Best "Inappropriate" Halloween Costume -- And The Argument For An "Inappropriate" Halloween
And the winner for the costume is...Edgar Allan Ho. Missing only the fishnets.
Some argue against trampy Halloween costumes (at least when women wear them) or the bad taste suits, but let's try to remember that is the national holiday of bad taste and ease the hell up.
Sure, ladies, you might want to rethink twice about whether it will help your career for the sales staff to see that mole on your left breast when you dress up as a serving wench. But that's something to look at on an individual basis. It might humanize some bosses. Especially if it's a man dressing up as a serving wench.
Some people are upset by costumes that use humor to deal with things we're afraid of -- like death. Laughing at the stuff we're afraid of, mocking our fears, makes them smaller. Wearing a zombie costume doesn't mean you think your neighbor should have his brain eaten by zombies. And going as an Ebola patient doesn't mean you think it's funny that countless people are dying in Africa.
We are going too far in squashing free expression these days -- to the point where college professors are supposed to print trigger warnings in the syllabus for The Iliad. We've gone from "the land of the free" to the land of the free to demand a life without upset or offense. This creates an environment where there's a chill on speech, which negatively impacts all of us, and supports the continuing erosion of civil liberties in this country.
There's mistaken thinking that having good manners means never saying or doing anything that offends anyone who is sensitive. We need to care about that. At the root of manners is empathy -- if you are going to a hospital ward, don't dress up as a disease. And wherever you're going, maybe rethink that zombie Robin Williams, outfit complete with the noose, because there are people you may run into on your Halloween travels who've lost people to suicides.
But free expression is also really important. The economy's still in the pooper and a lot of people are having a hard time making ends meet, and we're going to have Downton Abby Rules in effect? How about we don't?
And I'd like to advice something I've suggested before -- that people wear Halloween costumes on, oh, May 6 or February 17th. A furry pair of dog ears with an attached nose worn without remark at the drugstore will make people smile and laugh. This is a good thing.
Appalling Child Support Injustice: Man On The Hook For $30K In Support For Kid Everyone Agrees Isn't His
From WXYZ in Detroit, yet another case of paternity injustice. Or rather "paternity" injustice, since this man -- Carnell Alexander -- ordered to pay tend of thousands of dollars in back child support, did not father the child in question.
If he doesn't pay, he'll go to prison -- which is absolutely disgusting and sick. De facto debtors' prison.
Alexander learned of the child support order in a traffic stop:
"I knew I didn't have a child, so I was kind of blown back," said Alexander.
The state said he fathered a child in 1987, and ignored a court order to pay up. It was the first Carnell had heard of the court order. He'd never even met the child.
"And when you were telling them in court - that it was not my child?" "They told me it was too late to get a DNA test," said Alexander.
It also was not easy to get a DNA test. Alexander didn't know where the woman was that had claimed he fathered a child. He only had an 8th-grade education, off-and-on employment at the time, and no money to hire help.
He asked the court for help, but the court couldn't help him in the way he was asking. Friend of the Court employees are not allowed to give legal advice.
Alexander explained to the judge and court again and again his situation. He says in hindsight, he didn't understand the formal legal steps necessary to make things right.
Eventually he, by chance, ran into someone he knew would know where the woman was, and got a DNA test. It proved what he had been saying all along: the child he had never met was not his.
The mother had realized that, and the real father was in the child's life. Alexander took this information to court. The judge was unmoved.
"Case closed. I gotta pay for the baby," said Alexander.
Even though he was in prison when the summons came.
Even though the actual father is in the kid's life. Even though the mother admits that he is not the father. It doesn't matter to the court.
It's the lawmakers who made this possible who should be in jail.
This is slavery under another name, and if it were happening to women, there would be an outcry and "ribbons."
Men? We've decided they're disposable.
(Tell me again about "male privilege"?)
RELATED: Father still paying child support for 3-year-old son he says died 25 years ago.
Arrogant Ebola-Infected Or Potentially Infected Healthcare Workers With Cabin Fever
At The Faculty Lounge, a blog post by Michelle N. Meyer on the defiant healthcare workers with Ebola or who have been around the infected who are all "screw the quarantine!"
A few examples from her post:
(2) Ebola Doctor 'Lied' About NYC Travels
The city's first Ebola patient initially lied to authorities about his travels around the city following his return from treating disease victims in Africa, law-enforcement sources said. Dr. Craig Spencer at first told officials that he isolated himself in his Harlem apartment -- and didn't admit he rode the subways, dined out and went bowling until cops looked at his MetroCard the sources said. "He told the authorities that he self-quarantined. Detectives then reviewed his credit-card statement and MetroCard and found that he went over here, over there, up and down and all around," a source said. Spencer finally 'fessed up when a cop "got on the phone and had to relay questions to him through the Health Department," a source said. Officials then retraced Spencer's steps, which included dining at The Meatball Shop in Greenwich Village and bowling at The Gutter in Brooklyn.
(3) Ebola nurse in Maine rejects home quarantine rules [the WaPo headline better captures the gist: After fight with Chris Christie, nurse Kaci Hickox will defy Ebola quarantine in Maine]
Kaci Hickox, the Ebola nurse who was forcibly held in an isolation tent in New Jersey for three days, says she will not obey instructions to remain at home in Maine for 21 days. "I don't plan on sticking to the guidelines," Hickox tells TODAY's Matt Lauer. "I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public."
Maine health officials have said they expect her to agree to be quarantined at her home for a 21-day period. The Bangor Daily News reports. But Hickox, who agreed to stay home for two days, tells TODAY she will pursue legal action if Maine forces her into continued isolation. "If the restrictions placed on me by the state of Maine are not lifted by Thursday morning, I will go to court to fight for my freedom," she says.
She makes some important points about what we do and don't know about the disease:
Consider the common refrain that it's "impossible" (not just unlikely) to contract and therefore transmit Ebola after 21 days from exposure, that 21 days is "the virus's maximum incubation period." This isn't so (one might even say that this isn't "grounded in science"). Here's a recent article with background on where this number comes from (pretty good, but not perfect, data), which suggests that the tail of the distribution of onset of symptoms includes somewhere between 0.1-12% of Ebola patients who exhibit initial symptoms after 21 days. And here's a recent WHO report concluding that the mean incubation period (which did not differ across countries or between HCWs and other patients) was 11.4 days (see Figure 3), with 5% of patients becoming symptomatic after 21 days from exposure. So, policies that focus on 21 days are rough justice: they are grounded in science but also reflect a decision to balance the costs of quarantine, controlled movement, and even self-monitoring with the low risk of transmission by not requiring these public health measures after 21 days. Much the same is true of claims that someone has to have a fever before he or she can infect others with Ebola.
Our knowledge of this strain of Ebola, as it operates in our urban environment, is good, but imperfect. Based on that imperfect knowledge, the risk of returning HCWs transmitting Ebola to others is low, but not zero. As long as the risk is not zero, it requires a value judgment to decide what degree of individual liberty is reasonable to require returning HCWs temporarily to sacrifice in order to protect the public from that risk. Support for quarantines and other public health measures can certainly be rooted in scientific error or ignorance. But they can also be rooted in scientific disagreement around the edges and/or value-laden trade-offs with which others disagree. These kinds of value judgments are ones we entrust to our elected officials (God help us), to expert agencies, and sometimes to courts.
There are ways of protesting laws and policies with which we disagree, and it is especially troubling to see members of a profession that so critically depends on trust so willing to undermine it by choosing methods of protest that involve deception and disobedience. Indeed, aside from differing values, I think the resistance to more "liberal" public health responses to Ebola is primarily rooted not in a disbelief or ignorance of science, but in a distrust of those who speak authoritatively about that science. Early, overconfident and absolutist pronouncements by CDC and other officials helped create that crippling distrust, politicians faced with reelection challenges responded to it, and now HCW deception and disobedience threaten to stoke it. We are caught in a distrust death spiral of our own collective making.
Healthcare workers who risk their lives by traveling to west Africa to fight Ebola at its source are heroes, and when they return, they deserve better than being stowed away in a tent and given little information about what officials have in mind for them. But neither this heroism nor HCWs' knowledge of Ebola facts license them to ignore or undermine public policies that are based on much more.
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My personal favorite is this ringer (that actually stays better) for Makeup Forever's gel eyeshadow, Maybelline Color Tattoo.
I just had an important meeting and I made the mistake of wearing Makeup Forever's gel eyeshadow -- and ended up with raccoon circles of makeup under my eyes, which I hope developed as I walked home and weren't there the entire time at lunch. (I joked afterward, "They should call it 'Makeup For 20 Minutes.'" The Maybelline has much better staying power; however, I like the L'Oreal gel eyeliner better than theirs. It's also a major bargain, and it beats the expensive MAC gel eyeliner for ease of use and staying power, and comes with a great little brush.
It's Amazing People Like This Are Running Colleges And Get To Keep Their Jobs
TheFIRE.org just got a college to backtrack on the "Game of Thrones" case -- an absolutely astonishing case in which New Jersey's Bergen Community College (BCC) placed an art professor, Francis Schmidt, on leave and forced him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation for posting a picture of his daughter wearing a Game of Thrones T-shirt. From a post at FIRE:
Schmidt's ordeal began in January when he posted a picture on Google+ of his young daughter wearing a T-shirt with a quote from the hit HBO show Game of Thrones: "I will take what is mine with fire & blood." After Schmidt posted the picture, an automatic email was sent to his Google+ contacts, including one of BCC's deans. She reported it to other administrators, who summoned Schmidt to a meeting to explain his "threatening email."
Even after Schmidt and other BCC personnel assured the administrators that the quote on the T-shirt came from a popular TV show, they continued to insist it posed a danger. According to the head of security, the word "fire" in the quote "could be a kind of proxy for 'AK-47s.'"
In response to the posting, BCC placed Schmidt on leave without pay until a psychiatrist attested to his mental fitness. Even after he was reinstated, BCC placed an official warning in his file and threatened him with "suspension and/or termination" if he made "disparaging" remarks about the college or acted in any way BCC determined to be "unbecoming."
Under pressure from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, BCC expunged the reprimand from Schmidt's record in late September, stating that "any penalty or restriction" Schmidt suffered is now "rescinded and acknowledged to be null and void." The letter confirms that Schmidt "will be in good standing with BCC as if the Incident never occurred, and BCC's records shall so reflect."
FIRE Legal Network member Derek Shaffer, a partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and Gabriel Soledad, an associate at the firm, defended Schmidt.
Thank you, Derek and Gabriel, for making unfree speech a little more unwelcome.
Who's The Obama Admin Calling "A Chickenshit"?
David Harsanyi points out at The Federalist, about a senior admin official telling The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that Benjamin Netanyahu is "a chickenshit":
It's worth noting that the person being repeatedly being called "chickenshit" by an anonymous officials volunteered for the Israeli Defense Force, saw combat, and was the leader of an elite special-forces unit deployed on numerous missions, including the freeing of hijacked Sabena Flight in 1972, where he was shot. Granted, this might not be as courageous as hopping the Amtrak from Delaware to DC each day or rallying the troops at a fundraiser in Greenwich, but God knows we can't all be heroes.
From Goldberg's piece, the US-self-serving nature of that comment:
This official agreed that Netanyahu is a 'chickenshit' on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he's also a 'coward' on the issue of Iran's nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. 'It's too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it's too late.'
At the United Nations a few years, Obama reportedly offered to do whatever it took to prevent Iran from producing atomic weapons in exchange for Israeli assurances that it would not attack Iran's nuclear sites before the presidential election in 2012. (And to think, Obama officials have the audacity to whine about Netanyahu's "near-pathological desire for career-preservation.") One side kept its promise. Obama has repeatedly vowed, since his first run for president, to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Maybe that promise that never should have been made. Now, though, the administration claims it's too late. Now it claims American pressure helped dissuade Israel from defending itself. And now, there is nothing Israel can do about it.
Knowing this, why anyone would expect Israel to trust John Kerry or Barack Obama to forge a peace deal with a Fatah-Hamas unity government is a mystery.
The TSA Losers Stole His Belt Buckle -- For "Safety"
Sean W. Malone writes at Logicology that the TSA at LAX took his favorite belt buckle because they claimed it was a "replica" of a gun (photo at link):
What kind of a gun, you might ask?
A 1950s Flash Gordon-style RAYGUN!! A fictional weapon. A child's toy.
Because he was running late, he didn't have the time to battle up the chain of command, so he was forced to just leave it.
Previously, the TSA geniuses had almost taken it at DCA:
But this is honestly my favorite belt buckle, and I'm me, so - realizing I was speaking with a woman with the brainpower of a block of Parmesan cheese - I looked at her and said, "You understand that this is a belt buckle, right? It is not a danger to the safety of anyone nor is it against the law to carry. I have also traveled with this belt buckle all over the country and it's never been a problem. So please explain to me how exactly you would justify taking it."
Her response was to suggest a hypothetical scenario. "What if", she postulated, "you take this object out of your bag and point it - like a gun - at a police officer? He would have no choice to assume that it was a gun, and take action against you."
Now... Let's leave aside for a second that the entire premise behind this argument is that police officers are too dumb and hopped up on their own power that they can't recognize a dangerous weapon from a belt buckle in the shape of a 1950's toy ray gun. I'm glad she recognized this reality, but I don't think she really processed what it says about law enforcement in America. But leaving that aside... Why in the hell would I ever take my belt buckle and point it at a police officer?
To this, she had no answer.
She also had no answer to the point that even if I did that, it would represent a danger to me and not, say... an airplane full of people.
At this point, she got red in the face and loudly declared that she wasn't going to argue with me or "have a debate about this". "You have two options. That's it," she said. So I asked to speak with *HER* supervisor. Fine. She took the belt buckle and walked it over to some other guy far out of earshot and talked to him for a bit while someone else came over and talked to me. Also seemed like a fairly reasonable guy.
Eventually the woman came back, curtly handed me the buckle and said, "Here you go. Have a good flight, sir.""
He sums up:
But seriously wrap your minds around what this means. Our "Transportation Security Administration" cannot recognize the difference between the following things:1. A belt buckle and a prop replica.
2. A fictional/toy gun that has never existed in human history outside of sci-fi & fantasy stories, and a firearm/weapon that actually exists.
3. An object that poses a danger to others... and... a goddamn belt buckle.
Yes, as he puts it, "The TSA is busy protecting you from the scourge of novelty belt buckles."
Government Makes You Fat And Unhealthy
Nina Teicholz, author of "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" and recently heard on my radio show discussing her book, has an op-ed in the WSJ on how the low-fat diet Americans have been told to eat for decades is based in bad science -- and the USDA has been lax both in recognizing that and putting the word out:
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans--jointly published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years--have had a profound influence on the foods Americans produce and consume. Since 1980, they have urged us to cut back on fat, especially the saturated kind found mainly in animal foods such as red meat, butter and cheese. Instead, Americans were told that 60% of their calories should come from carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, bread, fruit and potatoes. And on the whole, we have dutifully complied.
By the turn of the millennium, however, clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were showing that a low-fat regime neither improved our health nor slimmed our waistlines. Consequently, in 2000 the Dietary Guidelines committee started to tiptoe away from the low-fat diet, and by 2010 its members had backed off any mention of limits on total fat.
Yet most Americans are still actively trying to avoid fat, according to a recent Gallup poll. They are not aware of the USDA's crucial about-face because the agency hasn't publicized the changes. Perhaps it did not want to be held responsible for the consequences of a quarter-century of misguided advice, especially since many experts now believe the increase in carbohydrates that authorities recommended has contributed to our obesity and diabetes epidemics.
Such a humbling reversal should have led the expert committee preparing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, which holds its next-to-last public meeting Nov. 6-7, to fundamentally rethink the anti-fat dogma. But instead it has focused its anti-fat ire exclusively on saturated fats. Recent guidelines have steadily ratcheted down the allowable amount of these fats in the diet to 7% of calories "or less," which is the lowest level the government has ever advised--and one that has rarely, if ever, been documented in healthy human populations.
The most current and rigorous science on saturated fat is moving in the opposite direction from the USDA committee. A landmark meta-analysis of all the available evidence, conducted this year by scientists at Cambridge and Harvard, among others, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that saturated fats could not, after all, be said to cause heart disease. While saturated fats moderately raise "bad" LDL-cholesterol, this does not apparently lead to adverse health outcomes such as heart attacks and death. Another meta-analysis, published in the respected American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, came to the same conclusion. The USDA committee has ignored these findings.
Who Isn't Complaining About "The Redskins"?
Well, the other "Redskins" team from Red Mesa High School -- a school with a population that is mostly Navajo.
It's kind of like "queer." It used to be a term of disparagement. Gays reclaimed it.
Not only do the kids on the Red Mesa team not view it as racist, they seem to love it. Check out their mascot -- a painted-faced "brave" in a horse carrying a spear.
Ian Shapira writes at the WaPo:
Beyond Red Mesa's campus is a national movement against that name and logo. Across the country and on Capitol Hill, Native American activists, lawmakers, civil rights leaders and sports commentators have denounced "Redskins" as deeply offensive -- a position rejected by team owner Daniel Snyder, who contends that it honors Native Americans. He has vowed never to change the name.
One of the country's most prominent anti-Redskins activists, Amanda Blackhorse, is the lead plaintiff in a legal case that threatens the Washington Redskins' trademark protection. Blackhorse is a Navajo and lives about an hour's drive from Red Mesa.
But most in the Red Mesa community dismiss Blackhorse's cause, or barely know who she is.
"I don't know what she means that it's a racial slur," said Mckenzie Lameman, 17, a junior who is Red Mesa's student government president. "It's not a racist slur if it originates from a Native American tribe. . . . It's always used in the context of sports."
There were 62 high schools in 22 states using the Redskins moniker last year, according to a project published by the University of Maryland's Capital News Service. In addition to Red Mesa, two others are majority Native American: Wellpinit High School in Washington state and Kingston High School in Oklahoma.
At Red Mesa, there was excitement when students and faculty were offered tickets and transportation to the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Washington Redskins. About 150 students and faculty signed up.
Blackhorse, who was organizing a protest of the name at the game, said she called a Red Mesa school official and urged him not to let his students be used as props by Washington's team. "I told him they'd be mocked and treated as tokens and pawns," Blackhorse said.
But the school participated anyway, because administrators thought the disadvantaged students would appreciate the opportunity to attend an NFL game.
"We just let [Blackhorse] talk," said Al Begay, Red Mesa's athletic director, sitting in his office. "This protest feels like it's coming from one person."
Lameman (there's a name!) has a point: Nobody is using "redskins" as a term of disparagement for Native Americans. It's used proudly -- as the name of the sports team (one that the Post's Shapira points out wins more often than the team in D.C.).
More about the Washington Redskins name controversy.
Think Scientology Isn't Creepy As Fuck? Think Again
They stalked, spied on, and machinated to try to hurt my friend Mark Ebner. Gawker's John Cook blogged the story. A bit from their stalkage report -- their secret surveillance files -- confirmed, says Cook, by scientology defector Marty Rathbun:
CONFIDENTIAL ATTORNEY CLIENT PRIVILEGED
March 27, 2006
RE: MARK EBNER
Mark Ebner does not show up in any of the PI databases or on Nexis with a current residence. The last place that we knew he had been was with a woman by the name [REDACTED], however, checks of her apartment showed that he has not been living there.
Through a media source we learned that Ebner is currently living at [REDACTED]'s house - which is located on North New Hampshire about five or six blocks north of the complex, near Los Feliz. Ebner's van was not at [REDACTED]'s house late last night but was found there this morning. He was there all day, in and out of the house either letting his dogs outside or talking with Derrick. Ebner also received a delivery of a large envelope and was seen carrying around various documents when he came outside the house.
[REDACTED] is a friend of Ebner's who picketed with him around the time period of 1997/1998 (but has not done anything since). She used to work at New Times - which is not in business anymore. As of 2002, [REDACTED] was married to [REDACTED], a character actor, and the house on New Hampshire is in his name. Per Nexis search, he appears to also still be living there at the house - so [REDACTED] appears to still be married and Ebner is just a friend who is living at the house. This will be verified.
The special collections at this location will be done, which will give us further information on Ebner and [REDACTED] and what he is currently doing [Note: "special collections" is a euphemism for searching through trash]. He is still driving the old 1972 VW van which he used to have plastered with anti-Scientology posters and bumper stickers but these have now been stripped off.
In putting together the data on his connections and a time track, Ebner is part of a clique of low class writers/bloggers who hang out in the LA area. For example, he is friends with Peter Collum, a writer for the LA Weekly and Hollywood Reporter with whom he co-authored a book. Ebner and Collum went to "Porndance 99" about six years ago to cover / review porn movies. He is friends with Luke Ford (a writer / blogger) who also covers porn. Both Ebner and Ford have written attack pieces on the "velvet mafia" the powerful gays (like Geffen) in Hollywood.
While we are getting the current scene on Ebner, his files are being gone through for his past connections that he may still be associated with. He listed some of these out when he had the Drastic Media website ([REDACTED], Peter Collum and [REDACTED] are all listed on this site as part of Drastic Media).
A media source who knows Ebner is checking into what Ebner is working on and for whom and another resource he knows is being lined up to contact him to pull strings on his relation with South Park.
Ebner usually does freelance jobs for different media outlets, one of which is currently Star Magazine, any others will be found out. Ebner has been very protective of his writing jobs and this is a key point of vulnerability that we need to work on - as he does not appear to value much else. (When we have used his own postings and actions against him to show that he is totally biased against us, this has caused him problems with the outlets that he has been writing for i.e. he got let go at Rolling Stone and he was caused problems at Radar and made threats of suing Karin for "black PRing" him).
Could Non-Citizens Decide The Next Election?
Poli-Sci profs and researchers Jesse Richman and David Earnest write about their data in the WaPo:
Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Some argue that incidents of voting by non-citizens are so rare as to be inconsequential, with efforts to block fraud a screen for an agenda to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising the franchise, while others define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself. Both sides depend more heavily on anecdotes than data.
In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.
...How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.
...Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama's 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina's adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.
In case you were wondering..."the non-random association of alleles at two or more loci, that descend from single, ancestral chromosomes."
Get Last Night's "Science News You Can Use" Podcast: Amy Alkon & Dr. Jennifer Verdolin With A Scientific Look On How You Can Flirt Like A Master
This is a new, very special every-other-week show -- "Science News You Can Use" Radio -- with science-based advice columnist and author Amy Alkon and animal behaviorist Dr. Jennifer Verdolin laying out science news you can use to solve your relationship problems or just improve your relationships and have a better life.
(And yes, I will still be doing shows on the best behavioral science books on weeks in between. This coming Sunday, I have Dr. Beth Montemurro discussing her book on women's sexual evolution.)
Here's the enlightening show Dr. Verdolin and I taped last night on flirting. It turns out that flirting is anything but frivolous. In fact, understanding the science of flirting and mastering the most powerful techniques is the way to both get love in your life and have it stick around. Tune in to find out all the moves you'll need.
And don't forget to buy our science-based, fun, funny, and illuminating books -- support our show while entertaining yourself and learning a thing or two to improve your life.
Amy's new book is "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck."
Here's part of a tweet. Too few people consider this -- that there's a different way to think of the government forcing us to buy something, and it isn't with benevolence and a feeling of being looked out for:
Requiring healthy people to buy insurance is the end of liberty.
Wasn't There An Amendmenty Thingie To End Slavery?
At the LibertyCrier, Ron Paul calls "national service" anti-liberty and anti-American:
Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently called on the government to force young people to spend two years either "serving" in the military or performing some other type of government-directed "community service." Neoconservative Senator John McCain has introduced legislation creating a mandatory national service program very similar to Reich's proposal. It is not surprising that both a prominent progressive and a leading neocon would support mandatory national service, as this is an issue that has long united authoritarians on the left and right.
Proponents of national service claim that young people have a moral obligation to give something back to society. But giving the government power to decide our moral obligations is an invitation to totalitarianism.
The government has no right, if you have committed no crime, to take your time and your labor from you.
Paul makes a good point:
Whether or not they admit it, supporters of mandatory national service do not believe that individuals have "inalienable rights." Instead, they believe that rights are gifts from the government, and, since government is the source of our rights, government can abridge or even take away those rights whenever Congress decides.
Mandatory national service also undermines private charitable institutions. In a free society, many people will give their time or money to service projects to help better their communities, working with religious or civic associations. But in a society with government-enforced national service, these associations are likely to become more reliant on government-supplied forced labor. They will then begin to tailor their programs to satisfy the demands of government bureaucrats instead of the needs of the community.
...It is baffling that conservatives who (properly) oppose raising taxes would support any form of national service, including the military draft. It is similarly baffling that liberals who oppose government interference with our personal lives would support mandatory national service. Mandatory national service is a totalitarian policy that should be rejected by all who value liberty.
As of late, I feel very few "value liberty."
Most people seem to take it very much for granted.
I've gotten to the point where, when libertarian friends have a baby, I'm extremely grateful, because there's a better chance that their kid will be raised consider a liberty-driven lifestyle rather than just shutting up and consuming things and not caring that government is growing bigger and bigger and more power-bloated.
Tofu Eats Your Sperm
In case you hadn't heard, there's a study that finds some detrimental side-effects to the sperm of male vegetarians. Jake Smith writes for NetShark/FoodBeast:
In an experiment done by researchers at Loma Linda University, 443 meat-eaters and 31 vegetarians and vegans were monitored between 2009 and 2013. They initially assumed vegetarians' sperm would be healthy, but here's what they found, according to lead study author Eliza Orzylowska:
"We found that diet does significantly affect sperm quality. Vegetarian and vegan diets were associated with much lower sperm counts than omnivorous diets. Although these people are not infertile, it is likely to play a factor in conception, particularly for couples who are trying to conceive naturally, the old-fashioned way."
They also found that vegetarians had 30 percent lower concentrations of sperm (50 million per milliliter versus 70 million) and that their sperm was also weaker in terms of movement. For vegetarians, only 30 percent of their sperm were active, as compared to 60 percent of their meat-eating counterparts.
...One of the theories they came up with blamed vegetarians' high consumption of soy. ...Another explanation was the shortage of vitamin B12 in a vegetarian/vegan diet. B12 helps break down estrogen, which helps maintain a high sperm count. This vitamin is found mainly in beef and fish.
Fat-soluble vitamins: A and D Perhaps the biggest problem with vegetarian and vegan diets, however, is their near total lack of two fat-soluble vitamins: A and D. Fat-soluble vitamins play numerous and critical roles in human health. Vitamin A promotes healthy immune function, fertility, eyesight and skin. Vitamin D regulates calcium metabolism, regulates immune function, reduces inflammation and protects against some forms of cancer.
These important fat-soluble vitamins are concentrated, and in some cases found almost exclusively, in animal foods: primarily seafood, organ meats, eggs and dairy products. Some obscure species of mushrooms can provide large amounts of vitamin D, but these mushrooms are rarely consumed and often difficult to obtain. (This explains why vitamin D levels are 58% lower in vegetarians and 74% lower in vegans than in omnivores.) (12)
The idea that plant foods contain vitamin A is a common misconception. Plants contain beta-carotene, the precursor to active vitamin A (retinol). While beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in humans, the conversion is inefficient. (13) For example, a single serving of liver per week would meet the RDA of 3,000 IU. To get the same amount from plant foods, you'd have to eat 2 cups of carrots, one cup of sweet potatoes or 2 cups of kale every day. Moreover, traditional cultures consumed up to 10 times the RDA for vitamin A. It would be nearly impossible to get this amount of vitamin A from plant foods without juicing or taking supplements.
Link to big floppy clown shoes.
Welcome To Kafkaville: IRS Jumps On Forfeiture Bandwagon, Seizing Your Money With No Proof Of Crime
The U.S. has turned into a country I don't recognize, where civil liberties and private property are sneered at -- before they are yanked away from us on the grounds we very well might have done something wrong.
Along with cops engaging in civil asset forfeiture -- taking money and possessions because they might have been used in criminal activity (but with no evidence they actually have), and demanding that citizens prove themselves innocent to get their money and stuff back -- the IRS has jumped on the money-stealing train.
Shaila Dewan writes in The New York Times that the IRS is seizing accounts on mere suspicion. Like this lady's:
ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa -- For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away -- until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.
The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes -- in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.
"How can this happen?" Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. "Who takes your money before they prove that you've done anything wrong with it?"
The federal government does.
Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.
"They're going after people who are really not criminals," said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. "They're middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law."
On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by "exceptional circumstances."
Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., said in a written statement, "This policy update will ensure that C.I. continues to focus our limited investigative resources on identifying and investigating violations within our jurisdiction that closely align with C.I.'s mission and key priorities." He added that making deposits under $10,000 to evade reporting requirements, called structuring, is still a crime whether the money is from legal or illegal sources. The new policy will not apply to past seizures.
So, this woman, for the "crime" of not taking credit cards, has now "borrowed money, strained her credit cards and taken out a second mortgage to keep her restaurant going."
A warning I've made before: This could be any of us. Own a food truck? Make $8,000 and worry about that sitting around? Deposit it in the bank and you could lose that money and all your money unless you hire a lawyer and go through an expensive legal battle to prove that you've done nothing wrong.
Anybody here want to live in this kind of America?
Short One Stork: Optimism Bias In Egg Freezing
Humans are optimistically biased -- tending to believe that we'll get the good outcome and ignoring the risks as things that happen to other people.
This is not a helpful bias when it comes to egg freezing.
Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos has one of the sad stories -- in a piece on the "sobering facts" about egg freezing at WIRED:
It has been 36 years since the birth of the first in vitro fertilization (IVF) baby. We've since been led to believe that science has mastered Mother Nature. This is not true. I know. I am a former patient of three clinics in the Bay area, all of which were happy to sell me services as long as I could pay the bill. I had multiple fresh and frozen embryo transfers. Instead of taking home a baby, I came away with tremendous heartache. And my experience is not unique. Around the world, there are an estimated 1.5 million IVF procedures each year, and 1.2 million fail.
The very latest whizzy reproductive 'product' being marketed and wrapped into lucrative employee benefit packages at companies like Apple and Facebook is egg freezing. Lost in all the cheerleading about empowerment and liberating women from their biological clocks is a more buzz-killing, underreported set of facts, which women and families would benefit tremendously in understanding. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) do not endorse the use of egg freezing to defer childbearing. The ASRM's decision to lift the 'experimental' label from this still young procedure in 2012 only applied to medically indicated needs, such as women with cancer.
Moreover, there is no long-term data tracking the health risks of women who inject hormones and undergo egg retrieval, and no one knows how much of the chemicals used in the freezing process are absorbed by eggs, and whether they are toxic to cell development. Furthermore, even with the new flash freezing process, the most comprehensive data available reveals a 77 percent failure rate of frozen eggs resulting in a live birth in women aged 30, and a 91 percent failure rate in women aged 40.
...The Bottom Line
Today service providers and clinics cavalierly market egg freezing to fertile women without fully understanding or communicating the risks. Though I am neither for nor against egg freezing as an idea, I believe strongly that women must be fully informed about reproductive medicine before setting their hopes on it. ... And this science, particularly where egg freezing is concerned, is still in its infancy.
Minneapolis Is Trying To Force People To Eat Healthier And Restaurants And Drugstores Are Paying For It
Baylen Linnekin writes at reason:
A law on the books, which voters may very well repeal next month, requires restaurants to prove that food sales make up at least 70 percent of their total food and beverage sales. The law also bans restaurants from serving alcohol to customers who are waiting for a table in the restaurant.
Earlier this year, the city council adopted a City Healthy Food Policy that mandates "healthful food in vending machines, in city cafeterias and at meetings with city-funded food."
The vote was by no means unanimous.
"I'm a little bit mortified that we have a whole staff team that spent god-knows-how-many hours talking about whether or not there could be carrots in a vending machine," said councilwoman Lisa Goodman.
These silly laws hardly appear to be outliers in the city. After all, Minneapolis was the first city in the country to adopt a law, the Staple Foods Ordinance, that requires many small stores--including convenience stores and gas stations--to stock fresh produce and other "healthy" foods. The city adopted these rules in 2008. Violators face fines of $200.
"Now," reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "city officials are looking to double down on their efforts."
The proposed rules would expand the stores covered under the ordinance to include not just corner stores and gas stations but dollar stores. They'd all be required "to stock 30 pounds or 50 items of at least seven varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables.... [and] at least 3 varieties of meat, poultry, fish or vegetable proteins, at least 6 containers of a dozen eggs, at least 192 ounces of canned beans and four packages of dried beans and lentils[.]"
Why is the city looking to expand the program? That's not entirely clear. It's certainly not because it's been a success.
For example, small pharmacy owner Justin Pacult reported in 2012 that participating in the program caused him to lose "about $1,000 in eight months."
How Far A Child Is Allowed To Walk On Their Own -- Then And Now
A tweet from Ben Southwood.
Nobody Needs To Protect Speech About How Kittens Are Cute And Bunnies Are Furry
Check out the short-sightedness of a student at UNC-Chapel Hill at a First Amendment Day celebration where Gregg Lukianoff of theFIRE.org (the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education) presented some alarming findings.
Jesse Saffron summarizes the report by Lukianoff in a piece at PopeCenter.org:
The demographic group most hostile to free speech is not baby boomers or other generations, but millennials, those in the 18-30 age range.
And Saffron notes:
One of the panels earlier that day, "Speech that Hurts and the First Amendment," suggested that he's right. At least for some college students, freedom of speech takes a backseat to sensitivity.
"I am a fan of the First Amendment, but I do step in when the speech is hurtful," said Destiny Planter, vice president of UNC's Black Student Movement. One of three undergraduate students on the panel, she was not alone in her view. The other two students were also concerned that unfettered speech can create victims who, due to past negative experiences, will be psychologically and even physically affected by certain songs or books or disrespectful protesters or coarse words.
Much of the panelists' discussion related to "trigger warnings." Those are warnings that precede a reading assignment, class discussion, or campus event. They are designed to protect students from experiencing traumatic reactions to the content.
All three student panelists said that such warnings are necessary on college campuses.
No, these warnings are necessary for people who are too psychologically fragile to go to college -- a place designed for free speech and free inquiry -- and thus should not be there.
Wilson Hood, managing editor of the Siren, a feminist magazine associated with UNC, discussed a recent anti-abortion protest that took place on campus. He described his attempts to "make the space as safe as possible" for students who didn't want to see graphic images of aborted fetuses.
I have Facebook friends who post disturbing images of abused animals. I'm not sure why. I will not see the picture of the abused dog 2,500 miles away and go do something. I will just find the image upsetting. So, when I notice the top of one of these posts, I hurry past it. Same as I do for some of people's shares of stuff I find dull, inane, or politically not my cup of tea.
Wow. Looking the other way instead of trying to shut down speech, imagine that.
Greg and I agree on something -- that people who have grown up more comfortable than most people on the planet, ever, find it hard to deal with the slightest bit of discomfort. In fact, I think they are outraged by the prospect.
Grow up, entitled brats.
via Old RPM Daddy
The Centers For Substitute Mommying (Formerly The Centers For Disease Control)
Walter Olson blogs at Cato that the CDC have gone off-mission, shifting focus in recent years "to supposed public health menaces like beltless driving, gun ownership, social drinking, and suburban land use patterns."
The United Nations-run WHO is not far behind:
The ideology behind this is driven by ideas fashionable in the West, particularly that of rolling out the "tobacco control" model to other consumer goods like food and alcohol. This summer in Nature, for example, much-quoted Georgetown law prof Lawrence Gostin outlined such an agenda under the headline "Healthy Living Needs Global Governance." According to the abstract of his article, "researchers have identified a suite of cost-effective NCD [non-communicable disease] prevention measures" and now it is time for international regulatory bodies to step forward to impose them.
These measures include nannying moves like restricting alcohol and tobacco marketing and altering the environment to promote physical activity.
I altered my own environment to promote physical activity -- by getting a used exercise machine on eBay some years back and by getting weights -- and I alter it with some frequency by opening the door, walking out it, and going for a long walk with Aida.
Does government really need to be involved in this? Or is it just a jobs program for bureaucrats?
Vegan Interrupts Lunch
How many diners do you think she persuaded to eat tofu the next time?
By the way, you can put out whatever form of protest you want in the public sphere, but it's theft to march into a business, step on your soapbox, and turn all the customers there into your captive audience.
Your Tax Dollars: Keeping Kansas City Safe From The Scourge Of Illegal Panties
Jenée Osterheldt writes in the KC Star that two baboons from Homeland Security confiscated underwear with a hand-drawn Royals logo on it that a woman, Peregrine Honig, made to sell in her underwear store.
I understand defending copyrights -- but is it really making our homeland more secure? Shouldn't this be matter for civil court, like it is if somebody starts publishing my column in their paper without paying for it?
The panties, with "Take the Crown" and "KC" across the bottom, were set to be sold in Honig's Birdies Panties shop Tuesday. But Homeland Security agents visited the Crossroads store and confiscated the few dozen pairs of underwear, printed in Kansas City by Lindquist Press.
"They came in and there were two guys" Honig said. "I asked one of them what size he needed and he showed me a badge and took me outside. They told me they were from Homeland Security and we were violating copyright laws."
She thought that since the underwear featured her hand-drawn design that she was safe. But the officers explained that by connecting the "K" and the "C," she infringed on major league baseball copyright. (The officials involved could not be immediately reached for comment.)
They placed the underwear in an official Homeland Security bag and had Honig sign a statement saying she wouldn't use the logo.
How Sexy Is "Affirmative Consent"?
Conor Friedersdorf, at The Atlantic, blogged an email from a guy who "began college determined to ask women for explicit verbal consent during sexual encounters, but abandoned that approach over time." The guy writes:
I was raised by a left-leaning, feminist family who (at least I thought at the time) were relatively open about sex. But while I arrived at college with a healthy respect for women, I was totally unprepared for the complex realities of female sexuality.
"Oh," sighed one platonic female friend after we had just watched Harrison Ford grab Alison Doody and kiss her is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "Why don't guys do that kind of thing anymore? Now days they are all too scared."
On our second night together, one of my first partners threw up her hands in disgust. "How am I supposed to get turned on when you keep asking for permission for everything like a little boy?" She said. "Just take me and fuck me already."
She didn't stay with me for long.
This would be a recurring theme. More than once I saw disappointment in the eyes of women when I didn't fulfill the leadership role they wanted me to perform in the bedroom. I realized that women don't just desire men, they desire men's desire―and often they don't want to have to ask for it. I also realized that I was in many ways ashamed of my own sexual desire as a man, and that this was not healthy.
...One night I ended up back in a girl's room after a first date (those do happen in college). She had invited me in and was clearly attracted to me. We were kissing on her bed, outer layers of clothing removed, but when my hands wandered downward she said, "No, wait." I waited. She began kissing me again, passionately, so again I moved to remove her underwear. "Stop," she said, "this is too fast." I stopped.
"That's fine," I said. I kissed her again and left soon after, looking forward to seeing her again.
But my text messages received only cold, vaguely angry replies, and then silence. I was rather confused. Only many weeks later did I find out the truth from one of her close friends: "She really wanted you, but you didn't make it happen. She was pretty upset that you didn't really want her."
"Why didn't she just say so then, why did she say we were moving too fast?"
"Of course she said that, you dumbass. She didn't want you to think she was a slut."
Talk about confusing. Apparently in this case even no didn't mean no. It wasn't the last time I've come across "token resistance" that is intended to be overcome either. But that's a line that I am still uncomfortable with testing, for obvious reasons.
But I have learned not to ask when it clearly isn't necessary, or desired.
There's a name for a guy like this -- at least on college campuses: "rapist."