After new reporting on Michael Brown’s death, Ambinder asks, “did the media get Ferguson wrong?”

Police militarization and an unequal justice system are real problems that deserve sustained scrutiny. These problems are more insidious than a rush to judgment against one particular officer, presumption of innocence be damned. So maybe the best thing to do would be to say, well, in this particular case, it turns out that the police officer might not have acted as wantonly as we thought. But it really doesn’t matter, because the response to the shooting called attention to police abuse and discrimination in a way that resonated across the world. They had tanks! They threatened to killed reporters! The truth here is less important than Truth.

For the news media, though, the “injustice is the story, not Darren Wilson” story won’t wash.

Read On

The owner of the above title-quote follows up:

Hey, I’m the guy who wrote the thing that pissed a bunch of women off. In my defense, I didn’t mean to suggest that women CAN’T be nerds, and when I said I tend to be skeptical of the idea, I actually meant it as a compliment. I understand the over-reaction, as the misogynistic argument many people seem to think I’m making (that only men can be nerds and women must be faking) is far too common, and largely a translation of male nerd insecurity. Then again, if they weren’t insecure, they probably wouldn’t be nerds. I tend to assume women are more confident, well adjusted, and psychologically centered – all things nerds lack in the real world, and only claim when we create our own insular ones.

Again, the point is that being a nerd isn’t just about what one likes or even being ostracized for liking it, but about how one reacts to that ostracism. There are many healthy ways of doing this, either by attempting to acclimate to the group or attempting to forge one’s own identity independent of it. Recoiling into your own obsession until it consumes you to the point where you can’t fit into normal society even if you wanted to (i.e. devolving from an enthusiast into a nerd) isn’t one of them. Most of the women I’ve known in my life, even the avid D&D players and Whovians, were better than that. They can divorce their identity from their passions when the need arises. Being a nerd means you can’t.

A few others defend that reader:

It’s a shame to see people so adamantly reject an opportunity to practice some empathy. Not that there should be empathy for people making death threats, but they (the threateners) are enabled by people who might actually have some lived experience that is worth listening to. There is a market for what Gamergate is selling and we should be asking why.

Look, girl nerds didn’t have it great. But I’m going to venture a guess that they weren’t physically abused over it to the extent that boy nerds were.

Read On

Why Do Americans Go Out Sick?

Oct 24 2014 @ 10:47am

Howard Markel tries to understand why NYC’s first ebola patient went out on the town the day before going to the hospital:

I cannot presume to know what Dr. Spencer was thinking when he went out bowling the other night. He might have just been bored. He might have just not been thinking at all about the potential risks to himself or others. But if he is like me when I was a bold, young physician out to conquer illness as if I were a soldier in a good war, I bet he just thought Ebola could not happen to him.

Julia Ioffe confesses that this was “something my Soviet family and I could never get used to in the States, the stubbornness with which Americans trudge to work or school with triple-digit fevers or noses like spigots”:

Read On

Ishaan Tharoor calls attention to Yemen, which remains embroiled in a civil conflict with a dangerous sectarian dimension after Houthi rebels took over the capital Sanaa last month:

The Houthis are alleged to be Iranian-backed; their traditional slogan (“Death to America! Death to Israel!”) echoes that of Hezbollah, Iran’s Shiite proxy in Lebanon. Al-Qaeda and its Sunni allies have energetically taken the fight to the Houthis, giving the conflict a worrisome sectarian edge — one that is similar to the awful bloodshed wracking Syria and Iraq.

But like in Syria and Iraq, the situation is not that simple. The Houthis are from the Zaydi branch, a distinct sect of Shiite Islam that is closer to Sunni Islam than most. … There are also suggestions that Sunni regimes in the Gulf have tacitly backed the Houthi surge, seeing it as the best bet for stability in perennially fractious Yemen. Whatever the case, a narrative of sectarian violence plays into al-Qaeda’s hands. Some elements of the Yemeni branch also declared support for the Islamic State, extremists who butcher all those they consider heretics or apostates. Things could very well get worse before they get any better.

Indeed, the crisis has re-invigorated southern Yemeni separatists, and fighting is ongoing in several parts of the country:

Read On

Ebola Reaches NYC

Oct 24 2014 @ 9:41am

New York's Bellevue Hospital Prepares For Possible Ebola Cases

Last night, NYC’s first case of Ebola was confirmed. Margaret Hartmann has a helpful primer on what we know about the situation. The basics:

On Thursday, Dr. Craig Spencer, who had been working with Doctors Without Borders treating Ebola patients in Guinea, was rushed to New York’s Bellevue Hospital with a high fever. A few hours later, tests confirmed the worst: Spencer has Ebola, making him the fourth person diagnosed with the disease in the United States, and the first diagnosed outside of Texas. So far, the situation appears to be under control: Bellevue has been preparing for weeks, Spencer was hospitalized shortly after becoming symptomatic, and officials are already tracking down anyone he may have come into contact with. However, the fact that he went to a bowling alley, took a taxi, and rode the subway on Wednesday night is not likely to calm those already on edge about the virus.

Alexandra Sifferlin examines the city’s preparations:

New York City has been prepping and drilling its hospitals for the possibility of an Ebola patient since July 28, when it was confirmed that Americans Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol had contracted Ebola in Liberia. “I wanted to know that our staff was able to handle [a possible Ebola patient],” says Dr. Marc Napp, senior vice president of medical affairs at Mount Sinai Health System.

“We’ve prepared for a variety of different things in the past: anthrax, H1N1, small pox, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy,” Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) told TIME. “This preparation is not unusual.”

Cohn compares NYC’s ebola response to the one in Dallas:

Read On

Reviewing Daniel Schreiber’s Susan Sontag: A Biography, Carl Rollyson attributes the late critic and novelist’s decades-long prominence to “the time-tested American trick of self reinvention” – and he doesn’t mean that entirely as a compliment:

When the argument of Against Interpretation that art is a matter of form, not content—that conveying messages is not the purpose of art, but that art in itself is the message—got stale and became a staple of too many critics, Sontag switched sides. In “Fascinating Fascism,” she declared that the content of Leni Riefenstahl’s films and photographs is irretrievably fascist and cannot be countermanded by considerations of form and style. At every stage of her career, Sontag performed a similar volte face, saying, for example, that communism is fascism with a human face—although earlier she had shouted “Viva Fidel!” The capper on this career-long repudiation of her own ideas came when she said she never really believed what she wrote in Against Interpretation.

Read On

That’s Keith Humphreys’ determination:

One commonly proposed solution to the organ shortage derives from behavioral economic “nudge” principles. Rather than requiring Americans to complete paperwork in order to opt-in to donation at death, the country could shift to the European model of presuming that donation at death was acceptable. But Tom Mone, chief executive of OneLegacy, the nation’s largest organ and tissue recovery organization, points out that “The recovery rate for deceased donors in the United States is actually better than that of European nations with presumed consent laws. The United States rigorously follows individual donor registrations whereas presumed consent countries actually defer to family objections.”

In any event, because less than 1% of deceased individuals are medically eligible to donate organs, and 75% of this group in the United States in fact does so, there simply isn’t enough “there there” to remedy the shortage with improved recovery from deceased donors.

He interviews Sally Satel, who advocates for compensating living donors:

Read On

A reader writes, “I’m surprised no one has recommended the film Zero Charisma to the discussion – here’s the trailer”: Yet another reader responds to this nerd’s cri de coeur:

I am nerdy, but not a nerd. Let me explain. I am nerdy because I have a Joker bobble heads on my desk, I have Final Fantasy VI on my phone and a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man keychain. But I’m also an attorney, a theater major, a lover of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a Dish Subscriber. I am nerdy because I am fluent in Batman and love video games. But I am not a nerd, because if you are not interested in those things, I am capable (nay, enjoy) discussing other things. Current events, dramas, poetry, even baseball. In short, I am more than the things I love. nerdy things does not make one a nerd. A nerd is a person who can only view life through the things they are obsessed over. It doesn’t matter how they got there, what matters is their inability to see their own tunnel-vision. Therefore, yes, there are sports nerds, political junkie nerds, historical accuracy nerds. They’re everywhere, and they want what they want on their own terms. Alas. Here’s a guy who said it better – Robert Ebert on Revenge of the Nerds II:

These aren’t nerds. They’re a bunch of interesting guys, and that’s the problem with “Revenge of the Nerds II.” The movie doesn’t have the nerve to be about real nerds. It unnamed (11)hedges its bets. A nerd is not a nerd because he understands computers and wears a plastic pen protector in his shirt pocket. A nerd is a nerd because he brings a special lack of elegance to life. An absence of style. An inability to notice the feelings of other people. A nerd is a nerd from the inside out, which is something the nerds who made this movie will never understand.

Another reader:

Holy shit. As problematic as the actual content of what this reader wrote is, I find it absolutely spot on as an explanation for why I drifted away from all those stereotypical subcultural things that nerds are into: comic books, video games, sci-fi/fantasy, etc. Loved them as a shy and awkward kid. Learned how to deal with others, be sociable, talk to girls, and get laid when I was about 16. And it wasn’t like I didn’t still enjoy those things. No, it was that it seemed everyone else who enjoyed them was, as your reader writes, in some various stage of arrested development, and pretty insufferable to be around (e.g. “because we’re smarter than the idiots who wouldn’t let us in”). This was two decades ago: I kind of wish the mainstreaming of the things I like had happened back then, because then I could have continued to enjoy them without having to deal with the basement dwellers.

Several, less churlish readers sound off:

Hi Chris, Andrew, and team! I’ve been reading the Dish on and off for more than 10 years, and this is the first topic I’ve ever felt inspired to write in about. Forgive me if this is long, but I feel that a lot of people have been led astray by Gamergate.

Read On

The Best Of The Dish Today

Oct 23 2014 @ 9:30pm

For late-breaking Dish coverage of the first confirmed case of Ebola in New York, follow the updates compiled by Bodenner below. For continued coverage of Gamergate, here’s some perspective from Christina Hoff Sommers:

God, I love Christina. More on why I find myself increasingly on the side of the much-despised gamers tomorrow.

Meanwhile, more absurdity from Amanda Taub over yesterday’s shooting spree in Ottawa:

Reports imply that because Zehaf-Bibeau was Muslim, jihad is the likely motivation for his attack. But at this stage, without any actual evidence, it makes no more sense to come to that conclusion than it would to assume that he was motivated by Quebecois separatism, just because he was from Quebec. At this point, our focus on the Ottawa shooter’s religion says more about our own fears than it does about anything to do with Islamist terrorism.

A Canadian reader spat out his coffee:

Taub repeatedly refers to him as an (alleged) Muslim even though Canada’s Globe and Mail confirmed his conversion with his Imam, his best friend, his mother and the RCMP within 5 hours of the shooting. Then she implies that there is no real reason to believe in a connection between Islam and the attack even though Canada’s parliament just voted to attack ISIS and two other soldiers were run down by a separate Islamic extremist last week

But the best part, the part that makes this one of the worst articles of the year coming from a credible news source, is when she writes the following about the 1979 shooting at Quebec’s national assembly: “If we applied the same logic to people from Quebec that we apply to Muslims, then today we would see media reports suggesting that their shared Quebecois heritage likely explains this attack.”

Actually, if we applied the same logic to Muslims that we applied to people from Quebec, our prime minister would invoke the War Powers Act, immediately declare martial law in the affected province and round up and arrest any and all suspected sympathizers with the attackers.

Look: it may well turn out Zehaf-Bibeau was mentally ill and Islam got into his muddled head. But he was already on a list as a possible flight risk to ISIS. And the reflexive denial of the salience of a warped version of Islam in countless recent shootings strikes me as pure p.c. posturing. Along with Ezra’s recent capitulation to the “affirmative consent” machine – a few hangings of a few men will suffice for them all to get the message! – the dreary Vox tropes against “Islamophobia” depress the hell out of me. For a saner review of the facts, check out our post here.

Today was Palin day on the Dish! Feels like old times. My response to the right’s jerking knee in defense of the indefensible is here; my fisking of Bristol’s latest self-serving victimology is here. Our Face of the Day was the Canadian Parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms – don’t miss the video of him getting a standing ovation entering the House of Commons here. It gave me a lump in my throat. And then some.

Plus: our book club discussion of Sam Harris’ negation of the “self” is here (and your collective mind never disappoints) and an exploration of the changing face of nerdom is here (ditto).

dish-beerMany of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 26 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here.

See you in the morning.

(Photo from a Dish reader at Oktoberfest in Stuttgart)

Patient Four?

Oct 23 2014 @ 8:32pm

[Re-posted and updated from earlier today, at 6.02 pm]

Still a big question mark surrounding a possible case of Ebola in New York is confirmed:

But Mali joins the dreadful club of countries:

New tweets posted below: