site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of December 12, 2022

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

15
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Just as an FYI, we just deployed a major performance improvement for this site. It also might be buggy. Please report any issues you run into, especially those involving the display of the front page or comment threads (like this one).

(At the same time we're currently working with a significant performance degradation because of a library bug. Hopefully we'll get that one solved soon too.)

Edit: So far there are 414 janitor submissions, y'all are great, I was expecting to have to wait a week or two to get a good chunk of useful data but nope this is going fast.

(one post is considered one submission, not one set of posts)

I have almost two hundred new notifications over the last 17 hours. It looks like I'm getting a notification every time someone comments on this thread.

Did you hit the "subscribe" button with the eye next to it?

I didn't think I did. But I just unsubscribed. Thanks.

I got a popup asking to rate a post.

Excellent! It appears to be working.

My too. Just some random comment. I rated it.

I also accidentally fat finger upvoted it. That should probably be disabled when rating comments.

Works fine so far. Thank you for your efforts.

You might be jannies, but you're our jannies. <3

The janny volunteer popup dialog seems to be in light theme even if you're using dark theme.

Sigh, I admit the themes are an annoying amount of work. I'll fix this one though.

I didn't actually realize there was a 'dark' theme until this comment. White text on dark background is my preferred look, so I switched over. However, I'm pretty sure there's a bug with the dark themes ('dark', 'midnight', and 'tron' all share this issue), where the interface doesn't register if you've clicked the upvote or downvote button, it stays the same color regardless. Any chance this could be fixed as well?

The problem is that I've been making serious changes to the base theme but not wanting to invest the time on fixing up the other themes. I think I might:

  • Change TheMotte to light

  • Fix up dark a bit

  • Rename the other themes to include (unsupported)

  • Remap users to light or dark as appropriate

  • Send a message to everyone who was using an unsupported theme saying "your old theme is kind of deprecated and may look crummy, we've changed you to a supported theme, you're welcome to change back if you really want or volunteer to fix up the theme"

I should also do a check to see which themes are most popular.

actually lemme just do that now, I need to get into the DB anyway

TheMotte: 1477 (obviously a lot of these are "I just left it as the default")

reddit: 98

dark: 96

midnight: 74

dramblr: 27

coffee: 23

4chan: 19

win98: 15

tron: 7

light: 4

transparent: 1

Per Transtellung's comment I just switched to the 'reddit' theme, and already I can tell it is much better. It does leave the big 'The Motte' site name in the upper left black (unreadable against the background), but now all links are clearly highlighted in blue, and upvotes and downvotes are clearly visible as orange and light blue respectively. Very much support his recommendation to turn 'reddit' into the official dark theme.

EDIT: it appears that the 'reddit' theme does not highlight unread comments in the same way as the 'themotte' theme does. So if I had one other suggestion, it'd be to incorporate that change into this theme. Thanks!

I am one of the people using "reddit". It actually doesn't resemble Reddit very much; it's just a nice theme: dark, but not too dark like the actual "dark" theme. (The background on "dark" is apparently literally #000000, which no one ever does!) It seems "midnight" is basically just "reddit" but worse (the contrast is terrible), so if you combine the two, "reddit" is the de facto dark theme and therefore it should, in my totally unbiased opinion, become the official dark theme.

The "transparent" theme has something to do with custom backgrounds, which are non-functional, so I think you can just remove it completely. I can't even get it to work, no idea how that one person did it.

The background on "dark" is apparently literally #000000, which no one ever does!

OLED display users (mostly mobile, but not all) do.

>phoneposting

Edit: Oops, just noticed you said there are non-mobile OLED displays. My bad. Anyway, would it be too much to have a "dark", renamed from "reddit", and "OLED" or "superdark" or something, renamed from "dark"? Or perhaps rename "reddit" to "light dark"? Again, I am very biased, but "reddit" is the most popular non-default theme.

My suggestion would be for default theme to use the prefers-color-scheme @media query to switch the base colors to bright-on-dark-gray if you have your browser/OS set for dark mode. "Dark" would be moved to "OLED black".

Personally, I use "coffee".

The volunteer/janitor page has a link for the rules which should https://www.themotte.org/rules instead of localhost/rules.

Oops, not my finest moment. Should be fixed now, thanks!

Can the mobile site be fixed so that collapsing comments and collapsing threads are slightly more differentiated, and so that the bug (at least on iOS) where writing long comments leads to the text box extending beyond the screen is corrected?

Hmm, can you give me screenshot examples of those? I think this is the first I've heard of either, for the record.

On mobile, the vertical lines that go from left to right (and which grow in number as you get deeper into a comment chain) that are used to collapse comments when you click on them are very close together. It is easy for even a not-fat-fingered user to collapse an outer comment rather than an inner one. My index finger is wider than like 2-4 lines in some cases. I can want to collapse a sub-sub-sub-thread but end up collapsing a whole sub-thread, and then have to reopen it and scroll way, way down to where I was. On reddit, you can double tap the comment itself to collapse it instead of having to deal with the cumbersome vertical lines, which whicle they work great on mouse, don't work so well with fingers on a small screen.

Huh, I like the "double-tap to collapse" idea. I don't actually use mobile so I'm sorta in the dark on what people want there :V

Task added!

Today I learned there are lines indicating how replies are nested in the light theme on mobile! I have been using dark theme since launch and while I thought I remembered lines at one point, collapsing threads without using the minus next to a user name has always seemed like a random crapshoot when I tapped to the left of a comment. As another Johnny Bench I think double tapping would be light years better (and an option to remove the collapsing function of the lines if possible (oh and make the lines visible in dark theme please.))

Could we also see how many child comments a particular comment gets when collapsed?

I think this may actually be difficult, we don't track that info anywhere. But I'll add a task for it.

On topic of quite literal culture wars, but differently than usually defined here: my family is buying electricity generator for an Ukrainian family.

It is about 500 euro, goes directly to family member of refugee family that we are hosting so there is a decent chance that it will reach intended targets - and I am far more sure about this than with many charities.

Mentioning that mostly as a possibility if someone would be interested in doing something similar.

If you're Europeean, you might want to buy one for yourself as well.

There is no plausible scenario under which I would benefit from owning one. And I am in situation where benefits are far smaller and costs are larger than average - so even if it would make sense for 70% of people in EU to buy power generator it still would make no sense for me.

Also, it seems that you are jumping into doomerism of some kind.

I mean my government has literally been warning people about possible blackouts, and electricity prices have gone up so bad that the town I used to live in had to cancel their electricity contract and buy a bunch of generators to run their services. The diesel somehow ends up cheaper for them.

I could get into why this is happening but it's all very boring legalese about the EU energy market, shock enabled speculation and stupid decisions from decades ago. None of which anyone has the will to fix, as usual.

I haven't actually considered much what the future of Europe will be like, I just know it sucks right now, it's likely going to suck harder this winter and there's no telling for how long.

In these conditions it seems prudent to be prepared for the worst. Call it insurance.

my government has literally been warning people about possible blackouts

Which one? Not sure whether in Poland risk is lower or whether is the same or greater and government is more incompetent (or yours is more panicking)

France, which you'd think would be safer because of all those nuclear power plants right? But it's not because we have to sell that stuff to the Germans at the market price by EU law. Which means their woes are rising our prices.

Ironically Poland is probably safer on that front because your energy mix is mostly coal which is not sanctioned and you already had some of the highest energy prices in Europe before the crisis so the shock likely doesn't hit as bad. Worst case scenario you can reopen the once mighty Polish coal mines or import more.

Meanwhile the Germans have their whole economy based around cheap Russian gas and petroleum that isn't easily replaced (the logistics to substitute pipelines and get imports from somewhere else are quite complicated), is sanctioned and they were already buying a lot of our nuclear at the best of times.

which is not sanctioned

strictly speaking Poland sanctioned Russian coal on its own, but problem is "high prices" not "we will freeze to death", and transport coal from new source is much easier to achieve than for gas.

How are you making sure it gets to the intended recipients?

Is fuel for the generator generally available?

How are you making sure it gets to the intended recipients?

Giving it to person well known to us who will transfer it to her direct family. There is low chance of some obscure scam, but it seems reasonably low.

Petrol/oil remains accessible for now, but power is intermittent and getting worse.

Culture War or fashion news? You decide!

So Sam Brinton, former deputy assistant secretary since they have been fired, appeared in court in Las Vegas on Wednesday on one of the two charges against them for stealing luggage. This was just a bail hearing, so nothing juicy to report yet.

Well, except for clothing choices. Whether advised to do so by counsel or whatever, for their court appearance Mx. Brinton decided to go for male-presenting and masked. If they were wearing their red lipstick, nobody knows. No heels, jewellery, dresses, or capes today, just a black suit and shirt with white tie combo (not too impressed with that myself, it's a bit retro but however).

So being out, loud and proud non-binary/gender fluid/trans (as the case may be) is okay when representing the government, but when it's your own case, convention wins? General opinion seems to be that "when showing up for bail on a charge of stealing women's clothing, better not to dress in women's clothing" which is fair enough. But it just amused me that once they're in real trouble (as distinct from the stories they told of being beaten by their parents and abused by torture camps), they drop all the affectation and try to look as normal as possible. Be interesting to see what they wear to the Minneapolis hearing, when/if that happens.

(What also amuses/interests me is the quick No True Scotsman turnaround where the former poster non-binary person for the campaign against conversion therapy is now somehow "we knew he was dodgy all along" once the negative publicity starts).

Well, at least he is not a complete idiot. Which should be normally a default for a MIT graduate but now you never know.

Compared to Michael Saylor , he's not the dumbest or most unethical MIT alumni. Having impressive credentials and not being stupid, are two different things.

Is a masters at MIT really that impressive? He did his undergrad at some state school.

I interview a lot of people. I am not a hiring manager, but if you want to get hired at my major tech company, then you get to chat with a few people like me. I would be entirely unimpressed with a MS from MIT. But also I would not care if someone's BS was from some state school. Neither help or hurt a candidate. We don't care about your impressive pedigree. In the many interview loops I have participated in, the particular school has never been mentioned by any interviewer.

Having relevant degrees and experience from any university or business and being able to pass a brief phone screen gets you the interview. Actually passing the gauntlet gets you the job.

For deputy assistant secretary of something nuclear waste management something, his credentials look fine by me. But I don't work in that one industry or government. Maybe they are credentialists to a degree I'm not used to.

Seconded. School only matters for two reasons: a particular department in a particular time period has a reputation for something seriously awry, in which case some probing around that or extra care, depending on the nature of the repute; they went to the same place you did in an overlapping time period and you want to know how you don't know of them already.

Yeah but he gets to put MIT on his resume. Which some people really care about apparently.

"I can see your MIT education really pays for itself!" - Barney Calhoun, Half-Life 2

This story shows how something so inconsequential can be such a big deal. It shows how closely watched everything and everyone is, contrary to the popular narrative that powerful people in high places can act with impunity.

This story shows how something so inconsequential can be such a big deal. It shows how closely watched everything and everyone is, contrary to the popular narrative that powerful people in high places can act with impunity.

When people talk about "powerful people in high places" they usually mean higher places than deputy assistant secretary.

Billionaire held in filthy rat infested jail is better recent example.

Except that if this had been him harassing DOE employees by being sexual in the ladies bathrooms it probably would have never seen the light of day. Or if he abused his clearance to run background checks on ex-boyfriends. Or if he targeted a company he didn't like and financially crippled it (which happening to have other green investments that benefit from his action). None of those things would come to light.

He only got hit because of a few unique properties to his crime, all of which were needed:

  1. Concrete victim;

  2. In public;

  3. On Video;

  4. Not plausibly part of his official duties.

You seem very certain about a claim for which no evidence exists. In fact, no evidence can exist, because if it did, it would mean the offences had come to light.

Edit: Nor can the claim be falsified, since it's always possible that something did happen and it's being covered up.

The Horowitz IG report contains dozens of #4 happening at DOJ an resulted in no prosecutions. The Lerner IRS scandal resulted in 0 prosecutions. The background check thing was revealed in a different IG report that I cant remember the name of out of the State Department. No prosecutions.

Its not that there is no evidence that these things happen. We know they have! Its just that they don't get documented in real time and then prosecuted. They get reported way after the fact in an IG report, which most closely resembles a sanitized CYA memo.

I don't know quite how broken my reasoning is, but being exposed to people claiming that this sort of thing never happens and never will, then thst it never happens and is misinformation, and then it does happen but isn't weird at all its just a normal mistake anyone could make, all set my priors up that I am more suspicious of the intrinsic nefarious nature of the individual in question than had I not been primed with evidently false a priori conceits.

Usually acts that get impunity is like stealing billions of dollars and causing deaths of tens of thousands, but acts that get consequences is something like stealing a bag.

If only we could find one with an insatiable fetish for reprocessing high level nuclear waste, we might actually get something done for once.

Too bad if it turns out the same genetic constellation also activates an unsatiable urge to steal suitcases in airports...

Knowing the state of this reality, it probably strongly overlaps with eating crayons and shitting yourself in public.

Given the extent to which the caprice of individual judges can affect the outcome of your case, it is probably to your benefit to minimize weirdness and maximize respectability (and respectfulness). In an ideal world you could show up to court in a clown suit and not have it affect the outcome, but in reality the judge may feel disrespected, the jury may not take you seriously, etc...

If you were a pre-op transwoman going to court I'd recommend wearing a suit and tie even if it makes you uncomfortable. Life isn't fair.

In an ideal world you could show up to court in a clown suit and not have it affect the outcome

You can make the argument backwards: that is because we insist on a much more stringent set of grounds for judgement in courtrooms.

We do not in the rest of our lives. So, by this logic, it's actually more justifiable to discriminate against Brinton for his behavior outside of court, given it represents a flouting of social norms in a way that he can clearly restrain himself from if he feels it's in his interests.

for his behavior outside of court

Extremely hard disagree. I very much hope that general adherence to social norms is not used as a criterion of judgement by actual criminal trial judges. It is by happenstance alone that my sexual tastes and general aesthetic are commonly accepted today. My choice in partners would be scandalous in rather recent memory. I'm not a weirdo subversive by 2022 standards. I'm even straight.

Perhaps we could separate social aesthetic norms that are frankly not the government's damned business and the serious matters of criminal law.

Extremely hard disagree. I very much hope that general adherence to social norms is not used as a criterion of judgement by actual criminal trial judges.

Except that is literally the opposite of my claim: that courts may need to be held to a higher standard to achieve important social goods, but this doesn't mean that we're all obligated to do the same.

Basically the same argument for why "innocent until proven guilty" can be an asinine response. For a recent example, see Kevin O'Leary's apology tour on FTX and crypto.

No because adherance to social norms implies a higher likelihood of being better adapted to ones environment. Being maladapted, I naively assume*, being as likely to arise from an adapted equilibrium maintianing piece of information being flipped to more or less adaptive.

So that your predilections may not have been accepted in the past gives the information that something in you is broken from that equilibrium, and it might not have a monotonic effect, i.e., the biological, DNA, hormonal,etc or cultural, etc driver that is the root cause of the downstream behavioural manifestation may do other things too that we can't see. Or it is posisble that the non conventional behavior has second or higher order negative consequences in our environment thst wr are unaware of. All we know is that it is at best 50/50 beneficial to you, and might be actually very bad for us.

So in conclusion it is actually entirely reasonable to use adherance to social norms to inform whether someone is more or less likely to engage in criminal behaviour, if we assume wuch behaviour is not the wrll adapted norm in our society. However, it might be reasonable for the maintenance of power for a regime to give the appearance of blind justice, etc formal procedural laws not influenced by this entirely salient and freely available information, in which case the judge has to appear not to give any credence (but if not maladapted themsleves will be aware of).

So that your predilections may not have been accepted in the past gives the information that something in you is broken from that equilibrium, and it might not have a monotonic effect, i.e., the biological, DNA, hormonal,etc or cultural, etc driver that is the root cause of the downstream behavioural manifestation may do other things too that we can't see. Or it is posisble that the non conventional behavior has second or higher order negative consequences in our environment thst wr are unaware of. All we know is that it is at best 50/50 beneficial to you, and might be actually very bad for us.

Or it is possible – and should be the default assumption unless you're some kind of ultra-reactionary who thinks the world has only got worse since the 18th century – that people in the past had irrational, unfounded, capricious prejudices, the elimination of which has resulted in a better society for everyone. With this corrected prior, you would have arrived at a very different probability from 50/50.

Yes, sometimes the fence is there for a good reason, but in many cases it's only there because if anyone suggests removing it, he'll get laughed at or ostracized or "all citizens [will] unite to kill that person".

I really don't understand this impulse, apparently relatively common on TheMotte, whenever someone suggests that some widespread belief or practice is irrational and arbitrary, to try to find a brain-genius-tier explanation for why it actually makes perfect sense. OK, fine, maybe religion is so universal because, as atheists fail to understand, it keeps society stable and is a good mechanism to promote pro-social norms and strengthen communal ties, and so forth; but why must a mammal both chew cud and have cloven hooves to be edible? Why is music haram? Why is a beaver a fish during Lent?

Sorry, but sometimes something that seems silly at first glance is still silly after a careful analysis that considers the possibility of higher-order effects and the broader historical and social context.

Whether something seems silly, is silly, or is not is completely and utterly irrelevant to my point.

It is by happenstance alone that my sexual tastes and general aesthetic are commonly accepted today.

"How convenient", said the puddle, "That this hole in the road is exactly the same shape I am"

To speak plainly: I don't think it's happenstance at all, your desires - while certainly grounded in reptilian-brain evopsych - have a large socially conditioned superstructure on top of them. One remembers Ye Olde Fat Venus statues. Idk whether it's liking fat chicks that's biologically immutable and liking thin chicks that's the social meme or vice versa, but one CAN be memed into being attracted to stuff one would not be absent the social conditioning.

Sure. There is some component of socialization in my behavior. If I had grown up centuries ago in Europe it would not having occurred to me to be horny for some sorts of brown-skinned women.

But to push back a bit: it is happenstance of genes and/or prenatal environment that I didn't come out gay. I could, but for the grace of God, have come out a few decades ago as a gay puddle in an entirely hetero world. Then polite respectability (of my open and honest self) could have been forever beyond me. I got lucky being straight and oriented towards certain sorts of women today. Change any of those and I am the one being discriminated against in criminal court.

As a larger principle I don't want criminal trial judges looking at someone's partner or aesthetic tastes in court and deciding to get much stricter based on social norms. "He likes blacks/Mexicans/Asian immigrants" would have caught me. And I can't promise a lack of non-socialized preference for those women, at least after having been exposed to them.

I'll go so very far as to extend this empathy to openly gay men and people with odd consensual kinks. Again: there but for the grace of God go I.

I'm trying to think of something that's gotten less scandalous in currentyear outside the queer umbrella... Fat or muscle chicks? Gilfs?

I mean race mixing. And by "recent memory" I mean support for interracial marriage crossed 50% in the 90s. I don't literally mean 4chan style paraphilias.

Tomboys, perhaps?

I mean boring old, all American race mixing. Which was actually unpopular until recently. Back in the 1700s it was cool. In the 90s it was barely majority accepted. Today it is again cool.

By no merit of my own I happen to appeal to 2022 standards of acceptable behavior. And based on my coworkers' stated views, I'd better hold my tongue when non-contrarian progressives are speaking. I got lucky in this sense. When inevitably progressives "long march through institutions" their way into criminal judge positions I damned hope they don't sniff me out as a contrarian.

We (theoretically) hold the courts to higher standards of judgment because they wield the power of the state. The consequences of a capricious or bigoted judge acting in a discriminatory manner are (usually) more severe that a capricious or bigoted private citizen and thus they are subject to more scrutiny. So in a sense it is more acceptable (or, rather, less unacceptable) to discriminate a gender non-conforming individual outside of court, but that has nothing to do with their ability to avoid flouting social norms. It is because we (theoretically) hold the courts to a higher standard than private citizens.

So in a sense it is more acceptable (or, rather, less unacceptable) to discriminate a gender non-conforming individual outside of court, but that has nothing to do with their ability to avoid flouting social norms. It is because we (theoretically) hold the courts to a higher standard than private citizens.

You seem to be assuming that discriminating against people who flout social norms is prima facie wrong. That isn't my assumption, and that seems to be the bone of contention.

Replace the case with something else: e.g. a man with ludicrous face tattoos. There I think we're at least fine making certain judgements about such people (e.g. I don't want him as a cashier, he doesn't look "professional"). But we could still be against a judge doing the same in a case about...I dunno weed.

So we can simultaneously restrain some of our institutions without feeling like the underlying judgment is wrong or avoiding it in our daily lives. And there their ability to avoid the flouting of norms is absolutely relevant. Which norm violations should matter is obviously a YMMV case.

The exact same argument applies when performing important government duties, doesn't it? Don't burn your weirdness points on clothing and presentation, when you can spend them moving the status quo somewhere better.

Don't burn your weirdness points on clothing and presentation, when you can spend them moving the status quo somewhere better.

The obvious retort is that Sam thinks being a presenting transgender person is moving the status quo somewhere better.

Well, in that case it's mightily convenient he only tries to move the status quo in that way when it isn't his but rather the public's skin in the game.

Not really. It's a practical admonition that the judge has the power to fuck you over if they don't like you, so go out of your way to not annoy them (even if it's total bullshit). Showing up to court in "inappropriate" clothing doesn't have any bearing on the case, except it actually does because it may make the judge discriminate against you or judge you more harshly because they feel disrespected. This doesn't really apply to day-to-day work as a government official, where if someone has a problem with your gender presentation that's their problem.

Don't burn your weirdness points on clothing and presentation, when you can spend them moving the status quo somewhere better.

Clothing and presentation is trying to move the status quo.

You can advise someone to minimize weirdness, you can't demand them of it

I mean, this is just manifestly false.

We demand it of people all the time. Hell, the average man still feels like it's demanded of him to follow standard dress codes at work. That norm is under assault now (by people like Brinton) but it's not forgotten.

We could just as easily continue to apply it to people claiming an LGBTSomething exception but the will apparently isn't there.

I don't really see what's weird about this. Of course you dress conservatively when you're in court.

As pointed out by MatWizard, if they really are so non-binary and gender-fluid that it's a vital part of their identity and personality, and they went around dressing in women's clothing even for a government reception by the French ambassador, dressing down to "I'm a guy wearing guy's clothing" is a bit odd.

Brinton has dressed casually, of course, including that T-shirt which helped identify them as the person who stole the luggage in Vegas. So they don't always go around looking like a Pride parade. And yes, you'll be told to dress respectably for a court appearance. But Brinton could dress in respectable women's clothing for the court appearance, so that does make all the "Whee look at me wearing stilettos!" stuff seem to have been self-aggrandisement for publicity or even a fetish. And making it seem like a fetish is, of course, not helpful when being accused of stealing women's luggage because you have a fetish about women's clothing.

"I'm the stilettos guy in Congress" (before they got the deputy assistant secretary job) is one thing, but when it's "I need to be sure I'm granted bail, so I look, dress and present like a cis man", it is plainly another thing:

Brinton doesn’t let the trauma stop them from being out and proud. The non-binary activist and MIT grad is an engineer and a senior policy analyst in Washington D.C. who advises Congress on nuclear power issues. Brinton is known around the nation’s capitol “as the red mohawk guy in stilettos.”

“It is not uncommon to see me in a Congressional hearing with my stilettos,” Brinton said. “People from both sides of the aisle take me quite seriously, because they know I’m good at what I do regardless of how I look.”

I suppose how I feel about this is that it makes it hard for me to take the whole 'non-binary genderfluid' thing seriously, when it's presented as being so very vital a part of their identity that dressing in male attire for the job would be oppression, but somehow it's an identity they can put on and take off when they need to take it off. Maybe I just don't understand the genderfluid thing, and that they happened to be in their male mode for the court date. But it makes it hard to know what is the mask they are just dressing up in, and what really is their core identity. How serious is the non-binary, and how much of it is dressing up to shock the normies?

But Brinton could dress in respectable women's clothing for the court appearance, so that does make all the "Whee look at me wearing stilettos!" stuff seem to have been self-aggrandisement for publicity or even a fetish.

I don't know. Maybe sometimes he genuinely wakes up and feels like throwing a frock on. I like wearing a tanktop, and if I could wear one to work I would, but I wouldn't wear one in court. Or maybe he does like the attention. Who cares?

I suppose how I feel about this is that it makes it hard for me to take the whole 'non-binary genderfluid' thing seriously, when it's presented as being so very vital a part of their identity that dressing in male attire for the job would be oppression, but somehow it's an identity they can put on and take off when they need to take it off.

Maybe I'm missing something but I don't see any claim that occasionally having to dress in men's clothes is oppressive, or a claim that wearing women's clothes is a fundamental part of his identity, as opposed to a thing he does for fun (though the things you do for fun, I would argue, are a part of your identity).

But it makes it hard to know what is the mask they are just dressing up in, and what really is their core identity.

Much ink has been spilled over the distinction between one's persona and personality. I don't really have anything to add - it's not of any interest to me to know what lurks in anyone's heart. Sam Brinton seems to be a fabulist, a serial attention whore, and a pervert - that he occupied a position of significance in the government is nothing new.

  1. The same would apply to a lesser degree when working for the government in a prominent position.

  2. Conservative women's clothing exists: women go to court all the time. A non-binary/gender fluid/trans person who stuck to their guns that they are genuinely a woman and didn't believe their gender nonconformity was obnoxious and unprofessional could wear respectable women's clothing to court.

He doesn’t claim to be a woman, or so I thought. He claims to be one of the 72 other genders that I don’t pretend to understand. This is somehow different from being transgender, where he would be claiming to be a member of one of the two genders that I do understand, just not the one that I would naively assume.

In any case, the normal-ish court attire doesn’t tell us how he feels about it- nearly any attorney is going to tell him to wear a conservative suit and tie, and the court itself probably sent him a pamphlet telling him to do so- it just tells us he’s capable of acting normal for a few hours at a time if he thinks it’s to his benefit. Which means that he would have been able to wear a suit and act like a normal guy at a reception thrown by the French ambassador, he just decided not to. This is, I would think, an even more profound claim, because, well, his whole claim to fame was that he had to adopt the weird looking appearance because that was his true self and it was deeply traumatic not to express it.

In any case, the normal-ish court attire doesn’t tell us how he feels about it- nearly any attorney is going to tell him to wear a conservative suit and tie, and the court itself probably sent him a pamphlet telling him to do so- it just tells us he’s capable of acting normal for a few hours at a time if he thinks it’s to his benefit.

Isn't that just adult human behavior? I personally don't like wearing dresses - if wearing one for a few hours would get me out of jail, then I would do it. It doesn't make my personally held identity as a man who likes wearing man clothes any weaker or compromised.

Well sure, but most of us do that for work, too, which he ostentatiously did not.

I wouldn't submit to wearing a dress every day for work, and given the option to choose, I would never do so - so I don't see how it's unusual that Brinton chose to do that, given that it wasn't against any rules (so far as I can tell).

I don't think Sam Brinton claims to be a woman, just non-binary or whatever. I don't believe that he sees his nonconformity as obnoxious or unprofessional. Most likely, his lawyer told him that he wants to make the best possible impression and that he would do that by dressing as a man.

Trying as hard as he could to look like a woman would be sensible too. What looks worse: a woman stealing expensive women's underwear, or a man stealing expensive women's underwear.

One just seems like theft, the other intolerable perversion against a "protected class"/higher caste

Perhaps he knows that dressing like a woman - or, perhaps more relevantly, being unable to keep your kinks under wraps in formal settings - strikes normies as the perversion. Which is bad when you're being accused of a crime that can have strong "perv" connotations.

It's a weirdness flag, and you want to minimize any risks in court

Well, perhaps if you're hired for your identity, you have to parade it constantly to be a good talisman to the people who gave you the job, and once you're fired from it, it no longer matters?

If nothing else it certainly signals that he knows his normal mode of dress would not go over well to a judge or any onlookers.

IIRC he dressed like that well before he was hired by the government.

Hi! Would you please present evindence (not conjecture) that they were hired for their identity?

Thank you!

A characteristic of contemporary identity-politics hiring is that the perpetrators go to great lengths to obfuscate evidence that they're performing identity-politics hiring.

It is normally good practice to demand evidence rather than conjecture, but when operating in a zeitgeist where such evidence is scrupulously concealed behind bureaucratic efforts towards plausible deniability, you are raising a bar which is impossible to clear.

What would even constitute evidence that Brinton was hired based solely or primarily on his identity? He has a master's degree in the relevant field (from MIT, though other comments are telling me that doesn't really matter) and has co-authored several research papers. To me it looks like he's about as qualified as anyone.

@Astranagant

Well this is the problem with identity hiring, isn't it? How does anyone know you didn't get the edge over your competitors because of that? Unless he was literally the only applicant for the job, I'd find it hard to swallow that the topic of his... presentation... never came up. Meaning the department most likely consciously chose him, and whether this is in spite of or because of his affectations would largely come down to whether he was wildly head-and-shoulders better than his competition. Employers will overlook some affectation for a genuine rockstar employee, but there's a limit proportionate to how irreplaceable you are.

So either Brinton is hyper-competent and got the job in spite of his affectations, which according to the rest of the thread -- and your own comment "as qualified as anyone" -- his education history and performance on the job doesn't bear out. So if it's not that, can we then assume that the affectations served the purpose of the administration somehow? This is a government job, it's impossible... alright, improbable to believe they didn't do their due diligence.

If the employer has whittled down the list of applicants to a group of people with similar qualifications, and more detailed information that might help the decision is impossible or infeasible to attain, then the choice of whom to hire will be arbitrary. In this case, I don't see how hiring Brinton because of his unusual presentation is any worse than rolling a die or flipping a coin to make the final choice.

To me, the phrase "hired for your identity" implies that standards have been lowered and the candidate was picked over someone more qualified but with a less-favoured identity. As far as I can tell, this is not true in Brinton's case.

One form of affirmative action that I've heard about is that, when two or more candidates appear to be equally qualified, and one belongs to a historically marginalized group, that candidate should be chosen. As I said above, when it comes down to this kind of decision, the choice is arbitrary, and I don't see any harm in the affirmative action method. Indeed, if the group to which the candidate belongs really does face some kind of disadvantage, picking them is the rational choice for the self-interested employer, as it indicates that the candidate has achieved the same qualifications despite more difficult circumstances. Of course, simply considering a few categories such as race and gender can never provide the full picture: for example, among two candidates there may be a woman from a rich family and a man whose family was poor growing up; overall, the man had it worse, but an application generally includes gender but not family circumstances, so applying the method here would lead to the wrong choice. It is just a heuristic, and no heuristic is perfect, but as I said, at some point acquiring more information about the candidates becomes impossible or infeasible; except for some very specific positions, an employer won't hire a personal investigator to carefully investigate the candidate's past: this is where heuristics come in.

The above method is very different from lowered standards for different groups, or straight-up quotas, both of which I vehemently oppose. Finally, it must be noted that:

  1. In the real world, "historically marginalized" groups have been granted various advantages, which might reduce the method's accuracy.

  2. Situations where several candidates are, in fact, equally qualified, and only one belongs to a historically marginalized group, are not actually that common.

  3. The heuristic requires that the candidates' identity not be considered until the final choice: a woman must be just as good as a man, without considering the fact that she is a woman. Otherwise, we would be adjusting for identity twice, which would result in a lower standard for women.

Edit: Sorry for the off-topic wall of text. I have reposted the comment in this week's culture war thread so that more people can see it. If you want to reply, perhaps it would be better to do it there.

Male appearance in the mug shot and the surveillance photo. I'm guessing they dress male unless its for a public event or fetish.

I don't think it's necessarily signaling, it literally could just be more "no point in dressing up for your dressing-down."

New Twitter policy just dropped:

Promotion of alternative social platforms policy

...

What is a violation of this policy?

At both the Tweet level and the account level, we will remove any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms, such as linking out (i.e. using URLs) to any of the below platforms on Twitter, or providing your handle without a URL:

Prohibited platforms:

Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post and Nostr

3rd-party social media link aggregators such as linktr.ee, lnk.bio

Examples:

“follow me @username on Instagram”

“username@mastodon.social”

“check out my profile on Facebook - facebook.com/username”

Accounts that are used for the main purpose of promoting content on another social platform may be suspended. Additionally, any attempts to bypass restrictions on external links to the above prohibited social media platforms through technical or non-technical means (e.g. URL cloaking, plaintext obfuscation) is in violation of this policy. This includes, but is not limited to, spelling out “dot” for social media platforms that use “.” in the names to avoid URL creation, or sharing screenshots of your handle on a prohibited social media platform.

It's like the man himself says

The acid test for any two competing socioeconomic systems is which side needs to build a wall to keep people from escaping? That’s the bad one!

ETA:

Seems like some large accounts are calling Twitter's bluff. Dril posted a link to their linktree hours ago and so far both post and account are still up.

ETA2:

Musk now polling whether he should step down as head of Twitter, Yes in the lead with 51.5% and just over a million votes cast at the time of this writing.

ETA3:

The link at the top of this post is now a 404, apparently a result of the policy being rescinded, but the internet never forgets.

link is gone https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/social-platforms-policy

that was super fast. Talk about getting instant feedback. That is the nice thing about having such a large public persona.

Musk now polling whether he should step down as head of Twitter, Yes in the lead with 51.5% and just over a million votes cast at the time of this writing.

To put things in context, here is one alleged witness tweet (posted before Elon's new poll)

https://twitter.com/iamraisini/status/1604619857257025537

Screenshot:

https://twitter.com/TheKamillex/status/1604641087292932096

and obligatory classic literature quote:

https://twitter.com/ArielGonzalez_1/status/1604621934733524993

Remember that Saudi Prince @Alwaleed_Talal invested $1.89 Billion and Qatar @QIA about $400 Million in Twitter. They are the real Power at Twitter.

lmao what

Oh boy, that "pig to man" quote is potentially really spicy, given that the photo has Arab guys in it...

Anyways, I saw the "Arabian investors want to take over" theory advanced elsewhere, guess that's evidence for it.

I started wondering a few hours ago, because the rule seemed so obviously ridiculous. Is he trying the... is it called the "door in the face" trick? The same way that last year twitter updated their rules to ban all "media of private individuals without the permission of the person(s) depicted." Which they then quickly walked back and started only selectively enforcing on people they didn't like.

Is he doing a reverse Machiavelli's governor deal by focusing hatred on himself and then appointing someone else to head Twitter?

He's a war CEO, which means he eventually has to hand off to a peace CEO and it's extremely common to use this to let all the unpopular things you do in wartime stick to the man and start fresh. Consider how the British treated Churchill after WW2.

I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. And I'm really curious who will be the peace man.

It seems to mirror the anchoring strategy he used for pricing.

"This will cost twenty dollars"

"That's too much"

"K how about 8 then"

... and suddenly 8 doesn't seem that bad.

Is he doing a reverse Machiavelli's governor deal by focusing hatred on himself and then appointing someone else to head Twitter?

I'd call it the Lelouch Gambit, but that ended fatally, so...

Jesus I'd forgotten all about that show.

I think he's fast failing monetization methods beyond pure advertising. The $8 for a blue checkmark represents the money twitter makes per customer from advertisers a month, he's outsourcing and replacing advertisers with paying customers. The walled garden might be a way to create an ecosystem which doesn't send users to competitors media systems. Because of the sample size and data analytics just a few days of implementing policy can easily analyze changes traffic patterns. Maybe hold twitter hostage to other corps. They want twitter traffic? Those corps need to pay Twitter. Not a bad idea.

The question is if 1) I'm right, and he believes in his methodology enough to hold see it through even while all the whiners on twitter complain at him and hurts his popularity and 2) If he can find a successful model quickly enough to recoup his investment costs successfully.

Other platforms won't feel the need to pay for Twitter traffic, because they don't depend on it. What this change will do is enrage users who find it useful or even financially necessary to link to other platforms.

Looks like he's doing the New Coke strategy. Engagement is way up, no matter how much the media insist twitter is dying. People who promise to quit come back later. That is the genius of Musk's strategy...messing up twitter only makes it more popular and more media coverage about twitter.

Of course engagement is up - it's the world cup and American football time! The top of my "For You" page from a logged out browser in India is #fifaworldcup, ronaldo, #sachintendulkar, golden boot, france 4-2, money money money and greatest of all time. The non-football related topics are #sachintendulkar (a cricketer) and money money money.

A logged out page in America has 8/10 on top being NFL, the last two being "Happy Hannukah" and "Twitter CEO". The top of the page is literally Patriots vs Raiders scores.

I will take the opportunity to re-up a comment I left recently, explaining how Musk can make twitter profitable again: https://www.themotte.org/post/229/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/42105?context=8#context

tl;dr; sports + celebrities. No one cares about paul graham or taylor lorenz, lots of people care about Brady, Belichick and Dicker the Kicker. If you don't know who they are, that's your bubble. The only non-NFL humans that twitter America seems to care about are Tom Cruise, Elon Musk, Lionel Messi and (way down the list) Christina Aguilera.

tl;dr; sports + celebrities. No one cares about paul graham or taylor lorenz, lots of people care about Brady, Belichick and Dicker the Kicker

This policy has been an absolute disaster for that group, at least based on my little corner of non-political Twitter.

Until yesterday the effect of Musk on sports/hobby Twitter was zero to slightly positive - the only noticeable change was that the trending hashtags are less dominated by American politics. The Mastadon "migration" was never more than a handful, and even those that did set up accounts either forgot them after a week or just set them to mirror Twitter posts.

But the external links ban seems to have changed all that. Suddenly everyone is setting up alternative accounts, it's an order of magnitude bigger than the initial takeover. Linktree and similar services were very widely used so there are a lot of people that never cared about the takeover that now feel threatened. Even if you aren't personally affected Twitter has made itself look weak so people are concerned about it collapsing.

The policy has seriously undermined Twitter's standing in that area, in a way that looks like it will persist despite the U-turn.

But political Twitter has some power (hence the FBI's interest), and it should be possible to translate that power into money.

How do you propose to turn political twitter into an amount of money remotely proportional to the risk it poses to sports&celebs twitter?

Soft corruption. Twitter sells extremely expensive advertising to candidates and parties. It is known that if just one side pays for this advertising the algorithm overall greatly favors them.

No one cares about paul graham or taylor lorenz, lots of people care about Brady, Belichick and Dicker the Kicker

A lot of people cared about the twitter files. sports is a big part , but so is politics and other stuff.

I'm sure it is during the brief periods (presidential elections) when a spectacle is happening.

From what I recall of advertising analytics I've done in the past, it's even less profitable than the engagement numbers might suggest. Kellogs doesn't exactly love having Frosted Flakes associated with "Trump is the most raaaaacist guy ever", "Lock Her Up" or even "thousands dead in Somalia" and "plane crash" - it's just a negative mental association.

Tom Cruise, Aguilera and "Happy Hannukah" don't have this problem.

Imagine telling you-two-years-ago about that twitter poll. Why is Musk doing this? How are we feeling about moldbug's (iirc) "put any fortune 500 CEO in charge of the USA, even the second worst one, and it'll massively improve"?

Given the quote tweets, a twitter poll here is less "the will of the people" and more "who brigades and manipulates the poll more", so idk what the point is.

The USA is not Twitter. And I'd argue anything would improve Twitter, including the site's complete destruction.

"put any fortune 500 CEO in charge of the USA, even the second worst one, and it'll massively improve"?

Didn't Trump's presidency falsify this idea?

Moldbug presumably meant dictatorial power, not merely the presidency.