Saturday, May 02, 2015
He thinks the LGBT movement would be more understandable if there were more LGBT people. Like how did a small minority take over our politics? And no, he is not talking about the Koch brothers.
Hmm. Let's see if our Rush then thinks that women's rights are a more understandable movement. After all, around half of all humans are of the female persuasion.
Don't fall down the stairs. You can break your shoulder bone in the more sentient of your arms. It's not only somewhat painful, but also leaves you with the pecking/typing ability of five fingers which are sinister.
In other words, my posts will be short until I learn single-hand typing superpowers.
The silver lining in this cloud is a chance to do real research on health care costs. For example, the shoulder immobilizer the ER gave me will cost either me or the insurer between 63 and 110 dollars. Identical (or better) are for sale online for less than 30 dollars. This may reflect the markup pricing hospitals practice.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
I read this UK Daily Mail article with a very strong sense of déjà vu again. Didn't I fairly recently write about it? In last September, to be exact.
And indeed I did! Most, if not all, of the piece is recycled from an earlier piece.
Here's one of the glorious quotes from Dr. Mosley:
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, an expert on the brain who I visited at Cambridge University, has done a lot of pioneering work on this. He believes, broadly, that people of whatever gender fall somewhere along a ‘systemiser’ to ‘empathiser’ spectrum.
Systemisters are people who enjoy breaking down and analysing systems. They are more likely to become train spotters or computer scientists.
They are what he has called ‘male brained’ — as these qualities occur most frequently, but far from exclusively, in men.
Empathisers, on the other hand, are more typically ‘female’ brained as they are more typically women.
Although there are exceptions, most men — when tested — come out as more ‘systemising’ than ‘empathising’, while for women it is the other way round.
And this is the picture we are given of systemisers!
I love it! Lovelovelove it! It's a beautiful example of biased thinking. Examples of systemizing behavior are all picked from stuff guys do more and that means systemizing is a male brain thing. But of course many traditionally female hobbies and chores also require good systemizing skills. If you omit all of those and put in a picture of train spotting guys, well, you have made your case.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Short Posts, 4/28/2015: Fear of the Other Party, Why Reproductive Rights Might Be Losing, the Power of Koch Brothers And Older Actresses
1. This study on the fear of the other political party in the US sounds interesting. I have not read the study itself, so I can't say anything about its methods and such. But thinking about the "fear of the other" in the context of political parties could be fruitful.
2. Katha Pollitt writes about the reasons why same-sex marriage is winning and reproductive rights are losing in the US. I'm not sure if I agree with every one of her points but the list is another good starting place for thinking. In general, women's rights on the global level don't get the support they should because the change required is so large. After all, women are roughly half of all human beings. That's my positive interpretation of people having to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era. The sadder interpretations is, well, sad, and has to do with the question who controls this resource called "women."
3. Après moi, le déluge" Or Koch-backed think tank is sending scientists to the Vatican, to school the Pope:
“The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust,” said Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute. “Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth – in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity. Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”The French reference is to show you how erudite I am, even though Louis XV might never had said that as his last words. Also, I don't speak French.
He called on anyone with “open ears” to fulfill their moral duty to seek the truth on climate change – which 97 percent of scientists agree is likely the result of human activities.
“The science is not settled, and global warming is not a crisis,” Bast said. “The world’s poor will suffer horribly if reliable energy – the engine of prosperity and a better life – is made more expensive and less reliable by the decree of global planners.”
It's also because I smell that in the thinking of many Koch-type conservatives: Give us our profits and the heck with the future generations.
But it's also because the brothers Koch are wielding exorbitant power in American politics, much, much more than most voters. That power reminds me of the power of ancient French kings. And mostly the argument is that they can wield that power legally (funding political campaigns etc.) because of the freedom of expression. Something of the sort where each dollar note has the same right to express itself. That's bad news for any semblance of democracy.
4. This video is hilarious. It's about when older actresses are no longer f**kable. The language is not work-safe.
The city of Baltimore is recovering after demonstrations and rioting this weekend. The cause of them was the death of Freddie Gray:
Authorities can't say if there was a particularly good reason why police arrested Gray. According to the city, an officer made eye contact with Gray, and he took off running, so they pursued him. Though he'd had scrapes with the law before, there's no indication he was wanted at the time. And though he was found with a switchblade, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime.”
The police say Gray didn't resist arrest and that officers didn't use force, which seems to be mostly corroborated by video shot by bystanders. Gray seems to shout in pain, and his leg seems injured as officers drag him to a police van. (Someone off camera shouts, "His leg broke and y'all dragging him like that!") Gray also had asthma and requested his inhaler, but didn't get it. Yet it's not the leg or the asthma that killed him. Instead, it was a grave injury to his spinal cord. Gray's family said he was treated for three fractured vertebrae and a crushed voice box, the sorts of injuries that doctors say are usually caused by serious car accidents. The van made at least two stops before reaching the police station, but there's no footage to say what happened during the journey or at those stops.
It's a baffling conundrum. "None of the officers describe any use of force," Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said. "None of the officers describe using any force against Mr. Gray." And yet somehow Gray was fatally hurt while in police custody.
This case has similarities to other recent and not so recent cases, where an unarmed (or allegedly unarmed) person dies either when arrested or in police custody. The majority of these cases are about the deaths of black men and the usual way to package the issue is as one of police brutality and racism.
That may be convenient shorthand, as long as we remember that the racism might not necessarily be personal but institutional and that the brutality might be at least partly defined as the increasing militarization of the police (where the population to be policed then becomes the enemy).
Freddie Gray died. His funeral resulted in demonstrations which then resulted in riots. The Maryland National Guard was called in, a state of emergency was declared.
How to interpret all that?
That depends on the interpreter's perch. The conservative Rand Paul thinks the rioting is caused by lack of morals and fathers:*
As far as root causes, Paul listed some ideas of his own.
"There are so many things we can talk about," the senator said, "the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of a moral code in our society."
Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
John Angelos, Chief Operating Officer of the Orioles, Baltimore’s major-league baseball franchise, notes the economic inequality and suffering:
That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage, and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle-class and working-class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the US to third-world dictatorships, like China and others; plunged tens of millions of good, hardworking Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil-rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.
Here's where the links to economic inequality and poverty matter. Consider the area of the city of Baltimore which Freddie Gray called home. These are the statistics applying to that area:
To understand why the demonstrations in Baltimore got out of hand we need to first understand what living in an area with those numbers means, what it does to you over time, and next relate all this to the history of the interactions between the Baltimore police and its black citizens.
None of that means that the riots would have been a "correct" response, as Coates observed in the above quote. They are a bad response, like shooting at your own leg because the real target is far too high to reach. But so were the riots after the Joe Paterno resignation at Penn State.
The difference is that many others don't now regard all Penn State students as possible rioters whereas they make just that generalization when it comes to certain residents of Baltimore.
*In this context Rand Paul's own parenting skills do matter.