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One-sentence review of Colm Tóibín's Testament

Posted by Ben
on 11.15.14

What Jew of Jesus's time and place would refer to Artemis as one of "the old gods"?


 

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Celebrate

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.14.14

It seems like the stars had to align to get this indictment of Don Blankenship. The NPR radio story kept emphasizing that it all hinges on the fact that he notoriously micromanaged this particular mine.


 

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Sonnets To Edward Snowden

Posted by Ogged
on 11.14.14

What do you think?


 

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More Affirmative Consent (Including Admitting That I Was Kind Of Wrong, In A Way I'll Do Here But Not In CT Comments)

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.14.14

John Holbo had a concerned post at CT about a new 'affirmative consent' policy at OSU. (I think that's the specific policy he was talking about, although he doesn't link; that's the one that people in the comments seemed to be talking about. Concerned in a general sort of way: while he thinks policies like that are, in generally, a good idea, he also thinks that there's a fair amount of ordinary, not coercive at all, sex that wouldn't meet that standard of affirmative consent, so people are going to have to substantially change behavior to stay in compliance. Mostly, I think he's wrong about that last, and was arguing so fairly vehemently in the comments. Mulling it over, I think I was overstating my case a bit, but not in a way that fundamentally changes the argument.

First, where I was a bit overstated in saying that policies like this don't constrain what you or I would recognize as ordinary consensual sex -- there is a Man from Mars literal reading under which you could run into problems. Let's assume that we're talking about people who are not communicating verbally at all, which strikes me as kind of unusual, but the sort of thing that does happen sometimes, I suppose. This is not a problem under the OSU policy: "Consent is a knowing and voluntary verbal or non-verbal agreement..." I do run into a possible problem, though, when reading the following: "Consent is a... agreement between both parties to participate in each and every sexual act" and "Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other or all forms of sexual activity". Depending on how tightly you define "one form of sexual activity", this could be interpreted as meaning that each partner would have to get separate permission every time they moved their hands -- is touching someone's elbow the same form of activity as touching their shoulder? And that sort of issue, while verbal consent doesn't solve it at all, looks worse when you're talking about non-verbally expressed consent: while both verbal and non-verbal communication are always ambiguous to a degree, the possible levels of ambiguity are higher for non-verbal communication.

In other words, it is possible for one party to innocently overstep the bounds of the consent they have agreed on and need to have their partner communicate that something unwelcome has happened ("Please, please, touch me! Keep touching me!" [partner does something in response] "Um, I didn't mean there. Go back to that other thing you were doing?"), and there is a hyperliteral reading of this sort of policy that would call that sort of interaction a sexual assault -- there was unconsented-to sexual touching, because one party relied on the implicature of ambiguous communication, whether verbal or non-verbal. I think this issue simply has to be resolved by realizing that affirmative consent policies, like every other legal or administrative rule, will produce bad results if applied by unreasonable or malicious enforcers, and not worrying about it too much, but I agree that the hyperliteral reading exists and would be problematic.

Once we're taking that sort of case -- communication of the precise nature of the consent that has been given through a process that can include slight overstepping of the intended boundaries -- off the table, though, I think Holbo's concern as stated here is misplaced:

One final twist on this: a lot of sexual assault - sexually predatory behavior - proceeds under cover of forms of behavior that can, indeed, be innocent. The law aims to remove some of that cover by shifting social norms away from the sorts of (often innocent) behavior that is, often, cover for sexual assault.

Innocent, ordinary behavior incorporates affirmative consent: that is, I'm certain if Holbo were sitting watching a video (easy chair, popcorn) of the 'often innocent behavor' he's thinking of as running afoul of affirmative consent rules, and he were asked "Are both parties consenting? How do you (and the parties involved) know?" he would in the vast majority of cases both have a clearly held opinion on the first question, and would be able to point to specific behaviors (even assuming everyone is completely nonverbal) on the second. Actually consensual sex without any such obvious behavior is possible, but it's really odd -- it's not the gentle cuddling that non-verbally escalates into sex that Holbo and Ezra Klein seem to be envisioning.

The behavior that, I think, is actually addressed by this kind of affirmative consent policy is behavior that would look problematic to an ordinary person, but might be hard to define as literally rape without the 'affirmative consent' concept -- where the question "is one person being raped here?" might get a "I don't think so? They probably could have made the other person stop if they'd tried harder? I don't see what was stopping them from leaving? I'm not sure, but I don't think I can can call it rape". Not gently non-verbal romanticism, but "Wow, that looks coercive, and I think that one of the people on screen is an incredible asshole, even if I'm not sure I'm witnessing a criminal act." Once the question is "Did both parties affirmatively consent to what happened," though, the answers are much clearer and easier to arrive at.

No set of rules avoids all the hard cases, but I think Holbo is mistaken about the nature of the hard cases he's worrying about.


 

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Eclectic

Posted by Ogged
on 11.13.14

--Mayor Hodges politely and humorously tells the #pointergate pushers to fuck off and die. Local politicians can still occasionally be awesome.

--"Natural insemination" donors.

--This story has been bubbling in the swimming community for years, but this Outside story brings it all together: lots of sexual abuse, a lot of covering up.


 

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TIFU

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.13.14

This particular reddit TIFU (Today I fucked up) is hilarious.

Anyway we adopt this beautiful, loving, affectionate and incredible baby. It's truly love at first sight for all of us. Around about eight months we start to feel a little bit of guilt about not raising him in his on ethnic culture and given that we live in an area with a major Chinese population, it would be very easy to introduce him to his roots. So for the next seventeen years we do everything we can to honor his ethnicity. We send him to Chinese language courses and by five he's fluent in Mandarin and English, he gets an "adopted" by a Chinese aunt and uncle (they taught him cultural things and celebrate certain holidays and take him for dim sum every couple of weeks). We've been taking him to China every two years since he was eight. We weren't trying to force him to take up his culture as an "other" in our family, but we didn't want to rob him of it or completely whitewash him either. We try and be PC as possible and we thought we were doing the right thing.

It's too long to quote the whole thing, so you're going to have to click through. It's only a couple more paragraphs and there's no sound or anything untoward at the link.

Update: Spoilers allowed in the thread, so you should probably click through first if you want the fuck up to be funny.


 

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And yet more suggestions

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.13.14

I didn't have Mark Bittman categorized in my head as someone who was clear-headed about social issues:

The difference between you and the hungry is not production levels; it's money. There are no hungry people with money; there isn't a shortage of food, nor is there a distribution problem. There is an I-don't-have-the-land-and-resources-to-produce-my-own-food, nor-can-I-afford-to-buy-food problem.
And poverty and the resulting hunger aren't matters of bad luck; they are often a result of people buying the property of traditional farmers and displacing them, appropriating their water, energy and mineral resources, and even producing cash crops for export while reducing the people growing the food to menial and hungry laborers on their own land.
Poverty isn't the only problem, of course. There is also the virtually unregulated food system that is geared toward making money rather than feeding people.

I will be sure to re-categorize him!


 

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Scantics

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.13.14

LB comments:

Huh. "Werewolf on a Scooter" can be sung to the tune of "Girlfriend in a Coma."

I definitely have the kind of brain that will swap out anything that scans the same. One swap in current rotation is Pablo Neruda back and forth with Jason Derulo. (Link is not gold.) Anyway, let me have them - your tics, your mental swaps. Let's see how many I can acquire in one day.


 

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A suggestion to a different crime

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.12.14

This article, a bit self-righteous in tone, proposes that Sweden has more or less eliminated the problem of prostitution and sex-trafficking.

In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex...In addition to the two pronged legal strategy, a third and essential element of Sweden's prostitution legislation provides for ample and comprehensive social service funds aimed at helping any prostitute who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public. As such, Sweden's unique strategy treats prostitution as a form of violence against women in which the men who exploit by buying sex are criminalized, the mostly female prostitutes are treated as victims who need help, and the public is educated in order to counteract the historical male bias that has long stultified thinking on prostitution. To securely anchor their view in firm legal ground, Sweden's prostitution legislation was passed as part and parcel of the country's 1999 omnibus violence against women legislation.

Then nothing much changed for a couple years, until they went in and did a whole bunch of police training and reorientation. This is what I mean by smug tone:

The police themselves, it was determined, needed in-depth training and orientation to what the Swedish public and legislature already understood profoundly. Prostitution is a form of male violence against women. The exploiter/buyers need to be punished, and the victim/prostitutes need to be helped.

Oh, profoundly. Anyway, there are no links to any sources in the article, so that's not reassuring. But confirmation bias is what it is, and I like all these biases.


 

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G-Men

Posted by Ogged
on 11.12.14

The FBI's "suicide letter" to MLK is really something. Given the obsession with sexual depravity, I thought Hoover himself wrote it, but apparently not. Also notable, as Gage says at the link, that the press didn't play along.


 

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Facts!

Posted by Ogged
on 11.12.14

I don't remember noting this at the time, and it might have just escaped our attention, but almost ten years ago, after Labs posted about David Gelernter, someone claiming to be his ex-wife left this wackadoodle comment, in which it seems everything but "antebellum" is misspelled.

I accidently came across your comments about David Gelernter in a Blog, in which you said he came by his right wing fanatic positions because of the Unibomber. This is simply not true. I was married to him in August of 1976, and divorced a few years later. He was at least as bad then. Many people are mislead about is background because he is a Jew, and his father was a professor at Stonybrook. However, his mother's family dominated the house he grew up in. His mother's mothers was from an old Southern family who settled on the Kentucky Frountier in the 1840s, helped found Louisville, and generally become a part of antebellum Southern society. They were fanatical racists. Her husband, Reform Rabbi Theodore Lewis, was thrown out of the Progessive Synogogue of Brooklyn, where he had been the Rabbi for years, due to his racist preaching from the pulpit.

I'm amused whether it's actually his ex-wife compulsively googling and trashing him, twenty years on, or some nutball who compulsively googles him and then pretends to be his ex-wife.


 

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A Suggestion

Posted by Ogged
on 11.11.14

The other day, our local football team was shellacked (again), so naturally some fans decided to tweet death and rape threats to the coach's daughters. We can talk about what social media companies can do to police this, or the culture of rape and violence, or whatever, but it seems like a simple problem with a simple solution: send a death or rape threat, go to jail. I don't see a free speech issue, it seems like a political winner, and while it may sometimes be difficult to prove that a specific person sent the message, some prosecutions will be successful, and have the intended effect. There's no reason for this to be a normal part of our public landscape.


 

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Veterans Day

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.11.14

Do we have anyone here who has actually served in the military? Some of you old-timers must have, right?


 

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Uncommon Scents, Also, This Is Not Depressing!

Posted by Alameida
on 11.10.14

I care about smells a lot. Husband X has a genuinely damaged--well, probably not at any point existent--sense of smell. This was how I was able to be a 'secret' drinker for 18 months. My dad has always worn cologne or after-shave, like Dominican Bay Rum. He shaves every day since he, like my brother, has a heavy beard. (My brother actually gets 5 'o-clock shadow, which is the manliest thing ever.) I love it, he always smells delicious. I try at various times to make my husband do the same, and I told him the other day he has to go back to wearing Chanel's Egoïste Platinum if I buy it for him (it happens to smell great on him; I can't imagine how I found this out. White's Pharmacy in East Hampton, probably, where I used to be able to charge things to one or the other of my grandparents by signing for things. For this reason my mom and sister and I used to spend a ton of time there trying on all the makeup and perfume for fun.) Or he could wear Bay Rum or anything like that. I had to admit that wanting my husband to smell like my father is kind of weird, but look, it's just a gesture of stylish good-will towards the world, OK?

Bali has upgraded their airport in the last couple of years, without adding enough lanes for arrival immigration that there isn't an hour-to-hour-and-a-half-long wait at peak times. Christ. But they've made it so that you have to literally walk through the duty-free on your way to the gates as you leave Bali. I was super-early when I went a few weeks ago, so I ended up actually buying some stuff, one thing I do buy normally (YSL Touche Éclat which is both a concealer and illuminator INORITE?!) and something new, Guerlain's Vetiver. Oh my god it is the most fabulous thing in the world. It smells so good. I smell so good right now. It's very masculine--vetiver is the base note of Bay Rum type colognes. It smells like tobacco, and split wood, and cloves, and fresh outsideness. Truthfully my husband could just start wearing this except I'm bogarting the whole bottle right now and wearing it to bed, and when I'm alone, and just putting it all over. It was concocted by Jean-Paul Guerlain when he was very young, in 1959, his first big perfume I think. BUT IT DOESN'T LAST!!! Much like the men's cologne's it so resembles. I mean, my dad smells great when you give him a hug right after he's shaved, but 45 minutes later he just smells like pot-smoke and freshly-baked bread, like usual. Can I just carry it around in my purse and reapply it in the bathroom all the time? There are other vetiver perfumes, such as Tom Ford's, but they are uniformly loathsome and smell like acetone.

Here are some other perfumes I like. Diorissimo (from, duh, Dior): they sometimes don't have this 50s classic on their stand in the department store, even, but you should make them get it out. It smells like narcissus and lily of the valley. Joy: it used to boast as being the most expensive perfume in the world, using 1,000 flowers, when I was young, and my grandmother got it for me along with a subscription to the New Yorker and membership at the Met when I moved to NYC for college. Because my grandmother ruled. It's just floral and restrained without being powdery or too sweet, and delicious. Fracas by Robert Piguet: it smells like tuberose and gardenias and things like that; some people find it too much, like how my mom can't sleep in a room with a big bunch of star lilies in there, I have to move it out. I luuuurve it. Chanel Allure: it has the flowers I like, such as jasmine and orange blossom, but also has lemony-type smells that make it not sickly-sweet. Plus, it's 90s, like the video for Blackstreet's "No Diggity" in a bottle. OK, I made that last part up to get Heebie to like it, but it did come out in the 90s. At the biggest Indian shopping mall here in Narnia they have alcohol-free perfumes for devout Muslims who eschew such things, and after carefully picking over a vast number of noxious ones I have found one $6 roll-on bottle of jasmine oil that's really quite as good as any expensive perfume.

As you can tell, I don't like 'amber' type perfumes at all, and some classic scents smell gross and wrong on me (hi Chanels #5, 19). No Shalimar! No Opium! My mom, on the other hand, wears only that kind of thing. The degree to which the same perfume will smell either wonderful or revolting on, say, two sisters really is remarkable. Whatch'all like to spray on when you want to smell all nice? Neb, solve my Guerlain Vetiver problem somehow! LB, explain how you never wear perfume! Ogged, tell us perfume is gross and it gives you a headache when the ladies wear perfume and even have been in the elevator!


 

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Go back to bed.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.10.14

Everything is awful, from creditors who can now remotely shut down your car, to the creeping rise of punishing pregnant women for the medical problems of their fetuses. The numbers are small, but growing alarmingly.

I would much rather discuss something frivolous or gossipy. I am burned out on this shit at the moment. A fashion ATM would be ideal; send me an email.

First link via Rob Helpy-Chalk, elsewhere.


 

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Assorted

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.10.14

1. There's a new vortex! I for one could not be more excited.

2. I was going to post on Stevie Wonder's fiance having triplets, but it turns out the rumor isn't true. Which leaves a bit of a hole in a post called "Assorted", so I'm going with this weird Bill O'Reilly column (no need to click through, not golden), which includes:

Did you know that about 70 percent of all American workers earn less than $50,000 a year? Did you know that? I didn't know that. That means the folks are struggling. They are living in a very insecure way. They have little savings and if they get sick it's a disaster. Educating their children? A huge financial burden. As is saving for retirement. So priority number one is to stimulate the economy so that workers make more money.

Yes, yes I did know that, Bill. He then enumerates three ways to grow the economy - cut corporate taxes, give international corporations a short tax amnesty, and:

Third, raise the minimum wage. That will encourage young people to get into the market place and other folks to get off the dole; $10 an hour not going to break anyone. And with the corporate income tax cut, the minimum wage rise will not affect profits. Also the Republican Party will be seen as helping people who don't have much money. That's an image changer. The capital gains tax should also be cut to 15 percent. That encourages private investments and more money flows into the marketplace.

Uh, great? I'm not holding my breath that he'll have any memory of ever saying that, but I guess this is his broken clock moment.

3. I'm sort of sick of talking about politics at the moment. But it's going to get deliciously not-hot tomorrow here!


 

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ATM: On behalf of a friend

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.09.14

So, my friend is untenured at a state university. In the spring of 2013, she and a grad student started to fall in love, but did not act on it. He was her student at the time, but in the process of transferring to a university a few hours away. Over the summer, she separated from her husband and began a long distance relationship with this other guy.

Everything is technically kosher, but easily looks bad, and so they've kept everything quiet since then. They are still happily in a relationship.

Her department tenure vote is this semester, and after that, obviously things become much less fraught for her. So, the question is: if he wants to apply for a summer lectureship at her university, is it in his best interest if the relationship stays a secret? What if he applies for a more permanent position down the road?

According to the HR website, there is only an obligation to disclose if one of them is in a supervisory or evaluative position of the other. Basically, they would prefer to be open about seeing each other, but only after being sure they're not jeopardizing anything. Thoughts?


 

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Guest Post - A year of stupid

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.09.14

Chris Y writes: As we approach the end of the year, can we have nominations for the stupidest thing to emerge in 2014? My proposal.

(Props to the FTC in this case, I wouldn't have necessarily thought they'd do anything.)

Heebie's take: #Pointergate has to get a nomination.


 

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