August 26, 2014

Scientists Get the Sads

As if more evidence were needed, we present to you the ultimate appeal to authority: sad puppy eyes.


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In his black-and-white photography series "Scared Scientists," Nick Bowers captures a raw element not often associated with scientific knowledge. For the series, Bowers interviewed a selection of scientists in varying fields, capturing the frightened looks on their faces while they contemplated their findings. The photos are minimalist but intense, each wrinkle and crease pointing to a human unease we can all connect with.

...On his website, Bowers combines a striking portrait with the specific field, educational background, and future predictions of each scientist. Although their powerful words provide an interesting context for their expressions, we think the faces alone say more than enough.

Indeed. Our greatest fear is of people who find this sort of nonsense convincing. But this also makes us feel very sad:

Like... inclusivity as an intentionality is Very Problematic when you don't understand the dynamics of power.

Twerking is a subject we should all treat more seriously.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:04 PM | Comments (9) |TrackBack (0) |

Young Men, Empowering Women Everywhere

Via Grim:

So rape drugs are a problem. For years -- indeed, for decades -- I've heard people advising women not to drink anything they haven't had positive control of every second since they watched it being poured.

Four college students, all men, thought this was a problem. So, they're fixing it.

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Actually, the critics are correct in that this nail polish won't end rape. But that's a straw man argument - no one is claiming that giving women a tool to test their drinks was going to End Rape As We Know It. Most rapes don't even result from drugged drinks.

The objections to this novel invention are almost comically illogical - essentially, they revolve around a woman's asserted right to (on one hand) argue that the world is a dangerous place where women are regularly preyed upon by Rohypnal-wielding rapists, while (on the other hand) pretending she lives in a fantasy world where those rapists don't actually exist:

“One of the ways that rape is used as a tool to control people is by limiting their behavior,” Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture that challenges the societal norms around sexual assault, explained. “As a woman, I’m told not to go out alone at night, to watch my drink, to do all of these things. That way, rape isn’t just controlling me while I’m actually being assaulted — it controls me 24/7 because it limits my behavior. Solutions like these actually just recreate that. I don’t want to f***ing test my drink when I’m at the bar. That’s not the world I want to live in.”

We'd all like to live in a perfect world, but the real world is full of hazards. Chief among these are our fellow human beings. This is a fact men have had to deal with for most of human history. And there's a word for people who intelligently analyze the world around them and take precautions against known dangers. We call these people "adults". If women want to be considered fully equal to men, they're going to be exposed to the risks (as well as the rewards) that accompany greater opportunity and engagement with the world around them.

Part of the "patriarchal" attitudes many feminists want to eradicate is the notion that women are fragile, delicate flowers who are naturally less capable than men of handling competition, aggression, or unpleasantness. For many centuries, women were thought to need protection from the harsh realities of the world.

The blog princess would not be inclined to wear nail polish that detects the presence of rape drugs, but then we don't consider the risk of being exposed to these drugs to be a significant one. Put simply, the preventative tactic is more trouble than it's worth. But if you're one of those folks who argues that being drugged and raped *is* a significant danger, in what bizarre universe does it make sense to stick your head in the sand and refuse to protect yourself?

Oh, and while we're at it, can we all agree that this is just plain idiotic?

Even if a woman were to wear special nail polish or anti-rape underwear, or if she listens to common – but misplaced – advice about not getting drunk and always walking home in a group, all she’s supposedly ensuring is that she won’t be attacked.

Preventing yourself from being attacked is the point, here. And yes - it's easier for a single person to apply drug-detecting nail polish than it is to prevent every person on the planet from ever using rape drugs. People who talk about "ending" rape are scary. After centuries of trying, the human race hasn't managed to end murder, theft, assault, battery, lying, fraud, poverty, disease, hunger, or the Heartbreak of Psoriasis either. Refusing to entertain any sensible precaution against a risk you want the world to accept is significant until something that has never happened in the history of the human race occurs is just plain delusional. Grow the hell up, and maybe then I'll take your quest for equality seriously.

Good Lord.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:03 AM | Comments (19) |TrackBack (0) |

August 25, 2014

Caption Contest

Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.

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Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
0>:~]

Posted by DL Sly at 11:06 AM | Comments (8) |TrackBack (0) |

Heh...

The legend lives on....

To top off the video, Mattis then called for the ice water — roughly 10 gallons of it — which was poured over his head by an unidentified person wearing a Chesty Puller mask and a woman who appeared to be Christie Brinkley. The dousing lasted for almost a minute with the water and ice cubes cascading down over Mattis’ head and body, as the general remained completely still and quiet.

Several moments after the soaking ended, Mattis looked around. “Is that it?” he asked. “Jesus Christ, I do that every morning before I shave and brush my teeth.”

Sources confirmed that after the video was filmed, Mattis threatened the camera crew and told them to leave his house immediately, or else he would kill them all with nothing more than his knife hands.


Posted by Cassandra at 08:16 AM | Comments (9) |TrackBack (0) |

The Scientific "ManBearPig"

What do you do when you can't neatly separate out multiple influencing factors to establish causality? Run them all together and give the result a fancy name like... oh, we don't know... "neuropsychosocial":

When it comes to understanding ourselves, we tend to be splitters: mind and body, nature and nurture, or genes and environment. We take such a split for granted when we ask how the social becomes biological, but sometimes it’s not so useful to dichotomize the world into society and biology. Instead of looking for distinct social and biological influences (and believing that we can change one but not the other), we should recognize that the factors that drive our social behavior can, like a Zen koan, be two things at once.

Take the case of teen alcohol abuse. In a study published last week, an international team of researchers reported the “neuropsychosocial” factors that identify teens who are likely to abuse alcohol. The word “neuropsychosocial” does away with the common nature/nurture divide, and so did the researchers. Rather than asking whether teens abuse alcohol because of social influences or innate biology, the scientists looked at those variables that could be measured, regardless of whether the variables were social, biological, or a mix of both.

Yes, the Editorial Staff are making fun of this - a little. But it's actually a sensible approach to situations in which a large number of factors combine, in ways that are nearly impossible to predict, to influence an outcome:

As the authors write, their data “speak to the multiple causal factors for alcohol misuse,” and, in fact, any one variable, taken in isolation, had a small influence in their study. The predictive power of their computer model came from combining variables that were measurable—regardless of whether they could be neatly categorized as social or biological—into a single risk profile. This profile offers clues for how to find and help at-risk teens, and the most effective interventions may turn out to have little to do with directly treating some key social or biological cause of alcohol abuse. As we think about the connection between our social behavior and our biology, we should, like good scientists, be pragmatic, and abandon the distinction between society and biology when it’s not useful.

Part of what we do in our day job involves studying software productivity. Everyone wants to find a single, simple "fix" that will make teams and projects more productive (however that's defined: definitions seem to vary with the observer's priorities). But we're inclined to think that software development - like pretty much any other complex human endeavor - is influenced by a constantly shifting mix of management, technical, and human factors; none of which can be neatly separated out from the others and some of which are impossible to quantify with any objectivity.

At any rate, we found this amusing as well as thought provoking.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:52 AM | Comments (22) |TrackBack (0) |

Life's Hard Enough As It Is...

It's if you insist on whining and blaming others for your plight, it's even harder:

For the new study, a group of 116 men and women with severe osteoarthritis, between ages 50 and 85 years old and scheduled for knee replacement surgery in Canada, first filled out questionnaires assessing perceived injustice, how much they think about or worry about pain and their fear of movement or re-injury.

They rated their agreement with statements like, “It all seems so unfair” and “I am suffering because of someone else’s negligence.”

With another clinical questionnaire the patients gauged their pain levels and physical functioning.

After the knee replacement surgeries, which were all deemed successful, the patients rated their pain and function again at a one-year checkup.

The more a patient agreed before surgery that life seems unfair and others are to blame for their problems, the more pain they reported experiencing one year after surgery. That was true even when age, sex, other health conditions and pre-surgery pain levels were accounted for, according to the results in the journal Pain.

...“All of these psychological factors point to the fact that patients who perceive themselves as helpless, those who are afraid, those who feel loss of control, have a more difficult time,” Brander said.

“The contrary is also true - patients who exhibit high levels of ‘self-efficacy’ (that is, patients who have a high degree of confidence in their own ability to achieve a goal) appear to do best after knee replacement,” she said.

Hmmm.... there's a metaphor in there somewhere:

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Posted by Cassandra at 07:36 AM | Comments (4) |TrackBack (0) |

August 24, 2014

Let The Judgement Begin - Dog Days of Summer Edition

So, you see, here's the deal, summer here by so many lakes is very distracting what with family and friends to drag around on tubes until we can dump them off and such...

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But sooner or later, one must come in from the water and take care of business.
Dammit.
Especially since most of my victims went back home. And after you guys did such a great job with your comments, I figured I should probably get off my ass and do a little judging. So, a reminder for those of the *forgetful* persuasion....

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...and let the judgement begin.

Continue reading "Let The Judgement Begin - Dog Days of Summer Edition"

Posted by DL Sly at 11:04 PM | Comments (4) |TrackBack (0) |

This is Awesome

First day of school for the GrandPunks was last week.

We got a text with a picture of them all dressed up, waiting for the school bus. Seems like just yesterday that The Burrito made his big entrance and the other Grandparental Unit was in Iraq.

Where does the time go?

Posted by Cassandra at 12:09 PM | Comments (5) |TrackBack (0) |

August 22, 2014

[YAWN]: Another Day, Another Law Ignored by The White House

Most grist for the Editorial Staff's oft-repeated observation that everyday occurrences don't make the news:

After Thursday's network evening newscasts ignored a report from the Government Accountability Office that the exchange of five terrorists from Guantanamo Bay for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was illegal, NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America remained silent on the Obama administration scandal on Friday. Only CBS This Morning made any mention of the violation of federal law, providing a mere 24-second news brief on the topic.

Meanwhile, both Today and GMA did find time to produce full reports on a contestant on VH1's Dating Naked reality show suing the cable network for showing her naked on the program.

...While CBS at least noted the GAO finding, the morning show provided more time – 40 seconds – to showing a time lapse video of President Obama aging while in office.

One can only imagine the kerfuffle, had Bush done something like this.

Posted by Cassandra at 04:04 PM | Comments (2) |TrackBack (0) |

Ask Not For Whom the Clue Bat Swingeth....

It swingeth for thee. In a delightfully entertaining post, Patterico takes on a New Republic author who dishonestly suggests that a legal standard used by 49 of the 50 states is actually some kind of dangerously-out-of-the-mainstream aberration. Even the author's inevitable "correction" continues to misrepresent the facts:

The piece still says it’s different in “other states” (plural) with only a link to Ohio — which is, again, the only state in the union that clearly and consistently puts the burden on the defendant.

The post closes by saying:

Within reason, legal protections for, and presumptions in favor of, policemen acting in the line of duty make sense. Society has chosen to give these men and women guns, after all. And if we expect these officers to put their lives on the line, we owe them some measure of trust and due deference. But trust cannot become a license to kill. We have a word for a situation where killing is the default, where violence is so expected that the burden is no longer on a killer to prove his actions are justified. That word is war. It has no place in suburban St. Louis.

This is arrant nonsense. Killing is not "the default" anywhere in America, and this incident would not be news if it were. It's news precisely because what happened to Michael Brown isn't what normally happens - just as prosecutors not bearing the burden of proof isn't the normal rule in 49 out of 50 states. Patterico continues:

No, the word for a situation where the burden is on the prosecution to disprove self-defense is “America.” With the exception of Ohio and possibly Louisiana in some cases, that is the norm, and it’s hardly a shocking one in American jurisprudence: the burden of proof is on the prosecution. CRAZY!!!!11!!11!ELEVENTY!!

I understand this rule bothers people who want to presume cops guilty when they kill someone. But that’s our system — and lefties like Yishai Schwartz generally like it, until it runs up against their preferred outcomes. Then, the system can go hang — and so, it seems, can basic research.

Why are so many of the folks who are continually scream that young black men are being railroaded by Evil, Racist Prosecutors now suggesting that centuries-old legal protections for defendants are suddenly not just unnecessary, but dangerous? Is this a general principle they're willing to adhere to, regardless of who stands accused?

Of course not. But then these are the folks who have been arguing - amid almost two weeks of wall to wall, unrelenting media coverage of innumerable daily protest marches in Ferguson - that police have prevented the protesters from assembling or being heard.

Only in America could allowing thousands of protesters march up and down (and in some cases, to block) public thoroughfares for nearly two weeks be framed as an intolerable infringement of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. In most jurisdictions, permits are required for large gatherings or protests that occur on public property. So far as we know, this requirement has not been ruled unconstitutional.

Did these protesters all get the required permits? Some will argue that being asked to obtain a permit is an intolerable limit on their absolute freedom to do anything they want, at any time they want, regardless of how their actions impact others. Such is the popular mood these days. We are all principled warriors for justice and free speech and liberty....

...unless, of course, we don't like the practical outcome of our oh-so-principled stands:

Missouri, where protesters don’t truly want justice and there has been no peace.

What justice demands in the case of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in disputed circumstances is a full and fair deliberative process that goes wherever the evidence leads. But is anyone marching so that Wilson can go free if the facts don’t support charging him?

No, the demand is for him to be arrested immediately and to be prosecuted no matter what. MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes, relaying the mood in Ferguson, has said that the security problem there isn’t solvable absent an indictment of Wilson. As if a grand jury should be beholden to looters.

Actually, some protesters have been demanding a fair trial for Officer Wilson. The same crowd who have been loudly asserting their right to free speech lost no time in trying to deprive others of that same right:

In events like the Ferguson “crisis,” the most revealing moments occur in plain view and in the full light of day. One such moment was the reaction of the crowd of protesters to the two people who were protesting against them. To judge from the televised reporting of the event, they were surrounded, shouted down, and more or less intimidated. They had to be rescued by the cops and ferried away to safety. What they were arguing — insofar as scrawled signs constitute argument — was that justice demanded a fair trial for Darren Wilson in a court of law but not a conviction determined in advance. This was interpreted by the crowd as unacceptable provocation.

Now, that sentiment is an impeccably liberal one — almost an ur-liberal belief. One can hear John Stuart applauding it as vigorously as his temperament allowed. What made it intolerable apparently was that this liberalism leaves open the possibility that Wilson might be acquitted.

And so we're back to "guilty until proven innocent". But only for people who don't think the way we do, people we don't like, or people who don't look like us. Which used to be the very kind of intolerance progressives are supposed to be fighting:

The idea that you can tell who is innocent and who is guilty by the color of their skin is a notion that was tried out for generations, back in the days of the Jim Crow South. I thought we had finally rejected that kind of legalized lynch law. But apparently it has only been put under new management.

The sad thing is that we've been down this road before too many times:

Back in the 1950s, when the federal courts began striking down the Jim Crow laws in the South, one of the rising demands across the country was that the discriminators and segregationists obey "the law of the land."

But, somewhere along the way, the idea also arose and spread that not everybody was supposed to obey "the law of the land."

Violations of law by people with approved victim status like minorities, or self-righteous crusaders like environmentalists, were to be met with minimal resistance — if any resistance at all — and any punishment of them beyond a wrist-slap was "over-reacting."

College campuses became bastions of the new and sanctified mob rule, provided that the mobs are from the list of groups approved as politically correct. Otherwise, even an injudicious remark could bring swift and certain punishment under "speech codes."

The politics of condoned law-breaking is part of the moral dry rot of our times. So is settling issues in the streets on the basis of race, instead of in courts on the basis of law.

The passion of angry mobs - of all races - is why we have laws in the first place. It is why Justice is usually portrayed blindfolded. The ideal that who you are (or whether the mob is with you, or against you) should have no bearing on how you are treated by the criminal justice system is one of the foundations of a free society.

Those who work to actively undermine faith in the rule of law simply because it - like all institutions created and administered by fallible human beings - can be manipulated by those in power should stop to consider that this frail bulwark is all that stands between us and barbarism. The alternative to the rule of law is the rule of men. And as we've seen over the last two weeks, people are not naturally inclined to be fair or principled, especially when dealing with anyone they don't view as one of their own.

Be careful what you tear down. You may find a use for it, some day.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:43 AM | Comments (9) |TrackBack (0) |

Blogging Update

The Editorial Staff will be posting something today - it has been an unusually busy week at work. But in the mean time - thanks to Grim - we have an Important Public Service Announcement to make:

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.............

The world's most expensive coffee is now being produced in Thailand's Golden Triangle, a region better known for another high-priced, if illegal, export: opium.

Canadian entrepreneur Blake Dinkin, 44, is betting his life savings that he can turn his idea into, well, gold. Here's the catch: His Black Ivory Coffee is made by passing coffee beans through the not insubstantial stomachs of elephants and then picking the beans out of, well, yeah, that.

It's similar to Kopi Luwak, the civet coffee that was all the rage a few years back; Dinkin has just supersized the idea.

Is it just us, or does the elephant in that picture look embarrassed to be part of such undignified goings-on?

As much as we revere The Noble Pachyderm, we must respectfully decline the beautiful, natural, and completely understandable urge of bored, overprivileged First Worlders to fork over exorbitant sums of money to drink a beverage that has passed through the intestines of the world's largest land mammal.

This is the only elephant coffee you should be drinking. It is best enjoyed in The Grandson Mug, whilst being benevolently watched over by a ceramic pink pachyderm.

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It is delicious. But most importantly, it does not come from an elephant's butt.

Some mornings, small victories like this can set the tone for the rest of the work day.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:08 AM | Comments (1) |TrackBack (0) |

August 21, 2014

Hindsight

Amen:

It was in the sands of Ramadi that I learned most people want to be masters of their own fate. When we were providing area security for a week-long recruitment drive to re-establish the Ramadi police force, the turnout was overwhelming. More than 1,000 applicants stood in line when death approached in the form of a suicide bomber. The blast killed more than 60 and wounded at least 50. On that day, as on many days before and after, Americans and Iraqis were killed by the same enemy. They fell in pursuit of freedom. One for the other's; one for his own. No matter how things turn out, there was a time when Americans and Iraqis stood united against hate and evil.

How many nations in the course of human events have sacrificed so much to give an unfree people a shot at self-determination? Did Alexander defeat Darius just to give Persia its freedom? Did Caesar conquer Gaul and then say, "Now it's your turn to govern yourself." No other country in history has defeated its enemies only to hand over the reins of government to its native population.

In a region governed by strongmen and factions that imprison or kill each other, there was a time not so long ago when the Iraqi people held their own destiny in their own hands. We, those who fought and sacrificed—and the Iraqis who bravely assisted us—are the ones who placed it there. We join the long line of veterans who fought for another's benefit. We cannot control what people do with a gift, we cannot even be sure they will appreciate it, but that doesn't mean we cannot be proud of the sacrifice that it took to give it.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:10 PM | Comments (6) |TrackBack (0) |

Overconfidence

Perhaps there are times when a man's reach should *not* exceed his grasp:

Jesse Jackson boo'd for soliciting donations for his church from Ferguson protesters.

More of the same here:

The last time America’s race-baiters and their helpful idiots worked themselves into a frenzy over someone shooting a violent criminal in self-defense, Spike Lee gave out the home address of an elderly couple who had nothing to do with it. If you think he’s learned anything from that experience, you don’t know much about Spike Lee.
“When people get to a point, [unintelligible] that tipping point, they can’t take it anymore. And I’m not saying that people should burn down stuff, riot, and loot. And I don’t even want to use the word ‘riot.’ I’m gonna use the word ‘uprising.’ But this is not the first time we’ve seen this. And I just hope that things will really blow up if the people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

He’s not saying people should riot. Because they’re not really rioting. Besides, they’re really angry, which is how we decide these things in America.

One of the reassuring constants in life is that men like Jackson and Lee can be relied upon to show their true colors every now and then.

Huckstahs just gotta huck :p

Posted by Cassandra at 08:17 AM | Comments (6) |TrackBack (0) |

August 19, 2014

But Then You Totally *Knew* This, Didn't You?

Cows. Their social lives are complicated:

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The calves have the strongest social contacts while feeding on hay rather than on grain. This is probably because cattle spend longer feeding on hay to re-ruminate having eaten grain.

During feeding time the cattle compete with each other for food at the grain bunk and therefore cannot always eat with an intentionally chosen partner. So the contacts around the grain bank may not necessarily reflect social ties (!).

However, after feeding on grain there is less competition and the cattle can go with a chosen partner to the hay. "It is only the contacts around the hay bunk during feeding time that may attribute to the real social ties," the researchers conclude.

That should have significant implications for the way animal behavioral specialists study social networks of other animals, particularly in the wild…..What's more, the key finding is that it is important to distinguish between random contacts and social ones—although this can only be done with the aid of detailed knowledge of the animal habitat and behavior.

Exactly.

It's like a jungle out there
Sometime I wondah
how I keep from goin' under

And don't even get me started on horses. It's gettin' real on the mean meadows of western Maryland.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:24 AM | Comments (11) |TrackBack (0) |