The withdrawing room 2


Go to 3 minutes to watch the Nicholas Brothers dance. Fred Astaire said it’s the greatest dance ever filmed. I think I’ve seen it before, and it’s the kind of thing one should see often.

Time explains today’s Google doodle celebrating the 180th birthday of John Venn.

Correlation has never looked this cute. Google created an interactive illustration in honor of the 180th birthday of logician and philosopher John Venn — best known, of course, for inventing the circles known as the Venn diagram. The doodle allows you to choose from five different subjects (mammals and sea life, for example) along with five descriptors (thrives in cold, has wings, etc.) and then see the resulting correlation. 

I’ve been playing with it, with much amusement.

Venn’s 180th.



  1. astrolabecat says

    Dang. I missed Chis Hadfield as well.

    Had a tough week at work last week, so am drowning my sorrows in Bujold. Any Bujold fans out there?

  2. aziraphale says

    I love Bujold’s Chalion books. I’m guessing you mean the Vorkosigan saga, though, which I don’t know. Where would be a good place to start with that?

  3. astrolabecat says

    aziraphale: The Chalion books are wonderful. My favourite is the second one. Chronologically, the first book in the Vorkosigan world is Falling Free, but it’s not a great one to start with as it does not share characters with other books. The ones to begin with are the two Cordelia ones: Shards of Honor and Barrayar (I’m reading those now). The rest are about Cordelia’s son, Miles Vorkosigan. All thoroughly marvelous.

    I have yet to acquire Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. Hmm. I have a birthday coming up… must drop some hints.

  4. says

    I wanted to thank you Ms. Benson. It’s not often that someone promotes my crazy ideas. I often don’t get confirmation on if it’s because they tend to focus on the darker and more disturbing parts of our nature or if they are honestly crazy. I can’t help where my attention gets drawn by nature, but I can make sure I force it in other directions for completeness.

    I meant what I said about all the stuff I read making me feel like an archetype surrounded by different kinds of people for context. I get a very strong impression that we are meant to have different kinds of people in our groups for a reason. I think there is a level on which we are interdependent on one another because our personal emotional blind spots are complimentary in a way that forces us to work together. I honestly feel like a puzzle piece learning it’s own shape, and gaining some understanding of the shapes of the pieces around him in the process. This obsession with forcing us into only a few types of ways of being might be more destructive than we realize. Evolution is one heartless asshole.

  5. says

    In yet another example of short sighted waste made by people who don’t understand science, the view of everything as disposable and not using every last bit of it until it doesn’t work anymore, the ICE/ISEE space explorer is still functioning but we have no way to communicate with it and control it.

    It cost hundreds of millions to put it in space, and it still works. Why abandon it? The Deep Space Network antenna array was destroyed in 1999. Keeping it would have cost very little, but budget cuts meant ICE/ISEE was one of the victims.

  6. says

    You have all heard about the Fields medal, right? One of the most prestigious awards of mathematics, given at four year intervals to one or more mathematicians under 40. But I am of course wasting time telling you what you already know …

    But this year, one of the recipients is a woman. The first woman ever to win the Fields medal, and an Iranian to boot! Of course, the fact that she is the first tells you something about how incredibly male dominated the field of mathematics is. That is changing, though.

    I’ll leave you with a link to John Baez’s post about it on google+, because he gives you a bit of the background.

  7. yahweh says

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this ( a case of undercover police officers who formed sexual relations and even married the subjects of their surveillance whilst concealing their true identities. Their lawyers are bringing a case against the Metropolitan Police but I am curious.

    Under English law, on the admitted facts, this is unambiguously rape and the Crown Prosecution Service should presumably be acting.

    The CPS says (

    “The Sexual offences Act 1956 contains no statutory definition of ‘consent’. Juries must be told that the word should be given its ordinary meaning, and that there is a difference between ‘consent’ and ‘submission’.

    Lack of consent may be demonstrated by:

    The complainant’s assertion of force or threats;
    Evidence that by reason of drink, drugs, sleep, age or mental disability the complainant was unaware of what was occurring and/ or incapable of giving valid consent; or
    Evidence that the complainant was deceived as to the identity of the person with whom (s)he had intercourse.”

  8. John Morales says

    piero @55 in “Blow up that one frame for a closer look”,

    The problem with your analogy lies in the “nothing more” bit. A video game is instanced as bytes in a computer’s memory. If you duplicate the bytes in another computer’s memory, you’ll play the same game. At no point will you need to add a “special ingredient X” on top of the bytes.

    The analogy is the level of description employed; in each case the claim is not incorrect, but neither is it particularly helpful.

    (As for playing the very same game, remember it’s interactive… you’d have to duplicate the player’s ongoing mind state as well as the bytes)

    To save time, shall we agree that it boils down to the “hard problem of consciousness”?

    Solve it or demonstrate it’s illusory, and you might have a case where it’s useful to say the mind is physical — though, were that the case, there would still be practical problems such as computational tractability.

    Me, I find it helpful to think the mind is more of an epiphenomenon than a phenomenon

  9. piero says

    John, yes, I think we agree. The physical level of description is sterile for complex phenomena. I was only pointing out why I took issue with Eric’s claim that mental processes do not occur in the physical world; though now I suspect he was not postulating a metaphysical one, but only referring to epiphenomena.

    By the way, this withdrawing room is a great idea. I didn’t know you could do that. How do I leave messages here?

  10. John Morales says

    piero, now approach it from an ontological perspective: I presume you also don’t dispute that mental entities are, in some sense, real?

    There is no such thing as a hypercube in the physical world, is there?
    Yet its properties can be investigated and physical applications derived from it (e.g. in computing).

    Re this thread, Ophelia has set it up so its current instantiation is always available via the sidebar. I myself don’t use the notification mechanisms (below this box) to keep track of what’s posted here, but I check it now and then.

  11. says

    One in every 20 South Korean babies born in 2014 is of mixed ancestry. There’s a growing number of such babies, many of them Korean-Vietnamese or Korean-Filipina, with others as well. And there’s a backlash against it, some Koreans not wanting a multicultural society. The people with patriarchal attitudes got what they wanted, and now they don’t like the result.

    Google translate will show the detailed statistics in this second news item:

    But xenophobia isn’t the biggest issue, selective abortion is. From the Guttmacher Institute:

    A Problem-and-Solution Mismatch: Son Preference and Sex-Selective Abortion Bans

    By Sneha Barot


    South Korea stands as a useful example of a country that has made real progress in improving a highly imbalanced sex ratio. The country’s already elevated sex ratio at birth climbed even higher during the 1980s, when sex detection—and therefore sex-selective abortions—became commonplace. The ratio peaked at almost 116 in the mid-1990s, but declined to 107 by 2007. (Nonetheless, the ratio remains outside the normal biological range, and even greater imbalances persist among later order births.)

    Peaked at almost 116 in the mid-1990s. That means from the mid-1980s onward, there was a growing number boys with no girls of the same age. The first group are now 25-30 years old, of marrying age, and there aren’t enough Korean women for all of them to get married. The inevitable option is foreign brides. Fortunately for them, Korea is a wealthy country and a democracy, so women are willing to go.

    Regarding that “greater imbalance”, a few years ago I saw an item saying the male-female ratio in South Korea was 200:100 among third born children. They’ll tolerate a girl for the first or second, but the third must be a boy. This link mentions stats about China, but the point is the same:

    The roosters are coming home to roost, but there aren’t enough chickens in the henhouse. Sex-selective abortion led to this, and there will be a lot more kids of mixed ancestry in the next 10-20 years until the natural gender ratio returns.

    The worst part: South Korea is only a small country of less than 50 million people, it doesn’t have mass rape in public, and the idea of killing of baby girls would cause public outrage. But India and China have over a billion people each, “sons first” attitude is the norm, sex selection is rampant, and female infanticide continues.

    Korea has tens or hundreds of thousands of young men without girls of the same age, India and China will have millions. Where are those young men going to find brides in the future? Narendra Modi’s speech was a good start, but as bad as rape culture is now, it could/may/will likely get worse with millions of unmarried heterosexual males around, especially in poorer areas where people don’t have the option of foreign brides.

    Excuse me for the length of that.

  12. says

    Addendum to my other post: Here’s a link to statistics on selective abortion in Asia.

    Males per 100 females born, 1989:

    S. Korea – 104.3 (1st) – 112.6 (2nd) – 185.0 (3rd) – 208.6 (4th) – na (5th) – 112.1 (overall)

    China – 104.9 (1st) – 120.4 (2nd) – 124.6 (3rd) – 132.7 (4th) – 129.7 (5th) – 113.8 (overall)

    I added numbers in parentheses to show birth order, and hyphens as separators.

  13. piero says

    Hi, John. Sorry for the delay.
    I think it boils down to the meaning we want to attach to words. Yes, hypercubes are real in the sense that they exist as neural firing patterns. But then so do unicorns. The difference is, of course, that hypercubes are useful in building the map of the territory, whereas unicorns are not (though they can be useful in other ways, such as helping children sleep).

    The paramount criterion is this: a concept contributes to our mapt if, and only if, it allows us to anticipate some sensory experience. For example, we can use multidimensional mathematics to model some part of the territory, and then deduce on that basis a future sensory experience. A concept which does not allows us to anticipate experience is not part of the map, because it refers only to mental phenomena: unicorns only exist as firing patterns in a brain, and they can only be spoken of as such; they are, so to speak, “trapped” in a web with no connection to anything except the web itself.

    Hence my definition of knowledge, so cavalierly dismissed by Eric: knowledge is a subset of the set of all propositions that may instantiate as mental phenomena, having the property of allowing us to anticipate a sensory experience. Everything else, including speculative historical “narratives”, makes no difference to our anticipated experiences, so they are useless as map-building tools.

  14. John Morales says

    [1] I think it boils down to the meaning we want to attach to words. [2] Yes, hypercubes are real in the sense that they exist as neural firing patterns. [3] But then so do unicorns. The difference is, of course, that hypercubes are useful in building the map of the territory, whereas unicorns are not (though they can be useful in other ways, such as helping children sleep).

    1. Semantics? I refer to ontology: categories of being.

    2. There you go. You agree that, in at least one sense, they are real. They are something about which one can meaningfully speak.

    3. Your appeal to utility is irrelevant; point being, you agree that in some sense cognitive constructs are real.

    Real enough to affect reality, though they are not themselves physical, even within a materialist monist paradigm.

    The interesting part comes when you consider how mental entities (let’s call them ‘ideas’) undeniably affect other mental entities, and in particular how those interact with the entity which perceives them (let’s call it the ‘mind”). I put it to you that the mind is itself a mental entity but is not just an idea.

    (What philosophers call abstracta)

    In passing, leaving aside the part of your comment predicated on #3 (I think if you were to elaborate on that concept you’d find yourself reducing it to the capacity for causality as the criterion), the reference to knowledge was not mine, but Ophelia’s and Eric’s.

    (FWIW, I’m fairly traditional in that regard and consider knowledge to be justified true belief)

    You did write “Science does not, as a rule, deal with personal experiences, because personal experiences are based (as Wittgenstein might have said) on no evidence, that is no objectively checkable evidence.”

    I put it to you that if the mind is itself an epiphenomenon of (as you put it) neural firing patterns, its internal state is therefore only accessible via its feedback effect on those neural firing patterns. That is, the meaning of a mind-state is a subjective experience, not a particular neural firing pattern.

    Or: Science can investigate its effects and what affects it, but how does it directly investigate the mind?

    (Those are what makes the sad face and the tears and the lip-quivering)

  15. piero says

    Hello again, John.

    Yes, I agree: it is an ontological, not a semantic problem. But as I see it, your approach is confusing. Calling both the mental construction of a hypercube and the mental construction of a unicorn “real” is misleading, because we are shifting the discussion (and hence the meaning) to a lower level, that of neuron firing patterns. In this respect, I would also take issue with your usage of “epiphenomena”. It seem as though you take the word to be an explanation, whereas it’s simply a high-brow synonym of “Shazam!” Everything is an epiphenomenon above the quark level, so the explanatory power of the word is zero. The real challenge is to trace a causal chain from the lower level that seamlessly conduces to the epiphenomenal level without introducing “mysterious ingredient X” at any point.

    Usefulness is important, in the sense of “contributing to building the map” (I am not talking of convenience here). Calling a hypercube as a mental construct real at the neural level contributes nothing, because the mental construct of a unicorn is equally real in that sense. Confusing unicorns with hypercubes obscures the map.

    I agree: mental constructs do affect reality inasmuch as they filter our alternatives for action. Also, remember that mental constructs are mental states, and therefore part of reality, and hence subject to scientific enquiry.

    The idea of a mind is a mental construct. The mind itself, i.e. the set of all neural firing patterns is not. I’m sure you see the infinite regress lurking there.

    I believe I did not write the Wittgenstein bit.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to solve problems which have baffled extremely smart people. Maybe you can, but in that case I might not be able to understand your solution. If you are interested in a much more coherent presentation of some of the ideas I’ve touched upon, I invite you to browse LessWrong.

  16. John Morales says

    piero @25,

    I believe I did not write the Wittgenstein bit.

    Your belief is both justified and true.

    Sorry for the misattribution.

    (Obviously, I was hasty and careless rather than malicious)

    Yes, I agree: it is an ontological, not a semantic problem. But as I see it, your approach is confusing. Calling both the mental construction of a hypercube and the mental construction of a unicorn “real” is misleading, because we are shifting the discussion (and hence the meaning) to a lower level, that of neuron firing patterns.

    On the contrary; rather than shifting the discussion (and hence the meaning) to a lower level, it is abstracting the entity that is the mind from the ultimately causative entity so it can be considered as a thing in itself. An equivalent would be speaking of the candle flame rather than the geometry and composition of the convection and oxidation zones around the candle’s wick.

    Perhaps you are confusing yourself by applying the ordinary sense of ‘real’ (physical) rather than the particular sense used in the abstraction?

    In passing, you may deprecate the idea of unicorns, but the idea had enough power that I can link to unicorn horn.


  17. piero says


    No need to apologise. I knew it was unintended. In any case, I agree with the quotation, so it is just as well.

    Ha! I liked the unicorn horn bit, especially this: “Also, the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada always bore his unicorn horn to protect himself from poison and murderers.”

    I do not believe the expression “thing in itself” carries any meaning. I am not an essentialist. When I use the word “mind” as a concept, all I’m doing is admitting to my ignorance: I cannot possibly describe a brain (or rather, a nervous system) at the real quark level, so I split it into concepts that are either a. accessible to my senses (material brain) or b. describable as processes (perception, concepts and so on). This is true of all abstractions, because every so-called epiphenomenon is necessarily fuzzy, When does a chair stop being one? Where do quarks stop being “part of a flame” and become part of the “not-flame”? Reality does not work that way: calling things abstractions, constructs, epiphenomena or what have you is just shorthand for “it’s too complicated for my computing powers, so I’ll just deal with ideas about reality.”

    The idea of mind is particularly useless, because it has not be defined in any useful form: how are we to distinguish a mind from a non-mind? At what point in the development of computer science shall we be justified in calling a particular mix of software and hardware a “mind”?

  18. John Morales says

    piero @25, (cont.)

    In this respect, I would also take issue with your usage of “epiphenomena”. It seem as though you take the word to be an explanation, whereas it’s simply a high-brow synonym of “Shazam!” Everything is an epiphenomenon above the quark level, so the explanatory power of the word is zero. The real challenge is to trace a causal chain from the lower level that seamlessly conduces to the epiphenomenal level without introducing “mysterious ingredient X” at any point.

    Be aware that, though I find it a helpful paradigm, it’s not my coinage.

    I don’t think it’s meant to be explanatory in itself, but rather to provide an abstraction that facilitiates conceptual investigation, so that one can speak of things such as, for example, moods.

    Regarding the real challenge, the fact is that we (whether illusory or not) perceive subjectively — except for zimboes, of course. 😉 — and that seems like mysterious effect X to me.

    Having perused your elaboration at #27, I get that you think it’s a dead-end paradigm which confuses rather than clarifies the examination of the experience of subjectivity, and the way to go is straight-out neuroscience.

    Fair enough.

  19. Brony says

    All the news related to caste systems is getting depressing to me. I have this fear that there is a version of this going on in western society (at least my part) right now. Some speak of too many people with psychopathic tendencies being concentrated in politics and economics. Others are complaining of the problems with authoritarianism in law enforcement.

    While those are more critical to society as a whole, I have found exactly three scientists with ADHD (only one of which I have been able to email, no response yet), and none with tourette’s. Admittedly the googling is tricky because it’s hard to parse scientists working on it versus scientists with it but I still worry. Can we (people with ADHD in particular) even survive in science as it exists right now? If these conditions are more like shapes that minds can take via inheritance and culture (and I believe that based on what the research looks like right now) are we sorting into a de facto caste system?

    It’s paranoid, but life is a bit dark at the moment.

  20. says

    That’s an interesting question.

    I would say that in very important ways the answer is no, we’re not. We don’t have the equivalent of “you HAVE to clean out my shit with a short-handled broom because you’re a filthy ‘broken person’.”

    On the other hand we (in the US) do have a grotesquely inflated prison population, and most of those prisoners could be seen as victims of a caste society.

    The part about science and various neuro-atypicalities is another matter. There is always sorting by skill sets, and yes that’s bad for the people who don’t have the right ones or do have the wrong ones. People with the wrong type of body – which is most people – can’t do elite ballet or basketball or marathon running.

  21. soogeeoh says

    I have ftb as dynamic bookmark in my browser and it shows just the titles of new posts, it feels as if I can tell the who by … the style of the title by now, more often than not.

    I’m curious, does anyone else get that?

  22. John Morales says


    Re: Nerds. Nerds EVERYWHERE…

    Postby BlueShiftRhino » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:04 am • [Post 37189]

    Badger3k wrote:Your best bet is to post anything here, especially comments, since you know they are reading this, and then just wait for the butthurt to set in.

    Yeah, I figured that this would be the advice when I started seeing the occasional serious post (here) mixed in with all the snarky fun and t-shirt silliness. I guess if I ever have anything that I wish to say to PZ, I’ll do it here and hope that he sees it, as I’m clearly shadowbanned from his blog. As it turns out, I’m not (yet) banned from Benson’s blog; my post was approved after a 16 hour-delay. But that was probably because that particular cut-and-paste post of hers had only two comments before mine, and didn’t get more during the entire 16 hours, so she needed mine to get it moving again. I’m also not (yet) banned from the A+ forums, although I’ve pretty much given up on having a serious discussion there because too many of the respondents are clueless. (I’ve considered correcting certain ideas that they’ve posted, but wasn’t ready to be banned.) Instead, I wasted a good half-an-hour giving my take on what’s going wrong in the science of psychology, but that was more for me to blow off steam than to give them any information that they might not have access to.

    tl;dr – I’m in a weird zone where, right now, I can still post in some SJW forums, but probably only because I remain very calm and never respond directly to things that I vehemently disagree with (which are almost always their assumptions). I did not answer Sally Strange’s claim that being male has zero downsides – that only being female has downsides – and was happy when someone else (rrhain) tore her claim to bits.

  23. says

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

    So I should just learn NEVER to assume that new people are commenting here for normal reasons as opposed to some infantile gossip-gossip bullshit like that. Asshole.

  24. screechymonkey says

    Ha ha, and this was the same poster who got all indignant that I referred to him/her as “obsessed.”

    Nah, you hang out at a forum where you all give each other high-fives and brag about being banned from “SJW” sites, but you’ve totally got things in perspective….

  25. says

    And it’s perfectly reasonable and non-obsessive to derail a thread in order to pursue some twisted vendetta picked up at a forum full of obsessed stalkers…

  26. Brony says

    I thought I would comment on your comment in the “We’re adept at masking inconsistencies from ourselves” post here.
    I thought it might be interesting if anyone wanted a wider discussion about it. I’m just an educated amateur but this issue of what emotions are, how they work, and how they can be controlled and manipulated is very important to me on a personal level.

    Ophelia wrote,

    Sex as the root of feeling…hmm…well it’s probably a root, because it’s an instinct, but other things are too. Danger for instance; fear is probably our strongest feeling of all (for obvious reasons). There’s an argument that emotions are to do with homeostasis: you feel bad in some bodily way, so you fix it. That evolves into emotions.
    But sex can be a root of some horrible feelings as easily as good ones.

    The homeostasis argument is saying that emotions are related to homeostasis and the functional reality of how that works as I understand it is as follows (“Self Comes to Mind” by Damasio is again good here). Emotions are “felt states”. That is they arise in part of our perception (explicitly or implicitly in the “internal milieu”) as a response to alterations in whatever was currently in perception.

    But that simple process of “felt response to perceptual cue” it itself a composite of multiple levels “self” each with a role in the process, “primordial self”, “core self”, “autobiographical self”. These different selves are in a sense contained within one another like Russian matryoshka dolls (nesting dolls) with the primordial self at the center, surrounded by the core self, and the autobiographical self around them (or the other two at least access it as data on past experiences).
    At the minimum they work together to create a sense of what your current physical self-state is, what your current state as in interacting being is, and how your current state relates to the environment you are in and past memories is.* The primordial and core selves can also be thought of as different types of “read/write” systems for the autobiographical self as well.

    Each self contributes a different element to felt states and these elements will depend on the nature of that shard of self and what it seems to be doing functionally. Once again Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is useful as a reference for how different realms of life may relate differently to parts of emotional states as each of the levels of the hierarchy go from. Threats/benefits to self, family, resource acquisition, personal social environment all differently impact the emotional recording/reading machinery in terms of intensity, direction, and “flavor” of emotions that are felt about what is in the precept and later remembered.
    Naturally personal experience can massively alter these intensities, directions, and emotional “flavors” of what is tied to individual percepts which can be any object you can imagine with it’s attendant possible emotional connections (consider people going nuts about a simple set of four symbols like “FUCK”, or something as random as pink being for girls. Fuck that I like pink). The key here is that there is a structure to your emotional filing system and it is sensible albeit complex and often driven by the random things that society “chooses” as a group as well as simple things like not having enough food or living in a dangerous environment.

    The primordial self is about bodily systemic integrity and it monitors that state and all it’s possible permutations. Homeostasis here is something like physically healthy and content (or all the versions that you have seen people comfortable with). These extremely basic felt states (homeostasis and signals that deviate from it) are basic parts of the nature and meaning of emotional signatures. The core self is all about being a connection between the primordial self and the world that it interacts with. It translates your interactions and routines to that primitive part of you and it’s contribution to emotional felt states act as contextualized elaborations that turn something with a simple evolutionary history like primordial self’s disgust (a reaction to something that made you sick and nauseated) into a more versatile disgust that you and society work together to paint on other things. So simple disgust can be transformed into social disgust that we call contempt. We feel contempt for behavior that we disapprove of because we believe that those contemptible behaviors will sicken society (rightly or wrongly, contempt is shaped by tradition and is often “because I said so for adults” for things that don’t really hurt society like homosexuality).

    A key concept here is that emotions are in part simulations of simple physical primordial self emotional signatures contextualized by what is in our perceptions. Evolution has taken the simple physical signals of our individualistic creature ancestors and given them shades of meaning based on more complicated real-world readouts in different realms of experience such as resource gathering, social (family and larger society) life, and conceptual life (you can find some politics disgusting too). The result is a system of emotional “tags” that we feel that determine what we remember from experience (“write”), and what we choose to act on in a particular situation (“read”) and often we have far more than one choice in a given situation (insert cognitive biases and choice here).

    My area of greatest interest is in figuring out how much of this can be parsed apart in terms of self awareness (how many lights and dials I can create for my emotional “heads-up-display”), and how much of this is universal in terms of interactions with others. Moral/ethical concerns include maintaining honesty and transparency because functional awareness of emotion also gives you knowledge about the motivations of others, and using other people via their own emotional ignorance is very often immoral and that can be the road to psychopathy. Yet in social conflicts there sometimes is only so much that one can do and it can be necessary to simultaneously tell people what their emotional shortcomings are and take advantage of them in the moment. That way they can at least grow their own tools in the future. Hopefully. Motivated reasoning is an asshole…

    *something that I believe is important important here but still need to peruse is the idea that the nature of the selves and their relationship between each other is connected to the idea of “ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny” in development. We generate the selves in an order through development that roughly mirrors their evolutionary appearance, and this suggests things about how much each self biases results as a matter of the elements they add to felt emotions and moods (long-term homeostasis readouts/settings is how I think of moods).
    There is a huge literature on how different events (trauma, loss, and positive things like leadership experience and social experience too) that occur at different points in development (or before development to get transgenerational epigenetics in here again) can trigger long-term alterations of behavior in terms of general types of responses that can be elements of personality on the order of things like anxiety, introversion/extroversion, and other temperaments. The selves are uniquely sensitive to how they record information

  27. Brony says

    Now to fold all of that into a more complete picture of “homeostasis”.

    That simple body homeostasis sensing system has been co-opted by evolution into a system capable of recognizing many kinds of familiar and preferred (or hated) environments and routines. We have a sense of social homeostasis (preferred social structure and routine), environmental homeostasis (the way we like to set up our home and work space in terms of details of environment and routine), and probably many other sorts of homeostasis. The familiar gets written into connections to our very selves and so some of us respond to changes to that homeostasis in many ways. Some of us are reasonable and understand and adapt to changes (assuming agreement that the change is good on a group level for this example). Some of us violently resist changes. There is variation in sensitivity to change in many different realms of whatever we can develop a sense for.

    Political homeostasis relates to how reasonably or unreasonably we respond to contrasting political views and beliefs. There is homeostasis in terms of perceived gender roles. The value of a stable standard state in these areas is environmental predictability. Social structure is a tool and we use it to do things. Changing society can eliminate, add or alter familiar tools and this is threatening to many people.

    Different personality types and dispositions probably reflect differing sensitivities to areas of life for which we can be differently sensitive to homeostasis related signals. Authoritarians for example pay more attention to particular parts of social structure having to do with rank and deciding who does what in group behavior as well as determining and enforcing social rules. OCD as a phenomena may relate to sensitivity to particular aspects of the environment and our awareness of “the way things should be in this area” and making sure that everything is in order. Many names cognitive shapes fit into this system like little shards of representative bits of how our programming works and a review of them has been invaluable in terms of figuring out what I can about how the code for the emotional “read/write” system works, and how it functionally operates in the real-world.

  28. John Morales says

    Brony above:

    Moral/ethical concerns include maintaining honesty and transparency because functional awareness of emotion also gives you knowledge about the motivations of others, and using other people via their own emotional ignorance is very often immoral and that can be the road to psychopathy.

    Heh, a cognitive behaviourist view of psychopathy.

    (Sure you’re not confusing cause and effect? 😉 )

  29. John Morales says

    PS Brony,

    Many names cognitive shapes fit into this system like little shards of representative bits of how our programming works and a review of them has been invaluable in terms of figuring out what I can about how the code for the emotional “read/write” system works, and how it functionally operates in the real-world.

    What’s your programming paradigm?

  30. Brony says

    @ John Morales 41
    I’m doing a bit of “stream of consciousness” here so the responses to both of your questions are all over.

    Sure you’re not confusing cause and effect?

    There might be a bit of both sides there.
    Using logical fallacies as a model, when one develops a perceptual filter that recognizes fallacious (so they move from implicit knowledge to explicit knowledge) behavior they essentially gain control of a tool that they were unconsciously using (maybe, a lot of fallacious behavior is cultural). A tool is a neutral thing and you can either use it for good or bad purposes (insofar as a group agrees on /good/bad).
    One person who learns what fallacious behavior looks like they might start using it in a conscious and deceptive fashion and becomes what is often seen as manipulative and dishonest (possibly getting down towards psychopathy eventually). Others will take what they learn and use it defensively while being honest about it’s details around others so they not only have the tool but try to pass it around as well.
    If a potential exists cause and effect may be simultaneous in a sense.

    With respect to psychopathy it’s an interesting question and as I stated on the other thread I don’t know psychopathy as well as I do other things. I think that I have some intuitive ability with anything that touches on Tourette’s and ADHD because there is a level where I’m starting to parse apart what bits of anatomy are playing what roles in my mind (and I believe that inheritance and upbringing give advantages in particular areas as well). It’s like a useful “conceptual insertion point” into the literature. But there are areas where I am extremely careful and paranoid about saying too much too casually so I always leave my perspective open to modification. Autism for example I suspect is in many ways the opposite of Tourette’s and I’m very paranoid about describing my opposites even though I do have a lot of ideas about it.

    There is a separation of “use of brain/mind over time” I use when thinking about these things that helps me in parsing apart some of these things. I’m hoping that if I go over this it can help to see how I make sense of the collection of literature in terms of experience, but I want people reading to be aware of where I may be biased in ways that might require them to look at things differently. One way of looking at it is to separate the “doing” from the “details” the way that the variables (details) in an algebra equation are separate from “shape” of the equation itself (doing). The shape of the equation (or behavioral rule) can be seen like a behavioral heuristic or “app” that is useful in some circumstances but not others. For Y=mX+b, X is what is in perception, Y is the optimal response, m and b are contextual modifiers.
    NOTE: all of these things are present in all individuals but we are different in terms of where our “settings” are dialed as individuals. We all have some Vulcan in us. I’m just more like Spock’s brother.
    ADHD is like being focused on the “forest” (analogous to the “doing”) instead of the “trees” (the details), and functions like a perceptual filter. We are very “in the moment” and sensitive to a particular slice of perception around us that frankly feels a bit militant, or at least reactive at times. It’s like being a “combat ape” in terms of heritage but you really can’t settle on one exemplary historical archetype, this shape to the system will be present in many sorts of modes of existence. The distraction is almost like a regular “tick, tick, tick…” in perception that keeps us scanning our environments and looking at the flow around us. This mindset would be good for a person “on point” in a military operation and wandering bands of our ancestors would have found that role useful, as well as useful in guarding. The “details” don’t stick in our minds as well though and we have deficits in remembering names and numbers. The sensation is one of having less “RAM” for such things because it is tasked for looking at “the doing”. So in one sense it’s an advantage because we are able to more readily let extraneous details fall away and seize on the most important ones to fit into the right behavioral rule. But if we make a mistake it can be more spectacular because we can be hard headed about it as we carry out the wrong rule, or settle on the wrong output for the input we see, or miss important context. We need the “details apes” socially and I honestly believe that we complement one another’s advantages and flaws in our smaller groups that more closely resemble tribal existence. “Absentminded” is one stereotype, but it can also be seen as “emphasizing details less”.

    Tourette’s (TS) is like an intensity boost to a particular subset of neurological signals associated with fast reactions, responses, urges and similar (also more intense perception of emotions used to target such responses). The stereotype is one of language patterning problems and physical tics, but the true alteration is below both levels hierarchically (reflexes like forming “goose bumps”, sneezing, vomiting are actually very intense). It’s described as being a problem of lack of inhibition and there is a ~50% reduction in two classes of inhibitory interneurons in the striatum (a structure associated with learning, habit, memory, routine at physical and cognitive levels). This result in a global “hair trigger” for release of lots of stored programs and spontaneous release is a problem, as well as logical errors (I flip directional things like “left/right”, “east/west” easily, there is the TS archetypical problem of compulsions to do something immoral, there are language and other pattern obsessions. note that classical OCD and TS OCD, tOCD are differently shaped). You always feel like an overcharged battery and the characteristic tics are described as “unvoluntary” because we feel strong urges to do particular things that seem to come from an external source (the “inner demon”, a very useful metaphor). There is a strong sensitivity to social and many other kinds of signals because we are essentially primed for faster responses. The downside is that without using this system to create powerful error-correction methods we are much more prone to mistakes on whatever we are doing. We essentially have to spend extra effort on the “conscious targeting” or “context and perceptual trigger identification” steps and whatever is in our peripheral attention we are often more clumsy with, as we are paradoxically more accurate with what we are concentrating on. In fact we have more powerfully developed concentration but it is tasked for things that aren’t in many social stereotypes. So where ADHD is like having perception shaped in terms of what is paid attention to, TS is a sort of intensity boost for some of what is in perception and if one gets used to being very careful you learn to see shape of some of the “rules”/”forest”/”equations” with more precision. But I can overreact and need more measured companions as role-models to determine precision and work to create control for turning things on or off as appropriate or strategically valuable. I think there is a connection to religious behavior here.

    The “details” and humans more uniquely sensitive to them is something I am still working out. I think that classical OCD and autism are associated with the “details”, but honestly this could be a matter of the “doing” simply being shaped differently for such individuals. But there is evidence for the view I hold if one considers examples like this one.
    That is an image of two letters constructed of other letters. A autistic would more readily pick out the letter “H” made from “E”s in a field than I would and could be said to have a more “trees” focus, or ground-up, or details>rules style of cognition where I would be the opposite. Again I welcome having my perspective analyzed.

    I mentally think of psychopathy in general terms as as cognitive state where the person is aware of the shape and purpose of social rules to the point where they can use them intellectually and create effective interactions. But there is a core overriding self-interest and a psychopath has problems seeing other people as more than tools. But this does not assume that psychopaths are not capable of effectively functioning in society, and like I try to maintain awareness of my own excesses they may be quite capable of doing the same. Verbose Stoic’s paper may modify this perspective when I get around to reading it.


    What’s your programming paradigm?

    In flux. I’m not really knowledgeable about programming in general and I mostly know what I see the literature describing, but if you can suggest anything feel free. I tend to have to grab metaphors and analogies fairly liberally and all have limited usefulness.

    Perceptual interface.
    *The concept of precept is a nice equivalent of a “perceptual interface”. This is functionally divided into a center of attention and a peripheral attention.
    *What you can focus on is divided again into the external milieu and internal milieu. Both of these can be developed in terms of resolution as one gains experience in functionally recognizing and using the knowledge of what exists in ones inner or outer world. The inner world awareness and development is exemplified by things like CBT/DBT/mindfulness meditation, but there is a huge amount of “randomness” (nothing is really random, but neither is every connection logical or rational based on what individuals notice most about what is in perception) and history is full of people making very unfortunate connections between what they feel and what they think is going on. Society is effective as “normalizing” what are considered proper associations and connections.
    *One has to keep in mind that it also includes touch, taste, gravity sense, temperature sense, heck when you have a headache you are technically feeling the pain with your cranial circulatory system. Your lungs are part of your sense of touch because you can feel them and the air in them. The visual system is useful for getting into social realms.
    *We are EXTREMELY versatile as a species in painting our emotions on things in symbolic fashion. On one level “FUCK” and a swastika are just lines and nothing to get excited about. Unless your experience involves something to create particular emotional connections and a sense of being there being certain actions that are appropriate with respect to those symbols. The variability in sexual fetishes and sources of phobias are very suggestive. On one level I can understand the obsession we collectively have with respect to social rules and figuring out which ones are best (there is an instinct towards “social sameness” and we like to make sure we “flock” the same), but we are all arguing about what the best means of prioritizing and contextualizing are. What is in perception may be paintable (I think of “tagging”) by just about every emotion that one can imagine using as a behavioral targeting mechanism.
    *The intensity and direction of response is variable based on the above and with some correlations to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I think of MHoN as altering the “autonomic intensity” of a response in approach/withdraw/hold terms (a more neutral form of fight/flight/freeze). I see much of discussion and debate in terms of the previous as people choose what to approach (respond to), withdraw from (there is data about a person in what they do not respond to). A contrast is the most neutral way of looking at a person that is different from you and one’s life-context will determine how that contrast is interpreted (we have more of a tendency to the negative I think).
    *The implicit/explicit divide is all over the place but with much room for moving the implicit into the explicit through self-observation, with help from others improving (or worsening) the accuracy. Previous experiences that create bad emotional connections can be forgotten and the emotion can remain and become a problem requiring therapy to work out. On the other end of the scale are people with specialized knowledge about the motivations of others.

    I know that is a lot, but while your request was simple I had to cover a lot of ground to get everything across because the science still incomplete and I approach it from a very personal perspective.

  31. John Morales says

    Brony, thanks for the elucidation.

    I judge it’s too much of a conversation for this place, but I wanted you to know I appreciated your response.

    PS programming paradigm.

    (I don’t want to bias you, though I now bow out)

  32. screechymonkey says

    Several weeks ago, Ophelia posted about a lawsuit brought by the Buffalo Bills cheerleaders. An earlier-filed suit by the Oakland Raiders cheerleaders was just settled for $1.25 million, and the Raiders have changed their employment practices so that the cheerleaders now at least get minimum wage and other legal rights.

  33. says

    It’s mixed news. NFL teams average $118 million per year from TV revenue alone, and Oakland can’t afford to pay those women more than $9 per hour? They could pay each $50,000 per year on a contract (roughly 20 cheerleaders per team) and hardly feel it in their revenues. According to Forbes, in 2013 Oakland had the lowest after-expenses revenue in the NFL. If they can afford it, so can the other teams.

    The NFL claims its teams are “independent businesses” instead of franchises that are part of a whole. That will make it tougher for women from other teams in other states to seek the same result. One has to wonder if a class action suit against the league might work better.

  34. says

    A century old mystery has almost certainly come to an end.

    Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain’s most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders

    * DNA evidence on a shawl found at Ripper murder scene nails killer
    * By testing descendants of victim and suspect, identifications were made
    * Jack the Ripper has been identified as Polish-born Aaron Kosminski
    * Kosminski was a suspect when the Ripper murders took place in 1888
    * Hairdresser Kosminski lived in Whitechapel and was later put in an asylum

    Unless a mistake was made and Kosnimski’s DNA was on the shawl for some other reason, this is the end of the story. But you have to feel bad for his descendants who now know he was in their family tree.

  35. soogeeoh says

    Sorry, that seems so passive-aggressive …

    The bit about Black Beauty and its impact was interesting

  36. chigau (違う) says

    I haven’t read Black Beauty in …
    probably not as a full grown adult.
    It sure as shit had an impact on me as a child.
    I probably read it 30 or 40 times, in versions from comic books to all-text books.
    I’ll look for a downloadable version.

  37. chigau (違う) says

    If you can control the auto-smiley thing
    😉 🙂 🙁
    you might want to look into this one
    It probably won’t show correctly on FtB but if you google it, there is probably an image.
    (it’s a smiling pile of poo)

  38. chigau (違う) says

    I think
    (yes it happens)
    a retiring room 3 would be good
    especially if it has another dance video

  39. chigau (違う) says

    John Morales
    I don’t have “collective guilt”.
    I’m a recovering Catholic, I have only my own Guilt™.
    I know of your “failings”.
    And I miss you over there.
    I hope you are well.

  40. karmacat says

    I found this article in the Washington Post website
    MIT frat alumni president: “Drunk female guests are the gravest threat to fraternities”

    This is how we talk about these things, most of us. We blame women. We talk around the actual issues as if modifying women’s behavior is the real fix. It’s why Frezza’s op-ed was so predictable. It’s been written a million times before. We don’t like to talk about how the presence of a man who will sexually assault a drunk woman is the real danger. We don’t like to talk about how for every one of Bisciotti’s imagined women preying on his poor helpless players, there are countless real, actual women experiencing violence at the hands of the men in their lives who are not sure anyone will believe them if they come forward about it. Because men like Bisciotti and Frezza reinforce the idea that women can’t be trusted. That they’re out to ruin the fun, that they’re out to ruin men’s lives.

  41. says

    A notable anniversary is coming. October 18th is the 60th anniversary of the Regency TR-1, the first personal and portable transistor radio.

    It wasn’t the first personal and portable entertainment (the paperback came first). But because it coincided with the emergence of rock and roll, teens began to choose their own music, and their tastes distanced the young from their parents. No longer did everyone in a family listening to the same music on the same radio.

  42. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    left0ver1under @ 65:
    Wow, I got a lot of Regency electronics as hand-me-downs from my father. I think I may have owned one of those as a kid (or a similar model). Oh, the memories of laying on my grandmother’s floor, playing with Matchbox cars and listening to WKBW on that little tinny transistor radio…

  43. skemist says

    A friend I was debating brought up this Slate article from last Spring about Lara Stemple’s paper stating that rates of sexual violence are about equal between men and women, and that often women are the perpetrators:
    When Men Are Raped
    I smell BS, esp. since the Slate article is written by Hanna Rosin of End of Men fame, and the numbers are hard to believe and seem to contradict the many studies going back decades on rates of sexual violence, but I’m having trouble finding any thorough takedowns/critiques of Stemple’s work. I think maybe it just never got on the radar. Has anybody else seen articles referring to this paper and found any good takedowns/critiques? I’ve cut off the debate already, so I won’t use any info provided in an ongoing debate–I’m just trying to satisfy my own curiosity.

  44. says

    I have a question.

    What does “threadrupt” mean? I see it occasionally in comment sections, and googling ‘ “threadrupt” definition ‘ doesn’t seem to offer anything useful…

  45. says

    Two items:


    In his Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto, Steve Almond quotes from a representative sample of email responses to one of his articles in the New York Times Magazine in which he’d “dared to speak out about the moral complexities of football”:

    OMG. I am progressive on social issues but dude – you are the biggest fucking pussy on the face of the earth. Change your tampon you woman.

    …I read an article you wrote about football and I couldn’t help but think of a slutty girl I knew growing up. I thought she had the biggest vagina I’d ever seen before until now…congrats dude, you have a bigger one.

    …Why do libs have to ruin everything we do for fun or to take our minds off the world? I don’t even like the Redskins but if that kind of stuff offends the large vagina crowd, I am a fan now.

    He clarifies: “I realize that you think I’ve cherry-picked these. But I swear to you, nearly every piece of hate mail I received made reference to my vagina, which was usually characterized as very large….”

  46. says


    In Frances Stonor Saunders’ The Cultural Cold War* I came across a reference to Arthur Koestler’s being a serial rapist, which was news to me. Here are some rape apologetics.

    My question is: Are today’s rape apologists staggered by these statements, seeing their own as totally different? Or do they read things like this and not see a problem?

    * I won’t be discussing this in depth because I’m totally confident that nothing of the sort could possibly be happening now. Of course not. Clearly. Don’t be silly. But you might find the book of (historical, naturally) interest.

  47. John Morales says

    In Australian news:Finance Minister Mathias Cormann defends calling Bill Shorten an ‘economic girlie-man’

    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has defended himself for calling Opposition Leader Bill Shorten an “economic girlie-man”, after receiving widespread criticism for the sexist nature of the comment.


    On Sunday the Finance Minister defended himself, saying that “‘economic girlie-men’ has come to adopt its own meaning”.

    “It is not in any way intended as a reflection on girls, it is entirely intended as a reflection on Bill Shorten,” Senator Cormann said in a statement.

  48. John Morales says

    Northern hemispheric parochialism is duly noted.

    (Here in South Australia, the change is on the first Sunday in October)

  49. chigau (違う) says

    John Morales
    I am a helpless victim of this.
    I do what I’m told.

    there will be a phone call at the new 7AM asking why the door to the community centre isn’t open.
    The phone is on the other side of the bed, so I will not have the chance to scream
    “because IT IS NOT 8 O’CLOCK!!m!!”

  50. John Morales says

    Heh, chigau. Well, as with the “gay” thing, it’s a matter of adapting or kicking against the pricks.

    (And it ain’t worth the pain of doing the latter 🙂 )

  51. John Morales says

    chigau, here’s some news from Victoria: Ken Lay on family violence.


    Victoria’s top police officer has launched a task force into abusive and sexist behaviour in the ranks of the state’s police force. In a video message, Chief Commissioner Ken Lay says he often asks himself whether he would be happy for his daughter to serve as a police officer given the degree to which sexist male officers exist in the force.

  52. chigau (違う) says

    John Morales
    I like that video.
    It’s not as succinct as ‘the standard you walk past…’ but still good.

  53. chigau (違う) says

    There is a department store chain in Australia and other places in the South Pacific that has two names. (Like Marks and Spencers.)
    What is it?

  54. chigau (違う) says

    Brain fart.
    I have shopped there. They had fabulous tea and cookies.
    I just can’t remember the name.

  55. John Morales says

    In the news: Pakistani court sentences four men to death for murder of pregnant woman who married against her family’s wishes

    So-called “honour” killings are commonplace in Pakistan but the brutal and brazen nature of the attack on 25-year-old Parveen meant the case made headlines around the world.

    “The court today awarded death sentences to four accused – the father, brother, cousin and ex-husband of the victim – for murder and terrorism,” prosecutor Rai Asif Mehmood said.

    Mr Mehmood said the sentences were handed down for three counts – murder, terrorism and the killing of an unborn baby – and the court had also fined each defendant 100,000 rupees ($1,000).

  56. says

    I just came across an interesting computer simulation, Parable of the polygons. To quote the opening blurb, This is a story of how harmless choices can make a harmful world.

    There are various simulations you can play in your web browser. The simulated world is populated by triangles and squares, and though they are mostly happy to be in mixed company, they will move if almost all their neighbours are the opposite kind. You can play with the simulations, vary the parameters, and get a feeling for how even a slight preference for the company of your own kind can lead to a highly segregated society. It’s quite thought provoking, though the model is of course much too simpleminded to be a realistic mirror of the real world. Check it out.

  57. John Morales says

    Ophelia, I understand you hold much esteem for Eric MacDonald.

    I recall it was mostly my comments to Chris Clarke which culminated in my voluntary exile from Pharyngula, so I believe I’m probably irritating you.

  58. John Morales says

    The concept of karma is religious and addresses questions about free will, meaning and destiny, but it’s not theistic.

    (It’s not, in an etymological sense, theology)

  59. John Morales says

    Sir Humphrey: I wonder if I might crave your momentary indulgence in order to discharge a by no means disagreeable obligation which has, over the years, become more or less established practice in government service as we approach the terminal period of the year — calendar, of course, not financial — in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, Week Fifty-One — and submit to you, with all appropriate deference, for your consideration at a convenient juncture, a sincere and sanguine expectation — indeed confidence — indeed one might go so far as to say hope — that the aforementioned period may be, at the end of the day, when all relevant factors have been taken into consideration, susceptible to being deemed to be such as to merit a final verdict of having been by no means unsatisfactory in its overall outcome and, in the final analysis, to give grounds for being judged, on mature reflection, to have been conducive to generating a degree of gratification which will be seen in retrospect to have been significantly higher than the general average.
    Jim Hacker: Are you trying to say “Happy Christmas,” Humphrey?
    Sir Humphrey: Yes, Minister.

    [source: TVTropes]

  60. says

    ‘Twas a good day this December 25th. Other than co-workers who went through the motions of “christmas” and my students who said it, I did not hear a single “christmas carol” today, not endure a single annoying religious type spewing tripe at me or use of the phrase until chigau’s post above this.

    All the Taiwanese at my school are daoists, and the two other foreigners I work with are agnostics. (An Albertan who’s an agnostic? Sacré bleu!) I did a little shopping on the way home and quietly read the news. It was only late in the evening that I remembered why my emails from US companies weren’t being answered. Ah, the bliss of being in a country where it’s just another day.

    Today, was however, a very significant and important observed holiday (not statutory) in Taiwan. December 25th is Constitution Day, the day when Taiwan officially became a democracy, a far more important holiday than any religious bunk. Another key holiday related to Constitution Day happens on February 28th, 228 day.

  61. Al Dente says

    Happy Constitution Day. Did you burn the Old Guy in effigy or hunt for colored eggs or do anything else holidayish?

  62. says

    JM – I avoid writing in anger. The immediacy and proximity of that case made me slip.

    There are zoos that work to save and preserve animals, and there are zoos that treat them like meat. I’m for the former, it was the latter that got my goat.

  63. says

    The Boy Scouts have condemned those who cover up the rape of children…after a judge condemns the BSA for covering up the rape of children.

    Boy Scouts condemns sexual abuse cover-ups

    The Boy Scouts of America on Saturday condemned any effort to cover up sexual abuse within its organization, following news that it failed to persuade a judge to stop its internal records from being used as evidence in a California civil trial.

    The ruling advances one of a series of lawsuits in recent years accusing the Boy Scouts of failing to protect members from known or suspected pedophiles.

    “The behavior described in this suit is absolutely unacceptable and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands,” Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement.

    Another day, another act of hypocrisy.

  64. says

    Here’s a case of unexpected consequences, of making the best of a bad situation. In Sierra Leone, the spread of ebola has pretty much stopped female genital mutilation in the short term. Human rights workers are using this is an opportunity to educate people and save girls from a lifetime of misery.

    One would hope such efforts also happen in neighboring Guinea and Liberia, countries also hit by ebola and where the atrocious practice of FGM is as widespread as Sierra Leone.

  65. John Morales says

    In the news: Millions gather for Pope’s mass in stormy Philippines

    “We are devotees of the Pope,” Bernie Nacario, 53, said as he stood amid a torrent of people with his wife and two young children, hoping to reach the park where the pontiff will give mass.

    “The Pope is an instrument of the Lord and if you are able to communicate with him, it is just like talking to God himself.”

    The real world.

  66. John Morales says

    Interesting OP:

    There’s quite a bit more, but this extract sums it up:

    A victory? A buckling? An encapsulation of the Zeitgeist?

    For me, it’s actually just an interesting case of timing, of trends. The Page 3 girl simply doesn’t matter anymore.

    She doesn’t titillate sufficiently to sell papers. She doesn’t irk anyone enough to run articles about her naughtiness. She fails, even, to be classy enough to motivate defence of her on free speech grounds.

    The Page 3 girl is a relic of a past where a certain class of gent liked to cop an eyeful before wrapping up his vegetable peelings. An artefact of a time when milky-white breasts alone were enough to arouse, a time when a sticky-paged Playboy was something sacred.

  67. says

    Responding to the request to move the discussion from here. I don’t think I have anything more to say on the matter (other than to continue giggling at the hypocrisy on display), but if I do I’ll say it here.

  68. says

    I have to say, though, that I still don’t think my expectation that people would recognize the unseriousness and intent of my claims was unreasonable, and I’m still somewhat confused about how it could have been taken seriously.

    As far as I can tell, those who read it seriously fall into two groups: people who read my comment at the link in #1 and those who didn’t see or read it but read others’ references to it on the thread here. I’m perplexed by the first group. Even if you knew nothing about the specifics and so didn’t recognize the silliness of the claims, how did the multiple references to Substanceless Smears – in the short comment itself, in the link to the comment, and in the fact that it was a comment explicitly referencing the substanceless smearers in the OP – not register? I don’t get it.

    The second group also leaves me confused. If I had come to the thread and not noticed the link in my comment @ #1 but then read the references to the alleged blow-up and my responses, I would find those comments coming out of nowhere odd enough to give the thread a second look to see what I was missing. And then I’d find the link and be in the first group.

    Really, I don’t think my presentation of those claims should have left anyone in doubt about the fact that I was putting them forward as, like chigau’s comments to which they were explicitly in response, substanceless smears – an expression of my annoyance with chigau and a comment on those who toss out such claims in seriousness.

  69. says

    Well, among the reasons I didn’t recognize it as unserious just by looking at it are…

    -the fact that I often read comments quickly
    -the fact that I don’t always read all comments
    -the fact that the in-crowd who comment at Pharyngula do a lot of gossiping and othering and shunning
    -the fact that I very rarely read comments at Pharyngula, so could easily be completely unaware of some rift or quarrel there
    -the fact that I lose track of who is who, especially at Pharyngula as opposed to here
    -the fact that some Pharyngula regulars comment here and then get annoyed by me and go back there to complain about me so that others will join them in complaining about me so they can all have a nice jolly trashing-me session
    -the fact that the above item motivates me to think they’re a bunch of assholes, which makes me more likely to believe any old nonsense about them

    Those are the reasons I can think of off the top of my head.

  70. says

    This is all actually leading me to a new appreciation of that novel The Exception that Sili was so surprised we’d both read. 🙂

    (I did go there at one point and talked about you when we were arguing. It was assholish, and I apologize.)

  71. John Morales says

    Ophelia, the reason for my mis-posting earlier was that I have been recently commenting on Michael Nugent’s blog, which has no preview, so that I used this site’s tab to preview (and unfortunately, post) a comment out of pure convenience (and, obviously, over-confidence).

    I’ll try to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

  72. John Morales says

    Ophelia, I think your posts highlighting reactions (such as “Light the darkness”) would be more efficacious (via web-trawling robots) if you put the name on them.

    Just a little bit, but still…

  73. John Morales says






    In Australian news: Groom of 12yo ‘child bride’ in NSW jailed for at least seven and a half years.

    A man who married a 12-year-old girl in an Islamic ceremony in New South Wales has been jailed for at least seven and a half years.

    The 27-year-old man pleaded guilty to the charge of the persistent sexual abuse of a child after he told police he married the girl in the Hunter Valley in 2014.

    It’s heartening to see the law enforced.

  74. chigau (違う) says

    Sometimes, for practice, I try to translate things to Japanese (日本語).
    “small, grizzled coven of old-school feminists” is beyond my limited abilities:
    does the coven have few members, therefore ‘small’?
    are the members of the coven short in stature?
    my dictionaries and translation programs insist that
    old school = 古い学校 (a school that is old)
    Japanese Pffft has a page オールドスクール (ōrudosukūru) which does not quite agree with the English language “Old School” page.
    not to mention
    ‘witch’ in 日本語 is 魔女 (majo) devil woman or evil woman or magic woman
    Language translation is NOT a task to be undertaken lightly.

  75. says

    I make it a point to avoid rants, profanities, insults and “aggressive words”, but there are times when some people deserve to be called blankety-blanks and smacked across the face with frying pans.

    Today in the news here in Taiwan, it was reported that the main reservoir in Tainan is down to 38% of capacity, and was only that full because of recent rainfall. And the main reservoir in Taipei is low enough that the government has issued severe water restrictions. (Unfortunately, the restrictions are being delayed because of a holiday.) It’s gotten so bad that people – including me – are actively wishing for Supertyphoon Maysak to hit the island. It’s already 30C on most days and dryer than I’ve seen in nine years of living here.

    The fact that there’s a typhoon in late March/early April should be a clue, but not to the clueless. It’s the fourth typhoon in this area of the Pacific Ocean since January 1. I spoke recently to the parents of my employer (they’re both over 60) and they tell me they’ve never seen a typhoon past December, never mind four after the new year. Typhoon Tembin in 2012 did a figure four, crossing Taiwan east to west, going south, then crossing a second time south to north. No one had ever heard of that happening anywhere on Earth, not just here.

    How exactly does a rain soaked island like this have a drought if there isn’t climate change? It doesn’t help that last typhoon season (August to November) Taiwan did not have a single day of government ordered closure of schools and businesses due to rain. Typhoons are annoying because of the damage they cause, but they are a big part of filling the water table on this island.

    Climate change deniers suck.

  76. says

    How the hell was I supposed to know that from that question?

    This thread is for random stuff, but it’s not for Horde gossip. Nowhere here is for Horde gossip.

  77. says

    Thank fuck there’s at least one spot on this network that isn’t welcoming of that insufferable assclamery.


    Ophelia, you don’t seem to understand how it works: all threads at Pharyngula are open to digs at you (“I comment at her blog, but barely read it anymore…which I’m pointing out so everyone knows I don’t really support her” “Oh, me too – let’s bond over our righteous superiority!”) but your calling attention to their clannishness and hypocrisy on the humanist-luv* thread is totally inappropriate.

    *(open to the discussion of the pleasures of violently exploiting-consuming other animals, of course; animal solidarity and liberation perspectives not especially welcome)

  78. says

    I won’t be returning to the toxic threads related to my guest post, but just FYI I’ve posted a more user-friendly version of the list of recommended materials (with the addition of an article by Brett Deacon that’s available free online)

    and collected some of the more important admissions of the NIMH and APA leaders in one place

  79. says

    I wasn’t sure if this belonged on the posts about the Nepal earthquake, so I’ll say it here.

    I did a quick search and, to no surprise, christians groups that regularly proselytize where disasters hit are already looking to use this one as an “opportunity to lead people to cheezus”, as if the victims and survivors wanted it. Nepal is less than half of one percent christian.

    From May 2014, a year before the quake:

    Proselytizing not welcome in Nepal

    As a person who has spent much time in Nepal (like myself), I would think Fallesen would know that proselytizing is against Nepali law. […] Hinduism and Buddhism (Nepal’s main religions) do not support religious conversion.


    Nepal, and especially the district where C4C (Climbing for Christ) is currently trying to build a church, Humla, is exceptionally poor. Humla residents struggle just to eat. Using that vulnerability as a means to raise numbers is not right. Offering aid is a generous and Christ-like thing to do, but setting out on a mission to take people away from their own faith and culture is not. I wish Fallesen’s team could help those in need without religious strings attached.

    Groups like samaritan’s purse (among many others) did this after the 2004 earthquake and tsunami, they did it in Japan in 2011 (and were told “no thanks”), and they did it in Haiti (re: the kidnapping and relocation of children without permission, and some were not orphans).

    Think back to New Orleans and hurricane Katrina in 2005. Just imagine what people in the US would have done in if wealthy people from Saudi Arabia had gone there and said, “You’re government abandoned you. We’ll give you $25,000 to help restart your life…if you convert to islam first.” I doubt that would have gone well, and yet some have no compunction about invading other people’s countries and doing it to them.

    Disasters are most definitely not the time to proselytize religion. There’s never a good time for it, but it’s absolutely repugnant and repulsive to take advantage of people when they are at their weakest, their most vulnerable and most desperate. True charity has only one condition: do they need it. Placing any other conditions on receiving aid is hate and violence.

  80. says

    On the brighter side of things….

    Pradnya Mandhare: Woman Drags Would-Be Rapist To Police By His Hair

    Pradnya Mandhare, a 20-year-old student in her third year of media studies, was attacked by a potential rapist in broad daylight, as a crowd of around 50 bystanders stood by and did nothing.


    Mandhare found the strength and courage to grab her drunken attacker by his hair and physically drag him to a local police station. And it sounds like her would-be rapist turned from a terrifying predator to a chastened little boy as she did so, as Mandhare says, “He was telling me to let go and that he would come with me voluntarily, but I didn’t trust him and continued to pull him along.”

    That story came up while looking for a link about one of Mayweather’s assaults on women.

  81. screechymonkey says

    Apparently one of the “delightful” new trends over the last year is for men to lurk around women reporters doing live remote stand-ups, in the hopes of getting on TV yelling “fuck her right in the pussy!”

    Recently, a reporter in Toronto had enough, and called them out on it. The usual defenses were offered: hey, it’s just funny. It’s nothing personal. They do worse stuff in Britain all the time.

    One of the assholes was identified and fired by his employer. The employer of another is promising to address the issue. Cue the usual cries of cyberbullying and witch hunt, ” the preferred term any time women call men out.”

    Some good coverage from the Globe and Mail here and here

  82. says

    Early returns in Ireland put the Yes vote at a staggering seventy five percent. Some “No Rights For You” campaigners have already conceded defeat. The vote is so overwhelming that even if all those who did not vote (but were eligible) had voted No, it would still be a majority for Yes.

    Now the question is, can people force Ireland to put women’s reproductive rights to a vote? The decades of sex abuse, Magdelene Laundries and Savita Halappanavar would make for a very covincing argument. The politicians are too spineless to disobey the catholic cult and do what’s right, but I’d bet the voters aren’t afraid, as yesterday’s vote shows.

  83. maddog1129 says

    Just wanted to say I read B&W every day. Ophelia, you are a passionate and compassionate advocate for many people. I admire your strength and tenacity.

  84. StevoR says

    I think this is something folks should see and think about and I ask that Ophelia Benson please consider blogging about and sharing it here :

    TRIGGER WARNING : Horrific video.

    A man has a stroke whilst driving; crashes the car as a result, the cops show up, he literally physically cannot respond and obey their commands – so instead of checking to see if he’s okay – they taze him, empty a can of pepper spray into his face then drag him out of his car, allowing it to run over his foot in the process. I don’t need to say what his skin colour is do I?

    Imagine you were Washington – this Washington, the driver here.

  85. Silentbob says

    Speaking of sounds that induce rage…

    Ophelia, if you ever feel too relaxed and at peace with the world, I chanced upon some more videos from RDF Secular Star Jaclyn Glenn that should take care of that problem.

    This one goes back to Matt Taylor’s shirt and explains how feminists who complained are big ol’ prudes afraid of sex:

    This one explains how women who object to being called “females” are being very silly and looking for something to offended about because it’s just a non-speciesist term for “woman”:

    Both are complete with infomercials at the end (no kidding).

    You’re welcome. 😉

  86. John Morales says

    In the news: Mosul ‘beard patrols’.

    A cynical view perspective from locals:

    Mosul residents said a tougher beard policy imposed by IS one year into the group’s occupation of the city was a ploy, not a sign of renewed religious zeal.

    “We all know what [IS] is trying to achieve with these unacceptable laws on women wearing the veil and men growing beards,” said a teacher, who gave her name as Umm Mohammed.

    “They want to make everyone a human shield … With military operations [to retake Mosul] looming, they want to blend in with the population.”

  87. John Morales says

    Ophelia, I want to make it clear that I interjected on that other thread because I like and respect you — though I think you know that already.

  88. StevoR says

    Amazing story just seen on BBC which I hope / think you might want to blog on. :

    For the Acholi people of northern Uganda, a woman stripping in public is laden with meaning.
    It is more powerful than fighting as it is believed such actions invoke the worst of curses on the woman’s enemy.

    I’d like to read what Greg Laden has to say on this one too.

  89. John Morales says

    Sorry Ophelia, any appearance of me trying to moderate on that other thread was inadvertent. I only meant to speak for myself.

    I shall henceforth avoid making such trivial comments, and also from my idiosyncratic mark-up to certain comments — the latter having proven counter-productive.

  90. says

    Well, I don’t know, John, now you say that I think I put it too broadly. I’m actually fine if y’all nudge each other that way, and you were right about the demeaning nickname. I guess it was just the mark-up that made it stick out. Go ahead and nudge.

  91. Erik says

    Dear Ms. Benson,
    This falls under ‘arbitrary question’. Last week I signed a NARAL Pro-choice petition to kill anti-abortion bills in Congress. In the comment section I stated I am “Pro-Women”; I feel women should have whatever they need to lead healthy, happy and successful lives. In further research I discovered the Pro-Women label has been co-opted by republican pro-life organizations, the exact opposite of my personal ideology. In the FtB community, would there be a more appropriate expression for what I and other men advocate? Perhaps Pro-Feminist? Women’s advocate?

  92. John Morales says

    Ophelia, please consider this but reader feedback, and not that I imagine you didn’t notice… but I find it a tad problematic that you sometimes* boost people’s comments as a post apparently without first seeking (admittedly unnecessary) explicit permission from the commenter.

    To be clear, this particular comment was occasioned by me reading your recent post “A vast difference between memorializing the dead and memorializing the cause” and feeling a little uncomfortable thereby.

    An aspect of the problem, instantiated in this case, is that responses to the comment you feature can occur in the originating post, and this is to the detriment of your feature.

    * I’ve certainly seen you ask people permission, so most certainly not always.

  93. John Morales says

    Ophelia, re the other thread, you should know that I didn’t think it pointless.

    I directly answered the specific question in my parenthetical, but that wasn’t my point.
    I was actually reiterating the point of your post, that the Pontiff’s job is to pontificate and one should expect him to do so.


    It’s clear to me that I’m irritating you, so I’ll take a break from your blog, since I can’t help but be myself.

  94. says

    “Rising star of atheism”?

    The Ann Coulter of atheism is more like it. She’s a vapid, loud reactionary who argues for the side that wants to take her rights away and treat her like a second class citizen. Her stance makes about as much sense as log cabin republicans or if African-Americans started arguing on the KKK’s behalf.

  95. StevoR says

    Outdated too many years ago but dangnabbit I still love this clip of two great great Aussie songs & 3 video clips or so fused into one :

    Midnight Oil & Warumpi – Blackfella-Whitefella & Dead Heart

    Still one of my all time faves. For whatever little it may be worth.

  96. says

    Things are changing for the better in more than just the US. Mozambique didn’t go all the way, but it’s a big step in the right direction and out of the 19th century.

    Mozambique scraps colonial-era homosexuality ban

    Mozambique decriminalized homosexuality Monday when a new penal code came into force that swept away old Portuguese colonial laws, in a victory for campaigners for gay rights.

    The old code, dating back to 1886, targeted anyone “who habitually engages in vices against nature” — though no known prosecutions took place after Mozambique became independent in 1975.


    The new penal code, which was announced last December by then President Armando Guebuza, also decriminalizes abortion after lobbying by civil rights organizations.

    Women can now end a pregnancy until the 12th week. Extraordinary circumstances, such as rape or threats to the mother’s life, allow for the procedure until the 16th week.

    It probably helps that Mozambique is a mixed bag of religion, the most diverse on the continent.

  97. Dave Ricks says

    Sorry for giving only 10 minutes notice, but today is leap second day, so Eastern U.S. time 8:00 to 8:01 PM will be 61 seconds long. Turn your clocks back one second!

  98. John Morales says

    Ophelia, I don’t know who those people (or that person) may be in the other thread, and the nyms are unfamiliar to me. Whether provocateurs or not, I think the comments themselves are cogent and to the point and make a case.

    (I also think that the discussion on the topic itself is destroyed there)

  99. Silentbob says

    @ 200 Ophelia Benson

    IMHO, FWIW, Avery’s comments are full of slime-like tells.

    There’s the insistence on including Carrier’s title, “Dr Richard Carrier”. That’s a slymer thing.

    There’s the reference to the “FTB Executive Committee” and prediction of internal strife. (Does any legitimate commenter ever fret about trouble with the “Executive Committee”?)

    There’s the ridiculous misrepresentations and bizarre accusations that come out of nowhere (black women and confederate flags?).

  100. John Morales says

    … and I was wrong about the conversation being destroyed.

    So it goes.

  101. StevoR says

    Please can someone let PZ Myers know that links to Slate blogs* / pages like the on in this post :

    Then non USA folks like me could be in trouble because of the incredibly annoying and unfair paywall that Slate has recently set up which restrict non-USA-ites to just 5 views of their site per month. (I probably used to go on there 5 times a day if not more!)

    A WARNING Slate blog paywall / limit for non-Americans would be really appreciated in such cases.

    Now I’m down to just two chances to view anything on slate for the rest of the month. With the Pluto encounter still to occur. Grr .. (No I’m not going to pay money I don’t have for something that should be free to everyone and reward a company I justifiably loathe!)

    I do so myself but due to unfortunate past events I cannot seem to contact him at all. Another thing I wish could be changed. I did stuff up there very badly years ago so mea culpa but still.

    * Including of course Phil Plait’s ‘Bad Astronomy’ blog, my alltime favourite one. Yegods I flippin’ hate the douchebags at slate. Wish the BA would move again, be great if FTB could get him to join here. Sigh.

  102. Silentbob says

    May I be frivolous and post a funny animal video? (If you hate it when people share twee YouTube funny animal vids, the you’ll hate me, so skip this comment.)

    I just found this funny, and I thought Ophelia might get a laugh out of it (perhaps because it features a dog named Cooper). It’s only 40 seconds (though you may have to sit through an ad).

  103. StevoR says

    NASA press conference on Pluto and the latest findings from there :

    (Long but good.)

    Meanwhile at the other end of our solar system, Mercury’s double sunrise animation – also love the music here :

    Plus a good article by Ethan Siegel form the Starts with a Bang’ blog :

    On how habitable and how much of a twin is Kepler 452b recently hailed as “Earth 2.0” really? Amazing discovery and world even if it isn’t exactly as advertised and still so very many questions about it remain to be answered.

  104. StevoR says

    Rosetta and Philae awesomeness :

    Stick with that first photo – its an animation with some pretty impressive reality in it.

    Plus :

    Also a good radio segment on Pluto, Kepler 452b ad more here as well :

    Hope these are interesting & informative for folks here.

  105. Silentbob says

    @ Ophelia

    This is getting so messed up, I can’t be sure I’m not dreaming.

    After taking on Mick Nugent over his anti-PZ campaign, Melby (& Hornbeck) are becoming to you what Nugent was to PZ. I count seven anti-Ophelia posts in the last eight days.

    Steersman and “d4m10n” (Reinhardt) have made themselves at home in the comments.

  106. says

    Steersman and “d4m10n” (Reinhardt) have made themselves at home in the comments.

    … Oh, and Heina is hosting some slimepittery as well.


    I was completely perplexed by Alex Gabriel’s statement that he can live with this dynamic but the pitters can’t. They’re serving this up to the pitters on a platter, and the pitters are eating it up with a spoon. They’re positively reveling in it, and it takes effort not to see that.

  107. says

    Yup, I just did a count and I find seven too.

    It’s difficult, because I really want to leave but PZ really wants me not to. I’m delaying, because his reasons are good, but god I hate it.

  108. says

    This bias-free language guide sounds interesting, but it seems to have been taken down. Does anyone have a link to a copy?
    Sorry to see the continued hate, Ophelia. It must be really hard to bear. I’m afraid that if you leave the people attacking you will consider that a validation of their attacks. I’m hoping that if you stay, they just might learn that reasonable and well-meaning people can disagree.

  109. John Morales says

    Ophelia, I know it’s very unpleasant for you.

    I admire how well you are coping. Takes strength.

    Delft, I don’t think it’s dire.

    As I see it:
    * Other bloggers here have had their say, and haven’t pushed in here.
    * There is no external escalation that I’ve noticed.
    * By now, pretty much anyone who would be interested is aware.

    PS re bias-free language, I adopt E-Prime principles when attempting it.

  110. Al Dente says


    I hope you stay here. I’ve mainly been lurking the past few weeks but I’ve been reading your posts daily. Your blog, along with Ed’s, PZ’s, Greta’s and Dana’s, are what I read at FTB.

  111. says

    Al Dente,

    I’m being strongly urged to stay. I might. I’m going back and forth. This morning, I was hell bent on going. Now, I’m not. We’ll see.

  112. says

    I figured that was what was happening. I know I was strongly pro-leaving in the immediate wake of Hunter’s post, but it is probably best not to make any precipitous decisions. I can think of some good reasons for staying, this could blow over in time, and M. A. Melby and Hj “if Charlie Hebdo is satirizing Dieudonné, they’re not left-wing, pro-immigrant, and anti-authoritarian” “Dieudonné is…merely anti-authoritarian and thus opposed to Big Jew” Hornbeck aren’t on the network. So…

  113. says


    Sounds very, very promising. I’ll have to find a way to see it. What little German cinema I’ve ever watched, I’ve always loved, but it’s probably the selective sieve thing going on that only the really incredibly good gets to the kinds of places I’d be likely to see it. Pretty sure I haven’t actually seen any German television.

    I do seem to be developing this odd need to revisit the cold war years, of late. I’m not sure nostalgia quite explains it…

    More making a little peace with ghosts, I think. I was one of many I think really did feel the bombs looming over their heads, much of that time. Found it hard to believe for a while any of us were going to make it to 20, let alone 30…

    … then you get (mumble) years past that, realize you’re still alive, and you start thinking, was that even real, did that even happen? It’s almost like I need to touch it again. Grounding, somehow. With all that’s happened since, newer horrors arising, you still need to talk to those old ghosts, better than letting it all get buried and neglected in that confusion.

    I found Jürgen Ritter’s before/after photos of the wall and the inner border oddly fascinating, too. And we’ve this bunker in Ottawa (called the Diefenbunker, a hardened bunker for housing the government in the event of a nuclear attack, since turned into a sort of Cold War museum) my kids did a few camps at a few years ago…

    … going into that thing was honestly a bit oppressive. It really did feel a bit like going back to a place you didn’t entirely want to remember. Friend of mine from around the same era visiting it said exactly the same: it really was a bit unsettling. Like, oh, right, I remember those nightmares.

    I’ve always wondered a bit if there’s some way you could measure what that did to our generation. Some bump turning up in questionnaires, somewhere. Schedule 3, question 5: did being advised to think about retirement planning ever seem to you like some kind of sick joke, and not just because of what you’re paid?

  114. John Morales says

    AJ Milne, I was born in 1960, so I am one of “our generation”, yet I did not share its pessimism. I am now vindicated in that regard.

    (But yeah, the only thing like that now is climate change–and again I don’t share the current generation’s pessimism about that, either–though I doubt I’ll live long enough to be vindicated in that regard)

  115. StevoR says

    From Aussie ABC online news – TRIGGGER WARNING :

    Also from there :

    High court to make landmark gender ruling

    CHRIS UHLMANN: Most official forms ask us whether we’re male or female, but should there be a third box for people who identify as neither? That’s a question the High Court will decide on today.

    Lexi Metherell reports.

    LEXI METHERELL: Sydneysider Norrie was born male but growing up identified as a girl and had sexual reassignment surgery in 1989. But after a while Norrie found it didn’t feel right.

    NORRIE: And I thought about what gender would I want to be, given the option, and it’s a whole person. It’s male and female in some ways; in other ways it’s neither. Physically I’m neuter (laughs), like your pet. Socially, I’m both. …

    Plus :

  116. StevoR says

    @222. Ophelia Benson : Please stay. I’ll follow you if you go and would understand why but I’d hate to see that happen. You are a good person and blogger I enjoy reading and have much respect and time for.

  117. says

    Sounds very, very promising. I’ll have to find a way to see it. What little German cinema I’ve ever watched, I’ve always loved, but it’s probably the selective sieve thing going on that only the really incredibly good gets to the kinds of places I’d be likely to see it. Pretty sure I haven’t actually seen any German television.

    It’s on Sundance, Wednesday nights. (With subtitles – otherwise I would have no idea what people were saying. :)) If you don’t get Sundance, I don’t know where you could see it – possibly online…?

    (I love this idea, and hope it’s the first of many series from around the world I get to see.)

    … going into that thing was honestly a bit oppressive. It really did feel a bit like going back to a place you didn’t entirely want to remember.

    Interestingly enough, the series is dealing with the Able Archer fiasco. I didn’t know about it at the time, of course, but remember the tension and fear of those years.

    The awful thing is that, while concern about nuclear stockpiles has dwindled, the actual danger remains (or dangers remain).

  118. says

    From famine to feast drought to deluge. Super Typhoon Soudelor is going to make a mess, even if it slows to a category three storm.

    I lived through Morakot in 2009 which was bad, but this one is much bigger. And as happened then (and with the Philippines earlier this year), the people who are going to be hardest hit are the poor, the ones least able to cope. Nothing is going to happen to me, living in an earthquake and typhoon proof apartment building, but plenty of people don’t.

  119. says

    Well, this should be an interesting night. Schools and businesses were ordered closed everywhere at noon on Friday except for Kinmen and Lienchiang. They’re islands 200km to the west, so they will be the last ones hit around 10PM.

    I’m in Hsinchu County where torrential rain predicted. There are mountains to the east and 200km of land before the winds come from north-to-south, so I’m not too worried about my apartment or even my windows. A power outage is still a possibility. (No internet? NOOOOOOO….!)

    I just hope families of multiple students cancelled their plans to go to Ilan this weekend, a town on the east coast. Ilan has already been hit with 20cm (8 inches) of rain as I write, 7PM on Friday.

    I’m a glass reservoir half-full kind of person, so I’m looking on the bright side. We still need the rain, plus this is the first day of government ordered closure in two years. The downside is having to work on a Saturday (probably 8/15 or 8/22) to make up the day before the school year begins (8/31).


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