Pick Your Poisson

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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Mo » 02 Aug 2019, 19:12

JasonL wrote:I heard a guy I know - good dad, does big HVAC jobs with a crew he runs, several beers in - deliver a poignant and sincere version of the back row kids / trumpism cultural story tonight. It’s hard to convey because you kind of have to know the guy. I’ll shortcut by saying it’s one of those moments when you don’t have a doubt about duplicity or strategic positioning in the story. He was talking about how often he takes a big job or does one for friends and gets a version of “you’re great - my kid should spend some time with you to know what work is like” - and how he felt about that. “They think my life is a punishment for their kids, they all think that, but I don’t see my life that way. Fuck you with your good ol hard working Dave bullshit - your kids should hope to have my life.”

I’d never really heard this guy like this before, but he meant it. Later made the connection to how much he smells of that stuff out in the world, in the media, in the movies. Saw trump as the only guy that talked to him eye to eye.

There are things I’d pick at but it’s a reminder about some of the color within the trumpist camp.
Some of this feels like deciding to have a chip on your shoulder and reading the least charitable interpretation into a statement. One could also read it as self-deprecating, like, “My kids just see me sit at a computer all day and it doesn’t look like work because that’s what they do, but physical work looks and feels like work.”

Now maybe I’m sensitive to this sort of bullshit because while I live a front row life and all of my friends from college and grad school are front row kids, a lot of my closest friend back home are in back row jobs (telecom linesman, fruit delivery company owner operator, oil pipeline guy) and we just kinda hang out. I’m not ashamed to introduce them to my well-educated friends. If anything my biggest concerns is my college or grad school friends swapping embarrassing stories about me, not how the people I choose to be friends with reflects on me. We talk, we give each other shit, but we don’t really worry about the class stuff. But I also don’t hate myself for leaving my hometown behind and I don’t look down on them for what they decided to do. A lot of this crap is just resentment and self-hatred packaged in pop-psychology.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by dead_elvis » 02 Aug 2019, 20:48

Mo wrote: reading the least charitable interpretation into a statement.
This was my thought. Of course tone and attitude would affect perception quite a bit, and people do sometimes just sense when they’re being condescended to. But I could see myself expressing something similar and meaning the complete opposite. They are assuming the speaker equates physical work with misery, a la work is suffering and thus builds character. Maybe they want the kids to do physical work because they think they might learn that it’s satisfying and want them to have useful skills
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by JasonL » 02 Aug 2019, 20:59

I don’t disagree with Mos take, but this is as legit a good guy as I could come up with. He may be sensitive to this issue, but it’s interesting to me how much he felt it.

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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 02 Aug 2019, 22:21

*shrug* The smartest guy I knew in high school dropped out and became an electrician. Okay, so later in his life he picked up a bachelor's degree in philosophy, too, and even started an M.A. program at Tulane; but even if he'd become a day-laborer he'd still have been the smartest guy I knew in high school. The so-called learned professions are all trades, all service industries, though obviously they pay better and the work conditions are in many ways usually safer, cleaner, more comfortable, etc. They require higher education as a means to an end, but law school and med school are still at bottom trade schools.

I get that for most people several generations ago, the notion of higher education as the key to a better life made perfect sense. It makes perfect sense for most people in the developing world, still, notwithstanding the fact that they need plumbers and electricians more than they need philosophers and art historians. But like any good, at some point the marginal utility turns negative, and that's essentially the unintended consequence of America's belief that everyone can and should go to college and that anyone who doesn't, let alone who drops out of high school, is ipso facto a loser. Too much of a good thing turns toxic. Gosh, who could have predicted that?

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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Highway » 15 Aug 2019, 13:30

I read this Conor Friedorsdorf column a few days ago, and I like the distinction it makes that maybe people aren't as much "racist" as "difference-ist", especially in that the discussed study started out looking for differences based on 'authoritarian' and 'libertarian' "(Those labels are not to be conflated with the popular definitions of the terms.)" attitudes.
If Stenner was correct, the way her subjects answered the original questions about child-rearing would predict how well they tolerated different people and beliefs months later in their homes. And insights would be gained into their likely comfort with, and ability to “put up with” the diverse peoples, attitudes, and behaviors that confront everyone in a modern liberal democracy.

The results were staggering. The group whose child-rearing preferences skewed most toward traits of obedience and conformity were less pleasant, less intelligent, angrier, and less open to experience, among other attributes. But I want to focus on the results related to race. If contacted by white interviewers, the “authoritarians” were almost indistinguishable from the “libertarians” in their willingness to schedule a conversation. They proved dramatically more reluctant to participate when contacted by black interviewers.

The authoritarians were more hostile, suspicious, and anxious with black interviewers, whereas “especially given a black interviewer, libertarians were vastly more likely than authoritarians to display great warmth toward their visitors.”

With white interviewers, authoritarians were less likely than libertarians to introduce talk about “social exclusion, isolation, and disconnection,” but with a black interviewer they were far more likely, even as libertarians were indifferent to the interviewer’s race. “The language of authoritarians was especially inclusive when it was just ‘us’ talking among ourselves,” Stenner explained, “but they were clearly thinking exclusion when confronting one of ‘them.’”
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Warren » 15 Aug 2019, 13:39

Highway wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 13:30
...people aren't as much "racist" as "difference-ist"
You mean like "othering"?
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Highway » 15 Aug 2019, 14:04

Warren wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 13:39
Highway wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 13:30
...people aren't as much "racist" as "difference-ist"
You mean like "othering"?
Not really. It's more the basis that "othering" works on: That focusing on differences sets off people who have an "authoritarian" mindset, who desire order and conformity. The presence of people who are somehow different, or do not conform to their ideas of how things should be, significantly upsets them and causes them to reject, shun, or get hostile.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by JasonL » 15 Aug 2019, 16:01

I think its plausible there's something about sameness strongly correlated with self identified conservatism. The Burkean notion of conservatism hinges on the idea of cultural institutions that create an Us distinct from Them, and we have to have some kind of way to clearly see Us for it to work. That's how I've always seen this connection anyway. The panic goes like "we could be a nation so long as we had common cultural institutions of family and church, but we are now nothing but post modern identities where we don't even share a common view of male and female, so there is no Us and all you people focusing on differences are destroying the fabric of what remains".

In general, conservatives are prone to moral panics about erosion of unseen forces of cohesion. The link to authoritarianism is not entirely clear to me, maybe something like "The Nation, embodied by Uniforms and Strong Leaders and Service and Such, is the Last Stand of unity".

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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Highway » 15 Aug 2019, 16:11

Well, it's not really "authoritarianism" that it's talking about. It's just that they used "authoritarian" and "libertarian" to describe the two ends of their own scale in the study. Neither one is referring to the political constructs of the respective word.

In the study, they used "authoritarian" to describe people that leaned towards rules, order, even the imposition of such order:
The book built on research literature that distinguishes between “authoritarians,” who prize what Stenner calls “oneness and sameness” so much so that they are prone to support coercion to effect it, and “libertarians,” who not only defend but affirmatively prize diversity and difference. (Those labels are not to be conflated with the popular definitions of the terms.)
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Eric the .5b » 15 Aug 2019, 19:23

That's a really interesting article, Highway.

(Pity about the terminology, because that's going to get it misused and misunderstood. It's like there's a rule that social researchers have to use the worst terms they can find when they describe a phenomenon. Just thinking about it, "parochial" vs, "cosmopolitan" would communicate the intent a lot better.)
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Eric the .5b » 15 Aug 2019, 19:29

OK, I love this:
For example, in an entirely separate experiment meant to manipulate the way authoritarians viewed “us” and “them,” subjects were told that NASA had verified the existence of alien life––beings “very different from us in ways we are not yet even able to imagine.” After being told that, the measured racial intolerance of authoritarian subjects decreased by half, a result that suggests a general intolerance of difference that varies with perceptions of otherness, not fixed antagonism against a racial group. Their boundaries (and thus their behavior!) can be swiftly altered, Stenner emphasized, just by this simple cognitive device of creating a “superordinate group”: making “black people look more like ‘us’ than ‘them’ when there are green people afoot.”
Or, as Terry Pratchett put it, "Black and white lived in perfect harmony and ganged up on green." :D
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Highway » 15 Aug 2019, 23:36

It may be that it lines up too well, but it does seem to give some insight on a lot of the behaviors I think we see from people. A lot of the "I don't have any problem with 'those' people, as long as they're not around me." And also a lot of the complaints that other people's behavior is "thrown in [their] face".

And if it's true, then looking at the current tactics of the lefty types - being more demonstrative about differences in response to what is perceived as intolerance - is just going to amplify the divide, which may be an indicator of why it seems like this hardening of sides has been happening, and the big pullback from the middle of the political spectrum.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Aresen » 15 Aug 2019, 23:53

I don't know. I've read about situations where alliances were made with the vastly different. For example, when France allied with the Ottoman Empire against the Austrians in the 1600s.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by JasonL » 16 Aug 2019, 10:04

Part of me wants to evaluate dining and food preferences. I find myself confused by the comfort, even prideful comfort some people get from eating the same 2-3 things for their whole lives, and how those people react when confronted by anything different. It's a kind of anger like this isn't even food, what if I try it and don't like it. The sense of it being disruptive or a big deal is a thing I've witnessed but never really understood.

ETA: I've always characterized this behavior along the provincial - cosmopolitan axis.

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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Warren » 16 Aug 2019, 10:19

JasonL wrote:
16 Aug 2019, 10:04
Part of me wants to evaluate dining and food preferences. I find myself confused by the comfort, even prideful comfort some people get from eating the same 2-3 things for their whole lives, and how those people react when confronted by anything different. It's a kind of anger like this isn't even food, what if I try it and don't like it. The sense of it being disruptive or a big deal is a thing I've witnessed but never really understood.
Unwillingness to try new foods has long been a hallmark of small mindedness with me. You seem to be encountering a most extreme sect. And in large numbers?
ETA: I've always characterized this behavior along the provincial - cosmopolitan axis.
Where does it land? It seems antithetical to both provincial (unpractical) and cosmopolitan (by definition)
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by nicole » 16 Aug 2019, 10:20

JasonL wrote:
16 Aug 2019, 10:04
Part of me wants to evaluate dining and food preferences. I find myself confused by the comfort, even prideful comfort some people get from eating the same 2-3 things for their whole lives, and how those people react when confronted by anything different. It's a kind of anger like this isn't even food, what if I try it and don't like it. The sense of it being disruptive or a big deal is a thing I've witnessed but never really understood.

ETA: I've always characterized this behavior along the provincial - cosmopolitan axis.
What I think is funny about it for me personally, and I don't know if this is your experience or anyone else's, but I feel like the "authoritarian" side, while it does seem to have this anti-difference characteristic which could be interpreted as anti-change, doesn't seem to also correlate with, like, love of routine. Like, I'm extremely "libertarian" on this axis, but I'm suuuuuuuuuper routine-oriented in terms of my personal schedule, and would basically be happy eating the same handful of meals over and over again because I like them and I do lots of the same things over and over again. But I would also be very happy to try new, "weird" foods (and possibly have them become part of my schedule). And when I think of the more "authoritarian" people I know best, e.g., my dad, who isn't fully down that axis but has a lot of the characteristics and would definitely be like "wtf this isn't even food," he also has no kind of regular personal schedule or predictability in his own routine at all.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by JasonL » 16 Aug 2019, 10:57

I seem to have several concepts bundled in my head wrt this kind of "authoritarian". I'm not sure I really know what they mean. If the definition of authoritarian here is just "values sameness and i skeptical of otherness" ok fine, but then the study is just "people who are skeptical of otherness are skeptical of otherness" and kinda yeah that's in the definition. I kinda translate this into comfort with the familiar vs desire for the new, which leads me to provincial (familiar, low dynamism in surroundings) vs cosmopolitan (high dynamism surroundings, lots of unfamiliar).

When I think about the raising of kids to be independent thinkers, maybe I don't necessarily intuit much connection with this take on otherness. I'm not sure I know how to integrate Nicole's notion of routine. I'm not sure these things are related at all really.

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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Warren » 16 Aug 2019, 11:02

I think of "authoritarian" in terms of allegiance to the established order.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Highway » 16 Aug 2019, 11:22

Aresen wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 23:53
I don't know. I've read about situations where alliances were made with the vastly different. For example, when France allied with the Ottoman Empire against the Austrians in the 1600s.
I think the part that Eric quoted above hints at one reason for this: If you have someone else that you have made into more of a threat to your way of life, you'll have better feelings about people who, in other circumstances, would be seen as threats.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Highway » 16 Aug 2019, 11:26

JasonL wrote:
16 Aug 2019, 10:57
I seem to have several concepts bundled in my head wrt this kind of "authoritarian". I'm not sure I really know what they mean. If the definition of authoritarian here is just "values sameness and i skeptical of otherness" ok fine, but then the study is just "people who are skeptical of otherness are skeptical of otherness" and kinda yeah that's in the definition. I kinda translate this into comfort with the familiar vs desire for the new, which leads me to provincial (familiar, low dynamism in surroundings) vs cosmopolitan (high dynamism surroundings, lots of unfamiliar).

When I think about the raising of kids to be independent thinkers, maybe I don't necessarily intuit much connection with this take on otherness. I'm not sure I know how to integrate Nicole's notion of routine. I'm not sure these things are related at all really.
The study results pointed out were more about how people who value sameness and conformity in child rearing can be outright hostile to those who don't conform, far out of proportion to any direct effect those other people might have on the authoritarian people.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Highway » 16 Aug 2019, 11:28

I also think it's important to remember that everyone's on a continuum between two theoretical maxima here. I'm pretty sure the study was focusing on the two ends, but not saying those two ends represent everyone. So there's plenty of room in the middle for people who don't have strong reactions, and for people like nicole who find value in some routines, but don't become upset at the disruption of those routines.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Kolohe » 16 Aug 2019, 11:31

Eric the .5b wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 19:23
That's a really interesting article, Highway.

(Pity about the terminology, because that's going to get it misused and misunderstood. It's like there's a rule that social researchers have to use the worst terms they can find when they describe a phenomenon. Just thinking about it, "parochial" vs, "cosmopolitan" would communicate the intent a lot better.)
except cosmopolitan has its own baggage now.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by Eric the .5b » 16 Aug 2019, 11:32

Kolohe wrote:
16 Aug 2019, 11:31
Eric the .5b wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 19:23
That's a really interesting article, Highway.

(Pity about the terminology, because that's going to get it misused and misunderstood. It's like there's a rule that social researchers have to use the worst terms they can find when they describe a phenomenon. Just thinking about it, "parochial" vs, "cosmopolitan" would communicate the intent a lot better.)
except cosmopolitan has its own baggage now.
Much less baggage than authoritarian/libertarian.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by thoreau » 16 Aug 2019, 11:39

nicole wrote:
16 Aug 2019, 10:20
I'm suuuuuuuuuper routine-oriented in terms of my personal schedule, and would basically be happy eating the same handful of meals over and over again because I like them and I do lots of the same things over and over again. But I would also be very happy to try new, "weird" foods (and possibly have them become part of my schedule).
Same here. I could happily eat the same lunch on most days for years, because most days lunch is an uneventful break. I could also happily try something I've never tried before when lunch is an event. A poke bowl place opened near campus and I often eat there before going to the gym. Poke bowls are certainly not traditional by American standards, but they are part of my routine because I like them, the place is convenient, cost is reasonable, and they're reasonably healthy before the gym. But I could happily try something exotic if my dinner was an event rather than a routine stop amidst my evening errands.
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Re: Pick Your Poisson

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 16 Aug 2019, 23:20

I'm generally open to trying new foods and new cuisines but, on average, I'd say 80% of the time or more I don't like them as much as my usual foot rota which is decidedly pedestrian. I don't mean "oh, here's a new recipe for chicken," but "here is some stuff people eat with their hands made primarily with ingredients you'd never consider eating unless you were starving." To each his own, but I'd still probably rather have a good steak and baked potato than over 95% of the other menu options I've experienced.

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