Open Thread And Link Farm, Creepy Staircase Edition


Donald Trump Is Tearing the NFL Apart

A woman had a baby. Then her hospital charged her $39.35 to hold it. – Vox
Another consumer was literally unable to find out, in advance, what a standard birth at a hospital costs.

Police Arrest Black Arkansas Legislator For Filming A Traffic Stop
The law making it legal to film police, was actually authored by the legislator they arrested. The police have dropped the charges and apologized.

Top Evangelical College Group to Dismiss Employees Who Support Gay Marriage | TIME

7 Reasons to Stop Freaking Out About Obamacare
Interestingly, the refusal of many Red states to expand Medicaid for the poor has caused insurance premiums to rise.

Anderson Cooper is surprised to find himself on the RidicuList for smelly candles – YouTube
No deep issue here, I just thought it was funny.

The Dutch Reach: Clever Workaround to Keep Cyclists from Getting “Doored” – 99% Invisible

Is Canadian Obesity Network Really OK Killing 15 of Every 1,000 Fat People? – Paperblog
On their Facebook page, they suggested that if 15 out of 1000 people who have bariatric surgery die, that’s “actually very few.”

It’s time for science to abandon the term ‘statistically significant’ | Aeon Essays
Interesting short read on the reproducibility crisis.

The cost of affordable housing: Does it pencil out?
Interesting interactive tool from the Urban Institute showing the costs of building affordable housing, versus what renting to poor family makes. The bottom line is, there’s no way to make money building affordable housing without significant government subsidies.

What Can Be Done About Skyrocketing Drug Prices? | True Cost – Analyzing our economy, government policy, and society through the lens of cost-benefit
There’s also the idea, favored by Bernie Sanders, using a prize fund.

Louisiana’s “literacy” test, circa 1964.
“Do what you are told to do in each statement, nothing more, nothing less. Be careful as one wrong answer denotes failure of the test. You have ten minutes to complete the test.” I’m highly literate, and I frankly doubt I would have passed it. None of the questions are that hard, taken alone – although some seem designed to trick people into giving a wrong answer – but under pressure, it would be easy to mess up on just one. Of course, I wouldn’t have been asked to take the test.

Priorities: Justice vs. Safety in Convention Culture | Blue Author Is About To Write
“People who are saying that a convention should never act on a complaint without performing a serious investigation, weighing evidence, and having a finding of facts culminating in a verdict in a sentence are, whether they know it or not, advocating for one of two possibilities: an endless succession of unqualified kangaroo courts or a world where conventions never act on complaints.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls Colin Kaepernick national anthem protest dumb and disrespectful — Quartz
And an update: Ruth Bader Ginsburg apologizes to Colin Kaepernick after criticizing anthem protest. Thanks, Duncan!

That’s Not Who We Are – by Mike Dawson
Long-form political cartoon looking at the long roots of racism in America.

The shocking pain of American men – The Washington Post
Despite the title, the pain epidemic is about Americans in general, not just men. But it apparently explains a lot of declining male workforce participation, while the similar decline of female chronic pain sufferers working has been hidden by the general increase in female participation.

The Collective Gaslighting of the Trigger Warning Debate

The evangelical women speaking out against Trump have more influence than you think.

Why French pigs say groin, Japanese bees say boon and American frogs say ribbit – The Washington Post
Includes a fun interactive insert, which you folks who have used up this month’s allotment of WaPo articles can also view here, letting you hear how people in different languages say animal noises.

By the way, if you have Amazon Prime anyway, you get six months of the WaPo free. (I don’t get any kickbacks for saying that, alas.)

Important internet debate: Is a hot dog a sandwich? And if that wasn’t enough, there are further arguments here.

A Multi-Layered Anatomical Mural by ‘Achilles’ | Colossal
I lack the words to describe how cool I find this.

Top image: Treacherous Stair Steps by ‘Skurk’ | Colossal

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26 Responses to Open Thread And Link Farm, Creepy Staircase Edition

  1. 1
    teacher says:

    Re: “gaslighting”

    That author claims “If people are telling you that they are trying to engage with trauma-related material and you insist that they’re actually saying that they want to avoid it–or literally ban it from being taught–you are gaslighting them. You are insisting that you know better than they do what’s inside their own heads. You are pretending that they said something other than what they actually said, making them doubt their own thoughts and words.”

    In reality, it’s not that we think that individual people don’t know their own thoughts. It’s that we think that a lot of people are misrepresenting their thoughts: that they’re lying about this issue for fun, or for political gain. Or that, if they actually have the problem they claim, they are exaggerating about the specifics and turning “upset” into “traumatized” and “difficult” into “can’t possibly.” But we are usually prevented from saying this directly by social convention and, in some circumstances, by specific rules like concerns about title 9, or a fear of individual punishment by our bosses.

    I worked in a restaurant and the same thing was true for allergies. More than half of our “gluten allergic” customers gorge on the bread basket. Many of the “shellfish allergy” customers ordered and ate shellfish. It was often just about being trendy and controlling.

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    I thought you all might like this commentary on Disney’s new Mulan. This link will go bad tomorrow, but then the archive link will be available.

  3. 3
    Ruchama says:

    Related to the evangelical women, Elizabeth Smart is also speaking out against Trump. I’ve seen some polls suggesting that enough of Utah might vote for Evan McMullin that it’s possible that Trump won’t win there — it’s not quite clear who would win, but Trump’s numbers are plummeting, and Clinton and McMullin both aren’t that far behind him.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, thanks, I enjoyed that cartoon! And it was really nicely drawn.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    I got doored once. Right across the street from 77 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, no less. That’s the main entrance to MIT and a huge crosswalk. Probably about 50 people saw it, including some construction workers doing some work right next to the car. The bike stopped, I didn’t, and I went flying over the door. I had the presence of mind to tuck and roll when I hit the pavement. I was pretty shaken up. The construction workers told me that they were surprised I didn’t punch the driver out, but he looked pretty horrified when I finished checking myself for broken bones and took a look at him.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    Thought you might. It fits in with a couple of themes that are commonly discussed here. That comic has been on a long hiatus but has just come back this last week.

  7. 7
    Ruchama says:

    I don’t think my arms are long enough to open the car door with my right arm. I do always look in my mirror before opening the door, though.

  8. 8
    Duncan says:

    I expect you’ll want to update the stuff about Ginsburg, Barry:

    I like her retraction — it’s refreshing to see someone admit that they shot off their mouth without knowing what they were talking about — and I admire Kaepernick’s response to her original criticism.

  9. 9
    kate says:

    In reality, it’s not that we think that individual people don’t know their own thoughts. It’s that we think that a lot of people are misrepresenting their thoughts: that they’re lying about this issue for fun, or for political gain.

    You are wrong. Trigger warnings are exactly what they are said to be – warnings so that people can prepare themselves to deal with material that might cause emotional distress.

    I worked in a restaurant and the same thing was true for allergies. More than half of our “gluten allergic” customers gorge on the bread basket. Many of the “shellfish allergy” customers ordered and ate shellfish. It was often just about being trendy and controlling.

    Not all allergies are like most nut allergies, where one can be killed by even a little bit. Many allergies have more minor manifestations. I can take a little bit of onion. But, if I have to much, especially if it is raw, I get small blisters inside my mouth. If I ignore those, I get rashes. Onion powder has on occasion given my asthmatic symptoms, but I’ve never actually had to go to the hospital – a bit of benadryl is all I need.
    I read one woman who’s partner has fragrance allergies, and she described it as a “toxin bucket”. She can take a certain amount, and then any little bit could cause an overflow. This is similar to my experience with onions.
    In the case of gluten allergies, a lot of people just manifest that as digestive problems which cause discomfort, but might sometimes be worth it to them for that cinnamon roll.
    Perhaps it would help if you just reminded yourself that why they choose what they want to eat is none of your business anyway.

  10. 10
    kate says:

    I’m going to expand a bit. My first exposure to trigger warnings was at feminist blogs, where both writers and readers really wanted to discuss sexual assault. However, many readers who were survivors of sexual assault wanted warnings, so that they could save articles on the topic for when they had the time to process the information (eg. not on a work night, save it for the weekend). They had no desire to shut down discussion about sexual assault. To the contrary, many of them were activists who wanted to bring attention to the issue.

  11. 11
    Michael says:

    I’m not liking the gaslighting argument. Because the Left does exactly the same thing. We see this constantly when people claim to be triggered by feminist writings, for example- if someone says that Schrodinger’s Rapist made them excessively afraid of hurting women, for example, many feminists will claim that they’re just looking for an excuse to do something wrong. Or the Scott Aaronson mess for example- many feminists argued that he was just interested in the hot chicks. I’ve even seen feminists claim that if you say that you’re excessively afraid of harassing women, it’s really just an excuse for your fear of rejection. There’s a definite refusal on the part of many feminists to acknowledge that anxiety disorders CAN be triggered by feminist writings and that results in victim blaming instead of arguing that if the sufferer wasn’t triggered by the feminist writings, they’d be triggered by something else. (This is OCD Awareness week, so let’s keep the possibility of OCD in many such cases in mind.)

    Then there’s the whole Nice Guy Tm meme- it’s basically predicated on saying that if you say that you’re a nice guy, how is it fair that you don’t have a girlfriend, then your lack of success with women was due to your own inadequacies, no matter what you believe. If a woman claims that her problems at working at a tech company were due to sexism, and then makes remarks about “neckbeards” or “virgin basement dwellers” nobody argues that she’s deluding herself and her co-workers really didn’t like her because she’s mean to nerds. (I’m not disputing that the incel/wizardchan guys are creepy but a lot of times it’s used against guys that are no better or worse than the aforementioned “neckbeard” feminists.)

    So yeah, it’s “Gaslighting” when the Right does it but justified outrage when the Left does it.

  12. 12
    desipis says:

    Equating political argument, even poorly constructed political argument based on falsehoods, with systematic psychological abuse (“gaslighting”) is exactly the sort of hyperbole that leads to people dismissing the idea of trigger warnings out of hand.

  13. 13
    Harlequin says:

    In reality, it’s not that we think that individual people don’t know their own thoughts. It’s that we think that a lot of people are misrepresenting their thoughts: that they’re lying about this issue for fun, or for political gain. […] I worked in a restaurant and the same thing was true for allergies. More than half of our “gluten allergic” customers gorge on the bread basket. Many of the “shellfish allergy” customers ordered and ate shellfish.

    Okay, but discussions around content warnings aren’t generally an argument about whether individual people need warning x, y, or z. They’re about the fact that such people exist in the population. “Some people lie about gluten allergies,” while true and very troubling, is not an argument that celiac disease doesn’t exist or that people with celiac disease don’t need gluten-free food.

  14. 14
    kate says:

    Michael @ 11 –
    The complaints about the Schrodinger’s Rapist column were not along the lines of “That triggers my anxiety, could you add a warning to similar posts in future?” In the best of cases, it was more like “That triggers my anxiety, therefore you should not have written it.” Demanding women be silent about legitimate fears of rape because it might trigger anxiety in some men is not reasonable. Feminists are perfectly justified in getting angry and dismissing such men as ranking their own comfort as more important than our safety. And, although insulting people in the way you describe is not nice, consider that this author, and many feminist bloggers who linked to the piece were receiving rape and death threats in response to that post. Who was it that said – “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”?

  15. 15
    kate says:

    Then there’s the whole Nice Guy Tm meme- it’s basically predicated on saying that if you say that you’re a nice guy, how is it fair that you don’t have a girlfriend, then your lack of success with women was due to your own inadequacies, no matter what you believe.

    Then there’s the whole Nice Guy Tm meme- it’s basically predicated on saying that if you say that you’re a nice guy, how is it fair that you don’t have friends to hang out with, then your lack of success making friends was due to your own inadequacies, no matter what you believe.

    Does it make more sense now?

  16. 16
    Michael says:

    Kate@14- OK, then look at this example:
    A man with an anxiety disorder writes to a feminist pointing out that Schrodinger’s Rapist exacerbated his anxiety and asking for advice. Instead he gets treated like a horrible human being and many commenters join in. Yes, after two days, Captain Awkward apologized but only after a lot of complaints.
    Or look at this Manfeels Park comic:
    It’s making fun of people that have anxiety disorders about hurting women, not people that are specifically asking feminists to stop with the Schrodinger’s Rapist.
    And I’m sorry that people sent you death and rape threats but it almost certainly wasn’t people that had legitimate disorders that made them afraid of hurting women that did that.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Michael, Captain Awkward screwed up; people pointed out that she’d screwed up; she apologized and then apologized again in a followup-post.

    That’s a very unconvincing example of a “refusal on the part of many feminists to acknowledge” these problems, since she did in fact repudiate her initial response.

    I don’t think “many feminists” said that Scott Aaronson “was just interested in the hot chicks.” I guess you could characterize Amanda Marcotte’s (genuinely awful and mean) response that way, and no doubt there was similar stuff from randoms on Twitter and the like. But there were also multiple responses like Laurie Penny’s, which disagreed with his political points while being sympathetic to him personally. (More examples: Compassion, Men, and Me – Brute Reason
    Follow Up: Neither empathy nor trauma are zero sum | Inexorable Progress Feminist Bloggers Cannot Be Your Therapists – Brute Reason).

    My problem with the Scott Aaronson example is although people can, and should, be kind, I’m not convinced that there’s anything feminism can do – short of shutting up entirely – to avoid hurting the Scott Aaronson’s of the world. As I wrote in the comments of Ozy’s blog:

    Actually, I think it would be completely impossible for feminists to get our intended message across while minimizing hurt to young Scott Aaronson. Because, looking at his narrative, it appears to me that Scott Aaronson was actively searching for feminist stuff that he could use to self-flagellate.

    During the period we’re talking about – 1993 through 2003 – there was a ton of sex-positive, male positive, pro-feminist material available on the web and in bookstores. Susie Bright (writing as “Susie Sexpert” some of the time) was very popular in the 90s; so was bell hooks. Then as now, there were feminists who wrote dating advice.[*] I know this because I was a desperately lonely shy nerdy guy during that period, and I searched for that stuff regularly.

    And yet Scott “scoured the feminist literature” and didn’t find a single male-positive word. I don’t think Scott was dishonest; but I do think Scott must have had some sort of mental structure preventing him from truly searching, or which caused him to rationalize dismissing whatever positive material he found. Because the material was out there, and not hard to find.

    But it’s clear that he did find Dworkin and whatever anti-male material was out there to find. (Or that he could interpret as anti-male).

    The only way I can make Scott’s story make any sense with my memories of being a shy, nerdy guy who read feminist stuff in the 1990s is to conclude that, probably without conscious awareness, Scott Aaronson was using filters designed to bring him the most damaging material available while rejecting any helpful material.

    It’s also clear that young Aaronson wasn’t an honest reader of the material he read. According to Scott, “I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison.”

    I don’t believe that Scott ever read a single book, or attended a single sexual-assault prevention workshop (by the way, I’ve NEVER heard of a campus requiring such things be attended “regularly,” unless by regularly we mean once a year, or once in a college career), which literally told him that the response to unhidden sexual desire would be expulsion followed by prison.

    He made that up, not because he was dishonest but because there were structures in his thinking designed to keep him convinced that his own sexuality was disgusting beyond measure and made him unfit for human society. (Once again, I can relate.)

    There are very understandable reasons that young Scott Aaronson was unable to be an honest reader of feminist materials about sexuality. Young Scott had some sort of problem which would not allow him to read what was in front of him, and which would instead tell him to interpret everything he read in the most anti-Scott way possible.

    You say “it often seems quite possible to get your intended message across while minimizing the elements that could be hurtful to someone like Scott Aaronson.” No, that’s not true at all. Given what Scott has told us, young Scott was extraordinarily devoted to the idea that Scott Aarsonson was some sort of monster who deserved punishment for being attracted to women. I don’t think there’s anything feminists could have said that would have mattered to Scott, because anything he heard he either found a way to interpret to be as harmful as possible, or found a reason to reject.

    I don’t deny that there are some mean and anti-male feminists, and some feminists who are unfair. But for someone like Scott Aaronson, I think he had greater problems than could possibly have been addressed by feminists altering how they talk about sex. Criticizing those feminists who were mean to Scott seems very fair (see, Amanda Marcotte); but blaming his terrible problems on feminism, or implying that feminists could have prevented his problems if they had written differently, seems very dubious to me.

    [Edited to correct my accidental misgendering of Captain Awkward.]

  18. 18
    Michael says:

    As to why this is all so damaging, OCD often manifests itself as a fear of doing something wrong and/or harming people, especially in teenagers. For example, a girl might have recurring thoughts about stabbing someone. Or a religious boy might think that any little mistake he makes will send him to hell. We’ve got kids as young as 14 or 15 spending most of their days thinking that they’re going to murder or rape someone or go to hell when they should be thinking about dates and homework. And they usually don’t get help for years because they’re afraid that if they do tell someone, people will consider them monsters. And they think they’re alone and it’s all their fault.

    And many feminists’ actions are making the problem worse. Think of the Scott Aaronson mess- people like Amanda Marcotte and Doctor Nerdlove stated publicly that if you’re obsessively worried about hurting women, then it’s due to your own sexism. In reality, the way OCD works is, if you do have OCD, the harder you try to “be good”, the worse it gets. And the Scott Aaronson mess, and the Captain Awkward article again, are every person’s with scrupulosity or harm OCD’s worst nightmare- that if you reveal your condition, and use the wrong language, or express anger towards the messages that are triggering you, then people will consider you a monster.

    And don’t forget- half the people suffering like this are WOMEN. There was a case where a woman with OCD told the hospital staff about her obsessive fear of harming her baby- even though she used the words OCD, some of the hospital staff tried to take away her baby. I don’t see any difference between the hospital staff and these feminists- the same cowardice and the same self-righteousness masquerading as goodness.

    These people’s voices are effectively silenced- they never get to tell their stories- and I’ve never heard most feminists discuss the plight of the women in question, even while some of them mock the men in question. They probably think both the women and men freaks and monsters.

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    They probably think both the women and men freaks and monsters.

    With all due respect, Michael, I think it’s a bit of a contradiction that you seem to be both criticizing some feminists for a lack of interpretive charity, while saying things like this.

  20. 20
    Ruchama says:

    Michael, I’m uncertain what you want feminists to do. A very close family member has OCD, and has displayed symptoms since both of us were kids, and one of the things that she’s told me is that one of the hallmarks of an OCD obsession is that she KNOWS it’s irrational, and that there isn’t any way to logic her way out of it. I learned years ago that trying to tell her, “Don’t worry — that thing that you’re worrying about would never happen” was both pointless and counterproductive. It seems like trigger warnings are something that could help you in this situation — so that you know that you shouldn’t read something about rape without preparing yourself first, or working out whether or not you’re in the right frame of mind for it on that day.

  21. 21
    Michael says:

    @17,19- I’m sorry Ampersand- I guess I’m frustrated because I feel like stuff like the Scott Aaronson affair were chances to raise the profile of scrupulosity and harm OCD and they were squandered largely because of the actions of feminists. My point is this. Society as a whole leaves teenagers that are excessively afraid of hurting people or doing something morally wrong to think of themselves as freaks or monsters- what these kids need to know is they’re not alone and that it’s not their fault. I’m not blaming feminist rhetoric for what happened to Scott Aaronson- I’m saying that what teenage Scott needed to know was that he wasn’t a monster and that there were other teenagers like him. If the feminist response to Scott had been to cite the stories of girls like Olivia Loving:
    then I’d have had no problem with it. Because more teenagers like Scott would know what was wrong with them and get help.

    Even your response leaves a lot to be desired- it’s not about being devoted to hating yourself, it’s about the need to be SURE. No matter how hard someone with this type of anxiety searches, they’re going to go about in a way that they need 100% certainty- so they go to the most extreme examples instead of the more moderate ones. Someone who thinks they’re going to hell might interpret “most authorities agree that someone who did this sin can still be saved” by thinking “they said MOST authorities. What about the other ones?”

    I’m frustrated because NOBODY discusses this, and when they do they victim blame. And that includes feminists- you rarely see a feminist discussion about whether society’s reaction to mothers that think they’re going to harm their baby because of OCD but are really harmless is a result of sexism. Maybe you could do a cartoon about the subject?

  22. 22
    Michael says:

    @Ruchama- I guess I just want the subject to be discussed more openly and without blaming the sufferers. The problem is that right now, the sufferers think they’re alone and it’s all their fault. So it takes years before they get help.

  23. 23
    kate says:

    Michael –

    People with OCD need to be treated for OCD. That is not the responsibility of feminists, or anyone else who writes about difficult topics that may trigger some people with OCD (or PTSD, or anxiety, etc.). People with psychiatric conditions need to avoid discussions which will trigger them (hence, the importance of trigger warnings), or get professional support to learn to cope with those discussions. It is not o.k. for them to demand that others refrain from such discussions. It is not o.k. for them to come into threads in which women are discussing rape and sexual assault and demand that their discomfort approaching women be centralized.

    I remember that Captain Awkward thread. She fucked up. She listened, genuinely apologized and acknowledged that this is a topic she is not qualified to give advice on. Captain Awkward has had hundreds of posts. She has a damn good record and has done a lot of good. No one is perfect.

  24. 24
    Ruchama says:

    I agree, but I think that everyone should be discussing it more and better. Considering how many different things there are that can lead to obsessions, I don’t think that feminist discourse has any special hold that other things don’t. (The family member I mentioned once told me that, when she was a kid, she used to obsess that she might accidentally eat a pill, or that maybe she already had and didn’t know it, because of this commercial that used to play during kids’ TV, telling us not to eat pills. )

  25. 25
    Michael says:

    To clarify what I’m saying- no, I don’t think that feminist discourse has a special hold other things don’t- OCD can be triggered by anything. I definitely don’t think that treating OCD is the job of feminist bloggers. I also don’t think that the people that are jerks on sexual assault threads actually have anxiety disorders.
    What I’m saying is this- DON’T say that an anxiety disorder itself is the problem or that being afraid of harassing women excessively is the problem or afraid of asking women out is the problem or afraid of whatever is the problem. If your problem is people derailing threads on feminist websites, then criticize THAT but don’t criticize the anxiety itself. If you’re talking about sexual harassment to someone on their blog or in person, then they have the right to change the subject if they feel uncomfortable, even if it involves talking about their teenage lack of dates, rocks, trees, whatever. (By which I mean talking about sexual harassment in general- if you’re telling them their friend Bob is harassing Alice, then they have a duty to do something about it regardless of any anxieties.) Because people with anxiety disorders are often ashamed as it is, and afraid of people judging them if they reveal their anxieties.
    And yes, society as a whole does need to discuss these things better, because people with anxiety disorders often don’t realize they have them and don’t get treatment- we all have an equal duty to do that, and feminists have no lesser or greater responsibility than anyone else.

  26. 26
    Daddio7 says:

    Who took the literacy test? Draw three circles, one inside the other. They meant each inside the other like a target. I drew one circle, and then beside it one inside another circle.

    Cross out the number unnecessary when making this number , 10,000,000,000, under one million. The number I crossed out was of course the 1. The answer is the last four zeros. What, that is four numbers, digits. Apparently any amount of zeros together is a “number” but ten together is still under one million and a “1” is a number

    Number 18 is totally misstated. You write (they mean use cursive) every other word of the instruction line then supposedly print every third word in the same line. But the first line is not the same line. The same line is the line formed by writing every other word of the first (and only) line.

    Black eyes and bloody noses for the originators of this travesty of a test.