10 Problems Women Need to Fix Before They Can Complain About Problems With Popular New Software, On a Blog

by Belle Waring on December 7, 2011

1. Female Genital Mutilation, Everywhere, Ever.
2. Women Getting Raped in Far-Away Lands, like Afghanistan. AND YOU DON’T EVEN CARE!
3. Growing Gender Imbalances in China and India (Also known as “Where’s Your Precious Right to an Abortion Now, Missy?”)
4. Sexist Islamic Law Codes (“Wait, why just—” “Shut up.”)
5. World Hunger (But not through those programs where they only give micro-payments/loans to women on the basis of research that it is more effective.)
6. Lack of Access to Clean Drinking Water For The World’s Poorest Citizens, Because, Hey, While You’re There.
7. Africa. Is Some Shit Just Fucked up There, or What? Get On That.
8. Access to The Most Basic Knowledge About Human Reproduction and Assistance of Midwives Can Lower Peri-Natal Deaths Tremendously, But Please Don’t Tell Anyone About Contraception or Abortions.
9. Forced Prostitution, Sex Slavery, Human Trafficking.
10. Are We Seriously Just Not Even Trying to Go to Mars Anymore? Really, Though? We Made it to The Moon in Like 5 Years With Some Slide Rules and Horn-rimmed Glasses and Shit, and Now All We’ve Got is These Weaksauce Telescopes Peering Back in Time. What the Fuck? Mars, Bitches!

Now you know, ladies. Sorry any sexism in developed nations up to and including your own personal experiences of sexual assault didn’t even make it on the list, but better luck next time!

For the record, I’m just going to go out there and say the Siri thing was a conspiracy—of one. One pro-life programmer who cared about it a LOT, and 8,000 other programmers who let the error stay in through multiple testing of multiple versions due to (in this case) malign neglect; they just never looked. The claims that Siri is worse than Google only when and where it relies on Yelp seem to have been falsified; the program really looks to have something of a significant blind spot, too significant to be chalked up to error. I’m willing to give the Apple programmers the benefit of the doubt and say they are not juvenile frat-boy assholes. There’s just this one asshole, and then a large number of men and some women (some of both of whom are no doubt, living in this fallen world as we do, also assholes), who never tested the program along this particular axis. People have bitched about it; Apple will fix it; the next time someone will check first. This is often how you fight sexism in ordinary life. You don’t dive in front of that Afghani girl about to take a bottle of acid to the face and shoot the guy attacking her. You just influence the people around you by expression your opinions forcefully. Should we all donate money to the many thousands of feminist organizations working overseas to combat the life-threatening situations many of the world’s women face? Yes. Really. And you should take that fucking sandwich out of your mouth and give the money to OxFam. Pro Tip: “Afghanistan, infinite no backsies!” is not a valid argument to the effect that a given woman should shut up about some given topic.

{ 190 comments }

1

choncan 12.07.11 at 4:17 am

All points well taken, but if I were to offer a defense of my programmer brethren, I would say that what aggravated me about this whole affair was the immediate and unexamined assumption of some kind of united conspiracy of the new technocratic patriarchal class to bring women down.

Most nerds that I’ve known in my life (many) are ridiculously, violently libertarian in their social policy leanings.

If my name were to appear on some sort of “anti-abortion woman-hating petition because fuck women’s rights” online, the probability that I wouldn’t know about it is very, very high. If someone were to see my name on such a petition, I’d prefer something like a, “wtf dude? did you know about this? did you sign such a petition?” (to which my answer would be, “wtf! no!”) as opposed to “OMG!!!!!!!! LOOK AT WHAT HE DID!!!!!!!!!!!” directed at a wider audience, where then the burden is on me to prove that no, I am not and was not beating my wife, in the face of an incredibly hostile audience that has already decided, really, that it understands my intentions perfectly well thank you very much.

I don’t think that asking me “why didn’t you check to make sure your name didn’t appear on such a petition, then????” is a reasonable question, nor do I think it’s reasonable to ask that Apple have first tested how its software does in terms of locating abortion clinics. (Seriously, are you joking?) It is a very big world, and a very big internet. Programmers are typically under enormous time pressure to make sure that shit _works_ at a basic level of non-crashing non-data-losing functionality, and as you may have noticed in your software-using travels, the effort has not been universally successful, as this basic level of functionality is actually really hard, no shit.

I know that people are going to react however they’re going to react, and people carry around a bunch of experiences that color their reactions to various things, and very often groups of people ACTUALLY DO engage in intentional dickheaded moves, I get all of that, and I won’t be holding my breath that people are going to adopt any less of an “ASSUME INTENTIONAL MALICE!!!!!!!!!” attitude about any of their deeply held beliefs anytime soon.

All I’m saying is this: I don’t own an iphone, I don’t care about Apple’s success or failure, and I don’t have an anti-abortion or availability-restricting bone in my body. But I felt vastly more sympathy for Apple than I did anybody writing angrily, if only for the basic reason that I can easily see any number of projects to which I’ve contributed that could fail along some axis like this (including, as you say, through the intercession of some individual highly motivated to achieve this particular end, which seems like the likely explanation to me also) and I didn’t like the feeling that I’d be assumed very, very, very guilty before given a chance to defend myself, and also didn’t like what seems to be the assumption that taking a dump on the good name of a company or a person is of secondary importance in the holy war on sexism. Maybe some benefit of the doubt should come before the rage.

(Good luck finding lots of “frat-boy assholes” in your typical crowd of hackers.)

2

Tedra Osell 12.07.11 at 4:19 am

Oh, we are gonna be a good team.

3

Brett 12.07.11 at 4:25 am

I can forgive everything except the lack of a Mars mission. It’s Mars. people! Red planet, largest mountain in the solar system, deepest canyon in the solar system – the list goes on.

4

chrismealy 12.07.11 at 4:26 am

I’d bet it wasn’t a programmer who did it, probably somebody with a title like content producer or editor.

5

MS 12.07.11 at 4:34 am

Crooked timber needs an upvote button.

6

Belle Waring 12.07.11 at 4:35 am

Actually Brett, I’m totally with you on this one. My brother worked for some time in private space exploration at Bigelow, and it was our shared childhood dream to create Waring Drive and take mankind to the stars. So, yeah, for real, let’s go to Mars.

7

Tony Sidaway 12.07.11 at 4:44 am

Thanks for that Most Righteous Rant. I’m still scratching my head over Richard Dawkins’ blissfully ignorant response to Rebecca Watson.

8

Merp 12.07.11 at 4:47 am

RED ROCKS

9

Khan 12.07.11 at 4:51 am

As an aerospace engineer and son of a feminist … yeah. Win. Mars or bust! The others deserve the higher ranking, but I’m glad space made it into your top 10.

10

Odm 12.07.11 at 4:52 am

Having read Red Mars I am in total agreement with Brett. Mars is amazing and we should totally be there already.

11

Nabakov 12.07.11 at 5:10 am

What about lack of wifi coverage on Mars? Not so keen to talk about that when it’s your side doing it, right?

12

Dragon-King Wangchuck 12.07.11 at 5:11 am

Siri, why haven’t we landed a man on Mars?

I can install Angry Birds for you.

13

Emma in Sydney 12.07.11 at 5:12 am

@3, someone with a title like content producer, or editor, at Google? Is likely to be a woman (a lot more likely than the programmers). So is markedly less likely to have done this (although it is not impossible).
As a person editing and producing content while female, your comment made me go ouch.

14

Emma in Sydney 12.07.11 at 5:13 am

Also, it can’t be a conspiracy of one, if it’s an editor. An editor doesn’t have the tools to make Siri do anything. There’s gotta be a pro-life engineer in there somewhere.

15

UserGoogol 12.07.11 at 5:20 am

Brett: I feel like people focus too much on human space travel. We have a space probe about to cross the heliosphere, which is just awesome. Of course, a manned visit to Mars would be pretty cool too since human beings are able to do stuff that a thousand or so pounds of 1970s technology can’t do, but the space program can do quite a lot of really great exploration while the humans themselves stay cooped up in the Earth’s gravity well.

Also, I agree. I didn’t particularly care about this story, (because I don’t really care about Siri to begin with) but you’re right to complain about it.

16

MikeWC 12.07.11 at 6:01 am

Yeah, about number 10. When Junior Bush was making noises about sending a manned flight there, I was about ready to put up a framed picture of the man. Life sized. Over my bed.

17

Belle Waring 12.07.11 at 6:26 am

We focus on manned space travel because it’s fucking cool, dude! Wasting all that money on the shuttle was a tragedy and it would have been better spent on a hundred Hubbles, IRAS’s, Mars rovers, et. al. Nonetheless, we need to send people into outer space because otherwise we will never fulfill our human destiny of going to the stars.

18

tomslee 12.07.11 at 6:32 am

On the Siri thing, my money is on frat-boys + group-think. But the list is great and item #7 made me laugh out loud.

19

Felix 12.07.11 at 6:38 am

Thanks, good post.

20

js. 12.07.11 at 6:42 am

Is Mars warm? Because I would like to colonize a warm planet. A really warm planet. I often feel this way in December.

More seriously: quite simply, thanks.

21

Sebastian(1) 12.07.11 at 7:10 am

I think it’s interesting to think about how this happened. I think the “one guy did it and a hundred others didn’t notice” is a plausible theory, but I think the “hundred and one people thought of coding a link to an escort service when you say ‘horny’ but not of anything related to women’s reproductive rights” is at least equally likely. From a feminist perspective I find that actually more interesting – you don’t need an explicitly bad guy at all – you just need structural sexism of the tech world (I think Armanda Marcote made that point first).

22

G. McThornbody 12.07.11 at 8:00 am

Whoa. I feel like I’ve been electrocuted by a tree. So many strange new posts from strange new people. No need to worry though, solutions are at hand.

Solutions to problems 1-9: Women evolve into cyborgs.
Solutions to problems 1-9 redux: Men evolve into cyborgs.
Solution to problem 10: Quantum interstellar highway system established, although robots complain that taking the Andromeda exit takes more than 0.04 seconds. Politicians inundated with calls for improved infrastructure.

Problem 11: “Women” cyborgs blamed for poor driving skills.

No matter how we advance, the future is still stupid. But never mind that. Three cheers for cyborgs!

GrisMcthorn

23

Belle Waring 12.07.11 at 8:18 am

I ain’t a strange new person McThornbody; you are.

24

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 8:20 am

Okay, I’ll do the devil’s advocate role here:

If it’s legitimate to complain about Siri, despite the existence of far more immediate and violent threats to women’s rights, is it right to complain that anti-choice people seem to stop caring about life after birth? If a right-wing blogger makes a similarly sarcastic list of “all the things that have to be solved before we get to complain about abortion” – childhood poverty, preventable disease, bad schools, etc. – do they have a point?

25

Harald Korneliussen 12.07.11 at 8:27 am

Look, if you’ve been following these sorts of technologies, language recognition and AI, you would think twice about chalking it up to a conspiracy. I don’t know how Siri works, but odds are it’s based on mining of some sort of big data set and/or user supplied data. The potential for offense with that is unlimited.

I mean, I’ve followed the Google Translate forums (a spam-filled hellhole where nationalists from all over the world come to rant at a free service provider – don’t ask why I’m there, please). Sometimes, the mysterious AI powering Google Translate decides that “dog” is a good English translation for the indonesian word for muslim, or that the Irish national anthem needs a couple more uplifting lines, like “God save the queen!”. If you didn’t know how it works, you’d think it was some sort of universal insult generator.

26

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 8:37 am

Harald, I’ve been working in exactly that field for most of the last 20 years: The software cannot locate clinics that say they offer abortion services *in the name of the clinic*. This means it is not doing what Salton’s 1968 TDF-IDF model could do trivially.

Search for “abortion in New York” in GoogleMaps and you get matches. When Siri’s internal information is inadequate, it will perform a Google search, but not if you ask for an abortion clinic. So, something *is* afoot. Apple is blaming the beta – this is clearly not a result of Apple policy – but it is not simply software shortcomings.

27

NomadUK 12.07.11 at 8:47 am

I just wanted to say this is the finest rant I’ve ever read on this blog.

And 10. Mars. Yes.

28

Harald Korneliussen 12.07.11 at 9:21 am

Scott Martens: OK, sounds like there is something here, then. It would be interesting to test if there were other taboo topics it was hardwired to avoid.

Still, if anyone wants to get an example of a fully automatic offensive statement, I suggest translating “The nurse said so” and “The doctor said so” from English to Hebrew on Google Translate …

29

Gareth Rees 12.07.11 at 9:33 am

I find institutional sexism more plausible as an explanation than one bad apple employee.

The way a program like Siri is developed is to give it to a test community, record what the test community says to it, analyze this body of input, spot cases where the program isn’t performing very well, and work on improvements. The testers inevitably find many more problems than the developers have the resources to solve, so the choice of which problems to work on depends on (a) the frequencies with which the problems are encountered by the test community and (b) the priorities assigned to those problems by the development team. Bias enters this process via the selection of the test community (which for security reasons probably consists largely of Apple employees, about which Apple are reluctant to provide any demographic information) and via the prioritisation of the work (which again depends on decisions made by those same employees). If most of the testers and developers are men, they needn’t consciously be trying to marginalize the concerns of women: it’s going to happen unless they make very strenuous and conscious efforts to prevent it.

If we insist on explaining biased outcomes in terms of consciously biased inputs then we’re probably not going to be able to solve this kind of problem.

30

Mrs Tilton 12.07.11 at 9:36 am

In a profound insult to the blameless people of Mersin, Turkey, Google translates “Mersin İdman Yurdu” (a south Anatolian football team currently visiting the Süper Lig) as “Real Salt Lake”.

31

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 10:02 am

Gareth, while I can’t totally exclude the role of testing and input bias, I interned at a company making what I suspect was an early version of the medical terminology database Siri uses to determine things like that if you need a filling, you should go to a dentist. The company is gone, and I don’t know who acquired their database (probably Nuance, they got everything made in Belgium in the end) but it was the most comprehensive available at the time. And it very definitely included abortions and the knowledge that abortions are medical procedures related to pregnancy. But even if it’s a purely statistically trained scheme using just newspaper data – something that I promise you is totally not the case – it would make the link between abortion and Planned Parenthood even if it just used the universally available WSJ corpus and a straight-forward LSA model.

I have my doubts about the single evil programmer. Bing and Wolfram Alpha are major information sources for Siri, and they do terribly badly for abortion queries. Bing in particular is unable to tell “abortion clinic” from “right to life” and never gives you “Planned Parenthood” unless you ask for it by name. It’s not impossible that part of the problem comes from outside data sources and this is (it feels so retro to say this) Microsoft’s fault.

But Siri uses a lot of data sources and even does Google searches when all else fails. Google handles abortion related requests quite well. It’s failure to give responses in some cases, or to give salient responses even when simple string-matching would find them, requires a large explanation.

If I had to bet, I would suggest that somewhere in the development process, someone came up with a list of controversial topics and programmed Siri not to go there. My guess is someone at SRI or CALO – someone expected to demo Siri to Bush-era bureaucrats when it was still a government project – made sure Siri would give non-committal answers to some queries, and the code is still in there because later testers never asked the question.

32

Gareth Rees 12.07.11 at 10:07 am

Scott: if your explanation is right, institutional bias still has a role in accounting for why the problem wasn’t discovered: as you say, “later testers never asked the question”. Why not? Most likely because the test population wasn’t representative.

33

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 10:31 am

Yes, institutional bias may play a role in that sense.

But – at risk of mansplaining (or, ok PhDsplaining, which isn’t better) – consider the way a company like Apple would sample a population for properly representative testing. How many people seek abortion services? How often? How many would use a personal digital assistant to do it? How many of those would try to locate abortion services when they know their queries are being tracked for research purposes? And of those, how many belong to the social class likely to buy an iPhone, given that women with that kind of money and technology interests are probably the ones most likely to already take measures to control their reproduction?

In the universe of likely queries, I bet the number related to abortion is vanishingly small. Even an inordinately large sample is probably not large enough to contain many. And the testing procedures almost certainly went in depth for only a few queries or classes of queries. So, one part of the problem may be a general problem in statistics: utilities count, and sampling without consideration of utilities can mess you up. Abortion queries may be rare, but they are important, as Apple has just found out the hard way. That’s a general problem for things other than gender bias, and I think labeling it “institutional bias” misses the point – it’s a long-standing unsolvable problem in statistics. If that’s all there really is to it, I’m not sure there is anything Apple really could have done.

Apple bought Siri from SRI. I’m not sure how much Apple testing and development went into it, but I bet that either Apple or SRI gave a lot of thought to medical queries in general. I bet it occurred to them that people would use Siri when they needed a pharmacy or a doctor or a dentist in a hurry. I bet they had a team of lawyers consider whether or not the vendor could be held liable for screwing that up, and the lawyers told them it would be best not to screw it up in the first place. I bet they tested that in great depth and thought up all kinds of scenarios for it rather than relying on statistical data.

And somehow they still missed reproductive health? That’s certainly bias – whether institutional or an explicit choice.

34

Belle Waring 12.07.11 at 10:44 am

Harald Korneliussen: “Scott Martens: OK, sounds like there is something here, then. It would be interesting to test if there were other taboo topics it was hardwired to avoid.”
You assumed my claims were false because…? It would be strange for me to have formed such a strong opinion without evidence, unless that’s just the sort of flighty thing women do.

35

Harald Korneliussen 12.07.11 at 11:13 am

Belle Waring: That should be clear from my posts. I read the Google Translate forums, where people accuse Google of inserting subtle and not-so-subtle insults to their identity groups constantly. Mainly because I think statistical translation is awesome, I have made it a sort of perverse hobby to patiently explain to these people that no, you’re going to see things like these with statistical translation, and there’s no conspiracy going on to deny the Irish/Indonesian/Turkish people their rightful place in history.

Most of these people are not women, by the way.

I was extrapolating from that. I know little of Siri, which is why I tried to express myself in a careful fashion: all I know about it, is that it has a tendency to produce responses which look like they’re plagiarized from cleverbot.

As it turns out, I was most likely wrong, and this is intentional censorship.

36

J. Otto Pohl 12.07.11 at 11:15 am

This list is offensive in a large number of ways. But, number seven is particularly objectionable in its essentialization of Africa along traditional racist tropes. Things are just fine, much better in many ways than in much of the US, in the part of Africa where I live. We don’t have cops pepper spraying students at my university for instance.

37

Slocum 12.07.11 at 11:20 am

Hey people!!! Did you know J. Otto Pohl lives in Africa?!!?

38

Antonio Conselheiro 12.07.11 at 11:25 am

If women would have abortions as often as men go to massage studios, there’s be no problem.

39

bert 12.07.11 at 11:26 am

#16: It was an unserious focus-grouped Karl Rove election year stunt. Everyone, right and left, saw that immediately. It was swiftly dropped and not mentioned again. Future administrations will approach it cautiously for fear of getting Bushstink on themselves. Mission accomplished!

40

bert 12.07.11 at 11:26 am

41

Belle Waring 12.07.11 at 11:31 am

38: Harald, sure, but you started from the position that my claim…”that Siri is worse than Google only when and where it relies on Yelp seem to have been falsified; the program really looks to have something of a significant blind spot, too significant to be chalked up to error,” was false, and went on to speculate about how and why it might be false, based on your experience with Google translate. Then when a male commenter told you what I could have told you, namely the facts that formed the basis for my opinion, you changed your mind. It might have been reasonable to ask me for evidence, but immediately assuming my claim was either false or made in bad faith seems unnecessarily dismissive, don’t you think?

42

Andrew F. 12.07.11 at 11:56 am

Hmmm… a programmer in mobile search at a top company decides to risk his career in order to make a search query on Siri temporarily more difficult? Possible.

But Apple released Siri a year (less?) after acquiring the company, no? My understanding is that voice recognition, not search, is the major distinction offered by Siri – and so therefore in that development window, one would expect Apple’s efforts to be focused on voice recognition. Tweaking search results is something that is unlikely to require hardware modifications. From a risk perspective, it may simply have made more sense to get voice recognition as good as possible, and to focus on search only for frequent product uses (with a smattering of “cute” results to generate buzz), since search is easier to fix later.

43

Belle Waring 12.07.11 at 12:00 pm

And that explains why it suggests you dump a dead body in a smelter in New Jersey, am I right? The Viagra results are not “scattered” or “cute”; they are thorough and consistent.

44

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 12:08 pm

@Andrew: The voice recognition is out-of-the-box from Nuance, as far as anyone can tell. They might have tweaked the language model for Apple’s test queries – Nuance appears to generate a lot of revenue from language model tweaking – but not much else. No way Apple did any of the core voice work.

But it’s true that they bought it more or less “as is” from SRI, from what I hear,so Apple may not have done much more than add the jokes.

45

chris y 12.07.11 at 12:14 pm

A really warm planet.

OK, you go to Venus then. The rest of us will be on Mars.

Thought about feeding the troll with the analogy of “Europe, is their economy in the shitter or what?” which is a valid statement for most useful purposes even though it’s probably inapplicable to Sweden. Decided I couldn’t be arsed.

46

Barry 12.07.11 at 12:16 pm

Nabakov 12.07.11 at 5:10 am

” What about lack of wifi coverage on Mars? Not so keen to talk about that when it’s your side doing it, right?”

The RIAA is secretly blocking a Mars mission due to lack of martian copyright law.

47

Barry 12.07.11 at 12:19 pm

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 8:20 am

” Okay, I’ll do the devil’s advocate role here:

If it’s legitimate to complain about Siri, despite the existence of far more immediate and violent threats to women’s rights, is it right to complain that anti-choice people seem to stop caring about life after birth? If a right-wing blogger makes a similarly sarcastic list of “all the things that have to be solved before we get to complain about abortion” – childhood poverty, preventable disease, bad schools, etc. – do they have a point?”

It actually would be, except that the anti-abortion circle and the ‘f*ck ‘em, they should have been born rich’ has a lot of overlap. The right acts in a remarkably united manner to worsen the lives of children who aren’t in the upper few percentiles.

48

Harald Korneliussen 12.07.11 at 12:25 pm

When you start off with a ten point rant with gratutious capitalisation, my eyes may gloss over a bit. If I do have little expectation you know what you’re talking about technology-wise, it probably has to do with this (and the similarities to countless such rants I’ve seen against GT), and not with your gender, believe it or not.

But where IS the link to the experiments proving that Yelp was or was not involved? And these Viagra results you mention? Lacking a Siri-phone to do my own investigation, they sure would be useful.

49

Barry 12.07.11 at 12:33 pm

Slocum 12.07.11 at 11:20 am

” Hey people Did you know J. Otto Pohl lives in Africa?!!?”

No, Slocum, I didn’t. Not even Siri was able to tell me.
Do you know if the police pepper spray students in Africa? :)

50

yods 12.07.11 at 12:44 pm

Harald Korneliussen – As you could have noticed by reading this post, the topic is not Siri or technology, but the reaction when a feminist topic is raised.
The post about Siri with a full discussion in the comments can be found through the magic of scrolling down.

51

Guido Nius 12.07.11 at 12:54 pm

I liked the 10-point rant. Spot on. The better title would have been ’10 Problems Women Need to Fix Before They Can Complain About Anything’ but that is because I do not care about SW and was not part of the previous discussion.

See also: ’10 Things left wing people Need to Account For Before Anything They Say Can Be Deemed Admissible In a Blog Discussion’ with two variants for a Left Leaning Blog and a Right Leaning Blog (yes, global warming is real and no, I don’t think Stalin was right are two respective examples).

52

Steve LaBonne 12.07.11 at 1:05 pm

I loves me a good snarky rant. Between Belle and Tedra looks like I’m going to have no problem getting my minimum daily requirement right here. Yes! For Xmas, all I want is lots more posts from Belle and lots of posts from Tedra, please.

53

dsquared 12.07.11 at 1:18 pm

When you start off with a ten point rant with gratutious capitalisation, my eyes may gloss over a bit.

Harald, can we dial it down please? Having a bit of a push on the comments policy at the moment.

54

vacuumslayer 12.07.11 at 1:38 pm

If it’s legitimate to complain about Siri, despite the existence of far more immediate and violent threats to women’s rights, is it right to complain that anti-choice people seem to stop caring about life after birth? If a right-wing blogger makes a similarly sarcastic list of “all the things that have to be solved before we get to complain about abortion” – childhood poverty, preventable disease, bad schools, etc. – do they have a point?

It might be if a.) they actually cared about life…at any point. Limiting abortion is all about limiting what they see as a woman’s right to have consequence-free sex. And b.) Many of the anti-choicers actually oppose measures (like comprehensive sex education and unfettered access to birth control)that would probably have a huge impact on the number of abortions performed each year.

I guess, in short, the premise of your argument hinges on the idea that forced-birthers are arguing in good faith. They are not.

55

Dragon-King Wangchuck 12.07.11 at 1:41 pm

re: Venus

This is something I never got, what’s the obsession with Mars? Venus has a stable atmosphere, it’s located down the solar gravity well, it’s so much more Earth-like than Mars in terms of size and geology (venusology?), there’s so much less we know about it because of the perpetual cloud cover. Venus makes much more sense from both a logistics of getting there and expansion of knowledge perspective.

There are some disadvantages- Mars’ shallower gravity well makes return trips more viable, Venus’ stable atmosphere contains a delightful mix of extremely corrosive acids and at the surface has enough density to give it some serious oomph at about 100 bar pressure, the perpetual cloud cover precludes the possibility of using solar power at the surface. The surface itself is somewhere around 500 degrees Celsius. I say “somewhere around” because we only have a vague notion of what the surface of Venus is like, so it’s pretty difficult designing equipment that will survive the surface conditions. Okay, those are pretty big disadvantages. Mars it is!

56

J. Otto Pohl 12.07.11 at 1:47 pm

dsquared, what do you mean by “Having a bit of push on the comments policy at the moment.”?

57

Dragon-King Wangchuck 12.07.11 at 2:02 pm

Argh, comment in moderation or spam filter or something.

Anyways, for the question about the experiments showing that Siri can find the little blue pill, you have to scroll way down the page, but here’s the link I provided in the previous Siri thread.

58

dsquared 12.07.11 at 2:03 pm

Just really that a) this is a thread which is basically about poor behaviour in the comments thread to Eszter’s post and so b) anyone wanting to have an argument with Belle in the comments to this post needs to walk on eggshells, bend over backwards and generally contort themselves to be nice to the staff.

59

Walt 12.07.11 at 2:09 pm

The 10-point rant was fucking funny.

60

Dragon-King Wangchuck 12.07.11 at 2:10 pm

re: Devil’s advocacy question about lack of concern for life after delivery

Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Dealing with life after birth is directly relevant to not having an abortion. And while it’s true, for example, that no one circumcises female aborted fetii, that has very little to do with Siri. Unless, wait -

Siri, where can I find someone who will circumcise a female aborted fetus?

61

Ann Burlingham 12.07.11 at 2:19 pm

I read it, and I think I got it: this boils down to “Women! Stop being so uppity and demanding until you’ve done the world’s housekeeping first!”

62

sg 12.07.11 at 2:34 pm

Scott Martens said:

Bing in particular is unable to tell “abortion clinic” from “right to life” and never gives you “Planned Parenthood” unless you ask for it by name. It’s not impossible that part of the problem comes from outside data sources and this is (it feels so retro to say this) Microsoft’s fault

What does it say about Bill Gates’ management style, if this is true? Bill Gates has really very good views on health and women’s rights. It’s hard for me to imagine that he would be interested in a pro-life approach to healthcare in America. So if Scott Marten’s retro point is true, then there is all sorts of information in there about Gates’s approach to healthcare and women’s rights in his own country – even as he’s doing great things in developing nations.

Also, this rant was great.

63

WBM 12.07.11 at 2:37 pm

Huh. So these are all issues women should fix.

Thanks for letting me know what I should do.

I agree the outrage over Siri was overkill. I paid little attention to it and focused more on the issue of states attempting to outlaw abortion.

That is a far more pressing issue for privileged American women to fight for.

The issues listed are of utmost importance, but the fight for equal rights is global because sexism is institutionalized nearly everywhere (or so it seems).

64

bianca steele 12.07.11 at 2:38 pm

Endorsing complaints about “mansplaining” on an academic blog is a little rich.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the whole thing started with a leak from inside Apple. Occasionally you do get someone who complains to the outside when they’re perfectly capable of exerting pressure on their coworkers themselves.

65

Barry 12.07.11 at 2:55 pm

“Bing in particular is unable to tell “abortion clinic” from “right to life” and never gives you “Planned Parenthood” unless you ask for it by name. It’s not impossible that part of the problem comes from outside data sources and this is (it feels so retro to say this) Microsoft’s fault”

I tried this, and it’s not true.

66

bianca steele 12.07.11 at 2:56 pm

It’s more like “engineersplaining” or “science-guy-splaining,” I think. If I had a dime for every time someone complained on the Internet that I was “mansplaining” (of course that’s not the word they use), . . .

Belle @ 6: At one time I had my career planned out on the basis of “The Menace from Earth.” I had enough sense to know I’d have to invent an interstellar drive first. Not having an older brother, though, I figured I needed the boyfriend too.

67

Gareth Rees 12.07.11 at 2:56 pm

As far as I know, the story was raised in this abortioneers blog post on November 27 before being picked up by Jezebel and others. The poster says, “I ask because I have heard from others in the women’s reproductive health community that Siri is noticeably silent on these issues.”

68

Salient 12.07.11 at 2:56 pm

When you start off with a ten point rant with gratutious capitalisation, my eyes gloss over

Aww. Conversely, I don’t think I’ve ever read a rant from Belle without making expressive physical gestures of support at some point or another. Caps lock is cruise control for the controlled-access righteously righteous righteousness lane on the information superhighway. But to each their own style-guide.

For those reading along here who didn’t wade through that earlier thread — Lemuel Pitkin’s explanatory operational definition of sexism seems worth not just reading but bookmarking for the purpose of sharing with people who seem confused about or unnerved by, in good faith, usage of gendered language when discussing phenomena that exhibit sexism or seem supported and reinforced by sexist social context.

69

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 2:57 pm

@sg: Gates is not personally the floor level manager anymore for any projects, from what I can tell.

Google uses a category model for things like businesses and lists of objects, one probably originally derived from DMOZ categories (or possibly stolen from Yahoo!) or licensed from a yellow pages service. They make a categorical distinction between “Abortion Clinic” and “Abortion Alternatives Organizations.” You can check this yourself by using google maps to look for “abortion in North Dakota”. It shows a lot of matches that are explicitly labelled “Abortion Alternatives Organizations” – but also finds, as its #2 listing, the sole and unique abortion provider in North Dakota, and lists it as an “Abortion Clinic.” So Google has either trained a model of some kind to distinguish abortion clinics from anti-abortion operations, or it has a lot of pre-categorized data from somewhere, or some of both.

Bing just… hasn’t done all that work. Either they don’t have the data, or they don’t have the staff and time, or they don’t have the algorithms. That’s a business decision, one probably not made with any specific policy towards reproductive rights in mind.

70

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 3:06 pm

@Barry: http://www.bing.com/maps/default.aspx?q=abortion+in+north+dakota&mkt=de-DE&FORM=BYFD

Three results, all anti-abortion. The sole abortion clinic in North Dakota is nowhere in the result. Trying the same in New Jersey gets better results, but only gives Planned Parenthood if it’s in the centre of the map. This is about what I would expect from a service that is relying heavily on word matching and not on category information about listings.

71

sg 12.07.11 at 3:08 pm

Scott, following up on Barry, I just did a search for “abortion clinic tokyo” in English and Japanese and it comes up with the goods straightaway. It also (rather conveniently!) in the first page of the English search, comes up with a site that gives the Japanese translation of the phrase (kanji and romaji) and some advice on finding English-language clinics. Couldn’t be more helpful, really. On the other hand, the sponsored sites need to ask for their money back: two nurse recruiting agencies, and two skincare clinics.

So maybe your theory about Microsoft’s problems is wrong.

72

sg 12.07.11 at 3:15 pm

Also, when I do a search on “abortion clinic north dakota” the first link that comes up is for the red river clinic, with the text:

Red River Women’s Clinic is the only clinic in North Dakota that provides abortion services. It is certified to have met the standards of the National Abortion Federation (NAF),

The first 5 or 6 links are either for this clinic, or for news stories about it.

The same results don’t come up in the maps option. There’s a noticeable difference between the maps and the websearch on bing.

The same problem arises on google – a noticeable difference between the maps and the websearch (though google maps at least produces the red river clinic). This confirms my prior suspicion (voiced in the last thread) that it’s a problem of positive predictive power. Website searches have a better ability to distinguish between true and false than map searches.

73

Guido Nius 12.07.11 at 3:15 pm

“Gates is doing great things in developing nations.” Oh, how lucky these nations are to get all these great things from Gates. Nothing like a Chief Philanthropist to minimize impacts of structural underfunding and political corruption induced by Chief Lobbyists who want to suck all the natural wealth from under the population’s feet.

Chief Whatever Officers all over the globe concur in applauding a magnificent status quo where they get to keep and the money and a most splendid reputation.

74

Guido Nius 12.07.11 at 3:17 pm

Because there are a couple of things powerful people can fix before they cash in on the praise of the less powerful.

75

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 3:17 pm

I don’t want to say Microsoft is anti-choice. I will complain that their search isn’t all that good.

The major factor appears to be the density of matches – where there are a significant number of abortion providers, it will list them, mixed with anti-abortion listings. But where the density of abortion providers to anti-abortion listings is less favorable, it doesn’t do very well. It’s not making the relevant distinctions in its listings.

The most plausible account of Bing’s shortcomings is technical issues rather than a policy, but it’s not enough to fully account for Siri’s behavior.

76

sg 12.07.11 at 3:19 pm

Well Guido, what have you done to eradicate polio in Afghanistan?

77

Kiwanda 12.07.11 at 3:19 pm

Great Post? or Greatest Post? I say, Great Post!

(Hope this is OK as a comment topic. Also: a still more glorious dwawwn awaits!)

78

bert 12.07.11 at 3:20 pm

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could see the code?
This may well get reposted every year.

79

Watson Ladd 12.07.11 at 3:36 pm

I’ll retract the previous comments about complaining. They seem to have been misunderstood, and I didn’t intend any of the readings that people have had of them.But the next time someone asks me for money for something in the First World I’ll still ask them how many lives my money will save compared to sending it to UNICEF. Forgive me for wanting to do good rather then be considered good.

80

Tedra Osell 12.07.11 at 4:09 pm

You know what, fuck the viagra comparison. The better comparison is that the damn thing makes jokes about Kubrick films.

Now, I like the HAL jokes as much as the next person, but it says something that, in thinking of ways to tweak the system, presumably *large numbers of people* thought “hey, geeky sci-fi jokes!” but did not think “hey, women’s reproductive health!” I mean, given, after all, that women are (1) slightly more than half the population and (2) acording to the Guttmacher Institute, three out of ten women has had an abortion by the age of 45.

That’s roughly 15% of the population of the US. It’s a fairly significant oversight.

(For the record, I don’t blame geek culture or frat boys; I blame the broader culture overall, and see the comment threads on this site about this topic as excellent evidence that the marginalization of women’s reproductive health is widespread, notwithstanding the fact that we every one of us was created by a woman’s reproductive system.)

81

Tedra Osell 12.07.11 at 4:11 pm

“the next time someone asks me for money for something in the First World I’ll still ask them how many lives my money will save compared to sending it to UNICEF. Forgive me for wanting to do good rather then be considered good.”

Asking that question isn’t actually doing good; it’s being holier-than-thou.

82

Watson Ladd 12.07.11 at 4:14 pm

And donating to ineffective charities isn’t? The presumption is that I have certain amount of money I will be donating to charity and the question is how to donate it. There is an obvious answer: in the way that does the most good. And right now that means malaria and childhood vaccinations. Donating to anything else is not doing as much good as your money could possibly do.

83

sg 12.07.11 at 4:21 pm

That’s an interesting point from a search engine-y perspective, Tedra. 3 out of 10 women have an abortion, but only a very small number of clinics exist. So even though a large proportion of the population are looking for those clinics, a purely algorithmic search engine is going to be trying to find a needle in a haystack.

I think this problem can be solved algorithmically, through a machine learning process in which the population’s response to bad search results causes the engine to refine its search procedures. But this doesn’t appear to be working on the map side of the search engines (even google). Of course since this isn’t working the method that did work (pressure on Apple) is much more effective. I’m wondering if the same problem would occur with a similarly rare and controversial topic like, e.g. “homosexuality counselling.”

84

kidneystones 12.07.11 at 4:26 pm

re #7

J. Otto has a point. That said, African women really could use a little help. The PMTCT figures remain alarmingly high in many African countries, including South Africa. http://www.avert.org/pmtct-hiv.htm

The summaries are worth reading, especially the successes in Botswana.

85

Watson Ladd 12.07.11 at 4:28 pm

sg, the problem with feedback on abortion is that it isn’t going to be honest. There is no way to keep out legions of motivated anti-abortion protestors from downgrading Planned Parenthood and upgrading whatever lies they want to spread.

86

sg 12.07.11 at 4:32 pm

yep, when I put “homosexuality counselling” into bing I get a bunch of stuff about “readjustment” and christian therapy. For some reason the maps defaults to German (I’m in Japan, who would expect that?) Following Barry above, I did a search in North Dakota and got nothing (after I switched the language back from German). Google maps gives me a few hits on the American Legion, and (who knew!) Planned Parenthood.

So I reckon it’s got something to do with the positive predictive value of a search for a low prevalence phenomenon, and it’s especially poor when the address/physical location enters the mix. Which makes me think that until they can improve their algorithms, the search providers need to intervene directly in some way to improve their engine’s accuracy on these searches.

87

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 4:35 pm

@sg: I don’t think there is a genuinely algorithmic solution.

The general problem is that if you can’t find a döner kebap when you crave one, it’s a bummer, while if you can’t find reproductive health services and you need some, it’s a tragedy. If Google’s computers could know that, somehow, it would scour its search archives – or direct its human minions to do so – to make sure that abortion provider searches were perfectly accurate and up-to-date, while if the listings for Turkish fast food in your neighbourhood aren’t always accurate, well, life goes on.

Google doesn’t have an automatic way to tell the difference. People could, I suppose, provide input: “How important was this search to you? a) not very. b) earth-shakingly.” But that methodology tends not to work that well.

This is an across-the-board problem in data-driven NLP. I have loads of data, I can’t tell which parts of it are important and which are marginal by any obvious means. It leads to real howlers in machine translation. (i.e., How was the computer supposed to know that that verb means sexual intercourse when the subject is a woman? 85% of the time it just means to assemble furniture!)

I suspect the solution is a lot of painfully screwing things up until the system learns what matters.

88

Sebastian H 12.07.11 at 4:52 pm

“You assumed my claims were false because…? It would be strange for me to have formed such a strong opinion without evidence, unless that’s just the sort of flighty thing women do.”

If your evidence is the same evidence I’ve seen, you have not in fact seen strong evidence of “the program really looks to have something of a significant blind spot, too significant to be chalked up to error.” Now I can’t tell if you’ve seen what I’ve seen, because I don’t know exactly what it is, but if it is the screenshots floating around the internet and the two ranty reports which sparked the discussion. Those reported being perfectly capable of finding Planned Parenthood almost anywhere, and the abortion ‘blind spot’ in a very few metropolitan areas. In a very few metro areas the search brought you to crisis pregnancy centers. In many other metropolitan areas SIRI didn’t seem to have either problem. (Look in the comments of the underlying articles. Even there, immediately there are reports of the exact searches in question finding abortion clinics in other localities).

That would suggest that the problem is in some of the local databases which SIRI draws from, rather than a conspiracy of even one by a SIRI programmer with the intention of avoiding abortion or channeling abortion searches to crisis pregnancy centers. If it were actually an Apple or SIRI programmer, you wouldn’t have the abortion searches work in so many areas, and you would have crisis pregnancy centers show up much more often. (Though I note that the crisis pregnancy centers show up in quite a few abortion searches even with google which I suspect is deliberate on the part of some of the crisis pregnancy centers). Instead you seem to see problems in some localities, fewer problems in other localities, and no big problems at all in other localities. That sounds like an uneven distribution of useful (to SIRI) information in the local databases, not a programmer bent on avoiding abortion.

I personally chalk it up to not well digested underlying databases, and what’s more I find that completely unshocking given how new SIRI is as a broad-based consumer technology.

Now you may have seen additional evidence which is not above, in which case I would love to hear about it and would be open to changing my opinion. But if you’re just talking about the stuff that I’ve seen cited in the previous crookedtimber thread on this topic (including underlying links), I think you aren’t right.

89

Sebastian H 12.07.11 at 4:55 pm

See also above #72.

90

J. Otto Pohl 12.07.11 at 5:01 pm

Kidneystones, Yes some countries in Africa such as South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana have HIV rates among adults that are in the double digits according to the source you give. The overall rate for the continent, however, is 5%, too high obviously. But, this is skewed by the rates in places like South Africa. Ghana has a rate of 1.8%. Again this is too high. But it is hardly the end of civilization in Africa. It might also be noted that while assistance can be a good thing that many African countries do have working health care systems staffed by local doctors. The health care at the University Hospital here in Legon is far better than anything I had access to in the US where I had no insurance or coverage.

91

Jeffrey Davis 12.07.11 at 5:16 pm

1. I wish I had my foreskin. Just sayin’.
2. Why not just “Rape”?
3. Yes.
4. Yes. But I wouldn’t confine concern simply to Islam. Any belief system that comes from a book is suspect.
5. Yes.
6. Yes.
7. Yes. Large urban areas anywhere, actually.
8. Qualified yes. The free spread of useful knowledge is a pre-requisite for justice.
9. Yes.
10. WTF? 10? Maybe down around 500. If it didn’t look like NASA had become a jobs program, I’d be more enthusiastic. Or if maybe there were more job programs for the non-brilliant.

92

Sebastian H 12.07.11 at 5:45 pm

“The Viagra results are not “scattered” or “cute”; they are thorough and consistent”

This common refrain in the complaints about SIRI is exactly why I think you confusing the underlying database issues with something else. Sales for that product are all over the internet. They are well linked, they have numerous providers everywhere, they have lots of advertising, links to them are so prevalent that if I mention the name of the product too often I’m very likely to get caught in the spam filter right here at CrookedTimber.

That is why they are thorough and consistent. Abortion clinics are nothing like that. Very few of them have multiple cross-clinks. Very few of them have full time people trying to raise the profile of their site against the profile of hundreds of other similar providers on the google search index. Very few of them cultivate dozens of feedback comments to use as advertising. The websites I’ve seen (and it isn’t clear that all/most abortion providers appear on the web at all) are often nested deep under PlannedParenthood’s umbrella site or are standalones with none of the crosslinking/search engine optimizing that you see from someone who wants to get very high on a search list.

And that is fine. I don’t really want to live in a world where abortion providers feel like they need to get in an escalating ad war against each other for clients. But comparing the-pill-that-will-get-me-stuck-in-moderation-if-I-mention-it-again to abortion clinics in this instance just shows that you aren’t really understanding what SIRI does. It takes voice recognition and then tries to make searches out of it. Combine people who aren’t deeply in ad based google wars against competitors with location services which are less accurate than article/informational searches and you get spotty coverage.

93

bianca steele 12.07.11 at 5:46 pm

Just saw Emma @ 13: @3, someone with a title like content producer, or editor, at Google? Is likely to be a woman (a lot more likely than the programmers). So is markedly less likely to have done this (although it is not impossible).

Not that much more likely to be a woman where I’ve worked. More likely to be management than labor though.

94

Sebastian H 12.07.11 at 5:46 pm

Ha, the comment got stuck in moderation by the automatic filter. That pretty much proves my point exactly, but now we have to wait for a human to manually fish it out.

95

Salient 12.07.11 at 5:55 pm

a programmer in mobile search at a top company decides to risk his career in order to make a search query on Siri temporarily more difficult

Nah, no career risk; you’re putting a lot of specificity into describing a thought that it seems to me would normally take the form “heh, come to think of it, wouldn’t it be funny if…” Tangentially–

There’s a whole niche category of speech — e.g. I’m sorry that you [X], forgive me for [X], heh wouldn’t it be funny if [X], can you imagine if [X] — that gets employed to effectively launder various forms of assholishness by cloaking them in clauses that sardonify or distance the speaker, creating some space in which the speaker does not seem to stand alone. (Not to say all uses of those phrases fall under this subcategory–I’m sorry that your friend hasn’t called, please forgive me for my harsh tone earlier, can you imagine if the check actually clears ok because of that bank holiday we forgot, wouldn’t it be funny if that casually-tossed-from-half-court basketball goes through nothing but net.) Like any laundering operation, the malign intent gets slipped into sufficiently clean legitimate source material to make the result palatable.

The assholishness is still there, in irony or the detachment, but with enough plausible deniability to filter away any possibility of discomfort-inducing self-awareness. The subcategory exists specifically so that we have a means for expressing assholish feelings and beliefs without quite feeling like we’ve committed to the full strength of the assholosity that underlies the statement. (It’s definitely implicitly about the self-awareness; nobody in the world hears something like “I’m sorry that you didn’t get that” and genuinely thinks, whew glad to know you feel regret about my failing you, but people say “I’m sorry that you didn’t get that” and then “but I apologized!” all the time, only to realize after some later introspection that they felt upset and hurt, not sorry.)

Anyhow the point is that people can be malicious assholes without even being able to be aware of their own assholishness even if their malice is completely patently obvious to anyone else listening in.

“Look at that dog leaning out the car window, wouldn’t it be funny if it fell out [when the car screeches to a halt at the impending red light]” is an example of jocular malice or malicious jocularity from this morning, but among those of us who were waiting there for the walk light to light, I’m pretty sure the only person to not instantly realize how sick it was was the stoner kid who said it to his friend.

When people think these types of thoughts rather than say them, and then act on those thoughts while laundered blind of their own assholishness, you get stuff like ‘programmer decides to easter-egg in replies to such-a-a-such type request with cheeky-arsed quip or whatever, without realizing they’re actually being quite an insensitive asshole to the end-users by doing so.’

96

zrichellez 12.07.11 at 6:04 pm

There are bigger problems facing women all over the world for sure. And this problem was overblown.
But the decision to impede Siri’s search was clearly made by a man. Only he could think that women are so simple. We are not all Kardashians.
A woman taking responsibility for her reproductive health who has a new iphone which means she has some brains (earning power to buy it and sign the yearly contract for service) will only find things if the kitchy annoying new voice app leads her to it.
Right. We never search more than once. We never go to another source. We just throw up our hands and faint in exasperation. Martha Stewart doesn’t blink at sending us on scavenger hunts for fresh lavender in the MidWest in January. She knows us better.
If we didn’t find it, it wasn’t there. Ever.
I bet in the whiteboard development meeting Siri was illustrated with 3 boobs. Awesome.
In this week’s National Post Conrad Black has a nice piece in praise of the anti-Kardashians.
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/12/03/conrad-black-in-praise-of-the-alpha-female/

97

nick s 12.07.11 at 6:23 pm

I’m just going to go out there and say the Siri thing was a conspiracy—of one.

I’m just going to note that given how abortion providers in the US don’t advertise themselves as such, while bullshit “pregnancy crisis centers” pretend to be abortion providers, the old mantra of “garbage in, garbage out” seems like the most obvious explanation, and it’s taken a lot of people a lot of time and money to corrupt the dataset that much.

it says something that, in thinking of ways to tweak the system, presumably large numbers of people thought “hey, geeky sci-fi jokes!” but did not think “hey, women’s reproductive health!”

Yes: it says that computer programs are programmed by computer programmers. I believe that xdoctor in Emacs is also callously indifferent to women’s reproductive health.

98

dangermouse 12.07.11 at 6:35 pm

Scott Martens 12.07.11 at 8:20 am
Okay, I’ll do the devil’s advocate role here:

If it’s legitimate to complain about Siri, despite the existence of far more immediate and violent threats to women’s rights, is it right to complain that anti-choice people seem to stop caring about life after birth? If a right-wing blogger makes a similarly sarcastic list of “all the things that have to be solved before we get to complain about abortion” – childhood poverty, preventable disease, bad schools, etc. – do they have a point?

No because liberals and feminists actually give a shit about any of items 1-9 on that list, just not at the precise instant that you’re trying to shut them up about Siri.

If liberals and feminists flipped a huge shit about Siri AND THEN turned around and advocated for even more unspeakably vicious brutality against Afghani women et al, then it would be fair to criticize them in the way that it fair to criticize antichoicers.

Probably someone answered this already I’m bein lazy about scrollin

99

Barry 12.07.11 at 9:08 pm

sg 12.07.11 at 4:21 pm

” That’s an interesting point from a search engine-y perspective, Tedra. 3 out of 10 women have an abortion, but only a very small number of clinics exist. So even though a large proportion of the population are looking for those clinics, a purely algorithmic search engine is going to be trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

Incorrect, actually. Just because something is rare, doesn’t mean that it’s harder to find.

100

Watson Ladd 12.07.11 at 9:28 pm

dangermouse: Search on google for posts on CT about Afghan women. The most recent one was a year ago. Abortion was August, and only about Romney’s flip-flop. Genital mutilation was never mentioned as the topic of a post, but only in the comments. Internet misogyny has been mentioned last month. Maybe the new additions to the blogging team will fix this, but its clear that CrookedTimber has been reflecting issues relating to labor and politics much better then woman’s rights, and has been reflecting the woman’s rights concern of a particular set of women. I’m trying to get CT to do for woman’s rights what it does for so many other issues quite well: create a space for discussing them.

101

Helen 12.07.11 at 9:37 pm

I’ve noticed the tendency for commenters to use the word “conspiracy” (rolls eyes upthread, and sideways to t’other thread) to denigrate claims of entrenched sexism in cases like this. This does a beautiful job of setting up a straw-argument and making your opponent look like a nut at the same time.

From a feminist perspective I find that actually more interesting – you don’t need an explicitly bad guy at all – you just need structural sexism of the tech world (I think Armanda Marcote made that point first).

Yes, THANK you for getting that. Socially entrenched gender roles and expectations, opposition to abortion and assumption that we’re entitled to make access to it difficult, =/= a “conspiracy”.

102

dsquared 12.07.11 at 11:33 pm

I’m trying to get CT to do for woman’s rights what it does for so many other issues quite well: create a space for discussing them.

Yes, in many ways it is you that is the true hero here, Watson.

103

Helen 12.08.11 at 12:11 am

“the next time someone asks me for money for something in the First World I’ll still ask them how many lives my money will save compared to sending it to UNICEF. Forgive me for wanting to do good rather then be considered good.”

And the beauty of that, my dear Watson, is that you can do this and still – not being female, that is – benefit from structural inequality and sexism, in preferential treatment in careers, higher pay, less time spent in domestic work, more superannuation due to fewer career interruptions… to a greater lesser extent, of course, I wouldn’t assume you benefit from all of these. But it is a statistical probability that you do, or will.

So you can be purer than the rest of us and still come out ahead!

In fact, one might even think that it’s in your interest to ignore these structural inequalities… but ssh!…

104

JanieM 12.08.11 at 12:14 am

d^2: Yes, in many ways it is you that is the true hero here, Watson.

Watson: The presumption is that I have certain amount of money I will be donating to charity and the question is how to donate it. There is an obvious answer: in the way that does the most good. And right now that means malaria and childhood vaccinations. Donating to anything else is not doing as much good as your money could possibly do.

Not only does Watson know what CT-ers should be doing on their blog, he knows how we should all be spending our charity money. There need be no debate about fuzzy concepts like “the most good.” Watson knows.

I’m sure the kids here, which is where I donate most of the money I can afford to give away, would be glad to know that Watson thinks my money isn’t well spent.

Which brings me around to UNICEF. I once gave some $ to UNICEF, having been guilt-tripped by a Peter Singer essay before I knew anything about Peter Singer. Six weeks later I got mail from UNICEF that said, in big bold letters on the envelope, “Time to Renew.”

Six weeks? Renew? WTF?

After that I got mail from UNICEF once or twice a month for a long time. I never gave them another cent, because around that time I discovered Friends of Kakamega right down the road and gave the $ — plus a lot more — to them instead. Friends of Kakamega spends 100% of its money on the kids. It’s small and personal on both ends; I’ve met a couple of the Mainers who founded it (jointly with some Quaker women in Kenya), and I could go on one of their summer trips and meet and work with the kids if I thought I could tolerate the heat and survive my food allergies.

So I wonder what the philosophers here think about the ends and means question. Are the universal petty manipulations and dishonesties (“Time to Renew” for crying out loud) of mass-produced fundraising justified by the causes they’re supporting? Is it a moral failing to say that nothing would induce me to give money to UNICEF again, and to prefer to channel my donations through people who don’t (in effect) lie to me, and don’t nag all year long for the one or two checks I’m going to write? I.e., through people who actually recognize that I’m a person too, and not just a machine for writing checks for their cause, a machine assumed to be too stupid to remember when I last gave them money, and whether I “subscribed” to anything….

105

Norwegian Guy 12.08.11 at 12:21 am

Whatever the explanation is, I doubt juvenile frat-boys are behind this. The last thing this demographic wants is becoming fathers.

106

David 12.08.11 at 1:53 am

I’m rather sure that if you contact Apple they will address this Crooked Timber “problem.” Quote marks supplied for christian_h.

107

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 1:57 am

Helen, so even though I can’t stop benefiting from these structures, I’m morally obligated to destroy them instead of helping others? Of course, feminism at once holds that changing attitudes will naturally destroy them and that they aren’t anyones fault. Clara Zeitkin’s interview of Lenin should show that the road to woman’s liberation is through socialism. And no, I don’t benefit from exemption from domestic labor, nor will I ever. But there we just need to get married people to share equally the domestic chores.

JanieM, you decided to buy warm fuzzies from knowing the people involved rather then save lives. It wasn’t that Friends of Kakamega saved more people then UNICEF, it was that you knew some of the people. And because of that you sent your money elsewhere. You didn’t actually bother to think about what your actions were actually doing, just what sort of person they would make you out to be. Next time think before you give.

108

ezra abrams 12.08.11 at 2:02 am

re the discussion of Bing
Occam’s razor
In my experience, MS products (office 2007) are so full of errors, it is difficult to imagine that Bing is also not full of errors
Just to give two tiny examples:
in excel 2003 and before, it was easy to add X error bars to data points in a chart
In ecsel 2007 that feature is, supposedly, still there but awfully hard to find; the wonderful peltiertech.com gives you a macro to fix this..so excel 2007 is a step back

In word 2003 and prior, you could paste in a photo, add a text box, and then group them, so they didn’t float away from each other; in 2007, MS partially implemented new ways of pasting figures into word, and as a result you can’t group a text box and a picture (well, you can, with a complex procedure using frames)

and I’m sure anyone here can add a long long list of MS fails
so that Bing doesn’t get Planned Parenthood maybe consiperacy, but I’d go withincompetance

109

ezra abrams 12.08.11 at 2:06 am

Re Mars
back on planet earth, we don’t know how to keep people healthy (bone loss, muscle tone loss, sanity) for the long tri
We don’t know how to build equipment that has a prayer of going
there is no reason to send people there, other then the fun of it; assuming cost scales roughly with square of distance, and moon was 25 billion, in 1970, that makes cost to Mars what, in IWUs (IWU = Iraq war unit, roughly 1 Trillion dollars)
etc
when I was a kid in the 60s, popular science had stories about flying cars, and today they have the same stories.
some things are practical, some are not.

110

Salient 12.08.11 at 2:19 am

So even though a large proportion of the population are looking for those clinics, a purely algorithmic search engine is going to be trying to find a needle in a haystack.

The sheer quantity of reflexive and intense IT’S A CHILD OF ALGORITHMS NOT A CHOICE contained in responses-to-responses-to-Sirigate is driving home Tom Slee’s earlier point about culpability better than any written-out argument ever could.

111

JanieM 12.08.11 at 2:28 am

Watson, a lot of kids are living decent lives because of the Kakamega orphanage who would otherwise be on the streets. A lot of kids are going to school who otherwise couldn’t, because the Friends of Kakamega provides the money for them to do it. A lot of people are better off because of that organization, and neither you nor anyone else has a magic yardstick to tell you how to balance those benefits against the benefits of other charitable dollars. It’s not a math problem, but then I don’t expect someone to understand that who has given evidence of never having had a nuanced thought train in his life.

You didn’t actually bother to think about what your actions were actually doing, just what sort of person they would make you out to be. Next time think before you give.

You don’t have a clue how much I bothered to think about that or anything else. Why are you wasting energy giving holier-than-thou sermons to people who aren’t listening, when you should be spending your time earning more money to give to UNICEF? You didn’t actually bother to think about what your actions were actually doing, just how good it made you feel to be superior to someone on Crooked Timber. Next time think before you type.

112

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 2:39 am

How many? And what about the kids who are dead because you didn’t spend money on them? For the amount of money it takes to send a Kenyan to high school, you could save a life. And yet you gave to sending them to high school. You described how you thought about what you decided to do. And all I saw was that Friends was small and personal, and spent all its money on the children. You apparently didn’t consider the most important part (how well does it work?) to be worth thinking about, or maybe it was too obvious to mention. You have limited dollars to put to charity. Why not let them do the most good?

“No magic yardstick”: Its like Jeremy Bentham never existed. Yes, it might be hard to evaluate preventing blindness vs. eliminating guinea worm. But in the case at hand we don’t have a tough choice like that. Maybe you are right: sending a handfull of children to school vs. saving a smaller one from death by malaria is the correct decision. But let’s not pretend we can’t ask that question. Notice how small and personal just doesn’t factor into the results of giving.

113

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 2:57 am

This, Belle, is why science works: Where’s your evidence? As opposed to speculation?

And no, I feel not the slightest obligation to prove you wrong, to make you say you’re wrong, or indeed even to speculate that there wasn’t a conspiracy of one (or many.)

Science . . . it’s good stuff. Maybe you should learn how it’s done.

114

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 3:10 am

Science . . . it’s good stuff. Maybe you should learn how it’s done.

Frakking courtesy… it’s good stuff. Maybe you should learn how it’s done.

(Also, ain’t science less about evidence per se, and more about models+repeatability?)

115

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 3:25 am

Yeah, hellblazer, where’s the frakking courtesy from Belle here?

All I’ve seen from her is nasty, rather unimaginative snark. And snark addressed at an easy target at that.

Oh, But That’s Different, isn’t it? Now, you little enabling piece of noise, why don’t you exhibit some frakking courtesy and apologize? Or at least admit that I maybe have a point here? Naw, according to you, lightweight, pointing out that there’s no there there is frakking discourteous.

Nah, you’re too small for that.

116

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 3:34 am

At the risk of getting hit with a frying pan: Can’t we all just get along on this thread? We were having a reasonable, substantive, if heated argument, and I’ld like to see that continue without becoming a vindictive spat about snark.

(Also I am offering more time to the market then the market can accept right now. In a few years this will be less true. So right now commenting on CT is probably the optimal use of my time to improve the state of the world, as sad as that is.)

117

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 3:42 am

What would be appreciated is that if Belle wants to actually snark on those poor downtrodden women suffering at the hands of the patriarchy, she might, actually, you know, go with snark about real issues? Like the very real problems women face with getting Plan B without everybody and his dog knowing about it when it’s none of their damn business.

That’s a substantive issue, and a very real problem. As opposed to Belle’s usual schtick, which is much ado about nothing and hyperventilating when people call her on it. Gives “feminism” and “feminists” a bad name, she does. You want someone who’s setting women’s rights and issues back with their particular brand of commentary? Her name is Belle Waring.

118

Belle Waring 12.08.11 at 3:50 am

SoV: I’ve got science, for any occasion, and am constantly reformulating equations. That’s why I know that to make any particular falsifiable claim it is necessary to start at the beginning, demonstrating the truths of geometry from the outset like Socrates and the slave boy, and moving onward through the accumulation of all human knowledge until one reaches the final point. (This explains why all the papers in arxiv are at minimum 150,000 pages long, in case you had ever wondered). That’s also why it’s impossible to, say, refer by implication to extensive discussion on a blog, in comments only a few posts away, when making claims. Now I will do my awesome Horatio Caine from CSI: Miami imitation: “Logic [Belle puts on impossibly dark sunglasses, gazes pensively into the middle distance while a hott Crime Scene Detective stands around looking decorative] …maybe you should stop being such a gaping asshole learn how it’s done.”

119

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 3:52 am

Naw, according to you, lightweight, pointing out that there’s no there there is frakking discourteous.

That bit, while I might not agree with the diagnosis, wasn’t my peeve. My peeve was with your last sentence, which was thoroughly patronizing and makes some of us with a nominal grounding in the sciences really, *really* quite depressed.

If Belle were snarking on your blog, Oh Fragrant One, then maybe I would take your umbrage a little more seriously. As it is, your comments at 117 seem to evince the attitudes which the original post was aiming a broadside against

Now, you little enabling piece of noise, why don’t you exhibit some frakking courtesy and apologize? … Nah, you’re too small for that.

Fallacious deduction. Did I libel you? I just attempted to reflect the tone of your comment back at you and impugn your behaviour.

But hey, if you want to feel aggrieved, knock yourself out.

(I’d also love to know what I’m enabling, here. Alcohol abuse? Wife-beating? The tyranny of those who set back women’s rights and issues with their particular brand of commentary? Rob Liefeld? Tiki-taka?)

120

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 3:53 am

So, Belle, you being all up on that science stuff and all, you know it’s your obligation to provide evidence for your thesis about a lone gunman.

Where is it?

Quick, look over there! The guy who’s pointing this out is a real meany!

That about what you got Belle?

If that’s all, then I suggest you grow up. And stop setting back women’s causes with your spiteful drivel.

121

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 3:56 am

Belle, a shelter in Burnley for female victims of domestic abuse just called. They said that your spiteful drivel has set them back, everyone who supported them is now assuming they’re as bad as you are, and redirecting their time and resources accordingly.

(They also told me I’m small and enabling, and then also criticized my fashion sense, personal hygiene and general demeanour. I think that’s me told.)

122

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 3:58 am

That bit, while I might not agree with the diagnosis, wasn’t my peeve. My peeve was with your last sentence, which was thoroughly patronizing and makes some of us with a nominal grounding in the sciences really, really quite depressed.

WHOOSH!

You don’t think that what was originally written was damned insulting and patronizing in tone?[1]

This ought to be good – cue the lame protests about how That’s Different ;-)

No, lightweight, it’s not.

[1]I might also point out that if you haven’t realized by now that it’s the obligation of the researcher to present evidence for their hypothesis, well, to be blunt, you don’t know a damn thing about science. So why don’t you admit up front this is the case or shut the hell up about your mighty science knowledge? Comprende?

123

LFC 12.08.11 at 4:05 am

@Watson

For crying out loud, you need to consider that saving children needs to be coupled with measures aimed at helping to ensure that their subsequent lives will be other than miserable. “Death isn’t the only thing that matters. What matters is decent lives.” (K.A. Appiah, Cosmopolitanism, p.167 – btw not someone I usually quote b/c I disagree with him on quite a few things, but these two sentences seem right). Saving lives is the first and highest priority but can’t be the only one.

It’s fine to give to UNICEF but does that mean it’s not ok to give to Oxfam or other groups, or Friends of Kakemega, or whatever? What about the group founded by the former U.S. Marine (Barcott) that works in Kibera? Is it really the case that everyone should be concentrating all their giving on one or two organizations? I tend to doubt it. (And Zetkin’s interview with Lenin has, I’m pretty sure, little or nothing to do with this.)

124

Freddie 12.08.11 at 4:08 am

Every time I read some variation of “bad apple employees” I laugh out loud. Every single time.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go enjoy living in this world where time, effort, and attention are not finite resources.

125

Tom Bach 12.08.11 at 4:09 am

Comprende? SoV is your purpose here to prove that you can’t argue without insult, invective, and faux tough-guyism? If so, done, done, and done. Do you really think that the OP here is a “scientific” argument? Because if you do, you are really seriously missing the point.

126

Belle Waring 12.08.11 at 4:10 am

“That’s a substantive issue, and a very real problem. As opposed to Belle’s usual schtick, which is much ado about nothing and hyperventilating when people call her on it. Gives “feminism” and “feminists” a bad name, she does. You want someone who’s setting women’s rights and issues back with their particular brand of commentary? Her name is Belle Waring.”

Oh, for Christ’s sake, SoV, even you can do better than this, and you’re a pretty low-quality troll as these things go. You care about as much for women having trouble getting plan B as I do for your sorry ass. No, less, because I would be willing to incline my head in favor of your continued existence if it allowed me to make a snarky point, whereas you’d dump the hypothetical women having Plan B trouble in favor of hypothetical African women lacking access to retrovirals in a heartbeat. Really, if this is the best you’ve got, take it elsewhere. Although I am a little hungry; just make me a sandwich before you go, there’s a dear?

127

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 4:11 am

Original:
some of us with a nominal grounding in the sciences

Rejoinder:
or shut the hell up about your mighty science knowledge

So, no comprende.

I guess my confusion, leaving aside the genuine ire you have against what you see as Belle’s sloppy reasoning, is why you drag science into the discussion. “Evidence” is not solely the province of the scientific method, unless you feel that the only way to refute or confirm Belle’s claim/theorizing is by a science experiment as opposed to, say investigative journalism or consulting software engineers. Either might support her position, or else show her claim to be wrong.

“Science… it’s good stuff. Maybe you should learn how it’s done” seems a counter-productive addendum to “Where’s your evidence? As opposed to speculation”. Unless this is one of those “scientists can show you all up for charlatans” salvos.

128

Freddie 12.08.11 at 4:14 am

You guys get it? Bad apple employees?

Classic!

129

Substance McGravitas 12.08.11 at 4:17 am

130

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 4:22 am

I would also like to pre-empt SoV’s next comment by saying that whatever SoV goes on to say: it is right, it shows me up as mistaken; it puts me in my place, it smacks me down; it reveals me as being small-minded and mean-natured, ignorant of logic and reason; it cuts through the bullshit to expose me as a wuss, a cry-baby, a hypocrite, a lick-spittle, a troll, a gnome, a ferret, a hustler, a rustler, a bushwhacker and a Methodist.

Oh, and I don’t even know any science.

I think that covers most bases, thus allowing me time to go home, cook, and catch up on marking for a while.

131

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 4:24 am

Chuckle. Can I call ‘em or can I call ‘em?

Yep, pointing out the time-wasting no-information bile that is Belle’s latest effort just goes to show that I’m against women and women’s rights.[1] What’s next – I’m antisemitic because I despise the current policies of Israel ;-)

This prediction was just too easy. The “go make a sandwich dear” comment is just so much icing on the cake.

[1]Because nothing says you’re against any sort of equality for women when you explicitly mention your concern that Plan B – contrary to scientific evidence – is not being made available OTC.

132

Tedra Osell 12.08.11 at 4:25 am

“Like the very real problems women face with getting Plan B without everybody and his dog knowing about it when it’s none of their damn business.

That’s a substantive issue, and a very real problem. As opposed to Belle’s usual schtick, which is much ado about nothing and hyperventilating when people call her on it. Gives “feminism” and “feminists” a bad name, she does. You want someone who’s setting women’s rights and issues back with their particular brand of commentary? Her name is Belle Waring.”

Oh hell no. There will be no pitting the feminist bloggers against each other. Go this direction and every post I make for the next month will be about Siri just to spite you.

133

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 4:27 am

I would also like to pre-empt SoV’s next comment by saying that whatever SoV goes on to say: it is right, it shows me up as mistaken; it puts me in my place, it smacks me down;

Shrug. And yet . . . you still haven’t admitted that when doing science the burden of proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis.

Awfully strange, seeing as how it would take you less than twenty words to do so – and you’ve gone well over twice that number in distracting verbiage.

Well? I’m waiting ;-)

134

lurker 12.08.11 at 4:31 am

E-friends, wait! Only by crossing the streams of our righteous outrage can we hope to subdue our common enemy Gozer the Gozerian!!1!

135

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 4:33 am

So, Tedra, are you saying that Plan B not being available OTC is not a substantive issue?

But I think you’ve let the cat out of the bag here:

There will be no pitting the feminist bloggers against each other. Go this direction and every post I make for the next month will be about Siri just to spite you.

That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Solidarity ;-) Not anything so tawdry and mechanistic as, you know, actual evidence and actual issues. Feminists got to stick together whatever the merits of their arguments (and if you’ve got actual evidence to support the notion that Siri’s lack of functionality in this regard is the work of a lone misogynist, I strongly suggest you do so right now[1]).

Looks like we’ve come round full circle to – wait for it – Femsplaining.

[1]Unless, of course, you do have this evidence – but you’ve decided to suppress it just to spite me :-)

136

Kevin 12.08.11 at 4:34 am

“… when doing science…”

Oh, is that why I’m getting so irritated with this thread? I had thought it was because you were being such a gaping sandwich-making dear. Now I realize it’s because I just wasn’t getting the point of the post.

137

Freddie 12.08.11 at 4:37 am

This is a novel use of emoticons.

138

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 4:38 am

LFC, at the optimal point all marginal utilities are equal by the Lagrange conditions. Assuming that as we spend more aid the impact of our aid decreases we should simply spend each additional dollar where it will do the most good, and eventually we will spend all our aid optimally. So my argument about where to spend aid is simply conditioned on the current circumstances.

You seem to be arguing that some lives, due to lack of education, aren’t worth saving. I disagree. I’m not arguing we shouldn’t do more, but that we should simply do as much as possible with the resources we have. You can hedge your bets: maybe an AIDS vaccine will work, maybe nets will. But each dollar can only go to one of those. It’s not a question of the “only priority”. Its a question of the place that dollar goes to help the most people.

Or to put it concretely: There are 1000 kids, all in danger of instant death. You can save them all, but they won’t be educated. Now, how many children would have to get educations and be saved to outweigh saving them all? 200? 100? 500? 800? Pick a number. That’s what having more then one priority means: killing people out of an idea that something else matters more.

139

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 4:38 am

Deferring cooking for a little while yet:

you still haven’t admitted that when doing science the burden of proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis.

True. I also didn’t admit that when doing historical investigations the burden of proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis. Or when prosecuting purported crimes, the burden of the proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis. Or that when claiming that Coleridge’s Kubla Khan is inspired by extra-terrestrial, time-travelling shenanigans, the burden of proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis. Your point being?

Going back to your claim that when doing science, the burden of proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis: doesn’t that depend what the hypothesis is? My working hypothesis is that the Earth is an oblate spheroid and that to a good working approximation (ignoring quantum and relativistic effects) it behaves like a solid mass orbiting a far larger mass, with certain amounts of precession. That’s a pretty heavy burden of proof you’re putting on me, I need to clear my schedule at the nearest telescope and start travelling to collect data on lengths of shadows.

Or maybe by proof you mean evidence. Well, again, why bring the scientific method into it when other disciplines have their own standards of epistemological confirmation? Historians are fully able to kick a rock and refute Bishop Berkeley thus, should the mood take them; I don’t think that counts as them employing the scientific method (or, from my meagre attempts to read Berkeley, refute him that well).

Oh look, I’ve been using too many of those “words” again. My bad.

140

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 4:39 am

h, nd Tdr dr – y’r nt th only ck n th Chrstms plt. Ths stry hs bn pckd p by ny nmbr f ppl, lke vr at Frdglk, Mthr Jns, Hllbl, t. Yr lttl cntrbtn t th pl-n ws xtrmly lt – nd y’r flttrng yrslf f you blv I ws thnkng f y t ll whn wrte tht.

141

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 4:40 am

Only by crossing the streams of our righteous outrage can we hope to subdue our common enemy Gozer the Gozerian

I shall slink home defeated, comforted by the image of SoV as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

142

J— 12.08.11 at 4:43 am

the Lagrange conditions

The time and the ten to get yourself in.

143

Tom Bach 12.08.11 at 4:44 am

Oh, and Tedra dear – you’re not the only cookie on the Christmas plate.
In response to a post about sexist condescension this bit of sexist condescension is evidence of sexist condescension, qed.

144

Belle Waring 12.08.11 at 4:45 am

Bring your A game next time, SoV; you’re all over the place here. It’s gotta be either I don’t understand science or I don’t care about real women’s real problems (stipulatively excluding my own, one imagines?), but not both. Focus! And I think Tedra was trying to say that “let’s you and her fight” is not a winner either. I’m not a big comment-moderator, as I have an objectively pro-troll bias, but unless you want to see all the vowels on your next WWF calendar next to the baby ocelots, I’d give it a rest.

145

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 4:50 am

True. I also didn’t admit that when doing historical investigations the burden of proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis. Or when prosecuting purported crimes, the burden of the proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis. Or that when claiming that Coleridge’s Kubla Khan is inspired by extra-terrestrial, time-travelling shenanigans, the burden of proof is on the one advancing the hypothesis. Your point being?

Sgh. Tht Blle hsn’t prsntd ny vdnc fr hr ln hckr thry.

S thr’s n “thr”, thr. n fct, strngly dobt tht Bll hs th xprts – nd sy, wrn’t ppl jmpng ll vr Sbstn jst th thr dy fr jst th sm rsn? S wht’s dffrnt nw? thr thn Bll bng n f th cntrbtrs mn.

n fct, t pprs tht n n hr knws wht rlly hppnd, r hs th rqst nsdr nfrmtn nd xprts t mk tht dtrmntn. nd thr’s nthng wrng wth syng tht.

Gt t, gys? Smtms hvng dfnt pnn – ny pnn pr r cn – jst mks y lk lk n dt. dn’t knw wh Sr gltchd th wy t dd. Y dn’t thr. Th dffrnc s, I dn’t hve prblm wth dmttng t (wll, th thr dffrnc s m nt usng t s sprngbrd t scr chp rhtrcl pnts thr!)

thr ppl, pprntly, cn’t lv wth tht lvl f ncrtnty; thy cn b n thst r blvr, bt b n mns cld thy vr b gnstc. Sd, rlly.

146

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 4:57 am

Bring your A game next time, SoV; you’re all over the place here. It’s gotta be either I don’t understand science or I don’t care about real women’s real problems (stipulatively excluding my own, one imagines?), but not both. Focus!

Chckl. Y dn’t rd s wll whn y gt ngr, d y?

Wh dn’t y jst prdc yr vdnc fr ths lne msgnst hckr f yrs? r dd y thnk wld frgt tht bt?

Or s ths whr y sy y d hv vdnc, bt y’ll b dmnd f you’ll show it to the lks f m?

Bt hy, kp swngn’ kd. Myb y’ll vn cnect n f ths dys.

nywy, mch snd nd fry t t cntrry, tht’s whr w’r t rght nw – Bll hs nggd n sme rppntly bslss spcltn nd hs n nntn f vr ctlly bckng t p. Whch s ls th pnt f m rgnl ommnt, nd s w’v cm fll crcl.

Smbdy lt m knw whn w ctlly gt pst ths nt.

147

ScentOfViolets 12.08.11 at 5:00 am

h, n lst thng:

h, nd Tdr dr – y’r nt th nl ck n th Chrstms plt.
n rspns t pst bt sxst cndscnsn ths bt f sxst cndscnsn s vdnc f sxst ndscnsn, qd.

‘ll tk ths cmmnt wth ll th srsnss dd whn y md th sm cmplnt bt ts lttl bt frm Bll:

Although I am a little hungry; just make me a sandwich before you go, there’s a dear?

xctl th sm srsnss ;-)

148

JanieM 12.08.11 at 5:00 am

So, Watson, I assume you’re living in the streets, or is it only Kenyan orphans who have to do that til everyone else has been vaccinated?

149

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 5:01 am

It really hurts to say this, but at the risk of not detecting the irony at Tom Bach’s comment, clearly the disemvowelled comment by SoV was meant as satire.

Banging on irrelevantly about the scientific method, though, apparently wasn’t.

Complete non-sequitur: this from SoV seems to put the intended point rather better. Don’t really understand why it wasn’t what was originally said, but hey, that’s ’cause I don’t know a damn thing about science. I think.

150

Tom Bach 12.08.11 at 5:09 am

clearly the disemvowelled comment by SoV was meant as satire. Really? Don’t see it.
SoV, I’m not arguing with BW and but rather with you.

151

Belle Waring 12.08.11 at 5:18 am

149: Sadly, no. I can’t imagine you’ve read enough SoV if you think that. Anyway, Médecins Sans Frontières will make better use of your interpretative charity.

152

Merp 12.08.11 at 5:43 am

Public Service Announcement

Watson at 1:57 links to a non-profit named GiveWell that purports to research charities to find the most effective use for charity dollars. Watson linked it as part of his argument that aid dollars need to go where they will do the most good, and GiveWell presents itself as providing authority as to which organizations will be able to do the most good with your donation, backed up by hard data.

Just in case anyone thinks about using it, be aware of two things:

- Their methodology for determining how effective an organization would use charity dollars is very suspect. It uses a narrow multiple regression analysis with few variables. The data comes from a small survey that GiveWell sends out to organizations, and is dependent upon the organizations sending the survey back to them. The data GiveWell receives and the analysis it performs is better than nothing, but cannot support the kind of claims GiveWell (and, implicitly, Watson) makes about its results. It can’t be said that using GiveWell’s recommendations leads to a better use of one’s donation than using other methods to choose where to donate.

- The founders of GiveWell engaged in extremely shady shit when it was started. They presented themselves in public as random citizens who were just wondering where they could go to find effective information about choosing where to donate, and just happened to mention this new organization that did just that. Effectively, they ran an astroturf campaign. If one were being uncharitable (couldn’t resist), one could say they imported the values of the hedge funds from whence they came and started telling people where to donate (as well as funneling some of those big donation dollars into their own coffers). One could also say, maybe more accurately, that they are applying crude methods from the investment world to the non-profit world without knowing a damn thing about how non-profits work.

Just wanted to make that stuff known. And to say that Belle and Tedra are awesome.

153

EmilSinclair 12.08.11 at 5:44 am

Why is it important to speculate about why Siri wasn’t coming up with abortion clinic search results? Isn’t the important demonstrable point simply that Siri wasn’t coming up with these results? Surely the victory here is not identifying whether this or that person is to blame (though Apple, in placing this product on the market, surely can be blamed) – the victory is in getting Siri to function so that women around the country can accurately locate abortion clinics.

154

JanieM 12.08.11 at 5:46 am

@Merp: well knock me over with a feather. ;)

155

js. 12.08.11 at 6:10 am

@149. I see the vowel-less comments too. They’re awesome! Here’s a sample:

Gt t, gys? Smtms hvng dfnt pnn – ny pnn pr r cn – jst mks y lk lk n dt. dn’t knw wh Sr gltchd th wy t dd. Y dn’t thr. Th dffrnc s, I dn’t hve prblm wth dmttng t (wll, th thr dffrnc s m nt usng t s sprngbrd t scr chp rhtrcl pnts thr!)

Something like this sort of corruption happened with jack strocchi’s comments on a recent thread as well (Farrell’s post about Sullivan, IIRC). Which makes me think that the CT site has some weird Jedi powers that turns troll posts into brilliant gibberish.

156

hellblazer 12.08.11 at 6:17 am

JS @154: see here

157

Salient 12.08.11 at 7:42 am

Maybe worth noting that when you type “abortion clinic” into the search engine duckduckgo it finds the Abortion Care Network as a top search result (they’re a directory of abortion care providers with some bare bones information and resource links). This requires extensive and tricky algorithmic computation, and/or recognizing that when someone inquires about an abortion clinic maybe considering returning http://www.abortionclinic.org/ is reasonable.

ACN is not exactly keeping a low/concealed profile, with the word “abortion” appearing 67 times on their homepage alone, which they have also populated with quite enough META tags to satisfy even the hungriest of spider crawler link-finding things. Other similar searches brought up other websites, but every top result I could generate contained address and contact information for abortion clinic health service providers.

158

Walt 12.08.11 at 9:07 am

I’m the only cookie on the Christmas plate, motherfuckers!

159

Emma in Sydney 12.08.11 at 9:17 am

js, it’s called disemvowelment, it’s quite Googleable, and it’s a troll-discouraging device. Pioneered by the great Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, and now relatively standard. She is the one with the awesome Jedi powers, and I am not joking.

160

LFC 12.08.11 at 1:18 pm

Watson @138:
You seem to be arguing that some lives, due to lack of education, aren’t worth saving.
I am not arguing that, and no fair-minded reading of what I said could conclude that I am.

I agree that it’s unacceptable that tens of thousands of children die every day from poverty-related and other preventable causes. (The numbers have been decreasing but are still extremely high.) You want to put every single available new ‘aid dollar’ into saving these children. Maybe that’s right. OTOH it might require squeezing or even shutting down hundreds or thousands of NGOs that work on programs aimed at those children who have survived into their teens and beyond. As to ‘official development assistance’ which comes directly from governments, it would probably require, for example, that all aid directed at recovery from natural disasters (e.g. rebuilding after the Haitian earthquake, recovery from floods in Pakistan, from tsunamis, etc. etc.) be frozen and not increased. All aid directed at aiding adults who are famine victims would be frozen. The only new aid money would flow to vaccinating or otherwise protecting children under five from malaria and other diseases. Maybe that is what should be done, but I’ll let others who know more about these issues than I do carry on the discussion.

Finally, as I’m sure you’d agree, aid has to be seen in the broader context of the working of the int’l economy and how it affects poorer countries’ prospects; changes at that level are also needed.

161

Barry 12.08.11 at 1:56 pm

BTW, Tedra, there are some commenters here who have a long and bad history – Scent of Violets is one, Jack Strocchi is another. Some are directly abusive and obnoxious, some are the sort of people who will make a thread about what they want to discuss, at an annoying volume (i.e., when every other comment is by them).

I suggest asking the other posters about them, and using the ban-hammer or disemvowelling knife regularly.

162

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 2:48 pm

LFC, any fair minded reading of what you said would suggest the hypo which you are ignoring. That’s not a hypo, that’s the choice we all face when we donate. So which number is it? How many die so that one can be educated?

Merp, its all well and good to critique, but unless you have an alternative methodology GiveWell remains the only source. But maybe warm fuzzies are all we need to know where to donate: save the kittens, not the kids.

163

LFC 12.08.11 at 4:11 pm

Watson:

I give a small amount of money to Oxfam every month.

I also give $15 dollars every year to the college I went to, mainly so they won’t bombard me with endless letters and phone calls. Of course, I could choose to ignore the letters/phone calls and give them nothing. It’s not like they really need the money since they are a wealthy institution. (They claim they need the money, of course, but they don’t.)

How many children each year am I killing by giving that $15 to my alma mater instead of adding it to what I give to Oxfam or giving it to a group recommended by GiveWell? Three? Four? Ten? And since I’m a child murderer, why am I being allowed to walk the streets? Why aren’t I in prison, at a minimum? Why haven’t I been charged with murder and sentenced to death? Since I don’t make much of a contribution to the world anyway — if I did, I wouldn’t be spending time on a CT comments thread, after all — my death would be no great loss. (Plus, I am an immoral, bad person, so my death would also be no loss from that standpoint.) Would you suggest that I be killed by lethal injection or by electrocution?

164

JanieM 12.08.11 at 4:50 pm

LFC, Watson still hasn’t explained why orphans in faraway countries have to live in the streets and he doesn’t. Or why they don’t get to go to school and learn about Jeremy Bentham and Lagrange whatsis, and he does.

But following on Barry@161, Watson has, or maybe is, a comment-generating machine of a certain sort. With bemusement I’ve often watched other people succumb to the temptation of answering him again and again, feeding the machine fuel (not that it seems to need any to keep running). This was my turn, I guess, but the fever has broken and I’m vaccinated against a recurrence.

165

Donald Johnson 12.08.11 at 5:23 pm

I used to think along Watson’s utilitarian lines in my charitable giving, but changed my mind, and basically for the reasons that JanieM gives. In my case I started to imagine what it would be like to be a homeless American full of hypocritical utilitarian checkwriters–“Oh, I can’t give money to help you when that same money would save ten children in Africa.” The day I decide to pay myself the bare minimum I need to function and earn money to send overseas (no saving for retirement, obviously, as that money would be best spent elsewhere) I might reconsider this issue.

166

mds 12.08.11 at 6:29 pm

ACN is not exactly keeping a low/concealed profile, with the word “abortion” appearing 67 times on their homepage alone, which they have also populated with quite enough META tags to satisfy even the hungriest of spider crawler link-finding things.

According to the scientific method, this is unpossible, because otherwise nick s. would have taken into account the other umptybajillion times the whole “abortion providers never mention the term abortion” nonsense had been debunked in the previous thread before reiterating it yet again on this thread.

The ultimate irony** about all the carping about the scientific method? Given the intrinsically messy nature of social phenomena, the Siri thing actually seemed to proceed by a reasonable methodology:

“Yes, yes, Siri provides all these great accurate and / or droll answers to these queries. How would it handle a request about abortion? … Huh, that’s curious. Is anyone else able to observe this? … So it’s not just me. Hmm. Is it the sensitive nature of the subject matter in a more generic sense? … Not if sex clubs and erectile dysfunction are any indication. One of Siri’s sources is Google, so perhaps the problem lies in how Google does searches. … Nope. Well, sometimes Siri uses Yelp instead. … Nope. Since the observed behavior doesn’t seem to exist with other subjects or Siri’s primary external sources, it would seem to be something about Siri itself.”

I mean, sure, every single step in that chain isn’t backed up with an exhaustive double-blind experiment with citations to exact lines in Siri’s source code, and no one managed to write down an unconscious sexism Lagrangian whose implications could be falsified at CERN, but it’s not like it’s a flagrantly irrational chain of inference. The flagrant irrationality was provided by all the claims about “massive conspiracy talk” from people who refused to entertain the existence of evidence, interspersed with kneejerk jabs at feminism and ahistorical invocations of reverse sexism. So clearly, little hysterical Belle Waring needs to dial it back, and defer to the more scientifically-minded menfolk, especially those whose law and / or math degrees have imbued them with such thorough expertise in the offhanded reverse-engineering of algorithms, to say nothing of all other areas of human endeavor. QED.

**As usual, I’m not sure if I’m using “irony” correctly here. Hey, I was a science major, not a humanities major.

167

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 6:44 pm

LFC, utilitarianism doesn’t answer questions about good or bad but about courses of action. That makes your and JamieM questions meaningless from a utilitarian standpoint: deserts are never part of utilitarian theory, and your questions rely heavily on deserts and base moral intuitions. But yes, we’ve drifted far from the topic.

As for your sensible question the answer is 1/10th according to Singer. Seven years of life vanish when you give to your alma matter.

168

Helen 12.08.11 at 9:48 pm

MDS@166: That was a fantastic summing-up of the problem and blogospherical reactions to it.

169

LFC 12.08.11 at 10:16 pm

Watson: “utilitarianism doesn’t answer questions about good and bad but about courses of action”

Odd, since Mill refers to it as a theory of morality, and Rawls and others treat it as a major tradition of moral philosophy. From ch.2 of Mill’s Utilitarianism:”…these supplementary explanations do not affect the theory of life on which this theory of morality is grounded–namely, that pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends….” (M. talks about higher and lower pleasures, but anyway utilitarianism clearly does “answer questions about good and bad,” ISTM. And in more recent versions too, I would think…)

170

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 10:29 pm

Considering that David Hume was willing to consign ethics to the dustbin of metaphysics and yet was a utilitarian, I find that doubtful. Utilitarianism does not depend on a substantive metaethical theory, unlike deontology. A utilitarian looks at questions of culpability and thinks them meaningless, whereas a deontologist looks at effect and finds it of secondary concern. Of course, I used to think like Donald M until I thought about what it would be like to die of Guinea worm while homeless people in the US some more food then they usually do. Hitting the emotional button is easy. It also is of no help in moral reasoning. Honestly, we suck at moral reasoning, and I don’t need to give examples here to convince us all of that.

mds, even if Google was screwing up the searches, the choice to use Google despite this and not fix it would have still been conditioned in certain ways. Your position is stronger then your defense makes it seem.

171

dsquared 12.08.11 at 10:46 pm

the problem here isn’t utilitarianism, it’s that everyone involved is assuming that Oxfam faces a smooth, monotonic production function where lives saved = f(donations), and this function doesn’t exist.

172

Watson Ladd 12.08.11 at 10:58 pm

dsquared, I don’t see how it’s not monotonic. If getting more resources makes you do worse, you should take the extra resources and give them back! When does it suck to have more money? Or maybe you don’t think we are actually capable of mathematically planning our actions?

173

Sam Clark 12.08.11 at 11:15 pm

‘Considering that David Hume was willing to consign ethics to the dustbin of metaphysics and yet was a utilitarian’

The first claim here is controversial (for whatever it’s worth, I don’t buy it, but reasonable people can disagree). The second claim is quite implausible. Hume is not a utilitarian but a virtue theorist: he’s not interested in judging actions according to their overall results, he’s interested in judging individual character. When he talks about social utility, he’s giving an explanation for why a decent person cares about, for example, others’ virtuous actions which don’t affect her personally. He’s not offering a justification for action.

(Sorry, Hume scholar, can’t help myself.)

174

Salient 12.09.11 at 12:04 am

I don’t see how it’s not monotonic.

That’s because you’re being insistent about one-dimensionalizing all of this in ways that are striking other people as crude to the point of absurdity.

In January, we collect $500,000 and provide relief to a sudden February 12th disaster that it happens to be quite easy to respond effectively to, spending all the money in two weeks’ time to improve 15,000 peoples’ lives by X amount. Disaster is basically over and stable and relieved and such by February 26th; we stop spending money there.

In March, we collect $2,000,000 and provide relief to a sudden April 4th disaster in a place it proves hard to get resources into, spending all the money to improve 300 peoples’ lives by Y amount over the course of three weeks, where Y is substantial but smaller than X. Disaster is basically over and stable and relieved and such by April 25th; we stop spending money there.

Look, flattening reality into a simplified toy model and using it to make your own personal decisions about charitable giving is your own business, and not something I’m arguing against or bothered by in the slightest, but pushing your toy model on other people is, to borrow your word from earlier, rather boorish of you, and subject to all manner of adverse selection problems. (Pre-emptive aside: if tempted to try and convince me that I’ve just used the phrase ‘adverse selection’ incorrectly, please first consider the possibility that it’s a pun.)

175

Watson Ladd 12.09.11 at 12:12 am

Ah, you are right. It was a while since I read Hume, and I recalled only his discussion of property rights which is utilitarian. To the extent he attempts to explain the sentiments, it is via utilitarianism. Certainly the conclusion to the Treatise of Human Nature has him explaining virtues as promoting good things to those who possess the virtues or to others, motivated by sympathy. That seems a lot like utilitarianism in an emotivist cloak.

176

Tedra Osell 12.09.11 at 12:13 am

Barry, thx. Am going to have to figure things out, obvs.

177

bob mcmanus 12.09.11 at 12:48 am

176: I’ll help. That “Antônio Conselheiro” dude is not really a Portugese revolutionary.

And I…wait…you know me.

Disemvowelling this get a laugh.

I sense new energy on what had become a somewhat stale blog.

178

Sebastian 12.09.11 at 1:01 am

“Since the observed behavior doesn’t seem to exist with other subjects or Siri’s primary external sources, it would seem to be something about Siri itself.”

But the observed behavior doesn’t seem to exist in very many locations either. If you do the searches in question in California, or a big city in Texas, or all sorts of other places it doesn’t have trouble. Just in a few locations. Which makes it sound like it is the underlying databases, either in how they interact with the locator, or in how they are localized.

179

nick s 12.09.11 at 2:09 am

So clearly, little hysterical Belle Waring needs to dial it back, and defer to the more scientifically-minded menfolk

Oh, do stuff those words in your own mouth first before trying them on others. To presume cock-up before conspiracy, based upon the polluted information pool for women’s reproductive health in the US, does not mean that the cock-up is acceptable.

180

JanieM 12.09.11 at 3:36 am

Or maybe you don’t think we are actually capable of mathematically planning our actions?

Speaking as mathematically as possible, this is priceless.

181

js. 12.09.11 at 6:03 am

Watson, let me throw some Mill at you (LFC: your point’s exactly right, but this might be more effective):

The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.

Now you might say that the right action/wrong action criterion is different from standards of “good” vs. “bad”. So I give you this:

From the dawn of philosophy, the question concerning the summum bonum, or, what is the same thing, concerning the foundation of morality, has been accounted the main problem in speculative thought, has occupied the most gifted intellects, and divided them into sects and schools, carrying on a vigorous warfare against one another.

Go and read the whole thing. Utilitarianism (and Utilitarianism) is an investigation of and (purported) answer to, the question of the “highest good”.

Let’s move on to Hume. The Enquiry could conceivably be read as utilitarian. The account of property rights in the Treatise is explicitly based in a “convention” that is motivated by a recognition of self-interest. So it seems rather more contractualist than utilitarian. (You can check out David Gauthier’s “David Hume, Contractarian”, for one version of this argument. (You may need a JSTOR subscription.))

Look, the point here is this: you can give your money to whoever or whatever you want. But it’s best not to claim the moral high ground if you’re unsure about (a) what “the moral high ground” means, and (b) what, umm, “quotable philosophers” have said about it.

182

js. 12.09.11 at 6:16 am

Also, cheers to hellblazer and Emma in Sydney for links and insight. I tend to know a lot less about the internet than 18th and 19th century philosophers.

183

sg 12.09.11 at 6:31 am

18th and 19th century philosophers knew about the internet!?

184

Watson Ladd 12.09.11 at 7:17 am

js, let me throw some contrasting Kant at you. From the Groundwork’s opening page Kant discusses goodness but never of actions, and says “It is impossible to think of anything at all in the world, or indeed even beyond it, that could be considered good without limitation except a good will”. So Kant doesn’t even think morality talks about the same things that Mill is talking about.

Furthermore, the way we use good and bad in ordinary language is much more akin to Kant’s usage then Mills. To Mill asking about a good person or bad person is impossible: its a category error. But rarely do we call acts good or bad. Mill’s invocation of the sumum bonum doesn’t provide what traditional ethicists would regard as an answer to the question.

LFC and you made exactly the same wrong point: the category of ethics is frequently described as being about “what we should do” and most ethical theories answer it. But not all use the same words for the answer: Aristotle’s ethics discusses virtue, not action. Kant’s ethics discuss maxims, not action. Only utilitarianism actually answers that question head on. In particular utilitarianism doesn’t require a substantive metaethical theory to give meaning to sentences involving the word “good”. Kant by contrast writes an entire book to do the metaethics before actually arriving at his theory. If the words good and bad are meaningless, and utilitarianism still works, it can’t be like the other ethical theories that stop working. In some essential respect it is talking about different things.

185

G. McThornbody 12.09.11 at 7:32 am

My pride stings so painfully when I can’t even derail a thread that I totally agree with. It’s somewhat difficult to respond since the comments are all over the place, but here goes…

(Personal note): BW makes things exciting and attracts attention. Good for business and trolling. I think this is my first double post on a thread after all. The passion (not mine) so allures…

Impact of concluding statements of the OP? I think the outrage is fair, if Siri was the only way you got information your universe. What if you stopped buying certain products? What if all the richpoor people asking Siri about biology realized it had nothing to do with any “juvenile frat-boy” programmer?

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world/jan-june11/china_04-13.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382396/Workers-Chinese-Apple-factories-forced-sign-pledges-commit-suicide.html (build my computer bitches!)
http://www.itworld.com/hardware/228133/apple-factory-workers-strike-china-loyalty-rises-among-iphone-users

There is no conspiracy, only salesmanship. Buy an ipad, won’t we all?

In conclusion, I think putting nets up to save the world is totally awesome. I’d jump out of my highrise apartment every day if i knew a net was saving me. One last thing based on so-called news (from previous link): “the investigation found that employees claimed they were not allowed to speak to each other.” I think this is way more hardcore than Disemvoweling.

Cheers and rock on BW.

grismcthorn

186

Emma in Sydney 12.09.11 at 9:19 am

sg, I was going to say “it’s a low bar’, but you got in first.

187

Donald Johnson 12.09.11 at 12:22 pm

“Of course, I used to think like Donald M until I thought about what it would be like to die of Guinea worm while homeless people in the US some more food then they usually do. Hitting the emotional button is easy. It also is of no help in moral reasoning. “

How do you know?

Also, you persist in ignoring one of JanieM’s points. How is it that this concern over utility maximizing only seems to occur when we are comparing money given to the American homeless vs money given to overseas children? Don’t you think the money you waste on the internet or some other facet of your life could be better spent on those children?

188

Matt 12.09.11 at 10:11 pm

Pleasure and suffering aren’t really commensurable in the first place. There is no arithmetic of collective experience that tells you how many educated children it takes to negate a child dead of famine. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that continued existence may have low or even negative utility depending on the circumstances of existence. Improving circumstances of people with no obvious immediate risk of dying is not necessarily anti-utilitarian, even if the same resources could have kept a larger number of people alive one more day.

189

J— 12.09.11 at 11:19 pm

That “Antônio Conselheiro” dude is not really a Portugese revolutionary.

More a Brazilian visionary.

190

ScentOfViolets 12.10.11 at 7:44 pm

So clearly, little hysterical Belle Waring needs to dial it back, and defer to the more scientifically-minded menfolk

There, fixed it for ya. This reminds me of a guy I once knew ejected from the old set who went around telling other people in our faux-art crowd that we didn’t like him “because he was gay”.

No, TG, we don’t like you because you steal things out of people’s houses to support your oh-so-cool junk habit.

Comments on this entry are closed.