Archives For: Updates

Catching Catcalls On Camera, Ctd

Oct 31 2014 @ 12:09pm


Many more readers have their say on the controversial video:

You know, I wish this could be supplemented by videos of what it’s like for women to walk down the street who don’t conform to “pretty” norms. Quite frankly, plain women, or ones not compliant with “available chick” visual norms, get just as many cat calls – often more aggressive because “ugly women should be both available and grateful for the attention” and have added in an equal or greater load of criticisms. Dog barks, bitter comments about how ugly they are, suggestions where they should go and what they should do – many obscene, and many suggesting that a man approaching them would be doing them a favor screwing them or letting them go down on the idiots.

If you’re beautiful, it’s bad. If you’re NOT beautiful, it’s hell: all the come-ons, then a layer of vicious critique, all of it from sulky men insisting on their entitlement to women: their bodies, their attention, their sexual favors, even the right to insist on the “right” appearance. Jeez-Louise, it gets old.

Another references the above image:

The reader who wrote “It all smacks of white privilege to me” might be interested in Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art project “Stop Telling Women To Smile.” Would that reader tell her portrait subjects (who are largely women of color) that they’re in neighborhoods where they don’t understand the social mores?

Much more commentary below:

I think a very important point has been missed, thus far, in the discussion of the catcall video.

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The Business Of Coming Out

Oct 31 2014 @ 10:47am

Apple Unveils iPhone 6

Apple CEO Tim Cook officially exited the closet yesterday:

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Leonid Bershidsky points out that “Cook is the first chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to come out in public”:

Members of this exclusive club are still unsure whether that’s wise, and just a few years ago, it wasn’t. In 2007, John Browne resigned as chief executive of BP after being outed by a British tabloid. He has since written a book about being a closeted gay in big business. “To a headhunter I would have been seen as ‘controversial,’ too hot to handle,” Browne wrote. “Sadly, there were some people, mostly from the business world, who never again displayed any warmth to me.”

Browne regretted choosing to live a double life rather than setting himself up as a role model for other gay executives — something Cook has done now with his candid, touching essay. Still, he had strong motives for staying in the closet — stronger ones than an inclination toward privacy, which Cook, no publicity hound either, has successfully overcome. As head of a large corporation, one has to deal with important people from cultures where homophobia is a way of life. Under Browne, BP had a major joint venture in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has approved laws against the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation.”

Along those lines, one Russian lawmaker has already proposed banning Cook from the country. And Chinese social media users widely ridiculed the announcement:

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A reader comments on this post:

The excerpt from Elizabeth Nolan Brown quotes “increasing progressive activism around the idea that drunk people can’t give consent.” I’m troubled by this. The fact is, people can (and do) give consent while intoxicated. Intoxication does not render one a zombie or possessed by a demon. In fact, many would argue that one’s words and actions while intoxicated reveal more of your true self than when sober (think of the guy who goes off on a racist tirade while drunk, but would never be caught saying those things out loud when sober).

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As the above chart illustrates, the epidemic remains a serious public health crisis in parts of West Africa. Nonetheless, Helen Epstein sees signs that the tide may be turning in Liberia, where “the number of new cases each week … is falling, not rising”:

In August, the streets of Monrovia were strewn with bodies and emergency Ebola clinics were turning away patients. Today, nearly half of the beds in those treatment units are empty. I’ve been here a week and have yet to see a single body in the street. Funeral directors say business is off by half. Of course, the situation remains very serious. More than two thousand have succumbed to the disease here since the outbreak began—along with thousands more in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the CDC—and Liberia faces looming economic and political crises. This fragile country urgently needs help—both for the well being of its own people, and for the safety of the rest of this interconnected world. But the epidemic is far from the cataclysmic disaster currently on display on American TV screens.

How did things get so bad in Liberia in the first place? Shikha Dalmia blames “a hopelessly dependent political class that stays in business by ignoring good governance and appealing to its Western benefactors”:

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Leather Bound

Oct 30 2014 @ 8:14am


Ever heard of a leather postcard?

Leather postcards were first made in 1903. They were a novelty that appealed to tourists. When stitched together, they could be used as a pillow cover or wall hanging. The holes along the edge could also be used to attach fringe. The cards were made of deer hide and the pictures burned in. The U.S. post office banned leather postcards in 1907 because they jammed postage-canceling machines. Leather cards continued to be made as souvenirs until about 1910.

An avid antiquer on Ebay elaborates:

During the Victorian Era, the term pyrography was coined to describe the artistic use of fire to create graphics on numerous materials such as wood and leather.

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John Ahlquist and Scott Gehlbach take down the study that claimed they did, pointing out that its limitations “are, in fact, numerous”:

Their estimates rely on a key question from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study: “Are you registered to vote?” Notably, this is not the same question as “Are you registered to vote in the United States?” In principle, non-citizens could be registered to vote only in their home country and respond affirmatively, and truthfully, to the question on the survey.

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Over the weekend, Charles C.W. Cooke urged Second Amendment activists to “consider talking a little less about Valley Forge and a little more about Jim Crow”:

Malcolm X may have a deservedly mixed reputation, but the famous photograph of him standing at the window, rifle in hand, insisting on black liberation “by any means necessary,” is about as American as it gets. It should be celebrated just like the “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag. By not making that connection, the movement is losing touch with one of its greatest triumphs and forsaking a prime illustration of why its cause is so just and so crucial.

Francis Wilkinson finds Cooke’s argument wanting:

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Ebola Federalism, Ctd

Oct 29 2014 @ 7:10pm

A reader pushes back on this post:

Just to be clear here, just because a health-care worker takes time off of work to go volunteer in West Africa in fighting Ebola doesn’t mean that the institution they work for is also volunteering their away time hours. In most cases, the worker must still have accrued enough time off to actually take the vacation in question – and the employer rarely distinguishes between hours off spent sipping martinis in the Maldives and hours off spent replacing IVs in Liberia.

And while the state might reimburse them for the lost wages, that doesn’t mean their medical employer has to welcome them back after three weeks of leaving their workplaces understaffed and their coworkers overworked to fill up the slack. Treating it like the health worker should just be happy they got 21 free days off work is a bit ignorant, and assumes that health care workers are all able to gallivant off from their workplaces. Most workplaces have penalties for taking excessive time off that go well beyond merely suspending pay during the unapproved absence, and those penalties usually include being fired.

But that’s not true here; Cuomo today reassured Ebola volunteers that their jobs will be secure – and then some:

Mr. Cuomo, speaking at an event in Staten Island, noted that the Army was instituting even more restrictive measures on their personnel working in Ebola-infested regions, denying them even contact with their families–and promised New York would duplicate the military’s policy of compensating overseas workers for their time. “If [Mr. Obama]‘s critical of the quarantine, then he has to be highly critical of the Army’s policy,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters today.

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After a “senior Obama administration official” calls the Israeli prime minister a “chickenshit”, Goldblog wonders whether the strained relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations is finally reaching a breaking point:

What does all this unhappiness mean for the near future? For one thing, it means that Netanyahu—who has preemptively “written off” the Obama administration—will almost certainly have a harder time than usual making his case against a potentially weak Iran nuclear deal, once he realizes that writing off the administration was an unwise thing to do. This also means that the post-November White House will be much less interested in defending Israel from hostile resolutions at the United Nations, where Israel is regularly scapegoated. The Obama administration may be looking to make Israel pay direct costs for its settlement policies. …

Netanyahu, and the even more hawkish ministers around him, seem to have decided that their short-term political futures rest on a platform that can be boiled down to this formula: “The whole world is against us. Only we can protect Israel from what’s coming.” For an Israeli public traumatized by Hamas violence and anti-Semitism, and by fear that the chaos and brutality of the Arab world will one day sweep over them, this formula has its charms. But for Israel’s future as an ally of the United States, this formula is a disaster.

The “chickenshit” comment referred in part to the Obama administration’s realization that, for all his bluster, Bibi will never follow through on his repeated threats to start a war with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program. Larison considers that a reasonable assessment, reiterating that a US- or Israel-led war with Iran would likely be a disaster:

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Muddy Medicine

Oct 28 2014 @ 7:34pm

Psychiatrist Simon Wessely suggests that doctors in his field have a deeper appreciation for complexity than other medical professionals do:

Not for us the simplicities of some other parts of medicine. Here is a cancer – take it out. There is a bug – kill it. In psychiatry, the ability to tolerate uncertainty is an essential skill. Because we have to negotiate fuzzy boundaries – between eccentricity and autism, between sadness and clinical depression, between hearing voices and schizophrenia – and there will always be boundary disputes.

Far from backing away from such debates, my experience of psychiatry is that we relish them. We are not the only branch of medicine that argues about classification – so do tumor biologists – but the difference is that the issues that we face in classification are more readily understood by the general public. If there is a little bit of crisis, like argument and discussion it keeps us on our toes, alert to new developments, and is an antidote to complacency.

Update from a reader and neurologist:

I’m a bit behind on my Dish reading, but just saw the post that you referenced from Dr. Wessely, and really have to call complete and utter crap on it.

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