Open Thread and Link Farm, Trapped Inside This Rotting Building Edition

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside Nyarlathotep’s Death Cult – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Thanks to Grace for the link!

Demanding an End to ‘Modern Day Slavery,’ Prisoners Launch Multi-Day Nationwide Strike | Portside
Includes a list of the prisoners’ demands.

Julia Serano: Everything You Need to Know About Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: Do 20% of Men “Get” 80% Of All Heterosexual Sex?
Spoiler: No.

Bank of America freezes account after asking proof of residency | The Sacramento Bee

Social science replication crisis: studies in top journals keep failing to replicate – Vox
There’s some interesting discussion here of what this could mean for researchers going forward.

‘Alley Oop’ Comic Strip May Be Going The Way Of The Dinosaurs | Deadline
My first reaction was, “Alley Oop is still running?” Turns out the strip has been running over 80 years, but is now in reruns. It has about 600 papers, however, so I bet the syndicate will find someone to keep it going. Cartoonists with Ally Oop ideas, now may be the time to send in your pitches!

The Great Chinese Art Heist | GQ
This could be the basis of an awesome heist movie. Or a reverse “Indiana Jones.”

Opinion | YouTube, the Great Radicalizer – The New York Times
YouTube’s algorithms are biased to showing us more and more extreme videos, apparently because that keeps the most people watching longest, bringing in more ad dollars. Interestingly, this is literally the opposite of the expected outcome of the “an open marketplace of free speech will lead to the truth succeeding” arguments. Alternate link.

Is sex work still the most dangerous profession? The data suggests so

The Country’s First Climate Change Casualties? – Pacific Standard
“Scientists predict Tangier Island could be uninhabitable within 25 years. This is the story of the people willing to go down with it—and why they’ve risked it all on Donald Trump to keep them afloat.” The population of Tangier Island is less than 1,000; would it make more sense to give up on saving the island and instead offer the residents who are willing to relocate generous grants?

Mel Gibson set the pattern for a #MeToo comeback. Others will follow it. – Vox
Unfortunately, this isn’t the way I’d like to see things go; Gibson mainly got to come back by staying below the radar for a while and refusing to talk about it, while his friends sometimes told the media that he’d gotten a bum rap. My preference would be for celebs in need of rehabilitation to undergo a restorative justice process with their victims, if the victims are willing.

‘Virtue-signalling’ – the putdown that has passed its sell-by date | David Shariatmadari | Opinion | The Guardian

Victorian Doctors Didn’t Treat Women With Orgasms, Say Historians – The Atlantic

For Older Voters, Getting The Right ID Can Be Especially Tough : NPR

Against Identity Politics | Francis Fukuyama
This is one of the better attacks on identity politics I’ve seen, not least because he doesn’t dismiss the problems identity politics addresses. But I still think he makes his case by leaving a lot out. It’s not obvious that the zero-sum game Fukuyama posits – that if we concentrate on (for example) racism, then the left won’t also concentrate on economic ideas – is actually true. The support for a basic income has recently been shooting up on the left; ditto for medicare-for-all.

The New Science of Seeing Around Corners | Quanta Magazine
Really neat stuff that I don’t fully understand. “…the computer vision scientist Antonio Torralba noticed stray shadows on the wall of his hotel room that didn’t seem to have been cast by anything.”

Why We Should Lower the Voting Age in America – Rolling Stone

Is a glass of wine a day really unsafe? A new alcohol study, explained. – Vox
The answer is “no.” But this fuss is indicative of a larger problem in how food and health is reported. Reading this article made me think of this brilliant Funny or Die sketch.

The Living Wall by Nikita Nomerz | Bored Panda“Russian street artist Nikita Nomerz travels around various cities in his homeland to find abandoned structures and bring them back to life.”

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19 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Trapped Inside This Rotting Building Edition

  1. 1
    Harlequin says:

    I know this is often a hard question to answer, but if you can articulate what you’re not sure you understand about the seeing-around-corners stuff, I might be able to help explain it a different way. (I promise not to repeat my rant about how cool Fresnel lenses are!) And if you’re fine with your current level of knowledge, that’s also fine, of course :)

  2. 2
    Gracchus says:

    I see Fukuyama and Pankraj Mishna are going to “debate” identity politics in London on Oct 14.

    The spectacle of two men opinionating on whether women’s identity should matter in politics doesn’t promise to be an edifying one.

  3. 3
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I haven’t had comments on your link farms for a while, but I always read them and like them.

  4. The University of Nebraska commissioned a study to see if conservatives feel stifled on campus:

  5. 5
    desipis says:


    That article misrepresents what the the actual study was about. It was a study about the campus climate in general, not specifically about conservatives. In fact the study didn’t even ask about the participants’ political position in the survey, so it cannot tell us whether conservative students or staff feel stifled on campus or not.

  6. 6
    nobody.really says:

    Thesis: We all need something to believe in–a creed or tribe. Contrary to the song “Imagine,” a people without religion or nation would become a people rapidly created new bases for affiliation. And some bases for affiliate have worse consequences than others.

    This comes to mind as I read Ross Douthat’s editorial “Conservatism After Christianity,” relaying statistics such as 25 percent of Trump voters who never attend church describe being white as “very important” to their identity; for voters who attend church services more than once a week, it was only 9 percent.

    Interestingly … the different groups make about the same amount of money, which cuts against strict economic-anxiety explanations for Trumpism. But the churchgoers and nonchurchgoers differ more in social capital: The irreligious are less likely to have college degrees, less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced; they’re also less civically engaged, less satisfied with their neighborhoods and communities, and less trusting and optimistic in general.

    This seems to support the argument … that support for populism correlates with a kind of communal breakdown, in which secularization is one variable among many leaving people feeling isolated and angry, and drawing them to the ersatz solidarity of white identity politics.

    Christianity may have shortcomings, but lack of Christianity may have more.

    Policy implication: We need to acknowledge the social value of creeds/tribes (“free exercise of religion”?)–and maybe nudge people toward the least pernicious tribes/creeds. I never really got behind nationalistic rituals, but they look relatively benign to me today.

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    This seems to support the argument … that support for populism correlates with a kind of communal breakdown, in which secularization is one variable among many leaving people feeling isolated and angry, and drawing them to the ersatz solidarity of white identity politics.

    I think there’s more to it than that, nobody.really. Among the ten states with the lowest level of religiosity – Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, only Alaska went for Trump. Among the ten most religious – Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, South Dakota – they all went for Trump. So, in the U.S., lack of religion in the state culture doesn’t seem to correlate with support for far right policies. I suspect if we looked at rural vs. urban the division would become even more stark, with urban atheists being pretty liberal. The nonchurchgoers who support Trump are not the product of secular culture, they are alienated from their religious local cultures.
    There’s no reason to push people back into religions. There’s lots of reasons not to – starting with misogyny and homophobia.
    Invest more heavily in schools, so that all young people have the opportunity to explore their interests – bring back art and music; expand sports programs beyond football, basketball and baseball; encourage clubs for camping, hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities. What’s most important – allow students to participate in at least one or two activities each term for free, as part of their public education. Help young people develop wholesome interests. Keep as many kids as possible – especially teenagers – involved in after school activities supervised by adults.
    Then, when they finish school, have a combination of UBI and minimum wage which allows people with high school educations to comfortably support themselves on one 40 hour per week job, so they have the time and money to continue to engage in their interests and to volunteer for programs for their own children to participate in.

  8. I haven’t yet read the piece on Mel Gibson, but this essay by Rebecca Sonit, “The Fall of Men Has Been Greatly Exaggerated,” is relevant and timely. A quote: “Rebecca Traister wrote early in the flood of #MeToo stories last year “we see that the men who have had the power to abuse women’s bodies and psyches throughout their careers are in many cases also the ones in charge of our political and cultural stories.”

  9. 9
    Erin says:

    I’m apparently not allowed to post in the “Mint Garden” – 3 posts, which were not all that controversial I thought – were instantly deleted, so I will post in the open thread:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman: Would it be possible to post an “executive summary” above your long posts? I’m sure that many people can follow all the twists and turns and digressions, but it is difficult for me to understand exactly what you mean.

    I was getting the same feeling as lurker23 and LimitsOfLanguage in the Mint Garden thread that you are changing your argument each time (and also shaming people as having no respect to shut down argument), but I don’t have the time or patience or inclination to track down quotes for evidence. Even if I were allowed to post there.

    Make it a bit easier on the rest of us!

  10. 10
    Grace Annam says:


    I’m apparently not allowed to post in the “Mint Garden” – 3 posts, which were not all that controversial I thought – were instantly deleted…

    They were not. They were marked as spam by the automated spam filter. Why? No idea. It’s automated, which is the whole point. Being a computer program filtering humans, sometimes it catches things it shouldn’t. But, as I just had to wade through the spam folder to find and free your comments and I thereby got to read a lot of spam, personally I’m glad that it’s there.

    That said, I feel a little as though you came to my house, knocked at the door, and upon receiving no answer, announced to the community that apparently you’re not welcome in my house… which I found out upon returning from a business trip. In other words, all the moderators here have jobs and other obligations, and also volunteer our time here, so if there is a problem with a post, it would be pleasant if you would let us know politely, rather than announcing that we are preemptively not allowing people to post in certain places.


  11. 11
    Petar says:

    The article about the sex workers is very interesting, and the data seems solid.

    The title, on the other hand, is pure attention seeking bullshit, and I do not think that the conclusion is supported even for the UK. It’s even less relevant to the US.

    Yes, being a sex worker is very dangerous, compared to most legal professions. Most, not all.

    From the data in that article, there were 110 homicides of sex workers in the UK from 1990 to 2016, which is 110 murders in 27 years, for an estimated 72,000 to 150,000 sex workers. That is about 4 homicides per 100,000 workers per year (6 deaths from all causes). For comparison, in 2016, the death rate for logging accidents in the US was 135.9 per 100,000 loggers. Next were roofers, divers, fishermen, farmers, miners, and truckers. 632 truckers died while driving, out of 3,500,000 total workers. Less than a tenth, compared to loggers, but still twice as high as the homicide rate for sex-workers in the UK. So basically, four to five million people (mostly men) in the US are more likely to die from work related accidents than UK prostitutes are to die, period. (4/100k homicides, 6/100k all deaths)

    And that’s for legal professions. How dangerous is being a street walker compared to being a drug runner, murderer for hire, or even simply a drug pusher? This is a relevant question, because when sex work is criminalized, sex workers are made more vulnerable, as they have to operate in less policed areas, as it becomes riskier to report crimes suffered while working, as becomes harder to share information about clients and areas, etc.

    By the way, I think that the half-assed criminalization of sex work popular in Europe is nonsense. Sure, it is legal to be a prostitute, but it is illegal to advertise, organize, run a border, solicit on the street, or in some jurisdictions, even to hire a prostitute. This still drives the workers underground, so it still raises their risks.

    For the record, I have no firm opinion on whether sex work should be legal or not, but I think that both “absolutely legal when complying with other laws” and “absolutely illegal” are more defensible positions than the mess of laws in the UK, Bulgaria and Sweden.

  12. 12
    Gracchus says:

    @Petar: Comparing USA to UK is not necessarily that revealing. The overall homicide rate in the USA is much higher than the UK; it would not be at all surprising to find that sex workers in the USA experience an even higher homicide rate than their UK counterparts, one that might be more comparable to the death rate of forestry workers.

    Incidentally, Amp wrote an excellent piece about workplace deaths back in 2007; the statistics may be old, but the analysis is still extremely valid:

  13. 13
    Petar says:

    @Petar: Comparing USA to UK is not necessarily that revealing. The overall homicide rate in the USA is much higher than the UK; it would not be at all surprising to find that sex workers in the USA experience an even higher homicide rate than their UK counterparts, one that might be more comparable to the death rate of forestry workers.

    The problem is that the numbers tossed around for the US sex workers death rates are insanely varied.

    The data for 2016 I have access to shows 41 homicides for an estimated one million sex workers, or a rate very similar to the U.K, namely about 4 per 100,000.

    But the number 204 per 100,000, i.e. 50(!) times higher is all over the Internet. I cannot find where it originates… it is often quoted together with numbers derived from the 2016 data, but it also appears as early as 2013. You can find it on, on, and even, again uncredited, on statista. Combine that number with uncontroversial hard data from the 2016 FBI databases, and it turns out that one out of every eight homicide victims in the US is a sex worker…

    You can believe the 204 per 100,000, if you wish, but to me it smells like spinach.

    If you believe the 4 per 100,000, instead, then it is safer to be a sex worker than to be a truck driver, and one Hell of a lot safer than being a logger or fisherman.

    And if you think the truth is somewhere in between, then sex work is still nowhere close to being the most dangerous profession. You need the 204 per 100,000 number to get them ahead of of the loggers.

  14. 14
    Petar says:

    Heh. I thought I had found the source of the 204 per 100, 000. It was quoted in three places, such as this.

    Supposedly, it was in an article titled Prostitution’s Pernicious Reach Grows in the US. October 23, 1996. by Brad Knickerbocker Staff, writer of The Christian Science Monitor.

    Except that I read it, and could not find any mention of that particular statistic. My impression is that the number was quoted in the 2010 congressional testimony by Ernie Allen, and improperly attributed to the Christian Science Monitor article. Then the factoid took a life of its own.

    If we assume that it is true, and by using the following well sourced government data:

    1) The US murder rate in 1996 was 7.4 per 100,000
    2) The US had about 1,200,000 sex workers in 1996
    3) The US population was 269.4 millions in 1996
    4) About 80% of US sex workers are female
    5) About 22% of US homicide victims are female

    … we would have to believe that almost exactly half of the women murdered in the US in 1996 were sex workers. Which is ridiculous.

    Thus I hereby resolve to sneer at anyone who quotes the 204 per 100,000 homicide rate.

  15. 15
    Mookie says:

    There’s also the not insignificant matter of finding, identifying, and categorizing the dead while determining, where possible, the legal causes of their deaths. When and by what means and at what cost murder victims are correctly identified is not straightforward, nor is there a streamlined, universal process used by recording entities to distinguish, if a distinction is necessary, between a sex worker who is dead and a dead body belonging to a person who has ‘form*’ as a sex worker somewhere in their past. What about Canada’s growing body of disappeared, largely First Nations women? And where do trafficked people fit in?

    There are questions concerning the murderers themselves, which intentionally target sex workers and which incidentally do, and whether they are repeat offenders, and if so, how do they differ from other murderers. Solving these cases appears to be not very common, and investigations don’t reliably result in concomitant charges and convictions but open verdicts. As for solid federal numbers on unsolved cases, that’s a thing devoutly to be wished, as the Murder Accountability Project has ably demonstrated, because they’re not being reported or used as data outside the state (or, in some cases, the city).

    *and does this form stand up to scrutiny? are the convictions safe? were they the result of a negotiated plea?

  16. 16
    nobody.really says:

    Is Mirka’s photo in the NYT? The only way to know is to check….

  17. 17
    AJD says:

    Amp, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the link to your Twitter on the right-side column of the page is broken.

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    Aaargh…. I’ll look into the Twitter thing when I have time. I know some other bloggers have had a similar issue recently.

    Also: Jordan Peterson Threatened to Sue Feminist Critic Kate Manne. Because Jordon Peterson loves free speech!

  19. Erin,

    As someone who has held the official job title of Professor for the last nine years at the community college where I teach–and it is a title that I have earned through a “grueling” (to use your word) promotion process that spanned the first twenty years of my career–I find the assumptions you make and conclusions you draw in this comment on the “HE would never do that” thread both ignorant and arrogant.

    Over the course of the promotion process I just mentioned, in order to earn the title of Professor, I published five books, served as co-translator on a sixth, presented a long list of papers at scholarly conferences, and taken on substantive departmental and college-wide leadership commitments at the college. Every single one of my colleagues who has achieved the rank of associate or full professor has done some version of the same thing. (The professional ranks at my school for academic faculty are instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor.)

    Nor is my community college unique in this regard. Two-year schools throughout the country have some version of a promotion and tenure process that requires a similar kind of substantive professional development in order to earn higher rank and the salary increases and other perks that go along with it. Now, I am going to assume–because I have no evidence to the contrary–that you are right that Hugo’s professional rank when he was forced to leave PCC was Instructor. However, for you, because of your personal animus towards him, to generalize in the derisive and belittling way that way that you did about the professional, academic, and intellectual achievements of community college faculty is, as I said, an ignorant and arrogant cheap shot that is beneath your stated reasons for wanting to be part of the conversation on this blog. Please, I will ask you one last time, live up to those reasons and don’t take this kind of cheap shot again.

    (Also, I think your understanding of the relationship at four year colleges and universities between adjunct and other contingent faculty and the tenure track of Assistant, Associate, Full Professor is inaccurate at best–at least if we are talking about higher education in the United States. You may not agree with the policy positions taken by AAUP regarding the use of contingent faculty, but the description of contingent faculty and the relationship between contingency and the tenure track is factually accurate.)

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