Your Tax Dollars: Keeping Kansas City Safe From The Scourge Of Illegal Panties
Jenée Osterheldt writes in the KC Star that two baboons from Homeland Security confiscated underwear with a hand-drawn Royals logo on it that a woman, Peregrine Honig, made to sell in her underwear store.
I understand defending copyrights -- but is it really making our homeland more secure? Shouldn't this be matter for civil court, like it is if somebody starts publishing my column in their paper without paying for it?
The panties, with "Take the Crown" and "KC" across the bottom, were set to be sold in Honig's Birdies Panties shop Tuesday. But Homeland Security agents visited the Crossroads store and confiscated the few dozen pairs of underwear, printed in Kansas City by Lindquist Press.
"They came in and there were two guys" Honig said. "I asked one of them what size he needed and he showed me a badge and took me outside. They told me they were from Homeland Security and we were violating copyright laws."
She thought that since the underwear featured her hand-drawn design that she was safe. But the officers explained that by connecting the "K" and the "C," she infringed on major league baseball copyright. (The officials involved could not be immediately reached for comment.)
They placed the underwear in an official Homeland Security bag and had Honig sign a statement saying she wouldn't use the logo.
How Sexy Is "Affirmative Consent"?
Conor Friedersdorf, at The Atlantic, blogged an email from a guy who "began college determined to ask women for explicit verbal consent during sexual encounters, but abandoned that approach over time." The guy writes:
I was raised by a left-leaning, feminist family who (at least I thought at the time) were relatively open about sex. But while I arrived at college with a healthy respect for women, I was totally unprepared for the complex realities of female sexuality.
"Oh," sighed one platonic female friend after we had just watched Harrison Ford grab Alison Doody and kiss her is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "Why don't guys do that kind of thing anymore? Now days they are all too scared."
On our second night together, one of my first partners threw up her hands in disgust. "How am I supposed to get turned on when you keep asking for permission for everything like a little boy?" She said. "Just take me and fuck me already."
She didn't stay with me for long.
This would be a recurring theme. More than once I saw disappointment in the eyes of women when I didn't fulfill the leadership role they wanted me to perform in the bedroom. I realized that women don't just desire men, they desire men's desire―and often they don't want to have to ask for it. I also realized that I was in many ways ashamed of my own sexual desire as a man, and that this was not healthy.
...One night I ended up back in a girl's room after a first date (those do happen in college). She had invited me in and was clearly attracted to me. We were kissing on her bed, outer layers of clothing removed, but when my hands wandered downward she said, "No, wait." I waited. She began kissing me again, passionately, so again I moved to remove her underwear. "Stop," she said, "this is too fast." I stopped.
"That's fine," I said. I kissed her again and left soon after, looking forward to seeing her again.
But my text messages received only cold, vaguely angry replies, and then silence. I was rather confused. Only many weeks later did I find out the truth from one of her close friends: "She really wanted you, but you didn't make it happen. She was pretty upset that you didn't really want her."
"Why didn't she just say so then, why did she say we were moving too fast?"
"Of course she said that, you dumbass. She didn't want you to think she was a slut."
Talk about confusing. Apparently in this case even no didn't mean no. It wasn't the last time I've come across "token resistance" that is intended to be overcome either. But that's a line that I am still uncomfortable with testing, for obvious reasons.
But I have learned not to ask when it clearly isn't necessary, or desired.
There's a name for a guy like this -- at least on college campuses: "rapist."
Like an iceberg, but less dangerous to an ocean liner.
Be A Sick Jerk Who Dresses Up Your Pet
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Proudly Defacing Our National Parks
I've got a thing for civilization, and mostly stay ensconced in it, but I understand that people who go out into nature want to see nature and not be forced to see somebody's "art" mucking it up.
Well, per Modern Hiker's Casey Schreiner, a woman took it upon herself to go all "Kilroy was here" with acrylic paints, sticking her "art" up on rock faces and such all over the great outdoors:
Casey Nocket ... had traveled to the west coast from New York for a few weeks. Ms. Nocket had been enjoying her time in the outdoors so much that she decided to document her trip on Instagram. And apparently Nocket was so moved by all the natural beauty she saw that she just had to paint all over it.
Photos at the link.
Sometimes, You Should Feel Free To Shut The Hell Up
Free speech is an essential right. However...
Another fine quote from "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck":
Can you think of any remarks some person in your life just had to get out that, really, would have been far better kept in their cage?
Following The Overheard
Overheard at a gallery opening, Beverly Hills, from a slim little elderly woman with white hair in a French twist and wearing hot pink semi-skinny jeans and a fashionable bright print jacket:
"If only I could meet a rich 89-year-old. But men die...they all die..."
Viral Video Seeming To Show Muslim Profiling By NYPD Was Staged
The motive seems to be killing two birds with one stone -- the larger one of them being greed.
The Smoking Gun has the story:
OCTOBER 21--In a cynical and duplicitous attempt to capitalize on New York City's documented racial profiling problems, a pair of bloggers have created a video purporting to show an NYPD officer stopping and frisking a pair of Muslim men for the crime of wearing traditional Islamic garments.
But the viral video is a sham, a staged production aimed to go viral and pile up views and YouTube channel subscriptions for its young creators, Brooklynites Adam Saleh and Sheikh Akbar, who get a piece of the revenue generated by ads that run before their videos play.
TSG asks the right questions about the supposed cop on the video:
Oddly, the officer never bothers to remove the item to confirm that it is a phone and not a deadly weapon. Also, the cop does not appear concerned that Saleh's friend is hovering directly behind him.
If you know anything about cops or even watch a cop show or two, you probably find these actions a little unbelievable -- especially the friend hanging out behind the cop doing the frisking.
10/21 TSG UPDATE:
In an interview yesterday with Capital New York, a spokesperson for Saleh and Akbar claimed that he had "behind the scene footage" proving that the profiling episode was not faked. Asked for additional details, the flack told reporter Azi Paybarah, "We can't give out details for follow ups--it breaches confidentiality."
However, despite that shaky assurance, the videographers copped to their perfidy (albeit sneakily) after TSG exposed their hoax this morning. They edited the video's YouTube description to report that the clip was a "Dramatization of previous events that occurred with us in our tradition clothing while filming in NYC. This video is not against the NYPD." The video's original description claimed that Saleh and Akbar were prompted to expose the NYPD after "we kept getting followed by Police. So we decided to film this social experiment on racial profiling." The duo added that, "Too many innocent people get stopped and frisked" daily due to their clothing and skin color.
The "Emotional Support Animal" Scam
I'm not a fan of the way pets are automatically kept out of restaurants and cafes in the US. I used to take my late Yorkie, Lucy, to a number of Paris cafes, where she was welcomed as an honored guest -- and promptly curled up in my lap, as she was trained to do, shortly after we sat down.
My wee Chinese Crested, Aida, is cleaner and better-trained -- and better-behaved -- than many children. But it wouldn't be fair of me to cause a restaurant or cafe to get a health code violation by bringing my dog in.
And no, because I committed to being ethical, I'm not willing to lie and call my dog a service animal. Instead, because she is joy on four legs and is very attached to me (and vice versa), I hate to leave her. So, I mostly stay home with her instead of going out to write at my favorite cafe on non-deadline days, like I used to. And when I do go there, Gregg stays with her for the day.
Patricia Marx writes in The New Yorker about those who lie to get their pets in to restaurants and museums and more. (Not to be missed is the part about her testing out the acceptance of an "emotional support alpaca" and a turtle.)
People with genuine impairments who depend on actual service animals are infuriated by the sort of imposture I perpetrated with my phony E.S.A.s. Nancy Lagasse suffers from multiple sclerosis and owns a service dog that can do everything from turning lights on and off to emptying her clothes dryer. "I'm shocked by the number of people who go online and buy their pets vests meant for working dogs," she told me. "These dogs snarl and go after my dog. They set me up for failure, because people then assume my dog is going to act up."
...Carry a baby down the aisle of an airplane and passengers look at you as if you were toting a machine gun. Imagine, then, what it's like travelling with a one-year-old pig who oinks, grunts, and screams, and who, at twenty-six pounds, is six pounds heavier than the average carry-on baggage allowance and would barely fit in the overhead compartment of the aircraft that she and I took from Newark to Boston. Or maybe you can't imagine this.
During check-in, the ticket agent, looking up to ask my final destination, did a double take.
She said, "Oh . . . have you checked with . . . I don't think JetBlue allows . . ."
I rehashed my spiel about the letter and explained that days ago, when I bought the tickets, the service representative said that I could bring Daphne, my pig, as long as she sat on my lap.
"Give me one second," the agent said, picking up the phone. "I'm checking with my supervisor." (Speaking into phone: "Yes, with a pig . . . yeah, yeah . . . in a stroller.") The agent hung up and printed out boarding passes for me and the pig's owner, Sophie Wolf.
"I didn't want to make a mistake," he said. "If there's a problem, Verna, at the gate, will help you. Does she run fast?"
I'm pleased to report that passing through security with a pig in your arms is easier than doing so without one: you get to keep your shoes on and skip the full-body scanner.
Link you stepped in and need to clean off the bottom of your shoe.
Violating The Rights Of The Religious By Treating A Wedding Chapel Like A Car Wash
I am an atheist and a strong supporter of gay rights (including the right to marry the one consenting adult of one's choice and get all the benefits that ensue from that), but I am also a civil libertarian who supports religious freedom.
I don't have to believe in god to think that people who do believe in god should not be forced to violate their beliefs to serve customers they are opposed to -- providing they don't run the only hospital in town or some provide some similarly critical service.
Law professor Jonathan Turley lays out the case in Idaho that "could be a critical showdown between anti-discrimination laws and freedom of exercise of religion":
At the heart of the controversy are two Christian ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who own a Coeur d'Alene wedding chapel. They have been told that they must either perform same-sex weddings or face a $1000 fine. It raises a legitimate claim of the encroachment of state laws into areas of faith -- a question that has been previously raised in less direct ways involving bakeries, photographers and other businesses that has refused for religious reasons to service same-sex marriages.
...The city has an ordinance passed last year that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of housing, employment and public accommodation. As a for-profit business, the ordinance does not treat the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel any different from a car wash.
Of course, it is different in the character of its work. The controversy however has played out in a variety of different contexts. This is an issue that we previously discussed when Harvard banned men from workout areas to satisfy the demands of Muslim women as well as other accommodations at other universities. Conversely, cities have banned the boy scouts because they exclude gay scout leaders and were thus discriminatory organizations. We have also seen private businesses who have been forced not to discriminate against homosexuals such a bakeries, florists, and photographers. I have previously written on the growing collision of free exercise of religion and anti-discrimination laws. Where does one draw the line where a florist cannot bar a homosexual but a grocery can bar males? The inherent conflicts in these cases leaves us without a single cognizable rule.
That is why this case could be so important. While I have long supported gay rights and same-sex marriage, I am sympathetic with the Knapps. I have great concern over the state telling a religious business to violate the core of its religious values.
...I believe that the couple has a strong argument under the First Amendment as well as Idaho's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Regardless of one's view of the merits, however, this could be a defining moment for constitutional law.
Does the fact that a business earns a profit really decimate their First Amendment right to also refrain from speaking -- to not perform a ceremony that violates their beliefs?
Annie comments at Turley:
This is not a church. This is a for profit corporation. It doesn't matter if they are religious. They will need to become a church in order to be able to legally refuse to marry same sex people. I've never heard of a church (which is tax exempt) compelled to do anything which went against its religious tenets. If the religious baker and photographer can't claim their faith as a means to discriminate, why should these people? I think it's going to end up after the cout battles, an all or nothing doctrine. All bigoted business owners everywhere can discriminate against anyone they please, or none can, OR they can all apply for tax emmett status become ordained ministers and become churches who bake bread, or take photos, or sell shoes, thusly destroying the true meaning and redefining the meaning of a CHURCH.
The Land Of The Free To Be Thrown In Jail Even If You Aren't Convicted Of A Crime
Radley Balko asks in the WaPo:
Think the government must convict you of a crime before it can punish you for it? Think again.
Most Americans probably believe that the government must first convict you of a crime before it can impose a sentence on you for that crime. This is incorrect: When federal prosecutors throw a bunch of charges at someone but the jury convicts on only some of those charges, a federal judge can still sentence the defendant on the charges for which he was acquitted. In fact, the judge can even consider crimes for which the defendant has never been charged.
Balko writes about a jury that found three men guilty of selling small amounts of cocaine but acquitted them on racketeering and other charges (of being part of an extensive drug conspiracy). Hey, but never mind those acquittals!
Balko quotes the National Law Journal, from a piece reported by Tony Mauro:
Yet, when U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts sentenced the three, he said he "saw clear evidence of a drug conspiracy," and sentenced Ball, Thurston and Jones to 18, 16 and 15 years in prison, respectively -- four times higher than the highest sentences given for others who sold similar amounts of cocaine, according to filings with the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court just declined to hear this case. On a more positive note, Balko reports that Scalia, Thomas, and Ginsburg filed "a rare dissent" to the Court's refusal. An excerpt:
We have held that a substantively unreasonable penalty is illegal and must be set aside. ... It unavoidably follows that any fact necessary to prevent a sentence from being substantively unreasonable--thereby exposing the defendant to the longer sentence--is an element that must be either admitted by the defendant or found by the jury. It may not be found by a judge.
...Not only did no jury convict these defendants of the offense the sentencing judge thought them guilty of, but a jury acquitted them of that offense. Petitioners were convicted of distributing drugs, but acquitted of conspiring to distribute drugs. The sentencing judge found that petitioners had engaged in the conspiracy of which the jury acquitted them.
Don't think that because these chappies are drug dealers that this judicial abuse can't be used against you.
Just Ghost (How To Leave A Party)
I learned this from my friend (and a wonderful host) DL -- the "French Leave."
Instead of interrupting the host's conversation to say goodbye, just "ghost" -- quietly disappear from the party.
That said, when I'm invited to a party, I send a thank-you note afterward -- one that arrives by mail. So the disappearance isn't wordless -- the words are just postponed, and generally arrive on an antique postcard or piece of antique hotel stationery the day afterward.
There's a piece on this on Slate, by Seth Stevenson, in favor of what's also sometimes called the "Irish Goodbye." Why make leaving harder than it has to be, he asks?
One recent evening, I celebrated my birthday in the outdoor courtyard of a bar. As the night wore on, and friends fell by the wayside, each departure occasioned a small ritual. A pal would sidle up to whichever conversational circle I was in; edge closer and closer, so as to make herself increasingly conspicuous; and finally smile, apologetically, when the conversation halted so I could turn to her and say goodbye.
Nothing but good intentions here. To some small extent, I appreciated the politeness of this parting gesture. It was not a major imposition to pause for a moment and thank folks for coming.
But there's a better way. One that saves time and agita, acknowledges clear-eyed realities, and keeps the social machine humming.
Ghosting--aka the Irish goodbye, the French exit, and any number of other vaguely ethnophobic terms--refers to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells. One moment you're at the bar, or the house party, or the Sunday morning wedding brunch. The next moment you're gone. In the manner of a ghost.
...Let's free ourselves from this meaningless, uncomfortable, good time-dampening kabuki. People are thrilled that you showed up, but no one really cares that you're leaving. Granted, it might be aggressive to ghost a gathering of fewer than 10. And ghosting a group of two or three is not so much ghosting as ditching. But if the party includes more than 15 or 20 attendees, there's a decent chance none will notice that you're gone, at least not right away.
UPDATED: A bit on thank you notes to party hosts from "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck", which I hope you'll buy! The above link is to Amazon; here's the one at Barnes and Noble.
The senseless death of the thank-you note
Somebody spends hours cleaning their house and even more shopping, cooking, and laying out the spread for a party, all of which probably cost them a bunch of money, and your response is . . . calling out "Bye!" and maybe adding a "Hey, thanks!" as you go out the door? E-mailing a thank you the next day is the minimum you should do--and is fine if somebody simply put out beer, chips, veggies, and dip.
When somebody has you to dinner, a little more effort seems in order. This isn't to say that you need to pluck a goose, sharpen a quill into a pen, and write a 1,000-word letter waxing on about the stuffed mushrooms in a spidery longhand. I like to send antique postcards I buy in bulk on eBay (150 for $34 last time I bought 'em).
Best of all, there's just enough room to scrawl some thanks for the fab grub and maybe an amusing aside. But what the antique postcard lacks in space for verbosity it makes up for in groovy-osity. As the late crime writer Elmore Leonard admiringly put it after he got my postcard thanking him for having me at his Christmas party, "looked like it got lost in the mail for 75 years."
I also like to buy antique hotel stationery on eBay. It's like getting a present in the mail to get a thank-you note on stationery from some long-gone hotel in Hong Kong.
Government Is Ridiculous: The Minor Pain Relief Version
I have 500 mg Naproxen from 1998 that I discovered can shove a migraine back into its ugly hole and let me function instead of writhing in pain in the dark with brief interruptions to throw up.
The fact that it's 16 years old...not so fabulous. Maybe it's lost some of it's pow, but maybe it's also degraded in bad ways.
I looked it up and found that Naproxen can now be purchased OTC as "Aleve." Yay!
Gregg is coming over tonight, and I asked him to stop at the drugstore on his way.
Gregg calls me: It turns out it's only sold OTC in 220 mg pills.
If you want 500 mg, you have to get a prescription.
Or, whir the little wheels in your pretty little head to add 220 and 220 -- which is in the neighborhood of 500 mg. Vaguely, anyway.
So, does some government nitwit think I might snort the stuff and get high?
What's with restrictions on adults trying to buy their way out of a migraine with a drug that will not cause anyone to start seeing giant purple bunnies flying and trying to eat jetliners?
No wonder the President seems to think nothing of sticking more and more stuff and programs we can't afford on the national credit card.
From Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard, an excerpt from the President's speech (talking about "unpaid bills" on his desk in Chicago, which he left behind after he moved to The White House following the 2008 election):
"One of the nice things about being home is actually that it's a little bit like a time capsule. Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there's still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills (laughter) -- I think eventually they got paid -- but they're sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff."
Somebody at The White House later thought better of including that bit about his unpaid bills and scrubbed it from the transcript.
Women Don't Freeze Their Eggs Because They're Pretty
A writer in New York Magazine, Kat Stoeffel, says if companies cover egg freezing -- as was recently in the news -- they should also cover day care:
Being able to plan fertilization independent of one's biological clock won't help women once they're pregnant and mothers, which is when the real leaning out begins. After giving birth, women still have to contend with a workplace designed for men in two-parent, single-earner households, not to mention discrimination for even wanting to be there instead of at home with their baby. Leveling the playing field between men, women, parents, and nonparents would require a lot of things. Health insurance that covers birth control, abortion, and maternity care without co-pays, for one. Paid maternity, paternity, and family leave, for another. Nursing rooms, on-site child care, flexible work schedules, telecommuting -- the list goes on.
I just don't understand why all these things should be covered without co-pays -- unless we all get that for our, say, dermatology appointments, so we can clear up our adult acne and go out and meet a partner.
Apple and Facebook already offer above-average family benefits. Apple recently announced that mothers can take up to four weeks before delivery and "upwards of 14 weeks after giving birth," while fathers and other non-birth parents can take six weeks. Facebook offers four months of parental leave for birth parents and non-birth parents alike during the first year, plus flexible work hours, telecommuting, $4,000 in "baby cash," subsidized laundry, and a child-care reimbursement (the company is only able to offer full-time on-site day care for employee dogs). Making sure employees feel secure enough to take advantage of these benefits -- and aren't mommy-tracked upon their return -- is another story.
There are choices in life and they come with costs. I work constantly -- because that's my priority. As I've written before, if you choose to subtract your time and effort from your employer and put it toward your child -- or maintaining your backyard Hot Wheels track -- that is your choice, but you shouldn't expect the same promotions, money, or other benefits as employees who are more devoted to their jobs.
More from her piece:
By adding egg freezing to the mix, employers signal their recognition that the demands of the workplace aren't always compatible with child rearing. But they also risk sending the same message as Lean In: that women need to adapt to meet the demands of an (often hostile) workplace, not the other way around. And if we look to egg freezing as a solution to the question of work-life balance, then we risk conceding that women probably shouldn't dare get pregnant until they're important and rich enough to either demand or pay for the rest themselves. We risk agreeing that mothers are inherently less-than-ideal employees (something most people who have witnessed firsthand the time- and human-management powers of working moms would probably contest). Offering egg freezing, Extend Fertility founder Christy Jones told NBC, "can help women be more productive human beings." That doesn't seem quite right -- raising children, after all, is a very productive human behavior. But egg freezing can help women be more like men.
I recently hired a new assistant to replace my beloved and wonderful assistant who lost his mind (aka decided to go live off the grid...which I love to tease him about). The new guy, who's terrific, has an obligation until the end of October on Fridays, which is an important work day for me -- basically, the prep day for my deadline days.
Well, because he's terrific, I decided to make this work, though it's hard for me (for various boring reasons).
That's what employers do -- if they have employees who are worth sacrificing for on some level, they do that. But the fact that you have a vagina and want to fill it up with a baby doesn't necessarily make you valuable.
That's not the PC truth, but it's the honest one.
A counterpoint from the comments at NYMag -- a remark by alexandrasuhner:
Maybe companies should actually invest in some REAL research into how female/mother employees affect the workplace. I had a friend high up the corporate ladder in media and he said the best employees were new Moms. He accepted that they had to leave early occasionally to deal with problems with their kids, but as a result, they were extremely hardworking while they were at work, and very grateful for their jobs. He said that generally they worked harder than the men, and he knew that there was no chance they would leave for a business lunch at 12 and come back drunk at 6pm. Plus the female employers are more likely to stay in a job rather than move around. Maybe it is time employers look - statistically - at how mothers affect the workplace and they might be pleasantly surprised.
Recent Feminist Jell-O-headedness In Academia: Feminist Computer Code
Arielle Schlesinger writes at HASTAC, Humanities, Arts, Science, & Technology Alliance Collaboratory:
As a student of Technology and Social Change, I am currently exploring what a feminist programing language would look like for my thesis.
She explains in her post:
Feminism and Programming Languages
In the scope of my research, a feminist programming language is to be built around a non-normative paradigm that represents alternative ways of abstracting. The intent is to encourage and allow new ways of thinking about problems such that we can code using a feminist ideology.
The first commenter, Barry Peddycord III, says it (unintentionally, it seems) -- while seeming to high-five her later in his post:
Oh my gosh yes this is awesome.
For the longest time, I've been thinking about programming languages as a computer-human interaction problem: the purpose of a language is to make its features (affordances) obvious to its users.
A friend of a Facebook friend posted this comment on this ridiculousness -- apparently gleaned from this page:
"The traditional binary foundation of 1s and 0s is deeply problematic: 1 is inherently phallic and thus misogynistic. Also, some 1s are 0s, and some 0s are 1s. It is not fair to give them immutable labels. Instead, we have 0s and Os as our fundamental binary logic gates. They symbolise/-ize the varying, natural, and beautiful differences of the female vaginal opening."
The Age Of Overprotective Idiocy
A mother practically coughed up an organ in horror after her 10-year-old son came home from Tesco supermarket with a purple mini-knife in a pumpkin-carving kit.
10, not 2.
'I couldn't believe that he could pick that sort of thing up as a child - there should have been an age restriction on it.'
I had access to knives from probably the age of 6 or 8. Or before. (As did kids throughout human history.)
Whoops, seems I forgot to slit anyone's throat or...what, exactly, would the danger be here? Give it to the nearest toddler as a play-toy?
I think some mothers look for a reason to act out in fear and horror. It makes them feel like they're being mother-y and responsible, when actually, they're just coddling their kids out of growing up, which involves taking on increasing responsibility.
(What does this lady give her kid at dinner-time, a plastic spork to manage the food she puts through a blender for him? Do she and her husband, if any, keep some intense watch over the children to make sure none off themselves or each other with a steak knife before dessert?)
The Tainted Treats Myth Lives On
If you spend $5 on a marijuana lollypop, are you really going to give it out to the kiddies?
This would serve what purpose, exactly? The joy of thinking, "I got some 5-year-old high?"
And frankly, as a kid, we weren't going to eat some weirdly wrapped off-brand candy. We wanted Snickers, the Hershey's Miniatures dark, etc.
Jacob Sullum writes at reason that the folk tale of people giving kids pot-laced candy lives on -- despite a lack of evidence that anybody actually does that:
Last week the DPD posted a video in which Patrick Johnson, proprietor of Denver's Urban Dispensary, warns that "there's really no way to tell the difference between candy that's infused and candy that's not infused" once the products have been removed from their original packages. The video illustrates Johnson's point with images of innocuous-looking gummy bears and gumdrops. He advises parents to inspect their kids' Halloween haul and discard anything that looks unfamiliar or seems to have been tampered with.
Det. Aaron Kafer of the DPD's Marijuana Unit amplifies that message in an "Ask the Expert" podcast, saying "there's a ton of edible stuff that's out there on the market that's infused with marijuana that could be a big problem for your child." Noting that "all marijuana edibles have to be labeled," Kafer recommends that parents make sure their kids "avoid and not consume anything that is out of the package."
CNN turned these warnings into a widely carried story headlined "Tricks, Treats and THC Fears in Colorado." According to CNN, "Colorado parents have a new fear to factor in this Halloween: a very adult treat ending up in their kids' candy bags."
Actually, this fear is not so new. For years law enforcement officials have been warning parents to be on the lookout for marijuana edibles in their kids' trick-or-treat sacks. And for years, as far as I can tell, there has not been a single documented case in which someone has tried to get kids high by doling out THC-tainted treats disguised as ordinary candy. Since 1996, the year that California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use, the newspapers and wire services covered by the Nexis database have not carried any reports of such trickery, although they have carried more than a few articles in which people worry about the possibility.
After the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a San Francisco manufacturer of marijuana edibles in September 2007, for instance, the agency claimed it was protecting children, especially the ones who dress up in costumes and go begging for candy on October 31. "Kids and parents need to be careful in case kids get ahold of this candy," said Javier Pena, special agent in charge of the DEA's San Francisco office. "Halloween is coming up." According to the Contra Costa Times, medical marijuana advocates "dismissed Pena's Halloween reference as an 'absurd' attempt at 'pure publicity.'"
There is a cost to such bogeyman stories, and it goes beyond needlessly discarded candy. These rumors portray the world as a darker, more dangerous place than it really is, which is probably not conducive to a happy childhood or a successful adulthood. At the same time, the credence that public officials lend to such fanciful fears makes any reasonably skeptical person doubt other warnings from the same authorities, an unfortunate result when those warnings happen to be accurate and useful.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
(And it's making your children high!
Before you know it, your daughter will be turning tricks on the street corner and your son will be making meth out of your shed!
P.S. Pot was plenty available growing up and it was plenty available before medical marijuana.
Just Bend Over A Little!
Ars Technica's Robert Lemos's blog post headline:
FBI director to citizens: Let us spy on you
Excerpt from the piece:
The increasing adoption of encryption technologies could leave law enforcement agents "in the dark" and unable to collect evidence against criminals, the Director of the FBI said in a speech on Thursday.
Better that there's difficulty collecting evidence against criminals than ease collecting evidence against all of us.
Don't think it can't be used, won't be used.
The erosion of civil liberties, which has gone on at an increasing pace over the past five years and over the past decade, is exceptionally dangerous.
Especially because so many Americans can't be bothered about it.
Not Living With Your Nose In Your Phone: It's A Choice
There's yet another article -- this one a blog item in The New York Times by Jenna Wortham -- about somebody being ruled by their phone. Wortham writes:
My phone has transformed my life for the better. It has made me a more efficient worker, enabled a healthy and loving long-distance relationship and allowed me to keep up with friends.
Even so, I'm as guilty as anyone of using my phone as a crutch, either to avoid talking to people I don't know at a party, or to stave off boredom while waiting for a friend in a bar. I'm also easily distracted by the various pings and vibrations coming from my iPhone, and often find myself drawn into an endless loop of checking alerts, reading my social media streams and replying to non-urgent email and text messages. Often, I can't resist sneaking a peek at the screen during movies or other outings. And as much as I hate to admit it, I've occasionally been so preoccupied by a text message that I've almost bumped into someone on the street.
I realize the pull of the phone -- to chimp-like, click the button and check email. But I choose to live life in the moment rather than with my nose in the phone.
It didn't take much to do this. I just realized the value of talking to strangers in bars and letting your mind wander while you're in line and taking in the flowers as you walk the dog.
I also choose to not be one of the self-absorbed assholes making everyone leap around them as they text on the sidewalk, crossing the street, and stopping stock-still at the bottom of escalators. This didn't take some major move on my part -- just a decision and a decision to stick to it, same as I stick to my "no doing stuff on your phone while the car is moving."
Two Male Strippers Would Have Done A Better Job Running The CDC
Male strippers Axl Goode and Taylor Cole decided to self-quarantine (though it was not required by the CDC) after they flew seated several feet from Amber Joy Vinson, the nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola, but allowed by the CDC to fly.
Here's the story about them in the NY Daily News.
Mary Katherine Ham writes at Hot Air:
The two dancers are self-quarantining for the three-week incubation period of the deadly disease, citing a desire to take a "proactive approach to protecting people," and are surprised the CDC didn't require it. Here's hoping they just get three weeks off work and 15 minutes of fame, and not Ebola.
The experience of these men speaks to the CDC's larger problems in gaining trust with the American people to fight an Ebola outbreak. The agency, whose approval numbers are falling precipitously, has routinely made assurances that were later proven untrue, failed to be as proactive as Axl and Taylor, and made moves so obviously reckless that humble, normal Americans look at the agency's conduct and quite rationally conclude it's not to be trusted.
This is not panic or the result of some political campaign to undermine the CDC. This is self-inflicted. For instance, the CDC told Vinson, who has been exposed to Ebola and had a slight fever, that she could jump on a plane to the Midwest.
It also failed to anticipate the need to monitor a nurse who may have handled an Ebola patient's samples. That nurse is now isolated in her cabin on a cruise ship, which are of course infamous hotbeds for contagious disease outbreaks.
Vinson, for her part, asked the CDC if she should fly and made a mistake in trusting their advice. Axl and Taylor aren't making the same mistake, and many Americans will be inclined to be wary as well. Again, that reaction is a direct result of the CDC's actions in handling Ebola.
Why Almost 50 Percent Of Doctors Give Obamacare A "D" Or An "F"
(Perhaps because a "G" -- which I'd give it, per my experience related below -- isn't an actual grade.)
At The Hill, Jeffrey A. Singer, M.D., counts himself among the discontented:
Obamacare has harmed too many of my patients.
It has done so by disrupting the doctor-patient relationship and thereby worsening the quality of patients' care. This is the heart and soul of medicine, as I have learned in in my 33 years as a practicing physician. The doctor-patient relationship is critical for positive health outcomes because it allows both parties to work together to identify and ultimately treat medical problems. Simply put, a relationship of trust and continuity is essential to our professional mission.
Obamacare's assault on the doctor-patient relationship first manifested this time last year, when my patients began receiving cancellation letters indicating that their plans didn't meet the law's minimum requirements.
Some of my patients were transferred to plans that did not include me in the physician network. In some cases this meant they had to find another surgeon to assume care while they were recovering from the first stage of a multistage surgical course. Others were enrolled in one of the Medicaid plans in which I participate. These plans make it difficult for me to coordinate with other specialists when treating cancer and other complex surgical patients because of the scarcity and distance of other specialists in the plan. And some could only afford plans that significantly limited their health care options.
No matter which option they chose, Obamacare forced my patients to make trade-offs between pricing, access, and quality of care.
Read also how patients are forced onto Medicaid, where they get substandard care.
In The New York Times, Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear report a piece, "Unable to Meet the Deductible or the Doctor":
Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.
But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year's brain scan and hoping for the best.
"To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn't grown?" said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. "I don't have that money."
About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families -- the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people -- no firm data exists on how many -- say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.
Insurers must cover certain preventive services, like immunizations, cholesterol checks and screening for breast and colon cancer, at no cost to the consumer if the provider is in their network. But for other services and items, like prescription drugs, marketplace customers often have to meet their deductible before insurance starts to help.
This is what's happened to me. A breast surgeon ordered me to get breast MRIs every couple of years a few years back. Before we got the "Affordable" Care Act shoved down our throats, I did this -- paying a $50 co-pay. Now, with Obamacare, my health care payment is not only unaffordable but I also have some multi-thousand-dollar deductible. So now, those MRIs will sock me for $700 -- which I can't afford to pay. I'm hoping eating low-carb and almost no sugar and leading what's probably a pretty healthy lifestyle will keep the cancer away.
So, I went from having very good care I could afford to not having the care doctors ordered for me because the "Affordable" Care Act made it unaffordable for me.
Thanks so much for voting for Obama. I'll name my tumor after you.
Hill link via @instapundit
Indoor and outdoor Halloween decor, including some deals good from Oct. 13 to 31, at Amazon -- though I think a skeleton hanging from your porch is lovely all year round.
Amazon's kids' Halloween store here.
Costumes and candy and stuff for all here.
Search Amy's Amazon here. I'll get credit from what you buy, supporting this site, at no cost to you. All of your purchases, wide-screen and small, are much-appreciated!
Hey, Cheesy Marriott, Pay Your Maids Instead Of Guilting Customers Into Doing It
Tips are the expected way waiters earn a living; as I explain in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," waiters make a government-allowed lowered wage (typically $2.13/hr) because they make much of their income through customers' gratuities.
Not so for hotel maids. Some people leave money for the maid at a hotel but many don't. Also, as I note in my book, per the research of Cornell's Michael Lynn, although people believe they tip solely according to service, much of what motivates the amount people leave is a need for "social approval," including that of their server.
People will feel the pressure of the need for "social approval" when they are face to face with the worker and when they're in a public environment like the floor of a restaurant, where their behavior is visible.
This is not the case in terms of some tip interaction with the maid. Hotel guests often never see the person who cleans their room. This also diminishes any empathy they'd feel for that person.
The inspiration for this post?
Marriott, not exactly a cheap motel, is calling for customers to tip their cleaning staff. (Should we also be leaving tips for the guy who fixes the boiler and the lady who puts fresh flowers in the lobby?)
Claire Zillman writes at Fortune, "Marriott to hotel guests: Please pay our maids for us":
Starting this week, the hotel chain will encourage guests to tip their maids, becoming the latest company to ask consumers to directly shoulder an even larger portion of worker pay.
...On Monday, the hotel chain announced that it would start placing tip envelopes in its hotel rooms to encourage guests to "express their gratitude by leaving tips and notes of thanks" for hotel room attendants.
The initiative is part of "The Envelope Please," a project by A Woman's Nation, a nonprofit organization founded by former California first lady Maria Shriver that advocates for the recognition and respect of women at home and in the workplace. The idea behind the tip envelopes, which will appear in 160,000 guest rooms at participating Marriotts this week, is to give hotel guests the opportunity to acknowledge the "behind-the-scenes" work of housekeepers, which often goes unnoticed and unappreciated because room attendants are not as visible as front-of-the-house employees, according to a release.
...Karl Fischer, Marriott's chief human resources officer for the Americas, told Fortune that the hotel "takes seriously the need to pay [the housekeepers] competitively." The tip envelopes encourage "a voluntary action on behalf of customers...based on their experience as guests," he says.
But to a fatigued public living in an economic environment where corporate profits are at their highest level in at least 85 years and employee compensation is at its lowest level in 65 years, Marriott's well-intentioned tip envelopes seem like yet another case in which a corporation is relying on consumers to pay workers' wages instead of investing in employees directly.
...Nevertheless, if what Marriott really does want--as CEO Arne Sorenson said in Monday's release--to "shine a light on the excellent behind-the-scenes work our room attendants do," why not offer an across-the-board hourly wage increase, like Ikea and The Gap, instead of leaving it to the whims of hotel guests?
Socialists Succumb To "Capitalist Greed"
Love this -- the Freedom Socialist Party is pushing for the minimum wage to be $20 an hour...but just posted an ad for a web developer who'll be paid $13.
Zenon Evans posts at reason:
Although the average annual salary of a web developer in the U.S. is around $62,500, the Freedom Socialist Party only wants to pay $13 an hour, which would be $26,000 a year. Except that the party won't hire someone full-time, so their next web developer's total compensation won't even be that modest chunk of change.