My Ancestral Home
From my Pinterest page of quotes from my book, "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck":
The Wildly, Outrageously Bad Science The American Diet Has Been Based On
That terribly bad science -- the work of researcher Ancel Keys -- is what the American diet has been based on for decades, and what has been making Americans fat, diabetic, and dead.
Tom D. Naughton writes at Fat Head about the supposedly 13,000 people Keys supposedly surveyed. But it turns out there weren't 13,000, but far, far, far less:
Keys followed the health of more than 300 men from Crete. But he only surveyed 31 of them, with one of those surveys taken during the meat-abstinence month of Lent. Oh, and the original seven-day food-recall records weren't available later, so he swapped in data from an earlier paper. Then to determine fruit and vegetable intake, he used data sheets about food availability in Greece during a four-year period.
And from this mess, he concluded that high-fat diets cause heart attacks and low-fat diets prevent them.
Keep in mind, this is one of the most-cited studies in all of medical science. It's one of the pillars of the Diet-Heart hypothesis. It helped to convince the USDA, the AHA, doctors, nutritionists, media health writers, your parents, etc., that saturated fat clogs our arteries and kills us, so we all need to be on low-fat diets - even kids.
Per Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories" it is carbohydrates -- sugar, flour, starchy vegetables like potatoes, apple juice -- that cause the insulin secretion that puts on fat.
All You Need To Get Obamacare Is A Flimsy Fake Identity
A "secret shopper" undercover operation by the GAO -- the Government Accountability Office -- found fraud easy to commit in the Obamacare exchanges, writes Paula Bolyard at PJM:
Using fake information during an undercover "secret shopper" investigation, the GAO created 18 fictitious identities through the federal exchange by telephone, online, and in-person. In 17 of 18 attempts the GAO was able to obtain premium subsidies and health insurance with fake information through telephone and online applications. According to the report, 11 out of 12 fake applications for the federal exchanges were approved, with credits totaling $2500 per month ($30,000 per year).
During the investigation, fake shoppers provided fake documents, such as Social Security numbers and proof of income and citizenship. They found that "Federal contractors made no effort to authenticate documents applicants provided" and the fake ID and income information proved to be no impediment to enrollment. According to the report, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is not required to authenticate documentation. "The contractor told us it does not seek to detect fraud and accepts documents as authentic unless there are obvious alterations," the GAO said.
As of July 2014 the fake enrollees continue to receive subsidized coverage for the 11 applications, including 3 applications where GAO did not provide any requested supporting documents.
When the GAO made attempts to sign up for federal subsidies in person, they were unable to obtain assistance in five of six attempts. "One navigator said assistance was not available because HealthCare.gov was down and another [declined] to provide assistance," the preliminary report said, noting that navigaors have received tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to provide assistance to those in need of healthcare.
The Government Likes To Regulate The Hell Out Of Everybody But Itself
The NYT headline: "Pathogen Mishaps Rise as Regulators Stay Clear."
Denise Grady writes in The New York Times:
The recently documented mistakes at federal laboratories involving anthrax, flu and smallpox have incited public outrage at the government's handling of dangerous pathogens. But the episodes were just a tiny fraction of the hundreds that have occurred in recent years across a sprawling web of academic, commercial and government labs that operate without clear national standards or oversight, federal reports show.
Spurred by the anthrax attacks in the United States in 2001, an increase in "high-level containment" labs set up to work with risky microbes has raised the number to about 1,500 from a little more than 400 in 2004, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Yet there has never been a national plan for how many of them are needed, or how they should be built and operated. The more of these labs there are, the G.A.O. warned Congress last week, the greater the chances of dangerous blunders or sabotage, especially in a field where oversight is "fragmented and largely self-policing."
...In June, dozens of C.D.C. employees may have been exposed to live anthrax. In another case disclosed this month, a C.D.C. lab accidentally contaminated a relatively benign flu sample with a dangerous H5N1 bird flu strain that has killed 386 people since 2003 -- and then shipped it to a lab at the Department of Agriculture. In yet another episode this month, vials of smallpox and other infectious agents were discovered in a government laboratory on the campus of the National Institutes of Health after being stored and apparently forgotten about 50 years ago.
Six or seven government agencies were involved in the growth spurt of labs across the country focusing on dangerous pathogens, with no overall strategic plan, according to Nancy Kingsbury, the managing director of applied research and methods at the G.A.O., who testified last week before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
Kitchen Appliances At Deep Discount
Open box and pre-owned kitchen items at Amazon.
Friends With Cancer Or Other Serious Illnesses
A brief excerpt from "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," from the chapter, Friends With Serious Illnesses: What to do when a friend is really, really sick and could maybe even die.
("Cathy" is my late friend Cathy Seipp.)
Mystifyingly, when Cathy was fighting lung cancer, people who knew her well and should have known better would ask me to forward her their suggestions that she eat Tibetan mushrooms or stand on her head and snort dried deer antlers. They meant well, but they weren't thinking too hard. Cathy was highly rational and a vocal believer in evidence-based Western medicine--the kind dispensed by her Cedars-Sinai cancer specialists, as opposed to the kind dispensed in an Internet forward from somebody who believes that the government faked the moon landing.
Another bit from the same chapter:
For some, another person's cancer is the ultimate form of cooties, making them feel suddenly and uncomfortably mortal. Don't be ashamed if you feel this way. But, admit it to yourself, talk to friends about it, do whatever it takes to resist the urge to make like Jimmy Hoffa and disappear. If you just buck up and go visit the person, you'll probably find that they want to talk not about cancer but about whatever dumb crap you always talked about before. Ultimately, what you say is a lot less important than what you do. As the old saying about success goes, a lot of being successful in comforting somebody seriously ill is just showing the hell up.
About That Sex-Starved Husband Spread Sheet
You have to get to a whole lot of angry and resentful to be making the spreadsheet a husband did and his wife posted on Reddit (via Deadspin).
The spreadsheet laid out all the times the wife denied the husband sex over the period of a little over a month.
The wife explained in her Reddit post of the spreadsheet:
Yesterday morning, while in a taxi on the way to the airport, Husband sends a message to my work email which is connected to my phone. He's never done this, we always communicate in person or by text. I open it up, and it's a sarcastic diatribe basically saying he won't miss me for the 10 days I'm gone. Attached is a SPREADSHEET of all the times he has tried to initiate sex since June 1st, with a column for my "excuses", using verbatim quotes of why I didn't feel like having sex at that very moment. According to his 'document', we've only had sex 3 times in the last 7 weeks, out of 27 "attempts" on his part.
I wrote about this issue in a past column:
Relationships are filled with little tasks that don't exactly bring a person to screaming orgasm. A man, for example, doesn't wake up in the middle of the night with some primal longing to bring his girlfriend flowers, rehang her back door, or clean the trap in her sink. Like sex, these things can be expressions of love, but if a guy's going to lock himself in the bathroom, it's not going to be with "Bob Vila's Complete Guide to Remodeling Your Home."
So, couldn't putting out when you aren't in the mood be seen as just another expression of love? Joan Sewell, author of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido, told The Atlantic Monthly, "If you have sex when you don't desire it, physically desire it, you are going to feel used." Well, okay, perhaps. But, if a guy rotates a woman's tires when he doesn't desire it, physically desire it, does he feel used?
Actually, we all do plenty of things with our bodies that we don't really feel like; for instance, taking our bodies to work when we have a hangover instead of putting our bodies in front of some greasy hash browns, and then to bed. For women, however, sexual things are supposed to be out of the question. I think the subtext here is not doing things we really don't feel like if it GIVES A MAN PLEASURE. And no, I'm not advocating rape or anything remotely close to it. And, of course, if you find sex with your husband or boyfriend a horrible chore, you're in the wrong place. Otherwise, if you're with a man, and he's nice to you, and works hard to please you, would it kill you to throw him a quickie?
The real problem for many couples is the notion that "the mood" is something they're supposed to wait around for like Halley's Comet -- probably due to the assumption that desire works the same in men and women. The truth is, just because a woman isn't in the mood doesn't mean she can't get in the mood. According to breakthrough work by sexual medicine specialist Rosemary Basson, women in long-term relationships tend not to have the same "spontaneous sexual neediness" men do, but they can be arousable, or "triggerable." In other words, forget trying to have sex. Tell your girlfriend about Basson's findings, and ask her to try an experiment: making out three times a week (without sex being the presumed outcome) and seeing if "the mood" happens to strike her. You just might find the member getting admitted to the club a little more often.
Sexperts will tell you "a sexual mismatch needn't mean the end of a relationship" -- which sounds good but tends to play out like being hungry for three meals a day and being expected to make do with a handful of pretzels. Expressway to Resentsville, anyone?
"Isolationist"? Not Exactly.
From Cato Institute -- and exactly the way I see it:
The term "isolationist" entered the American lexicon in the late 19th century when the ardent militarist Alfred Thayer Mahan used it to smear opponents of American imperialism. The potency of the slur increased dramatically after World War II, as people blamed the policies of the interwar period for failing to halt the rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Modern-day interventionists have used the term to discredit opponents of the Iraq War, the NATO campaign in Libya, arming the Syria rebels or indiscriminate drone strikes in multiple countries. In other words, interventionists brand their opponents as isolationists to delegitimize them and to stifle debate.
Some interventionists have characterized Cato's views as "isolationist," but that is inaccurate. In fact, Cato scholars argue that the United States should be an example of the principles of liberty, democracy, and human rights, not their armed vindicator abroad. Americans should remain engaged in the world through trade, tourism and other cultural exchanges, and welcome those from around the world who want to work, study or invest here. The foreign policy of restraint is particularly appropriate in the modern era as threats to the United States have waned, and as the high costs and dubious benefits of a hyperactive, interventionist foreign policy are glaringly apparent.
There are a number of articles on this at the link.
Uber May Be Reducing Drunk Driving
Paul Best writes at reason:
Just a few weeks ago, Pittsburgh resident Nate Good published a quick study that offered the first hard evidence that DUI rates may be decreasing in cities where Uber is popular. An analysis of Philadelphia's data showed an 11.1 percent decrease in the rate of DUIs since ridesharing services were made available, and an even more astonishing 18.5 percent decrease for people under 30.
As everyone knows, however, correlation does not equal causation. Good's quick number-crunching was too simplistic to draw any overarching conclusions, but it did open the door for future studies. A recent, deeper analysis from Uber makes the case even stronger that ridesharing services may be responsible for a decline in DUIs.
From that Uber analysis:
Requests for rides come from Uber users at bars at a much higher rate than you might expect based on the number of bars there are in the city. The fraction of requests from users at bars are between three and five times greater than the total share of bars.
Who's stopping Uber? Oh, the cops, for one.
Linky for gamblers.
About grief myths, the worst is when those who believe the myths tell others they aren't "grieving right" and warn that it'll come back to bite them.
The best popular book on grief is by George A Bonanno, The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss. Here's a show I did with him.
I write about grieving and dating again after the death of a partner in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck." And here's my column on the subject.
Government Employees And Criminals Damn Hard To Tell Apart
As Freedom To Travel's Wendy Thomson put it about a drunk man impersonating a security screener who convinced two women to go into a private screening area for a grope:
Sad thing is that the women did not even realize the difference between his criminal behavior and the government-sanctioned "legal" molestation.
An actual TSA employee, however, let this fly to a security theatre skeptic:
"You don't have shit for rights."
The Rage Against Israel Doesn't Seem To Extend To Anyone Else
Brendan O'Neill writes at Spiked, "There's something very ugly in this rage against Israel. The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism gets thinner every day":
The double standards were perfectly summed up last week in the response to an Israeli writer who said in the UK Independent that Israel's attack on Gaza and its 'genocidal rhetoric' made her want to burn her Israeli passport. She got a virtual pat on the back from virtually every British activist and commentator who thinks of him or herself as decent. She was hailed as brave. Her article was shared online thousands of times. This was 'common sense from one Jew', people tweeted. No one stopped to wonder if maybe they should have burned their British passports after Yugoslavia in 1999, or Afghanistan in 2001, or Iraq in 2003, where often more civilians were killed in one day than have been killed by Israel over the past week. Why should Israel's bombing of Gaza induce such shame in Israeli citizens (or Jews, as some prefer) that burning their passports is seen as a perfectly sensible and even laudable course of action whereas it's perfectly okay to continue bounding about the world on a British passport despite the mayhem unleashed by our military forces over the past decade? Because Israel is different; it's worse; it's more criminal.
Of course, Western double standards on Israel have been around for a while now. They can be seen not only in the fact that Israeli militarism makes people get out of bed and get angry in a way that no other form of militarism does, but also in the ugly boycotting of everything Israeli, whether it's academics or apples, in a way that the people or products of other militaristic or authoritarian regimes are never treated. But during this latest Israeli assault on Gaza, we haven't only seen these double standards come back into play - we have also witnessed anti-Israel sentiment becoming more visceral, more emotional, more unhinged and even more prejudiced than it has ever been, to such an extent that, sadly, it is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins.
...Not only is the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism becoming harder to see - so is the line between fact and fiction. As the BBC has reported, the wildly popular hashtag #GazaUnderAttack, which has been used nearly 500,000 times over the past eight days to share shocking photographs of the impact of Israel's assault on Gaza, is extremely unreliable. Some of the photos being tweeted (and then retweeted by thousands of other people) are actually from Gaza in 2009. Others show dead bodies from conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Yet all are posted with comments such as, 'Look at Israel's inhumanity'. It seems the aim here is not to get to the truth of what is happening in Gaza but simply to rage, to yell, to scream, to weep about what Israel is doing (or not doing, as the case may be), and the more publicly you weep, the better, for it allows people to see how sensitive you are to Israeli barbarism. It's about unleashing some visceral emotion, which means such petty things as accuracy and facts count for little: the expression of the emotion is all that matters, and any old photo of a dead child from somewhere in the Middle East - Iraq, Syria, Lebanon - will suffice as a prop for one's public emotionalism.
A commenter under O'Neill's piece:
Killing one race? Assad has killed 170,000 in Syria, out of which 2,000 were Palestinians. That is more Palestinians killed than in all of Israel's defensive wars in Gaza. These deaths were deliberate slaughters, not collateral fatalities in a military operation to remove missiles, launchers and command centres that have been pounding Israel since before the start of Operation Protective Edge.
And it is not, as you falsely declare below, the Zionists who are claiming that Hamas is responsible for the indiscriminate firing of missiles at Israeli civilians AND the callous use of their own citizens as human shields. The Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Palestinian envoy to the UN Human Rights Commission have publicly gone on record to state that Hamas is guilty of war crimes violating international law on both of those counts. In the words of the Palestinian representative, Ibrahim Kraishi (who, incidentally, is not a Zionist) on July 9th on the Palestinian Authority TV channel: "The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets..., Many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing because [the Israelis] followed the legal procedures....As for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out."
The PA is pissed as hell at Hamas because it has undermined their campaign to haul Israel to the International Criminal Court. Of course, none of this will affect your spouting off more ignorance, arrogance and seething hatred, because you, and others like you, are a case in point in for exactly what the writer has described in this article: wolves in sheep's clothing, vicious Jew-haters masquerading as human-rights activists. Hypocrites who, with their dismissal of and silence on the actual, far-more significant human rights abuses across the planet, couldn't give a rat's ass about human rights at all. So just go on brandishing your lies, worn-out slogans and vitriol to your petty heart's desire; fortunately, all that ugliness does very little to alter the truth.
What do Jews do when they aren't ducking death?
No Radio, Soap
My usual Sunday radio show will air tomorrow night instead.
No, Your Index Finger Destroyed Your Marriage
Lawyer Chris Sevier files suit against Apple because its devices lack a filter that keeps them from playing porn. David Ferguson writes at Raw Story:
The attorney is suing the company in an effort to have all of its devices equipped with a filter that blocks sexually-themed content.
...Sevier said that when a typing error led him to "Fuckbook.com" rather than Facebook, he was overtaken with the eroticism of the images and films he found there and that he became addicted to Internet pornography, causing difficulty in his marriage.
The images of naked young women on the web amounted to "unfair competition" for Sevier's wife, he said in the complaint, writing, "The Plaintiff began desiring younger more beautiful girls featured in porn videos than his wife, who was no longer 21."
Moreover, "(h)is failed marriage caused the Plaintiff to experience emotional distress to the point of hospitalization. The Plaintiff could no longer tell the difference between Internet pornography and tangible intercourse due to the content he accessed through the Apple products, which failed to provide him with warnings of the dangers of online pornography whatsoever."
Sevier compared pornography to handguns and cigarettes, products that are subject to regulation. He posited that Apple has an obligation to protect its users, and at a minimum to give them written warnings about Internet porn.
As I've written and as addiction treatment specialist Stanton Peele discussed on my show last night, substances themselves are not "addictive"; it's people's use of the substances as an escape from life.
From one of my columns -- from an upset wife about her husband who'd turned into a pothead and was secretly videotaping women's butts:
Your husband -- let's call him "the old bong and chain" -- is an addict. You may not think of him that way, because he probably doesn't have a physical dependence on weed or running around town making butt-umentaries (say, in the way I have a physical dependence on break-a-tooth-black coffee). Probably what he has is a psychological addiction to checking out (instead of engaging emotionally), and he's using these habits as transportation to get there.
To explain that further, an addiction treatment specialist I respect, Dr. Stanton Peele, in "7 Tools to Beat Addiction," writes, "When people turn to an experience, any experience, for solace to the exclusion of meaningful involvements in the rest of their lives, they are engaged in an addiction." Another addiction therapist I respect, Dr. Frederick Woolverton, in "Unhooked," explains that what all addictions have in common is a longing to avoid "legitimate suffering" -- difficult emotions that are a normal part of being alive.
So, no, your husband's saying no to butt cheeks and "only sometimes" to pot probably isn't enough. These are just his preferred forms of checking out. To avoid simply replacing them with new forms, he needs to recognize that he's been using them to duck feeling his feelings -- maybe just in your marriage but maybe in other parts of his life, too. He also needs to commit to changing this, but not because you're hassling him and it would be an even bigger hassle to get dumped by you. (Change is especially tough for the emotion-averse.) He needs to come to the conclusion that it's worth it to tough it out and feel so he can connect with you on more than the pothead's deep philosophical questions, "What does paisley sound like?" and "Are we out of Funyuns?"
Science writer Maia Szalavitz calls addiction a "learning disorder":
What this means is that addiction isn't simply a response to a drug or an experience--it is a learned pattern of behavior that involves the use of soothing or pleasant activities for a purpose like coping with stress. This is why simple exposure to a drug cannot cause addiction: The exposure must occur in a context where the person finds the experience pleasant and/or useful and must be deliberately repeated until the brain shifts its processing of the experience from deliberate and intentional to automatic and habitual.
This is also why pain patients cannot be "made addicted" by their doctors. In order to develop an addiction, you have to repeatedly take the drug for emotional relief to the point where it feels as though you can't live without it. That doesn't happen when you take a drug as prescribed in a regular pattern--it can only happen when you start taking doses early or take extra when you feel a need to deal with issues other than pain. Until your brain learns that the drug is critical to your emotional stability, addiction cannot be established and this learning starts with voluntary choices. To put it bluntly, if I kidnap you, tie you down and shoot you up with heroin for two months, I can create physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms--but only if you go out and cop after I free you will you actually become an addict.
Again, this doesn't mean that people who voluntarily make those choices don't have biological, genetic or environmental reasons that make them more vulnerable and perhaps less culpable--but it does mean that addiction can't happen without your own will becoming involved. It also means that babies can't be "born addicted." Even if they suffer withdrawal after being exposed in utero, they haven't engaged in the crucial learning pattern that shows them that the drug equals relief and they can hardly go out and seek more despite negative consequences.
Addiction--whether to sex, drugs or rock & roll--is a disorder of learning. It's not a disorder of hedonism or selfishness and it's not a sign of "character defects." This learning, of course, involves the brain--but because learning is involved, cultural, social and environmental factors are critical in shaping it.
If we want to get beyond "Is Sex Addictive?" and "Crack vs. Junk Food: Which Is Worse?" we've got to recognize that we've been asking the wrong questions. The real issue is what purpose does addictive behavior serve and how can it be replaced with more productive and healthy pursuits--not how can we stop the demon drug or activity of the month. We've been doing the equivalent of trying to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder by banning hand sanitizer when what we really need to understand is why and how obsessions and compulsions develop in particular people.
My show with Stanton from last weekend:
Apple link via "Honest Courtesan" Maggie MacNeill, who recently published a book of her short stories, Ladies of the Night: Short Stories By Maggie McNeill.
That was the message behind George Bush on May 1, 2003, a few months after the Iraq invasion began.
Remember "no nation-building"? Well, in a way, he's kept that promise, as the place has gone all to shit. No, no picnic in Iraq under Saddam, but at least he kept the lid on the religious nutters -- the cause of the increased instability in the area.
Now, Al Arabiya News reports:
Iraq was home to an estimated 1 million Christians before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted former President Saddam Hussein. Since then, militants have frequently targeted Christians across the country, bombing their churches and killing clergymen. Under such pressures, many Christians have left the country. Church officials now put the community at around 450,000.
The latest, from the Al Arabiya piece: ISIS has just burned down an 1,800-year-old church in Mosul.
church news via @adamkissel
Fed Ex Is A Delivery Service, Not A Package Contents Assessment Service
Fed Ex -- admirably and correctly -- refused to pay the government off like UPS did (to the tune of $40 million) for delivering packages of drugs from Internet pharmacies. The government has now indicted Fed Ex for refusing to capitulate.
Per Mike Masnick at Techdirt, the government is trying to spin stories into evidence that Fed Ex "knew" what was in those packages.
Scott Greenfield writes at SimpleJustice:
Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. So what? FedEx is in the business of delivering packages. There is no crime in that. It is not in the business of accessing the lawfulness of the contents of the packages it delivers. And this is what pissed the government off.FedEx is fighting these claims pretty aggressively, insisting that it's crazy to make it responsible for what's in the packages:
"We are a transportation company -- we are not law enforcement."
An additional note from Masnick:
The company notes that it has long asked the DOJ to provide it with a list of online pharmacies that it shouldn't do business with, so that it didn't have to just guess. The government did not provide the list, and seems to think that FedEx must be psychic (and should know what's in all packages and whether or not they're illegal.
This is so important that Fed Ex is standing up to the government on this. As I've said about people who stand up for their own civil liberties, they end up standing up for the civil liberties of all of us. And this also goes -- and especially goes -- for lawyers like Marc Randazza and Ken White (@Popehat), who take cases of those of us who stand up against the near-constant erosion of our civil liberties these days.
More from Scott's post:
The secondary market offers a terrible way to fight crime, where government pressure forces companies engaged in lawful commerce to risk their fortunes on the legality of their customers, and become liable for not investigating and condemning anything with a whiff of impropriety at their own criminal risk.
There are a list of businesses the government squeezes to shut down those it can't get legitimately. Credit card companies are pressured to refuse payments to companies the government hates. Banks are pressured to refuse their deposits. Now delivery companies are pressured to refuse to deliver their goods.
Note that the primary means of attack, indict and prosecute the party who is alleged to be engaging in criminal conduct is no longer necessary, if they can be shut down via more compliant sources. This saves the government from having to prove they committed a crime, and instead allows the government to strangle any business it pleases through secondary means.
So do you want FedEx deciding whether the contents of your parcel are worthy of their risk to deliver it? Do you want the government shutting down businesses, perhaps industries, they decide are evil, or maybe just don't like very much, by putting the squeeze on secondary providers to terminate their relationships and services?
Charlotte Allen: "An Etiquette Guide for the Imperfect Among Us"
Charlotte Allen, who's a friend and a truly smart and insightful writer I have a lot of respect for, posted a wonderful review of my book in The Weekly Standard. Here's the beginning:
Amy Alkon, Los Angeles-based syndicated advice columnist ("Advice Goddess") and author of Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck (St. Martin's Griffin), is a friend of mine, so this is a plug, not a review. But even if this were a review because I didn't know Amy, it would read like a plug anyway. Her previous manners book, I See Rude People (2009), got rave blurbs from Elmore Leonard and Harold Bloom. I'm not in the same league as either of those, but I can say without reservation that Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck is hilarious, consistently entertaining, and, above all, wise. It's Emily Post as a beach read.
Unlike Post, though, Amy doesn't pretend to know, much less dispense advice about, the finer points of formal etiquette. In her opening chapter, titled "I Don't Care Where You Put the Fork (as long as you don't stab anybody in the eye with it)," she confesses: "I do have a grasp on certain table manner basics, like that you shouldn't lick your plate clean unless there's a power outage or you're dining with the blind, but I'm basically as domestic as a golden retriever." But as she points out: "What really matters isn't how you set the table or serve the turkey but whether you're nice to people while you're doing it." Her book, she writes, is "for people like me, who are well-meaning but imperfect...who sometimes swear (and maybe even enjoy it) but take care not to do it around anybody's great-aunt or four-year-old"...
If you haven't bought my book already, please consider buying it (only $9.48 at Amazon!). Orders of the book (new copies, that is) help support my writing. I'm now working on my next book and continuing the solid sales of this book will help me sell the next one.
A quote from it -- from my Pinterest page of mostly funny quotes from the book, which I'm continuing to post:
Six Years Of Decriminalized "Indoor" Prostitution
That's what went on in Rhode Island, through a loophole in the law. And what happened during that time? The incidence of forcible rape and gonorrhea steeply declined, writes Adrianna McIntyre on Vox:
"Indoor" prostitution refers to sex work that takes place through massage parlors, escort agencies, and most of the online market, compared to outdoor street-based prostitution.
The authors found evidence that, after decriminaliztion, the size of the indoor sex market increased -- as expected -- and prices commensurately fell.
More surprising was the finding that forcible rape offenses fell by 31 percent in Rhode Island from 2004 to 2009, as decriminalized indoor sex work scaled up in the state. This translates to 824 fewer reported rapes. The majority of the reduction in rapes came from Providence, where the state's sex work is concentrated.
No other crimes -- robbery, murder, assault, burglary, or motor vehicle theft -- experienced a sharp decline after 2003 like rape did. This suggests that the decline was not associated with an increase in policing, because had that been the case, we would expect rates to fall for other types of criminal activity.
Using CDC data, the authors were able to determine that cases of female gonorrhea fell by 39 percent over the same time period. The sexually transmitted disease disproportionately affects prostitutes -- 23% of women who engage in sex work report ever contracting gonorrhea, compared to 5% of the general female population.
The reduction in gonorrhea among men was less significant, which may be due in part to the science of STDs -- a woman who has sex with an infected man faces a 60 to 80 percent risk of contracting gonorrhea while the female-to-male transmission rate is only about 20 percent.
The authors aren't sure why this happened. They offer some hypotheses. For example:
Decriminalizing indoor prostitution could improve the bargaining position of female sex workers relative to clients, leading to lower rates of victimization. Research from the late 1990s found that indoor sex workers are victimized considerably less than outdoor street walkers. The legal quirk in Rhode Island only applied to indoor sex work, which could have resulted in some prostitutes abandoning outdoor business for its decriminalized -- and safer -- counterpart.
What I am sure of is that your body belongs to you, and the government has no business prosecuting consenting adults who choose to exchange money for services, unless they are putting a hit out on someone or otherwise hurting a non-consenting person.
Back To The Basement -- And Ages Past
I couldn't wait to leave my parents' home -- first for college and then to have my own place and my own life. Well, this is happening less and less, writes Walter Hamilton in the LA Times, thanks to a sluggish job market and other factors:
More Americans than ever live in multigenerational households, and the number of millennials who live with their parents is rising sharply, according to a study released Thursday.
A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population, lived in multigenerational arrangements in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. That's more than double the 28 million people who lived in such households in 1980, the center said.
...About 23.6% of people age 25 to 34 live with their parents, grandparents or both, according to Pew. That's up from 18.7% in 2007, just prior to the global financial crisis, and from 11% in 1980.
For the first time, a larger share of young people live in multigenerational arrangements than of Americans 85 and older.
Beyond the "sluggish job market," why else are people moving back in with mom and dad -- or never leaving?
What effect does it have on kids' independence, on their parents' lives?
Tales from the front, please.
Link Or Dare
"Why Are We Arresting Parents For Things That Were Perfectly Normal 30 Years Ago?"
Megan McArdle asks that question at Bloomberg -- related to how parents are being arrested for leaving, no, not just infants, but 11-year-olds in cars while they shop. I was left in the car all the time while my mother shopped -- with my two younger sisters -- so my mother wouldn't have to drag three annoying kids into the store with her. I'm sure other shoppers were grateful, or would have been, had they known.
The stats say what's really dangerous to your child -- no, not letting him or her go to the park alone (as I was allowed) or walking to school alone:
You know what's really dangerous to your child? Getting in a car. It's the leading cause of death among kids ages 5 to 14, followed by cancer and drowning. Stranger abductions are way, way, way down on the list. Yet at the same time we've been tethering our children to our knees in an effort to make sure nothing bad ever happens, we've actually slightly increased the number of vehicle miles they travel. Why aren't the cops on that?
You can argue that driving is necessary, but it seems to me that raising independent children is also necessary. Arresting parents who allow any child younger than a college freshman to spend time alone amounts to a legal mandate to keep kids timid and tethered. This should not be an object of public policy.
What is truly bizarre is that the cops cuffing these women were most likely raised with exactly the freedom they are now punishing. Do they think their parents should have been put in jail? Or have the intervening years rendered tweens unable to figure out how the car doors work?
I'm not saying that parents should take their toddlers into the wilderness and leave them there to hike their way out. What I can't understand is how our society has lost the ability to distinguish between that and letting your pre-teen hang out in the car for a half-hour or spend some time in a nearby park. As Jessica Grose says, if this had been illegal in 1972, every single mother in America would have been in jail. Yet millions upon millions of us lived to tell the tale.
Ocala, Florida: Major Fashion Emergency Dealt With By City Council
Along with natural disasters like hurricanes and home-invasion robberies, the terror of excessively low-slung pants has struck Ocala, Florida.
The fearless (and shameless) City Council has come to the rescue -- voting unanimously to ban anyone on city property from wearing pants two inches below their natural waist.
The sagging pants ordinance is enforceable on city-owned or leased property, including sidewalks, streets, parks, sports, recreation and public transportation facilities and parking lots.
It is punishable by jail time and a $500 fine.
And saggy pants hurt people who aren't wearing them (and tripping and cracking their heads open or looking really dorkus) how?
Also, I'm obviously no lawyer, but this would seem to be a First Amendment violation. If you can wear (per Cohen v. California) a "fuck the draft" coat (and yay to the Supremes on that), why can't you express your desire to fit in with people who dress like total idiots by walking around with your pants partially down? If they aren't so far down that you're exposing zipperwurst to the ladies, well...again...why is that anyone's business but yours?
When A Cop Is A Criminal With A Badge
This cop, Aaron "AJ" Huntsman, a 19-year veteran of the state police, stole a dying motorist's big gold crucifix. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felonies --third-degree larceny and tampering with evidence. Daniel Tepfer writes at CTNews:
Scalesse [first name not given in the piece], a former executive of the JAS Masonry in Milford, was killed Sept. 22, 2012 after his motorcycle crashed into a construction company truck on the northbound section of Exit 44 on the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield.
Huntsman, who was the first trooper at the crash scene, walked over to where Scalesse lay, bent down and picked up Scalesse's gold chain from a pool of blood, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. He then took a roll of bills - $3,700 - that had been in Scalesse's pocket. Later, Huntsman told Scalesse's grieving father that he didn't see any money on the victim, the affidavit states.
The cash was later found held with a rubber band under the front seat of Huntsman's cruiser. State Police said Huntsman has maintained his innocence even after he was shown a video of him taking the money that was captured on the dash camera of his own police car.
If there's one thing I've learned in the past 15 years, it's to be disappointed by the police.
As I write in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," no, they won't solve your small crime -- your car theft, your bike theft, your identity theft; and they won't figure out who broke into your house. These crime reports get taken and shoved into folders, often never to be seen again.
There are exceptions out there, but in my neighborhood, most -- including high-ranking officers -- barely understand some of the laws (beyond those dealing with major violent crimes) and certainly can't be bothered enforcing them.
If you think some cop is going to solve your crime, consider believing in the tooth fairy instead. The tooth fairy came through for me a number of times, and I've heard that from other people, too.
Kuryakin, of course. Linkus Russianikus.
Welcome To Los Angeles, The Town Where They Fix Streets That Aren't Broken
There have been public works guys on part of the street I live on all this week. I thought maybe they were working on the sewers or the power (which goes out when the sky, no, not storms but sneezes lightly). (I'm from the Detroit suburbs, where the lights stay on most of the time, even when there's actual weather.)
They're repaving a stretch of street. I didn't think about this until my neighbor said something to me, but although the street wasn't newly paved -- and was probably paved last a few decades ago -- it's not a street that gets a ton of traffic, especially because it's one-way. And most important, it didn't need repaving. Not one pothole on it, that I can recall (and I take it with some frequency to get home, because I live just on the other side of the "one way" sign).
My neighborhood has gotten gentrified fast in the past five years. I'm wondering if the increasing presence of wealthy people in multi-million-dollar homes led to the upgrade -- when there are places in LA where my tiny car (a 2004 Honda Insight) could disappear into a pothole and never be seen again. (Pico Boulevard, for example, in West LA, where I'm pretty sure my car was damaged to the tune of a few hundred dollars in wheel misalignment.)
I could be wrong in my speculation, but with how short on money Los Angeles is, it's odd that the city is running around fixing things that aren't actually broken.
The War On Kids
Local cops are rewarded for the sheer numbers of people they pick up in drug arrests. One of these people was an autistic, bipolar kid, Jesse Snodgrass. He was befriended by an undercover cop, who eventually persuaded him to buy a half joint from a homeless man and give it to him.
The video is 24 minutes long, but even the first three minutes are worth watching.
His dad said he thought Jesse just bought the pot because he thought he needed to or he'd lose his friend -- his only friend.
Deputy Daniel Zipperstein of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, who busted Jesse, is a predator under cover of the law, acting out of careerist self-interest. Vile.
All in all, 22 kids were arrested as part of this drug sting. Nine of them were considered "special needs" kids.
The Thick Blue Line
The man who videotaped the CHP officer beating a woman on the highway says the CHP is trying to discredit him. That man, David Diaz, talked with host Dominique DiPrima on KJLH-FM's Front Page:
2. On why Diaz didn't give the video to the police right away.
"Giving it to authorities, we don't do that here. We don't do that in L.A., to give it to authorities. Those were the authorities."
"It's funny because people say why didn't you call the cops. That was the cops! And everyone's a tough guy, they go oh- you should have intervened. Like yeah, so the other guy-so the other cop that comes in at the later end, so he can shoot me? Like c'mon, people need to be realistic."
3. On the CHP trying to discredit him.
"The CHP has come to my house to take statements. So they have questioned me. They've tried to discredit me and they've tried to poke holes in my story. So that's happened. And they are one of the people that have questioned why I didn't help out and why I didn't call 911 and why I didn't stick around to assist her into the hospital if I felt so concerned. They tried to poke holes at me to discredit me for sure."
It's a detective's job to look for holes in a story -- but I would say the videotape of the beating is looking pretty hole-proof.