Saturday, February 14, 2015

"The hammer of justice is unisex."

"A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided." - Tony Robbins

Social Justice on the Small Screen: Primetime Tackles GamerGate, Men's Rights, & Campus Rape - Hit & Run : "I'm not sure that teaching young people to trust some vague feelings of wrongness as a basis for sexual assault allegations are a good idea. Here we literally have on character saying, "It doesn't really matter whether you said yes or no, what matters is your impression of the incident the next day." And throughout the episode, we have characters pushing the idea that Bay was "too drunk to give permission...

...the idea seems to be that vague, subjective impressions are key. Even though Bay didn't say no, and may have said yes, this consent isn't supposed to have counted because she was had been drinking. Tank's drunkenness, meanwhile, is ultimately presumed not to matter, with his guilt or innocence predicated on whether he felt any shame during the act. What kind of impossibly unworkable consent standards are these? To her credit, Switched at Birth's creator doesn't necessarily seem to think this is optimal, only the way things are. In an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, Weiss said "we want to help guys understand: Even if it's a yes, if she's too drunk to know she's saying yes or to remember it the next day, you might be called to the carpet for that. And, you need to be aware of that making those choices going forward." I suppose that may be a smart lesson to teach in this current climate. But it's also a relatively insane way to look at rape law: No doesn't mean no, yes doesn't mean yes, and all drunk sex is rape. Because, honestly, college kids (and grown adults) aren't going to stop having sex while drunk. Which leaves us only the takeaway that nothing said during a sexual encounter matters at all. "



That's just funny. Ebola Czar Leaves On Top –: "When Ron Klain came into the new office of Ebola Czar last October, there were up to two cases of Ebola raging in the United States. Now there is one. In terms of government results, this borders on stunning..."

Science often isn't.  How the flawed ‘science’ of bite mark analysis has sent innocent people to prison - The Washington Post: "The field of forensics has reached an important moment. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published a congressionally commissioned report on the state of forensic science in the courtroom. The report was highly critical of a wide range of forensic specialties, from fingerprints to hair and fiber analysis to blood spatter analysis. It found that many of the claims forensic analysts have been making in courtrooms for decades lacked any scientific foundation to back them up. Yet judges and juries have taken and continue to take those claims as foolproof science, often because the experts themselves frame them that way. 

The report was particularly critical of an area of forensics loosely known as pattern matching. That area encompasses a group of largely subjective specialties in which an analyst looks at two pieces of evidence, such carpet fibers, hair fibers or marks made by tools, and simply declares based on his or her experience and expertise whether the two are a match. Bite mark analysis is also part of this group. But even within the pattern matching disciplines, the NAS report singled out bite mark matching for some especially harsh criticism. The report found “no evidence of an existing scientific basis for identifying an individual to the exclusion of all others.” The problem is that this is precisely what bite mark analysts do — and what they have been doing for decades."



Thursday, February 12, 2015




How Political Correctness Aided and Abetted Sex Crimes in England - "The left-leaning Labour-run local council in Rotherham was so hamstrung by P.C., so riven with what the U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May has called “institutionalised political correctness,” that it was reluctant to investigate or talk openly about the Pakistani men’s sex crimes for fear of appearing racist and demeaning an ethnic minority. All of the major investigations into this 16-year-long reign of abuse by gangs of Pakistani men have fingered P.C. as one of the key reasons the men’s behaviour did not come fully to light earlier. In last week’s report, commissioned by the government and overseen by Louise Casey, an official who specializes in social welfare, Rotherham is described as having had a culture of “political correctness, incompetence and cover-up,” which “allowed gangs of Asian men to get away with child abuse for years.” Casey found that Rotherham “suppressed” the issue of Asian abuse gangs out of a “fear of being branded racist.” 

Her findings echo those of Alexis Jay, a professor of public policy, who last year chaired the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham. Jay likewise found among officials in Rotherham a “nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of [the] perpetrators for fear of being thought racist.” Theresa May describes it as “institutionalised political correctness.” She says P.C. was so entrenched in Rotherham that some of the victims’ “cries for help” were actively ignored by officials who did not want a national spotlight to be shone on the problem of Pakistani abuse of largely white girls. The girls were ushered away, sent back to their abusers, effectively, by officials who did not want to break the first rule of P.C.: Never let any culture or community be subjected to public criticism or ridicule. Well, what’s a few rapes compared with maintaining Britain’s multicultural mush of respect for all identities?"

My childhood is made of lies. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"We haven't tried that one yet."

Headlines All Over the World: The Fear of Fat Was a Mistake from the Beginning - "The advice from the 1980’s about avoiding butter lacked evidence. The entire Western world received dietary guidelines that had never been shown to do any good. This may be old news for the regular reader here, but now the knowledge is spreading faster and faster around the world. A new scientific review shows that the advice completely lacked evidence of any benefit when it was first introduced. This hit the big headlines around the world yesterday:

Johann Hari: Everything We Know About the Drug War & Addiction is Wrong | Democracy Now!: "...the old theory of addiction comes from a series of experiments that were done earlier in the 20th century. They were actually featured in a famous anti-drugs ad from the '80s in America. Very simple experiment your viewers can do at home if they're feeling a little bit sadistic: You get a rat, and you put it in a cage, and it’s got two water bottles. One is just water, and one is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drugged water and almost always kill itself. And so, it was concluded, there you go: That’s addiction. 

 But in the '70s, Bruce comes along and says, "Well, hang on a minute. We're putting the rat in an empty cage. It’s got nothing to do except drink the drugged water. Let’s do this differently." So Bruce built Rat Park. Rat Park is like heaven for rats. They’ve got loads of cheese—actually, I don’t think it’s cheese; it’s some very nice food that rats like—loads of colored balls, loads of friends. They can have loads of sex. Anything a rat can want, it’s got in Rat Park. And they’ve got both the water bottles: They’ve got the normal water and the drugged water. But here’s the fascinating thing. They obviously try both the water bottles; they don’t know what’s in them. They don’t like the drugged water. The rats in Rat Park use very little of it. They never overdose. And they never use in a way that looks like addiction or compulsion, which is fascinating. There’s a really interesting human example—there’s loads of human examples, but I can give you a specific one in a minute. 

 But what Bruce says is this shows that both the right-wing theory of addiction and the left-wing theories are wrong. The right-wing theory is, you know, you’re a hedonist, you party too hard, you know, that you indulge yourself—it’s a moral flaw. The left-wing theory is your brain gets hijacked, you get taken over. What Bruce says is it’s not your morality, it’s not your brain, it’s your cage. Addiction is an adaptation to your environment."

Veronica Vain Is Doing A Reddit AMA, Talking About Cocaine Use And How She Loves Anal Sex: "DudeInDistress: Which avenue has more coke, Wall Street or pornography? 
 VeronicaVain: Wall Street has way more drugs. Drugs and alcohol are not even allowed on porn sets" Blog: "It is never fun to think about what could have been. Using myself as an example, there was a time when I would regularly beat myself up over mistakes that I made in the past. It was hard for me to accept that my own ignorance and neglect as a young athlete ultimately squashed many of my dreams. I used to drive myself crazy over what I would do differently if I had another chance. It wasn’t until years later that I realized my early mistakes were a blessing in disguise. I now understand that those mistakes helped shape me into the person that I am today. I am also more aware of what I can do each day to improve myself and those around me. I regularly hold myself accountable for whatever I have or have not done."

...the real message that I’d like to convey from this video is the importance of occasionally taking time to evaluate yourself. You don’t need to drive yourself crazy over whether you’ve reached your potential, but you should be critical of the decisions you’ve made and the tasks you have performed. I strongly believe that everyone should conduct an occasional performance review of themselves. Doing so will allow you to identify areas where you can improve or should have done better."

Monday, February 09, 2015

"I wish I were dumber so I could be more certain about my opinions. It looks fun." - Scott Adams

"My most popular tweets are the ones that insult dumb people. Everyone is confident I am talking about other people who have it coming." - Scott Adams

We don't remember events, we remember our stories about events.  Police interrogation techniques generate false memories of committing crimes - Boing Boing: "Psychologists terminated a study that showed the ease of implanting false memories of committing terrible, violent crimes in the recent past in their subjects -- the experiment was terminated because some subjects couldn't be convinced that they hadn't committed the crime after they were told the truth. The techniques used by the psychologists were a lot less manipulative and stressful than those routinely deployed by police interrogators who are anxious to secure confessions. It's a disturbing result that calls into question decades of guilty pleas all over the world."

Flawed Narratives, Perfect Victims, and the Columbia Rape Allegations - "Last week, The Daily Beast published my article about the case—based mainly on interviews with the alleged rapist, Paul Nungesser, and materials he provided—which raises serious questions about the pro-Sulkowicz narrative, partly because of her friendly behavior toward Nungesser for weeks after the alleged rape. The response from the rape-culture feminist camp has been to argue that there's no "right" way to deal with sexual assault, generating a #TheresNoPerfectVictim Twitter hashtag. But it's a straw (wo)man argument. Yes, of course victims deal with trauma in different, often startling ways. However, "no perfect victim" doesn't mean that anything an alleged rape victim says or does, no matter how it defies common sense, reason and human experience, must be rationalized as "that's what some victims do!"  in deference to the commandment, "Believe the survivor."

I should add that when I first read the New York Times account last May of Sulkowicz's claim that the university badly botched its investigation of her complaint, I thought she probably had a legitimate grievance. She was alleging a violent rape by a man who had been reported for sexual assault by two other women but had always managed to beat the rap. (At the time, my main reaction was that such cases need to be handled by real cops and courts, not campus "gender equity" bureaucrats and pseudo-judicial panels.) But as I read more details of the story, those details raised more and more questions. At this point, I cannot, of course, definitively state that the allegations against Nungesser are false. But there is more than enough doubt of his guilt to warrant exoneration not only in a criminal case—it's safe to say that no grand jury in the land would indict him, unless it was made up of gender studies majors—but under the low "preponderance of the evidence" standard by which Columbia adjudicates sexual misconduct complaints...

It is also useful to recall that only a couple of months ago,  virtually identical arguments were made on behalf of the now-debunked Rolling Stone story of a brutal fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia. The "discrepancies" and improbabilities in Jackie's story, advocates asserted, were typical of victims' reaction to  trauma, and only "rape apologists" and "denialists" would use them to brand the story a hoax...

Jelani Cobb, the panelist who did not get to say a word during my segment, gently tried to point out that checking the facts when it comes to accusations is important; as an example, he cited Joe McCarthy accusing people of being communists with no evidence and ruining their lives. Harris-Perry's response: "Yes, but he was just throwing out accusations! Women don't do that!" And so, after the Duke lacrosse team fiasco, after Brian Banks losing ten years of his life to a false rape charge, after the University of Virginia rape hoax, we're back to the rape myth of our time: Women never lie."

War is the new normal: 7 reasons America can’t escape conflict - "1.  The privatization of war: The U.S. military’s recourse to private contractors has strengthened the profit motive for war-making and prolonged wars as well...

2.  The embrace of the national security state by both major parties: Jimmy Carter was the last president to attempt to exercise any kind of control over the national security state.  A former Navy nuclear engineer who had served under the demanding Admiral Hyman Rickover, Carter cancelled the B-1 bomber and fought for a U.S. foreign policy based on human rights...

3.  “Support Our Troops” as a substitute for thought. You’ve seen them everywhere: “Support Our Troops” stickers.  In fact, the “support” in that slogan generally means acquiescence when it comes to American-style war.  The truth is that we’ve turned the all-volunteer military into something like aforeign legion, deploying it again and again to our distant battle zones and driving it into the ground in wars that amount to strategic folly...

4.  Fighting a redacted war.  War, like the recent Senate torture report, is redacted in America.  Its horrors and mistakes are suppressed, its patriotic whistleblowers punished, even as the American people are kept in a demobilized state.  The act of going to war no longer represents the will of the people, as represented by formal Congressional declarations of war as the U.S. Constitution demands...

5.  Threat inflation: There’s nothing new about threat inflation.  We saw plenty of it during the Cold War (nonexistent missile and bomber gaps, for example).  Fear sells and we’ve had quite a dose of it in the twenty-first century, from ISIS to Ebola.  But a more important truth is that fear is a mind-killer, a debate-stifler...

6.  Defining the world as a global battlefield: In fortress America, all realms have by now become battle spheres...

7.  The new “normal” in America is war: The 9/11 attacks happened more than 13 years ago, which means that no teenagers in America can truly remember a time when the country was at peace."


I was an American sniper, and Chris Kyle’s war was not my war - "Kyle views the occupation of Iraq as necessary to stop terrorists from coming to the mainland and attacking the U.S.; he sees the Iraqis as “savages” and attacks any critical thought about the overall mission and the military’s ability to accomplish it. This portrayal is not unrealistic. My unit had plenty of soldiers who thought like that. When you are sacrificing so much, it’s tempting to believe so strongly in the “noble cause,” a belief that gets hardened by the fatigue of multiple tours and whatever is going on at home. But viewing the war only through his eyes gives us too narrow a frame...

As a sniper I was not usually the victim of a traumatic event, but the perpetrator of violence and death. My actions in combat would have been more acceptable to me if I could cloak myself in the belief that the whole mission was for a greater good. Instead, I watched as the purpose of the mission slowly unraveled. I served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. During that time, we started to realize there were no weapons of mass destruction, the 9/11 commission report determined that Iraq was not involved in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, false sovereignty was given to Iraq by Paul Bremer, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were exposed, and the Battle of Fallujah was waged. The destruction I took part in suddenly intersected with news that our reasons for waging war were untrue. The despicable conduct of those at Abu Ghraib was made more unforgivable by the honorable interactions I had with Iraqi civilians, and, together, it fueled the post-traumatic stress I struggle with today. My war was completely different than Chris Kyle’s war. That doesn’t mean his war is wrong, and mine was right. But it does mean that no one experience is definitive. The movie depicts compounded action scenes with very little political and regional context. It was a conscious decision by Clint Eastwood, apparently, to leave out the cause of the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. It was a conscious decision, apparently, for multiple characters to describe the Iraqis as “savages” and never show any alternative. When I heard of the bigoted reaction some Americans had after watching the film, I was disgusted, but not surprised. Audience members are mistaking Chris Kyle’s view of the war as “the” story about the war. No wonder someone tweeted that the movie made them “want to go kill some ragheads.” It’s sad that such a nearsighted portrayal of Iraqis has caused more people to fear Arabs and glorify violence against them."