Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

The politics of the last year have clarified a lot of things for a lot of people. For me, it’s the futility of the argument that comes of the form “you should care about this thing I don’t. I can see why it feels like a winner. It looks like a slam-dunk! By my values, this person or thing is bad for x reasons–and by your values, this person or thing is bad for y reasons–and therefore even though we do not agree, we should both oppose this person or thing! Yay! Logic prevails and everyone emerges better off!

Here’s where this goes wrong: 1) Making an argument that something you don’t care about should be important to someone else is hardly ever convincing. Quite often you don’t understand the nuances of what it is they care about fully since it’s not your thing. Even when you do, it’s hard to put your back into the argument since it’s not your thing. “But you said!” does not sound sharp and politically savvy, it sounds like you are 6 years old and trying to get another 10 minutes before bedtime. “But you said you believed in family values, you said!” Even if they did say. Being technically correct that they did say does not change the other person’s position.

2) Let’s say you win! “You’re right!” says the other person. “I will bump this thing you don’t value up my priority queue for decision-making in future!” Oh…good…now you’ve reinforced that people should not be allowed to flee abusive marriages, or that we should all spend a lot of time angry about what color the president’s suit is, or any of a number of other things that you don’t believe.

I’ve seen people do this across the political spectrum, and it basically never works. When people say “find common ground,” this is not actually what they mean. They mean the points where you can honestly mean it when you say, “I think we can agree that this is important. I think this deserves your attention.”

When I was taking my first high school debate class, my debate coach (who was otherwise great) got really excited about gotcha questions, “when did you stop beating your wife” questions. He acted like they would be a key skill. But gotcha questions in debates were pretty rare, and they were only as good as your opponent’s willingness to run with them, which was usually pretty minimal. In real life they’re even less useful, because literally nothing forces any human brain–including mine, including yours–to be internally consistent. I suspect that this is what we find so appealing about the stories where robots and computers can be done in with a logical paradox: it’s because we can’t. Finding a gotcha where your sibling, your next-door neighbor, your co-worker has said they believe in one thing politically and then are supporting someone who does another thing–or are even doing another thing themselves–does not force them to say, “You’re right, I will change my position on one of these two things.” Let’s find things we really do value in common–or find ways to maneuver around the people who don’t. Because “you ought to react this way” has never once gotten a person to react in the specified way.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Apr. 23rd, 2017 10:35 am)
A very thin, very dirty stray cat turned up at Jasmine's condo complex, asking for food and shelter.

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([personal profile] garyomaha Apr. 23rd, 2017 08:40 am)
M and I have both been having trouble sleeping lately. I suspect it's the change of seasons because neither of us is particularly stressed. Last night we tried something different (for us). We stayed up until we couldn't stay up any later. We were essentially falling asleep watching a late west-coast baseball game on TV. (It wasn't a particularly interesting game.)

I stumbled through my bedtime rituals, which are quite a bit longer than M's (as are, well, all of my rituals). And "stumbled" is the right word -- I could barely walk straight. That was a little odd since yesterday wasn't a particularly strenuous day, just a long one. Managed to get to bed and, like magic, did not wake up until this morning. So, that plan worked. Except I prefer a period of enjoying lying in bed before falling asleep, and there was none of that last night. Just ZZZZZZZ.

Perhaps it's time for a new mattress. Yeah, that's the American way, isn't it? When in doubt, spend some money.
Porn spam has rocketed up to 35% of comments.
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([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Apr. 22nd, 2017 02:23 pm)
By checking the dates of successive Strange Horizon counts, I see the trend is for the release date to be later than the one before. I was hoping for April but mid-May may be more reasonable.
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([personal profile] garyomaha Apr. 22nd, 2017 07:48 am)
My car is back home in my garage. It was, indeed, a bad battery. It was also a "special" hybrid battery so we couldn't just pick up a replacement at the auto parts store on the corner and we had the opportunity to spend much more for this "special" battery. Sigh. Well, I drove it home and it seemed to work just fine, and that's the goal, isn't it?

Being an introvert, and having the dogs here and plenty of food here, I didn't miss having a car for a few days all that much. I did miss two appointments. I could have hitched a ride with a friend or called a cab or ride-share. Omaha mass transit is horrible (too few use it, it's not city-wide due to Omaha's ridiculous sprawl over the years, and the buses are viewed as not inviting). But I got a little taste of not having a car, which due to my vision problems I can see being the case in the not-too-distant future.

As usual, the service garage I use had helpful, friendly staff. My car guy and his garage are a little out of the way (ironic, perhaps, because without a car it's hard to get to) but, I feel, they are worth it. And I'm not particularly complaining about the battery -- it is 5 years old and that's about the length of time a "normal" battery lasts, isn't it?
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([personal profile] supergee Apr. 22nd, 2017 05:55 am)
50 years ago, it was hip to say that Bugs Bunny was queer (cross-dresses, kisses Elmer Fudd). Now we hear that he’s Black. There’s a whole list of Black cartoon characters, but it doesn’t include my totemic hero, Wile E. Coyote. I guess he’s Native American.

Thanx to Metafilter
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([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Apr. 21st, 2017 03:18 pm)
Does anyone remember an old movie about an out of control rocket (or maybe plane -- I have not seen the film since I was a kid) that incinerates everything it passes over? I remember one scene in particular, where a family making a snowman gets evaporated. Any idea what movie it was?
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([personal profile] garyomaha Apr. 21st, 2017 07:47 am)
As of the time I'm writing this, I have not heard a thing about my car for well over a day. This is a little distressing for someone like me who likes to keep track of things.

I called my car guy twice yesterday and got his answering device both times. I am not actually **upset**, just unnerved a bit. I suppose the repair shop might have been taking a long-planned day off, or people were sick, or they were uber-busy (pun intended). But, c'mon, shouldn't he return a long-standing customer's call? Not to mention I still don't know the official diagnosis, nor the cost, nor the estimated completion time.

What's making me the most anxious is that this is unlike him.

We're heading into the weekend when the repair shop is not open, so I may be car-less for several more days. Oh well, at least I have M to be a taxi service! I can also spend more time at home with the dogs and napping and...say, this isn't sounding so bad after all.
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([personal profile] supergee Apr. 21st, 2017 07:25 am)
I guess the death penalty is so bad that even keeping a piece of shit like Charlie Manson alive for 50 years at public expense is preferable. The latest is the Arkansas chemical farce, in which it turns out that the state refuses to do DNA tests that might exonerate two of the people it is eager to kill.

I never had strong feelings about the death penalty. (I was raised collectivist, so killing one person for the general good seemed more reasonable to me than it does to some.) I never thought it was terribly important to make sure that the individual was smart enough and sane enough to be executed. But if the state is going to kill somebody, the least it can do is take all reasonable means to make sure that they have the actual perp. This is nowhere near the first time that the collective lust to kill has overcome such technicalities. At best the death penalty is one of those nice things we can’t have because people are turds.

Thanx to Radley Balko, who is wonderful about keeping an eye on this sort of thing.
Jim Wright makes the elitist suggestion that we have things done by people who know how to do them.
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f I organized a Perseids viewing party, would people be interested? The peak this year happens to fall Aug 12 > 13, which is to say Saturday to Sunday. I know of two or three possible venues I could try to book.


Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 21


Would you be interested in attending Waterloo Region Perseids partyParty

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Yes
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No
5 (23.8%)

Yes, but only as a pretext for fleeing the US
7 (33.3%)

Some other option (see comments)
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I would like to complain about this poll
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