7@11 (6.28)

1. John Shore has been assimilated into the collective. Patheos’ plan for world domination continues (rubs hands together, cackles fiendishly).

2. Via Brad DeLong, here’s Noah Smith illustrating the moral sentiments of conservative free market economist Greg Mankiw — and finding that it’s the same moral outlook we hear from Chris Brown. (It doesn’t affect Smith’s argument, but I’m not confident he should accept Walmart’s claim to be paying an “average” wage of $12.40/hour. My guess is that’s a mean from a very lop-sided bell curve.)

And while we’re on the subject of a living wage, Morgan Guyton suggests that perhaps maybe the first step in any church-based campaign for a living wage would be for churches to pledge to pay such wages themselves. Ouch. As the punchline to the old joke says, “Careful, pastor, now you’re meddling.”

3. Writer Jay Lake has a lovely, generous post on “Me and Prayer.” He has terminal cancer, and his blog has become a lesson in facing death with dignity, grace, gratitude, good humor and panache. Jay is, as he says, “a staunch atheist. One might even say raving.” But I think Christians and atheists alike can learn from the example of his post on “I’m praying for you,” which demonstrates something of what the Golden Rule looks like.

4. “Intersectionality” is a word we dirty hippy liberal types use to address the idea that all the various flavors of bigotry, oppression and inequality seem to be related and connected. Like the scripture says, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” My social conservative friends disagree. For them it’s very important to say that the various things we liberals lump together as intersectional and interconnected are, in fact, distinct and discrete phenomena. Or, in smaller words, they hate it when we call them bigots.

Specifically, they really hate it when we assume that their opposition to full legal equality for LGBT people or their opposition to full legal equality for women also means they oppose full legal equality for people of color. Just because someone may be anti-feminist and anti-gay, they insist, we shouldn’t also assume that person is racist.

Fair enough. But that’s also why it’s in their best interest to do whatever they can to make Phyllis Schlafly stop talking in public and maybe retire somewhere nice and quiet. Because, see, she keeps saying racist things. And then repeating them.

I get that she’s kind of an icon among Republicans and among conservative Christians. She’s 88 years old, and like any politician, ugly building, or preacher who’s been around that long, she’s become respectable. So get her off the stage quietly, respectfully and reverently if you need to. But get her off the stage. Her hatefulness is not helping your cause. (Yes, this is concern trolling — but it’s still true.)

5. I am very pleased to see this. I’m happy to see Rachel Held Evans writing for CNN (or anywhere else for that matter). And I’m happy to read her fine reflection on good old Acts 10-11 and the story of Peter’s revelation and revolution regarding unclean outsiders. Peter had far more “biblical authority” supporting his previous rejection of Gentiles than the religious right can claim to support their rejection of their LGBT neighbors. If Peter had been like Al Mohler or Rick Warren, then none of us Gentile Christians could ever have joined the church. Freely you have received, freely give.

6. Matt Yglesias sums up why I would never want to live somewhere governed by a condo board or HOA:

Condominium associations seem to work … through a kind of arbitrary totalitarianism. Essentially everything is against the rules, and daily life is made tolerable only through the fact that the rules aren’t actually enforced. But then anytime someone wants to be a pain in the ass, they can demand enforcement of some random provision or other. …

And the problem is that there’s essentially no escape. In any condo, the rules are made by the condo board and at condo meetings. And while the boards and the meetings are theoretically democratic institutions, in practice they self-select for busybodies who feel like wasting their time on condo business. … So in practice everyone winds up in an excessively busybody-dominated condo where too much stuff is against the rules and enforcement is too spotty and arbitrary. Most people simply aren’t litigious enough to fight back.

I suppose it also speaks well of Glenn Greenwald that people trying to dig up dirt on him couldn’t do better/worse than come up with the possibility that 10 years ago he was found innocent of violating his condo’s rules about dogs.

7.What would you see in a box full of mirrors?” <keanu>whoa</keanu>


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  • Carstonio

    Schlafly respectable? Shudder.

  • LoneWolf343

    I would prefer that to HOAs.

  • Lori

    IME it depends on the HOA. Some have a pretty light footprint. They have rules about junk in the front yard and keeping your yard mowed and maybe some broad guidelines about house paint and such, but that’s about it. Others are dictatorships by contract & committee.

    I had a coworker whose HOA was so restrictive that when he needed to paint his house and fence he had a choice of 4 colors for the house and 3 colors for the fence. And I don’t mean in general, like “beige” or “light blue”. I mean you must use Brand X, this type, in one of these specific colors for the fence and one of these specific colors for the house. The house and the fence can not be the same color. If you use another brand or type of paint or an unauthorized color you will be required to repaint it. If you do not, the HOA will hire painters to do it and send you the bill, which you will pay or the HOA will put a lien on your house. (For those with experience of the place it will come as no surprise at all that this particular HOA was on the white people side of Orange County.)

    He sold that house shortly thereafter and read the HOA rules much more carefully before he bought his next place. He also told that story to everyone so that they’d read the HOA rules before they bought a house.

  • I keep forgetting when HOAs get condemned in these discussions they aren’t the same as what I’m used to calling an HOA. I mean, the situation is different.

    I live in a condominium complex. It’s pretty much a bunch of apartment buildings, only all the units have deeds rather than leases (or both, if the owners rent them out). An HOA is necessary because so much of the structural integrity of our homes is a joint consideration–I simply don’t have the authority to get roof repairs done, since it’s not my roof but *everybody’s* roof. It’s not my siding getting replaced, but everyone from unit 101 to 312. So we have an HOA board and a manager through whom the things that are joint concerns get done.

    They can be a pain, depending on who’s on the board, and there’s definitely an element of conflicts being decided, Wikipedia like, in the favor of whoever has the most energy and time on their hands to make the most noise. And we lost our last manager because previous boards were irresponsible and left us with insufficient escrow for the badly needed roofwork, and so the manager — who finally got the roofwork underway, bless him bless him — took the blame for everyone hating to have to pay a special assessment, and the board fired him. (The homeowner’s meeting about that reminded me of a Tea Party rally, just replace “taxes” with “special assessment”. Someone accused the management of “raping” the homeowners. It made me see red and I yelled a lot.)

    But something like an HOA would have to happen for the same reason that governments happen: somehow a bunch of people have to manage to live together under one structure, and take care of things that are no one person’s responsibility, lest we have a “tragedy of the commons” type situation.

    As for an HOA governing that everyone in stand-alone houses do things in conformity, yeah, I can see my way to avoiding *that* like the plague, sure.

  • You might feel differently if you had been the kid who got shoved in a broke-down refrigerator in someone’s back yard.

  • My problem isn’t merely that the sockpuppetry is a bad faith action; my problem is that it erodes the very process of conversation and community. It can destroy all participants’ faith in the genuineness of conversation itself. It poisons the well, not just for those directly conversing with those who turn out to be sockpuppets, but for all interacting with a given online community.

    I have a special animus towards those who harm the very process of communication. Not “communication with them,” but “communication itself.” I’m not fond of the species of semantic drift that erodes precision of language, robbing us of words that describe precise things; but this is but a speck compared to the duplicity that erodes our ability to trust in the very process of forming community. Sockpuppetry is one of those duplicities.

    Sockpuppetry can destroy a community’s reputation, even if only one or two people turn out to have been wielding the puppets. It’s why book reviews on Amazon (and, by extension, similar sites) come under such suspicion. In certain circumstances, it can even kill.

  • Now that I’ve caught up on the Slactivist post highlighting this and all the attendant conversation, I feel like I ought to clarify my praise:

    I agree that 1. apologies aren’t enough and can never be enough, that 2. we’ll have to wait and see whether the apologizer’s next actions bear out his words, and 3. however sincere-sounding the apology, no obligation inheres on the wronged party to forgive.

    But I’ve seen my share of fauxpologies, and this ain’t one of them. As a template for “How to write a sincere, humble apology,” there are worse templates out there than this one.

    It’s a good strong baby step. It’s certainly the right first step, for all that it isn’t the whole of the journey. It gives me hope for the steps to follow, and hope is never a thing to be ashamed of even if I end up disappointed.

  • I live in a community with an HOA whose rules seem to boil down to them imposing an upper limit on the number of cats you can own, you can’t put up a clothesline, and if you want to make significant changes to the outward appearance of your house, you have to show a picture of what you plan to do to the immediately adjacent neighbors and have them sign off that they’re okay with it. One of these things is a bit annoying, but they all boil down to formalized forms of “Don’t upset your neighbors.”

    But I live adjacent to a community where the HOA is a lot stricter, and won’t let you paint your house in anything that isn’t an earth tone.

  • Alix

    Not being snarky, here – I’m not sure how that’s much different than being wary of people on the internet in general. We are, almost all of us, operating behind masks, essentially. We’re just assuming no one’s swapping masks behind our backs, and that people are what they claim to be.

    I think this is why I don’t find sockpuppetry alone (not when employed for stalking, trolling, etc., but just the basic act) that disturbing. It’s swapping a mask, and then using it to promote another one. At heart it’s just an extremely weird form of self-promotion. I kind of feel like we’re compounding sockpuppetry itself with the uses to which it can be put (like the abhorrent trolling/stalking in your last link).

    It’s akin, to me, to saying that being anonymous on the internet erodes community, good faith, and conversation, because anonymous trolls exist. That’s sort of true, but it doesn’t make being anonymous itself something horrible.

    Now, I do consider sockpuppetry problematic and wrong, and anonymity’s not. I’m not defending sockpuppetry so much as saying I see it as more of a misdemeanor than a major crime.

    Edit, for clarification: I consider sockpuppetry wrong because it’s an inherently bad-faith attempt to game the system. I just don’t think that’s a big moral evil.

    Edit, jr.: Also, I do see what you’re saying, and I’m not trying to say you’re wrong to feel that way. I’m just trying to lay out my position more clearly. (Not sure I succeeded, but eh.)

  • That’s one thing that seems to keep them awake at night – the idea that a guy might check out their ass or their chest the way they ogle women routinely.

    Never mind that being stared at is uncomfortable no matter who the starer or stare-ee is.

  • “pseuicide” is an interesting phenom. Closest I was to this was actually when a woman online “killed off” her fake love interest and was only blown when someone who wanted to extend condolences contacted the alleged love interest’s place of employment and found out nobody with his name had ever worked there.

  • I still have no idea how on God’s green earth it can be legal for a non-government entity to be given powers that should properly be reserved for municipal zoning enforcement authorities.

    Is this, like, some kind of gated community phenomenon that is becoming so widespread because of the proliferation of the underlying funding mechanism?

  • Yeah, What you have is what we call in Canada a strata council, and those are actually required by law here, so they tend to stick to the more prosaic details of maintenance and paying for said maintenance and things like that.

  • Lori

    He did not live in a gated community. It was just a typical upper middle class, white people side of Orange County neighborhood.

    If I understand correctly HOAs like that are legal because you can, via contract, create more strict rules than local zoning has, but not less strict rules. In that sense the HOA is not supplanting the zoning board, they’re layered on top of it. Since they’re not requiring or allowing anything that the zoning board forbids there’s no conflict.

  • Lori

    Oh sure, a condo board is rather a different thing. I have friends who live in a small townhouse complex and it’s the same deal. They only share a roof with one neighbor (their townhouses are duplex-like), but there’s a bunch of common space and an HOA is needed to manage that.

  • This just makes me giggle, since I and AnonaMiss are… kind of anonymous, but obviously not.

  • You’d think there would be problems when they attempt to enforce the laws in absurd ways though, like the 70-something man who spent a week in prison for failing to keep his HOA’s demands satisfied. They wanted him to plant and maintain a very specific type of grass not native to the region which requires a lot of care and water — during drought conditions. He couldn’t afford that much water, so his lawn died and they had him arrested for failing to make it miraculously sprout up again.

  • LoneWolf343

    That sounds like a criminal act. That’s what police are for.

  • Alix


    There’s a reason I use a mask analogy – masks aren’t truly anonymous, but more “anonymous,” and thus to my mind fit the way internet presences work better than any other analogy. You two are wearing masks playing up the fact that you’re wearing masks, in ways uniquely identifiable to you. XD

  • Lori

    I don’t understand how HOA rules that restrictive can be enforced, especially using the police as the enforcement mechanism. It’s ridiculous.

  • Alix

    I’m shocked every time I hear a case like that that there aren’t some kind of legal limits on what HOAs can ask of people, or on what they can do to violators.

  • Alix

    Not gonna lie, the clothesline restriction would piss me the hell off.

  • Lori

    In most places I’ve lived having an empty fridge outside that still had a door on it, but was not locked down, was against the law. The homeowner would face legal consequences for having it, whether anyone got pushed into it or not. The pushing would of course be assault, with consequences of its own.

  • I know, that’s what I’m saying. You’d think the first time they demanded an arrest, the police would tell them that those rules weren’t enforceable. The only thing I can imagine is that they kept fining him and he wasn’t able or willing to pay it.

  • Lori

    The cops really shouldn’t be enforcing the fines either. There really should be a limit to what the half dozen neighbors with the biggest sticks up their asses can make the rest of the neighborhood do just because they’re the HOA board.

  • Alix

    I think the only time a restrictive HOA even makes sense is in a particularly historic neighborhood that’s trying to retain the vibe. Even then, there ought to be some limits on what HOAs can pull.

  • I love that irony. I almost wish I could deanonymize, but at this point, even if I thought my company would allow it, I would feel really weird about it. Oh well. I’ve dropped some hints and that’ll have to be enough. I feel like if I changed my handle anyway, no one would recognize me!

  • Everyone signs a contract when they buy the house to abide by the HOA. It’s really very simple in fact. And no, this isn’t a gated community phenomenon, it’s actually a very old phenomenon, held over from the days when “but what will the neighbors think” held force of law.

  • Why wouldn’t the rules be enforcable? He signed a contract to abide by the HOA’s rules. He was in violation of the contract. Now, the step between “in violation of the contract” and “jail” I don’t understand, but that’s not even remotely the same thing as “the rules aren’t enforcable”.

    Thinking back about it, the most likely scenario I can think of is that they sued him for breach of contract and he was sent to jail for failing to appear in court or something.

  • FearlessSon

    I really shouldn’t read Phyllis Schlafly because I know what to expect, but for some reason I couldn’t look away this time.

    Much like looking at a brutal car wreck.

    Anyway, a friend of mine reposted a link to what she was saying, adding that as the son of a caucasian mother on welfare and a Latino man, who now makes good money making software at Microsoft, he has to agree with Schlafly on exactly one point: he will never vote Republican, and people like Schlafly are exactly why. Hard not to feel like he would be unwelcome in their “club” even if he wanted to join.

  • Well, insofar as I understand gated communities they provided the prototype for HOA infestation of communities generally, and gated communities are notorious for their exclusivism.

  • FearlessSon

    In some ways, she is like Sarah Palin, but much older and much more nasty.

    Have you ever read Margret Attwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale? It is widely speculated that Attwood based the character of Serena Joy (the Commander’s wife) off of Schlafly, at least in part. For those who have not read it, Serena Joy (speculated in-universe to be a pseudonym) was a former televangelist and anti-feminist public speaker, talking about how a woman’s place is in the home. Now she finds herself on the winning side of a theocratic dystopia she helped create, subject to its new laws demanding that women in fact be confined to just the home and stripped of any major influence, and now she finds the taste of her “success” rather more bitter than she anticipated.

  • FearlessSon

    It sounds to me like he wants each individual state to have the right to decide how much to protect their homosexual citizens from hate crimes. This cannot end well.

    Someone should try telling her that there is a proposed amendment in one or more states making it legal to beat up anyone found to be inciting homophobia.

    Watch how quickly she starts demanding that the federal government come in and put a stop to it.

    Marvel at her double standard. The headspinning alone could power a city if you wore a magnet hat and stuck yourself in a coil.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I coulda sworn there was something in the bible about not lying…

  • “[T]hey’re just barely meeting a bar so low it orbits around a star in Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, immediately below the galactic plane”
    That just made my day.

  • Donalbain

    I could never live in a place where I was forbidden from using a washing line. Seriously, FUCK THAT for a game of soldiers.

  • Alix

    I seriously don’t understand how me doing my damn laundry is such an infringement on my neighbors.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It has to do with the aesthetics. Or so I am given to understand is the reason for the no-outdoor-clotheslines restriction our HOA imposes. And what the hell good is an indoor clothesline?

  • I rank them by if I can trust them. I trust assholes a lot faster than I trust people trying to blow smoke up my ass.

  • There’s a bar Republicans are meeting? Whenever I think they couldn’t possibly be any worse, they prove me wrong. I guess that’s a bar of a kind.

  • arcseconds

    I agree with you with everything you say, but I don’t think you should spend too much time thinking about it.

    I was worried about this kind of thing when getting feedback from… eh, I guess we could say they were clients. They were mostly positive, with a very small number of negatives, and I was concerned about those small numbers.

    My boss basically said to me: “if this was just straight data, how much time would you spend worrying about the outliers?”

    The answer, of course, is you’d scarcely give them a second thought.

    There are probably thousands of people who read this blog, hundreds who read it regularly, approximately a hundred people who post, and tens who post regularly. One of those people is being an arse and downvoting comments (well, two, if you count EH, but he says it wasn’t him in this case).

    There’s absolutely no point in spending time speculating about why they did this. It’s really not worth it.

    Good job on calling them out about it, though. I’ll go like that post now…

  • She’s a true heir of her slaveowning philosophical forebears. “States’ rights for me and not for thee.”

  • Alix

    …That is such a stupid reason. :/ I currently live in a place where clotheslines are allowed and most people use them, and they’re only even really visible if you’re peeping into the neighbor’s backyard.

    That’s probably not true everywhere, but seriously? Aesthetics trump getting one’s clothes dry?

  • The choice isn’t between putting people in jail for not watering their lawns or allow littering and trespassing. It’s just not.

    HOAs can be useful and they can also be abusive, just like any group with power. Requiring people to plant environmentally-damaging grass is abusive. Jailing them for not being able to afford to waste enough water to keep it purty is even more abusive, and it’s disgusting.

  • Persia

    Blame the hippies.

  • Yeah, but when the bible uses the word “lying”, it means stuff like “Denying that RTCs are right about everything when Deep Down Everyone Knows They Are”; “Making statements which support RTC worldviews but are technically contrary to observable reality for the purpose of deception” doesn’t count.

    It’s just like how when the bible says “wine”, it really means “grape juice”

  • Lori

    I looked it up. He went to jail, with no possible bail, because he was held in contempt of court because he didn’t resod his lawn. The neighborhood covenants require people to have grass. His sprinkler system broke & he couldn’t afford to fix it so the grass died (Florida in the summer). The HOA said he had to resod. He plead financial hardship. The HOA didn’t care, took him to court and got a judge to sign an order saying that he had to resod the lawn. Said order did not cause the necessary money to magically appear in his bank account, so he didn’t resod. He was then found to be in contempt of court and sent to an already over-crowded jail until the resodding was done.

    He made the completely reasonable decision that hanging onto the house was more important than having a lawn. (Aside from the rangy lawn the house was well-maintained.) The HOA made the decision that enforcing HOA rules & maintaining their property values was more important than whether a family of 5 lost their house.

    The happy ending to at least that part of the story is that people in the surrounding community* chipped in to fix the lawn (note: not the man’s immediate neighbors or HOA board members) and he was able to get out after only a couple days in jail.

    *In a way the most impressive thing to me is that one of the County Commissioners cancelled a scheduled speech and showed up and did actual manual labor.

  • Lori

    For many HOAs aesthetics trump everything. Maintenance of property values is their reason for existing. The no clothesline restrictions are mostly born of the (unstated) belief that the only people who dry their clothes outside are white trash. And everyone knows that if you let those people do one white trash thing, like hang their drawers out where god and everyone can see them, the next thing you know they’ll have 15 hound dogs sleeping under the porch, 3 rusted cars up on blocks in the driveway and an old toilet used as a flower planter stuck in the front yard.

    I’m not sure where things stand now, but the no clothesline rules were getting a lot of push-back in California before I moved away. Between the cost of electricity and restrictions on usage and environmental concerns a lot of people wanted to use clotheslines, but HOAs were not inclined to be flexible.

  • And of course it’s Florida. In the summer. It’s just so typical of this state to throw a man in jail for refusing to do something that’s causing the state to literally sink.

  • Lori

    The whole thing took over a year, start to finish. But yeah, Florida should not be supporting forcing people to have the kind of lawn the requires watering. South Florida is already so close to sea level that it’s going to be the first US land lost to ocean level rise. They don’t need to speed that up by causing the place to sink.