Link Roundup: December

Poisson has blessed me with many links this month.  I’ll start with a few plugs and followups.


The Ace Community Survey Team (which I co-lead) released our big report on the 2016 Ace Community Survey, alongside a shorter report on the 2015 survey.  If you’re interested in data, or want to know about the kind of diversity we talk about in ace communities, please take a look!

I wrote a summary of a scholarly article on asexuality and race.  Yep, I’m reading about critical race theory now.


After I wrote about the Tumblr ban, there were several other takes in my circle.  Brute Reason talked about how awful this is for sex-positive communities.  And Marcus Ranum put it in context, as an example of a cloud service exercising monopoly power.

I was saying over on Tumblr, that the widely mocked “female presenting nipples” is strangely appropriate.  There’s no way to tell someone’s “real” gender, you don’t know how people identify, and you’d like the policy to depend on whether the person wants to appear female or not.  On the other hand, “female presenting” is ambiguous whether it refers to intended appearance, or simply appearance (and the latter is likely more accurate to their real policy).  Anyway, they clearly put some thought into it, and the problem is that it’s attached to a discriminatory policy.

Earlier, I wrote a post that was critical of an article in The Atlantic about young people having less sex.  Crip Dyke also wrote about this, casting even further criticism on The Atlantic, and on Douthat’s nonsensical take.  Sara pointed to another article from a few years ago–this article shows data that makes it look like this is really a case of baby boomers having unusually high sexual activity, relative to generations above and below themselves.  Sara’s own response to this article discusses how this might be related to asexuality.

California Wildfires: Is It Global Warming or Liberal Mismanagement? – Rebecca Watson addresses the potential causes of the big wildfires in California.  I did not know about the great California tree die-off.  So yes, like I said, the budget of the US Forest Service should probably be going up, not down.

Around here, the poor air quality lasted for over a week, getting even worse over time, and reaching at least 247 AQI.  The universities cancelled classes, and postponed the big Cal v Stanford game.  We managed to get a HEPA air filter and N95 masks although my asthma was still quite aggravated.  (Also, it turns out that I should not be using N95 masks.)  Climate change is not good, my friends!

Other links

American democracy is doomed – An article by Matt Yglesias, from 2015.  This puts in historical context some of what I was talking about with the increasing political polarization in the US.  Political polarization has been increasing, but partly that’s because polarization was anomalously low in the 50s.  Polarization was also quite high in the early 20th century, although Yglesias argues it was different back then, because it was less ideological.  This is the first time the US has faced a great deal of ideological polarization since before the civil war, and that precedent sure doesn’t look good.  The problem is that the US constitution, while often venerated by its citizens, is not really robust to this kind of polarization–a pretty serious failing, since ideological polarization is a pretty ordinary political circumstance.  We need a new constitution, one that isn’t garbage.

Nintendo’s New Games are Miserable for People With Disabilities – It is as the title says.  The author, Mark Brown, has made several videos on designing games for disability, which I would recommend.

Science as a social construct: Arachnophobia – PZ talks about the sources of arachnophobia, and how it’s popularly misunderstood as being genetically determined.  I have to admit, I thought that arachnophobia was genetically determined, because nobody told me otherwise!  Yes, it did seem really weird to me to think that genetics could code something so specific, and as it turns out it can’t.

Most of my family has mild arachnophobia, but my mother doesn’t have it at all, and instead has a phobia of caterpillars.  We used to laugh about that, but it actually makes more sense than arachnophobia, because caterpillars in the Philippines cause rashes.

Why Colombia has taken in 1 million Venezuelans (video) – A feel-good video that shows what happens when a country lets in refugees, and treats them like its own people.  Imagine a world without racism.

Richard Carrier’s lawsuit against us is dismissed! – Richard Carrier, formerly a part of FTB and the SSA speakers bureau, sued several parties, including FTB, for defamation.  His suit was finally dismissed, but not on the merits.  Rather, it was dismissed because Carrier sued in the state of Ohio (a state that lacks anti-SLAPP laws) without sufficient justification.  Carrier has said he might file further lawsuits, but who knows.

Carrier has said he wants a “fair discussion of the actual evidence”, but has actively prevented any such thing.  I’ve written about Carrier’s case, and not published, because I decided nobody cares and it’s not worth provoking a litigious asshole.  I mostly only have access to Carrier’s own side of the story, but it still makes him look bad, and Carrier and his fans are unable to see that.  So, enough said about that.


  1. anothersara says

    Thanks for the link to my old post.

    Hopefully, I’ll get around to posting about my own thoughts about the recent wildfire situation in California, but a few thoughts which jump out now 1) In addition to the mass tree die-offs due to the pine bark beetles, the disease ‘Sudden Oak Death’ has been spreading in California for decades, and has been increasing wildfire risk in oak forests (not to mention the ecological effects of oak trees being dead instead of alive). 2) Much forest land in California is privately owned, even the ‘National Forests’ have many private inholdings. I’m not clear to what degree the Forest Service and/or Cal Fire is responsible for fire management on private land, though I do know that at least the logging companies tend to bear responsibility for brush clearance / controlled burns / etc. on the land they own. 3) PG&E is also a very important factor both in the Camp Fire and the wildfires in Santa Rosa last year, not to mention the 2010 explosion in San Bruno (fun fact: that pipeline which exploded in San Bruno is very similar to a pipeline which is near my home in San Francisco, also maintained – or not – by PG&E, and AFAIK that explosion was/is just as likely to happen here as in San Bruno). 4) Human population growth, particularly growth in areas prone to wildfire, is also an important factor. 5) The AQI was above 300 in much of Eastern California for weeks this summer. I avoided the worst of it, but when I was in South Lake Tahoe the AQI was about 160, and I suspect that during the worst day I described in my ‘Smoke, Sickness, and Sore Feet’ post that the AQI was above 200 6) The Forest Service definitely needs more resources, IIRC in the 1990s less than 20% of the Forest Service Budget went to firefighting, whereas now it takes about 2/3 of the Forest Service Budget (which is also making it harder to fund other important work done by the Forest Service).

  2. says

    The article seems very focused on sex in the context of the relationships. It wasn’t clear to me that that’s where the decline in sex was coming from. I thought that a lot of it might come from the decline in sex outside of relationships, or a decline in number of relationships.

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