Priorities and Practicality


Detail of 'Relativity' by M.C. Escher, 1953.

Paula M. Fitzgibbons explains:

It’s possible my daughter’s condition is unavoidable—that she was born with a fear of death imprinted on her genes. There is plenty of precedent in my family, with an unbroken line of anxiety-ridden women stretching back to my great-great grandmother, who made a harrowing journey from Ireland to the United States. Researchers do believe there’s a genetic component to anxiety, but for a time, I believed my daughter was additionally cursed by epigenetics, or the idea that our experiences can write themselves into our children’s DNA. I’ve since abandoned the idea—the science of epigenetics is still sketchy, and I don’t have the time or mental energy to devote to an unproven concept when our problem is more immediate. My daughter’s anxiety is interrupting her daily life and nightly sleep.”

It seems almost petty to point out, but given the stakes I think it very important to acknowledge we witness, in this passage, the temptation of pseudoscience, and the practical gravity drawing one away from such shiny and dangerous notions. While the epigenetics of fear are, indeed, mind-boggling, the point is that virtually nothing about the concept is sound, yet. Or, as Lisa Simpson once said, “You don’t control the birds. You will, someday, but not now.” That mice verge on the Lamarckian when conditioned in a context of mortal fear and the torture to inspire it is a far cry from what’s going on with human beings; and while it’s true I haven’t followed this question so closely over the last few years, it’s also one of those subjects we would have heard something about if someone achieved any sort of definitive answer about anything. There are myriad reasons to be tempted by epigenetics in these aspects, but behavioral epigenetics does not at this time a sound science make.

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Fitzgibbons, Paula M. “Watching My Daughter Develop the Same Anxiety I Struggle With”. The Cut. 12 September 2017.

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Live Through This


¡Freak Flag Fly!

#FightWinLoveLive:

Question Are state same-sex marriage policies associated with a reduction in adolescent suicide attempts?

Findings This difference-in-differences analysis of representative data from 47 states found that same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7% reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year. The effect was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities.

Meaning Same-sex marriage policies are associated with reduced adolescent suicide attempts.

(Raifman, et al.)

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It’s True, I Really Don’t Get It


Certain little software issues arise along the way, and it’s true, I just don’t understand why. Like one day, caption data starts disappearing from the image files I’m making with GIMP. I finally figured out the problem by reading a fifteen year-old bug report on exif data that was allegedly resolved way back when. And now it’s apparently not a bug; this is the way it goes now. But it was strange, because the problem showed up only occasionally, at first, and then one day just was. And there was no ongoing update. It was squar’ in’tween updates.

Did my update notifier just break my system? I don’t think so, but it is also true there was an update waiting when I checked. (It’s a joke about my particular Linux flavor and spice: If stuff starts acting weird and slowing down, check the update manager; once it has an update to give you, it really wants to take care of the thing, but for whatever reason the only way it lets you know is by slowing everything down.) It is true I like to blame APIs in the age of HTML 5; as a blogger, it seems everything started going to hell around the same time every website got their new bells and whistles and all the end users got out of it was a bunch of lousy pop-ups, drop-downs, and overlays.

But this is really quite simple: I have not been hallucinating my find & replace method for the last five years. Longer? Hell, I don’t remember. But you cannot convince me I have been dreaming this bit where I can highlight text, hit a key combination, and have my text replace interface waiting to replace the highlighted text.

I was actually ahead of schedule when Gedit broke. It’s just a lot of stuff to highlight and replace by hand. So much for the schedule; I should probably get back to replacing.

But, yeah. The moral of the story: Never set goals.

No, really, I was going to finish all of a few minutes early, and now I’m over a couple hours behind and pretty much finished for the night.

Because I somehow managed to break Gedit.

Honestly: How the fuck do you break Gedit?

This Post Has No Title, Because You Don’t Deserve One


Ergo Proxy: WombSys

It would be very helpful if the conversations I have in everyday life would please start making sense. Honestly, I wouldn’t know where to begin, except to say it’s a very, very disappointing experience.

Dissonant Id


Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 3, 'Pulp Addiction'.

Nothing cancels the noise like parasympathetic hyperfocus.

It is easy enough to say Freud was wrong, but something goes here about what the behavior means in a more basic and, perhaps, less specifically human context.

Nor could I prove it.

Still, though, there is necessarily a reason why nothing cancels the noise like parasympathetic hyperfocus.

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Image note: Don’t ask ― Detail of frame from Panty & Stocking w/Garterbelt, episode 3, “Pulp Addiction”.

Stupid Questions Derive From Stupid Circumstances


So, right. To the one, this is a no-brainer. To the other, I have heard the question three times today, so it seems worthwhile to pass it along: What the hell happened last night?

The backstory is that when I awoke this morning, clocks were ninety-seven minutes off. This did not become apparent to me until the inaccuracy in the clocks was explained as, oh, right, the time changed last night.

Daylight to standard. Easy enough.

Yet I still have not figured out why every clock on the second floor of my home is not sixty minutes off, but ninety-seven minutes, instead.

Just one of those mysteries.

No, seriously. My housemate cannot have screwed up the time on every non-networked clock on the middle floor of the house by exactly the same thirty-seven minutes. Right?

Ah! The Universe.

Can He Get a Witness?


Infinite nothingThe things we learn by watching. And sometimes all anyone needs is a witness.

Observations over the weekend:

(1) Adults talking about eating. One says he’s not hungry. The other tells him no, and proceeds to explain what he will eat and when.

(2) Someone announces his mobile phone is missing. The response is to remind him who he needs to call.

(3) A depressive explains a symptom of his malady; certain events can cause something very much akin to physical pain inside his skull—the signal to noise ratio is impossible. His own mother laughs.

What a world. What a world.

Yeah, I saw that. I heard that. And there is no fourth-frame smile. The punch line is sick.