gave a temporary boost.

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Thanks for writing a considered reply. I get out often, walk a lot in nature but it doesn't increase my motivation. Sorry!!

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Have you tried Ritalin/Adderall/misc dopamine-increasing substance ?

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Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

No. Not keen on amphetamines

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Perhaps modafinil / armodafinil is worth a shot then ?

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I know that the original poster mentioned NOT (testosterone), but to go straight to recommending medication (in two posts) seems extremely odd.

Are you a health care professional with prescribing privileges?

I'm in 60s. It's seems the first thing would likely investigation of the history. It seems like he is really looking for a hobby or hobbies and for an investigation into possible anhedonia or to distinguish between lack of motivation that could just a normal symptom of generally getting older or if it is sign possibly depression or some other ailment.

While the owen tries something small like to do wordle for 10 days, I'd suggest Owen also try some self investigation: What things did you use to do, what does your spouse, your siblings, and your friends do and think of about motivation and decreased motivation with age. Is lack of motivation a 20 year slide or a 2 year thing corresponding to pandemic or related to retirement or a 6 month acute drop. And then talk with your primary care physician armed with thorough and honest history.

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"It seems like he is really looking for a hobby or hobbies and for an investigation into possible anhedonia or to distinguish between lack of motivation that could just a normal symptom of generally getting older or if it is sign possibly depression or some other ailment."

I actually think that is your take on what he *should* be asking for. In fact he is asking for suggestions. Given that, I think it is reasonable to include drugs that increase motivation and energy on the list. He's a grown-up, & can take into consideration the downside of using those drugs. (And it's not as though there's no downside to ruminating alone or with a shrinkazoid about whether he is anhedonic, just getting old, or experiencing a sign of Some Other Ailment)

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I don't think any one without a license to prescribe should be recommending prescription medication.

That medications are even advertised in US is highly problematic.

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lots of discourse on direct action strategies of protesters, including splashing tomato soup on van gogh paintings and pouring milk on the floor of a grocery store. i think its a great example of coupling "we die in a climate crisis" with "you dont get to enjoy art anymore because we are dying".

my model of change is that

1. first people get upset at you because they are being inconvenienced, ie you dont get to enjoy art, your favorite highway was blocked off and now you're late to work

2. weeks later they know protestors are just a fact of life, and now its the government's fault they havent gotten off their asses and done something about it

i myself have done some disruptions, and jail is pretty traumatizing, but i'd say if you measured my successes by way of the Unit of Caring (the us dollar) i provided 5 million usd of value.

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You know, if you people had enough sense to do something like covering an oil billionaire's car in black oil/grease (or at least, black paint), you might have something resembling success in this regard. It doesn't inconvenience regular people, you're not mindlessly lashing out at something irrelevant that people value, few people are going to feel bad (and may even feel good) about seeing some rich asshole having his car ruined.

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I think a better explanation of this act is similar to the first section of Scott's "Toxoplasma of Rage": https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/ (which I really need to re-read again because it's been a while)

Throwing soup at a one-of-a-kind painting is dumb. Doing it to protest something unrelated is also dumb. You're going to make a lot of people mad at your and your organization. *But* you bring awareness to your cause. Whether that awareness-anger-ratio is worth it seems debatable.

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disruption is a key component of civil disobedience protests. because disruption spreads uncertainty and gives weak actors leverage against powerful opponents, it is the strongest weapon of social movements.

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So would it be OK for the police to come break some shit in your living room in an effort to gain, you know, leverage?

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This is all just meaningless words

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I don't think this is right. The goto example is the Civil Rights Movement, right? Thing is, that only worked because of the overreaction of the authorities. Same as in 2020 with BLM. Early on the police were surprised and got caught on camera beating the crap out of random people, including old dudes with canes. That got the problem good attention, and brought out huge protests and lots of support. Which disappeared as the police got their shit together.

Disruption gets you attention, yes. But either your cause has to be unknown and very sympathetic (the Jim Crow south), or you have to provoke a reaction that pisses people off more than your action does (Jim Crow again, May 2020 BLM). Fail at both and you're just hurting your cause, by drawing attention to it and linking to something negative (throwing soup at a painting).

Note: the painting was not damaged, so my earlier reaction was over the top. Damaging the frame isn't a crime against humanity the way that destroying a Van Gogh would have been.

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The awareness it raises is "oh, those are the soup-throwing idiots" which doesn't really advance the cause.

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Controversies, whether about climate change or other things, happen because people disagree. It's natural enough to assume that your view of what should happen is correct but if you know that many intelligent and well informed people disagree, shouldn't you discount your estimate of the value of what you did to allow for the possibility that you were wrong and any effect you had was to make the world worse off rather than better off?

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ive read a lot of books by people who have studied social change for decades and they say its cool to engage in nonviolent direct action that exacerbates contradictions, demonstrates power, and can't be ignored. one of my favorites is This is an uprising by englers

further, it seems like a very very bad idea to take advice from people who are ideologically opposed and committed to your failure. its just not a good idea.

finally, i dont think most of these commenters are well informed. there is a great inferential gap between us, and idk what to do about that while most of them are saying "actually you should be in jail longer". it certainly makes me think that they are not Well Informed

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Anyone can get a book published nowadays, so I'm not sure why you think "reading lots of books" is a sign of credibility. I'm sure plenty of Flat Earthers and Q-Anon believers read a lot of books too, and those books reinforce their own views, just like the ones you've read have reinforced yours. And for what it's worth, I have a Master's degree in Political Science and I've never heard of the book you mentioned. (Granted, contrary to what a lot of right-wingers think, Saul Alinsky and Abbie Hoffman were never part of our curriculum, and while we did read Marx, it was with the specific understanding that he was wrong. So maybe the world of academia is just too "establishment" for your liking.)

Honest question though: Is there anything that anyone here can say that will actually cause you to adjust your beliefs or stances by even the slightest amount? Because it certainly doesn't look that way, which makes me wonder why you even bothered posting this in the first place. Just as a way of bragging and Owning The Libs from the left?

As the old saying goes, "a fanatic is someone who can't change their mind and won't change the subject." And there is little value in debating fanatics.

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>further, it seems like a very very bad idea to take advice from people who are ideologically opposed and committed to your failure. its just not a good idea.

Then why are you here telling us about how great your actions are?

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You don't think you can learn anything by listening to the arguments of people who disagree with you? That seems like a policy designed to make sure that, if you are wrong, you don't discover it.

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The people blocking that pipeline back in 2016 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakota_Access_Pipeline_protests) were engaging in non-violent direct action, and while I didn't agree with them, I could respect their commitment, and wished the best for everyone involved. There are legitimate protest actions that people can take to effect change.

You haven't mentioned any here. You're deliberately stopping random people getting to work, to effect something they have no control over. What, are you protesting car use as a whole? If you're opposed to gas use, then protest outside the central fuel station, block the trucks delivering the gas. You'll still get arrested, and piss people off, and not change anything, but at least you'll be targeting the group responsible instead of complete strangers.

Absolutely no one thinks the best way to win a war is to invade your enemy's neighbors first. Making more enemies won't help you.

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>Absolutely no one thinks the best way to win a war is to invade your enemy's neighbors first. Making more enemies won't help you.

Not at all your point but the Netherlands and Belgium would like a word . . .

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And look how that turned out for Germany! But you have a good point that "X is clearly false" != " no one believes X"

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hey cant help but notice but that protest that you posted literally didn't work? im talking about effective activism

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I think you're wrong. The pipeline became a huge cause on the left, forcing the Obama administration to repeatedly delay it and finally deny cert. The Trump admin restarted it, then the Biden admin re-stopped it. The corp trying to build it finally cancelled it, probably realizing that it was going to get shut off every other decade if they didn't.

It's a textbook example of making an unknown cause famous, providing sympathetic protesters, getting them abused by unsympathetic security forces (they hosed the protesters down in the winter, if memory serves), and finally winning your point. It was absolutely effective.

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And yet you failed to notice you're copying toddlers. "Throw food and then lie down in the street" doesn't make the President of the United States give you what you want for the one month he has authority to do so.

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Can you give an example of effective activism?

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greensborough north carolina 1960, many black people, mostly students, committed the crime of sitting in at a restaurant, and it was deeply unpopular, and it was coordinated by people willing to fight legal battles and imprisonment. and in 4 years copycat protests became popular, and normies had to concede that it didnt make much sense to deny freedom to an underclass when they wielded such power (sitting in at restaurants)

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Not sure why this generated such a fuss. Kids say dopey things sometimes. They usually grow out of it.

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im 30 thanks

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30 year olds should know better than to say goofy stuff like their impotent rage has created $5 million in value

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Not everyone has reached mental maturity by age 30. Some never do.

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My guess is that <ambiguous pronoun> is probably just messing around. And <AP> is pleased to have generated a couple hundred reactions with what <AP> probably knows is a weak argument. Jerking our chain for fun. I could be way off base, but that’s my read.

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I can only imagine what must be going through your mind reading all of these comments. Perhaps you dismiss all of this through some rationalization; "they're out to get me", "these people are ignorant", "they're trolling" but that would be a real pity.

In this reply there are a lot of people who have given you a very specific critique and this should shed some light on your belief structures that may be faulty.

Although if you convinced someone that the god they believed in for their entire life was false would they thank you

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i will engage with posts that demonstrate charity

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"i myself have done some disruptions, and jail is pretty traumatizing, but i'd say if you measured my successes by way of the Unit of Caring (the us dollar) i provided 5 million usd of value."

No offense, but this sounds absolutely delusional. If anything, you've provided negative value to whatever movements you claim to support, because you wanted to do something that *felt cathartic* instead of putting in the work to actually bring about any real changes in policy and/or public opinion. The real work of change is quite boring and tedious: It involves a lot of long hours making phone calls, knocking doors, handing out flyers on street corners, writing letters to your local elected representatives, going to town hall meetings, and lots of banal logistical work that would make the average day at the office seem exciting by comparison. I should know, I've spent literally years doing it! But the new breed of Very Online edgelord activists wants to skip all the hard parts and focus on "fun" stuff like arguing with people on Twitter, vandalizing public property, and shouting at normies so you can feel self-righteously superior to them, regardless of how unproductive or even counter-productive it may be.

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you are listing a lot of activities involved in electoralism, which is useful for turning already-won victories into legislation and policy. however, i think there are more fundamental and actually effective strategies by way of, for instance, organizing marches - which are meant to silently imply "look how we can march around like a military force would" as well as demonstrating a count of voters. another more fundemental and actually effective strategy is to fight legal battles by committing a premediated and carefully planned crime, designed to force out the contradictions between current policy and human values

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Oct 21, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

"however, i think there are more fundamental and actually effective strategies by way of, for instance, organizing marches - which are meant to silently imply "look how we can march around like a military force would" as well as demonstrating a count of voters."

This is highly ineffective, because no one is actually going to be afraid of these people. They represent an extremely small percentage of the overall population, and the moment they actually tried to *act* like a military (e.g. actually use force), they would be completely annihilated. They are allowed to march around precisely because of the fact that they're no real threat to anyone, and in a liberal democratic society, the state and the populace are inclined to tolerate such behaviors as long as they don't become *too* disruptive. But the tolerance of the majority isn't infinite, and stunts like the soup incident will definitely cause it to wane.

There are situations in which the tactics you're describing can work: For example, if the actual military is on the side of the protesters (as was the case during several Latin American coups), or if the protesters have the support of an overwhelming majority of the overall population (as was the case during many of the Arab Spring revolts). But neither of those are true in 21st century America. Expecting that a movement with support from less than 1% of the overall population can intimidate the other 99% into appeasing their demands is absurd.

"another more fundemental and actually effective strategy is to fight legal battles by committing a premediated and carefully planned crime, designed to force out the contradictions between current policy and human values"

And unless you're fighting specifically for people's right to vandalize famous works of art (which is a cause that very few people would get behind), the soup incident doesn't fall into this category at all. The crime is entirely unrelated to the thing you're actually protesting.

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Oct 20, 2022·edited Oct 21, 2022

"human values", of course, referring to things that have only ever existed in modern european-majority societies. Though I'm sure you have some 'progressive savage' understanding of world history.

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"weeks later they know protestors are just a fact of life, and now its the government's fault they havent gotten off their asses and done something about it"

Yes, but when people start demanding that the government "do something," what they have in mind is "using whatever degree of force is necessary to suppress the protests," not "giving the protesters everything they want."

It's been statistically proven that these sorts of extreme methods always *reduce* popular support for whatever cause the protesters are fighting for: Back in 2020, support for the Black Lives Matter movement was up to almost 80% when the protests started, but declined to around 50% after weeks of rioting and extreme demands like "abolish the police," with the steepest declines in the cities that had the greatest amount of violent incidents and property damage. Hell, in Kenosha, support for BLM declined to barely over 50% *among the Black population!*

Splashing tomato soup on priceless works of art does nothing but make people hate the perpetrators and, by extension, climate activists in general. If this turns out to just be a one-off incident, then people will probably forget about it quickly enough, but if things like this start to happen on a regular basis, then it will absolutely torpedo support for environmentalism. (For that matter, the whole narrative that "climate change will literally kill us all and cause human extinction!" also hurts the climate movement, because it's completely bogus and a great many people are aware of that fact. Very few actual climate scientists believe that, and you can't convincingly tell people to "trust the science" while simultaneously denying it yourself.)

Also, leaving aside the many pragmatic arguments against this type of aggressive activism, the whole notion that "we are suffering, therefore other people shouldn't be allowed to be content" is just deeply unethical. It's seen as abusive when people do it on the individual level, why should it be seen as any less evil when it's done on the societal level?

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Thank you for doing this. That was a really good response.

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This is exactly what I came here to say, and you said it better than I could!

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I'm going to destroy a literally irreplaceable painting if I don't get my way right now is not a successful protest. I don't actually know what those guys were protesting against, and I don't care. If I found out, I would be for that thing because fuck those guys. I can't imagine the worldview of a person who that protest would influence positively. It's alien to me.

As to stuff like the public roads, that's well enough I suppose. I think it's bad tactics, be it done with tractors, trucks or bodies, but yeah, that's fine enough and something gov't can and should deal with in normal ways. But I think, on balance, it probably hurts rather than helps whatever cause it supposed to represent.

But destroying a Van Gogh is fucking well out of bounds and those assholes should go to jail for the rest of their lives for crimes against humanity.

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Fortunately, there was a glass in the frame in front of the Van Gogh. You can thus reduce your ire to "these imbeciles were too stupid to destroy the irreplaceable painting".

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I assumed they knew there was a glass frame and so intended to get the intention without actually destroying some irreplaceable priceless thing.

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Yeah, I saw that, but thanks for pointing it out in a reply. Glad I was overreacting. I'm going to assume that they knew it was protected and that they intended their protest to be "the art is temporarily unavailable" and not "priceless masterwork permanently damaged".

That drops it back to a public roads protest. I might be sympathetic or unsympathetic, but whatever. Ultimately I think that the people who made the news blocking the road that Trump was taking to a rally in 2016 help his campaign, and the truckers that blocked the roads (in Canada and here) in 2021/2 hurt the legitimacy of the anti-mandate crowd (both by tying anti-mandate to anti-vax and by being unsympathetic jerks). But that's a matter of tactics and choices and as long as you take the legal consequences without complaint I'm basically fine it.

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I think there's a gap in your strategy.

#1 definitely happens, but when people are upset about #1 going into #2, people are just as likely to demand that government "get of their asses" and do something about the *protestors*, rather than demand that whatever issue is being protested be fixed.

See, for example, the explosion of state laws making it easier to run over protesters who are blocking the road. Or the attempts to require a minimum distance between protestors and abortion clinics. Depending on the situation, nuisance protests can easily make people more upset at the protestor than they are about the issue being protested. Which is kinda one of the inherent risks of a tactic that involves being a nuisance to people.

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See also the disturbing number of people who think Kyle Rittenhouse was a hero. Not "stupid kid but technically innocent", but positively heroic in his selfless efforts to protect the community from dangerous criminals.

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How would you view similar activists for causes you aren't as enthused about (say anti-abortionists or whatever)? As nutters or as kindred spirits? Creating a nuisance or effecting a change?

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Funny you should mention that! There were pro-life campaigners who tried using signs with graphic imagery of aborted foetuses and similar tactics.

Did it work? No.

Do you think the received story about "abortion clinic bombers and abortion doctors assassins" means that those tactics worked?

So yes, if some pro-life group went around throwing tins of tomato soup on paintings and gluing themselves to the road, I would think they were idiot nuisances. What worked in the USA? The Supreme Court saying decisions on abortion law should go back to the states to make legislation, and decades of work plugging away at pro-life issues. Not shock tactics, not publicity stunts.

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Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

It's a great example of "being a goddamn idiot doing pointless virtue signalling".

The balding young man in a dress spray-painting the Aston Martin showroom garnered nothing but some amused derision. If you want ordinary people to take whatever it is you are protesting about seriously, try not looking like a reject from a Monty Python sketch.

Splashing tomato soup over a van Gogh does what, exactly? They blattered on about cold, hungry families not being able to afford to heat a tin of soup, but they would have done more for an actual cold, hungry family by donating those wasted tins of soup to a charity or - horror of horrors! - getting off their privileged middle-class backsides and going out to deliver hot meals to the old and indigent.

But that wouldn't have garnered the same feeling of "Fighting Da Man!" now would it?

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Also, many people do actually go out and deliver food to the hungry, or help out in a soup kitchen, or whatever else. None of them ever appear in a news article or trend on social media. The people who get news and social media coverage are the ones who throw a can of soup at a painting or dump milk on the floor of a store.

We reward the attention-grabbing and destructive behavior, and ignore the decent and helpful behavior. And we get more of what we reward....

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Care to give more detail about how you estimated 5 million usd of value?

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Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

>2. weeks later they know protestors are just a fact of life, and now its the government's fault they havent gotten off their asses and done something about it

This doesn't work for climate change. No government on earth can stop climate change by passing some policies. If GHG are going to be meaningfully reduced, it's going to be a process occurring over decades involving cooperation between many countries.

Honestly, this all sounds like you trying to justify throwing tantrums which you enjoy throwing instead of actually putting in the work to determine what will be actually effective and executing it.

Almost the only people who support this kind of action are people who already agree with you. People in the middle just think you're a bunch of nutters and if anything are put off by this silliness.

>i myself have done some disruptions, and jail is pretty traumatizing, but i'd say if you measured my successes by way of the Unit of Caring (the us dollar) i provided 5 million usd of value.

This is delusional

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I mean I understand and respect your intent but I think the more likely result is that people will indeed think "it's the government's fault they haven't gotten off their asses and done something about it," but they'll want 'doing something about it' to mean arrests/jail time/making it a felony to block the highway on their morning commute.

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The best way to protest is to work to make batteries, PV modules, and carbon capture from the air ridiculously cheap.

Some people are doing that.

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Yes the best but also simultaneously the most difficult

It's much easier to destroy.

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Brilliant cheap carbon capture machines: Plants! Luckily they have a lot of them in Brazil. How would some random person in North America or Europe go about to stop the Brazilian government from destroying its rainforests?

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Perhaps Europe could set an example, not destroy its own old growth woods?

...oh, right...

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Yeah, dang it, a couple of centuries too late for that!

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Exactly what I always say. People who lack the competence or work ethic to actually contribute to solutions, so they just pull a worthless little stunt where the real goal is getting attention like a toddler. If you care that deeply about climate change, go study climate science and join a team working on carbon capture. Or get involved politically and try to get some wins on the local level.

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> who usually don't deliberately throw soup at paintings.

Citation needed

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"I bravely put myself out there with my comb-over and terrible fashion choices to protest a luxury car brand!"


Just out of curiosity, where do these people think the tins of soup, glue, and canister to spray-paint come from? How are these items produced? Could they possibly involve the use of.... oil?

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The paint spraying is harmless, which means it's also ineffectual. He (she? they? hard to tell what their preferred pronouns are when they're clearly male but also wearing a long dress) didn't smash the window or engage in serious property damage, which avoids getting arrested (probably?) but also just means this is "nuisance" level protest rather than anything useful.

Yes, it got publicity. But the publicity it got was "who's this tosser?" not "ah, my awareness of the seriousness of climate change has been raised". It's very nice of them that this group, whomever they may be, are fully inclusive of non-binary folx as street-level activists but does that do anything practical towards stopping oil (or whatever it is they are protesting)?

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hey i will engage with serious replies that demonstrate charity. its not worth my time to try to bridge some gap if you can't lend me even an ounce of decorum

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Decorum? You're the one trying to overhaul society. Why do you deserve "decorum"? Do you "lend an ounce of decorum" to people who disagree with you in good faith on contentious political issues? Of COURSE you don't. Those people are RACISTS or SEXISTS or TRANSPHOBICS and they deserve to be destroyed.

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Hm? You mean their disruptive direct action didn't jolt you out of your complacency and cause you to change your position?

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If you come on here to boast that by your own estimation you have caused $5 million worth of disruption, then it is on you to put up or shut up about how you derive that figure, what good or benefit you imagine you have done, and the final efficacy of anything that you might have participated in.

Did your protesting or night in jail actually achieve anything other than give you the feeling of "I'm so badass, such a rebel against Badness and Mean Stuff!"? Did you get anything done other than waste the time of the cops and the courts? Can you point to anything about "after my/our protest, this bad thing was stopped and/or this good thing was put in its place"?

And why does a ruff'n'tuff disruptor of social norms care about decorum, anyhow?

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"Let's go block that highway because we have strong political opinions. Don't worry, people will forget we made them angry in a few weeks."

"Hi. I'm the guy who kept you stuck in traffic for 3 hours that day. Can we have a civil conversation about how that was totally worth it to me?"

Maybe your model of how people respond to assholery is wrong.

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It might be ineffective but throwing tomato soup on a glass protector is pretty harmless imo.

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"Harmless" is exactly the point: they did something stupid and ineffectual that achieved nothing tangible towards the cause of climate change or whatever it is they are protesting, but two young ninnies got to feel like they were doing more than just being nuisances.

I'm sure BP and Exxon and the boardrooms of the other companies on the list below are all having meetings about "Did you hear about the tomato soup? Clearly we must shut down all our wells now!"


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Can you ask for civility after a sit in or other such activity? Civil disobediance is by definition uncivil.

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Okay? Then don't demand decorum!

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That's literally the opposite of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is disobedience that remains civil. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience

>King regarded civil disobedience to be a display and practice of reverence for law: "Any man who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community on the injustice of the law is at that moment expressing the very highest respect for the law."

Food-based tantrums aren't civil disobedience.

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There were some comments below about TDS. Doesn't TDS basically mean that DT is "living in your head rent free", preventing you from thinking clearly?

If so, isn't that DT's *fault*, considering much of DT's political strategy was to nettle and discombobulate his opponents and detractors like a professional boxer? Isn't the TDS epidemic, then, a very good reason for disliking DT? (I also dislike the lab or bat whatever it was that started Covid.)

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Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

I can't help noticing that having an unhealthy obsession with right-wing public figures has been very common at least since Obama years (possibly before, but I can't speak to it because I was less aware of these things). Trump let the obsessed people concentrate all their hate on him, but, if you talk to someone with TDS, they will happily tell you how much they hate other prominent right-wingers - currently, Abbott, Kavanaugh, Cruz, DeSantis, Tucker Carlson come to mind, but there are many more. (Heck, remember when everyone raged against definitely not right-wing Whole Foods for their CEO opposing Obamacare? Or remember how all college students demanded not to allow Chick-fil-a on campus because the CEO said that marriage is between a man and a woman?)

So on one hand Trump did present a convenient target for hate, allowing to focus it all on him, but on the other it was there before him, less concentrated and carefully curated by the media. If you stand in the middle of a battlefield and scream insults, while waving a bunch of flags of your side, on one hand you expect and deserve the enemy to shoot all they have at you, mostly ignoring the rest of your army until it gets too close, but on the other hand the battle is already going on, and you did not start it.

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Oct 19, 2022·edited Oct 19, 2022

>> I can't help noticing that having an unhealthy obsession with right-wing public figures has been very common at least since Obama years (possibly before, but I can't speak to it because I was less aware of these things).

I think it was around before - I remember Bush Derangement Syndrome being a thing 2001-2008. I don't think it's isolated to public figures on the right though. Obama spent a 8 years living rent free in a *lot* of conservative heads, as did Clinton.

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"Or remember how all college students demanded not to allow Chick-fil-a on campus because the CEO said that marriage is between a man and a woman?"

If memory serves, it was because he donates significant money, to the tune of millions of dollars, to charities that helped write the law in Africa that makes homosexuality a capital crime.

Of course, right-wingers at the time (and since) like to pretend it's about marriage, but certainly the memes that pass around liberal facebook frequently mention the whole killing the gays thing.

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Never heard about that before. Googled it now. Is it this?


I think you demonstrated my point perfectly. Lots of people really hated the guy, and when you give your version of why, we find out that your version was presumably based on something that even Politifact rates mostly false. At least my version of why people hated him was based on something he actually said.

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I wouldn't be super surprised to find out it's false. I wondered about that when I was posting. But yeah, that's the one. That's what passed around left circles to gin up support for the boycott.

But I don't think it proves your point. Passing around a post around saying Chick-fil-a doesn't want gays to get married wouldn't get you a very good boycott. Saying that Chick-fil-a money is used to kill gay people does the job. Whoever set that up knew they had to lie to get the job done.

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Oct 20, 2022·edited Oct 20, 2022

Oh, I think you're very likely to be right about that Facebok meme being mostly responsible in this case. If I had known about it, I would have probably come to the same conclusion as you.

I'm just pointing out the pattern of mass derangement towards prominent right-wingers that predates TDS. I can't make up my mind which of the possible two scenarios in this case is worse - a crazy number of people raging against that guy for something he said, or a crazy number of people raging against him because they uncritically gobbled up a not very factual claim made somewhere on Facebook likely with the purpose of inciting all the hate.

Whichever it is, I think it's a big problem, because this kind of thing makes it very hard for the two sides to come to any kind of agreement. (And I also think that it's very clearly a problem that did not start with Trump, even if it sounds as if he'd like to take all the credit.)

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Oh, 100% my dude. I too remember the 2nd Bush administration. And, for that matter, the Obama administration. This is just how we are.

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Well, gee. Waking up in the morning and remembering the country is being run by a guy who probably couldn’t pass a high school civics test has a way of sticking in your thoughts. I wouldn’t necessarily think of this as derangement.

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I am once again pointing out that white male Republicans have the highest knowledge of civics on average.

But having smart black guy in office resulted in what, exactly? Psychotic interventions in the middle east and north africa that caused untold suffering.

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TDS is, or should, refer not just to Trump being annoying or agravating or people not liking him but to something extra.

TDS really blew up in the 2016-2018 era and was characterized by:

-An overwhelming obsession with Trump. 24/7 coverage and constant discussion. He dominated discourse and people (Maddow) ran entire shows about Trump Drama for years.

-Unhinged fears. Again, especially in 2017-2018, it was widely believed on the left that Trump was a direct Russian asset for an assortment of reasons. In 2022, hopefully, we can reflect and see that these fears were, at best, dramatically overblown.

So someone might dislike Trump for a variety of good or bad reasons but there's clearly a difference between the obsessive and panic driven coverage and discussion of Trump that dominated in 2017-2018 and normal criticism. I do think there are still people with severe TDS when it comes to certain current and recent events but the CW aspect brings more heat than light so lets stick to things 3+ years old.

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Maddow and others couldn't get Trump out of their heads for 5 minutes. It deranged them. That's the whole idea. That was Trump's big strategy before and after he became POTUS. Stay inside of everyone's heads.

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>Isn't the TDS epidemic, then, a very good reason for disliking DT? (I also dislike the lab or bat whatever it was that started Covid.)

That's probably one of the core, basic disagreements that split the human race: are you responsible for your emotions, or is what you perceive as the cause of your emotions responsible for them?

You can easily construct ad-absurdum rebuttal of either (what about the absolute asshole making everyone mad? What about the absolute crybaby being traumatized by everything?), and...I don't have much more insight on the subject, actually.

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I think the right answer is that *both* are at fault. There's no reason that blame for things needs to add up to 100%. Some things there's less blame to go around because it really was an unforeseeable accident. Some things there's more blame to go around because lots of people's intentional actions had foreseeable consequences on other people's intentional actions.

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I don't know why you all are blaming DynaTrace Inc. for Tokyo Disney Sea.

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I’m going with The Daily Show.

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It is if you make certain assumptions. So say these are true:

1. The causes for your TDS are all bad things that are right to upset you

2. They actually happened

3. They are Trump's fault.

4. You are reacting in correct proportion to them.

But a person who is accusing you of having TDS isn't at that point in the argument where the person making your argument has already won on all fronts, if that makes sense. They are essentially accusing the TDS-haver of being a person for whom one or more of the four above things are false.

Your argument is a bit like someone saying "Since you are a Nazi, isn't any emotion I have about you justified?". And it might be so, if I'm a Nazi - but I'm certainly going to argue on that point.

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Oct 18, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

So "living in someone's head" is something a lot of basketball players attempt to do to each other. They talk shit, say things to their opponents like: "Your mom sucked my dick last night." They try to make the other guy angry so he will react emotionally and lose focus on the game he is supposed to be playing.

The answers in that scenario would be:

1. Yes

2. No

3. N/A

4. A proportional response is still the wrong one because it means your frame of mind has been taken from one field of play to another.

Putting this back into a political context: anger at some of Trump's tweets or comments may be reasonable. However, inserting that anger into an analysis of how otherwise Trump is performing as POTUS might yield an unbalanced assessment.

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I gotta say I LOLed at this comment (and the part at the end).

I think yes, it is DT’s fault because it’s essentially exactly what he’s going for.

At the same time, part of DTS seems to be having no self-awareness and not realizing he’s mostly just trolling.

Personally, I find a troll more likable than a self-righteous manipulator (aka the rest of politicians). But that’s probably from watching too much South Park and being conditioned to find Cartman hilarious.

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Oct 19, 2022·edited Oct 19, 2022

Subjectively, you know what you mean when you say “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” but objectively i think you might be projecting the symptom of cluelessness/poor self-awareness in the diagnostic criteria of TDS, if what you’re assuming is that the only reason someone might be triggered by Trump’s trolling is if they don’t understand how Trump is constantly trolling… It’s actually pretty naive and insulating to make that assumption, in the same way Trumpian thought purposely misreads the motivations of Biden voters (“There’s NO WAY that 50 million people would ever be seriously willing to vote for a person while simultaneously experiencing a mere low-to-moderate behavioral drive to attend tailgate rallies with a bunch of other political jackoffs…”) in order to rationalize his own self-serving, laughably dumb election fictions. His style of rhetoric *relies* on the token chucklefucks of his base to misunderstand the actual big picture, which is why he puts on the fucking makeup and puts on the show.

Which brings me back to the alternative explanation for why TDS suffers may actually understand how trolling works and yet still be incensed by a president doing it: because of the TONS of chucklefucks in his base who think that being smart enough to pick up on Trump’s trolling means they can’t be blatantly yet credulously defrauded, because of how Trump’s literal textbook schoolyard tactics have poisoned the discourse in a way you would need to be extremely manipulable not to recognize as a disaster for everybody involved, regardless of their preferred political outcomes, and finally, because the mere existence of an insincere, unserious (“trolly”) Commander in Chief of history’s greatest aggregation of power just reflects so poorly on my own fellow countrymen that i don’t know how sad it would be if they actually got their way and leveled the whole system for the giggles you get from not even really knowing how to give half an actual fuck about anything but sensationalist schadenfreude

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What do people think of recall elections and other ways to make governments more (temporally) responsive to the popular will without destabilising politics? I.e. to avoid the situation where a deeply unpopular government still has a de-jure mandate from a few years ago when people liked them more.

In the real world, a number of countries allow recalls to happen if a petition passes a certain threshold proportion of the electorate. This can either apply to individual politicians or the government as a whole, depending on the country. While these are rarely triggered and even more rarely succeed, perhaps a good horse runs even at the shadow of a whip.

For political systems not that different from ours, despite the fact I just made them up, how about the westminster system except with annual recall elections (triggering a general election if they succeed) that drop in threshold every year since the last GE. So it takes 90% popular opposition in the first year, 50% in the 5th year and 10% in the 9th. A new government gets a few years to win public confidence but is kicked out faster if the public get fed up with it.

Or one like westminster but where there are no general elections. Elections are instead spread out across time, with each MP being elected once every 5 years (kind of like midterms but moreso). An average of 5 constituencies would need to hold an election per fortnight for this to work in the UK. Thus a government that suddenly became less popular would see its majority slowly eroded until the opposition could force through a VoNC.

This question is apropos of no particular political developments that might be taking place right now, or anything.

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This sort of problem can also be addressed in the context of a system where the Head of Government is de jure responsible to a separate Head of State whose ordinary duties are mainly ministerial and ceremonial but who has strong reserve powers for emergencies. In a situation like that, the Head of State typically has the legal authority to dismiss the Head of Government and call new elections. In practice, these reserve powers very rarely need to be officially invoked, since the implicit threat is generally enough to enforce political norms around resignations and early elections. Other less drastic reserve powers can also be used as leverage, as things like appointment powers and assent to laws passed by the legislature can also be privately made conditional on an appropriate show of popular mandate (snap elections, referendums, etc).

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I think you can't let the recall value drop below like 30% of the votes of the last election.

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You need to make the costs high enough that it won't just be used as griefing, but I think more checks on power are always better.

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You lose predictability, which feels like a bad thing - a government can't rely on n years to implement its program. You also make it less likely that a government will do things that it believes will be unpopular but in the national interest.

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The "five seats every fortnight" Westminster system seems particularly problematic; you could easily wind up in a situation where the government balances on a knife edge and power swaps back and forth on an irregular weekly schedule for a period of years.

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Yes, you can overdo recall...it's what I call a Laffer-like problem, where the sweet spot is in the middle somewhere that is hard to identify.

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I would think this would also be a problem for international relations. A government of one nation may hesitate to sign a treaty with another nation's government that may suddenly change with little warning.

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Treaties don't work like that. And if they did ... you signed them with the government of the day, not the head of state. they could still.be invalidated by a normal change of government.

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On paper treaties don't work like that; in practice the toothlessness of international law means that they often kind of do.

And it's not even 100% clear to me that they shouldn't, to some extent - I think "no government can bind its successor" is a principle with a lot going for it; how you trade that off against being able to make and rely on long term commitments is a hard problem. Otherwise a government that wants to prevent a democratically elected successor reversing its policies just has to find a willing neighbour and commit to them in a treaty.

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Recalls are predictable themselves...if things are going that badly, a recall is not unexpected. Or unwelcome.

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Hyperdiffusion is called pseudoscience three times just in the intro of its wiki page. Seems ungenerous as there are respectable people who say the Olmecs were influenced by Asian sources: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2741354

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According to the Wikipedia page, hyperdiffusion is the "claim that all major cultural innovations and societies derive from one (usually lost) ancient civilization".

I might be sympathetic to the idea that Wikipedia is using an ungenerous definition, but the article you linked to doesn't even contain the word "hyperdiffusion".

The Wikipedia article, likewise, doesn't refute the idea that Asian cultures influenced the Olmecs.

So, I'm not really sure what point you're making.

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Yeah, should have explained more. When I looked at the map of possible diffusion, the one that struck me as least likely was the arrow from Asia to Central America. Then I ran into the paper about Olmecs which supports that arrow being real. The paper doesn't talk about any central event, but does make the case for very long range diffusion of ideas that were fundamental to Meso-American civilization. Everyone knows the Mayan calendar and how important it was to them. Maybe that was borrowed from South Eastern Asia.

Joseph Campbell also makes the case that agricultural creation myths in Polynesia and Algonquian Native Americans are so similar because of, possibly, a global diffusion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEqR73j_oMY&t=935s

He's not exactly fringe.

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Campbell is *absolutely* fringe in any academic sense. All of his ideas are pseudoscience that got popular with laymen, he's like Frazer in that regard.

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Is anyone living their life in a significantly differently manner as a direct result of AI risk fears? (Excluding those who are working directly on AI Safety). It seems that the main problem in acting on beliefs of elevated risk is uncertainty in outcomes and timelines. For instance, deciding not to save for retirement seems like a bad idea if you think there is even a (say) 20% chance that AGI is not invented by the time you hit the age of 60. Working a high-paying, high-stress job for a decade in order to retire early and enjoy yourself seems like it would only be a good idea if AGI is at least 20 years away. Curious how others think about this topic.

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I ordered a MouseAir kit because I want to learn more about AI. I am not joking. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sunair/mouseair-ai-based-diy-cat-toy-for-the-raspberry-pi

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You might already know about this but CodeProject dot com is a great resource for getting into this sort of thing. You can probably find related articles on their AI page as well as their Internet of Things page.

It's supported by a big community of developers and you can get answers to programming questions there.

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Thanks Gunflint, I bookmarked it. Kind of looks like it's for people who are at least halfway up the slope, whereas I am sitting in the grassy area at the bottom of the mountain. I have had absolutely nothing to do with programming, and am starting from scratch. But I'm not too proud to ask simple questions, even in a setting like that. And I like math, logic and puzzles, so will probably be ok.

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They are good about answering the questions of newcomers at that site. The star rating system for published articles is pretty reliable too.

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In my view treating AGI and Singularity fantasies as reality is useless. However, in my lifetime I have been and will continue to promote and vote for people who will try to get things like basic income and robot taxes going so that we can allow AI and robot to take over jobs without throwing everybody not already rich under the bus.

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I am donating more money to charity moving from 1% - 10% of income and not putting money in an Investment Savings Account. anymore. Though there are several factors interplaying at once, I wouldn't call it all AI determined, but it maybe 40%.

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No one said yes to a related question last week (https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/open-thread-245/comment/9619623). I remain interested in hearing from people who are doing this, but they seem hard to find.

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I posted on this topic over at lesswrong. Personally I have stopped all retirement contributions, and I am trying to work out better ways yo use wealh that are consistent with my beliefs about the future.

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Not really concerned. I expect it will be viable at least 20 years after safe, reliable, personal cold fusion is in every home, powering every car, etc

So when I strap into my cold fusion powered Prius, I’ll start giving it some serious thought.

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I'm living my life differently by telling myself that I'm going to learn about AI so I can help with AI Safety but then not doing it. :/

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