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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Attributing single events to background conditions

by Chris Bertram on May 25, 2011

There’s “a nice piece”: by Bill McKibben in the Washington Post about the rationality of people who repeat the mantra that single extreme weather events can’t be tied to climate change:

bq. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing. It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.

Well read the whole thing, as they say. (See also “the stunning pictures from Joplin at The Big Picture”: . )

Sunnyside III – Fueled By Randomness

by John Holbo on May 25, 2011

I had a simply heart-breaking experience, reading Sunnyside. (Strictly, I listened to it on Audiobook. So the following page numbers, courtesy of Amazon search-inside, do not correspond to my original ‘reading’ experience.)

Leland “Lee Duncan” Wheeler is about to audition.

The house lights went up momentarily, for the judges to introduce themselves. Each in turn stood up, announced his or her associations, then sat. Mrs. Franklin Geary, head of the Liberty Loan Committee, Christopher Sims of the Institute for Speech Benevolence … (246)

Then, on p. 256.

“We didn’t understand half of what he was doing. Mr. Sims, did you understand what he was doing?”

“I liked the kick to the face.”

Mrs. Geary frowned. “I thought he was swimming.”

You get it? Sims? Of the ISB? And the kick to the face seals the deal. I was so proud I spotted it. I emailed Sims to report my discovery of this wonderful Easter Egg and … he’d … already noticed it … himself. Way to let the air out of my little Easter Egg.

But now you know. That’s something they can put on my tombstone, I guess. [click to continue…]