The Drinking Age Should Be Lowered -- Fast
There's a piece I very much agree with at Newsweek.com by Jeffrey A. Tucker. Robert Cialdini has a whole chapter on how "scarcity" ramps up desire in his book Influence (a fantastic book on the science of persuasion).
Not being able to access alcohol and having being forbidden gives alcohol a cachet in college that it wouldn't have otherwise and leads to college students drinking high-powered concoctions -- much as people did with homemade hooch during Prohibition:
Most of these kids have never been socialized in what it means to drink responsibly. They are living for the thrill that comes with defiance. The combination of new freedom, liquor and sexual opportunity leads to potentially damaged lives.
How do these kids get away with this? In fraternities and sororities, it all happens on private property, not public and commercial spaces, and so campus police can look the other way. Most everyone does.
Indeed, being able to drink with friends, and unhampered by authority, is a major appeal of the Greek system on campus. It's a way to get around the preposterously high drinking age. Getting around this law will consume a major part of the energy and creativity of these kids for the next three years.
As for everyone else who cannot afford to join, it's all about a life of sneaking around, getting to know older friends, lying and hiding, pregaming before parties just in case there is no liquor there, and generally adopting a life of bingeing and purging, blackouts and hangovers, rising and repeating. And so on it goes for years until finally the dawn of what the state considers adulthood.
For an entire class of people, it's the Roaring Twenties all over again.
It's all part of Prohibition's legacy and a reflection of this country's strange attitudes toward drinking in general. The drinking age in the United States (21), adopted in 1984, is one of the highest in the world. Countries that compare in severity are only a few, including Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Cameroon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan.
Most of the rest of the world has settled on 18 for liquor and 16 for beer and wine. In practice, most European countries have very low enforcement of even that. Somehow it works just fine for them.
...What we need is a normal environment of parental and community supervision so that such drinking can occur in a responsible way. Yes, kids will probably drink more often, and yes, more kids will probably try alcohol, but they can do so in an environment of safety and responsibility.
Bringing it into the light, rather than driving it underground, is the best way to solve bingeing and abuse.
I've described here before how my dad would offer us a sip of what he was drinking and how I tried drinking for the first time at my cousin's wedding because my parents were there, and I knew nothing bad would happen to me. I ended up throwing up at the side of the road. My dad laughed at me for overdoing it.
This attitude did not breed a desire to get trashed at college. Quite the contrary. When drinking hasn't been forbidden -- as it is not in France, for example -- it becomes just part of life and not part of life that you're determined to do to defy authority.
Sure, some kids will become drunks under these circumstances. But drinking itself doesn't cause alcoholism, and kids taught to drink in moderation are going to be less likely to be alcohol abusers.
It turns out that a bunch of college administrators agree with me. Tucker writes about the Amethyst Initiative:
There is an organization of college administrators who are fed up. It is called the Amethyst Initiative. Currently, 135 colleges have signed support for a lower drinking age. Their goal is not to encourage more drinking but to recognize the unreality of the current law, and how it has led to perverse consequences on campus.
You know the situation has to be extremely serious to get this risk-averse crowd on board. Their statement reads:A culture of dangerous, clandestine "binge-drinking"--often conducted off-campus--has developed. Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.
Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer. By choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law.
t's not just about campus. It's about teens and drinking in general. The law requires them to hide in private places. Such clandestine meetings can lead to compromising and dangerous situations without reliable public oversight.
It's also about business. Convenience stores and bars, in particular, have been put in a strange position. They have been enlisted to become the enforcement arm of an unenforceable policy, which has meant haranguing customers, inventing new systems for ferreting out violators, turning the servers into cops, confiscating IDs and creating an environment of snooping and threats in a place that should be about service and fun.
Why isn't something done to change this? Those who are most affected have the least political power. By the time they figure out the ropes in American political life, they are turning 21 and so no longer have to deal with the problem.
Turning College-Aged Citizens Into Toddlers With "Affirmative Consent"
Who would have thought that in 2015, fifty-some years after the start of the "free love" 1960s, that government would be all up in college students' sex lives?
But government is -- and never mind if your kind of sex life is like mine: where consent is something you don't get on videotape or in writing or ask for before every sex act, a la "May I lick your right nipple? May I twist your left nipple and then slowly lick it?"
Wendy Kaminer writes in the Boston Globe about the affirmative consent rules imposed on college campuses by California law and that Federal money (that is, the prospect of it being withheld) is being used to force these rules on other campuses around the country.
It's unlikely that any students will consistently comply with the new rules, which are difficult to reconcile with the realities of sexual interactions, and, in any case, it's unclear what compliance might entail. New York's law requires "knowing [and] voluntary" consent, "given by words or actions . . . creat[ing] clear permission . . . to engage in sexual activity," including any "intentional [sexual] touching, either directly or through the clothing." Consent to any sexual act -- or touch -- may not be inferred from consent to prior acts, which means that consent should be repeated and ongoing. Is this law meant to be taken literally? Maybe.
"It's a question of putting everyone on notice that they have to be in a consensual situation," New York Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, told The New York Times. "It also sends a message to the institutions that they have to up their game on how sexual assault on campus is viewed and treated."
How dare Glick tell the rest of us how sex is supposed to play out?
Kaminer gets it right:
What's wrong with teaching students and administrators that "yes means yes"? Nothing, but affirmative consent laws are not teaching tools. They mandate punitive rules that operate like quasi-criminal laws on campus, posing serious risks of expulsion to students accused of not obtaining consent for every move or for acting on mistaken impressions of implied consent. Assault accusations will be relatively easy to sustain, especially under the minimal standard of proof now applied in campus cases. Disproving assault, by establishing scrupulous compliance with affirmative consent policies, will be much harder. How might a student demonstrate that he repeatedly obtained consent? "Your guess is as good as mine," admitted California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, who coauthored that state's law.
When advocates of these laws acknowledge the difficulty of proving consent, when they praise regulations of alleged sexual assaults for "sending messages," they're implicitly endorsing discriminatory enforcement. Affirmative consent policies are not designed to govern every encounter. They're designed to bring about findings of guilt, or responsibility when rape accusations are leveled -- mainly against men accused of assaulting women.
Nice Prices For People Who Sometimes Say F*ck
For some reason, my book seems to be on special or at an oddly low price at Amazon -- half off, at $7.61 (list price $14.99). Not sure how long it will stay that way (might be part of a pricing algorithm at Amazon).
So if you haven't read it, please use this opportunity to get yours now: "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck."
It's a science-based and funny book on how we can behave less counterproductively.
Along with positive reviews in the WSJ and other publications, Library Journal gave the book a starred review: "Verdict: Solid psychology and a wealth of helpful knowledge and rapier wit fill these pages. Highly recommended."
Orders of the book (new only, not used!) help support my writing on this blog and my answering questions that won't make my column.
"Affordable" Care: Some In "Covered CA" Likely To See Double Digit Premium Hikes
From the LA Times, Chad Terhune writes:
Covered California is expected to announce 2016 rates and coverage options Monday in Sacramento. Officials declined to discuss the results of their insurance company negotiations before then.
California's rate increases are a closely watched yardstick for how President Obama's signature health law is performing nationwide. This year, the average increase was a relatively modest 4.2%.
Next year, premiums for the most popular Silver plans are projected to rise 5.8%, on average, in eight exchange markets outside California, according to Avalere Health, a Washington consulting firm.
But double-digit rate hikes are likely to hit some of the 1.4 million Californians enrolled, depending on their health insurer and where they live.
In all, 44% of exchange policyholders already find it difficult to pay their monthly premiums, a recent survey shows.
Yes, thanks to the "Affordable" Care Act, I still HAVE my healthcare (that I've paid for monthly, sans employer, for decades); but thanks to my now-huge deductible, I just can't afford to use it.
Oh, and about those fabulous rates. From 2014, from the LAT's Stuart Pfeifer: "Health premiums soared, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says."
Californians paid 22% to 88% more for individual health coverage this year than last, commissioner says.
Do the LA Times reporters not have a search index for their own paper?
From the Pfeifer piece:
At a news conference Tuesday, Jones said individuals this year paid between 22% and 88% more for individual health insurance policies than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived.
The increases did not affect poor people, whose policies are heavily subsidized, Jones said. The study results released Tuesday did not include group policies such as those offered by employers.
Jones said he authorized the study of health insurance rates after receiving numerous complaints about rising costs.
"The rate increase from 2013 to 2014, on average, was significantly higher than rate increases in the past," Jones said.
The hardest-hit were young people, he said. In one region of Los Angeles County, people age 25 paid 52% more for a silver plan than they had for a similar plan the year before, while someone age 55 paid 38% more, Jones said.
Yes, 25-year-olds, you're out of college, deep in debt from student loans for college costs that are far greater than they've ever been, and you're paying for your dad's golf partner to have cheaper health care. (Aren't you glad you campaigned for Obama?)
Police Raid First, Figure Out What They're Raiding Later
This is how innocent people get killed -- when the police come in all SWAT team without asking questions first. Alex Horton, who himself conducted raids on insurgents in Iraq, writes in the WaPo about the police raid on his apartment:
I had conducted the same kind of raid on suspected bombmakers and high-value insurgents. But the Fairfax County officers in my apartment were aiming their weapons at a target whose rap sheet consisted only of parking tickets and an overdue library book.
...I spread my arms out to either side. An officer jumped onto my bed and locked handcuffs onto my wrists. The officers rolled me from side to side, searching my boxers for weapons, then yanked me up to sit on the edge of the bed.
At first, I was stunned. I searched my memory for any incident that would justify a police raid. Then it clicked.
Earlier in the week, the managers of my apartment complex moved me to a model unit while a crew repaired a leak in my dishwasher. But they hadn't informed my temporary neighbors. So when one resident noticed the door slightly cracked open to what he presumed was an unoccupied apartment, he looked in, saw me sleeping and called the police to report a squatter.
Sitting on the edge of the bed dressed only in underwear, I laughed. The situation was ludicrous and embarrassing. My only mistake had been failing to make sure the apartment door was completely closed before I threw myself into bed the night before.
...When I later visited the Fairfax County police station to gather details about what went wrong, I met the shift commander, Lt. Erik Rhoads. I asked why his officers hadn't contacted management before they raided the apartment. Why did they classify the incident as a forced entry, when the information they had suggested something innocuous? Why not evaluate the situation before escalating it?
Rhoads defended the procedure, calling the officers' actions "on point." It's not standard to conduct investigations beforehand because that delays the apprehension of suspects, he told me.
Rhoads also defends the approach on grounds of officer safety. But civilian safety should be a priority, too -- to the point where you sometimes, yes, delay or even miss the apprehension of suspects...until you're sure that you've, say, got the right apartment and have evidence that the people in it are guilty of something other than overdue library books.
RELATED -- my fun experience with LAPD officers playing SWAT.
Oh, and did I mention that I was the victim here? A woman hit my parked car. No, my parked car did not leap up out of the space and slam into hers. Which is why her insurance company ended up giving me $661 for the damage her car did to mine.
So...why was the LAPD outside my house at 11 p.m., using their patrol car loudspeaker, "Amy Alkon, come out of the house"?
Oh, it's such fun to pretend you're the SWAT team when there's a 51-year-old woman in the house who is only guilty of being a few days behind in giving her dog a bath. (I don't do drugs -- though I support what should be your right to do them. I even stop at stop signs. Completely.)
Yet, cop car loudspeaker: "Amy Alkon, come out of the house!"
Oopsy, Amy knows her rights. "Nothing doing!" (Assholes!)
Linkie with an ingrown toenail.
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Sandra Bland: With The Full 52 Minute Tape, The Thug Cop's Wrongdoing Is Clear
We don't have laws that demand you speak in a cheery and kowtowing tone to a cop.
Yet, not doing that seems to be what led to Bland's arrest and subsequent death in jail -- maybe with a few scoops of DWB: Driving While Black.
Ty Burr posts the 52-minute video and the story at the Boston Globe -- the parts of the story you probably haven't seen or heard:
The second [half of the story] comes several minutes later, the camera continuing to record as Bland's car is searched, and Encinia, sitting in his vehicle, can be heard discussing the incident with his sergeant. Here is where we hear the trooper revise the narrative of what has just occurred, unconsciously or not, so that he can come out the level-headed good guy.
At 23:35 on the tape, he says "I tried to de-escalate her and I wasn't getting anywhere at all. . . . I tried talking to her, calming her down, and that was not working. I'm trying to get her detained, trying to get her to calm down, just calm her down, stop throwing your arms around. She never swung at me, just flailing, stomping around, and I said, all right, that's enough, and that's when I detained her."
This is in flagrant contradiction of everything we've just witnessed; it is, quite simply, a lie. At no time did Trooper Encinia attempt to "de-escalate" the situation with Bland. On the contrary, he pushed it forward until it exploded -- until he exploded.
Still talking with his supervisor, Encinia is heard reading the definitions of "assault" and "resisting arrest," trying to decide which charge would best fit. 27:00: "I kinda lean toward assault rather than resist. I mean, technically, she's under arrest when the traffic stop is initiated. You're not free to go. I didn't say 'you're under arrest,' 'stop, hands up.' That did not occur. There was just the assault part."
Welcome to American roadside justice, where you're arrested the moment you're pulled over and they figure out what for later. 33:58: Encinia is laughing by now. The sergeant apparently asks if he was hurt in the incident. "I got some cuts on my hand," he replies. "I guess it is an injury. I don't need medical attention. I got three little circles from I guess the handcuffs when she was twisting away from me." This will later morph into further proof that Bland assaulted Encinia. Again the trooper insists, "I only took enough force as seemed necessary -- I even de-escalated once we were on the pavement."
He seems to believe it by now. It sounds good, true, strong. He has convinced himself he's a decent guy. That he did the right thing.
Absolute abuse of power.
Here's the 52-minute tape, starting with Texas state trooper Brian Encinia's chatty warning to the woman he pulled over before Bland:
A Woman Who Spends Her Time Creating Tech Stuff Instead Of Cataloging Insults
Oops! She forgot to be a victim!
Meredith L. Patterson writes at Medium:
Growing up with autism is a never-ending series of lessons in how people without autism expect the rest of the world to relate to them. This goes double for those who -- like me -- went undiagnosed until adulthood: the instructions are far less explicit and the standards are higher. "Stop drumming your pencil, don't you know you're distracting people?" "Don't be so direct, don't you know you're being insulting?" "Put yourself in her shoes -- when are you going to develop a sense of empathy?" Invariably, the autistic behaviour is marked as less-than, called out as needing to change. So we adapt; we learn to keep our "abnormal" attitudes and behaviours to ourselves in the hope of blending in, and when we discover communities where, by chance, we fit in a little better without having to try so hard, we cling to those safe spaces like a drowning man clings to a lifebuoy.
I stumbled into my first such space when I was eight, and its name was FidoNet. I didn't think of myself as a programmer back then, just a girl who liked fractals and science fiction and BASIC on my IBM PCjr, but the virtual world of BBS message boards made orders of magnitude more sense than the everyday world of classrooms, sports teams, church groups and grade-school social dynamics.
Nobody on FidoNet ever told me "no girls allowed" -- or even implied it, at least to an extent that I might have picked up on -- and as a result, the assertion that "technology is a boys' club" has always been foreign to me. Sure, I was always one of a scant handful of girls in the after-school computer or science club, but none of that mattered when there were NASA missions or flight simulator games to geek out on. I was well into my twenties before anyone of any gender thought to remark on the rarity of a woman being interested in the finer points of, e.g., C++ memory management; I'd come from the Midwest to my very first tech conference, and at the time I was far more amazed by the sheer concentration of people who were interested in C++ at all. I made friends largely by virtue of not knowing who I was supposed to be impressed by. I was there because I loved working with technology, and I gravitated to people who shared the same passions. Everything else was background noise.
I have since been made painfully aware that my experience is atypical. Every time, it has been a woman who has done so. Every time, it has been a lesson in how the woman I am talking with expects the tech world to relate to her and other people like her.
...Ironically, I have been discriminated against in the tech world because of my gender; I just didn't notice until it was brought to my attention long after the fact. Several years ago, I posted an idea for a new feature to the developers' mailing list for an open-source project I used. It got one reply -- a few questions from another list member -- and the thread ended there. Those questions helped me refine my thinking about the feature, and over the next few months, I implemented it. Much later -- after I'd presented my implementation at a couple of user groups and conferences -- one of the commit-bit holders for the project mentioned to me that there had been some additional discussion of my proposal, on the private commit-bit holders' mailing list. There had been interest, but one of the committers had dismissed the idea out of hand because a woman had proposed it. It was the funniest thing I'd heard in months -- I literally doubled over laughing at how nonplussed he must have been to see it not only implemented, but implemented to rousing success.
The world will not always be your oyster. Not if you're a woman, not if you're a man.
What do you do? Instead of whining, you keep doing -- till you're so good they'd hire you if you were a tree frog.
The Difference Between The Israelis And The Palestinians
When Israelis commit crimes against Palestinians or those Israelis who seek peaceful coexistence with them -- the Israelis are prosecuted by their government.
This happened recently when two brothers were given heavy sentences for their arson at an Arab/Israeli preschool.
When Palestinians commit crimes -- horrible crimes -- against Israelis, they get money from their government.
From a CBN News piece, "Cash for Killers: US Funding Palestinian Terrorists?" by Erick Stakelbeck:
"Peace doesn't have a chance because peace doesn't pay," said award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black. "Because anytime that they want some income, all they've got to do is commit an act of terrorism."
In his latest book, Financing the Flames, the New York Times bestselling author details how the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists who have killed Israelis.
"As soon as a terrorist commits an act of terrorism against an innocent civilian in Israel -- whether that's cutting the throat of a child or stabbing a man standing at a bus or blowing up a building," Black said. "As soon as that man does that, he goes on a special salary from the Palestinian Authority, under Palestinian law -- a law known as the Law of the Prisoner."
The more Israelis killed, the bigger the financial reward.
"He gets a graduated salary depending on how heinous the crime is," Black continued. "If he kills five people and gets five years, he gets one salary. If he kills double that number and gets double the sentence, he gets double the salary. And so this actually incentivizes the misery, mayhem, and carnage that the terrorists commit."
Linkie with brain freeze.
No, sorry, just science.
Female Officer Fails To Make Military Cuddly Enough For Women, Is Dismissed
Cathy Young writes at Newsday about U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Kate I. Germano, dismissed because of accusations of "hostile, unprofessional and abusive" behavior toward recruits.
Female recruits, that is.
Whom she felt should have to meet a few standards and not have lesser standards applied to them than are applied to men. For example:
When Germano took over as commander of an all-female battalion of recruits on Parris Island, she discovered that 21 percent of those recruits failed to meet qualification standards at rifle marksmanship, compared with 7 percent of male recruits.
Traditionally, lower standards for women in this area (in which women are capable of achieving the same skills as men) had been tacitly accepted as the norm. Germano would have none of it. She set out to raise women's rifle qualification rates -- and, in a year, improved them from 79 to 91 percent.
In other areas, too, Germano pushed higher standards and equal expectations for women.
She also didn't let women have...yes...chairs!...at the end of a training course, in case the poor dears were tired, while men were made to stand.
Some officers described her as "firm but fair." But some found her approach too authoritarian and even abusive. Apparently, one of her transgressions was telling female trainees the men would not respect them or take orders from them if they could not meet high standards of physical performance. A report obtained by the Marine Corps Times claimed that such a message "reinforced gender bias and stereotypes."
Apparently, Germano also deviated from the party line on sexual assault by emphasizing prevention and telling trainees that heavy drinking put them at risk. This led some women to claim they would not feel "safe" reporting an assault.
After complaints from some recruits, there was an investigation and a command climate online survey, completed by about two-thirds of the battalion, in which half of the respondents said the leadership failed to promote a climate of respect and trust. Germano says the complaints came from disgruntled low performers and the survey was skewed because it allowed multiple voting.
Germano's supporters say she was penalized because male commanders were put off by her bluntness and her aggressive efforts to promote coed exercises. The Times followed its report on her ouster -- which omitted the complaints about her supposedly "victim-blaming" message on sexual assault -- with an op-ed criticizing the Marines' "culture of hypermasculinity" as an obstacle to women. But it seems that what Germano ran into was a culture of hypersensitivity.
The Real Sexual Double Standard -- The Meaningful One -- Is In Sexual Assault Accusations
From Ashe Schow at the WashEx:
Across the country, young college men are being accused of sexually assaulting young college women based either solely on an accusation or occasionally on flimsy witness statements.
No one is arguing that sexual assaults never happen. But the degree to which the definition has been broadened in order to "fix" the "epidemic" has ensnared many young students who are not the monsters the media would have you believe.
...If two people get into a fist fight, both can file charges -- there's no "first to file" standard. If there is a clear instigator, the charges against them might hold up better. For campus sexual assault, all that matters is who accuses -- usually the woman, especially if she has had feminist professors or Title IX coordinators help her reinterpret a drunken hookup as rape.
...Schools go out of their way to prove that men who have been accused weren't too drunk to consent but that women who are accusing were too drunk. Policies are also written to ensure there are clear guilty and innocent parties, i.e., that the accuser is innocent and the accused is guilty, despite evidence showing that both were unable to give consent.
At some point this double-standard must be addressed -- and ended.
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And though my book, Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, is not on sale, here's Charlotte Allen in The Weekly Standard on why you should buy a copy:
I can say without reservation that Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck is hilarious, consistently entertaining, and, above all, wise. It's Emily Post as a beach read.
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And thanks to all who shop through my links! Every purchase you make is much appreciated!
Man Ashamed Of His Own Balls (Wherever They Might Be) Engages In Overthink And Masochism Over Backyard Weenie Roasts
Yes, I'm blogging about that pathetic Slate piece by pathetic "I'm a male feminist" Joseph Brogan, who lays down paragraph after paragraph about his shame in heating food outside on a grill.
I still suspect he'll come out in a couple days and say this was all a big joke -- "Hey, dummies, didn't you get that it was satire?"
Here's a sample -- brief, since you've probably already read the thing, and also, because it's such a pathetic read:
I hate how much I love to grill. It's not that I'm inclined to vegetarianism or that I otherwise object to the practice itself. But I'm uncomfortable with the pleasure I take in something so conventionally masculine.
...I take food prep a little too seriously, curtly brushing others out of the way when I step up to the kitchen counter. In my online dating days, I tried to spin this fault as a feature, describing myself as "a finicky, meticulous cook." On reflection, I'm probably just kind of a jerk, but when I'm grilling I worry that I've become something even worse. Am I shoving others out of the way because it makes me feel like a man? Have I become some sort of monster?
Yes, a real Dr. Mengele of the hot dog roast.
Feminism, as of late, is largely about making men feel badly for being male -- when you can't have them demoted or forced out of jobs for "crimes" that they didn't actually commit, as in the cases of Sir Tim Hunt and Bora Zivkovic before him (whose name has yet to be cleared -- but needs to be).
But when feminists aren't making "male feminists" (which is a bit like being a black, Jewish, white supremicist) ashamed for being male, these dutiful pussymen step up and self-shame...sometimes in lengthy Slate articles like this one.
More from Brogan's gnashing, complete with obligatory anthro wordery:
[Men's] grills become symbolic meeting points. They enable what scholars call homosocial contact, a kind of same-sex intimacy that deflects the supposed dangers of sexual contact between men but allows them to confirm their masculinity by excluding women.
I got a little girlwoody when he used the word "homosocial." (Translation: It's a bro thing.)
This is the most pathetic piece I have read in a long time.
I still suspect the guy was joking.
Music Hall Supposedly Should Have Known That 28-Year-Old Would Behave Like An 8-Year-Old
Medical resident Dr. Rajan Verma fell and died while sliding down a banister at Buffalo's Tralf Music Hall.
His mother is suing the concert hall -- blaming them for his death because they put a "sticky substance" on the banister to deter adult asses (uh, concertgoers) from sliding down it.
From Courthouse News's Kevin Lessmiller:
"Defendants improperly used a 'sticky substance' such as double-sided tacky tape to increase friction on the banister and deter concertgoers from sliding down it," the complaint states. "Unfortunately, this 'sticky substance' caused decedent Dr. Verma to lose his center of gravity and caused him to drop in between the staircase and the wall."
In addition to the sticky substance, the lawsuit also blames the concert hall's design for his death.
"Given the prior conduct of multiple concertgoers and the fact alcohol is served on the premises, it should have been anticipated that concertgoers would 'ride the banister' and that they could possibly fall between the wall and staircase," the lawsuit states. "By having sufficient space between the wall and staircase rail to allow a person to fall, defendants Acquest Theater and Acquest Development were also negligent in preventing the fall that ultimately took the life of decedent Dr. Verma."
Mom's suing for $2.5 mill for "wrongful death."
The death of a 28-year-old is tragic -- but the death of accountability isn't a good thing, either.
Bitchy! It's What's For Breakfast! (Don't Scrape My Bumper!)
I taped this on my car window on on Monday, after three cars nearly scraped mine while trying to park behind it after we all have to move our cars for a few hours of street cleaning.
I saw them -- three ginormous vehicles that wouldn't have fit into the space -- because I have to wait in my car after I move it back until a little before noon (grr, annoying), so I won't get a ticket.
To give you a little background, now that Venice, where I live, has become "hot," we get a lot of assholes parking on our street.
Rude drivers (visitors, not neighbors) scrape my bumper while parking, and one recently sideswiped my car -- including doing some damage to my driver's side mirror -- and I'm sick of it.
I don't hit or scrape people's cars; in fact, I sometimes will do eight little mini-turns so I get out of a space without any nickage of another person's vehicle...which is just rude as hell.
Oh, and I did witness one jerk of a girl hitting my car. Her insurance company ended up giving me $661 for the damage, which I used to buy a plane ticket (annoyingly pricey!) to the ev psych conference in Missouri instead of fixing my vehicle. (Priorities!)
(My agent refers to me as "Emily Postal.")
Worst Product Name Ever -- Or Close
Guessing cultural illiteracy by the namer. Hoping for it, anyway!
Another -- from a tweet by Steven Jones:
@amyalkon @dustbury Speaking of product names, Sears had a line of ladies' jeans named Sag Harbor.
Do they have coma patients come up with these names?
Cops Who Can't Keep Their Cool
If you need people to be achingly polite to you when you're on the job, get a job serving tea at The Four Seasons.
Ashley C. Ford tweet:
Me: It's not illegal to be rude to cops.
Them: Well, if you poke a bear, what do you expect?
Me: That's why we don't make bears cops.
Sandra Bland voicemail left for a friend: "...How did switching lanes with no signal turn into all of this, I don't even know."
What's Wrong With Princesses?
Why is it supposedly damaging and awful that girls like pink and want to play "Princess"?
What if they just aren't into the toys that are supposed to funnel them into STEM careers?
Regarding boys and girls' different toy preferences and those trying to push girls into more STEM-directed play, we're sending a message of "boys' toys = good; girls' toys = bad," observes evolutionary psychologist Steve Stewart-Williams in a 2012 post at PsychologyToday.com:
Is it realistic to think we can re-engineer girls' preferences so easily? And what's so terrible about their preferences, anyway? New options are always good - but does the pink aisle really need to be disrupted?
He's writing about "GoldieBlox," a construction toy designed specifically for girls. The manufacturers of GoldieBlox have high hopes for their new product. Their aim is 'to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.'"
He quotes Emily Jashinsky from a post at AEI:
The efforts of GoldieBlox may truly be empowering to a minority of girls who indeed prefer tinkering to tailoring and building to Barbies. But the message that the company sends in this viral video--intentionally or otherwise--demeans and condescends the 'pink aisle' play preferences of most girls. And it seems to be premised on the false (and arguably sexist) conclusion that princess play is less intellectually stimulating than Lego-stacking. What's most important is that we value equally the play preferences of young girls and boys and respect their choices--whether a little girl enthusiastically nurtures her baby doll or happens to prefer blocks.
Emily Jashinsky adds at AEI:
If GoldieBlox can successfully inspire more interested girls to pursue STEM careers, I applaud their efforts. Just as long as they don't mock the average girl's love for her Barbie in the process. My advice: don't distress if your daughter would rather play with dolls than building sets- and don't try to reengineer her play preferences either.
A tweet to me that puts the toy thing perfectly:
@amyalkon It's perplexing the idea that "We should value boys and girls equally, as long as [girls] act like traditional boys."
And from one of my posts from a few years back:
Why should we push women to be, say, physicists (to correct some perceived imbalance -- as if the gender of a researcher should matter) if they'd rather be, say, veterinarians? Or...sell advertising space. And, as Steven Pinker asked at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference in Austin, Texas, a few years back, if we're pushing women to go into physics, should we also be pushing men to go into talking and helping professions?
For a terrific book on male/female sex differences, read Joyce Benenson's Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes.
Here's my New York Observer piece referencing Benenson's work, in which there's a mention of how even female chimps engage in what seems to be doll play. And surely not because they saw commercials for Barbies on Saturday morning TV.
And finally for a little more of the truth about girls, here's a link to the radio show Dr. Jennifer Verdolin and recently did on the evolution of "mean girls" and how to beat their system.
The First Amendment Is There To Protect Assholes, Not People Who Go Around Saying "Have A Nice Day!"
The same goes for the rule of law and city codes rather than the rule of bullies.
But, per links from Walter Olson, the Mayor of Boston has come out as a business suit-wearing thug.
The blogger at Coyote Blog, who picked up Walter's link, notes that the Boston Mayor's announcement -- that Donald Trump will never get permits in Boston -- shows how corrupted business licensing is by politics:
Boston mayor says Trump will never get any city permits because of his political views.If Donald Trump ever wants to build a hotel in Boston, he'll need to apologize for his comments about Mexican immigrants first, the Hub's mayor said.
"I just don't agree with him at all," Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh told the Herald yesterday. "I think his comments are inappropriate. And if he wanted to build a hotel here, he'd have to make some apologies to people in this country."
And no, I'm not exactly thrilled with Mayor Walsh for making me take Trump's side in an argument.
More from Olson:
P.S. Now the NYC sequel, from Mayor Bill de Blasio: no more city contracts for the guy with the wrong opinions [The Hill]
These Mayors seem under the impression they were coronated, not elected.
And no, I don't care if the guy said we should feel babies to the squirrels, piece by piece. If he meets the fiscal and other standards imposed by law to get contracts, he should get contracts.
Also, I'd vote for my desk before I voted for Donald Trump. And no, I'm not kidding.
Newly Released Dashcam Video: Disgusting Abuse Of Position By Cop Ends In Sandra Bland's Death
This cop is, plain and simple, a power-mad shit in policewear who used his position in law enforcement to abuse a woman when she didn't kowtow to him quite the way he wanted her to.
His behavior on this tape -- in the situation turned into Bland's arrest and led to her subsequent death in jail -- is beyond disgusting.
And note that the guy pulled her over for failing to flip her turn signal when changing lanes, not because he saw a bunch of illegal arms falling out of her trunk.
At one point, King Cop eve orders her to put out her cigarette -- a cigarette she was smoking inside her own car while waiting for him to come back with her ticket.
I liked her spirit -- she questions why the hell she would have to do that...in her own car.
Watch the rest -- the abuse by this rotten cop -- that led to this spirited, intelligent, woman, guilty of no crime, spending three days in jail that led to her death (possibly at her own hand, by hanging).
The WaPo story with more details is here.
"The Silence Of The Shams": The Respected Science Writers Involved In The Wrongful Ruin Of Tim Hunt
This is an amazing long read by Louise Mensch, who is admirably relentless in trying to see the truth come out about the horrible injustice done to Sir Tim Hunt.
If you see fraud, and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.
Mensch calls out respected science writers like Pulitzer winner Deborah Blum and RetractionWatch's Ivan Oransky for their shameful part in the pillorying that was done to Hunt. (FYI: I had email contact with Oransky a few years ago -- asking him to go after a researcher for what I believed to be clear evidence of plagiarism.)
Regarding what was done to Hunt, inspired by what Mensch laid out in her piece, I've tweeted to both Blum and Oransky (Tuesday night, Pacific Time at around 7:30 p.m.) asking for an explanation.
And I noted that both Oransky and Blum were part of the mob that piled on former Sci Am blogs editor Bora Zivkovic, whose life was basically ruined by a similar sort of injustice (similar to what was done to Sir Tim Hunt). And never mind that nothing he did met the standards for what he was being accused of -- sexual harassment.
My sense of why so many supposed skeptics pile on in these cases? It's a form of religion -- religion without the god in it -- in which these so-called "skeptics" are such fundamentalists for Social "Justice" and feminism and the like that they are blind to even the remotest interest in the truth and actual justice.
And my call to everybody out there -- let's all be more like Louise.
And remember the words of Taleb:
If you see fraud, and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.
Some of my tweets on this to Oransky and Blum -- not in order (and do note the dates on the individual tweets):
Indeed...Deborah and Ivan, what are your explanations?
Uppity, like me.
The Ridiculousness Of Military Bases And Places Being "Gun-Free Zones"
We make our military sitting ducks for the likes of the Chattanooga shooter.
Despite being active-duty servicemen with military weapons training, few of the victims in these attacks had an opportunity to defend themselves, thanks to Department of Defense Directive 5210.56, enacted in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush.
That policy strictly limits the military and civilian personnel who can carry firearms at military facilities to those in law enforcement or security roles. U.S. bases and recruiting centers have been "gun-free zones" ever since.
The directive made sense at the end of the Cold War, when the risks of sabotage to nuclear missile sites and command-and-control facilities were thought to be lower. The world has changed since then, and we now find ourselves embroiled in a global war on Islamic extremism.
Non-state enemy actors, including Islamic State, are pursuing the strategy of radicalizing converts within the United States to carry out attacks on Americans. Although we cannot harden every possible terrorist target in a nation as large as ours, there is proverbial "low hanging fruit," which means we can make some targets less vulnerable with minimum effort.
One of the easiest safeguards would be for the Obama administration to revise the gun rule that has made military targets such easy prey to armed attackers.
...Such a policy would ensure that there would be an armed deterrent to acts of terrorism on military targets, even at those facilities too small to warrant dedicated military or civilian security personnel.
On larger bases -- many encompassing hundreds of thousands of acres -- these armed ranking officers could provide immediate defense until existing base security arrives.
Dumb comment at LAT site from "Archibald":
Typical NRA approach to solving a deadly problem: Arm everyone.
Memo to NRA: Guns are designed for only one purpose: To kill animals or people.
(The NRA gun-nut response is, "I have been shooting targets for decades and haven't killed anyone yet." The gun was designed to kill. How a person chooses to use it is the person's choice.)
People with guns kill people.
We need sane restrictions: limit magazine sizes, ban military assault rifles (AR-15 etc), background check, including closing the gun-show loophole. The FBI admitted that it failed to conduct the background check for the Chattanooga terrorist in a timely manner. If more funding is necessary to assure that background checks are performed in a timely manner, then a special tax on ammunition should be imposed. The tax could be named, "Safety First: The Background Check Tax."
We need fewer guns, not more guns.
Heroin is also illegal. A half mile from my house, you can buy it from a man on the street corner.