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Threesorted

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.10.19

1. Mossy Charry writes: Being Trump's best self. (Background.)

Heebie's take: that Thai king is a piece of work, good lord.

2. This is so dumb, but I love this little robot planter:


Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen: modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back.

The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves toward the sunshine when needed, and it retreats to shade when it's had enough. It'll "play" with a human if you tap its carapace, and it can even make its needs known by performing a little stompy dance when it's out of water.

It's weird looking, but hits that Wall-E sweet spot where occasionally a robot evokes affection. It's perfect for someone who has always wanted something in between a Chia Pet and a Roomba and has no actual pets, or clutter, or children in their life. A complement to an otherwise monastic existence for someone who can't handle even a goddamn plant but somehow has 1K to drop on a robot spider base.

3. I didn't post about that prick Jerry Falwell Jr's racy photos, because of scandal fatigue - does it really matter? Of the things he does, I care the least about his boner pics.
However:
- this article uses the phrase, "[a] source familiar with Cohen's thinking" so many times that it started to seem funny. Like the source had been quite proud of itself for driving a hard bargain that included exclusively being referred to by that phrase.
- Why exactly is Tom Arnold part of this story?!


 

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2070

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.09.19

Hindsight 2070: experts weigh in on things that will be unthinkable in 50 years. Who is the wrongest?

I agree with:
- kids won't play tackle football

I don't agree with:
- there won't be any bosses and we'll all be subcontractors. Please, people like having power and control over other people.
- Peter Singer's might be the dumbest: Flaunting wealth will be a thing of the past.


Most of them are, "We know this is a bad choice in 2019, so surely it will be eradicated by 2070." That seems rosy-hued. Maybe by 2070 we'll know better than to bet on the gradual improvement of society.


 

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Sandra Bland

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.08.19

It seems fishy as hell that the lawyers or police or whoever have concealed Sandra Bland's own cell phone footage of her arrest for the past three years.


 

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Guest Post - Subcontractors of Luuuuuuv

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.07.19

Nworbie writes: These people are on to such a good business model: selling shovels in the gold rush. I'm writing something somewhere else about the sexual market place and here is a glimpse of a whole network of subcontractors. Two things are really interesting to me. First that the help once supplied by friends or relatives is now available from strangers, for money. Secondly, where do you draw the line, ethically? I reckon it goes between sprucing yourself up -- because who wants to look like a garbage man? -- and actually hiring someone to write your messages for you, as if you were a mediaeval king ("Oh, baby, could I put a chicken in *your* pot").

Third, of course, who is going to write the romcom in which the image consultant falls for the image she has made?

Heebie's take: Some deets:

"I found I have a knack for taking on people's voices," she said. She had become a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac. A business, Love, Amy, was born.
"People get weird on these apps. They don't even talk like themselves," Ms. Nobile said. "After three or four meetings with my clients, I can banter as them, I can be them."
Ms. Nobile finds matches and sets up dates, taking over the initial back-and-forth messaging (with clients looking over her shoulder.) She hands everything over once dates are set.
"It takes away the emotional roller coaster that people get on," Ms. Nobile said. "People ghost you; it's depressing, and people will walk away from it. I can maintain the dating rhythm for months until they can get used to it."

and


So for divorced men, Ms. Dreyer provides full-service home management. She will find and decorate an apartment, get laundry and groceries delivered, work with the ex-wife to organize a digital calendar, buy birthday presents, plan vacations, hire a nanny and a cleaning lady, and buy extra sets of pajamas for the children.

Newly divorced women have their life issues too, like simply asking for help or advice, which can affect their dating confidence, said Liza Caldwell, a former stay-at-home mom from the Upper East Side who divorced 10 years ago. She runs SAS For Women, which provides coaching and support throughout the divorce process. "You have to reinvent," Ms. Caldwell said. "What are you going to be in the new life?"

It all sounds okay to me, frankly. Services needed, exchanged for fair compensation. I assume there's a supply chain that ends with a divorce lawyer.


 

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The new "I want your speed"

Posted by Ben
on 05.06.19

Yesterday, whilst I was stretching, an older lady expressed admiration of my impressive turnout.


 

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Depression around the world

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.06.19

I thought this was fascinating. Basically, we've all grown up with the idea that mental illness is a Western phenomenon, but this article is calling shenanigans:

[Patel's] purpose was to find evidence for the view, then widespread among psychiatrists, that what looked like depression in poor countries was actually a response to deprivation and injustice - conditions stemming from colonisation. The remedy in such cases, he believed, was not psychotherapy, but social justice.
Patel began his work by holding focus-group interviews with traditional healers and others who cared for patients with mental illness, and then by interviewing patients. He asked them what mental illness was, what caused it, and how to treat it. The most common illness had a name: kufungisisa, a word in Shona, the local language, which means excessive worry about a problem. Many of the healers said kufungisisa was not an illness, but a reaction to the stresses of life, such as poverty or illness. Aha! Patel thought. It was as he expected: in Zimbabwe, mental suffering was being caused by social injustice.
But when Patel asked patients how kufungisisa felt, the answers were familiar. No matter what they called it, no matter what they held to be the reason or the cure, they cited hopelessness, exhaustion, inability to confront their problems and a lack of interest in life - classic signs of depression.

On the one hand, it seems incredibly reasonable that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety would be universal, as opposed to just really stark examples of mental illness, like schizophrenia. On the other hand, good progressives aren't supposed to project their own baggage onto other cultures, so it seems equally reasonable to hold off on generalizing about mental illness until there's clear evidence. On a third hand, there are longstanding racist underpinnings to the belief that Natives from Poor Places wouldn't have the full range of emotions and experiences that Whitey gets to have. It's just an incredibly fraught topic to navigate.

For most of the 20th century, the view that "mental health" was exclusively a problem of the wealthier west was widely held by doctors, mental health professionals and cultural theorists... Even by the late 1990s, versions of this thinking survived. There was a heated debate going on in the US about whether the triggers for depression in wealthier countries could possibly have the same effect among the world's poor, recalled Melanie Abas, a reader in global mental health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London. Abas characterised the sceptics' position as: "If your baby died and you had seven already, you didn't experience it in the same way."
Curiously, many people with leftist views arrived at the same dismissal of the need for mental health care, although via different routes. Critics of colonialism argued that calling what looked like depression an illness needing treatment was an act of western cultural hegemony: it medicalised experiences that were not considered illnesses and were dealt with perfectly well by the local culture. Others believed that the more communal nature of society and the stronger family ties in poor countries inoculated people against depression, which was linked to the loneliness, stress and materialistic culture of western life. Still others acknowledged the existence of depression, but argued that treating it was a luxury: surely people with no food or shelter have more important things to worry about. The implication of all of these views was that people in poor countries didn't need the sort of counselling often prescribed for sufferers of depression in the west.

Anyway, it sounds like the matter is settled at this point: depression and anxiety are everywhere. (But did they spread with Coke and Pepsi? Or were they always here?)

The last half of the article talks about programs that have been established over the past twelve years to start to provide mental health treatment in poor countries. Unsurprisingly, even though depression is not a "sane response to an insane world", it's still inextricably tied up in dealing with poverty, at a minimum because the program must be cheap to implement, and the patients don't have disposable income.


 

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