Englishman moves from Manhattan to Mississippi is a give-me-a-break premise, but after reading this, damn if I don't want to read his book. Too much gold to quote just a bit.
Via J, Robot.
How can it be that a California native in his late fifties has never eaten at Taco Bell? Has he also never been drunk? Has he lived a life without regrets?
2. The media has been consistently condescending towards Bernie Sanders. (Via E. Messily)
Oh my god, this is one of the more infuriating things I've read in a long time. A big asshole pats himself on the back for seeing the humanity in the fat woman sitting next to him on the plane. I saw it on FB, shared by a very sincere, very overweight friend of mine, with a message along the lines of "I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself!"
Chris Y writes: Now we're all at least middle aged we can have fun snarling about this.
Heebie snarls: Seems basically accurate. Obviously I'm in Stage 5, Endurance.
E. Messily writes: For some reason I have recently come across a ton of articles about people running marathons, and a significant minority are about people running marathons in interesting or unusual ways. Is it Marathon Season? Are all of my friends suddenly runners? Did I drunk-order some running shoes on Amazon and Facebook noticed? Only time will tell, I guess.
Anyway! This dude got lost and wandered around New York for two days. This other dude sneakily snuck into the front of the pack and won, except he wasn't quite sneaky enough and everyone was all "hey, why isn't that guy sweaty or out of breath?" so then he un-won. This lady walked the marathon (with a walker) a month after having back surgery. This guy is sad because the marathon bosses told him he couldn't joggle any more, and also he does a thing he calls "joggling" which means he juggles while he is running marathons. This lady ran backwards the whole way*. This lady is standing up to the man by running in Afghanistan. And, in case you don't know what a marathon even is and would like someone to explain to you using first-person narrative and a multimedia presentation, Vox is on the job.
*[Ed: autoplays noisily at link]
Heebie's take: First, this is hilarious. Second, running marathons will be the pole-sitting of our time, won't it. It's basically just virtuous pole-sitting. Third, I miss the meditative plodding of running but my hips and back feel way better doing xfit.
I always assumed that American schools are fine, and it's just that we have a lot of students who are always already screwed. But there's a contrary position, not from our local grifters, but international ed experts.
As part of the PISA exercise, the O.E.C.D. collects information about parental education and occupation, household wealth, educational resources at home and other measures of social and economic status -- and combines them into one index.
By that standard, fewer than 15 percent of American students come from the bottom rung of society. And yet, Mr. Schleicher found, 65 percent of principals in American schools say at least 30 percent of their students come from disadvantaged families, the most among nations participating in the PISA tests.
Hmm. I'd love to see that paper when he publishes it. If they're using some kind of trans-national measure of deprivation, does it capture the effects of intra-national inequality? Of racism? Questions!
That's the real title. It's basically an apologia for the #slatepitch that is itself a #slatepitch. Between this, by a Wharton prof, and the 538 piece, by a Yale prof, it's probably time to shut down higher ed in America. #slatepitch!
Well, we banned fluoride. It's like our town only has the worst parts of lefty-hippies, the kind that wants to band together with libertarians and force everyone to homestead. What did your local wackos pass yesterday?
(Then I checked my inbox and decided to roll these two posts together:)
Minivet writes: On the same day Ohio's Issue 3 failed, the latest California marijuana legalization initiative was officially submitted. Here's the full submitted text (PDF). It has the backing of the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, an industry association, Gavin Newsom, and an Internet billionaire. Most likely of any of those filed to succeed in 2016.
I thought people might be interested in picking the text apart and seeing what it might lead to. Although it's been filed, it could still be modified based on public input, and there may be some changes needed in practice to get all the advocates on the same side (specifically the group that backed the 2010 initiative). Maybe we can accomplish a little something?
Also for reference:
* Summary from a local blog.
* Legislation passed and signed last month that establishes a full commercial system for medical marijuana, which I believe this initiative borrows heavily from: combination of AB266, SB643, and AB24.
This is a smart young man with nice command of the language. I don't know Lou Reed well enough to say wether he's also right, although maybe Reed isn't even the issue.
Cops like to rape people.
Blood...on their hands. Get it? If not, you'll get another chance when you see it again in Uzbekistan in a few years.
2. Paleontologists are stupid. They are obsessed with theories about why human penises are disproportionately large:
All this is just terribly fun to write about and I'm not even going nuts (gah) like they do. And they do. They really do. And all over the Internet they do: "Evolution of human penis" gets 53,000 hits just on scholar.google alone, and about 832,000 on Google. But doesn't it make sense that for a penis to be somewhat useful it has to be somewhat correlated to vagina size?
It's a great article. There are exactly zero articles addressing why the human vagina is so big, although the author was able to turn up one note, hypothesizing that penises are big because vaginas are big.
So if there's an exceptionally human story for the great big human penis, that exceptional story originates not in a woman's orgasms, not in her pornographic thoughts or her lustful eyes, but in her decidedly unsexy "birth canal."
No really, it's great:
Does nobody love a big vagina? Because that's just ridiculous. Everybody came from one.
Economists have convincing arguments about why, in theory, the Cadillac tax should raise wages. But when it comes to actual data -- real-life examples that show the wage-premium trade-off is happening -- evidence is sparse. One 1999 summary of the research put it this way: "The typical estimates [of the wage-premium trade-off] are either wrong-signed, insignificant, or both." Or, as a paper published this year stated bluntly: "Many studies fail to find any relationship."
Still, economists remain confident in the theory and chalk up the relatively weak evidence to poor data and the difficulty of designing studies that can isolate the relationship between wages and premiums. They argue that even though the data is poor, employers would have to raise wages if they cut health care spending -- otherwise, their competitors would do so and steal their best talent.
"Economists have strongly held views on this because there isn't a good theory about why the trade-off wouldn't happen," says Darren Lubotsky, an economist at the University of Illinois Chicago whose research focuses on this issue. "But the hard part has been demonstrating the trade-off empirically. And it's proven hard to get consistent estimates of something close to a dollar-for-dollar trade-off."
Yes, whatever could explain this peculiar phenomenon? Why on earth would employers just pocket the savings? So weird.
This shit is evil. Lots of countries do it in lots of places, and it's evil every time.
Guys. Guise. You are thinking some crazy stuff. My dad told me that heroin use ran in cycles: everybody saw the people around them dying in the 1970s and decided heroin was bad news. (Don't think he didn't tell me not to do heroin, because he told me not to. That, and to floss every night, and not become a prostitute ever. It was all solid advice, especially the flossing.) Then, people in the 80s did coke instead. Then by the 90s, the people who hadn't seen everybody's life wrecked in the 70s were young and dumb, and decided to give "Downtown Dick Cheney" a whirl. Rinse, repeat.
All due respect to our Narnia correspondent, I've never understood why anyone would do heroin. I mean, it's basically famous for killing young, beautiful, talented people; there's no illusion that it's only sad old drunks or trailer trash who die from it.
JRoth: do you see how you kind of answered your own question there? Also, it's a really amazing drug. So great. And if you're in chronic pain it's unbeatable. And it's not as if everyone even who was a heavy user stays addicted forever. For lots of people I knew it was like binge drinking in college; the amount of puke generated was held constant and fun ramped up to asymptotically approach infinity, and then they quit at 24 and never used again.
I am always confused by this alleged epidemic of over-prescription of oxy when I know my sister and mom are having trouble getting adequate pain meds. Pain specialists are closing left and right; they can only have 200 patients each max and often there are zero doctors in your area with openings. They always tell my sis they can't do any better for her unless she gets cancer (repeatedly dislocating your hip because of your lax ligaments? not good enough), but docs are still not giving my mom good meds. She is literally the exact person to whom you should be handing out fentanyl plasters like you were making an Alaïa dress or some shit. The person with stage 4 cancer. WTF, doctors in Baltimore? Are you actively trying to drum up business so one of us goes and cops while my mom is in her chemo at Johns Hopkins and the car is still where we can get our parking validated?
About all the ODs, it is mind-blowingly awful, but I want to know who was drinking at the same time, because the answer is, all of them. I have never known anyone to die from a straight-up overdose. I have known people to OD who had also put away most of a fifth of bourbon. I have known someone to die of pneumoniac complications they left untreated; this can be a pure no alcohol case. Other than that, you'll probably be fine no matter how much oxycontin you take as long as you're not washing it, along with some xanax and valium, down with Jägermeister. To be scrupulously fair, you totally are washing all three down with Jägermeister, though. Jesus my weekend-night routine was 5 bags of dope and two bottles of Jäger for the four of us besties when I was a junior. What even.
I take oxycontin for pain relief, and have gone down to one tab a day from four or five at the height. I have never gotten high on it. It just...doesn't do that thing. It's like tramadol that way. Maybe I already burned all those dopamine receptors like how Indonesian people clear jungle for palm oil plantations? Hideous swathes of ashes and red jungle earth? Whatever. I will get the itchies if I have been taking one and take three because I'm in terrible pain. That's bullshit, because if I'm going to be scratching myself so hard I bleed I damn well had best be high. Also, I can't sleep properly. This is true of heroin; you are sleepy but can't sleep--but don't care that you can't sleep!
It's a good thing that people don't push heroin on you like they try to liquor; it would be kind of tough, I think. Maybe no worse than booze; I never raided my grandfather's liquid morphine while he was in hospice care, and I looked at it every time I opened the fridge. If I had still been an active alcoholic I would have taken some goodly swigs, for sure. When I think about it generally and imagine, what if I could go back in time and just not try it, I don't immediately think "god, yes! Let me save myself years of misery and humiliation and times when the hand of death touched me gently between my shoulder-blades, and then moved on!" A small part of me is still like--eh, you would have just drunk more and do you want to repudiate ecstatic pleasure like that? And how else were you going to make the pain of living go away? From this we can conclude that heroin is some scary shit and you should not try it, even though it's amazing. Should you even try coke though? That seems non-obvious if we grant dope is a bad idea. Junkies are whiny and annoying, but cokeheads destroy the world economy.
Car makers are being forced to take the trolley problem seriously.
You're humming along in your self-driving car, chatting on your iPhone 37 while the machine navigates on its own. Then a swarm of people appears in the street, right in the path of the oncoming vehicle. There's a calculation to be made -- avoid the crowd and crash the owner, or stay on track and take many lives? -- and no one is at the wheel to make it. Except, of course, the car itself.
Now, that example isn't well-formed, because we don't know why these people have suddenly appeared. To change it a bit: if two drunks stumble in the path of my car, and my car decides to kill me to save them, I am seriously going to want a refund. Which car makers know, of course.
when asked if they would buy a car that would sacrifice its passenger to save other lives, most people balked
I'm sure we'll have Volkswagen's assurances that our cars will do their best to save us. One hopes that there will be some regulations about the disclosure of these cars' avoidance algorithms.
And because I'll probably never get to say this again: philosophers: time to monetize!
Trivers writes: A constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana is on the ballot in Ohio, with a catch: it would give the the sole rights to production and distribution to the investors that helped get it on the ballot.
Issue 3, as the proposed amendment is known, is bankrolled by wealthy investors spending nearly $25 million to put it on the ballot and sell it to voters. If it passes, they would have exclusive rights to growing commercial marijuana in Ohio. The proposal has a strange bedfellows coalition of opponents: law enforcement officers worried about crime, doctors worried about children's health, state lawmakers, and others who warn that it would enshrine a monopoly in the Ohio Constitution.
Text of the proposed amendment is here.
Heebie's take: That is super weird.
I listen to his podcast -- it's a hour of pruriently amusing entertainment while I ride the subway, and the advice usually doesn't annoy me too badly. This week, though, there was a call starting about
22 minutes 34 minutes from the beginning, where I got more and more hostile the longer I thought about what he said.
A summary, PG version of the call is as follows: the woman who called had gone to a strip club with a friend, and he bought her a private lap dance from a male dancer, which took place in a private room. During the course of the lap dance, the stripper touched her sexually in a way she didn't expect and didn't appreciate; she told him to stop it and he did. He then touched her sexually in a different way she didn't expect and didn't want; she told him to stop that as well, and he argued with her that she should enjoy it, but ultimately stopped. The dance continued sort of awkwardly and unpleasantly, and with a couple more boundary-violating incidents. And then at the end the stripper asked her to friend him on Facebook, and was pushy and argumentative about it when she refused. And so she asked Savage: was this ordinary stripper behavior? should she have complained to the management? should she have complained to the police?
Savage's response was to bemoan how awful it is that in our society women are socialized so that they don't feel empowered to express that a situation is making them uncomfortable and they want it to end. He said, among other things, that women "don't speak up for themselves," "that women don't feel empowered to say, 'Knock it off. I don't want [description of two of the things the stripper did]." The thing is, though, in the story the caller told? She said pretty much exactly that; the problem was that the stripper continued being aggressively boundary-violating in new ways after each time she told him to stop something. Although she clearly expressed her discomfort with his behavior and told him to stop, doing that wasn't enough to get him to back off and return to the less-invasive dance she had thought her friend was paying for.
Savage didn't seem to notice that she had expressed herself clearly: because whatever she said or did wasn't enough to bring the uncomfortable situation to an end, Savage talked about it as if she'd been (due to the tragedy of how women are socialized to be passive in our culture) frozen and not reacting at all. If the way you express that you want something to stop isn't forceful enough, it doesn't count. How do you tell if you were forceful enough? If the person you're talking to stops. If they keep going, you weren't forceful enough. He suggested that if she hadn't been acculturated into passivity, she might have, in the moment, punched the stripper in the nuts, which is the kind of suggestion that looks a lot more practical from the point of view of someone who isn't significantly smaller and weaker than the stripper they're visualizing.
I can secondguess how she managed the situation just fine from here and in hindsight, and who knows, I might have handled it more effectively than she did (although punching someone bigger and stronger than I am who's already demonstrated that they're willing to disregard social norms? Really unlikely to be on the list of effective tactics.) But talking about the situation the way Savage did is grotesque: stating that the problem was that she was acculturated to be passive and not stand up for herself; and completely disregarding the part of the story she told where she wasn't passive and did stand up for herself, because if whatever she did and said failed to bring the situation under control, it meant nothing and didn't happen.
People talk this way a lot in less out-there situations: when they see someone being maltreated, the problem is that they're not standing up for themselves -- not that it justifies the maltreatment, but it explains it. And it's really always bullshit: people get badly treated regardless of whether they're being assertive about it or not. Being assertive helps sometimes, but it's not a magic bullet, and you can't look at a situation where someone's getting shit on and assume that they could make it stop if they'd just show some backbone.
Eh, I'm mad enough that I'm not writing this in a way that makes sense. But I'm posting it anyway.
Via DQ, How to Make a Virtuouso Violinist. Hint: you sacrifice their well-being.