Open Thread & Link Farm, Baleful Stare Edition

  1. A gallery of detailed close-up photos by Igor Siwanowicz, mostly insects but also some other critters. Super neat stuff.
  2. Oscar Grant: A Victim of American Fear
  3. Amanda Hess on sexism and the lack of female corespondents on The Daily Show. The best thing I’ve read about this issue (even though I don’t agree with all of it).
  4. Skinny dreams meets skinny reality: Becoming thin doesn’t make fat people happier, just thinner.
  5. The gender gap in math is driven by social factors, not biological differences.
  6. GOP candidate for governor Tom Emmer believes that some waiters get paid over $100,000 a year; a local columnist goes to apply for one of those $100,000 waiter positions.
  7. Exercise ‘won’t cure child obesity’
  8. Legal blog Balkinization has an excellent, excellent discussion/debate about the recent DOMA decision in Massachusetts: First Jack Balkin, then Andrew Koppelman, then Balkin again, and Koppelman again.
  9. Tea Partiers support overturn of DOMA Hooray for a refreshing lack of hypocrisy! Alas, I’m convinced that the part of the decision they agree with is the least likely to survive appeal.
  10. Being a parent reduces happiness everywhere, but the effect is weaker in welfare states
  11. Brad Plumer, Things Break and Jim Manzi — a conservative who I have to respect somewhat because of this post on National Review — debate climate change and what should be done about it. Manzi begins, then Plumer, then Manzi again, then Things Break, and finally Plumer again.
  12. A new University of British Columbia psychological study used a new acronym to help explain why results from behavioral studies on people in Western nations don’t usually represent the rest of the world. It’s because we’re WEIRD (“Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic.”)”
  13. Why we shouldn’t worry about the lack of Protestants on the Supreme Court.
  14. Immigration and the US Economy, in graphs.
  15. On Disability and the Public Service Announcement » Sociological Images
  16. Amanda dubunks stupid Trig Palin conspiracy theories
  17. Could Joe Arpaio’s dad be a legal immigrant today?
  18. Study shows that fat people who lose significant weight have higher mortality rates than fat people who don’t. “In all, 1602 deaths were identified. After adjusting for age, race, smoking, health status, and preexisting illness, overweight men with weight loss of 15% or more, overweight women with weight loss of 5–<15%, and women in all BMI categories with weight loss of 15% or more were at increased risk of death from all causes compared with those in the same BMI category who lost <5%; hazard ratios ranged from 1.46 to 2.70. Weight loss of 5–<15% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases among obese men.”
  19. Yes, the stimulus worked. It was, however, too small.
  20. Black Power’s Gonna Get You Sucka: Right-Wing Paranoia and the Rhetoric of Modern Racism
  21. I Don’t Care What You Think – Seriously: Rejecting the Notion of Objective Beauty. “The radical part about Lesley’s assertion, however, is not that she doesn’t care if other people find her beautiful, it’s that she herself doesn’t – and doesn’t consider this to be negative.”
  22. …if porn’s so great, how come after more than 40 years of (relatively) legal status, there’s still not much that’s worth defending on anything more than principle?”
  23. I really want to see the Israeli film A Matter of Size, about fat people who take up sumo wrestling.
  24. How to Tell if Someone Wants to F**k You
  25. Lots of issues about Amy’s hitting on — or sexually assaulting? — Doctor Who.
  26. Musicians whose music was used as torture at Gitmo, going to Gitmo to play a concert.
  27. Who’s your favorite fictional feminist?
  28. Matthew Yglesias » People Want to Tax The Rich

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35 Responses to Open Thread & Link Farm, Baleful Stare Edition

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    I’m on the phone talking to someone via a wireless headset and the conversation ends. I hit the ESC key and click on “Close” in an open window and wonder why the phone doesn’t hang up.

    Boy, do I need a vacation or what?

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    @ 14:

    A graph is included showing that expenditures on the U.S. border patrol has gone up. Another graph is included showing that illegal entry into the U.S. has increased. The conclusion:

    So the policing hasn’t deterred a rise in disallowed border crossings,

    A half-truth, though. It hasn’t stopped them from rising, but it may well (and very likely) has stopped them from rising as much as they would have if expenditures hadn’t increased. I’d also guess that the graph of expenditures isn’t adjusted for inflation.

    You have to wonder just what kind of assumptions the GDP projections are based on. And I at least can only wonder, as the link to the actual report hangs when I try to access it.

    @16 – there’s one Amanda missed. People are making a fuss about the fact that Sarah would have had to have flown on an airplane while in labor, and they find that remarkable/doubtful. But in Alaska getting on a plane to go somewhere is like you and me getting into our cars to drive somewhere. There are plenty of places in Alaska where roads are either bad or non-existent and getting onto a bush plane and flying somewhere on a short hop is the most practical way to get from point A to point B.

  3. 3
    Doug S. says:

    Funny, I read about the WEIRD psychological samples thing back in September 2009.

  4. 4
    Doug S. says:

    The abstract of that BMI study:

    The aim of this longitudinal study is to examine the relationship between weight loss from maximum body weight, body mass index (BMI), and mortality in a nationally representative sample of men and women.

    Longitudinal cohort study.

    In all, 6117 whites, blacks, and Mexican-Americans 50 years and over at baseline who survived at least 3 years of follow-up, from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality Files (1988–1994 with passive mortality follow-up through 2000), were included.

    Measured body weight and self-reported maximum body weight obtained at baseline. Weight loss (maximum body weight minus baseline weight) was categorized as <5%, 5–<15%, and greater than or equal to15%. Maximum BMI (reported maximum weight (kg)/measured baseline height (m)2) was categorized as healthy weight (18.5–24.9), overweight (25.0–29.9), and obese (greater than or equal to30.0).

    In all, 1602 deaths were identified. After adjusting for age, race, smoking, health status, and preexisting illness, overweight men with weight loss of 15% or more, overweight women with weight loss of 5–<15%, and women in all BMI categories with weight loss of 15% or more were at increased risk of death from all causes compared with those in the same BMI category who lost <5%; hazard ratios ranged from 1.46 to 2.70. Weight loss of 5–<15% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases among obese men.

    Weight loss of 15% or more from maximum body weight is associated with increased risk of death from all causes among overweight men and among women regardless of maximum BMI.

    The full text isn’t available, so this is all I have to go by.

    It seems like what they did was interview people at age 50 and ask people if they had ever been heavier, and then compare those who had been heavier in the past with another group of people who had not lost weight. And I can’t figure out if they’re comparing people who were 200 lbs and are now 160 with people who are currently at 160 (and were never heavier) or people who are currently at 200 lbs.

    So I don’t know if this study is claiming that losing weight is bad, or that having been fat is bad. Also, “death from all causes” also casts some doubt on the results, because plenty of deaths are caused by things that should have absolutely nothing to do with being fat.

    And remember: 1 in 20 studies will produce a statistically significant result by chance, and most published research findings are false.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    French lawmakers approve full veil ban

    Can’t say I approve. Freedom of religion and all that. Even if the people wearing the veils (or their fathers/husbands/sons/etc.) don’t believe in the principle themselves. A law forbidding anyone to force someone to wear a veil (or anything else) would be fine by me, but this is a step too far for my taste. Any one know enough about the French legal system to comment on what happens next?

  6. 6
    Radfem says:

    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is on trial in federal court in the IE.

    Then again, Virginia Phillips…

  7. 7
    Simple Truth says:

    Has anyone read a story called “No Telephone to Heaven” by Michelle Cliff? I tried searching the archives to see if anyone had mentioned it here, but I didn’t come up with anything. It’s a story about a PoC trans woman who then passes as a white woman in order to be a nurse. I just heard about it and wondered if it was a good story to read.

  8. 8
    Katherine says:

    RonF, there is already a law against forcing someone to wear a veil as I understand it (with a vastly higher fine too), but it hasn’t been getting the same publicity.

  9. 9
    RonF says:

    Given the opinions I’ve seen on here regarding the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the BMI measurement, I’d be curious as to what you all think of this:

    Obesity Rating for Every American Must Be Included in Stimulus-Mandated Electronic Health Records, Says HHS

    New federal regulations issued this week stipulate that the electronic health records–that all Americans are supposed to have by 2014 under the terms of the stimulus law that President Barack Obama signed last year–must record not only the traditional measures of height and weight, but also the Body Mass Index: a measure of obesity.

    The obesity-rating regulation states that every American’s electronic health record must: â��Calculate body mass index. Automatically calculate and display body mass index (BMI) based on a patientâ��s height and weight.â��

    The law also requires that these electronic health records be available–with appropriate security measures–on a national exchange.

    There’s lots more at the link.

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    So, is Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, who claims to control the expenditure of a billion dollars of our tax dollars, racist?

    Sounds like it to me. But perhaps you disagree. Video at the link of her talking to the NAACP.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    From a Washington Post columnist:

    A video clip posted online Monday shows Sherrod delivering a speech at a March NAACP banquet, where she talks about her failure to help a white farmer who was in danger of losing his farm. Her suggestion: If he’d been black, she would have moved heaven and earth to help him. “There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA, and I strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in accepting Sherrod’s resignation. The NAACP, which last week accused the Tea Party of racism, rushed out a searing condemnation of Sherrod: “We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers,” said NAACP president Benjamin Jealous.

    But I’m not so sure that this apparently quick and sharp rush to judgment was fair. The incident Sherrod recounts occurred more than 20 years ago, before she was employed by the federal government and while she worked for a Georgia organization that assisted farmers. One of the online snippets shows her all but saying she was wrong and explaining that the episode helped her to understand that race should not have played a role in the matter. Sherrod has since told CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she worked for some two years to help the white man save his farm and that she and the man’s family ultimately became friends. The white farmer is deceased, but his wife has apparently confirmed Sherrod’s version of events.

    So no, it doesn’t sound to me like she’s a racist, if the above info is correct. It sounds like she did a racist thing 20 years ago, realized her error, reformed, and did everything she could to make things right.

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    The NAACP’s newly released statement of Shirley Sherrod:

    The NAACP has a zero tolerance policy against racial discrimination, whether practiced by blacks, whites, or any other group.

    The NAACP also has long championed and embraced transformation by people who have moved beyond racial bias. Most notably, we have done so for late Alabama Governor George Wallace and late US Senator Robert Byrd — each a man who had associated with and supported white supremacists and their cause before embracing civil rights for all.

    With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias.

    Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.

    The fact is Ms. Sherrod did help the white farmers mentioned in her speech. They personally credit her with helping to save their family farm.

    Moreover, this incident and the lesson it prompted occurred more that 20 years before she went to work for USDA.

    Finally, she was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption. In the full video, Ms.Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about “haves and have nots.” “It’s not just about black people, it’s about poor people,” says Sherrod in the speech. “We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn’t matter.”

    Ron, does this new information change your view of Ms. Sherrod?

  13. 13
    Elusis says:

    The current controversy began Monday when posted a two-minute, 38-second video clip in which Sherrod describes the first time a white farmer came to her for help. It was 1986, and she worked for a nonprofit rural farm aid group. She said the farmer came in acting “superior” to her and that she debated how much help to give him.

    “I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with helping a white person save their land,” Sherrod said.

    Initially, she said, “I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do” and only gave him enough help to keep his case progressing. Eventually, she said, his situation “opened my eyes” that whites were struggling just like blacks, and helping farmers wasn’t so much about race but was “about the poor versus those who have.”

    Sherrod said Tuesday the incomplete video appears to intentionally twist her message. She says she became close friends with the farmer and helped him for two years.

    “She’s always been nice and polite and considerate. She was just a good person,” Eloise Spooner said. “She did everything she could trying to help.”

    Read more:

    Sounds like she had a learning experience about how race and class can both be dimensions of oppression, and in the meantime worked on behalf of the poor white farmer(s) who have nothing but good things to say about her. Exactly the kind of intersectionality experience more people should have, but many aren’t open to.

  14. 14
    Charles S says:

    It might have been a clue that the heavily edited video you were watching was assembled by Andrew Breitbart, author of the anti-ACORN fraud and smear campaign last year, which relied upon heavily and misleadingly edited video.

  15. 15
    Robert says:

    Weird that the smartest administration ever bolted so fast. From reading about the case, it seems clear Ms. Sherrod had a learning experience with these folks and was talking openly and honestly about race and her growth in that area; the very thing the president asked us all to do.

  16. 16
    RonF says:

    Amp – yes, it does. It’s fair to say that she was describing a racist act that she did some time ago. Even in that video she described coming around to the viewpoint that the commonality of being poor was more important than race, for which I commend her. And it’s clear from what you’re saying that the video was deceitfully edited.

    And it wasn’t just deceitful editing. The video starts out by saying that in the speech “Ms. Sherrod admits that in her federally appointed position, overseeing over a billion dollars, she discriminates against people due to their race.” Given that Ms. Sherrod was in fact describing an incident from over 20 years ago, obviously well before she entered this position, it seems to me that this statement is an outright lie. I wonder if there’s any legal recourse for her?

    One last thing bothers me, though. In describing that act that occurred so long ago she described referring that farmer to a lawyer by saying “so I figured that if I take him to one of them [a white lawyer], his own kind would take care of him.”

    Now, every time I’ve heard someone using language like “them” and “his own kind” it was a racist talking. That was versimilitude that made it easy for me to believe the charge of racism.

    I’ve not ever spent any time on Breitbart’s blog. Doesn’t look like I ever need to start.

  17. 17
    RonF says:

    As I wrote the above the news was on. This story made a 60 second long section on Chicago’s NBC 10:00 PM news.

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, Nate Silver suggests that a bunker mentality may have set in:

    It was one thing for the White House to encourage Sherrod’s resignation based on such flimsy evidence, thereby enabling Brietbart and other media-savvy activists who are engaged in trench warfare against it. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to refuse to re-hire her. One overarching critique of some of the less successful Presidencies of the recent past is that they suffer from a bunker mentality: they were either too stubborn, or too detached from reality, to acknowledge mistakes and correct errant courses of action. Although the mistakes over Sherrod may not be of the same magnitude as, for instance, the mistakes made in the Vietnam Era, it nevertheless seems that the only reason not to re-hire is that it would involve admitting you’d screwed up in the first place.

  19. 19
    Robert says:

    Bunker mentality would be the explanation if they used to make great decisions but have now started making bad ones. I’m not aware of this golden era when the O team was dazzling us with their brilliance.

    I’m going with “they just aren’t very good at this”.

  20. 20
    Ampersand says:

    Well, anyone would look wonderful following George W. Bush, who just may be the worst president of all time, and certainly the worst of our lifetimes.

    I don’t think the Obama team has been brilliant, except in comparison to W., but they’ve been pretty good. They’ve passed significant legislation that moves in the right direction (albeit not far enough) in stimulus, financial reform, arms reduction, and health care.

    The big problem with the Obama administration hasn’t been technical incompetence at governing. I’d fault them instead for their centrist ideology, and for their unwillingness to make waves.

  21. 21
    RonF says:

    Well, anyone would look wonderful following George W. Bush,

    From where I sit President Obama is rapidly disproving that. But then I don’t expect you to agree.

    I’d like to see the Administration give a good reason why they won’t rehire Sherrod. But no matter who is in power, there’s is always a reluctance to say “We made a mistake”.

    Something new; the Massachusetts legislature has passed a law that assigns the State’s Electoral College votes to whichever Presidential candidate gets the most popular votes regardless of who the State’s own voters vote for. It seems to me that this at least somewhat disenfranchises it’s own citizens in Presidential elections. That seems rather odd. The law does not go into effect until enough other states pass a similar law such that 270 Electoral Votes would be so determined.

    That’ll end up in the Supreme Court. There are those who will argue that it is essentially an attempt to amend the Constitution without going through the bother of actually amending it. But I wonder if it will run afoul of U.S. Constitution, Section 10, Paragraph 3:

    No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

    My emphasis.

    How is the new law not a violation of this section of the Constitution? It seems to me that they are entering into a compact with the other states that pass such a law. Has any other such law been passed by a group of states?

  22. 22
    Dianne says:

    Well, anyone would look wonderful following George W. Bush, who just may be the worst president of all time, and certainly the worst of our lifetimes.

    Eh, maybe your lifetime, youngster, but I was alive during the Reagan era. You remember Reagan from your history books, right? Iran/Contra. Supporter of Pol Pot. Did his best to start a nuclear war but couldn’t quite ever do it (possibly thanks to alzheimers in the second term.) I’d argue that Reagan should get at least a mention for “worst president”. About all he had going for him is good publicity and an adoring, if crazy, fan base.

  23. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Dianne, don’t forget that when he saw what his tax cuts did to the budget, Reagan negotiated a couple of big tax increases with the Democrats in Congress. And although he continued and expanded our dreadful central American policies, I don’t think he did anything quite as awful as invading Iraq. Nor did he make torture into something mainstream Americans openly supported.

    I agree Reagan was awful, but on the whole I’d say Bush was worse. (And for the record, Reagan was during my lifetime! :p )

  24. 24
    Dianne says:

    Nor did he make torture into something mainstream Americans openly supported

    Given that his concentration camp (aka “mass detention camp”) idea never materialized, I guess I have to see your point. But Bush had the advantage of clear mentation during his second term. Reagan was almost certainly demented by his second term so it’s not entirely a fair comparison.

    Also, is it really fair to blame Bush for the US accepting torture? There’s a long history in the US of torturing undesirables (see lynching, for example.) I’d say it’s more a matter of the US accepting Bush because the US citizens were basically ready to accept a torturer as president than Bush imposing or convincing US-Americans into accepting torture.

    Then again, I’m in a kind of cynical mood tonight.

  25. 25
    RonF says:

    Yeah, there’s a lot of people on Free Republic who see Ronald Reagan as the modern high point of the American Presidency. There were good things that he did, but there were some very bad things that were done on his watch as well. They tend to gloss over that, or try to justify them. I’m not one of the folks signing the petition to get his face put on the $10 bill.

  26. 26
    Dianne says:

    I’m not one of the folks signing the petition to get his face put on the $10 bill.

    OTOH, if they’d make it the $20 I’d sign myself just to get the picture of Jackson the genocidal maniac off our currency.

  27. 27
    Silenced is Foo says:

    Every single person who made a professional call based on Breitbart’s abbreviated video – news reporter, supervisor, etc. rather than digging further and finding out the truth deserves to lose their jobs.

    They won’t – but they deserve it.


    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the state assembly free to handle their electoral college votes however they see fit, and the presidential election is just an agreement to run a popular vote on the subject on the same day?

    Either way, Mass. has a vested interest in a popular-vote election – much like Texas, New York, and every other “non-swing” state. It forces the Presidential candidates to run a 50-state campaign instead of focusing on the swing states.

  28. 28
    Mandolin says:

    I remember being really upset as a very young child (maybe four years old?) that my parents thought Reagan was an idiot. It somehow shocked me that you could criticize a president. I don’t know where I’d gotten the president-as-hero idea, but in retrospect it’s very creepy.

  29. 29
    formerlyLarry says:


    There were good things that he did, but there were some very bad things that were done on his watch as well.

    Could you name a couple Presidents for which this isn’t true?

  30. 30
    RonF says:

    formerlyLarry, my point is that Ronald Reagan is neither the demi-god the right would have him nor the daemon the left would have him.

  31. 31
    RonF says:

    SiF – true. A State legislature can set the rules for apportionment of the State’s electoral votes as they think appropriate. But I have two concerns with that:

    1) I cannot imagine that it was meant that the State should apportion it’s Electoral College votes on any basis other than how the citizens of that State, and that State only, voted. The concept that a State should apportion it’s Electoral College vote on how people in OTHER states voted is a novel concept and at least challengable. It’s an attempt to circumvent Federalism as establish in the Constitution.
    2) It seems to me that the portion of that law that says “we’ll do this if other states do that” is an agreement among the States that Congress has not approved. So I wonder: have there been any other such laws passed in U.S. history, if so have they been challenged, and if so what was the disposition?

  32. 32
    Ted K says:

    I honestly have no idea what kind of jurisprudence there is around that constitutional clause, but there are already some laws that look like treaties between states; for example, reciprocity agreements between states for certain types of gun licenses. Their existence suggests to me that the constitutional clause you quoted is narrowly interpreted, if its enforced at all, but its possible there’s another explanation.

  33. 33
    Jake Squid says:

    It seems to me that Reagan is the starting point for the “get rid of regulation” ideology that led the the S&L crisis that led to the 1989 recession, the real estate bubble & crash, the bank crash and present recession. And those are just the economic horrors.

    I mean, sure, if you’re in favor of that he was a great president. He had goals you like, he achieved them. If you’re against his goals, he is a terrible (but not ineffective or incompetent) president.

    So, really, he is both a god & a demon. It all depends where your politics are. I think, though, that it cannot be disputed that he was competent and effective as a president.

  34. 34
    nobody.really says:

    There were good things that he did, but there were some very bad things that were done on his watch as well.

    Could you name a couple Presidents for which this isn’t true?

    William Henry Harrison?

  35. 35
    Radfem says:

    Norma Lopez,17, kidnapped and found dead in Moreno Valley.

    Police are asking anyone with information about the case to call a 24-hour hotline at 877-242-4345 or homicide detectives at 951-955-2777. Tips can be e-mailed to tips at FindNormasKiller