Open Thread and Link Fram, Mispelled Adition

  1. When Thin is a Trans Requirement | Autostraddle
    “These experiences are rarely given airtime, partly because the few trans people in the public eye are almost universally thin, and partly because fatness and transness together bring a double burden of stigma: they’re both seen as a form of excess & violation of public norms, and they’re both met with community policing and shaming.”
  2. US State Policies, Politics, and Life Expectancy – MONTEZ – 2020 – The Milbank Quarterly – Wiley Online Library
    “Results show that changes in life expectancy during 1970-2014 were associated with changes in state policies on a conservative-liberal continuum, where more liberal policies expand economic regulations and protect marginalized groups. States that implemented more conservative policies were more likely to experience a reduction in life expectancy.”
  3. Afghanistan: 3 Unlearned Lessons – by Nonzero – Nonzero Newsletter
    And a fourth lesson: We really should stop attempting “interventions” like this.
  4. Opinion | Anna Harris of Texas who works with indigent defendants says she was arrested in retaliation for her work – The Washington Post
    Interesting stuff about a “holistic” model of providing legal defenses to people who can’t afford their own, versus the standard model.
  5. Texas has betrayed women – UnHerd
    “Not content to simply outlaw abortion, they have constructed a law that maximises the humiliation, stigma and degradation on any woman who seeks to end a pregnancy. In Texas, every woman’s entire community has been deputised to police her most private choices.”
  6. On Twitter, I discussed why we shouldn’t infer a lot from that study which found that spoilers make readers enjoy stories more.
  7. The Secret Bias Hidden in Mortgage-Approval Algorithms – The Markup
    “Holding 17 different factors steady in a complex statistical analysis of more than two million conventional mortgage applications for home purchases, we found that lenders were 40 percent more likely to turn down Latino applicants for loans, 50 percent more likely to deny Asian/Pacific Islander applicants, and 70 percent more likely to deny Native American applicants than similar White applicants. Lenders were 80 percent more likely to reject Black applicants than similar White applicants. … In every case, the prospective borrowers of color looked almost exactly the same on paper as the White applicants, except for their race.”
  8. How Oslo Achieved Zero Pedestrian and Bicycle Fatalities, and How Others Can Apply What Worked | TheCityFix
  9. Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue – Scientific American
    Good article from 2016; unfortunately, I don’t think much has changed since then. “Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning. And yet, you might still open a study on genetics in a major scientific journal and find categories like “white” and “black” being used as biological variables.”
  10. Human races are not like dog breeds: refuting a racist analogy
    “But because the analogy between races and dog breeds incorrectly privileges biology over the social and historical factors that have led to the development of racial constructs, here we demonstrate how genetic data fails to substantiate the racial categorizations used in the U.S. today and their equivalence to dog breeds.”
  11. Will the Child Tax Credit End Traditional Welfare? – The Atlantic
    The headline should replace “end” with “replace,” and “traditional welfare” with “TANF.” And, I doubt it will, but I wish it would.
  12. Don’t Believe the Hype (About Believing): You Don’t Need Religion to be Happy | Religion Dispatches
  13. Amia Srinivasan · Does anyone have the right to sex? · LRB 22 March 2018
    “The question​, then, is how to dwell in the ambivalent place where we acknowledge that no one is obligated to desire anyone else, that no one has a right to be desired, but also that who is desired and who isn’t is a political question, a question usually answered by more general patterns of domination and exclusion.”
  14. The Ides of August
    A persuasive essay about what happened in Afghanistan. “I and too many other people to count spent years of our lives trying to convince U.S. decision-makers that Afghans could not be expected to take risks on behalf of a government that was as hostile to their interests as the Taliban were.”
  15. ‘For me, this is paradise’: life in the Spanish city that banned cars | Cities | The Guardian
    “On the same streets where 30 people died in traffic accidents from 1996 to 2006, only three died in the subsequent 10 years, and none since 2009. CO2 emissions are down 70%, nearly three-quarters of what were car journeys are now made on foot or by bicycle, and, while other towns in the region are shrinking, central Pontevedra has gained 12,000 new inhabitants.”
  16. To survive, China’s biggest gay dating app became a pharmacy – Rest of World
    “It’s trying to make sure the state will not mistake it as a gay activist organization,” said Chan. “It must, in order to survive.” The app was founded by a gay cop who was forced to resign after he was outed.
  17. Podcase recommendation: Dead Eyes.
    Somewhere within the show, Connor Ratliff describes his podcast as being a lot like “Serial,” if the mystery were about something of no importance whatsoever. In this case, Ratliff – an actor – “embarks upon a quest to solve a very stupid mystery that has haunted him for two decades: why Tom Hanks fired him from a small role in the 2001 HBO mini-series, Band Of Brothers.” I’ve listened to the whole first season now, and it’s surprisingly entertaining.
  18. What podcasts are y’all enjoying? I’m particularly interested in non-political podcast recommendations.

Top image: Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
Bottom image: Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

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20 Responses to Open Thread and Link Fram, Mispelled Adition

  1. 1
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    13, Here’s a related angle: the pattern of people deciding that some category of people are inappropriate for sex. Sex isn’t just a matter of individual choice in the sense that some choices are made socially more expensive than others.

  2. 2
    Michael says:

    Remember the controversy about the Wi Spa and the transgender woman who was accused of exposing her penis in front of women and little girls. Some people claimed it was a hoax. Andy Ngo claims to have found the woman and that her name is Darren Agee Merager:
    https://nypost.com/2021/09/02/charges-filed-against-sex-offender-in-wi-spa-casecharges-filed-against-sex-offender-in-notorious-wi-spa-incident/
    On the one hand, it’s Andy Ngo. On the other hand, Darren Agee Merager is not a common name. I doubt he picked a name out of the phone book.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks for the link. It seems that Merager confirms that she was the woman in the incident, although she denies exposing herself – so unless she’s an attention-seeker, something really happened, although the something may have been nothing more than a transgender woman being in a hot tub. But Merager also seems like a serial weirdo and criminal (she committed a major art heist some years back).

    I’m going to wait until there are better sources for what’s going on here than the NYPost and Andy Ngo – but I certainly no longer would say that I doubt anything happened.

  4. 4
    Michael says:

    Here’s an article describing Merager’s arrest from a legitimate reporter:
    https://abc7.com/wi-spa-indecent-exposure-protest-lapd/10994949/
    It does seem like Merager is a serial criminal.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks, Michael.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    So, in other words, Andy Ngo turns out to have been a legitimate source.

    Re: 14 – here’s another essay that make sense to me about how we blew it in Afghanistan by pursuing the wrong objectives and simply completely misunderstanding their culture.

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/marcel-duchamp-toilet-afghanistan-conceptual-art/

    Quite frankly, I would not be surprised if Afghanis would rather have fellow Muslims in charge even if they are violent extremists that having Americans in charge who are not Muslim and are running around telling them there are major problems with their culture and they need to change it to be more like ours.

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    So, in other words, Andy Ngo turns out to have been a legitimate source.

    See the cliche about stopped clocks.

  8. 8
    Görkem says:

    It is ironic that the conservatives who used to argue that staying in Afghanistan was the only way to save western society from terrorism are now trying to pretend the occupation was a project by woke snowflakes spreading cultural marxism. I guess that is more honest than pretending leaving Afghanistan wasn’t part of Trump’s agenda though.

  9. 9
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#7- Ngo’s a charlatan, true. Let’s be clear, though. Contrary to what apologists for publications like the Guardian say, much of the coverage of the Wi Spa incident was abysmal. The idea that the incident might be a hoax started with an article in the Los Angeles Blade:
    https://www.losangelesblade.com/2021/07/07/alleged-trans-incident-at-upscale-la-spa-may-have-been-staged/
    The problem is that not only were the claims that the police were unable to find evidence of a transgender person at the Spa and that none of the usual transgender clients were at the Spa based on anonymous sources, the WRITER of the article was anonymous. Usually when a writer makes claims based on anonymous sources, you can make judgements based on the writer’s reputation. But for all we know, the writer was Stephen Glass. But other publications took the Blade’s idea that it might be a hoax seriously, despite the fact that there was NO evidence that it was a hoax outside of the Blade’s article.
    And yes, Precious Child being accused of being the perpetrator was horrible but note that Cubana Angel said that Precious Child was not the person she saw. Which suggested that Cubana Angel might be describing a real incident.
    Take for example the Guardian article- it described the allegations as unsubstantiated. It ignored evidence corroborating the allegations. (See below.) It criticized right-wing sites for presenting the woman’s allegations “as fact”. The right-wing sites have a lot to answer for but presenting the woman’s allegations as fact isn’t one of them.
    In fact, there was corroborating evidence. As Jesse Singal pointed out, Bennett Kelley tweeted “Not a hoax. I was there that night. I’m one of the people in line in the viral video. A bunch of women stormed out of the ladies locker, including a mother with her young child, complaining about a naked transgender person.” But according to Singal, nobody except Singal contacted him to ask him what he saw.
    And there’s been no demands for accountability. Nobody is criticizing the Blade, or asking that they reveal the identity of the writer who apparently lied. (I usually oppose doxxing but in this case, I think there MIGHT be a case for revealing his identity since major newspapers took his factual claims seriously and used them to cast doubt on the incident and they turned out to be questionable.) Or wondering why reputable publications trusted the account of an anonymous writer who claimed to have anonymous sources.

  10. 10
    hf says:

    Yes, I’m sure that’s a valid question. However, Andy Ngo isn’t a “charlatan,” he’s a right-wing terrorist who should be in prison. He and his fellow terrorists were recorded planning to go to a place where supposed Antifa were located, and commit violent assault on them. Then the video shows them going there and committing those crimes. Later, Andy Ngo doxxed one of the victims with the intent of causing more violence against her.

  11. 11
    dragon_snap says:

    I’m gonna be cheeky and give myself a hat-tip for the first link above, because I’m [at least one of] the people who sent it to Amp ;)

    And now for some non-political podcast recs!

    1. “Pop Mom”. This podcast is one of my favourite things in the whole world. The two hosts are John Teti, a pop culture critic, and his mom Bonney Teti, who lives in New Hampshire. Every episode starts off with some catching up between the two of them, and then they discuss/review a tv show or movie they watched for the episode. Bonney is hilarious and it’s so delightful hearing John get cracked up by her commentary, and their love for and enjoyment of the other’s company just shines through every episode. I feel like I’m not doing a good job explaining it, but it’s so wonderful.

    I have a few others that I will post later, but this one is my top recommendation <3

  12. 12
    Corso says:

    hf@10

    Andy Ngo is bait. He walks into a place where Antifa is going to be, camera rolling, and waits for Antifa to Antifa. Is he overly dramatic? Oh yes. Does he report out of context? Oh yes. Does he sometimes outright lie to make his story? Sure does. I’m not going to go to bat for Andy Ngo’s moral character.

    But… I don’t think I’ve recalled a single instance of Ngo going anywhere ready to throw fists. Not only does he not hit first, I can’t recall a situation where he actually fought back. When stuff gets moderately violent, he walks, or runs away, calls the cops, and/or hides in a hotel lobby. Which is why the assertion that “He and his fellow terrorists were recorded planning to go to a place where supposed Antifa were located, and commit violent assault on them.” doesn’t make a lot of sense to me… It’s off brand and counterproductive to what he normally does. Do you have a source on that?

    All it would take for Antifa to disarm Ngo would be to stop taking the bait. And it’s weird, because it’s like they’re psychologically unable to resist doing that, and that’s led to some very damning video evidence of things that they’ve obviously, actually done.

  13. 13
    Celeste says:

    Which is why the assertion that “He and his fellow terrorists were recorded planning to go to a place where supposed Antifa were located, and commit violent assault on them.” doesn’t make a lot of sense to me… It’s off brand and counterproductive to what he normally does. Do you have a source on that?

    https://www.salon.com/2019/08/28/right-wing-journalist-andy-ngo-outed-video-shows-him-hanging-out-with-far-right-hate-group/

    This is the incident that lead to him stepping down from noted phrenology journal Quillette.

    That same article points out that Andy often edits his videos to remove instigating violence by his fash buddies, in order to make it appear that Antifa started the violence unprompted. So when you say:

    All it would take for Antifa to disarm Ngo would be to stop taking the bait.

    It’s probably more accurate to say, “All it would take for Antifa to disarm Ngo would be to react to repeated, vicious, violent assaults with zen-like calm.”

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    All it would take for Antifa to disarm Ngo would be to stop taking the bait.

    Also, lets suppose that whatever the current amount of Antifa violence is – let’s call it X – sinks down to 0.1(X) in the next year. Do you think Ngo would report that drop, or do you think he’d continue to report whatever violence he can find as if it were a commonplace norm?

  15. 15
    Corso says:

    Celeste @13: “This is the incident that lead to him stepping down from noted phrenology journal Quillette.”

    Thanks. I was honestly not aware of that. I’m kind of trigger shy of coming to the defense of people I don’t think are particularly honest (and that’s not something I’d accuse Andy Ngo of being), and this is a great example of why… Dig long enough, and they’ll do something stupider than usual.

    Amp @ 14

    “Also, lets suppose that whatever the current amount of Antifa violence is – let’s call it X – sinks down to 0.1(X) in the next year. Do you think Ngo would report that drop, or do you think he’d continue to report whatever violence he can find as if it were a commonplace norm?”

    The second option, no contest. Like I said @12, I have no interest in defending his moral character, including but not limited to his honesty. If he does anything useful, it might be highlighting an area we might want to take a further look at, but you have to take his word with a ton of salt, and he won’t ever be my primary source for anything.

  16. 16
    Celeste says:

    There’s a phenomenon that really bothers me, and is driving me more towards being an unreasonable leftist ideologue who doesn’t give the arguments & ideas of the other side a fair hearing … it’s that the unreasonable leftist ideologues who don’t give the arguments & ideas of the other side a fair hearing seem to be right most of the time.

    Like, by assuming that Andy Ngo is full of shit 100% of the time, and nothing he says is worth listening to, I neatly avoided the “Gosh, it doesn’t seem like Andy would plot violence” trap.

    He wants everyone listening to him to think that. It’s a con, because he’s a con man.

    And Corso, I have always thought that your approach is better. I mean, of course, right? But then came the Trump election, where he said obvious bullshit that we were all supposed to pretend was plausible, and then he was elected, and then it was revealed to be obvious bullshit, and I just felt like … yeah, man, that was clearly bullshit at the time.

    All the open minded “we’ve gotta hear both sides” folks were taken in, and not only that they also helped to take other people in.

  17. 17
    Corso says:

    “Like, by assuming that Andy Ngo is full of shit 100% of the time, and nothing he says is worth listening to, I neatly avoided the “Gosh, it doesn’t seem like Andy would plot violence” trap.”

    Heh. Fair. Touché.

  18. 18
    Michael says:

    @Celeste#16- The problem with that attitude is that Ngo was right this time.A person with a penis DID go into the women’s area of a spa. That person DID turn out to have a record for sex offenses. An LGBTQ newspaper DID publish an anonymous author that tried to claim the incident never happened.

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    Her “record for sex offenses” may not be that cut-and-dry, though.

    So I did some digging late last night and paid $10 to LASC to obtain the case numbers, but, from records: the trans woman charged in the Wi Spa incident was
    1. not on the sex offender registry anymore because her convictions were nearly 20 years old.
    2. She appears have been targeted for being trans and unhoused, with her “indecent exposure” convictions also appearing to be part of plea deals to dismiss resisting arrest and potential sex work/voyeur charges (I was doing the work at 1AM, so I reviewed the charges today).
    3. It also serves as a reminder that trans women are often criminalized for the mere fact of existing in public, and it appears that police engaged in an extended campaign of harass, arraign, and then drop charges against her from 2000-2004.ed the charges today).

    Anyhow…

    The problem with that attitude is that Ngo was right this time. A person with a penis DID go into the women’s area of a spa.

    Not illegal, and not against the spa’s rules, in and of itself.

    That person DID turn out to have a record for sex offenses.

    She did, but it’s hard to see how those “sex offenses” relate to this case at all, especially if they had more to do with police harassment of a homeless trans sex worker – which is completely plausible, especially for incidents that happened 20 years ago.

    An LGBTQ newspaper DID publish an anonymous author that tried to claim the incident never happened.

    We still don’t know if the incident happened or not. IIRC, she claims she was just sitting in the tub, with most of her below the water; if she’s telling the truth, then what she’s been accused of did not happen.

    I would really like some skeptical reporter to dig into this incident – including her accusers. It seems weird that a right-wing Christian activist just so happened to be there at this moment. The person who made the video of her – did they know each other before this? How about the other people who made complaints – were they known to each other beforehand?

    In a world where Project Veritas exists, I’m not willing to dismiss the possibility that the people making the report were right-wingers manufacturing an incident for political reasons.

    On the other hand, I don’t dismiss the possibility that the woman in the spa did something illegal. I don’t think there’s enough information to know for sure.

  20. 20
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#19- Ngo is out with another article. Among other things, he claims that Merrager’s original arrest was for masturbating while looking through an old woman’s window:
    https://nypost.com/2021/09/17/wi-spa-suspect-still-at-large-has-history-of-indecent-exposure-and-masturbation/
    Can someone find a transcript of the original guilty plea? There’s a big difference between a prostitution charge pled down and someone masturbating while looking through someone else’s window.

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