Friday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
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). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR10 says:

    If you want to compete with James Th Forum, it seems a bit late in the day to start.

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  2. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    [popping up like a prairie dog] looks around, waves a cheery greeting, and dives back out of sight.

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  3. Bill Jempty says:
  4. de stijl says:

    I was looking at an Axios article about new cancer diagnoses by state, and they used the dumbest, least insightful infographic possible. It was just raw numbers by state; adjusted opacity by incidence.

    Umm, that’s basically a US state population graph. NY, CA, TX, IL, etc. were very dark on the graph. WY, ND, NH, DE were very light. It was a population graph. It wasn’t incidence per 100,000 pop, it was incidence. Least insightful graph ever.

    I used to do this stuff for a living. That is really, really dumb. I was gobsmacked.

    Edward Tufte would vigorously disapprove.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    To the surprise of absolutely no one any where,

    A new report claims “resounding evidence” shows that high corporate profits are a main driver of ongoing inflation, and companies continue to keep prices high even as their inflationary costs drop.

    The report, compiled by the progressive Groundwork Collaborative thinktank, found corporate profits accounted for about 53% of inflation during last year’s second and third quarters. Profits drove just 11% of price growth in the 40 years prior to the pandemic, according to the report.

    Prices for consumers rose by 3.4% over the past year, but input costs for producers increased by just 1%, according to the authors’ calculations which were based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and National Income and Products Accounts.

    “Costs have come down substantially, and while corporations were quick to pass on their increased costs to consumers, they are surprisingly less quick to pass on their savings to consumers,” Liz Pancotti, a Groundwork strategic advisor and paper co-author, told the Guardian.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An Oklahoma lawmaker is facing backlash for proposing a discriminatory bill that deems people of Hispanic descent as “terrorists”. The Republican state representative JJ Humphrey introduced the bill, HB 3133, which seeks to combat problems in the state, such as drug and human trafficking, and lay out punishments to those who have committed these “acts of terrorism”. The punishment for such a crime would be forfeiting all assets, including any and all property, vehicles and money.

    In addition to “a member of a criminal street gang” and someone who “has been convicted of a gang-related offense”, the bill defines a terrorist as “any person who is of Hispanic descent living within the state of Oklahoma”.

    The move was met with fierce criticism.

    State senator Michael Brooks, who serves as the senate’s minority caucus vice-chair and founded the Oklahoma Latino legislative caucus, said the move by Humphrey was unsurprising. “To have the law treat people differently based on their race or ethnicity only creates greater divides,” Brooks said. “The bill is fatally flawed, and I don’t know if there’s much of a way to be able to change it.”
    ………………………
    Humphrey apologized but then doubled down. He said: “I apologize for using the word Hispanic, but I was not wrong. Again, these are Hispanic. Reality is they are Hispanic. There’s nothing to be ashamed with.”

    Yeah, but tell us again Nikki, how America has never been a racist country

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  7. de stijl says:

    A hypothetical: DUI/DWI arrest incidence. Raw arrest numbers on a state level would basically look like a population graph. Uninteresting and uninsightful. Like the Axios graph I noted above.

    Apply a standard metric like incidence per 100,000 population. You see more.

    Is the arrest incidence rate due to more folks drinking and driving, or is due more aggressive policing? Drill down below the state map, to MSA, county, city, zip code, neighborhood, block. The raw incidence would vary wildly.

    And not necessarily based on people driving while drunk, but on their likelihood to be pulled over by a cop. A less policed area will look like there is less DUI. In reality, the number of impaired drivers would be roughly the same as the next block over, but the number of police to pop encounters is higher or lower.

    What is the racial mix? In my experience, the blacker the neighborhood the more aggressive the policing, which would produce a spike, but that is unproven anecdata.

    I hope you see where I am going with this. Raw numbers don’t lie, necessarily, but bad infographics do.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    shows that high corporate profits are a main driver of ongoing inflation

    I don’t understand why this is a story. Companies charge what they can. They lower prices when the number of lost sales due to high prices exceeds the extra profit they make on high prices. I’ve never been associated with any business that lowers prices for any other reason, and don’t see why it should be any other way.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Rape pillage and burn.

    eta: but it’s all Biden’s fault.

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  10. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    One of my favorite quotes of all time, from Raising Arizona (Leonard Smalls):

    “Price. Fair price. That’s not what you say it is. That’s what the market will bear. Simple economics.”

    And that’s in 1954 dollars, mind you.

    I did not expect wisdom of the aggregate market philosophy from Raising Arizona, but I got it, nevertheless.

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  11. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: There’s a great MarketPlace episode on the difficulties faced by a non-profit that warehoused and distributed non-perishable food to various soup kitchens, shelters and grocery giveaways. They spent all their time trying to equitably fulfill requests, but everyone wanted, say, Cheerios while almost no one wanted lima beans. They would end up with unhappy customers and warehouses full of stuff they eventually had to scrap. So they instituted a “currency”. They gave all their customers a “dollar” amount, which they were free to use on anything in their warehouses. The more demand for an item, the scarcer it got and the more they raised the “price”. The longer something sat the more they would lower the price. Within a few months they had virtually eliminated scrap and their customers were much more satisfied. Shelters traded with each other, and one of the people from the distributor said the best and most enthusiastic customer was an old time Marxist, who was anti-capitalist as you could get.

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  12. Jen says:

    The term earworm is used when a song gets stuck in your head. Is there a term for a visual that gets stuck?

    A friend posted a gross image on Facebook, and the image keeps popping up in my minds’ eye. He’s a sh!t disturber by nature, I wish there was a way to block images from specific people without completely blocking them, because I’m super susceptible to stuff getting stuck in my head. Nightmare stuff, like maggots etc., not anything truly reportable.

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  13. becca says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: But Humphrey said he may change “Hispanic” to “undocumented here illegally, or something like that”.
    Still not clear what he means by “nothing to be ashamed with”. I suspect the problem lies with being homeschooled by monkeys.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Doc 
    @DocAtCDI

    17h
    A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget’s Thesaurus spilled its load leaving New York Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, paralyzed, dazed, bewildered, surprised, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, confounded, astonished, and numbed.

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  15. de stijl says:

    @Jen:

    Eyeworm? That’s too easy and lazy! Eyesore? Eye sore? What is the preferred spacing on that? Stye, maybe? Too obscure.

    Eyesore could work. Maybe somebody else has a better idea.

    It’s gonna predictably be “eyeworm”. It’s easy, it’s there. A related thing name is already in place in the parlance, the vernacular. It’s gonna be “eyeworm”.

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  16. Kathy says:

    Boeing’s in for a rough time in the media.

    Engine failure isn’t that uncommon. Not given how many commercial airplanes fly every day, and how many flights each.

    It’s kind of a lottery situation. The odds an engine will fail on a given flight are minuscule. The odds one engine will fail among millions of flights is almost 1.0. It’s not a daily occurrence, but hardly a week goes by without reports of one or two such failures.

    Had this not happened so shortly after the door plug blowout, we wouldn’t be seeing it on the mainstream press. We’d see it as a line item in specialist sites, like The Aviation Herald. same with the ANA 737 that had a crack on a windshield.

    Clearly allowing the merger of Boeing and McDonnell-Douglass was a big mistake, even if the latter would almost certainly had gone broke unmerged.

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  17. Kathy says:

    Speaking of aviation and mergers, the blogs I follow are almost unanimous in the belief that Spirit is done for. Not just broke (they haven’t made a profit since 2019), but on the verge of being liquidated. Though maybe Frontier will revive its merger offer, on much better terms for Frontier.

    JetBlue seems to be better positioned.

    There’s also something going on with ultra low cost airlines. Apparently a great deal of the post-pandemic demand for air travel is for premium class and transatlantic travel. Airlines like Spirit don’t do any of that.

    So while aviation overall has recovered from the trump pandemic, ultra low cost carriers are lagging behind.

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  18. Bill Jempty says:

    AI and an author again….

    The winner of a prestigious Japanese literary award has confirmed AI helped write her book

    After Japanese author Rie Kudan won one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards, she admitted she’d had help from an unusual source — ChatGPT.

    “I plan to continue to profit from the use of AI in the writing of my novels, while letting my creativity express itself to the fullest,” said the 33-year-old, who was awarded the Akutagawa Prize for the best work of fiction by a promising new writer on Wednesday.

    The author then confirmed at a press conference that around 5% of her book “The Tokyo Tower of Sympathy” — which was lauded by committee members as “practically flawless” — was word-for-word generated by AI.

    An architect asked AI to design skyscrapers of the future. This is what it proposed

    The novel centers around the dilemmas of an architect tasked with building a comfortable high-rise prison in Tokyo where law breakers are rehabilitated, and features AI as a theme.

    Kudan said that, in her own life, she would consult ChatGPT about problems she felt she couldn’t tell anyone. “When the AI did not say what I expected,” she said, “I sometimes reflected my feelings in the lines of the main character.”

    I expect more authors to come clean. As for me, I don’t use AI.

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  19. de stijl says:

    @Jen:

    Last time I had an earworm I looked up the science on it. It happens to almost everyone, but the degree varies. Apparently, nearly everyone gets it at a fairly low level, but the really intrusive, disturbing version is fairly rare. Unfortunately, my brain got the rare, really fucking intrusive version.

    It is highly associated with OCD, but not positively. I’m not. I don’t think I am. Can you be OCD and not know it? Yeah, not OCD; I’m living in a room that is a bit messy and I don’t really notice or care. The messiness is fine. If it bugs me later, I’ll deal, but I don’t care now.

    Tied to Wernicke’s area in the brain which regulates a lot of speech production. This is what fucks up a lot of stroke sufferers. You know what you want to say, but you can’t make it happen.

    Earworms are apparently fairly complex.

    It’s pretty damn fascinating.

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  20. Bill Jempty says:

    @Kathy: Kathy, is Boeing to blame when an engine fails? I thought engines are manufactured by RR, PW, GE or other companies.

    Of course the general media doesn’t catch the distinction (or just minimizes it) and thinks the whole plane was manufactured by Boeing. After some famous bird strikes the media hyped every accident where one occurred. What the media doesn’t say- Bird strikes take place hundreds of time around the world at some airports. There is one in Australia I believe where the yearly count is over 1,000

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  21. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Cue up a “lefty bobos” response from Lounsbury?

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  22. just nutha says:

    @becca: Don’t need monkeys, homeschool curriculum is enough.

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  23. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Edward Tufte is basically the godfather of infographics and data visualization. The Einstein. The ur. He literally wrote the book on the subject: The Visual Display Of Quantative Information. Genius book!

    Oh my lord is it gorgeous book! You get fold-outs and pop-ups. It’s glorious. Best book I own by far, no doubt.

    Probably the the most famous, most referenced is the infographic of Napoleon’s March into Russia on a sepia map. The bar on the graph gets smaller per week as it progresses to the left into the Russian winter. The size of the arrow represents the size of the army. So many died! The bar just gets narrower.

    I have a signed copy of The Visual Display Of Quantative Information. Tufte, himself. Dude rocks!

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  24. Mimai says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Regardless of how nefarious CEOs can be, I did not find this report to be compelling. Perhaps most fundamentally, it’s odd (some might say “bizarre”) to say that corporate profits “drove” inflation — rather, it makes more sense to me to consider these markers of benefits from inflation. Regardless, the report did not establish a causal chain.

    Another thing that caught my eye is how they presented data in the actual report. Here’s the report — check out table 1 in particular.

    Notice the dates in the columns: since 2019, since 2020, since 2021, [gap years], Q2-Q3 2023, Q3 2023. Hmmm… I wonder what that’s about. Chris Conlon, an economist at NYU, has the goods. And it’s not good (for the report conclusions).

    There were other problems with the report, but the two above were enough for me.

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  25. Kathy says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Other companies make the engines, but the plane’s manufacturer selects which engines to use. Sometimes they offer options, sometimes only one. There may also be variations between engines for different manufacturers, largely due to what Boeing or Airbus request or need.

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  26. Bill Jempty says:

    My car recorded its 59000th mile yesterday.

    That’s about 8,000 more than when Dear Wife and I got it from a deceased parishioner*in November 2019.

    We’re talking about a 2005 Toyota Matrix. Does it seem like we’re still breaking it in?

    Don’t worry. I’ll get it to 60,000 sometime after Labor Day.

    BTW drives a 2023 Nissan Sentra. That’s our big use form of transportation but it has just under 10,000 miles on it.

    *- Bernice was home bound for much of her later life and DW would bring her communion at least 1 time a week.

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  27. gVOR10 says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Kathy, is Boeing to blame when an engine fails?

    Possibly, in that the problem could be in the installation and control of the engine, but probably not. Boeing has fouled their reputation so badly that I linked a couple days ago to a story about two planes bumping at the gate, hardly an A/C design or quality issue. But the story went out of it’s way to mention both planes were Boeings.

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  28. Jen says:

    @de stijl: I learned not too long ago that not everyone can visualize things. It started with this post on X by author John Green, who indicates he’s a 5. I am a 1-2. I can “see” a LOT–things that I’ve actually seen, things I imagine, when I read my brain translates those words into visuals. For me, the word “visualize” literally means I can picture the thing in my head.

    I’m fascinated that this does not exist for some people.

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  29. gVOR10 says:

    @de stijl: I greatly enjoyed my copy, even though not signed by the author. You have to be impressed by the effort required to make that graphic of Napoleon’s army pre computers. And the imagination to realize one could.

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  30. Mimai says:

    @Jen:

    I’m fascinated that this does not exist for some people.

    And for some people, visual thinking is the only (primary) way. Temple Grandin is perhaps the most noteworthy spokesperson for these folks. Fascinating stuff indeed.

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  31. gVOR10 says:

    @Jen:

    I learned not too long ago that not everyone can visualize things.

    My wife once took a blue print reading course in support of her job. One evening she asked me, the mechanical engineer, “I get that there’s a front view and a side view and a top view, but how do you put them together to see what it looks like?” Hard to answer, mostly you just do. It’s part of some aptitude tests. It resonated because of many meetings with sales talking over drawings on the table of the new product. “But what does it look like?” 3D CAD was a huge blessing for communication.

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  32. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    I’m pretty bad at visualizing stuff. One of my peeves in science fiction is long, detailed descriptions of something. If it’s important to know what something looks like, put a drawing of it in the book.

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  33. Jen says:

    After a lot of discussion with friends about that ability to visualize post, I’ve come to the realization that at least some of my issues with anxiety likely stem from how easy it is for me to “see” things, as my brain does a really good job of translating “what’s the worst that could happen?”-type thoughts into realistic, vivid images.

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  34. Scott says:

    Kind of cold and blustery today. So today I took some time to troll my congressman, Chip Roy, on his Facebook page. There was Chip railing about the border with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business but with the Dow ticker live down in the corner. Just simply commented “Hey look, stock market near record highs under Biden economy!” Then I embedded a Yahoo! Finance story entitled: Consumers haven’t felt this good about the economy since 2021: ‘December was no fluke’.

    Ah, the little things we do to amuse ourselves.

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  35. de stijl says:

    @gVOR10:

    The army just disappeared. I’d have to look up who produced it and when. The state apparatus certainly didn’t. It would be far too shameful and embarrassing.

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  36. Gustopher says:

    @Jen: I just assume John Green is somehow wrong about it, and doesn’t understand that visualizing something doesn’t mean it replaces what you are seeing as you stare out the window and visualize an apple at the same time.

    The alternative, that you can’t imagine the look of every speck on the apple and the color variation of the skin, and the texture of the stem, and the smell and the smoothness, and the give under a fingernail or tooth and that sound and wetness as you push in…. That’s horrifying and sad.

    Curiously, I’m pretty close to face blind. I can get all sorts of details on an imaginary apple, but I really struggle to tell people apart. To be fair, I’d have a hard time telling individual apples apart.

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  37. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Napoleon’s army didn’t die from bullets. It died from cold and bad logistics.

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  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: If you read stuff from the 19th century or earlier, you might get taken aback by the detail and length of descriptions, especially food. If readers hadn’t been to a place they often had no concept of what it might look like, given there were no photographs and few drawings in books. And forget about food. Most people were familiar only with food that was grown or raised in their immediate area. There is a legendary WWII era NYTimes article that went into great detail describing this bizarre and exotic thing, The Taco.

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  39. Kathy says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    I’ve been playing with ChatGPT and now MS Copilot for a while. More out of curiosity than need. They do well summarizing stuff, which helps me check I’m conveying what I want to say.

    Past that, well, just today I used Copilot to help draft an email. It did well enough, though it dragged in some imaginary info who knows where from. I copied the draft to Outlook, looked at it, made some modifications, changed a few things, trimmed a few others, and when I was finished only about the first sentence of the draft remained as written 🙂

    The email as drafted was fine, with a little fixing. It just didn’t read or sound like something I’d write.

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ve read some XIX century fiction (some XVIII century, too). I don’t recall many details, but I’ve always considered the era to be verbose in style. Nonfiction, too, like Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. Offhand I can’t say if I ran across any descriptions of food or not.

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  40. Mister Bluster says:

    Happy Birthday Pearl
    January 19, 1943

    Encore

    RIP

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  41. Stormy Dragon says:

    Another state joining my “places it’s not safe for Stormy to visit” list:

    Utah Advances Criminal Trans Bathroom Ban, With Penalties Of Six Months In Jail

    Worst part is this particular one is I’m supposed to be going on a family vacation with my 6 year old nephew’s family in May that included Zion National Park, and now I have to figure out what to do during that part of the trip.

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  42. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy:

    The vast majority of jet-jocks get through a 30-40 year career without experiencing a single true engine failure in flight. Most will do a precautionary engine shut down somewhere along the line though, most commonly on the ground, due to a troubling instrumentation indication.

    I wouldn’t chalk it up to the merger, as the problem appears to be Boeing let their bean-counters run roughshod over their engineers and assemblers. High competition provides an even stronger impetus to that process, the constant search to cut costs.

    In that effort it appears on the door blow-out Boeing decided to cut costs by thinning out their QC procedures. It might seem like a simple issue for Boeing, a simple order for inspections and everything is good to go…a typical situation for all airlines. However the pattern Boeing has established puts the FAA in a bad spot. How many more systems were improperly designed and assembled in their aircraft? How long have the bad QC procedures have been in place, and are all aircraft assembled under those procedures certifiable as airworthy?

    While the yanking the certs of thousands of aircraft would be catastrophic for air travel in general gives Boeing some lee-way, somewhere out there is a limit. They are on some mighty thin ice.

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  43. gVOR10 says:

    @de stijl:

    Umm, that’s basically a US state population graph.

    Kevin Drum has a minor hobby catching WSJ doing this sort of thing. More evidence of journalists being innumerate. The classic, of course, is the election map we’ll see again in ’24 showing almost the whole country in Republican red with little blue islands. Trump even used one to say, see, the whole country voted for me. I’ll scratch my occasional itch to propose redistricting should be done on population cartogram maps, maps where 1 sq inch = X people, not Y acres. When you do the national red/blue map this way it looks like a blue country with streaks of red.

    Everybody says congressional redistricting inherently disfavors Ds because they cluster in densely populated blue cities. If states used population cartograms for redistricting, that problem, by definition, goes away.

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  44. Kathy says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    I wouldn’t chalk it up to the merger, as the problem appears to be Boeing let their bean-counters run roughshod over their engineers and assemblers.

    The merger involved swapping McDD stock for Boeing stock. This led to several high ranking McDonnell-Douglass executives to gain seats on the board, and others to take high ranking positions at Boeing.

    In effect, Boeing was partially assimilated by the McDD corporate culture.

    That’s not the sole reason. America’s corporate culture had been changing, trending in the direction of share price supremacy, for years by the time of the merger. But it was a large contributing factor.

    The big problem for Boeing is not that its aircraft have issues (all commercial aircraft do at some point), but that they have scary issues that have killed people. I’ll say again it was fortunate the plug on the Alaska MAX 9 blew during climb out, when all passengers and crew had their seat belts on.

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  45. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I know you never read the LotR trilogy, otherwise I would point to that as having massive amounts of description, especially of food.

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  46. DrDaveT says:

    @Jen:

    After a lot of discussion with friends about that ability to visualize post, I’ve come to the realization that at least some of my issues with anxiety likely stem from how easy it is for me to “see” things

    My wife and I are both big fans of Ellis Peters’ “Brother Cadfael” novels. When they announced that BBC was making them into television shows, with Derek Jacobi as Cadfael, we looked forward to it with great anticipation. And the shows were pretty faithful to the books… but we couldn’t watch them. The graphic reality was too much, in a way that the words on the page never were. Part of it is missing the tone of the omniscient narrator, but part of it is just can’t-not-see-that events.

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  47. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy:

    I dismiss the merger aspect only because I deem it as moot, its been “Boeing” for well over a decade now, and MD aircraft did not have these kinds of problems. Whether it was the people or the financial pressure of having to shell out $14 billion for McD is, to me, an open question.

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  48. de stijl says:

    Had a phone conversation with friend. I’m going up to Hayward this summer.

    It reminded me of a phone conversation we had way back. Brad is gay. Brad called me up one night to come out to me. Cool with that. Not a problem.

    Things went a bit awry. He came in with the assumption I would object or be appalled. My initial response was cool, fine. I already knew.

    He came in expecting I would have a problem. When I didn’t he was thrown off his game and sort of came at me for being fine with him coming out. It got uncomfortable. He was a bit panicked.

    It was the dumbest misunderstanding ever. It was super uncomfortable not that it was a coming out, but how we misread each other. I was glad for him. He was frightened. My “I don’t give a fuck. I’m glad to hear it.” got interpreted as “I don’t care about you.” It was just dumb misreading of obvious signals.

    He expected me to object or be upset. Why? he started getting a bit salty. He expected drama and when I didn’t give it he didn’t know how to cope. He came in expecting the worst.

    It was awkward and painful. We talked past each other.

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  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: Thank you for demonstrating that claims from a cited source can be refuted without having to refer to lefty bobos, simplistic partisanship, etc. I hope that Lounsbury was here to witness this but don’t think he’s likely to see it as an example to emulate.

    I’d be happy for him to prove me wrong on this last point.

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  50. Kathy says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    A badly designed locking mechanism on the DC-10 cargo door, led two two accidents. One was fatal, and in fact the largest single aircraft death toll at the time.

    But the larger point is the McDD executives absorbed into Boeing hastened the bean counter dominance over engineering. Perhaps that would have happened absent the merger. But the fact is it did happen in the universe where the merger took place.

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  51. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy: @Kathy:
    We must agree to disagree, while I’m open to the idea the MD execs seats might have had a role in this, the NYT article does not delineate which exec(s) made calls. They simply assume that since those MD execs were there it must have been them. I need something more specific before deciding.

    Boeing had cargo door issues before the merger too.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_811

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