Open Thread and Link Farm, Smile To Get In Edition

  1. Laws Aimed at Banning Critical Race Theory in K-12 Schools Are a Poorly Written, Misguided Mess – Arc Digital“…it is currently illegal in the state of Tennessee for teachers to include any material in the classroom that promotes ‘division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people.’ How is a civics teacher supposed to operate within those limits? Can she have her students watch a modern presidential debate? Evaluate a partisan campaign ad?”
  2. Where Jobless Benefits Were Cut, Jobs Are Still Hard to Fill – The New York Times (an an alternate link)
    The unwillingness of business owners and conservatives to admit that basic economics applies to job markets – i.e., if you can’t fill a position, you need to offer a higher wage – is mind-boggling.
  3. A succinct explanation of the case against using SATs for college admissions.
  4. How Twitter can ruin a life: Isabel Fall’s complicated story – Vox
    AFAIK, this article is the only time Fall has spoken to a reporter about what happened. Complex and heartbreaking.
  5. Beyond Tulsa: The Secret History of Flooding Black Towns to Make Lakes | The Amber Ruffin Show – YouTube
    The video is about six minutes long and the history it’s talking about is pretty jaw-dropping.
  6. The Best Welfare Reform: Give Poor People Cash – The Atlantic
    This article is from 2015, but it’s point still applies. Giving poor people cash and letting them spend it as they will gives more “bang for the buck” than programs that control how they can spend money (like food stamps).
  7. Tardigrades Survive Being Shot Out of Gun at Speeds up to 2,000 Mph
    But over 2,000 mph and they’re toast.
  8. Revealed: The huge change coming to pedestrian crossings in London | Evening Standard
    The crossings will default to showing “walk now” for pedestrians, and will only switch to something else if cars are approaching. I haven’t thought about it before, but of course that’s how pedestrian crossing signs should be programmed.
  9. The Surprising Problem With Star Trek’s Most Celebrated Episode | by Noah Berlatsky | The Establishment | Medium
    “But after all the praise, it’s a bit of a let-down to return to “The City on the Edge of Forever” and realize that it’s actually an elaborate exercise in justifying violence and would-you-kill-baby-Hitler ethics.”
  10. Weight bias and grading among middle and high school teachers – PubMed
    The same essay was given to teachers, accompanied by a photo of the “student.” If the photo was of a fat kid, on average teachers gave lower grades.
  11. Diets Don’t Work, So Why Do We Still Pretend They Do?
    Lots of useful links for the “diets don’t work” case in this article.
  12. Winners of the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition – The Atlantic
    It’s a bunch of really really pretty photos of wildlife.
  13. Transgender People, Bathrooms, and Sexual Predators: What the Data Say | by Julia Serano | Jun, 2021 | Medium
    Did I already link this one? If so, I don’t mind linking it twice. (And it includes a cartoon by me and my friend Becky Hawkins!)
  14. What I learned about male desire in a sex doll factory | Sex | The Guardian
    A more accurate title would be “I visited a sex doll factory and that gives me an occasion to write about some of the things I’ve learned about male sexuality,” but still a good article, I thought.
  15. Shashinkan – YouTubeEnglish title: “The Portrait Studio.” This wordless fifteen-minute animated film, about a portrait studio photographer and one of his clients over the course of many decades, is the best thing I’ve watched all week. Written, directed, and principle animation by Nakamura Takashi, best known as the animation director of the movie “Akira.”
  16. Gender-Neutral Pronouns Aren’t New – The Atlantic
    I really like “thon,” a gender-neutral singular that was proposed, and actually made it into the dictionary, in the 1800s. It was short for “that one.”
  17. The Incredible True Adventure of Gay Activists Recruiting for the Black Panther Party in 1970
    “In 1970, five gay activists took a road trip to meet with the Black Panther Party. Here, historian Hugh Ryan collects their memories of communes, free love, coming out, getting arrested, consciousness-raising rap sessions, gun shooting, acid dropping, and trying to be macrobiotic at McDonald’s.” A delightful small slice of oral history. Great photos, too.
  18. Fentanyl, Guns, and Murder Mean You Should Get Ready for a Bloody Summer
    Why have homicide rates been going up since 2014? This author argues that open-air drug markets and increased gun ownership are the most likely culprits.
  19. Voter suppression: A short history of the long conservative assault on Black voting power – CNNPolitics
  20. Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s drug could cost Medicare billions after FDA approval – Vox
    The drug’s effectiveness is in great doubt. But the biggest problem is, unlike other countries, the government has no power over the price of the drug.
  21. Of all the COVID mitigation policies, other than vaccinations, the most effective seems to have been indoor masking.
  22. The Ames Window Illusion – what it is, how it works – YouTubeThis video shows the Ames window illusion, which I’ve never seen before and it’s pretty spectacular. (If you like optical illusions). But like a lot of optical illusions, not everyone can see it. The video, about 15 minutes long, also explains how the illusion works in some detail.
  23. In China, Canon creates software that locks workers out of meetings unless they smile. | Financial Times
    “And you’ll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio have to smile. They have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because, once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield.”
  24. Amazon’s Greatest Weapon Against Unions: Worker Turnover | HuffPost
    “Turnover can be expensive for employers, since they have to constantly hire and train new workers who, for at least a period, will be less productive than the ones leaving. But labor experts say a company of Amazon’s size and sophistication would not have high churn if it didn’t prefer it that way.”

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25 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Smile To Get In Edition

  1. 1
    Corso says:

    On 1….

    I’d said earlier that if there were a law that restricted what could be taught I’d be with you in being against it, both because it would be amazingly unconstitutional, and because at some point, people ought to be allowed to make decisions about what they want to learn for themselves, but I wouldn’t necessarily be against restricting topics from K-12, for a slew of reasons. As far as I can tell, none of the bills are doing anything other than making mandatory studies voluntary, and for K-12, the bills sometimes overstep, but they aren’t horrible.

    From the article:

    It’s Not About Compelled Speech

    Consider this language from Tennessee’s anti-CRT bill, which Governor Bill Lee signed into law last month.

    “An LEA [public school authority] or public charter school shall not include or promote the following concepts as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or allow teachers or other employees of the LEA or public charter school to use supplemental instructional materials that include or promote the following concepts:” [emphasis added]

    The author was making a point about compelled speech, but I don’t think that’s what Republicans and Rufoites are concerned with, and I’m not sure whether this is an example of narratives speaking past each other, or deliberate obtuseness, because this is the following section of that bill;

    (1) One (1) race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;

    (2) An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;

    (3) An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the individual’s race or sex;

    (4) An individual’s moral character is determined by the individual’s race or sex;

    (5) An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;

    (6) An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual’s race or sex;

    (7) A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist, or designed by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex;

    (8) This state or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist;

    (9) Promoting or advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government;

    (10) Promoting division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people;

    (11) Ascribing character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex;

    (12) The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups;

    (13) All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or

    (14) Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law

    And that laundrylisty seems relatively in line with both the concerns of Republicans and OKHB1775 which we talked about exhaustively earlier; As opposed to banning CRT or the 1619 project, it listed behaviors and topics which seem on their face to be relatively appropriate to control against in K-12 classrooms. And again…. If educators want to say that they believe that they cannot teach civics classes without falling afoul of these lists, then I’d suggest they ought not be educators.

    But as an example of a law that I think is out way past it’s skis; Texas (of course)! Texas, like the other bills or proposed bills I’ve read to date, includes a list of behaviors I agree shouldn’t be taught in schools, in fact, all of them seem to word for word plagiarize HB1775 to a point (unless HB1775 plagiarized an earlier law itself), but then Texas tacked these on the end:

    (ix) the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted the true founding of the United States; or

    (x)with respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the
    authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality; and

    (C)require an understanding of The 1619 Project.

    The authors of the piece made hay over the fact that an earlier draft of the bill included the word “inclucate”… Methinks they doth protest too much. But the fact of the matter is that “CRT” and The 1619 Project are being used as boogeymen, and explicitly including them in legislation like this seems more designed to create outrage and throw red meat than to actually solve an issue.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    You either didn’t understand, or chose to skip, the author’s point.

    The law then lists proscribed concepts, but that need not detain us here. What matters is that the law prohibits mere inclusion of those concepts, as distinct from and in addition to their promotion. That means even a neutral, objective discussion is off the table. An exception is carved out for some historical events, but many others, as well as current events, are subject to the ban. The moment you include one of these ideas in your curriculum, you’ve broken the law.

    For instance, it is currently illegal in the state of Tennessee for teachers to include any material in the classroom that promotes “division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people.” How is a civics teacher supposed to operate within those limits? Can she have her students watch a modern presidential debate? Evaluate a partisan campaign ad? Engage with virtually any polemical work of journalism or political philosophy? I don’t see how.

    Similar bills recently became law in Oklahoma and Texas. Both prohibit K-12 public school teachers from requiring or “mak[ing] part of a course” one of the proscribed concepts. Not “promoting” or “teaching as true” or “compelling students to affirm.” Just “make part of a course.”

    And again…. If educators want to say that they believe that they cannot teach civics classes without falling afoul of these lists, then I’d suggest they ought not be educators.

    If mere inclusion of any material that could, in someone’s opinion, promote division, then how can an 12th grade civics class watch any modern political debate together, risking being sued if the liberal candidate mentions the concept of white “privilege”?

    Let’s look at their exceptions. Teachers are allowed to include materials that include “impartial instruction on the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on race, ethnicity, class, nationality, religion, or geographic region.”

    First of all, what does “impartial” mean? A speech by MLK is not “impartial”; it’s taking a clear side in that conflict. This language implies that it wouldn’t be allowed for teachers to assign much of MLK’s writings.

    Second, what about ongoing, rather than “historic,” oppression? There’s no exception made there. So a teacher couldn’t include supplemental material arguing, for example, that the U.S. justice system is racist and oppressive – not even if a counterpoint article was also included.

    The author was making a point about compelled speech, but I don’t think that’s what Republicans and Rufoites are concerned with

    Concern with students being “compelled to affirm” has been stated by countless Republicans, and the concern has even been explicitly included in some legislation.

    The author brought up the TN bill to show that compelled speech is not the only thing Republicans are taking aim at (hence the title “it’s not about compelled speech”), so your point that the TN bill didn’t say anything about compelled speech is a great deal less telling than you seem to think.

    Methinks they doth protest too much.

    This alludes to a line (“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”) which is great in Hamlet. I can’t think of any time it would be a reasonable argument to make in a policy debate, however. “This person seems to be making this point very strongly, so I’m going to imply they are lying” is a really weak approach.

    But the fact of the matter is that “CRT” and The 1619 Project are being used as boogeymen, and explicitly including them in legislation like this seems more designed to create outrage and throw red meat than to actually solve an issue.

    The entire issue is essentially a bad-faith strawman intended to create outrage and throw red meat. That neither justifies the bills or would prevent them from doing harm.

  3. 3
    Polaris says:

    Complaining that following a diet temporarily does not work in the long term is like complaining that drinking lots of water for 6 months doesn’t keep you hydrated forever.

    That said the diet industry is mostly just rebranding and repackaging existing materials, most of which are free.
    Stuff yourself less. rewritten in 500 pages, sold for 50 $.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Complaining that following a diet temporarily does not work in the long term is like complaining that drinking lots of water for 6 months doesn’t keep you hydrated forever.

    Could you quote the exact thing this is responding to?

  5. 5
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Polaris, if diets are generally not tolerable for people for the long run, then that’s part of the situation.

  6. 6
    Polaris says:

    Polaris, if diets are generally not tolerable for people for the long run, then that’s part of the situation.

    There are plenty of diets that are tolerable in the long run, like say what EVIRA is recommending.
    However people advocating for those like scientists actually studying how dietary choices affect human biology are not rolling in money.

    Instead of just advocating for drinking water it is much more profitable to sell tap water as Voss water.

  7. 7
    JaneDoh says:

    Polaris, I am happy for you that your body weight set point is close to the body weight you wish to have. For those who are not so lucky, there is no diet that will let them lose a lot of weight (and keep it off ) where they don’t experience constant hunger. For most people, thinking about food constantly has a negative impact on their quality of life, so they can’t sustain such an eating pattern in the long term. There are plenty of diets that people can follow long term that improve their health, but the article Amp linked was referring specifically to weight loss diets, which don’t work for the vast majority of people.

    It would be much better for people at all sizes if their doctors emphasized healthy eating rather than weight loss/gain. This is definitely true for people at “healthy” or “normal” body weights – I am at a “normal” BMI, and my doctors have NEVER discussed my eating habits except when I was pregnant. The obsession with BMI and weight means many people don’t get appropriate advice about food choices from their medical professionals that might improve their overall health.

  8. 8
    Polaris says:

    For those who are not so lucky, there is no diet that will let them lose a lot of weight (and keep it off ) where they don’t experience constant hunger. 

    One Big Mac meal equals over three kilograms of carrots or 4,5 kilograms of cauliflower or about 5 kilograms of eggplant.
    One doesn’t need to feel hungry to lose weight.

  9. 9
    RonF says:

    Re: #9:

    From the article:

    This is exactly the post-hoc logic used to justify Hiroshima. If we didn’t drop the bomb, more U.S. soldiers would have died — for certain, absolutely no question — than Japanese civilians were killed.

    Based on my understanding on how invasions of territories with Japanese soldiers and civilians present worked out, if atomic bombs had not been dropped on Japan and Operation Downfall had been executed instead there likely would have been far more civilian Japanese deaths than those that resulted from the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Looking at the Wikipedia entry for Operation Downfall I see that the various estimates for civilian Japanese deaths ranged from 500,000 to between 5,000,000 to 10,000,000. Even the low end of that is far more than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  10. 10
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Polaris, in my experience, I need fat and carbs for satiation. Why do you think it’s possible to know how everyone’s bodies work?

  11. 11
    Polaris says:

    Polaris, in my experience, I need fat and carbs for satiation.

    You can change a diet gradually to more plant based if you have been eating fast food for too long.

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    You can’t possibly believe that fat and carbs don’t exist except in fast food.

    As for the rest, could you post some evidence about your miraculous diet plan?

    I’m Asking You For A Peer-Reviewed Study Showing That A Typical Fat Person Can Become Sustainably Non-Fat Through Deliberate Weight-Loss | Alas, a Blog

  13. 13
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    You can change a diet gradually to more plant based if you have been eating fast food for too long.

    I have been a vegetarian since 1994. In those 27 years I have gained 33 lbs while maintaining a low calorie, healthy, plant based diet and remaining moderately to highly active. According to your absurd statements, that is impossible. Maybe you should rethink the things you’re saying?

  14. 14
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    I’ll add to my history that I rarely eat out and the last time I ate fast food was when I won a bet in 2019 and my coworker bought me an Impossible Whopper. Before that? I can’t remember.

    So… Plant based diet. Healthy diet. No fast food. Moderate to high physical activity. Gained 33 lbs in 27 years.

    I can’t wait for Polaris’ critique.

  15. 15
    Polaris says:

    I have been a vegetarian since 1994. In those 27 years I have gained 33 lbs while maintaining a low calorie, healthy, plant based diet and remaining moderately to highly active. According to your absurd statements, that is impossible. Maybe you should rethink the things you’re saying?

    Weight does not necessarily equal fat.

    Or perhaps you should see a nutritionist.

  16. 16
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Ha! The nutritionist says my diet is healthy and had no suggestions for changes. It’s okay, you can admit you don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no shame in that. Or you can continue to show us all how you insist you’re an expert in the face of facts to the contrary. That’s embarrassing and sad.

  17. 17
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    You haven’t asked any of the right questions, so I’m going to let you know what you should be asking…

    How old are you?
    (The difference between being 57 and 42 makes a big difference. After all, wouldn’t we expect somewhere around a 30 lb weight gain between 15 and 42?)

    What do you mean by “healthy diet”?
    (Shouldn’t you find out what I eat – and how much – before making suggestions about what I should eat?)

    What do you consider “moderate to high activity”?
    (You have no idea what my standards are. There’s a big difference between, say, “I ride a stationary bicycle for 15 minutes twice a week” and “I do 100 crunches, 10 pushups and jog 5.2 miles at least 6 days a week.”)

    Have there been any significant changes to your health over those 27 years?
    (Changes in endocrine function and major illnesses and/or surgeries can have a big impact on one’s metabolism and weight)

    Those are just a few of the many relevant questions you should have asked before making all of those incorrect assumptions you’ve graced us with.

    In conclusion, you make the “eat better, do more exercise” argument without knowing what I’m eating or how much physical activity I get never mind finding out about my general health to look for things that could impact metabolism and weight over the course of the nearly 3 decades we’re speaking of. I feel sure you can do better with a little effort than you have so far. Please do better.

  18. 18
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://angry-chef.com/blog/same-old-story

    People get fatter when food is available. This is not a problem.

  19. 19
    Kate says:

    New standards in Texas:

    A few hilights from the linked article:

    Among the figures whose works would be dropped: Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr., whose “I Have a Dream”speech and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” would no longer make the curriculum cut.

    The bill would prohibit teachers from being compelled to talk about current events or controversial issues, instructing those choosing to engage with students to discuss without “giving deference to any one perspective.”

    Speaking on the chamber floor, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D) said the legislation amounts to “tying the hands of our teachers.”

    “How could a teacher possibly discuss slavery, the Holocaust, or the mass shootings at the Walmart in El Paso or at the Sutherland Springs church in my district without giving deference to any one perspective?,” she said.

  20. 20
    nobody.really says:

    Discussion topic: Does High School Musical‘s song “Status Quo” illustrate intersectionality?

    Talk amongst yourselves.

  21. 21
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Discussion topic: Does High School Musical‘s song “Status Quo” illustrate intersectionality?

    No.*

    * I have not seen High School Musical and have never heard the song “Status Quo”.

  22. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Tim Curry looks very uncanny valley there.

  23. 24
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Well, I haven’t seen the movie either but I did watch the song and read the lyrics, so I’m somewhat more informed. And as such, I can give a longer answer:

    Yes, in the set theory sense. Not meaningfully, in the social sense.

  24. 25
    Ampersand says:

    Hey, Ron, in a current thread you asked people to address a question which you said they hadn’t answered.

    Of course, no one is obligated to answer questions; but it’s fair to bring questions back up to remind them that you’re hoping they’ll address them. Speaking of which…

    Months ago, I asked you:

    If current trends continue, in about 20 years 70% of the US population will live in the eight largest states. Which means that Senators representing just 30% of the population will get to control the Senate.

    Does that seem fair to you, Ron? And if so, at what point would you say minority rule becomes unfair? Would 20% be unfair? 10%? 5%?

    I’m still curious to know your answer. Is there any level at which you think minority rule would be unfair, and if so, what level is that?

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