[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Dan MacGuill

News reports correctly describe the facts surrounding scheduled "Obamacare" web site downtime during November and December 2017.

Here's a soundtrack for this week

Monday, September 25th, 2017 03:38 pm
drwex: (VNV)
[personal profile] drwex
Four full sets in here that you can pick and choose from. Like any other sets they're going to have better and worse parts and since they're mostly live, none of them is perfectly polished. I've tried to pick sets that have different styles to suit different moods and needs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ctN6DO9Wf4
Dmitriy Redko (AstroPilot) put out a nearly two-hour live psychill set last year. I confess I don't find a huge difference between psy-chill and psy-trance, if you know that style. This is not exactly downtempo, but it's airy, breathy, relaxing. Someone I played this for called it "floaty" music and I know what they mean. Good for destressing, or keeping your head down amid ongoing chatter.

https://soundcloud.com/thedolab/woogiewknd-pumpkin
Pumpkin uses a lot of what's good in Motown, rock, country (yes), and hip-hop from the last couple decades. Some of it is just sampled, some is updated and covered in the course of these two hours. It's fun to listen along and see what you can pick out. Some of it is really obvious (Paul Simon and Talking Heads, anyone?) and some of it is recognizable to people who listen to a lot of EDM (e.g. Zhu's "Faded"). Generally a lot of fun and keeping-you-going tempo without being overwhelming or hard-driving.

https://soundcloud.com/young-nrg-productions/nrg-live-show-uk-2years-w-dj-stex-feat-guest-mix-by-ale-tosses
NRG's live show also clocks in a bit over two hours, filled with tracks from other people and their own remixes. It's much more reggae, rap, bounce, and hip-hop than the previous two, featuring names like Defunk and Tribe Called Quest. The style is more scratch, electro, and breakbeats than my usual but I found it a nice contrast to what we've had so far.

https://soundcloud.com/markusschulz/transmissionasia2017
After featuring a good bit of Markus Schultz's work last time I went looking for a sense of what he's like live and found this, a 90-minute set he did earlier this year. This is a pretty straight-up club trance set, with mostly Schultz's own work on original tracks as well as remixes/mashes. High energy, high BPM even when he's using Sarah McLachlan.

Did Leland Melvin Pen an Open Letter to Donald Trump?

Monday, September 25th, 2017 06:02 pm
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Dan Evon

An open letter to President Trump addressing his comments about football players truly originated with astronaut and former NFL player Leland Melvin.

Prayer Request for 30 SEALs Killed in Afghanistan

Monday, September 25th, 2017 05:16 pm
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by David Mikkelson

A request for prayers for the families of 30 U.S. military personnel who died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan is several years old.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Dan MacGuill

A "satirical" web site published a fabricated claim that the Browns and other NFL teams had been forced to issue refunds due to the national anthem controversy.

False Choices

Monday, September 25th, 2017 04:08 pm
[syndicated profile] weeklysift_feed

Posted by weeklysift

Flexibility with reduced funding is a false choice. I will not pit seniors, children, families, the mentally ill, the critically ill, hospitals, care providers, or any other Nevadan against each other because of cuts to Nevada’s health-care delivery system proposed by the Graham-Cassidy amendment.

Governor Brian Sandoval (R-Nevada)

This week’s featured post is “Nationalism Reconsidered” and “Why Republicans Can’t Stop Trying to Repeal ObamaCare“.

This week everybody was talking about yet another last-ditch attempt to repeal ObamaCare

which appears to be failing, just like the others did. Sadly, even this is probably not the end, as I explain in the second featured post.

Like previous attempts, the Graham-Cassidy bill contains nothing to attract Democrats and so can afford to lose only three Republican senators. Rand Paul declared against it first, because it retained too much of the spending in ObamaCare, even if it did redirect it through the states. John McCain declared against it Friday, saying that he couldn’t vote for it without more information, like a complete CBO analysis, which would not be available in time for the vote. Susan Collins seems to be waiting for what little analysis the CBO will provide, but finds it “very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill.” Lisa Murkowski hasn’t committed herself, but she’d have a hard time squaring a yes vote with the principles she has laid out. Even Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are said to be against the bill “in its current form”, which probably means their votes are available for the right concessions, with the risk that those concessions might alienate some other senators.

So it’s not completely dead yet, but Graham-Cassidy has to roll a long series of sevens to pass.

Midnight Saturday is the deadline for passage, which sounds like a bad-movie plot device rather than a real rule, but that actually seems to be how things shake out. [Skip this if you’re already bored: In a nutshell, the reason has to do with an arcane process for avoiding filibusters, known as reconciliation. To be eligible for reconciliation, which allows a bill to pass the Senate with a simple majority (50 senators plus the vice president) rather than the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster, a bill has to meet a long list of conditions, one of which is that it has to match up with reconciliation instructions in the current fiscal year’s budget resolution. Fiscal 2017 ends on September 30, so the budget resolution’s reconciliation instructions expire then.]

[Keep skipping: So why not roll the reconciliation instructions from FY2017’s budget resolution over into FY2018’s? That runs into another rule that also sounds like a plot device: There are limits on how many reconciliation instructions a budget resolution can contain, and FY2018’s are already reserved for tax reform. (Or at least that’s how it looks at the moment; Orrin Hatch is looking for a way to do both.) So at midnight on Saturday, the ObamaCare-repeal coach becomes a pumpkin, the horses turn back into mice, but for some reason the slipper is still glass — stop asking so many questions.]


You expect Democrats in Congress and former Obama administration officials (including Obama himself) to make the case against this bill. But the strongest opposition voice has turned out to be someone you wouldn’t usually expect: late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel first spoke out about healthcare when in May when he told the story of his newborn son’s heart problem, repeatedly choking up as he did so.

A week later Kimmel came back to the topic, and had an on-air conversation with Senator Cassidy, who had just started talking about “the Jimmy Kimmel test”, which he summarized like this: “Would a child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life?”

Cassidy sounded great in that interview. But if he thought Kimmel wasn’t going to check whether he followed up on those good words, he found out differently Tuesday:

I know you guys are going to find this hard to believe, but a few months ago after my son had open-heart surgery (which was something I spoke about on the air) a politician, a senator named Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, was on my show, and he wasn’t very honest. … This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face.

Cassidy responded by lamenting that Kimmel “does not understand” his bill. Kimmel played that clip the next night, characterizing it as playing “the all-comedians-are-dummies card”. He then asked Cassidy which part of the bill he doesn’t understand, and listed all the objectionable things the bill does. And the back-and-forth continued Thursday as well.

The wonderful thing about this whole series is the way Kimmel has flipped conservatives’ favorite script. They love to portray liberals as out-of-touch Washington insiders dishonestly condescending to concerned American parents. Now that’s what Senator Cassidy and Senator Graham doing.

and the NFL

No, not the games, the players’ response to Trump. Everything in the world is about Trump now.

It started Friday in Alabama at a rally for GOP Senator Luther Strange (who seems to be losing a primary battle with the truly strange Roy Moore), where we found out what Donald Trump thinks about free expression:

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired.”?

This, of course, is an insult directed at former Super Bowl quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last season began protesting against police brutality and racial inequality by quietly and respectfully kneeling during the national anthem. Many players (Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, for example) had expressed respect for the protest, but only a few (Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks comes to mind) had participated themselves.

Until yesterday. Seeing the President of the United States call their colleagues a “sons of bitches” (for doing something that hurts no one, and that offended people can just look away from) made players take a stand … or a knee. Not all players and not all teams responded the same way, but in every game in the country (and one in London), players did something, often with the support of the team’s owners. Some players joined the kneeling protest, while others simply protested Trump’s attempt to turn players against each other by locking arms. Some teams resisted being divided by staying in the locker room until the anthem was over. The WaPo’s Jerry Brewer summed up:

The prevailing statement was rather simple, at least for people who have the decency to resist acting like Trump and labeling an athlete protesting police brutality and [in]equality a “son of a bitch.” It was about having concern for the person next to you and showing that unity doesn’t require shaming others to think the way you do.

A few of my reactions:

  • It’s disturbing the way that Trump has stepped out of the usual bounds of politics and taken over the entire national conversation. Back in 2011, Hank Williams Jr. got fired by Monday Night Football for ranting about President Obama, but that was all him; Obama never engaged with the controversy. For eight years, you could escape Obama by watching football. But today, where can you put your attention and be confident of escaping Trump?
  • This event is a lesson in what usually happens when a president talks tough: His fans cheer, but whatever problem they think he’s solving just gets worse. (Far from being intimidated, more players are kneeling.) The people who cheer Trump’s North Korea rhetoric should think about this.
  • If only Trump got this outraged by people waving swastikas. Maybe if black athletes would start doing that, he’d finally denounce it with some real feeling.
  • Here’s the saddest thing about this story: The issues that motivated Kaepernick to begin with are playing out in St. Louis right now, but the country isn’t paying attention.

Lest basketball players feel left out, Trump insulted them too. Traditionally, championship teams visit the White House, and everybody has a feel-good photo op. But Trump’s appeals to racism have made that ceremony problematic for black athletes like Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. It’s a real dilemma: politicize a tradition that used to be purely ceremonial, or normalize a president who is squishy on the KKK?

Athletes have turned down the White House before, for a variety of reasons, and presidents have never made a big deal about it. But Trump did, tweeting that he was “disinviting” Curry. Like Kaepernick, Curry enjoyed a wave of social-media support from his fellow players, including LeBron James, who tweeted at Trump: “Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up.” All-star guard Chris Paul added something about the NFL controversy: “I doubt he’s man enough to call any of those players a son of a bitch to their face.”


Sports TV anchors — at least black ones — haven’t escaped either. After ESPN’s Jamele Hill called Trump a “white supremacist” on her personal Twitter account, the White House called for her to be fired. ESPN basically told her not to do it again.

An aside: Hill’s show, SportsCenter’s flagship 6 o’clock slot, is an interesting cultural phenomenon. For years, a typical sports-TV segment featured white guys talking about black guys. SC6’s two black hosts, Hill and Michael Smith, break that mold. And Hill isn’t just eye candy, or a Mom moderating between outspoken men; she’s a sharp sports fan with a mind of her own. (Hill and Smith banter and bicker like a married couple that feels secure about the strength of their relationship.) Smith describes the criticism the show sometimes gets for being too black, and too full of young urban cultural references that older whites may not understand:

This election was about taking the country back from people like us, right? And now, it’s like, “Dammit, I got to come home and watch these two?!” That may not be what you want on SportsCenter. OK. That’s fair. Watch Fox.

and Trump’s UN Speech

My threshold of embarrassment for my country has gone up considerably since Inauguration Day, but Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly Tuesday did the trick. Apparently it did for White House chief of staff John Kelly too. (Based on this picture, I’m guessing Melania cleans Kelly’s clock at White House poker games.)

In many ways it was the kind of speech a heavy-handed liberal script writer (Aaron Sorkin, maybe) would put in Trump’s mouth, full of unintentional ironies. For example, he denounced “rogue regimes” that “threaten other nations”. And a bit later he was threatening to unleash “the most destructive weapons known to humanity” against another nation:

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

but meanwhile, back at the swamp …

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price wants to cut government spending on your healthcare, but not on himself. In particular, he prefers to travel by private plane rather than take commercial flights, even though they are vastly more expensive.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May, according to people with knowledge of his travel plans and a review of HHS documents.

The frequency of the trips underscores how private travel has become the norm — rather than the exception — for the Georgia Republican during his tenure atop the federal health agency, which began in February. The cost of the trips identified by POLITICO exceeds $300,000, according to a review of federal contracts and similar trip itineraries.

Price’s excuses for the extravagance don’t hold water. The article says that Obama’s HHS secretaries, Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, took commercial flights. Price claims he uses privates jets “only when commercial travel is not feasible”, but Politico found that many of the flights are between large cities with frequent, low-cost airline traffic”. (D.C. to Philadelphia was one of them.) An HHS spokesperson said Price took private jets because commercial flights are “unreliable” and once caused him to miss important an meeting.

But the flight in question — to a two-day industry conference at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Southern California — didn’t get off the ground on a day when storms virtually shut down air traffic in the Washington region, preventing even private jets from getting out.

None of this should be surprising, because we’ve known all along that Price has low ethical standards. The Senate knew when it confirmed him that when he was in Congress, Price bought stock in pharmaceutical companies while sponsoring legislation that would benefit those companies.

Saturday, Price announced that he would stop taking tax-payer funded private jets until a review is completed.


Price’s excesses shouldn’t be confused with those of fellow cabinet member Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (net worth: half a billion), who requested a military plane to take him and his wife on their European honeymoon, and took an expensive government-funded private flight to visit Fort Knox, for reasons no one has been able to explain, at precisely the time of the eclipse.

Nor with those of EPA Director Scott Pruitt, whose “business” trips keep taking him home to Oklahoma, where he is rumored to be planning to run for governor. Pruitt is also diverting resources from environmental protection to his own security.

Scott Pruitt’s round-the-clock personal security detail, which demands triple the manpower of his predecessors at the Environmental Protection Agency, has prompted officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes. … Pruitt’s protective detail is the rare area of the EPA that is growing even as the Trump administration seeks a 31 percent cut to the agency’s budget.

Here’s a security idea: Maybe Pruitt would face fewer threats if he actually started trying to protect the environment.


Associated Press has been unsuccessfully investigating what happened to the whopping $107 million Trump raised for his inaugural celebration. Obama’s inauguration was bigger in almost every sense, but cost only $50 million, a sum many at the time already considered outrageous. Trump had pledged that any left-over money would go to charity … but we’ve heard that before.

During the campaign, the WaPo’s David Fahrenthold investigated Trump’s (lack of) donations to charity:

[Trump] spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public — even nationally televised — promises to give his own money away. It was, in large part, a facade. …

Instead, throughout his life in the spotlight, whether as a businessman, television star or presidential candidate, The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given — or had claimed other people’s giving as his own. …

Trump promised to give away the proceeds of Trump University. He promised to donate the salary he earned from “The Apprentice.” He promised to give personal donations to the charities chosen by contestants on “Celebrity Apprentice.” He promised to donate $250,000 to a charity helping Israeli soldiers and veterans.

Together, those pledges would have increased Trump’s lifetime giving by millions of dollars. But The Post has been unable to verify that he followed through on any of them. Instead, The Post found that his personal giving has almost disappeared entirely in recent years.

Rachel Maddow has also been looking into the inaugural-money story and getting no-commented. On Thursday, she interviewed Craig Holman of Public Citizen, who told her:

The source of funds has to be disclosed after the inauguration, but how that money gets spent is anyone’s guess — no rules, no regulations. Quite frankly, it could even go into the pocket of Donald Trump.

Holman also addressed the fact that the Russia-related legal expenses of both Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are being paid by either the RNC or Trump’s re-election fund. Paying for the president seemed legal to him, but Trump Jr. (who had no official role in the campaign) raised issues.

Maddow has been wondering about the mounting legal expenses for administration figures who aren’t rich, like Mike Pence and Sean Spicer. The RNC and the re-election fund aren’t paying for them.

and you also might be interested in …

One of the under-appreciated aspects of the Russia/Trump story is how Russian operatives used social media to spread fake news against Clinton and to boost Trump. The Daily Beast describes one Russian-sponsored Facebook page that actively organized face-to-face pro-Trump rallies in Florida.

Facebook agreed to turn over to Congress thousands of pro-Trump and anti-Hillary ads that alleged Russian agents spent $100K distributing. NBC reports:

A Facebook employee said Wednesday that there were unspecified connections between the divisive ads and a well-known Russian “troll factory” in St. Petersburg that publishes comments on social media.


Black Lives Matter protesters went to a pro-Trump rally and were actually given a chance to speak. It went well. Seriously.


Paul Manafort was offering private briefings to a Russian oligarch while he was Trump campaign chairman.

and let’s close with something natural

Looking for a prescription that will help you deal with the stress of modern life? Try Nature.


Why Republicans Can’t Stop Trying to Repeal ObamaCare

Monday, September 25th, 2017 03:44 pm
[syndicated profile] weeklysift_feed

Posted by weeklysift

Despite the troubles Republicans are having finding 50 senators to back the Graham-Cassidy bill, and despite the apparent deadline of midnight Saturday, I still don’t think we’ve seen the end of ObamaCare repeal. There’s a reason they can’t let it go, and I think I’ve finally found the right metaphor to explain it.

For years they’ve been telling their voters that they can replace the ObamaCare plow-horse with a unicorn: a plan with fewer taxes, fewer mandates, less regulation, less spending, but coverage as good or better than ObamaCare provides.

That worked really well on the campaign trail, but once they captured the White House and the Senate, Republicans suddenly found themselves on the spot to produce the unicorn, which they can’t because unicorns don’t exist. Of course they can’t admit that they’ve been bullshitting their voters all these years with unicorn fantasies, so they go round and round.

You could see this in all the various repeal-and-replace efforts we’ve seen so far this year: No one could explain what they accomplished or what problem they solved. No one could defend them in terms of healthcare policy. The entire justification was that voters had been promised a unicorn, so Republicans had to give them something, even if it bore no resemblance to a unicorn.

All through the process, Republicans have been saying that the unicorn was still coming: the current bill was just a placeholder to keep things moving. So the last few votes in the House were garnered by telling wavering moderates that the Senate had a unicorn. When the Senate tried to pass its “skinny repeal” in July, several senators were embarrassed that there was still no unicorn, and would only agree to vote for the bill if Paul Ryan would guarantee them that the House would change it again. Now, Graham and Cassidy are making a last-ditch promise that the states will provide the unicorn, once the federal government has block-granted the money to them.

Unsurprisingly, Republican governors like Nevada’s Brian Sandoval are reluctant to take responsibility for producing a unicorn. Sandoval sees that the people in his state will have the same needs they do now, but less money to fulfill them. Graham-Cassidy may give him the flexibility to decide who should go without, but not the resources to provide the care needed.

Flexibility with reduced funding is a false choice. I will not pit seniors, children, families, the mentally ill, the critically ill, hospitals, care providers, or any other Nevadan against each other because of cuts to Nevada’s health-care delivery system proposed by the Graham-Cassidy amendment.

So for now it may look like Graham-Cassidy is failing, but you can count on it: There will be another attempt somehow. Republican voters were promised a unicorn, and there must be one out there somewhere.


Stigmatization of dialects

Monday, September 25th, 2017 03:03 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

[This is a guest post by Krista Ryu]

I was reading the book, Language Change in East Asia, and one of the articles, "Dialects versus the Standard Language in Japan," talked about the standardization of Japanese and its consequence on the many "hougen” (方言) of Japan. I thought it was very interesting and related to what we talked about in class regarding the various Chinese languages (topolects).

While there was no real designated common language in Japan, the "variety based on the dialect of the upper-middle class inhabitants of Tokyo" was functioning as the de facto common language from approximately the 17th century (pg 7). Increased mobility of people with the lift of travel ban and abolition of shogunate domains, as well as the establishment of universal education in the late 1800s, allowed the spread of this common language across the country (pg 8). However, only after formal approval from the Japanese Ministry of Education in the early 1900s, an official standard form of Japanese, or "hyojungo” (標準語), was established.

What is interesting is how the creation of this "standard" form of language gives it a certain "halo," while it stigmatizes other local dialects. The author states:

Dialects were characterised as slovenly (kitanai, 汚い), bad , incorrect, and inferior. In extreme cases, sensitivity on the part of non-standard dialect speakers was manifested in severe linguistic insecurity, for which Shibata Takeshi coined the term hōgen konpurekkusu (dialect complex). People from the provinces who moved to Tokyo were mocked about the way they spoke, resulting in depression and even suicide. (pg 8)

This reminded me of how pyojuneo (표준어, 標準語) in Korean is also considered the "correct way" of speaking on many occasions, forcing speakers of other Korean dialects to change their way of speaking and be ashamed of having an accent. Many times, on TV shows like soap operas, characters that are supposed to be "crude" or "uncultured" will be using some sort of "bangeon" (방언, 方言).

However, the article also does say that recent trends show that people in Japan started seeing dialects as "warm," "authentic," and as part of a unique local culture that needs to be preserved. This is also the case in Korea in recent years. Young generations have started being more proud of using their local dialects. Such phenomena seem closely related to the one seen in China where popular culture using local language has gained favor among young people (e.g., rap music in nonstandard topolects).

 

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain,

A few months ago, I met a cute new person and we clicked pretty well from the start. We both had another primary partner at the time and we often talked about those relationships as well as (of course) many other things. After a while, he and his primary broke up, and he was pretty devastated by it. I didn’t mind that he was a bit more “down” when we spent time together, and it seemed only natural to me that he talked about his break-up feelings sometimes. I still don’t mind those things.

Now here comes the difficult part: I feel like this relationship is getting more and more asymmetrical. I’m busy with a demanding job and an active social life (and I like it that way), and he has a lot of time on his hands. He has made it clear that he’d prefer to spend much more time together than we currently do (including weekend trips and the like), while from my perspective we’re close to “too much”. He is way ahead of me with things like “I love you” (WAY too early for me!). I feel like I have to be “on” at all times when we’re together, because he always seems worried that I’m not being enthusiastic enough and something must be wrong and don’t you like me anymore?

He’s had a bunch of personal issues come up lately, and he’s generally pretty unhappy right now. I find it really hard to find a balance between being kind to a person I like, and setting some “don’t make me responsible for your happiness!”-boundaries. I understand anxiety and sadness and insecurity, because I deal with plenty of that in my own life, but it feels like he’s subconsciously weaponizing these things to demand my time and attention. He often says things like:

  • “you’re the only good thing in my life right now”
  • “I feel like everyone is rejecting/leaving me lately”
  • “I’m not doing so well,
    Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.
    , can I come by tonight? I need comfort”
  • “I’m dealing with so much shit that I can’t carry it on my own”
  • “You give me so much strength when we spend time together”

I really like this guy! We have a lot in common and we’ve had fun times together. I would love to see him once or twice a month for many moons to come, and for us to grow closer over time, but right now I feel like I’m under siege and I have to focus on setting boundaries and finding new ways to say “no” all the time and it’s starting to suck the joy out of what (I hope) could be a genuinely fun and rewarding relationship – through good times and bad.

Can I salvage this? How can I communicate with him in a way that does NOT say “I can’t handle people who have negative emotions ever”, but rather “it feels like you’re using your emotions against me and that’s not cool”?

Thank you!

You’re absolutely right to see a litany of “you’re the only good thing in my life” and “everyone else is rejecting me (so you won’t, won’t you?)” statements as being red flags of codependence. I’m not sure the end result of my advice is “fun new relationship is salvaged!” but I think you do have a good opening here to have an honest talk with him about getting help in handling hard life stuff and the reciprocity & seriousness of your relationship.

There are two separate conversations to be had here. I’m not sure in which order, so, use your judgment.

Conversation #1:

[Partner], I can see that you’re really suffering right now as you [grieve the loss of primary relationship][handle this recent raft of difficult life stuff]. I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all and I think it’s time to find some more support for this stuff. Maybe a trained sounding board – like a therapist or counselor – can help you process all of this.

There is a 99.99% chance he will feel insulted and hurt that you are fobbing him off on other people instead of investing deeply in his emotional well-being yourself. Get ready for some intenso responses involving “You are tired of me and you are going to reject me like everyone else” + 1,000 reasons that therapy/counseling is impossible/useless/too hard for him. This is because:

  • He is primed to feel rejected right now. Everything that isn’t “I love you come over right now and let me comfort you my dear boy” = rejection.
  • You are sending him to other people instead of wanting to deal with it yourself. (That’s okay! Just, acknowledge the truth of that so you don’t fall for the negging when it comes).
  • Mental health system is imperfect and it does take a lot of resources and energy to find a good fit and treatment that can work for you. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re feeling great, never mind when you’re feeling terrible. It’s okay to acknowledge the imperfections in the mental health system and also remind yourself that those difficulties don’t automatically make his emotional well-being your sole problem to deal with on demand in real time.

Follow-up script:

I know this sucks and that’s not what you wanted to hear. You’re right, I am telling you that you need to find other people besides me to lean on, and you’re right, the mental health system can be really difficult/annoying/expensive. But I am not comfortable or prepared to continue being your main sounding board about this stuff. I think your problems are real and serious and that taking them seriously might involve bringing in a trained listening person for a little while. Think of it as giving yourself the gift of a safe space to unload and process all of this that’s 100% focused on you, a little time in your week where you have permission to feel as sad and lost as you need to feel and get all the feelings out so you can start to heal and deal with them.

Get ready for a question like “So I guess I’m not allowed to talk about serious stuff or feelings with you anymore?” (It’s 99.99% coming)

Your script: “That’s not what I’m saying, but I am saying that I don’t want the time we spend together to be all about [Serious Feelings Stuff and Comfort]. I am asking you to find and take advantage of some alternate avenues for support and comfort, so things with us can be a little more balanced than they have been.

Chances are he will not like it. He likes his comfort to come with a side of romance/sexytimes and whyyyyy should he make an effort to find a therapist when he has youuuu? But you’re doing a kind thing by being honest about your limits and directing him toward something that actually has a chance of making him feel better.

Conversation #2 

Sometimes the answer to “I had a terrible day, can I come over and be comforted” is simply “Sorry, not tonight.” And then you put your phone away and focus on what you originally planned to do and he finds a way to self-soothe somehow. If he deals with that well, then maybe it can get better.

That doesn’t mean there is no big conversation to be had. He wants to say “I love you” and plan weekends away and remind you that you’re the only great thing in his life and it’s making you feel crowded and overwhelmed. Time to talk about that. Maybe time to also talk honestly about the way you do polyamory, like the fact that you have someone in your life that you consider to be a primary partner and that there is a hierarchy there maybe not of feelings but in terms of how you allocate time/vacation days/long-term relationship planning, etc. It seems like your relationship really worked when he had that in place too but now things have become unbalanced. This conversation might mean that y’all create something new together over time or it might mean that he and you find out that are unsuited to each other.

The thing where he wants you to be “on” and show that you are sufficiently enthusiastic seems to be the best entry point for this conversation, as in, the next time he makes you you feel that way it’s time to talk about what’s up: “Listen, I like you a lot, and I like you enough that I can make space for you to be sad and grieving right now but that also means that you make space for me being tired or having an off night or for not exactly mirroring your enthusiasm back to you. For example, we’ve only known each other a short time and I’m not ready for ‘I love you’ yet. I would love to get there someday but I need more time. When you say ‘I’m the only good thing in your life’ I know you mean it as a compliment but it feels like pressure. Also time we spend together is already about the maximum time I have to spend with you in a given week. Like of course it would be nice to spend ‘more time’ together, but I can’t do that without breaking other commitments that are pleasurable and important to me. I need you to understand that and focus on enjoying the time we do spend together.

Then, say the thing that’s the elephant in the room: “I feel like you want me to take the place of [Former Primary Partner] in your life, and that’s an okay thing for you to want on an emotional level, I get it, but it’s too much/not the right fit for me/not what I signed up for/making things unbalanced between us. I care about you a lot and I want to find a way to keep this going, so, how do we build something that is enjoyable and true and emotionally supportive without me feeling so pressured and you feeling so rejected?

He’s not going to like hearing this because it’s going to feed into the story he is telling himself about how everyone rejects him. Also there maybe is no balance between “Ideally we’d hang out once or twice a month, forever” and “LOVE ME!!!!!” But if you can’t talk honestly about this stuff and you keep feeling suffocated and overwhelmed, the thing is not going to work. “I’m at the limit of what I have to give you in terms of time and affection” isn’t what any romantic partner really wants to hear, but it’s important information if it’s the truth. The truth can hurt but it can also help us make good decisions about how to take care of ourselves. He may decide that what you have to offer is not enough for him. You may decide that what he wants is just not compatible with what you want and need. That would be painful, but I have to think that it’s better than letting him continue to build this fortress of need around you while you’re looking for the escape hatch.

Reminder for commenters: Spell out the whole word “polyamory” please.


It is that time of year again

Monday, September 25th, 2017 11:29 am
drwex: (Default)
[personal profile] drwex
Last week was Rosh Hashona. We had a fun and very geeky dinner with the family and metamours. And this Friday will be Yom Kippur.

As I do every year during this time I try to reflect on my behavior during the past year and to seek forgiveness for harms I have done to people I know. I'm opening anonymous comments on this post (assuming I've understood Dreamwidth's instructions for that) and invite you to contact me in any way you feel comfortable to tell me what I may have done and how I can make amends.
[syndicated profile] thesimpledollar_feed

Posted by Trent Hamm

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Buying stuff for baby
2. Tax loss harvesting question
3. Nice hair cutting tip
4. Thoughts on “robo investment services”
5. Which slow cooker?
6. Home ownership challenge
7. Clearing out book collection
8. Saving money on work trip
9. Afraid of culture when moving
10. Is my cell service overpriced?
11. Buying long lasting denim jeans
12. Sourdough starter advice

We spent this weekend camping. It’ll probably be our final camping trip of 2017, but it was a beautiful and unseasonably warm weekend with bright weather all the way along. My oldest son asked to bring a few friends along with him, so we were camping with a cadre of preteen boys.

It ended up feeling almost like a Boy Scout camping trip. We wandered around on trails. We went fishing. We went rowing. We went swimming. We made roaring campfires. The boys stayed up most of the night horsing around and laughing and telling stories and so on.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Q1: Buying stuff for baby

We are three months pregnant and now have started to think more seriously on how we should plan our shopping for baby and mom stuff. Any pointers to propel us in the direction on how we can save money while planning for pregnancy and baby. A plan broken down in intervals of six months for next 3 years would be great or any website that can help us in doing that with checklist. Ofcourse having said that I am going over numerous products that we could use but want to be careful how we spend our hard earned money in an effective way while planning for this big event.
– Jim

I don’t think there is any kind of standard list that I can prepare for anyone. After having three kids, I definitely feel like we had far too much stuff and thus my suggested lists of what you’ll need looks starkly minimal. (I know this because I’ve talked to friends and family that have had babies recently and they basically didn’t even believe my suggestions.)

Basically, babies need to be warm, they need to eat, they need to be clean, they need a place to sleep, they need to be safe, and they need to be held. They don’t need much else. So, you need a few blankets and some baby clothes that fit, (maybe) a few bottles and (maybe) some formula and (maybe) a breast pump (depending on your feeding plans), a few cloth diapers and cloth wipes and a spray bottle, a safe car seat, and a small sturdy crib. The blankets and clothes can and should be bought secondhand.

Everything beyond those basic things is pure extra. However, many people buy lots of extra things out of convenience. Disposable diapers are a convenience purchase. Baby wipes are a convenience purchase. A breast pump is a convenience purchase (it provides enormous location convenience). A stroller is a convenience purchase (you can carry the baby, after all). A changing table is a convenience purchase (we didn’t even use ours at all for our third child, as we changed him on blankets and towels wherever we happened to be). I can’t decide for you whether those conveniences are necessary, other than to suggest trying other methods first before deciding that you need a particular convenience. Are you regularly doing something that requires this particular convenience item? You honestly won’t know until you have the child. Some things that seem essential to others might be completely useless for you, and vice versa.

Just make sure your baby’s needs are met. Are they warm? Are they safe? Do they have healthy things to eat? Do they get held? Are they clean? Take care of those needs and let the stuff you buy only serve those needs.

Q2: Tax loss harvesting question

My question is this: while the person in the example at the end of the answer wouldn’t pay long term capital gains tax on selling the $30,000 investment, they still have to pay income tax on the $30,000 as it would be considered income, right?
– Bill

Let’s say that you put $30,000 in a taxable investment – meaning not in a 401(k) or anything. Over the course of a few years, that $30,000 turns into $40,000.

You sell that investment. You get your original investment back tax free. You only pay taxes on the $10,000, and if you’ve held the investment for a while, it’s a long term capital gain. If your long term capital gains tax rate is 15%, you’re going to pay $1,500 in taxes.

In other words, you are only taxed on what you gain from an investment. You get your original investment back tax free – you can’t be double taxed on that money and you already paid taxes on it when you originally received it as income.

Q3: Nice hair cutting tip

The best way to avoid a mess while cutting your hair is simply to wet the hair before you cut it. Then, it clumps together and all falls on a sheet placed under the person whose hair I’m cutting – mine or a family member.
– Jade

That’s good advice, and it explains why many barbers and salons dampen people’s hair before cutting it.

Unless you have a complex hair style, it’s quite possible to cut it at home. As I’ve noted before, I’m a guy who prefers short hair that can pretty easily be cut with clippers, so that’s what I do at least some of the time.

Give it a try at home. Cut someone’s hair. See how it turns out. At worst, that person just goes to a barber or a hairstylist and “fixes” the damage. At best, you save $20 (at least).

Q4: Thoughts on “robo investment services”

I’m wondering what you think about the robo investment service United Income? It’s aimed at 50+ crowd. We’re in our early 50’s and are starting to feel overwhelmed by all that there is to tract as we begin to look at our retirement years. Apparently, this service will help you do this for a fee ranging between .05-.08% of your portfolio.
– Denise

My feelings on “robo investment services” are that they’re effectively index funds or target retirement funds with a higher fee. Often, the “robo investment service” charges a fee, then the things it invests in charges a fee, too, so it compounds.

Honestly? If I’m investing for retirement, I’m probably just going to open a Roth IRA with Vanguard and use their Target Retirement Fund. It basically does the same thing as a “robo investor” but cheaper.

In the end, an index fund is basically the same thing as a “robo investor.” An index fund just follows a few simple rules to govern your investments, just as a “robo investor” does. However, index funds are cheaper. I think “robo investing” is just something of a fad.

Q5: Which slow cooker?

I saw an older post on the slow cooker your family uses, but the post was a couple years old; can you point me to the slow cooker you currently use?
– Max

I no longer see the exact model that we use on Amazon (because, well, companies change models over time), but it is very similar to the Crock-Pot SCCPVL600S Cook’ N Carry 6-Quart Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker. It’s just a large Crock Pot with a removable ceramic crock, and we’ve been using it consistently for about a decade.

We also have an Instant Pot which we sometimes use as a slow cooker, but strictly for slow cooking purposes, the Crock Pot works better. The Instant Pot has the advantage of working as a small pressure cooker and rice cooker, which is useful for many other dishes. We’ve often made something to serve over rice in our Crock Pot and then cooked the rice in the Instant Pot, for example.

If you’re looking primarily for something to just put stuff in and walk away in the morning and then come home to dinner in the evening, I’d get that Crock Pot I linked to above. It’s inexpensive and ours has worked flawlessly for a decade or so.

Q6: Home ownership challenge

I’m a 55 year old disabled woman with a home site on the Navajo Reservation and very low income…I’m looking for help in building a 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms house on my home site asap please.. I don’t have any collateral or any cash for down payment but willing to do low monthly payment to pay off.
– Sheila

My first suggestion for you would be to seek out assistance in getting a loan. Given your situation – your relative age and disability – you may have difficulty getting a loan through traditional means. However, both your tribal membership and your disability might make you eligible for programs that would help you get a loan anyway.

I would start by talking to tribal leaders about what programs are available for building on the reservation. They should be able to at least point you toward appropriate resources.

You may also be eligible for a HUD Section 8 loan for building a small home. I would contact your disability benefits office and ask about their home loans and grants.

Those resources should be able to help you build a modest home without overwhelming debt. Good luck!

Q7: Clearing out book collection

I have several shelves of books and one day I just realized I will probably never read 99% of them again and they’ll just sit there until I die. I would like to get at least a little money in return for them. What is the best way to do that?
– Denise

It depends on a few things. You may be able to donate them to the library, who may put them in circulation or sell them at a book sale. In those situations, the library usually estimates their value and gives you a receipt for them, which you can then use as a tax deduction. This is the easiest route and will save you some money if you’re already filing long form (if you have a mortgage and claim mortgage interest, you probably are; if not, you’re probably not unless you’re fairly wealthy).

If that doesn’t sound like it applies to you, you could make a long list of the books and put them up on Craigslist along with a photo of your shelves. You probably won’t get a lot for them that way, but it’ll be cash in your pocket. You’d want to price them somewhere in the range of $1 a book, with a discount if a bunch are purchased at once. You could also have a yard sale with a similar pricing scheme.

You can also take them to a local used bookstore, who may give you a small amount for them. This is probably a good approach for whatever’s left after selling via Craigslist.

If you wanted to invest more time, you could sell them via the Amazon Marketplace. You can sell them individually yourself, but it’ll be a lot of work to package and ship each book individually. A better approach might be to send all of your books to Amazon and have them do the work, but you’ll make substantially less by doing that. This would probably put the most money in your pocket, but it would also probably be the most work.

Personally, I’d donate them to the library if I were eligible to actually use the tax deduction from the donation.

Q8: Saving money on work trip

I was recently promoted at work, which means that I am supposed to travel for about a week once a month to visit installations. We receive a per diem bonus to cover food and fuel and incidentals and our airline ticket and rental car is already paid for, but when we’re actually there we have to buy our own food and stuff. Any suggestions on how to keep this cheap?
– David

Before you go, try to ensure that the hotel you’re staying at has a fridge in the room. This is an enormous money saver.

Put an empty water bottle and some granola bars in your carry on. Fill up the water bottle as soon as you’re through security. Eat the granola bars and drink the water instead of eating in the airport.

As soon as you’re at the location and have your car, stop at a grocery store and load up. Make sure that your room has a fridge, and then buy stuff to make simple meals at the hotel. Get stuff for lunches and dinners – things like sandwiches are perfect for this.

Take advantage of the continental breakfast at your hotel. Eat plenty, then snag a few extra fruits for snacks throughout the day. Use your water bottle throughout the day when you’re traveling.

If you do those things, you’ll keep the costs of traveling pretty low. Food is one of the biggest expenses while traveling, and if you can eliminate even half of the restaurant stops, you’ll save a ton of money.

Q9: Afraid of culture when moving

I have lived my entire life in and around New York, attended public school here, went to college here, so on. I have an amazing job offer in Des Moines, which immediately made me think of your site, which I have enjoyed reading off and on for years. I am mostly concerned about culture. As I am sure you know, Des Moines and other cities in the Midwest except maybe Chicago have the rep of being a cultural wasteland and there is nothing to do there. I’ve looked at Des Moines and found some promising things but I still can’t shake the idea that it is just three buildings in the middle of a cornfield. I guess I’m writing so you can convince me that it will all be okay.
– Stephen

I’m one of those people that feels pretty happy wherever I live. I’m fine living in cities. I’m fine living in small towns. I’m fine living in the country with no one else in sight. There are always things to do, no matter where I’m at. I’ve had great friends when I’ve lived in a city, when I’ve lived in the country, and when I’ve lived in a small town.

I guess I’m not sure what you mean by “cultural wasteland.” Often, that term seems to mean “a place devoid of things that I like.” Some people like a vibrant restaurant scene, so if they go to a place without a large quantity of independent unique restaurants, they identify it as a “cultural wasteland.” The same goes with art, or with music, or with people of different cultures. Some people define it as any area with a sufficient number of chain stores or restaurants.

For me, I think culture is mostly what you make of it. It’s about the people you seek out and choose to surround yourself with. The internet has made it easy to find communities and subcultures that match your interests and desires. Des Moines is large enough that you will be able to find a subculture devoted to pretty much anything you wish. There is a small but very vibrant music scene with a number of great bands and a solid annual music festival. There’s a surprisingly good restaurant scene – it’s not enormous, but you can find an interesting place to eat in the greater Des Moines area every day for a year without a repeat.

I guess the answer to your question is that Des Moines is big enough to have what you’re looking for if you’re willing to look for it. Granted, such communities probably won’t be as large as, say, the NYC dining scene, but the communities here aren’t nearly as segmented, either.

I’d say go for it. Give it an open mind, seek out communities related to your interests, and see what happens. If all else fails, you can always leverage that great job and move back to NYC.

Q10: Is my cell service overpriced?

How do you even tell if you’re paying too much for cell phone service? I know you can look at offers from other companies but their service is very different from place to place.
– Dana

So, here’s what I suggest. Go to OpenSignal and see what the signal looks like for different carriers in the places where you are most of the time – your home, your commute, your workplace, your common shopping locations, any places you visit frequently, and so on.

Basically, don’t even bother with companies that appear to have a lot of poor coverage in those areas. Don’t even try to compare them.

Instead, look at the carriers with good coverage in those areas. Visit each one of their websites and see what plans they offer that match your actual usage. If they’re cheaper than your plan, consider switching or using the other plan to negotiate with your current carrier.

So, for example, in my area, OpenSignal reveals that US Cellular and Verizon are good, but T-Mobile and Sprint are pretty sketchy. So, I’m mostly going to look at US Cellular and Verizon for offers, as the quality drop-off after those two is pretty steep.

That’s the general strategy I follow. (I only consider pay-as-you-go providers if they use the Verizon or US Cellular networks – ones that use Sprint or T-Mobile won’t work for me.)

Q11: Buying long lasting denim jeans

What are some tricks for buying jeans that will last for a long time? The ones I buy always seem to fall apart and rip.
– David

OK, first trick – don’t wash your jeans unless they’re actually dirty. When you take them off, inspect them. Do you see dirt or other smudges? Are there any noticeable odors? If so, then wash them. If not, then don’t wash them. Seriously, people wash clothes far too often and it is very hard on them. Wash clothes if they’re dirty. A pair of jeans you wear on a lazy day are probably not dirty.

The most long-lasting jeans I’ve ever owned are work jeans from Carhartt, like these. They last and last and last and last.

Having said that, different brands change their manufacture pretty regularly, so you’re going to want to inspect them. Generally, darker denim that feels stiffer to the touch in the store is going to last longer, because when denim feels softer and more flexible, that means it’s been washed, usually with bleach and other chemicals, that have broken down the fibers, meaning the jeans won’t last as long. Stiff jeans take some time to break in, but they last a lot longer.

Check the stitching everywhere and skip any jeans where the stitching looks uneven. Compare jeans of different types and choose the ones with more stitching, as they’re less likely to fail along the seams.

Yeah, it takes a little time, but you’ll walk out with jeans that will last for a long time.

Q12: Sourdough starter advice

When I was a kid, my grandma kept sourdough starter in a little crock on her counter. Each day or two, she’d take some of it and make bread, then add flour and water to what was left.

I’d like to start doing the same thing. I have read a lot about it but I am still unsure about what I am doing and want to know if there is a cheap/easy way to get started. I want some sourdough bread like grandma made!
– Virginia

All you really need is a big wide mouth jar with a lid, some flour, a wooden spoon, and some water. By big, I mean at least a quart jar, and preferably a bigger one. That’s really all you need to get this going.

Take 3/4 cup flour – whatever kind you like and add 1/2 cup warm water and mix them together in the jar. This should end up being a very very soft dough – add a little water if it’s not almost runny. Put the lid on loosely (so air can escape from the inside) and leave it on your countertop overnight.

The next day, add another 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. You may notice some bubbling in the dough, or maybe not. Either way, it’s okay at that point. Stir in the water and flour, put the lid back on, and wait another day.

On the third day, remove about half of the starter and toss it. You should notice that there’s quite a bit of bubbling going on in there – that’s fine – and it might even have a hint of a sourdough-y smell. That’s good. Don’t panic if it’s not quite there yet. Then, again, add 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir it, cover it loosely, and let it sit for another day.

Repeat this each day. Remove half the starter, add 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir thoroughly, cover. Each day, it should seem more and more and more like sourdough in terms of the aroma. It’ll probably get runnier, too. That’s all normal.

After about a week of this, you should have sourdough starter. You have to keep feeding it every day or two after that, which is what you should be doing if you want to bake every day or two. On days when you want to bake, remove half the starter and then use that removed portion to bake with, following a sourdough bread recipe.

What if you want to take a break or if you want to travel? Move the whole container to the fridge. You only need to feed it once a week when it’s in there, but the process is the same – remove half the starter, add 1/2 cup water, add 3/4 cup flour, stir, put lid back on loosely. That’s really all there is to it.

You can buy starters that allow you to skip the first several days of this process, but after that, you need to keep feeding it like this.

Got any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, by way of full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

The post Questions About Babies, Houses, Jeans, Taxes, Sourdough, and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Nationalism Reconsidered

Monday, September 25th, 2017 02:18 pm
[syndicated profile] weeklysift_feed

Posted by weeklysift

For decades nationalism was a taboo term, but now it’s back. Why are so many people attracted to it, and why aren’t I one of them?


A few weeks after the election, in “Should I Have White Pride?“, I put forward the idea that we now needed to start answering questions we used to write off, and discussing issues we used to think were settled. OK then: Nationalism. What about it?

For decades the concept was in the doghouse, but the Trump administration has put nationalism back into the public conversation. In his 60 Minutes interview earlier this month, Steve Bannon talked glowingly about “Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda” and claimed that “Economic nationalism is what this country was built on.”

Trump himself tends not to use the term, but often invokes the concept. “America First” is fundamentally a nationalist slogan. In his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, he repeatedly invoked “sovereignty” and stated: “the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.”

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

This is a big change. Between and after the world wars, books like All Quiet on the Western Front portrayed nationalism as a kind of collective insanity that induced millions of otherwise sensible Frenchmen and Germans to repeatedly try to kill each other. But in his UN speech, Trump draws a different lesson from the wars. He ignores the nationalism embodied in slogans like “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!” or enacted by Japanese kamikaze pilots crashing their planes into American ships, and focuses only on the “good” nationalism of the Allies:

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

For decades, a “national liberation movement” was at best a phase a Third World society — Vietnam, say, or Zimbabwe — might go through while escaping colonialism and finding its place in the world. But the whole point of international institutions like the UN was to help First Worlders rise above such atavistic motivations. Not any more. Trump’s vision of the UN seems less influenced by Star Trek‘s Federation of Planets than by Robert Frost’s often-misquoted maxim that “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world. … Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

(That quote invites a question: Can different values, cultures, and dreams respectfully coexist within a nation? Or is that a problem?) In the Trump administration, globalism is the dirty word. The nation-state is an end in itself, not something we should be trying to transcend.

Nationalism and essentialism. Before criticizing nationalism, it’s important to understand the attraction of it. The root idea of nationalism is that nations are, or should be, more than just lines on a map. Ideally, a nation represents a convergence of territory, culture, and government. A variety of factors — typically ethnicity, language, religion, and/or shared history — give a population a common identity as “a people”. That people occupies a territory, and expresses its common will through a government that is sovereign over that territory.

In this vision, being English or French or Japanese means far more than simply living inside the boundaries of England or France or Japan, or satisfying the legal conditions for citizenship. It means sharing the almost mystical essence that unites the English, French, or Japanese people.

At its best, this identity as a people gives a country a unity that makes it governable, and a common purpose that allows it to accomplish great things. We can easily see the lack of such a national essence in the failure of American “nation building” in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is comparatively easy to draw borders on a map, to write a document that defines a constitutional republic within those borders, and to establish a government by holding elections under that constitution. Whether or not that government actually takes hold, though, depends on whether it corresponds to something its citizens can identify with and feel loyal to. Constitutions and elections can be how the popular will expresses itself. If there is no national identity, though, and hence no popular will, elections simply become a way of deciding who will dominate who. Officials will be corrupt, and citizens will show them no loyalty beyond what the police can force out of them.

But nationalism also has a down side: It creates dissonance between the actual citizenry and the ideal citizenry. Some Frenchmen are just “more French” than others. Some U.S. citizens are real Americans, while others are not quite so real. Even if their ancestors had lived in Germany since before there was a Germany, even if they spoke perfect German and loyally paid their taxes, and even if they had fought for the Kaiser in World War I, Jews could never be part of the German Volk.

Nationalism also provokes a disruptive desire to get the boundaries right. Hitler’s initial expansions — Austria, the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia, and the Danzig corridor of Poland — were justified by his ambition to unite the German Volk under a single Reich. Similarly today, Putin’s annexation of Crimea and the pressure he is putting on the eastern provinces of Ukraine are part of a vision that unites all the ethnic Russians in the nation of Russia.

And if boundaries won’t move, then people must. Ethnic cleansing and genocide are the ultimate expressions of nationalism. If you don’t fit the national identity and you aren’t willing to accept slavery or some other subordinate status, then you have to go.

Finally, national identity often comes packaged with a national mythology that justifies dominating others. It’s no coincidence that nationalists are also the Americans most likely to believe in American exceptionalism.

When nationalism and democracy were allies. One of the key ideas underlying President Wilson’s 14 Points for establishing peace in Europe after World War I was “self determination“. In the 19th century, the world had been dominated by big cosmopolitan empires like Austria-Hungary or the Ottomans. The Czars ruled far more than just the Russians, and the English governed both nearby Ireland and distant India. Even France, if you looked closely, was a polyglot of Normans, Bretons, Provencals, Burgundians, and many others who were only beginning to identify as a nation and speak a common language (for more than just government and trade).

In an era where democracy was only beginning to catch on in Great Britain, the United States, and a handful of other places, cosmopolitan empires seemed normal. Government wasn’t supposed to express the popular will, it was an organizing service offered by a central authority. If the ruling House established trade, promoted the arts, and kept the peace — what more did you want?

But when World War I left Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire in tatters, the victorious nations had to decide what to do with the pieces. Their internal squabbles had been the sparks the lit the war to begin with — the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and all that — so the victors weren’t inclined to just prop up new Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman emperors. So what, then?

Wilson’s solution was to identify natural ethnic boundaries and create new nations to match them.

National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. “Self determination” is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action.

Having been established around the peoples who lived there, Wilson expected the new nations to be fertile ground for government by the people. In this sense, nationalism and democracy would go hand in hand.

From self-determination to ethnic cleansing. In fact Wilson’s vision was not implemented all that well; the borders established by the Treaty of Versailles involved as much national score-settling as self-determination. But Wilson got perhaps more credit than he deserved for his idealism. (In retrospect, his support for nationalism abroad paralleled his racism at home. Wilson re-segregated government offices, and screened Birth of a Nation in the White House.)

On the ground, ethnic boundaries were never quite so natural as he had imagined, and many Romanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, and others wound up on the wrong side of the borders defining the nations of their peoples. Many moved, while others stayed and were now oppressed by the local majority rather than by a distant emperor. Jews, Roma, and other dispersed peoples were often worse off than they had been in a cosmopolitan empire.

As the remaining empires dissolved in the subsequent decades, national self-determination was often associated with either ethnic cleansing or a semi-voluntary mass migration motivated by fear of the new majority. The British Raj, for example, split into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. But there had never been a clear territorial separation between the two religions, so millions moved or were moved, with much violence on both sides.

In the long run, does democracy require nationalism? It’s worth considering why the Versailles negotiators couldn’t have just declared a unified Republic of Austria-Hungary; written a modern constitution that defended the rights of all the Serbians, Jews, Maygars, and other ethnic groups inside it; and held elections for a new Parliament. For that matter, why couldn’t we do the same today with Earth?

The answer is that the inherent political discord of a democratic republic is only stable if it is an island floating on a broader sea of public consensus. Constitutional rights only matter if the public actually believes in them, so that whoever gains power will feel constrained to defend everybody’s rights, and not just the rights of a particular party or ethnic group. As the U.S. Senate has been finding out over the last decade or so, unwritten but broadly shared standards of fair play are as important — and perhaps more important — than constitutional guarantees.

In many countries, a disputed presidential election like the U.S. had in 2000 would have led to civil war. Instead, the Supreme Court ruled, Gore conceded, and subsequent elections were held on schedule in 2004 and 2008. When Bush’s chosen successor lost the 2008 election, we had a peaceful transfer of power.

That happened because all sides had confidence in American standards of fair play. If Gore’s supporters in 2000 (or the outgoing Bushies in 2008) had believed that they were all about to be rounded up and shot, civil war might have seemed like a more attractive option.

Confidence in the underlying consensus limits the stakes of an election, and allows the losers to retreat and regroup rather than panic. Because of that consensus, we argue vociferously over things like tax rates and health insurance, but we don’t consider killing off all the old people. Anti-gay bakers may or may not have to make cakes for same-sex weddings, but they won’t be sent off to re-education camps. Larger or smaller numbers of undocumented Hispanics may be deported, but Hispanic citizens will not be ethnically cleansed. We may or may not create hurdles to voting that many people will lack the will to jump, but we will not revoke the voting rights of entire races or religions. In some future progressive administration, billionaires may have a harder time multiplying their wealth and passing it on to their descendants, but they won’t become enemies of the people whose estates are confiscated and whose children are impoverished.

In short, we can vote about the things that divide us, and live with the outcome, because we share a broad consensus on the graver issues that large numbers of people would be willing to kill or die for. (When the consensus ruptured on slavery, we did have a civil war.) A country that doesn’t have such a consensus won’t be a stable democracy, no matter what its constitution says.

A nationalist believes that such a consensus can only come from a shared identity as a people, which is based on shared culture, language, religion, and history. Anything that dilutes that identity — say, by bringing in a bunch of immigrants who don’t fit the national identity — undermines the national consensus that democracy depends on.

National identity in America. Trump/Bannon American nationalism has a nuanced relationship with racism. Both will deny that they are racist, and in one sense they are justified. Bannon put it like this:

We look after our own. We look after our citizen, we look after our manufacturing base, and guess what? This country’s gonna be greater, more united, more powerful than it’s ever been. And it’s not– this is not astrophysics. OK? And by the way, that’s every nationality, every race, every religion, every sexual preference. As long as you’re a citizen of our country. As long as you’re an American citizen, you’re part of this populist, economic nationalist movement

But last summer he told Mother Jones that he had made Breitbart “the platform for the alt-Right“, which clearly is racist. Both Bannon and Trump appeal to the racist leanings of their base voters, sometimes pretty explicitly.

Here’s how I interpret the nuance: The national identity Bannon/Trump are trying to defend against dilution is white, Christian, straight, English-speaking, and perhaps a few other things. That’s why Bannon can correct Charlie Rose’s statement about “the Trump base” with “the American people”. To the extent that Americans are “a people”, Bannon sees them as the Trump white Christian base.

But that’s a description of an ideal. Few Americans fit the ideal perfectly; most of us are only “real Americans” up to a point. So Trumpists don’t have to be against any individual Hispanics or Muslims purely because of their race or religion. It’s only when large numbers of people differ significantly from the ideal that dilution becomes an issue. If America stopped being a white country or stopped being a Christian country, that would be a problem for them.

So whether they’re bigots depends on what you mean: They don’t necessarily hate individuals based on their race or religion. But all races and religions are not created equal, at least not if you want to fit in with the American people.

Why I’m not a nationalist. If you look back at American history, our national identity has always been an issue, and in retrospect it is obvious that the people who wanted to defend it have always defined it too narrowly. The Founding generation seriously debated whether Catholics could be good Americans, and most doubted that they could. The flood of German immigrants in the early 1800s (my ancestors) threatened the nation’s English heritage. The subsequent waves of Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, and Slavic immigrants were also controversial in their day. How could we possibly assimilate so many of them all at once?

One reason the South hung onto slavery so desperately was that Southern whites didn’t believe that whites and blacks could share a society, certainly not as citizens with equal rights. If blacks became the majority (as they already were in South Carolina and Mississippi) and had equal rights, then they’d define a black society, and whites would be the slaves. Or else there would be a race war, and one would wipe out the other. That’s what Jefferson was talking about when he described slavery as having “a wolf by the ear. We can neither hold him nor safely let him go.” The choice was slavery or genocidal race war, because the national identity had to be either white or black.

In retrospect, the national identity has changed a lot over the years, and the broad consensus underlying our democracy has shifted from one era to the next. Even using the most generous estimates, English-Americans are only 1 out of every 4, and may be less than 1 out of 10. (John Adams, I’m sure, would be horrified.) Whites are less than half of the population of California, and yet democratic institutions continue to function there. White protestants are less than half of the population nationwide, but blacks, Catholics, Jews, and even atheists and agnostics seem to have caught on to being Americans.

These changes can be disturbing if you are part of a declining majority. (I still get edgy when I am surrounded on public transit by people speaking a language I don’t understand.) But it’s important not to confuse personal discomfort with a danger to the Republic.

In short, I see a wide gap between a white/Christian/English-speaking identity and the national consensus that keeps democracy functioning. The idea of America has always been more flexible and resilient than the Americans of any given era have imagined. People come here because they find the idea of America attractive, and not because they want to tear it down. But they have also always tried to hang onto part of the heritage of the old country, wherever it was.

I have much more faith in the American people than I have in our ability to define what makes us a people, or to determine what kind of people we should be in the future. We will evolve, and in another 250 years we’ll be as unrecognizable as today’s America would be to a young Ben Franklin. That is as it should be.


[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Associated Press

President Trump struck a nerve in the NFL, where the majority of players are black and many of them grew up in tough neighborhoods, raised by strong women.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Monday, September 25th, 2017 12:06 pm
[syndicated profile] weeklysift_feed

Posted by weeklysift

This week’s leading NFL highlights weren’t about game-winning passes or violent sacks, but about what the players did during the national anthem, and how Trump incited or responded to them. Bit by bit, the national argument for and against Trump is taking over the entire culture. There are fewer and fewer places where you can escape from it.

Even if you did manage to ignore the various fronts in the war between Trump and black athletes, there was a lot to pay attention to this week. The last-last-ditch, we-really-mean-it-this-time attempt to repeal ObamaCare looked briefly like it might pull together 50 senators, but now appears to be as doomed as the previous attempts. Trump made a disturbing speech to the UN, and increased both the rhetorical and economic pressure on North Korea, which showed no signs of cracking. A few more examples of Trump-administration corruption popped up, and the Russia investigation had its usual drip-drip-drip of revelations.

But I decided to take a step back to get a wider view. After the election I suggested that we need to start discussing issues we used to think were settled, and explaining things that we thought everybody already understood by now. My first shot at that was “Should I Have White Pride?“. This week’s featured post comes back to this theme. I use Trump’s UN speech and Steve Bannon’s 60 Minutes interview as a jumping-off point for discussing nationalism: why so many people are attracted to it again, and why I’m not one of them. That should be out maybe 10ish.

The weekly summary covers the things I listed above, plus a few others, before closing with an amusing commercial for a truly natural health remedy. I’m aiming to get that out by noon.


Are You Ready for a Stock Market Crash?

Monday, September 25th, 2017 10:00 am
[syndicated profile] thesimpledollar_feed

Posted by Matt Becker

I’m not in the business of predicting stock market crashes. Plenty of so-called financial experts have died on that hill and I have no intention of joining them.

I don’t know what the stock market is going to do today, tomorrow, next year, or any other year. Your guess is as good as mine.

But I do know two things:

  1. We’ve had eight straight years of positive stock market returns. And as of this writing, the year-to-date return for 2017 is 11.93%, so it looks like that streak will stretch to nine years.
  2. There will eventually be a stock market crash. I don’t know when or how big it will be, but it will happen.

Put those together and you get a lot of investors who’ve experienced nothing but growth for a long time, and who could be in for a big shock when the crash eventually comes.

I don’t want that to be you. I want you to be fearless, but prepared, so that you can take the next stock market crash in stride and stay on track toward your long-term goals.

To do that, you need a plan. Here’s how to make it.

1. Know That a Stock Market Crash Is Coming

Every time there’s a stock market crash, people act like it’s the end of the world. Like they’ve never seen anything like it before. Like it was totally unexpected.

But stock market crashes are not unexpected. They’re a normal part of the investment cycle.

The stock market lost 36.55% in 2008 (source). It lost 9.03% in 2000, 11.85% in 2001, and 21.97% in 2002. It lost 25.90% in 1974. It lost 35.34% in 1937. It lost 8.30% in 1929 before losing 25.12% in 1930 and another 43.84% in 1931.

The only thing that’s strange about a stock market crash is people acting like it’s strange.

Don’t be that person. Understand that stock market crashes are normal and expect that, at some point, you are going to lose a lot of money in the stock market.

Then, when it happens, you can react rationally instead of losing your mind like everyone else.

2. Know That a Recovery Is Coming Right Behind It

Even when you know it’s coming, a stock market crash is hard to stomach. Day after day you watch all that money you’ve worked so hard to save disappear, without any idea when it will end or how far it will go.

It’s tough. It really is.

But here’s the thing: the stock market has always recovered. Sometimes it’s taken years, but it has always come back even stronger than it was before.

Here’s the proof (source):

chart of stock market from 1900 to 2014

This chart shows the growth of the stock market from 1900-2014. It’s pretty easy to see the relentless trend upward.

Every crash is followed by a recovery. Which means that if you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded.

3. Choose an Asset Allocation That Expects Both Crashes and Recoveries

There’s no sense in trying to predict when these crashes and recoveries will occur.

If you could do it, and if you could get in and out of the stock market at the exact right times, you’d get rich beyond your wildest dreams.

But no one in history has been able to do it with any consistency, so the very idea is nothing more than a pipe dream.

What you can do is a lot less exciting, but also a lot more effective. You can select an asset allocation that expects both crashes and recoveries and prepares you for both.

At its core, your asset allocation is how you choose to divide your money between high-risk, high-return investments like stocks, and low-risk, low-return investments like bonds. The balance you choose affects both the potential returns you can earn, and the risk you take on.

Here’s how to think about it in the context of preparing for both a stock market crash and recovery:

Your bonds provide a cushion during a stock market crash. This portion of your portfolio should, at worst, lose a lot less than the stocks in your portfolio.

Your stocks provide growth during the subsequent recovery. This is what allows you to earn your money back and then some.

Both are important to have in your portfolio, and your job is to choose a balance that both feels right and lines up with your personal investment goals.

A reasonable rule of thumb is to expect that 50% of whatever you have invested in stocks could disappear during a market crash. You would, of course, expect it to recover and then some over the subsequent years, but you can use that guideline to help you figure out just how much you’re comfortable risking.

4. Plan to Rebalance

When the stock market does crash, your asset allocation will naturally shift out of balance. You’ll have a lower portion of your portfolio in stocks than you intended, simply because your stocks have lost more value.

For example, let’s say that you have $100,000 invested and you have a target asset allocation of 70% stocks and 30% bonds. That means you’d have $70,000 invested in stocks and $30,000 invested in bonds.

Now let’s say that a market crash causes a 30% drop in the stock market, while the bond market remains flat. After that crash, you would still have $30,000 invested in bonds but you’d only have $49,000 in stocks. Which means that your asset allocation would have shifted to 62% stocks and 38% bonds.

In order to get back to your target asset allocation, you’d have to sell $6,300 of your bonds and use it to buy more stocks. That’s right, you’d have to buy into the stock market at the exact moment that it’s in the middle of crashing.

That can be nerve-wracking, but that is the essence of rebalancing. And it’s a necessary part of your investment plan because it keeps you from getting too far out of balance during both the bad times and the good times.

And it’s especially effective during a market crash because you are essentially buying stocks on sale, which puts you in position to benefit even more from the subsequent recovery.

So plan to rebalance at least once per year, whether the stock market is high or low. Your investments will thank you.

5. Write Down Your Plan and Commit to It

Your plan is only as good as your ability to stick to it.

An investment policy statement will help you do just that. This document can be kept very simple, but essentially you are detailing the following:

  • Your investment goals
  • How much money you plan on investing
  • Which accounts you will be contributing to
  • Your target asset allocation
  • Your rebalancing policy

Then, at the bottom, you can sign and date your commitment to this plan. And when the stock market starts to crash and you start feeling nervous, you can pull out this document, review your plan, review your commitment to it, and know exactly how to stay on track.

Handle the Next Stock Market Crash Like a Pro

Real investors know that a stock market crash is coming. They know that they can’t predict when it will happen or how big it will be, but they are ready for it nonetheless.

If you follow the steps above, you’ll be ready for it too.

Related Articles:

Matt Becker, CFP® is a fee-only financial planner and the founder of Mom and Dad Money, where he helps new parents take control of their money so they can take care of their families. His free book, The New Family Financial Road Map, guides parents through the all most important financial decisions that come with starting a family.

The post Are You Ready for a Stock Market Crash? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

[syndicated profile] secret_sun_feed



Jesus.

I really don't know where to start.

I watched the two-part opener of the new Star Trek series and I'm still wondering if I didn't hallucinate it all. I'm still wondering if I didn't have some weird flashback and find myself in an alternate timeline where Star Trek was created by John McCain and Lindsey Graham instead of Gene Roddenberry. A weird dimension where Star Trek is very slick and very costly recruitment propaganda for some alternate-reality, militarized Space Fleet.

Oh wait- I forgot. We already have a militarized Space Fleet in this reality.
Members of Congress have laid the groundwork for the U.S Air Force to establish a new branch of the military, known as a Space Corps, by January of 2019.

The proposal came from Congressmen Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper. D-Tenn., the top representatives of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which oversees military space operations. They introduced the legislation into the House Armed Services Committee National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Tuesday. 
According to a joint statement by Rogers and Cooper, the Space Corps would reorganize the national security space enterprise “to ensure prioritization of the space domain by creating a U.S. Space Corps as a separate military service within the Department of the Air Force and under the civilian leadership of the Secretary of the Air Force.” 
"There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding," the statement said, "We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems."
Now I get it. Just how militaristic was all this then?

Well, it's the most flagrantly militaristic SF I have seen since in a very, very long time. So much so that it actually veers perilously close to doctrinaire fascism.

First of all, forget the prefab debates over "diversity"; that was just a master-class lesson in Knowles' First Law ("Whenever a controversy over symbolism erupts in the media, it's usually disguising another hidden symbolic message altogether.") There's no real diversity to be found here, every individual impulse is subordinated to authority. The only conflict among the crew is how genocidal they should actually become.

This is the fetishization of uniformity and the worship of empire. This is the weaponization of Star Trek. This is the Star Trek I always saw the potential for but hoped would never come. This is the Verhoeven Starship Troopers version of Trek, without the smirking irony. And it's so techno-fetishistic, it's practically slashporn for AIs.

We're a long, long way from Deep Space Nine, my friends.

Let me be absolutely clear about this: Star Trek Discovery is nothing else but a balls-out glorification of preemptive war and technocracy, the militarization of women and the (literal) demonization of individuality. Peacemakers and diplomats are not only seen as weak and naive dupes but as virtual traitors who get what's coming to them. 

Just how vitriolic is this new Trek? Well, look at it this way: the insufficiently-warlike science officer is revealed to a member of a race who exist only to be hunted and eaten. 

No, I'm serious.

We see yet another makeover for the Klingons, who are more inhuman and grotesque than we've ever seen them. They are irredeemably alien, sporting bizarre costumes and mouths filled with huge, sharklike fangs. 

Come back, General Murtok. All is forgiven.


And despite all the diversity window-dressing, most of the Klingons are not only very dark-skinned (and apparently played by predominantly black actors) they are actively racist towards light-skinned Klingons. And they're also fanatically-religious and emotional where our Starfleet heroes are Dawkinsian wet-dreams of cold rationality.

However, the Klingon's real transgression seems to be "clinging on" to individuality (or "disarray" as Starfleet sees it) and resisting the joy and glory of wearing the ostentatiously-Masonic Starfleet uniform, which reduces all diversity and difference to a neatly-manageable singularity of mind and purpose. 


Oh, I almost forgot: the Klingons' god Kahless is actually Lucifer, in case you didn't figure all that out. We're subjected to excruciatingly long and ponderous scenes in which the Klingons growl about their worship of "Light" and argue about who will be their new "Torchbearer" since Michael- yes, her name is Michael- does away with the old one. 


Never mind the de rigeur ludicrousness of five-foot tall women beating up trained soldiers who are literally three times their bodymass, the blatant symbolism along the way just makes your jaw drop. 

How blatant? Well, the entire two-parter actually takes place in the solar system of a binary star. In fact the second part is titled "Battle at the Binary Stars." So, my guess that we would be seeing some Sirius symbology in this series was right on the money.

Plus, an unsubtle 9/11 inference.* That happens too.

There are all kinds of little AAT easter eggs tossed in along the way, including a riff on the Nazca Lines. There are 17s dropped here and there in the dialog and all kinds of sacred geometry and occult symbolism scattered hither and yon. 

We also get a running visual clue that may point to an Hegelian dialectic; the Masonic royal blue-and-gold isn't just sewn into the Starfleet uniform, we also see a kind of inversion of it among the Klingons, whose environments are as predominantly gold as the Starfleet environments are predominantly blue. The unconscious implication of all this being that one day the troublesome binary (or "chaos" as the series trailer has it) will be resolved through Synthesis to the harmonious Starfleet unitary.

Yeah. It's not your imagination- this is our pop culture circa 2017. So how does this all work as drama?

Well, it has its moments, even if those moments are all shamelessly manipulative, emotionally-speaking. The writers pull out some fairly-effective tricks from the agitational-propaganda toolkit even if all they are essentially doing is re-staging "Sacrifice of Angels."  I can't begin to imagine how much they spent on this production but every single penny is up on the screen.

However, the acting is uniformly terrible.

I realize that's almost a gimme with any Trek pilot but still, you notice. The woman who plays Michael-- no, seriously, her name is Michael-- is not only a bad actor she's really not much of a screen presence. When she isn't pouty she's livid, and her fan-service backstory really doesn't do much of anything but give you a slight whiff of paedo-ick. 

And her asskicking really doesn't go over very well. She looks about as tough as the Keebler Elf. But I don't want to single her out; everyone else is equally as terrible. And plus, it's not her fault her character is the mariest Mary Sue who ever sue'd. (And seriously; who else but a Hollywood hack would send two extremely petite women on a commando raid into a stronghold of alien death-cultists the size of linebackers?)

Mind you, I'm not worried about the "diversity" casting-- my favorite Trek is DS9, after all-- I have a problem with the shitty acting. 

Having signed up for CBS All Access to watch this postmodern Green Berets will I continue on with it? For the time being, probably yes. It's such a mind-boggling fever-dream of a Trek I'm actually kind of fascinated by it. By that I mean it's such over-the -top warmongering propaganda generously seasoned with cryptomasonic symbology it's practically my obligation to see how this all plays out.

In the past I didn't worry overmuch about the fact that Star Trek is basically propaganda advertising for a worldwide military dictatorship because I didn't really see it reaching an audience that I was particularly worried about, militarily-speaking. But today, with the ubiquity of desktop drone warfare and the ideological struggle sessions taking place on college campuses every day, I actually am starting to get a bit concerned about it.

I'll let Lt. Commander Eddington have the final word...



*As well as a dig against those peacenik Euroweenies.

Just to be a normal man, just to go out shaking hands

Monday, September 25th, 2017 01:22 am
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
[personal profile] sovay
I don't understand Facebook's algorithms. Independent of any pages shared by my friends, it keeps presenting me with this photo of violinist Gil Shaham, upcoming guest of the BSO, and I cannot tell if it thinks that I am the sort of person who listens to classical music (true) or the sort of person who thinks this particular musician is great-looking (also true) and in either case I have no money for the symphony and extant commitments on one of the days he's playing anyway, but I still want to know which data they were farming to produce this result. Seriously, it's been every time I go to check in on the news. I'm not complaining, but I am puzzled.

Gil Shaham


(I did not make it to the Brattle's screening of A Matter of Life and Death (1946), so the question of whether I find David Niven as beautiful in that movie as Andrew Moor does will have to wait for another time.)

When taking a stand involves sitting

Monday, September 25th, 2017 04:51 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Jason Eisner

The most pervasive metaphor in English may be the use of "higher" to mean "better" (e.g., stronger or more moral), which has spawned endless figures of speech.  It's hard to avoid those metaphorical phrases, although that might be wise in situations in which "higher" also has a relevant physical meaning.  The New York Times on Saturday ran the following headline:

(1) As Trump Takes On Athletes, Watch Them Rise

Indeed, these athletes may be rising metaphorically as a political force.  But they're refusing to rise physically for the singing of the U.S. national anthem.  On the same day, the New York Times wrote (in this article, though it has now been edited away):

(2) Some people urged more players to kneel or sit during the anthem at football stadiums on Sunday as a way to reinforce their First Amendment rights. Others urged more white players to stand with black players who have knelt or sat during the anthem.

How confusing!  White players are urged to stand metaphorically with their black teammates … by physically kneeling or sitting with them, or by speaking out afterwards.

But how do we readers know that "stand with" in (2) is metaphorical?  Why couldn't the second sentence be about white players standing physically?

In fact, it's tempting to interpret (2) physically — "some people" encouraging kneeling while "others" are encouraging standing.  There are indeed Americans urging both actions.  But it's an implausible interpretation because of little clues like "more" and "with":

  • It happens that nearly all white players have continued to stand during the anthem.  So it would be strange to urge "more" of them to stand, rather than urging "the rest" to stand or asking "the few sitters" to "resume standing."
  • Physically standing "with" someone presumably means that you stand at the same time as them, or that you walk over and stand next to them.  Neither is likely here, since there seems to be no opportunity to carry out either move as a political gesture.  (At the relevant time, these black players presumably aren't planning to stand at all, and the white players are presumably already next to them.)

Thus, it's unlikely that the "others" are urging white players to physically stand by their kneeling or sitting teammates.   (If the white players did so, then they wouldn't be metaphorically "standing by" their teammates.  At best, they'd just be "standing by" as the controversy unfolded … a.k.a. sitting it out.)

One more, from Yahoo Sports (h/t Ben Zimmer):

(3) NFL shows it won't sink to president's level

The "sinking" is again metaphorical.  This time, the headline happens to be literally true as well: the president is presumably sitting as part of the TV audience, and the National Football League players are standing, not sinking physically to his level.  Yet again, no one who knows the context could think that the headline literally means "NFL shows it won't sit or kneel."  Why?

  • "Sink to the president's level" is too roundabout a way to say "sit or kneel."
  • "NFL shows it won't sit or kneel" isn't true: sitting and kneeling during the anthem are on the increase in the NFL.
  • "These NFLers show they won't sit or kneel" still wouldn't be plausible as a choice for this headline.  While the photo does show that they have decided not to go as far as kneeling, the newsworthy bit is that they are nonetheless protesting and their team's owner has joined them.

Getting computers to attend to all these factors, as we humans seem to, is why passing the Turing test will be hard.

Question for LL readers: What's a clever name for a metaphorical phrase whose literal interpretation is at odds with the facts?  (A "mixed metaphor" is a pair of metaphorical phrases whose literal interpretations are at odds with each other.)

[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by David Mikkelson

Reports that the NFL was fining Pittsburgh Steelers players $1 million each for staying in their locker room during the national anthem are fake news.

Is the NFL a Tax-Exempt Non-Profit Organization?

Monday, September 25th, 2017 02:13 am
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by David Mikkelson

Claims that the National Football League pays no taxes on billions of dollars in profits because they are a nonprofit organization are exaggerated and outdated.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by David Mikkelson

Confusing claims about whether the NFL's rulebook or game operations manual specifically requires players to stand on the sideline during the pre-game playing of the U.S. national anthem.

Renegades: The Requiem

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 09:42 pm
chuckro: (Default)
[personal profile] chuckro
Sky Conway, Tim Russ and Walter Koenig attempted to get their own Star Trek spinoff going a few years ago. They produced a pilot and called it "Star Trek: Renegades", and crowdfunded a bunch of money. You can read my review of that here. No one picked it up, so they tried to make it on their own, only to have Paramount come down hard on Trek fanworks, forcing them to file the serial numbers off of the final product. I think this was originally supposed to be a series, then a two-part movie. What was eventually released is an hour long. And it's kinda awful.

Read more... )

Overall: ...I'm glad that was only an hour long and I didn't pay much for it.

Phethean.

Monday, September 25th, 2017 12:20 am
[syndicated profile] languagehat_feed

Posted by languagehat

I recently ran across the unusual surname Phethean and having no idea of its etymology or even how to pronounce it, I had to do some research. It turns out it’s /ˈfiːðiən/ (FEE-thee-uhn, as in “[I’ll] fee thee an [apple]), and it’s apparently a (very weird) variant of Vivian; Rybakin, my go-to reference for English surnames, gives the other variants Fiddian, Fidgen, Fidgeon, Fithian, Phythian, Videan, and Vivien, and there is actually a dedicated website, Phethean One-Name study, which has a bunch more:

The Phethean One-Name study was established in 2012. I have been researching the PHETHEAN surname for about 20 years. More recently I have been concentrating on tracing the early origins of the surname, including all variants that I am aware of, rather than establishing a definitive family-tree of my own particular spelling of the surname

The registered variants of the name are Fithyan, Phitheon, Phithian, Phythian. Only Phethean, Phythian and Fithyan appear to be represented in England at the present day.

All the variants that I am researching are: Fethion, Fethyan, Fethyon, Fhithyan, Fithan, Fithean, Fitheion, Fitheon, Fithian, Fithion, Fithyan, Fithyon, Fitton, Fytheone, Fythian, Pheathean, Pheathian, Phethean, Phethein, Phetheon, Phethian, Phethion, Phithean, Phitheon, Phithian, Phithion, Phithyan, Phythean, Phytheon, Phythian, Phythion, Phythyan. […]

There are sparse records dating from 1250 – 1450 in various parts of the UK. The definitive spelling Phethean first appears in Tunstall, Staffordshire in 1459 where it was used as a first-name (Phethean of Tunstall) and then is found as a surname (and many derivative spellings) mainly in two locations in Cheshire – Brereton-cum-Smethwick and Warmingham from about 1500-1750. These sites are only about 15 miles from Tunstall but at present I have been unable to link the two locations.

Read more about the history of the name (“The Industrial Revolution lead to migrations of families who were yeoman farmers from the country to the cities. The Phethean line became established in Bolton, Lancashire from the late 1700s”) and frequency (“The surname is rare!”) at the link; I admire the dedication of Mr Stuart Phethean, who created and updates it.

"Sons of a bitches"

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 10:18 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

In his 9/22/2017 rally speech in Huntsville, Alabama, Donald Trump said

Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners
when somebody disrespects our flag
to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now —
out, he's fired.
Fired!

This posed a question for people who wanted to speak up in support of the football players he was threatening: What's the plural of "son of a bitch"?

I always thought it was "sons of bitches", but a surprising number of people decided on "sons of a bitches" instead. (See "Plurals", 9/22/2013, for some additional context.)

 

 

sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I dreamed I was in Providence last night, visiting friends who don't exist in waking life. There was no particular occasion—I hadn't seen them in months, NecronomiCon notwithstanding. I had brought one of them a ring I had found in a thrift store in Boston. It looked like heavy gold with a blurred device on the signet and chips of emerald down the band; I thought it was costume jewelry. It had been priced accordingly. The girl at the register hadn't been able to tell me where it came from. I almost tossed it to my friend as we walked through Burnside Park, telling him it had looked like his style. He didn't even put it on: he turned it over once or twice and dropped onto the nearest bench like someone had kicked his feet out from under him and burst into tears. I thought at one point he said, "How could you do this to me?" but I didn't have an answer and I wasn't sure he was asking me. When he left without looking at me, he left the ring resting on the bench behind him. I put it back in my pocket. I went back to their house. He was there helping his partner prepare dinner; no one said anything about it. I can do something with this dream, I think. [personal profile] spatch asked me months ago if I had ever written Lovecraftian noir and I couldn't think of a way to do it without being cheap or clichéd or ripping other authors off: I might have dreamed myself a way in. I just wish I could think of things that don't require research.

1. Thank you, question mark, Facebook, for pointing me toward this teeth-grinding article: Zoe Willams, "Yes, yes, yes! Welcome to the golden age of slutty cinema." I was a little wary of the opening, but then we reached the following claim—

"On the big screen, we look to the 1930s and 40s – rightly – for an object lesson in how to make a female character with depth, verve, wit and intelligence, but to expect those women to shag around would be unreasonable, anachronistic."

—and I blew a fuse. Can I chase after the author screaming with a copy of Baby Face (1933)? Or the bookstore clerk from The Big Sleep (1946)? Pre-Code cinema in general? A stubborn and sneaky percentage of Hollywood even after the ascendance of the Production Code? "It is a radical act," William writes, "which every film generation thinks they are the first to discover: to create characters who are not good people"—well, apparently every generation of film critics thinks they discovered it, too. I wrote on Facebook that I was reminded of the conversation between an ATS driver and her prospective mother-in-law in Leslie Howard's The Gentle Sex (1943), where the younger woman declares proudly that "for the first time in English history, women are fighting side by side with the men" and the older woman quietly lets fall the fact that she served as an ambulance driver on the front lines of the last war. Just because the young women of the rising generation don't know about the social advances of their mothers doesn't mean they didn't happen. Just because the author of this article lives in a retrograde era doesn't mean the onscreen representation of morally ambiguous women is some kind of millenial invention. It's so easy to think that the past was always more conservative, more blinkered, more backwards than the present. It's comforting. It's dangerous. It permits the belief that things just get better, magically, automatically, without anyone having to fight to move forward or hold ground already won. Once you recognize that the past, even briefly, got here first, it's a lot harder to feel superior for just being alive now. We can't afford it and anyway it isn't true.

2. Apropos of nothing except that I was listening to Flanders and Swann, I am very glad that I discovered them before reading Margery Allingham, otherwise I might have thought she invented "The Youth of the Heart." It's quoted in a scene in The Beckoning Lady (1955)—correctly attributed, but her books are so full of fictional artists and musicians that when I read of "Lili Ricki, the new Swedish Nightingale, singing Sydney Carter's lovely song against a lightening sky," I might have easily had the Avocado of Death problem and assumed she made them all up. As it is, I know the song from a recording of Swann performing it solo as part of At the Drop of a Hat in 1957, since he wrote the music. And I was reminded of Allingham because there's a copy of Traitor's Purse (1941) on Howard's bookshelves in Howard the Duck (1986). I assume someone in the props department was a fan.

3. The Somerville Theatre has announced its repertory schedule for October. I am sad that the double feature of James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is the same night that [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and I already have plans to see William Wellman's Beggars of Life (1928) at the HFA, but I am looking forward mightily to the triple feature of Psycho (1960), Psycho II (1983), and Psycho III (1986), because it is the Saturday before my birthday and five and a half hours of Anthony Perkins seems like a good preemptive birthday present to me. I have never seen Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963), either, or Anna Biller's The Love Witch (2016), and I always like Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead (2004). I know Brad Anderson's Session 9 (2001) was shot at the derelict Danvers State Hospital before it was demolished for condos, a decision which I hope is literally haunting the developers to this day. Anyone with opinions about the rest of this lineup?

I am off to write letters to politicians.

Donald Trump Condoned Flag Burning?

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 04:17 pm
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Kim LaCapria

In response to a controversial 2016 remark made by Donald Trump opposing flag burning, someone faked a 2011 tweet from him expressing the opposite view.
[syndicated profile] thesimpledollar_feed

Posted by Drew Housman

A few weeks ago, I got married in rural Wisconsin, in the backyard of the house in which my wife grew up. The following morning, after the parties had ended and the out-of-towners had left, I found myself taking a walk through the quiet streets of the town, past endless corn fields and quaint red farmhouses. I stopped at one point and looked out over the landscape of rolling hills and lush greenery, and I noticed the home of my new in-laws peeking out in the distance. I was moved to tears.

Not just because that was the house where I formed a sacred bond with the love of my life, but because I had a moment to reflect on the whole process, and all that brought it into existence. I was proud of the work my wife and I put in, for sure, but much moreso for our families and friends, whose tireless effort made it all happen. Without them, there is no way we could have had such a wonderful party with so many people for such an affordable price.

But, of course, there were some bumps along the way, some unexpected costs, and a desperate attempt to find a new pair of shoelaces minutes before the ceremony. Here’s how it all played out.

The Money

I can wax poetic about the twinkle in my wife’s eye while walking down the aisle, or the beauty of seeing our families meet for the first time, or the heartwarming toasts, but, let’s be real — those would all be just a smidge less satisfying if the party was costing us more than a year in rent (remember, the average wedding in the U.S. now costs over $35,000).

All those moments were enjoyed guilt-free because we miraculously came in just barely over our $2,500 budget. Here is the rough breakdown of how we got to our final number of $2,950:

Food

We had generous support in this area. It’s hard to feed 140 people. One uncle’s employer ended up footing the cost of a massive cheeseboard (Wisconsin advantage!) and another bargained with a local butcher to get our meat at a steep discount. My wife also had a restaurant connection, which allowed us to purchase smaller ticket items at discounted prices.

  • Total: $1,100

Drinks

We only provided beer and wine. My mother-in-law spent eight months finding insane deals and stockpiling the goods in her basement.

  • Total: $750

Guest Transportation

Since my in-laws’ house is in a fairly remote area, accommodations for out-of-town guests were about 15 miles from the party. We wanted to provide transportation to ensure all of our guests were safe in an area they were unfamiliar with.

  • Total: $400

Decorations and Tents

There was a huge DIY aspect here, and we borrowed a tent from a member of the extended family.

  • Total: $300

Clothes

It was a casual wedding, but we both still wanted to look sharp. I purchased a new button shirt and slacks, and my wife bought a casual dress. The good thing is that these are staple clothes that we can use for years to come.

Total: $400

Catering, Setup, and Cleanup

Family and friends pitched in for all of this.

  • Total: $0.00

The Community to the Rescue

You probably noticed a trend in the way we were able to keep our spending down. We had family and friends working tirelessly for us. It seemed like every time we hit a roadblock, there was someone from the local community helping us to find a solution. We didn’t get huge monetary gifts from anyone, but many people were beyond generous with their time and resources. We wouldn’t have had it any other way.

My wife grew up in a small, tightly knit community. And she has a lot of family and friends who still live there. As word got out about the type of wedding we were planning, we pretty much couldn’t stop people from helping. Saying no would have been foolish, and probably even offensive. Someone they loved was getting married, it was happening right around the corner from them, and they were going to pitch in whether we liked it or not.

Amazingly, none of this came with strings attached. There was no Aunt Linda demanding that she be able to give a 15-minute toast if she was going to help us string lights in the garage. Everything was done with a smile.

Instead of shelling out $400 for a second shuttle, we limited ourselves to one, and leaned on some aunts and uncles to pick up out-of-towners on their way to the party. Instead of hiring a catering crew, my brother-in-law painstakingly planned out every detail and recruited help from family and friends the morning of to get all the food in order.

Most amazingly, the cleanup crew was whoever was left at the end of the night. As the music died down, people naturally started to gather trash and clean off the tables. Chairs were rearranged and tables were stacked. It was like the college frat parties I used to go to, except the exact opposite.

I understand that, in some ways, I’m saying, “Rely on the support of an amazing family and community and you can have a cheap wedding!” That is not helpful advice. Some people are not lucky enough to have those advantages. But if you are doing a DIY wedding, and you are in any way tied into the community in which it is being thrown, I would just say to not be afraid to ask for help. You’d be surprised at just how generous people will be with their time.

The Planning Fallacy Strikes Back

In the previous installment of this series, I was discussing the planning fallacy, and how it had impacted wedding preparations for my wife and me. As a quick refresher, the planning fallacy refers to the fact that many things, from construction projects to getting ready in the morning, tend to take longer than people think they will.

Originally, tasks were taking a lot longer than I had anticipated, and I was determined to plan accordingly going forward. Essentially, that meant doubling the expected time I originally thought things would take. If we were going to pull off a frugal backyard wedding, we were going to have to put in a lot of sweat equity and block out extra time for even small tasks.

Unfortunately, I am proving to be pretty poor at combatting the planning fallacy. Despite knowing about it, despite bringing it up in talks with my wife, despite writing a whole article about it… I got bit by it.

There was no cataclysm, but the few days leading up to the wedding were a stressful whirlwind. I know, I know, that’s how everyone feels, but I think I was particularly slammed. Time was flying by so fast I got whiplash. One day I’m power washing the deck, the next I’m scrambling to the mall because it’s a day before the party and I don’t even have my outfit picked out.

If we had set aside a few more days for preparation, things could have run much more smoothly. Leading up to the wedding, people would tell me to take the amount of money I thought I was going to spend and triple it. “That’s what always happens,” they’d tell me. While we avoided that fate, I would give similar advice to the newly engaged, especially those who are not hiring a wedding planner: “Take the amount of time you think things will take, and triple it.” That might seem extreme, but it would have greatly reduced my stress if I just accepted the fact that things would take a whole lot longer than I realized.

Summing Up

I started this series in order to showcase our frugality. I wanted to show how my wife and I would optimize every aspect of the big day, finding unique and clever ways to save money while still having the party of our lives. That is still part of the intent, and I’m proud of what we accomplished in that regard. My wife was a DIY superstar, and we both worked hard on everything from creating labels for the buffet to setting up tents.

Most importantly, after seeing how it all came into being, I’ve seen that there is no “hack” that tops having family and community support, and building strong social ties. Despite a mad rush to get everything set up, and a passing rain cloud surprisingly dumping some water on our outdoor ceremony, the day was a total success. Coming in under budget, and having some leftovers to take home, was icing on the cake.

Related Articles:

The post A Frugal Wedding Adventure, Part 3: The Big Day and the Final Numbers appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Politically adorable

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 01:09 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

I wondered when this would happen. Jack Shafer, "Week 18: The Further Perils of Paul Manafort", Politico (Swamp Diary) 9/23/2017 [emphasis added]:

Flynn has hired seven attorneys, and his family has established a legal defense fund for him, stipulating that donations from foreign governments or the Trump campaign or business won't be accepted. Isn’t it adorable that Flynn, who worked for a United Nations klatch of clients now insists on a legal defense entirely made in America?

In current public discourse, adorable is mostly what young children and small fluffy animals are, with the range of reference occasionally expanded to include young women, courting couples, or old people being childish. A small sample of today's adorable headlines: "Feel the full range of emotions with this adorable baby Orioles fan";  "ADORABLE: Baby calf and baby human make friends during photo shoot"; "Kelly Clarkson's Adorable Kids Come Visit Her on Set of 'Love So Soft' Music Video"; "Phoenix Zoo welcomes adorable baby giraffe"; "Marcel The Adorable Therapy Dog Brings Joy To People With Dementia"; "Inside Mandy Moore's Adorable Engagement Party With Her Besties"; "You Will Never Guess Prince Philip’s Adorable Pet Name for Queen Elizabeth"; …

But adorable entered socio-political discourse about a month ago, as a sarcastic insult meant to suggest that ordinary people are small, childish, and unworthy of attention other than as a source of amusement.

Louise Linton, the wife of the U.S. treasury secretary, had instagrammed a picture of herself returning by government jet from a quick trip to Fort Knox to look at piles of gold (yes, really), hashtagging elements of her expensive wardrobe — "#roulandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf  #valentionrockstudheels #valentino".

In response, Jenni Miller, described by the NYT as "a mother of three from Portland, Ore", commented "Glad we could pay for your little getaway #deplorable", where deplorable is an echo of Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment.

Linton seems to have been stung, because she responded at considerable length:

She uses forms of adorable twice:

Aw!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! […]
You're adorably out of touch. […]

The meaning in context is clearly sarcastic — Ms. Miller is framed as one of those little people who are so far beneath Linton that she can view their criticism as amusingly cute, like a mischievous puppy chewing on one of her designer sandals.

Presumably Linton's adorable was primed, consciously or not, by Miller's deplorable. But I wondered at the time whether the word, as well as the attitudes it so effectively expresses, might be common in Linton's social circles.  Unfortunately for my curiosity, this word choice clearly communicated more about Linton than it did about Miller, and so given the wave of negative reactions, we're unlikely to see more examples from others like her.

Still, this way of expressing disdain is too effective to be abandoned, and so I've been expecting to see it picked up by others in contexts that are safely distant from Linton's "let them eat cake" effusion.

Michael Flynn is a perfect target, from that point of view — he's not poor, ordinary, small, fuzzy, young, female, elderly, or visually cute. But by suggesting that Flynn's defense-fund appeal is "adorable", Shafer manages to suggest that Flynn is now a powerless and even pitiable player trying in kittenish ways to escape the much larger and stronger forces threatening him.

 

Tonal variation and reading pronunciation

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 10:53 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

From Zeyao Wu:

I am intrigued by how the pronunciation of my nickname changed when I moved to Guangzhou [VHM: in the far south, formerly Canton] from Dongbei [VHM: the Northeast, formerly Manchuria].

In Dongbei, all my relatives and my friends called me Yáoyao 瑶瑶, with the second tone of the second syllable becoming neutral. [VHM: the base tone of yáo 瑶 ("precious jade") is second tone]

When I moved to Guangzhou, my friends call me Yǎoyáo 瑶瑶. It seems that this sort of pronunciation is not standard. I think Cantonese speak in this way because they pronounce Mandarin with the tones of Cantonese.

Here are some other examples (the first column is Pekingese [note the pattern of base tone on the first syllable and neutral tone on the second syllable] and the second column is Guangzhou-style Mandarin [note the pattern of base tone on the first syllable and full base tone on the second syllable, not neutral tone as in Beijing]).

dōngxi | dōngxī 东西 ("thing")
máfan | máfán 麻烦 ("trouble; bother")
shítou | shítóu 石头 ("stone")
yīfu | yīfú 衣服 ("clothing")

Judging from Zeyao's evidence, Cantonese-style Mandarin doesn't favor neutral tone for the second syllable of words. Conversely, northerners, especially Pekingese, seem to favor a very reduced neutral tone on the second syllable of words. When Zeyao said "déxing 德行" ("virtue; virtuous behavior; moral honesty / integrity / conduct; shameful; disgusting" — yes, in Pekingese colloquial, in its most mordant form as a condemnation, déxing 德行 means the exact opposite of its overt signification ["virtuous conduct", etc.]), there was hardly any vocalic quality left to the second syllable at all. So it came out sounding like "désh". I walked up right next to Zeyao and had her say it about five times in front of the whole class, and each time it came out sounding like "désh", with even nary a trace of nasalization. Already over 35 years ago, when I first heard it spoken by Beijing shopgirls, I was intrigued by this Pekingese colloquialism, both for the fact that they used it to convey an antonymous meaning, but also for the very unusual pronunciation. Dripping with vitriol, they would begin quite low in the register for a second tone, and then gradually glide upward — in a haughty, drawn-out way — on the first syllable to a rather high, attenuated pitch, then clip it off with a dismissive sibilant: deeéééé↗sh↓.

Comments by Neil Kubler:

Much of Southern China, also Taiwan, uses the pronunciations cited for Guangzhou. There are at least two reasons for this, I think: (1) Cantonese and Southern Chinese topolects in general don't have nearly so many neutral tones as Mandarin; (2) since Mandarin was learned as a second (foreign, non-native) language by these folks, and typically through character texts — which were often recited by the (typically herself not native) teacher with exaggerated tones, they picked up "reading pronunciations."

However, while I think the preceding is true, I think it's also true that (sadly, from my non-Chinese linguistic perspective), the number of neutral tones in Beijing speech is decreasing. More and more younger Beijing residents are speaking Putonghua rather than Beijinghua, and the emphasis of character texts ("reading pronunciations") is strong there also.

Your student said:

"my friends (in Guangzhou) call me Yǎoyáo 瑶瑶".

In Taiwan also there is a curious phenomenon where some personal names and also kinship terms — like baba, mama, gege, jiejie, didi, meimei — all change from their normal tone patterns (with the 1st syllable one of various tones and the 2nd syllable a neutral tone) to this pattern:

TONE 3 + TONE 2 (just like what your student described for her name in Guangzhou. So "daddy" becomes ba3ba2, and so forth.

I haven't been able to find a satisfactory explanation for why this happens.

Judging from Zeyao's evidence, Cantonese-style Mandarin doesn't favor neutral tone for the second syllable of words. Conversely, northerners, especially Pekingese, seem to favor a very reduced neutral tone on the second / final syllable of words. As I pointed out in my analysis of déxing 德行 ("virtuous / shameful conduct") above, when Zeyao pronounced this word à la Pekingese, there was hardly any vocalic quality left to the second syllable.

Episode 1552: Critical Mass of Paranoia

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 10:11 am
[syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed

Episode 1552: Critical Mass of Paranoia

Top tip for GMs: Don't do what our GM did here and ask a PC what their hit point total is. Have this info pre-recorded before the game and easily within reach. Keep track of any damage that each PC takes, independently of the players. That way you always know how much more damage they can take without accidentally suffering an unexpected death due to unlucky dice rolls.

In some games, it's fine to let the dice rule, and if a PC dies, that's it. But sometimes you want to take a more story-telling approach and not kill PCs unnecessarily or due to a fluke of statistics. If you know that the fighter only has 12 hit points left, you can subtly modify the orc's critical hit from 15 damage to 11 without disrupting the flow of the game. Being that close to death is dramatic enough - you don't really need to kill the hapless fighter. (Unless of course they got into this mess by doing something stupid, and someone really deserves to die.)

aurilee writes:

Yay! K-2 is back!

I was actually quite worried when I saw that hit, and Bria's face, and the panel of the dead droid. I really didn't want K-2 to die so early.

Thankfully, he didn't! Thanks to some quick thinking by the GM.

I have to say, this GM does roleplay very well. It would have been easier for him just to not have Bria shoot at all, but in this kind of tense situation, accidental friendly fire is something that can easily happen.

Also, K-2 just looks really happy here, and that makes me happy. I look forward to some more combat droid action!

— aurilee

Keybounce writes:

First, would a stick do that much damage to a droid?

Second, I'm looking at this both from the roleplayers' point of view, and from the film point of view. There are clearly two robots in panel eight. So in the actual film, Bria was able to tell the difference between two robots, and identify one as her friend and one as...

How well does she actually know the robot? The robot is partnered with Cassian; she's only seen it briefly. Are we to believe that she was somehow able to identify two nearly identical looking robots, and figure out that one was the one she knew briefly, and the other was a stranger; or is it a case that she just took a random shot and got lucky that she did not kill the partner of the people she's working with?

Just how reliable of a person is this Bria? When her job is to avoid being noticed, she gets noticed; when her job is to talk to someone, she is far too literal and doesn't even realize that the guy is responding literally; she antagonizes Jabba's contacts out of a personal issue; etc.

Seriously, if Cassian does not need her, why not just shoot her? She's now reached the point of being more trouble than she's worth.

Oh right, she is the only one who knows who they're supposed to contact.

She's supposed to know who they're supposed to contact. Supposed to.

This could probably be the trope namer for a bad case of a bad escort mission.

Last Minute Update

44 hit points. 2d6, same as a blaster. A critical. We're talking about rolling a 12, and getting a 4× crit multiplier. On a non-lethal weapon being used to disable.

Was the line "Makes sense to me" or "I see nothing wrong"?

— Keybounce

Transcript

Marriott and Starwood Offer Fan-tastic NFL Experiences

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 07:00 am
[syndicated profile] thesimpledollar_feed

Posted by Michael Pearl

Last week, Marriott International announced the kickoff of their 2018 Courtyard Super Bowl Sleepover Contest. The contest gives one lucky fan the opportunity to wake up on the field of Super Bowl LII after spending the night in a field-level suite converted into a Courtyard guestroom. Contest winners will enjoy in-stadium experiences and exclusive events throughout the Super Bowl weekend, all leading up to the game itself.

Entering is simple — all fans have to do is post their most unique NFL fan photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #CourtyardSuperBowlContest. The deadline is November 3rd.

But this year, Marriott’s announced something new: If you’re in the Flatiron District of NYC on September 28th, you’ll be able to experience an Ultra High-Tech 4D Virtual Reality Dome Experience – and feel like you’re standing on the field at the Super Bowl stadium.

Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest offer experiences year-round

But and (both on our list of the best hotel cards for 2017) cardholders aren’t just limited to Super Bowl weekend for exclusive sports rewards. By visiting Marriott Rewards Moments or SPG® Moments, cardholders can use their points to bid on epic NFL experiences over the entire season.

Starwood Preferred Guest members can bid on seats to see the Minnesota Vikings play in the heart of London (bidding ends Oct. 10). Packers fans can use Marriott Rewards to bid on the ultimate Green Bay package, including on-field passes, a $100 Packers Team Shop gift card, and the chance to meet with an NFL legend (bidding ends Oct 17).

Using rewards to show team spirit

If you’re a holder, you earn 5X points at participating properties, including Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz-Carlton®, and Starwood Preferred Guest® hotels. These are combined with unlimited 2X points on tickets directly from airlines, car rental agencies, and restaurants, as well as unlimited 1X points from all other purchases.

It’s easy for rewards to stack up, and if this is your first year of card ownership, spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months earns cardholders an 80,000-point signup bonus. Also, if you add an authorized user, and make a purchase within your first three months, you’ll earn an extra 7,500 points.

cardholders earn 2X Starpoints® at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels, as well as 1 Starpoint® with all other purchases. Spend $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of card ownership, and you’ll be able to earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®.

Both cards offer high rewards rates and signup bonuses that put a healthy chunk towards a bid for exclusive experiences. So, grab your jersey, and use rewards to fund an unforgettable game day.

The post Marriott and Starwood Offer
Fan-tastic NFL Experiences
appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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