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4 followers   follows 5 users   joined 2022 September 29 04:08:21 UTC


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User ID: 1380

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I am also an atheist who dislikes and distrusts arguments and norms derived from faith. But we must compare religious believers as they currently exist with non-believers. For the most part, the churchy types are healthier specimens. Bringing up shit that happened in 1212, 1692, and 1618 is just disingenuous.

Increased alienation of the individual is compensated for by the fact that humans are now more free from having their lives dominated by the small communities in which they grew up.

Freedom from social censure by people who know us intimately was our compensation for losing close-knit communities? Perhaps this was a bit of a rip-off.

To be clear, I'm not advocating you share this concern with your girlfriend. My feelings about the whole issue are atypical, and I don't think our approach would generalize well.

I just read the transcript of Hobbes' episode on Matthew Shepard, with an interviewee who lived in Laramie at the time of the murder.

I don't know whether The Book of Matt is laughable conspiracy theorizing. Its very premise is that everyone close to the murder was a bunch of meth-dealing dysfunctionals, so its theory of the case is based on accounts from a bunch of meth-dealing dysfunctionals. Mix in all the contamination of memory you'd expect after 16 years of media coverage and competing narratives, and God knows what you've got. Some of the cops who worked on the case think Jimenez' book is flatly ridiculous.

Hobbes' interviewee admits that he has not read The Book of Matt but here are some of his thoughts on the matter:

If you knew the facts of the time, if you just go back and read the contemporary accounts of the case, which I did, I'm prepping, I went back and looked at a New York Times article that was published in December of 98. This is before any of the trials have started, this is a month and a half after Matt Shepherd's attack, you can get almost everything you need to know about why he was killed, the full complexity of it from those contemporary news articles.

He lived in that small Wyoming college town and read the newspapers, so he knows it's a hate crime. No need to wait for the evidence introduced at trial. No reason to question what Everybody Knew just six weeks after the poor kid was found tied to a fence post. The news coverage in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder, especially coverage by the taste-making prestige media in New York City, will tell you "almost everything you need to know... the full complexity." This is... an absolutely breathtaking thing to say.

The three of them in this conversation are all correct that, before the gay rights movement, it could be physically dangerous to be gay. I agree with them that this was a terrible state of affairs that needed to change, regardless of the details of one murder or the personal qualities of the victim. I understand that it is sometimes tactically successful to build public support for social change around a compelling narrative, and that the real human at the center of this narrative will inevitably be reduced to a character, a saint or demon. If Matthew Shepard sold meth a time or two, this does not discredit the cause of gay rights.

But here's Sarah Marshall, relating this case to a more recent flashpoint:

...you see people refuting something that no one actually said, Michael Brown was no angel, that's interesting. No one ever said that. So you're saying that you think a black teenager needs to be literally an angel in order to not deserve to be killed by the police for no reason.

No, Sarah. What people mean by, "He was no angel," is that he may not have been "killed by the police for no reason," but rather killed by the police for a very specific and legally defensible reason. This actually matters. If he was innocently going about his business, then his death was evidence that the police were out of control and we should all be very worried about the character and judgment of these people wearing guns on their hips. If he wasn't, then it wasn't.

It's like she can't imagine that someone might disagree with her that Michael Brown was killed "for no reason." They must be coming up with excuses for his murder. Such a common misunderstanding in culture warring! We assume that the other side knows the facts as we understand them, and then we read malice into their failure to respond as we have like decent human beings.

I catch myself doing the same thing with issues affecting children, eg divorce. Look at the statistics! my instincts cry. Divorce is unequivocally bad for children - and if you're divorcing an abuser, well, shit, you gave your kids an abuser for a parent. At least admit that mistakes were made! Even the "good" divorces force kids into the strangeness of having parallel families and schlepping their belongings back and forth, instead of putting all the psychological dissonance and inconvenience on the grownups. How can you possibly normalize this? How can I be hearing the term "divorce-shaming" on mainstream TV shows? At times it's tempting to psychoanalyze my opponents in this battle. "Aha! They know how much this hurts kids, and they don't care. As long as adults have their selfish needs met, they're happy to fuck over the powerless people in this scenario!"

In truth, most of them do care about kids and do try to understand how divorce affects them. They've just read different studies and interpreted them through different life experiences.

Seconding this. Managers and directors would vastly prefer someone who is reliable, pleasant, and needs three tries to understand how the client's equity rolls over someone who gets it on the first explanation but forgets about tasks or becomes emotionally volatile under pressure.

More out of curiosity than anything else, what queer spaces do straight people want anything to do with?

The gay bar on the big party street will inevitably fill up with straight women if you're not careful. LGBT youth groups are increasingly full of straight girls with cutting scars, eating disorders, or just Ritalin prescriptions. Some (not nearly all) gay people might feel strongly about keeping the character of spaces they built for themselves back before JPMorgan sponsored Pride floats.

This. People feel very strongly about the a-word. Is she or isn’t she, where’s the line, etc?

The profound selfishness and entitlement are the problem. These behaviors may be related to a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol, but they’re probably also related to her core temperament, formative experiences, and other things that don’t wash right out.

@cjet79, I’m sorry for your family’s recent loss and for this ongoing issue. I’d be very angry and sad if my brothers wife treated him that way. If he’s already strategizing around her drinking, then he clearly knows there’s a problem. If she’s driving drunk with his kids in the car, I’m sure he has every motivation to protect them. You understand all the relationships involved better than we do. Would he be receptive if you reached out to him privately and expressed your core concerns, taking care not to trash his wife more than absolutely necessary? “I’ve noticed you seem stressed about Mildred and alcohol, and I’m worried for your family. If you want to talk or you want help, I’m here.” or something.

These feelings seem perfectly normal, and I expect most happily married men felt the same before proposing. I know my husband did, because he expressed exactly this in our discussions about whether to get married. This was not at all romantic to hear, and the feeling itself is alien to me. But it didn't hurt my feelings, because all it meant to me was, "Ah, yes, this man shows a normal pattern of male sexuality." I've done what I can to accommodate him, just as he does what he can to accommodate eg my female-typical neuroticism.

These days he doesn't feel like he's missing out on anything very compelling. (I don't believe he's lying to spare my feelings. By nature he is not one to sugarcoat, as demonstrated by ever bringing this up to begin with.) Survey results on married vs unmarried sex generally agree that the quantity and quality are both better within marriage. For most people, this will outweigh the value of novelty.

There is also a theme in how my husband talks about our marriage. With a bad wife or no wife at all, "I couldn't have done X. I'd never have gotten around to Y. I don't see how I'd manage Z." He's often referring to my practical assistance with the household budget and management, but there's more to it than that. There's a "calmness," he says, and an ability to trust someone, that makes other things possible. He sometimes phrases it as, "This has opened so many doors in my life."

You are statistically likely to see similar results. If you're interested in it, the first step is to consciously choose to give up novelty for the benefits of the piece of paper.

We have polls asking whether people are concerned about crime and how much police presence they prefer. As I recall, black people are more likely than white people to be concerned and a solid majority want the same/more policing.

Anecdotally, I have black co-workers who commute from the suburbs and call me crazy for living in the city. One tells me proudly that in her sleepy little cul de sac, the cops notice and act on anything unusual.

Early one morning, I heard a burst of gunfire outside my house. Someone had emptied a magazine into a parked car on the corner. When I called the cops, they told me they were receiving multiple calls for the same location. These calls would have been from my predominantly black neighbors. Almost everyone who came out onto the sidewalk to see the damage and complain about the slow police response was black.

One (black) witness had been driving her children to school when she saw a weapon pointed out the window of the vehicle in front of her. She pulled over and watched, frozen, while the young man shot up somebody’s empty pickup. As soon as he drove off, she called the cops.

“People are crazy,” and, “Why aren’t the police here yet?” was all I heard out on the sidewalk that morning. Black people walk their yappy little dogs in the mornings. Their little girls walk to school with Moana backpacks bigger than they are. They don’t want a bunch of bullets flying around while this happens.

There are communities that distrust the cops and at times close ranks. But broadly speaking? I think Kulak is mistaken.

I truly do appreciate the sympathy! I know there are other places I could live where these things don't happen.

But even if I didn't have to stay for family reasons, my home is one of a kind.

These results actually don't surprise me, and I fully acknowledge that you have solid evidence that this can be done successfully. I can certainly see a role for prescribed maintenance doses, and I do not brim with anger for the middle-aged mom success story in the article.

I can't help focusing on the fact that the program in Zurich was implemented by the Swiss. As the report you linked puts it, "Switzerland is no one’s idea of a leftist country. Its famous tradition of protecting bank secrets, its having granted women the right to vote only in the 1970s, and its referendum-based rejections of minarets on mosques and decriminalization of cannabis illustrate its quirky conservatism." By all accounts, this is a punctilious, relatively conformist culture. The drug scene grew out of a "youth revolution," as it has elsewhere, but unlike elsewhere there were still adults in the room.

Per the report, early experiments with allowing a designated "needle park" were not wholly successful and had many of the problems I fear. Spillover crime, attracting more non-local drug users to the area, etc. It took time to work out the "four pillars":

  • prevention of drug use
  • therapy for drug dependence
  • harm reduction
  • law enforcement

A similar program in my city will distinctly not be implemented by the Swiss. There will not be meticulous records. There will not be careful follow-up. There will be delayed or nonexistent consequences for non-compliance. Perhaps most importantly, there will be no sustained social pressure to live the quiet, productive family life that Sarah has achieved.

As I said, if I had some reassurance that orderly prosociality was even valued in my culture, I'd feel a lot better about ideas like this.

The history of my neighborhood does not support your narrative.

It reached its nadir in the mid-90s. Somehow, after the institution of tough on crime policies, and despite being significantly more "fucked" than it is now, the neighborhood fitfully but steadily improved for twenty years. There was also redevelopment, and when the police were overly harsh that certainly damaged their relationship with the residents. But, on a basic level, cops actually showing up for 911 calls and arresting violent drug dealers did not measurably make the problems worse. By 2010, the neighborhood had entered the gays-and-artists phase of gentrification. $30 a plate restaurants and $5 a latte coffee shops began moving in. Then in 2020, everyone decided that policing was racist and unnecessary, a huge chunk of the force quit or retired, and twenty years of progress began to roll back.

There is at the very least strong circumstantial evidence that policing lowers rates of violent crime, and that kneecapping the police makes it worse. I've seen no evidence that "root causes" reformers have the first clue about the reasons neighborhoods become like this in the first place. If the cops actually did what I suggested here, there is no plausible mechanism by which I become worse off. Many of my neighbors would be thrilled. You think they like being mumbled and ranted at while they wait for the school bus with their little children? You think they like their Amazon packages going missing?

So in a sense, yeah, I agree that I'm not trying to help you, right now today. Not because I don't care about your concerns, but because I don't think it's really possible to give you what you want.

But what I am trying to do is intended to help you and people like you who live 10, 20, 50 years from now (among others, of course).

I believe that you are sincere, I really do. But a false narrative is just as dangerous to me as apathy.

What if supervised consumption of carefully measured maintenance doses of opiates are simply not a substitute good for what heroin addicts want?

Because it doesn’t sound at all like what heroin addicts want.

Definitely not directed at you specifically, Yassine. Apologies for phrasing it to possibly include you. I've found much of your writing insightful and persuasive, and I believe you're suggesting this policy in good faith as a harm reduction measure. The simple fact that you'll suggest flight, when most of my social circle reflexively dunk on the suburbs, reinforces to me that you don't disregard my concerns. No, my distrust and anger is directed at less intellectually consistent people.

What can the government do to make your "Neighbor" less of a dick?

Long term pie in the sky, it could stop promoting atomization, start promoting healthy family formation, and generally adopt my preferred social agenda, under which parenting wouldn't create such emotional wrecks, etc, insert graphs and grand theorizing here. Short term cake on the plate, nothing whatsoever. I included Neighbor to paint the picture in its full texture, and to explain why even the theft of something relatively inexpensive can be such a kick in the teeth.

What do you want them to do about the guy ululating? Maybe he can be arrested for communicating what is sort of maybe an indirect threat?

Patrol the parks and greenways on horseback. Perhaps you'll spot a skinny guy waving a stick and yelling at people. Politely ask him who he is and why he's yelling. If he's probably no real threat, ask him to move along. No, there ain't no law, sir, but nevertheless, move along. If he's flagged as some kind of serious psych risk by our mental health infrastructure, take him to a big building where he can have hot meals and doctors. Don't let him leave if the doctors think that's a bad idea. Ignore everyone who tells you this is mean and ableist and tyrannical. If he's got a warrant out, take him to whichever judge wants him. Ignore the people who say that's mean and racist and tyrannical.

I want the cops to just be present. Show up. Deter. Make it clear to the whole neighborhood that bizarre, threatening behavior will be noticed and acted upon. I want all the rest of society to let them. To be willing to pay money for this, rather than not pay money for this. I want that opinion to be totally uncontroversial, rather than evidence of racism or fascism.

You potentially could drastically expand police funding but any increase would be best levied first at the serious crimes they're currently ignoring (like gun-toting domestic violence) before any of it can realistically start reaching "stolen broom" levels. I don't know what property tax levels could sustain that increase.

As you say, if the cops aren't showing up for assault with a deadly weapon, they're not in a position to do anything about my broom. I honestly don't believe that funding is the limiting issue here. I suspect it's political will, social consensus, and civic trust.

Yeah it would suck to see someone contribute nothing to society and just wait around for their regular heroin drop, but that's preferable to me if it means a significant reduction in property crime.


I could probably swallow my distaste, if this worked as advertised. It might help to have some psychological recompense, like for instance social recognition as a more valuable member of the community than someone whose deal with us is, "Y'all give me opiates, and I won't take your shit." This attitude is currently considered mean and stigmatizing and likely to interfere with the recovery of the extortionist patient. Perhaps it is. I'm having a hard time not being angry and judgmental of my fellow man right now.

But I am not confident that my local government and/or well-meaning non-profits can implement free heroin such that it successfully reduces the property crime rate. Examining my resistance to the idea, some of it is unevolved anger at rewarding antisocial behavior. But some of it also comes from distrust of the people likely to implement it.

It is not your fault that I'm reading your reply at this precise moment in my life, but unfortunately you've engaged at a time when I'm just not receptive. The following things have happened to me this week:

My husband and I introduced ourselves to a new neighbor while he was working on his car on the sidewalk. We were hoping to establish enough of a rapport to ask him to stop parking illegally, blocking the whole sidewalk, and leaving the trash from his car detailing in our garden bed. Perhaps someday we can even talk politely to him about the broken bottles and used condoms we clean up after his hangouts with his friends. When we gave him our names and asked for his, he refused to even look us in the face. He mumbled that we could call him "Neighbor."

In the middle of the day, a bedraggled man reached through our fence and stole the commercial-grade broom and upright dustpan that we use to clean up the broken glass and occasional condom. It took him several minutes to wriggle these implements close enough to lift them over the fence. The security camera video is simultaneously pathetic and annoying. The idea that the cops might ever do anything about this petty theft is hilarious.

Literally this morning, my husband I went running on the greenway in our neighborhood. We passed a man walking the other way, who was yelling and ululating, waving a stick around. He wore a baseball cap with a feather stuck upright in its closure. We said good morning, and he said he didn't "want to hear no fucking good morning." On our way back, we passed him again. He was still ululating, now interspersed with howling the names of various local Indian tribes. He yelled after us that once upon a time, "y'all" - white people - "wouldn't be here. We'd jump you if you was here. Y'all would get jumped. You couldn'ta been here."

It does not help me to consider that bright, well-meaning progressives have a plan to ensure that no one becomes the guy who pisses on my house. It does not help me to hear that they want to ensure no poor soul is inescapably driven to steal the janitorial tools I use to clean up after the nearby dysfunctional people. It does not help me to know that they intend to support folks who might otherwise, through no fault of their own, threaten me on my morning run for being the wrong color.

The kind of people who get enthusiastic about free heroin are the kind of people who get extremely uncomfortable when I tell them these things are happening to me. They don't want to hear. They are especially discomfited if I seem angry or, God forbid, judgmental. Their expectation is that I should have no negative feelings whatsoever toward people whose behavior makes me feel disrespected, inconvenienced, or physically unsafe. Assigning any agency to the offenders is mean, you see? Privileged people, like us, have agency. Marginalized people are more like abused animals, whose bad behaviors can have no moral meaning, but must be managed with the compassionate practicality of a veterinarian.

Basically, it's difficult to believe that anyone likely to implement this program has my interests at heart. My interests seem to actively make them uncomfortable, because they believe that the system is already serving them. In some senses, they're right. The system has delivered me an insanely comfortable and secure life. I have an icemaker, beautiful curtains, and a retirement fund. I am blessed, and I am grateful. But they're missing the part where the system raised my taxes this year, despite the fact that it failed to send cops when I called to say, "My neighbors are having a loud argument, and one of them just told the other to, 'Put the gun down, bitch.'" I'm one of the net taxpayers, but I'm paying for services that never materialize, or that are so low-quality that I must pay for expensive workarounds.

Look, I am deeply sympathetic to people who struggle with addiction or mental illness. People I love have fought those demons, and they could not live the functional lives they do now were it not for intense support and medication. Had they been born into less fortunate families, they too might have wandered the sidewalks yelling at passersby. Even in good circumstances, treating them is expensive and never looks like an emotionally satisfying morality play.

But free heroin and similar programs are getting sold to me as an improvement to my quality of life by people whom I no longer trust to care about my quality of life. When these programs fail, have unexpected costs, or generate externalities, I know who's getting blamed, who's getting invoiced, and who's sweeping up the broken glass.

Show up and take the bitch's gun away. Then I might be in a frame of mind for free heroin.


Point taken, yes.

I can't find where I read this, but (from memory) both men and women tend to select opposite-sex friends on the same criteria by which they select romantic partners. It's extremely normal to develop feelings for an opposite-sex friend, and it's very plausible that a man would genuinely enjoy a friendship with a woman whom he'd also like to date. However, men tend to overestimate their female friends' possible sexual interest in them, and women tend to underestimate their male friends' sexual interest in them.

Once a man has expressed unambiguous interest in a woman and been turned down, it's usually touch and go to maintain a friendship. In a situation described as "sorta friends," it might be prohibitively difficult. To try will require an element of pretending, in the sense of ignoring his recently expressed interest, and my experience is that the elephant in the room does not get smaller. I was referring to this polite face-saving, not accusing @DinoInNameOnly of only pretending to like this woman to get sex. I'm sure his interest in her good qualities is genuine!

It really depends. You might be patrolling Bayji, Iraq in an armored Humvee, at genuine risk of maiming and death, but with enough Kevlar and firepower to inflict 20:1 casualties, going back to the FOB in the evenings for hot showers. Or you might be shredding your boots on the coral of Peleliu, living in filth because you're unable to practice basic field sanitation, slowly losing your sense of compassion and humanity because you've personally seen the evidence that if you're captured, the enemy might torture you to death and mutilate your body.

Likewise, you might have an uncomfortable and occasionally scary but ultimately complication-free pregnancy with minimal pain. Or your pelvis might separate in your third trimester, and you might spend three months barely able to walk, and all the doctors can offer you is bed rest. It really, really depends.

i mean FBI for larger scale crime. I thought that was obvious in my post.

It was, yes; I was being a little bit difficult. Mostly I am just lamenting the feeling that I can neither fight back nor convince the people whose nominal job is to fight on my behalf to actually do so.

Are they there long enough to call 311 (or whatever the equivalent is in your city)?

Sometimes, yes. In the past, I've left notes on cars I recognized - "Please be mindful of the driveway! Thank you, Raggedy" - but we've also called in unfamiliar vehicles to be towed. That has resulted in an irate new neighbor calling us assholes and demanding to know why we didn't just call her. (Because we had no idea who you were! We've never spoken to you!) She made a point of spending lots of time taking measurements on our sidewalk and marking them off in chalk, ostensibly to contest the ticket, but really to stare me down.

Even availing yourself of the means at your disposal can feel like punishment.

It's not a rhyme, it's a repetition for emotional impact. He knew what he was doing.

I can't even get the cops to show up when I tell the 911 dispatcher, "There is a loud argument taking place on my neighbors' front lawn. One participant is now yelling at the other to, 'Put the gun down, bitch.'" Could you please send me some of these super-determined LEOs with unlimited resources?

Before listening, I clicked on your “Halfway to Prison Abolition” link. I’m a little stuck on the “give people free heroin” idea.

I know, I know, harm reduction, those terribly civilized Swiss or Nordics or whoever do it, might cost us less on net, etc. There’s a good utilitarian case to be made. It’s gonna bring down property crime, people say.

I’m reminded of the Thieves’ Guild in Pratchett’s Discworld novels. We must assume some amount of thievery will occur, so let’s make it regular and predictable, more like a tax or insurance premium than a sudden, possibly irrecoverable loss. Except… now the thieves’ job is not thieving. Now they go around peacefully collecting their legal earnings from citizens and less peacefully disincentivizing unlicensed thieves. They are no longer thieves. They are now tax collectors/cops. That’s a very different personality profile than a pre-Guild thief. And, crucially, actual thieves are still getting their legs broken.

Obviously, much depends on the details of implementation of free heroin. But no matter what the details are, it’s a little rage-inducing.

I am often tempted to solve my problems with antisocial behavior. I fantasize about breaking the windows of the cars that frequently block my driveway. I sometimes wish my gentle giant of a dog were more of a face-ripping type, and that he’d taken a chunk out of the porch pirate who stole my parents’ Christmas gift before I could give it to them. Last time my husband cleaned up broken bottles and a used condom from the sidewalk, he angrily suggested we dump the trash bag’s contents on the porch of their original owner. Instead, he knocked on the door and asked them to please be more considerate.

Nobody is offering me free benzos to keep me from going too far in defense of my own property. Certainly nobody buys me off to prevent me preying on others’ property. However you run the numbers, it’s pretty infuriating to be asked to pay someone else not to rob me.

And yes, I know it’s not a payment in money, it’s just enough heroin to keep them from desperation, “think of it as medicine, like Thorazine” or whatever. I can know all that. I’m still angry that no one expects anything of the guy who pissed on my house, while I’m expected to hose off the urine and extend my non-judgmental assistance. I can also understand that he has almost certainly had a much more difficult life than I have. But a lot of people have suffered even more than he has, and they’re not pissing on my house or stealing my wedding portrait.

My personal feelings are not necessarily sound basis for policy. But this really burns my toast.

You're right. It's better to be explicit that a date is a date.

I once went to dinner with a very kind friend of a cousin who'd just moved to town. I considered this man out of my league and assumed he was just trying to make friends in a new place. Years later, my cousin told me, "Remember that time you went on a date with [Guy]? Shame you weren't into him."

"... That was a date?"

I'm sorry you didn't get a response. Being ignored does feel worse than no, and the kind and polite thing for her to say was, "Thanks so much for the lovely compliment, but I'm not up for a date."

Trouble is... you kinda told her to do this. It's damn difficult to compose a rejection text that doesn't feel mean or like you're leaving the door cracked when you prefer it closed. People often rephrase a few times, searching for the right words, and then give up and say nothing. You preemptively offered to pretend you'd never said anything. She is pretending you never said anything. You're now stuck either 1) pretending to remain friends with her, when she knows you want more, which is not sustainable or 2) not pretending to remain friends with her, which makes you look insincere.

Had you said, "I think you're really kind and interesting, and I'd like to take you to [Local Bar] for a drink on Friday," she could have said, "Thanks so much, but I have plans that night." Without a counteroffer ("we could do Saturday instead"), this means she does not return your interest. Instead she was asked to tell you, without plausible deniability, yes or no, whether she was interested in you. That is a much more discomfiting question.

She wasn't interested, so there was simply no way you could have asked the question that would have resulted in "yes." But there was a way to ask the question that might have felt better for everyone.

This is like congratulating a woman on successfully completing a date without getting treated like a prostitute, roofied and raped, or murdered and dismembered. I just want you to understand the level of unhinged paranoia you are contributing to the discourse here.