7@11 (6.28)

7@11 (6.28) June 28, 2013

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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  • Alix

    …am I the only one who thinks turning an old toilet into a flower planter is a pretty neat trick? XD Maybe that makes me white trash, but if so I don’t care.

    Like I said elsewhere, I can understand the aesthetics thing in a historic neighborhood. To the best of my recollection (seeing as I was in grade school when I lived near there) parts of Williamsburg are like that, to preserve the old colonial feel, and I know some parts of old town Alexandria have similar restrictions.

    But in your normal neighborhood? That seems over-the-top. And the funny thing is, most of the busybodies I know on HOAs hate the idea of the gummint trying to tell them how to live their lives.

    I guess it’s because they think they’re the only ones entitled to tell other people how to dry their clothes and paint their houses? IDK.

  • It is a simple truism that people often complain about laws until they want the government to stop something they personally don’t like.

    I think a less controversial example would be asking if she likes the idea of a law passed that would, say, ban parking on the side of any street in her city. She would probably be up in arms over that, as a lot of drivers seem to think being able to park anywhere is a right and not a privilege.

  • Concurred.

  • My old apartment (bottom of a house) even HAD a clothesline and I sure used it to dry my stuff in summer.:) Saved quite a few $$…

  • Alix

    Using a pseudonym is a rather different thing than sockpuppeting on the internet.

    I’m … not entirely sure I agree with that. Sockpuppeting is, essentially, having multiple pseudonyms and either using them to support each other, or using different pseudonyms for different things. Often, that’s done with ill intent, and those ill ends are obviously wrong.

    But I’m not sure we can meaningfully separate out the act of having one pseudonym on the internet from having more than one. I have more than one pseudonym; I just don’t usually use them in the same place. (The exception is some of my fan stuff.)

    This conversation is turning very weird for me, because I’m getting the distinct impression people are using two different definitions of “sockpuppet.”

  • Lori

    I don’t have a problem with historic neighborhood rules either. You know what you’re getting into when you buy the place and they don’t change. In theory I don’t have a problem with light footprint HOAs that enforce fairly broad safety and maintenance standards. In practice, I’d do everything I reasonably could to avoid buying in an HOA neighborhood because their rules can change and “control creep” can be a real problem.

    In a lot of places literally anything that can be seen by even one of your neighbors is fair game for HOA rules and if you’re unlucky enough to get a few really pissy neighbors who can rally or steamroll enough other people you can find yourself not allowed to put your shampoo bottles on the ledge of your bathroom window (that has actually happened).

    Worse, if you don’t pay your dues, assessments or fines the HOA can foreclose on your house. People have lost their homes, and had to fight prolonged legal battles to get them back, because their HOA foreclosed on a 6 figure home over a 3 figure fine. There’s a real element of bullying in a lot of HOA/homeowner disputes.

  • I think the distinction is in the use of multiple IDs for gaslighting as opposed to constructive purposes. I don’t use the same ID here as I do elsewhere, but I don’t let them cross the streams either.

  • The tendency to use the police as a way to effectively criminalize civil torts is not just an RIAA thing I see.

  • Alix

    We lived in one place with a decent HOA – we lived in a townhouse, and since the yards were so tiny and the parking lot so weird, the HOA basically existed to collect dues (which we were told about before buying the house) to pay for garbage collection and all yardwork. That was honestly all they cared about, aside from anything that might draw pests, which was never an issue during the few years we were there. That sort of thing I find okay, but the crazy restrictive crap is just flat unacceptable to me. Bullying is a great way to characterize it.

  • The only thing that bothers me about such is that advertisements for new condos (Own for $999/month!!!11oneone) do not include home maintenance costs (“strata fees”) in that figure. I find it deceptive that such advertisements imply that you could fund a mortgage that way and not have to worry about property taxes or any ancillary fees.

  • Lori

    Yeah, that’s what E&S’s townhouse board is like and it’s not a problem. The only issues they’ve had are when they had to do a really big project that was going to cause a special assessment and there were a few people who were going to have trouble paying it. They worked out reasonable payment plans with those folks and it was fine.

    ETA: The HOAs I’d really want to avoid are the ones that govern neighborhoods of single family homes. I’ve just seen that get way too ugly, way too many times. Like I said, condos & townhome developments need to have them and while they can occasionally be bad, they’re not the source of most of the HOA horror stories.

  • Alix

    See, I’ve seen “sockpuppeting” defined as any time you use multiple pseuds on one site, especially if one is posting controversial/inflammatory things you don’t want associated with your main pseud, or if you’re using the pseuds to beat your own drum. In fact, the latter sense is the more common definition I run into. Maybe that says something about the circles I run in, I dunno.

    My point is that sockpuppetry is in a way a natural outgrowth of the pseudonymity of the internet. I’m not saying that makes it acceptable, but I don’t think that makes sockpuppetry itself a moral issue. Things can be unacceptable and wrong without necessarily being bad.

  • Jenny Islander

    I have a traditional nuclear family. My husband even worked the same job since he was wet behind the ears, the traditional route to security in old age. He is fully vested, top tier everything.

    And since the state adjusted income cutoffs to reflect the actual cost of living, we now qualify for WIC.

    Phyllis Schlafly preaches malnutrition and sickness for me and mine.

  • Alix

    A sockpuppet is a pseudonym of a pseudonym, essentially, which is why I find comparisons with bog-standard pseudonymy useful.

  • Jenny Islander

    Some old-fashioned small towns have the right atmosphere. We recently had a cottonwood grow into the (terra cotta!) sewer line on the property below our house. The city still had to ask the property owner’s permission to dig and replace the tree with something less aggressive but still pretty.

    Towns where a large percentage of locals have jobs that require ugly piles of stuff tend to laugh at HOA-style regulations as well. Newcomers to our town regularly propose laws against unsightly piles of commercial fishing equipment near their land, and the laws are regularly laughed out of the Assembly.

  • Things can be unacceptable and wrong without necessarily being bad.


  • Alix

    Am I really the only person who sees a distinction between correct/incorrect and good/evil, when it comes to actions? Or, more pertinently, between right/wrong in terms of common standards and good/evil in terms of morality?

  • What are “common standards”? Whose “common standards”?

    When I say something is unacceptable and wrong, I mean by my standards. And wrong, when talking about something like this, is the same as bad.

    Seriously, look up Ms. Scribe. This woman sockpuppeted to further her agenda of sucking up to one group by destroying another. That it happened on the internet does not make it less real.

    And sockpuppeting is not like wearing a mask. It’s like… if you could disguise yourself as an entirely different person, and convince everyone that you weren’t you. All the while you were still there. It’s like stuffing a ballot box. It puts people on uneven terms and makes the discussion look like something it isn’t. It makes it appear that more people hold a certain opinion than really do. It is not okay, and by that I mean it is morally wrong and morally bad.

    By the way, I never called it a “huge” moral wrong. That was your term. Something doesn’t have to be “hugely” morally wrong to be morally wrong. There is a sliding scale.

  • Alix

    Something doesn’t have to be “hugely” morally wrong to be morally wrong. There is a sliding scale.

    Granted. I still don’t think the act of sockpuppeting alone is a moral wrong. I do definitely think it can be used in service of moral wrongs, but again, from my perspective you’re lumping together different things.

    I was lurking in fandom when the Ms. Scribe thing went down. I’m quite familiar.

    sockpuppeting is not like wearing a mask.

    We will have to agree to disagree on that. To me, it is exactly like swapping a mask. It’s an elaborate, if usually clumsy, masquerade, and it’s an understandable outgrowth of pseudonymy.

    By common standards, I meant the standards of whatever space one is in, not yours. Sockpuppeting often (but not always) violates common standards, explicit or implicit, for how to engage in a given space. But that doesn’t make sockpuppeting itself morally wrong in a broader sense, to me.

  • dpolicar

    No, you’re not the only person who does this. Far from it.

    That’s not to say I consider it a helpful way to categorize actions; I don’t. But it’s certainly common. And it’s better than deciding that any violation of any standard is “evil.”

  • Alix

    Given that I know a lot of people with (imo) skewed and even dangerous views of good and evil, and I see that kind of phrasing used a lot to justify extreme positions, and given that that kind of view tends to (ime) ignore things like necessity, I find it personally a lot more helpful to talk about right or wrong action in a particular situation/circumstance.

    And in that sense I’m not sure what we’re arguing over in this thread, since I never said I considered sockpuppetry to be (in most cases) correct action.

    Shorter me: discussions of morality give me the willies, esp. how people (not in this thread, in general) bandy about the word “evil,” which I’m not even sure exists per se. I prefer discussing practicalities.

  • reynard61

    As the saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for…”

    Then again; I’d be willing to bet real money that Schlafly fully believes that, as a Rule Maker, she’ll be immune from the rules that she’s handing down to us dirty Heathen-folk.

  • reynard61

    As far as I can tell, Phyllis Schlafly preaches malnutrition and sickness for everyone except the membership of her particular, peculiar little Tribe.

  • reynard61

    I regret that I have but one “^” to give to this comment.

  • dpolicar


    Words like “good,” moral”, “proper,” “appropriate,” “ethical,” “praiseworthy,” etc. etc. etc. all can have precise meanings, but in my experience they get used interchangeably and I can’t discern much from someone using one instead of the others. So I don’t tend to worry too much about what particular words people use, and when talking to them I try to use whatever words they’re using in more or less the way they’re using those words.

    For my own part, I prefer to pay attention to harm and benefit.

    Sometimes when people talk about reasons to perform or avoid an act, I can more or less unpack that into some kind of an assertion about whom is being benefited and whom is being harmed by that act. Other times I can’t.

  • Alix

    Harm and benefit – I agree.

    I have the same issue with those words, but in my experience, while “good” isn’t so much of a problem, “moral,” and to an even greater extent, “evil” definitely are. Nowhere near all, but a large number of people I talk to, throw those words (esp. evil) around as if they win the argument automatically, and act as if any disagreement suddenly means you’re immoral/evil. So those words … I’m suspicious of them, perhaps unfairly, because too often they’re meant as traps.

    That, and no one* is evil in their own head. And so it doesn’t seem helpful to me, to use that framework.

    *Possibly someone somewhere, maybe.

  • Alix

    …There’s at least one comma in the wrong spot, but damned if I know where it’s supposed to go. This is gonna bother me all evening, now. XD

  • Alix

    Does anyone know if there even are any actual checks on HOA power? I don’t know of any, which is probably the root of the problem.

  • dpolicar

    There are acts I’m comfortable classing as “evil.” Mostly they involve causing harm deliberately and capriciously. There are people I’m comfortable classing as “evil”, mostly those who regularly, knowingly, and avoidably perform such acts.

    Using that categorization, I do think some people are evil in their own heads… who choose to be evil, insofar as anyone chooses anything. That said, I don’t really care very much whether they’re evil, in and of itself; I care whether they are causing harm. If they’re physically incapable of hurting anyone and they choose to remain evil, for example, that’s OK with me.

    But there’s no special reason to use that categorization. If someone wants to argue that no, “evil” actually means something else, I’m happy to use the word to refer to that other thing when talking to them.

  • Alix

    I think, for me, I end up having two problems with “evil” – I can almost always understand people’s justifications and even see how a lot of “evil” acts would be fine or even necessary in the right circumstances, and I find that it’s real easy for people to paint with a broad brush when talking about evil.

    I don’t really care very much whether they’re evil, in and of itself; I care whether they are causing harm.

    I agree 100%.

    That actually touches on another problem I have with morality/evil-based arguments: in my experience, they often (not always, but often) don’t care about harm, but more about adherence to some set of moral principles. That’s how almost every single anti-social justice position I’ve ever heard gets framed, for a really broad example.

    Edit: I think the only thing I’d classify as across-the-board evil (i.e. wrong with no possible justification in any circumstance) is torture (which includes, to me, rape and abuse). And yet even there I can understand how people convince themselves it’s fine.

  • Alix

    I should add I’m not trying to insist that people ought not to use moral/evil when talking. That’s … kind of ridiculous.

  • dpolicar

    This is basically why I include deliberate and capricious in my working definition. If I perform an act because I think it’s necessary or beneficial I’m not inclined to call that evil, no matter how disastrously harmful it turns out to be.

    I agree that people paint with a broad brush, and I agree that a lot of people justify unjust positions by reference to abstract principles.

    I would not agree in principle that torture as a broad class is necessarily unjustified, though I don’t believe the often-made claims that recent government-sanctioned instances of torture did enough good to justify the harm they caused.

  • dpolicar

    Noted. I’d prefer they didn’t, personally, but I’m usually willing to go along with it if they do.

  • Alix

    I think “unjustified” is a poor word choice on my part, because people can and do justify anything. I meant more that I’ve seen no evidence for what you say – that it’s ever useful enough to offset the harm it causes. It’s unjustified to me, by my preferred metric, is what I meant, but I was unclear.

  • Alix

    I’d prefer it if people didn’t, and I sometimes start arguing about it. XD But 9 of 10 times I let it slide unless I really can’t see where they’re coming from, don’t understand what they’re saying, or can’t explain my disagreement without disagreeing with the morality-based framework.

  • dpolicar

    I think I understood what you meant by justified.

    As for evidence… well, I’ve met enough victims of abuse to be pretty convinced that abuse can shatter ego-boundaries, and I don’t know of more effective ways to do that (well, maybe repeated doses of MDMA/LSD/etc., but I’d consider the forcible administration of such drugs to be abuse as well), and I can imagine situations where shattering someone ego boundaries without their consent would do a lot of good.

    That said, I have no evidence that such situations actually occur with any sort of frequency, and as I say the particular cases that have come up in the news in recent years seem particularly striking non-evidence.

  • Lori

    At this point I tend to think it would be better if he was just honest and stopped talking the talk. He can’t actually walk the walk, because he’s a bigot (and willfully ill-informed about the history of marriage and a whole bunch of other things).

    Why yes, I did have to sit through a bunch of stupid from my family on this topic today. Why do you ask?

  • Jenny Islander

    If the survivors can manage to perform poverty correctly, then it’s a character-building ordeal. Performing poverty correctly means being shabby but not ragged, knowing how to do all kinds of crafty and organic things, and crying photogenically if you cry at all.

    The worthy poor can never be dirty. If you’re so poor your utilities have been shut off, you’re a bad person.

    The worthy poor must not have any problems that can’t be solved by a box of groceries or a fundraiser dinner. If they need a lot of help for a long time, they’re just lazy.

    Poor widows may be permitted to support their families themselves depending on which fundamentalist Pharisee you talk to–but they can’t ever let the housework slide, or ask other people to tutor their kids, or permit the (gasp) latchkey lifestyle.

    And poor widows must not ever let on that they are angry or depressed, especially after folks went to all that trouble to drop off groceries.

  • MarkTemporis

    Some merry prankster types should reconnect the sprinklers of the HOA board members living in town to weed killer. That or liberally seed their lawns with kudzu or hogweed.

  • AnonaMiss

    IMO, sockpuppeting is when two versions of the same person interact with each other.

  • Alix

    Huh. If that’s true, half the “sockpuppets” I’ve seen over the years aren’t really sockpuppets, like the aforementioned guy who’d come on under different IDs and shill his own essays and “genius.” To the best of my knowledge, he never interacted with his own socks, though I may be forgetting some incidents. :/

    But I’ve seen several different definitions here: 1) yours, 2) creating another ID to shill your own work/praise yourself, and 3) creating entirely false IDs to troll/stalk people, whether you interact with them under other “normal” IDs or not.

    I’m not even sure the last one counts as sockpuppeting, myself. And I’m still not sure misrepresenting oneself on the internet is really that big a deal – not by itself, I mean.

  • AnonaMiss

    I’d consider “praising your other sock” to be “interacting with”. There’s no reason someone couldn’t shill their own stuff – the sock is used to make it seem like more people agree with the original speaker. Which is a sort of …it’s not quite an interaction but it’s sort of an interaction by proxy?

    The main thing the other definitions leave out is the use of socks to create drama by stirring up arguments between multiple socks/incite intra-community wars.

    I wouldn’t consider stalking over multiple handles to be sockpuppeting, personally. That’s just plain old pseudonymity, which can be used for good or evil. Or lulz.

  • Alix

    Ah, okay, gotcha. I think we’re pretty much on the same page with our definitions.

    The pseudonymous-stalking/trolling thing that keeps getting thrown in here is what seems, imo, to be really skewing this whole discussion. I’m with you that it doesn’t fit the definition of sockpuppetry as I usually encounter it – it’s abhorrent, but to shoehorn it into sockpuppetry sort of makes the definition of sockpuppetry lose all sense, to me. So arguing that sockpuppetry is wrong because people use pseudonyms to stalk/harass folks online, and then claiming pseudonyms have nothing to do with this, is … kind of bizarre. Which means I’m basically not following half this whole thread, because I can’t quite parse the definitions. XD

  • Alix

    Shorter me: It seems like some folks are using a definition of sockpuppetry as “anything bad/unethical done under a pseudonym,” and so we’re all talking past each other.