Sin Taxes Get Results -- Mainly In Making Smug Legislators Feel Good
There's this rush to pass soda taxes lately -- which the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Michelle Minton calls a "failed experiment that needs to end."
Sin taxes have existed since at least the reign of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, who legend has it enacted a tax on beer to reduce public drunkenness and raise money to war against Rome. Also known as "lifestyle taxes," sin taxes are placed on goods based on the notion that increasing the price will discourage individual behaviors perceived as unhealthy--like smoking--or dangerous when consumed irresponsibly--like drinking--and as having negative effects on society. At the same time, these taxes raise revenue to offset the supposed public costs of the supposedly harmful products being taxed, or to fund other government programs. Today, public health advocates champion taxing sugary foods and drinks, like soda, as a way to fight obesity.
In a survey of 8,000 households done before and after implementation of the soda tax, researchers at the Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology (ITAM) found that those in the lowest socioeconomic strata were least likely to reduce soda purchases in response to the price increase. This may be due to wealthier people having access to a greater variety of substitutes or those in lower socioeconomic levels seeing soda as a luxury item they are not willing to give up. Whatever the reason, the result is that those with the least amount of money are paying a greater proportion of the soda tax, which raised $1.3 billion for the Mexican government in 2014.
The most surprising finding from the ITAM study was that homes with an obese head of household were least affected by the change in soda prices, meaning that those individuals whose behavior the tax was designed to influence were the least likely to respond.
Even if sin taxes manage to influence sales or consumption decisions, there is no guarantee the effect will remain constant over the long term. In Finland, for example, a 2011 tax on confectionery items reduced sales of sweets at first, but within a year media and shops reported that sales had returned to pre-tax levels. Similarly, the Mexican soda tax correlated with a decline in sales volume of 1.9 percent, but rebounded the following year--increasing by 0.5 percent in 2015 over the previous year's sales.
One of the best ways to decrease obesity would be to build a time machine and go back and stop all the government bureaucrats from pushing the public to eat a high-carb, low-fat -- and scientifically unfounded diet.
People drank soda long before American blimped up. The difference was that they ate fatty (and thus satiating) food, so they weren't jonesing for sugar and snacks all day.
Look at a picture of a crowd from the 50s versus a crowd from, say, 2005. Or go to the Atlanta airport -- one of the scariest places I've been, vis a vis the large number of morbidly obese people moving through the place.
What made Americans so fat? No, not soda, which, again, they drank in the 50s, but meddling bureaucrats who were sure they knew what was best for us.
The Myth Of Moderate Islam
It is not "radical Islam" but Islam that calls for the death of gays and the stoning of women who commit "adultery" (sometimes this just means the women are raped without having four male witnesses present who can testify that it is a rape and not consensual sex).
As the YouTube description says:
The next time someone tries to convince you that what happened in Orlando has nothing to do with Islam, or at least, moderate Islam.....show them this video.
Note at the end, he answers a question from "the sisters' side" -- as women are corralled away from the men.
Another video (without embedding enabled) -- Bill Maher, talking about how liberals are afraid to criticize Islam and be called racist. All of his guests, who know zippo about Islam and what it commands, argue that it doesn't call for what it calls for.
Binka, bottle of inka...
Shoes For People Who Walk Places
I personally veer off more in the direction of hooker shoe heights (and wear boots myself -- and high heels almost everywhere but the shower), but for people who walk places: Up To 40% Off Keen Shoes as Today's Deal at Amazon.
Here's something I've bought -- amazing hair elastics for women with thick hair, that actually hold it in place and don't get all stretched out in 25 seconds (or two wearings). They're called Burlybands, and they are worth the price.
Another thing I've discovered is great -- this Plackers anti-teeth-grinding thing to wear at night. The moldable kind changes my bite (bad!). This is this minimal little thing and it's great. They sell three at once because you wear through them in a few months. Worth it, worth it, worth it (and it's cheeep!). (Takes about a week to get used to -- before you stop finding it in your sheets in the morning.)
For reading at the beach -- my funny and science-based book on why we're experiencing so much rudeness and how we can behave less counterproductively (and get other people to do that, too): "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck."
Buying a new copy helps support the author (and helps the author get further book deals as someone who sells books). And the book is only $11ish, brand new.
For items not seen here, Search Amy's Amazon.
And thank you all so much for all of your purchases.
What Kind Of Constitution-Trampling Country Are We Becoming?
Utah can't find money for the legal defense for poor people convicted of crimes who can't pay for their own -- but somehow found $2 million to study the subject of indigent defense systems. From Fault Lines at Mimesis Law:
The ACLU of Utah and law firm Holland & Hart have filed a class-action lawsuit against the State of Utah, claiming that its public defender system is underfunded, overburdened, inconsistent and generally inadequate. The ACLU claims it is suing Utah for "failing to meet its Sixth Amendment obligations under the U.S. Constitution."
Christina Flores writes at KUTV:
The problem is more pronounced in rural, smaller counties.
David VanDyke, a private attorney in Wayne County said he spent one year as the county's public defender. He was paid $7,200 dollars for the entire year. To make a living he had to keep private clients and that meant he could not give all his attention to the indigent defendants he was hired to represent for the county.
The Sixth Amendment:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In other constitution trampling, at the border, another American citizen is medically raped as a form of search -- sans probable cause.
if you'd like your Fourth Amendment rights slightly less violated at the airport, you're being asked to pay $85 for the "privilege," via "Pre-Check."
On campus, students find the First Amendment a little too free speech-oriented for their liking.
On a positive note, this is still a far freer country than Iran or North Korea.
Your Government Prefers Itself More Powerful, Even If You're More Likely To End Up Dead
Scott Rasmussen writes at TownHall that Uber infuriates regulators but increases public safety.
What happens when less regulation leads to improved safety? Will the regulators back off to protect consumers or keep fighting to protect their turf?
I think we know the answer to that -- like in New York City, where politicians like Mayor Bill de Blasio claim that Uber is more dangerous than taxis. Why? As Rasmussen puts it, "because it is not heavily regulated by political appointees."
A new study, released by Angela K. Dills of Providence College and Sean Mulholland of Stonehill College, shows that reality is the opposite of what the regulators and politicians portray. When Uber first enters a market, there is a "6 percent decline in the fatal accident rate" and more than a 50 percent decline in DUIs.
Not only that, the safety improvement continues to grow the longer that Uber is in a market. "For each additional year of operation, Uber's continued presence is associated with a 16.6 percent decline in vehicular fatalities." That seems logical as more and more people get in the habit of using the ride-sharing service.
For those who place their faith in the Regulatory State, these results don't make any sense. How can an unregulated service be safer than a heavily regulated service? The answer is that Uber is heavily regulated by consumers. They are a much tougher audience to satisfy than bureaucrats. If the company does not provide a safe and convenient service, people will not use it.
Not good enough for the politicos, because public safety is, uh, job two for them.
The politicians and regulators have declared war on services that reduce traffic fatalities and DUIs while improving customer services. Sadly, this shows that politicians and regulators are more interested in protecting their turf rather than protecting consumers.
Here's Vocative's Ryan Beckler on Austin, post-Uber and Lyft:
In their place, they left a patchwork of rogue Facebook groups, drivers struggling to find rides, bartenders terrified to over serve, and stranded drunks trying to get home.
The Sound Of One Anus Clapping
This post is not meant to offend people with two or three anuses or people who came into the world anus-free.
No, this post is meant to mock today's college students, many of whom have turned being pathetic into a fierce intercollegiate competition.
The clear winner, however, is this Colby College person -- the one who filed a response with the campus Stasi known as the Bias Incident Prevention and Response Team after hearing someone say something extremely offensive.
The remark: "On the other hand..."
This, of course -- how could you not know this? -- is offensive to people who lack hands.
From Robby Soave at Reason:
The BIPR Team's files note that these words were flagged for targeting people on the basis of "ability." I must therefore presume that the person offended by the phrase "on the other hand," possessed only one hand, or thought that a one-handed person might feel triggered by such a proclamation of dual-handedness.
Free speech rights?
I get it -- the First Amendment is mean.
Betraying Vets And Canceling Their Medical Care: Business As Usual At The VA
Just as how somebody shows their character by how they treat the "little people," especially when no one's looking, the VA reveals what a corrupt and awful bureaucracy it is by stiffing sick vets on care -- and then lying about it.
At PJM, Tyler O'Neil writes:
Contrary to popular belief, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is not getting better. An Inspector General (IG) report released Monday revealed excessive abuse in Houston, Texas. The report found that leadership at the VA medical center instructed staff to cancel veterans' appointments and record those cancellations as requested by the veteran. It also found that records understated many wait times, revealing systemic incompetence in the organization.
"Getting an appointment at the VA is much like the lottery -- maybe you get lucky, maybe you don't," Cody McGregor, national outreach director at Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) and a retired Army sniper who lives in Houston, told PJ Media in an interview Tuesday. He denounced VA staff as "manipulating the lives of people who have sacrificed everything."
The report found that "two previous scheduling advisors and a current director of two CBOCs [Community Based Outpatient Clinics] instructed staff to input clinic cancellations incorrectly as canceled by patient." The IG found that out of 373 appointments, staff incorrectly recorded 223 as canceled by the veteran.
While the staff rescheduled veterans' appointments for 219 of these 223 appointments, they did not reschedule the remaining four. Even worse, 94 of the rescheduled appointments were set beyond 30 days, with veterans waiting an average of 81 days.
Would you let your dog be treated this way?
Here's how it works for a guy who's fought wars on the behalf of the rest of us:
The result of these wait times has a very human face -- North Carolina veteran Wilbur Amos, who has waited over 9 months for surgery due to VA ineptitude. Staff not only delayed his appointments, they also sent him to the wrong facilities! Debilitated by three excruciating hernias, Amos said he's worried he might inadvertently twist his bowels and die from septic shock if he's not treated soon.
And here's what really matters at the VA:
Nevertheless, the VA is still requesting more money and hiring more non-medical employees than doctors. The agency added 39,454 new jobs between 2012 and 2015, but only 3,591 of them were doctors. At the same time, the VA spent $454 million on lawyers, $303 million on "painting, gardening and interior decorating..."
Yes, what really matters is that people who work in the VA have a nice environment in which to deny all those suffering vets medical care.
Austin Responds To Uber Response
Earn a living in Austin? Austin's response: "Fuck you!"
Get a ride as a consenting adult from another consenting adult who wants to drive you and take your money? Austin's response: "Fuck you!"
When Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin after Austin tried to impose onerous regulations, gypsy cabs -- entirely unregulated -- popped up to fill the void.
Well, Blueberry Town reports that "the Austin Police Department has decided, or been instructed, to put its jackboots down on the necks" of drivers trying to recover some of the income they lost when these companies pulled out.
Oh, and note that Uber and Lyft vetted their drivers. In the non-Uber and -Lyft environment, there is no vetting at all.
And Blueberry Town notes that the cops are not only issuing fines but seizing cars, with the Transportation Department of Austin impounding four of the cars of drivers from Arcade CIty, a peer-to-peer network connecting passengers with drivers via Facebook.
Yeah, don't issue a ticket to these poor slobs. Impound their freaking cars so they cannot get to any other job, either. That'll fix 'em just right.
Are You Getting That Particular Drug Because You Need It Or Because Your Doctor Has Unwittingly Been Bribed By A Drug Company?
I write in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" about research by psych prof Dennis Regan that suggests that giving someone even a small gift triggers our psychological mechanism for reciprocity:
Participants were told it was research on art appreciation. The actual study--on the psychological effects of having a favor done--took place during the breaks between the series of questions about art. Regan's research assistant, posing as a study participant, left the room during the break. He'd either come back with two Cokes-- one for himself and one he gave to the other participant--or come back empty-handed (the control group condition).
After all the art questions were completed, the research assistant posing as a participant asked the other participant a favor, explaining that he was selling raffle tickets and that he'd win a much-needed $50 prize if he sold the most. He added that any purchase "would help" but "the more the better." Well, "the more" and "the better" is exactly what he got from the subjects he'd given the Coke, who ended up buying twice as many tickets as those who'd gotten nothing from him.
Regan's results have been replicated many times since, in the lab and out, by Hare Krishnas, who saw a marked increase in donations when they gave out a flower, book, or magazine before asking for money; by organizations whose fund-raising letters pull in far more money when they include a small gift, like personalized address labels...
Unfortunately, it's not so benign when it happens in a medical situation.
Charles Ornstein reports at NPR that whether a drug company rep buys your doctor lunch makes a difference in whether you get prescribed their pricey, brand-name drug:
Evidence is mounting that doctors who receive as little as one meal from a drug company tend to prescribe more expensive, brand-name medications for common ailments than those who don't.
A study published online Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine found significant evidence that doctors who received meals tied to specific drugs prescribed a higher proportion of those products than their peers. And the more meals they received, the greater share of those drugs they tended to prescribe relative to other medications in the same category.
The researchers did not determine whether there was a cause-and-effect relationship between payments and prescribing, a far more difficult proposition, but their study adds to a growing pile of research documenting a link between the two.
A few examples:
Physicians who received meals related to Crestor on four or more days prescribed the cholesterol-fighting drug at almost twice the rate of doctors who received no meals. The difference was even more marked for the other drugs. Physicians who received meals prescribed Bystolic, a blood pressure pill, at more than five times the rate of their uncompensated peers; Benicar, for high blood pressure, at a rate 4.5 times higher; and Pristiq at a rate 3.4 times higher.
Higher rates of prescribing were also observed when doctors received just a single meal, even after taking into account a physician's specialty and region of practice.
Dr. R. Adams Dudley, a professor of medicine and health policy at UCSF and one of the study's authors, said he and his colleagues expected to see "some evidence that doctors were responsive to incentives, what with their being humans and all."
Still, he said, "I think we were probably surprised that it took so little of a signal and such a low-value meal. ... It has changed our thinking."
Here's a good question:
In an editor's note, Dr. Robert Steinbrook wrote that the recent analyses "raise a broader question. Is it necessary to prove a causal relationship between industry payments to physicians and the prescribing of brand-name medications?"
Other than for research and development, and related consulting, Steinbrook wrote, "it is already evident that there are few reasons for physicians to have financial associations with industry. Outright gifts, such as meals, may be legal, but why should physicians either expect or accept them?"
Amber waves of cashmere.
Feminism Means Sneering And Snarling About Girly Girls
Weird that people who wish their daughters were less girly, and more like boys, are viewed as PRO-female
The link he tweeted was this 2015 piece by Sarah Fletcher in The Daily Mail on a feminist mother who "cringes at her three-year-old daughter's love of princesses, frills and pink - and wishes she was into toy cars instead":
I'm a feminist, and I hate it when people decide a car is a toy for a boy, or a fairy outfit is for a girl. People should be able to like whatever they want and dress however they want.
Yet I'm also a huge hypocrite - Alice has girly girl tastes, and I'm embarrassed by it.
I find myself making excuses for her love of pink dresses and frilly aprons. Every time she asks me to buy her a doll, I secretly cringe.
But feminism really isn't about having the power to do anything; it's about doing approved feminist things or being sneered at by feminists.
It seems this is really more about mommy than her little pink-loving girl:
Why do I think other people are judging me for having a girly girl?
I think it's because I worry people will assume I've encouraged Alice's interest in stereotypically 'female' things, as though I've told her pink is for girls and blue is for boys.
More from mommy:
As a feminist, I believe people shouldn't be forced to act in a certain way based on what gender they are.
It's an effort, but I'm going to embrace the pink. Maybe my younger daughter will be into monster trucks and burping contests.
Why would that be a good thing, necessarily?
In saying that, it's clear she isn't "embracing" anything -- she's just trying to pry herself away from the ugly business of denigrating girls for being girly (and all that comes with it, like the notion that being a mom isn't an okay life choice).
I've always loved pink, and especially hot pink, and I painted my NYC bike hot pink with orange leopard spots and covered it with hot pink flowers so nobody would steal it.
And nobody did. And I had it for going on 10 years there.
And that -- in New York City -- is damn powerful.
The Public's Right To Know Vs. The Government's Desire To Stick To Their Narrative
Islam is a religion of peace, we are told -- over and over, every time there is a slaughter by someone following the Quran's commands to slay the infidels (and especially the homosexual ones).
I don't care what you believe -- it's really none of my business -- unless your belief system commands its followers to hurt or murder other people, and at least some of them take this seriously.
The government released a version of the 911 transcript -- with the bits removed where mass murderer for Allah, Omar Mateen references ISIS and swears allegiance to the Islamic State's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Then, after public protest, pressure from media and Republican lawmakers, they released the whole thing.
About the redacted version, via Heavy.com, the FBI feeds us a bunch of bullshit:
"The purpose of releasing the partial transcript of the shooter's interaction with 911 operators was to provide transparency, while remaining sensitive to the interests of the surviving victims, their families, and the integrity of the ongoing investigation," the FBI and Justice Department said in a joint statement. "We also did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda."
What this provides is a narrative very different from the notion that Islam is a "religion of peace," that we keep hearing from our Presidents and other leaders.
Here's a transcript of his first call -- with the redactions unredacted, let's just say:
Orlando Police Dispatcher: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
Omar Mateen: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent [said in Arabic]
OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [said in Arabic]. I wanna let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings.
OD: What's your name?
OM: My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.
OD: Ok, What's your name?
OM: I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [said in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.
OD: Alright, where are you at?
OM: In Orlando.
OD: Where in Orlando?
[End of call.]
Islam means "submission," and this is what the religion calls for.
Here's Islamic leader Anjem Choudary, who openly praises violent jihad:
"You can't say that Islam is a religion of peace," Choudary told CBN News. "Because Islam does not mean peace. Islam means submission. So the Muslim is one who submits. There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam."
"The Koran is full of, you know, jihad is the most talked about duty in the Koran other than tawhid -- belief," he said. "Nothing else is mentioned more than the topic of fighting."
What we need to understand is the truth -- because without that we can't have any reasonable idea of a course of action.
Sellars sold separately.
Let Your Classmate Die On The Floor: How To Succeed In School In America
In yet another example of school administrators showing off how they have the collective mental capacity of a terra cotta planter, a boy has been suspended for carrying his asthma-stricken classmate to the school nurse's office:
KLEW News's (sloppy, grammar-challenged) Csaba Sukosd reports:
Anthony Ruelas carried one of his classmate's to the school nurse after she collapsed on the floor. The teacher's aide email the school nurse a few minutes earlier when the student began showing signs of distress. The aid was waiting for her response response when Ruelas intervened after the student fell down.
"I wasn't really worried about what would happen to me I was worried about what would happen to her. If she was going to be ok. I just wanted to make sure she was all right." said Ruelas.
When he returned to class, Ruelas said he was suspended for leaving.
"I was just confused. I did something good and I still get bad consequences," he said.
What's confusing is why, whatever his supposed disciplinary record is (alluded to by school officials), a kid gets punished for showing empathy and taking action to save a girl's life.
Message: "Kids, let's not have any more of these life-saving, caring about your fellow classmates shenanigans!"
We're Looking A Little Too Hard For Criminals, AKA Men
There's this notion, more and more, that if you're male, you must be guilty.
Not to worry -- they'll find something.
If you're a man, some seemingly innocuous thing you've done is surely criminal. Not because it is. Because they need something you've done to be criminal and because they'll just call you guilty first and work it out later. Um, maybe.
Maybe this sounds like paranoid craziness, but, from the news stories I read -- and not just those of the hurt feelz crowd on college campuses -- it increasingly seems like what it's like to be male, if you're one of the unlucky ones.
This, below, was a story from January, but I missed it then and it bears blogging because of how everyone was quick to go with the sick assumption.
A Yorkshire taxi driver was banned from making runs to a school after he was seen hugging and kissing two young girls outside a local school.
Lucy Crossley writes for the Daily Mail:
Tony Kemp, 60, from Kirkbymoorside was suspended from the school run for six days by North Yorkshire County Council after they said an allegation had been made against him.
The council refused to tell him why he was suspended, but a colleague told him he had been seen kissing and cuddling two girls outside a school - which he then realised were his daughters, who are nine and 11.
Now, this is the UK, land of crazy libel laws and a lady called the Queen who runs around England followed by a bunch of corgis to the tune of bajillions of dollars, so there's already a level of WTF?
Still -- the guy wasn't even allowed to know why he was suspended.
Once officials realised the error, Mr Kemp was reinstated, but he is furious at how he was treated by the council and 'devastated' that the accusation was made.
He says he can not understand why he was not told what the allegation was, and why he was not interviewed as a matter of urgency - which would have given him the opportunity to explain what had really happened.
What'll happen is that one of the women who stands for this sort of thing -- railroading men, first chance anyone gets -- will have this done to a man (or son) she cares about. Maybe it'll be in one of these campus cases where a guy gets a blow job from a woman when he's blacked out drunk and he gets tossed out of school for sexual assault.
Suddenly, when that happens to somebody's son, the injustice will become clear.
But I think maybe we -- here in America and the UK -- shouldn't be operating like this. And it's a sign that something is terribly broken in each of our countries.
The answer to that -- to the next guy who gets his due process rights yanked from him: "Hey, you're a man, dude. Suck it up."
It seems there's going to be only one way to change things, and that's for somebody who's been tossed out of school sans due process to sue the institution and everyone involved blind.
It can't happen soon enough.
Linkie's girlfriend's name for him.
An Orthodox Jew (And Then Some) Walked Into A (Gay) Bar (To Mourn Orlando)
In the wake of the Pulse mass murder, some D.C. orthodox Jews ("modern Orthodox") went to a gay bar to show their support, reports their rabbi, Shmuel Herzfeld, in the WaPo:
When our synagogue heard about the horrific tragedy that took place at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, it was at the same time that we were celebrating our festival of Shavuot, which celebrates God's giving of the Torah.
As Orthodox Jews, we don't travel or use the Internet on the Sabbath or on holidays, such as Shavuot. But on Sunday night, as we heard the news, I announced from the pulpit that as soon as the holiday ended at 9:17 p.m. Monday, we would travel from our synagogue in Northwest Washington to a gay bar as an act of solidarity.
We just wanted to share the message that we were all in tremendous pain and that our lives were not going on as normal. Even though the holiday is a joyous occasion, I felt tears in my eyes as I recited our sacred prayers.
I had not been to a bar in more than 20 years. And I had never been to a gay bar. Someone in the congregation told me about a bar called the Fireplace, so I announced that as our destination. Afterward, I found out it was predominantly frequented by gay African Americans.
Approximately a dozen of us, wearing our kippot, or yarmulkes, went down as soon as the holiday ended. Some of the members of our group are gay, but most are not. We did not know what to expect. As we gathered outside, we saw one large, drunk man talking loudly and wildly. I wondered whether we were in the right place. Then my mother, who was with me, went up to a man who was standing on the side of the building. She told him why we were there. He broke down in tears and told us his cousin was killed at Pulse. He embraced us and invited us into the Fireplace.
We didn't know what to expect, but it turned out that we had so much in common. We met everyone in the bar. One of the patrons told me that his stepchildren were actually bar-mitzvahed in our congregation. Another one asked for my card so that his church could come and visit. The bartender shut off all of the music in the room, and the crowd became silent as we offered words of prayer and healing. My co-clergy Maharat Ruth Friedman shared a blessing related to the holiday of Shavuot, and she lit memorial candles on the bar ledge. Then everyone in the bar put their hands around each other's shoulders, and we sang soulful tunes. After that, one of our congregants bought a round of beer for the whole bar.
I write in "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" about how we didn't evolve to be around strangers or feel empathy for them -- but also how little it takes for us to come to feel empathy and reach out to them.
Per the research of David DeSteno and Piercarlo Valdesolo, this simply takes recognizing -- in the smallest way -- how a stranger is like you. Like that they must like chocolate or have a dog or cat (as you do) or go to the same local coffee place you do.
It really is that simple -- and necessary, in a world where we're surrounded by strangers and people who are different from us a whole lot of the time.
Welcome To Realism: Everything That Doesn't Work Out The Way You Want It To Is Not "Hate"
I have a lot of empathy for transgender people. Life can is hard enough in a lot of ways for those of us who grow up feeling we belong in our skin and in the sex we were born as.
However, I think there's a tendency (and a style) for people to find "hate" where there's really something a lot more benign going on.
There's also the notion that the world "should" be safe at all times for all people -- which would be wonderful and terrific, but just isn't realistic.
For example, there was an article on a site called Broadly asking whether the sharing economy is safe for women and minorities.
Guess what: If you're a woman, it's kind of important that you don't have your head up your ass when you book -- as I did (dumbass Amy!) when I went to an ev psych conference in Boston.
I stayed in an airbnb in someplace called Roxbury. Sounds almost posh, right? Well, from Wikipedia:
The high density population leads to large amounts of crime.
Yes, I was an idiot, taking an idiotic risk. Normally, I wouldn't have booked without investigating, but I was overwhelmed -- which really isn't any excuse, because they don't give you a break for being overworked when they rob, rape, or kill you.
Back to the Broadly piece, Sirin Kale also writes about a transgender woman trying to book a place:
When Shadi Petosky, a 41-year-old TV producer from Montana, tried to book an Airbnb rental in Minneapolis, she informed her host that she was a trans woman. "I don't want to end up in a space where someone bigoted punches me or causes a scene, so I always disclose [that I'm trans]."
Although Petosky has experienced transphobia before in her life, she was unprepared for the response she received. "I really appreciate your honesty," the prospective host said. "I'll have to pass though, but thank you. I have a 13 year old boy going through puberty. I don't want him to feel any discomforts [sic] in his own home."
"I think what really bothered me was the fact she said I couldn't stay there because of her kid," Petosky explains. "This idea that transgender people are somehow dangerous to children was really hurtful."
Wait. Safety? Now perhaps there's something missing from this piece, but it sounds like the lady just didn't feel like having a big conversation with her teenager about being transgendered. And yes, a 13-year-old might be uncomfortable having a transgendered stranger in his home.
And really, being transgendered isn't something everybody encounters every day, and the notion that everybody's going to be as read-in on and okay with somebody being trans as a barista in The Haight...well, it's just unrealistic.
And no, I'm not saying that out of hate, either -- it's just the way things are for many people.
How does that change?
Well, John Callahan, my late quadriplegic cartoonist friend, probably got more people to treat disabled people like people instead of fragile china objects through his willingness to engage and his being realistic about how many people see disabled people.
This doesn't mean society instantly changed, but he surely changed at least a few minds.
The notion that discomfort is hate reminds me of all the screeching about Chick-fil-A and other businesses that don't support gay marriage.
Well, I'm an atheist, and I do support gay marriage, but I understand that not everybody shares my belief -- and not necessarily because they hate gays.
I think it would be useful all around to turn down the high volume hysteria everywhere and call out actual episodes of hate, and, especially violence.
People don't have to like you or approve of who you are, who I am, or who anyone is -- but they don't get to go violent.
That said, if you're somebody who has certain inherent safety risks simply because of who you are or how you present, don't just whine about it or be as stupid as I was: Be realistic and take responsibility for your safety.
Is that your monkey?
You Can't Escape "Rape Culture" -- Even If There Are Barely Any Men On Campus
Women at St. Catherine University demonstrated against the "rape culture" there -- despite how 97 percent of the undergrads are women, according to the Star Trib story by Maura Lerner:
St. Catherine University has cut ties with an event organizer, Heartland Inc., after protesters accused both the school and the company's owners of being insensitive to rape survivors.
...The furor began on June 10, when Heartland held a seminar on women in leadership at St. Catherine.
That morning, a woman named Sarah Super led a small group of protesters on the edge of campus, drawing attention to the rape case involving the Neals' son, Alec. Super, 27, has publicly identified herself as the woman raped at knife point by Neal, who pleaded guilty last year and is serving a 12-year-prison term.
This is not rape culture -- where there's some encouraging and condoning of rape.
This is justice in action -- rape being treated as any decent, civilized, rational, mentally healthy person sees it: As a terrible crime.
What this really involved was campus organizers noticing that they could get some attention, vis a vis the protests of the Brock Turner case -- which is remarkably unsimilar to this one, save for how there was a sexual assault underlying:
"Turner's family rallied around Brock in ways that are pretty similar to my perpetrator's family," said Super. She criticized, in particular, a letter-writing campaign attesting to Alec Neal's character before his sentencing. Her goal, she said, was to show how that affects victims. "Brock Turner's case lit the flame for the conversation."
The Neals, though, say they never attempted to minimize their son's crime. "We are heartbroken over the suffering Sarah has experienced," they wrote. "There wasn't a single letter that suggested Alec shouldn't be held accountable for his actions or that expressed anything but compassion and concern for Sarah."
Once again, this is a case of people seizing power by claiming there's been an injustice done -- and never mind whether one actually exists (beyond the rape itself, of course). They're talking about a culture of injustice that just isn't reflected here:
Heartland's supporters, meanwhile, have leapt to the Neals' defense. Jina Penn-Tracy, a Minneapolis investment adviser who has attended their workshops, wrote on Facebook: "I am very sorry for what Sarah suffered, but as a multiple rape survivor, I object to the families of offenders being targeted for attack and boycott ... This is not justice, but vendetta."
In an interview, Penn-Tracy, 48, said she understands Super's anger, "but attacking their business, trying to drive them out of business, is an aggression, and I don't think it's going to bring healing."
Patricia Weaver Francisco, a Hamline University professor who has written a memoir of her own rape and recovery, said it's unfair to compare the Neals to the Stanford case, where the perpetrator's family seemed dismissive of the crime. In his most controversial remark, Turner's father stated that jail time would be a "steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action."
The Neals, by contrast, are "deeply thoughtful and caring people" who were "devastated for Sarah," said Francisco. "I've literally never heard them say a thing about Sarah that is anything other than concern."
Here's real rape culture:
If You're Raped In A Muslim Country, You're Guilty Of "Adultery" This Dutch woman, a rape victim when she was in Qatar, made the mistake of reporting her rape to authorities, which means she confessed to committing a crime (under Islam).
Yes, being raped is a crime under Islam -- unless you are a woman captured by Muslim soldiers, in which case, they get to do what they want with you.
Advice Goddess Free Swim
It's Friday night, and I'm a little zonked, so you pick the topics. I'll post more on Saturday.
P.S. One link per comment or my spam filter will eat your post.
Why Bust Scary, Dangerous Criminals When You Can Go After Easy Targets In Their Undies?
The only problem is that arresting people making a living through prostitution doesn't lessen the actual dangerous elements in society one iota.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes at Reason that cops in Costa Mesa are "being very proactive in regard to prostitution enforcement," according to the chief there, Bryan Glass:
In 2015, Costa Mesa police arrested one person on prostitution-related charges. From January through April 2016, they arrested 69. Police say this is thanks to a conscious decision to refocus a special investigations unit away from busting gang leaders, career criminals, and drug dealers and toward people involved in the sex trade.
It's all about looking good for making arrests.
"The squad of about 10 officers has typically had a broad focus, taking on complex investigations including drugs busts, tracking career criminals and keeping tabs on gangs," police told the Los Angeles Times. After a series of prostitution stings earlier this year, the cops realized that focusing on prostitution "made the team's enforcement efforts immediately apparent, Glass said. A long-term drug investigation could eat up hours of work from a half-dozen detectives before police took a suspect into custody, he said."
Hey, here's a suggestion -- go on the playground and arrest kids for making threatening remarks.
And Nolan Brown is exactly right:
Just to recap: the only reason sex workers and drug users need warrant excessive police intervention is because we have unnecessarily criminalized these people.
There is not a reason in the world why selling your body shouldn't be your right (as a consenting adult -- to another adult)...save for how arresting you for it provides such wonderful stats for cops. Understandably, they'd much rather take down people earning a living with their sexparts than with guns and knives (violent!) or through financial crimes like bank fraud (too complicated!).
"Inventory Searches": How Scummy Texas Cops Search Cars And Seize Your Possessions Under The Color Of Law (While Violating The Constitution)
Andrew Fleischman writes at Mimesis Law:
Inventory searches allow police to search a car to make an "inventory" of everything inside, to make sure that there are no claims that something is missing after the search. There are only two problems with these inventories. First, police have no liability at all if something is stolen, and thus no incentive to perform the inventory except to discovery contraband. Second, they rarely actually create an inventory. They usually just find drugs and stop looking.
Here's the story of a man whose vehicle was searched -- supposedly -- merely for, cough, inventorying purposes:
Miguel Herrerra was illegally stopped and arrested by police while driving in his 2004 Lincoln Navigator. The car was seized and "inventory searched." The police found drugs. So Herrerra filed a motion to suppress in his criminal case. He won.
When he asked for his car back, Texas decided it would rather keep the Navigator for itself, and moved to forfeit the car. Herrerra objected, pointing out that if the State couldn't keep its wrongful proceeds for the criminal case, it should simply turn the car back over to him.
Herrerra won at the trial court. He won at the Texas Court of Appeals. And then he got to the Supreme Court of Texas, who proceeded to jam a bowie knife into his claim. Sure, the Court ruled, you can stop the State from using your car as evidence against you in a criminal trial. But this here case is civil, so Texas gets to keep the stuff it stole.
And this is exactly right:
Every wrongful search is a crime. Holding an innocent person without a case against him is false imprisonment. Arresting him unlawfully is kidnapping. Entering his home to steal his possessions is a burglary. And in every other facet of American law, the rule is clear: criminals should not profit from their crimes.
But once again we come to the exception. The rule of law is for the protection of our governors, not the governed.
Border Officer-Thugs Have Doctor Medically Rape Girl; Hospital Then Bills Her Parents $575 For It
The non-consensual anal and vaginal cavity searches that were done on this girl -- Ashley Cervantes, a U.S. citizen who was returning from having breakfast over the border in Nogales -- were an absolutely horrible physical violation and a violation of numerous constitutional rights.
And -- disgustingly -- her story is not the only one like this.
Cyrus Farivar writes at Ars Technica that Cervantes just filed a civil complaint in federal court, seeking damages from the government, Customs and Border thugs, the specific Customs and Border Patrol agent who spearheaded the search, and the doctor who medically raped her (my term for it).
The court filing describes 18-year-old Ashley Cervantes' harrowing experience over the course of seven hours in October 2014. She had just returned from Nogales, Sonora (Mexico) back into Nogales, Arizona--she had come back from eating breakfast at one of her favorite spots.
According to the complaint, after presenting her identity documents, an unidentified CBP agent accused Cervantes of possessing illegal drugs, which she denied. She was ordered to proceed to a detention room, where she was handcuffed to a chair. There, she was sniffed by a dog (in violation of CBP policy) and was taken to another room where she was ordered to squat so that female officers could visually inspect her.
Unsatisfied that they had not found the drugs, the agents escalated their search. CBP Agent Shameka Leggett then filled out an Immigration Health Services' form, known as a Treatment Authorization Request (TAR), describing Cervantes as being "diagnosed" as an apparent "potential internal carrier of foreign substance." The agent recommended that she be X-rayed at a hospital.
Cervantes was then transported in custody from the border to Holy Cross Hospital.
There, as the complaint notes:
Dr. Martinez "forcefully and digitally probed her vagina and anus."
For which her parents were sent a bill for $575.
No drugs were found. And there was no probable cause to search her. Howard Fischer writes at the AZ Cap Times link just above:
Ashley Cervantes says in her lawsuit that she had crossed into Mexico on foot on a Saturday morning in October 2014 to have breakfast at a restaurant where she often eats. On returning, she presented border officials with her birth certificate and state identification card.
Attorney Brian Marchetti said they accused the woman, 18 at the time, of possessing drugs. When she denied that was true, they took her into a detention room where, during the next several hours, she was handcuffed to a chair, had several dogs sniff her, and eventually taken into a separate room where she was patted down and asked to squat so female investigators could visually inspect her.
All that, said Marchetti, occurred without her consent or a warrant. In fact, he said, a request to call her mother was denied.
It was what happened next that Marchetti charges clearly violated his client's rights.
He said an agent of Customs and Border Protection signed a "Treatment Authorization Request" to have her taken to a medical facility as an alleged "potential internal carrier of foreign substance." That form, he said, requested an X-ray.
Instead, Marchetti said Cervantes was taken in handcuffs to Holy Cross Hospital where the doctor probed her anus and vagina.
"Ashley had never before been to a gynecologist and, for the remainder of her life, will always remember that her first pelvic and rectal exams where under the most inhumane circumstances imaginable to a U.S. citizen at a hospital on U.S. soil," Marchetti charges in his lawsuit.
When government "routinely" violates citizens' rights -- and often in horrible ways like this -- it is a sign that government has gotten out of hand and needs to be rolled back.
The problem is, once you give some person or entity power, it's kind of impossible to get it all back in the bag.
The TSA circus is a perfect example. They aren't catching terrorists. Even trained FBI agents are letting terrorists slip by -- like Omar Mateen, who just shot up the nightclub in Miami for Allah:
Twice during his adult life, Mateen's actions prompted probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Agents concluded he didn't pose an immediate threat.
So why do we still have the TSA? Well, all that money and power, of course -- to lobbyists, makers of the machines the repurposed mall workers stare dully into as 95 percent of the test bombs and weapons sail through, and the workers themselves, who make the unemployment figures look a little better by having those gubbermint jobs.
Plus, how fun to be able to tell some CEO to bend over so you can give his balls a whacking -- uh, that is, check his testicles for a bomb.
The Islamic State Is Very Islamic
A quote from the March 2015 essay "What ISIS Really Wants" by Graeme Wood in The Atlantic:
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, "the Prophetic methodology," which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.
Be thankful that Islam is a religion of peace. Imagine the carnage if it was a religion of violent bigotry, supremacist hatred, and war.
Like lipo but without the creepy fat-sucking.
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