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Free Minds & Free Markets

Love Your Homemade Quilt? Thank Capitalism.

How industrialization keeps you warm at night

A patchwork quilt covering a bed in a country B&B or hanging on a museum wall evokes nostalgia for simpler times. Using simple shapes—triangles, squares, trapezoids, octagons—and the clever arrangement of color and pattern, the quilters of a bygone era created beauty and utility from what we wasteful moderns might simply discard. Symbolizing handicraft and thrift, quilts seem simultaneously old-fashioned and countercultural, an authentic alternative to impersonal industry. Not surprisingly, American quilts enjoyed their first renaissance in the 1920s, their second in the 1970s—both periods of rapid social change.

In reality, though, patchwork quilts wouldn't exist without trade, industrialization, and material abundance. They are the physical embodiment of what economist Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment: a bourgeois art par excellence.

Patching is as old as clothes, and sewing fibrous batting between two sheets for warmth is ancient. Patchwork quilts are much more recent. The earliest date back to the late 17th century, when vibrant cotton prints from India were all the rage among the European gentry. More than a century passed before ordinary people began sleeping under geometrical patterns created from small, colorful, precisely cut shapes. Patchwork quilts became common only after textile production surged and prices dropped thanks to the mechanical innovations we now call the Industrial Revolution.

By the early 19th century, cheap factory-made fabrics spread the luxury of tailored clothes beyond the rich and their liveried servants. Traditional peasant clothing is made up of rectangles that preserve as much cloth as possible for eventual reuse. Skirts are gathered rather than fitted with darts and seams; shirts and blouses hang away from the body; sleeves are billowy. These shapes reflect material constraints, not stylish silhouettes. As the price of fabric dropped, ordinary people's wardrobes grew and homemade clothing became more fashionable and fitted.

Cutting sleeves or bodices in curved pieces to fit the body inevitably produces leftover bits of fabric. These awkward leavings could go in the trash, or to the ragman. But with a snip here and there, they become the triangles or squares of a patchwork pattern.

As quilt-making grew in popularity, it generated new demand for fabric scraps. Women stored and swapped leftover bits. In an 1811 letter, Jane Austen nagged her sister to send her promised supplies: "Have you remembered to collect peices [sic] for the Patchwork?—We are now at a standstill." Dressmakers and fabric mills sold scraps and remnants by the pound, usually to people making quilts to sell. "Some communities and rural regions became renowned for their quilts, as women turned long winters into essential income," writes the economic historian Beverly Lemire.

The time to laboriously piece together patchwork patterns was itself a gift of industrial production. Throughout history, women had spent their days spinning thread. Supplying a single hand-weaver could take eight, 10, even 20 spinners, depending on the type of fabric. The new spinning mills made that work unnecessary—the robots are taking our jobs!—and women found more artistic and sociable uses for their household industry. "As spinning wheels were discarded, quilting assumed greater importance," Lemire writes.

The connection between quilts and newfound abundance didn't end there. Industrial production made scissors and shears affordable and slashed the cost of needles and pins. Synthetic dyes introduced a profusion of bright colors, while copper-plate printing applied them in ever-changing fashionable patterns. Even the cotton thread for all those neat hand stitches required significant innovation. Before the 19th century, sewing thread was expensive silk or linen.

"Cotton sewing thread is the fine, hard-finish product of plied yarns twisted tightly in the plying process against the original direction of spinning," writes historian of technology Rachel Maines. "No process existed for making this product before the first decade of the 19th century; only the soft and relatively uneven yarns used for weaving and the untwisted floss employed in embroidery were available. Thread before 1810 was thus mainly a handmade and costly component of quilt-making."

By the late 19th century, quilters were using sewing machines to speed up their work, if only when adding borders, often from store-bought fabric. Knowing that her mid-20th century readers were unlikely to sew by hand, Rose Wilder Lane defended mechanized quilt-making in her 1963 book on American needlework: "I was a pioneer child; I know how pioneer women welcomed the marvelous machine, incredulously admiring its swiftness and its perfect stitching, and thanked God for easing women's work. Whether your tool is a needle or tamed electricity, your patchwork is your own; you can express yourself in pattern and colors and way of working."

Today quilters sew on computerized machines that offer scores of different stitches and cost a mere fraction of what the pioneers paid, whether measured in real dollars or hourly wages. These hobbyists generally buy their cloth new, keeping fabric stores alive now that most apparel is cheaper to buy than to make. Quilters can even purchase bundles of precut squares known as "fat quarters" and design whole new patterns for on-demand digital printing at Spoonflower.com.

If you think of patchwork quilts as remnants of a tranquil age before mass-market production, all this commerce and technology will seem like cheating. But it's true to the craft's actual heritage.

Patchwork quilts were never necessities. They were practical pleasures—self-expression enabled by mass production, handwork made possible by technological advances. They are as modern as their crisp colors and precise geometries. Do-it-yourself crafts can only exist, after all, when you no longer have to do everything yourself.

Photo Credit: Joanna Andreasson

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  • Jimbo||

    "Subscribers get first crack at commenting on Postrel's articles..." - The Jacket
    So I guess I'm the only one?

  • Prapavan||

    Such a nice article nice read
    Happy New Year 2017 Wishes Images HD

  • commodious buggres alle||

    We wasteful moderns understand that time is the only truly nonreplenishible resource, which is why we don't waste time quilting. That's what Netflix and Twitter are for.

  • ||

    Wait. How do I get a quilt from Netflix or Twitter? I've used both and they've never offered to send me a quilt.

  • Rich||

    Patchwork quilts were never necessities. They were practical pleasures

    and even art.

    One of my favorite stories about how ignorant of math some people are has to do with quilting. In a nutshell, this woman had been searching for *years* for a regular hexagon 2" on a side; it was beyond her that this pattern is easily constructed.

  • Tyler.C||

    That makes me very sad

  • Rich||

    It's a tragedy of sorts. OTOH, she was elated when enlightened.

  • ||

    and even art.

    Rich, it's remarkable how much controversy these it in a simple statement like that. My wife is a well-known quilt artist, curator, and mover/shaker in their professional organizations, and I'm always hearing tales of frustration about acceptance of pieces based on art criteria versus craft and utility. For her, the first question on any piece is, "Is this good art?" rather than, "Is this a good quilt?" This is apparently NOT a universal way that art quilts are viewed, and in fact, some great fiber art gets scorned because it's not "quilty" enough.

    I sent her a link to this article, which prompted this email exchange (note that she has met several of the regulars here):

    Me: Have you seen this? (link)
    Wife: She doesn't really understand the history or contemporary usage. But I guess it's for a general audience anyway.
    Me: Postrel hates us (the commenters) anyway.
    Wife: Well, can't hate her for that, at least. You're ruffians.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • commodious buggres alle||

    Fulla SF'd links?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Full of unfulfilled promise?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Rich||

  • GILMORE™||

    I see no mention of Twerking there.

  • Brochettaward = (((pants)))||

    Sounds exactly like what the cosmos around here do. Only part left off is where they block you after disagreeing with them because you must obviously be a troll.

  • Tagore Smith||

    Honestly my HnR commenting (and I suspect some others) is mostly explained by what I call the Dunning-Ballmer effect (see https://xkcd.com/323/, and my sincere apologies to Kruger.)

    The Dunning-Ballmer effect is the notion that while you are best at everything when at precisely the correct level of intoxication it is essentially impossible for you to realize that you are past that point. Indeed, the further past it you are, the harder it s to recognize that you have passed it.

  • See Double You||

    You Sugar Free'd/Heroic Mulatto'd/John'd the link.

  • Jerryskids||

    Quilting is a gateway to knitting, and nothing is more evil than making women slave away at home knitting hats and mittens and mufflers at piecework rates. Or so I've heard. Good thing the Labor Department issues tons of regulations on that sort of thing to keep Big Wool from exploiting New England housewives trying to make a few extra bucks.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    "...cost a mere fraction of what the pioneers paid, whether measured in real dollars or hourly wages."

    Yeah, but what about the cost of carbon? Did you factor that in? Did you factor in ocean acidification and climate weirding? Didn't think so. Your capitalism is literally killing the planet and there you sit under your comfy quilt. Monster.

  • Sevo||

    OT:
    "WikiLeaks offers to 'authenticate' US intelligence on Russia's involvement in election hacking"
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/.....&ocid=iehp

    Actually, Assange says 'put up or shut up'.
    "Obama should submit any Putin documents to WikiLeaks to be authenticated to our standards if he wants them to be seen as credible."

  • The Fusionist||

    burn

  • Crusty Juggler||

    While enjoyable, this article is far too delicate and feminine for the repulsive ruffians who dominate this website's readership.

  • GILMORE™||

    Clearly you've never encountered "Street Quilting".

  • AlmightyJB||

    I can't count how many men I've killed with my knitting needles.

  • GILMORE™||

    Knitting needles? Take that yarn shit outta here. Shit is straight up handsewn, yo. Young bucks coming up today might get their start on a sewing machine, that shit is like autotune to old-school quilters. Its all about the pattern styles and your knowledge of materials sciences. Northside Vermont represent.

  • Tagore Smith||

    My mother was once almost arrested at an airport over some knitting needles. It turns out that, even before 9/11, it was a Federal offense to make jokes about weapons when boarding an aircraft. When asked if she had any weapons on her my Mom (who was knitting a hat or something at the time) whipped out her knitting needles, assumed a Kung-fu pose, and made some Bruce Lee noises while waving her knitting needles around like sais.

    It was her penchant for doing things things like that that made her both widely-loved and a pain in the ass. Luckily this was before 9/11 and we didn't lock little old ladies up for making dumb jokes back then. Not sure what would happen if you did that now.

  • Longtobefree||

    If someone did that now, you still would not know - - it would not be reported, and they would just disappear as if their social security number had been changed to all zeros.

  • ||

    Your mother sounds like someone I would like.

  • See Double You||

    OT: On the plus side, I just accepted an offer at a law firm and will be getting a 50% pay raise. On the minus side, it's -26°F where I am.

  • AceDroman||

    Nice work! Congrats! Do you have to relocate? Maybe to Florida where it is 79 degrees right now?

  • See Double You||

    Thanks! I have to relocate, but I'll still be living in the cold. *looks up weather report* Oh boy, it's -42 with windchill. They're letting the addicts inside the shelters, it's that cold.

  • Lee Genes||

    So Finland?

  • See Double You||

    I wish. Helsinki is 34. A veritable heatwave.

  • Mike Schmidt||

    Where you at? I'm in North Dakota. Supposed to be -30F tonight with -50F or lower windchill.

  • See Double You||

    Montucky.

  • R C Dean||

    Congrats, I hope.

    I've been fired by three law firms - I just don't fit their business model/"culture". I think the billable hour model sets up conflicts of interest with clients that I struggled mightily with. It just didn't fit with how I would do work, and how I thought the work should be done.

    If you fit reasonably well, and are willing to spend the time to be profitable under a billable hour culture, you can do really well. I'm confident I spent most of my career as one of the lowest paid members of my law school class, but I was fine with that because in-house counsel work was much more satisfying.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I think the billable hour model sets up conflicts of interest with clients

    Can you expand upon this please? I'm just curious as to your thoughts.

  • Tundra||

    Yes, please do.

    Although as a client, I suspect it's gonna make me cranky.

  • Tagore Smith||

    As someone who has owned a software business that tended to bill by the hour, I'll say that I observed some of the same conflicts as R C Dean. I would like to think that, while I am a bit of a mixed bag of a human being, my business ethics are pretty top-notch. That said... there were temptations, especially when I was taking work from clients like Google, who care much more about results than about the bill.

    On the other hand I have taken on a number of fixed-bis contracts, and the conflicts there are worse, though different. Software is not law, but it is a bit too similar for comfort, and I tend to think that the billable hours model is best. I'd love to find a better way to bill clients, one that is not fixed bid or hourly, but I have yet to discover it.

  • R C Dean||

    No problem.

    There is a fundamental disconnect between what the client needs and what the billable hour model incentivizes.

    Clients need advice and/or work product quickly and efficiently. The billable hour model is contrary to that, incentivizing cranking hours uber alles, which means law firms produce work slowly and inefficiently. Any attempt run your practice so that it is quick and efficient will mean your clients love you, but your bosses hate you.

    Example: I looked at my practice (contracting, regulatory compliance), and determined that having an inventory of contract templates was the best way to deliver quality contracts very efficiently. Developing the templates meant either (a) writing off a lot of my time or (b) charging a client for stealth-developing a template while working their business. Once I had templates, I could turn contracts in minutes rather than hours. The law firm penalized me for serving my clients better, and rewarded other associates who served their clients less well by cranking hours developing contracts essentially from scratch, every time.

  • ||

    You are absolutely right RC. Billable hours rarely pays off for the customer.

    A large consulting company I once worked with built an utility billing system for a local company. The local company got a deal because the big consulting company I worked for got the rights to the intellectual property and could resell it to other utilities.

    The company built the project with an eye to reusing it and hosting the end results.

    The vision never came to fruition because the other partners in the large consulting firm would look at the project and say, "if I use your solution, I can only bill for about 35% of what I would if I built it from scratch. I'd rather bill for all that extra money and start from the ground floor."

  • R C Dean||

    There is also a more subtle conflict of interest created by the billable hour model - it distorts your assessment of legal risk, one of your fundamental roles as an attorney. In a nutshell, you are incentivized to overstate risk, because overstated risk generates work. I might tell my in-house employer "Eh, this is kinda marginal, but on the whole I think its defensible and downside is not that bad, really. With that in mind, if you want to go forward, I think we can paper it with a letter agreement." A law firm lawyer is more likely to say "This is not clearly covered by a black-letter safe harbor. We think we need to do research on case law [IMO, after a quick look, not worth the marginal return on the forty-page memo you will get and pay for], and would recommend either this complex structure [costing a lot more hours] to drive risk down to the absolute minimum." Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. My employer gets a solution that is 95% or more as good, for a lot less time and money.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    When you're a larger firm, you're gonna put as many (younger) attorneys as you can on a case to maximize billing. That can interfere with developing a meaningful relationship with clients.

    My wife's firm has agreements with their clients where she is the only one allowed to work on certain cases. They charge a little bit more for the agreement, but it ensures that she becomes an expert on the cases and the client gets the best representation possible.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't think these incentives really cause people to intentionally do the "wrong thing". But you marinate in a company that has these incentives, and it will change your thinking.

    On the litigation side, I'm not sure the conflicts are the same or as bad. This is mostly corporate and business law that I am looking at.

  • See Double You||

    Corporate formations/transactions is what I will be doing. Thanks for the heads up re billable hours and the inherent conflicts they create for clients.

    At my interview, the partners stressed that billable hours were not as important as just getting the required work done. I think they have a few core business clients who have been willing to pay a hefty sum to churn out quality work. The firm is relatively small. I will also be the youngest attorney there by far (interestingly, they have been desperate to add young attorneys - not many want to live in a small town, yet my starting salary will be over $10 grand greater than what a new attorney can get at the larger firms, and housing is much cheaper than in the bigger towns where the big firms are).

  • Tagore Smith||

    That's the pernicious thing about business ethics. You may start out wanting to do the right thing, but unless you make a strenuous effort to steer your practices toward the right thing your ship will eventually drift toward wrong thing - that's just the direction the currents run. You can avoid this, but it is difficult, and requires attention.

  • EDG reppin LBC||

    Billable hours doesn't necessarily mean "sticking it to clients". But to advance in any firm, be it law, accounting, etc, you have to generate more billable hours. The best way to do that is by bringing on new clients. And that is where some people balk. Because now, we're talking about sales, and being a salesperson. Which is why if you have sales skills, you can be very successful in whatever career you choose.

  • See Double You||

    At my firm, the partners stressed that I should help bring in young attorneys; they didn't discuss possibly bringing in new clients as much, interestingly enough.

  • Tagore Smith||

    That's nice. I recently accepted a job that pays about 20%-25% of what I was making two years ago. On the plus side that's still in the six figures and there are options involved that might eventually be worth something (and, though it's a long shot, potentially quite a lot.) And it only got down to 0 last night here.

  • american socialist||

    Love your interstate highway system or local park? Thank socialism.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    I thank them for about 90min each day as they help me contribute to the catastrophic warming of the planet as I sit there idling.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    He's half right. The interstate highway system was directly inspired by the National-Socialist German Worker's Party's Reichsautobahn program, and is intended to serve the same purpose, infrastructure to support the transport of military troops and materiel.

    On the other hand, public parks had their origin in 19th Century industrialists' acts of philanthropy. For example:

    Derby Arboretum opened in 1840 and is often described as "Britain's first public park". Although green spaces and common lands had of course existed previously, as had private parkland and gardens, the park in Derby was the first to be deliberately planned as a place of public recreation in an urban setting.[2][3]

    The Arboretum was donated to the town in 1840 by Joseph Strutt, a former mayor of Derby and member of a prominent local family of industrialists. A noted philanthropist, Strutt was grateful to the working people of Derby for the part they had played in helping him and his family amass their fortune, and wanted to convey his thanks by providing a much needed recreational facility for a rapidly expanding and urbanising area. Strutt commissioned John Claudius Loudon to design the park, and Loudon adapted Strutt's original plans for a botanical garden and pleasure grounds to his own vision, incorporating landscaped walkways.
  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Similarly:

    The park was originally a private development (though open to the public) by Richard Vaughan Yates, the cost of which was expected to be met through the development of grand Georgian-style housing around the park.

    Prince's Park was designed by Joseph Paxton and James Pennethorne, opened in 1842 and named for the newborn Edward, Prince of Wales.[1][3] The plan was drawn by John Robertson and Edward Milner supervised the work. Construction was completed in 1843.[4] The original gates can still be seen. With its serpentine lake and a circular carriage drive, the park set a style which was to be widely emulated in Victorian urban development, most notably by Paxton himself on a larger scale at Birkenhead Park. Prince's Park also influenced its near neighbour, Sefton Park.

    Richard Yates gave the park to the city in 1849.[5] In the August of the same year, the park was used for a fair,[6] which was well-attended and raised money for local hospitals. The event included various marquees and a hot air balloon flight. A lithograph exists, which documents this event.[7]

    An obelisk and former drinking fountain in the park bears the inscription:

    To the memory of Richard Vaughan Yates
    The enlightened & philanthropic founder of Princes Park [sic]
    Erected by public subscription 1858
  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Of course public sector parasites and their supporters are more than happy to take credit for the existence of municipal parks as their origin have been suppressed and forgotten.

  • american socialist||

    What's a public subscription? Do local parks require local tax dollars?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Stop shucking and jiving around the point, bigot.

    You claimed public parks had their origin in socialism. I proved that false with empirical data. Public parks have their origin in the sort of industrial philanthropy you seek to outlaw.

    Stop embarrassing yourself and concede the point.

  • american socialist||

    I have no problem conceding an error. I never implied nor did I think about the origin of the idea of public parks when I posted. Good to know, though.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I never implied nor did I think about the origin of the idea of public parks when I posted

    When you realize that, you'll be making progress.

  • R C Dean||

    I never implied nor did I think about the origin of the idea of public parks when I posted.

    Oh, I think thanking socialism for parks implies that they were originated by socialists.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Eh, it could be narrowly construed, as any back-tracking politician would, as meaning only that the vast majority of parks owe their existence to socialism.

    Similar to how he implies that without socialism, no modern roads would have been built. We would be left only with the plank roads or dirt roads built by the first settlers.

    It takes no imagination to imagine what exists, and little imagination to imagine that those who innovated and pioneered would never have kept on innovating and pioneering.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Public subscription was how large public works or projects were often funded in the past. People voluntarily contributed towards something they personally felt was worthy. It was also how companies and other schemes were often funded too.

    The public part meant it was open to anyone who chose to participate.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    In fact, public subscription is what stocks and shares are all about -- the true public funds what it wants, not what the government wants. I have always assumed this is the difference between British public schools and what we call private schools -- that somewhere along the line, public was perverted into meaning what the government funds thru theft and extortion rather than what the true public funds voluntarily.

  • Akira||

    "somewhere along the line, public was perverted into meaning what the government funds thru theft and extortion rather than what the true public funds voluntarily."

    That's why I think that "voluntary" and "involuntary" are better terms. Alas, usage dictates meaning, and you basically have to use "public" and "private" unless you want to explain what you mean to every single person when you say "voluntary" or "involuntary".

  • american socialist||

    Eisenhower stole a good idea from a monstrous government. This discredits the idea?

  • See Double You||

    All we know is that only socialism can provide things like roads.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's a good idea to extort funds from peaceful people to build infrastructure that further entrenches the ability of the military-industrial complex to exert hegemonic control?

    I thought you were the "principled anti-war" guy here. It turns out that you are just a hypocrite frothing at the mouth at an argument you would ostensibly support but are now against because Heroic Mulatto made it.

  • american socialist||

    "a good idea to extort funds from peaceful people"

    Isn't that what it all boils down to people like you? That some plutocrat could better use the money going to build a playground.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • american socialist||

    sorry, I've been down that interstate highway before. If you think the ethics of personal charity and the state levying a tax are the same we'll just have to agree to disagree.

  • See Double You||

    Where socialists err is in believing that "plutocrats" (your term for anyone who has more money than you feel he or she should) are universally malignant. So long as they make their money through voluntary exchange, why should the government take their money?

    If you socialists believe some service is lacking, then why don't you all do something about it without stealing?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That's what he'll never admit. He believes that if enough people think so, it is ok to threaten someone with violence to get them to do something. I just wonder at what point does this become ok? If you asked me to give 5 bucks to AmSoc and I said "no", if you said you'd punch me if I didn't, that's assault, no? When does assault change into taxation? When 3 people ask? 10? 100? 1,000?

  • ant1sthenes||

    It's about which people, not how many. If you punch AmSoc and take his money, that's robbery. If he punches you and takes your money, that's taxes.

  • DOOMco||

    *takes notes*

  • ||

    When does assault change into taxation?

    When you carry the proper ID. Laminated paper and plastic cards change all ethical and moral calculations.

  • You ARE a Prog (MJG)||

    So now we're not supposed to appreciate local parks. Interesting.

  • kbolino||

    plutocrat

    A term that curiously never includes the primary funding sources of the Democratic Party.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Well, if you're claiming national socialism as a form of socialism, I guess I'll put that in the win column.

  • Tagore Smith||

    No, and Mussolini proves this. I like my trains like I like my women. Late, so I can skip out on the whole thing out of boredom and never see them again.

  • Mike Schmidt||

    No doubt it was inspired by the National-Socialist German Worker's Party. But as you alluded to, it was promoted here for national defense as well as to improve the free movement of citizens and to improve interstate commerce. Very libertarian ideals...and not exactly things socialists are known to embrace. Especially the free movement of the citizenry.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    to improve the free movement of citizens and to improve interstate commerce

    Bug of use by a free citizenry not yet fully bowed by an ever-expanding post-War Federal government, not feature.

  • Mike Schmidt||

    Good point. (see how it's done amsoc?)

  • Mike Schmidt||

    I thought you were a libertarian?

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    He is. The rest of us are fake news.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    He was, but he was uncomfortable with the amount of Asian libertarians, so became a national socialist.

  • Mike Schmidt||

    I like those Asian Libertarians. Found this posted there:

    When a man is farting louder than woman, he is using his passive-aggressive violence to express his patriarchal dominance. This 'school of thought' intimidates every woman to subconsciously not release as much flatulence and thus the woman fearing for her safety doesn't fart as louder as a sign of submissiveness, this in turn causes 'rape culture' and woMen being oppressed. I want feminism in farting too.

  • Sour Kraut||

    and woMen being oppressed


    Can any local derpetologist explain this capitalization. I am at a loss

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • R C Dean||

    Not gonna click. Nuh-uh.

  • american socialist||

    That facebook site seems to be run by one person and 728 socks. I think I can still Find it funny when an Asian kid draws an "I love my whore family" and be libertarian.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Your hatred of Asians is now causing you to spout incomprehensible non-sequiturs.

    Bowen Xu is a million times better a man than you, father, and grandfather combined, could ever be.

  • Tagore Smith||

    I think I might agree with that post, but it's so incoherent that I can't really tell. I tend to give people who speak English as a second language some latitude, but... the incoherence here is not a matter of language, as far as I can tell.

  • Tagore Smith||

    I think I might agree with that post, but it's so incoherent that I can't really tell. I tend to give people who speak English as a second language some latitude, but... the incoherence here is not a matter of language, as far as I can tell.

  • Sevo||

    The apotheosis of socialism: That public restroom which you use only because you are too civilized to pee on commie-kid's leg.
    Yeah, LUV the local park. It's right up there.

  • Fairbanks||

    You're very ignorant to think these can only be provided by socialism. I love the many parks I use around me. And the two lakes. And they're all privately owned. And many highways in the U.S. are, or have been, privately owned. The best ones were I live are private.

  • kbolino||

    Government contracting is a form of socialism, now?

  • Agammamon||

    american socialist|12.17.16 @ 10:25AM|#

    Love your interstate highway system or local park? Thank socialism.

    What? You think that authoritarian meddling in the structure of inter-city/state transport, completely distorting its evolution and being the *major* cause of 'automobile culture' in the US (and so leading to the 'need' for further interventions to combat smog, congestion, and global warming) is something to *thank* socialism for?

    If I was a socialist, I would be trying to distance myself as much as possible from that major fuckup and its blatant example to future generations why socialism SIMPLY CAN NOT WORK - the knowledge problem.

    Think about it, if it weren't for your 'Top Men' we'd all be taking the fucking train to work and be amenable to further state control. The culture of individualism in the United States could have been stamped out a generation ago and we'd all be little cogs in your great machine.

    Or and parks? Seriously? That's on par with 'but muh roadz!'. As if parks could not nor would not exist without state mandate - despite the fact that they already do and have done for a couple centuries already.

  • Agammamon||

    Plus, if all socialism can claim to its credit is the interstate and parks - well you ain't got much of an economic system to be worth considering implementing then do you?

  • MarkLastname||

    Love the bread you get at the end of the bread line? Thank socialism! People complain, but if it weren't for socialism there would be no bread and you'd starve!

  • ||

    OT. I keep hearing and reading about how Facebook and other powerful social media companies (i.e. youtube) will shut down 'fake news' along with the help, sounds like, of Google.

    The question is...what hope does free speech and freedom of [removed]particularly where non-progressive narratives are concerned) have against that power?

    It's all very troubling.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    It will just divide the politic more than ever. Those who depend on corporate news (the proggies AND conservatives, believe it or not!) and those who depend on underground distributed news (the free thinkers).

    The delicious irony of proggies depending on corporate filters to insulate them from real news is just too wonderful to pass up. Pretty soon they will be wanting just the opposite of Citizens United, wanting to allow only corporate news, wanting to ban unfiltered news, all for the people's good of course.

  • Rich||

    Obviously the solution is to make creation, distribution, and possession of fake news HATE CRIMES!

  • Brochettaward = (((pants)))||

    That *is* the natural outcome of something like overturning Citizen's United. We can already see the FCC playing the game of accrediting media when they are making decisions about Citizen's United showing an anti-Hillary film versus Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore. One was legitimate as Hollywood produced it. Once you realize that most news comes from incorporated entities, you realize that the only way to enforce restrictions is to allow bureaucrats to discriminate against certain corporations. They are, in fact, telling you who is producing news and who isn't.

  • Akira||

    "Pretty soon they will be wanting just the opposite of Citizens United, wanting to allow only corporate news, wanting to ban unfiltered news, all for the people's good of course."

    I can see it happening. They'd probably set up a licensing board through which all journalists must pass, and the board members will be drawn from the leadership of CNN, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and MSNBC.

  • Sour Kraut||

    I used to be an AltaVista user, before Google.

    To the extent Google starts to suck, people can easily shift away.

    I like the Real Clear sites myself, I find them very well curated and with a good balance of viewpoints.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    I second the Real Clear sites. Not only low on noise, but the signals are short and to the point.

  • Suell||

    I second the Real Clear recommendations. I regularly check out their Politics, Science (I love science), and Markets websites.

  • Suell||

    Make that third.

  • Sour Kraut||

    One of the principals at Real Clear Science, Alex Berezow, has an interesting perspective. He is a hardcore skeptic, but also pro market, whereas almost all the rest of skepticism has been absorbed into the progressive borg-think.

  • MarkLastname||

    You not love science? You don't *fucking* live it?

  • ant1sthenes||

    These are all ad-funded companies. If conservatives feel discriminated against, they should openly organize groups for the Rights of Rights, and boycott the shit out of their sponsors until it stops.

    Since there's some evidence that political preferences are at least slightly genetic, they could also have Trump and the GOP make political orientation a protected status, after which disparate impact analysis alone will let them sue media, government, academia, and any number of businesses for probably trillions in total damages. Progressivism is basically founded in discrimination, so they would pretty much either have to destroy the CRA and the apparatus of identity politics, or face complete ruination.

    Libertarians, being nerds, should work on designing P2P alternatives to social media. No censorship, and no ads.

  • John Titor||

  • Mike Schmidt||

    Has anyone else noticed the "promoted comments" silliness at the top of the comment section? I bet amsoc and buttplug will go broke out bidding each other for top "promoted bullshit comment"

  • Lee Genes||

    Amsoc isn't going to pay for anything.

  • John Titor||

    Promoted comments seem to be mostly Mary. It tends to be some slightly changed name of a regular poster with some delusional rant.

  • Jimbo||

    Hey! I've put a few comments there, but only because it didn't cost me a penny. I'd never pay even 1 penny to post a comment.

  • Jimbo||

    Hey! I've put a few comments there, but only because it didn't cost me a penny. I'd never pay even 1 penny to post a comment.

  • Jimbo||

    Hey! I've put a few comments there, but only because it didn't cost me a penny. I'd never pay even 1 penny to post a comment.

  • Jimbo||

    And since it's free, I even post the same comment twice!

  • Jimbo||

    Ok, fuck all you little furry nut eating rodents.

  • Agammamon||

    HYPHENS!

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Interesting that peasant clothing was like that to save the fabric for re-use later, and factory clothing is what allowed style. I read a book on how life changed from 1776 to the 1840s or so, full of little tidbits like that. But it was also an incredibly dry book. Couldn't read more than a page or two without your mind drifting off. Several friends borrowed it and said the same. Took months to finish reading.

    The period began with fires as the center of houses, for cooking and heating; ended with separate fireplaces for heating and stoves for cooking.

    Making thread, then textiles, then clothes had some interesting consequences. Kitchen curtains came into use because no one wanted strangers looking in, but cloth was too expensive and time-consuming so they were only practical with factory textiles. No home-spun cloth was dyed because it was too expensive and impractical, so clothing was all the same dull bare cloth color, but when cloth was bought from stores instead of home-spun, why not get colors? Suddenly fashion was a thing, and could change from year to year. Women used to spend 90% of their time either spinning thread or weaving cloth, and all that time was suddenly available for other things, like helping with the farm. Husbands no longer spent so much time making wooden plows and shovels, but could buy iron tools. That meant more time growing cash crops instead of subsistence food.

    Too bad it was such a boring book.

  • Sour Kraut||

    Women used to spend 90% of their time either spinning thread or weaving cloth, and all that time was suddenly available for other things

    Go on...

  • See Double You||

    Like making me a sammich and massaging my feet?

    /please don't hate me, Virginia.

  • John Titor||

    It's too late, you're part of the wretched hive of scum and villainy that are the comments. You're already hated.

  • Akira||

    What was the name? I tend to find facts like that very interesting even if they're written in a dry and boring style.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The Liberal Left can bbe divided into two catagories when it comes to knowledge of history. Most are woefully ignorant, outside of, a scant few narratives which may or may notmhave any truth to them. A smaller segment kniw jus enough history to know that knowing more would force them to think about their smug assumptions of moral superiority.

  • Suell||

    +1 infected smallpox blanket

  • John Titor||

    Also, in the case of the United States at least, it's hilarious to see American Liberals pat themselves on the back for their worldliness in comparison to the flyover hicks, but largely be profoundly ignorant of anything outside of their home country. Tony pulls this all the time.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The really funny thing is that many of those 'flyover hicks', having gotten interested in some part of history (like Civil War reinactment) are autodidacts with a better knowledge of history than the coastal elite.

  • american socialist||

    -1 Bonus March

    -1 Haymarket Square

  • Sevo||

    + 1 lefty asswipe.

  • MarkLastname||

    Forgot to mention the triangle shirtwaist fire.

    Was that from Zinn, or Foner? Basically the same thing anyway. I bet you love Charles Beard.

  • Rhywun||

    OT: Scientists scramble to protect research on climate change from meanie PEOTUS

    Environmentalists and researchers encountered a friendly White House over the last eight years that encouraged inquiry into global warming by throwing massive piles of taxpayer money at them

    Quote may have been slightly altered for accuracy.

  • GILMORE™||

    This seems to fall into that category of post-election news which is solely based on "confirming the expectations of the batshit narrative".

    "Protect research?" As though there's some Anti-Science crew that's going to 'burn data' in some nazi-bonfire exercise? There's no raw-data that's so secret and special and can never be replicated again; its how its applied in their idiotic climate models. And even then, they can project climate-doomsday all they want - unless someone's willing to sign off on it and say, "this is what we're using as our baseline assumption", its just someone's pet theory. No one needs to 'destroy' their data when ignoring them works just as easy.

    Its just trying to spin a tale that sounds right to the fevered imaginations of CNN viewers/readers who've been shoveled this Nazi-panic narrative for months now.

  • Rhywun||

    I'm sure they'll carry on their noble efforts underground and pro bono.

  • Ted S.||

    I heard the same report, more or less, on NPR's news this afternoon.

  • Akira||

    Oh, come on. You know that one of the pillars of "progressive" "thought" is the idea that denying federal funding for something is exactly the same as banning anyone from doing it at all.

  • Not an Economist||

    Democrats and their fellow travelers claim Putin and Russia attacked our electoral process to make sure Donald Trump was elected.

    So does this mean Obama and his administration tried to do the same thing to make sure Hillary was elected? And don't forget about the IRS shenanigans which some say have still not stopped.

    Is this yet another example of Obama being incompetent?

  • Brochettaward = (((pants)))||

    I said it yesterday, but I can't help but feel that this would all be a much larger story if it was the Bush DHS implicated here.

  • The Fusionist||

    Ooh, homemade quilts, that should bring in the female libertarians.

  • Fairbanks||

    Hey, my wife is both a quilter and a libertarian! But you make a good point - she's rather unique.

  • The Fusionist||

    Is everyone ready for Canada's sesquicentennial next year?

    Among other things, the article says that the Canadians opted for a centralized government with only limited powers for the provinces, in reaction to the Civil War which they blamed on states' rights.

  • Rhywun||

    I'm no expert Canadian but isn't the US more centralized than Canada at this point?

  • John Titor||

    Depends. The distribution of power has been ambiguous, and so you tend to get jurisdictional conflicts that need to be solved by the Privy Council/Supreme Court, which historically tend to favour the provinces.

  • Pan Zagloba "The Stickler"||

    Sorta. Federal government took all the important features of 19th century state - borders, army, trains, tariffs. Provinces got left with unimportant stuff - education, health, environment, transit, that sorta thing.

    Then it turned out, in 20th century, that's the important stuff. So federal government wields its cudgel (income tax brings in more than what federal govt. is obligated to pay for) to make provinces line up with its desires. For their part, provinces squeal for more money, while telling federal government to go fuck itself if it wants to decide how the money is spent. Country runs on cronyish compromises between them.

  • John Titor||

  • John Titor||

    The "war between the states" was at its bloody zenith in 1864 when delegates from the six British colonies gathered in Quebec City to hammer out a deal to bind themselves together as a federal state.

    Discussion of the separation of powers was relatively uncontentious, with the federal government being granted most major powers plus all residual powers — quite the opposite of what the American founders did — and then reaffirmed with the 10th amendment.

    This is the biggest bullshit description of the Quebec Conference I've ever read a Canadian write. The entire focus of the conference was the debate between elites like MacDonald and provincial representatives who wanted more localized power. It was not uncontentious, it was massively debated and they compromised in the Quebec Resolutions. MacDonald later used his connections to the imperial authorities to make the system more centralized in the BNA Act.

  • Ted S.||

    The proper celebration is the anniversary of the passage of the Statute of Westminster. :-)

  • Chip Your Pets||

  • Sevo||

    "Animal control officials said while every situation is different and the 17-year-old did not do anything wrong, they recommend not engaging with the animal, to get outside and to contact your local authorities to handle it."

    Yeah, when minutes count, they're only hours away!
    Just glad they didn't nail the kid for poaching or a lack of a license.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Maryland doesn't have castle doctrine, so he's lucky.

  • MarkLastname||

    That buck would've sued him for millions if it lived.

  • GILMORE™||

    I told you they'd come for us someday.

    Big Buck Hunter isn't some kind of game. Those are vital survival skills for when Odocoileus virginianus finally makes it move.

  • R C Dean||

    *nods sagely, glances at display of antlers on the wall*

  • Ted S.||

    Big Buck Hunter isn't some kind of game.

    It's a porn movie, isn't it?

  • Sevo||

    STOP THE PRESSES! Trump misspelled a word!
    "President-elect Donald Trump corrects 'unpresidented' spelling in China tweet"
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/art.....803140.php

    Which is a laugh-riot coming from the linked rag; they often post the HTML code since someone didn't bother to make sure it was closed.

  • DOOMco||

    my friends on the left are losing their fricking minds.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Oh, so now Trump is lying about how words are spelled? Good thing media fact checkers are there to protect our squishy, gullible brains.

  • Sevo||

    AP: Raising Grammar Nazihood to New Levels!

  • Ted S.||

    Dan Quayle should have pointed out it was the teacher who misspelled "potato" on the card he was given.

  • american socialist||

    From Think Progress: "Trump smears magazine editor who published a critical review of Trump Grill
    Vanity Fair is the latest to feel the wrath of man who believes the First Amendment is too robust.attacks writer who doesn't like the Trump Grill."

    i keep telling my Leftist friends that the next 4 years are going to be fun. #Calexit

  • Sevo||

    From lefty asswipe: "I'm holding my breath until I turn purple!"

  • american socialist||

    No, honestly I'm excited about the possibilities. Why should you and I be ruled by a government that prioritized bombing impoverished third world countries over taking care of its citizens.

    This land is your land, this land is my land
    From the California to the Sierra Nevada
    From the Redwood Forest, to the Desert Mountains
    This land was made for you and me

  • John Titor||

    Nothing like six months to two years of independence, followed by ten of martial law and the break-up of your state, right Amsoc?

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|12.17.16 @ 2:40PM|#
    "No, honestly I'm excited about the possibilities"

    I'm sure you are! Ignoramuses who fantasize about the New Soviet Man are always "excited" just before they cause poverty and starvation. Anyone as stupid as you would be.
    BTW, nothing shows the left to be 'of the people' than trying to take the failed state of CA out of the union 'cause spite. Yep, no self-righteous piece of shit here!
    Fuck off, asswipe.

  • John Titor||

  • american socialist||

    I'm for self-determination where possible. If those treasonous loyalists in the backwoods of Modoc County want to burden the mother country with financing their BLM jobs that's ultimately up to them.

  • kbolino||

    I'm for self-determination where possible

    "self-determination": he casts a vote and you get to pay for it

  • John Titor||

    The people who are the burden are the halfwit children such as yourself that whine that the government should be your parents.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|12.17.16 @ 3:54PM|#
    "I'm for self-determination where possible"

    You're a lying sack of shit; you're for pulling a gun and stealing everything that's not nailed down.

  • Ted S.||

    He should have just played the race card like Obama had his surrogates do.

    After all, the people criticizing Trump are obviously afraid of Orange-Americans.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    NYT- let's feign interest in semantic precision in order to get out the soapbox and bitch about something we don't like.

    It's a hip, fast-growing sector of the economy, filled with headline-grabbing companies: Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Task Rabbit. But there's a gnawing problem: People aren't sure what to call it. Many critics dislike the term most commonly used, the "sharing economy," because there often isn't much actual sharing going on.

    ------

    ...many academics and workers in this sector assert that the business model seems less like sharing than like traditional corporate profit-making that happens to use an app.

    Rochelle LaPlante, who works for Mechanical Turk, an internet platform for people to post and find piecework jobs, sees public relations spin behind the term "sharing economy." "There's an exchange of money," she said. "It's not really sharing if a person's paying for it."

    Oh, horror, money is changing hands.

    I cannot help wondering how many of these academics and journalists spent their youths mocking the "corporate man" whom they now want us to see as the ultimate expression of America's best days.

    The commenters, as usual, do not disappoint.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Yeah, they must be similarly mystified by other "share" words where money changes hands -- shares of stock, timeshares of vacation houses, etc.

  • Longtobefree||

    Here's a scary thought, call it what it is; self employment! As in a bunch of sole proprietor businesses! The horror! The horror! To the regulatory barricades!

    Just to drift on topic, I like quilts.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Example:

    wnhoke Manhattan Beach, CA 1 day ago
    I don't care what we call it, but in reality it is a conspiracy to break the law, avoid taxes, or cheat insurance provisions. Uber would not exist if all drivers obeyed all laws. To me it is a Ponzi scheme because ultimately governments and insurance companies will catch up and the party will be over.
    Here are some questions I would like Uber, Airbnb, etc. to answer:
    1. Are 1099s issued?
    2. Are business licenses obtained?
    3. Is local zoning checked and confirmed?
    4. Is insurance checked for commercial use?
    5. Are all taxes paid?
    6. Are all safety regulations followed?
    And so on.
    These companies refuse to be called what they really are: transport or lodging companies, but they keep all the user data (very valuable), manage the entire process, and then deny any responsibility for the drivers or landlords.
    Calling it "sharing" is a joke.

    Where are your permission slips?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Paul Katz Vienna, Austria 1 day ago
    It is easy for the customer to call an Uber-driver "entrepreneur" but actually he is a 19th century day-laborer with a job not even secure for a whole day and called in by an app. The profit of the deal, like always, lies with the capitalists investing in Uber and the like and the bourgeoises who get a cheaper taxi ride. The hirelings who drive get less. But by schmooze-talking (calling it "share-economy") people should be decepted to think of it as a properly rosy future having arrived.

    Where muh cradle-to-grave corporate employment gone?

    Fucking capitalists. Always stealing teh labors.

  • Akira||

    "he is a 19th century day-laborer with a job not even secure for a whole day and called in by an app"

    Or possibly someone with a 9-to-5 job who is earning extra income without the rigidity of a second job.

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