In Defense Of Drunk Sex
The state -- here and in the UK -- is starting to say sex may only be performed in a state of sobriety, and not just on campus. This sort of edict infantilizes women and turns men who aren't eunuchs into criminals -- until they prove otherwise. (Remember, we're supposed to have the reverse of that -- that "innocent till proven guilty" thingie.)
Brendan O'Neill writes at reason:
Alison Saunders, Britain's Director of Public Prosecutions, the boss lady of all the British state's legal actions against suspected lawbreakers, has issued new advice on rape. Sent to cops around Britain as part of a "toolkit" of tips for dealing with rape cases, it says society must move "beyond the old saying 'no means no'." Because apparently women are sometimes incapable of saying no when they would probably like to. When? When they're shit-faced, as Americans say; or pissed as a fart, as us Brits prefer.
"It is not a crime to drink," said Saunders (she might have added a "yet," because I'm sure some teetotaler in the corridors of British power is working on this), but it is a crime "to target someone who is no longer capable of consenting to sex through drink," she continued. And she wants the law to be better able to deal with what the press has called those "grey areas" (50 Shades of Grey areas?) in which sex happens when someone is "incapacitated through drink or drugs." Her advice to cops and lawyers is that in every case of allegedly dodgy, drunk, disputed sex, they should demand of the suspect: "How did [you] know the complainant was saying yes and doing so freely and knowingly?"
There are many terrifying things about this advice. The first is its subtle shifting of the burden of proof so that it falls to the defendant to prove that the claimant said "yes" rather than to the claimant to prove she said "no" and was ignored. As Sarah Vine of the Daily Mail says, this could lead to a situation where "men in rape cases [will] automatically be presumed guilty until they can prove they obtained consent." In essence, this would mean sex becoming default a crime until you, the drunk dude who slept with the drunk girl, can prove that your sex wasn't malevolent. Imagine raising such an idea in the year in which we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, midwife of the presumption of innocence, which for centuries guarded citizens from the whims and prejudices of the mighty state and powerful prosecutors like Ms. Saunders.
But even worse is her thought-free mash-up of drunk sex and rape, as if they're the same. When Saunders talks about sex that happens while one or both parties is hammered, she's sticking her snout--the state's snout--into what for many people is a perfectly normal part of life: college parties, house parties, youthful get-togethers, at which the truly shocking thing would be to see sober people getting it on.
Here's how this plays out -- and what's wrong with it.
The University of Wyoming takes this authoritarian downer on drunk sex to its logical conclusion by warning students: "Sex that occurs while a partner is intoxicated or high is not consensual... it is sexual assault." If this stipulation were enforced retroactively, pretty much every person I went to university with could be arrested for rape. Everyone had a blind-drunk bang at some point, because it was fun.
I've had plenty of tipsy-ass sex and a bit of blind-drunk sex, and I enjoyed all of it. Very much. And the state's going to tell me I have to drink cherry pop and only cherry pop before? What's next, telling us permitted sex positions?
Oh, and I've regretted some of this unsober sex -- but just the times that it was bad. But I didn't call anyone a criminal -- I just called myself an idiot and told myself to not be so dim in the future.
This is called being an adult. If it doesn't work for some, the answer isn't to curb the rights and freedoms of all of us; just theirs, until they can safely leave the house without their aide without having harm come to them.
"Transparency!" Is Dumb When Patients Have No Idea What They're Looking At
Another genius idea from government!
Joel Zinberg writes at City Journal that Medicare and Medicaid will begin publishing annual reports of the amounts doctors were paid and the procedures they performed:
The new policy will accomplish little beyond confusing patients and embarrassing physicians.
The problem is that patients cannot intelligently interpret the CMS data. If the records show, for example, that a doctor has received what seem like high payments for a particular procedure--and for performing that procedure an unusual number of times--is the doctor an expert, or a crook? Health researchers have long maintained that high-volume providers have better outcomes. Perhaps the doctor is especially proficient, and her expertise attracts large numbers of patients who need the procedure? The CMS records won't help patients assess the quality of the services provided or compare one doctor with another. A patient could just as easily believe that the highly paid doctor is over-utilizing the procedure, performing unnecessary and possibly harmful procedures to boost revenue.
The payment records could also mislead patients because they don't indicate whether a payment was made to a single provider or to multiple providers out of a single office, using one provider's Unique Physician Identification Number for billing purposes. A pathologist in Minnesota collected $11 million from Medicare in 2012. It wasn't fraud; he was chairman of the Mayo Clinic's Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, one of the busiest in the country, and the entire lab billed under his name and Medicare number.
...One is left with the suspicion that the primary purpose of the record release is to shame doctors whom policymakers believe routinely exploit the current fee-for-service payment system for personal gain. True, some physicians are guilty as charged; as in any profession, some bad apples exist. But most physicians take their professional duties seriously. They make a good faith effort to perform services for the best interests of their patients and not for personal gain. They don't deserve to be pilloried based on misleading information.
And a comment from "Nikki" at City Journal:
Medicare and Medicaid have always been so quick to blame the physician for fraud and abuse when they should be looking elsewhere.
Take the hospital/independent laboratory setting for example. They are routinely submitting claims for reimbursement for the following: lack of medical necessity, unbundling, upcoding, duplicate billing, and billing for services that were never performed. Specimens that are grossly hemolyzed should not be billed, however, because they "did the work" they feel they should be paid for them. If the physician orders a re-draw, this test is being billed within 1-3 days of the original draw or it is being billed with the appendage of a modifier. Medicare and Medicaid reimburse the provider without blinking an eye.
Non-blood specimens are being billed on occasion with a venipuncture charge -- also paid by Medicare and Medicaid. Specimens that are drawn in the physicians office and sent to the laboratory for processing are being billed with a draw fee. If the laboratory bills first, they get paid and the physician's charge is denied. I agree that these reports are going to be misleading and not at all accurate.
Arquette Won An Oscar But Lost In The Identity Politics Race
Shikha Dalmia explains at The Week that feminism's oppression obsession undermines women. First, her def of "identity politics":
Identity politics instructs people to define their politics not by reference to general moral principles of justice and rights, but some shared experience of oppression.
Dalmia writes about Arquette's Oscars speech:
First, during her acceptance speech, she suggested that women deserve wage equality with men because they give "birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation." But where does this ova theory of value leave non-procreating women who fail to secure Uncle Sam's future revenue stream?
Then, backstage, she went into full Joan-of-Arc mode, demanding that "gay people, and the people of color" join her fight to end wage discrimination against women "once and for all." This is a very odd statement coming from a lady so rich that she actually chooses to forego wages. One can debate whether Hollywood's pay scale discriminates against female actors, but that's pretty irrelevant when it comes to Arquette. She has joked that she got paid less for Boyhood, a brilliant indie movie 12 years in the making that won her the Oscar, than she paid her dog walker. Why did she do it? Because it was a satisfying role that she could amply subsidize with lucrative gigs on TV shows such as CSI and Medium. In other words, she willingly traded monetary income for psychic income, a "luxury" -- her word not mine -- that the vast majority of men in the world -- white, Asian, black, Latino, native American -- can't afford, forget about women. If anything, instead of complaining, she should be marveling at a system that gives her such options.
But of course, feminists are not criticizing her for under-appreciating what she's got, because that would be tantamount to endorsing patriarchy. They are instead accusing her of "structural erasure," "intersectionality failure," and other feminist sins that are all fancy ways of saying she spoke out of turn.
In the feminist critical theory dogma, there is a hierarchy of oppression that Arquette apparently failed to respect when she asked "gay people and people of color" to support her fight for gender wage equality, given that the oppression they face is greater than hers. Also as per the dogma, she failed to appreciate that curing wage discrimination against (white) women like her would do little to cure it against, say, Latinas or black women, since it is compounded in their case by their racial membership. So suggesting that they drop their struggles and join hers bespeaks a tinny self-absorption, they accused.
Feminists may be right about that. But what they fail to understand is that if Arquette has fallen prey to what might be called the narcissism of oppression, it's their fault -- or at least the fault of the identity politics that feminism has encouraged.
Today, we're all "oppressed" (see her note about white men and affirmative action) but it's stylish and feminism-approved to be a member of some groups (generally those who can get grants for tuition not available to white men and often white women in the same income bracket).
"Even Misogynistic Losers Have Constitutional Rights"
Lawyer -- and law prof! -- Nancy Yeong deals with some street harassment and comes to the conclusion (which I hope will be embarrassing to her in hindsight) that the First Amendment needs a little pulling back. As Scott Greenfield puts it at Simple Justice, "Nancy takes a leap." Nancy's words, quoted by Scott:
Nancy: "We prioritize the speech of some misogynist loser yelling at a woman on her way to the office."
If we actually read the First Amendment through the lens of the Fourteenth Amendment in any kind of meaningful way (which, actually, we should, because of pretty basic canons of interpretation like "last in time" and tricky math concepts like 14 > 1) we'd recognize that inequality-reinforcing speech deserves regulation and punishment.
Even misogynistic losers have constitutional rights, though whatever that woman might want to say once she gets to her office is pretty much her own choice, unless the misogynistic loser happens to be the dean of her law school. I doubt that's the case or Nancy would have mentioned that. So it seems fair to conclude that the woman was free to call the misogynistic loser anything she wanted once she got back to her office. Even really bad names. Did someone deny Nancy her right to do so?
Or, perhaps more accurately, what she might say if she wasn't distracted and exhausted from the daily grind of street harassment. There are speech interests on both sides of the street harassment debate, but First Amendment absolutists are hellbent on only seeing one of them.
It's especially disgusting to have a law prof think some indignity she's suffered is reason to shut down free speech. One of the truly great things about this country is how we have the right to offend through speech -- which is also the right to try to make things better.
Royally wet links.
View Out My Window: Morning Glories Waving Hello
(I think one might be flipping me the bird, but I can't be sure.)
This is the view across the alley from the cute little Airbnb place I rented in Long Beach while I'm attending SPSP, the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference.
The big challenge today comes tonight -- driving home at a time when I won't encounter stop-'n'-go traffic on the 405 (making me less likely to get carsick)...but while not driving after dark, which also makes me more prone to getting carsick! (Getting this checked out in March, after I get through the health care gatekeeper visit so I can get a referral to an otolaryngologist to look for rocks in my head and other vestibular issues.)
"Ladies, Join An Oil Rig-A-Thon To Increase The Presence Of Women Working On Oil Rigs!"
You never see tweets like that.
But here's a tweet I just saw:
Yes, there are far fewer female editors than male on Wikipedia.
Why? Oops, can't call it "discrimination!" -- since it's a voluntary job.
What I want to know is why people so often feel compelled to push women into jobs they show no interest in taking -- as if pushing them into these jobs is a good thing.
"Blah, Blah, Blah, Pickles, Tomato, Because We Say So": The Language The Government Uses To (Legally) Steal From Citizens
The point is, the government can say just about anything to steal your money as long as they contend that it is proceeds from a crime -- even if they have zero proof of any such thing. That's right. ZERO.
Oh, and they don't like to use the word "steal." "Civil asset forfeiture" sounds so much nicer.
And yes, in a case where the poor victim tries to fight back, it does help to have a cooperative judge, and that's exactly what they have in the Kim Dotcom case. (Dotcom is the founder of MegaUpload.)
Mike Masnick writes at TechDirt:
Back in November, the DOJ argued that it should get to keep all of Kim Dotcom's money and stuff because he's a "fugitive," which is a bizarre and ridiculous way to portray Kim Dotcom, who has been going through a long and protracted legal process over his potential extradition from New Zealand (though he's offered to come to the US willingly if the government lets him mount a real defense by releasing his money). Dotcom's lawyers told the court that it's ridiculous to call him a fugitive, but it appears that Judge Liam O'Grady didn't buy it.
In a ruling that was just posted a little while ago, O'Grady sided with the government, and gave the DOJ all of Dotcom's things. You can read the full reasoning here and it seems to take on some troubling logic. Dotcom's lawyers pointed out, as many of us have, that there is no secondary copyright infringement under criminal law, but the judge insists that there's enough to show "conspiracy to commit copyright infringement." But the reasoning here is bizarre. Part of it is the fact that Megaupload did remove links to infringing content from its top 100 downloads list. To me, that seems like evidence of the company being a good actor in the space, and not trying to serve up more infringing downloads. To Judge O'Grady and the DOJ, it's somehow evidence of a conspiracy. No joke.
Oh, and Paypal's cutting off Dotcom's new site, Mega -- that didn't just occur to the Paypal execs one day out of the blue. Also from Masnick at Techdirt:
This all goes back to this dangerous effort by the White House a few years ago to set up these "voluntary agreements" in which payment companies would agree to cut off service to sites that the entertainment industry declared "bad." There's no due process. There's no adjudication. There's just one industry getting to declare websites it doesn't like as "bad" and all payment companies refusing to serve it. This seems like a pretty big problem.
Indoctrinating Men That They Are Criminals By Virtue Of Being Male
Last month, I saw this bit I've pasted in below, and I forgot to do a blog post on it then, but it's worth taking a look at.
It's an example of how the push for "equality" has become a push for unearned power over men -- and, in the process, a way to squash the less-than-alpha males into terrified eunuchs. Scott Aronson commented on his blog, excerpted here:
I spent my formative years--basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s--feeling not "entitled," not "privileged," but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that "might be" sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn't be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.
My recurring fantasy, through this period, was to have been born a woman, or a gay man, or best of all, completely asexual, so that I could simply devote my life to math, like my hero Paul Erdös did. Anything, really, other than the curse of having been born a heterosexual male, which for me, meant being consumed by desires that one couldn't act on or even admit without running the risk of becoming an objectifier or a stalker or a harasser or some other creature of the darkness.
Of course, I was smart enough to realize that maybe this was silly, maybe I was overanalyzing things. So I scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that my fears were as silly as I hoped they were. But I didn't find any. On the contrary: I found reams of text about how even the most ordinary male/female interactions are filled with "microaggressions," and how even the most "enlightened" males--especially the most "enlightened" males, in fact--are filled with hidden entitlement and privilege and a propensity to sexual violence that could burst forth at any moment.
Because of my fears--my fears of being "outed" as a nerdy heterosexual male, and therefore as a potential creep or sex criminal--I had constant suicidal thoughts. As Bertrand Russell wrote of his own adolescence: "I was put off from suicide only by the desire to learn more mathematics."
At one point, I actually begged a psychiatrist to prescribe drugs that would chemically castrate me (I had researched which ones), because a life of mathematical asceticism was the only future that I could imagine for myself. The psychiatrist refused to prescribe them, but he also couldn't suggest any alternative: my case genuinely stumped him. As well it might--for in some sense, there was nothing "wrong" with me. In a different social context--for example, that of my great-grandparents in the shtetl--I would have gotten married at an early age and been completely fine. (And after a decade of being coy about it, I suppose I've finally revealed the meaning of this blog's title.) [...]
Now, the whole time I was struggling with this, I was also fighting a second battle: to maintain the liberal, enlightened, feminist ideals that I had held since childhood, against a powerful current pulling me away from them. I reminded myself, every day, that no, there's no conspiracy to make the world a hell for shy male nerds. There are only individual women and men trying to play the cards they're dealt, and the confluence of their interests sometimes leads to crappy outcomes. No woman "owes" male nerds anything; no woman deserves blame if she prefers the Neanderthals; everyone's free choice demands respect.
That I managed to climb out of the pit with my feminist beliefs mostly intact, you might call a triumph of abstract reason over experience. But I hope you now understand why I might feel "only" 97% on board with the program of feminism.
A Boy And My Dog
"Detroit-ornery" boyfriend, babysitting my wee dog, pretends to not be huge pushover: "I'm putting my foot down!" Mmhmm. Sure.
"Eat The Rich!" Another Science Day In Long Beach
One of my tweets from yesterday, from the evolutionary psychology pre-conference at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in Long Beach:
Daniel Sznycer #SPSP2015 points out common societal irrationality against the rich: "...as if the poor are poor because the rich are rich."
As for the evolutionary origins of this thinking, Sznycer and his colleagues at UCSB do some very interesting work, and a number of his papers can be accessed at the link (on his name). Here's one -- on attitudes toward welfare. (And read the paper -- don't leap to the conclusion that he's a pusher of "progressive" ideology [or any ideology] just because he's an academic.)
Big, oafy links.
Science Day In Long Beach: "Are Breastfeeding Moms Bitchier When Threatened?" And Other Questions
I'm at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in Long Beach.
Today is the evolutionary psychology pre-conference.
I got here a little late (as I parked at the convention center and then took what I was told by a parking dude was a "two block walk" to the Hilton, which turned out to be two rural blocks, as in, about 15 long city blocks. Grrr.).
I did catch a bit of the end of Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook's talk on breastfeeding. Here's my tweet about a bit of it:
Breastfeeders fiercer! #SPSP2015 Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook: Breastfeeding moms inflicted more punishment on "hostile confederates" than did formula feeders
Hahn-Holbrook's whole talk was on a fascinating subject: "Does breastfeeding offer protection against maternal depressive symptomatology?" And you can read it here.
Here's the abstract:
Mothers who breastfeed typically exhibit lower levels of depressive symptomatology than mothers who do not. However, very few studies have investigated the directionality of this relationship. Of the prospective studies published, all but one focus exclusively on whether maternal depression reduces rates of subsequent breastfeeding. This study again examines this relationship, but also the reverse--that breastfeeding might pre- dict lower levels of later depression.
Using multilevel modeling, we investigated the relationship between breastfeeding and self- reported depressive symptomatology in 205 women followed prenatally and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after birth.
Consistent with previous research, women with prenatal depressive symp- tomatology weaned their infants 2.3 months earlier, on average, than women without such symptomatology. We also found, however, that women who breastfed more frequently at 3 months postpartum showed greater subsequent declines in depressive symptomatology over time compared to women who breastfed less frequently, resulting in lower absolute levels of depressive symptoms by 24 months postpartum, controlling for important confounds.
In sum, these findings are consistent with a bidi- rectional association between breastfeeding and depression, with prenatal depression predicting less breastfeeding soon after birth and breastfeeding predicting declines in maternal depression up to 2 years after birth.
Zendaya Coleman's Hair: Not Being Able To Criticize A Certain Group Of People Is Racism
Fashion Police is the show on E! Joan Rivers used to be on.
To say the remarks about people's outfits and look are often caustic...well, they typically go from caustic to even more caustic.
That's what the Fashion Police is about. That's why Joan Rivers, the queen of caustic (and not, say, Elizabeth Hasselbeck) was the host.
Well, Giuliana Rancic, one of the panelists there, made a comment about the dreadlocks hairdo of Zendaya Coleman, apparently a Disney star. From Pret-a-Reporter's Hillary Lewis:
On Monday night's episode of E!'s Fashion Police, Rancic commented on Coleman's appearance at the Oscars, saying of the star, who was sporting dreadlocks, that she "smells like patchouli oil and weed." Coleman subsequently posted an eloquent statement on her social media accounts defending her hairstyle. Several other stars -- including Selma director Ava DuVernay, Scandal star Kerry Washington and The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg -- took Coleman's side. And while Rancic quickly tweeted an apology, she followed that up with a somber, much more detailed expression of contrition: a taped message that aired on Tuesday night's E! News.
If the people on a "give 'em shit" show can make fun of white people -- their hair and everything else about them -- but can't make fun of you, you are anything but equal.
This was a point made (in not so many words) by my late quadriplegic cartoonist friend John Callahan. He made fun of quadriplegics -- because it meant treating them like people, like everyone else, instead of like precious little wounded bunnies.
P.S. Another reason to miss Joan Rivers: I'm pretty sure she would have told all the critics to go suck it. Oh, and she would have said something that made Rancic's remark look like a benign compliment. Joan didn't care whether you were black, white, or whatever. She just cared whether you made a good target.
Unemployment Benefits: Perverse Incentives
Couch, meet ass.
Couch, get really, really used to ass.
Robert P. Murphy writes at the Foundation for Economic Education:
A new NBER working paper by Marcus Hagedorn, Iourii Manovskii, and Kurt Mitman estimates that the abrupt end of unemployment benefit extensions led to 1.8 million additional new US jobs created in 2014.
The theory here is straightforward: when the government subsidizes an activity, other things equal, people will engage in more of it.
If politicians want to encourage more people to go to college, what do they do? Provide financial support, either directly in the form of tuition assistance, or indirectly through loans with lower interest rates than students could obtain in a free market. If politicians want to encourage people to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels, they might offer tax rebates for the purchase of electric cars or insulation in their homes.
By the same token, then, suppose that politicians wanted to encourage laid-off workers to refrain from accepting a new job. What would they do? Naturally, they would offer to send the jobless workers checks so long as they remained unemployed.
Stop Feeling So Dim (Like I Did) Every Time "Net Neutrality" Comes Up
I somehow never had time (and never cared enough to make time) to figure it out. Finally, though, somebody did all the necessary work, and all I had to do was read it.
It's a great Mike Masnick post at Techdirt that explains "Net Neutrality" in actual simple English. An excerpt:
What is net neutrality?
This is not an easy answer, actually, which, at times, is a part of the problem. The phrase, first coined by law professor Tim Wu, referred originally to the concept of the end-to-end principle of the internet, in that anyone online could request a webpage or information from any online service, and the internet access provider (usually called internet service providers or ISPs) in the middle would deliver that information. At the time, the ISPs were starting to make noises about how they wanted to "charge" service providers to reach end users, effectively setting up toll booths on the internet. This kicked off in earnest in October of 2005, when SBC (which became AT&T) CEO Ed Whitacre declared that internet companies were using "his pipes for free."
The phrase has been warped and twisted in various directions over the years, but the simplest way to think about it is basically whether or not your ISP -- the company you pay for your internet access (usually cable, DSL or fiber, but also wireless, satellite and a few others) -- can pick winners and losers by requiring certain companies to pay the ISP more just to be available to you (or available to you in a "better" way). John Oliver probably summarized it best by arguing that it's about "preventing cable company fuckery" (though, to be clear, it goes beyond just cable companies).
The internet access providers claim that service providers, like Netflix and Google, are getting a "free ride" on their network, since those services are popular with their users, and they'd like to get those (very successful) companies to pay.
Wait, so internet companies don't pay for bandwidth?
They absolutely do pay for their bandwidth. And here's the tricky part of this whole thing. Everyone already pays for their own bandwidth. You pay your access provider, and the big internet companies pay for their bandwidth as well. And what you pay for is your ability to reach all those sites on the internet. What the internet access providers are trying to do is to get everyone to pay twice. That is, you pay for your bandwidth, and then they want, say, Netflix, to pay again for the bandwidth you already paid for, so that Netflix can reach you. This is under the false belief that when you buy internet service from your internet access provider, you haven't bought with it the ability to reach sites on the internet. The big telcos and cable companies want to pretend you've only bought access to the edge of their network, and then internet sites should have to pay extra to become available to you. In fact, they've been rather explicit about this. Back in 2006, AT&T's Ed Whitacre stated it clearly: "I think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network - obviously not the piece for the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in internet access fees, but for accessing the so-called internet cloud." In short, the broadband players would like to believe that when you pay your bandwidth, you're only paying from your access point to their router. It's a ridiculous view of the world, somewhat akin to pretending the earth is still flat and at the center of the universe, but in this case, the broadband players pretend that they're at the center of the universe.
"The American Gulag"
That's how radio host Mitch Berg put it on his blog, and he's right.
There's a secret interrogation facility where Chicago police "disappear" Americans, "rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site," writes Spencer Ackerman for The Guardian:
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago's west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
•Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
•Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
•Shackling for prolonged periods.
•Denying attorneys access to the "secure" facility.
•Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square "interview room" and later pronounced dead.
...Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.
"It's sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place - if you can't find a client in the system, odds are they're there," said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.
"This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years," Taylor said, "of violating a suspect or witness' rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement."
I'm with Berg -- not that I spend "tourist dollar(s)" in Chicago. But see the latter bit of that line from Berg:
Much as I love Chicago, I won't spend another tourist dollar there until those responsible for Homan Square are frog-walked out of their offices and put into Federal custody.
And it'll be interesting to see what other such places pop up around the country.
This is what we get in the wake of all the Americans going so quietly and politely as their Fourth Amendment rights were taken from them by TSA thugs at the airport. What all of you who did that without complaint told the bureaucracy and the police-ocracy is that they can get away with it. And to keep doing what they're doing and go a little further and a little further.
Secretary Of Veterans Affairs Invents Time Spent In The Special Forces
Seems like he should be specially forced to give up his position.
From the LAT editorial board:
Really? The secretary of Veterans Affairs? Surely there is no one who should better understand how offensive it is to lie about one's military service than the secretary of Veterans Affairs. Yet that's exactly what Robert McDonald did the night he participated in the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count in January. While chatting with a homeless man on skid row who said he had served in the elite special forces, McDonald responded, "Special forces? What years? I was in special forces."
In fact, McDonald, who graduated from West Point and did serve in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, was never a member of special forces. This week, he apologized, telling the Huffington Post, which first reported his false claim, that he "reacted spontaneously." The White House described his claim as a "misstatement" and said McDonald "never intended to misrepresent his military service."
The guy lied. To a vet. Just made shit up.
I just love the LA Times viewpoint:
In his defense, McDonald didn't go as far as some others have. He didn't repeat the untruth over and over or peddle it on his resume. He didn't wear a medal or decoration he didn't earn...
He also didn't murder a family of four. This doesn't make him unguilty of lying. Right in a vet's face.
Stupid-Ass California Plastic Bag Ban Suspended
The bag ban is a lesson in unintended consequences.
Judy Lin writes for the AP about the annoying plastic bag ban at stores in California:
A trade group has turned in enough signatures to qualify a referendum on California's plastic bag ban law, suspending implementation of the nation's first statewide ban until voters weigh in on the November 2016 ballot, state elections officials said Tuesday.
How 'bout the supposed benefits of that bag ban? From Reason Foundation, Julian Morris and Lance Christensen write:
The premise of these laws is to benefit the environment and reduce municipal costs. In practice, the opposite is more likely to be the case.
...The available evidence suggests that it will do nothing to protect the environment; quite the opposite, it will waste resources and cost Californian consumers billions of dollars. Specifically, such legislation will:
•Have practically no impact on the amount of litter generated (moreover, while banning plastic bags at small retailers might reduce plastic bag litter by 0.5%, banning the distribution of HDPE plastic bags by large retailers is unlikely to have any impact even on the amount of HDPE plastic bag litter produced.)
•Have no discernible impact on the amount of plastic in the ocean or on the number of marine animals harmed by debris;
•Increase the use of oil and other non-renewable energy resources, including coal and natural gas;
•Result in five-fold or greater increase in the shopping bag-related use of water;
•Make little or no difference to the costs of municipal waste management;
•Impose enormous costs on California's consumers, likely over $1 billion in both direct and indirect costs (such as time spent washing reusable bags).
A bit from the details -- about the claim that plastic bags are clogging storm drains:
Proponents of plastic bag bans claim the bags clog storm drains, but a comprehensive 2009 survey by Keep America Beautiful found that plastic bags of all kinds represented just less than 1% of visible litter items in storm drains.2 By contrast, as Figure 1 shows, plastic drink containers represented about 2% and other plastic items represented over 10%.3 Clearly, banning plastic bags would do little to reduce the problem of clogged storm drains, so attention should instead focus on ways to reduce the production of litter of all kinds--or mitigate its effects.
Unfortunately, the bag ban passed by idiots in LA will stay in effect. Does this mean that I'll litter less? I never littered in the first place. What it means is that I buy less at the liquor store when I go there for half 'n' half and realize I could get something else -- but I'd have to pay for a bag.
From that link above in the LA Times' Patrick McGreevy piece, follow the money:
SB 270 by former Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) would allow grocers to charge 10 cents for reusable plastic or paper bags to shoppers who do not bring their own to the store.
The alliance of bag makers argued that the real purpose of the law was to enrich supermarket chains and other retailers through collection of the 10-cent fee.
The opponents said it was untrue that the plastic bags provided by supermarkets are single-use because many consumers use them again to line trash cans, pick up waste left by their pets or carry lunches to work.
"SB 270 was never a bill about the environment," Califf said. "It was a backroom deal between the California Grocers Association and their union friends to scam consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees - all under the guise of environmentalism.
Linkie with clunks.
Listen To Me On Today's Adam Carolla Podcast (Taped Yesterday)
I talked about Ramblers (a little), manners and "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (a lot), and jumped in here and there on the news.
Do give a listen! Here's the link.
And if you have yet to buy my book, please buy one now!
The Insulting And Unfair Practice Of Affirmative Action
As it's oh, so euphemistically put in the LA Times subhead, Asian Americans are "learning to deal with diversity" in the "changing landscape of college admissions."
In common language, they're getting fucked -- hard -- by affirmative action.
Frank Shyong reports on a college admissions information session led by a woman named Anna Lee at an Arcadia tutoring center:
Her primer on college admissions begins with the basics: application deadlines, the relative virtues of the SAT versus the ACT and how many Advanced Placement tests to take.
Then she eases into a potentially incendiary topic -- one that many counselors like her have learned they cannot avoid.
"Let's talk about Asians," she says.
Lee's next slide shows three columns of numbers from a Princeton University study that tried to measure how race and ethnicity affect admissions by using SAT scores as a benchmark. It uses the term "bonus" to describe how many extra SAT points an applicant's race is worth. She points to the first column.
African Americans received a "bonus" of 230 points, Lee says.
"Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points."
The last column draws gasps.
Asian Americans, Lee says, are penalized by 50 points -- in other words, they had to do that much better to win admission.
"Do Asians need higher test scores? Is it harder for Asians to get into college? The answer is yes," Lee says.
How awful and unfair -- and unfair and insulting to black students who have legitimately earned their way into a place in college, only to be assumed to have been given the special "black person bonus."
Personally, I'm for a more Martin Luther King approach to admissions -- judging somebody by apparent the content of their character, their past performance in school, and their likelihood of making it in college.
Sadly, many who are admitted to schools when it's unwarranted by their tests scores or past performance tend to be left with huge student loans to pay back -- and no diploma -- after they crash and burn in an environment they were never ready to be in.
Answer to the question of "Why do (some) geniuses behave like jerks?"
I would also say, "Because they can."
And the other answer is, geniuses aren't geniuses across the spectrum, and we forget that.
From To Put It Bluntly, via Gog:
In 1990, after 25 years of marriage to the devoted Jane Wilde, Hawking informed her that he was flying to America with Elaine Mason, his therapist. He has long since left the therapist for whom he left his wife.
There is also jerkiness unmentioned in the film, but widely known. In May 2013, Hawking, after initially accepting an invitation to speak at the President's Conference organized to mark the 90th birthday of Shimon Peres, changed his mind and declared that he would not participate in any academic or cultural exchanges with Israel. He announced his support for the BDS - boycott, divestment, and sanctions - movement.
Now there are many reasons why ordinary people should oppose BDS. First, Israel, whatever its faults, is the lone democracy committed to individual rights in the Middle East, and therefore deserves support, not isolation. Second, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have greater freedom to protest and greater access to independent courts than any other Muslims in the Middle East. It makes no sense to boycott Israel and give a pass to the oppressive regimes ruling Syria, Iran, or Turkey, to name a few. Third, those attending international cultural and academic events tend to be the very Israelis most opposed to their government's policies. BDS, ironically, undermines the Israelis most committed to change and entrenches those most resistant.Genius
But these are reasons for ordinary people. Stephen Hawking is not an ordinary person. He has an added reason to oppose BDS. Hawking suffers from ALS, which has left him unable to utilize any muscles functions except for his cheeks, whose movement is monitored by a sensor attached to his spectacles. He sole means of communication is through a computer Intel Core i7-based communication system, which runs on a chip designed in Israel.
If BDS were universally adopted, as Hawking wishes, the very technology he relies upon to communicate would be unavailable to him. Hawking, a supposed champion of logic, thus takes the absurdly illogical position of opposing the same kind of exchange that allows him to communicate his opposition in the first place.
A first grader would blush at the internal inconsistency of such a position.
For the vast chasms in the rationality of Hawking and others we perceive to be geniuses, University of Toronto Professor Emeritus Keith Stanovich blames a cognitive bias which he calls "dysrationalia." In short, as Bluntly puts it, "smart people, including geniuses, are disinclined to think too much."
I've talked about how "expensive" the brain is in terms of its energy needs and use on my radio show, and this is one explanation.
But maybe our perception is the big problem -- perception that the genius is a genius across domains:
The difficulty becomes acute when the genius encounters a problem outside his ken. Hawking never acted like a jerk when he was dealing with physics, just as Chomsky was sensible when the topic was linguistics, and Fischer was sane when the arena was chess. Once outside their zones of expertise, they could have and should have assumed an air of modest ignorance.
But no. For them, a genius must always be a genius. He must swing for the fences, rather than hit to get on base. And when one swings for the fences, one is more likely to strike out. And the harder the swing, the more ridiculous the batter - or thinker - looks when his bat hits nothing but empty air.
The Dumbest Thing Is Continuing Prohibition -- Just For A Certain Age Group
As I and other grumble, you can go die for your country at 18, yet in some states, you can't legally drink a beer.
What we can't have, we always want more -- and this is likely so many on campuses drink like they'll never get a drink again.
I credit my parents -- especially my dad -- for my moderate drinking. I think I once accidentally got drunk at college (because somebody's frozen drinks were tasty), but it really didn't have a lot of interest for me.
Well, now, as a side-effect of our dumb drinking laws, a bunch of students are in trouble after the fake IDs they ordered from China went to the college dean instead of a student named "Dean." (Sounds like they also share a last name.)
From Philly.com, Mari A. Schaefer writes:
The incident came to light when the unidentified dean opened a package from Guangzhou, China, that contained a small lime-green picture frame. Further examination discovered eight realistic - but fraudulent - identification cards made for four 18-year-old male students inside the back cover. The dean contacted authorities.
The false identification cards, looking very much like official documents from Maryland and Connecticut, were to be used to get into bars, said Lt. Christopher Flanagan of Radnor police.
Police are not identifying the students or the university, Flanagan said. Villanova University, Cabrini College, Eastern University, and Valley Forge Military Academy and College are all in the township.
"It's more than underage drinking," Flanagan said.
Similar high-quality identification cards have been used in other crimes, including credit card or check fraud, and forgery. Flanagan said such documents can also be used to fill out credit card applications, as identification in scams on the elderly, and occasionally in terroristic crimes.
They can also be used to pick your teeth or scrape your windshield, but I'm guessing students just want to be a little less impeded in getting a keg or a six-pack.
More from the story:
The students have been offered counseling, and they could face sanctions for violating school codes, Flanagan said.
Counseling? What a crapload.
Here's counseling: Next time you order a fake ID, suss out whether you're buying it from a total dipshit who's too cheap and stupid to get an off-campus mailbox.
Linky in figure-eights.
Genius Chicago Cabbies Protest Uber By Going On Strike -- Forcing People To Take Uber
From CBS Chicago, a bunch of cabbies staged a protest on Chicago's Loop by driving around for four hours and refusing to pickup fares. And by honking. (My take: the sound of "Honk if you love Uber!")
Dozens of cabs drive in circles around City Hall and the Daley Center for more than an hour, honking their horns to draw attention. Many cabbies had posted protest signs in their windows, accusing Uber of stealing their customers.
"It's good music to my ears," said cab driver Rocky Mmomo, a steering committee member of the United Taxidrivers Community Council. Mmomo said cabbies want the tax industry deregulated, so it can better compete with Uber and the other ride-sharing companies.
They rather reasonably are now upset at big government -- pissed off at the regulations that have been forced on them. For passenger safety? More for government funding:
The cabbies want the city to do away with chauffeur licenses required for taxi drivers, biannual city safety inspections required for all cabs, and medallions required to operate a cab company. A city medallion costs up to $375,000.
"We have 12,000 drivers who are suffering, because of the invasion of Uber, and UberX, and Lyft into the streets of Chicago; and that was as a result of the lack of regulation from the city of Chicago," UTCC chairman Fayez Khozindar said at a City Hall news conference.
Cab drivers have said, because regulations on ride-sharing companies are much less restrictive, it's very difficult for cab drivers to compete.
"We'll be sitting at a hotel for two, three hours; and all of a sudden you see three UberX cabs just came and picked up customers while we're just sitting there. How is that fair? That's not fair to a cab driver," cab driver Mustafa Husein said.
Hmm, depends what your definition of "fair" is.
It's fair to the passenger -- who saves money and could have chosen a cab but wants an Uber driver.
The case here is similar to the government's prohibition on my eating, say, unpasteurized cheese -- which I want to do. I would be the decider -- as a functioning adult -- in whether I am willing to take that risk. Why should the government get to decide what I can put in my stomach?
I'm staying in an AirBnB place soon. I'll pay less than half of what I'd pay in a hotel and I have a refrigerator and stove. The guy who owns the place seems great. As was the friendly guy who drove Gregg home ("Dave in the Ford Focus") when he took Uber back from my place. Dave has an interest in maintaining his car because he's driving in it and surely doesn't want to die or be maimed, and cars and drivers are rated by passengers.
I like the "sharing" economy and I choose to participate in it, as do many people. Government shouldn't meddle in that.
ISIS Militants Pledge To Throw Gays Off Leaning Tower Of "Pizza"
"We'll get you -- and your little dog, Pepperoni, too!" they were heard to yell.
Okay, I made that part up. But as reported by PinkNews, in keeping with Islam's commands to slaughter gays, somebody manning an IS-run Twitter account warned:
"#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome, we will conquer and establish the justice of #shariah. We will use your leaning tower of pizza to throw off homosexual
The group were seemingly unaware both that they had misspelled "Leaning Tower of Pisa", and that the tower is actually located in the town of Pisa, nearly 200 miles from Rome.
Rather than succumb to the threats, a number of Rome residents are instead giving the group travel advice, given the city's notoriously poor transport network.
Loved some of these tweets -- and the cute fractured English:
#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome ahahah Be careful on the highway-Ring Road: there's too much traffic, you would remain trapped!
#We_Are_Coming_O_Rome hey just a tip: don't come in train, it's every time late!
Homosexuals have been beheaded, hung and stoned in modern Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Muhammad's laws are applied most strictly. Five other Muslim countries also have the death penalty on their books for homosexual behavior. In the past, gays were burned as well. As one cleric recently put it, the only point of theological debate is over how the offender should be killed.
Oh, and in more European hilarity, Swedish Television's former expert on "Islamophobia" has gone to Syria join in the genocide, mass rape, and all the other fun of ISIS.