Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ignoring The Shy Nerdy Girls

From Male Nerds Think They’re Victims Because They Have No Clue What Female Nerds Go Through:

“Science is a way that shy, nerdy men pull themselves out of the horror of their teenage years. That is true. That is so. But shy, nerdy women have to try to pull themselves out of that same horror into a world that hates, fears and resents them because they are women, and to a certain otherwise very intelligent sub-set of nerdy men, the category “woman” is defined primarily as “person who might or might not deny me sex, love and affection.”

“(And you ask me, where were those girls when you were growing up? And I answer: we were terrified, just like you, and ashamed, just like you, and waiting for someone to take pity on our lonely abject pubescence, hungry to be touched. But you did not see us there. We were told repeatedly, we ugly, shy nerdy girls, that we were not even worthy of the category “woman.” It wasn’t just that we were too shy to approach anyone, although we were; it was that we knew if we did we’d be called crazy. And if we actually got the sex we craved? (because some boys who were too proud to be seen with us in public were happy to fuck us in private and brag about it later) … then we would be sluts, even more pitiable and abject. Aaronson was taught to fear being a creep and an objectifier if he asked; I was taught to fear being a whore or a loser if I answered, never mind asked myself. Sex isn’t an achievement for a young girl. It’s something we’re supposed to embody so other people can consume us, and if we fail at that, what are we even for?)

Full article http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120653/nerd-entitlement-lets-men-ignore-racism-and-sexism

Quote referenced here.

 

The Problem With the Laffer Curve

The Laffer Curve – the idea that by lowering taxes on the rich they’ll suddenly make tons of jobs instead of hoarding wealth instead of realizing that primarily middle-class consumers drive demand, employment and GDP – has been a disaster for decades now. Commenter on Metafilter:

“The biggest problem with the Laffer Curve is that it singularly focused people’s attention on taxes as a way to raise revenue. It completely diverted people away from the concept of taxes to shape the economy.

The top tax rate in 1960 was 92%. No sane person would pay 92 cents of a dollar earned to the government. Instead of the 92% rate raising revenue, it served to channel income in the economy away from the wealthiest individuals and toward workers. It served as a way to take the harsh, ruthless edge off of capitalism.

The result was more employment – if you had to choose between taking $1 in profit but paying 92 cents to the government, or hiring a window washer for your home office, you would take clean windows over the 8 cents in your pocket. Or maybe you would hire a guy to do research and development. Or maybe you would have a groundskeeper picking up trash.

And maybe, just maybe, when the opportunity arose to close your factory and send the work to Mexico to earn another $1 million per year, you would say “but I would actually only pocket $80,000 of that money, so it is not worth it”.

Laffer caused us to forget about that. Sure, it is common sense that you can raise more revenue with a 22% tax than a 92% tax – but taxes aren’t only about raising revenue.

Full discussion http://www.metafilter.com/145670/Laffers-Napkin#5871315

Image from Huffington Post.

Economy Under Obama Outperforms Gingrich, Romney, and Pawlenty’s Promises

From Maddow Blog:

  1. “The Romney Standard: Mitt Romney said during the 2012 campaign that if Americans elect him, he’d get the unemployment rate down to 6% by 2016. Obama won anyway and the unemployment rate dropped below 6% two years faster.
  2. The Gingrich Standard: Newt Gingrich said during the 2012 campaign that if Americans re-elected the president, gas prices would reach $10 per gallon, while Gingrich would push gas down to $2.50 a gallon. As of this morning, the national average at the pump is a little under $2.38.
  3. The Pawlenty Standard: Tim Pawlenty said trillions of dollars in tax breaks would boost economic growth to 5% GDP. Obama actually raised taxes on the wealthy and GDP growth reached 5% anyway.

Full story http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/meeting-the-tim-pawlenty-standard

Image from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51851.html

Why Gandalf Didn’t Just Use the Eagles

One of the presumed plotholes in Lord of the Rings is after all is said and done giant eagles come to Mordor to rescue Frodo and Samwise at Gandalf’s request. If Gandalf could command eagles, why didn’t he just use them to fly the Ring to Mordor from the very beginning? A theory from Reddit:

“When [he]Gandalf escapes on the eagle he doesn’t go directly to Rivendell to meet the hobbits, he first goes to meet the eagles… Gandalf and the eagles discus the plan for the eagles to take Frodo and the ring to Mordor and the eagles agree to do it, even though it could be dangerous for them because of the nine dragons the Nazgûl ride – the only things in Saurons defences that could stand in the eagles way…. Gandalf and the eagles agree that the plan should be kept very secret.

Being closest to the eagles the High pass would have been ideal for Gandalfs plan, but he decided against it because it was the obvious route …

The next most northern pass is what Gandalf settled for, even though it’s a very dangerous pass and even though it would mean a long journey north to meet the eagles, it is still the safest route for his plan to remain secret and that is all that’s important to him now. Keeping his plan secret was the main reason for him choosing the Redhorn pass. But Saruman was watching here too and sent storms to stop them. The Gap of Rohan would take them far too close to Isengard, and more importantly too far south. Which was no good for the plan as they’d have to travel the whole length of the Misty Mountains up the eastern side to meet the eagles. So the Gap wasn’t an option for Gandalf and the only way left was Moria. Which he didn’t like at all and we see he’s very reluctant. We think it’s only because of the Balrog but it’s also because of the risk of goblins and orcs seeing them go north on the eastern side (like the High pass) and because it was further south than he’d planned for which meant it would take longer to reach the eagles.

They almost get through Moria but Gandalf ends up fighting the Balrog and falling down the chasm. When he’s about to fall he realises he has to tell them the eagle plan quickly before he falls, and in a way that any nearby orcs and golbins won’t understand. He says ”Fly, you fools” hoping at least one of the fellowship understands what he really means… but they don’t. He falls and fights the Balrog.

Meanwhile the fellowship escapes Moria and carries on with the only plan they’ve known – get the ring to Mordor.Gandalf the Grey dies in the battle against the Balrog, but he comes back later as Gandalf the White. When he comes back he has forgotten a lot of things about his previous life. Even his own name, until he’s reminded of it when Aragorn calls him Gandalf. And he even forgot his plan to meet the eagles.

At the end when he needs to get Frodo and Sam away from the erupting Mount Doom he knows only one way to do it – calling the eagles to fly them out of there. This is when he remembers the plan, calling the eagles reminds him of it in the same way Aragorn calling him Gandalf reminded him of his name. But by this time the ring is destroyed and the plan is redundant.

TL;DR (I don’t blame you) Gandalf secretly planned on taking the fellowship to where the eagles live and having the eagles fly them to Mordor. The eagles lived on the other side of the Misty Mountains but all the routes for crossing them were too dangerous and difficult, and Gandalf (along with his secret plan) ends up falling down a chasm in a battle with the Balrog. Just before falling with the Balrog he tries to surreptitiously tell them the secret plan but was too surreptitious and they didn’t understand. When he came back as Gandalf the White he had forgotten many things, including the plan to meet the eagles.”

Full details http://www.reddit.com/r/FanTheories/comments/130it2/lord_of_the_rings_a_theory_about_the_eagle_plot/

How ‘The Interview’ Plays Right Into Kim Jong-un’s Strategy

A Korean redditor writes:

“What makes me angry is that by mocking North Korea, the mockers are reinforcing the DPRK’s state propaganda. If you think the North Korean government is stupid or you see them as toothless cartoon villains, then you’ve already been indoctrinated by them.

“A large part of why North Korea endures is because they’ve carefully engineered how they want to appear to the West. Horrific things are happening there right now. Some of my friends have been sent to juvenile concentration camps where kids were beaten and raped by the guards. Camps where kids had their feet cut off for attempting to escape. Friends who saw a fresh corpse on the street every day they walked home from school, left to starve to death on the sidewalk because of the Great Famine. Friends who were forced to eat bark to survive, friends who witnessed cannibalism.

“There is so much information out there about how horrible and dangerous North Korea is but the international community doesn’t receive pressure from their constituents to do anything about it because everyone views North Korea as a joke. That is a very intentional, calculated move by the DPRK government. They are fully aware of how ridiculous and empty their threats sound. Those statements are nothing but propaganda fed to the West. …

“They know they can’t possibly withstand a military invasion from a first world power, but at the same time, they can’t risk a policy of close contact because it would compromise the internal propaganda they minister to their citizens.

“So they make ridiculous threats they can’t possibly carry out. They get angry about comedy movies. They play the role of the tiny man with a huge chip on his shoulder, and the international community responds accordingly. The unspeakable atrocities North Korea is committing against its citizens is overshadowed by the global public perceiving North Korea as a cartoon villain.  …

“Any discussions about the concentration camps or human rights abuses are completely drowned out by stupid memes, stupid memes which exist because North Korea presented itself as an evil empire out of a sci-fi book and the West ate it up. North Korea is already associated with vapid memes in the eyes of young westerners.

So the fact that the world is congratulating itself for being so witty and edgy for mocking North Korea is what made me angry this week. I’ve seen more outrage against North Korea for bullying Sony into pulling this movie than I have when the UN released its report on North Korean concentration camps.

“If the world was able to see North Korea soberly as the most brutal dictatorship in the world, it wouldn’t be such a pain in the ass convincing people to get involved. That’s harder to do now that everyone is lapping up the DPRK’s Kool Aid without realizing.”

Full comment and discussion http://np.reddit.com/r/asianamerican/comments/2q4ofq/sony_the_interview_whats_your_take/cn2x3j7

Image from this Reuters article.

Blink 182’s Enduring Appeal

Explaining the success of Blink 182:

“I started listening to blink around 1997. I still will play a blink album in my car every month or so. And I’ve tried for years to figure out what makes them so great, but it’s hard to do. People might say oh they were funny, or oh they mixed music and lifestyle, which is true, but they were more than that. Besides Travis barker’s drumming, they aren’t very good musicians from a technical standpoint. Tom’s voice irritates many people. And their type of jokes they say seem so jr high school….BUT…if I had to break it down I would have to say it’s their spirit.

What they captured in the late nineties (and continue to do) was what many suburban youth were feeling: that they didn’t belong. No direction. No chance with keeping a relationship. No ability to keep friends forever. No stable parents to look up to. No hope. And something about having them hit all of these major themes so well lyrically, and melodically, just gave us something to grab on to and cheer on. For once, blink got kids with no direction excited about life.

And when you go back and revisit these albums, they still take you back to that earlier time in your life and make you appreciate what they were and what they represented. In many ways Blink is therapy. They’re the best friends you never had, that you could always rely on. Their the champions of the sport-less. The parents of the latchkey. The older sibling who had been there, done that. And as you get older, you might put them away for a while, you might go to college, get a job, get married, and you finally listen after years and then you realize listening to blink doesn’t change. You feel the same way now about it as you did when you first heard them. They embody eternal youth. So grab some albums and dive on in buddy.”

Full thread http://reddit.com/r/Music/comments/2qeo24/blink_182_adams_song_90s_alt/cn5nurz

If Gandalf Had Taken The Ring

A commenter on Reddit plays out the scenario if Gandalf kept the ring:

“Gandalf would be more like Mao, I think. He comes onto the scene as a conquering hero, overthrowing the Shadow in the East and promising a return to peace and prosperity. For a time, it works. He sets about showing the world how to order itself without the threat of a Dark Lord to rule it. A cult of personality springs up, and Gandalf is worshiped as the great savior of Middle-earth. His wisdom spreads throughout the land in the form of a Red Book, composed by his closest friends, the Halflings. He continues to go by names others have created for him, a sign of his humility, and so he is known still as Mithrandir, or Gandalf, or Incanus, or Tharkun.

“He finds the task difficult. Early on, he sticks to the restrictions of the Istari, trying to lead by example and persuasion, rather than by force or command. But over time, the ordering of his great realm, stretching from the Tower Hills to Harad, proves too much. Shadowfax grows lean and rebellious as Gandalf rides him too hard, for too long, responding to small crises all over the continent. Wherever Gandalf turns his attention, though, things prosper. Projects are streamlined, the poor are fed, fields are planted and harvested to unheard-of bounty.

“But he cannot be everywhere at once. After a time, Gandalf convinces several of the Fellowship to go to different parts of the continent, to rule there in his name. After all, they knew him best, and can carry the wisdom he has to the furthest reaches. He sends with each of them a palantir. It grieves him to separate old friends like Frodo and Sam, and they feel totally under-prepared for the tasks before them, but with Gandalf a mere palantir-communion away, they go. And after all, how can they deny Gandalf? Just being in his presence, they feel compelled to follow his requests. They are, after all, perfectly reasonable ideas, and only the Fellowship can be trusted to implement them.”

Read the rest http://np.reddit.com/r/tolkienfans/comments/2qgw03/was_gandalf_able_to_be_corrupted_by_the_ring_if/cn657zi

Shonda Rhimes on the Glass Ceiling

Influential executive producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder) receives the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award and gives an incredibly moving speech. Full transcript on Medium.

“Woman after woman. Each one running and each one crashing. And everyone falling. How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?”

Full article (and where I got the image from) Shonda Rhimes at THR’s Power Women Event: “I Haven’t Broken Through Any Glass Ceilings”

30 Disgusting Facts from the CIA Torture Report

From The Guardian:

Justification was fake:

The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

CIA blocked DoJ:

The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

CIA blocked Congress:

The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

CIA blocked the White House:

The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

It disrupted national security overall:

The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

CIA blocked their Office of Inspector General:

The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.

They didn’t even care if it worked:

The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

They stopped others from finding out that it wasn’t working:

The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

It fucked things up for the next several decades:

The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs

From Salon:

It didn’t work:

Of 20 reported “counterterrorism successes” cited by agency officials who claimed that the use of torture was essential to thwarting terror plots. In some of the cases, the report states, there was “no relationship” between the counterterrorism success and the use of torture.

Sleep deprivation for over a week:

CIA facilities would be deprived of sleep for days on end — in some cases for up to 180 hours.

9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times:

The waterboardings eventually turned into “a series of near drownings. .Abu Zubaydah, the CIA’s first detainee, also underwent waterboarding, once to the point that he became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.”

Rectal hydration and feeding:

Agency interrogators forced at least five detainees to undergo “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” even in the absence of any “documented medical necessity,”

Detainees familes were threatened:

CIA interrogators threatened to harm detainees’ families — including threats to harm a detainee’s children, to commit sexual violence against a detainee’s mother, and to slit a detainee’s mother’s throat.

CIA lied about how many in the detainee population:

Even though the agency publicly maintained that it held 98 prisoners, CIA records indicated that 119 detainees were in its custody.

Detainees forced to stand on broken legs:

Detainees who had sustained either broken legs or feet were made to stand in stress positions, the committee found.

From a Think Progress rundown:

Torture didn’t help get Bin Laden:

Torture did not lead the CIA to the courier who ultimately helped capture Osama bin Laden.

CIA staff objected to torture, leadership told them to keep going:

CIA personnel objected to torture techniques, but were “instructed” by the CIA headquarters to continue. Several on the team profoundly affected.. .some to the point of tears and choking up.

Two psychologists made $81 million justifying torture:

CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009

They hid it from Colin Powell:

“At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defense – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on program specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that “… the WH [White House] is extremely concerned [Secretary] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”

CIA didn’t punish an officer that killed a detainee:

In one instance, involving the death of a CIA detainee at COBALT, CIA Headquarters decided not to take disciplinary action against an officer involved because, at the time, CIA… In another instance related to a wrongful detention, no action was taken against a CIA officer

We tortured innocent people:

Of the 119 known detainees that were in CIA custody during the life of the program, at least 26 were wrongfully held.

The CIA inflicted propaganda on the public to guide opinion and stop criticism:

The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism.

They dismissed information that later turned out to be true because it wasn’t obtained through torture:

KSM’s reporting during his first day in CIA custody included an accurate description of a Pakistani/British operative, which was dismissed as having been provided during the initial “‘throwaway’ stage” of information collection when the CIA believed detainees provided false or worthless information.’”

Torture techniques included mock burials and the use of insects:

“(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.” [Page 32]

Contractors had previously been involved in sexual assault:

Group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.

Russian roulette:

“Among other abuses…had engaged in ‘Russian Roulette’ with a detainee.” [Page 424]

CIA tortured their own informants by accident:

After both detainees had spent approximately 24 hours shackled in the standing sleep deprivation position, CIA Headquarters confirmed that the detainees were former CIA sources.

We had a dungeon:

 CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a “dungeon.”

It cost a lot:

CIA records indicate that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program cost well over $300 million in non-personnel costs.