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User ID: 1083

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Haven't written anything significant in one of these Wellness threads for a while, suppose now's a good time.

I'm currently in my fourth week of my first job at an accounting firm after a year or so of actively looking for a job (after recovering from years of chronic illness that derailed a lot of my plans). A lot has been thrown at me so far and it's been fairly exhausting. Despite how draining it can be, this is a development I'm fairly pleased with, and I'm even more pleased with it given that I have a reasonable level of certainty that I got in because of merit and not identity. During the job application process, I had a practice of entering "prefer not to answer" to any identity-based questions that could work in my favour, especially if the organisation indicated they would like to diversity hire (an all too common sight in Australia).

There is one thing that has been causing dissonance though, and it's the gulf between how I perceive myself vs. how other people seem to perceive me. So far people have told me that I have been doing well, and according to my superiors everyone who has worked with me has offered up very positive feedback. I am frankly very perplexed by this - I consider the rate at which I've been picking things up to be normal and expected, if not slower than I would personally like. I do attempt to be as fastidious as possible in my work, but I get the sense that I sometimes ask questions in excess and miss things that should be obvious. Note, I'm not complaining about the positive feedback in any way and I'm glad they consider me to have been performing well, but it's genuinely surreal to see how different their evaluation of my performance is from my own.

Perhaps I'm just used to unreasonably high expectations and perhaps my idea of "basic competence" is biased upwards, but I feel like short of actual mental retardation it's very hard to mess up what I'm currently doing. And it sometimes makes me think that the other shoe is going to drop, and other people are eventually going to see me in the way that I see myself.

In the US, where people and income are easier to keep track of, a third of custodial parents who are owed child support receive nothing.

I looked into the Census Bureau source that this statistic is based on, and the data seems to be based off self-reports by custodial parents, it is not being based off any kind of formal tracking of child support (that method of doing things poses problems too, as it does not include payments made through unofficial channels, but I won't get into that at the moment). Here are some selected quotes:

In this report, child support supposed to be received refers to the amount due as self-reported by the custodial parent. This amount includes both formal, court-ordered support (awards), as well as informal support agreed to between parents.

Of the 6.4 million custodial parents with child support agreements, 88.2 percent reported that these agreements were formal legal orders—established by a court or other government entity—while 11.8 percent reported informal agreements or understandings.

A total of $18.6 billion of child support was reported as received by custodial parents, amounting to 62.2 percent of the $30.0 billion that was supposed to be received in 2017 (Figure 6). ... Overall, custodial parents reported receiving $20.6 billion directly from non- custodial parents for support of their shared children in 2017, which included $2.0 billion received by 505,000 parents without child support agreements.

The technical documentation, which can be found here on the Census Bureau's website, notes this, too: "All household members 15 years of age and older that are biological parents of children in the household that have an absent parent were asked detailed questions about child support and alimony." It is asking the custodial parent, the one with the child in their household, not the non-custodial parent. And looking at the questionnaire used to assess child support payment makes it very clear that the intended target of the questionnaire is the recipient, not the obligor.

Here are some more selected quotes:




S313a So you said you were SUPPOSED to receive $X (per month, per week, every other week, twice monthly, per year) (including back support), is that correct?

(1) Yes (2) No


S313b How much child support, in total, were you SUPPOSED to receive? ENTER THE AMOUNT

===>$,_ .00



S335 What is the correct amount of child support you ACTUALLY received in 2013? ENTER DOLLAR AMOUNT

===> $,_ .00

I could not find an equivalent questionnaire asking the non-custodial parent what they paid.

This is not, in any way, a trivial source of bias and needs to be kept in mind when you're using these statistics, but the Census Bureau does not disclose this as being a significant limitation of the data - despite the fact that they have used this methodology for a while and despite the fact that this census data has been used for decades to drum up huge social scares around deadbeat dads with no acknowledgement of the possible bias involved.

These caveats were outlined decades ago by Sanford Braver, who states in his book "Divorced dads: shattering the myths" that to answer these questions completely accurately, respondents would have to remember twelve to twenty-four different payments over the past year. In the absence of precise information, many if not most respondents will just try to make up a best estimate, which is a circumstance that allows for an incredible amount of bias to enter into one's results - even worse when you consider that many people are deeply angry at their exes. And if the census officials come to their conclusion based on reports by custodial parents that is going to hugely distort things, the effect being that the results will come with a built-in bias against non-custodial parents.

Braver conducts a study himself where he solves this problem by asking matched sets of custodial and non-custodial parents, and unsurprisingly, custodial parents (mostly mothers) report a much lower percentage of payments made than non-custodial parents (mostly fathers). 13% of mothers report receiving nothing despite being owed support, but only 4% of fathers report paying nothing despite being obligated. When looking at the overall payment statistic, divorced mothers report receiving between two-thirds and three-quarters of what they are owed, and fathers report paying better than 90 percent of what is owed. If we were to do what the Census Bureau did and interview the non-custodial parent only, child support nonpayment is barely even a problem at all!

He states, after this, "I am certainly not arguing that interviewing only fathers is what the Census Bureau ought to have done. I don't believe that noncustodial parents' reports should be uncritically accepted as truth, either. To me, it merely points out how erroneous the present practice of accepting the mother's report as truth without qualification is. When studying something as emotionally wrenching as divorce, it's nearly impossible for people to answer without bias. Indeed, both parents' reports are likely to be biased. In the absence of trustworthy objective official data to the contrary, it seems safest to assume that noncustodial parents are probably overstating child-support payments made, and custodial parents are probably understating. Thus, the truth lies somewhere in between, and our findings can best be thought of as "bracketing" true child-support compliance. In short, we must conclude that how much child support is not being paid remains in substantial dispute, but the amount being paid by divorced fathers is almost certainly higher than most official estimates. Deadbeat divorced dads are nowhere near as numerous as the stereotype portrays".

As to the divorced dads who don't pay, Braver notes that you can’t assume that this represents wilful noncompliance - the single biggest factor relating to nonpayment is typically unemployment and when you exclude fathers who experienced a period of unemployment from consideration, the compliance rate rises dramatically.

EDIT: a small correction

This whole thing is genuinely hilarious, the fact that the "mummy" bears an uncanny resemblance to E.T. and the repeated assertions by the press that scientists managed to "draw DNA evidence using radiocarbon dating" makes this perhaps the most unintentionally funny thing I've read in a while. Guys, I measured the velocity of a moving car using mass spectrometry, please believe my results.

At this point, I would be glad to never hear about ayy lmaos again - I'm actually interested in the topic but the ayy craze has crossed the line into sheer parody. It's particularly frustrating because there are more credible (albeit circumstantial) pieces of evidence out there they could grab onto like the Viking Lander biological experiments, but their case has hinged around ridiculous UFOlogy and eyewitness testimony and now apparently they're resorting to using ridiculous E.T. looking mummies that obviously aren't faked at all.

I would not disagree that some MRAs have a view of gender relations that resembles conflict theory (but as you already noted, many MRAs are also mistake theorists or are a blend of both). However, in contextualising this viewpoint it's necessary to note that the predominant feminist view of gender relations is itself an antagonistic one (patriarchy theory), it arose much earlier than MRAs, and much of feminist political activism is informed by this idea. And when you stand in opposition to conflict theorists, you need to understand that they believe they are at war and will treat it as such. Perhaps their belief is mistaken, but through their actions they have created a dynamic that's fundamentally indistinguishable from what you'd see if conflict theory was true.

In other words, the funny thing about conflict theory is that it’s self-fulfilling, to some degree. Once it is believed by enough people and acted upon, conflict theory frameworks then actually become a somewhat correct framework to view the world through, regardless of the prior validity of the theory. So when the primary lobbying group that purportedly works on behalf of women is essentially treating gender relations in this way and actually getting what they want, I do believe that does indeed introduce a strong aspect of conflict to the relationship, and I think the "conflict theorist MRAs" are simply perceiving this fact. Gender relations might not inherently be one of conflict, but in the current environment, they have gained a distinct shade of antagonism wherein one side seeks to incessantly improve the position of "team woman" in some shockingly zero-sum ways, and while they do feed into the gender hostility as well it's clear that the conflict-theorist MRAs were not the primary progenitors of this antagonism. The way I see it, a large part of the purpose of their rhetoric and activism is to create some kind of necessary counterbalance to trends they didn't start, and they're doing this without benefits such as the backing of institutions.

Once again, I don't like how things are going and find the entire thing to be almost excruciatingly tiring at this point, but once someone starts a memetic arms race (and I do indeed place the blame primarily on feminists for instigating that arms race) it's almost impossible to stop.

I sometimes vote if someone has written something I think is insightful. So I do cast votes very occasionally, but they're virtually all upvotes - I basically never downvote or report people for that matter.

FWIW, I agree with you. @Sloot's intense and sometimes deranged takes on the Gender War get very tiresome for me as well. He does toe the line between "offensive, annoying but directionally correct" and "crazy hates-all-women redpiller" quite well though.

In contrast, I find it exceptionally hard to sympathise with this sentiment, given the state of the overall culture. It's been quite surreal to watch various women taking offence at the fact that in a few places online, some of which have been sequestered, men are saying mean, denigrating and in their opinion untrue things about women.

I've seen it put like this: "[This] upsets you. You find it unjust and unfair and unjustifiable. What if that was what you saw when you watched CNN or MSNBC? Read Slate or Salon or the Guardian or the Washington Post? What if it was constantly trending on Twitter? What if your HR department instantiated it in company policy? What if your union promoted it as a true fact that needed rectifying? What if the American Psychological Association, in their guidance for treating women and girls in crisis, was promoting the ideas espoused by /r/TheRedPill and recommending treatment practices based on them? What if this narrative had convinced your country or state to reverse hundreds of years of jurisprudential advances, and return to an era where due process is an inconvenience that should be abandoned? That's what men see when they turn on the TV or open the newspaper. It's what they're confronted with when they come into contact with the criminal justice system, or the mental health profession."

The high-status, influential, thought leaders of our time do in fact promote such negative narratives about men, and it's ubiquitous in our institutions to the point that it's overtly endorsed by governments and many prominent organisations. Such viewpoints have actively influenced law and public policy. And yet a commentator on some nowhere forum online can make @FarNearEverywhere "want to introduce mandatory castration for all men". Well, I suppose in some way you kind of understand how the "extremist" redpillers feel, then.

I understand how this would be frustrating to some women who find themselves attacked when they personally did nothing to contribute to that state of affairs, and I do wish gender relations weren't the way that they currently are. But quite frankly, I don't think many women understand that this kind of thing is just daily background noise for men. And if the red pill is a response to anything at all, it's a response to the fact that said anti-male cultural trends have been allowed to go on for so long without any significant correction. Even if their defection is anti-social, it's a reaction to incredibly dysfunctional social conditions that they did not create. You can't make situations that resemble a boot stamping on a human head forever and expect people to never chafe under it and never create their own compensatory rhetoric - this is just a classic example of "You reap what you sow".

Would I like to see better sexual relations? Yes. Do I think things are headed somewhere bad? Absolutely. But the redpillers did not start this, they don't have institutional power, and in accordance with this they are not the ones upon whom I place the obligation to change first.

EDIT: clarity

So, I belong to that portion of gay men who are completely uninterested in women. I have never felt particularly attracted to women in any manner nor feel any desire whatsoever to have sex with them. If a woman propositioned me, I would indeed turn her down. Perhaps it is my autistic inability to see things from others' perspectives, but the idea that women are so impressively attractive to men to the point that men are willing to endure the contradictory and punitive norms around courtship that are placed on them (which is apparent even from an outsider's perspective) is frankly wild to me.

I absolutely think that a portion of people in the rainbow community are reacting to social incentives and there are those who do so in order to extract benefits from the current social environment (non-binary being a popular one in certain circles), but there are people who are exclusively gay.

Perhaps this is harsh, but there's also the fact that if we're talking about adults the people who would pick blue in the first place would likely be a tiny subset of people (suicidal people, mentally retarded people, etc) whose QALYs are realistically fairly limited. I'd say "Maybe we could just not try to pull off some incredible coordination feat which might turn out horrible for marginal gains" is fairly reasonable.

It's not my framing, it's someone else's whose I agree with (in part at least because it stresses the "personal agency" aspect behind someone selecting blue), but if framed in the way you've postulated I still think there would be less disagreement over the optimal solution. I also think "If you take the red pill, you live. If you take the blue pill and less than 50% take it, you, along with everyone else who has also taken the blue pill, die" is good wording.

I'm not allergic to altruism, but assuming no coordination and no knowledge of others' choices I seriously cannot envision a real-life scenario with actual life-and-death stakes where the majority pick blue. I've got a fairly high level of confidence that people would be rational actors in such a situation and thus consider "blue" to be suicide with no actual added benefit to anyone else.

Honestly, this just goes to show me that framing is everything and I think the unnecessarily obfuscatory and slanted nature of the original wording is causing most of the controversy.

I agree with the reframe posted in the Twitter comments: "If you take the red pill, you live. If you take the blue pill and less than 50% take it, you die". If formulated in this way, there would probably be much less disagreement over the optimal solution here, and picking blue so you can also save people from their own choice to pick blue would be much less of a point of debate.

Hadn't heard about the 0E0P metacell before, reading about it now and it's certainly cool.

I don't think the original question is fundamentally interesting, tbh - any system capable of universal computation tied to some sort of action will be capable of self-replicating in all sorts of bizzare ways, comparable to turing tarpits.

I suppose the question was less "would there be other usable self-replication methods" - because the answer's almost certainly yes - and more "has anyone else posited one and would that specific system be capable of significant emergent complexity". The question was asked for completely trivial worldbuilding purposes where specific details are crucial - I have a tendency to get bogged down in detail analysis to an unreasonable degree.

As far as I can tell, no one has seriously tackled that question in full - I'm not aware of any paper for now that confidently advances a novel system explaining how an alternative replicator mechanism can be interpreted as instructions for building stuff. The way DNA/RNA is translated into building an organism is a fairly convoluted multi-step process and building such a system for any hypothetical replicator is probably very difficult.

Most of the papers I come across are at the very basic level of "how can a sequence of information robustly self-reproduce and transmit its characteristics in a way that Darwinian selection can operate on it", that additional layer of complexity surrounding translation is unfortunately not touched on (either because it's not part of their intention to create a general purpose replicator, or because they can't propose one).

You're probably correct that each produces biases of their own - nobody is completely free from that. However, that specific bias you're mentioning cuts both ways - those who are doing well in a system are also more likely to view it positively, warranted or not. The skewing effect of social desirability, on the other hand, seems to be a pressure that just gets worse the more integrated you are in social life. The more you rely on other people, the more incentives there are to curry favour with them and adopt the beliefs of the group.

Personal experience probably isn't a great source for belief, but as I've grown my social circle over the years the more I have felt the pressures of social life encroaching. The tribalistic social pressures and incentive structures that drive people to adopt certain group beliefs for social signalling purposes are disturbingly strong, and it occurs even when no proper evidence has been provided to me that these beliefs are correct, and it's only by actively and consciously guarding against these instincts that I've managed to maintain my streak of heterodoxy. But doing that requires one to accept a level of discomfort they could otherwise shield themselves from.

I like Hanania in general, but it really is striking how much the change seems to be about having something to lose.

This seems to be a common trap people fall into, the second people gain any amount of status within the system their ideas quickly soften and become more in line with the cultural hegemony. Hanania isn't an exception. I don't even think this is necessarily intentional dishonesty per se, people are primed to shift their beliefs the second the costs of that belief become unacceptable.

I'd wager your average, well-adjusted person is engaging in motivated self-delusion on many different topics without being aware of it, and that it is the people who have nothing to lose (or think they do) who have the ability to entertain independent thought the most. This doesn't mean they necessarily come to the correct conclusions, it's rather that their conclusions are not constrained by social desirability and are more "honest" in that regard.

Are there any alternative systems to RNA/DNA that can pass on genetic information? I'm not talking about stuff that essentially just uses the central principle and structure of DNA with some of the specifics changed, like XNAs which just use a different sugar backbone, or Hachimoji DNA which just adds on extra base pairs, I'm talking about plausible hypothesised systems that are radically different to what we use now.

One of the most fascinating and out-there proposals I've come across is Graham Cairns-Smith's clay hypothesis, which posits that clay crystals were the first genetic material. The idea here is that crystal growth is a form of self-replication that "reproduces" its arrangement, and can even transmit defects. The pattern is then "passed along" when the crystal breaks (scission) and continues to grow independently from the original crystal. Eventually, a "genetic takeover" of sorts happens, where clay crystals that trap certain forms of molecules to their surface improve their replication and catalyse the formation of increasingly complex proto-organic molecules that eventually take over the original genetic substrate as the new genetic material.

Schulman, Yurke and Winfree in their paper "Robust self-replication of combinatorial information via crystal growth and scission" use the same principles to create a set of DNA "tiles" that replicate its sequence of tiles through crystal growth. Each tile has "sticky ends" that hybridise with each other, and under appropriate growth conditions, complementary sticky ends hybridise, while non-complementary sticky ends are unlikely to interact. The interaction of these sticky ends allows for accurate sequence replication during growth, and once crystal growth has propagated the sequence, these additional layers are then "cleaved" off through mechanical scission.

However, that's the only truly interesting and novel idea surrounding this I am aware of, and I'm not entirely sure if and how this system of replication could achieve a significant level of biological complexity (save for a "genetic takeover" that effectively replaces the original system). I can't help but feel there are probably more such systems that could be posited.

Quite frankly, the "man strong and powerful, man subjugate women who are dependent on him" perspective is an incredibly reductive conceptualisation of traditional gender relations which I unfortunately see bandied around ad nauseam. You can't just hold everything else to be the same “well ceteris paribus men are stronger” and extrapolate the entirety of gender relations from a single principle.

There are major sources of social power women possess, informed partially by people's preferences towards protecting women and a general women-are-wonderful effect. For example, there's the Moral Machine Experiment where a preference for protecting women was found in almost all countries, even many "patriarchal" ones. The result of unwillingness to harm women compared to men has been replicated in many, many different studies. And it holds when studied not only in a questionnaire context wherein people are merely quizzed about it, but also in experimental, real-world contexts. People are less likely to hurt women for personal gain, drivers leave more space for a cyclist who looks female, people are more willing to label male violence against women as a crime than the reverse even after controlling for perceptions of injury, and so on. As to the women-are-wonderful effect where people perceive women more positively, that too has been confirmed and replicated in multiple studies.

The rallying cry of feminists with regards to relationships in the past is always the legal doctrine of coverture. "Women weren't allowed to own property or enter into contracts!" Actually, they were, if they were single. Marriage changed the legal status of women from feme sole into feme covert, and sure, a feme covert could not own property (her property, goods and earnings belonged to her husband) and a feme covert could also not enter into contracts in their own name. This is technically true, but it is also a misleading half-truth. This analysis leaves several important things out, namely the male responsibility that stemmed from marriage. Husbands had a legal responsibility to support their wives, and what was considered "necessaries" for a wife was dependent on socioeconomic status. So a rich man could not simply leave his wife in rags, feed her gruel and claim she was technically being supported. The next thing to note is that the husband, along with taking ownership of all of his wife's property, also took responsibility for all debts. If the family needed to buy goods on credit or otherwise take on debt, well, the husband contracts for the family, so inevitably, the debt is under his name, and the responsibility for paying it falls only on him. Remember, failure to pay that debt could result in imprisonment. These were some of the risks and costs that the husband took on under coverture.

Furthermore, if a wife was not already being adequately provided with her necessaries by her husband, she could buy necessaries on her husband's credit (this was called the law of agency). She was basically given the ability to act as her husband's agent. This is important because it means all debt contracted on behalf of the family's maintenance (whether made by the husband or the wife) was held to be the husband's debt. And defaulting on the debt meant he could go to jail. Husbands had some recourse if the wife was spending way more than she needed by telling traders not to deal with her in the future, and sometimes cases were brought where husbands were not held liable for the debts, but IIRC in such cases it was not the wife who got in trouble - it was the trader who bore the loss. Furthermore, in reality some wives actually seem to have gotten their husbands in legal trouble through overspending. As I said, under coverture, husbands were the only ones who could be thrown in jail for debt, and this was a significant risk for men in the marital position.

To build on this, here's an interesting statistic: In the eighteenth century, the vast majority of imprisoned debtors in England and Wales were men (all estimates of the sex ratios of imprisoned debtors are over 90% male), and it is likely that coverture was a very big reason why. Yes, women had to trade something for protection and provision (something I do not view as unreasonable, considering the costs that undertaking the role of provision and protection placed on men - it is only fair that there be reciprocity). And sure, it was a bit of a restrictive marital contract for women who wanted to take on more of an active role even if that meant they had to assume risk they would otherwise be shielded from. But it wasn't only restrictive for women. Men did not get to say "Hey, I want my wife to manage all the marital finances if that means she takes on all the risk of default and also assumes responsibility for supporting me". Men did not simply get to abandon their role because it didn't suit them.

And in practice, sex roles were not nearly as strictly prescribed as coverture stated. Women could and did participate in public sphere work, did a lot of purchasing for the family, managed the household property, and exercised a large amount of agency over the household economy generally speaking. When the family defaulted, men went to debtors' prison, but their families often followed them into these debtors' prisons. Both sides' responsibilities and rights were shared to a greater degree in practice than was stipulated in law, and ultimately the idea that women lived in some state of subjugation is a myth.

And moving away from the strict topic of relationships, the idea - that because men hold positions of formal power, society will favour men - is called into question when you look at multiple sources of evidence. Men do not act as a collective male "us" against a collective female "them". A study examining the raw and adjusted gender gaps in defendant pleas, jury convictions, and judge sentences from 1715 to 1913 at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London found that women were consistently treated more leniently - they were less likely to be subjected to the most severe form of punishment, even controlling for observable case characteristics. One of the posited reasons for this was that: "Given that males were deemed responsible for the welfare of females (their wives) in the home, it certainly seems feasible that they carried this duty over to the courtroom. ... [O]ne can think of judges and jurors as being less likely to convict females because of their positive taste/preference for protecting them."

The male:female suicide rates in the past also seem to contradict the idea that the system back then favoured men's preferences over women. In England and Wales the suicide rate was much, much greater for males than it was for females in the nineteenth century. Males committed suicide 3 to 4 times as often as females. According to this article: "The male rate was consistently higher than the female rate over the entire time period although the male to female (sex) ratio rose from 3.3 in 1861 to 4.0 in 1886 and 1906 and subsequently declined steadily to its lowest level (1.5) in 1966 before increasing again". This was similarly true in places like Switzerland. This article notes that "At the end of the 19th century, the suicide sex ratio (female-male ratio) in Switzerland was 1:6. 100 years later the sex ratio has reduced to about 1:2.5." Men must be the only historically "privileged" group who historically did more labour, who historically were given longer sentences for the same crimes, and who were historically far more likely to commit suicide compared to their supposedly "oppressed" counterparts.

Another note on historical female power: The social/moral power allotted to women seems to be pretty immense - the White Feather Girls in WW1 handed out white feathers to men in civilian clothes, marking them out as cowards if they did not enlist, and after that recruitment increased significantly - volunteering surged by a third during the 10 days after the first mention of the White Feather Girls in the news. Those young women who struck men at the very heart of their masculine identities - bestowing them a feather telling them "If you don't go off to be maimed or die, you are no longer a man in the eyes of some brassy chit you've never even met before and will probably never see again" - were exercising a classic female form of social power. And many men went because women's censure had the power to drive them straight into the teeth of death. Here is a recounting of one such case.

I think all of these things are enough to lead one to at least question the idea of historical female oppression. This seems to have just become a point of dogma, it aligns with our instinctive perceptions of men and women, but it's just not correct.

EDIT: added another link

I have a fairly similar feeling of being uninterested in being around other people, but for a different reason. My ennui surrounding it is less because I find social games uninteresting and more because it's very clear just how much of social interaction is a psychopath's game, the kind of thing where the optimal strategy is to be highly manipulative and obsessive. When participating, my guard is always up. Being good at it is a form of "optimisation" you can be motivated by, but it's one that ultimately kind of sucks.

This isn't even necessarily disdain for normies, it's more that a truly incredible amount of human interaction is just warfare in disguise, people locked into an endless multilayered evolutionary arms race with each other which they can't extricate themselves from. And while "warfare" is not all there is to it, these undercurrents exist in so many facets of social life that it often makes it unpleasant to deal with. For a certain type of person I think it feels much nicer to wrap oneself up in intellectualising than to have to participate in that.

Here is the link to the education standards, and here is the primary section they are getting angry over. It isn't even saying that "slavery benefited blacks" per se, it's saying something much more defensible:

SS.68.AA.2.3 Examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves (e.g., agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation).

Benchmark Clarifications: Clarification 1: Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.

This isn't even wrong. Here is, for example, a page from George Washington University saying the very same thing:

Slaves had many noteworthy skills and talents which made plantations economically self-sufficient. The services of slave blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, shoemakers, tanners, spinners, weavers and other artisans were all used to keep plantations running smoothly, efficiently, and with little added expense to the owners. These same abilities were also used to improve conditions in the quarters so that slaves developed not only a spirit of self-reliance but experienced a measure of autonomy. These skills, when added to other talents for cooking, quilting, weaving, medicine, music, song, dance, and storytelling, instilled in slaves the sense that, as a group, they were not only competent but gifted. Slaves used their talents to deflect some of the daily assaults of bondage. They saw themselves then as strong, valuable people who were unjustly held against their will rather than as the perpetually dependent children or immoral scoundrels described by so many of their owners. Indeed, they found through their artistry some moments of happiness, particularly by telling tales which portrayed work in humorous terms or when singing satirical songs which lampooned their owners.

Richard Toler was trained as a blacksmith during slavery and later went on to try his hand as a carpenter and stonemason. He could also play the fiddle but recalled that he and his people were always treated poorly on the plantation:


But when Florida's education system says it, it's problematic and three million inflated hitpieces need to be written about how terrible Florida and Desantis is, despite the fact that educational institutions like GWU have explicitly taken the very same perspective. Politics is the ultimate mind-killer. I suppose you could make a coherent argument that if the picture being painted of slavery is primarily a positive one the Florida standards encourage teachers to lie by omission. Except it's clearly not doing so, because in a section right afterwards:

SS.912.AA.1.7 Compare the living conditions of slaves in British North American colonies, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, including infant mortality rates.

Benchmark Clarifications: Clarification 1: Instruction includes the harsh conditions and their consequences on British American plantations (e.g., undernourishment, climate conditions, infant and child mortality rates of the enslaved vs. the free). Clarification 2: Instruction includes the harsh conditions in the Caribbean plantations (i.e., poor nutrition, rigorous labor, disease). Clarification 3: Instruction includes how slavery was sustained in the Caribbean, Dutch Guiana and Brazil despite overwhelming death rates.

And in another one:

SS.912.AA.1.9 Evaluate how conditions for Africans changed in colonial North America from 1619-1776.

Benchmark Clarifications: Clarification 1: Instruction includes both judicial and legislative actions during the colonial period. Clarification 2: Instruction includes the history and development of slave codes in colonial North America including the John Punch case (1640). Clarification 3: Instruction includes how slave codes resulted in an enslaved person becoming property with no rights.

It's funny, because the critics are claiming that Florida's education standards are presenting a "sanitised" view of history, while in reality the people who want a sanitised half-truth to be painted are the critics themselves, who would readily strip demonstrable historical facts out of the record to support their political project.

I'd second Hoffmeister's statement that there is some very good Christian music out there, it's just that the ones that don't tend to explicitly evangelise are typically not classified as "Christian music". One folk artist I particularly like is Sufjan Stevens, who incorporates a ton of Christian themes into his music and does it in a very natural and sincere way. His lyrics are often not explicitly about religion, but you'd have to be mentally challenged to miss the constant allusions to faith in it. I have recommended this multiple times now to multiple different people, but his album Carrie and Lowell is probably one of the finest folk albums I've listened to.

I don't think this is necessarily a solution to the OP's existentialism, because ultimately all you are is a complex system of cause and effect that interacts with a larger, more complex system of cause and effect to produce outcomes we call behaviour. Whatever you "choose" to do is as predetermined as everything else.

The only thing I can really say is "First time?"

Firstly, I fail to see why an ethnic group doing well in a specific country justifies discriminating against them in law and policy, especially considering that ethnic groups are not monolithically rich or poor and economic policies based on economic status are always less questionable (there's also the question of what the erosion of meritocracy does to a country). Secondly, I'm not entirely sure what "relatively meagre affirmative action" means to you, but I don't think quotas in education (like the 90:10 racial quotas in matriculation programmes), race preferences in government contracts, discounts on property purchases, access to a reserved slice of public share offerings, among other things, count as "meagre". I mean, I suppose in return the Malaysian Chinese are granted the incredible "privilege" of not being hunted anymore.

Either way, the disillusionment of Chinese Malaysians with the current system is reflected in the phenomenon of "brain drain". Often Chinese Malaysians jump over to Singapore, where there are both better prospects and where the ruling party is better at promoting meritocracy than the Malaysian government. If they want to lose human capital, they can go ahead and keep doing what they're doing, but people are going to leave for places which don't shoot them in the knee for the horrific crime of doing well.

Edit: Funnily enough, AA in India was nominally supposed to have an expiry date and also limits on how large a chunk of things could be reserved. Funny how that expiry date was decades ago, and now the practise is so entrenched it's political suicide to fight it. You take away their inch before they steal the mile.

It's the same in Malaysia, where I grew up (for context, I am Malaysian Chinese, though I live elsewhere now). The part of the Malaysian constitution (Article 153) that legitimises special rights for Malays was rationalised on the basis that this would speed up their economic and social development to standards enjoyed by Chinese and Indians. The Reid Commission, which helped draw this up, recommended that the article be reviewed in fifteen years to see if it should be repealed. Safe to say that the article is still in place today (as well as all the Malay privileges it implies) and continues to be rationalised by people as Actually Being A Good Thing. This always happens the same way. "It's a temporary measure to alleviate disadvantage, we swear!..." and then it never goes away.

People actually killed each other over this historically, May 13, 1969 being by far the most infamous example. What happened was that a general election was held that was contested on a major scale by non-Malay-based opposition parties (the DAP and Gerakan) that held stances on Malay rights that contrasted starkly with those of the Alliance government. They managed to topple the Alliance government from power in three states, and almost eradicated their two-thirds majority in Parliament. There were victory parades in Kuala Lumpur which were mostly led by and participated in by Chinese, which provoked the Malays, who announced a procession and came from the rural areas into the city. A fight between some Chinese and Malays eventually escalated into a situation where Malays went into the Chinese areas of the city and started killing people. And after this event, there was no correction (or at least, not in the direction you'd expect). The Tunku (the then prime minister) stepped down from office, and the government was re-organised to further favour Malays with the New Economic Policy.

This kind of stuff is incredibly dangerous, and this ruling, as far as I am concerned, is a very good thing.

I'm typically trying to achieve a little of both. I would agree that admitting ignorance when you're not certain about something is always the better tactic (additionally, making errors during a discussion disturbs me so much that I often feel the need to retrospectively correct it in future discussions when the opportunity presents itself).

Of course, the optimal strategy is to remember as much of the information you've encountered as humanly possible, but that requires a concerted effort and is a huge time sink.

Not an answer to your question, but what is the driving force behind your desire to debate or out-argue someone? In real-life this kind of behavior is like planting dragon's teeth

Feel free to ask questions.

I agree that it's like planting dragon's teeth and certainly has the effect of making everyone unhappy. I'm personally happy to just generally not touch the topic of politics in real life, and I've really tried to get off it, but debate often organically arises when other politically-minded people bring politics up. Let it go unchallenged, and if they know their assertions are going to be allowed to stand their rhetoric just continues to escalate, in many cases it escalates into regular outgroup-bashing because they have learned they can do it around you.

This is, to say the least, an annoying situation to be in, especially if engaged in by someone you are interacting with regularly. Letting them know that bringing up politics is poking a hornet's nest, and enforcing that rule, is the only way to deal with it. Tit-for-tat. If they defect, you defect, and you do it better. Having your beliefs challenged is unpleasant. It feels like an attack, and the same qualities that make it so divisive also make it a fairly good method of deterrence, if nothing else.

I would also like to believe that debate actually does something and that people do update their beliefs, though the more I do it the less fruitful that endeavour seems. But I am ever the idealist.

My condolences on the family member's stroke. Unfortunately, I experienced a similar situation only a year or so ago, and it's a grueling experienceI wouldn't wish on anyone. I hope that in your case he/she can recover.

Thank you, and sorry about your family member as well.

How do you remember large amounts of information indefinitely without making a sustained, concerted attempt to do so? The system I have developed so far is to maintain a series of detailed notes which I refer to periodically whenever I want to recall things. But these notes have become almost prohibitive in length, and read any section of these notes infrequently enough and it's like the information is Teflon-coated, things become difficult to recall very quickly and this is especially true after I've made concerted attempts to cram new information into my head. It gets displaced by other things and the topics I want to learn (and argue) about are typically topics which are quite deep.

This is partially for the sake of helping me make persuasive cases in real life. It's something I've been trying to do more of for the past half-year, and it is at least part of the reason why I am participating less on social media now (other reasons for this include personal stuff, such as a family member having a stroke - this has put things into perspective a little bit and has made me deprioritise spending as much time on political screaming matches on the internet as I used to).

It would also be nice to get tips on how to handle real-time debate. I think I've generally been doing well and think I've been able to marshal a good amount of evidence in favour of the claims I make, but sometimes I trip up because I'm still not acclimatised to the dynamics of real-time debate and haven't yet grown fully accustomed to the unique characteristics of that specific debate format. Online, the speed of information recall is less of an issue simply because you can take time to refresh your memory, compose your thoughts, smooth out any holes, etc, before putting out the best version of your argument you possibly can. In real life, discussions are very scattershot and claims and counter-claims get thrown around all the time, questions get posed to you that you aren't always capable of recalling the answer to, and you need to remember and consolidate all the information you have in your brain in order to cope with it. No mistakes or hesitations or God forbid admissions of "I don't 100% remember at the moment, but I think..." are allowed, or your credibility slips. You have to be very careful with the words that come out of your mouth, and momentary slips in concentration can be fatal to your persuasiveness.

I would like to debate as well as I possibly can, and while that's easier online (you just have to put in a lot of detailed work, which I can do) in a real-time setting the demands and pressures are different.