Katha Pollit on Hitchens (yes, yes, I’ll stop now). She doesn’t hold her fire. Via Lindsay Beyerstein
Update of sorts: there are lots of high-functioning alcoholics in the world. They manage to keep it together for a long time. When do they come to AA? When they’re 65. What was it like for his family to have to deal with him dying as an active alcoholic? I’ve seen it and it isn’t pretty.
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Katha Pollit on Hitchens (yes, yes, I’ll stop now). She doesn’t hold her fire. Via Lindsay Beyerstein
Ever since I was very young I have been able to recognize that I was dreaming (not always). The first time was awful and thus memorable: I dreamed that robbers had driven down our driveway and shot my mother and father and brother and me with shotguns. And our dog. I was in terrible pain, full of buckshot and slick with blood, but I realized that I couldn’t die, in my own dream. So I thought I would go scare the robbers, that they would think I was a ghost and maybe I could call 911, maybe my family hadn’t bled out in the yard under the big oak tree. But when I came in they laughed and said some of the worst words I have ever heard, then or since: “this is your dream. We can kill you as many times as we like.”
Since then I have developed the ability to wake myself up if the dream is so awful that I can’t bear it. But since I never had anything but nightmares for years and years, with the odd exception, shit has to get pretty rough before I can pull the ripcord and sit up in bed, panting. Oddly for a person my age, I have done Freudian analysis, 3x a week on the couch just like a New Yorker cartoon, for a whole year. The goal was that I stop having nightmares. The therapy was very successful. For a time I had no nightmares at all. Even now they are scattered and few compared to my earlier life. My sister’s experience is the same, and our evening kiss good-night was always followed my the ultimate benediction: “don’t dream!”
This excellent article from Mother Jones’ Beth Schwartzapfel details how a guilty rapist tried repeatedly to confess to a crime of which another man had been convicted, only to succeed after the innocent man had died. The ensuing exoneration was so complete that then-Governor Rick Perry had to issue a pardon to the dead man, not something Texas governors are generally inclined to do. Rick Perry’s faith in Texas’ system, however, remains serenely unshaken.
A string of devastating stories has put Texas justice, in particular, under a cloud. In addition to Cole’s postmortem exoneration and the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, chronicled in The New Yorker in 2009, there is also the case of Anthony Graves, who served 18 years for a gruesome murder while the true killer confessed again and again. Graves was finally freed in 2010 following a Texas Monthly exposé.
Cole, Willingham, and Graves were all convicted under prior Texas governors. But Perry has done little to improve the state’s criminal-justice system, which has almost a million people in its grip. In 2001, he vetoed a bill banning the execution of the mentally disabled. In 2003, he cut the prison system’s budget by $230 million, slashing education programs, drug treatment, and food; when an independent auditor warned that was untenable, Perry cut the auditor’s office too. In 2007, his administration backed a bill making some child sex offenders eligible for the death penalty. While Perry has signed legislative reforms covering eyewitness identification and access to DNA testing, the system still offers scant options for the many people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.
Radley Balko’s blog The Agitator remains an indispensable source of information on cases like these, as well as the uncountable cases in which the War on [Some People Who Use Some Kinds] of Drugs* has metastasized into a cancer that gets untrained local law enforcement rolling out in surplus military gear to perform ill-advised and pointless SWAT-style raids. (With tanks. No, really.) And shoot everybody’s dog when they get there. And maybe their grandmother. Seriously, don’t read the blog if you don’t want to hear about the cops shooting someone’s dog every goddamn day. His recent coverage of the OWS movement has been…how shall I say this…not all I would have hoped from a lover of liberty, but no one’s obliged to agree with me all the time, and it’s not as though it’s rendered the blog unreadable or something.
I can’t believe the Obama administration caved on this.
For the first time ever, the Health and Human Services secretary publicly overruled the Food and Drug Administration, refusing Wednesday to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counter, including to young teenagers. The decision avoided what could have been a bruising political battle over parental control and contraception during a presidential election season.
Thanks a lot, Kathleen Sebelius. God knows we wouldn’t want one of the groups least likely to use contraceptives properly to be able to easily get their hands on some Plan B. Up next: banning over-the-counter sales of paracetemol. Ha.
Belated Update: Reading below I do see that excerpt is misleading if you haven’t read the whole article; they didn’t take Plan B away from existing over-the-counter-sales, they just refused to extend it to full OTC status which would extend to those 17 and younger.
You’ve probably all already seen this Ryan Gosling Biostatistics tumblr, but just in case…I’m here for you. Totally not suggested by Cosma, at all. He didn’t even ever hear about it till now, because he is a serious researcher, and busy reading, and stuff.
My desire to see a Classics-themed Zachary Quinto tumblr is insufficient to overcome the inertia that would be needed to carry it out. So just go to google image search and then imagine a lot of excessively precise directions for wagon-building, a la Hesiod, interspersed with Pindar-like confusion as to whether gold, fire, fame, or perhaps even something else, is the best.
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.
The only reason Catholics like Joe Paterno and Darío Castrillón Hoyos are able to commit such uniquely awful crimes is because they are ethical in a way that run-of-the-mill godless folk cannot understand. Plus, I hereby stipulate that raping children is, admittedly, bad, mumble.
Even shorter: I don’t doubt that people whom I have just admitted committed evil acts are, in fact good, because [makes mysterious, several-part gesture with hand and wrists which magically resolves obvious contradictions.]
This conversation actually happened at our house just now. In truth, I was first lying in bed with the laptop and then addressing John from a somewhat lascivious position difficult to illustrate with stick figures. No, now you’re imagining something worse. Anyway, I think the xkcd couple should be able to afford a better desk and computer by now. Little thing that pulls out for your keyboard? What is it, 1996?
“I thought of the title! And I helped with Photoshop!”—John.
This is a good post about why rape victims are likely to lie…about the circumstances of the rape in order to make their rape conform to the narrative they think the cops/prosecutors/jury needs to hear.
Thanks to prevailing rape mythology, many people also have very definite ideas about what happens before, during, and after a “real” rape. Real rape victims want no sexual contact of any kind with their attackers and make this crystal clear right from the start. When attacked, they don’t just say “No;” they scream, fight, yell for help, and/or try to escape. Ideally, the victim will duke it out with her attacker to such an extent that she is left with obvious physical injuries. After the rape, she will be visibly distraught and in tears, but this will not prevent her from reporting the attack right away. In the days and weeks following the assault, she will spend a lot of time in the shower and be too traumatized to appear to function normally.
Some rapes do indeed happen like that; most don’t. And the more a rape departs from this script, the harder it is for the victim to be believed and taken seriously. She didn’t fight or try to escape? She must’ve wanted it. She wasn’t crying or visibly upset right after the rape? She’s probably lying about being attacked. She was seen laughing and seemingly having a good time just days after being raped? It couldn’t have been that bad.
Rape victims know this. Realizing that many people won’t understand why you acted in a way that doesn’t fit their preconceived notions of “how rape victims act,” or worse, knowing that many people will automatically disbelieve you because of your background or even blame you for being attacked brings some rape victims to the conclusion that there’s only one way they’re going to see their rapist punished: lie.
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Katie Roiphe recently wrote an article on the new book “Go the F#$k to Sleep.” She makes rather sweeping claims about miserable, sexless yuppies who have mollycoddled their children so extravangantly that the parents can no longer even steal enough time to watch a single episode of Mad Men together. During which they could take notes on parenting tips, one imagines!
Are our enlightened, engaged, sensitive parenting practices driving a certain segment of the population insane? Is the nice, liberal father who has just this Saturday carted his kids to soccer practice, play dates, piano lessons, made sunflower-butter sandwiches, and read Goodnight Moon three times seething with quiet desperation? The surprise ascendance of Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés’ Go the F**k to Sleep on all sorts of best-seller lists eloquently answers that question….One wonders if this hostility [evident in the book] toward the child, who is naturally and rightfully manipulative, is just a tiny bit misplaced….The book, in all its cleverness and artfulness and ingenuity, raises certain other questions: Are they having sex, these slouchy rageful parents? Not enough, perhaps. When the father turns back to the waking child’s bedroom, we look out at the comfy, sexless, vaguely depressive scene of his wife sprawled asleep on the couch under an ugly old blanket. No wonder the slouchy dad is full of rage.
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Recently Pajamas Media’s own Anthony Klavan got some attention in the blogosphere with his
moronic provocative contention that men’s bad behavior, ranging from tweeting pictures of their tighty-whities to serial forcible rape, is all the fault of…women!
I blame women. No, really. Women — by which I mean each and every single member of the female gender — you know who you are — need look no further than themselves to explain why Weiner-types behave toward them in this fashion. We men are always hearing complaints from women about how badly we treat them, what pigs we are, how pushy and abrasive… on and on. But what these same women conveniently fail to mention is that this stuff really works on them!….
So, then, ladies — what do you expect? All we guys want is for you to love us. If this is the sort of guy you follow after in droves, this is the sort of guy we’re encouraged to be.
Now, it’s very likely that I’ll be assassinated by a crack team of female ninjas before I can hit “post” (they are all hot 22-year old Japanese women who may also subject me to intensive questioning, should anyone in the Valley be at a loss for movie ideas.) But I am about to reveal a huge secret here: OPPEC. That is, Other People’s Pussy Economic Consortium. Note that the “People” who own the pussy in this case are the women themselves, contrary to traditional usage. But think about it: women, taken as a whole, have control of all the pussy in the world. That is some valuable assets right there. What could be more natural than the formation of a cartel?
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In my original post I, ignoring all of common sense and the experience of the entire internet, imagined that people would click through and read the linked Kevin Drum piece, and then perhaps click on the link there as well. I really don’t know what came over me; I must be out of practice or something. As was mentioned in comments to the previous post, Kevin Drum was responding to a NYT article in which it was suggested that hotel housekeepers receive unwanted sexual approaches fairly often in big hotels. It seems to be necessary to be very clear on this; I am merely suggesting that Kevin Drum’s indignant suggestion (that hotels refuse service to guests who repeatedly flash the staff) is indeed a reasonable one. Even threatening to do so would probably bring lots of men around, since it might be a little hard to explain to the boss why you suddenly can’t stay at the Mandarin anymore. From the NYT:
On top of that [their grueling, physically demanding jobs], they [housekeeping staff] have to be sexually accosted by guests? Sadly, yes. And more often than you’d think. It’s not an everyday occurrence but it happens enough to make this question all too familiar: “Mr. Tomsky, can you give the new girl Room 3501 until next Tuesday? That man is back, the one who loves to let his robe fall open every time I try to clean.” So, yes, we assign the room to the new girl.
Now I hate to say this, but I’m pretty sure this is the end of most actual stories along this lines, i.e., give it to the new girl. Per the NYT, though, it’s more like some awesome SWAT thing:
But not before hotel managers roll up to the room, flanked by security guards, to request that the guest vacate during cleaning, or at least promise to remain fully clothed or risk expulsion. Often it need not be discussed in detail: those guests who can’t seem to tie their robe properly usually know exactly what they’re guilty of. Typically, an unsolicited phone call from management inquiring if the service in their room is up-to-standard, and offering to send a manager to supervise the next cleaning, improves their behavior. I remember one exhibitionist guest, in New Orleans, cutting me off before I could get down to business:
“Sir, this is Jacob, the housekeeping manager — ”
“O.K., fine, O.K.!” And he hung up. That was that.
Being flashed is very different from being violently assaulted, but they are on a continuum of unwanted sexual encounters. Also, it’s difficult to believe that a man who gets to that point hasn’t gotten away with quite a lot of other skeezy things in the past, such as exposing himself. Perhaps if M. Strauss-Kahn had had repeated, embarrassing conversations with the male hotel staff in which banning him from further stays was mentioned it would have been salutary.
It also occurs to me if a women left her hotel room door unbolted and someone came in and raped her, the number of times (hint: infinity) she would be told that she should always keep the door locked, and call downstairs to check with the front desk when a male staffer came to the door even in uniform, etc. etc., might make her decide to just not bother reporting the crime.
I thought it was interesting that despite the subject matter, the Times was unable to find a woman to write about the topic, perhaps one who had worked as a housekeeper? Just a thought. I understand that “Jacob Tomsky is writing a memoir about his experiences in the hotel business,” but that hardly seems the most salient concern, unless someone’s agent knows someone. And you may object that most of these workers are recent immigrants, but I see Maureen Dowd’s name out of the corner of my eye oftener than I would like, so it’s not as if having a woman with limited English-language skills on the Op-Ed page is somehow a problem.
Kevin Drum recently posted in a sort of muddle-headed, if well meaning, way. His post is entitled, “Why Do Hotels Tolerate Sexual Predators?” His readers were there to point out that if you kicked all the rich flashers out of your hotel you’d lose a lot of money. I might additionally suggest that the victims (in these cases, the housekeepers), are mostly immigrants working in a low-status job, and their right to be free from unwanted exhibitionism looms small in the mental world of a hotel manager.
When I say the post is muddle-headed, I only mean that it is surprising that Drum is surprised. Many (most, actually) of the women I know have been flashed, usually as younger girls. It’s not as though it’s some astonishing thing that never happens; it’s just going on all the time, but not happening to Kevin Drum. But in swoops Megan McArdle and I thought, how is she going to defend rich assholes who flash hotel housekeepers? I mean, really. Especially considering that Megan grew up in New York City in the 70s and 80s, which means I am morally certain some dude has flashed her, or masturbated next to her on the subway, or done something equally unwelcome. How not? (I have experienced all these things, and more! Ask me about the time the cops told me the man hassling me was a convicted sex offender who had forcibly raped at least 6 women, and I was “an idiot” because I returned idle pleasantries, in a deflecting way, on the BART. It was apparently my duty to remain silent at all times.) But then, she doesn’t mention it, so perhaps she was weirdly lucky in this regard. Really weirdly lucky.
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Some feel we should take a more active approach to managing comments. I think we do pretty well on the whole (although the Lord love you, you are a grumpy lot). Question of the day: is the unremitting, permanent badness of Matthew Yglesias’ comments the result of intentional sabotage, or can it be chalked up to his policy of utterly ignoring them at all times? I favor the former explanation, because he’s influential enough that I can imagine some testy Republican or two taking it on as a volunteer project to wreck it up constantly. There was never a time when they were good, either, even in the early days. He was assigned what I consider to be, in John Emerson’s formulation, an Al-bot; a rotating crew of people commenting as “Al” day and night there and at Kevin Drum’s and Ezra Klein’s with the result that every single thread was derailed. Final note: why has Digby never been promoted to the big leagues, despite her obvious rightness and acerbic wit? Sexism, or a lust for mindless contrarianism that she will never satisfy?
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