Category Archives: Politics

Trigger warnings, Trump and other political links

So the University of Chicago’s dean sent out a letter to incoming students warning them they will not get trigger warnings or safe spaces at a tough, demanding school like U of C. John Scalzi sees this as a wake-up call for students to let them know they won’t be cossetted. Brad deLong sees it as a reassuring message to parents, assuring the Fox News followers their kids are attending a no-nonsense conservative school. The Daily Beast sees it as reassurance to conservative donors that they’re giving money to a school that doesn’t truck with that newfangled liberalism. PZ Myers says trigger warnings and safe spaces, shouldn’t be controversial. More from LGM.

•Twenty years ago, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway showed her political smarts by discussing how Gen X voters would totally love dynamic young Repub politicians like Dan Quayle in contrast to stuffy old Al Gore (as noted in comments, Quayle was actually older than Gore). Keep that in mind when you hear Conway claim women will vote Trump. And then there’s Trump’s plan to win over blacks—have police get tougher on black crime.

•Small sellers on Amazon says the company is too willing to suspend them when customers complain.

•The Republican plan for a Clinton presidency is the same it’s been since Obama took office: obstruct everything.

•The backstory on the Takata airbag recall.

•The “Nice Guy” is the not-so-nice guy who offers kindness and friendship to get sex. A woman writes about being a similar “nice girl

•An Islamic cleric in Russia (with support of an Russian Orthodox leader) says women should all undergo female genital mutilation to keep them chaste.

•Several French municipalities have banned the burkini, an Islamic swimsuit. Katha Pollitt argues this is a bad idea.

•Congress is looking at a uniform method for states to collect online sales tax.

•A Georgia county is concerned it can’t legally block a mosque from opening so it’s passed a temporary moratorium on any faith building new houses of worship.

•Trump has been pushing the idea that white Americans are having their country stolen well before his presidential campaign.

•There’s such a glut of stolen credit-card data, hackers are now shooting for a new target, mobile banking data.

•United Airlines has updated its login protections but it may be a bad solution.

•Erik Loomis argues that North Carolina’s HB2 embodies a conservative strategy of squishing local government with state laws.

•Massachusetts teen Dave Becker raped two unconscious women. The judge gave him probation for two years so as not to ruin his life. Because the guy’s life is what’s important right?

•Secretary used to be a decent job for a woman, but like so many other fields, it’s fading away.

•Don’t blame the airline if your flight is miserable. Blame yourself for not being a team player.

•Here’s a wild idea: debt collectors must have evidence you owe the debt before they pursue you.

•Aww, the petsitter who sued a couple for their negative Yelp review lost the case.

•Samantha Field responds to the “American women have it so good, feminism is unnecessary” argument by detailing how it’s bullshit.

•Obama continues to make good use of his final year, for example by commuting sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. He’s provided clemency to more prisoners than the previous ten presidents.

•A Trumpie suggests we ban welfare recipients from voting—including women who get birth control through Obamacare. Like a lot of people he seems convinced that insurance coverage = free for the women. On the plus side, better birth control (as noted at the link) is going a long way to reducing out-of-wedlock teen births.

Leave a comment

Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

New And column out–

A Box Made of Rules,” on how society likes forcing female square pegs into round holes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Medical problems, Donald Trump and more: political links

As I mentioned in a previous linkpost, Aetna is looking to quit the Obamacare exchanges because it’s losing money. Jim Newell at Slate looks at other problems that have developed in Obamacare and how to fix them.

•Deaths from pregnancy-related complications rose 27 percent in the US between 2000 and 2014 (the rest of the world, the rate went down). In Texas, the rate doubled.

•The company that makes Epipens has increased the cost 400 percent since 2007. Why? Because they can (Consumerist profiles the CEO responsible) And insulin prices are skyrocketing too — one form has gone from $45 to $1,447 for a month’s supply. The company that makes Epipens says it’s providing discounts for some customers, and anyway the price increase is totally not their fault.

•Megan McArdle richsplains that there’s no reason to provide affordable health care, it’s just our irrational nurturing instincts that make us think these price hikes are objectionable. After all, food is more vital than medicine so why aren’t we protesting the price of food? Answer, because it’s a lot easier to switch brands or switch to something cheap without dying. That was easy!

•Health officials are questioning if moderate drinking is really good for people. The liquor industry is upset.

•Thinkprogress argues that Donald Trump is courting the white supremacist vote. Digby discusses this. One apparent Trumpite/white supremacist attacked an inter-racial couple with a knife. Shakezula looks at an article covering a white supremacist protest and the reporter’s efforts to sound neutral. But have no fear, Trump plans to reach out to minorities (by telling them their lives suck) LGM suggests that while Trump makes bigotry more mainstream, he makes it easier to condemn it.

•Lance Mannion suggests that Donald Trump has bought into the illusion he offers—that he thinks he really is a hypercompetent savvy business leader who knows what has to be done to fix America.

•Trump’s campaign may lose, but he’s making money off it.

•Pumping up the terrible threat of Russia is great for the defense industry.

•Consumerist looks at Wal-Mart’s reliance on police to substitute for on-staff security.

•The American Bar Association may get tougher on accrediting law schools by putting some teeth into one requirement, about how many graduates pass the bar exam. One school has a solution: require seniors take a sample bar exam before graduation and flunk anyone who can’t pass.

•Right-wing pundit David French warns that doctors are too accepting of transsexuals kids. “When the kids grow up” — you know, become adults — the doctors might actually authorize a sex-change operation!

•A smart lightbult is no longer smart as the manufacturer no longer supports it.  ZDnet suggests this is going to happen more and more unless manufacturers adopt common standards for the internet of things rather than proprietary systems.

•A British CPA firm sends an employee home for not wearing high heels.

•Why are there so many bank branches everywhere? Apparently customers like it.

•A recent hack exposes malware the NSA deploys on targeted computers.

•A teenage athlete finds two women asleep and puts his finger inside them. No jail time though—the judge decided rape was a harmless mistake and there’s no need to ruin the kid’s life.

•A study finds that while people are judgmental about parents leaving children alone, the judgments of whether it’s wrong depend on the parent’s reason (meeting a lover? Running an errand? Caught in an accident?) but so do judgments of whether the child’s in danger (i.e., the more “selfish” the parent, the more risk to the child).



Leave a comment

Filed under economics, Politics

Free or Not Free, and other writing and copyright topics (#SFWApro)

Ebooks cost authors time and money to publish. The Fussy Librarians site offers free ebooks as a promotion for authors, but points out that if you only read for free, that’s bad news for the writers. Shannon A. Thompson argues that nevertheless free readers are a net gain.

I’m not sure this is even a new issue. For years I lived off what I could buy in used-book stores, which accounts for some of the randomness in my collection. That changes when I have more money to spare than at the moment, but even then spend a lot on discount books—the more expensive it is, the more I want to buy used—and library books. Actual new purchases tend to be few and far between.

•A good article on the problems of writing Y/A bisexuals (hat tip Shannon A. Thompson). For example, if a character ends up with a same-sex or opposite-sex partner, readers often conclude the bi character “really” gay or straight. I’m pretty sure a lot of the issues are applicable to non-Y/A writing.

•Like women, male characters in comics often have absurdly idealized bodies (and more so than they used to—the Hulk in the early Silver Age was much more ordinary physically than he is today). But no, it’s not the same sort of sexual objectification. Hulk, for example, isn’t drawn anywhere near as sex-fantasy as She-Hulk. The link identifies Namor’s lean swimmer’s physique as the only male hero who’s really what women would consider sexy but I think Dick Grayson counts too (I’ll get into that when I review the Grayson series TPBs).

•Now that Charter has merged with Time Warner it thinks it should get some content (Fox News specifically) at Time Warner’s lower rate. Fox disagrees.

•With Matt Damon set to star in the Chinese epic The Great Wall, actor Constance Wu asks why China needs a white guy to save it.

•So the World Fantasy Con has displeased some writers this year with its programming slate: very white male-focused. Foz Meadows puts in historical context as well: Robert Aiken and Arthur Machen got a lot more programming in their anniversary years than horror writer Shirley Jackson is this year (her centennary). She also argues some of the panel descriptions seem clueless about current fantasy.

•A list of bad habits for characters.

•Rebekkah Niles on jewelry-making as a model for writing.

•In a case involving a YouTube video, the poster claims fair use of some incidental background music. Universal, which had it taken down on copyright grounds, argues it shouldn’t have to consider fair use before issuing a warning.

•Citi argues AT&T using “thanks” in a loyalty program catchphrase violates Citi’s own trademarked catchphrase.

•Capitol Records and others are suing Vimeo, charging among other things that Vimeo employees turned a blind eye to pirated material in video postings. A court has ruled that just because employees see a video, that doesn’t mean they must have realized it was pirated.

•Gawker has sold its affiliates sites to Univision in the wake of a lawsuit that broke the camel’s back. A lot of people are discomfited even if they dislike Gawker because businessman Peter Thiel (whom Gawker outed) poured millions of his own money into the lawsuit (by Hulk Hogan)—what’s to stop the same thing from happening to any media site that crosses someone with serious money? LGM points out Thiel’s list of Gawker’s sins focuses on stories involving rich people. The Atlantic looks at the issues.

•Speaking of crappy reporting, don’t tell someone you’re reporting on that their adoptive parents are not really their parents. Outing gay athletes from homophobic nations is even worse.

Leave a comment

Filed under copyright, Writing

No, Paul Krugman didn’t create Trump either

In the latest variation of the “liberals created Trump” argument, the Daily Beast’s Karol Markowicz argues that the reason voters don’t care about Trump’s flaws is that liberals such as Paul Krugman were too mean to Mitt Romney. Krugman and other pundits said Romney was unfit to be president, sexist, had a bullshit economic plan—and they keep saying things like that about lots of other Republicans! So naturally nobody took them seriously when they criticized Trump—they’d cried wolf too often.

Only I don’t see it as crying wolf. Romney was sexist, his economic plan was bullshit. The reason pundits made charges like that pre-Trump isn’t because they’re unfairly biased against Republicans, it’s because Donald Trump isn’t outside the Republican norm. He’s just a little more open embracing white male supremacy.

And of course, as Digby notes at the link, conservatives have been crying wolf for years. Endless talk about Bill Clinton murdering people, being the most corrupt administration in history (Reagan’s was actually worse). Claims that atheist secularists want to impose sharia on America. Liberals reject a fixed morality which destroys America. Feminists want to destroy families and ruined television. Obama is setting blacks to attack white people.

As proof of a double standard, Markowicz holds up Obama attending Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years — why don’t liberals find him unacceptable and crazy? Hmm, maybe because we don’t assume those sum up his view of religion? And that Wright’s preaching doesn’t equate to Obama’s views automatically? I don’t recall the mainstream media making a comparable fuss about Sarah Palin’s husband belonging to an Alaskan secessionist group, or Ted Cruz’s father calling for Christian dominion over business, government, the media (I can just see the reaction of Wright had said exactly the same thing).

And even if liberals had cried wolf about all previous Republican candidates, so? It’s not like Trump hasn’t made his sexism and bigotry clear, yet Republicans are still on his team, trying to keep their distance while agreeing with him. Or opposing Trump while voting for him. I don’t see any of them in some alternative timeline saying “Well liberals were very fair in analyzing Romney—maybe we should back off Trump.” But unlike Markowicz, even my alternate timelines ahve some tie to reality.

In other news:

•David French freaks out at National Review because modern boys don’t have the grip strength his generation did. Clearly men are becoming weaker because they don’t work on cars and don’t get bullied in school.

•Religious conservative Tony Perkins claims floods and fire are God’s wrath on homosexuals. Except his being caught in the Louisiana floods is proof God loves him.

•Can a company making web-snooping software be liable when people use it? In this case (a husband tracking his wife’s online activity) the court says possibly.

•Minnesota has charged a company called CashCall with faking tribal affiliations to get around lending regulations.

•The Justice Department has announced it will phase out its contracts with private prisons. Unfortunately women in local jails still suffer in a system designed more for men. And some prosecutors jail rape and domestic violence victims to make them testify.

•My current state of residence, North Carolina, protests that striking down its voting-prevention—er, voter ID law—could threaten similar laws everywhere! My response: good thing!

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Bret Easton Ellis has a hissy fit (plus a few other links)

So Art Tavana, a writer for LA Weekly, wrote about singer Sky Ferreira, acknowledging her talent but focusing on her sex appeal  (“When Ferreira snaps back her faux-blond hair in a music video, or does a Michael Jackson finger snap (her grandmother used to be MJ’s hair stylist), or when she takes off her big sunglasses and stares seductively into the camera, curling her candy-red lips like an English punk rocker, it never looks unnatural.”) which he discusses in much greater detail than her music. This generated some deserved flak, Teen Vogue for instance pointing that saying a woman as “pimped-out” implies she’s a prostitute.Bret Easton Ellis (the Less Than Zero author) decided he wasn’t putting up with that shit.

In a rant for the Independent he unloads on “little snowflake justice warriors” such as the Teen Vogue writer who had the temerity to criticize this “innocuous” piece: “the little snowflakes got so pissed off and were just sooo unbelievably offended by this piece, that they had to denounce it. Oh, little snowflakes, when did you all become grandmothers and society matrons, clutching your pearls in horror at someone who has an opinion about something, a way of expressing themselves that’s not the mirror image of yours, you snivelling little weak-ass narcissists? The high moral tone from social justice warriors is always out of scale with what they are indignant about. When did this hideous and probably nerve-wracking way of living begin transforming you into the authoritarian language police, with your strict set of little rules and manufactured outrage, demanding apologies from every sandwich or salad you didn’t like?” After all, what’s wrong with Tavana objectifying Ferreira? He admitted he was doing it, so that should all be hunky-dory, right?

As noted at the (not direct) link, Ellis does not seem to grasp that the definition of narcissist is not “disagrees with someone’s opinions.” Nor does he notice that he’s heavily into projection, delivering the kind of over-the-top response that he accuses Tavara’s critics of delivering, and condemning them for not being the mirror-image of his opinion. And I’m sure he doesn’t notice Teen Vogue made more sense, explaining why they took issue with the Tavara piece and not simply throwing invective at the target of their ire.

And no, admitting you’re objectifying someone does not excuse objectifying someone. I can’t think why it should. And given how often women of ability get reduced to their looks (or their status as a mother) it’s not unreasonable to object.

In other news:

•So if a creditor or debt collector wins a judgment against you, they can legally have the county sheriff auction off your assets. When one woman sued a debt collector over its practices, the company had the sheriff auction off her lawsuit as if it were an asset, bought it and then shut the lawsuit down. As noted at the link, if they win on appeal, this would be a get-out-of-jail free card for a lot of debt collectors.

•AT&T and Comcast are unsurprisingly fighting a Nashville legal change that would make it easier for Google Fiber to string cables across town.

•Aetna is dropping out of multiple Obamacare exchanges. Like a number of insurers it’s complaining there are too many sick people using the exchange, which is hurting profits. Which is, of course the paradox of insurance: they make better profits if people don’t use the service. Aetna has also said it can’t afford to stay on the exchange because the government is fighting a merger with Humana.

•Rudy Giulani wants you to know there were no Islamic terror attacks in the US before Obama. I’m sure the next time he wants to burnish his credentials as the 9/11 Mayor, he’ll switch back.

•Despite the complaints from Trump voters about trade deals and competition from immigrants, most of them haven’t suffered because of those things.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Assorted political links, none of which makes me happy

Slate reports that USA Gymnastics ignored reports of abusive coaches for years.

•Back during the Cold War, the military buried a lot of toxic waste at one Greenland site under the ice. Now global warming is releasing it.

•Jessica Valent has received rape-threat tweets against her five-year-old child. Columbia Journalism Review looks at how Twitter handles these problems.

This link about the Heritage Foundation issuing new warnings about Iran The Ultimate Threat shows how some right-wingers refuse to let go of a designated enemy. Sure, we just negotiated a deal with Iran forestalling them building nuclear weapons (which they may not have planned to do), but the deal will expire in ten years! What if they go nuclear then, huh? What if they send Hezbollah terrorist cells to attack the US!

In short deal or no deal, regardless of what Iran’s policies are, we have to take them out. If we don’t and if they do go nuclear, we might not be able to “counter and contain” them — i.e. even if they’re not a threat, we might lose our ability to push them around or even invade and that’s a Bad Thing. And they’re an oppressive theocracy, which while true, is just as true of our good friend Saudi Arabia. Nor do I think Iran destabilizes the Middle East more than we did with the Iraq invasion—but as Heritage supported that, I doubt they’ll see that as a good comparison.

•Here’s a look at some of the corporate welfare programs costing the government billions (in both payouts and tax cuts). And according to some local governments, telecoms are charging low rates to business customers by slashing fees that fund 9-1-1 systems.

•As a former journalist, I’m disturbed that we still get national election coverage dwelling on things like what Trump eats: he enjoys fast food because he’s a busy guy and it’s yes, fast!

•When Trump started his campaign last year, he ignored Republican orthodoxy on economic issues (e.g., tax breaks for the rich, deregulation, private Social Security) and talked about boosting Social Security, a hugely popular idea with Trump voters. I am not surprised that in his recent policy proposals, he’s shifted back to classic Republicanism. After all, given how devoted his base is, he may figure he has nothing to lose.

•Not disturbing but I think it’s only fair to note that Trump did not evict a mother and baby from one of his rallies.

•As slacktivist points out, the KKK apparently thinks endorsing Trump won’t hurt his campaign (“They think they’re winning.”). And the far right John Birch Society is apparently moving back into the conservative mainstream (as noted at the link, their history includes accusing Eisenhower of being a Commie agent, seeing Communism behind the civil-rights movement and that the Muslim Brotherhood is just another front for the International Communist Conspiracy).

•The new right-wing craze for requiring parents bury or cremate aborted or miscarried fetuses could cost the parents $2,000 a fetus. Of course the government’s not going to pay! But one anti-abortion group has suggested abortion doctors get the bill.

•The Justice Department finds Baltimore’s Police Department is massively rotten. To give one example, a single black man was randomly stopped 30 times in four years without any charges being filed. He’s just one of many blacks —and it’s primarily blacks — who get stopped for no other reason than being there. In one case, with a federal investigator monitoring, one officer nevertheless told another to “make something up” so they could stop a guy.

•Trump’s claim that if he loses that’s proof the election was rigged is getting serious punditry coverage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches