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June 13, 2022

Comments

Isn't Australia the most western province of China?...

Um...eastern, perhaps? (Unless China has become a world-circling empire...)

Or, more likely, southern.

(On current trends, the western-most province of China will be Russia. Not real soon, but before the middle of the century.)

You're right. For some reason, I had it in my head that they were on different sides of the International Date Line.

Though China spans the width of at least three time zones in the abstract, I believe the whole country is on the same time setting. Interesting to wonder how they could have worked that if the country had spanned the International Date Line. (Not that it's even close, I'm just idling here.)

One of the fascinating bits of chance in our world is that, 180 degrees from Greenwich (which got established as the longitude zero for passing historical reasons) is basically nothing but the open Pacific Ocean, with no significant chuncks of land to be inconvenienced by the International Date Line.

Speaking of the International Date Line, think of this when someone hypes the potential of self-driving cars. The software still has to be written by humans, including the ones who don't know the difference between "may" and "might":

The US$125m planes, the most expensive fighters ever built, returned safely, but the situation may have been disastrous if they had not been with their tankers or the weather had turned bad.

Wall Street Journal sidebar 35 years ago or so, in a feature on computers: "The world is full of surprises, and the programmer will never think of them all."

including the ones who don't know the difference between "may" and "might"

Would/Could you be so kind to give a concise explanation for a non-native speaker of English? I know that there is a difference but I am not always sure which applies in a specific context.

Time zone map. I never looked at this color-coded one before. There are lots of interesting facets to it.

Hartmut, the last paragraph of this explanation touches on the error I'm referring to, but I don't think it actually covers all the nuances. I'll try to think of a more nitpicky example, but in the meantime I'll hope for someone to come along and explain it better than I can.

However, it's a losing battle. The substitution of may for might where past tense is called for is so common now that I think it has to count as an example of ongoing language change.

Just like the use of whom(ever) for who(ever). Grrrr.

Time zone map. I never looked at this color-coded one before. There are lots of interesting facets to it.

Huh. Continental US and Canada are pretty much the sanest places in the world.

Michael Cain -- yes, I thought that too.

One aspect of time zones that I never thought about until later in life is how my sense of sunrise and sunset are affected by which part of the time zone I live in. Maine is on Eastern Time, and so are my relatives in Ohio, 500+ miles west. The difference between our sunset times is in the range of 40 minutes. Imagine eastern and western China!

"The world is full of surprises, and the programmer will never think of them all."

Programmers are selected for aptitude/knowledge in the field of programming. Which, inevitably, means reduced expertise in some other fields.

Most places put some effort into getting them up to speed on whatever field the company employing them is in. For example, even though I was a systems guy (i.e. not writing programs which did business functions), while I was at Charles Schwab I learned a lot about stocks and what brokerages and exchanges do.

But apparently the company writing the nav software was a bit weak on that. It's one thing to have a bug because you miscoded something. Hey, sh*t happens. But a bug because you just didn't know something basic to the field? That shouldn't happen.

Hartmut, as a native English speaker, and having read Janie's link, I realised I might have been using may and might wrongly quite often!

As for whomever and whoever - I'm quite prepared to learn I don't always do them right either. I have sort of assumed that "whoever" is the subject of a verb ("whoever did this had better be ready to explain themselves") whereas "whomever" is the object ("Dave insulted whomever was in the room, without fear or favour"). I await the verdict of Janie, recognised as the grammar police by popular acclaim! (I tried to come up with a version of that last sentence where Janie became a whom, but it got too convoluted.)

When I teach this to Japanese students, I start with teaching them to make the connection between the present and the past forms (may/might, can/could, shall/should, will/would) They have usually learned it haphazardly, so I tell them to keep the pres/past link and if they are writing about something in the past, making sure that they get the past form is a way to deal with it without a lot of mental gymnastics. Of course, because modality is involved, the past meaning can be overridden/obscured, ("I could do that if you gave me 10 dollars", both verbs are actually subjunctive rather than past) but the rule of thumb allows them to avoid any big clunkers.

When you are a writing instructor you tend either to be the copy editor from hell or you develop a hierarchy of battles like a strategic commander and fight the battles that gain the most ground. I'm the latter (which you can probably tell by my tendency towards precise vocabulary with sketchy grammar).

May/might, who/whom, less/fewer tend not to rise too high in the order of battle because they seldom cause confusion over what is actually being said, and they aren't in group/out group markers the way that inapt or incorrect idiomatic phrases tend to be. If it doesn't hamper understanding or create potential prejudice, then I'm likely to let it go.

Good, lively writing tends to be a gentleperson's agreement between the poet and the copy editor that leaves both a bit vexed, but ultimately satisfied. And the writing that gets most celebrated for its verve and composition often leaves me feeling like I have visited an overmanicured garden. I prefer a bit of nature run riot in my reading.

Well, I'm going to thank lj and for one rare moment pretend nous didn't show up, because trying to respond to his 7:24 would take me all night.

GftNC, you picked a juicy example:

"Dave insulted whomever was in the room, without fear or favour".

It's true that "whomever" is used for a direct object (or the object of a preposition). But in that sentence, "whomever" is not the direct object; the direct object is in effect the entire clause -- "whomever was in the room" -- and the case of whoever/whomever is chosen based on the word's function within the clause. Within the clause it's the subject, so ... "whoever was in the room."

I have a collection of more examples of this kind of thing than I'm going to confess with nous in the room.

But here's one example from an a not particularly fly-by-night website:

Gorman wrote in her July 5 Instagram statement that she was “disheartened by the cruel nature of several of the other titleholders backstage; whom took it upon themselves to discuss that my ‘story was fake.'”

Most of the who/whom errors I see (and collect) look like anxiety-based over-correction to me. One of the BJ front-pagers uses "Whomever" as the subject of sentences on a regular basis but gets tetchy if you nitpick, so I never do. Given that the archives are lost over there, I'm not even going to bother looking for examples.

Going to stop, or I'll go on all night with nuances and edge cases and any number of other beasts....

I'm delighted to be put right! I may even remember this for a few weeks or months. Thanks, Janie.

Dave insulted whomever was in the room, without fear or favour

If you find yourself wondering whether that should be "whomever was" or "whoever was", change it to "everyone".

I think the thing that makes me notice the whom/ever for who/ever usage the most is that even as a grammar nerd, I would, and so, happily use "who" for "whom" in a lot of situations where technically "whom" is called for, because "whom" often sounds pretentious.

Which is all the more reason for it to grate when it isn't even the right choice. I would have thought that if one of the sets of forms started to disappear, it would be "whom/ever," precisely because it's so often hard to figure out whether it's the form to use. The fact that the opposite seems to be happening bemuses me.

Just to entertain GftNC, an entry from my who/whom collection. This is verbatim from my Word doc -- the top bit is copied from the Boston Globe website, the bottom is the colonial peanut gallery (me) summing it up:

Dickie Arbiter, the queen’s former press secretary, said that if Andrew thought he’d ‘‘drawn a line in the sand’’ over the saga, he was ‘‘in cuckoo land.’’

‘‘Whomever advised he did this interview ought to collect his/her P45,’’ he tweeted, referring to the British equivalent of a pink slip.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2019/11/17/prince-andrew-interview-about-jeffrey-epsteain-roundly-panned-nuclear-explosion-level-bad/GissBaexNxq6VJh62C1sIL/story.html

Even the English can’t speak English any more.

*****

Perhaps it has always been true that people who write do it because they like gossip and not because they care about language. But either way, we're seeing the effects of no time or $ being spent on copy editing in this era.

I wonder if nous thinks the prose of Dickens and GBS was "overmanicured...."

I meant to say that *some* people who write do it because they like gossip -- certainly not alleging that about all writers.

you tend either to be the copy editor from hell or you develop a hierarchy of battles like a strategic commander and fight the battles that gain the most ground.

This is true, but what I like about pointing out the past tense of the modal verbs is that Japanese student compositions tend to wander between past and present. I have a sense that Japanese verbs are based on modality while English is really a tense-based system with modality as a side car and if you can make students more aware of the past/present distinction, it improves their writing.

I also spend a lot of time on definite/indefinite articles and plurals. I tell students that they shouldn't beat themselves up when they make mistakes, they aren't in Japanese, so they shouldn't be surprised that it is hard, but understanding why they are being used can help them to get to producing more understandable English. There are others who don't feel like this is a worth the effort, but there are a lot of people who teach English over here and are quite proud that they don't know any grammar. I don't think you need it to be a good teacher, but when you denigrate that knowledge, it doesn't really give me a good vibe.

lj:

1. Thank you for this: I don't think you need it to be a good teacher, but when you denigrate that knowledge, it doesn't really give me a good vibe.

2. When I was in grad school I copyedited and then typed the dissertation of a friend from Japan. Articles were her biggest challenge. (My biggest challenge was that it was in the days when there were only typewriters, no word processors, and the typing had to be perfect: no white-out....... )

But either way, we're seeing the effects of no time or $ being spent on copy editing in this era.

Grammar checkers would catch most of the grammar errors I see in articles. And that's not a high bar.

One aspect of time zones that I never thought about until later in life is how my sense of sunrise and sunset are affected by which part of the time zone I live in. Maine is on Eastern Time, and so are my relatives in Ohio, 500+ miles west. The difference between our sunset times is in the range of 40 minutes.

I always found the north-south differences affected me much more. Minneapolis and Houston are at almost the same longitude. On the longest day, sunrise to sunset in Minneapolis is a bit more than 90 minutes longer than in Houston. That is, sunrise 45 minutes earlier, sunset 45 minutes later. The other way around at the end of December, of course.

I turn grammar and spell-checkers off in most of my apps. I can see the use of spell-checkers for some purposes, but grammar-checking software? Eh.

I just turned the Word grammar checker on and it accepted the following:

Whom are you calling?

Whom is it?

Who are you calling?

Who is it?

He didn’t know whom had called.

He didn’t know who had called.

So it doesn't know anything about who/whom either. ;-)

During the year I spent in Iceland, I spent some time on the color guard. The command at that time wanted sunrise/sunset to be strictly observed. Which changed every day. In the middle of summer, we would take the flags down, sit around a few minutes and then run them up again. In the middle of winter, we would run the flags up, sit around a few minutes and then take them down again.

The browser-based checker I use caught "Whom is it?" and "He didn’t know whom had called."

Most of the grammar errors I see are simpleminded ones that the authors know better than to make but were overlooked in the process of tweaking the text. A grammar checker would catch most of those.

The command at that time wanted sunrise/sunset to be strictly observed.

My father worked for the railroad long ago when a schedule still meant something to them. Then he was a senior petty officer in the Navy, which lives by the clock. He "trained" me when I was young. When I was an undergraduate, and Dad a field safety engineer for an insurance company, his schedule occasionally had him in Lincoln at lunchtime. He always arranged to buy me lunch. My mother said she would have paid money for a seat where she could watch as Dad and I approached the designated meeting intersection from different directions, plus-or-minus 30 seconds from the agreed upon time.

Probably part of why I was always comfortable writing real-time software.

During the year I spent in Iceland, I spent some time on the color guard. The command at that time wanted sunrise/sunset to be strictly observed. Which changed every day. In the middle of summer, we would take the flags down, sit around a few minutes and then run them up again. In the middle of winter, we would run the flags up, sit around a few minutes and then take them down again.

I believe that strict Muslims have similar challenges when they live at high latitudes. For example, when Ramadan occurs during winter, they may have only a very brief time when they are allowed to eat. For a month.

Apparently one solution to being in the land of the midnight sun is to ignore the local sunrise/sunset and use that of Mecca.

I wonder if nous thinks the prose of Dickens and GBS was "overmanicured...."

I enjoy GBS moreso than Dickens, and for the more mannered style I really enjoy Wilde. Overall, though, I really don't much go for the 19th C. literature.

But I was actually thinking of the Cult of Didion when I wrote that. A lot of the people I went through grad school with who were also in the US-Lit-post-'45 classes adored Didion, and I thought her prose style was too present in her writing and became too much of an object of attention in itself. At that point you might as well just become a poet.

I don't think you need it to be a good teacher, but when you denigrate that knowledge, it doesn't really give me a good vibe.

Agree. What I tell my students is that they should not take my lack of commenting on their grammar as a sign that there is nothing to work on. My experience is that if I spend too much time focusing on grammar and syntax, their response is to try to simplify their sentence structures in order to feel like they are "winning" by getting fewer corrections, and in doing so, they strip a lot of the power and complexity from the arguments they are making, avoiding subordinating clauses and the like. I want them to stretch for the right logical order, so I have to downplay the control-of-language side. This is especially true with internationals who have just gotten out of their L2 classes and are more worried about how they are saying things than they are about what they are trying to say. I have to get them pushing their envelope or they won't be able to mainstream successfully before they hit their upper division classwork.

Likewise, I have colleagues that overcomment on papers and bury the students in formative comments while going over every paragraph's language in an attempt to give the student their thorough attention. It makes the instructor feel good and generous and it helps move the needle up for assessment work because the papers produced are easier to read. Win/win.

But I find that when presented with an exhaustive commentary, students start with the easy work (fixing grammar and syntax) and spend less time on the formative comments because those require full revision and reorganization and more research to plug the holes. I'd rather they tackle the formative comments because those are the ones that will get them out of the "well written, but inconsequential" pile and into the "worth taking seriously" pile.

Thanks, nous, that's helpful.

19th c. literature is the best. ;-) (Tastes differ....)

I'm probably enough older than you are so that there was no cult of Didion yet when I was in grad school. Whatever I read of hers long ago, I disliked it deeply -- I can't even remember whether it was more the story or the writing -- but I never picked up another book of hers again.

(fixing grammar and syntax) and spend less time on the formative comments because those require full revision and reorganization and more research to plug the holes.

I have done a fair bit of editing stuff written by folks for whom English is, apparently, a second language. Second to code. I find that doing the first (several) passes focused on substance and organization is the way to go for just that reason. The closest I get to grammar and syntax is occasionally commenting that a particular paragraph (in a few cases, chapter) is "incoherent".

Spelling and such can be done last. Worst case (since we aren't in an academic setting), I can just do those corrections myself. But the substance has to be addressed by the author.

There's this from Texas:

Thousands of Republican activists meeting in Houston this weekend for the state’s party convention agreed to a resolution that rejects the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and refers to Joe Biden as an illegitimate president.

The delegates also called for the repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was passed to end discrimination against Black Americans at the polls.

"Hang on to your Confederate money, boys, the South will rise again!" Took a bit longer than anticipated, but it looks like they're getting close.

How much further do they have to go to be repeating Fort Sumter?

The TX GOP platform has been calling for that repeal since 2012.

How much further do they have to go to be repeating Fort Sumter?

They'd have to say fairly explicitly that, if the rest of us won't do things their way, they're taking their marbles and going away. And then try to arrest any Federal law enforcement folks who try to enforce the law.

In that regard, the incident a few years back (2014), when some hoodlums had an armed standoff with Federal (BLM) authorities, and didn't even get criminally charged, was a bad sign. As is the fact that to this day they have neither paid their fines nor ceased and desisted.

Have we not maybe lost the forest for the trees here? I mean, what’s up with Dave? Is it that room in particular, or does he insult whoever is in whateverm room he’s in? If the latter, I think we should investigate what’s driving this antisocial behavior. Maybe he just needs someone to listen. If the former, well that’s just spooky!

You can thank North American transcontinental railroads, and their desire to have trains run on schedule, for the invention of time "zones", and their relative sanity in North America.

How much further do they have to go to be repeating Fort Sumter?

Speaking from my lectern over here on the lunatic fringe...

20 years? 25? In the "history doesn't repeat, but it rhymes" category, I assert things have reached roughly the equivalent of the 1830s, with nullification crises. The Fugitive Slave Act, when the federal government effectively enforced Southern state laws didn't happen until 1850. Dred Scott, when the Supreme Court held Blacks couldn't be citizens ever, was 1857. Then Fort Sumter in 1861, after the Southern state legislature's decided they couldn't actually win the national political battle.

Of course, I also claim that the initial move for real partition will come out of the West, not the South. Water, fire, perceived mishandling of federal lands, blockage of any quick change to low- or no-carbon power generation, other environmental concerns, etc. The South/Midwest state legislatures still think they can win their issues nationally because of the rules. The West knows it can't.

If there was somewhere much better to emigrate to, I would encourage the ObWi commentariat to do so en masse.

Some of us are ineligible for the most commonly named places: too old, not rich enough, lack the right ancestry. I live in a state where the proper people are winning, in a region where that's becoming more common. If I can't win nationally, I'll settle for regionally in some fashion. Devolution? Partition?

The subject comes up regularly these days on another blog I frequent (note that ten years ago there, it was uniformly laughed down; no longer). From the shouting matches there, it appears one of the key things to watch for is an emerging attitude that people who refuse to accept the pain of moving will be abandoned.

So Michael -- New York? New England? Not the Midwest, not the South.....

Some of us are ineligible for the most commonly named places: too old, not rich enough, lack the right ancestry.

That's me.

From the shouting matches there, it appears one of the key things to watch for is an emerging attitude that people who refuse to accept the pain of moving will be abandoned.

No doubt you're condensing something more complex, but this seems like an odd framing. Does it mean: "I'm going to work for my state/region to be independent, and I don't care what the dissolution of the Federal government means for the people in less fortunate regions"?

If not that, what? Doesit also mean "move now or fuggedabout it, we won't take you later"?

Have we not maybe lost the forest for the trees here? I mean, what’s up with Dave? Is it that room in particular, or does he insult whoever is in whateverm room he’s in? If the latter, I think we should investigate what’s driving this antisocial behavior. Maybe he just needs someone to listen.

Pete, this actually made me laugh out loud. Don't think I was unaware of the possible Freudian nature of my examples! I think Dave came from the fact I was just watching a show with native New Yorkers in the 50s, and there was a fair amount of insulting going on.

As a native New Yorker in his 50s, I feel somehow triggered. ;-)

I believe that strict Muslims have similar challenges when they live at high latitudes. For example, when Ramadan occurs during winter, they may have only a very brief time when they are allowed to eat. For a month.

Apparently one solution to being in the land of the midnight sun is to ignore the local sunrise/sunset and use that of Mecca.

There is somewhat of a schism in Norway between Muslims living more in the South and those that live in Tromsø or North of that (iirc there is a mosque in Hammerfest now). Both called on different authorities to solve the problem and the Northerners got a more pragnmatic solution leading to the Southern guys accusing them of being lax.
Can't remember what the exact solution was (it was not the usual "this no Muslim country so all Muslims here are just travellers who do not have to obey the srict rules provided they fast at a later more convenient time).

Does it mean: "I'm going to work for my state/region to be independent, and I don't care what the dissolution of the Federal government means for the people in less fortunate regions"?

That's a not inaccurate summary of one group's position. There are lots of positions. Lots of standard exchanges, as well. Someone eventually says, "A million Democrats from California and New York need to make the sacrifice to move to Wyoming, turning it solid blue." The inevitable answer is, "You first."

"A million Democrats from California and New York need to make the sacrifice to move to Wyoming, turning it solid blue."

I've seen this idea elsewhere. Nice to solve all our problems by getting millions of *other* people to carry out some impossible fantasy concocted in some armchair deity's head. I'm sure they've thought of all the interesting consequences of tripling Wyoming's population as well....

"A million Democrats from California and New York need to make the sacrifice to move to Wyoming, turning it solid blue." The inevitable answer is, "You first."

My wife and I have good friends, a gay couple, who moved from MA to Iowa a few years ago for work reasons. They are not coastal elitists, both of them grew up in rural TX and both maintain close connections to friends and family there, of all kinds of political persuasions.

There were good and bad things about the move. They made friends, work was good, their neighbors were very neighborly.

After a while they moved back to MA. In a nutshell, they got sick of dealing with people who were very nice to them, but who loudly and enthusiastically supported policies and politicians who would have reduced them to second class status. I.e., not recognize their marriage, make it possible for them to be discriminated against at work and in housing, etc etc etc.

The folks they lived among seemed either to not make the connection between the gay neighbors they liked and were friendly with and the policies that would destroy their lives, or else they didn't care.

So after a few years they decided Iowa was not the place for them.

Regarding TX (R)'s, I have two thoughts.

The first thought is that the TX (R) platform is an exercise in performative assholery.

The second thought is that if they want to leave the union, they should go. There would be a lot of details to work out, but so be it.

The origin of this country is based on the premise that, if a body of people are not well served by their political association with some other body of people, they are entitled to sunder that association. And I think that premise is sound.

It's entirely unclear to me what I, as a basically liberal resident of MA, have in common, politically speaking, with a TX (R). I don't see common ground. Different history, different culture, different values. We're different. The words we might appeal to in an attempt to find common ground - self-governance, political liberty, rule of law - most likely don't mean the same things to myself and them.

If they want to leave, it's fine with me. It will make it easier for those of us who do not share the values of the TX (R) party to focus on the things that are actually important to us, and will make it easier to actually get useful things done.

I'm sure many of them are lovely people in their own way, but I see no common bond that would make it important to me for them to remain in the US.

The union is only worth defending if it's actually a union. By my lights, we are not. And the whole thing about this country being some precious beacon of freedom - the "last best hope of earth" - isn't really so anymore. Might have been so, at least arguably so, when Lincoln said it, but that was 160 years ago, more or less. Other folks have gotten on board with the whole self-governance, rule of law, open society thing. If the US doesn't stay together as a single political entity, the world will go on.

It always does.

I understand that there are many people in TX who would be horrified at the prospect of TX leaving the US. Those folks need to vote (R)'s out of statewide office. I can't make that happen, they can. I can help through contributions etc., and am happy to do that, but ultimately the character of political life in TX is up to the citizens of TX.

If you don't like it here, go. If you want to stay, accept that you will not be able to impose whatever batsh*t insanity tickles your fancy on the rest of us.

In particular, if you can't accept the outcome of an election that didn't go your way, it's probably time for you to leave. If you can't endorse the idea that everyone should be able to vote, probably time for you to leave. In general, it might be time for you to leave.

Go make up your own country, do things however you like. Go with god and with my blessing. But go.

As far as emigration, there are probably places my wife and I could go that would be more than pleasant. But we're American, we've built a life here, there are people we are quite attached to here. My wife finally has the garden looking the way she likes it. All of that took more than a little time to make happen, and we're too freaking old to start it all over again.

If folks think they can provoke us into leaving with their threats and hostility and insane resentments and general assholery, they can kiss my behind.

WY alrady has a bit of that dynamic going, with Teton County being one of two blue counties in the state, and the county with the most extreme economic inequality in the US.

As for the scale of migration needed, by 2020 standards they only need about 80k blue voters for the state to become a toss up. MT would take 100k.

As for the scale of migration needed, by 2020 standards they only need about 80k blue voters for the state to become a toss up. MT would take 100k.

With the Internet, lots of jobs can be done from anywhere. (If you can have employees of your coastal elite company who are half way around the world in India, there's no reason you couldn't have others in Wyoming or Montana.) And housing costs, for example, are way way lower in a lot of those low-population red states.

So, not as insane a possibility as it would have been a couple of decades back.

And housing costs, for example, are way way lower in a lot of those low-population red states.

Do you think employers aren't going to notice that when they set salaries? I think there's going to be a lot of shifting and questioning going on as employees who do similar work but have wildly different living expenses start to be reshuffled.

You’d think that a blue-leaning IT company could leverage that cost of living windfall into a bonus of sorts and probably more efficient than lobbying in terms of effect.

Do you think employers aren't going to notice that when they set salaries?

A bit challenging when you have a highly mobile population, and varying costs not only between states but within states (certainly within the larger ones). At some point, the cost of tracking ever finer distinctions will get excessive.

Personally, if my employer tried it, I would arrange a PO Box in, maybe, San Francisco (Manhattan would work, too), set up automatic forwarding, and pull in the high-cost-of-living pay while living elsewhere.

That's a good point, nous. Another wrinkle in the complexity of the situation, it seems to me.

Also, a lot of companies that employ IT people aren't IT companies as such, and if some of them are blue and some of them are red, that also sets up another wrinkle: competition amongst employers for employees in various locations.

(I worked in international compensation for 35 years. Not all the myriad complexities of that dynamic are present intra-country, but more of them will be if workers aren't tied to specific locations.)

Personally, if my employer tried it, I would arrange a PO Box in, maybe, San Francisco (Manhattan would work, too), set up automatic forwarding, and pull in the high-cost-of-living pay while living elsewhere.

Very clever ploy, but it wouldn't be as easy to pull off as you make it sound. You might get away with it if you lived in the same state where your PO Box was located, or if you were self-employed, but your company has to know your state (and country) of residence in order to withold state taxes. (Yes, I know that not all states have state income tax.)

the cost of tracking ever finer distinctions will get excessive.

This is exactly what my company did for the entire world, by city (several hundred cities), not by country. It can be done within the US as well, though not many companies wanted that data when we actually tried it out as a product. Times change, though.... So -- companies wouldn't have to do it themselves, one by one, they'd buy data from someone like the company I worked for and use it to inform their payroll practices.

I looked in to getting a P.O. Box in Atlanta 15 years ago, none available at location closest to my house, went to another nearby location that had boxes but according to the employee I was talking to I would have had to contact the postmaster personally to get them to order/authorize new keyholes being drilled/keys made. Sounded like BS inspired by laziness to me, but since getting a box was not a necessity I gave up on it.

If you don't like it here, go. If you want to stay, accept that you will not be able to impose whatever batsh*t insanity tickles your fancy on the rest of us.

I know you were aiming this at the Texas Republicans' platform statement. But if I were to bet on an actual departure -- some years down the road -- I'd bet on a group of blue states leaving first. I'm generally depressed about politics today. Perhaps because the SCOTUS has scheduled two opinion days this week, it's nearing the end of June, and they're about out of harmless decisions to release. I fear they're going to rule that government(s) can't regulate guns; that women are second-class citizens; that voting can be systematically limited; that regulation of the environment is unconstitutional. That the Republicans will be able to impose whatever insanity they've settled on, whenever they hit the legislative and executive trifecta.

company has to know your state (and country) of residence in order to withold state taxes

Sometimes it's not where you live; it's where the company is based. One time I was living in Calufornia and doing some consulting at a company also in California. But doing it via a company based in New Jersey. So I had to pay New Jersey income tax on that income.

(Similarly, I own a couple of percent of my current employer, so I get a 1099 from them. One of our clients is based in NYC. So I have to file income tax there as well. Even though neither I nor my company are located in New York.)

In short, the situation is already so complex that details can easily get lost in the shuffle. That is, I might well be able to say to my employer: I'll pay estimated taxes at the state level, so don't worry about anything but the IRS. Especially if I suggest that I'll be moving multiple times during the year. 😁

Tax law seriously resembles a full employment for CPAs set up.

if I were to bet on an actual departure -- some years down the road -- I'd bet on a group of blue states leaving first.

Why am I suspecting that the RWNJs would decide that they wouldn't allow any states to leave, lest we legalize abortion or blacks voting or something else that they are downright religious about stopping. But for once they really would have precedence on their side.

Hi all, can't comment much on things going on in the US, the distance between there and here seems further and further every day. But one observation, my FB feed seems filled with father's day tributes, much more than in previous years. I imagine that they were muted during COVID, but it seems like this flood is linked to a sense that everything is going to hell. Has anyone else noticed this or is this just observer bias?

I do have the sense that I'm seeing more than usual. But then, I play so little attention to holidays these days that I'm probably not an ideal indicator.

I wish the whole frickin' South would go. We'd save a lot of tax dollars, too, since we wouldn't have to subsidize their economies anymore.

I’d bet on a group of blue states leaving first

The Essex Junto rides again!

I have no idea how it’s all gonna play out. I’m just tired of having to factor sheer insanity into every matter of public concern.

And I mean insanity literally. We can’t get anything done in this country, because something like a third of the population thinks white people are being replaced and the woke mob is coming for them and their guns.

I’ve given up on having conversations with people who subscribe to this stuff. Millions of people fill their heads full of paranoid lies each and every day. I’m not sure they’re reachable anymore. They’ve lost their minds. Maybe that seems overly judge-y, but I don’t know how else to describe it. They believe things that are plainly not so.

Not sure where you go with that. No place good, that’s for sure.

This country has always been an extremely mixed bag, but at least we used to be able to get some stuff done. I’m not naive about How Things Used To Be, but we used to be able to address concrete, tangible problems - things that should not be a matter of partisan bias. Air and water quality, roads and bridges, public education, energy infrastructure. Basic stuff. Things that governments do, and are uniquely able to do effectively.

The paranoid style has invaded the brains of approximately half the voting public. We’re screwed, for the foreseeable future, it seems to me.

It appears that we are not the only ones thinking this way:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/06/20/texas-gop-platform-secession-theocracy/

And note that just getting rid of Texas would be enough to assure that the MAGAts wouldn't elect another President.

Trump can be president of the free and independent nation of Texas.

Best of luck to them.

Trump can be president of the free and independent nation of Texas.

Would be worth it just to see the pained, patently fake smiles on Abbott and Cruz at having to be Tyrannosaurus Rump's cup bearers instead of taking the crown themselves.

Cucked. By a La Victoria eating yankee.

we used to be able to get some stuff done. I’m not naive about How Things Used To Be, but we used to be able to address concrete, tangible problems - things that should not be a matter of partisan bias. Air and water quality, roads and bridges, public education, energy infrastructure. Basic stuff. Things that governments do, and are uniquely able to do effectively.

The paranoid style has invaded the brains of approximately half the voting public.

In most of those cases (as opposed to abortion, guns, etc.) what has invaded their brains is the rabid libertarian view that government is never the answer. To anything. They're apparently OK with using government for theological purposes. Just not for anything practical and useful.

I wish the whole frickin' South would go. We'd save a lot of tax dollars, too, since we wouldn't have to subsidize their economies anymore.

Everyone says that. No one thinks about higher prices for the oil and natural gas they produce, transit fees for those products and grain exports from the Midwest, etc. Even in 1860, one of Lincoln's motivations for keeping the Union together was a fear of the Confederacy charging high prices for grain transits on the Mississippi.

I wish the whole frickin' South would get over the Civil War.

a fear of the Confederacy charging high prices for grain transits on the Mississippi.

First, that was pre-St Lawrence Seaway. Which rather reduces the impact.

Second, there's no particular reason that the exit terms couldn't include free passage. Much like with Turkey with the Bosphorus -- no transit fees there.

Likely a bigger hassle would be relocating various NASA facilities. A bunch of which got located in the South to placate various Dixiecrat Senators. Still, Hawaii might welcome them. And, being closer to the equator than the Cape, it's actually a better spot...

I wish the whole frickin' South would get over the Civil War.

I venture to predict that, 150 years from now, they won't have gotten over the fact that Trump lost either. Some people just gotta have a Lost Cause to cling to.

@wj -- Plus, it seems to me that trade is a two-way affair. Or are we to assume that the "US-Rebooted" would want or need things from the "Neo-Confederacy," but the latter would need nothing from the former?

Or are we to assume that the "US-Rebooted" would want or need things from the "Neo-Confederacy," but the latter would need nothing from the former?

You mean like corn, wheat, cheese, steel, etc.?** Actually, the number one thing they get from the rest of the country is . . . money. From what we'd save there, we could probably afford to pay the transit fees and then some. (And leave them to internal fights about how to distribute it.)

** For that matter, we could charge them for the water that they import via the Mississippi River. :-)

Or are we to assume that the "US-Rebooted" would want or need things from the "Neo-Confederacy," but the latter would need nothing from the former?

All too often, people's needs are, at best, secondary considerations for politicians and governments. Otherwise just about everything would be cheaper and more plentiful than they are.

If it's left to the states to a much greater degree than now to decide what sorts of laws to have, I wonder if the result, short of splitting the nation in two (or whatever number), will be that people in certain states come to realize what little hells the Christianists and gun-fetishists and radical deregulators have created for them. What would complicate that even further than it would already be complicated is whether those people could do anything about it (other than leave for saner states, assuming that was an even an option).

All too often, people's needs are, at best, secondary considerations for politicians and governments.

Are you just randomly tossing spit? Because I didn't say anything about "people" -- I was making the point that trade between *nations* would go both ways, not just one way, as Michael Cain's comment seemed to imply.

Plus, while you're demonizing government as usual, are you asserting by implication corporations and CEOs care for nothing more than "the people's" needs?

Heh.

Plus, it seems to me that trade is a two-way affair. Or are we to assume that the "US-Rebooted" would want or need things from the "Neo-Confederacy," but the latter would need nothing from the former?

There's trade, then there's trade.

The authors of the Constitution worried enough about things equivalent to transit fees that they specifically banned states from imposing them on each other. In the case of a full separation, transit fees become a matter for negotiation between the countries. One of the things I learned since Russia invaded Ukraine is that most of the motivation for the Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline was so Russia and Germany could avoid paying the transit fees charged by Ukraine and Belarus. In the case of Ukraine, transit fees made up about 4% of their GDP.

I do think it's easier to find "national" facilities in the South that the Rest would have to reproduce than vice versa. The Rest is much more dependent on the bulk-handling Gulf ports than the South is dependent on, say, the Port of New York/New Jersey. Another example is the whole Kennedy Space Complex. Not just the capital cost to reproduce that. There is a substantial value in terms of the rotational energy obtained by being farther south. When the Soviet Union broke up, their main launch facility was in Kazakhstan. The lease fees are high enough that Russia has been building a whole new complex in a very inconvenient location to avoid paying them, and to not give up the southern latitude benefit.

Gaming out a peaceful partition is hard and requires making a whole bunch of assumptions/predictions about future roles of the parties. The US dollar losing its status as the world's reserve currency makes things easier. The US losing its position as a non-nuclear global military superpower makes things easier.

@JanieM, I think Charles was alluding more to the case that in the American Revolution about one-third of the population were Revolutionaries, about one-third Royalists, and the other third weren't committed. The colonial governments, though, were all committed to the Revolution. Similar split of white people in the South during the run-up to the American Civil War. But the Southern state legislatures were all gung-ho secessionist. I have regularly said that if I'm going to conspire to partition the US, my plot will involve convincing 38 state legislatures that partition is in their interest. And their interests don't have to coincide, just each one believing that it will be better off under a different arrangement for its own reasons.

Assuming that some sort of partition happens to the US government, how do any of you see this playing out with states remaining intact for anything but the short term?

How do Colorado and New Mexico survive as purple islands in a sea of red? How do Texas cities carve out their own sovereignty in the face of surrounding pressure? (And, really, the issue is much the same for Denver/Boulder/Ft. Collins.)

If there is a partition, then there is also a severe destabilization of federal authority. What keeps the CA government functioning when all of the federal structure crumbles?

I don't think that the urban/rural divide is going to be any more solvable after a partition than it was before, and I don't know how the cities are going to project their political power across their metropolitan territory, let alone the surrounding areas.

If the order and continuity we have dissolves, I don't know what will follow, but I cannot see it looking anything like the system to which we cling tenuously.

I think most of the Southwest and California will end up looking more like present-day Mexico than like the US post-WWII.

@JanieM, I think Charles was alluding more to the case that in the American Revolution about one-third of the population were Revolutionaries, about one-third Royalists, and the other third weren't committed. The colonial governments, though, were all committed to the Revolution.

Thanks for your responses in general, Michael, they're helpful and enlightening (and depressing).

But Charles seemed to be responding to a comment of mine about trade, riffing off a comment of yours about trade.....so if his reference was what you say, it was pretty obscure.

The one thing that politicians and governments need more than anything else is people.

Plus, while you're demonizing government as usual, are you asserting by implication corporations and CEOs care for nothing more than "the people's" needs?

Regardless of whether corporations and CEOs care anything at all about people's needs, to get what they want, people's money, they generally have to provide goods and services people are willing to pay for.

Unlike governments and politicians who can take your money regardless of whether they provide anything of value to you in return.

Regardless of whether corporations and CEOs care anything at all about people's needs, to get what they want, people's money, they generally have to provide goods and services people are willing to pay for.

Unless, of course, they are providing necessities, and conspiring together to set prices as a de facto, if not de jure, monopoly. (That would be the "trust" in anti-trust legislation.) Sounds familiar, somehow....

How do Colorado and New Mexico survive as purple islands in a sea of red?

I'm thinking that, by the time something like this could be negotiated, Arizona would have turned blue. It's already trending in that direction -- hence the frantic efforts by Republicans there to rig the system. Efforts that look increasingly futile in the short to medium term.

Gaming out a peaceful partition is hard

tru dat

I don't think that the urban/rural divide is going to be any more solvable after a partition than it was before

also tru dat

my best guess is that nobody is going anywhere anytime soon, mostly because it would be a colossal, world-historical PITA. it would take years, maybe a generation, to figure out how to do it in way that would avoid bloodshed.

and so it's unlikely to actually happen.

basically I think the TX (R)'s are full of crap. it's performative yahoo nonsense.

but I actually wouldn't mind if they'd leave the country. it would make life a lot simpler for the rest of us.

I would have thought that attempting a coup without the support of the majority of the populace or the military would also be a world-historical PITA.

But here we are.

The Rat(ional) Choice school has an abysmal record of prediction.

Government has ceased to be a matter of making non-catastrophic public choices and has instead become the process of mitigating the worst choices that have already been made for bad reasons.

I just ordered Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry for the Future. It does seem on-target.

Government has ceased to be a matter of making non-catastrophic public choices and has instead become the process of mitigating the worst choices that have already been made for bad reasons.

In many cases, it has become nothing but an opportunity for performance for those whose (lack of) acting talent means they would never make it, let alone star, on screen or stage or TV.

Tuesday hearing over. As you might expect, utterly shocking testimony from R officials from Georgia, including impressive numbers from Raffensperger who testified for example that 4 dead people voted, as opposed to the 5 thousand and then 10 thousand claimed by Trump and Giuliani. Also, harrowing testimony from one of the election workers and her mother, who were defamed by name by Trump, and whose entire life has been turned upside down, as well as others who were majorly targeted and threatened on social media and in person at their homes. Fox News, covering, immediately pivoted (on this last point) to the SCOTUS justices who are currently being targeted. What a bunch of bastards, if you will forgive the lack of sophisticated analysis. Where is Dave when you need him?

More fun: it seems that someone was doing a documentary on Trump's reelection campaign. And had enormous access to what was happening. The Jan 6 Committee has subpoenaed the raw footage. Which may well show exactly what conversations Trump and those around him had, both before the voting and between then and Jan 6.

No need to rely on what people say they remember of what Trump said and did. (Which Trump, surprise surprise, claims are all lies.) We may get to see him saying and doing with our own eyes. For those willing to believe their lying eyes, naturally.

I don't think that the urban/rural divide is going to be any more solvable after a partition than it was before, and I don't know how the cities are going to project their political power across their metropolitan territory, let alone the surrounding areas.

In one sense I agree. OTOH, my own take on partition, and I've written about it here so no one has an excuse for not knowing (just kidding), is that it will be based on different regions wanting radically different responses to climate change problems. Rural Utah will discover they have much more in common with SLC on those critical issues than they do with rural Mississippi or rural Ohio. Managing water and fire, for example, will be existential for both rural and urban Utah. Gaining managerial control of the public lands held by the federal government in order to deal with water and fire will be something the entire region agrees on.

Michael Cain - I agree with your reasoning and expect that would hold for any orderly partition that happened as a result of a long, slow failure of federal oversight. I'm not sure that an orderly devolution of power will be the order of the day, though. Are we dealing with Brad Little or Janice McGeachin in charge of how ID jumps? What about Gianforte? What about Noem? They don't seem like the sort of people who are taking in the long view. They seem like the type to want to monkey wrench federal power as much as possible, and who would resist any attempt to put limits on their power as Governor in the case of a failure of federalism.

And if the feds are crippled, then the federal lands are up for grabs on the state level, and they will be serving up a feast of natural resources to anyone with cash.

This is from a piece in today's Times by Daniel Finkelstein, a rightwing but reasonable commentator. (Which description reminds me of 1066 and All That's characterisation of the Cavaliers and the Roundheads in our civil war: the former were "wrong but romantic", the latter were "right but repulsive").

His piece is about whether Ford was right to pardon Nixon (he thinks he wasn't), and why not prosecuting Trump would be a serious mistake. It may be behind a paywall, so FYI this is how he ends:

Nixon’s crimes were incredibly serious. The more carefully one studies Watergate, the more startling they become. So it’s saying something to argue that the challenge Trump poses to liberal democratic order is more serious even than that posed by Nixon.

The central advantage of democracy is that it allows for the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. Undermine that and the whole basis of law-making by consent is undermined. If the justice department concludes that Trump broke the law to try to prevent the peaceful transfer of power then almost any political risk is worth taking to assert the primacy of the law. The fact that Trump’s followers would be infuriated cannot stand in the way, nor can concern that this infuriation may lead to violence.

The re-election of Trump would be a calamity. But it would be a far greater calamity if it occurred after he had learnt that the law doesn’t apply to him. If he concluded that his political support, the extent of its delusion and its violent intensity, insured him against prosecution then his obvious move would be to deepen their delusion and increase their violent intensity.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trump-needs-to-know-he-is-not-above-the-law-lqqpz3czw

Gotta say, the man has a point. In fact, I would go further.

Yes, the US Attorney General should charge him with various Federal crimes. (Perhaps not the entire list, but at least the Greatest Hits version.) But in addition, the Georgia Attorney General should charge him with the various violations of state law during his attempt to overturn the election there. The Arizona Attorney General should do likewise, for his election-related crimes there. (But probably won't, Arizona politics being how they are these days.)

Then, the New York Attorney General should go after his various financial crimes there -- already a work in progress. Not election related, perhaps. But long overdue.

The phrase "Throw the book at him!" comes to mind. Give DeSantis, and any other Trump wannabes, a reason to think about what skeletons there may be in their closet. From what we've been seeing regarding various Republican moralizers, it wouldn't be surprising if they have some. The cultists may not care, but that needs to clearly NOT be a get-out-of-jail-free card.

this ^^^^. every single word.

if Trump walks away from this, rule of law is utterly undermined.

if Trump walks away from this and manages a second term as POTUS, this country is basically done. really done.

I have no idea what happens then, except that it won't be good.

This in particular:

The fact that Trump’s followers would be infuriated cannot stand in the way, nor can concern that this infuriation may lead to violence.

The infuriation *would* lead to violence. Not "may", but *would*.

So we can either deal with that, or live in a nation where a bunch of violent bastards decide the direction of public life.

The infuriation *would* lead to violence. Not "may", but *would*.

No question there. And, as we saw last year, an enormous flood of threats of violence** which merely traumatize people, even though they aren't acted upon.

** Not only against those involved in him being charged (and, please God, convicted). But against their families, neighbors, etc., too.

And if the feds are crippled, then the federal lands are up for grabs on the state level, and they will be serving up a feast of natural resources to anyone with cash.

50 years ago, or even 25 years ago, I would probably have agreed with you. The recent rise of the "sovereign sheriff" concept has coincided with the claim that the public lands belong to counties, not the federal government or the states. They've had to go with that claim because the explosive growth in the West has been almost exclusively urban/suburban and includes tons of at least informal environmentalists. The people who would sell off the extractive rights pell-mell are outnumbered and no longer control that decision in most western states.

I'm thinking that, by the time something like this could be negotiated, Arizona would have turned blue. It's already trending in that direction...

The two great geographic political changes of the last 30 years are the Midwest going red and the West going blue. As of today, the 8-state Mountain West has more Democrats in the US Senate than the 12-state Midwest. The Midwest shift is occasionally noted by East Coast media. Eg, as the "failure of the blue wall" in the 2016 Presidential election. What they seemingly failed to notice about that election was the West producing almost as many Clinton votes in the EC as the NE urban corridor.

The two great geographic political changes of the last 30 years are the Midwest going red and the West going blue. As of today, the 8-state Mountain West has more Democrats in the US Senate than the 12-state Midwest.

I had noticed that the media (at least the bits I frequent) persists in treating those Democrats who keep winning in Montana as anomalies, rather than a trend. I wonder how much of that is a result of the pervasiveness of the urban/rural image of today's political divisions. Certainly it would be challenging to characterize Montana as predominant urban....

Montana is 55.9% urbanized. But only four other states are less urbanized.

Urbanization in the United States

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