Two quick touchstones of ideological compatibility

December 6, 2019 • 10:45 am

I like to think I made this up myself, but I suspect that somebody—I can’t remember who—gave me this idea. It goes something like this:

You can gauge someone’s ideological credibility by examining their reaction to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. 

That is, if someone respects Hirsi Ali for her activities—activities that have put her life in danger from extremists Muslims—her ideas, her eloquence, and her dedication, they’re likely to have views that are, in general, ideologically compatible with my own. If, on the other hand, they decry her for “Islamophobia” or for irrelevant issues like her marriage to a conservative, then you should be very cautious.

Remember, this is a touchstone and a potential red flag for me and for those who generally agree with me. I have in fact lost a friendship after someone who had never read a word by Hirsi Ali—and couldn’t name any of her books—started criticizing her because of what appeared on Facebook. It turned out that this person’s views on Hirsi Ali were simply the tip of an ideological iceberg whose woke darkness floated well below the surface.

But the trope below I made up myself:

You can also gauge someone’s ideological credibility by examining their reaction to Linda Sarsour.

If they idolize Sarsour, an anti-Semite who, I suspect, is also an Islamist, then beware. If they see through her—and Sarsour is about as opaque as plastic wrap—then they’re savvy.

Of course many will disagree with these, and you can always try to persuade people to change their minds, but in general there’s a lot of ideological baggage correlated with views on these two people.

Of course you can use Donald Trump as a similar gauge, but that’s neither fun nor subtle. And there are others whom you can use as similar touchstones, but you can name them yourselves.


137 thoughts on “Two quick touchstones of ideological compatibility

  1. I have a similar way to judge environmentalists. If they think CO2 will destroy the world but are opposed to nuclear energy, their views are suspect at best.

    1. I think that depends on geographic location. NZ is staunchly anti-nuclear because they didn’t like being nuked in the tests in the South Pacific over and over and having strontium 90 show up on their milk for generations while the powers of the world turned their backs. History like that tends to change people.

      1. Paul Harvey (remember him!) said many years ago that is is unfortunate that we were introduced to nuclear power through nuclear weapons.

      2. … and now the milk is a greater environmental hazard than the nuclear.

        That is to say, the carbon emissions of industrial dairying are huge. Too many methane-farting cows, being fed on PKE (palm kernel extract) grown in plantations built on destroyed rain forests.

        Wind and solar power are preferable (IMO) to nuclear, but nuclear (properly designed and controlled) must be better than burning non-renewable fossil fuels in power stations.

        Electric cars are no solution at all if they get their recharge power from a grid fed by coal/oil/gas generation.


    2. There is some truth there.

      However, I continue to be a nuclear skeptic for the following reasons:

      1. Our safety performance record isn’t that great (Chernobyl, 3-Mile Island, Fukushima Daiichi, to just touch on the big ones). [But, the human exposure (except for a small number at Chernobyl) and health effects have been much less than previously feared.]

      2. We have not permanently disposed of any of our nuclear waste. And it continues to accumulate at about 12,000 metric tons per year. This is the big one.

      I use waste disposal as a hallmark for this issue. If you (not you personally; but the generic you) are a big advocate for nuclear, what is your plan for permanent waste disposal*?

      (* There are a lot of different materials to worry about, different half-lives, different substrates (and mixtures/contaminants), different radiation intensities, different levels of health risk.)

      Recent excellent books I’ve read that give a mixed review of the case. If we were permanently disposing of waste, I would be an advocate.

      The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes
      Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser
      Midnight in Chernobyl, by Alan Higginbotham
      Strange Glow, The Story of Radiation, by Timothy J. Jorgensen

      1. See my reply to Diana above, but also: a couple of other books relating to your concerns about nuclear waste:

        Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century, Ian Hore-Lacy
        Seeing the Light, Scott Montgomery
        Power to Save the World, Gwyneth Cravens
        Energy Myths and Realities, Vaclav Smil

        We are a bit off topic here, but I get a little carried away whenever someone mentions nuclear energy.

        PS: I have read three of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s books. She is up there with Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, and of course our host.

        1. Like I said, except for the waste issue, I’d be an advocate. I’m not quite sure why we haven’t tackled the waste issue.

          Probably because of bad politics more than anything else.

          I will admit to being a bit skeptical about those books, based on the titles: Some seem like they are advocacy (not to say polemic), which always worries me. I consider the ones I listed as very straight histories, without axes to grind.

          Strange Glow actually gave me significant mental relief on radiation (I’ve had more X-rays, for instance (health issues), than I would prefer to have had), based on the book’s discussion on exposure levels and health effects.

          I will, however, look into to those; thanks for the tip.

          Do they directly address waste disposal?

          In every discussion I’ve had on this issue, the people advocating have just had-waved the issue: No big deal, we’ll figure it out. Then they get quite when I mention +12,000 metric tons per year, every year, and probably accelerating.

          And, in fact, we haven’t figured it out. Becquerel discovered radioactivity over 100 years ago. The first reactor was Chicago in 1942 (77 ya). That seems like plenty of time, especially given the rate of technological advance in that time. Must be harder than people think.

          Hey, maybe we will figure it out. But those half-lives don’t jive very well with human attention spans and planning horizons.

          1. The problem with the waste is that to make it truly safe long-term you would need to dilute it back (in many cases) to the level of concentration in the originally mined ore. Very, very, very expensive, so super long term storage of dangerous radioactive waste is the only alternative. No one has figured out how to create economically practical, safe storage that will last for even 10,000 years. Just bury it and let others worry about the distant future!

      2. Totally amateur opinion: I agree that there are major safety issues with nuclear power as currently made; but I think that some of them at least are solvable.
        If you look at nuclear plants in Japan, all are on/near the coast, many in inlets (TEPCO’s Fukushima plants are on open coast). In many other countries, they’re inland. Hard to have a tsunami at 1000′ above sea level.
        Currently operating reactor designs are not inherently safe, as we’ve seen. But there are alternative designs that are much more so, such as boiling water or pebble bed reactors.
        Waste is indeed a problem. But some of that can be addressed by more complete “burning” of the fissile fuel; and I think more needs to be done to look at waste separation and treatment, so that long-lived waste is separated from short-lived and so on.
        But I don’t think there’s much will to explore these – many countries are now simply nuclear-averse.

        1. I agree that some of the issues can be solved. Clearly the tsunami protection at Fukushima Daiichi was inadequate. And they probably knew it all along (except perhaps at the time of design & build, which was the 1950s). Nevertheless, it was built and iy failed.

          And the Chernobyl Reactor 4 design resulted from a particularly pernicious social situation in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Who can guarantee no future pernicious social situations will arise. (I wonder what it’s like to work on nuclear power/weapons in Iran, N. Korea, and Pakistan?)

          We keep messing up.

          I fully expect that new designs will be much safer than older designs.

          In my engineering career, I’ve see a lot of screw-ups. We say: If you make something fool-proof, they will build a better fool. Only slightly tongue-in-cheek.

          When I went to work for the FAA (certifying airplane designs), my boss had me into his office. He asked me, “Do you know why we’re here?”

          Me, “Errr … to certify airplanes(?)”

          Boss: “We are here because people are basically fuck-ups.”

          We are producing 12,000 metric tons of waste per year and we haven’t solved the disposal issue. I see (repeatedly) lots of hand-waving over the issue; but it hasn’t been solved. For a long time. That tells me it is a hard problem.

        2. The level of safety depends on the reactor. The little one here where I work is extremely safe. CANDU reactors are quite safe (old now and have been modified in design). Reactors of large size can be expensive to start up though and of course the waste issue is a problem. I don’t think nuclear is the only choice for energy but it’s better than coal in many respects, the chief being the likelihood of being harmed by coal emissions is most likely much higher than being harmed by a nuclear reactor. It’s actually funny when you learn about reactors and how they work – they seem so high tech yet so simple at the same time.

          1. Yes, and there is more and more evidence of the ill effects of PM 5 and 2.5 particulates such as those emitted by coal-fired power stations. Even in the case of Fukushima, only one person died in the clean up of the power plant — IIRC, he had a heart attack. Many of the media accounts were mis-leading. For example, people in Tokyo were advised to avoid allowing their children to drink tap water due to radioactive contamination. Using easily available data, I calculated that a child under 2 years old would have to drink 2 litres of tap water per day to exceed the published limits. Such a child would likely drown first if ingesting that much water!

        3. I thought there were new processes that reuse/convert the waste or some of it. No?

          I think nuclear energy is now needed more than ever to fill energy needs while avoiding carbon release. It seems a really strong research and development effort is warranted. If the new designs can be safe, they would speed up our ability to cope with global heating, which is a very high priority objective.

          1. Yet Germany is in the process of closing all their reactors and expects to be using 65% renewables by 2030.

            1. In most western countries, C02 emission have been dropping. German CO2 emission have been flat for 10 years which makes the claim questionable at best.

              1. What claim, that they will be using renewables or that they closed their nuclear plants? I don’t see how their falling CO2 emissions make either a lie.

            2. Have to give them a lot of credit. I think if we are to solve the crisis all nations will have to do the same.

      3. It sounds as if you are willing to consider nuclear energy as a carbon free power supply and look at the trade offs. Being willing to listen shows that you are trying to make the best decision in a logically way. Some environmentalist immediately dismiss nuclear while saying the sky is falling. That is not rational.

        All energy sources are damaging and choosing the best is difficult. I think nuclear is part of the short term solution. Renewables are advancing quickly but, IMO, are not there yet. If the US had historically used nuclear the way France did, global warming would be significantly reduced while the disposal problem would be significantly greater.

        1. Once, in the 70s when I was a baby, my dad got in an argument outside a grocery store with a student who wanted him to sign an anti nuclear power plant petition and he wouldn’t because there was such an issue with using coal fired plants that the air quality wasn’t very good (when they closed them down here the air quality improved vastly). The student got pretty aggressive my dad said and my dad was with me as a baby.

          1. Every generation has their own pretty aggressive students. Was I that way? !
            Interesting to note too that the air quality argument had the effect of also ameliorating global warming, although not many people were aware it was an issue back then. But, it was, and had been a concern of academics for decades before.

      4. My proposal for the waste: use it as fuel for modern integral fast reactors, and switch away from the terribly inefficient Cold War reactor designs that produce so much radioactive waste in the first place (and also have a possibility of melting down).

    3. Nuclear has a lot of hurdles such as waste disposal site selection and the NIMBY problem that all add up to it being very, very slow to actually deploy (we’re talking 10-15 years to actually get a new plant up and running) and the obvious question becomes “well why not invest that time and money on renewables which keep getting cheaper and more efficient?”

  2. I agree with your touchstones too and bridle at Sarsour sycophants and Hirsi Ali haters. There are some others but one for me is I cannot abide people who despise competitive sport.

  3. You can also gauge someone’s fealty to Trump by examining their reaction to Robert Jeffress.

    Of course, Jeffress is a prominent fundamentalist minister and one of Trump’s earliest and most vocal supporters

    1. *ssspppptttt* Ugh. Thanks, Ken. I’ve never considered what coffee would feel like coursing through my nasal passages. Good one, but you owe me a keyboard.

        1. OK, I sort of get it; but I would not join in.

          There’s plenty of other popular music out there to be appalled by.

          Nearly everything that gets touted on NPR these days (by their critics) makes me want to slam the radio off. I am left scratching my head.

  4. Is the overriding idea here part of the old saying – We are judged by the company we keep. This can be true but then sometimes not. Such as a passing acquaintance with the now dead Epstein verses someone who hung out with him, such as Trump. With careful understanding we can and do judge people in this way.

    If you are like my mother in law and have your TV tuned to FOX news most of the time you would be best not to bring up the subject of politics. Discussing the subject with a person who has reached 100 years is not a good idea or one I would do. Is it even possible to change the mind of one at that age.

  5. I’d rather pick Pinker than Sarsour as a cultural barometer – the latter is hardly known outside the US, so it doesn’t work so well in most places.

  6. Digging in my memory, i stumbled upon a meme that told me Ayaan was a conservative herself; a notion whcih was not at all confirmed by her performances with Sam Harris & Richard Dawkins. So I stand corrected; the more so as I haven’t read her books (yet?).

    I have no such qualms over dnouncing Sarsour.

    But then we needn’t be friends, mr. Coyne, for me to enjoy your comprehensive website. And I started reading ‘Faith versus Fact’; which took way too long to arrive in Holland.

    1. The Beatles are a really good one. Many kids today like the Beatles (a good sign!).

      Basically, if someone does not appreciate the Beatles, then there are other flaws in that person.

      1. There are also significant flaws in people who don’t like cats and/or dogs. Especially dogs. I am always wary of those people.

        1. How about the people who were mauled by one or had their baby mauled by one or one of their pets mauled by one or their child, horribly mutilated or killed by them?
          How about people who are terrified and intimidated by huge slavering aggressive monstrosities ready and willing to tear anything they can get to pieces, while their owners either aren’t controlling them or are using them as weapons.
          Or the owners who think it’s funny or are oblivious or who think their monstrosity would never do that?

          I’m always very wary of dogs and dog owners.

          1. I have a friend who was mauled by a dog as a child and he doesn’t trust or like any dogs to this day. So I agree since I have anecdotal evidence. Yet, in general, societies who think dogs are unclean and shunned do strike me as a society I wouldn’t want to be born into.

            1. Well they are not unclean nor should they be shunned, as such, but they can be dangerous and threatening.
              Thee is plenty of evidence for this and it seems reasonable to dislike such attributes.

              I walked home from the bus stop the other day and a large dog barked at me walking past their house. So I worry that it might get out as I’ve seen dogs loose from time to time, even in my yard, which is not fenced. So I have to proceed in fear. Low level but still.
              And when one barked at me in my own yard I stopped working out there, went inside worried and then went back out with an iron bar at the ready.
              So, I can’t go for a comfortable walk and I can’t tootle in my yard without threat.
              And as I have said, that dog owners and lovers dismiss this and minimize it is annoying.
              To be told that not liking dogs is a sign that you are morally wrong, or whatever is disturbing.
              It is sensible to not like them.
              My ex likes dogs but she too gets worried when the barking and agro starts up.

              I love cats, they are magnificent.
              I wish I could have a pet jaguar and then I could go walking and see what the dogs say.

              1. Of course you can say the same about men, especially since this is the anniversary of the massacre at L’école Polytechnique.

              2. To Dianna as there is no reply under your post.

                I did think about women and the fear they undergo in certain situations and other situations where people behave badly

                I decided it wasn’t the same thing.

                If it was only one or two dogs here and there it would different but it isn’t. It is a very very common attribute of dogs to be aggressive and inflict harm.

                That is not true of men or of women.

                Nor are those bad behaviours laughed off or excused by the majority.

                So, not the same at all.

                Unless you claim that a small percentage of criminal behaviour represents the whole.

          2. Well of course there are people who don’t like dogs for good reason. I know some and they are dear friends. You’ll note I used the word “wary”. That was deliberate. If the only thing I know about a person is they don’t like dogs (or cats) my radar starts beeping. Sometimes it’s a false alarm, but mostly it isn’t.

            1. I disagree. In fact, I have seen so much indifference by dog owners to actual damage and fear they do cause that I am wary of them.
              As far as I am concerned an aggressive barking large dog is the equivalent of me walking around with a shotgun over my shoulder.

              I love cats.

      2. Beatles, meh. Call me flawed, then, and consider all my ideas, beliefs, and allegiances suspect because of that.

        I am indeed a very flawed person and I don’t care much for the Beatles (except for a few songs) but I take umbrage when my musical taste is considered an indicator of my personal flaws.

        I have my shibboleths, too, including musical shibboleths; but try to override them. However, what one thinks about Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Linda Sarsour is another matter; however, I would look for more evidence before walking away.

        1. I was going to reply ‘Fascist’ but since you took my original comment a little more seriously than I intended, I thought better of it.

          1. If I took your comment more seriously than you intended it’s because it made me realize that there’s a streak of esthetic fascism in me in re certain tastes in music, art, literature, food, dress, etc.; yet those things shouldn’t be determiners of one’s worth (except in certain instances). But could I make common cause with a My Little Pony superfan?

            1. Maybe you’re just a hard ass. I think at my core, I’m a hard ass….I just veil it with smart assed remarks & irony.

      3. My son (15) likes the Beatles and can sing along with many of their songs.

        He also likes a ton of other music, which we have exposed him to. From solo classical works to jazz to heavy rock to folk to “new” acoustic music to Celtic punk to gospel choirs and plain chant, etc.

        (Flawed. Of course!)

    2. Dunno about “anyone,” but thinking the Beatles overrated would be a romantic deal-breaker. I’m pretty laidback about most stuff, but I can be hard on a woman when it comes to records and books and movies. Had one ex-girlfriend accuse me of getting all “Shrevie” on her 🙂 :

          1. Better’n Love Actually.

            OK, Ken, but if you start dissing “It’s A Wonderful Life” we’re gonna come to blows. The sexual tension in that bit between Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart as they share the phone is one of the hottest scenes on celluloid. OK, the angel wings are a bit hard to take, but the structure, writing, and acting are top-notch. Ipse dixit. (Never hurts to throw in a little legal Latin.) 😊

  7. I recall the connection of Ellen Degeneres with George W. Bush at a baseball game caused all kinds of problems on social media which is just more reason to stay away from social media.

    1. Can’t speak for anyone else, but I found the sight of Ellen and Dubya taking in a ballgame together during times like these kinda uplifting.

      Kinda like finding out recently that Dubya leaned over to Hillary Clinton on the inaugural stage immediately after Donald Trump’s “American carnage” inaugural address to say, “Well, that was some weird shit!” 🙂

      1. Yes, I too found it uplifting. Perhaps because there is such a violent divide between anyone that thinks differently. Of course, many will screech, “but he’s a war criminal”. I dunno. Maybe I’m just a shitty person. I found W funny sometimes especially when he called Putin “Pooty poot”.

  8. Long ago, I introduced a diagnostic to
    identify an old form of Pop-Left Syndrome. You ask the patient “Was Stalin a Stalinist?”
    If the patient cries “Eeek, McCarthyism!”, we have a definite identification. In the current form of the test: we ask: “Was the Islamic State Islamic?” If the patient responds by crying “Eeek, Islamophobia”, we have found another case of Woke Syndrome.

  9. What people I don’t know have to say about Jordan B. Peterson, Nikola Tesla, Einstein, Michael E. Mann [climate] & also their view on historical events such as 9/11.

      1. Among physicists Tesla has almost no traction. Same with Edison. Michael Faraday, Maxwell, Gauss…etc.

        Tesla a is a good meter for someone who appreciates invention over fundamental science.

        1. Tesla like Edison, was an engineer. Of course he was interested in invention and implementation. That was his job. Making it happen.

          Scientists seem like to look down upon engineers.

          I can point to lots of things (flying in the sky, carrying electrical power, inside of people’s bodies) that I helped design and manufacture and maintain and feel really good about it.

          I have great respect for the scientists I’ve read about and whom I’ve known (needless to say, I hope).

          1. That’s okay, engineers look down on IT people and IT people look down on everyone else. It’s the circle (downward spiral?) of life. 😀

            1. I don’t look down on IT people! They save my bacon all the time! OK, I’m pretty good with computers and machines, but the stuff just moves too fast and I don’t follow it.

              I used to actually program computers in my work; but those days are gone. IT people, waaaaay better at it than I am, have taken those tasks and made them easy.

    1. Nikola Tesla has a base of uninformed superfans today – a cult that started the day he died – who believe he invented everything mysteriously [to superfans] electrical/magnetic/electro-magnetic & it’s all been stolen [as you allude to] or suppressed or waiting to be found written up on a dusty shelf. He invented anti-gravity drives hidden away in Area 51, he’s an E.T. – possibly Venusian [which is nonsense, that’s my Jimi & Jimi only who comes from there].

      His name is associated with all sorts of fringe fail types such as the Electric Universe bottom dwellers & Quantum Wooists.

      A good Wiki HERE, he had fringe ideas himself as well. I suppose it was an obvious branding choice for the two engineers to use for their EV venture.

    2. I am definitely down on (as in detest) Jordan Peterson. First the Beatles, now Jordan Peterson. I’m sure the list will grow.

      1. Ditto on the Canadian muppet.

        The Beatles are for me a force that kicked music up the arse & raised the game, but I like them best as a tight Hamburg rock’n’roll live combo who did covers & new imaginative tunes too.

        After that era I know intellectually they [John & Paul] are the centre of this creative, risk taking organism that absorbs talent when needed – they were damned lucky to have four personalities that meshed [Ringo was a kind of glue for tat perhaps], to ‘find’ George Martin the extraordinary producer, arranger, composer, conductor & audio engineer [to quote Wiki] & various other technical bods, to have an appreciation of so many musical forms from the beginning [even Paul’s soppy song instinct with Lennon to counter the whimsy. A few happy accidents later, such as George’s fascination with the mystic East & we have creative lift-off.

        But still I like them as live Rockers the most.

      2. It seemed obvious to me from the beginning that Peterson was thrust into the limelight by circumstance and it could have just as easily been someone else. And had they been similarly savvy we’d be reading some other nobody college professor’s self-help tripe.

    1. Before commenting, I did a search for SH and here I find myself. (I admit I’m a bit uncomfortable repeating another reader.) Stating the obvious, I concur.

    1. Yes.

      I do not find her a good messenger.

      When I hear her speak, I think, goodness, you’ve never had to pay a bill or been responsible for anything, ever, have you?

      I’m sure this brands me as a cretin.

      1. I think people expect way too much from a 16 year old girl. I am often dismayed to see / read adult men and women disparage her viciously, as they might another adult who had done things that were ethically despicable.

        1. I can’t disparage her.

          I have some admiration for her passion. And she seems to be a sweet young person.

          Hey, if she gets politicians to move, great!

          I have no doubts about the fact of climate change. I also see no silver bullets in the offing.

          I am in favor of changes for climate change reasons. We have made a lot of changes in our home etc. One small instance, we have bought the first bulk of our electricity voluntarily (and at a defined higher cost) as wind-produced from our local utility. For many years, starting as soon as the option was offered. This was to help launch local wind power. And it did (in some small way). We continue to do this. All our lights are LED now (at around 15% of the previous draw). We spend more for more efficient appliances. We drive a Prius. We have spent a lot of money on better windows, doors, and insulation. Etc. I abhor waste (ask my family!).

          I recently listened to an ethicist on our local NPR station talk on climate change. Him, in very short: If it’s anything beyond the bare minimum required for survival, you can’t justify it ethically. Well, that’s it! That’s what I’ve been working for for the last 4 decades, carefully practicing deferred gratification!

          1. I’m really liking that LED lighting has finally hit its stride. We still have the odd CF here or there but most everything is LED.

            I just got done with a kitchen ceiling / lighting project. Built a dropped down “cloud” ceiling feature about 8′ x 11′ over the main kitchen area out of 1 x 6 maple boards. Finished with 3 coats of shellac. Capped the perimeter (edge of the 1 x 6 ‘s) with a brushed nickel “L-bar” trim.

            There is a recessed pocket around the perimeter of the cloud, between the cloud and the ceiling, in which I installed concealed LED strip lighting. Within the main area of the cloud I installed five (not a simple rectangular area) 4″ LED down lights (10’ ceiling height), 3500K and 750 lumens each. These things are only about 5/8″ thick and only need about a 1.5″ cavity to install.

            Off to one side of the cloud we installed 3 nice pendant lights over a bar / counter area. The 3 separate types of lights are each on their own dimmer switch. All 8 lights + the concealed strip together going full blast is only about 210 watts. And it is bright! I can finally see in my kitchen when I need to, or have some really nice “mood” lighting that shows the maple off real nice.

            1. I am an evangelist for high efficiency lighting.
              I have been slowly replacing the lights in our workshop with LEDs, replacing 400W 220v bulbs with 50 watt LEDs, which also allows me to bypass the giant, humming ballasts in each fixture. They come on instantly, and I can use pure white so that objects are their proper color.
              I also just got another RV, and the first thing I did was replace all the incandescent bulbs. That makes a giant difference in energy consumption. .25 watt bulbs.

              LEDs have few if any drawbacks, and lots of advantages. They save money in the short and long term, and produce little heat.

              1. As a pedestrian, I find that LED street lights make walking after dark perilous because of the way the light is cast over the street and trees. The light doesn’t diffuse much, it’s bright, then immediate black where the light doesn’t directly penetrate, which makes things very stark, especially when the lights shine through trees and the wind is blowing even slightly. One can’t see the state of the sidewalk, which might be uneven and cracked, hard to tell where the curb or any obstructions are; everything’s either eye-hurting bright or coal black. I don’t drive but I’d imagine there are similar hazards for drivers (and any pedestrians, animals or obstructions they might encounter) They may be good indoors but as street lights they imperil.

              1. I don’t have any handy at 100% complete, but here are a couple at mostly complete. In these the brushed nickel edge trim hasn’t been installed yet and some touch up had yet to be done.

                Pic 1

                Pic 2

              2. That’s great thanks darrelle!

                Blooming heck those are approx 10’6″ ceilings, except the seemingly even taller sloped section over the camera – forget LED lights mate & think LSD trippy ceiling geometry going on.

                This looks like an upstairs loft apartment, but the right hand bit past the butterflies has normal ceiling height. What an interesting puzzle your home is, but I’ll say no more on a public forum & restrict myself to the subject.

                My mate preps & paints walls & ceilings super efficiently for shops & industrial premises – his team work atop strapped on stilts which pushes the job along three times faster than normal methods with ladders & scaffolds, though hard on the back. I think he got the idea from Holland in his spliffy previous life. Import him for your place in five years.

                Love the ceiling texture – is it plastered, papered & painted? You have space to feed four fat truckers [I wrote truckers!] at that breakfast bar – all of them with room for a racing form guide each. Love the dado & the apparently grey/green wall colour in the living/dining area [could be TV light fooling me]

                Your kitchen ceiling slope is weird a.f. as there’s no slope at all at the butterfly kitchen wall junction, but there is further into the room. I’m going to have to think about how that works. DON’T TELL ME! The suspended wooden ceiling alien invasion craft is a masterpiece & must have been a bugger to support while fastening up there so high – ancient, forgotten Egyptian technology? It corrects the ceiling geometry & I love the chopped off corner. Quality finish. In a future life it will descend on command & become a billiards table or a mead quaffing & pigs head dining surface for local renegade Vikings. That’s me saying I like it – I’m a Brit as you know.

                I don’t like the blue glass light shades – they absolutely must be semi-translucent GREEN on the outside & white lined on the inside. You want pools of light on the feeding-four-fat-truckers breakfast bar. Also the way the three light cords meet the ceiling looks wrong, because the discs are at all angles. But I have a solution…

                Don’t have discs at all – just a hook at each ceiling point & run the three cords from one shared common ceiling ‘rose’ over the hooks & down. Hides the ceiling geometry.

                BTW the bits & bobs around about are lovely – somebody in that home knows colour [& it’s green] & gets classic design. I like the pic of the two kidz too!

              3. Michael, thank you for the kind words.

                Yes our ceilings are a bit odd. The house is single family, single story. The odd ceiling geometry is a result of the high ceiling areas merging into lower, standard height, ceiling areas.

                The ceilings are drywall attached directly to the underside of the roof trusses and the texture is what is typically called “knockdown,” spray applied drywall joint compound that looks like a random splatter when first applied, allowed some time to partially dry and then “knocked down” with a large drywall knife. All typical of middle class home construction in the US.

                The wood cloud did not require any ancient Egyptian secret technology but it was a pain in the ass. All ladder work. Not to mention that I am not a carpenter. Probably bit off more than I can chew, but my innate “analness” made up for lack of skill and after much more time than a pro would need it finally looks pretty good.

                The lighting in the pics is a bit deceptive, the walls are actually a shade of white that has hints of gray, but no green. We went with blue pendants because blue is one of the primary accent colors my wife chose for decorating the house. I think a slightly lighter shade of blue may have worked better.

                We’ve been working for about a year to renovate the house, piece by piece. One of the 2 bathrooms and the rest of the kitchen (cabinets & counter tops) are the last major tasks left to do.

                If by chance you ever find yourself in these parts stop by for an evening of mead quaffing. I’ll even provide good victuals, but no pigs heads!

              4. PS there’s a pub down south of me with a one quarter cut out of the playing surface, because room space constraints & thus the whole thing is an L-shape with one of the six pockets on the 270 degree angle – special rules & rather fun. Chips & beer are crap unfortunately.

            2. But LED lights used on cars are a menace when driving at night ,i have been dazzled by oncoming cars a number of times .

              1. Make sure to do something about that glare! It’s xenon ‘blue’ lamps as well as LEDs – people mix them up.

                ** Get an eye test – as we age our eyes respond less well to glare – it’s part of what’s generally termed Disability Glare

                ** Fit a Gentex auto-dimming rear-view mirror – around £70 on

                ** On your next car get darkened rear glass [sunset glass] or look for a coating/film to put on your existing rear window

                ** Get yourself a pair of UV-absorbing driving glasses from Boots etc for £10, they’re orange tinted usually – Terminator UV-400 on are very good because they’re sports-style wraparound, but no good if you wear glasses already [if you wear glasses, there’s non-wraparound types]

                ** Keep your windscreens all around as spotless as possible

                All the above is important, if you’re an old fart especially, because modern headlamps & turn indicators are in the same unit – it’s important to be able to see if the indicator is blinking through the glare of the headlamp.

                The dazzle situation will get worse before it gets better as there’s an even brighter lamp by Audi feeding into the market on top end cars – uses laser diodes!

                It isn’t just the lamp technology – there’s more SUVs about with headlamps set high up compared to compact cars. There are more European setup cars on Brit roads, young drivers are less careful about using high beam because they’re young & foolish & because they don’t experience glare as much with their young eyes.

              2. I have cataracts in the centre of both eyes due to extreme myopia so I’ve been wondering about some Bono anti-glare glasses for a while. I often squint at night.

              3. Diana, I don’t think myopia causes cataracts. Cataracts can cause or aggravate myopia however, by changing the refractive index of the lens. Cataracts are due to aging or other damage to the lens of the eye.
                I to am myopic and have cataracts. I’m an aging mutant.

              4. Nope. Pathological myopia like I have often puts you at risk for cataracts as well as glaucoma and I think macular degeneration. You are also highly susceptible to retina tears. I’ve been under the care of an ophthalmologist for 5 years as we monitor things because I have a greater risk of retinal tears with the cataract procedure. The difference with this type of cataract is it grows right in the middle. Aging cataracts grow at the sides typically. I developed cataracts at 44.

              5. OK. The mechanism is not well understood, but it seems, “…increasing axial eyeball length in myopic eyes may prevent nutrient delivery to the back side of the lenses.” I have myopia, cataracts, and both retinas had tears and were reattached. My early myopia might have been the root cause.

              6. It is often with people with extreme myopia. My prescription is currently -7.5 and there are much worse ones. I say “my prescription” because my eye doctor says he can no longer correct my vision around the cataracts so they are probably much worse & I just have to deal with it – they are still good enough for driving. Reginal tears are a higher risk. It’s that the shape of the elongated eyeball causes pressure and tearing. I have a lot of floaters. I’m always paranoid that I’m going to get a tear. Glaucoma is also a risk & that one scares me much more. I get tested for glaucoma. Because I have cataracts now, health coverage covers my yearly visit to my optometrist & ophthalmologist. If your cataracts were because of myopia, you would have gotten them early in life – in your 30s or 40s. I have pathological myopia – my nearsightedness got bad in childhood & became increasingly worse well into my 20s and 30s.

              7. And just as I typed that, I started getting migraine aura which is zig zags & blind spots & i thought “OMG it’s a retinal tear” but no it’s just a predictor that I will have a bad day tomorrow with the barometric pressure change.

              8. My retinal tear appeared as a lens shaped black line at the bottom of my vision in one eye. I didn’t know what it was, but I went to my ophthalmologist. The tear was at the top of the eyeball, which is easier to treat than elsewhere. When I had it reattached with the laser gun, I was informed that I would probably get a tear in the other eye in one year. Sure enough, in a year almost to the day, I saw the same telltale black lens in the other eye. This time it happened during a trip to NZ. I had it treated at there using laser and cryogenics. Thank goodness for modern medicine.

      2. “I do not find her a good messenger.”

        I have to admit that whenI first saw her I found her affect to be over-dramatic and even a bit creepy. I got over this when I learned that both of her parents are in the theater (her mother is an opera singer) and that she suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that affects, among other things, speech patterns. Sometimes it pays not to trust first impressions.

    2. With her, I think a large part of it is people who want to believe that her movement is spontaneous, sincere and youth-driven, as opposed to people who see cynical and profit-driven adults using her for their own agendas.

      My feelings about her have nothing to do with whether she is sincere about her views, or even the seriousness of the issues she raises.

    3. She is a well-meaning teenager. She makes some good points but is lacking in both scientific and life knowledge (i.e. she’s a teenage). Anybody who thinks of her as a savior or evil is projecting their own self onto a young woman. I can both admire her and find her insufferably annoying at the same time (like my teenage children).

      1. I don’t see it that way. She’s young, but sometimes you need a fresh perspective to ignite sufficient public concern. After all, the science is settled. It’s just a matter of developing the political will – the courage to do what has to be done. Her youth and inexperience is important to her message, which is that as we elders drag our feet in addressing warming, it is the youth of today who will endure the brunt of the damage. There is at least one legal case working it’s way through US courts with children suing the government for failure to protect them and the children of the future. It makes sense to me that the children of the world should and will lead on this issue.

    4. Why?
      She seems to be a person who grasped a simplistic version of one aspect of reality suffered from some sort of catastrophized thinking which traumatized her and was then used to guilt and blame the world for that personal situation.

  10. I think Hirsi Ali is, like all humans, a mixed bag. On the one hand, I admire her charitable work; on the other, I think she has made some unfortunate-to-terrible statements (depending on how exactly she meant them, as I haven’t heard her clarify – they were either very carelessly worded or downright terrible) about how we should ‘crush’ Islam militarily. On the one hand I think her writing about Muslims tends to be a bit ‘too cute’ in the way it panders perfectly to Western stereotypes; on the other I think that whether you handle the transition perfectly or not, leaving behind the deeply ingrained culture of your youth and going on to reinvent yourself in an entirely new world would be a tremendous undertaking and not one that most people would be capable of. And in politics, no less, a world most people born in this culture and totally enculturated into it couldn’t survive. At a personal level, as she’s friends with people like Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan, I assume she must be a pretty likable person in real life. I also recall there was an incident with a university where I think she was treated pretty badly, which makes me feel bad for her, although I can’t recall the details at the moment.

    Linda Sarsour I know very little about, although I assume she would annoy me as a far Left Woke type.

    1. ” … about how we should ‘crush’ Islam militarily …”

      I’m pretty sure that Hirsi Ali has never said that.

      (In the interview that everyone points to when they want to criticse her, she didn’t say we “should” try to defeat Islam militarily, all she was saying was that we should recognise that the irreconcilibility of Islam with Western, secular, liberal values may well lead to military conflict. And of course it did in the case of ISIS.)

      1. Sorry, thought I replied here but must have hit the wrong button – see link below for the interview / context where she talks about ‘crushing’ Islam.

  11. Since 2011, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been married to Niall Ferguson, and they have a son named Thomas. Professor Ferguson, it will be recalled, is an erudite conservative of a nearly extinct kind, a merry Scottish contrarian, and became a US citizen last year. Wiki reports as follows: “Ferguson dedicated his book Civilization to “Ayaan”. In an interview with The Guardian, Ferguson spoke about his love for Ali, who, he writes in the preface, “understands better than anyone I know what Western civilisation really means – and what it still has to offer the world.”

  12. I just can’t fathom any Sarsour support. She is verifiably anti-Semitic and openly tweets pro-Sharia propaganda. How can people like Bernie Sanders or Women’s March support her? I don’t get it. She is the opposite of feminist, as well as theocratic and definitely Islamist.

  13. What do you mean by “ideological credibility”?

    A good ideology is generally partly true, mostly false, but highly credible.

    Is something “ideologically credible” if its false but sounds convincing?

  14. Your comparison isn’t really fair.

    Ali is someone who is trying to bring universal, rational modes of assessment to Islam, whereas Sarsour is practically an identity politics blow-up doll who could be easily replaced by an android.

      1. I just read some of the comments from 2007. Very few of them seem to have read very carefully. It’s instructive to see how people generally were not receptive to here message at that time. I wonder if that has changed.
        I’m also curious what her views on Brexit are. It would seem she’d be for leaving. I’m sure the influx of Muslims to Britain is a worry for her.

  15. I have a hard time wrapping my head around someone disliking her for risking her life to criticize a violent fantasy. On the second point I don’t really know much about her husband’s politics and I think my blood pressure always rises slightly when I hear someone is conservative (I am in the United States and I think the Republicans are a little bit nuts). And really I think when an intellectual is associated with conservatives it probably goes up a little higher. This is my automatic response and I want to mention that it being automatic and not something I deliberately think about , it makes me uneasy that I rely on it as often as I do. So despite my concern with conservatives (and really I am thinking of some issues with the Republican Party) I think it is crazy to criticize a women that endured a hideous ordeal and then spoke against it. This really is hard for me to take seriously and actually is making me laugh a little bit. The bizarre part is that if there is a significant part of the population that thinks this way then it has to be taken seriously.

  16. Hirsi Ali is an amazing person, in that she was able to free herself from a childhood of awful indoctrination. Jerry, I had a similar experience with a “liberal” who was a friend in a discussion about her book Infidel.

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