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Sunday, November 13, 2022

Links - 13th November 2022 (2 - MCU: She-Hulk)

She-Hulk's Writers Loved Trolling the Marvel Show's 'Unoriginal' Critics - "Maslany shared that head writer Jessica Gao knew from the outset how a certain sector of Marvel fans would view Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk as a woman supposedly invading the MCU. She also said the cast had a lot of fun reading what trolls were saying online while knowing the show's finale would make fun of some of their remarks verbatim. "Jessica Gao is a genius and knows about the culture we’re living in and her position in it when she’s writing these stories about a woman superhero," Maslany said. "She knows what that response is going to be. As a cast, it was delightful sending each other these troll responses, like 'Oh my god, give them a week and then they’re going to literally see this pop up verbatim in the show and become the villains of the show.' It was thrilling."   Maslany was expecting the unfortunate backlash she received from trolls when she took on the role of She-Hulk. However, she shared she used the vitriol to make a statement about women in superhero media, which is something she loved to do. "Reading the script, it was so true, There’s so much resistance to a woman just existing in that space of superheroes," Maslany said. "There’s always going to be that. I sort of anticipated it. It’s why I also feel it’s important. There’s such an entitlement to space held by certain people, and to even exist as She-Hulk is like a fuck-you, and I love that.""
Create a shit show and think you're very smart for predicting that people wouldn't like a shit show. Genius.

Meme - "Thick headed, incompetent and ignorant She-Hulk fans: You guys just hate phase four women and especially She-Hulk because she's a "powerful" woman and you guys are just very insecure misogynist sexists!!!"
*Monica Rambeau*
*Ms Marvel*
*Scarlet Scarab*
*Sersi, Thena*
*Kate Bishop, Yelena Belova, Echo*

Meme - "RIP MCU"
"She Hulk Team Explains the Fourth Wall- Breaking Finale and Delivering a 'F- You' to Toxic Marvel Trolls"
"We actually made it steaming pile of garbage on purpose because it would make the trolls seethe" Is a take... Imfao"

She-Hulk has it SO much harder than Bruce Banner... - YouTube - "The audacity of her to talk to Bruce about who has it more difficult."

Meme The Yaboiposting: "Men don't have "walks of shame" unless they bang a fatty. And why are his shoes off? Women only walk home with their shoes off cuz they're usually wearing heels.
They're so bad a subversion"

Meme - "So, you're She-Hulk, a Hulk, that's a she. Fascinating. Tell me more about you."
"Well, I've spent my life controlling my anger because of the problems men cause me. I got my powers from my cousin and was just given a my own law division."
"So everything that makes you special or interesting was given to you by a man, but somehow men are the problem? Curious."

Meme - Dana Schwartz: "Just saw Blade Runner for the first time and it's great but... Harrison Ford is the villain, yeah? Like it's about four slaves who escape and come to earth as fugitives just for the CHANCE to stave off death, and this random hot cop is on their tails murdering them
Why are we supposed to like Harrison ford in this movie aside from the fact he's Harrison ford? I don't get it"
"One of the she-hulk 'writers' after she watched Blade Runner. Doesn't even get the concept protagonists not necessarily being goodie 2 shoes boy scout

Meme - "Guys, I saw some people in this group hating on SheHulk. So without asking them why I said: "Boom, you're an incel!""
"Guys did you not hear me...I said: "Boom, you're an incel!""
So I got them good right?"
"Yes, of course... good... you got them real good...very impressive indeed"
"The praises of your heroism will surely be sung in Valhalla"
"You guys are just a couple of hating incels too!"

Meme - Woman: *farts She-Hulk*
Woman: "You have to like it or you're sexist"

.Meme - "Women written by men *Black Widow, Wanda Maximoff*
Women written by women *She-Hulk twerking*"

“They’re doing the same things they were preaching against”: She-Hulk Latest Episode Draws Controversy As Fans Call it Hypocritical For Having Megan Thee Stallion to Further Sexualize Women

Where are all the people who bitched about how Black Widow showing off her butt in the Avengers poster?

Meme - Topher @tophertownmusic: "Marvel really had #SheHulk go from talking about how bad women have it in society and the lack of respect they receive compared to their male counterparts in the work force to her twerking in a pants suit a couple weeks later to degenerate music."
Plus she was twerking at work

Meme - "When an ugly says you look lovely today"
"That's sexual harassment!"
"When a hot guy tells you you're a sexy piece of ass"

Meme - "It's March 2019. Captain Marvel, the first Female-led MCU project is released. Fans who criticized it are accused of hating women.
It's June 2021, Black Widow, the first Female-led MCU project is -released. Fans who criticized it are accused of hating women.
It's June 2022, Miss Marvel, the first Female-led MCU project is released. Fans who criticized it are accused of hating women.
It's August 2022, She-Hulk, the first Female-led MCU project is released. Fans who criticized it are accused of hating women."

Meme - "Or I might just literally get murdered."
"Jen, men make up almost eighty percent of all homicide victims."

Marvel Fans India - Posts | Facebook - "She Hulk is the latest Disney project to suffer from the trend of review bombing with 31.9% of its reviews being 1-star on IMDb. As of now, She-Hulk holds a higher percentage of 1-star reviews than any other MCU Disney+ series to date. For comparison, here's a look at the percentage of 1-star reviews currently held by previous Marvel Studios Disney+ shows:
WandaVision: 2.2%
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: 2.9%
Loki: 1.5%
What If…?: 2.1%
Hawkeye: 1.5%
Moon Knight: 4.1%
Ms. Marvel: 19.9%"
Review bombing is when people dislike a bad woke show and review it badly.

Mainstream Media Outlets Disingenuously Claim ‘She-Hulk’ Review Bombed By Angry Male Fans Despite Series Having More False Positive Reviews Than Negative - "the legacy media has essentially asked readers to believe that while all the negative reviews are unfounded and come from angry fanboys who haven’t yet seen the series, the positive ones are genuine and express the true quality of the Jade Giantess’ MCU debut."

Meme - *Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, WandaVision*
"All these three are female-led marvel shows but you didn't see anyone review-bombing them or anything because they were free of all this cringe in she hulk if i wanted to watch a superhero show all i need is a superhero and a villan and a good story i don't want a woman complaining about getting catcalled in the street. If i wanted a show to tell about women life i would rom-com sitcom or something"

Meme - "The reason SheHulk is always green is that, as a single female lawyer in her 30s, she's by default always angry"

Meme - "She-Hulk"
"Them-Hulk *fat, blue hair, nose ring*"

Meme - "Men written by men *Hulk stopping Chitauri Leviathan*
Men written by women *Hulk unable to stop a jeep*"

Meme - "When you hit your cousin with a Jeep because he doesn't believe that you are better at controlling your anger than him:"

Meme - "Jen: "I hate that men sexualize me all the time!
Also Jen: *Has Captain America's ass as her wallpaper*"


She-Hulk: Attorney at Law - Series Premiere Discussion : television - "i personally had low expectations but they manage to duck below them.  the protagonist is an insufferable, smug, know it all, self centered, lunatic/bipolar, mary sue that is "apparently" better than bruce banner while the episode underplays his past struggles comparing her daily, oh so horrible, life.  oh i also hate the part where she says "i'm clearly nailing it at all this things", it summarize har character to me. perfect, in control of EVERYTHING and smug right out of the gate.  she gets her cake, eats it and orders another one right after.  also the "comedy" is almost amy schumer level of bad."
"I didn't think the show was bad necessarily, but Jennifer was so damn unlikable the entire show. As Bruce said, he is the one person who knows what she is going through, and she just insults him constantly.  I also found it a bit ridiculous after having powers for like 5 minutes, her and him were evenly matched."
"She is too whiny for a superhero. And worst, she is whining about words and remarks? What."

She-Hulk: "I'm an expert at controlling anger, because I do it infinitely more than you." Btw. she's talking to Buce Banner, the guy who'll destroy an entire city block if he doesn't control his anger and literally tried to kill himself to get rid of this burden : KotakuInAction -
"Seems to me like she's trying to provoke Banner, which is incredibly stupid of her."
"Banner: "i have had enough of your nagging! No more nice guy!" Turns into worldbreaker hulk
Feminists: Look it's incel hulk!
Could actually see that happen"
"Simply existing as a woman causes more stress than being hunted across the world by various governments and militaries for a decade or more. It's so fucked that people see scenes like this and wholeheartedly believe they are the truth of the world."
"Not just hunted, but his situation has driven him to the point of suicide, which he can't even do. He can't ever have a relationship or any sort of life, but her life is just so much harder than his because... reasons."
"All while she gets to have better version of his powers without any of the downsides because she has a special genetic makeup; she is literally lording her privilege over him."
"In the first hulk movie from 2008 he has to call off sex with Betty that she initiated because he's scared the excitement will make him hulk out and kill her.  Bruce can't even have casual sex. She Hulk apparently just doesn't have this problem and can sleep around as much as she wants.  But no, she has it worse."
"There's also the fact he was a prisoner in his own mind during Thor Ragnarok with his only friend was a drunken slaver as he was used for gladiatorial entertainment with no hope of coming back to his senses or even getting home.  but...I guess...catcalling sucks too?"
This was a good example of how unaware and narcissistic these women are - she tried to kill people the second time she transformed outside the bar

Meme - Austin VanderVeer: ""Thor 2 was boring" "Iron Man 3 was terrible" "The first Hulk movie sucked." "Ant-Man is just a worse Iron Man." "Doctor Strange is also just a worse Iron Man." "Captain America 3 has a really dumb premise." "Current Spider-Man is the worst one." All this sexism, I can't believe y'all hate men this much."
Comment: "The biggest issue with shows feature strong female characters is the lazy writing that they entail. Good writers will take a character, give them a struggle, let them overcome it, and use that to explain why the character is strong and able to do what they do. It’s satisfying to the viewer because we feel like the character genuinely earned it. So many writers, when writing a female character, will “skip” the struggle because “she’s a women! And that’s enough of a struggle” which may or may not be valid, im not here to discuss that, I’m just saying that from a story telling perspective, it’s not very engaging. Note- I’m not saying “all strong women are bad.” Or “all female led movies/shows are bad” but simply that WHEN and if they are bad and poorly revived, this is usually the reason why...  there is a plethora of strong female character in anime, and I rarely see any complaints about that despite the fact that weebs are some of the most sexist people on the internet. The Japanese are significantly better at writing strong women because they don’t care as much about social politics, they just want to make a good story."

Meme - "1970's: Sigourney Weaver in Alien
Men: Rad
Women: Meh
1980's-90's Linda Hamilton in Terminator
Men: Rad
Women: Meh
2000's: Uma Thurman in Kill Bill
Men: Rad
Women: Meh
2010's: Brie Larson in Captain Marvel
Men: Meh
Damn toxic manbabies!
Maybe the women cheering Captain Marvel didn't like the previous movies because they involved women characters with flaws and character development, rather than the modern way of writing "strong female characters" as flawless and fully-formed from the start

Meme - "1943:
Steve: I figured I'd wait.
Peggy: For what?
Steve: The right partner.
1943: *Peter Quill's grandmother*
'Looks like finding a partner wasn't that hard after all'"

Meme - "So tell me cousin, have you banged anyone since you became Hulk?"
"No I haven't banged anyone since I became the Hulk, came close with Natasha but nothing happened"
"Really? What about Betty? You and her had a thing, I know you definitely tapped that."
"Who the hell is Betty?"

She-Hulk May Already Be Cancelled - "Well, it looks like all the controversy and backlash surrounding season one of She-Hulk may have finally done a number on the Marvel series. She-Hulk actresses Tatiana Maslany and Jameela Jamil recently addressed whether a season two of She-Hulk was in the cards at Marvel. According to the actresses, it seems unlikely that Jen Walters will return to Disney+."

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Season Finale Review: A Disappointing Ending To An Uneven Season - "The She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Season 1 finale takes just about the wildest swing you could imagine and winds up with its face in the dirt. But if an August interview is to be believed, you shouldn’t blame showrunner Jessica Gao, lead actress Tatiana Maslany, or anyone else in the cast or crew; the culprit here is Marvel Studios... The problem with this She-Hulk finale isn’t that Season 1 shouldn’t have concluded this way. The wild left-turn is a perfect reflection of John Byrne’s famous comic book run on Sensational She-Hulk, and if the rest of the season justified this ending, it could’ve come off as brilliant. The problem is that if anything has defined this show’s inaugural outing, it’s that it’s stopped short of deciding what kind of show it wants to be.   The title of the She-Hulk Season 1 finale, “Whose Show Is This?”, is more apt than maybe it was intended to be. From the very beginning, the series has been very interested in having Jen Walters (Tatiana Maslany) tell us it’s a legal comedy instead of a superhero show, while remaining skittish about actually showing us that. There were few laughs to be had in the series premiere especially, and at best Jen’s instances of breaking through the Fourth Wall have been sporadic... I have desperately wanted to like She-Hulk more than I do, if for no other reason to not be lumped in with a lot of the haters who go after the show for nothing but pure misogyny, but this finale is indicative of what’s stopped me"
Damn toxic incel misogynist reviewer!
I wonder if highlighting the wokebaiting was deliberate

Protecting Kids

Rejected by ifunny:

"No child is born in the wrong body. Protect kids from Trans"

Links - 13th November 2022 (1)

The empty seat on a crowded Japanese train: 10 years on, the 'gaijin seat' still grates | The Japan Times - "If you’re a conspicuous non-Japanese living here who rides the trains or buses, or goes to cafes or anywhere in public where Japanese people have the choice of sitting beside you or sitting elsewhere, then you’ve likely experienced the empty-seat phenomenon with varying frequency and intensity... Before one can make peace with Japan and the Japanese, one must first make peace with the empty seat (in all its manifestations) and all that it signifies... The mother’s eyes and mine met as she pointed and aimed her daughter at the seat beside mine — frankly shocking the crap outta me. The youngster, all of 4 or 5, resisted though, and cried “Kowai!!” (Scary!!), eyes brimming with fear. She grabbed and clung on to her mother’s leg for dear life, eyes transfixed on me... Generally, when this kind of thing happens, if I’m acknowledged at all, the parent will adopt a mien that suggests they are thinking, “Thank god he’s a foreigner and has no idea what my child said.” It’s almost cute, like this fear I tend to generate is some well-kept secret, like the body language of the child doesn’t scream the meaning of the word. At least I tell myself it’s almost cute... Instinctively, I slid away from her as far as I could, which was about half an inch or so. I do this whenever people sit down beside me. I’ve found that this gesture tends to alleviate some of their discomfort (and there is almost always discomfort)... In case you’re wondering, no, I haven’t made peace with the empty seat. And I never will. I’ve yet to hear a justification for it that doesn’t involve an ignorant race-based presumption, misjudgment or irrational fear, so it continues to reside high on my list of problematic aspects of life here. And no, the frequency of its appearances has not ebbed. Not a lick. It remains an indelible aspect of life here and I’m as aware of it as I ever was."

Japanese man, 47, is living his dream after marrying his favorite idol, 20 - "Tomoe debuted in 2020 as a new member of an Osaka-based idol group at the age of 17 after being a substitute member previously. Mitsuo, who was 44 years old at the time, was already a fan of the group and was immediately struck by the new addition... As a devoted fan, Mitsuo would make the weekly trip to Osaka from Oita to see Tomoe perform, a commute that takes five hours by train and eight hours by car. Tomoe soon took notice of Mitsuo, who was also always present for her online live events.  “I feel like he is different from other fans. I can confide in him and talk to him about my troubles that I would never tell anyone else.”  She realized she had real feelings for him when she would feel deeply disappointed any time he was absent... Tomoe made the first move by confessing her feelings to her now-husband. An enthusiastic and shocked Mitsuo responded by saying, “let’s start dating then!”... The relationship initially raised concern from close friends and family, especially with Mitsuo being the same age as Tomoe’s mother. He eventually won her parents’ approval, however, after writing a letter that assured them he would take good care of their daughter. One of the promises he made was that Tomoe’s parents would always be informed when they went out for dates to be kept aware of their whereabouts."

Falling Populations May Keep Poor Countries From Getting Rich - Bloomberg - "populations around the world are going to start shrinking sooner and faster than projected... a shrinking global population has “positive implications for the environment, climate change, and food production.” But it also means time is running out — indeed, may already have run out — on those nations’ development clocks.  China has been truly fortunate in its demographics; it peaked at the right time. Working-age Chinese people, both in total numbers and as a share of the population, crested just when world trade was most open. This made the possibilities for manufacturing-led growth easier to seize than they had been for centuries."

Oregon man allegedly tried to shred coworker with wood chipper, believed he was a pedophile | Toronto Sun - "Scott Iverson was arrested in Salem, Ore. on attempted murder and assault charges.  According to the New York Daily News, Iverson allegedly walked up behind the victim last Wednesday, put him in a headlock and tried to shove him into the wood chipper...   A police report noted Iverson told the worker: “He's a pedophile. I can tell by the way he's talking.”"
Virtue signalling about "pedos" has consequences

Most say police and paedophile-hunters should link up if it puts more behind bars - "A quarter (25%) are concerned that the potential reward of catching more paedophiles is outweighed by the prospect that the police working with hunter groups could encourage vigilantism and they would prefer the authorities to find alternative ways to persure offenders."
Looks like more than a quarter of the UK population are "groomers" and "pedos", since to virtue signalling "pedo" haters, anyone who doesn't support the woodchipper for "pedos" is also one

Vigilante ‘predator hunter’ Kyle Swanson faces felony charges for interfering in police case - The Washington Post - "For more than two years, Kyle Swanson and his vigilante group have been tricking men in St. Louis to meet in parking lots by posing as children on social media and then live-streaming the confrontations for tens of thousands of followers.  Swanson, a bearded and tattooed 30-year-old from Wood River, Ill., claims that he has helped police jail hundreds of would-be pedophiles since launching KTS Predator Hunters in 2019.  But now he is the one facing criminal charges after a Jan. 12 sting went awry.  A grand jury this month indicted Swanson for unlawful restraint and obstructing justice, both felonies, as well as misdemeanor assault, after he allegedly lured a man into his car in Madison County, Ill., refused to let him leave, and threatened to hit him... Swanson has denied wrongdoing on his social media accounts and denounced law enforcement’s decision to charge him.  “They are protecting the pedophiles over me,” he said in a TikTok video this week. “I’ve done nothing but try to do good. I try to protect kids, and now they’re screwing me over.” Madison County law enforcement officials have been feuding with Swanson’s group since its inception, the Telegraph reported last year.  The former Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons had previously warned Swanson that his sting operations could easily devolve into violence and jeopardize criminal cases because his tactics made it “virtually impossible for us to charge somebody.” He urged the group to stop setting up meetings with suspected pedophiles. The Madison County sheriff similarly asked Swanson and his partners to call police with tips instead of confronting people without any law enforcement involvement.  Last year, one of the men that KTS Predator Hunters targeted sued the group for defamation and claimed that the group’s posts about him had led his family to be ceaselessly harassed by Swanson’s followers... Although Swanson claims that his group’s efforts to name and shame pedophiles have led to hundreds of arrests, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2019 that many of those cases ultimately fell apart because prosecutors lacked the evidence needed to secure convictions. Swanson credits NBC’s “Dateline: To Catch A Predator” with inspiring his group. The show, hosted by Chris Hansen, became a household name when it aired from 2004 to 2007, but was often criticized for blurring the line between news and entertainment. Hansen worked with volunteers who posed as children online and enticed men to meet them in sting houses, where police would swoop in to make an arrest as a camera crew recorded the encounter.  The show ultimately ended its run after a 2007 confrontation led a man to shoot and kill himself as police and a film crew forced their way into his home. The family sued NBC, claiming that the studio “steamrolled” police and pressured officers to make an arrest without taking proper precautions. A U.S. district judge said the evidence in the case might convince a jury that the network had “crossed the line from responsible journalism to irresponsible and reckless intrusion into law enforcement.” NBC eventually settled the suit in 2008 with an undisclosed payment."

Meme - "The day is finally here Ben"
"I know Boris Johnson is finally resigning it is a good day"
"I meant it's our wedding anniversary today Ben I take it you forgot"

John Gray: The hollowness of Boris Johnson - New Statesman - "The revulsion against the Prime Minister has little to do with his policies or ideology, for he has none. Victory in the Brexit referendum was the work of Dominic Cummings, who played a crucial role in securing theTories’ 80-seat majority. Johnson is neither a free-trader nor a protectionist, a neo-Thatcherite nor a One Nation Tory. There was never a Johnsonian programme, other than gaining and staying in power. In this, as I’ve written about in the New Statesman before, he has been well suited to the fluid environment of liquid modernity, in which objectives and values are permanently provisional... Johnson’s trajectory cannot be explained without understanding the type of politics he practised. Tony Blair is a much more impressive figure, but it was under his aegis that perception management took hold in British government. The US, meanwhile, is where so many British political trends originate... Nixon’s mouthpiece dismissed facts as irrelevant. He did not try to create an entirely different reality. The British experiment in post-truth politics began not so much with the dodgy dossier as Blair’s insistence that Iraq had somehow benefited from the ruinous invasion. His disciples David Cameron and George Osborne emulated this practice when they represented the calamitous effects of austerity as improvements...   A great chorus is delighting in his deposition, but if they think it a prelude to returning to a pre-populist arcadia, they too are living in a parallel universe. “Populism” is a term used by centrist liberals to describe political blowback from the disruption of society produced by their policies. They appear to have forgotten how, in an effort to block Brexit, they were ready to back a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, a populist of another kind, which would have installed anti-Semitic racism at the highest level of the British state. During the course of their campaign, the same people envisioned an all-Remainer “government of national unity” that would haveexcluded more than 17 million voters. Their belief that they can engineer a restoration of the centrist ancien régime is no less delusional... Boosterish on growth and at times speaking in wokeish slogans – as when, in a television interview on 28 June, he described Vladimir Putin’s aggression as “a perfect example of toxic masculinity” – Johnson was something of a neoliberal himself. When aligning himself with his new constituencies, he leant towards a conservative version of social democracy. His genius in shape-shifting enabled him to assemble an improbable electoral coalition. Aside from Thatcher, he is the sole Tory leader to have expanded his party’s reach in working-class England. But it is not simply that he did nothing with the opportunities presented. The virtual world around him began to disappear... Johnson’s hologram vanished along with the imagined world of which it was a part. Except in the collective mind of the Western political classes, the illusory vista of unending neoliberal progress has evaporated. With famine and blackouts used as weapons in Putin’s geopolitics, shortages in food and energy will persist for the foreseeable future. If China responds to faltering Western resolve in Ukraine by launching a special operation to absorb Taiwan, which dominates the global semiconductor market, the impacton Western economies will be incalculable. Britain and the West are ill-prepared for the brute material reality of a world of endemic warfare and chronic scarcity."

Boris Johnson is irreplaceable | The Spectator Australia - "the people who brought him down are already wondering if they hit the right man and what, or who, on Earth will follow him.  This outbreak of assassins’ remorse is scarcely surprising given the parade of political pygmies and snake oil salespeople who have been demonstrating their dubious wares on our TV screens in recent days. The sad truth is that for all his manifold faults and flaws Boris Johnson is irreplaceable. None of his would-be heirs come remotely close to matching his charisma, his unquenchable optimism, and his can do, hands on attitude to solving the serious problems that confront us...   Boris Johnson appealed to large chunks of the electorate not because of his transparent lack of honesty, integrity, and appetite for detail, but because he stood out from the crowd of grey men and women who populate politics as refreshingly, daringly different. Here was a guy who the average Joe could imagine sinking pints and having a laugh with. A bloke who had met the many self-inflicted setbacks and gaffes of his own life with that bounce back humour and resilience that people could identify with. It is a myth that all previous prime ministers have been upstanding pillars of rectitude and seriousness. Many, such as Benjamin Disraeli, David Lloyd George, and Boris’s hero Winston Churchill, have been chancers in Boris’s own mould; colourful characters who have habitually lied – or in Churchill’s words told ‘terminological inexactidudes’ – in order to pursue their goals...   The foibles of their private lives did not prevent Disraeli from creating the modern Tory party, or stop Lloyd George and Churchill from founding the early welfare state and winning the two world wars. In the long perspective of history, posterity could remember Johnson more kindly for achieving Brexit, rolling out the Covid vaccination programme, and standing stalwartly behind Ukraine’s fight for freedom than for attending a few parties at the height of the pandemic. In over-reacting to the jolly japester’s personal goofs and gaffes and under-valuing him getting the big calls right, Johnson’s Tory colleagues may have made the biggest error since their forebears overthrew the equally larger than life and controversial Margaret Thatcher with ultimately disastrous consequences"

His premiership is ending in disaster, but I don’t regret backing Boris in 2019 - "His subsequent performance has been atrocious, delusional and indefensible, but Johnson was the right and only person for the job in 2019, a time when, some have conveniently forgotten, Britain was falling apart.  Within months of becoming leader of the Conservative Party, he had rescued the country from a debilitating constitutional crisis after a series of audacious gambles, delivered a meaningful Brexit and thus salvaged the greatest democratic exercise in our history, saved and united a Conservative Party that had fallen to 9 per cent in an election, destroyed the most Left-wing, fanatically dangerous leader in Labour’s history and repelled the threat of anti-Semitism. It was an astonishing turnaround job, confounding his Tory sceptics in the most vivid way imaginable... For a short while, at least in the second half of 2019 and until the start of Covid, it felt as if there was some sort of plan, a fusion between his ideas and those of his advisers. I didn’t like all of them by any means, but it felt as if we would end up with a mix of tax cuts, deregulation, a radical reform of the Civil Service and procurement, the end of the licence fee, a semi-libertarian embrace of freedom, a semi-consumerist, conservative (rather than collectivist) approach to environmentalism, as well as lots of extra spending in many areas.  We ended up instead with massively more spending, a vicious series of tax increases, global corporation tax harmonisation that made a mockery of Brexit, a hard-Left green agenda that is barely less authoritarian than that of Extinction Rebellion, a war on consumers, including drivers, meat-eaters and anybody with a suburban lifestyle, a full-on paternalist agenda, more red tape and bureaucracy, no planning reform, an unleashing of the Civil Service and further gains for the woke classes. None of the good things have been delivered, and all the bad ones have happened, and worse."

Mayor Pete and Elaine Chao Hit the Road - Freakonomics - "“The difference between America and England,” it has been said, “is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way.” American drivers put on more miles than drivers in any other country: over 13,000 a year on average. That’s nearly 30 percent more than Canadians, who are second. It isn’t just that Americans love their cars; it’s almost as if cars are America. If you’ve ever watched American T.V., you already know this, from the car commercials...
BUTTIGIEG: What I found in my more or less daily conversations with members of the House and Senate, Democrats and Republican, is what they all have in common is they’re all from a place where there is just profound, visible, inarguable infrastructure need. I think part of what’s happening in this moment is that the underinvestments of the past have caught up to us, to the level that, suddenly, it is a short-term problem.
The U.S. is the richest country in the world but ranks just 12th in transportation infrastructure. Other wealthy countries continue to build spectacular bridges, and dams, and cities. They have ultra-modern airports and an abundance of fast trains. The U.S. seems to be stuck in pothole-fixing mode. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its most recent report card, gave American infrastructure a C-minus — although, as one critic points out, civil engineers may have an incentive to grade low, since any repairs will require their services. That said, the Society finds that 43 percent of our public roadways are in poor or mediocre condition. The U.S. Government Accountability Office finds that 14 percent of our bridges are “functionally obsolete.”...
A lot of U.S. infrastructure is aging and in need of repair. At the same time, infrastructure spending has been declining for years. This is not a good combination. Waiting until something is falling apart can mean urgent and disruptive repairs. Traffic congestion already costs the U.S. economy an estimated $120 billion a year; airline delays, another $35 billion...
GLAESER: One of the triumphs of American transportation policy over the past 50 years, which is the deregulation of rail in the 1970s. And what that enabled was our rail companies to move out of moving people — at which rail is really not very efficient — and to moving goods, which rail is great at doing. Many Americans don’t realize that America moves a much larger share of its goods by rail than Europe does. That, in fact, in many ways we are a rail-intensive country. We just aren’t intensive in moving people by rail...
What kind of infrastructure investment does Glaeser like? One of his favorite examples goes back to the early 19th century. That’s when the Erie Canal was built in upstate New York, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean in New York City. It was funded primarily by state-issued bonds that were paid back through tolls.
GLAESER: Erie is like the north star of America’s infrastructure investments. It pays for itself within a couple of years. It’s just a fantastically high-return investment. And the important thing to keep in mind is that in this time period — in 1816, say — it cost as much to ship goods 30 miles over land in the United States as it did to ship them across the entire Atlantic Ocean. And so the investments that lowered those costs had incredibly high returns."

Is Venture Capital the Secret Sauce of the American Economy? - Freakonomics - "Akcigit and his colleagues compared thousands of companies that were similar to each other except for the fact that one batch went the V.C. route and the other didn’t. So, what did their results show?
    AKCIGIT: Our results show that, indeed, V.C.-funded firms are performing a lot better than non-V.C.-funded firms.
The firms that got venture capital did better on several dimensions. For instance: job creation... They also looked at how many patents the firms created, especially high-quality patents, as measured by number of citations. Once again, the V.C. firms did better... this evidence suggests that venture capital essentially works, that it gives young companies a booster shot that helps them thrive. What’s in that booster shot? Money, for starters. Thirty percent of startups fail simply because they run out of cash... But venture capitalists also provide counsel...
Bill Janeway... is a longtime venture capitalist who now teaches at Cambridge University. Like Mazzucato, Janeway points out that startup companies funded by venture capital have the luxury of innovating on top of the platform technologies that were often state-funded. In the 2010s, roughly 30 percent of U.S. patents could be linked to research funded by the federal government. Back in the 1970s, that number was roughly 10 percent. But that trend may be slowing, or even reversing. Government funding of R&D has been falling — from about 1.2 percent of G.D.P. in the 1970s to just 0.8 percent now. If this trend continues, venture capital will become even more important as a driver of innovation. Janeway worries this won’t be sufficient, and that the government needs to show more interest in some key areas...
The field is also very, very male. Start-ups with exclusively female founders took in barely two percent of V.C. funding in the U.S. in 2020. This was likely one reason that so many investors were so eager to believe in Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes"
The libertarians will be very upset that the government is so important as a driver of innovation, despite what these rich people (who should have standing in their worldviews) say

Highway signs showing traffic deaths don’t reduce crashes - "at least 28 U.S. states have started to display traffic fatality numbers to scare motorists into safer driving. But a new analysis of Texas car crashes co-authored by Madsen suggests such signs may actually be associated with more crashes, not fewer.  “It’s counterintuitive, but the analysis is solid,” says Gerald Ullman, a transportation engineer at Texas A&M University, College Station, who wasn’t involved with the study, but wrote a perspective published alongside the study today in Science. Dmitry Taubinsky, a behavioral economist at the University of California, Berkeley, says the new paper illustrates an important lesson: that people have limited cognitive capacity... Madsen and Hall propose that the fatality stats are so in your face that they grab too much of the driver’s attention, causing a crash. The data support this explanation, they say: Crashes increased when the death numbers displayed on the signs were higher... at the very least, the new research shows the fatality messages don’t do what they’re supposed to do: Reduce crashes. Proponents of the signs adopt a “it could possibly help, and it couldn’t hurt,” attitude about the messages, which isn’t born out in the data"

Why Do We Put Things Off Until the Very Last Minute? - Freakonomics - "DUBNER: I’ve often thought that when you live close to your destination, you’re more likely to be late, which seems a little counterintuitive, because if you live right around the corner from school, or work, or your church, or whatever, you’d think you’d always be on time. There’s no travel hassle. There’s no delays. But I will tell you, when something is close by, I’m more likely to be late. And I just wondered about it for years. Then, we received an email from a Freakonomics reader. This was a few years ago. We published this on the Freakonomics blog. And I’d love to run this past you and see what you think. This was a young reader in India. Her name was Abiya. And she wrote to say, “I’m a 21-year-old girl from Pune, India who is on the brink of a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. As a kid, I was always interested in how things work and why people do the things they do. So, I decided to analyze something I’ve seen, noticed, and been a part of, but never really given that much thought to: the relation between distance between your home and place of work and the probability of being late. So,” she writes, “My college class has 53 students. All of them live in Pune — either with their families, in rented apartments as paying guests, or at the hostel. Of these, 26, or 49 percent, live near — within a radius of seven kilometers — and 27, or 51 percent, live far.” So, roughly half and half. “Of those who live near,” she writes, “17 own a car, or motorcycle, or scooter, and thus have their independent mode of transport. The other nine in the near group rely on public transport.”... as she began to analyze these data, she writes, “Conventional wisdom dictates that those who live near and have their own modes of transport should reach college earlier than those who live far and have no modes of transport. But my data, which I noted on three regular weekdays and averaged out, betrayed this.” “As it turned out,” she writes, “18 people were late. Of those, 12 — or 67 percent — lived near and only six — 33 percent — lived far.”... "Of those in the near latecomers, 10 owned their own mode of transport out of the 12, and two had to rely on public transport. So,” she concludes, “As it turns out, people who live near to college come late. And of those, students who were in control of their own mode of transport were even more late.”...
DUCKWORTH: I was just watching this Broadway play called The Lehman Trilogy, which I highly recommend. It was about the founding of Lehman Brothers. And the three original brothers who founded it — actually the first brother who came over to the United States, at Ellis Island, the agent there couldn’t pronounce his name. I don’t remember what the first name was, but it was not Lehman. And then, after they had enough of an interchange, he was like, “You know what? I’ll take this other one.”
DUBNER: This Ellis Island story that we all tell, and have been told many times, I’m pretty sure that in most cases, it’s total B.S. So, as it turns out, if you go back and look at how Ellis Island operated during these years of massive immigration, they had people working there who spoke many, many languages. They had all kinds of translators. I think that if you were to talk to an expert genealogist who knows the workings of Ellis Island, they would tell you that most of these stories are told by ancestors who are a little bit, I don’t want to say ashamed, but a little bit maybe second-guessing having shortened or taken a more American-sounding name, because the matter of fact is: You are traveling with official documents in order to get in the country and your name was written there in full."

Should Toilets Be Free? - Freakonomics - "DUBNER: So, interestingly, 1970 — in that very year — the U.S. had more than 50,000 pay toilets. By 1980, there were almost none. That’s according to a 2014 article I’m looking at in Pacific Standard. There were a pair of brothers in, I believe, Pennsylvania... named Ira and Michael Gessel. They were in high school, and this was 1968. There were pay toilets that cost 10 cents each. And they decided that wasn’t right. And they and some friends formed a group called the Committee to End Paid Toilets in America, or CEPTIA, which is a very good name... They had a song, they had slogans, they had a newsletter. Now, there was already legislation in different places proposed to get rid of this, but they brought a lot of attention to it. They held a press conference in Chicago. And shortly thereafter — this was 1973 — Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago announced that he would remove pay toilets from the airports there. The city of Chicago ended up getting rid of them overall, and then state by state followed... if the governments around the country are the ones who were striking down what, essentially, was a market for toilets, and they were saying, “Well, that’s sort of a market failure.” But they introduced maybe an even bigger market failure, because the governments are supposed to provide these now as a public good. But in many places — as anyone who’s ever been to a city, walking around, needing to use a bathroom—
DUCKWORTH: Like New York!
DUBNER: Yeah, like New York. It hasn’t worked.
DUCKWORTH: So, there’s no toilets.
DUBNER: Right. So, you have few, or bad, public toilets, and private toilets in restaurants, and museums, and so on, that are theoretically inaccessible. Although, you know, you learn your tricks...
The U.S. ranks close to last on the public toilet index, which is the number of public toilets per capita. We have eight toilets per 100,000 people. We’re tied with Botswana. Iceland, by the way, is No. 1, if you ever need to pee, Phil. 56 toilets per 100,000 residents...
DUCKWORTH: I will say, of all these things, human beings are complicated little suckers. And I think the lesson here is: You don’t really know what’s going to work in practice just because something works in theory...
According to a 2021 survey by CreditCards.com, only 75 percent of respondents said they always tip at full-service restaurants...
Stephen says that the United States ranks close to the bottom of the World Public Toilet Index — a tool created by bathroom supply company QS Supplies to measure the number of public toilets per 100,000 people in a given country. It’s true that the US is tied with Botswana with 8 toilets per 100,000 people. But we’re actually sort of middle-of-the-road when it comes to the 84 countries included in the Index. Some of the countries that rank lowest on the list — with 1 public toilet per 100,000 people — include: Uganda, Cuba, Turkey, and Cambodia."
All the Americans who mock "free healthcare" are presumably against "free toilets" too and think that the people who clean all their free toilets (unlike in many European countries) are slaves

Sex, Awkward and Intimacy: Mean girls - FML - "Today, I wore my cheerleading uniform to my boyfriend's house. He was a nerd in high school and mentioned a fantasy about hooking up with a cheerleader. I started acting sassy and a little mean, figuring he would enjoy a more realistic experience. Apparently not, because he started to cry. FML"

Death, Awkward and Funerals: A promise is a promise - FML - "Today, my mom went to my dad's funeral as the Grim Reaper. Apparently, because they were both massive Terry Pratchett fans, they'd agreed whoever outlived the other had to go to the funeral as Death. No one else found it funny and more than a few swore to never speak to her again. FML"

How Does Retirement Affect Your Brain? - Freakonomics - "When a person was asked to remember a sequence of 10 words, Sergio found that, on average, they remembered one word less after retirement. Meaning, it didn’t matter what age a person was, or anything else. Retirement alone was the only change tied to this decreased recall. Now, 10 percent may not seem like a lot. Remembering nine words instead of 10 words doesn’t seem to be all that bad. But the point is that leaving the workforce seemed to have a measurable impact on one aspect of cognition, which might mean something for cognitive function more generally. The finding was also important because of what it suggests about how to reduce the risk of dementia and other cognitive impairments. Sergio’s study was published in the Journal of Health Economics in 2012. And it included another interesting bit: cognitive decline didn’t begin immediately after retiring.
PERELMAN: This decline — it’s appear more or less after 14 months.
So, it’s like there’s a honeymoon period right after retiring, of about 14 months. A person stops working – maybe they do a bunch of stuff they’ve always wanted to do, they’re active, happy, relieved. But then a new, less active lifestyle creeps in. And at some point, there’s a dip in mental capacity...
COE: In the U.S., we tend to find the largest negative effects of retirement on cognition for men. And I think a lot of that has to do with just society. Our identities are very much wrapped up in our careers. And we find a more modest effects if we look in Europe, where there’s a little bit more of a cultural emphasis on family and leaving the office and having a lot of vacation time, so that you have to have other hobbies and activities during your working career... It really matters what you’re doing in your job, but also it matters what you’re doing once you retire. And so, if you look at time-use survey data, a lot of American men upon retirement watch T.V. and watch more T.V. than they did prior. Women upon retirement are more likely to do things, like increase their volunteering and do more household work and increase both physical and cognitive activities or at least maintain physical and cognitive activities in retirement. And so, that may be why there’s a difference for women than men."

When is a ‘High-Risk’ Pregnancy a Good Thing? - Freakonomics - "The current c-section rate in the U.S. is about 32 percent. In other words, a third of all babies are delivered this way. That’s — well, a lot. But it wasn’t always like that.
    SHAH: we intervene in childbirth in the United States with major abdominal surgery 500 percent more than we did in the early 1970s. And yet even though it’s a surgery that’s designed to rescue people, term infants are 0 percent better off, and an American today is 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than her own mother. And then the story just gets even more bizarre from there when you try and explain or understand why."

Is the Placebo Effect for Real? - Freakonomics - "If you’re in a clinical trial and you received the treatment, Anup’s analysis shows that the effect of that treatment is larger when you knew — with 100 percent certainty — that you were getting the drug, not a placebo...
The benefit of running this analysis with something like a cholesterol medication or an anti-ulcer medication is that the impact of the drugs were easily measurable. Cholesterol either goes down, or it doesn’t; an ulcer gets better, or it doesn’t. And cholesterol levels, in particular, are objective. Cholesterol is measured in the blood, so this is not a story about how patients feel after receiving a drug. This is an objective improvement...
MALANI: A lot of the outcomes that are measured are subjective, not objectively measured. In fact, there’s a very famous paper in 2001 in The New England Journal of Medicine by Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche that cast doubt on the placebo effects by saying, “Look, the only studies that find placebo effects are studies that look at subjective outcomes like pain. And so that could just be a subjective response and not a real phenomenon.” And so, I wanted to look at something that was objective. And so, that was one of the goals of that paper, both a neat way to quickly find placebo effects with existing data, and also to make sure that they have an impact on objectively measured outcomes...
When you experience pain, it’s not an outcome itself. Your body uses pain as a signal to tell you that you ought to do something. You touch a hot stove; you should pull your hand back, right? And the pain is your signal to your body... If you look at placebo effects across a whole range of medicine, one of the things I noticed was the outcomes where you observe placebo effects from medication versus outcomes where you don’t observe it — well, those are also the outcomes where you see stress effects versus outcomes where you don’t see stress effects...
We approve a lot of drugs where we don’t know the exact mechanism of action. And so, if there’s a drug that’s mediated by placebo, but it does have an effect, you know, why should that be any different?... some research suggests that up to 50 percent of doctors use placebos regularly"
Justification for noble lies?

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