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Saturday, November 09, 2019

Links - 9th November 2019 (2)

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The Real Catherine The Great

The Real Catherine The Great | History Extra Podcast - HistoryExtra

"[Russia] was already a European state, though many people would not agree with that. But certainly by the standards of Central and Western Europe, this was a backward country. It was an enormous country, of course, even then, and that was part of the cause of its backwardness economically, but it hadn't really taken off industrially. This social structure we would regard as backward. There were, was a noble class, relatively small noble class.

And then the social feature, which is always a scar on Russia in the 18th or 19th century - serfdom. The peasants were tied to noble land. Not all peasants were serfs. But those on noble land were tied to that land and had very few rights, almost no rights, and then an absence of what we'd call the middle class. It's not the case that there were no merchants, but there were far fewer merchants with far fewer rights and power in the state than you had in the West. So I think the central structure was definitely very different.

In religion, it's a Christian country, but it was Russian Orthodox. It hadn't gone, undergone a reformation, like Western and Central Europe. Russian Orthodoxy is Christianity, but there were no great teaching orders in the Russian Orthodox Church, so it seemed more insular, if you like, than the church in the West. In cultural terms, this is before the great period of Russian writers, of Russian artists, of Russian musicians. It wasn't the case that there was no cultural life. But compared with Catherine's own upbringing in Germany, it seemed backward.…

Catherine, from a German background, saw Russia as a European state, and it's something she states in her instruction: Russia is a European state. One of her rather more spiteful advisors at this point pointed out that three quarters of it was in Asia. But this wasn't a geographical state, it was a cultural statement. And I think she genuinely believe that some of the best ideas of Europe at the time could be translated into Russia, sometimes almost pathetically naively. So that for example, Catherine, bless her, read legal documents, Blackstone on the English law, in French, didn't read English. And she thought that some concepts like the concept of equity could simply be translated into Russia with a completely different legal system. So in some ways, you might say that's ambitious, but it's ambitious, but it's also rather naive.

It's not that Catherine never left St. Petersburg, she did leave St. Petersburg, she traveled to Moscow. She traveled a couple of times, quite deep into Russia, to Kazan, which was a part tartar city, down to the south when she acquired territories the South. But it's doubtful whether you could say that she ever really engaged with real Russia. But then what rulers do. So, understanding how serfdom actually worked, what it was like to be an impoverished nobleman with half a dozen serfs and to be desperate to hang on to them, that sort of thing she didn't understand.

And I don't think she understood that you couldn't simply translate Western institutions, Western concepts into that social structure. One obvious example of that is Catherine's urban administration, where she thought Russian towns could become like German towns if you simply gave them a different structure, different institutions, German names, without realizing that Russian towns were dominated by nobles and peasants and not by a strong middle class…

The main charge against Catherine, of course, is she didn't abolish serfdom. But I think I'd make two defenses of that. One is that nobody else did really, not until the French Revolution. This is pre the French Revolution. Medica [sp?] had slaves, through to the 19th century. There were other social structures in Europe that were not so different from serfdom, Russia only became, looked odd really after the French Revolution in the 19th century when they had serfdom.

And the other was simply the practicalities of it. How are you going to abolish serfdom? Who owned the serfs? The nobles. Who were the key members of authority in the country? The nobles. Who are the army officers? Nobles. Hardly a police force. So actually if the nobility opposed it was almost impossible to abolish serfdom, and in fact, in Russia when serfdom was abolished in 1861, it was only after the enormous shock of the Crimean War made people think that there was something fundamentally wrong with Russia. Until that point, they didn't think that, because they kept winning wars.

So I think it's very much a later judgment on Catherine, but one can see when it comes about because she projects herself as somebody who's very enlightened, corresponds with Voltaire, Grim [sp?], with Diderot, invites Diderot to Russia, and yet Russia still in social terms remains backward."

Links - 9th November 2019 (1) (Vegetarians/Vegans)

Consistent Vegetarianism and the Suffering of Wild Animals (Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Undergraduate) | Journal of Practical Ethics - "Ethical consequentialist vegetarians believe that farmed animals have lives that are worse than non-existence. In this paper, I sketch out an argument that wild animals have worse lives than farmed animals, and that consistent vegetarians should therefore reduce the number of wild animals as a top priority. I consider objections to the argument, and discuss which courses of action are open to those who accept the argument...
If vegetarians were to apply this principle consistently, the suffering of wild animals would dominate their concerns, and would plausibly lead them to support reducing the number of wild animals, for instance through habitat destruction or sterilisation. If animals like free-range cows have lives that are not worth living, almost all wild animals could plausibly be thought to also have lives that are worse than non-existence. Nature is often romanticised as a well-balanced idyll, so this may seem counter-intuitive. But extreme forms of suffering like starvation, dehydration, or being eaten alive by a predator are much more common in wild animals than farm animals. Crocodiles and hyenas disembowel their prey before killing them (Tomasik 2009). In birds, diseases like avian salmonellosis produce excruciating symptoms in the final days of life, such as depression, shivering, loss of appetite, and just before death, blindness, incoordination, staggering, tremor and convulsions (Michigan Department of Natural Resources). While a farmed animal like a free-range cow has to endure some confinement and a premature and potentially painful death (stunning sometimes fails), a wild animal may suffer comparable experiences, such as surviving a cold winter or having to fear predators, while additionally undergoing the aforementioned extreme suffering (Tomasik 2013). Wild animals do experience significant pleasure, for instance when they eat, play, have sex, or engage in other normal physical activity. One reason to suspect that on average this pleasure is outweighed by suffering is that most species use the reproductive strategy of r-selection, which means that the overwhelming majority of their offspring starve or are eaten shortly after birth and only very few reach reproductive age (Horta 2010; Ng 1995). For instance, ‘in her lifetime a lioness might have 20 cubs; a pigeon, 150 chicks; a mouse, 1000 kits’ (Hapgood 1979), the vast majority of which will die before they could have had many pleasurable experiences. Overall, it seems plausible that wild animals have worse lives than, say, free-range cows. If vegetarians think it’s better for the latter not to exist, they must believe the same thing about wild animals... even a small reduction in the global number of wild animals would outweigh the impact of ending all livestock production. For example, they could reduce animal populations by sterilising them, or by destroying highly dense animal habitats such as rainforests. It may even be the case that vegetarians should react to this argument by eating more meat, since feeding livestock requires more surface area for agriculture, and fields contain far fewer wild animals per square kilometre than other biomes such as forests...
How much pain or pleasure animals feel in response to certain stimuli is dependent on facts about their neurology which is not well understood. While we may make some reasonable extrapolation from our human experience (being eaten alive is very painful), animal subjective experience may differ significantly. While animals might experience hedonic adaptation (Shane and Loewensein 1999) to their circumstances, encounters with predators produce lasting psychological damage similar to post-traumatic stress disorder in humans (Zoladz 2008). There is some evidence that domesticated animals are less stressed (Wilcox 2016), but measures of stress hormones may not coincide with animals’ revealed preferences (Dawkins 2004)... However, I note that these considerations should also make us uncertain about the subjective well-being of farmed animals...
One could vaccinate animals against diseases: rabies has already been eliminated from foxes for human benefit (Freuling 2013). After elephants’ teeth wear out, they are no longer able to chew food and eventually collapse from hunger, after which they may be eaten alive by scavengers and predators. Fitting elephants with artificial dentures, which has already been done on captive animals, would significantly increase their healthspan (Pearce 2015). Or one could cull predator populations by allowing more of them to be hunted."

The Vegetarians Who Turned Into Butchers - The New York Times - "She stopped eating meat for more than a decade, she said, out of a deep love for animal life and respect for the environment. She became a butcher for exactly the same reasons... Referring to themselves as ethical butchers, they have opened shops that offer meat from animals bred on grassland and pasture, with animal well-being, environmental conservation and less wasteful whole-animal butchery as their primary goals... she returned to eating meat after learning that the soybean and corn monocultures that accounted for much of her vegan diet were wreaking havoc on the environment... “As soon as I started eating meat, my health improved,” she said. “My mental acuity stepped up, I lost weight, my acne cleared up, my hair got better. I felt like a fog lifted.”... Other former vegetarians reported that they, too, felt better after introducing grass-fed meat into their diets: Ms. Kavanaugh said eating meat again helped with her depression. Mr. Applestone said he felt far more energetic."

I've given up veganism - and have never felt better - "When one of Hollywood’s staunchest vegans, Anne Hathaway, recently admitted she had gone rogue with a piece of Icelandic salmon, I felt a sense of relief. As an ex-vegan myself, still caught up in the apparently all-encompassing plant-positivity movement, it was good to know I was in such smart company. For the past four years, veganism has been a roller‑coaster of a dietary sensation, with the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupling between 2014 and 2018 to 600,000, according to the Vegan Society.Demand for meat-free food increased by 987 per cent in 2017... the actress admitted that while eating only plant-based foods: “I just didn’t feel good or healthy... not strong” and that munching on that fish in Iceland, made her brain feel “like a computer rebooting”.Fish brought on my Hallelujah moment too, when I gave up veganism last autumn after a year of eschewing all animal products. My first meal was also salmon - in a salad. Almost at once, I felt like the synapses in my brain were having a party. I felt alert and energetic. Quickly, I succumbed to cheese (Cheddar, how I missed you!) and boiled eggs. I’ve not eaten meat for 30 years, so there was no temptation to order a steak. But it wasn’t long before prawns snuck into the fridge and honey into my full fat Greek yoghurt.I did feel a vague – and slightly ludicrous – sense of failure, as though I’d fallen off a holy wagon. But that passed quickly at the sheer joy of flavour surfing during meal times.Perhaps that’s why Hathaway and I are not alone. According to registered dietitian Dr Frankie Phillips, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA), 75 per cent of vegans give up, lasting an average nine years on a plant pure diet. “They miss certain aspects of foods and by necessity, there is a smaller pool of foods to choose from,” says Phillips, though there can be nutritional reasons too: “It can be hard to get enough omega 3 fats, iodine and iron in a vegan diet.”... my skin was not happy, with regular breakouts, and my nails crumbled away. I added in a Vit B spray and ate vegan calcium tablets and kept going."

Vegan Takes Neighbour To Court Over The Smell Of Barbecue
Why people hate vegans

Thousands to attend mass BBQ outside home of vegan who SUED her neighbours for cooking meat

Vegan activists separate chickens from cockerels 'so the hens are not raped' - "The video was released by the Spanish vegan group Almas Veganas (Vegan Souls), based in Girona in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia... On their Twitter page, the activists describe themselves as 'anti-speciesist' and 'transfeminist.'... the two activists can be seen smashing eggs on the ground because 'they belong to the hens.'... Transfeminism is created by and aimed at transgender women and says that the freedom of trans women is coupled with the liberation of all women."

Eating vegan: the bigger picture - "Let’s start with peas. Collydean (not its real name, but a real farm) is a 2700ha mixed farm in northern Tasmania. They grow beef cattle, some sheep, do agroforestry, have barley and some years grow peas. A lot of peas: about 400 tonnes a season. And to protect the peas, they have some wildlife fences, but also have to shoot a lot of animals. When I was there, they had a licence to kill about 150 deer. They routinely kill about 800-1000 possums and 500 wallabies every year, along with a few ducks. (To its credit, Collydean only invites hunters onto its farm who will use the animals they kill — for human food, or for pet food — and not leave them in the paddock, as most animals killed for crop protection are.) So, more than 1500 animals die each year to grow about 75ha of peas for our freezers. That’s not 1500 rodents, which also die, and which some may see as collateral damage. That’s mostly warm-blooded animals of the cute kind, with a few birds thrown in. Collydean’s owners assure me it wouldn’t befinancially viable for them to grow peas without killing animals. Which means that every time we eat peas, farmers have controlled the “pest” species on our behalf, and animals have died in our name. The number of animals that die to produce vegan food is astonishing... Let’s look at birds. Over a five-year period up to 2013, rice farmers in NSW killed nearly 200,000 native ducks to protect their fields. That’s right, to grow rice. That’s in addition to the animals indirectly affected, such as those that once thrived in the waterways drained by such a heavily irrigated crop on a dry continent. That’s how farming works. To grow something, other things are affected. Sometimes it’s an animal, sometimes it’s a helluva lot of animals. The most animals that die on Fat Pig Farm, our property in the Huon Valley south of Hobart, are the snails and slugs that would destroy our garden if left unchecked. We kill close to 5000 moths, slugs and snails each year to grow vegetables, and thousands and thousands of aphids. Insects bear the brunt of all annual vegetable production. And the most exploited insect of all is the European honeybee. True vegans don’t eat honey because it’s the result of the domestication, and utilisation, of the European honeybee. They don’t eat it because eating honey is “stealing” honey from the hive, and because bees die in the process of beekeepers managing the hives and extracting the honey. And they’re right, bees do die in that process. Problem is, honeybees are very, very good pollinators, and a whole heap of crops are pretty much reliant on these bees to produce fruit — and even more crops would suffer from far lower production due to poor fertility if we didn’t have bees. About one-third of all crops globally benefit from direct interaction with pollinators, of which European honeybees are by far the most efficient. Whether we eat honey or not, we are the beneficiaries of the work of the domesticated European honeybee. In their absence, some crops would come close to failure, and others increase substantially in cost. Gobs of bees die every year doing the work of pollination for us. According to Scientific American, up to 80 billion domestic honeybees are estimated to have a hand in the Californian almond industry each year, up to half of which die during the management process and the long journeys to and from the large almond orchards. And that’s the carnage from just one crop. What about vegan wine, you say? It doesn’t use fish bladders, or milk extracts, or egg as a fining agent (ingredients used to clarify many wines, beers and ciders). But don’t forget the harvest. Come with me to watch grapes being picked, watch as huge tubs of plump grapes are tipped into the crusher along with mice, spiders, lizards, snakes and frogs. Sadly, vegan wine is a furphy. Let’s move on to peanut butter, that wonderful practical protein staple. Do you know how many parts of an insect are in each jar? According to Scientific American, each of us eats about 0.5-1kg of flies, maggots and other bugs a year, hidden in the chocolate we eat, the grains we consume, the peanut butter we spread on toast... It does seem that food production gets unfairly singled out for killing animals, when every human activity has an effect on other living things. We kill animals when we drive. We kill animals when we fly, or transport goods by plane. We kill when we build railway tracks, when we farm grain, grow apples and mine sand. We alter ecosystems when we put up new housing developments, build bicycle factories and ship lentils. We push native animals out of their environments all the time, with the resultant pain and suffering you’d expect... Most estimates put it that the amount of fossil fuel needed to grow a calorie of food and get it to the table is 10 times more than the food calorie itself. It’s a negative-sum game. Grains and monoculture crops are worst among them — whereas grass-reared animals, killed and sold locally, are among the more efficient producers of food energy for fossil fuel use. Take away the use of animal waste in the farming system and things will swing further to one side. If you want truly vegan agriculture, you’re going to have more fossil fuel emissions and in the process end up with more expensive food, poorer pollination and reduced variety thanks to the removal of domesticated bees."

Bank of England to keep animal fat in banknotes despite complaints - "The Bank of England has decided to stick to plastic banknotes despite complaints from vegans and religious groups that they contain tallow, an animal byproduct.The central bank concluded after “careful and serious consideration and extensive public consultation” that switching to palm oil alternatives would be costly and raise questions about environmental sustainability... The petition said the use of animal fat was “unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK”. Some Hindu temples in the UK banned the £5 note... The decision means the new plastic £20 note and future print runs of £5 and £10 notes will be made from polymer, which typically contains less than 0.05% of animal fat.The only viable alternative would be to use chemicals derived from palm oil, the central bank said, but its suppliers were “unable to commit to sourcing the highest level of sustainable palm oil at this time”. Coconut oil did not work, tests by the suppliers Innovia and De La Rue showed. Another consideration was value for money. The Bank estimates the cost of switching would be about £16.5m over the next 10 years, on top of the £70m cost of reprinting the £5 and £10 notes. The Treasury advised that a switch to palm oil would not represent value for money for taxpayers.Polymer banknotes are used in more than 30 countries. It emerged during the Bank’s research that plastic containing animal fat is also used in debit and credit cards, mobile phones, carrier bags, cosmetics, soaps, household detergent bottles and car parts... The Bank argues that polymer banknotes are much harder to counterfeit and last longer than paper notes. Mark Carney dipped one of the new plastic fivers in chicken curry at Borough Market in London last year to prove their durability."
Apparently the environmental lobby is more powerful than the vegan/vegetarian, Hindu, Sikh and Jain lobbies combined
Presumably vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains don't use mobile phones to tweet their outrage

Friday, November 08, 2019

Links - 8th November 2019 (2)

Charter schools have positive effects on traditional public schools located near them, at least in New York City - "Charter opponents have long claimed that charter schools siphon resources away from the traditional public school system. The ideological motivation for this line of reasoning is clear when touted by teachers unions and their friends: i.e., calling charters parasitic unless they conform to traditional school practices, including mandatory unionization, makes that bias obvious... Recent research from Temple University professor Sarah Cordes sheds needed light on this question. Cordes examined the impact of charter schools in close proximity to, or even co-located with, traditional public schools (TPS) in New York City over a fourteen-year time span... Exposure to charter schools significantly increased student performance at nearby traditional public schools. The effects increased with proximity to the closest charter school; students at traditional publics schools co-located with charters experienced the greatest positive impacts. Small impacts were observed for schools close to charters but began dissipating when a half mile or more away. Students at traditional public schools also experienced reductions in grade retention when co-located with or close to a charter, as well as small positive effects on their attendance. As for the impact on student subgroups, the most positive impacts of charter exposure (for students in nearby traditional public schools) occurred for poor students and those eligible for special education services. There was no significant impact for public schools that co-located with another public school: In other words, it was the shared space with a charter that made the difference. The study also examined possible school-level reasons for positive charter effects, using parent and teacher survey data. Several plausible explanations emerged. Traditional public schools co-located or nearest to charters experienced improved student and parent engagement, higher expectations for students, and improved perceptions of safety and school cleanliness—any or all of which could have translated to improved student performance. It’s also possible that those public schools’ increased per-pupil expenditures (PPE) of two to nine percent—resulting from student attrition (more dollars spread over fewer students)—helped have a positive impact... the study confirms that charter schools can have a positive competitive effect on nearby public schools. This confirms previous research showing that not only charters, but other forms of choice like vouchers, can impact traditional public schools for the good"

Does reading fiction make us better people? - "Dutch researchers arranged for students to read either newspaper articles about riots in Greece and liberation day in the Netherlands or the first chapter from Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness. In this story, a man is waiting in his car at traffic lights when he suddenly goes blind. His passengers bring him home and a passer-by promises to drive his car home for him, but instead he steals it. When students read the story, not only did their empathy levels rise immediately afterwards, but provided they had felt emotionally transported by the story, a week later they scored even higher on empathy than they did right after reading. Of course, you could argue that fiction isn’t alone in this. We can empathise with people we see in news stories too, and hopefully we often do. But fiction has at least three advantages. We have access to the character’s interior world in a way we normally do not with journalism, and we are more likely to willingly suspend disbelief without questioning the veracity of what people are saying. Finally, novels allow us to do something that is hard to do in our own lives, which is to view a character’s life over many years."

Google’s struggle with bipartisan employee dissent is a problem that’s only getting worse - Vox - "a former Google engineer, Kevin Cernekee, accused Google of firing him for expressing his conservative political beliefs at work and claimed the company fosters a culture of politically biased bullying... Googlers used to be able to ask management unplanned, ad-hoc questions at these meetings, but now they have to submit questions in advance that can get voted up or down.Only the questions that receive the most upvotes get asked, and some employees have told Recode they think this voting system is unfair because controversial questions are easily downvoted. One employee said that the top 10 questions are usually about noncontroversial product or business initiatives, and that more critical questions often don’t make it to the top despite being important concerns.
Questions a small minority think are critical get downvoted. Evidence a minority are trying to impose themselves on everyone else

Google Puts Curbs on Political Debate by Employees - WSJ - "Google issued new guidelines limiting employee discussion of politics and other topics not related to work, in a major shift for a company that has long prided itself on open debate and a freewheeling internal culture. The Alphabet Inc. unit said in a public memo on Friday that staffers should avoid spending time hotly debating matters unrelated to their jobs and refrain from name-calling, among other discouraged behavior. Google also said it would appoint employees to moderate the company’s famously raucous internal message boards, rather than allowing volunteers to do so—in effect acknowledging that the discussions have spiraled out of control... The company’s internal message boards host thousands of discussion groups, on topics ranging from social issues to sports, and employees can spend hours a day sparring in them. In recent years, though, the level of debate at times has driven a wedge between staffers with opposing views as well as between management and an increasingly activist workforce... Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker has threatened to fire workers poking around inside the company for information on contentious topics like Google’s cloud-computing relationship with the U.S. Defense Department, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.In its memo on Friday, the company reiterated that confidential information discussed internally should be kept private... many employees were drawn to the company in part by its policies, including commitments to “do no evil” and “bring your whole self to work.” ... “While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not,” the guidelines say. “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”... The updated guidelines are Google’s latest attempt to dial back the company’s freewheeling discourse. Last year it warned employees that it would discipline anyone who discriminates or attacks colleagues or engages in discussions that are “disruptive to a productive work environment.” In those guidelines, Google also advised employees to avoid name-calling, including making blanket statements about groups or categories of people... “Cultures of political correctness ironically can become unsafe places to work,” he said. “People need to be able to discuss what’s going on in the world. Communities are where you do that and the community where people spend most of their waking time is at the office.”"
This is probably too little, too late to control the SJWs

Why public sector outsourcing is less efficient than Soviet central planning - "The logic of outsourcing is that market-based production is better than public production because the governance of private organisations is more transparent, flexible, efficiency focused and disciplined by owners. But this idea is problematic on two fronts. In the first place the presumption of market superiority is an artefact of public choice theory; it’s not rooted in historical assessment of which regime, public or private, has better produced public goods. In the second, this logic is dependent on ‘first-best-world’ economic theorising: it assumes an efficient market for simple goods, or for goods that can be somehow simplified. Hence for outsourcing to work those archetypal conditions have to exist. While they typically can exist for simple goods and services (the NHS doesn’t grow its own food), the outsourcing markets for complex goods and services characteristically fulfil none of the necessary conditions... What contract theory tells us is that the more complex the service or good, the longer the duration of the contract and the greater the contingencies or uncertainties that the supplier might face, the less the outsourced tasks are amenable to codification and hence to robust contracts that can adequately protect the buyer.Such ‘incomplete’ contracts create unanticipated and destined to be high costs for the management and supervision of the ‘non–contractible’ elements relating to service delivery. Frequent contractual failures require repeated (and given a poor bargaining position) expensive renegotiation. Complexity, shifting needs and interdependency are conditions endemic within public service goods and services. The economics of Soviet central planning tells us that the resulting asymmetries in information and leverage between state and producer are just the start of bargaining games that the state cannot win. Given public funding the state remains both the only partner in the market relationship however numerous the ‘end users’ or rhetorical ‘customers’ may be, but also the continuous bearer of the contractual obligations and financial, legal and political liabilities and costs of a failed supplier: a position unique to the state. The following market failures are rife in public service markets: high barriers to entry leave public service markets dominated by monopoly or oligopoly firms which render the provider relatively immune from the self–correcting mechanisms of market competition; uncertainty and complexities in contractual requirements create huge information asymmetries between buyer and seller; relationship–specific investments encourage the producer to exploit the loss of bargaining power entailed by sunk costs (i.e. ‘hold-up’ problems); and finally, negative spillovers, that is to say, damaging external effects not reflected in the original price of the transaction are particularly problematic given systemic interdependencies, for example between NHS and social care systems... As Accounting Professor Adam Lever and Gil Plimmer’s coverage at the Financial Times have shown, large public service industry (PSI) firms are a particularly striking example of ‘financialised’ corporations: they are not the productive innovators of the neoclassical imaginary... Given the objective difficulty of establishing accurate pricing under incomplete contracting, only the most reckless firms with least regard for service quality and those most determined to deploy later strategies of ‘hold up’ will rationally underbid for contracts with no guarantee they can stay within the initial margins. The collapsed Carillion was just such a repeat ‘winner’"
So much for "the private sector is always superior"

'The Guarded Gate' Review: Elites and Their Eugenics Projects - "The early 20th Century saw many popular movements—some misguided—that claimed to be improving society. In the U.S. there was—in addition to eugenics—Prohibition, the conservation movement, the women’s rights movement, the early civil rights movement, the birth control movement and other projects created by “do-gooders” and reformers. Although it may seem incredible to modern readers, many of these do-gooders were enthusiastic proponents of eugenics. We have to let go of the notion that only stone-faced Nazis and their sympathizers were serious about eugenics in the 1920s and 1930s. With a few exceptions (like Harry H. Laughlin, whose proposed eugenic sterilization laws were a model for Nazi Germany and who received an honorary degree from a German university in 1936 for his work on behalf of the “science of racial cleansing”—see pages 370-71 of Okrent), most American proponents of eugenics were patriotic and public-spirited citizens like Theodore Roosevelt—which is not particularly reassuring. What, if anything, sets eugenics apart from other coercive social projects like Prohibition in the early 20th Century? The answer is that eugenics was unique among those popular movements because support for it was bi-partisan and nearly-unanimous in American society as a whole—it was mostly treated as obviously beneficial and not a hot-button topic... Immigration restriction united Democrats and Republicans in Congress after WWI—the restrictive Johnson-Reed (Immigration) Act of 1924 passed almost unanimously in the House and the Senate and was signed by President Calvin Coolidge (R). Persons as different as eccentric sexologist Henry Havelock Ellis and liberal Baptist pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick were anti-immigration and/or pro-eugenics. Coercive eugenic sterilization was approved by a nearly unanimous (8-1) Supreme Court in the case of Buck vs. Bell in 1927. The eugenics movement brought together elite academics like geneticists, sociologists, biostatisticians and psychologists, plus the occasional animal or plant breeder, inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. As Okrent says (p.172), “The eugenics bandwagon had room for everybody.”... It’s tempting to view the KKK as low-brow racism and eugenics as high-brow racism. But the KKK’s obsession with American blacks wasn’t shared by most eugenicists, and immigration from Africa wasn’t an issue in most public discussion... [Carl] Brigham could further argue that European immigration had accounted for two million newcomers who were ‘below the average negro,’ thus managing in one sentence to deprecate millions of Americans, both newly-arrived and long established”... it was class prejudice—rather than racism in the conventional sense—that explains much of the motivation of the eugenics project in the U.S... less than a century ago, some of the most important and prestigious scientific institutions in the U.S.—the National Research Council, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Carnegie Institute of Washington—were deeply involved in supporting eugenic research"

What's the difference between AdBlock and Adblock Plus (ABP)? : AdBlock Help - "Despite having similar names, AdBlock (https://getadblock.com) and Adblock Plus (ABP) (https://adblockplus.org) are unrelated products developed by different companies. They work the same way, with some differences... Long, long ago, somebody (not us) created a Firefox add-on called Adblock. Later on, another team created a different Firefox add-on and adopted the name Adblock Plus (ABP).When Google Chrome came along, the Adblock Plus team wasn't interested in supporting the new browser. Michael Gundlach created an ad blocking extension he called, naturally enough, AdBlock for Chrome. It went on to become the most popular Chrome extension. Then the Adblock Plus team decided to support Chrome after all. Over time, both AdBlock and ABP added support for additional browsers and platforms. And that's why the two most popular ad blockers have such similar names. Aren't you glad you asked?"

San Francisco supervisors: NRA is a 'domestic terrorist organization' - "The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday that declares the National Rifle Association a "domestic terrorist organization."... The designation of domestic terrorist organization is justified because the NRA's opposition to gun control is "standing in the way of saving lives”... The resolution passed unanimously"
Apparently a terrorist is anyone you don't like whom you accuse of harming people

REMINDER: Lib blue-checks have no issue using the #DeportMelania hashtag - "Since we’re being told that the “Send her back!” chant directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar at last night’s MAGA rally was beyond the pale, we do wonder where all the outrage is when lib blue-checks call on Melania Trump to be deported"

Razib Khan on "Stuff I've Been Wrong About"

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 238 - Razib Khan on "Stuff I've Been Wrong About"

"I used to think, if you refute the ontological argument for the existence of God and then you refute the teleological argument for the existence of God, et cetera, et cetera, you could refute the existence. I think this is very irrelevant to most people...

'“Like many people, I put too much credence in fMRI based cognitive neuroscience. Should have ignored it.”'...

'That was one of the first cases of the replication crisis. Although I think it was even before the primary replication crisis... it was these small sample sizes of brain imaging... a lot of it has turned out to be just like small sample sizes, and spurious associations because of the small sample sizes using the traditional P values. They would try to make some functional sense – like, “This is in a region of the brain associated with this, that, and this” -- but obviously, there was a lot of data dredging, lack of multiple hypothesis testing going on there.And so, I just don't know ... I assume some of it is still valid, but a lot of it was obviously just wishful thinking. And, the sexiness of the technology really sold it for a lot of people, including me... Some of it has to do with the fact that data dredging and low, bad P-value-oriented science was common in than 2000s'...

'I was recently reading some old blog posts on Overcoming Bias from I think around 2007, 2008. And it was crazy to see people, friends of mine, in the comments talking very credulously about various social science studies that we all now know are terrible.'...

'I had a friend who was a graduate student in 2006 who would tell me “All the social psychology's crap.” Everything he said was totally right... he and one other person in the field told me a lot of this stuff is not going to pan out. It's crap. People just need lines on their CV. '...

'If you just read the methodology it should be clear to you that it doesn't actually test the thing you care about... measures of whether video games cause violent behavior. And the thing they did to measure violent behavior was to measure how much hot sauce people put on a plate of food for someone else'...

'When you talk about the decline of Rome, there's been a revisionist argument that Rome didn't actually decline, and it persisted. Look at the Catholic Church… through the Dark Ages, it maintained Roman institutions.And on the surface of it that's not a totally implausible assertion. Like you could say, "Oh they became really creative in theology, and all these arguments, so Rome was still very active as an intellectual center.”

What The Fall of Rome shows is if you look at material remains -- if you look at coin hoards, if you look at architecture, if you just look at the archeology -- it's pretty obvious. You can look at the material remains as a proxy for economic surplus. And so you can see the decline in the tax base. You can see the increase in coin hoards, which means people have a certain perception of what the future is going to be like, spiking up in the fourth and fifth centuries, right when classically we did say Rome fell, right?

So whatever you think about the intellectual environment, the reality is the material environment was far poorer after Rome fell than before Rome fell.'...

'You said you now believe that some sort of complex ethical religious system was going to become dominant in the Roman empire at some point Why did you come to believe that?'

'The elite in the Hellenistic Empires tended to be ethnically Greek, and identifying only with Greek culture. And so you could assimilate to that, which happened periodically, but that's a big ask to transition your whole ethnicity.On the other hand, religion is a more discrete package, and you can still retain your ethnicity while switching your religions. So basically what I'm getting at is it allows, in an imperial system, multi-ethnic societies to bind themselves together, and have a common currency of communication, of ethical moral communication.'"

Links - 8th November 2019 (1)

Op-Ed: The best way to evaluate your beliefs? Engage with people who disagree with you - Los Angeles Times - "The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard famously observed that if everyone is a Lutheran then no one is a Lutheran. What he meant is that if you’re born into a culture in which everybody has a similar worldview, you don’t have an opportunity to develop genuine belief because your convictions are not subject to scrutiny.Put another way, if you don’t talk to people who hold different views, you will not know what they believe, and you won’t even know what you believe. Having conversations with people who hold beliefs different from yours affords you the opportunity to reflect — and only then can you evaluate whether your beliefs hold true... Reaching out and speaking with someone who has different ideas is beneficial, not for utopian social reasons, but for your own good — for your “belief hygiene.” You engage in dental hygiene not to bring insurance costs down for the masses, but because you don’t want cavities, pain and gum disease... Call out extremists on your side. Identify the authoritarians and fundamentalists who claim to represent your views and speak bluntly about how they take things too far. This is a way to build trust and signal that you’re not an extremist. (If you can’t figure out how your side goes too far, that may be a sign that you are part of the problem and need to moderate your beliefs.)"

Academic Freedom or Social Justice: What Kind of University is Portland State? - "“Dog Park” was, by far, the silliest of our papers, which was a point we always intended to reveal in full to the public once our audit was completed. In it we claimed, extremely implausibly, to have examined 10,000 dogs’ genitals before interrogating their owners about their sexual orientations. This clearly preposterous “data” was used as a basis for interpreting human reactions to unwanted dog-humping incidents so as to conclude that a human rape culture exists and could be improved by training men like dogs. We wanted to see if reviewers or editors would ask to see this data or question the conclusions we drew from it. They did not and, in fact, the paper was recognized for excellence within feminist geography.This is very troubling. So too is the fact that some academics are now claiming that the problem with this paper is that we didn’t actually examine dogs’ genitals by the thousands—that is, that we fabricated this data. Not only is this clearly missing the point, but it is a blatant distortion of the intentions of indispensable ethical rules about data fabrication. These rules are intended to penalize calculated deception of a very specific type. They’re meant to act as a safeguard against and a sanction for researchers who contrive to promote their own advancement directly by passing off and maintaining bogus data with no intention to reveal the truth, which does not apply in our case. They are not reasonably or honestly applicable—nor were they ever intended to be—to academic audits conducted in order to gain evidence of a systemic problem with knowledge production, which would ultimately be revealed as such in a timely manner."

Meth Addict Pretended To Be Police To Raid Drug User's House - "A crystal meth addict in Australia pretended to be police before raiding another drug user's house.Daniel Thomas stormed the house in Melbourne's east suburbs, before shouting: "This is a police raid. Get on the floor face down. Where are your drugs?" The two men in the house then handed over their crystal meth and cannabis stash, but Thomas, 36, believed they were withholding some and beat one of them with a hammer until he passed out.Thomas and a co-accused then said: "We've killed your mate. Now tell us where the drugs are."As the other victim stirred, he was hit around the head with the hammer and his buttocks were spread to check for drugs"

Teenager left blind and deaf by decade-long diet of sausages, crisps and processed food - "A teenager has been left blind and deaf after living off a diet of chips, crisps and sausages.The youngster’s family, from Bristol, realised something was seriously wrong when he began to lose his hearing at the age of 14.His eyesight also quickly deteriorated and he has now been left with no job and no social life as a result, his mother says.The woman, who asked not to be named, said her son began going off his meals when he was about seven years old and would only eat chips, Pringles, sausages, processed ham and white bread... “The processed food was not the problem per se. It was he was only eating that type of food and nothing else.""
No mention of parental responsibility

Mum Of Teen Who Went Blind After Living Off Crisps Says NHS Should Have Done More - "His mum Kerry James appeared on ITV's This Morning, where she said she believes that a vitamin A injection could have saved Harvey's sight. Kerry insisted that she's not a bad mum and explained that Harvey, who has ADHD, would be sick and would 'sweat, cry and scream' if he was offered any other food.She said: "I've done everything. I know people say it's probably because I'm a bad mum and neglected him. I don't listen to any of that."I've fought for Harvey from the age of two and I'll continue fighting until he has that healthy balance of life."

Maid of honor wears T-Rex costume after being told to wear 'anything' - "“When you’re maid of honor and told you can wear anything you choose … I regret nothing,” wrote Christina Meador alongside a Facebook photo of her wearing a T-Rex costume last month."

Woman Joins Tinder To Find Date And Ends Up Becoming A Porn Star - "Emily - better known now as Gianna Dior - was studying psychology and working two part-time jobs when she got Tinder in the hope of finding herself a date or two... The 21-year-old originally declined, however, her interest grew and she ended up giving it a bash. A year on, and she has ditched her former life and is working as a porn star full time, making around £750 per hour and amassing 390,000 followers on Instagram along the way."

German Doctor Who Killed Lover By Sprinkling Cocaine On Penis Jailed For Nine Years - "A German doctor has been jailed for nine years after causing the death of his lover when he sprinkled cocaine on his penis before she performed oral sex on him.Dr Andreas David Niederbichler, 43, was found guilty of grievous bodily harm which lead to the death of the 38-year-old woman... Niederbichler had put cocaine on his foreskin before having vaginal, anal and oral sex with three other women between September 2015 and February 2018.Prosecutors added that he would secretly add the drug into the drinks of women in a bid to make them more compliant to his sexual requests.Chief prosecutor Eva Vogel said: "He administered the cocaine to freely carry on further sex practices.""

How computing's first 'killer app' changed everything - "the real lesson of the spreadsheet is not about how monopolies rise and fall but about how technology changes things.It's a cliche that the robots are coming for our jobs.But the story is never as simple as that, as the digital spreadsheet proves.If the concept of a robot accountant means anything, surely it means VisiCalc or Excel. These programs put hundreds of thousands of accounting clerks out of work.Of course VisiCalc was revolutionary. Of course it was more efficient than a human.According to the Planet Money podcast, in the US alone, there are 400,000 fewer accounting clerks today than in 1980, the first full year that VisiCalc went on sale.But Planet Money also found that there were 600,000 more jobs for regular accountants. After all, crunching numbers had become cheaper, more versatile, and more powerful, so demand went up.The point is not really whether 600,000 is more than 400,000: sometimes automation creates jobs and sometimes it destroys them.The point is that automation reshapes the workplace in much subtler ways than "a robot took my job". In the age of the spreadsheet, the repetitive, routine parts of accountancy disappeared. What remained - and indeed flourished - required more judgement, more human skills.The spreadsheet created whole new industries.There are countless jobs in high finance that depend on exploring different numerical scenarios - tweaking the numbers and watching the columns recalculate themselves.These jobs barely existed before the electronic spreadsheet."

What can bees teach economists about how markets work? - "For James Meade, the perfect example of a positive externality was the relationship between apples and bees.Imagine, wrote Meade in 1952, a region containing some orchards and some bee-keeping. If the apple farmers planted more apple trees, the bee-keepers would benefit, because that would mean more honey.But the apple farmers wouldn't enjoy that benefit, that positive externality, and so they wouldn't plant as many apple trees as would be best for everyone. This was, according to Meade, "due simply and solely to the fact that the apple farmer cannot charge the bee-keeper for the bees' food".But there's a problem with his thesis. Apple blossom produces almost no honey. And that's only the first thing James Meade didn't know about bees... A couple of decades after James Meade's famous example, another economist, Steven Cheung, became curious about it - and he did something we economists perhaps don't do often enough: he called up some real people and asked them what actually happens. He discovered that apple farmers routinely paid bee-keepers for the service of pollinating their crops.For some other crops, the bee-keepers do indeed pay farmers for the right to harvest their nectar, the market Meade said should exist but could not. One example is mint, which doesn't need any help from bees but which produces good honey.So apples and bees aren't a good example of a positive externality, because the interaction does take place in a marketplace. And that marketplace is huge.These days, its centre of gravity is the California almond industry. Almonds occupy almost a million acres (4,000 sq km) of California - and farmers sell about $5bn (£3.9bn) worth per year. Almonds need honeybees - five colonies per hectare (10,000 sq m), rented for about $185 (£144) a colony."

Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area – New Hartford, Connecticut - "Its name supposedly originates not out of any demonic rituals or religious activities, but rather because the area was horrible for farming. The story goes that a farmer cursed the land, saying nothing would grow in this rocky, unfertile soil because it was “Satan’s Kingdom.” And clearly, the name stuck.Another bit of local lore gives a different source for the name. It’s said that in earlier times, the area was a haven for thieves, robbers, and outlaws to the extent that “decent” people were afraid to visit. It was said that only “The Devil’s children” ruled there, hence the name “Satans Kingdom.”"

Australian Aviation Authorities Investigate Man Fishing While Being Carried By Drone - "The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority is currently investigating a video that appears to show a man using a drone to lift himself off the floor in a chair before casting out a line and going fishing.Of course, this sort of thing could only happen in Australia. He's even got a bottle of Victoria Bitter in a cup holder next to him"

Female Dragonflies Fake Their Death To Avoid Males - "the female is seen freezing mid-air and plummeting to the ground, where she lies motionless until the male leaves.(When researchers approached the females, they immediately flew away — showing they remain alert throughout the fake death.)This behavior, which has been previously observed in five other species, is called ‘death feigning’. It’s believed to have developed as a survival tactic, since female dragonflies often risk injury or death when coerced into mating... On the opposite end of insect gender relations, male wolf spiders often play dead to avoid getting eaten after mating."

Anti-Semitism or Sarcasm? It's Immaterial to Bloomberg - "Unearthing social media posts to target public figures, and even ordinary citizens, has been a standard journalistic tactic for years now. We got a powerful reminder of that Tuesday morning when Bloomberg reporter Ben Penn wrote a story about a Trump administration official, accused of posting an anti-Semitic screed on Facebook in 2016. Within hours, the story had claimed a scalp: Labor Department lawyer Leif Olson had resigned. All in a day’s work for a crusading journalist. Except what Olson was accused of wasn’t remotely what had happened. What he wrote was actually the opposite of anti-Semitic. The Facebook post in question was a sarcastic send-up of Paul Nehlen, the alt-right anti-Semite who primaried then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Even the most obtuse social media maven would have been tipped off when Olson wrote of Ryan, “The guy just suffered a massive, historic, emasculating 70-point victory. Let’s see him and his Georgetown cocktail-party puppetmasters try to walk that one off.” Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter famously said that after 9/11 “irony was dead,” but apparently it took the election of Donald Trump for journalists to get out the backhoe and toss our collective sense of humor into the family plot."... All this is happening as the media continue to bemoan that a large portion of the public doesn’t respect them or, worse, is coming to get them. On Aug. 25, The New York Times ran a story headlined “Trump Allies Target Journalists Over Coverage Deemed Hostile to White House.” Once you read the story, however, it all seemed less ominous. The story was that Trump allies threatened to discredit journalists by, get this, publicizing what journalists have said on social media. “Operatives have closely examined more than a decade’s worth of public posts and statements by journalists, the people familiar with the operation said,” read the breathless report. The report, which was a news story and not an opinion piece, went so far as to argue that when journalists cast a critical eye on the public statements of others, that’s fair game -- but applying journalistic standards to journalists, however, was automatically an act of bad faith."
The logic of "punching up" - in the past we called it hypocrisy and double standards

DOL Lawyer Leif Olson Reinstated After 'Cancel Culture' Firing

Monday, November 04, 2019

Links - 4th November 2019 (2) (Trans Mania)

Steve Magness on Twitter - "Now confirmed that all three of the Olympic medalist at the 2016 games in the 800m are DSD and will be impacted by latest IAAF decision"
"Many people say the science isn't enough to validate the regulations, but given that DSD are so over represented in sport seems hard to deny the genetic advantages."

Hyperandrogenism and women vs women vs men in sport: A Q&A with Joanna Harper | The Science of Sport - "I do not believe that women with hyperandrogenism should be competing unregulated.  I believe that the divide between men and women exists precisely to ensure fairness in competition (as far as this is ever possible), and I think that if you respect that division, then a policy that addresses hyperandrogenism must exist.  I think CAS made a ludicrous decision, and I think it is damaging to women’s sport.  Saying that men and women are different is a biological reality, and in sport, the difference has obvious performance implications.  It does not mean “inferior”, but different, so spare me any “patriarchy” nonsense on this (I’ve heard it said, for instance, that women’s performances are slower because of the “fucking patriarchy”.  If you think that, let me save you time and tell you to stop reading now, and save us both the aggravation). I wish that it did not affect individuals like Semenya, but it does. It also affects many, many other women who frankly, have no chance of competing against the right athlete with an advantage that challenges the male-female division. And let me be very clear – this is not the same as tall people dominating in basketball, or people with fast-twitch fibres dominating sprints. We do not compete in categories of height, because we have decided that there is no need to “protect” short people. We certainly do not compete in categories of muscle biochemistry or neurology.There are many aspects and arguments in this debate, and I respect most of them, but this particular offering of “whataboutery” is garbage, utterly inadmissible in this complex debate. If you want to play whataboutery in this way, think about weight classes in boxing, contact sports, rowing. Would it be fair if someone said “I can’t help my physiology, and I’m 2kg over the limit for “lightweight”, so let me in?” Or, if you did create a division for height in basketball, should we allow people who can’t help that they’re tall because of genes to come down and play with those under 6 foot? Of course not."

It’s not women who get pregnant — it’s ‘people’ | News | The Sunday Times - "The government has said the term “pregnant woman” should not be used in a UN treaty because it “excludes” transgender people.Feminists reacted with outrage to what they said was the latest example of “making women unmentionable” in the name of transgender equality.The statement comes in Britain’s official submission on proposed amendments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the UK has been a signatory since 1976. The UN treaty says a “pregnant woman” must be protected, including not being subject to the death penalty... Only two known UK cases exist of transgender pregnancy, where children are born to trans men who have had a sex change but retained a functioning womb and ovaries. Sarah Ditum, a prominent feminist writer, said: “This isn’t inclusion. This is making women unmentionable. Having a female body and knowing what that means for reproduction doesn’t make you ‘exclusionary’. Forcing us to decorously scrub out any reference to our sex on pain of being called bigots is an insult.” The move comes two weeks after The Sunday Times revealed that the Office for National Statistics has suggested making the sex question in the next census voluntary because it “discriminates” against trans people. The proposal triggered protests, with academics saying that it would be impossible to plan services for women. The feminist Germaine Greer said it denied women’s “right to exist”. The FCO statement, revealed today, follows Theresa May’s announcement last week that the government is to press ahead with a consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act, allowing people to “self-certify” their gender."
This is interesting. If fetuses aren't babies then why are pregnant women immune to the death penalty?

200 ex-LGBT men, women rally to show freedom they’ve found in following Jesus - "Ex-homosexual and ex-transgender men and women from around the country descended upon the Nation’s Capital this weekend for the Second Annual “Freedom March” where they proclaimed the freedom they've found in abandoning homosexual and transgender practices.“Look at this! This is Amazing! They say we don’t exist!” declared author and documentary producer M.J. Nixon, a March co-founder, as many gathered for a group picture. About 200 participated this year – a threefold increase over last year."
Saying biological sex is binary = saying transgender people don't exist. But if you think ex-gay people exist, you're a homophobic bigot

WALSH: How The Left Is Normalizing Pedophilia Right In Front Of Our Eyes - "Twitter just announced that it has "zero tolerance" for child sexual exploitation, yet it has allowed this video from Vice, both portraying and glorifying child sexual exploitation, to remain on its platform. The Vice video is a fun and whimsical look at the "community" of young boys who dress in women's clothing and dance for the perverted entertainment of adults... Over in places like Afghanistan, it has long been customary to have young boys in female attire dance for the pleasure of grown men. We have now adopted a similar custom, but under the guise of progressivism. The Left has become increasingly obsessed with dressing boys up like girls and parading them around. Literally parading them around in some cases, like when the LA Pride Parade had a 7-year-old boy "strutting" in high heels at the head of the procession. Little attempt is made anymore to hide the sexual nature of the "drag kid" phenomenon. Remember, for instance, the "drag kid" who posed with a naked man, and the "drag kid" who danced at a gay bar while men tossed money at him. This should put things into perspective for those still obtuse and oblivious enough to think that the "drag queen story hours" popping up at libraries across the country are just a bit of harmless fun. Hundreds of libraries have hosted events to bring children and cross-dressing men together. There is, of course, no practical or coherent reason why a man has to dress like a woman from a Tim Burton movie in order to read a book to children. The decision to add that macabre and grotesque element into the equation is purposeful, and the purpose is to get children — boys, especially — accustomed to the idea of cross-dressing. The sexual exploiters of children want to ensure that there will be a constantly refreshed supply of Bacha boys — or "drag kids," as we call them in this country. Follow the trajectory and it is not hard to see where we go next. Ten years ago, there was no such thing as "drag kids" or drag queen story hours. Leftists would have called you a paranoid lunatic had you predicted that such things would come to pass. Now both are utterly commonplace, yet leftists will insist that even though grown men in dresses like to hang out with little children at libraries, and adults like to go to gay bars to watch boys dance around in skirts and high heels, there is nothing sexual about any of it. Ten years from now, or maybe sooner, they will admit that it is sexual but insist that there is nothing wrong with a young boy and a grown man getting together, so long as it is consensual. You do not need to be Nostradamus to see this next step"

It’s Time for Progressives to Protect Women Instead of Pronouns - "I usually use female pronouns to refer to trans women, as a courtesy. But this is a courtesy I won’t extend to someone seeking to hurt me physically. This was a man—specifically, a misogynist who’d become notorious under the (since deleted) Twitter handle TownTattle. He was deeply offended that I’d been allowed to speak. That’s why he wanted to hurt me: for being a woman who opened her mouth...  trans activists and their allies (mostly men who are highly woke, as popular slang would have it) had been claiming that the meeting would cause harm to trans students, and that I would be promoting hate... speakers were given an hour-long briefing by the university’s security team. We were told what would happen if the stage were stormed by protesters, or if it became necessary to vacate the venue. This is what it now means to advocate publicly for women’s rights... There is even pressure to buy the line that trans women get periods, and that they need cervical smear tests. The reason the slur “TERF” has become popular is that it gives misogynists a tool to abuse and punish feminists without the stigma associated with such crude epithets as “bitches.” They can still pretend to be progressive and, as UK-based newspaper columnist and “trans ally” Owen Jones puts it, on the “right side of history.” The term generally is applied only to women, such as me, whose progressive, feminist ideals cannot be explained away as a symptom of right-wing hate or bigotry. It is telling that there is no equivalent popular acronym or neologism to describe actual haters of transsexuals, such as religious fundamentalists and homophobic bigots. One of the most hideous manifestations of this movement is the popularization of such memes as “Punch TERFs,” which present violence toward women as a cool hipster hobby. And it has led to real misogynistic violence... (one of the calling cards of anti-“TERF” extremists is that they seem far more concerned about protecting pronouns than human bodies.)... trans activists stormed the opening of a feminist library in Vancouver, accusing the organizers of being not only “TERFs” but also “SWERFs” (Sex worker exclusionary radical feminists) before destroying books, tearing down posters and throwing wine on the walls... My attacker, “Trans Tattle,” already was infamous for threatening feminists in the past. Yet reporters who cover such issues often tread gingerly in describing trans activists who engage in or encourage attacks against women. Sometimes they even suggest that these people have been provoked into violence. In my case, in fact, much of the coverage focussed on the fact that the day before my speaking event, the school’s entire LGBT+ committee resigned in protest... In one particularly absurd salvo, MacBride claimed that “Instead of supporting us, supporting our position, [the university] chose to censor us.” That’s right: He is using the word “censor” to describe the decision to permit women to talk about feminism.In fact, activists had spent weeks trying to get the event cancelled... The LGBT+ site, Pink News, which often is so misogynistic in its editorial policies that it’s known as Penis News to many lesbians, ran a report with the headline, “Julie Bindel misgendered a trans woman who she claimed ‘physically attacked’ her.’”... But it wasn’t enough to marginalize me. Pink News also tried to release the online hounds on a British MP, Diane Abbott, a Black woman who has been subjected to all sorts of appalling racist and sexist abuse online. When she heard about the attack on me, Abbott tweeted, “Horrible. Hope you are now OK.” This apparently raised red flags among Pink News editors, who viewed it as evidence of anti-trans heresy. And so the site tweeted out—I am not making this up—”Diane Abbott asked if Julie Bindel was okay.”... even much of the mainstream press and social-media commentary on this issue seemed more focused on avoiding accusations of transphobia than covering an attack against a woman appearing at an event oriented toward protecting women’s rights... A number of Tweeters celebrated me almost getting a good kicking, while, paradoxically, also downplaying the incident because I hadn’t actually been brutalized. The hypocrisy here is rather rich, since anyone who questions trans orthodoxy routinely is accused of causing “literal violence” if they commit any one of a long and growing list of thoughtcrimes, such as misgendering or “deadnaming.” The very people seeking to shut down the Edinburgh University event even accused me of “putting lives at risk” because I make a distinction between trans women and natal women."

Transgender youth more than 3 times as likely to attempt suicide; also report higher incidents of bullying, drug use, sexual assault - "Of the respondents, 1.8 percent answered "Yes, I am transgender," while 94.4 percent said, "No, I am not transgender." Another 1.6 percent answered, "I am not sure if I am transgender." The figure of almost 2 percent is noticeably higher than a June 2016 study by The Williams Institute at UCLA, which found 0.6 percent of U.S. adults identified as trans"
This suggests that trans mania is working - more and more people are identifying as transgender

Weekend feature: sex change operations - "Marissa Dainton changed sex for the third time in 11 years. She started life as Mark Dainton in 1967. In 1992, a year before her first sex change operation, she took the name Patricia Vincent. Four years later, Patricia decided to go back to living as Mark. Now she has become a woman again. Sitting in the lounge of the small terrace house she shares with her wife, her eyes stray to the wedding photo on the mantelpiece. "What happened to me should be a lesson in the need to make sure you're really ready before changing gender"... Once Dainton had a penis, then a vagina, now she has nothing... a growing number of post-operative transsexuals are scathing about their medical care... Transgender psychiatrists admit that the boundaries between transsexualism, transvestism and homosexuality are still not entirely clear to them... "My psychiatrist told me, you look great, you can pass. I've come to realise that human life is made up of connecting, not passing. I can 'pass' in a shop, I can 'pass' on the street. But when you tell a man your background, if you're lucky he'll walk away. Nothing can prepare you for that. I feel notorious in any group. You can say you're Napoleon but unless the whole world agrees with you, you patently are not Napoleon. I'm not a woman, I'm a thing - a chimera. As I move into my middle years, I'm genuinely worried that I just don't fit anywhere."... Finch, formerly known as Helen, wants to know why people who want a sex change are treated differently from other psychiatric patients who hate their bodies. He says: "The fact that someone's suicidal and wanting something isn't a reason to provide it. The analogy I use about giving surgery to someone desperate to change sex is it's a bit like offering liposuction to an anorexic."... Guardian Weekend asked Birmingham University's Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility (Arif) to assess the findings of more than 100 follow-up studies of post-operative transsexuals. Arif, which conducts reviews of healthcare treatments for the NHS, concludes that none of the studies provides conclusive evidence that gender reassignment is beneficial for patients. It found that most research was poorly designed, which skewed the results in favour of physically changing sex. There was no evaluation of whether other treatments, such as long-term counselling, might help transsexuals, or whether their gender confusion might lessen over time. Arif says the findings of the few studies that have tracked significant numbers of patients over several years were flawed because the researchers lost track of at least half of the participants. The potential complications of hormones and genital surgery, which include deep vein thrombosis and incontinence respectively, have not been thoroughly investigated, either"
From 2004, before reality was transphobic. Of course one response is to blame religion/society/socialisation but her changing her mind "wrongly" - but that assumes that pro-trans pressure doesn't exist.
If people can change their minds so many times, how valid is the claim that gender identity is entirely and infallibly determined by the individual? An alternative would be genderfluidity, but that raises questions about the LGBT consensus

How trans people can get out of paying their bills

Because of that - Butterflies and Wheels

"From the Department of First World Problems (aka Dear Muslima aka You Think YOU Have It Bad aka We Walked 10 Miles To School In A Blizzard) – the ACLU’s star Trans Person Chase Strangio tweets:

The cost of being trans: I still get mail in my old name. Because of this, I am afraid to check my mail. Because of that, I sometimes miss bills that I need to pay. Because of that those outstanding bills have gone to collection. Because of that, my credit gets worse.

Replies are not universally sympathetic.

I have the same surname as my violent abusive alcoholic father. I’ve never thought about using it to get out of paying my mortgage but thanks for the tip.
No, this is a consequence of changing your name. Happens to lots of people. If you are afraid of seeing your former name, you should get some help – both practical and emotional. I hope life gets easier for you, bc no one can rely on the rest of the world changing to protect them
The cost of being a woman – I get mail, and organisations and systems and relatives and friends, using a name I have NEVER had. How? They unilaterally decided I had changed my name when I married. I didn’t, haven’t and never will do. I still pay all my bills. Life sucks. Tough.
Imagine losing a baby and getting mail from all the companies that latch into you once you’re pregnant. Did my best to cancel them all but still got a “your baby is now 4 months old” email. Life is painful sometimes.
I still get mail addressed to my dead spouse. That’s a sucker punch in the gut. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be for a bereaved parent.
I get mail addressed to my late wife. This can be upsetting. I am not afraid of it though. I open it, pay it if it’s a bill, ask them to change the name or stop sending it. Might I suggest you do the same and stop being so f***ing precious.

This is a built-in hazard with a putative Rights Campaign that is so thoroughly rooted in self-obsession. It can’t be anything else. An adult level of awareness of other people and their other minds and other views would tell you that how they see you is in effect what you are. Be a monarch or a pirate or a Nobel laureate or a movie star in your head all you like, but stop there.

People who aren’t narcissists do stop there. Narcissists try to force it on everyone, and call that “trans rights.”"

In retrospect, it shouldn't surprise me that Butterflies & Wheels is "transphobic" (i.e. refusing to be gaslighted).

They are a philosophy blog after all.

Additional comments from The Worst of Twitter:

"Who wants a mentally ill lawyer who admits to not paying her bills?"

"If seeing your old name bothers you that much, maybe your conscience is trying to tell you that you royally screwed up."

"Really???!! Every single married woman that ever changed her name goes through the process. Grow up. Go online and pay your bills."

"Because of that, 41%."

"The company i work for sometimes gets bills in the mail addressed to our old name. We still pay them and just tell them to update it in their system our new name."

"Yeah I’m afraid of my bills too bud."

"Just contact them to get your name changed in their system omg"

"Then start Go fund me to transition your bills as well."

"Seek psychiatric help"

"Yeah, that's a completely valid excuse. Or you could just take responsibility and pay your bills like an adult."

Links - 4th November 2019 (1) (Trans Mania)

Misunderstanding a New Kind of Gender Dysphoria - "After a 30-minute consultation with a physician’s assistant, Molly was given an appointment for the following week to begin testosterone injections. There was no exploration of her other physical and mental health issues, and whether these may have influenced her belief that she was trans. There was also no caution expressed about how hormone treatment might affect Crohn’s disease. Molly simply had to sign a consent form stating that she identified as male and understood the risks associated with testosterone.The PA (physician assistant) also suggested that Molly schedule top surgery – a double mastectomy – within a few months. When Claire stated that she and Jeff wanted time to do research and consider alternatives before allowing Molly to begin taking testosterone or have surgery, the PA told her that their job as parents now was to support and affirm their ‘son.’ In front of Molly, he told Claire she ought to get her own therapist to deal with her issues so that she could be a better support person to ‘Max.’ When Claire and Jeff expressed concerns about Molly’s anxiety and isolation, the PA stated that these were likely a result of Molly being transgender, and would resolve once she began to transition. Up until about ten years ago, gender dysphoria presenting for the first time in adolescence was virtually unknown in natal females... "It is a socially contagious phenomenon, reminiscent of the multiple personality disorder epidemic of the 1990s.”Although not much is known at this time about ROGD, it appears likely that it may be a kind of social contagion in which young people – often teen girls – come to believe that they are transgender. Preliminary research indicates that young people who identify as trans “out of the blue” may have been influenced by social media sites that valorize being trans. In addition, researchers have observed a pattern of clusters of friends coming out together... Bulimia was virtually unknown until the 1970s, when British psychologist Gerald Russell first described the condition in a medical journal... Scientists have been able to track bulimia’s transmission even into culturally remote enclaves following the introduction of Western media sources. It is estimated that bulimia has since affected 30 million people... The growing community of detransitioners – mostly young women in their 20s – suggests that loosening the standards for accessing medical transition hasn’t served everyone well... In spite of having transitioned, Max did not blossom into his “authentic self.” In fact, his mental health worsened. He was more anxious and isolated than ever and rarely left the house, spending most of his time online. He told his mother that he feared people would know he was trans and try to harm him were he to go out in public. When Claire tried to reassure him by offering to accompany him, Max often refused, expressing a lack of trust for Claire and her motives because, in Max’s words, Claire was a “transphobe.” “I feel as though my child has been taught to be paranoid about me”... "These people not only encouraged her to believe that she was trans, but also that she needed to transition medically or risk being unhappy and suicidal. And once she had transitioned, there was an online community encouraging her to believe that the world would hate her because she is trans. They have sealed her in a cave, and I fear there may be no way back.”"

As a Former Dean of Harvard Medical School, I Question Brown’s Failure to Defend Lisa Littman - "The fact that Brown University deleted its initial promotional reference to Dr Littman’s work from the university’s website—then replaced it with a note explaining how Dr Littman’s work might harm members of the transgender community—presents a cautionary tale.Increasingly, research on politically charged topics is subject to indiscriminate attack on social media, which in turn can pressure school administrators to subvert established norms regarding the protection of free academic inquiry. What’s needed is a campaign to mobilize the academic community to protect our ability to conduct and communicate such research, whether or not the methods and conclusions provoke controversy or even outrage... Many papers face questions after they have been published, which is well and proper: the systematic assessment and scrutiny of published work is a core method by which the scientific community corrects errors, and builds upon imperfect preliminary observations. There is a real problem with a lack of reproducibility of published science in many academic fields. Efforts to understand and respond to this problem are receiving justified attention. But that is not what has happened in regard to Dr Littman, whose critics have not performed any systematic analysis of her findings, but seem principally motivated by ideological opposition to her conclusions.Avenues for challenging an academic paper include letters to the editor, journal editorials, invited comments, and efforts by others to conduct research in the same area. Aside from this, critics may allege research misconduct in the form of plagiarism, fabrication or falsification. If an informed party credibly asserts one of these three claims in regard to a published article, it is the academic institution’s responsibility to investigate and reach a fair conclusion. The outcome of such inquiries sometimes requires that the paper in question be retracted, or in some way modified—though this typically follows confidential investigations that can take months or even years. Absent evidence of academic misconduct, an institutional inquiry of this sort rarely, if ever, occurs to address the validity of a faculty research paper, in my experience.There is no evidence for claims of misconduct in Dr Littman’s case... In all my years in academia, I have never once seen a comparable reaction from a journal within days of publishing a paper that the journal already had subjected to peer review, accepted and published. One can only assume that the response was in large measure due to the intense lobbying the journal received, and the threat—whether stated or unstated—that more social-media backlash would rain down upon PLOS One if action were not taken.There were also said to be unidentified voices within the Brown community who expressed “concerns” about the paper. But when Brown responded to these concerns by removing a promotional story about Dr Littman research from the Brown website, a backlash resulted, followed by a web petition expressing alarm at the school’s actions. The dean of the School of Public Health, Bess Marcus, eventually issued a public letter explaining why the removal of the article from news distribution was “the most responsible course of action.” In her letter, Dean Marcus cites fears that “conclusions of the study could be used to discredit the efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate perspectives of members of the transgender community” (my italics). Why the concerns of these unidentified individuals should be accorded weight in the evaluation of an academic work is left unexplained.The idea that unnamed parties might apply conclusions from a study such as to cause some vaguely defined harm to other third parties is a spurious basis for the university’s actions. Virtually any research finding related to human health may be used for unrelated and inappropriate purposes by independent actors. Indeed, this happens frequently in medical science, as when nutrition research is used to promote diets far beyond the validity of the underlying data. When this occurs, responsibility lies with those committing these acts, not the paper or its author... For centuries, universities struggled to protect the ability of their faculties to conduct research seen as offensive—whether by the church, the state, or other powerful influences"
On the attempt to censor the Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria study

U.S. parents accept children's transgender identity by age three - "Increasingly across the United States, doctors and parents of transgender children are embracing their identity as soon it starts becoming obvious, sometimes around age 3. Many say they are finding much greater chances of happiness and well-being when children are nurtured in their new gender identity at such a young age. Although there is not a consensus on the issue, some clinicians who work with transgender children have concluded that when children persistently identify as the nonconforming gender, the best course is to socially transition, or live as the other gender, even at age 3.Other specialists in the field advocate a more cautious approach because the long-term psychosexual results for young children can vary widely and unpredictably."

MoonQueen on Twitter - "Reminder that the WHO stating transgender isn't a mental disorder means doctors will no longer have to cover ANY therapy, surgeries, hormones, medication, etc dealing with it. So thanks. You've fucked us over.
"but that" No it IS how it works. The reason insurances covered our TREATMENTS is because it AIDED A MENTAL CONDITION. Now that it is no longer considered one insurances will see NO reason to cover it because "it does no harm because it doesnt' cause any mental conditions."
They'll just give anti depressants for depression stemming from it instead if ACTUAL treatment. People who scream that trans people aren't mentally ill have fucked us over. because dysphoria is a mental illness and now the WHO no longer recognizes it as such. Now we're screwed.
Cheaper insurances will 100% drop ALL support because it makes no sense to cover something that ISN'T even considered "unhealthy for the brain or body" it's the assumption that trans people do not NEED treatment which we freaking do.
So ALL these people celebrating this are gonna do a 180 when their insurance companies and doctors tell them they are no longer covered for surgeries, hormones, therapy costs, etc and have to pay out of pocket.
As somewho's genderfluid myself it ticks me off that a vocal minority of the community has dictated such a massive change that is going to 100% cost us everything unless we're rich or have really really good insurance who just dont' care."
You can't win
The World Health Organisation is transphobic?

Meme - "When You're a Man in a Woman's Bathroom and You Get Upset Because a Man Is in the Woman's Bathroom
Daniel Goes: 'So I Was in the Ladies Room in McDonald's Today When This Male Employee Just Comes in and Starts Cleaning. I Flushed to Toilet and He Still Didn't Leave. It Made Me Super Uncomfortable. Am I Over Reacting or Is That Messed Up. I Am a Transgender Female and Use the Ladies Room Where I Feel Safer and This Totally Defeats the Purpose"

Left Vows To Topple Patriarchy By Allowing Biological Males To Dominate Women's Sports | The Babylon Bee

‘Mentrification’: how men appropriated computers, beer and the Beatles - "a fan post on Tumblr from user @obstinatecondolement mourned the lack of acknowledgment given to women as the source of the series’ original popularity. They wanted to know when “Star Trek stopped being perceived as light, fluffy, not-really-legitimate sci-fi that ~housewives~ liked and started being seen as serious nerd business that girls had to keep their gross cooties off”?A reply repeated the question, but in regards to the Beatles. When did the group “start to be remembered as rock legends, rather than a silly boy band teenaged girls liked?” Another user answered: “when men decided they liked them”.With this, a new term was coined by @thelilithnoir: “Mentrification”. And as is the tradition when a single word arrives to describe something widely perceived and innately known yet not already explained, the original post went very, very viral.If “gentrification” describes the process by which one “improves” a place so it “conforms to middle-class taste”, mentrification achieves an equal status transformation by taking the history of female participation and achievement, and festooning its narrative with phalluses."
The ultimate mentrification is letting biological men appropriate femaleness itself

For Trans People, Gender-Swap Photo Filters Are No Mere Game - "Snapchat's new photo filter that allows users to change into a man or woman with the tap of a finger isn't necessarily fun and games for transgender people.Some say it reduces their very real and often painful experiences to folly.Thirty-one-year-old Bailey Coffman is a transgender woman from New York. She says that "my gender is not a costume." But some others see the potential for such tools to lead to self-discovery among people struggling with their gender identity."

Peeping Tom in China disguised as a woman is caught lurking in toilets - "A Peeping Tom has been arrested in China's Shandong province, after he was caught dressing up as a woman to sneak into the ladies' loos.But the culprit – only identified by his surname Zhang – seems to have some very unusual ideas when it comes to women's anatomy, as his outfit predominantly featured a pair of exceptionally large breasts... His outrageously garish outfit also included bright red tights, a mini-skirt, high-heels and thick make-up... this isn't Zhang's first time playing dress-up.Various snapshots of his large-bosomed get-up have been circulated online, as he patrolled the streets of Tengzhou city. The many different outfits suggest he has done it on many different occasions."

Brazil: Couple Stabs Nine-Year-Old Boy To Death After Makeshift Gender Reassignment Surgery - "The boy was stabbed to death as he slept after suffering for a year after a botched gender reassignment surgery.According to Brazil’s Child Protective Services, the boy had a“kind of a sex-change surgery. After removing the penis, they sewed the mutilated region and improvised a version of a female genital organ, making a cut in the groin”The surgery had apparently been performed with no medical supervision after Rhuan’s mother had decided to turn her son into a girl."

The Homework Postponement Project - ""yeah!!! fucking around with health insurance forms!!!!"
"I hate when people complain about “oh health forms are stupid they want my biological sex instead of my gender!!!!” or “they only have male or female!!!”There’s a reason for that, you dumb fucks, and they’re referring to biological sexDifferent health risks are present in different sexes, and whatever gender is in your head does not change the fact that if you were born female, you have a higher risk for certain cancers and osteoporosis, and if you were born male you have a higher risk for heart disease and often a shorter lifespan than a female.In other words, your biological sex is an important factor in health and health insurance, and your special snowflake status doesn’t change that."
"Doctors don’t give a flying fuck what you identify as. All they want to know is do you have two X chromosomes or an XY? Because cancer and lupus and certain medicines don’t give a flying fuck what pronouns you use. This is about your fucking LIFE. stop being angsty for TWELVE SECONDS because when you’re in an ambulance or going into cardiac arrest or whatever the situation may be, it’s ESSENTIAL that you get your head out of your ass long enough to tell them your BIOLOGICAL SEX that you were BORN WITH. It literally may save your life."
Actually since trans people have such medical problems, knowing that someone is "special" does provide you with useful medical information (as well as insurance data, e.g. to be strict with coverage since a lot of it may be frivolous)
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