Monthly Archives: November 2014

Tonic Immobility and the Neurobiology of Sexual Assault

Dr. Rebecca Campbell from Michigan State University walks through the trauma to the human organism during a sexual assault – and how the body’s systems for self-preservation that usually recommend to flee or fight might simply freeze. This response is called tonic immobility where the body shuts down during the attack as stress hormones flood the bloodstream.

It is an autonomic response, meaning that it’s uncontrollable. This is not something a victim decides to do. It is a mammalian response. It is evolutionarily wired into us to protect the survival of the organism. Because sometimes the safest thing to do to protect the safety is to fight back. Sometimes the safest thing to do is to flee. Sometimes the stupidest thing to do is to flee because it will incite chase. Therefore, our bodies have been wired for a freeze response too — to play dead, to look dead, because that may be the safest thing for the survival of the organism. So it is a mammalian response that is in all of us — we can’t control it. And it happens in extremely fearful situations.

Watch Dr. Campbell’s arrowing and fascinating presentation and how law enforcement can be trained to recognize the condition when investigating an assault and how to assist the victim in recall and memory consolidation. (via Metafilter)

Reagan Signs the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

Dan Rather reports:

Reagan’s statement

“We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.”

Image of Reagan signing the bill from

How to Explain Net Neutrality to a Politician

Just tell Ted Cruz: “What if a telecom decided to slow down traffic to the sites of conservative politicans and give priority to sites of your liberal competitiors? They’d make your constituents pay more to get access to your website but not for the dirty abortion-eating union-loving gay-licking brown-people-coddling liberals! How is that fair?!” You have to think of how they’ll be personally affected.

Image from Newsbusters comparing Cruz do America’s sweetheart Joe McCarthy.

Simple Explanation of the 2008 Financial Collapse

From a Reddit thread about student debt comes a pretty easy to follow explanation of the 2008 financial collapse:

“The financial crisis wasn’t just ‘a bubble bursting.’ It’s far more complicated than that. Housing prices collapsed, that’s true, and while it certainly exacerbated the crisis, it was far from the only issue.

“Mortgage loans were packaged into securities and sold to investors, including banks. The idea was that one lender may fail to pay back his loan, but if we throw 50 mortgage loans together chances were presumed to be very likely that 40+ or 45+ of those loaners would pay the loan back, making it seem like a sound, safe investment.

“But since the demand for these securities (CDOs) was so high, this in turn meant that lenders would become less stringent on who they would lend money to, since they cared less about being paid back the loan and more about repackaging it and selling it as a security.

“Now when these two issues come together, the housing bubble collapsing driving property prices way down (so that people who had recently purchased real estate got royally screwed), and the fact that everyone and their mother was getting a mortgage loan, you can see see that it presumably wouldn’t be the case anymore that we should expect 40 or 45 of those 50 mortgage loans to be paid back.

“But the rating agencies like S&P, Fitch, etc. didn’t see it that way. So they would slap their triple-A rating on these subprime securities, incentivizing investors (including banks) to keep buying them.

“As you can see, all these issues – the housing bubble, the securities, the lower standards for giving out mortgage loans, the poor underwriting of the rating agencies – they were all interconnected, and they all exacerbated each other. Without any one of those issues, we wouldn’t have had a financial crisis; or at least one as significant and dramatic.”

Full thread

Image from this Guardian article

Why Hitler Was Worse Than Stalin

From another Reddit discussion:

“What would each leader have done, had they the unfettered means to do so? Stalin would have liked to simply rule unopposed. His actions were about the elimination of opposition to engender dominance and power over a homogeneous populus by any means necessary, and without targeting specific groups for persecution (arguably). Partly this was a deterrent; one the one hand, to prevent his people from opposing him, and on the other hand, to terrify other nations, by showing them how savagely he treated his own, and therefore inviting them to imagine how he’d treat his enemies. It was political, not racial.

“In the case of Hitler, it wasn’t a matter of opposition. While political dissidents didn’t have it easy, the major proportion of deaths were fuelled by the belief that Aryans were innately, inherently better than all the others, and that legitimised the systematic persecution, oppression torture and eventual destruction of others, be they handicapped, the gypsies, LGBT, or Jews. Therefore, had he had his druthers, it all would have ended with this world being utterly wiped clean of those people he regarded as “racial chaff”, irrespective of whether or not anyone opposed him. It was the calculated removal of an entire ethnic group or race, otherwise known as genocide. And while mass murder is obviously heinous and evil, there is something far more grievous and disgusting about attempting to obliterate an entire group of people purely because you think you’re better than all of them because blue eyes and blonde hair, and despite the fact that Jesse Owens ran faster than all your Aryan athletes at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

“Also, while Stalin killed lots of people, Hitler killed about 2/3 of the Jews living in Europe . And considering he never had a chance to obliterate the English Jewry, that’s an incredibly effective genocide of the Continental European Jewry.

“So, why do we react so badly to one and not the other? Because in order to decide to kill every Jew in Europe, or enslave every African in the US, you need to deny their humanity. You need to, somewhere in your mind, decide they are animals, vermin, insects, and that you have a right to treat them this way. Political murder is a means to an end, which is evil, but does not imply the same perversion of humanity. Whereas genocide is rooted in a fundamentally morally sick and evil belief that some imagined narrative actually gives you the right to obliterate others en masse, and is not the means, but the end.”

Full thread

Image from