Fair lending and discrimination

If a lender offered the same price (i.e. interest rate or APR) to every borrower, then it would only be a good deal for the riskiest borrowers. Lenders would have to raise prices to match the risk, and then it would only be a good deal for the riskiest of the riskiest borrowers. Lenders would have to raise prices further and further until there are no takers. This is called an adverse selection death spiral.

Therefore, lending fundamentally relies on offering different prices to different borrowers—and refusing some borrowers entirely. In other words, lending fundamentally relies on discrimination.

Lenders assess the risk of each borrower, in a process called underwriting, and make the decision whether to decline or approve, and at what price. Traditionally, underwriting has been done manually by human experts. It has also been performed by following pre-determined rules. More recently, many lenders are using machine learning to make underwriting decisions.

When we talk about discrimination, usually we’re talking about “bad” discrimination, such as sexism or racism. But in general, discrimination is just about treating different people differently, and that in itself is not bad. Nonetheless, legitimate discrimination can be used to conceal bad discrimination. Bad discrimination can also occur unintentionally, being concealed even to its purveyors. Fair lending regulations try to delineate and mitigate bad discrimination in lending.

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On the retraction of an ROGD paper

I have a comment on the recent retraction of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases”.  I happen to have some expertise on this precise issue.

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) is an alleged phenomenon where kids suddenly experience gender dysphoria. The hypothesis is that this is caused by social contagion and therefore the kids are not authentically trans.  The entire research area is fundamentally flawed because it’s based on the accounts of parents who frequent ROGD forums, instead of, you know, talking to the kids in question. The kids likely have a better idea than the parents just how “sudden” the onset really was.

But that’s not why the paper was retracted. The journal stated that it was retracted “due to a lack of documented consent by study participants”. The stated reason is not obviously connected to the real problems with ROGD research, so it sounds pretextual.

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Link Roundup: June 2023

I guess it’s just one of those months where I didn’t save links for this roundup.  Nonetheless, I will plug the Ace Journal Club’s discussion about why low sexual desire is considered a mental disorder.  And I have a single link:

Why Do You Always Kill Gods in JRPGs? | Moon Channel (video, 1:31 hours) – The short answer is that the evil god is capitalism.  This is a great video essay about the history of Japan, and how it’s interpreted through the metaphors of Japanese mythology.  Through this lens, Japanese history is a sequence of false gods, each rising and falling–from the Shogunate to Christianity to state Shinto, and now capitalism.  The game isn’t mentioned in the video, but it finally makes sense to me why Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is about a bunch of old immortals feeding on the life force of a populace doomed to die young–although I suppose that same story could have been written from an American perspective as well.

“Love is love”

In an earlier blog post, I facetiously said I would go after the slogan “love is love” next. Well, why not. This should be quick.

“Love is love” is a slogan that is used to legitimize queer love by appealing to the value of love. It brings to bear every cultural narrative of star-crossed lovers torn apart by circumstance or by society, and observes that homophobes are the clear villains of the story. Love is love, and why are you against love? What petty prejudices do you have that motivate you to support one kind of love and oppose another?  Also, if you read it literally, the slogan is tautologous, which is cute.

None of that is wrong exactly. The issue is that for some people, there are in fact substantive differences in how they love, or whether they love at all.

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Slogans, and “Born this way”

Back when I was in college, California passed Proposition 8, which notoriously banned same-sex marriage, after it had been briefly legal. Many queer folks my age describe it as a formative experience, when they realized that progress was not as assured as they had hoped. So you could say that marriage equality was on our minds. And so it was the heyday for all sorts of slogans. “NO H8”, “Love is Love”, or “Born This Way”–Lady Gaga’s single of the same name was hot during the brief window when I was clubbing.

“Love is love” still seems to be fairly common, but I don’t hear “born this way” nearly as much anymore. I’m bracing myself to be proven wrong–within moments of hitting publish, I will see a dozen different people independently referring to “born this way”, and a dozen readers will tell me that they had just taken a break from scrolling through “born this way” memes so they could read this article. But if I trust my personal experience, “born this way” is kind of out of fashion now, isn’t it?

Is that what eventually happens to political slogans? They live on in our memories, but we stop thinking about them? If so, that may be for the best.

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Origami: Turtle


Turtle, designer unknown.  ETA: I have identified the model as Baby Sea Turtle by Neige A.

You know, I posted a sketch of this same model, but I don’t think I had ever posted a photo of the model itself?  Well, here it is.

As I mentioned before, someone at the origami meetup taught me how to make this.  If I recall correctly, he did not represent himself as the designer, which leaves the designer unknown to me.  I could not find any similar models online.  Nor do I remember quite how to make it.  That said, I could probably reverse engineer it if needed.

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