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

Millennials Will Become Their Parents, Too

From Reddit:

“Yeah, you don’t read tabloids but you check out TMZ and Buzzfeed articles, or juicy gossip about celebrities on reddit.

“You don’t listen to talk radio but you listen to podcasts.

“You don’t write a newsletter or a “zine” but you’ve got a blog.

“You don’t watch cheesy TV shows like Dynasty, Hawaii five o, or V and you didn’t fall for the remakes, no you watch edgy shit like the walking dead, homeland, game of thrones and breaking bad.

“Of course you’re not going to clip coupons, but that trendy breakfast place has a groupon this week.

“No you don’t order stupid shit off TV or from magazine ads, you order subscription boxes or stuff off amazon that you heard about on a podcast or reddit.

“You don’t fall for fad diets or fitness trends, slim fast shakes, hanging upside down, exerciser belts, trampolines, low fat diets, Atkins, buns of steel, aspartame, ha! But you switched from sugar to stevia, you lost like 15 pounds on Keto, but you switched to the slow carb diet because it made a lot more sense, but it was sort of hard so now you’re pretty much just doing paleo with a cheat day once a week (still waiting for your soylent order) but it’s okay because you’re doing kettle bells on your vibration plate and running a lot since you got your open toed shoes, not to mention your bosu ball and battle ropes.

“Groovy? More like epic.

“You’re too smart for pyramid schemes and Amway and don’t give a shit about tupperware or mary kay parties, but you did just fund a couple awesome kickstarters, one for potato salad, another for some metal beans that keep your coffee hot and one for a phone that looks like it’d be cool if somebody built it and you now realize the campaign was to raise awareness so somebody would build it someday, hopefully (do I still get one if google bought the idea?).
Those old photos of your mom with feathered bangs and crimped hair are hilarious, unlike the super cool shaved patch on the side of your head.

“Chia pets? Dancing cans? Singing fish? Pet rocks? Please. Oh by the way your dancing groot, useless box, mine craft torch lamp and usb portal turret just arrived.

“Who actually writes letters to the editor? Who actually writes a response to somebody who wrote a letter to the editor? But seriously most of the comments in this thread are wrong if not downright hilarious and here’s why…  We all become our parents one way or another, even if you become the exact opposite you just become the yin to their yang.”

Full discussion

Infographic from

How The Civil Rights Act Shaped Modern American Politics

From a discussion on Metafilter:

“The Northern Democrat + Dixiecrat coalition was an incredibly strange one, brought on by really one fact — it was a Republican President and a Republican Congress that prosecuted and won the US Civil War, so there was *no way in hell* a southerner would be Republican. So, they were Democrats, and thus were in an uneasy but stable coalition with the Northern Democrats. Meanwhile, the GOP was run basically by NE republicans, who were conservative, but nothing like today.

“What changed? The Civil Rights Act. …

“Thus began the great mix mastering of the two parties. BOTH parties split. The GOP split SW/NE, the Democrats split S/N. The Dixiecrats, after going alone, ended up joining the SW GOP, what was left of the NE GOP slowly moved into the Democratic sphere or faded away….

“By the time Reagan came along (in national terms) the realignment was all but done. There were quite a few Southern Dems still left, but they were GOP in all but name and most of them switched parties after the 1980 election.

“Seriously. There Civil Rights era defines our politics and our lives today. The rise of suburbia is not just because of the highways being built, it was a direct reaction to the riots that happened in cities during this era, the most prominent being the 1967 Detroit Riot. The reason that even dramatically conservative black populations strongly vote Democrat is they remember who the GOP — the Dixiecrats of 1950.

“No other factor since WWII affects us more. The hatred of government? Between forced integration and busing of children to balance schools, the idea that the government wasn’t actually here to help you got set into everyone minds. The lack of school funding? People with money (primarily white) pulled their kids out of the now integrated schools, put them in private schools, then voted to cut school spending massively because they weren’t sending their kids to public schools. Reagan only tapped this with the “welfare queen” schtick he pulled. Ripping out neighborhoods for highways? Needed those to get to work if you didn’t want to live with “those people.”

“Fundamentally, the US is what it is because of racism, and the GOP is what it is because they’re all for making sure that non-whites get nothing from government.”

Full discussion

The Democratic Party’s Fatal Flaw

From Mark Morford (who I think I’ve been reading for over a decade):

“Can you pity, for a moment, the poor Democratic party? For the horribly ironic bind it finds itself in, over and over again?

See, the party’s most fatal flaw is also its most appealing trait: It lacks the murderous cruelty and savage bloodlust of the Republicans.

“Whereas the GOP has zero qualms about flinging outright lies (birthers, science deniers, creationists, et al) to get what it wants, not to mention an ever-present air of racism, sexism and a dark mistrust/hatred of everyone from Muslims to the entire African continent, Dems have no such arsenal, and no skill to use it if they did.

“Republicans will say and do anything to win, and are utterly ruthless about how they go about it; enacting a smart, fair policy agenda is almost nowhere on their priority list. Dems are the exact opposite: terrific agenda, lots of policy, but morally unwilling to play dirty, to murder their own grandmother in cold blood and blame it on the GOP, to make it go.

“So then, consensus: Extremism and odium won; intelligence and compromise lost.”

Full post