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JustSaysInMice

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.30.19

This is a fun twitter feed.

Typical tweet:

or this one:

Anyway, in a break from that norm, they linked to this which explains some of the newly discovered differences between mice brains and human brains:

[I]n neuropsychiatric research, the track record of mouse models for predicting the efficacy of new treatments in humans has been particularly abysmal. There was a study published last week that suggests one reason, at least for drugs designed to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders, and that's previously unappreciated differences in brain function.

...

Scientists have now discovered a key reason for that mouse-human disconnect, they reported on Wednesday: fundamental differences in the kinds of cells in each species' cerebral cortex and, especially, in the activity of those cells' key genes.
In the most detailed taxonomy of the human brain to date, a team of researchers as large as a symphony orchestra sorted brain cells not by their shape and location, as scientists have done for decades, but by what genes they used. Among the key findings: Mouse and human neurons that have been considered to be the same based on such standard classification schemes can have large (tenfold or greater) differences in the expression of genes for such key brain components as neurotransmitter receptors.

(I glazed over, reading the details after that.)


 

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Failure to Report

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.29.19

Post-Baylor, the Texas legislature enacted the strictest Title IX laws in the country this past spring. This is the part that's getting attention at faculty trainings on mandatory reporting:

Sec.A51.255. FAILURE TO REPORT OR FALSE REPORT; OFFENSES. (a) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) is required to make a report under Section 51.252 and knowingly fails to make the report; or (2) with the intent to harm or deceive, knowingly makes a report under Section 51.252 that is false.
(b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor intended to conceal the incident that the actor was required to report under Section 51.252.
(c) A postsecondary educational institution shall terminate the employment of an employee whom the institution determines in accordance with the institution's disciplinary procedure to have committed an offense under Subsection (a).

So there is a mandatory termination and possible criminal charges for failure to report. Yowza. It goes into effect September 1st. The other thing (not quoted here) is that this doesn't just apply to sexual assault but to all of sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking.

I think mandatory termination is excessive, but that on the whole having steep consequences for sweeping sexual harassment under the rug is a good thing. Casting a wider net to dating violence and stalking is a good impulse, but boy are there a lot of details left unspecified in this law.

The part that grates is that this is targeted exclusively at higher ed institutions, and Texas is not enacting anything that applies to anyone else (say, the legislature itself), nor offering significant funding of any kind to address gender-based violence in families, or anything you could think of, in the spirit of reducing sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking in people's lives.


 

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Guest Post - McLuhan Right Here.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.28.19

politicalfootball writes: Last week -- for the fourth time in my career at the Other Place -- someone took down a post because of a comment that I made on it. I have come to take these deletions as an acknowledgement that I reached someone.

Dealing with trolls is the central problem of modern public discourse, and in each of the four cases (and in other interactions) I tried to follow the old rule for writers: Show, don't tell.

During the W. Bush administration, someone remarked that high-minded opposition to torture is all well and good, but what would Dan/iel P/earl's wife say? I responded with a link to the Jane Mayer article in which Mar/iane Pe/arl criticized the torture of her husband's alleged murderer. That post had to come down.

My niece posted a picture of firefighters praying in a restaurant. The caption: NEVER BE AFRAID TO PRAY ... ANYWHERE. I responded with a single word and a link: "Amen." There was nothing for her to do but remove the post.

During a boring conversation about the Constitution, my interlocutor argued against the validity of the 14th Amendment in terms that directly applied to the 13th. I asked if he also regarded the end of slavery, legally speaking, as invalid. The post came down and I never got an answer.

And last week, I pointed out that no serious effort has been made by Republicans, Democrats or law enforcement to remove Trump from the presidency; that Jeffrey Epstein is dead and Alexander Acosta was forced to resign his Cabinet post; and that seven children died in the last year in immigration custody after no such deaths in nearly a decade. My old high school chum had to remove his post, in which he had said he couldn't understand why people were expending so much effort to remove Trump but wouldn't take action against child traffickers or illegal aliens.

I was nonjudgmental. I didn't call anyone a racist or a fascist, or refer to concentration camps using that term. I used no analogies. Had I been challenged, I would have declined to discuss the morality and usefulness of, for example, killing immigrant children. All I did was offer a few facts.

Name-calling and red-herring digressions are the trolls' stock-in-trade, and it saddens me when I see my smart friends responding in kind. If you stick to simple, demonstrable fact -- kids really did start dying in custody under Trump -- then you can hold a mirror up to people that they find unbearable to look at.

Heebie's take: My favorite is the "Amen" link response to that dumbass "Firefighters are getting the stink-eye from liberals for just trying to pray!"

It does remind me of various articles about what actually changes people's minds. (Some of them have used anecdotes of people raised conservative who changed their political orientation wholesale at some point, as a launching off point, if that rings any bells.) IIRC, the iron-clad irrefutable definitely not an n=3 college students conventional thinking SCIENCE! went that you're supposed to change people's minds by gently asking nice questions that make them address the contradictions in their thinking. But without triggering their defenses. You can't be intimidating. Hold the troll's hand. Etc. It seems rather futile unless you're dealing with someone genuine and sincere, and we ran out of those people on the right a long time ago.

So I'm not sure if PF's nemeses changed their minds, or just were attuned to the potential for embarrassment. They may have bailed on the situation while petulantly thinking PF was still being unfair, however irrational that is.

However, I think there are these additional benefits to PF's methods:
1. Third parties who are lurking are more easily shapeable than the person who posted initially.
2. And maybe the original poster does sleep on it, and come around. I personally change my mind all the fucking time, and have concluded that other people are just much more loyal to their perspectives than I am. The thing that often changes my mind is thinking through what it would take to defend the belief here, on Unfogged. So that method will scale and generalize really easily. (But seriously, I think channeling Unfogged code of conduct for discussions is more or less what PF is doing, and it can be effective if the original person has a tad of self-awareness.)


 

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Bretbug

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.19

I'm probably enjoying the Bret Stephens outbreak a little too much. I laughed at the Leiterian "someone told me you were talking about me", but it also made me think: this is such an obvious lie, and this person is paid to explain true things to millions of people; it's way down on the list of what's wrong with the world, but it really is wrong that someone who so blithely lies has a job like that. You shouldn't lie! Columnists should extra double not lie! And then he went on TV this morning and said that cc'ing the provost wasn't an attempt to get the prof in trouble. He just wanted to let the "manager" know what was being said. You shouldn't lie!

These were good:


 

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The same old thing, part one zillion.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.27.19

The thing I like about this "If Trump Were an Airline Pilot" piece in the Atlantic is that it doesn't hinge on Russian Meddling or the Emoluments Clause, but focuses on the actual reasons that Trump should be removed, even if our forefathers didn't write them perfectly into the constitution a billion years ago:

He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit for office, and voters--the statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box--should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent

(That's a quotation at the link, from an earlier editorial from 2016, but it's placed as the central point.)

These are episodes of what would be called outright lunacy, if they occurred in any other setting: An actually consequential rift with a small but important NATO ally, arising from the idea that the U.S. would "buy Greenland." Trump's self-description as "the Chosen One," and his embrace of a supporter's description of him as the "second coming of God" and the "King of Israel." His logorrhea, drift, and fantastical claims in public rallies, and his flashes of belligerence at the slightest challenge in question sessions on the White House lawn. His utter lack of affect or empathy when personally meeting the most recent shooting victims, in Dayton and El Paso. His reduction of any event, whatsoever, into what people are saying about him.

Fallows doesn't quite assert that Trump is deteriorating, but it seems to be an immediate corollary. As has been said many times in the comments, our laws are woefully inadequate to deal with removing Trump, and yet this is actually exactly what the founding fathers foresaw and tried to deal with.

(And my own personal eternal spiral: impeaching Trump doesn't actually get rid of Republican policies, it just puts a politer face on them.)(And then, on cue, I always respond to myself by saying, "It comes down to the immigration camps. That is the single worst thing he's doing. That's the worst violation.")

Originally I was going to post about the Johnson & Johnson settlement with Oklahoma on the opioid crisis. How big a deal is this? Is this too big a distortion of the public nuisance law, or is it a firm foundation for extending this kind of argument to gun manufacturers and environmental polluters?


 

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Lies lies.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.26.19

I'm feeling so pessimistic and run down about the world that it's hard to have the perspective about what's worth posting. Too glum and there's no conversation. But here we go.

Here's a list of the top fake news stories of the year. "California Governor Jerry Brown Mandates That Schools Show Students 'Gay Sex'." (...and abortion rates are way down!)


 

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