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By carmicha in "They also resolved not to accept proposals of perpetual-motion machines" on MeFi

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Regarding physics cranks, my father attracted them in droves and they wouldn't go away; if he ignored them or told them they were nuts they would assume he hadn't received their careful "proofs," didn't understand them or, worst of all, intended to claim credit for their ideas. Any of these misapprehensions would generate increasingly aggressive inquiries. So (this was pre-internet days) Dad would write each crank a note saying that the work was outside of his field but that he would be delighted to put them in touch with someone better equipped to appreciate it. Then he would forward the crank's work on to the previous crank: lather rinse repeat. Occasionally he received thank you notes from cranks who were now happily collaborating.
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skorgu
23 hours ago
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If You Can Ban Nipples, You Can Ban Nazis

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Mark Zuckerberg has a hilariously pompous op-ed in the Wall Street Journal defending his decisions to accept money for political ads that tell willful falsehoods about political opponents:

Since starting Facebook in 2004, I’ve focused on building services that give people voice and bring them together. Throughout history, these objectives have gone hand in hand—even if it doesn’t feel that way today. Frederick Douglass once called free expression “the great moral renovator of society.” Movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo depend on people openly sharing their experiences. And the ability to speak freely has been central in the global fight for democracy. Allowing greater numbers of people to share their perspectives is how society becomes more inclusive. 

But increasingly, this idea is being challenged. Some believe that free expression is driving us apart rather than bringing us together. Others from across the political spectrum believe that achieving their preferred political outcome is more important than allowing every person to have a voice.

The power of individuals to express themselves has expanded rapidly in recent decades. But in times of social turmoil, there’s often an impulse to pull back on free expression. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” while locked up for protesting peacefully. When America was polarized about its role in World War I, the Supreme Court ruled that the prominent socialist Eugene V. Debs could be imprisoned for an antiwar speech.

Today, in another time of social tension, the impulse to restrict speech is back. We face a choice: We can stand for free expression, understanding its messiness but believing that the long journey toward progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide the cost is too great.

Only as he goes on to concede, Facebook isn’t actually an open forum:

The second challenge to free expression is the internet platforms themselves—including Facebook. Facebook makes a lot of decisions that affect people’s ability to express themselves. Our values are inspired by the American tradition, but a strict First Amendment standard would mean allowing content like terrorist propaganda or bullying. Most Americans agree that people should be free to say things others don’t like, but no one should be able to put others in danger. So the question is where to draw the line.

And of course Facebook bans whole categories of speech that enjoys constitutional protection, such as not merely sexual explicit materials but mere nudity. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but Facebook can’t then turn around that it has to accept fake news advertising money because the precise level of censorship is has now is what God, the framers, and Martin Luther King intended. And as Warren observed when she deliberately purchased a fake ad, other media outlets have turned down ads that make deliberately false claims. Contrary to what Nick Clegg (and how perfect is it that he ended up as the stalking horse for Facebook on this) claims, it can be done without violating any remotely coherent concept of “free speech.”

Also hilarious is the revisionist history Facebook is creating for itself, acting as if it was constructed as a tribute site to John Stuart Mill rather than as a systematically privacy violating “are your female classmates hawt or not” site:

It’s really great that this dude has the ability to affect the outcome of elections all over the world.

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skorgu
2 days ago
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fxer
4 days ago
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Bend, Oregon
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Joker is Creepy

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Joker is a classic villain, opposite the classic hero Batman. The new Joker movie is an origin story that treats him sympathetically. We see how circumstances and personality can combine to turn a sad but loyal citizen into a vicious villain.

The basic formula is simple, but quite well-executed, especially via the remarkable acting performance of Joaquin Phoenix. We start Joker out as a pretty ordinary if weak person, hungry for respect that he doesn’t get. We pile on abuses and crises, under which he slowly cracks. We give him the respect and attention he craves only when he is violent, and so tempt him toward more. He starts out admirably restrained in his response to quite unfair abuse, then we slowly ratchet up the size of the abuse, his sometimes out-sized response, and his comfort level with that response. He slowly becomes more confident, graceful, and charismatic, and he is surprised to learn he doesn’t feel so bad about what he’s done. With no clear bright line crossed, the movie dares the viewer to judge when exactly he has gone too far.

In addition, the movie subtly makes Joker seem creepy, right from the start. (“Creepy” = ambiguous threat.) That is, though what he overtly does seems mostly restrained and reasonable, at least for a while, and though we make him understandable and sympathetic, we also pile on subtle and largely unconscious cues that he can’t be trusted. We combine signs that he’s low status and has poor social skills with signs that he’s prone toward physical outbursts. We make sure he seems self-absorbed, and that his gaze and voice seem guarded, i.e., overly controlled and evasive. Joker chain smokes, often laughs uncontrollably, often has his legs shake uncontrollably, lives among garish home furnishings, wears white socks with dark pants and shoes, and is bad at reading what others will think is funny. He often fails to read or anticipate how others do or will react to what he does.

Audiences love the Joker movie:

After three impressive weekends in a row at the box office, Joker is on track to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.

With Democratic candidates competing to advocate unprecedented extreme redistribution schemes, you might think left-leaning movie critics would love a film about a downtrodden guy who, suffering from public service cutbacks, starts a political movement to resist the rich and powerful. But in fact elite critics mostly hate it:

Joker … preview provided social media with the one thing it will not tolerate: moral ambiguity. … What critics … seem to fear is that Arthur Fleck … is also the kind of person we imagine would be very excited about the Joker movie in real life. … He thinks he’s taking revenge on an unjust world. This makes him look like an element of society we associate with senseless violence in real life: lonely, male and emotionally stunted. … David Ehrlich of Indiewire called it ‘a toxic rallying cry for self-pitying incels’ … At Slate, Sam Adams wrote that ‘no matter how emphatic Phoenix’s performance, it feels like a risk to feel too much for him, not knowing who might be sitting next to you in the theater using his resentments to justify their own. … has led reviewers to condemn the kind of moral ambiguity that was supposed to distinguish art from crass commerce in the first place. … won’t this movie cause dummies to think the Joker is good? To ask the question is to argue that nuance is dangerous. … failure to maintain critical distance… projected onto…audience that critics imagine to be more suggestible than themselves— insanely more suggestible, almost comically so… critics telling us, in a tone of concern for their fellow man, that these losers are total misanthropes. (more).

Apparently Joker being a low status white male who uses a gun to gain respect is a deal-breaker for them – that’s just too much like those incels and Trump supporters.

I’d say the movie actually pretty clearly disapproves of Joker’s actions toward the end; this is the origin story of a famous villain after all. It also disapproves of the rioting mobs that he inspires. Even if the rich and powerful have been mean to the poor and weak, wild angry rioters just make things worse. As Tyler says, “it is the most anti-Leftist movie I have seen, ever”. Which may also be why left-leaning critics hate it.

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skorgu
2 days ago
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Nazis love American History X so, uh ...
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RT @Cirincione: For months, @nytimes put stories of Hillary Clinton’s email on its front pages. The final investigative report clearing all…

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For months, @nytimes put stories of Hillary Clinton’s email on its front pages. The final investigative report clearing all of wrongdoing? That is on page 16 today. nytimes.com/2019/10/18/us/…


Retweeted by NateSilver538 on Saturday, October 19th, 2019 6:29pm


47326 likes, 19733 retweets
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skorgu
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The missing housing boom

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The real estate market should be experiencing a boom — but it's not. In fact, the U.S. housing market has been stagnant for the last 3 years and is beginning to turn lower, data shows.

Why it matters: Anyone who bought residential property in the last 40 years, even at the height of a bubble, has been able to count on rising home values. But those days may be over: Real estate prices have far outpaced incomes and lost their correlation to them.


  • For typical homeowners, "wealth will not increase as fast as it did in previous years, as on average the growth in property prices is close to an end," Maciej Skoczek, real estate analyst at UBS Global Wealth Management, tells Axios.
  • "Those who buy a city apartment at current high valuations are likely to have to adjust to a lengthy lean period."

Why there should be a boom: The generation that's reaching prime home-buying age is large by historic measures; mortgage rates are near historic lows; housing price growth has slowed to a standstill; the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 50 years; and wages are rising at the fastest pace in a decade.

What's happening instead: There is a serious lack of qualified and/or interested buyers. And even with ultra-low mortgage rates, prices are not falling enough to bring in new customers.

  • There are also meaningful changes in the makeup of the prime-age potential homebuyers — who now have more debt than ever, are more likely than before to live with their parents, and are reconsidering the attractiveness of a mortgage.

And there's an inventory problem. Not enough affordable single-family homes are being constructed, and builders are focusing their efforts on large, expensive projects, Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, argues.

  • Declining worker productivity, labor shortages, and regulatory costs also are putting a dent in housing supply.
  • As older, more skilled workers retire and younger, less skilled builders take their place, this problem is likely to get worse.
  • "I’ve told the industry we’re going to see worker productivity go down before it goes up," Dietz says.

The combination of inflated prices and overburdened Americans has translated to fewer home sales today than in the year 2000, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, notes.

  • "We take a survey of consumers and ask the question, 'Is it a good time to buy?' The number of people who say it’s a good time has overall been turning down."

The bottom line: The world is changing. It's "the end of the boom," Skoczek says.



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skorgu
2 days ago
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"The combination of inflated prices and overburdened Americans has translated to fewer home sales today than in the year 2000, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, notes."
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Sumptuous Federal-style Upper East Side home wants $17M

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A wood-paneled library with a fireplace, two couches, a large rug, and a door that leads to the garden. The house’s wood-paneled library. | Photos: Courtesy of Warburg Realty

The house has a garden and a large living room

There’s no shortage of beautiful, historic, and expensive townhouses on the Upper East Side—but this neo-Federal home from the 19th century that just hit the market, asking $16.95 million, has several unique features, including its huge living room.

The five-story, 6,975-square-foot townhouse has eight bedrooms, six full bathrooms, three powder rooms, a large garden, two terraces, and a living room that occupies almost the entire parlor floor. It also has an elevator, a gallery space, a library, and a recreation room.

The home has a lovely facade outfitted in Flemish bond red brick. Inside, there are multiple fireplaces, a floating spiral staircase, a wood-paneled library, an elegant floral wallpaper in its dining room, and wood cabinetry in its kitchen.

It was built between 1878 and 1879 as part of a row of brownstones designed by Griffith Thomas, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report says. It was significantly altered in 1917 by Murphy & Dana for lawyer and activist Amos Pinchot. And, most recently, in 2014, the house was renovated by architect Peter Pennoyer in collaboration with landscape architect Madison Cox. Architect Sharon Davis bought the home that year for $22 million, according to city records. It last listed in 2018, asking $19.95 million.

Located at 9 East 81st Street, between Madison and Fifth avenues, the home is mere steps from Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum.

Taxes for the property are $5,639/month. Wendy N. Arriz and Sophie Harris of Warburg Realty have the listing.

The dining room with a round wooden table, a fireplace, and a floral wallpaper decorating its walls.
The house’s dining area with a floral wallpaper and a fireplace.
A living room with a large painting on the wall, a large rug, a light brown couch, two red chairs, and a fireplace.
The living room area has a fireplace and large windows.
A garden with several plantings.
The home’s garden.
A bedroom with a fireplace, a small bed, two windows, and a beige rug.
One of the house’s bedrooms.
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skorgu
4 days ago
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How is that a library?!
fxer
4 days ago
Prob got a kindle.
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