Slacktivism Seems To Have Paid Off For ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)
Slacktivism gives people the sense they are doing something -- making a difference -- yet with very little effort.
Scientists studying A.L.S. have reported a breakthrough that could lead to therapy, not just for A.L.S. but for other ailments, too. And they say the money raised in the ice bucket challenge was crucial.
The breakthrough, published in Science, was summarized thus: "TDP-43 repression of nonconserved cryptic exons is compromised in ALS-FTD."
Here's a translation: The research focused on a protein called TDP-43 that in some circumstances is linked to cell death in the brain or spinal cord of patients. The scientists found that inserting a custom-designed protein allowed cells to return to normal.
"That becomes our therapeutic strategy," said Philip Wong, a professor at Johns Hopkins University whose lab conducted the research. He said the research team was now testing gene therapy strategies in mice to see if these can halt A.L.S. symptoms.
If it works in mice, the following step would be to seek to conduct a clinical trial in humans, he said.
The researchers are also hoping the therapy will work for a common cause of mental deterioration, frontotemporal dementia, and for inclusion body myositis, a progressive disease that leads to muscle weakness.
It may also lead to a diagnostic test for Alzheimer's.
For the people who did the Ice Bucket Challenge -- the social media-postable action selfie with the momentarily painful addition of ice water and the annoyance of having to change clothes -- combined the illusion of doing something with the ability to show it off to the world. Stunt volunteerism with minimal effort.
And how much is it really about the cause? From Wikipedia:
Focus on the stunt rather than donations American stunt performer and TV personality Steve-O questioned the campaign, suggesting that celebrities' videos generally forgot to share donation information for ALS charities, and that the initial $15 million in funds was insignificant, given the star power of the celebrities participating. He noted that, of the videos he viewed, only Charlie Sheen and Bill Gates mentioned that the point is to donate money. A similar criticism was made by Jacob Davidson in Time Magazine and by Arielle Pardes in Vice.
Then again, it raised the bucks for the research. A lesson in exploiting ego and social media for fundraisers. (Best to kick it off with a celebrity doing the first bit of slacktivism.)
My favorite useless slacktivism is petition-signing. Few petitions ever do a thing or matter.
"It's Racist!" Isn't As Sticky As Taylor Swift Video Critics Would Have Liked
The multi-culti police are right there on the job to cry racism when what they're really complaining about is an attempt at historical realism.
At The Blaze, Oliver Darcy links to the director Joseph Kahn's statement about the Taylor Swift video he helmed, shot to seem like it's a love story that takes place on the set of a movie in Africa in 1950:
"Wildest Dreams" is a song about a relationship that was doomed, and the music video concept was that they were having a love affair on location away from their normal lives. This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa,1950.
There are black Africans in the video in a number of shots, but I rarely cut to crew faces outside of the director as the vast majority of screentime is Taylor and Scott.
The video is based on classic Hollywood romances like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, as well as classic movies like The African Queen, Out of Africa and The English Patient, to name a few.
The reality is not only were there people of color in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. I am Asian American, the producer Jil Hardin is an African American woman, and the editor Chancler Haynes is an African American man. We cast and edited this video. We collectively decided it would have been historicially inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history. This video is set in the past by a crew set in the present and we are all proud of our work.
There is no political agenda in the video. Our only goal was to tell a tragic love story in classic Hollywood iconography. Furthermore, this video has been singled out, yet there have been many music videos depicting Africa. These videos have traditionally not been lessons in African history. Let's not forget, Taylor has chosen to donate all of her proceeds from this video to the African Parks Foundation to preserve the endangered animals of the continent and support the economies of local African people.
Here's the vid:
P.S. She also wears fur in the video, and there's nobody standing on the red carpet with cans of paint to throw on her, and nobody in the video is driving a Prius, the official car of Hollywood. Just a guess, but probably because these things also did not happen in 1950.
Name for the brother on a TV show I never watched. Or this.
Obama's Pretend Jewish Morality On The Iran Deal -- Might Fool Lefty American Jews, But Not The "We Grew A Pair" Israeli Ones
David Harsanyi writes at The Federalist about Obama's bullshit contention that pro-Iranian policies align in some way with the tenets of Jewish faith--"a claim he makes nearly every time he is forced to allay the fears of a Jewish publication or group." Harsanyi rightly deems this "preposterous."
In The Forward, Obama tells us that he is a follower of his own fictitious philo-morality:These are hard issues, and worthy of serious debate. But you don't win the debate by suggesting that the other person has bad motives. That's I think not just consistent with fair play; I think it's consistent with the best of the Jewish tradition.
1 - You don't win the debate. Nearly every poll shows a majority oppose the deal.
2- There has been no "serious"--or at least, consequential--debates surrounding the Iran deal. There's been a lot theatre. Now that Bob Casey has signed on, nearly every Senator supposedly weighing the deal have backed Obama. (No one liked being called a traitor, after all.) It's always been inevitable that congress would be unable to overcome a veto. Republicans haven't done anything tangible to stop the deal. In fact, though Obama wasn't going to permit any genuine checks and balances to get in the way of his empowering Iran, the GOP leadership helped him by putting the imprimatur of law and order on the deal.
3 -Obama's claim that questioning the motivations of the opposition is outside the boundaries of fair play and "Jewish tradition" is a pretty odd when one considers the tone of his entire presidency--but, more specifically, when we scrutinize how often he has schmeared the intentions of the Iran-deal opponents. Obama advocates has reliably painted opponents as a gaggle of traitorous #warmongers. The president himself claimed that opposition was unduly influenced by money and lobbyists and, at the same time, making common cause with the radical Islamists. Is that a reflection of fair play within the Jewish tradition?
4 -Most important, what Jewish tradition is Obama talking about? He never says. Is it the now-broken, centuries-old unwelcome tradition of sitting around powerlessly and praying that nothing horrible will happen? That is essentially the argument for this Iran deal.
Israeli Jews are the "We grew a pair" Jews of the Western World. They have to be, because without that, they're dead -- thanks to Muslims who demand that they be slaughtered, in keeping with their religion's demand. (This is why there can never be peace or land-sharing -- as there is in Israel with the Druze and Christian Arabs.)
I Defend Your Right To Speech Revealing That You Are A Despicable Person -- And We All Should
Houston #BlackLivesMatter supporter Monica Foy tweeted something truly terrible -- a tweet reflecting her apparent support for the cold-blooded murder of Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth.
From Breitbart's Brandon Darby:
Foy deleted the tweet after numerous individuals began criticizing her on the social media platform. Immediately prior to the offending tweet, Foy tweeted her support for #BlackLivesMatter. Her Facebook account shows that she studies English literature at Sam Houston University.
On Twitter, people (@aleykhat is one) started hammering the school, demanding that they do something about her speech.
Unfortunately for civil liberties, Sam Houston State University, per campus free speech defenders theFIRE.org, isn't so hot on free speech.
If Foy used the wifi at school to tweet her message, she's probably in some trouble. (SHSU "Internet Usage Policies" as of September, 2014):
All individuals are accountable for their actions relating to SHSU information technology resources. Direct violations include the following: ... Intentionally accessing, creating, storing or transmitting material which SHSU may deem to be offensive, indecent or obscene (other than in the course of academic research or authorized administrative duties where this aspect of the research or work has the explicit approval of the SHSU official processes for dealing with academic ethical issues).
I think she's horrible to have tweeted that -- and I also think she deserves our strong support of her free speech.
People coming after her on Twitter, demanding that the college take action, are the antithesis of do-gooders. We all need to support the free speech of assholes and truly terrible people. That's how the speech of all of us remains free.
In short, I not only defend your right to say absolutely terrible things -- I celebrate it.
And finally, a word from @ClarkHat and @BlazerMc88:
Linky with wet floors.
Two College Presidents Advocate For The Coddle Experience
I know Barry Glassner and like him as a human, but I'm dismayed by the LA Times op-ed he co-authored with Morton Schapiro. Both are college presidents. Barry was a former USC sociology prof who wrote The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things.
Well, now the wrong thing we're afraid of is ever offending anyone. And anyone and everyone on college campuses is ready to step up and claim to be offended -- by just about anything and everything. It seems to me to have become a means of having status -- victim status -- and being "special" because of it.
The first problem with their op-ed is that they mush in examples of racist scrawlings on posters and cocktail party flubs -- "You don't look Jewish" (which I've gotten a lot) -- with the "trigger warnings" and "micro-agressions" now rolling back campus thought and speech.
One of us watched a brilliant young African American woman who had been highly engaged on campus and in her course work, an "A" student, recoil from her classes and her classmates after returning to her dormitory one afternoon. There, in the place she had come to consider her home halfway across the country from where she grew up, she was confronted with racist slurs scrawled on posters she had put up as part of a job she held on campus to help cover expenses.
Less traumatic but nonetheless deeply upsetting are those little comments that haunt us all -- when someone compliments an Asian American from Ohio on his "good English" or orders drinks from an African American guest at a cocktail party. Both of us, when we were younger, were told that we didn't "look Jewish." If such remarks don't wound us to the core, why is it that we remember them for a lifetime?
I dealt with a lot of Jew hatred growing up. I remember the lady, Mrs. M., who, uh, complimented my mother, "You're not like other Jews..."
But this sort of remark has nothing to do with a professor putting out a trigger warning syllabus every time they want to assign "The Great Gatsby."
And that practice -- and the culture behind it -- is killing free speech and free inquiry on campus, and, as Greg Lukianoff points out, hurting people's ability to debate in general in this country.
Key line from Glassner and Schapiro's piece:
And we've both heard from counseling staff about students who were victims of sexual and other abuse who experienced setbacks after being exposed to course materials without having been given an opportunity to prepare themselves psychologically.
As I've said here before: If you are this fragile, the institution you belong in is not one of higher learning but the sort of place where the kind nursie will bring you another tray of blocks.
(This sort of thinking -- that students must be coddled -- leads to this sort of idiocy.)
Related: Schapiro should spend less time writing op-eds about how students should be coddled and more time advocating for free speech and free inquiry (over "branding!") at Northwestern.
The Most Embarrassing Hillary Clinton Emails
From Nick Gillespie at Reason.
Meanwhile, from the Wash Times, Stephen Dinan and S.A. Miller write:
The Obama administration is increasingly finding classified information in former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails, declaring secret material in nearly 3 percent of the batch released late Monday night.
...Mrs. Clinton said she used her own server and email address because it was more convenient to set up a central one for both personal and business use.
Federal law required that any official business on nongovernmental accounts be forwarded to an official account so it could be stored for archival purposes, but Mrs. Clinton did not do that until late last year, nearly two years after she left office, and only after she was prodded by the committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
She has said she now wants all the emails to be made public. She initially said she did not traffic in classified material from the account, but has since clarified that she meant none of the information was classified at the time.
She turned over about 30,000 emails in paper form in December, forcing the State Department to spend months processing them to get them back into a digital format. Her attorney said she then discarded 32,000 messages she deemed personal that were sent from the same account, then wiped the server clean.
(UPDATED -- to delete faked email...grrr. See comments.)
We Also Don't Poo In Public, Lady With "Period Pride"
I forgot to blog this when I saw it -- the story about a woman thinking that pride involves letting your excretions just flow out in public, and never mind who sees them. Char Adams writes at People:
Kiran Gandhi, who has played drums for singer M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation, decided to run the London Marathon without a tampon. Gandhi let her blood flow freely to raise awareness about women who have no access to feminine products and to encourage women to not be embarrassed about their periods.
..."I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don't have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn't exist."
Does she also go without a roof over her head -- sleep out on the curb -- because some "sisters" go without housing? How about food? Does she eat out of Dumpsters because some "sisters" go without refrigerators full of food?
After the race, she took photos with her family and friends, wearing her period-stained running pants proudly.
Gandhi tells PEOPLE that she decided to run without a tampon to highlight the sentiment of period-shaming and the language surrounding women's menstrual cycles. She wrote on her site that "on the marathon course, sexism can be beaten."
It isn't "sexism" that makes us not want to see your period running down your legs; it's our evolved sense of disgust at any bodily excretion, an adaptation that causes our ancestors to live while those who lacked this adaptation and played around in yicky stuff, likely died of awful diseases.
There's a terrific paper on disgust,"Microbes, Mating, and Morality: Individual Differences in Three Functional Domains of Disgust," by Josh Tybur, Debra Lieberman, and Vladas Griskevicius that I reference in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck." That's the link to the abstract above, but one of the researchers has made a full copy available on his research website. It's the first link that comes up on Google.
Just Say No To State-Licensed Relationships -- All Of Them
There's a piece by Max Borders on privatizing marriage at the Foundation for Economic Education:
When we say "marriage," we might be referring to:
A. a commitment a couple enters into as a rite or acknowledgment within a religious institution or community group (private); or
B. a legal relationship that two people enter into, which the state currently licenses (public).
Now, the questions that follow are: Does the government need to be involved in A? The near-universal answer in the United States is no. But does the government need to be as involved as it is in B? Here's where the debate gets going.
I think the government can and should get out of B, and everyone will be better for it. This is what I mean by marriage privatization.
Some argue that marriage is "irreducibly public." For Jennifer Roback Morse, it has to do with the fate of children and families. For Shikha Dalmia, it has to do with the specter of increased government involvement, a reinflamed culture war, and a curious concern about religious institutions creating their own marriage laws.
...What about Dalmia's concern that in the absence of state marriage, "every aspect of a couple's relationship would have to be contractually worked out from scratch in advance"? Never mind that some people would see being able to work out the details of a contract governing their lives as a good thing (for one, it might prevent ugly divorce proceedings). There is no reason to think that all the functions normal, unmarried couples with children and property have in terms of recourse to "default" law would not still be available. Not only would simple legal templates for private marriage emerge, but states could establish default civil unions in the absence of couples pursuing private alternatives.
...Indeed, if people did not like some default option -- as they might not now -- there would be better incentives for couples to anticipate the eventualities of marital life. People would have to settle questions involving cohabitation, property, and children just as they do for retirement and for death. Millions of gay couples had to do this prior to the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality. Millions of unmarried couples do it today. The difference is that there would be a set of private marriage choices in a layer atop the default, just as people may opt for private arbitration in lieu of government courts.
...I like full privatization because "marriage" is currently a crazy quilt of special privileges and goodies that everybody wants access to -- unmarried people be damned. But marriage should confer neither special favors nor goodies from the state. We can quibble about who is to be at the bedside of a dying loved one. Beyond that, marriage (under definition B) is mostly about equal access to government-granted privileges.
Total Abdication Of Responsibility By Cops
A young, mentally ill man -- jailed in Virginia since April without bail over a $5 theft of food and drink -- was found dead in his jail cell.
He was accused of stealing a Mountain Dew, Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake from a 7-Eleven.
Jon Swaine writes for The Guardian
Jamycheal Mitchell, who had mental health problems, was discovered lying on the floor of his cell by guards early last Wednesday, according to authorities. While his body is still awaiting an autopsy, senior prison officials said his death was not being treated as suspicious.
His family believes he starved to death.
"His body failed," said Roxanne Adams, Mitchell's aunt. "It is extraordinary. The person I saw deceased was not even the same person." Adams, who is a registered nurse, said Mitchell had practically no muscle mass left by the time of his death.
...Officials said that after his arrest, Mitchell was taken to Portsmouth city jail, where he stayed for almost three weeks before being transferred across the city to the regional jail on 11 May.
Ten days after that, the court clerk said, Judge Morton Whitlow ruled Mitchell was not competent to stand trial and ordered that he be transferred to Eastern State hospital, a state-run mental health facility in Williamsburg, for treatment.
The clerk said that typically in such cases "we do an order to restore the defendant to competence, send it to the hospital, and when the hospital has a bed, we do a transportation order, and he's taken to the hospital." Whitlow reiterated the order on 31 July and was due to review the case again on 4 September, according to the clerk.
But the hospital said it had no vacancy and the 24-year-old was therefore detained in jail until his death on 19 August, according to Adams, Mitchell's aunt, who said she had tried to assist the hospitalisation process herself but was left frustrated.
"He was just deteriorating so fast," she said. "I kept calling the jail, but they said they couldn't transfer him because there were no available beds. So I called Eastern State, too, and people there said they didn't know anything about the request or not having bed availability."
When asked which state agency was ultimately responsible for ensuring Mitchell was transferred to the hospital, the court clerk said: "It's hard to tell who's responsible for it."
Officials from the court, the police department and the jail could not explain why Mitchell was not given the opportunity to be released on bail.
A mentally ill man is in a cell under your care -- and yes, you actually have to care for him. This may take more than just shoving a plate of food through the bars.
Of course, it is terrible and inhumane that we lock a mentally ill person up in a cage and just leave them there without help. If this had been a relative of somebody on the force, you'd better believe a bed would have been found for him.
This man should have been a patient, not an inmate.
And I have to say, while I am not for government as a big teat for all citizens, I sure am for caring for the disabled, the elderly, and the mentally ill. That's what makes for a humane society.
Taubes: In Weight Loss Advice, The Ridiculous Assumption That Hunger Is Not An Issue
I spend my whole day eating fat -- bacon fat, kale cooked in bacon fat, an omelet with cheese and pate, coffee made with half 'n' half; and steak, sausage, cheese, and green beans swimming in butter. Oh, also, a tablespoon of coconut oil warmed in half 'n' half a few times a day, whenever my brain feels like it's on fire from intense activity.
I have never felt better.
And I'm never hungry the way I would get when I ate low-fat/high-carb -- a hunger that made me feel like I could stop and devour a road sign (and anyone unlucky enough to be standing next to it at the time).
On the subject of hunger's effect on diet maintenance, Gary Taubes has an op-ed in The New York Times that describes a study, taking place toward the end of World War Ii, that placed men on a starvation diet:
For 24 weeks, these men were semi-starved, fed not quite 1,600 calories a day of foods chosen to represent the fare of European famine areas: "whole-wheat bread, potatoes, cereals and considerable amounts of turnips and cabbage" with "token amounts" of meat and dairy.
As diets go, it was what nutritionists today would consider a low-calorie, and very low-fat diet, with only 17 percent of calories coming from fat.
There were horrible physical effects -- and psychological ones. Two men had breakdowns. And then, when they were allowed to eat normally, they consumed "prodigious" amounts of food...eating themselves into "post-starvation obesity," in the researchers' words.
That humans or any other organism will lose weight if starved sufficiently has never been news. The trick, if such a thing exists, is finding a way to do it without hunger so weight loss can be sustained indefinitely. A selling point for carbohydrate-restricted diets has always been that you can eat to satiety; counting calories is unnecessary, so long as carbohydrates are mostly avoided.
But this advice raises a pair of obvious questions, or at least it should: If people on low-carb diets eat less (the conventional explanation for any loss of fat that ensues), why aren't they hungry? Where's the semi-starvation neurosis? And if they don't eat less, why do they lose weight? It implies a mechanism of weight loss other than caloric deprivation and suggests that the carbohydrates and fats consumed make a difference.
Questions like these about the relationship between calories, macronutrients and hunger have haunted nutrition and obesity research since the late 1940s. But rarely are they asked. We believe so implicitly in the rationale of eat less, move more, that we (at least those of us who are lean) will implicitly fault the obese for their failures to sustain a calorie-restricted regimen, without ever apparently asking ourselves whether we could sustain it either. I have a colleague who spent his research career studying hunger. Asking people to eat less, he says, is like asking them to breathe less. It sounds reasonable, so long as you don't expect them to keep it up for long.
Much of the obesity research for the past century has focused on elucidating behavioral techniques that could induce the obese to eat less, tolerate hunger better, and so, by this logic, lose weight. The obesity epidemic suggests that it has failed.
For those who believe that hunger is somehow all in the mind, rather than a powerful biological response to caloric deprivation, it is tempting to wish on them the fate that the goddess Ceres bestowed on King Erysichthon of Thessaly in Greek mythology. She "devised a punishment to rouse men's pity... to torment him with baleful Hunger." Erysichthon then eats himself out of castle and kingdom and ultimately dies by feeding, "little by little, on his own body."
Amazon link to books by Gary Taubes.
By the way, I suspect there are a number of people who are suffering from mood issues who could shift that by not going hungry all the time on what the government told us was a healthy diet.
The Tim Hunt Witch Hunt
Absolutely terrific long (and worthy) read in Commentary by Jonathan Foreman about the disgusting condemnation of Sir Tim Hunt for things he did not actually say, do, or mean:
The coup de grâce came in July with Mensch's release of a short recording from the luncheon. One can clearly hear applause and laughter in the room as Hunt ends his speech. Apparently out of a hundred guests from around the world, most of them women, the only people who were offended by Hunt's remarks were a handful of British and American science writers, all of whom happen to be diversity obsessives.
The most generous interpretation of Connie St. Louis's bizarre behavior is that she was too intellectually limited to recognize irony that was somehow obvious to an audience composed mostly of people who spoke English as a second language. A leak of the unedited version of her "Stop Defending Tim Hunt" piece for the Guardian is so garbled and incoherent that this actually seems plausible, though it also makes you wonder how and why she came to be teaching journalism even at a third-rate institution like London's City University.
That's a question that began to be asked quite widely a few weeks after St. Louis sent her tweets and became a celebrity on the back of her denunciations of Hunt. The Daily Mail discovered that St. Louis had lied on the curriculum vitae she had supplied for the City University website. The CV claims that she is "an award-winning freelance broadcaster, journalist, writer, and scientist" who "writes for numerous outlets, including the Independent, Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Sunday Times..." But when the Mail's Guy Adams went through 20 years of digital archives for the Independent, the Sunday Times, and the Mail he could find no articles carrying her byline. Before the current scandal, her work for the Guardian had been limited to a single piece in 2013. Oddly, the BBC and the Guardian have yet to report not only this evidence pertaining to her credibility, but also all the contradictory evidence concerning her claims about Hunt's speech in Seoul.
...For all his naiveté, and despite the support he was beginning to receive, Hunt knew that his professional life was over. "I'm finished," he said in the interview. "I had hoped to do a lot more to help promote science...but I cannot see how than can happen. I have become toxic." Unfortunately, this is indeed the case. Since his comments came to light, Hunt has been disinvited from major scientific and medical conferences. As Dame Athene Donald wrote: "His ability to go and inspire the young has been unnecessarily destroyed."
At the time of this writing, Hunt has not been reinstated as an honorary professor at University College, London. Nor is he likely to be. Provost Michael Arthur, as if keen to demonstrate the cowardice and lack of intellectual integrity he and so many others confuse with political virtue and good public relations, recently told the press that to reinstate Hunt would send out "entirely the wrong signal."
Right -- like that truth and justice matter?
There is still no truth or justice in the case of Bora Zivkovic.
Oh, and via @LouiseMensch, here's another time Deborah Blum's veracity was in question -- a comment from astronomy and cosmology writer Timothy Ferris on an interview with her. The interview was later edited to exclude her remark about him, which seems to have all the truth her claims about Tim Hunt did.
What Are Your Rituals?
Ritual isn't the superstitious crap it's often made out to be. The same goes for ceremony and ceremonies.
I've been reading research on ritual -- on how ritual can, for example, decrease negative feelings a person has about themself and increase feelings of control.
So ritual -- per the findings I've been reading -- is actually effective and smart.
It would help me to know what rituals you perform, when, and why. Or if you know of interesting rituals other people perform -- famous people or ordinary Joes.
The Pointer Sisters (And Brothers)
I find that a lot of people who write me for advice have as their main problem a habit of picking partners with the "I'll just close my eyes and hope it turns out okay" method. When they get treated badly, they then blame the person they were with -- same as they did the last person and the person before that.
Taking responsibility ultimately tends to have better outcomes than placing blame.
This quote is also on Pinterest with a bunch of other quotes, mostly from "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck."
"Compassionate Egalitarianism" Has Made Hugo Chavez's Daughter A Billionaire
Love that term, which I got from Glenn Reynolds on a post about printing money going "haywire" in Venezuela.
Socialism works! That is, if you're one of the people in charge. Hugo Chavez's ambassador daughter is Venezuela's richest woman, reports the Daily Mail:
During his lifetime, Hugo Chavez denounced wealthy individuals, once railing against the rich for being 'lazy.'
'The rich don't work, they're lazy,' he railed in a speech in 2010. 'Every day they go drinking whiskey - almost every day - and drugs, cocaine, they travel.'
After her father's death in 2013 and until her appointment to the United Nations as alternate ambassador, Chavez continued to live in the presidential mansion, forcing the current president Nicolas Maduro to remain at the vice presidential home.
El Comercio reported in 2014 that opposition congressman Carlos Berrisbeitía claimed the daughters of Chavez and Maduro were costing the Venezuelan state $3.6 million a day.
Victimhood has become quite stylish these days. Jamie Bartlett writes at Little Atoms:
In a 1999 article for the New York Review of Books, Ian Buruma argued that there is strange contentment that comes with feeling like you're oppressed (rather than actually being oppressed which really is not nice). Victims, he said, "cannot escape a momentary feeling of vicarious virtue." He claims to have felt it himself - much to his own shame - as a Jew visiting Auschwitz, each time a German walked past. Buruma even thought he detected a shade of envy in privileged groups that they too can't be victims of similarly sufficient magnitude. This, he stressed, was not to deny, belittle or take pleasure in the historical suffering of many groups, much less the present suffering. What he spotted was a bigger trend at play, where 'communal identity is based on sentimental solidarity of remembered victimhood'. People were increasingly desirous to wear the scars of others, almost as a badge of honour.
Buruma thought people liked to feel like society's victims, even where they were personally doing rather well, because modern life hollows out our identities. Hyper-capitalism is reducing meaningful beliefs and identity to fast food restaurants, sterile movies and empty gestures. But people want and perhaps need the authentic, the real, and the genuine in life. And so in an external world in which everything seems so empty, we turn inward in a search for authenticity. The only thing that can deliver authenticity is our feelings. And what more powerful feeling than victimhood and struggle?
Nothing more than feelings
It's quite true that feelings have become something of a modern obsession (Will Davies in his excellent new book about happiness calls feelings 'the new religion'). They are being elevated to the highest measure of what it means to be human: what matters is how we feel about something. And a growing number of writers - most recently Mick Hume in his new book 'Trigger Warning' - think that people's feelings are fast becoming the only test of whether something should be allowed. Prioritising feelings invariably means that if those precious feelings are hurt, upset, or offended, then these things should be banned or stopped.
The science of sex differences suggests that this victimism is feminism-driven. Researcher Joyce Benenson writes in her book Warriors and Worriers that women bond over shared vulnerabilities. This fits right in with the religion of victimism. It's men who are comfortable in hierarchies and comfortable with the idea that another man might beat them at some or various endeavors.
I'm melllllting. I'm working on my book and column at my fave Santa Monica cafe, which has no air conditioning -- and usually doesn't need it. But it's been unseasonably hot and humid here in So Cal, and fans help me be comfortable. And no, I don't mean the sort who tell you all sorts of nice things about yourself but the kind that blow air on you.
Gregg is getting me this cute little gooseneck USB fan that I can plug into my port on my laptop and angle toward my face. Only $7.99.
Also, still 40 percent off or more on select men's Adidas footwear. Deal ends September 7.
To buy stuff you don't see in my links and give me a wee kickback (that costs you nothing), Search Amy's Amazon here. (For stuff not listed above.)
And thanks to all who shop through my links! Every purchase you make is much appreciated!
TSA Worker Arrested: When Sexual Assault As Usual Becomes Criminal
My TSA News Blog colleague in civil liberties, Lisa Simeone, is just so right on in how she explained the arrest of a TSA thug for the molestation of a 22-year-old woman at La Guardia airport:
A TSA agent at LaGuardia Airport in New York has been arrested for sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman. The only reason he was arrested was because he molested her in a bathroom. If he had followed standard operating procedure, he would've molested her at the checkpoint, where it's usually done.
A college student was sexually molested at LaGuardia Airport by a uniformed TSA agent who demanded she go into a bathroom with him after she got off a flight so she could be searched for a weapon, sources told The Post.
The 22-year-old victim, who is Korean, had gotten off a Southwest Airlines flight from Salt Lake City around 8 p.m.Tuesday when the agent, identified as Maxie Oquendo, 40, approached her near the B4 gate of Terminal B.
Ogendo then asked her to follow him so she could be searched to see if she was carrying a knife or a weapon.
The woman followed him up an escalator to third-floor, near a lounge and a bank of elevators, where he "lured" her inside a bathroom under the pretext of conducting a legitimate search, sources said.
Once inside the bathroom, he allegedly began to molest her.
First, the victim told authorities, he asked her to lift her shirt and began touching her.
Then, he instructed her to unzip her pants and touched her again, the source said.
He then led her outside and she reported the incident.
Here's Julie Borowski on her molestation by a TSA thug back in 2012:
Here's a woman sobbing during her TSA molestation:
Here's my op-ed about mine.
The Everyday Phrases Deemed Racist By Murderer Vester Lee Flanagan
In news reports about this horrible murder of the two on the news crew, there were bits about Flanagan's claim that the newscaster he gunned down, Alison Parker, made "racist" statements. Here's what they were, from David Gardner at the Evening Standard:
He even launched an official complaint against Parker when she was working at the station as an intern in 2013.
The internal memo branding Parker a racist was thrown out by TV executives and it was Flanagan who was eventually axed for his inappropriate behaviour.
But the imagined slight festered with Flanagan, who vowed to take revenge.
And hours after he gunned down Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward during a live broadcast on Wednesday, Flanagan made it clear through his Twitter account that he still held a grudge.
"Alison made racist comments," Flanagan tweeted as he was on the run from the police before turning his gun on himself. "They hired her after that??" he added.
His twisted post was referring to the run-in he had with Parker two-and-a-half years ago over her comments in the newsroom.
"One was something about 'swinging' by some place; the other was out in the 'field,'" said a report on the dispute by assistant news director Greg Baldwin, who looked into the allegations in response to Flanagan's unsuccessful discrimination lawsuit against the station.
Stunned colleagues of Parker insisted yesterday that she couldn't have been less like a racist.
That's field, as in "cotton field," and then there was an "incident" where a boss brought in a watermelon for the news team, which he also decided was some racist call-out of him.
And via @instapundit, ABC has still not released a 23-page manifesto Flanagan sent them.
These Rate Hikes, A Few Years Back, Would Have Been Seen As Reason Obamacare Was Needed
But -- oops -- they're the result of Obamacare.
From an IBD editorial:
When insurers requested huge rate hikes for their 2016 ObamaCare plans, we were told not to worry because state regulators would force them down. But that's not happening. Death spiral, anyone?
In Alaska, the state regulator approved a 39.6% rate increase for Moda Health, and Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska got a 38.7% hike.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee asked for and got a 36.3% boost in premiums. Oregon's insurance commissioner approved a 25.6% increase for Moda, the biggest insurer on its ObamaCare exchange. In Kansas, ObamaCare enrollees will face increases of up to 25.4%.
In the pre-ObamaCare days, rate hikes of this magnitude, no matter how rare, would have been cited as proof positive of the need for ObamaCare-type changes. But these eye-popping jumps are showing up across the country, and ObamaCare itself is to blame.
The law's mixture of heavy-handed market regulations, mandated benefits, taxes and fees have sharply increased the cost of insurance, with no end in sight.
Undaunted, ObamaCare backers say that in many states, regulators succeeded in cutting back on some requests, and that premiums in some states didn't go up all that much. But calling a 14% increase a victory because it wasn't 21% isn't a victory for those still faced with a substantially more expensive product.
I still have health care; I just can no longer afford much more than doctor's visits, because, post-Obamacare, I have a high deductible. I hear this from a lot of people.
So, I paid into the system -- my HMO -- for decades, with the idea that I'd get in and pay in when I was at my youngest and healthiest. It seemed like the prudent and responsible thing to do. Little did I know that the government would wreck -- sorry, are we supposed to say "improve"? -- my health care by passing a gigantic change to our medical care in this country without even bothering to read it.
Linkin Town Car
Suicide do re me.
"If You See Something, Say Something" -- Uh...Except If You See A Cop
The ACLU is representing Roxbury (Boston) resident Mary Holmes in her case against two Boston transit cops for police brutality and violation of her constitutional right to free speech. From the ACLU's website:
Ms. Holmes was pepper-sprayed, beaten, and arrested by the officers because she spoke out to prevent MBTA police from abusing a person in her community.
In March 2014, Ms. Holmes was at the Dudley Square MBTA station in Roxbury when she saw Officer Jennifer Garvey scream at and shove an older Black woman. The situation worried Ms. Holmes so she tried to calm the woman and asked Officer Garvey to stop being so aggressive. When these efforts failed, she called 9-1-1 for help. In response, Officer Garvey and her partner, Officer Alfred Trinh, pepper-sprayed Ms. Holmes in the face, beat her with a metal baton, and arrested her, handcuffing her hands behind her back while forcing her to the ground.
"The MBTA has signs everywhere telling people 'if you see something, say something.' This is exactly what Ms. Holmes did. She saw something wrong, and she spoke out. We need more people to follow Ms. Holmes' lead and do the same," said Jessie Rossman, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts. "Unfortunately, the officers' reactions are part of a broader, troubling trend, in which police officers mistreat individuals exercising their constitutional rights. It has to stop."
There's video at both the ACLU link and this Boston.com link. Adam Vaccaro writes:
The incident was captured on video at the MBTA station (included at the end of this article). The footage shows Holmes being pepper sprayed as she speaks on the phone, hit with a baton, and thrown to the ground.
Holmes was held overnight because she could not make bail, according to the suit. The next day, the suit says, Holmes was charged with assault and battery on a public employee, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. The charges were dropped months later when prosecutors saw video of the incident, according to the complaint.
Looking at the video, it looks like what the cop got pissed off at was Holmes getting on her phone to 911 to complain about them.
The Pussies Across The Pond (And What Happens When You Give Little Boys Toy Guns)
Well, I guess we should feel a little better that we aren't the only nation of fragile little flowers -- England has joined us in the idiocy.
There, a little girl got a letter sent to her parents over the "violent" design content of her lunchbox.
Neo-nazi storm troopers kicking a dog, perhaps?
Nope. A classic image of Wonder Woman.
Siam Goorwich writes for Metro.co.uk:
According to Redditor twines18, who posted a copy of the letter and offending lunchbox on Imgur, the lunchbox contravened the schools dress code which states children aren't allowed to bring 'violent images' into the building.
The letter states: 'We have defined "violent characters" as those who solve problems using violence. Super heroes certainly fall into that category.'
Here's the offending lunchbox (which, by the way, I think is fabulous and want to have so I can carry it as a purse).
You know who else "solves problems using violence"? Big American young men who save train cars full of strangers from being gunned down like livestock by a murderer.
Mona Charen writes at NRO that manliness is an unsung trait of the train heroes. She makes some good points about boy-type play:
They also seem to have been rambunctious boys -- a trait that tends to be pathologized in modern America. The Sacramento Bee recounts:Friends from age 7, they played with their siblings and neighbors up and down Woodknoll Way, favoring games such as Airsoft, in which participants shoot each other with realistic-looking replica guns that fire plastic pellets, said Peter Skarlatos, Alek's older brother . . .
'We'd basically turn this neighborhood into a war zone,' the brother said, sitting on the shady front porch of his family's ranch house Sunday afternoon. 'Spencer and Alek were all action-oriented kinds of guys.'
When I was raising three boys, I received a few looks askance for permitting them to use play guns and to imagine themselves as soldiers. Some of the more sensitive parents in our area disapproved of the Power Rangers, a cartoonish show featuring teenaged superheroes battling goofy villains. These parents sincerely believed that we must suppress all violent tendencies in our children, especially our sons, to make a gentler world. Our boys relished the Power Rangers, with our blessing.
Researcher Joyce Benenson made the point in her book on evolved sex differences (per her interviews of nursery school teachers and aides), that if you don't let little boys have toy guns, they will invariably end up shooting "bullets" out of a doll's head.
Boys wanting to engage in play combat is part of what it means to be male -- physiologically (with higher testosterone, for example) and psychologically. To take the toy guns away suggests that guns are the problem. Well, guns don't shoot people; sick fuckers shoot people. And if you take away their guns, they'll find some other way to kill.
Links in a very tight dress.
My boyfriend got me the most awesome flashlight -- the really bright night watchman/police flashlight. How bright? I can use it to see into your soul. (Not that I believe in "soul," but if I did, I could see into yours with this flashlight.) It's the Nebo SEVEN-Z Extremely High Lumen Flashlight, powered by AA Batteries. I'm just disappointed that I have yet to spot anyone peeing on the fence across the way. Boy are they going to be surprised. No, you don't get to make my neighborhood smell like a giant men's bathroom. And sorry, but ladies ("ladies," that is) rarely drop trou or skirt -- though we do have the very occasional one squat between our cars. (I can't wait to shine a light on that!)
And on for a few more days, until August 28, there's a special on Antarctic Krill Oil -- 60 percent off. It's a 60-count bottle of 1,000 mg softgels, which means you take only one. (Yay.) Regular price is $64.95; until August 28, it's $26.05. Why krill oil? Here's Dr. Michael Eades on it and here some more -- the reason I take krill oil. And here on how to store for maximum shelf life.
We pair the Krill with Magnesium Malate and Biotech 5,000 iu Vitamin D, both also recommended to us by Dr. Eades. If you're going to take D, you should get your levels tested after a few months and then get them tested again after taking it. (Many or most people who do not spend a lot of time outside seem to have levels that are low, per what I've read on it.) Both of the brands I've included are cheap and high quality. How much magnesium should you take? Adjust it -- sorry -- according to, uh, loose stool. (Magnesium helps everything come out okay, to explain a little further. No, you don't need fiber, which is irritating to the gut.)
Also, still 40 percent off or more on select men's Adidas footwear. Deal ends September 7.
To buy stuff you don't see in my links and give me a wee kickback (that costs you nothing), Search Amy's Amazon here. (For stuff not listed above.)
And thanks to all who shop through my links! Every purchase you make is much appreciated!