site banner

Quality Contributions Report for May 2024

This is the Quality Contributions Roundup. It showcases interesting and well-written comments and posts from the period covered. If you want to get an idea of what this community is about or how we want you to participate, look no further (except the rules maybe--those might be important too).

As a reminder, you can nominate Quality Contributions by hitting the report button and selecting the "Actually A Quality Contribution!" option. Additionally, links to all of the roundups can be found in the wiki of /r/theThread which can be found here. For a list of other great community content, see here.

These are mostly chronologically ordered, but I have in some cases tried to cluster comments by topic so if there is something you are looking for (or trying to avoid), this might be helpful.

Quality Contributions in the Main Motte







Contributions for the week of April 29, 2024






Contributions for the week of May 6, 2024





Contributions for the week of May 13, 2024











Contributions for the week of May 20, 2024








Contributions for the week of May 27, 2024








Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.



Biden gives GOP better deal on border thru Executive Order. Looks like the GOP was correct.

I already addressed this in the post actually. Here's the relevant bit:

The issue with this idea is that even if Biden were to reimplement all of Trump’s executive orders, they still amounted to little more than a bandaid on a bullet hole. Critics of the bill are technically correct in pointing out that there was less blood before Biden ripped off the bandaid, but it’s ludicrous to then assume that the bandaid was all that was ever needed. US immigration law and border enforcement is fundamentally broken in a number of ways, and this bill would have gone a long way in addressing the worst problems. Recall that Trump himself tried to go after asylum laws directly, but his efforts mostly fizzled in the courts.

I doubt Biden will reimplement all the things Trump tried to do with EO's, and even some of the more moderate stuff he does will likely get gummed up in the courts. Better "something" than "nothing", though, I guess. Still, it really would have been better to just pass the dang bill. Even if Biden refused to implement it, it would have cleared the way for Trump to not get his EO's mangled by the courts if he becomes president.

I feel like you were arrogant and just need to take the “L” here.

A good bit of the issue could have been solved by Biden doing his job. A bill is just a piece of paper but who is going to enforce it? Paper plus Biden without an election hanging off his head was and is worthless. No paper plus Trump solved a lot of the issue. A good bill plus Trump would be amazing.

GOP succeeded in not falling for a trap where Biden passes a bill claims he solved the issue but enforcing it for 6 months and then doesn’t enforce it after the election.

The left and Biden are not good faith actors on this issue so you can’t bargain your way to a solution. You can only take power.

I have no idea if you sincerely hold your beliefs or just fell for the lefts trap.

I feel like you were arrogant and just need to take the “L” here.

This is a pretty goofy response when I explicitly addressed this scenario before it even happened, and is almost certain to go exactly as I said it would have. This article has some good quotes:

The new policy could also soon be blocked in court. In a court filing in Washington on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union led a lawsuit with several immigration organizations against the Biden administration seeking to end the executive action.

The lead attorney for the lawsuit, Lee Gelernt, said Biden’s policy is “near identical” to one enacted by Trump that the ACLU was successful in blocking.

“We’re filing this lawsuit because this ban is patently illegal. The Trump administration enacted a near identical asylum ban. We sued over that. We won. We hope to win again,” Gelernt said.

A bill is just a piece of paper but who is going to enforce it? Paper plus Biden without an election hanging off his head was and is worthless. No paper plus Trump solved a lot of the issue. A good bill plus Trump would be amazing.

A bill would at least pave the way for Trump to take tougher action. No bill + Trump was no better than Obama. The chances of Trump actually passing a more stringent bill are quite low (although not zero).

I have no idea if you sincerely hold your beliefs or just fell for the lefts trap.

In the entire previous thread nobody could say how it was a "trap" other than vaguely sneering at their outgroup.

“If” Trump is elected. I agree it gives him more power; I think some did disagree with that. But the most important thing is controlling the executive. Biden can kill immigration if he wants to. Which he did for an election.

Control of the executive has swapped between the two parties with nearly metronomic frequency across all of American history. If Republicans don't win in this election then they'd win in the not too distant future, at which point they'll wish they had passed the bill.

I mean I don’t claim it’s a good thing that the only way to control immigration is having the POTUS.

The bill does nothing. I hope Trump actually does coup so we can protect the border long term.

Nifty. I've been part of this forum since it was on /r/slatestarcodex, and this is my first AAQC. I guess I just needed to tell more sea stories.

We love a good sea story. Or land story. I’m sure an air story would go over pretty well, too, but I guess those are a little more rare?

Also, your prose was really nice.

The link to the "I don't see any value in the HBD hypothesis." comment is broken by the ?context parameter (because of deleted comments upstream?). This seems to be a working link.

In general, I wish TheMotte's comment linking would work more like reddit's or Hacker News' instead of trying to force the context-parameters and #context everywhere (what's this even for?). Support a permalink that's a post-url/12345 (add a 'permalink' link under the comment that gets you this) that shows only the 12345 post and it's children and an anchor link post-url#12345 (you could make the timestamp of the post clickable and give you this) that shows the whole thread but centers on the given post. Don't add extra "show context" parameters unless the user asks for it.

Thanks, I've edited the link.

The "context" thing has been a weird issue since the site's inception, I think it is ultimately related to code stuff that is above my pay grade. I know Zorba has been working on it for a while.

I mean, I thought the Orwell bug of "if you delete a post, it headshots all its children" had been fixed ages ago? Did it get unfixed at some point?

Interesting that I think a few of those posts are bad or just not special. One of the post is just taking a simple argument and making it 5k words while still ignoring to address the criticisms that are evident in a 200 word synopsis. My definition of very bad writing when you just go for length.

Another I thought was just stringing together a few hot takes. Which I don’t think is generally bad because it can be a starting point for bringing up an issue but I wouldn’t consider for a quality contribution because it lacked specialized or depth of knowledge on the issue.

Interesting that I think a few of those posts are bad or just not special.

So write something better.

An AAQC need not be Pulitzer material; it requires no expertise; it needn't even be correct, though all of those things could count toward an AAQC. I have approved many, many AAQCs that I'm confident were just objectively wrong. AAQCs are not an endorsement of brilliance or accuracy; they are a way of noticing and rewarding people who make positive contributions to the community through their engagement. What's a "positive contribution?" That's a qualitative question answered substantially by the user nomination and review process. Hundreds of posts are nominated every month, most of them quite plausibly AAQCs; the main reason I winnow them at all is that we do like to keep the list to a manageable size. If someone else were curating the list, it would probably be a little different--but less than you might think.

So like... it's okay that you think a few, or even many, of these posts are not the sort of thing you want to see. But there's exactly one thing you could do about that: write something better.

One of the post is just taking a simple argument and making it 5k words … My definition of very bad writing when you just go for length

In all likelihood, the post does contain more information than could be compressed into 200 words. It’s pretty hard to write coherent, sensible sentences that literally say nothing, unless you really go out of your way to do it.

Typically when people say that writing “uses too many words” or “says nothing”, what they actually mean is that there is content there, but they simply find the content to be trite, false, uninteresting, irrelevant, etc. All of which may be valid criticisms. But that’s different from there being no content at all.

Or that it's repetitive, saying the same thing in too many ways rather than saying new things.

I think in general a debate has a scissor statement in it. Let’s take an example - Barack Obama isn’t black or Joe Biden isn’t Catholic. Let’s say we had an election with one of them and it was becoming a campaign issue.

An equivalent would be writing 5k words on Obama’s genealogy. Doing some DNA analysis, skin testing for melanin, etc. The people that will disagree and you are trying to prove wrong will be entirely concerned with a lack of ADOS and other connections to American blacks. Same for Biden and Catholic where they will just point to his abortion stance and lack of obedience to the Pope. To prove to the other side and defeat the scissor you need to find a check to Pro-life or other similar actions he’s doing to promote that. The scissor statements can be very short. And if you are writing 5k words to defeat the scissor it doesn’t matter how much you write adjacent to the scissor. And I think that is bad writing if the goal of the writing was to win the argument and convince the other side your opinion is better than the existing view.

I wanted to add something related but tangential to @self_made_human 's post on therapists.

The business model issue.

Without doxxing myself, I'm just going to say that I once had a person who ran / co-owned a therapy practice explain how his business ran. He and his partner would contract with independent providers who would contract with them, they guy and his partner would handle all of the overhead, paperwork, legal, marketing, etc. and take a percentage of patient fees.

He told me that the customers break down into three groups.

The first two are what you would probably expect.

The first group is more or less stable people who go through specifically difficult life circumstances and require the services of a therapist for some amount of time. People after a divorce, death in the family, traumatic event. In addition, you also have those with enduring mental health issues (major depression, bipolar etc.) that can function in society but probably need therapy and possible medication to do it. In many ways, these are the "best" patients in that the therapist gets to see them heal, grow, thrive etc. Very much a win-win.

The second group are folks with severe mental illness that have sought out therapy usually with the assistance of family and / or friends. Now, because the guy telling me about this was running a very much for-profit no-insurance practice, I will caveat that this is one perspective / reality. I can definitely see how this group's dynamics may be different at other kind of practices / state sponsored hospitals etc. Anyways, these folks have brutal situations and are doing what they can to manage. In addition to the severe mental illness, substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors are super common. Some therapists really are dedicated and do what they can to help, but few and far between see these folks really turn it around. Maybe a few "stabilize" and can live with a lot of family support.

So, here's the first business question. Do you think Group 2 here can ... pay their bills? on time? Even with family support, the answer is "no."

But that first group! Surely they always pay. The answer is "yes" .... for a time. Remember, folks in that first group often "get their shit together" after 6 months, a year, two, three ... And even the ones that are getting therapy for decades are probably not doing it weekly after a while. They often slow down to once a month or even less frequently as check-ins.

So, from a cash flow perspective, you're in a rough spot; some percentage of your patients are so unreliable you can't really put much confidence in their recurring revenue. Another percentage pays, but does not pay with enough volume or long term durability to cover that other group. What to do?

Group Motherfuckin' 3.

Group 3 are the textbook, highly online, utterly insufferable "therapy culture" people. Soccer moms, yuppie young professionals who probably had awesome childhoods, confused and wistful early retirees, college professors (who may be banging those young professionals), and art history majors. Unfulfilled dads don't get therapy - they become very good at grilling meat and an expert in either WW2 or the Civil War (God Bless all ye taxpayers!). Group 3 is at least weekly in their visits. Many are more frequent. Most will go through periods of "needing" more intense therapy. They change prescriptions a lot for .... unknown reasons. If they catch a hint of lack of interest from the therapist, you can bet they will effect some sort of scene outside of therapy to re-energize their sessions (_"When we were in Cabo, I told Braden that I wanted to try polyamory. He just went golfing without saying a word! HOW CAN I LIVE LIKE THIS!") I'll be nice a little here; sometimes, Group 3 types just need a little professional reassurance and they do turn their shit around. Sometimes, even, they realize a lot of their problems are of their own making or that their perspective was just miscalibrated. Yet, the majority are absolutely using a therapist as a paid friend. Depending on where you live, lap dances from strippers are more cost effective.

Back to business - how do we square the circle of Group 1 and Group 2 not covering our costs or making us money?

Group Motherfuckin' 3. And boy do they Make. That. Money.

What to take away from this? As @self_made_human 's post pointed out - therapy works (if you work at it, I would add). But the problem is that so much of the therapy business and market is now geared towards "therapy culture" people that it's creating a really bad situation in which new providers either think that everyone they're going to meet is just an exasperated housewife or, even worse, that everyone they're going to meet is just an exasperated housewife who doesn't care if it's $275 / hr holy shit free money hack. When that second group comes face to face with their first hard case of a patient, it can be horribly destabilizing for both of them. The proliferation of the online telehealth therapists is the poster child for this.

What's the market solution? I don't have one and I don't want one. If we ever get to the point as a society where we really deeply subsidize mental health services, we're going to be broke overnight. Think about that - that's creating a free service for when you feel bad. Absolutely uncapped demand. And, as I hope this post as pointed out, the way it works in practice, you do have an effective voluntary (albeit semi-informed) wealth transfer tax. I will never not let rich people spend their money the way they see fit.

Ah, do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life (and other lies).

Well, I suppose it's about time I get paid for deep dives into psychiatry. I do need to pad out the CV, and not just pseudonymously.

The link to Gaashk's comment isn't working for me.

Sorry about that--there's apparently some weird technical issue with it. It's still visible on Gaashk's profile page, fortunately, and I will also reproduce it here:

Grew up in a very trad wife centric Christian homeschool subculture. It mostly didn't work out. Mostly, we had to get jobs. It isn't trivially easy to find a man who's prepared to be a husband, father, and primary earner fairly young, willing to ask girls out, often at venues like church functions, and interested in those girls. There are some, sure, and some families were formed that way. But now in our late 30s, I'm hearing about even some of the women who did marry a traditional head of household man divorcing, because he's pushy, unpleasant, domineering, and re-training as a nurse or something, now with several children.

Marriages don't have to rise to the level of beating to be worse than working a lower middle class female job. If my now husband hadn't kept inviting me on romantic dates at ancient castles, I would still be basically content with being single, because being a single woman in the modern world is really just fine, with a long educated Anglophone tradition full of slightly lonely but basically fine governesses and nuns. Even at the standards of a century ago, I would certainly rather be a nun than marry a man I didn't like, of whom people said "well at least he doesn't beat you, just have more grit."

I am not a feminist by current standards. My grandmothers and great grandmothers went to teaching colleges, and followed their husbands around the world while they translated Mayan carvings or something, and returned to teaching when their children where older. They kept copies of Virginia Woolf in their houses. There are great grandmothers I don't know much about, because their children ran away from home (and first marriages, I think?) and met up on a Pacific island, and then went on to have those 3-4 kids together, and raise them while teaching. I don't know how to evaluate the alternate universe where everyone had more grit, sticking out their first marriage on some frozen windswept cattle ranch.

Much is made of the state of family formation in Asia lately. Chinese great grandmothers probably had too much grit, breaking their daughters' feet to help their marriage prospects. I don't know how things were for the great grandmothers of the current generation of South Korean women -- the educational issues there sound like an excess of grit -- everyone could just not cram that extra hour, and things would likely be just the same, but slightly more pleasant. It sounds very zero sum after a pretty baseline educational level and some research skills.

Anyway, I'm pregnant with a third baby because I don't think being not particularly successful in America is that bad, actually. Probably none of my kids will go to an unusually excellent college or have an unusually excellent job or win at a high level competition, and that's alright. Someone came in to my classroom today to say that she's pleased that her daughter is shift manager at a Starbucks and leading literacy tutoring over the summer. This is good! People should be able to be pleased with their children living normal, functional lives!

Working link at here

Thanks! I've updated the list.

We're aware, sadly it's the kind of issue that requires backend fiddling by Zorba with the code base.

I've actually got a code review pending for it right now, but it's one of those annoyingly fiddly changes :/