Kind Of Like Burning Down Your Own House As A Protest Against The Neighbors
I'm at SPSP, the big social psych conference, so I'm not seeing much of the inauguration footage or news. I did do a little reading while eating lunch. A tweet (scroll down for the photo that accompanied it -- within my retweet/tweeted comment):
Protesters now dragging park benches over to makeshift bonfire in the middle of K Street.
Sorry, not understanding how destroying parts of Washington, D.C. that make it more accessible/comfortable for ordinary people is helpful. https://t.co/lsEwkuOIxj— Amy Alkon (@amyalkon) January 20, 2017
Protesters now dragging park benches over to makeshift bonfire in the middle of K Street. pic.twitter.com/4TlmQAYxTq— Matea Gold (@mateagold) January 20, 2017
As I tweeted to somebody else:
@whalesteaks No Trump fan, either, but I am a big bench fan -- personally & on behalf of old, tired people who want to sit their ass down
How Unworldly Are The Pretend Security People Of The TSA Who Grope You At The Airport?
It seems the repurposed mall food court workers now providing "security" (aka a massive, pointless slowdown and search of passengers) need a memo instructing them in the most basic basics:
IUD is form of contraception that a woman's gynecologist inserts up her hoohoo. IEDs are something else.
I once saw Christopher Walken in a cape walking down the middle of Lafayette Street (New York City). Night, by the way. About 8 p.m., I think.
To explain this in slightly greater detail -- say there's that one guy in a group of people who doesn't smile back at you or others: Maybe he's rude or doesn't like you -- or maybe he's just lonely.
--UCSD doctoral student, Andy J. Arnold (via research with his advisor, Piotr Winkielman).
Japan's "Evaporating People"
It's a testament to the power of shame -- and it's especially powerful in Japan.
This is a fascinating story by Maureen Callahan in The New York Post about how people who fail in some major way just disappear -- or even kill themselves. The stories Callahan relates in the piece are out of a book "The Vanished: The Evaporated People of Japan in Stories and Photographs," by French journalist Léna Mauger and her collaborator Stéphane Remael:
As a newlywed in the 1980s, a Japanese martial arts master named Ichiro expected only good things. He and his wife, Tomoko, lived among the cherry blossoms in Saitama, a prosperous city just outside of Tokyo. The couple had their first child, a boy named Tim. They owned their house, and took out a loan to open a dumpling restaurant.
Then the market crashed. Suddenly, Ichiro and Tomoko were deeply in debt. So they did what hundreds of thousands of Japanese have done in similar circumstances: They sold their house, packed up their family, and disappeared. For good.
"People are cowards," Ichiro says today. "They all want to throw in the towel one day, to disappear and reappear somewhere nobody knows them. I never envisioned running away to be an end in itself . . . You know, a disappearance is something you can never shake. Fleeing is a fast track toward death."
Of the many oddities that are culturally specific to Japan -- from cat cafés to graveyard eviction notices to the infamous Suicide Forest, where an estimated 100 people per year take their own lives -- perhaps none is as little known, and curious, as "the evaporated people."
Since the mid-1990s, it's estimated that at least 100,000 Japanese men and women vanish annually. They are the architects of their own disappearances, banishing themselves over indignities large and small: divorce, debt, job loss, failing an exam.
...Whatever shame motivates a Japanese citizen to vanish, it's no less painful than the boomerang effect on their families -- who, in turn, are so shamed by having a missing relative that they usually won't report it to the police.
...In many ways, Japan is a culture of loss. According to a 2014 report by the World Health Organization, Japan's suicide rate is 60 percent higher than the global average. There are between 60 and 90 suicides per day. It's a centuries-old concept dating back to the Samurai, who committed seppuku -- suicide by ritual disembowelment -- and one as recent as the Japanese kamikaze pilots of World War II.
Japanese culture also emphasizes uniformity, the importance of the group over the individual. "You must hit the nail that stands out" is a Japanese maxim, and for those who can't, or won't, fit into society, adhere to its strict cultural norms and near-religious devotion to work, to vanish is to find freedom of a sort.
For younger Japanese, those who want to live differently but don't want to completely cut ties with family and friends, there's a compromise: the life of the otakus, who live parallel lives as their favorite anime characters, disappearing from time to time into alternate realities where, in costume, they find themselves.
"Running away is not always about leaving," a young man named Matt told Mauger. "We dream of love and freedom, and sometimes we make do with a little -- a costume, a song, a dance with our hands. In Japan, that is already a lot."
Link Antonio, Texas
Remember The Ala Moe ("The Three Stooges" do American History 101).
P.S. I'm in San Antonio for SPSP, the big annual social psych conference. Gregg is at my house being walked all over by, uh, that is, taking care of my dog.
A Black Female Trump Supporter Explains Why
Jeffrey Tucker writes at FEE of what he was told by a black female Lyft driver who picked him up in Atlanta:
"Here it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I'm supposed to be all upset that Trump attacked John Lewis, but Trump is right. Lewis said he is not a legitimate president, so yeah Trump got upset. What exactly is Lewis doing to improve the lives of the poor in this town? Nothing. At least Trump has some ideas. He seems to care."
Ok, now I'm listening.
"I'm glad Lewis marched in the protests so long ago," she continued, "but you have to do more than march. That's all these people do is march. Meanwhile, there are sections of Atlanta I'm afraid to drive in. And I say that as a black woman! It's not even about race. Many blacks in this town live better than white people anywhere in the world. But there's whole communities that have been forgotten. They are paid off with welfare checks but they don't have skills or jobs, and they fear for their lives on their own streets."
She was just getting going, so I wondered how far I could push this. What about Obamacare?
"Don't get me started. My premiums are through the roof. I can't afford it. Because I drive all day and night making money, I'm not poor enough to get any subsidies. So this year I'm going to have to pay $750 on my tax return because I can't afford to buy insurance. But I can't afford the health care either! And have you seen those deductibles? If anything should happen to you, you go bankrupt. I'll tell you who benefitted from Obamacare. Not the poor. It's the insurance companies and the government."
Well, Trump is promising people everything but a unicorn (in the decorator color of their choice) on healthcare. I'm sure that will work out very well. As Caleb Howe at RedState puts it:
Health Insurance "For Everybody" And The "Government Will Pay" Says "Republican" Donald Trump. AGAIN.
Tucker with the Lyft driver again:
...What about Trump's personal issues? He seems to have some odd opinions on women and minorities and so on.
"Everyone I know has odd opinions on things, stuff that's crazy and maybe dangerous. You and I probably have some weird views too. But so long as these views don't affect the country as a whole, it's cool. I don't really care. Plus, I'm a black woman and I'm working hard driving people all over this city. You think if he met me, he wouldn't like me? I think he would like me. I feel more connection to him and his views than I do to Obama and people like John Lewis.
Don't make the mistake of thinking she's "representative" of anyone but herself, but very possibly, others feel the same way.
P.S. In case you need to know, I am horrified about the impending presidency of The Big Orange -- the impulsive boor-elect, Donald Trump. (And no, I am not a Hillary fan, by any stretch of anything.)
The Case Against Sugar: Why I've Barely Eaten Any Sugar Since March Of 2009
I learned it from investigative science journalist Gary Taubes: that carbohydrates -- sugar, flour, starchy vegetables like potatoes, apple juice -- cause the insulin secretion that puts on fat. (More on that in his books , Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat.)
I started eating a very low-carb diet -- cutting out flour, sugar, fruit, and starchy vegetables -- and I moved on to eat a high-fat, low-carb diet. I eat bacon, green beans drowning in butter, cheese, steak, lamb, and kale made in the bacon grease. (Kale, even made in bacon grease, tastes like ass, but it's at least bacon-flavored ass, and believe it or not, that's something.)
Eating like this, I am pretty much effortlessly thin -- though I ride a bike (doing interval training as I watch TV) a few times a week and I also lift weights. Oh, and I do 10 situps, 10 pushups (the army kind, not the girly kind), and 30 seconds really, really fast on the bike, every time I make the break-a-tooth black stuff I call "coffee."
Anyway, the point of this post, getting back to Gary Taubes and sugar, is his absolutely terrific latest book -- The Case Against Sugar -- which takes us through sugar's path into the human diet, through some really sick and awful behavior from industry (with crony researchers going right along with their corporate paymasters). And then, Gary goes through some of his thinking on where the research on sugar points -- and it points to DON'T EAT SUGAR.
I've read the book cover to cover (and highlighted a whole bunch of it). I highly recommend it, and I'm going to ask him on my podcast just as soon as I get notes from my editor (and finish any changes) on my next book, which I turned in in early November.
Meanwhile, Gary has an op-ed in the LA Times that details some of the points from the book:
Sugar may well be a killer. The conventional thinking is that it's an "empty calorie" -- it fills you up without providing nutrients. But there's a growing body of research suggesting that sugar actually triggers a disorder known as metabolic syndrome, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now afflicts 75 million Americans. If it does, then it plays a critical role in virtually every major chronic disease, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even dementia. The catch is that the evidence is ambiguous. At this point, scientists can't tell us definitively whether this accusation against sugar is true. Nor can they exonerate sugar.
Given the lack of clarity, and the stakes, how much sugar is too much? How little is still too much? The World Health Organization recommends that we get no more than 10% of our calories from sugars -- sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup in particular -- and that 5% would be even better. For someone who eats 2,000 calories a day, that's less than a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola. Other scientists are more flexible. They simply urge moderation.
The problem is, everyone's a little different; one person's "enough" is another's "too much." As individuals, we only know we're consuming "too much" when we're getting fatter or manifesting other symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Our blood pressure is going up, for instance, or our HDL cholesterol (i.e., the good cholesterol) is low. At that point, we may assume that we can dial it back a little and be fine -- eat ice cream on weekends only, rather than as a daily treat.
If, however, it takes years or decades for us to get to the point where we manifest symptoms of metabolic syndrome, it's quite possible that even apparently trivial amounts of sugar will turn out to be too much to reverse the situation and return us to health.
...I keep returning to a few observations from my research -- unscientific as they may be -- that make me question the validity of any definition of moderation in the context of sugar consumption. One was a comment made by the British physician Frederick Slare in 1715, when he wrote a pamphlet defending sugar as a healthy item. At a time when sugar consumption in England was perhaps 5 pounds per capita per year -- equivalent to consuming only the sugar in a single can of Coke every six days -- Slare still considered it enough to make women "inclining to be fat ... to be fatter than they desire to be." If a single Coke every six days makes you fatter than you desire to be, isn't that already too much?
Ultimately and obviously, the question of how much sugar is too much is a personal decision, just as we all decide as adults what level of alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes we'll ingest.
I don't even eat fruit, because the fruit we have now has been bred to be sweeter than fruit likely was in previous eras.
As for getting off sugar (and flour and the rest), it took about two weeks of feeling like crap -- kind of like I had a visit from some low-grade sister of the flu -- and taking aspirin for it. (Gary suggests eating salted chicken broth during the "getting off carbs" period -- though he didn't come up with that or I didn't hear it till after I'd gone through my little withdrawal stage.)
The good news is, once you're off and don't allow yourself to "cheat," you just get used to being a person who doesn't eat carbs.
These days, about once a week or week and a half, I'll have a small chocolate bar or the smallest size of Ben & Jerry's. If we go to a party, I might have one cookie -- if they look really, really good.
But the way I see it, bacon and all the other stuff I eat tastes great and is filling because it has fat in it, so I feel satiated. I feel like I'm doing the best thing I can for myself to have a long and (I hope) healthy life -- while not eating a diet that's ascetic in the slightest. (Well, okay, to be fair, I could live without the asskale -- but I don't.)
Ants and uncles sold separately.
Little Free Pantries -- People Helping Other People In Need, No Questions Asked
I wrote about Little Free Libraries as a way to build community and get books and ideas out there in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck."
Here's one of my favorite Little Free Libraries near me -- along with a photo of the "librarian":
Well, contrary to the notion that government is the only way to look after our fellow citizens, Deborah Shaar writes at NPR:
There's a small-scale charity movement starting to take hold in neighborhoods across the country. Think of those "little free library" boxes, but with a twist: These are small pantries stocked with free food and personal care items like toothbrushes and diapers for people in need.
They're found near churches, outside businesses and in front of homes. Maggie Ballard, who lives in Wichita, Kan., calls hers a "blessing box."
"I felt like this is something that I could do -- something small that you know, would benefit so many people so long as the word got out about it," she says.
The bright red box is about 2 feet wide and is mounted on a post near the street. Ballard and her son check on it every day and restock as needed.
"My son is 6 years old, so it gives him a little chore to kind of watch it and see what comes and goes and who comes and goes, and maybe learn a little lesson from it," she says.
There's a door on the front of the box but no lock, so anyone can take what they need 24-7. In the beginning, Ballard was providing all of the food. Then word spread and donations from the community starting pouring in.
...Similar "yard-based" food pantries have gone up across the country, in states like Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and Minnesota. Much of it seems to trace back to Jessica McClard, who created what she calls the "little free pantry" in northwest Arkansas.
"The products that are stocked are put directly inside the pantry and turnover is in about 30 to 45 minutes," McClard says. "The frequency of the turnover and the fact that other sites in town are also turning over that frequently, it suggests to me that the need is tremendous."
All of the items inside the boxes are free and there are no forms to fill out. Those using the boxes come and go as they wish. And that sense of anonymity is something you won't find at traditional community food pantries.
Annie Holmquist notes at FEE:
Alexis de Tocqueville noticed this same community willingness to aid those in need when he traveled to America in the mid-1830s.
There's this notion that if government does nothing, nobody will.
I think people just need to get the idea that they can help and see a meaningful way like this to do it.
All the hazelnuts, none of the Fantastik.
Heh heh...this has been floating around teh interwebs, but I love seeing it again.
OK, this one is funny. pic.twitter.com/RmRQVx5sQC— Magic Hate Ball (@SatoshiKsutra) January 16, 2017
Victimizing A Rape Victim -- Throwing Her In Jail For A Month To Force Her To Testify
The government theft of people's money and stuff under cover of law -- "civil asset forfeiture" -- is obscene. But this is a step beyond that -- a step sicker.
Jack Burns writes at The Free Thought Project:
Houston, TX -- A Houston woman has been traumatized by the District Attorney's office, following her report of being raped by a serial rapist. According to Click2Houston, "Jenny, who is in her 20s, was the star witness in the rape trial of Keith Hendricks after he violently raped and choked her. Hendricks was eventually sentenced to two life sentences for raping women."
But during the trial, Jenny broke down while testifying against Hendricks. Fearing that her star witness would not return to testify, prosecutors decided Jenny, who suffers from bipolar disorder, would need to go to the hospital, and then to jail. Yes, that's right. After a brief stay at St. Joseph's Medical Center, Jenny was "handcuffed, put in the back of a patrol car and taken to jail," according to her attorney Sean Buckley.
Adding insult to injury, apparently, not only was the witness raped, forced to testify in front of others about her trauma but then she was rewarded by being forced to spend nearly a month in jail. A month!
Yes, here's a woman who was caged -- caged! -- not because she was the criminal or did anything criminal, but perhaps in large part because the prosecutor wanted a win.
Even if the rapist might go free, this is not a reason to take away another person's freedom. See what Ogg, the new prosecutor, points out below.
The highly unusual move occurred when prosecutors presented the trial judge with a "witness bond." The judge, Stacey W. Bond, signed the order but cannot comment on the case because the rapist is appealing his conviction. So to paint the picture, at least for around 30 days, both the victim and the perpetrator were locked behind bars. This miscarriage of justice just re-victimized the victim and led to a historic shake-up in the district attorney's office.
Kim Ogg, a former prosecutor, used Jenny's case to highlight one of the many injustices she perceived to be taking place in Houston. Ogg, who successfully ran against the DA (Devon Anderson) whose office put Jenny in jail, used Jenny's story to get elected. At the time of the jailing of the rape victim, Ogg was highly critical of Anderson's office. She told reporters, "Putting a witness in jail on a material witness bond, is highly irregular and reserved for the worst of the worst witnesses, maybe gang cases.
"They can be protected by placing them in a hotel, they can be placed with family, you can keep in contact," she said saying there must have been another way to get Jenny the medical help she needed and still ensure her testimony.
...Buckley and Jenny are now suing the city. The attorney told reporters that neither her medical records nor her medicines came with her after she left the psychiatric unit and was presented to the jail. She stated the medical staff at the jail didn't know that she was actually a witness and not a criminal.
Barbaric. And people on psych meds -- or any meds -- may die without them or go through sometimes terrible and/or life-threatening withdrawal.
It's a shame that prosecutors who victimize victims (or engage in other misconduct) aren't made to pay some of the costs when the victims sue. (And no, I'm not talking about mistakes made on the job but the kind of egregious misconduct seen here.)
"Buy American" Comes At A Far Higher Price For The Consumers Paying The Bill
It's one of those "sounds so good in concept things" -- Donald Trump's economic motto, Buy American and Hire American.
Daniel Drezner writes in the WaPo about the hidden costs:
Last year, the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts sojourned to Paris for a few days to talk about the 2016 election. In the interest of marital bliss, I took my spouse with me. The problem was getting there.
My trip was on behalf of a German Marshall Fund of the United States program that was funded by the State Department. And as it turns out, federal government-sponsored travel already operates under the "Buy American and Hire American" principle. The "Fly American Act" requires the federal government to "use U.S. air carrier service for all air travel and cargo transportation services funded by the U.S. government." This is simply a small part of the larger "Buy American" strategy that dictate a lot of federal government procurement practices.
Because the federal government was paying my dime to get to Paris, I had to book it through a U.S. carrier. The Drezner household was paying for my wife to come with me, which meant she had more travel options. This led to an interesting dichotomy in our itineraries. My darling and thrifty wife had no problem finding a ticket to Paris for about $500 with a safe but no-frills Icelandic carrier. I, on the other hand, booked the lowest American-based carrier I could find -- at $2,500. The kicker? My flight wasn't even on a U.S. airline, but a code-share with a European airline that shall remain nameless.
So, as a result of the Fly American Act, I had to pay roughly five times the market price for a trip to Paris. I hereby apologize to the American taxpayers that had to foot the bill. No, wait, I don't -- this wasn't my fault, I was simply following the law.
And do it in ink.
Calling Something Hate: The New Form Of Silencing
The British Home Secretary herself, Amber Rudd, was accused of engaging in a "hate incident," reports the BBC:
West Midlands Police has said the home secretary's speech to last year's Conservative Party conference is being treated as a "hate incident."
In the speech, Amber Rudd suggested tightening rules that allow UK firms to recruit workers from overseas.
An Oxford University professor complained to the force claiming Ms Rudd was using "hate speech" to foster support for her political aims.
But West Midlands police said no crime had been committed.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "This was not a hate crime. The Home Secretary has been crystal clear that hatred has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone.
"She's made countering hate one of her key priorities, indeed one of the first public interventions she made was to launch the Hate Crime Action Plan."
Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent, said West Midlands Police had assessed the complaint but it had not been formally investigated.
However, it had to be recorded as a "non-crime hate incident" in accordance with police national guidelines.
See how easy it is to tar someone as an unacceptable person?
They say something you don't like.
Or maybe they're in your way for some reason -- perhaps keeping you from having an entirely clear path to the top.
I think this is becoming -- and will continue to become -- an extremely convenient way to go after people who've done nothing wrong...well, that is, in a society that values civil liberties, including free speech, enough to protect them.
Sorry, have you seen my spider? He got off his leash...
I loved this tweet:
Not exactly how I pictured it happening pic.twitter.com/E3p5stRiKy— Funny Libertarian (@funlibertarian2) January 14, 2017
The Atlantic's Crap Article On Women Using Mirena Birth Control
Essayist Alana Massey has a piece in The Atlantic with the URL showing up with the text, "Getting Rid of Women's Periods with Birth Control is Perfectly Safe" (see top of your browser for that line). Massey decides this based on convenience and talking to a few ob/gyns -- one of whom is a prof:
"There is no medical reason why a woman has to menstruate every month," said Alyssa Dweck, an assistant clinical professor of OB/GYN at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "And there is nothing wrong with tweaking the system if bleeding is difficult for women."
Cherry Collier, an executive coach based in Marietta, Georgia, was such a woman. Her doctor suggested a hysterectomy when, after she reported heavy bleeding, he discovered three fibroids in her uterus. Because she was still of child-bearing age, she sought alternative opinions and learned that she could stock up on birth-control pills, skip the placebo week and be on a continuous hormone dose that would eliminate her periods and alleviate her suffering. "It was so liberating and so exciting. The result is the period is lighter, less painful, and it is so different because I chose how to handle it," she told me.
Carolyn Thompson, an OB/GYN and fellow at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told me via email that this method is both safe and was especially common before the introduction of "extended cycle" birth-control pills like Seasonalle, Seasonique, and Quartette. These brands are specifically packaged to enable skipping periods but are hormonally the same as other birth-control pills. "There are some women whom we would prefer to avoid periods: those who have migraines, severe bleeding/cramping, endometriosis," Thompson said. "There are also many women who just don't want to have a period every month and who take the pill continuously. This carries no harm, either short- or long-term."
Before at-home pregnancy tests, it made more sense that women wanted their periods as reassurance against pregnancy. "When people were designing the pill, they asked women what they wanted, and women said they wanted to have a period to confirm they're not pregnant," says James Segars, director of the division of reproductive science and women's health research at Johns Hopkins University's department of gynecology and obstetrics, "The period you have on birth-control pills is totally pharmacologic."
The problem is that you're changing your hormonal balance. From Mirena:
Mirena and hormones Mirena releases small amounts of levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone found in many birth control pills, locally into your uterus at a slow rate. Because of this, only small amounts of the hormone enter your blood. Mirena does not contain estrogen.
Leigh Cuen writes at Mic:
Not all doctors are confident that using birth control to stop a natural cycle is completely safe. Jerilynn Prior, an endocrinologist at the University of British Columbia, believes that people should think carefully before opting for menstrual suppression, especially young women whose bodies are still developing. "Important studies, like what are the effects on the breast? What are the effects on bone -- haven't been done," Prior told NPR.
Here's a smarter article from The Atlantic, from 2012, with a more prudent, informed approach. Muye Zhu, then a doctoral student, and Roberta Diaz Brinton, Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, are the authors:
Despite the widespread use of progestins around the globe, relatively little is known about the effect of long-term treatment in the brains of women during and following their reproductive years. Animal and human studies strongly suggest that progestins have important effects on neurological function, ranging from regeneration in the brain to cognition.
These effects may be both positive and negative, as progestins appear to protect the brain against certain forms of degeneration while making it more vulnerable to others. The range of neurological and cognitive effects progestins have on the brain make it especially important for researchers to continue to tease apart the circumstances under which progestins may be an advantage or a drawback to the brain, whether during the reproductive years or beyond.
Their sources and more here.
The "Women As Victims" Department Of The Canadian Government
I like this columnist, Candice Malcolm, whose views are similar to mine, both on what feminism's become and how ridiculous (and insulting) it is to have departments of government especially for women.
As I sometimes write here, feminism today is too often about demanding special rights under the guise of equal rights and demanding that women be treated as eggshells, not equals.
Malcolm writes in the Toronto Sun about Maryam Monsef, removed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Democratic Institutions Minister and shuffled to the lower-profile position of Minister for the Status of Women:
After a run of bad publicity and countless unanswered questions about her mysterious past, Monsef was demoted to the position of Canada's official government feminist.
When it came to firing one of the worst performing members of his cabinet, Trudeau - the avowed feminist - put Monsef in charge of the 'Status of Women,' a junior portfolio inside the Ministry of Canadian Heritage.
While hypocritical, it's also rather fitting. The Status of Women ministry is as unnecessary in Canada as Monsef is in cabinet.
The idea that Canadian women need a special government agency is both demeaning, pejorative and, frankly, out of date and out of touch.
Canadian women are not victims in need of special government assistance. We don't have a single set of issues that require subsidies and handouts from the feds. And we certainly don't need a department of professional feminists telling us which issues are "ours."
Feminism has lost touch with promoting equality, and instead often focuses on undermining men and attacking traditional societal roles.
Besides, the major issues within Status of Women - domestic abuse and missing and murdered aboriginals - are issues relating to crime and security, both already under the purview of the Department of Public Safety.
These issues also [affect] men, and it's wrong and unhelpful to exclude half the population in dealing with societal problems.
I also refuse to join any feminist science societies, and my idea of a "safe space" is one that's safe for free speech -- even that of vigorous assholes.
RELATED: "Male privilege"? "Airport shooting survivor shielded stranger from gunfire." A man threw his body over a woman's, endangering his own life to protect that of a total stranger.
"Ask for Lee. He'll seat you, but you have to tip him."
Offensive Speech On Campus Is A Good Thing
Nassim Taleb, in Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, points out that things that are tough for us, that challenge us, are precisely the things that make us better.
Speech you disagree with is speech that helps you hone your thinking and better debate the disagreeable ideas and speech. Speech that is silenced and shoved underground leaves you like a bunny about to get picked off by the wolf -- once you leave what's now becoming the protective womb of college.
Mark Yudof, the former president of the University of California, argues against this sort of campus -- the campus as giant protective parent. Yudof writes in the Dallas Morning News that students wanting universities to act as parents is going to lead to results the students won't like -- and results that will be damaging for us as a culture:
Universities are being asked to act as parents. Parents have broad moral authority over their children. If a parent may determine a child's access to the internet, decline to invite racist Uncle Charlie over for dinner, impose a curfew on date nights, or celebrate a boys-only birthday party, why can't a university perform a similar function?
I suspect the new paternalists would be far less enthusiastic about some of these measures; they are for selective application of the in loco parentis doctrine. It applies only when one disagrees with the speaker. In this view the First Amendment is at best an inconvenience and at worst an excuse for protecting insulting speech. Apparently some campuses are irony-free zones.
A recent survey found that more than two-thirds of college students support the idea that disciplinary action is appropriate in response to racist, homophobic and other offensive speech. Why has this view taken hold? Some think it is because students were often indulged by their permissive families; they lead privileged lives. I am skeptical. Students and their families went through the Great Recession and often face economic hardships and an uncertain job market. Students of color often face particular challenges. And student upset with offensive speech goes back many decades. Speech has often been perceived as hurtful. Consider, for example, the adoption of racial harassment codes in the 1980s -- which generally were declared unconstitutional by lower courts.
My view is that much progress has been made in addressing overt acts of discrimination by universities. Now the target has moved from hateful action to perceived hateful speech. It is an understandable evolution, though it reflects an ignorance of constitutional traditions. The evolution is in part sustained by an intellectual movement focusing on dog whistle discrimination, implicit bias and sensitivity to micro-aggression. As University of California, Irvine professors Howard Gillman and Erwin Chermerinsky have written, students are now "deeply sensitized to the psychological harm associated with hateful or intolerant speech, and their instinct is to be protective."
And Lilienfeld has a thing or two to say about the "microaggressions" research ("Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence.")
The microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents' subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients' mental health.
A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology.
Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field's attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application.
I conclude with 18 suggestions for advancing the scientific status of the MRP, recommend abandonment of the term "microaggression," and call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP's scientific limitations.
But universities are not homes, administrators are not parents. University students are not children. Students should not be protected from ideas and communications that they find disturbing. Robust speech, protected by the First Amendment, often may offend or chill or disrupt the conventional wisdom. That is good. Universities should work to protect students from sexual and physical assaults and other harms. They should not be safe havens from disturbing ideas and discourses. It is one thing to condemn and quite another to censor or punish.
We live in an era in which people can easily isolate themselves ideologically. Not only may the home be a vacuum-sealed bubble, but people can go only to the websites or the cable news channels that reinforces their points of view. They can hang out largely with fellow ideologues. Behavioral economists call this confirmation bias. But universities are one of the few places (the work place should be another) where one encounters others with different points of view and engages in robust debate.
This "robust debate" should be preserved, not removed from the equation under the notion that it's racist and "mean."
Also, see how this plays out on what is taught. (As in the "Wizard of Oz"...click twice to make it readable.)
"[W]hat happens when a censor looks over a teacher's shoulder," per the dissent of Justices Douglas and Black. Adler v. Board of Ed. (1952). pic.twitter.com/IPhaoh7P9I— Will Creeley (@WillatFIRE) January 12, 2017
Mate With Science
The best book for understanding human mating psychology and sex differences in human mating psychology is out now in revised edition -- evolutionary psychologist David Buss' The Evolution of Desire.
I highly recommend this book.
To wink -- with links.
How Far Down The Crapper We Are As A Country: Law Passed To Keep Parents From Being Arrested When Their Kids Go Around Without An Armed Security Detail
Kids now, by law, can do what I did every day as a kid (unless it was raining not only cats and dogs but small livestock and farm implements).
Yes, a law was passed, the ambitious bullshittedly-titled, ''Every Student Succeeds Act," with a bit in it that specifies that kids can now walk to school by themeslves -- without their parents being arrested for it.
(b), nothing in this Act shall authorize the Secretary to, or shall be construed to--
'(1) prohibit a child from traveling to and from
school on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission; or
''(2) expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is age appropriate.
However, as Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing notes:
It's a largely symbolic victory, alas, as this does not preclude state and local dunderheads from passing laws that put parents in jeopardy for allowing their kids to be in public unaccompanied.
Count on it.
But let's name that local law something cloying yet appropriate, such as "Sphincter's Law."
Today's College Campus: Where Helicopter Mommying Meets Helicopter Adulting
There's the notion that the Army will make boys into men. Well, college now does just the opposite. If you weren't raised by a helicopter mommy, they'll make up for that at Syracuse "University" by making it seem like Syracuse Nursery School.
Anthony Gockowski writes at Campus Reform that Syracuse has just launched a "STOP Bias" campaign warning students about potential offenses like "displaying a sign that is color-coded pink for girls and blue for boys."
Yes, that's right. College -- formerly a center of free speech and free inquiry -- is now about restraining young adult men and women from associating the horror of the color pink with being female.
The website helpfully goes on to list numerous "examples of bias incidents," such as "telling someone that they have to wear pants because they are man and a skirt because they are female," "displaying a sign that is color-coded pink for girls and blue for boys," and even simply "avoiding or excluding others."
...Other potential violations include "telling jokes based on a stereotype," "name-calling," "stereotyping" in general, "offensive graffiti or images/drawing," and "posting or commenting on social media related to someone's identity in a bias matter [sic]."
...The "STOP Bias" program offers a "Bias Incident Reporting Form" for students "who feel they have been the target of bias" can use to inform the appropriate authorities, ominously reminding them that "as a student of SU, you have an obligation to take an active role in fostering an appreciation for diversity and sending the message loud and clear that bias-related acts will not be tolerated."
Best of all, the reporting site is anonymous (unless you want to include your identity), so you can accuse anyone you want to give some problems! Yaaay!
Here's the Syracuse "STOP Bias" site.
Absurdly, they have this at the top:
Syracuse University puts students' rights front and center.
They of course don't mean that yicky "right to free speech" thing.
Here's the list:
Some examples of bias incidents include:
Telling jokes based on a stereotype
Offensive graffiti or images/drawing
Avoiding or excluding others
Posting or commenting on social media related to someone's identity in a bias matter
Calling someone the r-word, n-word, f-word... (in person, in writing, on social media, white boards, etc.)
Using the phrase 'no homo'
Calling a person or a behavior 'gay' as an insult
Making jokes or using stereotypes when talking about someone
Saying that all ______ [people of a certain group or identity] are _____ [stereotyping]
Using a racial, ethnic, or other slur to identify someone
Making a joke about someone being deaf or hard of hearing, or blind, etc.
Imitating someone with any kind of disability, or imitating someone's cultural norm or practice
Making comments on social media about someone's disability, ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs
Writing on a white board about someone's disability, ethnicity, national origin, race, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs
Displaying a sign that is color-coded pink for girls and blue for boys
Telling someone that they have to wear pants because they are man and a skirt because they are female [or other specific limitations and expectations]
Drawing faith symbols on someone's door not from the same belief, or drawing or writing over someone's faith symbols
Taking down someone else's holiday decoration because you do not believe in that faith
Drawing or creating pictures that imitate, stereotype, or belittle/ridicule someone because of their gender, gender expression, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, faith, or political affiliation
So many of these are absurd, but check this out:
Avoiding or excluding others.
So, if you don't invite the ENTIRE CAMPUS to your cocktail party at your house, you're a hater and should be instructified/reprogrammed?
This sounds like a horrible place to go to school:
Bias-related incidents are defined as behavior which constitutes an expression of hostility against the person or property of another because of the targeted person's age, creed, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, political or social affiliation, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Even when offenders are not aware of bias or intend to offend, bias may be revealed which is worthy of a response and can serve as an opportunity for education.
"An opportunity for education."
Yes, your parents (or you) are paying a fuckton for you to go to college so you can get a nursery-school education.
FDA Protects Him From Protecting Himself From Diarrhea -- And Me From Protecting Myself Against Serious Motion Sickness
I get carsick from my own driving. Even from driving five miles.
I also get carsick from driving with others. Even if I use the Scopolamine patch, which is expensive and makes me drowsy and basically feel weird.
There's a drug -- a benign drug called betahistine (Serc) -- that a friend in Paris took when she suffered briefly from vertigo.
The FDA found the tests on it not very good, contends that it has little therapeutic effect, and won't allow it to be sold here.
The thing is -- as I discuss with an epidemiologist who talks to me about study methodology -- there are individual differences, and Serc does work for some people, including me. It's probably the histamine form in it that blocks something malfunctioning or overfunctioning in my vestibular system.
The author also uses Betahistine to treat severe motion intolerance (e.g. Matsnev and Sigaleva, 2007).
It's inexpensive, works for some people, has very few side-effects (none, really, in me for occasional use) and it doesn't make you drowsy, which is miraculous and wonderful. (And no, this isn't a placebo effect -- I expected it not to work, much like the patch, which I was surprised didn't entirely work -- meaning I can't get to Santa Barbara from Venice by car without feeling somewhat sick the entire weekend.)
It isn't a complete cure-all. If we go downtown from Venice, I might be a little carsick when we get there, but I won't need to go lie down on the rug of people we're visiting and sleep the whole time. Or toss my cookies and remain dizzy and sick for two days, like I did when I couldn't make it across town to Mozza (fab gourmet Italian restaurant) for a think tank dinner I was invited to.
Still, this drug is nothing short of miraculous for me.
I found this out when I -- miserable from the Mozza experience and others -- decided to take a chance and order Serc off eBay from a seller in Thailand. I used to produce commercials, right out of college, and I had to make what are called "color-corrected packages" -- replicas of the package for TV. I looked at the price on eBay --$19.99 for maybe 24 pills -- and decided that it probably wouldn't be worth it for them to fake the packages.
So, I have a fantastic solution for motion sickness, but eBay keeps banning the sellers, so I have a connection in Romania now who will sell them to me without eBay in the equation. We don't make the mistake economist Alex Tabarrok did with his diarrhea medicine. He writes at Marginal Revolution:
I arranged for someone to buy me some Canadian Dukoral and ship it over the border. Unfortunately, my "connect" is not as practiced in the art of evading U.S. customs as would be ideal and in a fit of regrettable honesty wrote "gift, diarrhea medicine" on the package. The ever-vigilant U.S. Customs intercepted and confiscated my package, thus saving me from the dangers of FDA-unapproved medicine. So I am out $150 (2 doses) and will be less than fully protected on my trip.
And I absolutely agree with him here:
It has long been my position that if a medical drug or device has been approved in another developed country then it ought to be approved in the United States. If it's good enough for the Canadians then it's good enough for me.
This is called "drug reciprocity."
Oh, and fuck you, FDA, from only barring the French sunblock, Anthelios, to be sold here, except in what I now see is a less effective form (XS instead of XL -- which is the kind with the Mexoryl, the really effective ingredient in it). I've bought this by the caseful in Paris, and just bought more in Vancouver when I was there -- the effective kind that Europeans have been using for decades without dropping dead. As a reviewer on Amazon writes:
Before you buy, just know this: All the raves for Anthelios (which started in the mid-to-late 90's) originally were for the *European* version, which contains Mexoryl, a patented UVA blocker with proven track record in EU and Canada. Mexoryl is highly stable; it does not degrade after hours of sun exposure, rendering the "reapplication" part of sunscreen nearly moot. L'Oreal was the one to patent and develop Mexoryl, which is why it's only found in L'oreal brands outside of the US. In the late 90s and early 2000's everyone was buying Anthelios from European or Canadian sites. Coasting on this word-of-mouth success, the US version was soon launched--- but without the star ingredient which is so effective.
The FDA did not approve Mexoryl as a sunscreen; Talk to anyone in cosmetic industry regulation and it's well-known that the USA is 10 years behind Europe and Asia on approving sunscreens. The list of US-approved sunscreen ingredients is very short, whereas in Europe and Asia the list is longer--- and these newer ingredients are much lighter, thinner, and more absorbent -- Another reason why EU/Asia sunscreens feel like invisible silk---and US ones tend to feel greasy/heavy.
The US version does NOT contain Mexoryl, instead it contains Avobenzone --also highly stable for many hours under the sun -- but this formula also contains Oxybenzone, a controversial ingredient (look it up). I'm not against chemical sunscreens, but I personally avoid Oxybenzone as much as I can. However, one great benefit is the milky-light texture, absorbent finish that feels weightless on skin. This is one reason why it's so popular.
If you don't care about chemical UV filters and just want an absorbent formula that works great on the face, this is a good option. But know that the Euro version is far superior, and if travelling outside the US, stock up --it's very affordable.
But hey, FDA, how great that you protect Americans from the best possible sun protection and maintain that wonderful feeling that you're powerful bureaucrats.
Freedom Of Religion, Freedom From Religion, And Especially Freedom From Some Other Guy's Religion In The Right To Divorce
People make mistakes in getting married.
Research finds that children are harmed when parents divorce and the family is torn apart -- but children are also harmed by eating Frosted Flakes.
We don't force people to feed their children a certain breakfast, and it isn't right to force a couple to remain together -- even if divorce is worse for their children (and much worse for some children, as you'll see at the above link, which takes a conservative approach to the harm).
(A caveat on the divorce thing: It seems to be better for parents to divorce if it is a terrible and violent marriage.)
Well, a religious guy in Texas, State Rep. Matt Krause, is trying to impose his views about the sanctity of marriage on everybody else. Alex Zielinski writes in the San Antonio Current that Krause wants to repeal a person's right to get divorced simply because they have irreconcilable differences (aka "no-fault" divorce). Krause also seeks to substantially delay the time it takes to get a divorce, from 60 days (currently) to 180 days:
The Fort Worth Republican has filed two bills for the looming 2017 Texas Legislature: One that more than doubles the amount of time a couple must wait to finalize a divorce, and another to repeal a person's right to divorce for non-criminal reasons. Krause said he filed these bills in hopes of giving children a better future -- and preserving the sanctity of marriage.
But taking away Texans' freedom to divorce without cause may actually worsen a child's wellbeing, lock abused spouses into violent relationships, and essentially make divorce a privilege of the wealthy.
"Marriage has been devalued over the past decades," Krause said. "It's time to admit we made a mistake."
Krause believes "no fault" divorces -- ones that are simply rooted in a couple's unresolvable differences -- are the culprit.
These "no fault" divorces have only been legal in Texas since 1970. Up until then, a person had to prove in court that their spouse was "at fault," meaning they were either cruel, adulterous, a felon, had intentionally abandoned them, moved away (in a mutual agreement), or lived in a mental hospital.
The 1970 law intended to cut back on the constant issues with falsified evidence in divorce court and to avoid unnecessary animosity between divorcees with children -- for the kid's sake. After such laws passed across the country, however, social scientists stumbled upon a significant unforeseen benefit.
By 2006, states that passed the law saw a 8-16 percent decline in female suicide, a 30 percent decline in domestic violence for both men and women, and a 10 percent decline in females murdered by their partners. As marriage rates declined in America, so have the rates domestic abuse.
Krause, however, said his bill will reinstate a "century-old law" to replace its predecessor, a law he calls a "mistake."
When a member of a couple with children writes to me for advice, if they aren't in a horrible situation -- if say, they just aren't all that excited by their spouse anymore -- I encourage them to see whether they can make it work until the kids go off to college.
It's my belief from interviews I've done with anthropologist Sarah Hrdy (which I have yet to use) and others that it's the stability of a family and the continuation of that family that's very important for kids and what goes missing in divorce.
Still, I don't think a legislator with religious beliefs has a right -- nor does anyone -- to force people to stay together unless one of them has committed a criminal act, committed adultery, or any of the other options for proving "fault."
As law prof Jonathan Turley writes:
Krause ran for office as someone who would bring his faith to his public office. He is the son of a Baptist pastor and his mother is a teacher of the Castle Hills First Baptist School (from where he graduated). Krause attended San Diego Christian College and is a graduate in the very first graduating class of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia. He then opened a Texas office of Liberty Counsel.
He is entitled to his views and clearly reflects the views of a majority of his constituents. However, he would rightfully object if other religions sought to impose their moral code on this family or try to make family decisions more difficult to reflect their own moral codes.
I am all in favor of Krause campaigning to educate couples to resist the temptation to divorce and to try to resolve differences in the interests of their children. It is his use of public powers that is problematic for those of us who prefer to keep the government out of our homes and private affairs.
Conservatives aren't really for "small government" if they're only for that about stuff the Democrats and the various shades of commies want.
More Jell-O, Sir?