Steven L. Taylor
Friday, December 4, 2020
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog).
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I thought it was a liberal hoax, turns out not only is it not a hoax, it’s been weaponized and DEMs are using it against their political superiors!
Republicans in the Senate seem to be acting a shade more independently than normal on the defense bill. Where’s Mitch?
@MarkedMan: Egging them on.
Gitanjali Rao: Time magazine names teenage inventor its first *‘kid of the year’*
Well done Gitanjali, you’ll go far.
**I hate hate HATE this ‘kid of the year’ nomenclature. I, like most people, quite often use the term “kid” when referring to a child, but Time Magazine is not most people. Surely they could have come up with something other than ‘Baby Goat of the Year’
Besides, at 15 she’s a young lady.
Trump team’s discredited fraud witness compared to SNL character
Hope she enjoys her 15 mins of fame, especially after Kate McKinnon turns it into 30 mins of shame.
@OzarkHillbilly: Speaking of software (or any project, really) and personal gripes: “Almost working” or “Almost done” is almost always better expressed as “Not working” or “Not done”. The second contains useful information while the first is meaningless, and worse, too many people think it is equivalent to “Finished” or “Done”. Once one of these people hear it, every additional day spent is “Late”.
‘Chadwick will be remembered as a hero’
Don’t know where all this dust is coming from.
Yep. In construction, “almost done” means 95%, but anyone in the biz knows that the last 5% is a mother and takes forever to finish up. When it come to computers and software I am about as dumbfuck ignorant as one can be, and yet even this luddite knows software is never “done” just by virtue of the updates I have to download over time.
Don’t know if you’re already aware, but it appears there some further details about Ms Carone: Daily Mail
@JohnSF: HA! I shoulda seen that one coming.
Today in amusing Twitter threads:
@OzarkHillbilly: There is a rule of thumb in engineering projects, the “80/20 rule”. 80% of the project takes 20% of the work, and that last 20 takes the other 80. I should use this on engineers and coders in interviews and see if they think it is humorous or accurate. Because it is very close to an iron clad law.
Back to the “Almost working” vs. “Working” differentiation, I have a situation right now where the head of marketing keeps insisting that a particular project is a sure thing that will go fast because one of his guys, with the guidance of one of my engineers, was able to adapt an existing machine to almost meet the specs. (No problem with the marketing guy taking the initiative, in fact I’m very in favor of that.) But to me the takeaway is that his work shows there’s a good chance the existing machine cannot be adapted. We cannot market something that “almost” meets a standard.
How mysterious, perhaps a wicked conspiracy?
My self driving algorithm almost makes it through the kindergarten.
Oh, the Trumpkins are in a mighty turmoil. Whom do they believe? Trump is telling them to vote for Loeffler and Perdue! Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are telling them not to vote at all! Wood and Powell work for Trump! No, they don’t!
@Monala: Democrats in disarray!
Oh, ye of little faith. 🙂
Pass the popcorn, eh.
Our version of this observation was always “The software is 90% done, so we’re halfway there.”
The dirty little secret of software project management is that you never have any idea how long it will take or how much work is left because there is no good way to measure how much work is being asked for, or how much capability has been delivered, until you’re done.
In construction, you can look at the plans and say OK, we need to pour this many yards of concrete, and put up this many girders, and run this many miles of wiring, and so our experience with this kind of building tells us it will take about N months. For software, the closest you can get to that is something called Function Point Analysis, but it’s labor intensive and takes expertise and shifts costs up front — so people don’t do it. Instead, they guestimate how many lines of code it will take to do what they want, then guestimate cost and schedule based on that totally bogus input. It’s not unusual to be off by a factor of 2 or 3.
I’m starting to wonder if Lin Wood is going to be THE guy who emerges in the next few years as the not-completely-stupid-Trump who really could be the fascist threat in America. His suggestion that a new party is needed – neither D or R – suggests he’s willing to run that idea up the flagpole and see how many people salute. He’s stupid only if you think he’s trying to help Trump; he’s cagey as hell if you think he’s trying to surf that wave for himself.
And physically, he looks the part of a respectable leader. Trump would crucify his family for that hair alone.
For software, the NASA rule is that if you have modify more than 20% of the existing code, you are better off (in cost and schedule) re-writing it from scratch.
The traditional partition of code is into 3 buckets: new, adapted, and reused. “Reused” means literally as-is, no changes at all. “Adapted” means 20% or less changed. Everything else is “new”. You then compute “Equivalent source lines of code” (ESLOC) as a weighted sum of how many lines of each you need. The weights for adapted and reused are typically something like 0.5 and 0.1. (Even reused code has to be understood, and called properly.)
But back to your point — yeah, if adapting the existing product almost meets spec, then you’ve just proven that you need to go back to the drawing board.
The entertainment value is unsurpassed. But at the same time, it’s alarming. Of course, it has been alarming for the past five years, but the acceleration of all this craziness is rapidly increasing.
@Not the IT Dept.:
You could be right. Oy vey.
The emerging R civil war is simply a continuation of the purge the RINOs movement that declared victory in 2016. The purge is back in a big way with the crazy being ousted by the crazier. At this rate the R party can be small enough to drown in a bathtub by 2024.
The R internecine fighting should be bait for the press, after all, are there any fresh takes for reporting on disagreeing Dems? The soon to be ex prez will announce for 24, if for no other reason that to be able to milk the fools for donations that he can skim off. Even if, in the end, he chooses not to run himself, he is setting one of his spawn to inherit an organization.
But it won’t be easy for him. Most won’t pay attention, the RW press is already split, diminishing his coverage. An R operative was asked the other day if the ex prez criminal, civil and financial woes would be a drag on a campaign and the answer was simply, yes. The Rubio, Cruz, Cotton, Haley et. al. will not give him a pass either. Listen for a repeated chorus of his failures, grifting and ~250,000 dead. In fact, attacking him on his Covid failures is likely to be more effective after the plague recedes and folks are back to normal, not worrying about freedumb and looking at the empty places at the table.
Also, am I the only person who believes that the new Christianist Nationalist R Party will never nominate a Cruz, Rubio or Haley? the dog whistles and outright attacks on their ethnic backgrounds and sex guarantees it. You can expect that to begin emanating from Cotton, Hawley camps anytime.
That rule gets much abused at my workplace. 20% of products consist of 80% of the revenue. 20% of projects take up 80% of the work.
Oh, and in the Ideal GOP a Republic and Not A Democracy, 20% of the vote determines 80% of elections.
The 80/20 rule seems to be universal, just what you’re defining changes from field to field. In fundraising, we say that 80% of your orgs funds are going to come from 20% of your donors. When I was in politics, we had the same rule about volunteer manpower.
@Sleeping Dog: I believe that my sleazy weasel Senator, Ted Cruz, only supports getting the Supreme Court involved in this election, is to 1) hope Trump becomes President so Ted can run in 2024, and 2) more credits with the crazies.
The worse case scenario for Cruz is that Trump freezes out the crowd for 2024.
Meanwhile, on the vaccine front:
Pfizer Scaled Back Vaccine Output Targets Earlier This Year
Overpromise and underdeliver is not the way to boost confidence.
And back to Sidney the Quacken again, seems one of her “witnesses” is a bit taken aback:
Question: how much effort does a lawyer have to put in to get struck off in the US?
There’s an article at reuters.com by Jan Wolfe entitled: “Explainer: Can Trump’s lawyers be disciplined for making false claims?” that goes into this.
The short answer is probably not.
I wonder about people like this. Based on his Twitter alone (“Stalag California” with a picture of an In-Out orderboard), he’s the kind of guy that would not only mouth off about conspiracy theories like this but would absolutely communicate with Sidney and ilk about it. I have little doubt he’s told people he was cheated and votes were stolen away from him as well as Trump. He’s used the phrase “every legal vote” as recently as Monday in his tweets so he’s clearly onboard with this nonsense. He probably even agreed with their lawsuit, not understanding they really intended to file it and he was implicitly agreeing to be in said suit. He may have thought they were venting shit like him, trying to scam money or just trying to please the Orange Overlord…. not getting they were serious. That seems to be what’s happening with all these folks: they’re telling their stories like the drunk in a bar but never actually intended to *do* anything about it.
The hard line here seems to be legally submitting the claims to somewhere they’ll be held liable for them. Yes to an “affidavid” (anonymously even!) but No to being under oath. Yes to TV and print (no fear of libel laws) but No to being named in lawsuits. Yes to claiming the election is fraudulent and stolen but No to actually doing anything to about their “beliefs” and trying to overturn a legal election. They want the glory of being “on record” and “officially” making claims but want no part of anything that can smack them for their lies.
Tl;dr crazy loudmouths possibly running scams/garnering attention are shocked when another crazier loudmouth decide to use them as proof for running a scam and to garner attention and might get them in legal jeopardy. They now have the boo-hoos and sads so plz America, they’re not affiliated with this don’t sue!!!
Dr. Ben Carson is very popular with evangelicals, and the GOP is targeting Latinos.
I’m getting tired of fantasy solutions for real world problems.
Especially in politics. Let’s face it: 999 times out of a thousand, the election results on the first count are the final results. Recounts rarely change them, even when they are very close. Maybe a recount in Florida would have changed the 2000 election, but maybe not. What rankled was the arbitrary interruption of the recount.
Then there’s the faithless electors. Again, in 2000 with only five EVs difference, and Gore short only 4 votes, a small number of such electors might have changed the result (after a brutal legal battle). As it was, there were no faithless electors at all.
Now Trump and his base are going all out to keep on losing the election. They won’t win anything major in court. It’s simply not possible without evidence. They won’t get the state legislatures to overturn the results either. For one thing, PA, WI, and MI have Democratic governors who can veto legislative action. For another, while the US Constitution states state legislatures determine how electors are determined, this does not mean they can do this after an election fi it strikes their fancy. Rather, it means the legislature can pass, modify, repeal, and replace laws that regulate how electors are determined. And this has been done already.
Also, there’s some buzz that Trump should be impeached, convicted, and disqualified from holding office again, for his attacks on the country’s democratic institutions.
Please. How is that going to happen when the only GOP vote one can perhaps count on is Romney? And let’s not let the rest of the GOP Senators off the hook by claiming they do hate Trump but are afraid of his base. They don’t hate Trump, or at least not what he’s doing. In 2016 they screamed bloody murder when Jill Stein requested a recount in Michigan. Contrast that to what Trump is doing.
I’ve fantasy solutions of my own: Have the GOP fight Trump for the 2024 nomination, so he leaves and forms his own party, mortally wounding the GOP and making way for Democratic victories all over the map. We could even take Missouri!
And the Moon might be made of green cheese. We’ve never dug deeply enough, after all.
I don’t know if Trump will run in 2024. What I’m pretty sure of is that he’ll take a leaf out of the Sarah Palin Playbook and drop continual hints that he will run, only he’ll do it a lot more vigorously than Palin did. Nothing would give him greater pleasure (and more publicity) than holding the Republican Party hostage.
At the risk of boring everyone else to death, would you mind expanding on that a bit?
Wouldn’t it be a bitch if when we finally start on extraterrestrial mining, we delve too greedily and too deep and find the nameless fear? After all, Khazad-dûm was founded millenia before the Changing of the World so it’s possible Balrogs are still out there on the remnants of the flat world…..
The easy part of having a vaccine was the vaccine development itself. The hard part was always going to be the logistics around production, distribution and physical vaccination.
I’m sorry to say the references flew right under my radar. I think you’re referencing Lord of the Rings. If so, I’ve never read the books nor watched the movies.
The GOP establishment is targeting Latinos and are fine with Cruz-Rubio-Haley, but will your white christianist-nationalist in OH, PA MI etc, vote for one. They don’t care about the establishments courting those other people, in fact they oppose that. Carson’s campaign dissolved rather quickly after being flavor of the week.
This isn’t that far-fetched.
In 1992, Bill Clinton won Missouri, Mel Carnahan was elected Governor, and Geri Rothman-Serot came close to unseating the Republican US Senator Kit Bond. Jay Nixon was a Democratic governor from 2009 – 2017, and Jason Kander came very close to unseating Roy Blunt.
Republicans started taking seats very slowly, beginning in 1993 in a series of special elections to fill vacancies made by Carnahan appointments. From there, they were in a good position to solidify those results during the 2000 redistricting, and further solidified those lines in 2010.
It’s a conservative state, no doubt, but it’s not beyond reach for the right Democratic candidate.
I definitely think some of Trump’s attacks on Cruz in 2016 had a racial subtext. Birtherism, for sure; even though it was based on Cruz being born in Canada and not, say, Venezuela, it was a way of reminding R voters of his “un-American” roots. But even the Kennedy thing, I believe, played into (or was a variant of) the theory that Castro killed Kennedy. That’s a JFK conspiracy theory that’s long been popular on the right (it was defended among others by Jude Wanniski, one of the architects of Reaganomics), and it can be a way of calling up suspicions of Cuban-Americans–despite their own profound hatred of Castro that, ironically, is the main reason they’re the most conservative Hispanic community in the country. It reminds me a little of the game the right plays with the Jewish community, on the one hand flirting with anti-Semitic tropes while simultaneously forging an alliance with the most right-wing members of that community.
In any case, Trump’s attacks against Cruz appeared to be effective, if you pay attention to the direction of the polls after he launched those attacks.
I’m not sure I’m understanding your point. Are you saying Dems can take Missouri because they were competitive there 30 years ago?
From what I can see, Missouri has moved hard-right in the 21st-century (especially after 2008), and I don’t see any sign of it moving in the other direction.
@Kylopod: Jason Kander (D) was Secretary of State (elected) from 2013-2017, and he narrowly lost to Blunt when he challenged him in 2016 for the US Senate. Jay Nixon won in 2008, and was a two-term Democratic Governor.
Missouri is not as hard-right as it appears on maps, but it does require the “right” Democratic candidates to win.
My worldview of Kathy‘s encyclopedic world knowledge has just been crushed like a cheap aluminum can.
Haley has girl cooties.
Rubio is short and inept, Chris Christie tore him a new one last go round.
Cruz was Donald’s last surviving competition last go round (I don’t count Kasich, RINO) and is utterly unprincipled, I would not count him out.
I get that a lot*.
A simple rule of thumb is: if it’s fantasy, odds are I’ve never read the books nor watched the movies. So no Tolkien at all, no Harry Putter, no Narnia (whatever that is), etc. I’ve seen Star Wars, but only because I can suspend some disbelief and think it’s actually science fiction.
And I’ll let you in on a secret: some of my knowledge comes from the right-click menu on highlighted items on Chrome, which includes the command “Sear for “highlighted item” on Google.”
*My grandmother passed away shortly after the first Lord of the Rings movie. At the shiva I was asked about how it compares to the books so many times, I took to greeting people with “I haven’t seen the movie or read the books, and don’t intend to. Really. Yes, I’m serious.”
Related to the 80/20 rule for engineering and software, software also has this standard exchange between marketing and development.
Marketing: “When are you ever going to deliver a project on time and on budget?”
Development: “Don’t know, when are you going to not change the spec half-way through writing the code?”
I can’t stomach fantasy either.
Hillbilly should pipe up on this, but from my time in Missouri, which was 99-05 and the transition period where the state moved from a bellwether to solid R. Carnahan was extremely popular in the StL and KC suburbs, particularly StL Cty and St Charles Cty. but both the counties were heavily R at that time and St Charles has gone far right in the intervening years.
What are Dems chances there? They can win governors office. Mostly Dems will do well enough in US Senate elections to lose, but not be crushed. It is solid R for presidential races. If I were planning a Prez campaign, I wouldn’t concern myself with Misery, unless the candidate was a favorite son.
This has to be the worst sentence I’ve ever written (I was interrupted a few times while writing it, but that’s no excuse). So let’s restate:
“For another, while the US Constitution mandates that state legislatures determine how electors are chosen, this does not mean they can do this after an election if it strikes their fancy.”
I’m feeling much better now.
More hilarity from Sidney Powell:
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, her lawsuit in Georgia accuses Dominion of switching votes from Biden to Trump.
Therefore, Trump cheated.
First of all, by 2008 Missouri had not yet shifted hard-right; Obama himself came within a few thousand votes of winning it.
I’m not arguing that Dems can’t win particular offices within these states. The current governor of Louisiana is a Dem. So’s the guy in Kentucky, who was previously Sec. of State. Joe Manchin managed to hold onto his seat in one of Trump’s best states. But I’m not sure how relevant these examples are to national elections, unless you’re suggesting we should start nominating Dems who sign anti-abortion bills or put out ads in which they’re seen firing a gun at cap-and-trade.
Indeed, the same applies in the other direction: Larry Hogan and Phil Scott aren’t proof that Repubs are on the verge of winning MD or VT at the presidential level.
I’m not trying to be a killjoy here. I think Dems have a lot of potential in certain red states. I definitely don’t believe Dems should give up on TX or NC, despite the disappointing results this year. Dems were previously accused for years of chasing a mirage in AZ and GA. I believe these things pay off eventually. Heck, I don’t even think FL’s a done deal. But I’m looking at the overall trends, and the demographics of MO aren’t among the more promising for Dems.
@Sleeping Dog: That’s a fair assessment in my opinion.
MO is where I worked in Republican politics. Admittedly, it’s been a while, but I still have friends in political circles there, so I’m not completely disconnected from it. It’s definitely gotten more Republican/partisan since I left, but there are glimmers of hope every so often in statewide races.
I would love to see Jason Kander back in politics at some point.
My uncle spent his entire career as an internal consultant for the YMCA on fundraising for big facility projects. He always told me that you were going to fail unless you could get 50% of the necessary amount from one donor. He kept an extensive set of national data about people with a net worth over $10M and everything he could find about their history of donating.
I’m quite surprised to hear that. For instance, you are quite familiar with Babylon 5, which is usually a good indicator. There is a lot of stuff in B5 that is Tolkien-inspired or Tolkien-adjacent. Not the least of which is that both J.R.R. Tolkien and J. Michael Straczynski have a Catholic background.
At the same time, you seem to know a lot about LotR for someone who’s never read or watched it. But now that I think of it, that isn’t too surprising.
You know, perhaps rather than finance candidates or campaigns, the best means for a liberal/Democratic leaning billionaire to change the balance of state votes, is to invest heavily on tech projects in cities within those states. This would draw large numbers of people from blue states, and make for larger cities.
If the pattern of cities going blue holds, and the electoral maps seem to bear this out in several red and purple states, then in 20-30 years, we could have a solid Blue Wall.
@Kylopod: My point isn’t that it’s trending blue, or even purple.
My only point is that it isn’t a state that Democrats should write off; there are ways for Democrats to win there.
This is even more interesting after Arizona v. Arizona where the Court held that the Constitution’s use of “by the Legislature thereof” with respect to state redistricting meant whatever process the state used for legislating. In that case, that a ballot initiative could take the redistricting power away from the elected body and give it to an independent commission.
@Michael Cain: I never say the software project is late and over cost. It really is a failure of the cost and schedule estimators.
“A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to”
So does software.
@Jay L Gischer:
I had heard that, and a name KM used sounds a lot like Zahadum (I now that’s misspelled). And I’ve seen some of what percolated from the movies to pop culture, like in Futurama and The Big Bang Theory, and other references on social media. So I know a little about it.
To be accurate, I do watch Disney movies and like them, and they’re all fantasy*. That’s the sole exception.
In support of your argument, I give you the 13-state western region as defined by the US Census Bureau. Rapidly growing cities, heavy investment in a variety of tech, and over the last 30 years a conversion from red to largely blue. This year, the regional EC votes were 104-19 for Biden. Seven of the Democrat’s 15 trifecta states are in the West. There is a not unreasonable chance of seeing Arizona flip from a Republican trifecta this year to a Democratic trifecta in 2022.
It is indeed LotR – part book/movie and part deep lore for the truly nerdy. To help you pass as one of us in future convos (gotta maintain that mystique!), here’s the deets:
Tolkien developed several cosmology explanations for his world Arda but settled on one that had the world flat as a pancake till their Atlantis equivalent was sunk by God. It was to punish man for daring to try and invade the place the lesser deities lived so he curved the world that no one might find the path again. However, this happened pretty late in their history (end of the Second Age so like 10 millenia plus in) so important things like major civilizations already existed and some supernatural things got left behind. Khazad-dûm (aka Moria) was the underground capital of the Dwarves and so when they dug way, way down, they found essentially a sleeping demon. He proceeded to wreck everything and they had to abandon the city. In the books/ movies, they end up going there and facing the Balrog Durin’s Bane, wherein we get the immortal line “You shall not pass!!” and Gandalf tricking the party into leaving so he can get all the XP from the boss fight 🙂 It’s also where they killed off characters from the Hobbit in the backstory for some reason to make it seem even more evil.
This been your Tolkien hot take of the day.
@KM: It just says so much that your hot take on Tolkien to someone who’s never read Tolkien is a D&D reference.
@Jen: My impression that a lot of what drives the hard partisan right wing today is based largely on resentment. The more resentful the people, the more hard right those people tend to be.
So, my question is what do you think would reduce the resentment in enough people in Missouri to make a democrat more viable?
I don’t know if there’s a real answer here, and even if it’s an answer that’s specific to just Missouri, but I thought I’d ask.
If your point is simply that Dems can potentially win at the state level, then we agree.
But nationally? I’m just not seeing it. You mentioned Bill Clinton’s victory there in 1992 (he won it again in 1996). But Clinton appealed to a certain type of voter that has since fled the Democratic Party and isn’t coming back anytime soon. It’s what enabled him to win states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and WV–all of which have since become among the reddest states in the country at the presidential level. (And please, don’t anybody start parroting the tired, debunked Perot myth.) Do you have anything in mind that could get MO to become competitive at the presidential level again? If so, what could that possibly be?
@Kathy: Most of fantasy ranges from meh to blech, for me, but I do think that some of it is outstanding, from ripping good tales (e.g., Michael Moorcock) to things that deserve the term “literature.” See today’s LOTR-inspired post for how Tolkien provides a useful framework for discussing evil.
@Sleeping Dog: It’s possible that Cruz, to the extent that he is identified, if only self-identified, as an evangelical might make it, but otherwise, yeah, not likely. (And my theory assumes a strong link between White Evangelical and White Nationalist and Ted Cruz “passing” as “white.” Perhaps a name change is coming for his family–it worked for the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas/Windsors.)
@charon: Again though, Ben Carson is an evangelical. It part of the whole “but X isn’t a [whatever ethnic slur], I’ve known that family for years” thing.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
It seems to me that like the Germans, Irish, Italians, and central/eastern Europeans before them, Latinos will be eventually be classified as “white”.
I singled that out specifically because that was the point at which I began personally witnessing Missouri’s move to the right. As noted above, I worked in MO Republican politics. Special elections for state house seats that were vacated when Gov. Carnahan appointed members to boards and commissions were Democratic open seats. Almost all of the special elections for seats outside of the St. Louis/KC urban centers were won by Republicans. North St. Louis County was highly Democratic…but pro-life. Jefferson County…highly Democratic, but pro-life/pro-gun. One after another, those seats went to Republicans. Same with seats in the northeast corner of the state and the Bootheel. These seats were won by Republicans not because the electorate suddenly turned on Democrats, Republicans won these seats because in very low turnout special elections, Republicans were simply the more reliable voters. Then, they were the incumbents, and they held the seats. Then, they redrew the district lines…and boom, in just 2 decades, Missouri is now so consistently voting for Republicans that it’s a punchline to suggest that a Democrat could win. I guess I just find it a bit frustrating (and admittedly I carry a fair amount of guilt for whatever small role I played in this transformation).
@Kathy: “And let’s not let the rest of the GOP Senators off the hook by claiming they do hate Trump but are afraid of his base. They don’t hate Trump, or at least not what he’s doing.” [Cracker would note here that it’s definitely both/and, not either/or.]
Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner! Please clear your cards and prepare for the next round.
I’m sure all that is so.
But I’m also sure all that is also so for genres I eschew or like, such as horror, westerns, suspense, romance, etc. I know it is so of Science Fiction.
@Kathy: Probably the only feature on Windows 10 that I find useful is little zone next to the Windows Start button that activates the Cortana link. I can ask a question–such as the one about Khazad-dum and Balrogs from KMs post–and get a small expansion window that answers the question cursorily.
And I have even read Lord of the Rings–I preferred Padriac Coulm’s Sigfried/Ring/Gotedamerung arc, but I’m not a Great Books guy–and STILL only vaguely got the slightest inkling of what the reference was to before looking it up. (My first guess was Burrough’s “John Carter of Mars.”) You’re not alone in not following all the nerd-culture references here. I’ve never watched Disco, for example, and saw an episode of Babylon 5 by accident once, I think.
It’s a baked-in feature of the Pareto distribution, for commonly-occurring parameter values (such as the Lorenz distribution). If the underlying phenomenon has approximately a Lorenz distribution, the 80/20 rule will hold.
@CSK: Isn’t that the point, though? With Trump cheating, the end result to have been a Biden win must indicate that the SoS and Guv ordered the lawful election results overturned.
(And I ALMOST typed that whole sentence without breaking into a torrent of laughter.)
@Kathy: De gustibus non est disputandum.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
After the foul taste left by Windows 8*, I signed up for the early upgrade to Win10 for both my desktop and laptop. My first order of business was to eradicate the Cortana box (the second was to unpin all the garbage from the taskbar).
It must have been DS9. if it had been Babylon 5, you’d have been hooked for life (unless you caught Gray 17 is Missing).
* I nicknamed it WINDOS, which is an acronym for Windows 8 Is Not a Desktop Operating System.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
LOL I was going to just post the first sentence but then thought “What if nobody gets the “delve too deep” reference? Am I being too vague?”
It’s funny – I used to be the Sheldon of the group but my current job has me as season one Penny. I forget that even Penny ended up using nerd references not everyone will easily get. Hang out with a small-reference group for too long and you forget how to speak to the wider world….
OK, since you ask… :^)
Nontrivial custom software is essentially 100% labor. If you want to know how long it will take and how much it will cost, you are essentially asking “how many developers will I need to employ over time in order to finish the project?”.
If you are building a building, you can then convert this into a project plan in which you dig a foundation, pour concrete, put up walls and joists, run plumbing lines and conduit and wiring, put on a roof, etc. And you can build a schedule in which you do things sequentially that need to be sequential (e.g. roof after walls) and you do things in parallel that can be parallel (e.g. parking lot at the same time as building). And because you know how many square feet of concrete and wall and roof you will need, and how many joists, etc. you can predict very accurately how long it will take and how much it will cost.
For custom software, there is often no analog of the blueprint that tells you how to build the building. If you’re good, you have a software architecture and a design, and a list of functions that need to be implemented. If it’s a very standard sort of app, like a web-based storefront or a payroll system or a word processor, you can do something like what the construction project manager does, and count how many “function points” (27 data input screens, 32 database transactions, 9 number crunching operations, etc.) you are asking for and add up the corresponding average effort, adjusting for how experienced your developers are and how modular your architecture is and a few other things. But there’s always rework — you discover that the way you had planned to do database transactions is incompatible with how you are doing user authentication (or some similar thing) and you have to go back and rip out part of what you did and redesign it. Which causes other cascading issues.
If it’s not a very standard sort of app, there is no historical data set to tell you the average effort to implement that sort of function. Also, if it’s not a very standard sort of app, the effects of experience and modularity and cybersecurity requirements and likely rework scale differently. The net result is that you don’t really know how much effort to expect per function point, and you have some required work that can’t even really be described in terms of function points. You will find out how hard that particular project was by trying to do it and seeing how long it takes.
Does that answer the question you were asking?
When I teach software cost estimation, I start out by asking the class how much a kilogram of software costs. That usually gets a good laugh — so I ask what the correct units are, if not kg? Then we have a fun discussion…
@Michael Cain: That would be my guess, too, but it may only work to the benefit of the segments of the group that don’t look “Amerind” for want of a better term and at the risk of enraging the language police.
@Mike in Arlington:
I’d hate to go all simplistic and banal and say “money,” but that’s the simple answer. The signal development over the last 40 years is middle class wage stagnation, and subsequent impoverishment of said class.
it’s not as simple as just “money” (though I can’t do squat about the banality. it needs to be “earned money,” not government assistance given as perceived charity, with the implication that one cannot care for themselves and their family without some ind of big government daddy to help.
I still favor a UBI, but for the middle class, what’s needed is simply higher wages. These were supposed to rise with productivity, but since the 90s they’ve lagged well behind. So for the specific means, I’ve none. Perhaps indexing all wages to the minimum wage, which itself should be indexed to inflation. That way when the minimum wage is revised, everyone earning a salary gets a raise.
If you like science fiction but don’t like fantasy, you might enjoy that corner of the fantasy world that plays by science fiction rules. The best example I can think of are Randall Garrett’s “Lord Darcy” mystery stories, set in an alternative modern Europe in which the Plantagenets still rule, magic is well-understood and used daily, and science is unreliable and socially not-quite-acceptable. Our Hero is a very senior investigator; his sidekick is a forensic sorceror.
(For those particular stories, it also helps if you like puns and allusions to classic mystery fiction.)
@Kathy: I’ve seen episodes of both DS9 and Babylon 5. Didn’t like either one enough to watch a second episode. In fact, both were shows that I skipped by to another station (I had about 4 choices, usually) while I was in Korea. Korean’s have good taste in American TV in general, though. Star Treks of various types and Babylon 5 had really short runs to my recollection. Only a few weeks for each.
I’ve always thought that for a “fantasy” author, Tolkien was a lot more “SF-ish” than most modern ones, who tend to be rather derivative, formulaic and boring.
He seems to have tried to rewrite certain rules of reality, but then to attempt realism within that frame.
“Magic”, in the usual fantasy sense of sorcerers casting spells or raising demons is generally conspicuous by it’s absence. Can occur, but unusual.
It’s interesting that parts of the whole system originated in an abortive attempt at a “time travel” novel.
And that in later life he came to view the “flat earth” concept as a mistake; calling it “astronomically absurd”, but that was to entrenched to be easily removed. Apparently part of the reason he never finished reconstructing the Silmarillion.
All that said, as in LOTR dwarves are supposed to regular travel the road from Erebor to the Blue Mountains, why the heck wouldn’t they once in 25 years say “Hey, let’s drop in on good ol’ Balin, see how he’s doin’, quaff some ale?”
and butter! How come you guys never put enough butter in the freaking popcorn?
and where’s my jujubes?
It is no longer well-maintained, but Eric Walker’s* website “Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Works” (https://greatsfandf.com/index.shtml — no useful edit buttons available at the moment) is focused explicitly on works that meet his personal criteria for being genuine literature. We don’t always agree, but he has a good eye and you’re liable to learn of many works and authors you’d never heard of before. I first heard of Kai Lung by reading Dorothy L. Sayers, but I first actually read some based on Eric’s recommendation.
*This is the same Eric Walker of niche baseball analytics fame — he’s the analyst who first turned Billy Beane on to sabermetrics, as related in Moneyball.
@Kathy: I was going to add that I admire your courage in removing and unpinning things related to Windows 10 features. Years ago, I had a friend who really hated Microsoft and “took all the stupid things that I don’t need” out of the resident files of the machine. About three weeks later, he had a box for which he had paid about five or six hundred dollars that hummed beautifully but not much else. The repair would have been expensive enough that a new computer was the cheaper option. And removing the software had violated his warranty anyway.
He blamed the problem on having bought “a cheap Asian product.” I thought PEBCAK was a better explanation, myself. The moral of the story is that I realize that I don’t know enough about the machines for trying to “customize” a computer to be a wise choice, and I stand in awe of those who do–or at least believe they do.
@DrDaveT: Thanks for the plug for Randall Garrett. He was a friend of the family, so I’m always glad to hear him and his work remembered.
@KM: I don’t see myself as part of a “wider world.” I’m straightaway a niche dweller of the most narrow sort who can do a reasonable job of faking “normal/wider,” but only part of the time and for small intervals.
re Ted Cruz (and hoping I’m not saying anything inadvertently offensive here) but would he not be categorised as “Hispanic” i.e. of Iberian/Iberian language speaking descent; rather than “Latino” indicating of Latin American descent, implying (?) Native American but Spanish/Portuguese speaking?
@Mike in Arlington:
Mostly, I think @Kathy is correct. People are going to have to do better financially to move past the “aggrieved voter” mindset. I think people tend to glom onto culture war issues when they feel out of control, and feeling in control of things evaporates when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
Going back to my childhood, I’ve been a big nerd for the entire umbrella of speculative fiction. But I was never an enthusiast for high fantasy. It’s one of the reasons why I was slow to get into the Game of Thrones craze (even though I had read and enjoyed other works by GRRM before). I’ve tended to like more urban fantasy, and one of my favorite authors from that genre is Charles de Lint. I also loved Stephen King as a kid. As for science fiction, it wasn’t hard sci-fi that I gravitated toward. I’m more into what might be called philosophical sci-fi: Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick. I also like comedy sci-fi like Douglas Adams and Alan Dean Foster.
I could care less about whether a sci-fi work is “scientific” enough. Good science doesn’t have a whit to do with good storytelling, and I’ve long been amazed at the snobbery of some hard sci-fi fans on this point. To me, what’s important in any work of speculative fiction is that you create a set of rules for that particular work and you stick by them. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi, fantasy, or whatever. If Alcubierre drives work in a particular story, then that’s something the story establishes early on and sticks with it, just like any magical rule in a fantasy story. The Alcubierre drive story might appeal more to you because it’s something that “could happen” (well, maybe) and there’s a scientific rationale for it, but that doesn’t make it a superior work of fiction. In any case, that’s just not something that factors into my love of speculative fiction. I’m into the world-building, along with all the traditional stuff like character, plot, etc. that we normally use to evaluate fiction.
@Kathy: “…what’s needed is simply higher wages…”
Good luck with that one. My guess is that we’re still about a generation away from the type of owner of capital that can create what I will call, for want of a better term, a “Henry Ford type” of wage sea change.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
That would be undeserved admiration. I accomplished all that through settings and right click menus only.
I did mess a bit with parts of the software registry to remove the need to log in at startup. This caused no problems, until an upgrade apparently bypassed my improvements. Now I get an error that the password I entered is wrong or my account can’t be found. But I just type my password and we’re good.
I thought about undoing what I did, but I forget what it was (I followed directions from the web), and I’ve been too lazy to look it up again. So long as it works, it’s fine.
For the record, I’d have left Cortana on the desktop, but not on the taskbar. The taskbar is where I keep track of what’s running, and I can’t do that well with a BIG BOX taking up a good fifth of it. Ditto for unpinning all the icons on the taskbar.
Anyway, She’s still there, almost. If you press the Windows key or click the Start Menu Icon, and begin typing a query, you get web search results (or Windows results if you begin typing a program’s name). I’ve had little occasion to use it, as my go to source is Google on the Chrome browser.
Wow. Well, here’s my shot in the arm. We are totally nuts about the Lord Darcy stuff, which I found out about in grad school from the same woman (fellow grad student) who introduced me to Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and who dragged me to see Flash Gordon. Still a good friend after all these years. And yeah, I rank Lord Darcy right up there with that other stuff I just mentioned.
The key for Misery to be purple would be the suburbs shifting Dem and I don’t have a feel for that. Also I’m not sure that StL or KC are magnets for young professionals in the way that some other cities are.
Thanks; I’ll try your suggestions.
Good suggestion. Another I’ve heard that makes sense is putting together a Sinclair like network of TV and radio stations.
Star Wars is fantasy with a thin veneer of science fiction on top. LOTR is long, boring morality tale with a thin veneer of fantasy on top.
I kind of recall a talk radio network along those lines in the early 2000s, Air America, I think. It didn’t pan out.
Overall Democrats tend to be outraged at things worth being outraged over, like putting children in cages after tearing them from their families. Not at the color of a disposable latte cup, or personal pronoun preferences.
My immediate reaction to this is to find it terrifying, but can anyone calm me down? Is this a big deal or not?
White House fires Pentagon advisory board members, installs loyalists
It shouldn’t be forgotten that in 92 Clinton was the incumbent gov of AR.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
I’m going to need more information on that because in the +30 years I’ve been involved in IT and building machines I’ve never heard anyone claim that. You’re definitely right about PEBCAK as windows 10 can recover from some really massive fck ups on it’s own usually. It’s surprisingly good. Worst case scenario in your friends case would of a been a complete reinstall. A recovery should of been easily possible for a fraction of the cost of the machine.
My standard Win10 ISO has cortana and junk already removed/disabled. With the proper setup windows 10 is a nice upgrade from the already good windows 8.1.
Honestly building computers have been like building snap tight models since PnP was introduced in the 80s. Just like with snap tight models of old the quality of the components involved could vary greatly. It wasn’t until the 90s that they finally got PnP to the point that you didn’t have to fiddle with things like the IRQs. By the time 2000 rolled around everything was standardized to the point that assembly became a breeze.
I hate that about big win10 upgrades. Since I don’t want to setup an active directory domain at home I just use a program/script/bat I write myself to reverse the changes on all the updated machines. I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s a minor inconvenience =/
I really should look at data before I say this, but that’s the formula for growing states (e.g., Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and so)–to have the suburbs shift Dem. My hunch (again, I really should look at some data) is that states with rural populations that aren’t growing quickly will have a different formula. Missouri, like Kansas and Iowa and Arkansas, have growing populations of working minorities–mostly Hispanics who are working in agricultural settings. Those voters are culturally conservative (pro-life Catholics), and it’s not wise to assume they will vote for Democrats. That’s where I was coming from when I focused on the financial stability side of the coin.
Every state is going to be slightly different. I don’t think the formula that is working in fast-growing states will apply in slower/no-growth states.
@Jen: I find it more confusing than anything else. It’s an advisory board with floating membership. Absolutely nothing stops Biden from kicking Lewandowski off on 1/21/21, and putting back on anyone Trump removed. It’s kind of…what’s the point? So a couple hacks can put the membership on their resume?
In the end, probably just more of his petty bullying of opponents, and mob-like tendency to reward slavish followers. I’m a lot more concerned with the BS going on with reclassifying which positions are political and which civil service. Those will be much harder to unwind and can do a lot more damage than any advisory spot ever could.
Yeah, Air America. An attempt at taking on RW radio, but it never found an audience.
What I’m referring to is buying up the stations in red state markets rather than simply having a network and trying to convince stations to carry the programming. If modeled like Sinclair the news programming would be local, but the special reports that on Sinclair stations are slanted right, on the Dem bias stations they’d be slanted left.
But @Just Another Ex-Republican: is probably quite right.
I’m not so sure it’s just money (although that wouldn’t hurt).
I just keep remembering that Atlantic article about Elkhart, IN that was published right after the 2016 election. That town went from having one of the highest unemployment rates in the country to one of the lowest, largely in part due to Obama’s rescue of the US auto industry, but most of the residents there refused to give Obama credit.
And it just seems that resentment is growing, not shrinking in people living in the midwest even after 4 years of Trump, who was supposed to give them what they wanted.
So to me, this says that it’s not about money, it’s not about who is actually in power, it’s about something else, and I’m not sure what it is exactly.
My father subscribed to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, so I was exposed to a lot of his stories from the 60s and 70s. We were all shocked by what happened to him, and read the Gandalara books with mixed feelings — glad that his wife had finished them, but recognizing that they weren’t anything like the quality of his own work.
With any luck, Eric Flint will take it into his head to publish a big thick Baen volume of non-Darcy stories, to go with the big thick Baen collection of Darcy stories that he did a few years ago.
Just got notice of my Cost of Living adjustment for 2021 Social Security Benefits. After the increase of my Medicare premium is factored in I’ll be getting $15 a month more…50cent/day.
I’m gonna take it straight to the bank.
Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics.
Or, if you prefer, the devil IS in the details.
Not at all — it’s a long, boring treatise on the history of languages, with a thin veneer of adventure story on top. 🙂
(Obviously, my mileage varies — I’ve read it about 20 times in 2 languages — but ‘boring’ is a personal taste, not subject to argument. It’s like my reaction to Will Farrell; I can accept intellectually that there are many people who think he’s funny, but I can’t understand why, and there’s no argument someone could make that would change that.)
@charon:..Haley has girl cooties.
Girl cooties. That’s the only kind there are.
@Mike in Arlington:
The Democratic Party also needs to get better at messaging.
Part of their problem is they can’t tag their opponents in a way that makes them ipso facto seem like bad people, while the GOP has no such problem. If one thing is ingrained in the American psyche, though perhaps less so in the younger generations is that socialism=evil. That’s why they keep throwing that word around, even though it’s wildly inaccurate.
In the process, they’ve tarnished good policies like universal healthcare, welfare, child welfare, early education, reduction or elimination of crippling usurious debt, etc. as “socialist.” They’ve even done that to the idea that police brutality is a bad thing.
That’s how come many people favor Democratic policies, but oppose their implementation.
@Mike in Arlington:
Status and the ability to ascend further up on the economic ladder (“live the American dream”) is tied up in it, I think. When I say “money,” I mean more than direct earnings, I mean things like the perception that everyone has a shot at improving their circumstances.
Low income whites, and I think to a certain extent many Hispanics, seem to believe that America’s status as a meritocracy is slipping away, and attribute that to some combination of “political correctness/affirmative action/cultural erosion.” So, you are correct that it’s not *just* about the bank account.
I think that a fair number of Americans believe that Democratic pushes for equality are eroding the meritocracy. Or, put another way: Democrats are insisting everyone get a seat at the table, and this is being perceived as taking away the pie from others.
@Jen: Speaking as a Miserian, hope springs eternal. We got close in 2008, since then the racism has bloomed eternal. MO is gone for at least another decade.
@Kingdaddy: LoTR is in a category by itself for any number of reasons, but I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone younger as an entry to Fantasy. It was written well before WWII and so has a lot of description. His audience didn’t have exposure to the variety of food or clothing or ethnicities that we just take for granted today. And while there were some color illustrations in magazines, movies and photos were in black and white. So older books and stories spend a lot of time describing scenery and people and food, and of course how the characters react to all this.
@Jen: We are a lot harder right than you know. A black man in the White House showed just how inconsequential white people are, and my neighbors just can’t accept that.
@Kathy: I empathize.
@Mike in Arlington:
It seems the core vote of both Trumpkins in the US and Brexiteers in the US is not the “left behind” who are really struggling, but those who are doing fairly well but not as well as they think they should.
Instead of comparing themselves with reasonably well off provincial middle class, they benchmark against the Kardashians LOL.
They see the (semi-mythical) urban “elite” as sneering at them, when a lot of said “elite” are probably worse off materially, and couldn’t give a damn about them one way or the other.
Instead of being happy with their lives, and not much bothered how others live, and quietly secure in their values, they see anyone with different values or cultural referents almost as an existential threat. And seethe with inchoate resentment.
The more religiously “enthusiastic” among them follow the lure of a “cheapgrace” evangelism that has become increasingly absurd, and increasingly political, in almost elegant symmetry, and then wonder why others roll their eyes.
(Or in some cases a politicised Catholicism that might make Pope Francis kick a cardinal)
And for some, not all, but not a few either, its the racism.
No, just no.
The hard core trumpers living around me are not suffering financially, they just can’t stand the idea of a black man being treated as an equal.
The racism runs deep here. Do NOT underestimate it’s influence
Anyway, that’s my external analysis as a snotty Brit, and comparing to the apparently equivalent middle class English Brexity KipCons.
There are difference mind and big ones:
Brit variety are generally right behind socialised health, so long as the “them forrin’ migrants” are at the back of the queue; guns are NOT an issue; neither is abortion, generally; religiosity is usually not important)
@DrDaveT: The two books in the Kingkiller Chronicle fall into the “hard fantasy” category too. Magic is central to the main character, but more as the only way up from an otherwise miserable existence. There is a lot of work and tedium, and the rewards are generally not overwhelming, but it’s his trade and it leads him to unexpected places.
To some extent it falls into my favorite of all meta-genres which, as far as I know, doesn’t have a name but can be described as stories entirely populated by archetypes and stereotypes but which ask the question, “how would all this work out in a real world with real people?” Clint Eastwood’s “The Unforgiven” is one of the best examples.
Or Harry Palmer (from the books), or even more George Smiley, as against the cinematic James Bond.
Or the British police drama The Sweeney. (the original TV series, not the hopeless film remake)
4 miles down the road from me is a guy (actually a half dozen, tho I am thinking of one in particular) living in a new to him trailer. His property is littered with bits and pieces of junk that just might, maybe, some day, be useful. For somebody somewhere. His old trailer has been torn in half and repurposed (don’t ask me what the purpose is). He now has 5 junked pickups in various states of stripped on his property (one is a burned out husk), and by the end of next week he might very well have another 1 or 3. These aren’t trucks he used and trashed, he bought them this way. His 2 1/2 acres is an absolute disaster of trash/junk. He flies a confederate flag and a trump flag right next to it. I have never talked to him, and dawg willing and the creek don’t rise I never will, but I absolutely guarantee that if I did he would say he is doing just fine and he don’t need no help (I know these people all too well) from no DEMoncrats.
And then there are all the “rich” trumpists in their $500k – 1M homes with 1,000 acres flying the same trump flags.
Trust me, money or the lack thereof, is not what is eating these people up.
Democrats believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. Republicans believe that life is a zero sum game, and that one player’s gain is necessarily another player’s loss. Trump is the epitome of this — his notion of “The Deal” is that if the other guy didn’t lose, he didn’t win.
Do you like Jack Vance? If you’re not familiar with his work, you might check it out. Or his disciple, the Canadian author Matthew Hughes. One of his series is explicitly about adventures in a place populated entirely by archetypes.
@OzarkHillbilly: Oh, of course–there are plenty of that category out there. I know that full well, it was an eye-opener for a young pup like I was, traipsing across the state working for Republicans.
It’s not everyone though, and there are plenty of middle-class and working poor whites who resent Democrats because they’ve bought into a fictitious narrative pushed by the Republican party: that government is evil, bad, and just takes your money and gives it to the less-deserving. For those folks, it IS a money issue; they feel like they are being fleeced to help the less-deserving (in their minds, minorities). I don’t think we can completely ignore that and ever hope to have solid, rather than weak, electoral college wins.
I tend to agree.
There are some hopeless deplorables we may never be rid of, and who’ve always been around. But I fear others are joining their ranks and supporting Trump out of disillusionment and desperation.
If higher wages help drive them off, then trumpism can recede to a fringe position on the GOP.
@DrDaveT: Well at least we agree it is long and boring!
Seriously, though, I think @Kathy might either like it, or will dislike it for reasons that have nothing to do with the fantasy elements.
There is a lot in there, in terms of class and race and the nature of good and evil and how people respond to evil. I think it drags, but a lot of people think I’m wrong, and that’s a matter of taste.
I like short books that can get to their point quickly — for a few years I read only Shakespeare, because that was the only thing I could find with enough density. LOTR can be a bit… Bloated is the wrong word… luxuriously occupying all the space Tolkien thought it needed.
You sure got a lot out of the story, that I didn’t find as anything other than bog standard class structure, but I’m a cultural Philistine, too, so that may play a role.
The only hard-and-fast rule I saw in software development projects was it was complete if the sponsor signed off, or it was dead when he / she pulled the plug.
Spec changes always happen. Guaranteed. Baked in.
One time after I had done a solid estimate of hours needed given available resources the PM’s boss e-mailed me that was unacceptable.
I laid out the various options to shorten and the costs thereof. CC’d appropriate folks as he had neglected to do so.
Saying “Merry Christmas” is equivalent to ?. Does not compute.
Jordan is equating two unequal things.
Maybe he is smarter than me. He was an assistant wrestling coach. At OSU. Where he was allegedly totally unaware of the rampant sexual abuse.