Comments

  1. Derek Vandivere says

    Tony,

    Oh, none whatsoever of course. Other than the fact that (for example) it doesn’t usually get very warm over here until August. That said, we’ve been having a good summer so far – 25 degrees all week.

    There’s a sign I’ve been over here a while – I still have an instant mental conversion between kilometers and miles, but I think almost exclusively in Celsius these days.

  2. Derek Vandivere says

    Oh, and by the way: an hour ago, I just ordered a stuffed octopus from the Web. Long story, but I need it to stitch to my captain’s jacket.

  3. David Chapman says

    To Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall and anyone else here who I was arguing with on the Ladybrains evolved in the Pleistocene thread yesterday, I’d just like to say here that I was in the wrong. I have posted what I hope is a suitably humble apology there. I’m particularly embarassed by the pompous insults I handed out fairly freely.
    Keep up the good work,
    David Chapman.

  4. Pete Shanks says

    So where are the insults? Huh? I came here to watch a bloodbath and what do I get? I get apologies and gracious acceptance! Pfui. Oh, arguments are down the hall? Very well, sorry I bothered you.

  5. Lofty says

    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    I can has jealous.

    Some scholars have it that the original NOTB was 616. Religion, can’t agree on anything.

  6. says

    @ Peter Shanks

    So where are the insults? Huh? I came here to watch a bloodbath and what do I get? I get apologies and gracious acceptance! Pfui. Oh, arguments are down the hall? Very well, sorry I bothered you.

    {theophontes farts into a cupped paw, sidles over to Peter and releases the smelly green vapour right in his visogue. }

    As you wish, Buttercup.

    @ Lofty

    616

    I stand corrected: Tony! I can haz jealous.


    From Pfft linky:

    616 χις

    Place a pillow in front of your monitor. Stand on your head and read the bolded text. What has been seen cannot be unseen!

  7. says

    There was a point raised in the recent Kalid debacle, that the Qur’an “prophesied” the expansion of the Universe. As this was the only “prophecy” given that smacks even remotely true, I thought to perhaps add some thoughts here in case anyone has the misfortune of having to put this issue to bed once again.

    Our argument was that there is a good chance that Muhammad merely guessed that the Universe (not his term) was expanding from the options available. Alwayscurious articulated the issue thusly:

    There are three simple answers to the state of the universe:

    1. The universe is presently expanding
    2. The universe is presently contracting
    3. The universe is holding its same volume

    A 33% chance of blindly guessing the right answer…. hardly a feat. Served without further observations or explanations, I can only assume that he guessed.

    I think we are making a wrong assumption here. That is, that Mohammad would have even considered Allah to have constructed a shrinking Universe. That would contradict the whole sweep of what he had to say. That leaves, to all intents and purposes, only two options, expand vs stay-the-same. But Mohammad had an expansive turn of mind. Why should his ideology not be confirmed by Creation itself, by an expanding Universe? (Imagine, for example, Manifest Destiny ™ applied to a static domain… it makes no sense. The ideology is by its very nature all about expansion.)

    But now let me say that in actuality the above is moot. The sura in question (Qur’an, 51:47) does not even say what Kalid claims it says. Prior to Hubble, the heavens were “EXTENSIVE”, it was only afterwards that the translation was changed to “EXPANDING”. The fucking goddists went and retconned their own fairytale.

    Here is Kalids (post Hubble) invention:

    And it is We Who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is We Who are steadily expanding it.

    Contrast with this, non-partisan, non-bullshit translation (Pikthal):

    We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof).

    The verse is quite ambiguous, but still they need to twist the meanings of words to spin their yarn. I don’t mean to get all Prescriptivist here, but fucking hell …

    All of the above notwithstanding, I think a strong point in all of this – ignoring for a moment the flat-out dishonesty of the post-Hubble translators – is that right up to Hubble, there was absolutely nothing even remotely true in the Koran that wasn’t trivial or plagiarised. There was simply no science to back up any unique claims, so that all that Islamists, prior to Hubble, could do was simply have Faith. This implies that the Kalids of this world are a completely different animal from their forbears. They lack that one “saving grace” of goddists everywhere, a need for Faith.

  8. dianne says

    This plane that was shot down over the Ukraine appears to have been carrying a large number of people from the Netherlands to a conference on treatment of HIV in Australia. Which means, among other things, that research into HIV has just taken a major hit and infectious disease in the Netherlands is suddenly badly understaffed. Way to create collateral damage, assholes.

  9. dianne says

    @14: Huh? Didn’t Todd just retract his apology and say that women couldn’t conceive during rape because “stress” after all? But now he says that rape is ok because some of his best friends were conceived that way (or something)? He isn’t even internally consistent.

  10. Derek Vandivere says

    Dianne – they were mostly politicians and activists, not researchers. At least the friend of a friend who died was.

    This is shaping up to be a pretty shitty day – just monitoring FaceBook all day to make sure nobody I knew died. Reminds me of 9/11, when I didn’t know if my pop was still working in the Pentagon or not.

  11. dianne says

    Derek, that’s awful! I lived in NYC on 11 Sept 2001 and I remember the frantic attempts to contact everyone, not knowing who had died…I wish I had something more useful to offer than my hopes that everyone is ok.

  12. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    StevoR is such a despicable human being. I almost forgot just how despicable.
    (see: Mano’s posts about Gaza)

  13. says

    It’s quite telling that many of those who come here to tell us that we’re a totalitarian fascist hivemind do so using their real names and apparently pictures.
    Tells you exactly how horrible we are as people, how much at danger they are from real life consequences, harassment, death and rape threats by our hands…

  14. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Wouldn’t starting WWIII be a wonderful way of commemorating the anniversary of the beginning of WWI?

    Ok, I’m paranoid, I know. But this thing with Ukraine and Russia is getting worse and worse.

  15. says

    I’m alternating between seething with rage at the idiots who shot down that plane, stunned by the grief and the pointlessness of it all, and being numbed by the fact that life just goes on as well — my kids played in the sun today.

  16. says

    But after reading the latest news, I’m setting with rage again. The separatists seem to be denying access to the wreckage, have been accused of removing several bodies to conduct autopsies, and are rumoured to be looting.

  17. alexanderz says

    Beatrice, SQB, rq, if it’s any consolation the situation is arguably getting better, not worse. The separatists hold only part of the Donetsk region and Russia is now less likely to offer military aid to them. In an extremely supportive interview on Russian TV Alexander Borodai looked very nervous and couldn’t get his versions straight, so he might be feeling the pressure from Moscow already.

    It’s too early to be optimistic, but the end appears to be in sight and it might be achieved through diplomacy rather than force. But it might just be me looking through rose-tinted glasses again.

  18. alexanderz says

    Before I’m accused of being too optimistic: Russia has already deescalated the situation once, when its troops were amassing on the Ukrainian border during the separatist referendum. After a trip to Europe Putin has called off his troops and consolidated in Crimea instead. It appears that he was offered Western inaction over the annexation of Crimea for staying out of Ukraine.
    I doubt that he’s going to change his mind now when there is even less to gain and more to lose on Russia’s part.

  19. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    For what is worth, I just read an interesting analysis of the situation, where the author claims that Crimea isn’t trigger enough to start a global war, and the shooting of the civilian plane should instead be a trigger for Putin to back down.

    Also, some parallels with Serbia and musings about Russia being a constant threat to Europe unless we keep it in its current borders. Considering how obvious it is that Putin wants to gather Russia’s lost land back…. yep, sounds correct. They get one country (but they won’t), they’ll be going after the next.
    I’m saying they, I mean Putin. I have no idea about what Russians actually want.

    Link in Croatian, so that’s mostly just for David Marjanović if he drops by :)
    http://www.jutarnji.hr/putinova-je-rusija–kao-sto-je-bio-i-sssr–trajna-prijetnja-za-zapad/1207366/

  20. says

    The latest news is that the Ukrainian authorities claim to have evidence of Russia’s direct involvement: they claim three Russian BUK units, operated by Russian soldiers, are responsible for shooting down the plane.

  21. rq says

    alexanderz
    Nope, I don’t really find that particularly soothing. This is not an ending achieved through diplomacy, it took an accidental act of terrorism to (maybe) happen – that, to me, is quite a lot of force. I have very little sympathy for people like Borodai at the moment, because their intent in any case was to shoot a plane down, and they succeeded, and got far more than they bargained for. Not diplomacy.
    And knowing Putin, there will be no end in sight. Temporary de-escalation or a shift in goals, maybe, but not an end. There’s no guarantee that the separatists will listen to him (some of them are local).

    Although the one vaguely reassuring bit of news was tweeted by the president of Estonia – that finally, after months, it was referred to as ‘eastern Ukraine’ again, rather than the ‘independent republic of Donetsk’ (or whatever their long name was). By Putin himself.

  22. rq says

    SQB
    3? I read two, that they both crossed the border back into Russia soon after the plane went down. But yes, that they were operated by Russian personnel.

  23. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I thought it was known since yesterday that these were Russian missiles. The claim about Ukraine driving in their units just before the attack (what a coincidence, huh?) and being responsible was seen as a lie the moment it was uttered.

    Agreeing with rq, things getting better won’t be due to diplomacy, but Putin realizing he has finally crossed teh line with the civilian plane.

  24. rq says

    Beatrice
    Oh, I thought it was Ukrainian planes supposed to be doing the shooting. It’s incredible, the number of versions going around.
    This article also says 3 launchers, though most Latvian sources cite two.
    Plus they’re giving a recovered-remains count (192 so far), but I wonder who’s giving them that information and how that’s being counted and/or recovered.

  25. Pteryxx says

    “I’ve really tried to understand the Israelis. I used to work on a farm in Israel. I speak Hebrew. I watch their news. All the time they talk about fear. How they have to run to their bunkers to hide from the rockets. How their children can’t sleep because of the sirens. This is not a good way for them to live. We Palestinians don’t talk about fear, we talk about death. Our rockets scare them; their rockets kill us. We have no bomb shelters, we have no sirens, we have nowhere we can take our children and keep them safe. They are scared. We are dying.”

    – Mohammed al-Khoudry a Palestinian farmer in Gaza.

    from the Guardian in 2012 via tumblr

    …So I went looking for articles on what the heck u think ur doing Israel and Palestine. This Vox piece seems to be a decent beginner summary:

    9 questions about the Israel-Palestine conflict you were too embarrassed to ask

    Why, for example, did Israel begin invading the Palestinian territory of Gaza on Thursday, after 10 days of air strikes that killed at least 235 Palestinians, many of them civilians? Why is the militant Palestinian group Hamas firing rockets into civilian neighborhoods in Israel? How did this latest round of violence start in the first place — and why do they hate one another at all?

    What follows are the most basic answers to your most basic questions. Giant, neon-lit disclaimer: these issues are complicated and contentious, and this is not an exhaustive or definitive account of Israel-Palestine’s history or the conflict today. But it’s a place to start.

    But I also ran across this response (to a previous article) in the Washington Examiner (link) and, being a nosy sort, I went and read the bloody thing. I *was* eating food at the time… bad idea.

    Vox’s Max Fisher, who is on a campaign to convince people that Israel bears primary responsibility for the absence of peace in the region, pushed the argument this week to show that the conflict was “lopsided.” The Legal Insurrection blog has rounded up other examples of liberals and critics of Israel making similar arguments emphasizing comparative death totals.

    In a sense, it’s understandable why opponents of Israel seek to make such arguments, because it allows them to flash a simple statistic that could be persuasive those who are uninformed about the actual details of the conflict. But no objective observer should take moral arguments rooted in raw casualty statistics seriously, and below, I’ve given five reasons why.

    And if that wasn’t enough straw, condescension and objectivity-fetishizing to hit the recommended limit for a single article, it gets worse. Much worse.

    1. Comparative death totals don’t say much about the morality of the various sides in a conflict

    If you want to talk about lopsided death totals, check out this chart of German and American deaths during World War II.

    …I’m no scholar of history but I gather the US being separated from Germany by TWO FREAKING HUGE OCEANS might have something to do with that, as a start.

    How about this gem?

    3. Israel takes tremendous precautions to protect its own citizens

    […] In addition, Israel has developed the “Iron Dome” anti-missile system that has been shooting down rockets heading toward populated areas. Add these precautions to the fact that Israel has a citizenry trained in how to behave calmly during a crisis, and this accounts for the fact that there’s only been one death recorded on the Israeli side during the current conflict.

    But somehow, the way the issue is being portrayed by critics, it’s as if Israelis should somehow feel guilty and morally conflicted about the fact that they aren’t at greater risk of being hit by rockets.

    If only those untrained, ragtag Palestinians would just behave calmly while at risk of being hit by rockets.

    and the kicker:

    5. The reality of Israel’s military edge actually shows that it’s acting morally

    Another way that opponents of Israel attempt to use comparative death totals is to portray Palestinians as defenseless victims of Israel’s powerful military. But the reality of Israel’s vast conventional military edge actually demonstrates that it’s acting morally.

    Israel’s morally upstanding because it hasn’t (yet) pounded those troublesome Palestinian communities into rubble! Though it totally could! So give it credit!

    *hurk*

  26. says

    Israel’s morally upstanding because it hasn’t (yet) pounded those troublesome Palestinian communities into rubble!

    As I said elsewhere, we must evaluate people’s violence on their ability to do violence, and if it’s disproportional that means they’re less likely to rein it in. That’s why we would consider it horrible for Mike Tyson to punch a toddler, and would expect Tyson to not retaliate if a toddler punched him.

    From a standpoint of “military courage” who is braver, the guy who throws a rock at a tank, or the guy in the tank?

  27. alexanderz says

    rq
    Diplomacy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Some force is always necessary to make any diplomatic attempt credible. Otherwise why would anyone yield at all if they know nothing will force them otherwise?
    The downing of the plane and the many casualties in the civil war are horrible, but a Ukrainian-Russian war (despite everything those countries still don’t consider themselves to be at war with each other) would have been much worse. A war that up till a few days ago could have happened because Putin had been building up his forces near the border as answer to the rebels losing ground, but now those forces are very unlikely to invade.

    There’s no guarantee that the separatists will listen to him (some of them are local).

    Most of them are local, but it’s not like they have deeply ingrained resentment towards Kiev. The war is more about East vs West than anything else, and with little Russian support the locals will likely accept any reasonable deal from Kiev. Whether such a deal would be offered is another question.

    Regarding the conflicting versions: Ukrainian official aren’t better than Russian officials when it comes to telling the truth (though both are better than the rebels who acting like complete idiots) so it’s best to ignore them all and focus on external sources. I’ve been trying to get in touch with people in Ukraine but they don’t seem to know any more than we do.

  28. alexanderz says

    Speaking of Ukrainians: One family told me they now have a collection of flags. The Ukrainian flag is currently on display, but they also have Russian and Nato flags hidden away. They live in central Ukraine, far from the fighting. They’re more worried about economic problems (particularly gas prices) than about the separatists, but they keep the flags “just in case” as she told me.

  29. Derek Vandivere says

    #29 / RQ: The first I saw of it was a particular friend of a friend, who was more on the political side. Just assumed that they were all more on the activism side than the research.

    I haven’t been able to bring myself to read the passenger manifest yet. One odd development – up until last weekend, I’d always described myself as feeling more like an Amsterdammer than a Netherlander. That’s changed a bit (which makes sense, given that this is proportionally a bigger loss of life than 9/11). I think it’s also the American news response trying to make the tragedy all about Obama vs. Putin that’s making me feel less American and more Dutch.

  30. Gerard O says

    Jaclyn Glenn was seventeen, working at YouTube
    When the Amazing Atheist peered above a spectacle
    Forgot that he’d wrecked feminism

  31. says

    this is a STEREOTYPE:

    Billing itself as “a free and alternative narrative to addressing possible causes and effects of Native American stereotypes,” the project was inspired by Stereotype: Misconceptions of the Native American, an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) in New Mexico last year by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger and furthered through the work of filmmakers Dylan McLaughlin and Ginger Dunnill. The film successfully raised just over $10,000 on Kickstarter this past August.

    “It’s all about getting our voices and getting our faces and our images and our designs out there to challenge those stereotypes,” Native Appropriations’ Adrienne Keene says in the teaser above. “We’ve been so invisible for so long, and now we have a new opportunity through social media.”

    Last month, the creative team posted that, in addition to conducting interviews for the feature, it had reviewed footage from communities including the “Nambé, White Mountain Apache, Ojibwa, Inupiaq, Shoalwater Bay, Yakima, Kiowa, Ohkay Owingeh, Coeur D’Alene, Lower Sioux,” among many others.

  32. CJO says

    Oral surgery tomorrow. Not my strong suit, the dental care thing. Prickly thunderdome hugs to all; we all have our struggles and I must attend to mine, thankfully a matter of anxiety and not life and death such as too many face of late (and ever alas)

  33. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Okay. this is THUNDERdome, right? And no one is going on about NewThorWhoIsNotThorita?

    This is going to be a major issue! The MRAs are churning out badly-written, overwrought speeches about the world ending and the heroic efforts necessary to just barely prevent it. They’re doing it in installment after installment. Doesn’t that prove the idiocy of those comic creators?

    Doesn’t it?

  34. says

    @ CD

    Cannot help you here. I stuck all my money into the outgrabbing paw of my booky. For the daughter of Thor, to wit: Þrúðr … Given that this diminishes my odds, I trust you realise how much I have compromised my Ferengi roots to tell you as much.

  35. alexanderz says

    Crip Dyke,
    I’m still flabbergasted that she wears the same costume as HeThor. Knowing the comix community I’d thought she fights evil in a pair of nipple tassels, a metal thong and high heals.

  36. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’d pay good money to see HeThor fight evil in a pair of nipple tassels, a metal thong, and high heels.

  37. says

    alexanderz:

    I’m still flabbergasted that she wears the same costume as HeThor. Knowing the comix community I’d thought she fights evil in a pair of nipple tassels, a metal thong and high heals.

    It’s a variant of his costume, not exactly the same thing.
    Marvel has been making some strides to appeal to its diverse fanbase thankfully. The tasteful costume for F-Thor is one example.

  38. says

    A Nostradamus series is being created:

    According to Deadline, Joseph Fiennes (Camelot, American Horror Story) will be playing a vengeful Nostradamus in a new series put together by Carnival Films (Downton Abbey) and Anonymous Content (True Detective). The hour long drama cleverly entitled, Nostradamus, is by author Michael Boccacino (Charlotte Markham And The House Of Darkling) who developed it in partnership with producer Andrew Crosby (Eureka).

    Set in the volatile French Royal Court, the apothecary and self-proclaimed seer demands vengeance against those who murdered his family. But his pleasure-seeking impulses and thirst for revenge run headlong into the treacherous epicenter of social and political life of Renaissance era Europe.

    The project is in early development and episode totals and broadcasters have yet to be set.

    I’m sure the studio hopes this will be the next Game of Thrones.

  39. says

    This is troubling:

    http://io9.com/sixth-grader-may-have-stolen-marine-biologists-lionfish-1609042717?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

    There’s a new development in the story about 12-year-old Lauren Arrington’s remarkable science fair project about the invasive potential of lionfish. A marine biologist is now claiming that the project was based on published work he did back in 2011 — and that the girl is the daughter of his former supervisor’s best friend.
    {…}
    Stories of lead researchers stealing the work of their grad students is not uncommon, but this represents a major twist. It seems that in this case, a proud parent (and close friend of a college professor) encouraged his daughter to conduct a science fair project that was largely based on the work of that professor/friend’s graduate student. Arrington’s science fair project seems to have been inspired by the work of a grad student, Zack Jud, who published very similar results back in 2011 — work that Arrington’s father was an author on.

    Since the story broke a couple of days ago it’s been picked up by numerous media outlets. The news eventually got the attention of Jud, who claims that his many years of groundbreaking work on lionfish in low salinity estuarine habitats is being completely and intentionally ignored.

    {…}
    Frustratingly, there’s actually a petition going around demanding that Arrington’s name be added as an author to Jud’s most recent scientific publication.

    Jud is now trying to figure out what to do about the situation without doing anything to discourage the girl.

    “Most of you are aware of the massive amount of time I put into exposing kids to science, and I obviously don’t want to do anything to diminish this young lady’s curiosity or enthusiasm,” he writes. “I’m thrilled that she chose to look at lionfish for her science fair project, but encouraging an outright lie is poor parenting and a horrible way to introduce a youngster to a career in the sciences.”

  40. Dhorvath, OM says

    So I found an alternative path back to school. I took some tests at a local college, “these are very good scores” on my math assessment and “Now you are ready to sign up for some classes” after my English assessment. No need to talk about my former university experiences and after a year there I have marks I can forward to the program I wan to get into. Yays all around.

  41. Dhorvath, OM says

    Here, have an extra t. I think it belongs above. Celebratory beers may be involved.

  42. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Fuck Colnago’s comments on the “no more support for israel” thread.

    Just saying.

  43. alexanderz says

    Dhorvath:
    Congrats. What are you studying?

    Crip Dyke
    Y U HATE URSELF???

    Seriously though, it’s funny how nobody in any discussion regarding US aid to Israel bothers to look up why US finances Israel. It’s not out of the goodness of their hearts, nor has it anything to do with NeoCons, but everything to do with US being a side to Israel’s peace treaties. The same amount of money that goes to Israel also goes to Egypt and Jordan for the same reason (~3.5b for Egypt, ~1.5b for Jordan, with Israel getting the combined ~5b).
    This means that withholding the aid to any party will nullify the peace treaty, essentially increasing the hostility in the region to a much higher level.

    That isn’t to say that US doesn’t provide other kinds of support for Israel that can be withheld (the automatic UN veto comes to mind). It’s just a very bad example of a desirable course of action. Like someone saying that US should break all ties with Russia, beginning with the nuclear disarmament treaties.

  44. alexanderz says

    My comment is awaiting moderation and I didn’t even put any links in there. I’m getting error 503 on most FTB pages.

    Is FTB bugging out or is it under DoS attack?

  45. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @alexanderz:

    Shall I assume you’re talking about a comment other than #73?

    I’m not getting bugs. Your moderation is probably a Palestinian plot. Let’s create a Facebook virus that bans any mention of health, food, or medicine in Arabic. Aw, hell. It’ll just ban Arabic.

  46. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    #65:

    the program I wan to get into

    Why so pale and wan, fond Dhorvath? Prithee why so pale?

    #66:

    Celebratory bears may be involved.

    Rewritten to match up with how Crip Dyke’s glasses-free eyeballs read that the first time.

    I was thinking something like these:

    One

    Two

    Three

    Four

    Five

  47. Pteryxx says

    Found this poem among the tumblrs:

    They call us now.
    Before they drop the bombs.
    The phone rings
    and someone who knows my first name
    calls and says in perfect Arabic
    “This is David.”
    And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
    still smashing around in my head
    I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
    They call us now to say
    Run.
    You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
    Your house is next.
    They think of it as some kind of war time courtesy.
    It doesn’t matter that
    there is nowhere to run to.
    It means nothing that the borders are closed
    and your papers are worthless
    and mark you only for a life sentence
    in this prison by the sea
    and the alleyways are narrow
    and there are more human lives
    packed one against the other
    more than any other place on earth
    Just run.
    We aren’t trying to kill you.
    It doesn’t matter that
    you can’t call us back to tell us
    the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
    that there’s no one here
    except you and your children
    who were cheering for Argentina
    sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
    counting candles left in case the power goes out.
    It doesn’t matter that you have children.
    You live in the wrong place
    and now is your chance to run
    to nowhere.
    It doesn’t matter
    that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
    to find your wedding album
    or your son’s favorite blanket
    or your daughter’s almost completed college application
    or your shoes
    or to gather everyone in the house.
    It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
    It doesn’t matter who you are
    Prove you’re human.
    Prove you stand on two legs.
    Run.

    — “Running Orders” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

  48. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Pteryxx,

    I’m crying a bit.

    When I first read about the warning calls, it made me wonder how those sound, when exactly they come, how you are supposed to know where it is safe to run…

  49. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    That is awesome, Pteryxx, in the truest sense of the word.

    I tremble and am afraid.

    Thank you and Lena Khala Tuffaha.

  50. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    From the same tumblr:

    I understand the impetus behind the counting of children and female casualties. The killing of innocents in Gaza by Israel’s war machine is a crime. But Palestinian men are victims of Israeli state terrorism too. Let’s not repeat the logic of the war on terror, where only children and women can be victims but men (including boys over 15, sometimes 13) are always suspects and thus somehow they share in the blame of their own death. This is the gendering of the War on Terror: our men and boys are inherently dangerous and are merely the potential for violence encased in human flesh.

    Furthermore, every woman who lives and loves and loses and struggles within Israel’s military occupation and siege is a revolutionary. You do not have to pick up a gun in Gaza to be a revolutionary or an “enemy” of Israel. You just have to be alive and to insist on living. After all, isn’t that point of settler colonialism?

    — Maya Mikdashi (via globalwarmist)

  51. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Ok, that’s weird. A comment reposting another piece from the same tumblr Pteryxx linked, disappeared. No links.

  52. Nick Gotts says

    US being a side to Israel’s peace treaties. The same amount of money that goes to Israel also goes to Egypt and Jordan for the same reason (~3.5b for Egypt, ~1.5b for Jordan, with Israel getting the combined ~5b).
    This means that withholding the aid to any party will nullify the peace treaty – alexanderz@74

    [citation needed]

    The wikipedia articles on the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace treaties indicate that only those pairs of states were parties (which is what I guess you mean by “side”) to the treaties, although that on the Israel-Egypt treaty does say:

    As part of the agreement, the U.S. began economic and military aid to Egypt, and political backing for its subsequent governments.

  53. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Still reading that tumblr:

    I am so, so, so tired of seeing pictures of mangled children, of parents with faces contorted in grief, of corpses that are charred, with missing limbs, with holes in them. A few days ago they were circulating a picture of a child from Gaza who’s skull had been cracked open and hollowed out. Stop it. Stop circulating these pictures.

    There’s a reason you only see these pictures of brown and black bodies from third world countries. Think about it for a second, have you ever seen pictures of the dead from 9/11 or the Boston bombing or any of the hundreds of school shootings that happen in the US?

    But see those lives matter so much more, you don’t need a picture of a burned body to care, just the thought of it happening is enough to make you horrified. And the thought of anybody publishing pictures from the events I just mentioned probably repulses you, so why don’t you have the same reaction to the images coming out of Gaza?

    Fair point that I haven’t thought of.
    The rest here: http://stay-human.tumblr.com/post/91982180969/i-am-so-so-so-tired-of-seeing-pictures-of

  54. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!, #90:

    “Not entirely pointless” says Chrissy.

  55. alexanderz says


    Nick Gotts:
    The aid is part of two additional treaties that was signed between US and Israel and US and Egypt. In the Israeli treaty US is responsible for promoting the peace treaty (1) and will provide a military and economic assistance to Israel (6). A similar, but naturally more Egypt-centered, treaty was signed between US and Egypt (I can’t link to it because I can’t find it on the Egyptian Foreign Affairs site, but all diplomatic declarations point to it being almost identical to Israel’s). US gained even more roles in the 1981 treaty that followed.
    You may argue that a termination of a complementary treaty doesn’t legally necessitate the termination of main peace treaty, but that’s not how the countries involved see this. When recently US wanted to cut aid to Egypt it was AIPAC that pushed to block that initiative precisely because even diminishing US support to Egypt (not canceling completely, just cutting slightly) could jeopardize the peace treaty.

    tl;dr – US is a party to another treaty that serves as an addition to the main peace treaty.

    Thanks, Tony!! When I went to searched for something like that all I found were softcore porn and DeviantArt hardcore slashfic cartoons. Related Oglaf strip (NSFW).

  56. Lofty says

    Tony!

    I wonder if kalid will heed PZ’s warning…

    Do they ever? Would take more than currently evidenced logic skills to break the bad habit of ejaculating wherever they want.

  57. Nick Gotts says

    You may argue that a termination of a complementary treaty doesn’t legally necessitate the termination of main peace treaty – alexanderz@93

    It’s not a matter of me needing to argue that – it’s simply a matter of fact. The USA is not, as you claimed a “side” to the Israel-Egypt or Israel-Jordan treaties, which are valid in international law irrespective of any acts on the part of the USA.

    Moreover, the memorandum of understanding you link to does not bind it to provide arms to Israel. Point 6 says:

    Subject to Congressional authorization and appropriation, the United States will endeavor to take into account and will endeavor to be responsive to military and economic assistance requirements of Israel.

    That’s a long way short of an unconditional guarantee.

    When recently US wanted to cut aid to Egypt it was AIPAC that pushed to block that initiative precisely because even diminishing US support to Egypt (not canceling completely, just cutting slightly) could jeopardize the peace treaty.

    Was this after the military coup – which of course the USA has refused to admit was a military coup so it could continue supplying weapons to Egypt? If so, of course AIPAC wanted to support the compliant regime the coup established in Egypt.

    The USA supplies arms to both Israel and Egypt because it considers it is in its own interest to do so, to keep both as allies supporting its economic and geostrategic stake in the region.

  58. Nick Gotts says

    kalid,

    You continue to do an excellent job of demonstrating that – and how – Islam makes many of its adherents both stupid and vile. In this case, you overlook:
    (a) The fact that the first amendment forbids the legislature of the USA making any law:

    respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances

    It seems to have escaped your notice that PZ Myers is not the legislature of the USA, and is not attempting to make any law.
    (b) The prevalence in Muslim-majority countries of laws which would not be permitted under the first amendment, and among many Muslim scholars, of opinions justifying such laws.

  59. says

    kaled:

    THE HIGHLY CENSORED THREAD IN THE *CENSORED THOUGHTS BLOG* BY PZ MYERS!!!

    First Amendment to the United States Constitution/Freedom of speech

    PZ, you need to read this carefully!

    And YOU need to read for comprehension. This is PZ’s blog. He can regulate it however he chooses. Banning you from all threads but the Thunderdome doesn’t infringe upon your constitutional right to free speech bc PZ is not an agent of the government. So you can take your whining and shove it.

  60. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Kaled:

    I politely decline to publish you on the front page of the daily newspaper I own, however you are welcome to submit a letter to the editor which I hereby pledge, in advance, to publish so long as it meets certain minimum standards.

    Or, wait, did I just piss on the First Amendment of the US Constitution?

    I’m so sorry.

  61. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @chigau:

    That sounds… icky.

    Hopefully you didn’t mean it in the way it came across to me.

    Or, well, food for the scavengers, cycle of life, yadda yadda: maybe I shouldn’t say, “hopefully”.

  62. chigau (違う) says

    CD
    I don’t know how else it could come across.
    We were walking across the tundra. We observed the posterior portion of an arctic hare.

  63. The Mellow Monkey says

    Once I was on a walk in the desert and found the heart of a small animal. No other bits were around; it was just a heart all by itself.

  64. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    oh
    “saw”?

    No. I just meant that it’s possible to see only half an arctic hare because the other half is, e.g., behind a tree.

    I leapt to the correct interpretation, but then suddenly wasn’t sure if it was correct. Then I was thinking, “Phew. Chigau didn’t necessarily mean it was dead.” Then I was all, “Why ‘phew’?”

    It was a very traumatic moment for me, you see. Having to rethink assumptions and all. You know how I hate to see things from new perspectives.

  65. alexanderz says

    Nick Gotts #98:

    The USA is not, as you claimed a “side” to the Israel-Egypt or Israel-Jordan treaties

    It is a party to the US-Israel Memorandum of Agreement which is a supplement to the peace treaty, was signed on the same day as the peace treaty and by all accounts the main reason the peace treaty was signed in the first place because before that the talks were extremely tense.

    That’s a long way short of an unconditional guarantee.

    Nevertheless it was interpreted as such by the US for both Israel and Egypt for over 35 years. Enough to have a de facto force, if not legal one.

    Was this after the military coup

    Yes, but here is another such story from when Mubarak was deposed, when the Muslim Brotherhood was already in control of most affairs in Egypt and a few months before Morsi’s victory in the election.
    Please note that what made the US to back down was precisely what I was saying: “Cutting aid to Egypt could thus mean trouble for the treaty… Many attribute the toned-down rhetoric on the issue over the past week or two to the dawning realization that such a move might seriously imperil one of Israel’s most important alliances in the region… ‘the Israelis are majorly concerned that if aid stops flowing, the treaty may break down'”

    Legally, you may be right, but when peace treaties collapse nobody goes to court – they go to war. Currently, the US aid is an important cornerstone of the treaty, and to the parties involved that’s all that matters.

  66. chigau (違う) says

    CD #111
    Yup. Hide-bound. That’s you ;)

    If the hare was half-hidden, it wouldn’t be behind a tree.
    No tree-like trees here.
    Rocks, now.
    Rocks we got.

  67. chigau (違う) says

    alexanderz #113
    I don’t think a bunny-backside would be as impressive as a jackal-head.

  68. alexanderz says

    Tony!,
    I’m kind of over sensitive when it comes to profanities, so I can guess what triggers the tone trolls, though I don’t justify the troll’s reaction – an unwillingness to learn or to sympathize with others should be punished and the unease the profanities produce is the only reasonable punishment that can meted out online, particularly when the trolls show immunity to critique, mockery or honest engagement. In fact, I started to try to improve my worldview because one person in my circle was not afraid of being harsh and honest about my views (“harsh and honest” is not the same as cussing like you have a unique speech impediment!).
    Having said that, there are very few people here (not JAL, other people Who Will Not Be Named) who reply with nothing but profanities, have no interest in talking with another person, nor do they give even a minimal chance to a newcomer to explain themselves. I’ve decided to ignore those people and surprisingly, over the past years I’ve never came to regret that decision even once! They’ve never posted anything worthwhile or thoughtful.

    Anyway, what I’m saying is: Give a new person a couple of comments to explain themselves before going in for the kill. Even then try to make sure your comment attacks the words and the attitude, but still provides some insight.

    On an unrelated note. I’ve noticed you’re a comic fan. Can you please tell me who this is? She doesn’t look like batgirl. Is she some alternative reality batman?

  69. says

    alexanderz:

    I’m kind of over sensitive when it comes to profanities, so I can guess what triggers the tone trolls, though I don’t justify the troll’s reaction – an unwillingness to learn or to sympathize with others should be punished and the unease the profanities produce is the only reasonable punishment that can meted out online, particularly when the trolls show immunity to critique, mockery or honest engagement. In fact, I started to try to improve my worldview because one person in my circle was not afraid of being harsh and honest about my views (“harsh and honest” is not the same as cussing like you have a unique speech impediment!).

    My point behind criticizing people who complain about harsh words is that often, comments that contain naughty words also have a point. There’s a message being conveyed that the profanities merely serve to enhance. The coarse language is meant to pepper the comment. To enhance its flavor. The swearing isn’t often meant to take the place of an argument. I’ve put forth arguments before that have been ignored simply bc I’ve said fuck, or shit, or I’ve called someone an asshole. Whether or not one approves of the cursing, there’s still an argument to address. The commenter I was referring to upthread didn’t want to engage or address consciousness razor or JAL simply bc both used bad words. Yet they both still had an argument to put forth.

    As I mentioned in another thread: does the presence of bad/naughty words negate an argument? If I’m arguing in favor of abortion rights for women, same sex marriage, or arguing that it’s a good idea not to treat trans people as if they’re invisible in our discourse, are my arguments invalidated simply because I pepper my comments with profanity? I’m not talking about replacing an argument with such words, but merely add such words. It shouldn’t matter. One should be able to look at my argument and discuss its strengths and weaknesses.

    For some reason many people choose not to do that. I’ve seen far too many people that get wrapped up in complaining about someone calling them a ratfucker or a fuckwit, nevermind the larger point being made. That person, as is their right, is making the decision not to engage an argument on the basis of language being present that they don’t like. I don’t begrudge someone the right to not like profanity. I just think it’s fucking stupid to overlook an argument in favor of focusing on the language used to make the argument.

    Ultimately, the point is: which is more important? Tone or substance? For the purposes of an argument, substance *should* be more important (I do recognize that different situations can call for different tones. Also, if one is trying to be respectful of others, such as in church or school, it might be reasonable to avoid profanity.)

    Also, as I’ve said elsewhere, much of the opposition to profane words stems from religion. Look at the very root of the words profanity or swearing or cursing. They were treated as taboo by religion for so long that the taboos have become infused into our culture. People treat the presence of FUCK, SHIT, HELL, DAMN is if there’s something sooooooooo wrong with them. The use of these words is claimed by many to be the sign of lack of education, or an inability to make an argument. But look around at people who use profanity. There are plenty of examples of people being able to make arguments while using profanity. There are plenty of examples of people with high levels of education who use profanity.
    {as an aside, I don’t like the idea of associating any type of language with specific levels of education. It’s often used to shame people. And its elitist. “Smart” people don’t use profanity also means that “dumb” people do. Fuck that.}

    I’m not trying to argue against your reasons for disliking profanity, merely pointing out the problems I have with many commenters who whine and moan about harsh words.

    I also should point out that I’m talking about non bigoted slurs. Bigoted slurs derive their power by punching down on oppressed people, and I’m wholly against that. There’s a difference between words like fuck or shit and slurs like sl*t or fag*ot.

    Having said that, there are very few people here (not JAL, other people Who Will Not Be Named) who reply with nothing but profanities, have no interest in talking with another person, nor do they give even a minimal chance to a newcomer to explain themselves.

    Your experiences must be different than mine. I’ve only been here a little over 4 years, but in that time, I’ve seen very few regular commenters who reply with nothing but profanities. I’ve seen commenters who use profanity in their first comments in a thread, but I don’t see the problem with that. Newcomers can say stupid things and if someone wants to say “that’s a stupid fucking idea”, I don’t see the problem with it.

    That said, I do largely agree with PZ’s revisions of the rules a while back, where he said to give people 3 comments before eviscerating them, and I do try to adhere to that. I understand that there are times when ideas are not communicated well and/or not understood by others. 3 comments is a reasonable amount of time to allow for misunderstandings to be cleared up.

    Anyway, what I’m saying is: Give a new person a couple of comments to explain themselves before going in for the kill. Even then try to make sure your comment attacks the words and the attitude, but still provides some insight.

    Part of me is a little annoyed at the condescending nature of this comment, but I’m going to overlook that for now.
    Your advice is what I do try to follow. I’m not always successful and it’s a work in progress. Today in fact, I initially responded to jenny6833a in a very brusque manner, using profanity. As I thought about it, I realized that perhaps I was too quick with the insults. It’s a line that I try to be aware of. Sometimes I think I’m too quick with it, and other times I think it’s warranted. But I do my best to make sure that I’ve given thought to every word that appears on the screen.

    As for your question, that is Batwoman, aka Kate Kane. She’s a superheroine in the DC Universe patterned somewhat after Batman. The most recent version (the same one in your image) was created in 2006 (IIRC). She is a prominent lesbian superhero who starred in Detective Comics for a time under Greg Rucka as writer and JH Williams as artist.

  70. consciousness razor says

    The commenter I was referring to upthread didn’t want to engage or address consciousness razor or JAL simply bc both used bad words. Yet they both still had an argument to put forth.

    Thank you for noting that, and I want to make another distinction.

    The word “shitheads” was used as a casual reference to a third-party group in my response to hyphenman. Never mind that this was, in fact, after their third comment. I nevertheless did not “go in for the kill.” I did not say anything even mildly insulting to them or about them. (Except, inadvertently, I guess. Is hyphenman one of the atheist shitheads I was targeting? In hindsight, the answer is “yes,” but there wasn’t much reason for me to say so at the time.)

    Anyway, it was just a word that my comment contained, about a rather nebulous group (shitheads, to be precise) about which I was in the process of asking a series of questions that won’t be answered — not that they were the sort to impress me before hyphenman peddled their bullshit, so not being answered is no great loss to me. Evidently, the mere presence of Bad Words™ short-circuited this person’s poor, confused, tone-trolling brain. That kind of fake puritanical snobbery goes way beyond somebody simply being offended by an insult.

    I do understand that unlike ordinary “foul” language, an insult (even to somebody who’s sincerely trying to engage with others in a discussion, not a troll) can sometimes cause people to get sidetracked on that, or lead them to misread the tone of the rest. The risk of that happening is acceptable to me, compared to not expressing how I feel. If I want to express rudeness, ridicule, contempt, or whatever the case may be, using profanity is often the most satisfactory way of doing so. This is not something I can honestly neglect from a discussion that carries those sorts of emotions or evaluations with it, because they are there and substantive in themselves, whether or not you like them, share them with me, etc. All of that’s open to criticism too: if you think I shouldn’t feel the way I do, tell me why. Maybe there is some legitimate point to be made to that effect. But if you’re not up for giving me such reasons, don’t even start to drone on about what “reasonable, civil debate” is supposed to look like. And don’t simply throw a fit that I’m not speaking in some vague way that makes you uncomfortable and for that reason declare yourself the victor. Unless, that is, somehow the point you wanted to demonstrate is that sometimes you act like a jackass. However, that is not, usually, the point such jackasses actually want to make.

  71. says

    consciousness razor:

    If I want to express rudeness, ridicule, contempt, or whatever the case may be, using profanity is often the most satisfactory way of doing so. This is not something I can honestly neglect from a discussion that carries those sorts of emotions or evaluations with it, because they are there and substantive in themselves, whether or not you like them, share them with me, etc. All of that’s open to criticism too: if you think I shouldn’t feel the way I do, tell me why. Maybe there is some legitimate point to be made to that effect. But if you’re not up for giving me such reasons, don’t even start to drone on about what “reasonable, civil debate” is supposed to look like. And don’t simply throw a fit that I’m not speaking in some vague way that makes you uncomfortable and for that reason declare yourself the victor.

    Excellent points, and I feel the same way. I wish I’d thought of them when I composed this message in the
    Ophelia/Dawkins thread.

  72. consciousness razor says

    Too many negatives in this sentence. I meant the opposite.

    And don’t simply throw a fit that I’m not speaking in some vague way that makes you uncomfortable and for that reason declare yourself the victor.

    I think so, at least.

    I’m getting another fucking drink, you damned dirty Thunderdomites. (What do you call people in this, the best of all thunderdomiciles? Thunderdomers, thunderdomists, thunderdomians, thunderdomitians?)

  73. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Thunderdomidichlorians?

    No visible physical bodies, yet we surround the earth, bind it, and hold it together… Well, sometimes I can hold it together.

    Yeah. Thunderdomidichlorians has a few things going for it.

    But I prefer ThunderDomans. We sound much more powerful and important that way: We crossed the ComicCon … or fixed the Rubik’s Cube or something like that.

    No, wait: We came. We Yawned. We zonked out.

    That’s not it. I think it really only comes across appropriately in Latin:

    Injuria delenda est.

    Exegi cephalopod aere perennius.

    Cucullus facit monachum.

    Legum servi sumus ut liberi esse opossums.

    Dulce et decorum est pro poopyhead mori.

    Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses

    and, of course,
    Sic semper zhuchengtyrannus

    yeah, that’s it. ThunderDomans.

  74. says

    Crip Dyke:

    We crossed the ComicCon … or fixed the Rubik’s Cube or something like that.

    Maybe you fixed the Rubik’s Cube, but I never did. I just cheated and removed all the stickers.

  75. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!:

    For certain definitions of “fix” I think you definitely qualify. ;-P

  76. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Only one of those latin phrases was not modified (and mortally wounded) by me. I figure for the folks who know no latin at all there’s still a 1:2 chance of getting it right.

  77. opposablethumbs says

    Let me see … call for people to be harmed and discriminated against, using only “civil” language = not rude. Call for people NOT to be harmed or discriminated against, using some taboo words = rude.

    They really don’t get it, do they.

    Thank you for the link over to Lousy Canuck, Tony!, I wouldn’t have seen that thread otherwise (I like LC, just don’t get over there much/as much as I’d like).

  78. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    I read about Whisper just recently. It’s an app that lets you anonymously post secrets; ultimately it’s a place where you can vent and share your innermost thoughts with a similarly anonymous crowd. Your Whispers appear as text superimposed over an image that ostensibly has something to do with the content of your writing. Sometimes the image that comes up can be hilariously wrong or tragically fitting.

    So I posted a few Whispers and in the space of about fifteen minutes I had received a few Likes (they call them “Hearts”) and some reply Whispers. I also received a few private chat messages. Without exception, the messages I received were along the lines of “Hey baby, what up, I’m hot are you?”

    I very deliberately chose a gender-neutral nym. It seems unless you choose a nym like “StraightDudeWithADickForChicks” the dudebro mouthbreathers on Whisper will assume you’re a woman (or even better, a girl) and will start hitting on you. In the first few hours I dealt with about half a dozen asswaffles who were to a man feeling entitled to my vagina. Except I don’t have a vagina. I told a few of them that I was a 40-something divorced dad, and they wouldn’t believe me. “Come on baby, if you don’t want to talk just say so, but you’ll be missing out.” The others either bailed (thank the gods), or in the case of one, flipped out with “I’m not a fag. Fuck you faggot. WTF are you doing here. Fag.”

    Whisper’s stated purpose is actually pretty cool, a supposedly safe space for anonymous folks to share something that’s bothering them. Sadly it’s been turned into an MRA/PUA hunting ground, and I shudder to think that the fucking fucks who were harassing me are just the tip of the iceberg for the women who use the app. What a fucking cesspool are world can be. :-(

  79. says

    jrfdeux:
    That’s disheartening but sadly not surprising.
    I do wonder why people assumed you were a woman.
    I also wonder if there are studies on how people online react to gender neutral nyms.

  80. opposablethumbs says

    The harasser-PUA-crapheads probably just assume that anyone who goes on this site at all, anyone who so much as has the desire to tell a secret wish/worry/whatever, simply must be a woman or girl – and one in a vulnerable place at that, so prime hunting.

    Now I have to wash my mouth out (or disinfect my keyboard). Ugh.

    jrfdeux, I’m sorry you got that crap thrown at you.

  81. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Okay, so I just had a weird little revelation.

    F(g) = (Gm1m2)/d^2, right?

    okay, but what if that’s mathematically accurate only because of constant v of c? I’ve always assumed that space is the important dimension, but what if the important dimension is time?

    Argh, nope, now that I say it, it doesn’t seem as plausible as I thought, given the relationship of a radius to the volume of a spherical shell as (r1 – r2) => zero.

    However, there’s long been quite a lot of wonder about the relative force of gravity compared to the electroweak and the strong. Maybe time factors in there, and doesn’t for gravity, which might explain why those forces appear weaker at distance than does gravity?

    Hmp. I need to read more fundamental physics.

  82. Rob Grigjanis says

    Crip Dyke @138:

    which might explain why those forces appear weaker at distance than does gravity?

    The strong and weak forces are very short range, so that’s why they ‘appear’ weaker at distance; they’re essentially zero for macro distances. The electric force, though, is an inverse square, like gravity, and is much stronger than gravity in the following sense; the ratio of the gravitational force to the electric force between, say, two protons, is independent of distance, and is about

    F(g)/F(e) = 8 x 10^(-37)

    Since a whole bunch of stuff we observe is electrically neutral (planets, pencils, etc), the electric force isn’t as obvious in our daily lives. But…the second part of electromagnetic;

    Remember that your fridge magnet overcomes the gravitational attraction of the whole planet!

  83. AlexanderZ says


    What I’ve said is no way to anything specific that Tony!, consciousness razor or opposablethumbs have said – I was expressing the feeling I got when I first came here. Nor what I say is in any way related to jenny6833a who has shown herself to be rather hypocrite (as well as a host of other unseemly qualities).

    Tony! #118:

    As I mentioned in another thread: does the presence of bad/naughty words negate an argument?

    Not at all! It does, however, color your argument – and that’s perfectly fine and often essential. The problem (for new people delurking, not for trolls) is when everyone are doing that. Imagine going on to a new forum where every few sentences a couple of words are written in ALL CAPS in every comment, and there are hundreds of comments. No individual comment is wrong, but the entire page becomes off putting.

    I’ve seen far too many people that get wrapped up in complaining about someone calling them a ratfucker or a fuckwit, nevermind the larger point being made.

    Yeah, that’s a sign of either dishonesty or laziness or both. Unless they’re someone just stopping by, they should have been aware that this is common on this blog, and a visitor should not expect the regulars to change just for him/her. But if the visitor didn’t know the ground rules than that’s even worse – familiarizing yourself with the people you want to engage is simple common sense.

    much of the opposition to profane words stems from religion.

    That’s just English being English. In Russian the etymology of similar words, depending on the word, is related to mocking, reproaching, barking, struggle/fight and mother. Nevertheless the negative connotation remains (perhaps even more so: post Soviet countries have very strict rules about using profanities on television and other official media and texts, while the common person will use them almost as punctuation).

    Part of me is a little annoyed at the condescending nature of this comment, but I’m going to overlook that for now.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean you nor anyone else in this thread. Also, that jenny6833a person? It’s far from the first time she’s acted the way she did. You’ve been more than charitable to her.

    As for your question, that is Batwoman, aka Kate Kane.

    Thank you!

    Crip Dyke #125:

    yeah, that’s it. ThunderDomans.

    Since mods are gods, would that make monitors ThunderDomini? I guess I should start calling you ThunderDomina.

    jrfdeux #134
    There is another danger in Whisper, as is in all apps, it’s not secure and it’s not anonymous. Snapchat has already showed it’s ugly colors and Whisper is likely to be next.

  84. says

    alexanderz:

    The problem (for new people delurking, not for trolls) is when everyone are doing that. Imagine going on to a new forum where every few sentences a couple of words are written in ALL CAPS in every comment, and there are hundreds of comments. No individual comment is wrong, but the entire page becomes off putting.

    I think alot of that offputtedness comes from the unexamined aversion to vulgarity. I mean, at the end of the day, they’re just words. Why is fuck more off putting than squirrel? Why let the use of that word impeded a conversation?
    (btw, I’m not arguing against you here; more just “thinking” out loud).

    In Russian the etymology of similar words, depending on the word, is related to mocking, reproaching, barking, struggle/fight and mother. Nevertheless the negative connotation remains (perhaps even more so: post Soviet countries have very strict rules about using profanities on television and other official media and texts, while the common person will use them almost as punctuation).

    I’m curious who makes these rules on discourse, and why. I don’t know anything about the etymology of vulgarities in Russia, but I do wonder why some people decided some words are off limits.

    I guess I should start calling you ThunderDomina.

    That’s, like Crip Dyke’s codename when she’s in the Justice League.

  85. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!, #12^2 + i^2:

    I second, in my imitable white middle-class style, your ‘dafuque?’ in the sense of how it sounds now. I wonder what it sounded like to Black folk then?

    And I don’t mean in the choice of words, I’m talking about putting that element in the list, asking that question. I just wonder how Black comic geeks would have reacted. Was the world so different that most simply would have said, “Holy fuck! That’s an option????” and been really excited? Hard to know.

    it is not merely from “the 1970s” but literally from 1970 (and/or 1969, but likely only 1970 given the drawing mentioned was to happen Sep 1970). Oregon was 32 years away from eliminating the constitutional language that, had it not been rendered unenforceable by SCOTUS, would have continued until 2002 to ban the existence of Black folk within its borders, or the ownership of land within the borders by Black folk living anywhere. And in 2002, I remember only too well, the measure striking the language got 20%+ voting against the change. To preserve history and tradition, don’cha know.

  86. chigau (違う) says

    Temperature is predicted to be 11°C for the next couple of days.
    whew

  87. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    fucking internet

    ?

  88. Donnie says

    I was scanning the Freepers the slymepit forum and this bit of cognitive dissonance was actually written:

    Re: Nerds. Nerds EVERYWHERE…
    Postby debaser71 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:10 pm • [Post 28333]

    Money might be low because atheism awareness is already done. That battle is already won. IMO there’s really no more need for atheism awareness campaigns. Atheism is mainstream and religion is doomed. For me, I’ve totally moved onto other things like calling out feminist nonsense. My daughters’ lives are too important to be tainted with all that girl power self esteem special snowflake ban-bossy crap.

    This, on top of the usual complaining about their comments being kept in moderation and only “those” comments let through that make the commenters “look bad” while not allowing a logical reply in order to defined the passed through moderation comment. Of course, the follow up comments are always supported by logic and reason. I suspect the same logic and reason displayed above.

    Seriously, I do not understand why “they” (defined as slymepitters, anti-SJWs, anti A+, and those who love to bully, harass, and troll for the lulz) feel such a need to comment on FtB so much? They are free to comment on the slymepit forum, http://www.skepticink.com blog, and create other communities based upon guidelines appropriate for their forums/blogs/communities. Why such obsession with FtB and A+ where certain commenters spend an significant part of their days/nights?

  89. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Just have to point out this nugget that Richard Dawkins just retweeted.

    Forgive me if I do not give him the benefit of the doubt here.

  90. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    That New Yorker writer is for shit.

    What happened to understanding the topic before you write about it? Argh.

    Also: Not at all surprised that Portland is where that gathering happened.

  91. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Crip Dyke, Michelle Goldberg is also the same woman who wrote that article for The Nation decrying how black feminists on Twitter were poisoning feminism.

    And here is what Julia Serano, one of the few trans women mentioned in that New Yorker article, had to say about what she spoke about when interviewed by Goldberg.

    Of all that is wrong with that article, the worst was the lies created by leaving details out. Goldberg talks about some tweets by trans women calling for violence but nothing about how groups like GIDWatch operates.

    But Christina Hoff Sommers finds this “leftist battle between radical feminism and transgenderism” (The Fuck!) fascinating. And Dawkins has to pass this ignorant shit on.

  92. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Of all that is wrong with that article, the worst was the lies created by leaving details out.

    Oh, you have no idea. I’m from Portland, at least as an adult. What was left out that would be necessary to understand that meeting could fill a book.

    Even if I wasn’t the one writing it.

  93. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Oh, no. At least not primarily. This history goes back 20 years.

  94. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Goodbye Enemy Janine, #156:

    Borked.

  95. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    He is tone-deaf, for sure. He sees himself as a good guy, so naturally all the things he does are consistent with being a good guy. Therefore there can be no evidence that he’s a bad guy. Therefore the people who don’t trust him because they think that there is evidence of bad behavior and want to see something more positive before trusting? They must be doing logic wrong. There can be no such evidence. Therefore when people who don’t think he deserves the benefit of the doubt critique something tone-deaf, those people aren’t reasonably responding to a history of various fuck-ups, they are unreasonably thinking that it’s likely a good man will suddenly go bad!

    I find myself wanting to write a beat poem for him:

    “Look, hey, no. I’m a good guy!
    Why are you all so unreasonable?”
    he screams into London’s morning fog of pixels.
    You’ve twisted my words. Don’t lie.
    All of us, selfish as genes are able
    to join, aren’t we? Aren’t we more than dick cells
    Fit for cutting away? I
    say, “date rape.” Feminists start to rebel
    and even my ‘splaining, “It’s only cause sex sells,”
    Falls on their ears like spit in my eye.

  96. chigau (違う) says

    This fog had better be gone when I actually wake up in three hours.
    And that Dawkins thing had better be a dream.

  97. chigau (違う) says

    I have sampled 10 of the available 25 cookie/cake/muffins.
    and the fog aten’t lifting

  98. AlexanderZ says

    Tony! #142:

    I’m curious who makes these rules on discourse, and why. I don’t know anything about the etymology of vulgarities in Russia, but I do wonder why some people decided some words are off limits.

    To clarify: Those aren’t the profanities themselves, but rather the etymology of the Russian version of the words “profanity”, “swearing”, “cursing”, etc. The profanities themselves are just as unimaginative as in English. That’s why some profanities are grouped by [a name that loosely translates as] “mother” – because there so many ways to insult one’s mother (mother f…, son of a b…, etc.)

  99. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    167
    Dhorvath, OM

    Two letters to laugh, what can you do with one?

    U.

    (lol)

  100. chigau (違う) says

    I’m home.
    After a one day delay due to fog and 4 more hours in the plane waiting for the grandmother of thunderstorms to thunder past.
    I see I have some more Dawkins to catch-up on.
    Oh, well.
    I have rum.

  101. says

    A petition:

    Copies of a poster have been sighted on NHS premises as part of the Home Office’s ‘Know your limits’ campaign. The poster reads ”one in three reported rapes happens when the victim has been drinking” — a blatant and appalling case of victim blaming by our own Government, putting the onus on the victim rather than the perpetrator.

    I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve never been raped or sexually assaulted, but I know so many who have — friends, friends of friends, friends of family, and many others – and that’s not okay. Like it or not, we live in a society with a rape culture. When horrible crimes like rape or sexual assault happen, those who suffer turn to what they see as trusted authorities — the NHS for immediate help and the Home Office for justice. That’s what makes this poster so hurtful. These two great national institutions betray the trust of the thousands of victims affected every year by blaming them for something they were in no way responsible for.

    Two honourable intentions — to stop people drinking, and to stop rape happening – are being completely deformed. Of course we don’t want people to drink so much they make themselves ill, but threatening them with rape by implication is not the way to do it. Of course we don’t want anyone to endure sexual assault and rape, but making them feel like it’s their fault if they do, is so far out of order.

    It is not consistent with the NHS’ own guidelines on ‘Help after rape and sexual assault’ in which they say ‘If you have been sexually assaulted, remember that it wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you were or whether you had been drinking. A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator.’ This is a much more helpful approach, and we ask the NHS and the Home Office to destroy this poster in all formats.

  102. opposablethumbs says

    Oh, snap Daz – just posted about that self-same petition in the Lounge.

    They should take a leaf out of Edmonton’s don’t-be-that-guy book.

  103. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    Does anyone here know when the word whore became conflated with slut? I see it all the time, with the former being flung at women to denote promiscuity. By definition, a whore is someone who has sex for money or some kind of other consideration.

    I foolishly tried explaining that once to a misogynistic dork at my workplace, and all I got for my trouble was a glassy-eyed stare and some mumbling about “nerds.”

  104. says

    Seems whore has had that meaning for quite a time:

    A general term of abuse for an unchaste or lewd woman (without regard to money) from at least c.1200. Of male prostitutes from 1630s. Whore of Babylon is from Rev. xvii:1, 5, etc. In Middle English with occasional plural forms horen, heoranna.

    And if I’m reading that rightly, the first time it was used as a synonym for prostitute was in connection to male prostitutes. Whoda thunk it?

    Slut, on the other hand, seems to have a slightly more convoluted history:

    Specific modern sense of “woman who enjoys sex in a degree considered shamefully excessive” is by 1966. Meaning “woman of loose character, bold hussy” is attested from mid-15c., but the primary association through 18c. was untidiness. Johnson has it (second definition) as “A word of slight contempt to a woman” but sexual activity does not seem to figure into his examples. Playful use of the word, without implication of messiness or loose morals, is attested by 1660s

    But whatever, it seems the notion that whore was originally specifically a term for a prostitute is false.

    [source for whore]
    [source for slut]

  105. AlexanderZ says

    anteprepro,
    They can’t impeach him so they sue him. I wonder what it says about GOP that they try to launch legal assaults on every Dem president. It’s almost like they prefer US to be a one-party democracy.

  106. anteprepro says

    AlexanderZ: The thing that is so fucking mind blowing and petty about it is that they are suing Obama to make him implement Obamacare according to schedule. When delaying that shit is exactly what Republicans have wanted. The GOP has no fucking principles. It is absurd how slimy they are willing to get.

  107. jrfdeux, mode d'emploi says

    Daz: Thanks for that! Very enlightening, albeit on a dismal subject.

  108. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!, #183:

    yeah, I’m pretty sick of Jenny6833a’s comments, too.

    CaitieCat put something on the logic thread I’ll respond to here.

    Jenny6833a, I hope you found this, because I’m putting this in another thread not to hide it from you but because the commenting rules here make it inappropriate to make this kind of comment in that thread.

    CaitieCat’s original comment’s gist:

    the dismissiveness of altering their ‘nym in this way is kind of disturbing to me. 6833@a is not an outrageously long sequence, and ‘jenny’ would be pretty clear on this thread as referring to a particular poster.

    Would it perhaps be better of us to not alter poster’s nyms in ways that appear meant as a contemptuous jibe?

    I actually made a subtle – probably too subtle – joke about this earlier on another thread.

    On the one hand, I agree with you that it’s not generally a positive thing and I’d rather express contempt for the ideas and behaviors than the person, on the other, once you put out a number of critiques and get highly dissatisfying responses (or none at all), a sneering tone will be implemented by some.

    I’ll continue to use Jenny6833a, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over others taking a tone with Jenny6833a that comes across no better or worse than Jenny6833a’s tone with so many others.

    When she advocated her experiences organizing within her workplace to mentor “females” (she probably meant women, but who knows what panty/chromosome checks were required to qualify for mentoring?) as a model for feminist activism, I was appalled that she had thrown Greta Christina under the bus without knowing anything about her. I pointed out that this is hardly a positive model of feminism, and that the way she described her own actions led to some seriously awful conclusions.

    No walk back. No “pardon me, I’ve made a mistake in recounting the history.” No, “Now that I think about it, that probably was unfair to GC.”

    Absolute silence.

    I take it as a point of pride that I listen to ethical critiques of my behavior, and respond in the best way I know how. Very, very frequently on Pharyngula that involves a concession. People have a great nose here for ferreting out my mistakes.

    Jenny6833a’s responses to others ethical critiques of her actions have been contemptuous, non sequiturs, perfect exemplars of tu quoque, and/or non-existent.

    With me, she’s avoided responding to my direct statements that X behavior of hers is unethical. Maybe I’m wrong in my understanding of what she wrote or in my analysis of it. But we’ll never know, b/c Jenny6833a isn’t engaging.

    From everything I can tell, that indicates a refusal to learn, and that is contemptuous.

  109. says

    My comment above referencing jenny6833a is, if I’m not mistaken, the first time I’ve referred to her as jennynumbers. I don’t make a habit of it, but in this case, I did so for exactly the reasons Crip Dyke mentioned. It was meant contemptuously.

  110. chimera says

    Goodbye Enemy Janine,

    Thank you for providing that link to Julia Serano who I did not know about. I was planning to read the New Yorker article (still haven’t but will, discovered and skimmed it before I discovered your comments here). I very carefully read Serrano’s peer-reviewed take down of autogynephylia (hard slogging and could use some graphs and tables to make statements immediately comprehensible) and got a lot out of it. It’s very well done unlike most of the psy lit based on self-reports by participants. If anyone else is interested, The Case Against Autogynephilia is here.

  111. abb3w says

    Back in February in this thread, EnlightenmentLiberal, David Marjanović and a few others were having a back-and-forth on the philosophy of science, the Münchhausen trilemma, and a few other things; my handle got thrown out. I’ve finally noticed it after the thread is long closed; I figured I’d throw a few thoughts here into Thunderdome, since that’s one of the functions this thread serves.

    1) EnlightenmentLiberal insists for the Münchhausen trilemma that

    The only sane option is axiomatic.

    Personally, I consider it pretty moot; the definitions he wants to “mathematically prove” the Trilemma are also sufficient to construct enough of topology to show existence of an isomorphism between them. There also seems to be an absurdity to that demand for a particular starting point, given that Münchhausen trilemma is about the options for starting points.
    2) EnlightenmentLiberal also insists that

    The axiom of any sane person is that science works.

    However, that’s not actually necessary to take as an axiom. As David Marjanović alluded, it appears the functionality of science can instead be derived as a theorem from more fundamental axioms — the most critical stating loosely, that the universe has some pattern. Science results as a quasi-algorithm application of the theorem in “Minimum Description Length Induction, Bayesianism, and Kolmogorov Complexity” by Vitanyi and Li (doi:10.1109/18.825807), which allows formalizing the concept of parsimony/simplicity. So, yes: parsimony is a heuristic which is indeed explicitly Bayesian. The exact meaning of “pattern” can be mathematically formalized, via Church-Turing automata theory; the background for this involves math often left to math majors, and sometimes even skipped over at the undergrad level — construction from ZF (or equivalent, and independent on Choice) of the precursor languages of mathematics like numbers, Kolmogorov probability theory, and the aforementioned automata theory.
    3) I’ll also note, the “pattern” axiom can instead be taken in refutation; the alternative “branch” is more or less “Boltzman Brains plus Ramsey Theory”, but dismissal is functionally identical to that given for solipsism.
    4) I’ll also note, addressing Hume’s Problem of Induction still leaves his “Is-Ought” problem. While it can be show that from the existence of “is” options to be partially ordered (A better than B, A worse than B, A equivalent to B, A morally incompable to B), the existence of a set of “ought” partial ordering relationships can be derived (constructively, for finite sets; possibly requiring some form of Choice axiom for infinite options), an additional axiom is required to specify which element of the set of possible “ought” relationships is being discussed. This appears the borderline between Science and Engineering.

    All of which is pretty irrelevant to everything else I can see currently in the thread; but it’s fucking Thunderdome, so that hardly matters.

  112. AlexanderZ says

    Daz:
    The writer is a pseudo-rebellious contrarian with what could pass for fairly loathsome ideas, if it weren’t for the fact that she says them just to spite people who liked the pope’s list (there are plenty of good reasons to be against papists, but this ain’t one of them). She’s no more than a parasite that tries to leech off some clicks from the pope’s popularity.

    Take her first item for example:
    True happiness is a miserable ex
    Why? Because someone who no longer wants to share their life with you deserves to suffer? To be miserable? Why is that?
    (as an aside, I’d say that from her list anyone who is dating Naomi McAuliffe is already miserable)

  113. rq says

    Inaji @199
    How can I express my like for your gravatar in a fashion appropriate to the Thunderdome?

  114. says

    rq:

    How can I express my like for your gravatar in a fashion appropriate to the Thunderdome?

    It’s just the old one, but thanks! It’s Jadehawk who designed it.

  115. rq says

    Inaji
    Kudos to Jadehawk, then!
    And somehow it stands out a lot more on this background. Awesomesauce.

  116. AlexanderZ says

    Inaji,
    It’s not just the gravatar – your old nym was also resurrected. If you go to any old thread, like the introduction thread, you’ll see yourself listed as Caine again.

  117. says

    AlexanderZ:

    If you go to any old thread, like the introduction thread, you’ll see yourself listed as Caine again.

    Oh, that again. Not terribly surprising.

  118. anteprepro says

    Just noticed Richard Dawkins’s self-description at the top of his Twitter feed. Just bask in the glory of this one short sentence contained within:

    Dislikes pretentious obscurantism.

  119. chigau (違う) says

    “Dislikes pretentious obscurantism.”
    humpf
    That’s just meretricious persiflage.

  120. says

    Didn’t someone post a link to the original Dear Muslima thread with comments preserved? I forgot to bookmark it and now I can’t find it anymore. I think it was through the wayback machine, but I went there and none of the cached versions have comments. Help!

  121. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    They are conducting this operation in a very calm and calculated way. So… those bombings of kids weren’t mistakes after all?

  122. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Oh, he’s sorry that civilians were killed.

    … he actually says that Hamas wants more Palestinians killed so that the world will get on their side… WEll, no one is putting your finger on the button, you fucking murderous asshole.

  123. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Can someone please throw a shoe at him?

  124. rq says

    *hands Beatrice a stack of lost and lonely shoes and boots*
    I think there’s a steel-toe in the pile somewhere.

  125. AlexanderZ says

    Beatrice,
    Are you live commenting Netanyahu’s speech or something? I don’t think even his staff does that.
    Anyway, the operation seems to be slowly dying down. There will be more bombardments, but they’ll likely to be limited. Over 60 dead soldiers and a kidnapped one have turned IDF against the government. Some generals say (anonymously for now) that they should have had more freedom in Gaza and argue for its entire conquest, while others say that the operation was wrong from day one due to undefined and unachievable mission objective. At any rate, Bibi is now starting to lose control so his sources have announced that with the destruction of the last known cross-border tunnel the operation was officially a success (never mind that at various times he gave up to three mission objectives – revenge on the “kidnapping” of three youths, destruction of Hamas and, the most recent, the destruction of cross-border tunnels).

    Now it’s important to see how the settlers act. If the settlers will use the presence of IDF in parts of Gaza to push for an outpost there, then the situation will get even worse. If not, then IDF will withdraw from all, or almost all, of Gaza and there won’t be a similar operation at least until election year in 2016-2017.

  126. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    AlexanderZ,
    I was bored, listening to CNN and the anchor made a big production of waiting for Netanyahu’s speech. So I listened.
    And then felt like puking and/or throwing a shoe at the tv.

    I don’t feel as optimistic as you. He said that they will continue with their successful operations until they are done. Supposedly with the destruction of underground tunnels (as you noted, that’s the latest real mission goal), but I’m wondering.
    Isreali people are reported to be against the cease fire because they are sick of war coming back every few years. They want it over and done with.
    … but can that mean anything but further murder of Palestinian people until the rest is broken enough to do whatever Israel orders them to?

  127. AlexanderZ says

    rq
    Always looking on the bright side of life…

    Beatrice

    Isreali people are reported to be against the cease fire because they are sick of war coming back every few years. They want it over and done with.

    They’re also sick of the operation which meant the shutting down of all of Israel – very little commerce, forced vacations and shift reduction in many work places leave little money to continue the operation. The government is pressed for money as well, since reservist forces are extremely expensive (they’re payed close to their civilian salary, not a soldier’s salary) and air raids also aren’t cheap.
    The IDF has already finished moving to the border. The bombings continue mostly in and around the region where the soldier was captured, presumably an attempt to carry out the Hannibal directive.
    The political system is also preparing for the day after. The head of the defense and foreign affairs commission (a person from Netanyahu’s own party) said that he wants to start an investigation into this operation and its failings, and Israel started to allow humanitarian aid to come into Gaza.

    … but can that mean anything but further murder of Palestinian people until the rest is broken enough to do whatever Israel orders them to?

    No. The operation was temporary, the war is eternal.

    In other news: Ukraine didn’t think of leveraging its success on the battlefield for a diplomatic solution and instead focused on crushing the rebels. So now the rebels have nowhere to retreat and Russia may invade Ukraine after all.
    Wars are so morish…

  128. rq says

    AlexanderZ

    Ukraine didn’t think of leveraging its success on the battlefield for a diplomatic solution and instead focused on crushing the rebels.

    Really? Didn’t think of that? Maybe there’s bad diplomatic blood between them and Russia. And Russia can still not invade Ukraine, if we’re being all optimistic about it. And the rebels can retreat into Russia, if they really need to. But it doesn’t look like Putin’s backing down after all.

    Israel started to allow humanitarian aid to come into Gaza.

    That’s so generous of them.

  129. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    AlexanderZ,

    Any links regarding that investigation?

  130. AlexanderZ says

    rq
    To hell with Russia. Most of the rebels aren’t Russians. The territory isn’t Russian. The people being shelled now aren’t Russians. Ukraine should have talked with Ukrainians! But they don’t want to. Not now, not when the crisis just began.

    Right after Yanukovych’s outing they could have reassured east-Ukrainians that they want the new regime to be inclusive, they could have formed a unity government of some sort (some Rada members that voted against Yanukovych were from his own party and were amiable to a deal with the new regime). They didn’t do that. Instead they decided to double down on anti-Russian language laws, knowing all too well (because a previous round of that was what brought Yanukovych to power in the first place) that they’re alienating east-Ukrainians that are already suspicious of Yanukovych’s removal and that those people can get support from Russia that has been eying Ukraine for quite a while now (again, that’s how Yanukovych got to power). Their bright idea? Give seats to the most radical elements in east-Ukraine. Because what any volatile situation needs is the calm resolve of an armed far-right para-militant. That’s just logic. Or what passes as such in Kiev.
    At the end, the anti-language decision was reversed, but only when clashes began to break out all over east-Ukraine. Not backed by Russia – just ordinary east-Ukrainians who had a bone to pick with west-Ukrainians for several decades.

    Then they had a second chance when Russia annexed Crimea. Instead of trying to provide more autonomy to the regions to, if nothing else, keep them from rebelling just until the new central government is fully established, they decided to ratchet up the military rhetoric. Because if you’re a failing country up against a nuclear-armed superpower you have to go for the military bravado bluff. That’s also logic.

    Then there were the Odessa clashes and the subsequent burning to death of forty people and injuries to over 200. Again, the Kiev government could have tried to defuse the situation. They could have ordered an immediate removal of the local head of police (who took some part in the pogrom) and make at least some gesture to make amends with their opponents. Did they? Hell no! It weren’t their side which was getting fried, so why bother. They said something about looking carefully at the situation and establishing a fact finding mission and other nonsense – anything to delay any sort of action. Can you guess what that burning (let alone a pro-Kiev TV audience cheering the event on a local channel) had on east-Ukraine?

    Now we are seeing the culmination of that brilliant diplomacy. Suppose Ukraine wins. Suppose all the rebels retreat (why should they? many of them are Ukrainians just like the other side) to Russia and Ukraine is at peace once more. What then? Does the government waltz up to the destroyed towns and villages, the families of 800 civilians killed and over a hundred thousand refugees and say “we’re sorry”? “It’s all water under the bridge”? “You were collateral, but we’re friends again”?
    I’m not justifying the many crimes of the so-called “Donetsk Republic”, but unless you’re willing to admit that you’re fine with collateral damage, even fairly limited as it was, you have to agree that this can only end with at least a token diplomatic concession from Kiev. Because ultimately it’s not Ukraine against Russia, it’s Ukraine against itself. And if Ukraine wants to remain a unified nation it has to recognize that the deaths of all Ukrainians mattered – not just those on Kiev’s side. Unless they do that, even if they win militarily, there will leave festering wounds for generation, and with Russia just across the border it’s obvious that more conflicts will follow.

    But it doesn’t look like Putin’s backing down after all.

    Why should he? Who is there to stop him? Ukraine? EU? US?
    His only concerns are the economy of Russia and the Russian public opinion. If one outweighs the other, then he’ll act on that front. Now he sees that he’s unlikely to pay any serious price for taking control parts of Ukraine and with every loss by the rebels his supporters in home get even more rabid in their demand for an invasion. Clearly he has nothing to lose.

    He’s also going to be much more magnanimous to east-Ukrainians. He won’t annex them, just like he didn’t annex Abkhazia or South Ossetia. Donetsk and Lughansk will remain “free” states, with their own governments and their own laws, all financed by Russia. In essence, Putin is the only one combining military and diplomacy to pursue his goals. Proving, yet again, that he may be a murderous thug, but from the single brain that all post-Soviet area micro-tyrants and petty leaders had to share, he got a double spoonful.

    Beatrice
    Didn’t see it English but here is a link to the Hebrew version and here is the (admittedly poor) Google translation.
    Basically, Alkin said that he’ll pursue the investigation (in his role as a committee chairman) even if it’s not to Bibi or anyone else liking. He mentions that the previous committee was too focused on the political rank and its decisions [which eventually led to Olmert’s resignation -AZ] weren’t implemented.

    In case you were wondering – don’t worry. The committee won’t be about war crimes, just whether mission objectives were reachable and clearly defined (maybe not even that, seeing how he says it was too focused on Olmert) and whether the army negligent of war preparations, maintaining supply lines, protecting its soldiers and defending the home front (as those were the issues addressed by Winograd).

  131. rq says

    AlexanderZ

    Why should he? Who is there to stop him? Ukraine? EU? US?

    Because it’s a Ukrainian internal matter? Granted they’re dealing with it badly (yeah, civilian deaths – not a fan), but they’re not trying to take over Russian territory. He has no business, never mind popular opinion in Russia (and popular opinion in Russia is heavily influenced by their mainstream media, which is pretty censored overall). That’s the problem: it’s not his backyard. It’s the neighbours, who have never (to my knowledge) expressed any interest in invading Russian territory.
    Anyway, your earlier comments in this thread (somewhere around the 30s and the 40s) suggested that things would be de-escalating, what with the Malaysian airplane being downed and all.
    I’m just trying to point out that it’s not happening.
    Also, I find this statement problematic:

    Diplomacy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Some force is always necessary to make any diplomatic attempt credible. Otherwise why would anyone yield at all if they know nothing will force them otherwise?

    But that’s because I don’t believe that diplomacy should be automatically supported by force. Rather, mutual understanding and agreement, not covert threats and a show of arms, should be what diplomacy is all about.
    Admittedly, Ukraine is failing at this right now, too. Apparently, for them, a great show of military force will accomplish more than discussion.
    But you’ve admitted that you can be overly optimistic, what with your penchant for wearing rose-coloured glasses all the time, so I dunno. I guess I’m just not happy to be bordering Russia right now, that’s all.

  132. chigau (違う) says

    On another note:
    I’m done packing.
    It’s only two weeks but holyshit is there alot of stuff.
    The footwear alone would make Imelda jealous.

  133. samihawkins says

    So a few days ago I witnessed my older brother getting loud and pissed off at his six year old stepson for playing a videogame the wrong way. I thought this was fucked up so I talked to my dad about it and he agreed. He said he’d have a long talk with my brother about why it’s fucked up and he shouldn’t do that but that he’d need some time to think of the best way to discuss it, that it’d probably be sometime after my brother’s son is born two weeks from now.

    At first I was satisfied that my dad would hopefully put a stop to this shit before my nephew had to suffer through it, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that this behavior which was so obviously psychologically damaging when my brother did it to his kid was the exact same shit he did to me. The pissy voice he used on his stepson for not playing Halo the right way was the exact same voice he uses on me and for the first time in my life it occurred to me that maybe there’s a connection between my total lack of confidence and self-esteem and the fact that I spent my entire childhood being smacked around and yelled at anytime I ever made a mistake or did something he didn’t like.

    I’ve decided I want an apology, a real one not just him spitting out an “I’m sorry” in that same pissy voice after lecturing me about how I’m exaggerating and/or deserved it. On Wednesday when my dad stops by I’ll ask him if he wants me to wait until after he’s had that talk with my brother to confront him about the years of abuse he put me through and if he says yes I can pretend to get along with my brother until then, but this confrontation is going to happen. I want him to say he’s sorry and actually mean it, if he won’t do that than I’m completely cutting him out of my life until he can. As long as grandma’s still alive I’ll pretend to get along with him when we visit her at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but the rest of the year he’ll be dead to me.

    I’m not really sure why I’m posting this here. I guess it’s half just wanting to get it off my chest and half figuring that if I tell it someone else that’ll lessen the urge to go over to his place immediately and tell him how he made my childhood a living hell.

  134. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    samihawkins,

    Thank you for sharing that. I’m glad you’re doing something about your brother’s treatment of your nephew. None of my business is the attitude people too often have when it comes to that kind of thing… and then the child suffers. As you did, and as that continues to follow you through your life.
    So, good for you. Because of your nephew and because of yourself.

  135. says

    It may just be that some green herb was involved and my coherency goes out the window and I become a playful jerk of a write who finds it funny to do grammar pranks as trolls. <_<

    If it's seriously still unclear or you just disagree/ask questions/call me an idiot and tell me why, just lemme know in here.

  136. says

    Tashiliciously Shriked

    Nah, I agreed. And thanks.

    More generally, I’m trying to put together a light-hearted post on Britishisms. Not the usual pavement/sidewalk, pants/trousers thing, but colloquialisms and turns-of-phrase that people of a foreign disposition might be puzzled by. As ever, as soon as I thought of doing it, examples fled from my brain like very fast fleeing things, and I can suddenly think of only a handful. If anyone has any suggestions…

  137. opposablethumbs says

    It’s not a puzzling one, just one that drives me mad – “I could care less” logically means I do care – at least a little bit – because I am capable of caring less than I do. “I couldn’t care less” means I do not give one single solitary fuck, because it is not possible for me to care any less.
    .
    Clearly, this is a distinction that I could care less about – because, daft and trivial though it may be, I find that it gets right on my wick. I know, I know, I should know better ….

  138. opposablethumbs says

    NO, no it is Rong! Rong, I tell you! Everybody has got to say they couldn’t care less. Otherwise it makes baby Jesus cry me come out in hives.
    .
    I am going to retire now and mourn bitterly and inconsolably for the ancient and venerable kindle that I accidentally killed today. While I’m trying to work out how/if to afford a replacement, if anyone’s got any heartfelt pros and cons about ereaders I would be grateful to hear ‘em.

  139. AlexanderZ says

    rq,
    I still hope that everything will be resolved with minimal causalities. I’m merely getting more and more certain that this will lay the foundation for a second conflict later on regardless of the outcome, but I still think we’re seeing the end of this round. Whether it comes by Kiev eliminating its opposition or Russia conquering part of Ukraine, at least it’ll be quick either way.

    Because it’s a Ukrainian internal matter?

    Putin doesn’t have the moral right, but he sure has the might, and for most people that’s the only thing that matters (or to put it even more bluntly – for all the people that matter it’s the only thing that matters). Sad, but that’s the way things are. This could change if Russia suffered a major defeat, either a military one like in the Caucasus (Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan are only nominally loyal to Moscow, in reality they conduct their own military politics, often in opposition to Russian interests, all the while enjoying Russian funds. Not to mention that the wars there haven’t really ended) or an economical one (if, say, US abruptly refused trading dollars for rubles, or seized any Russian asset that’s connected to Kremlin). But for now there is nothing to force Putin to change his ways, so he won’t.

    popular opinion in Russia is heavily influenced by their mainstream media, which is pretty censored overall

    True, but don’t be fooled that this hides some vast rift between ordinary Russians and Kremlin. Putin is a dictator, but he’s a popular dictator. In matters of corruption, sure, there is a lot of opposition to Putin. But in matters of war? When it comes to war Putin is well to the left of the public opinion. Look at his opposition: Elderly communists that want the reinstatement of Soviet Union; LDPR is even more rabid – it’s against Soviet Union only because they think that the Marxist ideology is a weakness for a properly run fascist state; non-parliamentary opposition? The strongest amongst them are the National Bolsheviks and other similar neo-Nazi groups.
    Liberals in Russia are an endangered species, and even those that exist are closer to US Neo-Cons than anything else (some minor social liberalism, large support for Bush’s wars and an overwhelming support for laissez faire capitalism). If there is some sort of underground liberal youth movement then I haven’t seen it. At the moment the only anti-government youth movements are those that cleanse Moscow markets from (as they call them) “black-assed filth” and hunt foreign day-laborers for sport.

    But that’s because I don’t believe that diplomacy should be automatically supported by force.

    Normally it shouldn’t, but when countries are willing to go to war what else remains? If enough people are willing to kill and die, they’re unlikely to be persuaded by mere words. A big stick and some sort of carrot is often the only way to prevent a situation from escalating.

    I guess I’m just not happy to be bordering Russia right now, that’s all.

    Why, are you happen to live in a former Warsaw Pact country with a large disgruntled Russian population who feel threatened by a pro-European government? Things will be fiiiiine…

    Sorry for the gallows humor. You’re part of NATO so you’re backed by nukes, and that makes your country pretty safe.

    samihawkins
    You’re awesome and very brave. I was raised under similar circumstances and I know I wouldn’t have been able to approach a similar situation as you did.

    Daz #238,
    I don’t know if it counts as a Britishism, but when I first came to Scotland I called its capital “Edinburgh”, then some locals called me a poofter and suggested a different pronunciation.

  140. yazikus says

    I’m getting a nasty page when I try to go to the main page. Error 521. Anyone else?

  141. yazikus says

    Tony, that is odd. I am still getting it. How have you been? How’s the weather? I have a friend who lives in Florida who has been posting the most amazing weather pictures of where she lives. Quite hot where I live, but I’ve taken up fishing this summer and we spend most weekends hiking up rivers.

  142. says

    AlexanderZ

    Yep, it’s pronounced “Edinborough.” But then this is is a country in which “Biceseter” is pronounced “Bister” (rhymes with sister”) to name but one of many. I blame the damned immigrants for mucking up the language. (All of ‘em; the Homo sapiens, the Celts, the Angles, the Saxons, the Romans, the Normans, the Huguenots…)

  143. says

    yazikus:

    How have you been? How’s the weather? I have a friend who lives in Florida who has been posting the most amazing weather pictures of where she lives. Quite hot where I live, but I’ve taken up fishing this summer and we spend most weekends hiking up rivers.

    I’m as well as expected. Still jobless. I’m hoping my interview last week pans out. The owner said they would be doing callbacks early this week. Didn’t get a call today. If I don’t get one tomorrow, I’m going to give them a call. It’s for a restaurant that isn’t open yet, so even if I get the job, I have to wait a few weeks before I start making money. But it’s still a slightly better chance than I’ve had so far. I’ve sent out many applications and this place was the only one to call and set up an interview.
    The weather in Pensacola is nice. Unseasonably cool at night over the last few weeks. Of course that just means 65°F, rather than 85°F.

  144. says

    Opposablethumbs, I’m sorry about your Kindle. I have a Nook HD+, which was at a very reasonable price, and I’m pretty happy with it. (You can read kindle books on it, too.) My main dissatisfaction is that they decided the keyboard click sound wasn’t necessary, but that’s easily remedied by using a different virtual keyboard. There are good reading features, such as dictionary look up, highlighting, adding notes, bookmarking, all that. There’s also a good range of styles for reading, colours, fonts, etc. As far as I know, you can transfer anything to a mini-card (Mister has a card for his, I don’t have one.) The sound and visuals are excellent.

  145. Esteleth is Groot says

    Opposablethumbs, if it interests, I have a Nook that I have jury-rigged into thinking that it’s a Kindle (this is 100% reversible). If you’re in the US, I’d be willing to send you the thing – I’m not using it.

  146. Esteleth is Groot says

    I should add that this “jury-rigging” was also 100% legal and didn’t damage the warranty on the device in any way.

    Because SD cards are awesome.

  147. opposablethumbs says

    Esteleth that is such a kind offer I don’t know what to say! But I’m in Albion/Blighty/Across the Pond :-)

    Thank you anyway! {{hugs you}}.

    Interesting that three of you all have Nooks. Shall investigate.

    My main priorities would be:
    first and foremost, be able to put in all kinds of files, dammit, or as many as possible, including pdfs (but Calibre mostly takes charge of that, thank goodness). I have some that were originally html, txt, doc, pdf, mobi, epub … whatever. If it could cope with the occasional image that would be a bonus.
    1) read comfortably (obviously) for eyes that are juuuust starting to feel less sprightly than they once did (so being able to adjust the size easily for pdfs would be great, as well as a crisp display)
    2) read in bed at night in the dark (I’d love a built-in light rather than having to get a cover with a light as an extra)
    3) being able to organise/re-organise the titles easily for easy searching would be nice

    I don’t tend to do much in the way of notes, but on the other hand if I could type without having to struggle to use teenytiny buttons the size of an ant’s knackers then it might be easier, so I would occasionally write the odd note.

    Thank you all for the info – and thank you for all those details, Inaji. I’ve never had any files with sound on the old one, but maybe I should! When you say sound and visuals … you mean some books and texts have sound effects? Or can these things play vids or something!?!? (Shirley not …)

  148. AlexanderZ says

    I’ve been browsing Andres Sullivan’s blog and found his critique of Sam Harris’ piece on Israel. I know that Harris has been discussed ad nauseum here, but I want to touch the topic of “human shields”. People have linked to committees and reports that found no evidence for the use of human by Hamas or other Palestinian groups, however I don’t remember anyone talking about IDF use of human shields. So here is a very short reference list:

    B`tselem’s page on Israeli use of human shields.
    The Association of Civil Rights in Israel citing the ban on the use of “human shields” by Israel’s supreme court.

    Both of those organizations are deemed “far-left”, so here are mainstream references (all in Hebrew, sorry):
    YNET (second item): ‘Military prosecution has decided to press charges against a battalion commander who allowed the use of a man as a “human shield”‘
    YNET: ‘Two soldiers were found guilty of forcing a 9 year old child to open suspicious bags [aka, potentially booby trapped -AZ] ‘
    The “Neighbor Procedure” from the Hebrew Wikipedia, with references. An English take on this is available on B`tselem.

    As far as I can remember, Israel has used Palestinians to carry out dangerous tasks since at least the 1st Intifada. Then it was mostly limited to forcing people to climb electric poles to get PLO flags down from the wires. The results were as you’d suspect – injuries and deaths due to falls and electrocution. I also remember hearing years ago of some Border Guard troops tying a Palestinian to their armored jeep so that local protestors wouldn’t throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the jeep. Couldn’t find a link for those items, but I hope this list will be enough for any future pro-Israeli ultra-skeptic.

    P.S.
    If you happen to meet Harris, please tell him he’s scum and say it’s from me.

  149. Esteleth is Groot says

    Actually, opposablethumbs, I few minutes on various websites tells me that I could ship the Nook to you for no more than about $50 (i.e. about £30). That isn’t bad, really, and I’m not using the thing, so I’d be happy to come to an understanding with you.

  150. says

    Opposablethumbs:

    When you say sound and visuals … you mean some books and texts have sound effects? Or can these things play vids or something!?!? (Shirley not …)

    Oh yes, the nook HD+ plays videos beautifully, and it’s fab for reading comic books, too – has special features for doing so. More details here.

  151. opposablethumbs says

    x-posted from the Lounge:

    Esteleth -

    Esteleth that is so kind of you! (I saw your comment in the Dome, but I thought at first you meant you could send within-the-US only.)

    I might possibly have a line on one belonging to a friend in Wales (she has two now!) but if that doesn’t work out I’ll post and ask you, yes? Just one thing I wanted to ask, though, is whether it’s one with a screen that illuminates in dim light (e.g. for reading at night) – I think that might make a lot of difference to me now that my eyes are, ahem, starting to feel their age a bit! :-)

    Thank you so, so much. It’s such a generous thing to offer!

    Inaji

    nook HD+ plays videos beautifully

    Wha-??? Wow! Sounds fabulous.

  152. AlexanderZ says

    I’ve wrote a long comment about the use of “human shields” by Israel, but it was eaten by WordPress. Granted it had quite a few links, but I’m still pissed. #FTBullies

  153. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    AlexanderZ,

    isn’t that comment #258, or was there more?

  154. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @AlexanderZ:

    Any post with more than 5 links goes automatically into moderation and must be manually approved by the blog’s owner or someone authorized. As far as I know, no one approves that stuff other than PZ, so you’re at his schedule’s mercy if you include 6 links.

    That doesn’t mean it won’t show up later. It just means you never know when later might be.

    Also, it creates work for PZ. So, y’know, the polite thing to do is, if you’re not just spamming and trying to avoid the spam filter, when finding yourself needing to write a comment that contains more than 5 links, break it up into multiple comments.

    I usually try to keep mine to 4 links so that in the rare case I’ve miscounted, I still haven’t added to PZ’s workload (nor have I made my comment appear late, potentially after it would be useful).

  155. AlexanderZ says

    Beatrice
    Another one. With even more links. There are literally hundreds of cases. Never mind, though.

    Crip Dyke
    You’re right and I’m sorry – I thought it was all handled automatically and he personally clears only people who are tagged as trolls.

    …now that I think about it, it might not have been WordPress’ fault. I keep getting errors occasionally that bring me to CloudFlare. Could it be my ISP blocking FTB? Maybe it’s detecting some politically loaded keywords or links and is blocking me? Or maybe I’m simply a paranoid conspiracy theorist?

    Anyway, thanks for the advice!

  156. AlexanderZ says

    Crip Dyke
    I just remembered that I wanted to ask you something, but the question is open to anyone’s input. It relates to transgendered issues and I hope it’s not inappropriate.

    There is much public hysteria about transgendered people using public restrooms and it’s all nonsense. However, I was working-out today and I wondered how a transgendered person would handle the segregated showers in gyms or pools. Unlike public bathrooms, these are public spaces where nudity is expected and only one sex is allowed. People who cover their body are usually viewed very negatively (at least in the places I’ve been to). Do pre/in-transition transgendered people go to the shower room based on their gender or based on how their sex is viewed by society? Is it different when they have transitioned? Are they comfortable/secure/safe enough to go to gyms or pools in the first place?

  157. says

    Related to alexanderz’ #269-
    I read this piece on Facebook:

    “Transgender and transsexual are adjectives which shorten to trans. Woman is a noun. Often times adjectives are used to describe types of women. Old woman, black woman, young woman, trans woman, etc… However sometimes people like to combine the adjective trans with the noun woman to form “transwoman”. “Transwoman” is a noun separate and distinct from woman. This creates a dichotomy where we have women and trans women instead of cis women and trans women. This is both othering and cissexist.

    The difference is that a trans woman is a woman who is trans, in the same way that a black woman is a woman who is black.

    “Transwoman” is also a favorite of TERFs because it allows them to exclude trans women from the category women.

    For trans*woman, combine the problems of both of the above.”

    https://www.facebook.com/themiddleeasternfeminist/photos/a.565332650209980.1073741828.565316806878231/688547707888473/?type=1&fref=nf

  158. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!

    Perhaps…. How many men in black are surrounding your house right now?

    and I quote:

    Thou art evil.

    @AlexanderZ:

    People who cover their body are usually viewed very negatively (at least in the places I’ve been to). Do pre/in-transition transgendered people go to the shower room based on their gender or based on how their sex is viewed by society?

    Yes.

    Is it different when they have transitioned?

    Yes.

    Are they comfortable/secure/safe enough to go to gyms or pools in the first place?

    In the sense of “are any trans* persons, any at all, that comfortable?” and not in the sense, “all trans* persons’ comfort levels are the same, and that universal, identical comfort level is or is not sufficient for these activities?”:

    Yes.

    Okay, may I have the envelope please?

    And the winners of the non-snarky answers to these questions are:
    1. This is idiosyncratic, but for many if not most is primarily a safety decision. Early in conscious decision making physical safety is dominant in the analysis. Later, psychological safety is incorporated into decision making. Finally, when the person has developed strategies for staying safe other than merely preventing others from identifying them as trans*, one is free to base any decisions on more generalized principles. These could include, “I deserve to feel good,” and “I don’t want to cause others confusion by asserting one thing in conversation but implying another through restroom/locker room use,” but may also be quite morally/ethically focussed: e.g. “I agree with Ghandi that we should live the world we wish to create, and therefore I will, with my newfound risk-management skills in place, use bathrooms in a way that promotes gender and sex liberation for all, which may sometimes mean using a bathroom or locker room contraindicated by my official identification.”

    2. Some things are simply logistically different. Even if one is still concerned about the safety risks of being identified by others as trans, it may no longer be the case that one’s genitals look far enough from the anatomical sex “male” to raise suspicions in a men’s locker room. In other cases, concerns may be fundamentally different. Gaining access to health benefits, name changes, legal spousal benefits, etc. may have required disclosing one’s trans* identity anyway. In such a case,at one’s employer’s facilities, one might have been required to use the men’s locker room for a time and now face a requirement to use the women’s locker room. A third type of distinction is resource/skill based, as covered in q1.

    3. I use public pools only under duress. Typically only because my kids want to go swimming. I cultivate habits that never show my naked body to my kids, but do so in a way that seems a casual, personal choice based on idiosyncratic personal preference – not body shame (however much of it I may or may not have) or anything else. I never show my naked body to anyone unless I’m intending to have sex with that person…with a very limited exception of occasional medical personnel.

    Why? Because a long time ago I used to speak publicly about my body, but as much as myths needed to be dispelled, I found too much creepy public ownership of trans* bodies to be inherent in such conversations. I decided that though I had made it clear to other people in my life that I had not yet had, but intended to soon have, sex reassignment surgery, if I ever revealed that I had actually had such surgery (or surgeries), it would be an easy inference based on other things that I wouldn’t be seeking any method of undoing such surgery.

    So if I ever had surgery, I’ve not announced it since, even to those closest to me. If I haven’t had surgery, I haven’t disclosed to any whether that means I no longer intend such surgery or simply haven’t had money or the existence or removal of any other barrier there might be.

    Never showing my body to absolutely anyone save my sex partners (yes, yes, limiting it to 50 a week seems draconian I know) and giving them no information about past process and/or future intent requires refraining from certain things, from a certain level of openness to which others feel entitled.

    But my genitals, not just genitals like mine, have been the subject of articles in feminist rags – sometimes hostile or belittling articles. Writers have attached my name to a genital shape that I can confirm was accurate in 1998, merely to score political points, too often at the expense of me and people I love.

    Fuck that. Now even my allies don’t get to know anything. Was surgery horrible? Easy? Painful? Stressful? Is it even in my past? In my future?

    You don’t get to know. Tony! doesn’t get to know. The Mellow Monkey doesn’t get to know. Inaji doesn’t get to know. My fucking daughters don’t get to know.

    Because cis* politicos and trans* haters and too many trans* allies all find it easy to believe that discussing my genitals is absolutely necessary to deciding questions like, “When a bigot fires a gay chef because being gay isn’t consistent with being Hmong, and how the fuck can the bigot trust the chef not to betray the employer when the chef is betraying his whole community, and wouldn’t he just get HIV in the Wai Wai noodles…should the chef have a cause of action to sue in federal court?”

    We really need the speaker pro tem to say, “First the chair recognizes the honorable gentlelady from Iowa,” and the gentlelady to respond, “I thank the speaker pro ten and request permission to revise and extend. Today we are forced to enter this question through the opening provided by Crip Dyke’s genitalia…”?

    To be clear, I’m not tired of your questions, AlexanderZ. You didn’t ask for or assume the specifics of genitalia or their specific relevance to these questions or that the same be fleshed out for your greater understanding.

    But I am horribly sad that just that amount of recognition is sadly lacking in the great majority. I’m very tired of the constant, public manipulation of my genitals. To the extent that it happens at all, it happens without my consent. It makes me vulnerable to others. It humiliates me. It rubs me the wrong way. It leaves me raw and in pain, but surrounded by others who won’t even recognize that I’ve been violated, or who justify that violation because, y’know, the person that violated me just couldn’t help themselves. They didn’t know better. How were they supposed to know I wouldn’t, y’know, be happy about it? enjoy it?

    I’m sure there’s some greater metaphor in there somewhere. I’m sure that, despite the controversial relationship of trans* people to feminism, that even most anti-trans* feminists could find something condemnable in the actions described in that paragraph.

    But I’m fucked if I can make an explicit, public comparison.

  159. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Tony!

    There is a school of thought that leads off the asterisk. Honestly, I’ve never felt I’ve seen a good argument for it. To the extent that there is an argument for it, I’ve understood it to be hard to distinguish from an argument against using “trans” at all. Most of the arguments seem to be to be based on regional and individual experiences which have commonalities with others experiences but don’t amount to an actual justice argument, to my mind.

    Some people, for instance, feel that there’s pressure to medically transition. And I’m sure that they experienced that pressure.

    But others feel that there is pressure to avoid medical interventions with the intent or possibility of changing primary or secondary sex characteristics. And I’m sure that they experienced that pressure.

    In those communities, “trans” or “trans*” can be used to identify a group of people privileged or not **in an interpersonal sense** relative to persons identified in the same local community using terms like “gender queer” or “transsexual” or what have you.

    The fact that the asterisk is used by people who are attempting to coerce or police gender or sex or transitions of same is not, in itself, an argument to end use of the asterisk, just as the 3rd Reich’s construction of the initial autobahn system is a reason not to drive on the large freeways of Germany.

    If I felt that those experiences weren’t just individual trans* persons behaving badly and reflected the overwhelming majority of uses of the trans* formulation, then I’d quit using the asterisk. Whatever the good intended by its initial use, the realities of its actual impact would then require disuse.

    At this point, i don’t see that. So I treat it the way I treat many other words, like “bastard”. In D&D I’ll happily use or hear the term “bastard sword” and not bat an eye about justice. Yet someone demeaning a friend’s rights because of parents’ marital status will get me in a fighting mood.

    How words are used, to me, makes the difference the vast, vast majority of the time.

  160. AlexanderZ says

    Crip Dyke,
    Thanks you very much for your answer!

    I’ve made a stupid omission from my question – I should have written that I was seeking your answer because you’re the one who conducted the gender workshop here, it was not an attempt to ferret out your personal experience or intrude upon your life.

  161. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @AlexanderZ:
    I figgered.

  162. says

    In news that I don’t find the least bit surprising: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/05/1319448/-Nonpartisan-Study-Sovereign-Citizens-Pose-Bigger-Threat-To-USA-Than-Islamic-Extremists

    A study conducted by the nonpartisan agency the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism has found in a study reported to the US Department of Homeland Security that sovereign citizens, people who claim that they are only answerable to their own interpretation of the law and a pseudo-nation of in and of themselves (and surprise, surprise often think with prejudices that belong in the 1800’s), pose a more dangerous threat to our national security than Islamic extremists. 4500 officers from 2100 federal, state, local, and tribal agencies agree:

  163. says

    CD:

    Inaji doesn’t get to know.

    I don’t need to know. I’m not curious about it, either. People don’t need to know about my genitals, either. I find people in general to be much too nosy about such matters.

  164. AlexanderZ says

    SC,
    No, I find it slimy as well. I like this line best:

    the key missing message is a positive, emotional one: not telling the Scottish electorate what to do or what not to do, but telling them how we feel about Scotland

    It’s like they’re saying “we tried telling you not to leave, we tried ignoring you, so the only thing we have left is emotional blackmail.”

    Who is behind this petition? I’ve heard that without Scottish votes Labor doesn’t stand a chance, so is it shadow-backed by Labor? And what the rest of Britain lose if Scotland were to leave? They’re both part of the EU, after all.

  165. says

    Chigau:

    I hate boats
    and wind
    and bedrock
    and not having wifi in my room.

    But without bedrock, there’s nothin’ to cling to in the wind.

  166. chigau (違う) says

    Ináji
    True.

    If I could get on the internets more often, I could keep up.
    After 10PM, I’m asleep.
    High traffic starts 7AM.
    oh well
    it’s only a couple of weeks

  167. says

    AlexanderZ:

    It’s like they’re saying “we tried telling you not to leave, we tried ignoring you, so the only thing we have left is emotional blackmail.”

    Yes. I think this comment gets at it (and the analogy they use is exactly what occurred to me yesterday when I first read it). And it bothers me that it refers obliquely to the potentially “huge effect on all,” but doesn’t discuss or weigh any concrete potential effects for anyone, or even acknowledge any concerns other than “valuing” their common “bonds of citizenship.” The only way this would sway anyone is if their decision were entirely sentimental and unpolitical, which this letter seems to assume. I’m sure (many of) the signers have good intentions, but it comes across to me as disrespectful.

    Who is behind this petition? I’ve heard that without Scottish votes Labor doesn’t stand a chance, so is it shadow-backed by Labor?

    No idea. (Incidentally, one of the comments in the comment thread I linked to argues that that’s a myth, but I don’t have the knowledge to assess the situation. Maybe Nick Gotts could inform.)

  168. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @289:

    I’m sure (many of) the signers have good intentions, but it comes across to me as disrespectful.

    Breakups are rough. Are you English or Scottish? Is it respectful to weigh in if you’re neither?

  169. says

    Are you English or Scottish?

    By nationality, neither. Both, incidentally, by ancestry (and Welsh and Irish, for that matter).

    Is it respectful to weigh in if you’re neither?

    Sure, if done respectfully. Will there be more silly questions? Or do you maybe have a substantive comment to make?

  170. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @295: What’s silly is finding it odd or bothersome that a lot of people would say ‘please don’t leave’, and that this is somehow disrespectful. It’s an emotional response. So what?

  171. says

    SC @295: What’s silly is finding it odd or bothersome that a lot of people would say ‘please don’t leave’, and that this is somehow disrespectful. It’s an emotional response. So what?

    I think I’ve explained what I find bothersome about the campaign. It’s a political matter, which this campaign depoliticizes by presenting it as a question of sentimentality and refusing to engage with political reasons and potential effects. It seems patronizing to imply to the Scottish people that they’re basing their decision on a sense of how much they’re “loved” by others in the UK* and to disregard people’s real concerns and aspirations. It’s not actually a “breakup”** in any meaningful sense, and regardless of the outcome Scotland isn’t in fact going anywhere or cutting off all relations; the same relationships with them as people can certainly continue, and it’s silly to suggest otherwise. While the letter opens with the declaration that of course it’s their decision alone, there’s an undercurrent of “Though we’re irked that we don’t have a vote.” If people were honest about their concrete concerns about the consequences, it would be respectful, and thus in my view a more genuine demonstration of their love and friendship. And come on – that video is pure schmaltz.

    You’ll note that I’m not weighing in on the referendum itself – not that there would be anything wrong with that – or on Yes or No arguments. I’m simply saying I find this particular campaign weird and condescending.

    * Of course, it’s just a random sampling of celebrities in any case. And a nation isn’t a person – it’s not really possible to like or love an entire people in this way (though it is hard to imagine a more likeable country :)).

    ** Treating political questions using this language is problematic in and of itself, but as I alluded to above, this particular kind of emotional manipulation is bad in personal relationships as well.

  172. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    chigau,

    At the place where I work these weeks, I should have good wi-fi when I go in front of the bulding, somewhere beside the left fence.

    I have yet to find that good spot.

    (luckily, there’s the hotel)

  173. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Yazidi people being starved, kidnapped, murdered, buried alive… no sign of stopping.

    Israel won’t give up either.

    Makes you want to get off the planet.

    Have I missed any genocides going on at the moment?

  174. tccc says

    Sorry to interrupt, but I thought this might be of interest to folks here.

    Anyone who is wondering if there is anything they can do to help with the Ebola virus outbreak, but have very little money or skills like myself can help with generating detailed maps of the areas affected. Apparently this is very helpful to relief efforts but the maps just don’t exist.

    You can learn everything you need to know to help in 30 mins from this page:
    USG’s Learn to do Humanitarian Mapping

    The main group organizing this crowd sourced mapping effort is the “Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team” which is volunteers dedicated to doing humanitarian and crisis mapping using OSM.

    Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Ebola Call to Action

    FWIW, they also have a call for doing the exact same process to help map Gaza for relief agencies which you can find in their task manager.

  175. says

    Time to drop a link. This post is an awesome angle on privilege and oppression, using video games as a way to talk about how the voice of the unprivileged is ignored. A taste:

    When we take the time to listen to the stories of different people, as we would if we were walking around a game world trying to figure out what was going on (and instead of listening to who was in power), we immediately get a sense that our world is not just haphazardly and randomly unfair, but is systematically oppressive. Instead of letting the group in charge tell us that it’s fair or as fair as it can be or any unfairness is probably the fault of those suffering, we can go and get the stories from the people themselves and listen to them. The minute we listen to everyone as if they have something vital and important to tell us (and they do) about this world, the truth is laid bare. When we value all the stories around us as equal instead of letting those in power explain away inequality it is almost comical how apparent the injustices are.

    The writer is this guy, who mainly writes about writing, but also touches on feminism and related subjects on that blog. All the cool kids are reading it. You don’t want to be uncool, do you?

  176. says

    Regarding that petition opposablethumbs and I linked a while back. One of the two people was, sadly, deported. This update turned up in my mail just now:

    7 Aug 2014 — On Tuesday 5th August Sher Shah Jogezai (Home Office reference number J1959881) was deported by the Home Office. They had said he was not an atheist, and even if he was, he would be safe in Pakistan.

    I strongly suggest that the Home Office recalls Sher Shah Jogezai back to UK for a Judicial Review of his case followed, if necessary by a hearing in the High Court.

    Sher Shah emailed Atheism UK today (edited and details redacted to prevent further violence to him) pleading for us to do something to save his life:-

    “Hello,
    i was deported forcefully on 5th August by Home Office. When i arrived at Pakistan airport I was threatened by XX group who came with a policeman.

    Someone from Harmondsworth Detention Centre at Heathrow had told them about my arrival.

    I went to XX hotel but they came there and i ran from them. I left my clothes in the hotel but they got me and brutally beat me up leaving marks all over my back. They wanted to set me on fire but i ran away some how.

    Help me out mate please!

    I put Judicial review myself which Home Office denying getting any information.

    I have only XX rupees now and people keep chasing me. I just called XX and he said my family knows about my arrival and they looking for me in XX. They will be putting a blasphemy First Information Report (fIR) against me.

    HELP ME OUT PLEASE. HELP ME OUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT BRING ME BACK PLEASEEE. What shall id olive my life running every day for being an atheist ????????????????????????????????? i do not wan to die.”

    I’m lost for words.

  177. says

    They had said he was not an atheist, and even if he was, he would be safe in Pakistan.

    Because if there’s one thing Pakistan is known for, it’s tolerance for divergent religious views.

  178. Pteryxx says

    A couple of very depressing links – a newly published biography of Jimmy Savile reveals how he dedicated his life to abusing children and groomed everyone around him to accomplish it. Guardian link, “In Plain Sight”

    And the deference that we accord celebrities, the privileges they enjoy, the thrall in which they hold us, remains unexamined. Savile’s victims ranged in age from five to 75, came from every social class and both sexes; his offending was as prolific and indiscriminate as his charm, his magical aura. The effect of the book, and the most recent NHS inquiries – which contained the most shocking revelations so far but which didn’t make it into the book – is that everything in Savile’s life was structured around committing these crimes.

    “Somebody said something along those lines, that it was every minute of every day. I was thinking, God, is that actually possible? But then you read those NHS reports – particularly the Leeds one – and he is literally taking opportunities as they arise. And not just taking them but engineering them… He targeted people at the top and bottom of institutions. He was very, very clever. So he would make a beeline for the house governor, the top person at the hospital, and then the humble porters. So he’d have both ends of the spectrum covered.”

    That article refers to a 2012 one about the culture and network of child-abusing predators at the BBC: London Review of Books

    One of the qualities that made the journey from radio to television was ‘personality’. Suddenly, you had these human beings who were ultra-everything: they were funnier and quicker and smarter than you – and, once on television, they were prettier, too. At the BBC these people became like gods. Even the weird ones. Even the ones whom everybody could tell were deranged. They had personality and that was the gold standard. Soon enough the notion of ‘men being men’ was extended, institutionally, into that’s just ‘Frankie being Frankie’ or ‘Jimmy being Jimmy’. We never asked whether a certain derangement was a crucial part of their talent.

    […]

    It would take another 53 years for Savile to be unmasked. And the BBC employed him for nearly all of that time and the nation loved him. If the Savile story – and the stories that constitute a hinterland at the BBC – turn out to involve a great conspiracy, it will be a conspiracy that the whole country had a part in. There will always be a certain amount of embarrassment about Savile, not because we didn’t know but because we did. I contacted Dan Davies to see how things were going with the sale of his book. Turns out every major publisher had turned it down. ‘It remains,’ Dan said, ‘the biography everyone wants to read but no publisher has the balls to publish. Just 140,000 words of interviews over six years, days and nights spent talking to him at his various homes, thousands of miles of ocean crossed in his company, scores of friends; associates hunted down and grilled. The millstone gets heavier and heavier. Let me know if you need anything – quotes, background, detail, a stetson hat given to him by Elvis Presley in 1962.’ I emailed him back immediately, telling him to hold the stetson. I then asked whether he knew anything about Lionel Gamlin and the old guard at Broadcasting House. ‘He was an old actor, wasn’t he?’ Davies replied. ‘Part of a paedo ring at the BBC, I presume.’

  179. Pteryxx says

    BoingBoing just covered collaborative blocking tools to address Twitter harassment that Twitter itself won’t address. Headlined by The Block Bot, the first such tool, with others to follow.

    BB link

    Platforms such as Twitter have been curiously uneager to deal with harassers, trolls and other online ne’er-do-wells. Glenn Fleishman on the latest third-party tools created to bring power back to the users.

  180. says

    I’ve been revisiting the arguments involving kushana in the “Brian Dunning’s justification” thread and it’s really fascinating to look at the patterns in there.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/08/08/brian-dunnings-justification
    There is this weird way that they completely avoid Rebecca Watson’s logic about emotional issues. Simultaneously kushana hyperfocuses on his logic and avoids subjects having to do with emotion and motivation in Dunning. kushana goes out of their way to avoid particular things that touch on emotion actually and it’s not possible to address Watson’s main arguments without being willing to go there.

    kushana #5 comes in with the general argument:
    *That Watson’s analysis is not useful.
    *That Dunning’s guilt is not at issue.
    *There is no logical reason to distrust Dunning’s skeptical work.
    They also say,

    Charitably, she might be making the assertion, “The skeptical community is damaged by association with Dunning; we should take this opportunity to disassociate ourselves from him.” It seems more personal and visceral than that, though.

    It’s interesting that they do think emotion is worth thinking about, but only Watson’s emotions. Clearly logic is not the only thing kushana is concerned with.
    Responses to kushana pointed out that this goes to the issue of credibility and ethics (later in the thread I bring up reputation), all emotion issues.

    In #10 kushana says,

    Except as skeptics, we don’t care about honor. We care about evidence. An argument is not more valid because someone honorable states it. That’s an appeal to authority. Trudeau’s health assertions are false because of evidence, and Dunning’s skeptic work is true for the same reason. To compare the two is false equivalence.

    There was some confusion over the word “honor” but honestly that applies as well because ideas about what an honorable person is apply here. Skeptics do care about honor, credibility, ethics and reputation because these all tend to be big problem areas in people that skepticism has been concerned with, the only confusing thing is that these words refer to things that are all vary by culture and society (so our culture will see them differently as they continue to exist). Logic and supporting evidence is just what you apply and that application always has an emotional context. The sorts of behaviors that skepticism is concerned with are not confined to one part of a personality, they leak out into other realms of thought and behavior which is a thing intimately connected to emotion. The worst part to me is that this is itself an emotional logic concern.
    We get to wonder about why Trudeau made their assertions and how the same reasoning and behavior problems affect other parts of their life. I would be suspicious of other advice from Trudeau for the same reason I would be suspicious of Dunning, spillover of personality characteristics into other parts of behavior.

    No, Dunning has not shown a propensity for misusing money; that’s just what you want to believe. Even Rebecca’s piece doesn’t go that far; she merely implies that his business expenses might not be legitimate, but doesn’t present evidence. He has shown that he is guilty of breaking the law to obtain money. Once he had it, there’s is no evidence of misuse.

    Fraud = misusing money. There is an inability or unwillingness to consider personal habit with respect to money and fraudulent behavior despite rational reason associated with crime the conviction addresses. Watson’s concerns are rational and logical despite being emotional concerns. There is a logic to emotions and a lot of it is sensible even if we don’t always apply emotions very well.

    If Rebecca’s point is that no-one should give him donations, it’s a very poorly presented argument. She calls him out for being a millionaire and soliciting donations, as if there’s something ethically or legally wrong with the combination. She doesn’t relate any of her assertions about his behavior to the conclusion that donations should be avoided. Really, it’s an attempt at a public shaming.

    Rebecca’s point was pretty well stated by paragraph four. It was all about applying the same skepticism to our community that we have to other communities, and holding people that the tools of skepticism discover to be engaging in bad behavior as accountable as we would if they were religious or AGW deniers. These all have to do with emotional aspects of communities and how we have similar flaws as the communities of people that skepticism is normally targeted at. kushana avoided all of that in favor of focusing on what Watson said Dunning was doing instead of why trusting Dunning was not wise (why you should not donate to this particular millionaire, clearly in her text), and portraying shaming as a bad thing when dealing with a community member behaving badly and displaying a lot of bad characteristics is wise at some levels of bad behavior.

    Either kushana could not see her point, or deliberately avoided her point. I’m going with the most charitable option where they have become sensitive to giving any support to the idea of looking at what emotions are doing badly in one’s fellows, and giving in to how their emotions direct their perceptions in what they read in people they are disagreeing with. Why they might be sensitive is another matter, but I do wonder about the sorts of things that push perception around like this. Watson’s points were pretty clear and something kept them out of the analysis. There was a huge resistance to the reasonable idea of bad behavior affecting other parts of behavior.

  181. says

    Brony:

    There was some confusion over the word “honor” but honestly that applies as well because ideas about what an honorable person is apply here.

    I still don’t get that. It’s not like the comment refercing “your honor” was at all unclear. Yet kushana treated it like someone was talking about the concept of ‘honor’. I had a whiplash WTF moment.

  182. says

    Tony:

    Is the SIWOTI thread ever going to die?

    I just sent an email to the monitor’s group, asking PZ to consider closing the thread.

  183. says

    @ Tony 311

    There are lots of possibilities. I’ve tried to keep any of my speculations limited to the direct evidence in the thread.
    Among the more neutral ones:
    *They come from a different culture and the reference was unfamiliar.
    *They tend to take things literally and in the heat of the argument this was more likely.

  184. says

    @ Tony
    That was part of why I offered the interpretations that I did. Of course like everyone else I have lots of other interpretations. But I start with the best ones because there will be lots of people that do what kushana did while being completely honest and having good intentions. I don’t get a dishonest vibe off of kushana, but one still wonders how the argument went the way that it did.

  185. Nick Gotts says

    SC, AlexanderZ,

    Who is behind this petition? I’ve heard that without Scottish votes Labor doesn’t stand a chance, so is it shadow-backed by Labor? And what the rest of Britain lose if Scotland were to leave? They’re both part of the EU, after all.

    First, a pedantic point: it’s the Labour Party. It’s a proper name, so wherever you’re from, that’s the correct spelling. “Let’s Stay together” is apparently the brainchild of a couple of London-based professional liars (“senior figures in the advertising industry”). I’d be surprised if it has any effect at all on the result (which I still expect to be a narrow win for “No”). I don’t know of any evidence that Labour is “behind” it: the claim that Labour doesn’t stand a chance without Scotland is total crap: in 1997, 2001 and 2005 it won an absolute majority of non-Scottish seats. Scotland does sometimes makes a difference: in 2010 the Conservatives won an absolute majority of non-Scottish seats, but had to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats because they fell short of an absolute majority of all seats (not that this seems to have made any difference to government policy). All the three largest parties in the UK as a whole (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat) are part of the main “No” campaign in Scotland, “Better Together” (or “Bitter Together”, or “Project Fear”) which is led by the Labour former Chancellor of the Exchequer (main economic minister and second in power to the Prime Minister), Alistair Darling.

    As to what the UK would lose if Scotland becomes independence: no ruling elite likes having part of the state it rules removed from its direct control*. Scotland is, economically, roughly 1/10 of the UK, slighly less than that in terms of population, but almost 1/3 of its land area, and includes important natural, infrastructural and human resources. It also houses the UK’s nuclear weapons, housed on Trident submarines, which the Scottish National Party has promised to get rid of in the event of independence. There’s no plausible alternative place to put them in the UK.

    It’s not, BTW, certain that an independent Scotland would be able to remain in the EU. The legal position is unclear, and other states with regions that might want independence – notably Spain – might oppose it becoming/remaining a member. But conversely, the Conservatives have promised a referendum on the UK leaving the EU in 2017 if they win next year’s general election. Since opinion in Scotland is more pro-EU than in the UK as a whole, if Scotland is still in the UK when such a referendum takes place (if the vote is “Yes”, supposedly independence day will be in 2016), you could get England kept in the EU by Scottish votes, or Scotland dragged out against the will of the majority in Scotland.

    *I have arguments with those leftist friends and acquaintances who oppose independence, and who claim splitting off Scotland would be disastrous for the left. None of them has yet been able to explain why, in that case, the UK’s ruling elite are almost unanimously against it!

  186. AlexanderZ says

    Thanks, Nick Gotts!

    Pteryxx #306:
    From the book review:

    it will be a conspiracy that the whole country had a part in

    I haven’t read the book, but what a load of dishonest lies! No, the whole country didn’t know! Most of the victims didn’t know (until they were abused by their idol). Only (most of) the cultural elite knew and they did all they could to keep the rest of the country in the dark. Saying that ‘everybody knew’ is a way to shift the blame from all those enablers that are still alive and well, and act like it was everybody’s fault – which means no-one’s.

    The public made Jimmy Savile. It loved him. It knighted him.

    Really? The public knighted him? Has the monarchy been abolished? Did the press write stories about his activities? Were his victims allowed to report him to the police? Did the police take action? No. Why? Because the public – the ones that supposedly knew everything – didn’t know, and the people in power were determined to keep it that way.
    I don’t know about the book, but that review seems were eager to take the side of the guilty and powerful, despite paying lip service to the victims.

    LykeX #302
    Meh. Color me unimpressed. He sounds like those people who became good people through religion, or military service or whatever. Sure, that one very unusual interpretation of gaming.
    However, on the other hand you could look at mainstream gaming as the product of middle/upper class, ethnically dominant (white in US and Europe, Japanese in Japan), educated, heterosexual, cis-gendered males usually in their early twenties. As such, it shares all the intrinsic inequalities that their privilege afforded them.
    That isn’t to say that gaming is bad as in of itself, nor that there never were any exceptions. On the contrary. As a gamer I’m very well aware of those exception. Nevertheless, I’m not blind to the fact that they are still just exceptions, not a mainstream road to accepting others. The very reason I know of these games is precisely due to their unique character.

    Take his example, for instance. He walks into a imaginary gaming parallel of our own world and is quick to recognize the villains and the heroes. All well and good, except he is very much in a minority. There is no true life-simulator games (nor will there ever be – it’s both impossible and pointless), but the upper/lower culture dynamic as part of a world? It has been done. By every MMO game with PvP. Particularly the survival one. They’re all divided into noobs and seasoned players, with a clear hierarchy between them.
    You probably how that turns out: noobs are prey to the powerful, and when they get enough power they turn on other noobs as well. Good Samaritans are even rares than in RL. There are very few “white knights” in games. His pic of Fallout 3 explains why – a game has no real repercussions, and in such an environment all, except very few, turn evil.

    Of course, we should celebrate the games that aim higher and acknowledge that there are more and more of them recently. But we shouldn’t be blinded by wishful thinking either.

    tccc #301,
    That’s a great project! Thanks for sharing!

    Beatrice #300:

    Have I missed any genocides going on at the moment?

    Plenty! Though, most (if not almost all) don’t fit the criteria of “genocide”. Before you click the link try to guess the top three:
    List of ongoing armed conflicts


    In other news, ExxonMobil and Russia’s Rosneft has signed a contract for arctic oil. Hopefully it means that Russia isn’t going to invade Ukraine (I doubt that Exxon signed this deal without consulting someone close to the White House. Both White Houses). I also hope that the so-called “Russian humanitarian aid” is more of a way to get their allies safely into Russia, rather than a full invasion.

  187. says

    In the Williams/Brown thread, someone pointed out that Dawkins tweeted PZ’s post, and sure enough, the assholes are showing up to criticize PZ, and have nothing of substance to say about any of it. Dawkins is just so darn helpful.

  188. Pteryxx says

    Cue in-depth, compassionate discussion of depression and mental health care in 3… 2… 2… 2… 2… 2…

  189. yazikus says

    So- I just got back from reading Coyne’s post over at WEiT, and the comments are predictible, and harshly anti-PZ, but this one in particular stuck out to me.

    Even for PZ Myers, this was a reprehensible statement. How he still receives invitations to speak at atheist/skeptic conferences I am at a loss to understand. I guess he’s happy as long as Improbable Joe and Caine and SallyStrange and all the other buffoons tell him how great he is…

    Why does some commenter care so much about this place they go around naming commenters when criticizing the blogger? And obviously they don’t keep up with the times, as “Caine” hasn’t been commenting in quite a while, and when she did, she was as critical of PZ as she was anyone else. I just don’t understand this level of obsessive hate.

  190. yazikus says

    Tony!, I knew that =) What got me is this internet specter of Caine that the anti-PZ crowd throws around, even when she herself is not using that ‘nym.

  191. says

    yazikus:
    Oops. Sorry.

    ****
    Does someone have a really hard wall or desk I can bash my head into? That thread. That thread. It feels like Dawkins’ tweet had a similar effect to PZ asking us to crash a poll. Except Dawkins’ followers aren’t processing what PZ said.

  192. yazikus says

    Tony, no worries.
    I would suggest, however, something firm yet, supple for head bashing, as I expect that thread to get much, much worse as the day goes on. Perhaps a memory-foam pillow?

  193. Brony says

    @ Tony
    Re: “That thread” (if it’s the one I think you mean)
    Unfortunately “The point” is a matter of community disagreement. They have a different “point” and claims of “not getting the point” are being confused with “I disagree with your point because X and here is my point”. Choosing the point can be about winning and less about seeing if points have been addressed. Points disagreed with often do not stick in the memory.

  194. says

    Brony:
    Yeah, I’m talking about the Robin Williams thread.
    People are bending themselves out of shape because of one line of sarcasm from PZ. Admittedly, I didn’t read it as sarcasm at first. Others pointed it out. However, I didn’t take that one line and use it to overshadow the whole point of the OP.

  195. says

    Yazikus:

    I guess he’s happy as long as Improbable Joe and Caine and SallyStrange and all the other buffoons tell him how great he is…

    I’m pretty sure that in the over 5 years I’ve been commenting at Pharyngula, I have never told PZ how great he is. And the legend of Caine with a PZ in her pocket lives on…

    assholes.

  196. says

    Pteryxx:

    Cue in-depth, compassionate discussion of depression and mental health care in 3… 2… 2… 2… 2… 2…

    Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. I’m not liking people very much today. That goes for our Prez and his milquetoast statement, too. “Uh oh, gotta calm those brown people down. Tell ‘em to pray!”

  197. Brony says

    @ Tony
    I did not read it as sarcasm at first either. But then I got over my emotional reaction to it and placed it in the larger context that the article and PZs history provides. I’m fine with how he did it given the social power level differences and use of “risk of offense” vs “drawing attention to suffering” that I mentioned. Sometime shocking language is justified and I can feel the comparisons to Dawkins already so I went there first.

    Now when someone that does not really read PZ very often, and/or has other emotional priorities (does not like social justice, does not like PZ, other more or less intentional or unconscious or reasonable things) reads it you have a recipe for the twisting around of social perspectives that we are seeing. It can’t be avoided but I think it’s worth it.

  198. says

    Dear Blog-writer:

    Thiou shalt avoid metaphore like a thing which should be avoided.
    Thou shalt avoid hyperbole to a large but not over-the-top extent.
    Poetic language, should thou avoid, for it gets some folk annoyed.
    Thou shalt avoid sarcasm for people will pretend to take it literally.

    Thou shalt write thy blog as if it were the notes on a scientific experiment, stating plain fact and nothing more. Except, erm, that’s a metaphor, so don’t. Or do. Or something.

  199. says

    Daz, please let Chigau know I’m glad she aten’t dead. You might also tell her this is a good time to have a bad ‘net connection.

    Tony, I’m sick and tired of all the people showing up to express their outrage in regard to Robin Williams, but the rest of us aren’t supposed to express our outrage over Mike Brown.

  200. says

    And I have had my quota of stupid for the day. I’ve also had my quota of “I’ll talk about anything except what’s going on in Ferguson!” too.

    This day, when a police force went rogue military and shut down a town is a day I thought I would not see. So much sadness.

  201. Esteleth is Groot says

    You want despair Inaji? Ha.

    I had a run-in (not in the flesh, fortunately, else I would not have been able to restrain myself) with a white person who said that we HAVE to keep PoC down because otherwise they’ll do to us what we’ve done to them.

    Yes, the proper response to demands for justice is more oppression, lest some PoC demand revenge.

    I cannot. I have run out of my ability to can.

  202. says

    Esteleth:

    I had a run-in (not in the flesh, fortunately, else I would not have been able to restrain myself) with a white person who said that we HAVE to keep PoC down because otherwise they’ll do to us what we’ve done to them.

    Oh for the love of rats. It’s too much. Far too much.

  203. Esteleth is Groot says

    Yes, that was more or less my reaction.

    Funny, though, I cannot say to have been surprised. Because I’ve noticed more than a bit of undercurrent of that for ages now.

  204. says

    I’ve gotten heated in threads before. I’ve gotten emotional about certain subjects. But I have never, NEVER, been made to feel by certain people as if the concerns of people of color-like myself- were of so little importance that the death of a celebrity outweighs them.
    I can’t even describe how I feel right now, but crying? Got that. Shaking? Got that too. Got a little bit of scared too.

  205. says

    Tony, you have all the hugs I have ever had in me, and I want you to know that I care about you. I am so sorry you are going through this, even sorrier that there are so many people out there who don’t care at all about systemic racism or the terrible acts by those who are bigoted. I wish I could say more, do more.

  206. Brony says

    Fuck PZ wording things differently.

    The whole point about why people complained at Dawkins was because he was ignoring the people who were the direct ones in pain who were being socially ignored.
    These people are acting as proxies for the imagined suffering of other people that literally need no social help, and were not even being compared to anything. Media attention was being compared. No one even knows what the Williams family even thinks and they are fine jumping in there for them anyway.

    Direct use of rape victims, no probs. Indirect use of media attention of a dead comedian, TRAVESTY!

    Fuck these social robots. They are robotic because of how they squirm to avoid where the pain and the power actually is, as they defend the defended. No fucking difference from the religion I left.

  207. says

    On a completely different note, I’ve been wondering why everyone’s been saying that they’re huge in Dutch, until I read the movie review.

    Someone a couple weeks ago was posting about needing a Kindle or some similar device, and I just realized I’ve got a relatively functional first generation Google Nexus sitting on my nightstand (thought it had broken, replaced it, then realized it was the charger that was bad). Anyone need it?

    Tony: strength. And enjoy the new relationship!

    (This is Derek Vandivere, btw)

  208. dianne says

    On a different thread today I saw a nym that was “Someone (sorry, forgot who), who hates nondisabled, straight, cis, white men (just kidding).” I’m too lazy to change my nym, but if I did, I’d be tempted to add “who hates nondisabled, cis, white men (not entirely kidding)”. Because I don’t hate individual straight, cis white men, but when they get in a group…bad things happen. My personal whining about it is that I’m the only woman in a group of about 6 and the discrimination is subtle but corrosive. 100 years of electricity, but they leave the gaslights on. (And it’s only your imagination that they change in height. Really.) It’s not that any of them is bad or especially sexist, but the subtle sexism that is unavoidable from growing up in this society is enhanced by the gender imbalance. And they don’t see it. They would deny, probably angrily, if I confronted them.

    That thread strikes me as a bit like that. I was initially annoyed at PZ for seeming to blow off mental illness as an issue and I wish he’d been as explicit in saying that he understands that depression and suicidal ideation (overlapping, but not identical categories) are a serious public health issue as he was in saying that he likes Robin Williams (although maybe he did do that and I missed it in the nearly 700 comment thread) but my fucking FSM, that pales beside the evidence of racism, not just in the events in Ferguson, but in the way people attempted to pretend that events in Ferguson had nothing to do with race. I haven’t had any illusions about racism being over since I was 10 or so, but I think I was in denial about how deep and prevalent it is.

    Racism is a disaster. It kills people and poisons lives. Tony doesn’t feel safe walking the streets in Florida and that’s reasonable because he’s not safe. Minorities–almost all minorities–have lower survival in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions–and no one seems to be considering that the reason they do is because of prejudice, not because of biological differences in the disease. Police in Missouri flat out murder a man and the media is all excited about “looting”. The waste of life and talent, the loss to society is incomprehensible.

    And if you’re wondering why I’m concentrating on things like years of life lost and loss to talent to society, it’s because if I think about the actual human suffering that’s going on I’ll simply curl up in a ball and cry and never be of any use at all.

    Maybe hate is the wrong word. Contempt.

  209. qwints says

    Brony @330

    then I got over my emotional reaction to it

    Brony @347

    These people are acting as proxies for the imagined suffering of other people that literally need no social help, and were not even being compared to anything.

    I realize it may have gotten lost because so many people so drastically missed the point of PZ’s original post, but glibly talking about a celebrities suicide has real effects on lots of people who have considered or attempted suicide themselves. Their emotional reaction is valid, and they don’t need to get over it. They are people who absolutely need social help.

    As a much more clear example, you get that Shepard Smith calling Robin Williams a coward was an incredibly shitty thing to do, right? Similarly, saying that Robin Williams killing himself brought joy or was nice of him was a shitty thing to do. even in the context of making a valid and important point.

  210. Brony says

    @ qwints
    First let me say that unlike many or even most of the people in that thread, I’m putting anyone with a depression sensitivity into a totally different mental box. Like rape victims there is an emotional logic in play that does not deal with external logic well and will often just do what it will do regardless of reality. So despite what I said about how I am seeing the contrast between PZ and Dawkins, I want to know what I might be missing.

    I realize it may have gotten lost because so many people so drastically missed the point of PZ’s original post, but glibly talking about a celebrities suicide has real effects on lots of people who have considered or attempted suicide themselves. Their emotional reaction is valid, and they don’t need to get over it. They are people who absolutely need social help.

    I don’t think he was glibly talking about the celebrities suicide. He was using real and valuable rhetorical techniques to get across ideas. He was talking about about media coverage via Robin Williams suicide. The first sentence was his feelings about it and the sarcasm that many are reacting to is a portrayal of the collective media response.
    But if there is an element there that can’t help but sensitive no matter what and I’m not getting it because of my perspective I do want to try to understand it. I may be wrong on this issue. If it helps to create an empathy bridge my wife has had clinical depression the entire time I have known her, came to me at 2 in the morning because she was close to committing suicide (and had a ten page note), and I have been fighting a descent into depression myself (I can’t say clinical because I have not had a work up, but some signs are there). I am not every example of persons with experience of depression and suicide of course.

    As a much more clear example, you get that Shepard Smith calling Robin Williams a coward was an incredibly shitty thing to do, right? Similarly, saying that Robin Williams killing himself brought joy or was nice of him was a shitty thing to do. even in the context of making a valid and important point.

    Sheppard Smith was speaking for himself. Sarcasm representing the media translates as “Callous obsession of celebrities instead of covering more important problems at large.”

    This is no Dear Muslima, the drawing of attention to suffering and people with less social power, as well as the way that most critics are not harmed parties themselves (on race certainly) matters. But I can admit that it may not matter on the issues of depression and suicide.

  211. qwints says

    “Robin Williams brings joy”
    “his sacrifice has been a great boon ”
    “it sure was nice of Robin Williams”

    I get that those phrases are meant as a “a portrayal of the collective media response” rather than PZ actually rejoicing at someone committing suicide. These phrases are, however, all a rephrasing of a common thought among people contemplating suicide: the idea that the world would be better off without me. That’s why the post was so disturbing to me. Sarcasm, like satire, doesn’t make it okay. Remember #cancelcolbert? Telling people who were bothered by Colbert’s satirical racism that it was satirical didn’t make it better.

  212. Brony says

    These phrases are, however, all a rephrasing of a common thought among people contemplating suicide: the idea that the world would be better off without me. That’s why the post was so disturbing to me.

    That bears thinking about. Let me mull that over and revisit the situation with Colbert.

    My concern in this is that any attempt to change the social order to create a more equal one is going to bump into sensitivities. There is an element in which “don’t be rude” or “don’t be shocking” always gets applied to how people try to get attention to these sorts of problems and people who are suffering just keep getting ignored.

    But that does not mean that every means of being rude or shocking is the best one and it would be valuable to be able to target rhetoric to those things that are specifically sensitive to the people higher up the social ladder that actively resist attempts to draw attention to, and change things that cause racial disparities and similar.

  213. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Inaji, I am assuming that you are now on Twitter. If you would please follow me at @janphar so I can follow back

    Everybody else is also free to follow me if they want.

    Sorry about the lack of e-mails. Yahoo had me changing my password so often, I forgot what my current one was.

  214. says

    Janine, I’m not tweeting, I just got an account so I could find out what the hell is going on in Ferguson. I’ll look you up, though. Speaking of twitter, I put 3 links up in the sacred cow thread, all from twitter. I really think no one would have heard about Mike Brown if it wasn’t for Antonio French and other people in Ferguson. I’m beyond grateful for their refusal to back down, and insistence on getting news out to the rest of the world.

  215. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Inaji, if you handle your account right, Twitter can be a very good source of news, especially news that do not get much traction in the mainstream press.

  216. qwints says

    You can say a lot of bad things about libertarians, but they’ve been talking about the over-militarization of the police for twenty years now.

    Of course, black people have been talking about it in its latest iteration for fifty years.

  217. Daniel Schealler says

    Responding to Tony from ‘Even Atheists have Sacred Cows’
    ———————————————————

    I did read your 193 comment Tony, and wanted to respond. Did it here so as to not detract from the conversation everyone’s having in the main thread any more than I already have.

    You don’t see how American obsession with celebrity culture blinds people to ongoing atrocities and civil rights violations?

    You don’t see how many, many people care more about celebrities than the ongoing systematic oppression of minority groups?

    PZ’s two posts are pointing out that their priorities are fucked up, and people like you (whom I normally enjoy reading commments by) are missing the point time and time again. Please stop dodging and ducking the point.

    You seem to think that I don’t get the problem. I do.

    America has had cultural problems building up to this issue in Ferguson for a long time. The militarization of a police force coupled with widespread racism and a total lack of accountability or transparency in the police force that allows for the growing normalization of the abuse of power is a very bad thing.

    I’m not an American, but from the outside it’s terrifying and also really disappointing. When I was younger I always bought into the idea as America being an occasionally kooky but more or less civil and free society where these kinds of things could never happen. Seeing the slow decline of American values into the current state of affairs has been a major let-down, and something of a wake-up call.

    I’m from New Zealand. The cops here habitually don’t carry guns. They have them in their cars if needed, but they don’t carry guns on their hips. The only time I’ve ever seen a cop in New Zealand carry a gun was a couple of years back when a gang with access to high-powered firearms made violent threats regarding one of the Auckland hospitals. There were a couple of cops with body armor and rifles patrolling outside the hospital for a few nights until the threats were dealt with. Which in context struck me as a proportionate response to a credible threat: The gang escalated the threat of violence, the cops just matched it as deterrence, then the cops de-escalated immediately once the threat had passed.

    Cops firing tear gas canisters at unarmed people standing with their hands raised in their own backyards sounds like the kind of thing that happens in totalitarian dictatorships. Not America, damnit.

    So the severity of the problem going on in Ferguson is not lost on me.

    That the slow decline of American freedoms has been a long and ongoing feature of the feedback loop between American culture and American media is also not lost on me. The hate-mongering of idiots like the Tea Party and Fox News, the constant erosion of freedoms in exchange for the illusion of security (who is securing the people of Ferguson against the police?), and yes – the willing complicity of the media in endorsing a bread-and-circuses style distraction campaign my feeding into the American obsession with celebrity culture at the expense of not reporting on serious social and political issues.

    None of this is lost on me. I understand the importance and severity of it all, as well as someone who is not living with it can be expected to understand it.

    So here’s my thing.

    1) PZ deliberately chose to open this topic by referring to Robin William’s death in a callous way.
    2) People who liked Robin Williams, and some people who interpreted this as a slight against mental illness, reacted negatively to that detail in the opening
    3) Anyone should be able to predict that 2) would follow from 1). However…
    4) PZ and others got snarky with the people who reacted in this predictable fashion, which could have been totally avoided had PZ just not expressed himself in a deliberately offensive way.

    It’s 4) that’s bugging me. Precisely because the issue with Ferguson is so bad, and precisely because it is not an isolated incident but is actually a sign of the times, and precisely because of the complicity of the media in promoting celebrity culture rather than focusing on vitally important social and political issues and acting as the balance to speak truth to power…

    Precisely because of all of that is why I think it is extraordinarily short sighted and plain stupid for PZ to frame the problem in a way that was deliberately and unintentionally going to piss off a lot of people, and then even more short-sighted and stupid to feign surprise and get snarky with people who spoke up about the fact that PZ’s framing pissed them off.

    PZ basically coated his point in rhetorical shit and then got snarky when some people complained about the smell as if that were a disappointing moral failure on the part of the complainers.

    If the people complaining about the smell are really that terrible, and really detracting from the conversation that much, and this is really so bad… Then for crying out loud! PZ shouldn’t have framed the issue so damn stupidly.

    If PZ set out to be hurtful and deliberate in his references to Robin Williams’ death in order to draw attention to the issues at Ferguson? Well, okay. I disagree with that tactic, but PZ’s blog, PZ’s rules.

    But to then feign surprise that people who were hurt and offended by PZ’s deliberately hurtful and offensive presentation spoke up about it seems really, really disingenuous.

    Please note that my criticism of how PZ presented this issue is entirely consistent with and even follows from my agreement that the problems of Ferguson, and the media’s complicity in celebrity culture, are important issues that need to be talked about.

    I also get that this isn’t the conversation that you and others at Pharyngula want to have. Which is why I’ve stopped talking about it. I’ve only responded here because you invited me to double check your comment at 193 on the ‘Even atheists have sacred cows’ thread and felt that it was a good comment that made a lot of good points and deserved a response.

    But it is a conversation that is in its own small way is both worth having, and that I think is somewhat relevant within the context of how people are responding to PZ’s partially bungled attempt to get people to have a productive conversation about Ferguson, the media, and celebrity culture. It’s seems a damn shame that apparently we can’t have this conversation at all without inuring the wrath of the horde.

  218. Esteleth is Groot says

    Daniel Schealler, you thought that this sort of thing didn’t happen here?

    The only difference between what’s been happening in Ferguson over the past few days and what has been an everyday occurrence in this country for, oh, 240 years is that people outside the targeted community are paying anything approaching attention.

  219. Ichthyic says

    I also get that this isn’t the conversation that you and others at Pharyngula want to have.

    I’m with you here in NZ. instead of focusing on PZ, you should ignore that and focus on the differences you touched on between NZ and the US in how police are trained and react to people in the community.

    because… you’re wrong about the other thing, we already DID have this conversation with you, and you refused to listen to what people were telling you about it.

    they said to come here so they could ignore you. simple as that.

    you could have had a productive discussion with people here, but instead you chose to focus on the one aspect of this whole thing that is entirely missing the point.

    live and learn.

    *wind blows*

  220. Daniel Schealler says

    @Esteleth

    What can I say? When I was younger, I believed American propaganda.

    At the time, I had no evidence to the contrary.

    Perhaps phrasing it as a gradual decline isn’t entirely accurate. Equal parts gradual decline and what has always already been there gradually coming into the light might have been better.

  221. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What can I say? When I was younger, I believed American propaganda.

    I grew up in the fifties. That meant overt bigotry, sexism, etc. I got over it. Why aren’t you?

    At the time, I had no evidence to the contrary.

    This is funny from you. I see no evidence for your claims. Nothing but presuppositionalism on your part. The “evidence” you use doesn’t back your claims. So, why don’t you just shut the fuck up as irrelevant to any evidence based discussion.

  222. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Seeing the slow decline of American values into the current state of affairs has been a major let-down, and something of a wake-up call.

    You don’t get it at all. American behavior has gotten better, but the rate of improvement has fallen off and threatens to go negative. This shit isn’t new in any way. There hasn’t been a downturn since just after Fred Hampton’s Chicago BPP house was raided in a blatant assassination effort. It wasn’t an aberration that Chicago’s largest paper editorialized, “No Quarter for Wild Beasts,” leading up to the assassination raid.

    There was a time when police departments’ PR wasn’t as sophisticated, because it didn’t need to be as sophisticated to relieve its officers of accountability. But it wasn’t better or worse than the force in Missouri. The police still shoot people without cause. They still target people of color. They still insist on impunity when they do either.

    What is causing such anguish is that this isn’t some new low in US values. This is the result of the same values, the same policies, being in place for decades. Maybe on a political (not personal) level we’re more disappointed because of the years of opportunities we thought would result in growth and change. But on a personal level? A moral level? Mark Clark is just as dead as Mike Brown. It’s sure as hell hard for me to make the case that values have been declining.

    What makes you think that they have?

    Why did you **EVER** buy into the idea of the USA as:

    an occasionally kooky but more or less civil and free society where these kinds of things could never happen

    ?

    Cause if you’re that ignorant of the history of state violence in the US, maybe you should be a lot more humble with your contributions.

  223. Esteleth is Groot says

    Nerd, will you fucking stop with your “presuppositionalism” and “provide evidence!!!” crap? It is not helpful.

    @Daniel Schealler, I believe you when you say that you fell for American propaganda. A lot of Americans do too. Maybe you should stop and think about what other stuff you’re ignorant of?

  224. Island Adolescent says

    I’m just going to repeat what I already said in response to Daniel.
    PZ did not insult RW. He insulted how the media was treating him and their focus in general.
    You’re just severely upset that the post wasn’t sugar-coated about RW’s death. It’s the sugar-coating you want.

    For fuck’s sake, all spotlight atheists these days are known for not pulling their punches about religion. Doesn’t matter to us atheists how tons of people think religion has saved their lives from suicide or got them back to being a respectable person. We bash religion all the same. We bash religion with specific examples and targeting specific people, and we rarely mince our words. Bash celebrity culture though at the time of a celebrity’s death (when celebrity culture shows its most ugly face), and suddenly it’s “HOW DARE YOU, YOU ASSHOLE!?”

    PZ didn’t even bash RW. He complimented the man for fuck’s sake. He bashed the media’s unhealthy obsession with RW. That alone is enough for you to get so goddamn worked up that it looks like you care about “callous words in regards to RW” far more than you care about Ferguson. That’s how you’re coming across.

  225. Daniel Schealler says

    because… you’re wrong about the other thing, we already DID have this conversation with you, and you refused to listen to what people were telling you about it.

    Cite an example? Because I’m pretty sure that I was in fact listening to people who disagreed with me, and responding fairly to their disagreements.

    What I didn’t do was mindlessly agree with everyone who disagreed with me.

    Notice that later on in the “Robin Williams” thread I started going along with everyone else by googling for information on Ferguson and posting up content I discovered that I thought was interesting. Seems like no-one noticed. *wind blows*

    they said to come here so they could ignore you. simple as that.

    I am aware. :)

    Like I said: I only bothered responding here to Tony at all because, given he took the time to write a lengthy comment to me, I figured it was only fair that I take the time to let him know I read it and provide a meaningful response back.

    you could have had a productive discussion with people here, but instead you chose to focus on the one aspect of this whole thing that is entirely missing the point.

    That’s the thing: The notion that PZ partially bungled this isn’t ‘missing the point’, as if there is and can only ever be one point in a conversation.

    It’s not the main point, nor is it the most important point. But it is still a point, and I thought it was worth discussing as part of that larger conversion.

    Put it another way. Consider Goodbye Enemy Janine’s response to me, quoted below:

    Daniel Schealler, blow it out your ass.
    Seriously, I do not give a flying fuck about your willful confusion.
    You can go elsewhere to find people who are condemning PZ about what an inhumane monster he is. They are rather easy to find.

    Note that I don’t begrudge Janine being upset. It’s a distressing topic, I’m comfortable with emotions running high.

    However, please be consistent. Janine’s response to me was not directly discussing the issues at Ferguson. Was she therefore ‘missing the point’?

    On the one hand, if I am ‘missing the point’ by responding to the comments I have in front of me that engage me by leaving entries that don’t always refer directly to Ferguson, then Janine is also ‘missing the point’ when she responds to the comments she has in front of her by leaving entries that don’t always refer directly to Ferguson.

    On the other hand, if Janine was engaging with the smaller point in a comment she had in front of her as a tiny part of a larger conversation, the sum total of which can be considered ‘the point’, then in I was just doing the same thing.

    So when you accuse me of ‘missing the point’ it feels like you’re applying an unfair double-standard.

    For the record, I think it’s totally fair to let a minor thread weave through a larger tapestry of comments. If the conversation I’m having isn’t the one that other people want to have… Then why are they having it with me?

    Look through the history of my engagement on the two Ferguson-related posts of PZ: I make one unsolicited comment per blog post. Just one. Those comments set a sub-topic that I’d like to talk about: PZ’s presentation of the issue and the consequences that have inevitably followed from it.

    People reply to me, then I reply to their replies. Eventually someone asks me to stop talking about it… So I get my last word in, then drop it. But note that if there was no one responding to me in the first place then the issue would already be dropped.

    If me raising the topic is missing the point, then shouldn’t responding to that topic also be missing the point? Why then do people wag their rhetorical fingers at me but not Janine?

    I don’t continue to raise unsolicited comments on subjects beyond one per blog post, per subject.

    I don’t hijack existing reply-to-reply sub-threads and direct them towards my own preferred topics.

    If no-one replied to my initial comment, I would have nothing further to say on that particular sub-topic, and I would thus stop talking about it naturally. None of that snarky passive agressive ‘Huh, I left that comment but apparently none of you have a counter-argument, so I win’ time crap. If people don’t want to talk about my preferred sub-topic, then that’s up to them. I’m not trying to ‘win’ anything, just trying to have a conversation about a sub-topic that I thought was relevant.

    But even so: When I’m asked to shut up and drop an issue… I shut up and drop the issue. Excepting in the case here at the Thunderdome, because collecting this kind of noise is kind of what the Thunderdome is for, so I’m working on the premise that it’s tacitly permitted here to mouth off about whatever. :P

    Anyway, this is starting to feel very whiny on my end, so I’ll finish up here: Yes, the shark-tank that is Pharyngula chewed me up and spat me out a little bit. It happens. I know that’s a risk every time I wade in. No biggie, I’ll recover. :P

  226. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    DS, what evidence is required for you to admit you are WRONG? If you have nothing, then you are preaching, and will be ignored as fuckwittery.

  227. qwints says

    @Alexander. They are.

    Reason’s Response

    Cato put out a policy paper on police militarization almost a decade ago. The author, Radley Balko, has been talking about this for over a decade, including leading a campaign to get a black man who shot a police officer in a no knock raid out of prison.

  228. says

    Daniel:

    1) PZ deliberately chose to open this topic by referring to Robin William’s death in a callous way.
    2) People who liked Robin Williams, and some people who interpreted this as a slight against mental illness, reacted negatively to that detail in the opening
    3) Anyone should be able to predict that 2) would follow from 1). However…
    4) PZ and others got snarky with the people who reacted in this predictable fashion, which could have been totally avoided had PZ just not expressed himself in a deliberately offensive way.
    It’s 4) that’s bugging me. Precisely because the issue with Ferguson is so bad, and precisely because it is not an isolated incident but is actually a sign of the times, and precisely because of the complicity of the media in promoting celebrity culture rather than focusing on vitally important social and political issues and acting as the balance to speak truth to power…

    Did you happen to see this comment by azhael?

    Anyone who is even passingly familiar with PZ and the community of people that inhabit these comments would inmediately know that mental illness, including depression, is something that most individuals here take very, VERY seriously, including our host. As a matter of fact, on a personal level, one of the many reason why i’m drawn to this blog, is precisely that it is a community that cares deeply about depression and other forms of mental illness and it feels good to hang around people who “get it”, even if it’s just on an internet blog and even if i haven’t openly discussed my personal experience. I feel no need to, it’s good enough to just know that people understand, for a change.

    PZ’s response to that comment

    That’s a big flaw in what I wrote — I should not assume that kind of prior knowledge.

    No, these words are not literally apologetic words, but they are words that show he realizes he made a mistake.

    If the people complaining about the smell are really that terrible, and really detracting from the conversation that much, and this is really so bad… Then for crying out loud! PZ shouldn’t have framed the issue so damn stupidly.

    Please remember that-unlike your criticism-a great many of the people blasting PZ did not offer constructive criticism. They did not demonstrate that they understood the point he was making. I don’t know how many, but there were people coming over from Coyne’s blog and Dawkins’ blog leaving one sentence criticisms that did not demonstrate an understanding of PZ’s point.

    I also get that this isn’t the conversation that you and others at Pharyngula want to have. Which is why I’ve stopped talking about it. I’ve only responded here because you invited me to double check your comment at 193 on the ‘Even atheists have sacred cows’ thread and felt that it was a good comment that made a lot of good points and deserved a response.

    I personally did not want to have that discussion in that thread bc I think what’s happening in Ferguson is far worse than the death of Robin Williams. I felt that discussion of how insensitively PZ may have made his point would overshadow the deeper issue at hand. I don’t think such a discussion is off limits though. I think it’s welcome. Here, for instance is a place for it. Under normal circumstances, I think the thread where PZ made such a comment would be a fine place to criticize him. But in *this* particular case, I don’t think it was the place to do so, bc the point of his message would get lost. Clearly, as evidenced by many of the hit n run commenters, his larger point was missed.
    And that’s something worth criticizing him for.
    For my part, I would only criticize this:

    Boy, I hate to say it, but it sure was nice of Robin Williams to create such a spectacular distraction

    I think if he had not included that line, the whole post would have been much better, bc it appears to imply that he’s placing blame on Robin Williams-if you read it straight, which I did initially. But I’ve read PZ for long enough that I realized that azhael’s above point is correct. I realized it was sarcastic. I still think he would have been better leaving it out. I think he may have underestimated how much people were drawn to or attached to Robin Williams.

    It’s seems a damn shame that apparently we can’t have this conversation at all without inuring the wrath of the horde.

    But we *are* having the discussion. Perhaps not where you want it, but it’s happening. You’re taking part in it.

  229. says

    Nerd:

    This is funny from you. I see no evidence for your claims. Nothing but presuppositionalism on your part. The “evidence” you use doesn’t back your claims. So, why don’t you just shut the fuck up as irrelevant to any evidence based discussion.

    I agree with Esteleth. This isn’t helpful. Daniel is offer his thoughts, and he’s taking the time to express them in a constructive manner. That you (or I) don’t agree with them doesn’t mean his beliefs are presuppositional.
    In addition, given the manner in which people feel PZ stepped in it-remember, people feel PZ has been insensitive towards those who have mental illnesses, specifically depression, as well as those who have dealt with suicidal thoughts-this is an emotional topic. It isn’t one, IMO, that can be completely reduced to an evidence based discussion. This subject is going to be one that’s emotional. And justifiably so. I hope you’ll recognize that.

  230. Daniel Schealler says

    @Crip

    Why did you **EVER** buy into the idea of the USA as…

    Because propaganda works, and I wasn’t living in Australia, and I was 5 years old learning everything I knew about America from US television being aired in my country. I though America was just like Australia (I grew up there) but that it wasn’t so hot and everyone was richer and lived in nicer houses and were better looking. (Note: Australia’s history on racism isn’t exactly stellar either, but that too was obfuscated from me until I was in my mid teens).

    Note that the internet only kicked in by the time I was in my teens, so by that stage I’d had an entire childhood of being fed the notion that America was a really great place to live and be free. That’s a lot of unlearning to do. It’s still an ongoing process.

    It feels like you’re blaming me for being mislead by propaganda as a child when I was too young to have the mental defenses necessary to resist it. That seems a mean-spirited, Crip.

    @Esteleth is Groot

    I believe you when you say that you fell for American propaganda. A lot of Americans do too.

    Appreciated.

    Maybe you should stop and think about what other stuff you’re ignorant of?

    A lot of things. The only thing I know is that I know nothing, death by hemlock, etc.

    It feels like you’re implying that I’m closed off to something really obvious and that I need to double check by biases. If that wasn’t what you meant, disregard the rest of this comment. :)

    Okay, sure. I don’t see it… But then again, I wouldn’t, would I? That’s kind of the point. :P

    You’re under no obligation to help me out. But if you feel like it, you’re welcome to get as specific and critical with me as you like. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d been blindly oblivious to something only to turn like a dime once someone hit me in the face with it.

  231. says

    Island Adolescent:

    PZ did not insult RW. He insulted how the media was treating him and their focus in general.

    As I said above, I think that one line in the OP reads to some as PZ being insensitive about suicide and depression. I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of others and see how they might react. I can see how people who are dealing with depression now or in the past, or people who have loved ones dealing with depression now or in the past…I can see how that sentence would hit those people. I can see how that sentence would hit someone dealing with suicidal thoughts.
    It took me a little while, but now I do see the point a few of PZ’s critics have made. Even though azhael’s point is valid, not everyone reading PZ’s post were reading it in the same light the rest of us did. If you’re someone dealing with suicidal thoughts and you came across that post, and that line, who’s to say that you’re going to read it and remember that PZ isn’t the type of person to make fun of/mock/belittle those with such thoughts? Or if you’re going through a depressive episode-and so many people are-that line might not read to you as it would if you weren’t depressed.
    It wasn’t PZ’s intent to offend anyone, no. But it doesn’t change the fact that it had a strong effect on some people. I won’t deny that. I think PZ has come to recognize that he made a misstep.

    All that said, his larger point…well most people probably know where I stand on that by this point.

    ****

    PZ:
    Any chance you could make a clear apology? Yes, a great many of your critics were trolls, but there were some people who had valid points, and I think it would be a good move to offer an apology.
    (Obviously not for the meat of your post)

  232. says

    Daniel:

    Notice that later on in the “Robin Williams” thread I started going along with everyone else by googling for information on Ferguson and posting up content I discovered that I thought was interesting. Seems like no-one noticed. *wind blows*

    Actually I did notice. I should have said something about that and I’m sorry. A big focus for me in all those threads was keeping the main point of PZ’s message as unambiguous as possible since so many people were missing it.

    BTW, thanks for reading and responding to my comment.

  233. Ichthyic says

    Cite an example? Because I’m pretty sure that I was in fact listening to people who disagreed with me, and responding fairly to their disagreements.

    tony is being way too nice to you.

    you didn’t listen, you simply repeated the same arguments.

    if you think that’s “responding fairly”, you can have fun responding to yourself.

  234. Ichthyic says

    pre-emptive links, in case SC starts in again with the nonsense that there is nothing to the chemistry behind moods and behavior.

    review way back from 1994, already citing the huge amount of evidence that had accrued in the PRIOR 20 years:

    http://www.clinchem.org/content/40/2/288.short

    Do I need bother to suggest how much MORE evidence has been garnered in the ensuing 20 years?

    … but SC would have you believe it’s all a lie, that there is nothing to it and moods and behavior are all dependent on environment and social issues.

    It’s all I’m gonna say about it. The science speaks for itself, really. If you plan to reject it, you’ll have to document how the literally thousands of studies done over the last 40 years are all stuff and nonsense. each and every one of them.

    good luck.

  235. says

    Here once again are some recommendations about psychiatry (you can find more information at my blog):*

    Robert Whitaker, Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic; James Davies, Cracked; Marcia Angell, “The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?”, “The Illusions of Psychiatry,” and “‘The Illusions of Psychiatry’: An Exchange” (all available free online); Joanna Moncrieff, The Myth of the Chemical Cure and The Bitterest Pills; Irving Kirsch, The Emperor’s New Drugs; Stuart Kirk, Tomi Gomery, and David Cohen, Mad Science; Gary Greenberg, The Book of Woe (I can’t speak to the quality of this one); Brett Deacon, “The Biomedical Model of Mental Disorder: A Critical Analysis of its Tenets, Consequences, and Effects on Psychotherapy Research” (available free online); Jonathan Leo and Jeffrey Lacasse, “Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature” (available free online); Ethan Watters, Crazy Like Us.

    I’m quite tired, after several years, of the responses to my (and a few others’) posts on this subject. Hundreds, thousands of comments blithely spread falsehoods about “mental illnesses” and are viewed as helpful and compassionate (no “Please don’t bring that up here”), while attempts to debunk deadly myths are portrayed as inappropriate and insensitive. That shouldn’t be happening on these blogs, and it needs to stop. There’s no reason I or anyone else should be criticized or silenced for telling the truth and presenting evidence on fucking science and freethought blogs.

    When will the people spreading the harmful falsehoods be called to defend them, especially in light of all of the evidence to the contrary? When will they be questioned on the irresponsibility of repeating these claims? When are people going to appreciate that these beliefs have serious consequences? At what point are psychiatry’s claims going to be treated with the skepticism they urgently warrant?

    * I’ve said many times in the past, and the readings I’m suggesting also make clear, that my argument is NOT that people’s psychological experiences and suffering aren’t real and often serious. Exactly the opposite. The argument is that they’re not diseases or disorders. I hope everyone can appreciate the difference.

  236. Ichthyic says

    It’s so fucking good to be employed, and to have friends.

    I doubt anyone would disagree with you there!

    gratz, btw, since I didn’t do that in the lounge.

  237. says

    How is asking you not to discuss that subject in one particular thread “silencing you”? We’ve seen more than a few people attempt to derail the thread by offering up hollow criticisms of PZ, which was bad enough. I acknowledge you have a point, but I also think there are times and/or places it may not be the best idea to bring it up.

  238. says

    SC:

    When will the people spreading the harmful falsehoods be called to defend them, especially in light of all of the evidence to the contrary?

    ceesays is the commenter that PZ quoted in the OP who was discussing mental illness. She was talking about herself. She’s also a participant in that highly charged thread and expressed a desire not to discuss that topic there. Is it out of the question to ask you to respect her wishes?

  239. Daniel Schealler says

    @Tony

    Boy, I hate to say it, but it sure was nice of Robin Williams to create such a spectacular distraction
    I think if he had not included that line, the whole post would have been much better,

    I agree.

    I also believe that had that line been omitted, much of the tone of the subsequent discussion would have been entirely different. Can’t back that up with evidence, obviously.

    That line is what I mean when I say that PZ spoke about Robin Williams’ death callously. Intellectually, I understand that he was speaking in the third person, and attributing those words and that sentiment to the politicians and media professionals that PZ was actually going after. But emotionally, reading that sentence really pissed me off, for the simple reason that Robin Williams only recently died and I liked the guy.

    The only reason I could make the intellectual distinction is because I also really like PZ, and have been a fan and follower of this blog for years now. I had to take a deep breath, dig deep, force my mind really wide to give PZ the benefit of the doubt, and re-read his entire blog post again before I could re-parse what he was said into something that aligned more closely with what I believe PZ meant to say.

    As you note to me elsewhere: The vast majority of people aren’t going to do that. They haven’t done that.

    Of course they didn’t. Which is why no-one should be surprised that the conversation went so sour so fast.

    PZ’s response to that comment: That’s a big flaw in what I wrote — I should not assume that kind of prior knowledge.

    No, these words are not literally apologetic words, but they are words that show he realizes he made a mistake.

    Yeah, I did see that. I think at that point PZ realized he made a mistake… But that he either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that the greater mistake is that he effectively poisoned his own well, which remains in effect even if the idea that PZ slighted the mentally ill is accounted for.

    I think this comment sums it up best. Emphasis mine.

    But look at this thread, and my twitter feed: people are freaking out that someone pointed out that the obsession with celebrity is getting in the way of caring about things that matter. I’m mainly feeling that I should have been more rude, because asking me to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is completely missing the point.

    Note: Yep, I realize your comment comes a full day after the one to which I linked.

    He starts this comment by remarking on how everyone is freaking out. But he seems to think that people are freaking out because someone pointed out that the obsession with celebrity is getting in the way of caring about things that matter.

    However, from what I have seen (and I have by no means seen anything) the people who are reacting negatively to PZ are reacting negatively because PZ referred to Robin Williams’ death in a callous way. (More on this below)

    So in my view, PZ has misattributed why people are freaking out at him. They’re freaking out because he was rude about Williams’ death.

    He then follows this up immediately by saying that he wishes he had been more rude, as if punishing the people who are freaking out on account of PZ’s rudeness with more rudeness would somehow make the situation better.

    Please remember that-unlike your criticism-a great many of the people blasting PZ did not offer constructive criticism. They did not demonstrate that they understood the point he was making. I don’t know how many, but there were people coming over from Coyne’s blog and Dawkins’ blog leaving one sentence criticisms that did not demonstrate an understanding of PZ’s point.

    Granted.

    Also… That’s a part of what I’m talking about.

    Coyne and Dawkins have their flaws. But they’re not complete lunatics themselves. If PZ hadn’t framed the issue the way he did… None of that lashback would have happened. Or if it had happened, it would have been greatly reduced.

    I get that PZ likes to deploy rudeness and offense as rhetorical devices. I disagree with those tactics. But as I’ve said several times: PZ’s blog, PZ’s rules. He can do what he likes. My intention is not to waggle my finger at PZ and tell him he should have been nicer.

    My intention is to point out that PZ shouldn’t be even remotely surprised at the strength of the negative feedback he’s received. It was entirely predictable that people would react to his Robin Williams post in the way that they did. Yet now PZ is getting snarky at his detractors as if it’s their fault that PZ pissed them off to the point that they failed to engage with the more important point that PZ was making.

    That feels like PZ wanting to have it both ways. Given the gleeful snark with which he used to refer to his detractors in the “Even atheists have sacred cows” blog post, I’m pretty sure PZ still hasn’t realized that most of the feedback he’s been getting is the consequence of him poisoning his own well.

    If the people blasting PZ without constructive criticism are so terrible, then that’s only because PZ is partially to blame.

    Which is why PZ is confusing the hell out of me. Given how he presented the issue… He seems surprised on the surface, but what else could he have possibly expected given how he’s framed the issue?

    But we *are* having the discussion. Perhaps not where you want it, but it’s happening. You’re taking part in it.

    We are having it now. And I greatly appreciate it.

    But keep in mind that my attempts to have it earlier were met with quite a very strong ‘just shut up already’ vibe. Unlike your response to me in 193, few others on that thread offered constructive criticism as part of their feedback. :P

  240. says

    Some quotes I’ve provided in the past:

    “[T]he field has…failed to identify a single neurobiological phenotypic marker or gene that is useful in making a diagnosis of a major psychiatric disorder or for predicting response to psychopharmacological treatment.” – Michael First, Editor, DSM-IV

    “[N]ot even one biological test is ready for inclusion in the criteria sets for DSM‐V.” – Allen Frances, Chair of DSM-IV Task Force

    “The molecular and cellular underpinnings of psychiatric disorders [are] unknown;…psychiatric diagnoses seem arbitrary and lack objective tests; and there are no validated biomarkers with which to judge the success of clinical trials.” – Steven Hyman, former Director of NIMH (1996-2001)

    The weakness [of the DSM] is its lack of validity. Unlike…definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure.” – Thomas Insel, Director of NIMH, 2013 (my emphasis)

    “We’ve been telling patients for several decades that we are waiting for biomarkers. We’re still waiting.” – David Kupfer, Chair of DSM-5 Task Force, 2013

    I’ve also offered this little excerpt:

    In his 2013 book Cracked, James Davies quotes from a 2010 interview DSM-III taskforce chair Robert Spitzer did with Daniel Carlat in which they discuss diagnostic criteria:

    Carlat: How did you decide on five criteria as being your minimum threshold for depression?

    Spitzer: It was just a consensus. We would ask clinicians and researchers, “How many symptoms do you think patients ought to have before you would give them the diagnosis of depression,” and we came up with the arbitrary number of five.

    Carlat: But why did you choose five and not four? Or why didn’t you choose six?

    Spitzer: Because four just seemed like not enough. And six seemed like too much. [Spitzer smiled mischievously]…

    Spitzer says that they did some field trials of the criteria sets, but those can’t establish a number of criteria scientifically because, as he acknowledges, “we don’t understand the neurobiology of depression.”

    After discussing how diagnostic reliability using these criteria has been and remains extremely low (which is to be expected given that the disorders and diagnostic criteria are shit they made up) (this is discussed in depth in Mad Science), Davies reasonably points out – as several of us have – that even if reliability were high it wouldn’t equal validity. Interviewing DSM-III taskforce chair Robert Spitzer, Davies tries to understand the scientific basis on which mental illness rests:

    …“So presumably,” I asked, “these disorders had been discovered in a biological sense? That’s why they were included, right?”

    “No, not at all,” Spitzer said matter-of-factly.

    “There are only a handful of mental disorders in the DSM known to have a clear biological cause. These are known as the organic disorders [like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease]. These are few and far between.”

    “So, let me get this clear,” I pressed, “there are no discovered biological causes for many of the remaining mental disorders in the DSM?”

    “Not for many, for any! No biological markers have been identified.”

    …[I]f the findings of biology did not help the Taskforce to determine what disorders to include in the DSM-III, then what on earth did?

    “I guess our general principle,” answered Spitzer candidly, “was that if a large enough number of clinicians felt that a diagnostic concept was important in their work, then we were likely to add it as a new category. That was essentially it. It became a question of how much consensus there was to recognize and include a particular disorder.”

    …What sprang to mind at Spitzer’s revelation was the point I made in the previous chapter about agreement not constituting proof. If a group of respected theologians all agree that God exists, this does not prove that God exists. All it proves is that these theologians believe it. So in what sense is psychiatric agreement different? Why, when a committee of psychiatrists agree that a collection of behaviors and feelings point to the existence of a mental disorder, should the rest of us accept they’ve got it right?

    Science does not work like this. If you can read these books, articles, and quotations and not emerge extremely skeptical about mental illnesses/diseases/disorders, I have to conclude that you’re firmly in denialist territory. If you refuse to read them but continue to repeat claims about the existence of mental illnesses/diseases/disorders, you’re simply acting irresponsibly. You can make no claims to compassion or helpfulness in this regard.

  241. says

    Daniel:

    My intention is to point out that PZ shouldn’t be even remotely surprised at the strength of the negative feedback he’s received.

    I’m not certain that’s what PZ is surprised about. It’s possible. I lean towards thinking he is surprised that many people have focused on that without addressing (or in some cases, completely missing) his bigger point.

    Given the gleeful snark with which he used to refer to his detractors in the “Even atheists have sacred cows” blog post, I’m pretty sure PZ still hasn’t realized that most of the feedback he’s been getting is the consequence of him poisoning his own well.

    Is that most of the negative feedback? I can’t point to anything in specific, but my gut tells me a good chunk of criticism has come from people looking for anything to attack him over. Like when the Pitters would come here and criticize him for anything. The lack of meaningful criticism from many of the detractors (though certainly not all of them), makes me wonder if they’re not just lambasting PZ because that’s how they get their jollies. Not because they have a problem with him being insensitive.

  242. ceesays says

    * I’ve said many times in the past, and the readings I’m suggesting also make clear, that my argument is NOT that people’s psychological experiences and suffering aren’t real and often serious. Exactly the opposite. The argument is that they’re not diseases or disorders. I hope everyone can appreciate the difference.

    Okay first of all thanks for the list. I’m not exactly sure what I can do with that list, as those are the expensive kinds of books, and I don’t normally have the money for non-fiction that isn’t long out of print and in a second hand bookstore. Mental Illness is often comorbid with poverty, and I’m no exception. But you never know what you might find. I can also ask my psychiatrist if he happens to have any of these books – he’s lent me books before.

    Now I never thought that you were saying that my bipolar disorder (light on the mania, heavy on the depression, but mania’s there and i have the shopping bills and unfinished masterpieces to prove it) wasn’t real. I was just surprised by you saying that it’s not an illness or a disease, and wondered what you meant by that.

  243. says

    ceesays is the commenter that PZ quoted in the OP who was discussing mental illness. She was talking about herself.

    The comment you quote didn’t refer to her, but to the thousands of comments spreading lies on this subject which people here seem to think are just fine, even when they encourage hopelessness and fatalism. There’s a grotesque double standard in the responses to people spreading falsehoods about people’s psychological distress and to those of us trying to debunk them.

    (You realize we’re not on that thread, right?)

  244. Ichthyic says

    even when they encourage hopelessness and fatalism.

    funny, but when the germ theory of disease was proven correct, that actually added hope for millions that there were solutions to be had so their children wouldn’t die of common childhood diseases.

    likewise, many entirely disagree with you, and consider the work of modern biology and chemistry to offer tremendous hope that they won’t be shackled to a specific behavioral set.

    it’s YOU who offer false hope. YOU you live in denial of the huge amount of science behind this effort. YOU who are as dangerous to sufferers of issues like depression as any homeopath is to people suffering from curable forms of cancer.

    YOU ARE THE DANGEROUS ONE.

    think about that.

  245. ceesays says

    well, okay. I’m still waiting to hear the reasoning behind mental illness not being an illness, and if it’s not, then what it is.

  246. Ichthyic says

    yup. SC and I were good friends before she started with this crusade.

    I know she thinks she is doing a service for everyone, and I have agreed with her time and again that diagnostic skills in the medical community (including mental health) need tremendous improvement.

    but… the core of the argument presented, that there is no science in support of the idea that there is a biological basis to moods and behavior?

    that was the sticking point.

    C’est la vie

    I will never be able to agree with her on this. It’s too ignorant of the actual science.

  247. says

    Okay first of all thanks for the list. I’m not exactly sure what I can do with that list, as those are the expensive kinds of books, and I don’t normally have the money for non-fiction that isn’t long out of print and in a second hand bookstore. Mental Illness is often comorbid with poverty, and I’m no exception. But you never know what you might find. I can also ask my psychiatrist if he happens to have any of these books – he’s lent me books before.

    Many/Most of the books should be available through the library. I indicated in the list which of the articles are available free online. I can provide links if you like, but googling should work.

    ***

    How is asking you not to discuss that subject in one particular thread “silencing you”?

    First, the subject was discussed in the OP. Second, and especially given that, “Please don’t do this” was clearly an uncharitable reading of my comment. Have similar readings – that they’re “doing” something – and requests to stop greeted comments supportive of biopsychiatry? If so, I haven’t seen them. Third, you evidently don’t know this, but I’ve received similar responses on probably 97% of the threads in which I’ve raised these points – all different sorts of threads. The pattern has persisted over several years. (In fact, it’s probably significantly responsible for the existence of this thread. People are impossibly hostile to the very idea.) And again, if that statement in the OP had referred to religious beliefs or those you recognize as woo, I don’t think you would have made that request.

  248. Ichthyic says

    First, the subject was discussed in the OP. Second, and especially given that, “Please don’t do this”

    ah, that you think this is what was said to you.

    here’s what was ACTUALLY said:

    Please don’t do this here and now.

    fuck your delusional view of things, it does you no favors.

  249. Daniel Schealler says

    @Tony

    I’m not certain that’s what PZ is surprised about. It’s possible. I lean towards thinking he is surprised that many people have focused on that without addressing (or in some cases, completely missing) his bigger point.

    Heh. I thought that ‘failing to address or missing the bigger point’ was implied in ‘negative feedback’.

    Should have been clearer on my end. Mea culpa.

    Re-written for clarity, the sentence of mine you quoted becomes:

    My intention is to point out that PZ shouldn’t be even remotely surprised at the strength of the negative feedback he’s received, or that people have focused on the parts with which they disagree and excluded or ignored the parts that they agree with or didn’t bother to read properly in the first place.

    Is that most of the negative feedback? I can’t point to anything in specific, but my gut tells me a good chunk of criticism has come from people looking for anything to attack him over. Like when the Pitters would come here and criticize him for anything.

    Quite possibly. I can’t speak for or about the Pitters. I avoid them like the plague, so can’t claim experience.

    However, I do have some experience with Coyne.

    Coyne and I have had one very significant disagreement that got me temporarily banned, so I’m not a sycophant for the man. When he criticizes PZ I think he is usually wrong.

    Even so, I still think enough of Coyne that I believe he would agree with the following argument:

    Robin Williams’ death has been dominating the news more than it should. There are more important things going on right now in St. Louis that deserve more media attention.

    I understand that many people are upset about Williams’ death. But I am angered that the media is spending the vast majority of its airtime and resources on ghoulishly and creepily staking out his home and his family rather than covering the much more pressing issues going on in St. Louis right this very moment.

    I’m further angered at the timing, in that the focus on Williams’ death is being used by the media as a very convenient smoke-screen to distract from the situation in St. Louis. The role of the media should be as a check against the power of our politicians and our government. By focusing on Williams’ death over Ferguson, the media is playing right into the hands of any politician or police official that wants everyone to look away and quietly ignore the situation in Ferguson.

    This marriage between political expediency and the complicity of the media is outrageous.

    I really don’t think that Coyne would have taken the swipe at an argument presented in this style that didn’t speak callously about Robin Williams’ death in the third person. Coyne’s followers that have a deep dislike of PZ and Pharyngula would therefore not have been prompted to come over here and bash on the Pharyngulites without meaningful commentary.

    So I do think it is very plausible that the influx of negativity over that particular post would have been noticeably lower had PZ framed it differently.

    How much lower? Open to argument. My gut is telling me that it would have been a lot lower, but I suspect you’re more familiar with the comment here than I am, so I’d be inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one.

  250. ceesays says

    yeah, that’s what it said. “Please don’t do this here and now.” It didn’t give a suggestion where to do it, which is fair – I was the one who made the original statement and it would have been over the line to make the suggestion of where and when. it took some time to hear from me because I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but here we are.

    I think it fair to say that I have two different images in my mind that correspond to the notion of anti-psychiatry – One is the sociological movement that occurred around the same time as north american deinstitutionalization, and the other is the material I’ve encountered from scientologists, so I have a fairly limited understanding of the notion, having only read a limited amount of material on the subject, and hearing about it from my psychiatrist.

  251. Ichthyic says

    Coyne and I have had one very significant disagreement that got me temporarily banned, so I’m not a sycophant for the man.

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jerry.

    but I too was banned from his blog.

    his attitude on things reminds me a lot of my own major professor… the year before he [was forced to] retired.

    Jerry, like Richard Dawkins, is often NOT reasonable on issues outside of his personal experience, and actually takes disagreement much more personally than many who have become popular in the atheist movement.

    *shrug*

    I get my cute pictures of cats from other places these days, and the science I keep up with in the journals anyway.

    ..and no, Jerry’s conclusion about what PZ’s point was far missed the mark and was pretty much a misrepresentation that resembled a personal attack.

    it was a complete fail.

  252. says

    well, okay. I’m still waiting to hear the reasoning behind mental illness not being an illness, and if it’s not, then what it is.

    WTF?

    ***

    That feeling is correct, ceesays. This is a hobbyhorse of SC’s.

    Goddamnit. This is wrong, what you’re doing. You have to stop this. Someone just posted about her growing hopelessness concerning her terminal disease. It doesn’t matter to you people whether or not she actually has a disease? Whether this alleged disease is terminal? Whether it exists? If she’s lost a lot of hope because of this belief? If people are being led or coerced to take potentially dangerous and sometimes fatal drugs? If they’re being falsely labelled? If they’re being deprived of their liberty or tortured, if their brains are being permanently damaged, due to false beliefs? If valid understandings of the roots of psychological distress are being marginalized because of the hegemony of a bogus model? It’s my “hobbyhorse”?

    Honestly, I don’t understand this at all from otherwise decent people committed to the truth. I’m going to take a break. I wish everyone well, especially Tony and ceesays, whose comments quoted in that OP I appreciated.

  253. ceesays says

    heh, like I said, I don’t know a lot about what you’re talking about. I’m making a wild guess that you’re talking about anti-psychiatry, and that could be wrong.

    but I’ve got to tell you that I’d prefer that you talk *to* me and not about me. I’m not an object to be referred to, I am a person, to be addressed.

  254. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    How this usually goes:

    Person A: I have a mental illness
    SC: No you don’t, everyone is lying to you and stealing your hope.
    Person A: Huh?
    SC: It’s a conspiracy, you’re not really ill.
    Person A: Um…. What? Then what’s wrong with me?
    SC: *list of twenty books*
    Person A: Could you please just answer me?
    SC: READ THE BOOKS.
    Person A: Just a short answer would be nice.
    SC: NO, I’m sick of this.

    …. this method doesn’t seem to work. How about trying something else?

  255. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    beginning at 0:31, you’ll see a work of art where the artist is projected onto two perpendicular walls, each image holding a weapon and around the corner from the other image.

    We can’t really discuss it in full here, but damn if the original artwork (not this brief clip) didn’t remind me of the situation in Ferguson. The artist’s images seem frightened but determined, preparing for unwanted violence. You can feel that if the images were to be able to see each other, a fight would instantly start…because a fight was expected, but not because either party wanted a fight. It also speaks to race and question justifications for violence – with the artist as both images, which image would be justified in attacking the other? Why?

    It’s heartbreaking we can’t have a wider discussion about it, but if anyone else has actually seen the exhibit in Vancouver or elsewhere (it was also shown in South Africa), I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    PS – the exhibit as a whole was horribly sexist, though that doesn’t mean I didn’t love this piece and its statements (and questions).

  256. says

    I didn’t think I’d be able to relax enough to sleep after being immersed in Ferguson for so long. Then Amelia journeyed across the room, climbed the hill onto my bed, and cuddled me. Again. Amelia always knows when I’m feeling…broken, and takes it upon her tiny shoulders all those things that make me cry, that make me shake. She’s my rock, and I really needed a rock after today.

    Everyone stay safe.

  257. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Yay for furry friends.

    Good rest, Inaji. I’m with you on everyone staying safe.

  258. John Morales says

    (As this comment makes obvious, I still read here)

    Daniel Schealler, I entirely get you.

    PS This is a one-off comment.

  259. knowknot says

    @ everywhere Daniel Schealler
    What is your issue?
    On the first PZgate thread you popped with how much of your childhood was inhabited by Robin Williams, and how hurt you were by PZ’s utter wrongness, or something.
    Then it went on, until various forms of overall passive aggressive nonsense ended in a flurry of “oh, I’m sorry then,” “sad when we misunderstand,” “no harm done” stuff, after which, having apparently gained adequate emotional traction, you lit into the whole thing again.
    At that point, you were asked why you weren’t addressing issues around Ferguson, which resulted in another “oh my… sorry,” and then an obligatory (brief) spate of specifically Ferguson posts.
    THEN you pop up in the second thread, sans Ferguson, to get all PZgate again.
    I may well be oversensitive, but this looks very much like a master class in passive-aggressiveness, manipulating your openings and such.
    And now, you attempt proof that Coyne is not your idol, which will… I don’t know… buy you reasonability points? (I really don’t even understand what impending relationship Coyne – or anyone else – has with your desire to… I don’t know what. Get your correction of the original post in the stylebook?)
    WHAT, please please please, is your goal? What have you not already stated multiple times? What fundemental response have you not answered?

  260. says

    @ ceesays
    I would recommend reading SC’s suggestions that are free online, at least this one. That one isn’t jargon heavy. I don’t think they support SC’s conclusion, though I’ll admit I as yet do not understand exactly what SC’s conclusion is.

  261. Tigger_the_Wing, asking "Where's the justice?" says

    I don’t often post in here but SC’s continued talking around ceesays, and failure to answer any direct questions, for some reason really pissed me off.

    Perhaps it was because SC was claiming to be protecting ceesays, I don’t know.

    Anyway, I had cyclical depression (tied to my period) until my first pregnancy, when all symptoms vanished. Until shortly after I stopped breast-feeding at eight months, when they all came back and then some. Fortunately, I fell pregnant again almost immediately, and the cycle repeated itself. After having my third in under three years, and this time only managing to breast-feed for three months, my depression came back with a vengeance.

    My GP tried lots of different anti-depressants on me; I reacted badly, in different ways, to all of them.

    When my third child was three, I had surgery on my wayward internal organs (I had bad ‎endometriosis and adhesions). Coincidentally or not, it reduced the my depressive episodes to the point that CBT kept me functioning (I personified the negative ‘voices’ as belonging to a gnome – the Depression Gnome – and visualised locking it into a sound-proofed box at the back of my mind) for all the years until I had the twins. Then, just as before, it came back – bigger, stronger. When the twins were three, pre-cancerous tumours were found on my ovaries. More surgery. Hysterectomy and removal of one ovary, plus the tumour on the other.

    A year later, the remains of other ovary was removed (more tumours), and I was put on HRT – but I couldn’t tolerate oral HRT and was put on patches. For a while, I felt better than I ever had, but the patches wouldn’t stay on reliably, so I just decided to face a sudden menopause. I was 39.

    Weirdly, after all I’d been though, after menopause the Depression Gnome went quiet. I daren’t say that it has gone away – I still feel that it is locked up, either just more securely, and/or has given up trying to escape.

    I have come to believe, from the above history, that my depression is linked in some way to female hormone levels. I don’t pretend to know how, but at least the suicidal ideation stopped with menopause – despite now having more than enough reasons to want to stop carrying on living, health-wise, I simply do not have any desire to end it all, despite the strong desire that I had when, in all other ways, my life was going pretty well.

    So, in my case, although the depression could well have been a terminal disorder (I won’t go into details), it was ‘cured’ (or as good as). I believe that mental disorders are, indeed, diseases – even if the ætiology isn’t currently known. I don’t need to point out to anyone here that our brains are incredibly complex organs, and very difficult to study in the active state, so it is hardly surprising that scientists don’t yet really know how they are supposed to function normally, let alone how to fix them when they are awry. That doesn’t mean that we can insert some secular version of ‘goddidit’ into any explanation of depression. Our personalities, being emergent properties of our brains, are totally reliant on the latter’s functioning. I don’t believe that an emergent property can fix underlying problems. Oh, we can sometimes be trained (CBT, for example) to find work-arounds, just as I find work-arounds for my other disabilities, but work-arounds aren’t fixes.

  262. says

    Jonathan Leo and Jeffrey Lacasse, “Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature”

    As my link at #379 above discusses in detail, and as I also talk about here, the chemical imbalance myth has been so well demolished that they’re now saying they never claimed it, which is of course a lie. As usual, no one seems to mind particularly, and people continue to talk about their chemical imbalances while those pointing out that this is a myth are called insensitive, abused, and banned.

  263. Doug Hudson says

    Depression is most certainly an illness. The exact details of the illness, like many illnesses, are still unclear. This does not mean that it is not real and potentially deadly.

    Drugs can and do work. Therapy can and does work. Reliably and consistently? No, and good psychiatrists and therapists will be the first to say that. Since we don’t know exactly how it works, any attempts at treatment are a shot in the dark.

    But people like SC who deny that depression is an illness do a massive disservice to those of us who have suffered from the illness, and to the many excellent mental health professionals who dedicate their lives to helping people like me.

    TO ANYONE WITH DEPRESSION, I beg you to ignore the bullshit that SC is spouting. Treatment IS possible. It won’t be easy, it may take a long time, but you CAN get help.

  264. says

    I’ll leave this here for what it’s worth: it’s hardly conclusive, but interesting:…

    It’s worth as much as the multitude of other similar studies over the past thirty years that have gone nowhere. As is discussed in several of the posts and materials I link to.

    ***

    Gary Greenberg talking about The Book of Woe

    Irving Kirsch on 60 Minutes

    The books by Whitaker and Kirsch (Anatomy and Emperor’s) are $10 on Kindle. As I said, they should be available through local libraries. I can’t imagine anyone reading these books and not coming away extremely skeptical and, well, furious. There’s something to disagree with in probably every one of my recommendations, but the evidence against this model is simply overwhelming (not that it needs to be – they need to make the case for the validity of the model, and haven’t remotely done that, which they’ve recently had to acknowledge). That’s why organizations in the field like the UK Division of Clinical Psychology have called for it to be abandoned.

  265. David Marjanović says

    Depression is most certainly an illness.

    I think it’s likely a symptom of several different illnesses, one of which is apparently caused by a mutation in the gene for the serotonin 1A receptor (link to metanalysis in comment 417).

    SC, has any single one of your links been peer reviewed?

    At least the one in comment 415 has been: it’s in PLoS Medicine, and all PLoS journals are peer-reviewed (I’ve written reviews for PLoS ONE myself).

  266. says

    Depression is most certainly an illness. The exact details of the illness, like many illnesses, are still unclear. This does not mean that it is not real and potentially deadly.

    It isn’t an illness. Repeatedly asserting that it is doesn’t constitute evidence. The heads of NIMH and the APA have publicly conceded that it’s a scientifically invalid diagnosis.

    Drugs can and do work.

    Evidence be damned.

    TO ANYONE WITH DEPRESSION, I beg you to ignore the bullshit that SC is spouting. Treatment IS possible. It won’t be easy, it may take a long time, but you CAN get help.

    I have never, not once, said that there’s no help for psychological distress. On the contrary, my comment that launched this episode was in response to a suggestion that depression was a “terminal disease.” Repeatedly, people have said that they “understand” that they have a chronic illness and will likely have to stay on “medications” for the rest of their life and never be fundamentally well. It’s not true. It’s a negative, stigmatizing, harmful belief. There’s no evidence to support it and much against it.

    But biopsychiatry is not the only model of or approach to psychological problems, and you misrepresent my position when you suggest that in rejecting it I’m saying the situation is hopeless. (And I want to be absolutely clear: In neither science nor medicine nor any other epistemic realm is there a requirement to provide an alternative in order to reject a claim. It doesn’t matter to reality if the truth is helpful or cheerful. We can say that homeopathy doesn’t cure cancers even when we don’t have real cures. Even if I were saying that the situation is hopeless, which I’m not, that wouldn’t be evidence in favor of biopsychiatry. None of this bullshit misrepresentation of me or my arguments is relevant in the slightest. That said, there’s a long and rich tradition of humanistic psychology and psychiatry, including Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Alice Miller, Ignacio Martin-Baro, a whole host of feminists,… It’s tragic that we’ve come to ignore this tradition in favor of a false and harmful model that benefits corporations.)

    OK, now I’m going to try again to take a break. I have work to do.

  267. dianne says

    If depression isn’t related to brain chemistry, then what is it related to? Weakness of the soul? Are people simply imagining that they’re depressed and should “get over it”? How can depression not be the result of brain chemistry? The cause of the changes in brain chemistry leading to depression might be exogenous (i.e. if your son was just shot in Ferguson you’re likely to feel depressed), but don’t those events lead to changes in your brain that cause the depressed feeling? I’d be in agreement with a claim that we don’t understand depression thoroughly or that the changes in the brain that create depression aren’t as simple as just too much or too little serotonin and I’ll agree that direct to consumer advertising of antidepressants is of the devil, but simply denying that depression exists and that the brain is different in depression doesn’t make sense to me in any context other than extreme dualism. This makes me think that I’m just not understanding SC’s point, because I don’t think she’s a dualist.

  268. says

    If depression isn’t related to brain chemistry, then what is it related to?…

    Is this a fucking joke? Is anyone going to actually try to read anything rather than misrepresenting basic arguments over and over and over and over again? I’ve been writing about this and making recommendations for years. I’ve provided probably hundreds of links: to peer-reviewed research (like Kirsch’s on which his book is based), to non-peer-reviewed articles, to books by a variety of authors, to statements from NIMH and the APA. The books I’ve cited provide hundreds of citations and in-depth discussions of the research – their arguments can’t be conveyed through a handful of citations to the individual studies. I’ve said repeatedly that my expectation is that people will read them critically but fairly. Instead, it’s just round after round of this nonsense. I have never in my life seen a group of people so outrageously resistant to engaging with evidence, and I just can’t respect it. Especially when false biopsychiatric claims go unchallenged and even celebrated around here every day. I can’t read the articles and books or blog posts or think critically for you. If you can’t be bothered to engage seriously with the evidence on a subject as important as this, if you care that little about the people being harmed, then fuck off.

  269. mudpuddles says

    As a sufferer of depression and someone who has studied mental illness for years, I find SC’s pushing of pseudoscientific anti-psych bull plop to be really bloody annoying. I am in no doubt as to the limitations and problems with psychiatry as a field of practice. No doubt whatsoever. There is a significant and growing body of evidence that depression should not be viewed as purely a biological or chemical disorder, that psychology can play a large part in its manifestation (and often should play a large part in its treatment). The serotonin-only hypothesis that SC keeps moaning about has been widely rejected for a decade. But none of that can dismiss the body of peer-reviewed medical science – exploring psychological, neurological, biochemical, and pathophysiological aspects – that has identified genetic and phenotypic biomarkers for depression. This includes recent work on the genetics and hereditability of major depressive disorder; fMRI research into depression-associated pathology in neural networks; and findings that over-production of certain neurotransmitters can be an important cause. Peer-reviewed published science, not “deadly myths”. To state that depression is not an illness or disorder is akin to saying “you’re imagining it”, or “cheer the fuck up”, and plays to the old idea of dualism – that your mind is completely separate from your brain. Scientists who dismiss purely biological or purely serotonin models of depression still recognise it as an illness or disorder (or group of them), one that is usually complex and needs treatment. What form the treatment should take is hotly debated; the fact that depression is an illness, not so much.

    If someone wants to criticise the serotonin-only hypothesis and the related pushing of SSRIs or MAOIs by drug firms, then super. But to claim that depression is not an illness or that it has no biological basis is utter bollocks. The only (from what I can see) peer-reviewed paper that SC cites looks solely at serotonin, and does not refute the body of peer-reviewed work that treats depression as an illness, and in fact refers to depression as a disorder. There have been many other peer-reviewed papers like it. They don’t validate SC’s claims.

  270. dianne says

    Is anyone going to actually try to read anything rather than misrepresenting basic arguments over and over and over and over again?

    If one person misrepresents your argument, it’s likely because that person didn’t understands it or possibly intentionally misrepresents it. If people are misrepresenting it “over and over and over and over again”, perhaps it’s because you’re not very clear in your claims or you are misunderstanding their positions.

  271. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    SC would you care to explain how you go from “waiting for biomarkers” to “the biomarkers don’t exist”?

  272. says

    If one person misrepresents your argument, it’s likely because that person didn’t understands it or possibly intentionally misrepresents it. If people are misrepresenting it “over and over and over and over again”, perhaps it’s because you’re not very clear in your claims or you are misunderstanding their positions.

    Right, because it’s not like we’ve seen a similar dynamic in response to feminist or atheist arguments or anything. It couldn’t be that people are hostile to the argument and acting evasively. It’s not like all of this energy into making it about someone’s tone and motives and presentation and alleged subtext is something we’ve encountered before. Couldn’t possibly be anything like that.

    Bye.

  273. says

    SC would you care to explain how you go from “waiting for biomarkers” to “the biomarkers don’t exist”?

    The same way I go from “waiting for evidence of God” to “evidence of God doesn’t exist.” And I’ll point out again: they’re the ones making the claim that these illnesses exist. It’s their responsibility to provide evidence for that contention. They have acknowledged that they haven’t done so. You don’t get to make claims for which you don’t have evidence, and it’s evil to do so when those claims affect people’s lives.

    OK, I really do need to go. I expect you’ll continue your sniping in my absence.

  274. mudpuddles says

    What part of “No biological markers have been identified”?

    You remind me of the twits running about saying “there is no evidence of global warming!” You can say it as much as you like, it won’t make it so. Nor does it magically make depression “not an illness” or “not a disorder”.

  275. mudpuddles says

    Levels of HTR1A and HTR2A are good markers, since 5HT is still known to have a role in many cases. These are linked to a genetic factor, 5HTTLPR, which is being used as a marker. Aspects of BDNF are also potent and promising biomarkers. Levels of acetylcholine activity are also a good marker, since excessive cholinergic activity is known to cause depression. Abnormalities in certain frontal-limbic brain regions are also useful (including the amygdala and insula). Sleep is a known biomarker.

  276. says

    You remind me of the twits running about saying “there is no evidence of global warming!”

    Do you realize who said those things? David Kupfer and Robert Spitzer. That isn’t like some twits running about saying “there is no evidence of global warming!” It’s like if the authors of the IPCC report said it at the time of the report’s release.

    Or maybe you’re suggesting that the DSM task-force chairs are inexplicably conspiring to bring down psychiatry by hiding the mass of evidence that you just know exists.

  277. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Does the phrase “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” mean anything to you? In the case of gods, we know what we’d expect to find if gods exist and we don’t find it. We keep looking; we keep testing things that have historically been attributed to supernatural causes and found natural ones instead. That is positive evidence for the non-existence of gods.

    In the case of how brains work we don’t know a whole hell of a lot about how they work and what we should expect to find in a healthy brain vs. a not healthy one. You have to first know what you’re looking for in order to conclude that it’s not there. It’s my understanding that, when it comes to psychology, we’re still in the “what are we even looking for” phase of it. Which means it’s too fucking early to conclude it’s not there.

  278. dianne says

    Do you realize who said those things? David Kupfer and Robert Spitzer. That isn’t like some twits running about saying “there is no evidence of global warming!” It’s like if the authors of the IPCC report said it at the time of the report’s release.

    Given that you keep referencing your “translation” of what they said, it’s more like Fox News claiming that the authors of the IPCC report said that there was no evidence of climate change.

  279. Brony says

    @ qwints 352
    After thinking about this, I agree. That was a perspective that I had not considered and thank you for offering it. PZ should have tailored his sarcastic rhetoric in a way that would not have created such associations for people connected to depression or suicide.
    I certainly don’t want to be in a community that is unwilling to find the best ways to create attention for issues of importance so thanks for helping with that.

  280. Brony says

    RE: Depression in general.
    The most accurate way to describe depression that I can give is that it is a mental filter established by negative life experiences. It’s an instinctual response to difficulty, trauma, failure (often regardless of reason), social stress and other things that can justify a more negative, pessimistic outlook. It is a self reinforcing state that pushes one to see everything in a more negative light and often requires focused external efforts to give a person the tools to see things in a more balanced way to break the cycle of negative rumination over the long term.
    Any genes involved in the process will likely change predispositions to entering the depressive state or exiting it and there is no good reason to think that the condition is caused by specific genes. People will be differently able to enter or exit the state depending on inheritance (genetic or epigenetic) and life experience.

  281. mudpuddles says

    @dianne, #437

    Yes, I noticed that…. the person saying psychiatry is full of crap is quoting psychiatrists to back up their argument.

  282. dianne says

    The same way I go from “waiting for evidence of God” to “evidence of God doesn’t exist.”

    God doesn’t have an attached clinical syndrome. The clinical syndrome of depression has been described for many years. It’s possible, likely even, that you’re right that depression is not AN illness. It’s probably a number of different illnesses. This would also explain why different clinical trials get different results with respect to the efficacy of certain medications: Maybe depression is more like fever than like, say, Strep pneumo. And so SSRIs work if you happen to have one variant, but not if you have another in the same way that penicillin works well if you have Strep, but not so great if you have a viral infection. Or perhaps it’s not that broad, but more like the difference between having AML and APL: ATRA works on one, but not on the other–but that doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) lead one to the conclusion that fever and AML are social constructs and not diseases.

  283. dianne says

    At least the one in comment 415 has been: it’s in PLoS Medicine, and all PLoS journals are peer-reviewed (I’ve written reviews for PLoS ONE myself).

    Thanks. I missed that altogether. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t support SC’s central thesis that depression isn’t a real disease. On the contrary, it clearly supports the concept of depression as a clinical entity but brings into doubt the use of SSRIs as first line in all situations and condemns the use of direct to consumer advertising, a condemnation I completely agree with.

  284. dianne says

    No biomarkers exist for fibromyalgia. Everyone with fibromyalgia must be faking it. No biomarkers exist for sickle cell vasoocclusive crisis. Clearly VOC is not a real disease. Heck, no biomarkers exist for acute chest syndrome, so everyone dying of ACS must be dying because they don’t trust their bodies or whatever the claim is exactly. No biomarker exists for irritable bowel syndrome. Clearly the constipation, gas, and diarrhea is all in people’s heads. No biomarker exists for autism. Probably just need to beat those kids into talking. Shall I go on? I can.

  285. says

    SC

    I’ve been writing about this and making recommendations for years. I’ve provided probably hundreds of links: to peer-reviewed research (like Kirsch’s on which his book is based), to non-peer-reviewed articles, to books by a variety of authors, to statements from NIMH and the APA.

    But what you haven’t done, anywhere that I’ve seen, is actually try to summarize any of them, or actually try to make your case in your own words. It’s always “You’re wrong, go read these dozen things about how wrong you are”, but never “and here’s some bullet points from these sources”. It is, bluntly, the same technique favored by libertarians and apologists, and it doesn’t come off any better on this topic.
    Meanwhile, many of the people in these discussions are actively suffering with these conditions, and know, from personal experience, that appropriate medications/medical interventions can dramatically reduce that suffering and allow them to survive and function. So when you come in here blithering about the evils of psychiatric medication, you sound like a complete asshole, especially when you never actually make an argument for it, just post lists of books and articles.

  286. azhael says

    The same way I go from “waiting for evidence of God” to “evidence of God doesn’t exist.” And I’ll point out again: they’re the ones making the claim that these illnesses exist. It’s their responsibility to provide evidence for that contention. They have acknowledged that they haven’t done so. You don’t get to make claims for which you don’t have evidence, and it’s evil to do so when those claims affect people’s lives.

    You need evidence that depression exists? Seriously?
    It does…and it is VERY OBVIOUSLY the result of brain physiology. Since brain physiology is determined or at least moderated by gene expression, it is entirely fair to assume that there is a genetic component to phenomena like depression. It really is that simple. The fact that we haven’t been able to identify specific markers yet is not in any way evidence against depression having a physiological basis. The fact that medication can have very possitive effects is also a pretty damn good hint at depression being a brain physiology phenomenon.

  287. says

    Does the phrase “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” mean anything to you? In the case of gods, we know what we’d expect to find if gods exist and we don’t find it. We keep looking; we keep testing things that have historically been attributed to supernatural causes and found natural ones instead. That is positive evidence for the non-existence of gods.

    In the case of how brains work we don’t know a whole hell of a lot about how they work and what we should expect to find in a healthy brain vs. a not healthy one. You have to first know what you’re looking for in order to conclude that it’s not there. It’s my understanding that, when it comes to psychology, we’re still in the “what are we even looking for” phase of it. Which means it’s too fucking early to conclude it’s not there.

    The first paragraph of this isn’t accurate, but anyway… If you don’t even know what you’re looking for, you can’t make claims about it. This is pretty uncontentious science stuff, and I’d bet that you would find it inarguable in any case that you recognize as woo. If psychiatry said “We really don’t know how the brain works or what evidence of mental illnesses would look like even if we found them, so we can’t justifiably claim that they exist,” I would be fine with that – even if they insisted for some reason on believing that they would discover these brain diseases some day. That isn’t what they’ve done. They have made positive claims and led people to believe that they had evidence that such diseases exist. You know that’s true (and if you don’t, read my link @ #379 above).

    It’s a basic scientific principle that you don’t believe things or make claims without good reason to do so. They have now plainly said that they don’t have good reason to do so. Even if you want for some reason to give them another several decades and billions of dollars in the foolish hope of finding evidence retrospectively for their current claims, that still doesn’t justify their (or anyone’s) making the claims now or for the past 30 years. We can dismiss the claims now, because there’s no evidence to support them. Their fanciful hopes and dreams are irrelevant. The question is “Do mental illnesses exist?” The answer is “No. There’s no evidence that they do. There’s no good scientific reason to believe that they do.”

    ***

    Given that you keep referencing your “translation” of what they said, it’s more like Fox News claiming that the authors of the IPCC report said that there was no evidence of climate change.

    What are you talking about? No. Those are quotes.

  288. says

    Being a layman an’ all, I went and looked at the common definition of “illness.”

    : a condition of being unhealthy in your body or mind
    : a specific condition that prevents your body or mind from working normally : a sickness or disease

    Is there a more precise medical definition of the word, which excludes such things as depression? Because if there isn’t, it would appear to me that depression is an illness by definition.

  289. amphiuma says

    *delurking with a request for resources*
    Since suicide is such a sensitive subject, especially now, I thought it might be better to ask this here than in the Lounge. If it would be better for me to go there instead, please let me know and I’d be happy to do that.

    I’m hoping someone here is willing to recommend a list of suicide prevention hotlines, particularly live chat or other text-based helplines. I’ve been seeing comments from people talking about their fear of becoming suicidal and general fear of a spike in suicides like after Marilyn Monroe or Jin-shil Choi’s death, but I worry about putting out dangerous info (apparently one post going around tumblr has a phone number to a sex line that’s one digit off the hotline it was supposed to have D: and I’m also afraid of including places that aren’t safe for LGBTQIA people or might be otherwise exclusionary).
    If anyone has suggestions of good resources, or knows of some to avoid, I would greatly appreciate it.

  290. Brony says

    RE: Shocking language, examples, comparisons, and other ways of tweaking the emotions in drawing attention to important issues.

    Despite the mistakes in how emotions were tweaked in drawing attention to the media bias in coverage of issues important to social justice in PZ’s post, using shocking language to overcome the bias in society is important and I believe unavoidable. There is a level on which every attempt to draw attention to important social things that need changed gets treated as rude, too disruptive and similar and often end up as an eternal series of excuses that prevent change. So the important question in my mind is what are the best methods for doing this?

    A general example that is conveniently more simple, On my Facebook page I am drawing attention to the BS involving Ferguson and racial bias more generally and I included several F-bombs because they are a genuine reflection of my feelings. This is the first time I have ever done such because my family is sensitive to profanity, but to me this situation is worth it. Like many of the invading trolls my father and grandfather are now completely ignoring the true profanity which is the situation that has been historically neglected by the media and society. At the moment I am quite happy to argue the issues in a smaller scale version of what happened here, but I am curious about what people think

    A somewhat more complicated example. What if Robin Williams died of heart disease and he was not depressed? Would PZs rhetorical approach have been justified then? At the moment I feel that it would have been justified in such a situation and we have examples of the media obsessing over dead celebrities in similar contexts in the past. Also keep in mind that the larger issue is one of the media focusing attention away from issues that might make more socially dominant groups uncomfortable so you can put many issues in that “not as important as X issues” box. There is a reason that we have an encroaching police state and broken criminal justice system and given what happened with OWS and how the government wont go after powerful criminals I have no problem seeing how this is a thing that effects me and every other group getting ignored from women to trans folk to people suffering from mental illness.

  291. says

    amphiuma #448

    Following a incident in my family, this was recommended as a list of “good and safe” resources. I can’t vouch for it personally but, if my recommendation counts for anything, I highly trust the people who recommended it. (it’s UK-skewed, but does contain some international resources.)

    http://prevent-suicide.org.uk/find_help.html

    Regarding specifically on-line resources, I’ll highlight one link on that list in particular:

    Online Suicide Help
    Wiki list of mental health services available online (live chat, email, forum, social media, telehealth, etc.)
    http://unsuicide.wikispaces.com/Online+Suicide+Help

    Hope that helps.

  292. says

    Yes, I noticed that…. the person saying psychiatry is full of crap is quoting psychiatrists to back up their argument.

    I…have no words.

    ***

    God doesn’t have an attached clinical syndrome. The clinical syndrome of depression has been described for many years.

    What’s been talked about is a group of experiences and problems arbitrarily grouped together. For a feeling of how scientific that process was, see the interview with Robert Spitzer I quoted from above (there’s more in Shyness.

    ***

    But what you haven’t done, anywhere that I’ve seen, is actually try to summarize any of them, or actually try to make your case in your own words. It’s always “You’re wrong, go read these dozen things about how wrong you are”, but never “and here’s some bullet points from these sources”. It is, bluntly, the same technique favored by libertarians and apologists, and it doesn’t come off any better on this topic.

    This is what I’m talking about. First, I have done that, and some of the reviews I linked to above at my blog are just that: summaries of the arguments. I’ve written and linked to dozens of posts making the arguments in my own words. (Check the “health” tag at my blog for all of them.) The Marcia Angell articles I’ve linked to are a summary of two of the books I’m referring to. Either people complain about this way of approaching the subject or demand I do it a different way or avoid it entirely.

    This is not about me or my presentation. It’s happening in this case because people are hostile to these ideas. If I link to an article, people complain that that single piece doesn’t make my case about every single point. If I recommend a couple of books, people complain that they’re too expensive or time-consuming or they shouldn’t have to read a book to understand. It’s clear that if you legitimately wanted to examine the evidence you would just do it. If you still believe you don’t need to engage with the evidence unless it’s presented on the platter of your choice and then spoonfed to you, all I can say is that it’s not in keeping with critical inquiry. Why can’t you just read a couple of books instead of expending all of this energy criticizing me for recommending them?

    Meanwhile, many of the people in these discussions are actively suffering with these conditions, and know, from personal experience, that appropriate medications/medical interventions can dramatically reduce that suffering and allow them to survive and function.

    I want everyone to realize – and I’ve been pointing this out for years, to little avail – that these same arguments can be used against you in the future by any purveyor of pseudoscience: anecdotal evidence, clinical experience, ad hominems, it’s so complicated that we don’t know what evidence would look like but we still believe,… – all of it. They’re very standard. You should be very careful about these sorts of arguments.

    ***

    You need evidence that depression exists? Seriously?

    Yes, that’s right. That’s it exactly. I’m saying people are never depressed. Just like how grief doesn’t exist. Totally seriously – you’ve got my argument down.

    I’m done here for now. I hope at least a few people will read – critically but fairly – at least two of the books by Whitaker, Kirsch, Davies, or Moncrieff. Then we could actually have a reasonable exchange. Until then, I don’t think it’s possible, and I’m wasting my time, increasingly disappointed, and tired of the personal attacks.

  293. rq says

    I think I finally found what depression (and no doubt other mental illness) is:

    in my clinical experience many forms of suffering that are currently dismissed as medical disease are not disease at all. Rather are they often a call to change; the organism’s protest against inhospitable social or psychological conditions. Therefore, rather than turning to anesthetics as a first response there is often value in working through our suffering productively – trying to discern what it is seeking to communicate so that we can work to put things right. [bolding mine]

    … it’s a quote from SC’s review of Cracked, towards the end.
    Well, I’ve heard that, due to inhospitable physical or environmental conditions, sometimes the body gets what is called ‘sick’ or an ‘illness’. Not always with biomarkers (although I don’t know, does susceptibility to the rhinovirus have a biomarker in human DNA?), not always with known biomarkers. Hm.

  294. dianne says

    Yes, that’s right. That’s it exactly. I’m saying people are never depressed. Just like how grief doesn’t exist.

    Hey, look, a quote from SC in which she states that she believes that people are never depressed! Context, pfft, what context? She clearly doesn’t believe that grief and depression exist: she said so right there.

    Now do you see why simply saying “X said this” without considering the context of what he or she was saying might lead to biased conclusions? You quote various people, but don’t give any context and certainly no clear evidence that they agree with your conclusions before claiming their quotes as evidence.

  295. dianne says

    there is often value in working through our suffering productively

    Hey, that reminds me. Isn’t SC a social worker? In other words, someone who makes her money by helping people “work through their suffering productively” but can’t prescribe drugs or provide psychotherapy. Following the money…

  296. Esteleth is Groot says

    Here’s my basic stance:

    I do not care if antidepressants are distilled water, or just caffeine, or whatever.

    I do care that many people who have depression have reported that taking antidepressants helps.

    I do not care that we haven’t found biomarkers for depression, or for schizophrenia, or for 10,000 other medical conditions.

    I do care if people who are suffering feel better.

  297. AlexanderZ says

    amphiuma #448:
    Additionally you can look at the wiki article about suicide prevention (note that US has a specific LGBTQ line). You didn’t say what country you from, but I hope that list is good enough.

    qwints #370,
    I stand corrected. I saw Rand Paul address the issue at Reason. Even TeaParty.org wants Obama to declare Martial Law to protect residents against the local police.
    I owe libertarians an apology.

    Inaji #405,
    Pets are amazing. My cat once stopped me from committing suicide. It’s great you have pets to support you!

    Tony! #378,

    It’s so fucking good to be employed, and to have friends.

    I’m very happy for you!
    I didn’t say anything on the “sacred cows” thread, but I hope you stay safe.

    ceesays,
    I don’t know how to express my feelings adequately, but your words on the “sacred cows” thread have touched me, and I wish for you and Tony! to be safe.

  298. mudpuddles says

    @Esteleth, #456

    I do not care that we haven’t found biomarkers for depression, or for schizophrenia, or for 10,000 other medical conditions.

    As I’ve stated before, there are well-known biomarkers for depression. The literature is full of examples. I’ve named some of them here already. Use google, you’ll find more.
    Or perhaps don’t bother, because if we follow SC’s notions then none of the science is any form of evidence, and its probably all a big conspiracy to get money for science research, all these scientists working on biomarkers which they make up for an illness which doesn’t actually exist, and my “depression” is just in my imagination….

  299. says

    AlexanderZ:

    It’s great you have pets to support you!

    Thanks. I have a houseful of animals, but Amelia is one very special rat.

  300. AlexanderZ says

    Esteleth is Groot #456,

    I do care if people who are suffering feel better.

    That’s pretty much my position on (some and very specific!) chiropractic treatment. In my long history with back pain I’ve found that only a narrow mix of alternative and conventional medicine can enable me to function better.

    So I don’t care if there is no evidence for chiropractics (though conventional doctors aren’t any better on this particular front). I’ve found a regime that’s good for me. Whether it’s self-delusion or something that has actual benefit, but only to people with my exact problems, is beside the point.

  301. Esteleth is Groot says

    The only line I will draw is the following:
    If the drug/treatment has been shown to be actively harmful, then I don’t care if it makes someone “feel better.”

    Likewise, I draw a clear line between, “This naturopathic remedy helped me, and wasn’t rat poison” and “you shouldn’t use chemo, use coffee enemas instead.”

  302. dianne says

    Chronic pain is a pain in the patient and caregiver. Things that work great in acute pain tend to be less effective to completely ineffective in chronic pain and things that work in chronic pain…are largely imaginary. It’s an area in desperate need of better funding and new drugs and/or techniques for pain control and I’m happy to go with a “whatever works” approach, within certain limits. Also, there are no biomarkers for essentially any chronic pain syndrome.

  303. says

    Dianne:

    Chronic pain is a pain in the patient and caregiver.

    It certainly is. I was recently dx’d with central pain syndrome, and one of my docs gave me a look when I sighed and shook my head, and said “great, a syndrome. That’s a word for ‘we don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you, and we don’t know what to do about it, either’. There are a lot of causes when it comes to CPS, and mine hasn’t been figured out yet. All that said, I’d be a compleat wreck without meds and physical therapy.

  304. Brony says

    @ rq 453

    in my clinical experience many forms of suffering that are currently dismissed as medical disease are not disease at all. Rather are they often a call to change; the organism’s protest against inhospitable social or psychological conditions. Therefore, rather than turning to anesthetics as a first response there is often value in working through our suffering productively – trying to discern what it is seeking to communicate so that we can work to put things right.
    That is my view as well. There are however many more ways to shape behavior and than [organism’s protest against inhospitable social or psychological conditions] (think of the brackets as indicating a variable).
    Apologies for being so, clinical? It’s just that this is my “what we know” voice. Some of the ways only alter behavior in the persons lifetime. Critical times that can be different in response to variables include:
    *Gestation
    *Multiple points along childhood (hence the term “early interventions”)

    Some of the ways are based on the experiences of a persons ancestors. That would be the reference I made to epigenetics above. While we are still figuring out the details and assembling solid data this is an example of the sort of discussion that is occurring when it comes to epigenetics and emotional issues, it’s provocative yet still fascinating and very incomplete so naturally very high caution is warranted when thinking about implications.
    “Epigenetic transmission of holocaust trauma: can nightmares be inherited?”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24029109
    As far as I am concerned you can replace functionally replace many minority communities that face systemic inter-generational aweful treatment with holocaust victims in a very general sense (not meant to minimize those victims, but the broader picture is critical).

    Critical variables for this sort of area and trauma would be intense experiences that lead to long term behavior changes that establish changes in gene expression. These would lead to alterations in parental activity that reflect things we might call “family culture” so this is a science that will be controversial and many many fronts. It would be wise for scientists studying this to be ready for that.

    It also will not all be things involved in suffering (as in the direct perception and awareness of). I think it’s likely that there will be effects on aggression, dominance, and modes of social activity as different as military and economic occupation (think routine, complicated, conceptually detailed, life routines) inheritance. I see many cognitive types that are called diseases and syndromes as being more like human archetypes where the more strongly concentrated forms can be essentially “too much” in terms of that particular cognitive mode as expressed in modern experience. For example things like autism, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and my own adhd and tourette’s syndrome. I have a very pure lineage that includes the military and very conservative religion of the type that this community complains of the most, my mind is militant, and often too black and white but I take excesses in those areas very seriously. But it’s nice having a cheat-sheet that describes my advantages and drawbacks for what I am provided by science, the thing I sometimes allow myself to feel “religious” about. That knowledge acts as “cheat codes” as well in terms of advantages associated with cognitive types :)

    But “too much” is very hard to define and it is defined in both the personal and social realms by necessity. Both are important, and the relevance and significance of each are determined by each person despite general characteristics. No matter how excited I get over the positives I discover about tourette’s and even adhd, the issues of the non-verbal child with autism would always be first in line as well as the person with tourette’s who has debilitating sympotms (and on and on and on till the suffering stops).

    Well, I’ve heard that, due to inhospitable physical or environmental conditions, sometimes the body gets what is called ‘sick’ or an ‘illness’. Not always with biomarkers (although I don’t know, does susceptibility to the rhinovirus have a biomarker in human DNA?), not always with known biomarkers. Hm.

    “sick” and “illness” would be like “disorder” and “condition”. The negatives are associated with the suffering. We don’t have language that lets us talk about it in terms of what they do to perception and why but it makes sense that the science and medicine is mostly full of suffering. We want that as a group. Many of these things when contextualized are not nearly as scary as they could be, and the context really helps to make what is going on easier to manipulate in terms of how a person can see themselves and interact with themselves and others. With all the science I have read about myself I’m mostly at the “oh, well that makes sense. Actually some of this is kind of cool and useful if…” point. I’m not well equipped to talk about the “upside of depression” without it being more than my own personal evolutionary psychology argument (that would naturally be a thing everyone here could tear apart of modify for themselves at their leisure), but I do have this.
    “Depression’s Evolutionary Roots”
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/depressions-evolutionary/

    “Biomarker” is one that needs to be treated as risking the same use as “quantum” in other proper applications of skepticism. In the sense it is being applied in here “statistically significant biological difference” is about right. I could describe in detail what tourette’s biomarkers look like to the point that would put many here to sleep. They are all over the place in immune system alterations, hormone alterations, anatomical structures all over the brain, stress responses, and are socially sensitive despite my Hermione level love of reading about them. Here is an example of current efforts to look for a kind of biomarker in many neurological conditions.
    “Clinical Prediction from Structural Brain MRI Scans: A Large-Scale Empirical Study.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25048627

  305. Doug Hudson says

    Hey SC, you don’t get to tell me that my lived experience is false!

    I had severe, near suicidal depression. Thankfully I found a great therapist who helped me resolve the issue. (I LOVE CBT! Though it may not work for everyone.) Now I am much happier and no longer have suicidal ideation.

    So, SC, if you had your way, I’d probably be dead now, because “depression isn’t an illness.”

    And, of course, your little crusade only strengthens the popular view that depression isn’t “serious”, that “people just need to stop being sad.”

    Please, I beg you, THINK about the consequences of what you are saying. You are putting people’s lives at risk. If you want to question the efficacy of pharmaceutical treatment, fine, but don’t do it in a way that undercuts some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

    The right wing has spent the last 40 years dismantling our mental health care safety net–do you really want to be on their side?

  306. mudpuddles says

    @dianne, #463

    there are no biomarkers for essentially any chronic pain syndrome

    Not sure what you mean, but I think this is wrong. It might depend on the form or context of the chronic pain, but there are plenty of biomarkers cited in the literature and in clinical practice. For example, biomarkers for bone or cartilage degradation, inflammatory cytokines, ATP-sensitive receptors, and the efficacy of drugs for chronic pain, such as ziconotide, are measured using a suite of biomarkers.
    If you meant genetic markers, i.e. for sensitivity to chronic pain states, then look up research into the GCH1, TRPV1, OPRD1 genes and their role in pain sensitivity.

  307. says

    Doug Hudson #467

    Hey SC, you don’t get to tell me that my lived experience is false!

    To be fair, I don’t think she is. As far as I can gather, she agrees to the symptoms, but disagrees with the proposed cause. She’s not saying that people suffering from depression aren’t depressed, only that depression isn’t an illness. I admit, I’m not entirely clear on the distinction, but I’m pretty sure SC intends one.

    SC, if you’re open to advice, here’s mine:
    Write a single, coherent summary of your position. Not a summary of each individual book or article, but a summary of your complete idea. Strive to write something where people can read that one document and understand what you’re getting at. Then add in links for those who want to read further, giving the background, but don’t just give the links. Make sure that people can understand your basic point without going any further.

    Your biggest problem, to my mind, is that you make it incredible hard for people to understand what you’re getting at. You expect a lot from your audience. Frankly, that’s not a strategy for broad success. If you want to convince people on a large scale, make it easy for them. I think you’ll have more luck that way.

    Two cents and all that.

  308. Doug Hudson says

    LykeX@470,

    Hmm, you may be right. But what definition of “illness” would exclude depression? Anyone who has experienced it knows damn well that it ain’t healthy.

    I’ve just seen too many people dismiss depression as “just being sad”, not realize how incapacitating it really is.

  309. ceesays says

    I don’t think that SC is saying that depression is imaginary, but I kind of…

    Hm. how to put this.

    People often expect me to sit down and teach them about racism in a way that won’t disturb the complexes of ego and denial that comprise white fragility. Enough that I’m pretty much tired of doing it, to the point where I simply won’t do it – I expect that the people around me have a basic understanding of what racism is, and might only need me to say “sit all your asses down and hear me” when they’ve gotten distracted, which is easy to do when you don’t live on the oppressed end of racism’s realities.

    But even so, I can take a moment and actually write about 100 – 200 words about why something is racist, if I feel inclined, which has everything to do with whether I believe someone will come along, read it, and say “oh.”

    I think that I am a good candidate for 100 – 200 words from SaltyCurrent about what she’s talking about, honestly. Because I can’t wrap my mind around what mental illness is if it isn’t an illness. there’s got to be a way to communicate the anti-psychiatry version of this:

    If anti-black racism isn’t hating people for the color of their skin, then what is it?

    Racism isn’t that one relative you have who uses awful language at holiday dinners to talk about brown people. Racism is the unnoticed set of beliefs and stereotypes about brown people that people who haven’t raised their consciousness about racism carry with them and never think about, because they absorb their knowledge about what it means to be brown from the entertainment that surrounds them.

    You see, it’s a system, and you live in it every day. It’s the news telling you that these white people *found* bread and groceries in the flooded part of New Orleans, but these black people, who are also in New Orleans, who also suffered exactly the same storm, and who are just as dispossessed as the white people, are carrying away goods that they *looted.* Racism is a concept rooted in another concept: White Supremacy, another system that has soaked into all our lives and is hard to see until we examine it.

    Now I had to take some time to write this, but it’s from my own understanding of the thing that I am so often called upon to explain and teach. If I’m having a conversation where it might be appropriate to have such questions asked (because never never never interrupt a conversation between people of color to ask them to teach racism 101, so rude) then I can come up with at least *something* that begins to answer questions.

    I can do this for feminism, womanism, general queerdom, and in a pinch, ableism. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the person who is trying to tell me that I might have absorbed damaging beliefs about psychiatry be able to do the same.

    because I clicked the links. and you know what, nah. I am pretty much disinclined to spend time chasing down some rabbit hole without a thesis statement about why I should spend the time, and it starts with the question: “If mental illnesses are not illnessses, then what are they?”

  310. Doug Hudson says

    ceesays@472,

    Very nice comment, you’ve expressed in much clearer and stronger terms what I was trying to get at.

    Thanks!

  311. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I don’t have the spoons to read through all this, but last time SC and I went through a round on whether diagnoses can exist before the identification of a biological cause, SC accused me of not caring about folk that are currently diagnosed with mental illness. I fired back. SC pointed out that the same charge had been used to shut down SC’s arguments (and SC) in the past.

    I said then, and I stand by it, that it is horribly unfair to SC to use that. And if SC has used it back, I said it would be unfair again.

    I hope that that hasn’t been going on in this conversation. Wherever I may agree or disagree with anyone here, I know that people are participating in this because we care. I said I would have SC’s back on that in the future, and this is me trying to live up to that commitment even though I can’t, at the moment, read the arguments above.

    Hopefully more spoons and more reading later will allow me to contribute directly to the substance of what’s being said. In the meantime, b/c I know how frustrating and even painful these threads can be, I send a gentle love to all in this conversation.

  312. Doug Hudson says

    Regarding CripDyke’s eloquent statement at 474, I should clarify my previous posts: I do not think that SC doesn’t care about people with depression.

    I do think that some of SC’s statements regarding depression could have serious negative consequences, both for individuals and for our society, were they to become widespread.

    And personally, as a sufferer of depression, I am deeply contemptuous of anyone who says that depression is not an illness. But perhaps SC is using the word “illness” in a specialized sense that doesn’t mean what it normally means.

  313. Brony says

    Depression is one that I would say stands a good chance of always being an illness as it is commonly known. Certainly it will always be on the negative side of neutral. All the emotional negatives may be similar in form. Things that break down the structure and function of the body in clear terms with no upside at all like cystic fibrosis, or cardiovascular disease will certainly be negative.

    Any positives for anything that currently gets a designation like “illness”, “disorder”, “disease”, or even “condition” will be associated with very complex things and and will often be very context specific.

  314. Brony says

    @ ceesays
    Just, wow. It resonates and it’s not in my personal experience. General human problems that we need to solve indeed. Thanks for that.

  315. dianne says

    @469 mudpuddles: Ah, but those are experimental biomarkers. There’s nothing currently in use in clinical practice for idiopathic chronic pain syndromes* and those are the only ones that meet SC’s criteria.

    *At least as far as I know. I don’t think there are any markers that rule in or out fibromyalgia or lower back pain, for example. As far as I know, those are still clinical diagnoses.

  316. Brony says

    I just realized that my general description of tourette’s might be a little startling given the stereotypes. I would characterize some upsides as “adult child”, naturally you have to monitor those excesses as well.

  317. says

    Question about the ongoing situation in Ferguson (which I didn’t want to ask in that thread because of people like caesar): What’s the source of the claims about looting and rioting from civilians? So many of the tweets I’ve been reading (thanks to the Horde), as well as some of the stories I’ve read have portrayed civilians acting peacefully.

  318. says

    Tony:

    What’s the source of the claims about looting and rioting from civilians? So many of the tweets I’ve been reading (thanks to the Horde), as well as some of the stories I’ve read have portrayed civilians acting peacefully.

    I haven’t been able to pin it all down yet, but most of it is from early reports at the QuikMart (not sure that’s accurate), but that was short lived, and there were people out helping to clean up the broken glass and mess, lots of pictures of that, but they aren’t getting widespread exposure. There’s still more info on #AntonioFrench and #Ferguson, than in major news outlets. It seems in the first two days, local shop owners feared rioting and looting, and that was picked up by media, but with little context. Right after the bit of looting that took place, there were immediate calls for peace, and peaceful protest by most of the townspeople.

    I’m not terribly clear on a timeline with this bit, nor the actual story itself, but it seems the New Black Panthers decided to show up, then there were claims (by authorities) that people were shooting (at cops) and throwing Molotov cocktails (at cops), but I haven’t been able to verify that. More photos have been posted of people badly wounded by rubber bullets, though, and one woman, a grad from Howard University, was shot in the head by a real bullet, but thankfully, is okay.

  319. mudpuddles says

    @dianne #478
    Hi dianne. You’re right on fibromyalgia, several proposed and experimental biomarkers but nothing definitive. Disc pressure measured through MRI is an established marker for some lower back pain where cause is known. Idiopathic pain will always be difficult to identify a marker for, but known-cause pain is generally associated with one or more of several markers including those I have listed. My father suffered chronic pain associated with arthritis, and later cancer. He went through regular marker assays to determine efficacy of targeted interventions, which helped settle on an effective course of treatment to ease his pain before he passed.

  320. AlexanderZ says

    Crip Dyke #474

    I don’t have the spoons to read

    I don’t get it. What “spoons”?

    Inaji #464

    There are a lot of causes when it comes to CPS, and mine hasn’t been figured out yet. All that said, I’d be a compleat wreck without meds and physical therapy.

    This sounds very familiar. I was misdiagnosed with CPS for awhile (don’t aks me how – might have been a case of “throw anything, some might stick”) and got a year of Gabapentin.

    I’m happy that you have found something that works (a bit? a lot? so-so?). dianne #463 was spot on.
    You probably don’t need me telling you this, but in case you do (or anyone else reading this): Never trust the opinion of just one doctor. They may be the smartest and most caring person in the world, but they lack true experience and understanding when dealing with chronic pain. Always look for any additional reasonable (only you get to decide what’s reasonable) treatment. Even if A works for you, you may find that B works even better.
    Never make the mistake that I once made of thinking that the quality of life is permanently reduced. You may discover a treatment that raises it!

  321. Ichthyic says

    the chemical imbalance myth has been so well demolished

    sorry, but this is so much bullshit.

    like I said, many times before, you can pull up ANY current journal of biomedicine or medical chemistry and find well done studies showing the exact links.

    that you continue to ignore the actual primary literature on this tells me you have a serious issue in understanding how science actually works.

    still.

  322. Ichthyic says

    This is not about me or my presentation.

    It’s entirely sad to hear you say that, since it most obviously is to anyone who has watched you go down this rabbit hole.

  323. says

    Ichthyic @380:

    gratz, btw, since I didn’t do that in the lounge.

    Alexanderz @457:

    I’m very happy for you!
    I didn’t say anything on the “sacred cows” thread, but I hope you stay safe.

    and
    SC @400:

    I wish everyone well, especially Tony and ceesays, whose comments quoted in that OP I appreciated.

    Thank you all.

  324. Brony says

    @ mudpuddles 469
    Exactly the sort of thing I was talking about. Lots of things are being correlated among many types of health concerns and they can all be considered biomarkers. The problem is going to be making them meaningful to people and making sure precisely what they do in more general human terms and for the health concern.

    @ Doug Hudson 467

    I had severe, near suicidal depression. Thankfully I found a great therapist who helped me resolve the issue. (I LOVE CBT! Though it may not work for everyone.) Now I am much happier and no longer have suicidal ideation.

    CBT is good stuff for tourette’s as well, but you are right that there is no “one-size-fits-all”. When it works it’s like taking bites out of the problem, bit by bit as you get used to changing the context of how you think about things.

  325. Doug Hudson says

    Brony@494,

    Exactly. CBT is about identifying and changing behaviors–it can, in theory, work for most anything, not just “illnesses”. I used methods of CBT to greatly improve how I manage anger, for example.

    But tools and approaches from other types of therapy (including drugs!) can be equally useful. In this respect I think I agree with SC, in that a purely psychiatric approach to mental illness is not necessarily a good idea, especially since we don’t really understand how these things work. Optimally, mental health care should be done with the assistance of a skilled therapist, and experimentation may (will) be required to find the best tools to suit an individual’s needs. For example, I know people who prefer DBT to CBT, and that’s great.

  326. Brony says

    @ Doug Hudson
    It’s a strange place in medicine right now. Elements of CBT/DBT sound almost like things that we would have called “woo” or “new age” in other contexts. The early parts of it are very like what is called mindfulness meditation where you just get used to how your emotions feel without any sense of rightness or wrongness present to attach to a specific concept or memory. Brain structures associated with mindfullness meditation and CBT/DBT seem to have roles that act like an internal “heads up display” for your emotions. Once your internal display has some neat new dials and numbers you start trying to rethink how you feel about things.
    In tourette’s the first stages are designed to get the person used to the inner sensations and able to consciously recognize them. Then you can actually work on “reprogramming” or “shaping” tics and for me at least things that seem like they might be obsessions and compulsions into manageable and even useful forms.

  327. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    Commented here because I didn’t want to sidetrack the other threads:
    For any Australians reading thinking Ferguson is “something that just happens over there” remember this:
    (WARNING, footage of police brutality; and please don’t read the comments if you are easily triggered by violence or rape comments – there are some really sick people on the webs… but you all know that)

    APEC footage: Police push photographer to ground (ABC News)

    This was the press – not protestors.
    Its just a step to tear gas and ‘rubber’ bullets for cops like this. All in the name of ‘policing’.

  328. Doug Hudson says

    @Brony,

    Those are excellent points. And in the context of mental wellness, I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss New Age beliefs–people use all sorts of things as coping/comforting mechanisms, and if it works, it works.

    But what keeps CBT from being “woo” is the focus on self-awareness, self-examination, and, perhaps most importantly, self-honesty. There is a major difference between, for example, meditating as a tool for mental health and meditating because one believes it gives one access to “higher spheres”, and true therapy requires one to be honest about the difference.

    The other issue, and SC touched on this in the other thread when likening psychiatric care to religion, is that often coping mechanisms have negative effects as well as positive ones, and people need to honestly assess those or risk a “cure is worse than the disease” situation. For example, my most common self-soothing mechanism is eating. As a result, I’m overweight, which is problematic because I’m also pre-diabetic. So I’m trying to find other ways to self-sooth. Which doesn’t mean that other people can’t use food for self-soothing; the positives and negatives are different for each person.

    Using religion as a comforting/coping mechanism is also fairly common, for obvious reasons–religion provides community, provides answers, provides certainty. [NOTE: not suggesting that religious people are mentally ill, just that some people take comfort in religion.] However, religions can also have serious negatives. For example, if one’s religious leaders do something horrible, one must either give up the comforting effect of the religion (which is hard!) or find some rationalization for the leader’s horrible actions.

    So, yes, I would agree that there are similarities between therapy, New Age thought, and religion, and I would say this isn’t surprising–they all deal with the human consciousness, which is still very poorly understood. But as I said above, what distinguishes therapy (done correctly) from woo is a rigorous focus on self-evaluation and self-honesty. Therapy can require painful levels of honesty–I remember one time I clenched my fists so hard it hurt, as I acknowledged certain issues for the first time. But my therapist talked me through it and afterward it was like a great weight lifted from my shoulders.

    A good therapist is worth her weight in gold!

  329. Brony says

    @ Doug Hudson

    But what keeps CBT from being “woo” is the focus on self-awareness, self-examination, and, perhaps most importantly, self-honesty. There is a major difference between, for example, meditating as a tool for mental health and meditating because one believes it gives one access to “higher spheres”, and true therapy requires one to be honest about the difference.

    Just to be clear I’m not actually calling it woo for real, hence the quotes. It’s one of those examples where it is medicine and it takes a form that can be compared to lots of things with religious aspects because it has to do with emotions. But it’s basically a mental exercise with a couple of defined steps and can be stripped of supernatural components. I’m convinced by what I’ve been reading, the structural stuff is getting interesting, and I even found some correlations that helped me understand how the sensations that lead to various tourette’s experiences might occur.

    The other issue, and SC touched on this in the other thread when likening psychiatric care to religion, is that often coping mechanisms have negative effects as well as positive ones, and people need to honestly assess those or risk a “cure is worse than the disease” situation.

    This is another one I have had some thoughts on how to discuss. Psychology (and psychiatric care on some levels) is as like religion as the individual professional needs it to be. It’s difficult because of the diversity of different emotions that people can attach to different things requires a wide range of different ethical concerns. Imagine what an atheist psychologist might have to do to help a religious person or vice versa? There is a level on which you stop caring about what you think might be a delusion because you need to help the patient function and you don’t want to violate personal autonomy.