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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 Almost Seems Deliberate


MEMORANDUM

To: YouTube

re: Really? I thought this part was obvious

So … you know that little thing you have where we click for the option to say we don’t want you promoting this or that kind of video? Why does it not work? No, really, when I tell you to not show me this, don’t turn around and promote the same damn video again.

Incongruity and the Moment


Bloom County, by Berke Breathed. (n.d.)

The weather report for the next couple days is hardly catastrophic, but neither is it pleasant, and that in turn brings to mind talk of blustery, wet, generally unpleasant winter expected to be, overall, too mild to build significant snowpack in the Cascades, and while it is easy enough to hope such chatter is, well, merely chatter, it is also rather quite tempting to mutter something about, Damn it, Nature! stop wasting water like that!

Except, you know, we’re the human species, so the next thought to mind is also pretty obvious: Oh, right.

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Image note: I’m pretty sure I was playing around with the photocopy filter in GIMP. Never mind. It’s Bloom County, by the one and only Berke Breathed, and I’ve a date of 26 March 1982 for this particular episode.

e-Commerce


MEMORANDUM

To: Amazon.com

re: Communication breakdown

This is pretty straightforward: Once upon a time I ordered something from Amazon. The seller sent the item. The item arrived. All is good in the world. Right?

Okay, so, big deal, right? But it’s a few months later and this order still registers as shipped, but not delivered. Here’s the good news: It was delivered. All is good in the world. Right?

It seemed worth telling the seller. Indeed, I know what happened. At the end of the day, the product was delivered on time by a guy driving a twenty year old Ford Taurus, bearing credentials from a courier I hadn’t encountered before. Big deal, right? The item I ordered is here: It is the right product; it is undamaged; it is on time; I am satisfied. All is good in the world. Right?

All I want to do is communicate directly with the seller, to advise them to close the book on this one. What I do not understand is why that is so difficult. I’m sorry, but what I need to tell them does not fit any of your pre-selected suggestions. You do not have an easily identified pathway to allow this communication.

So, you know. Whatever. Maybe the only way to let the seller know is to explain in a bad review. It seems a lot easier to simply drop a line to say, “Hey, by the way, I got this; you can log it as delivered.”

But that’s just not the Amazon way, is it?

No, really. The product purchased arrived on time and in good condition. For the sake of a bureaucratic omission somewhere in the chain of custody, this is not logged in the Amazon delivery record. I would like to advise the seller that this is taken care of, but there are far too many hoops to jump through just to find out I’m in the wrong place. It’s actually quite astounding what effort you have put into making certain nobody can actually communicate with anybody else.

Look, whenever I grumble about Amazon, someone I know reminds that the company is constantly rated for the highest customer satisfaction in this or that exactly meaningless survey. Those surveys would probably count more if they were capable of accounting for this kind of dissatisfaction: Amazon is so hostile to consumers that we cannot even help satisfactory sellers make certain their book is up to date.

For whatever reason, we seem to take this out on politicians. Go figure.

Is This Thing On, and Why Would You Care?


Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate who also happens to be a skeleton with an afro. (Detail of frame from 'Shonen Jump One Piece'.)

It occurs to wonder what actually happens when the written word is dismissed from duty and argumentation is carried out via social media with links to other people’s YouTube rants.

No, really, I just don’t get that bit about how someone wants their voice to be heard so they send you a link to an hour-long YouTube rant. Honestly, they’re like really unskilled salesmen; getting you to sit through an hour of their favorite bigot is the point. Seriously; they know they’re not going to convince you. They just want to demand that you waste a bunch of your time in order that they might feel special, and then despise you for accommodating.

Sometimes it feels stupid to post these notes, but then we might recall the godawful narration explaining poker to a James Bond audience; and something goes here about the simpleminded moralist explanations in Hunter x Hunter mixed in with the sexual molestation scene and the nostalgic bit with the guy standing there in the middle of an emergency sniffing the scent of a woman from his fingers.

No, seriously, at first it’s a combination of Dragonball and Boobah―(“Look what I can do!”)―with infantile moral lessons describing character motivations, and then ....

Which actually might prove useful, for once. Perhaps the proper response to, “Here is a long-assed video in lieu of me actually doing any work to post a proper argument,” would be to simply post episodes of Hunter x Hunter and One Piece, the latter of which actually has the courage to denounce sexual harassment by its name.

If It’s Tuesday I Must Be Whining


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Microcosmic: As Rachel Maddow asks Michael Beschloss his opinion on campaign norms―e.g., releasing tax returns―it occurs to me that we are quite possibly witnessing a microiteration of a problematic thumbnail sketch: If achieved, then change standard.

As Maddow asked, what about the future? And that would approximately make sense: Hillary Clinton is about to be elected president of the United States of America. We’ve already decided that everything else in her career is just that much more volatile and alarming and inappropriate than any man who came before her, repeatedly suggesting with each iteration that we will, in fact, attempt to change the rules in order to forestall certain outcomes.

For instance, who remembers the One-Drop Rule? Was there nothing incongruous or untoward about the proposition that we finally laid the One-Drop Rule to rest when Barack Obama was elected? Okay, that’s not fair; we lynched the One-Drop Rule and then put the corpse in whiteface: If Barack Obama is one-drop white, we haven’t yet elected our first black president.

Remind me all you want that it didn’t work; I’ll just shrug and wonder why we bothered trying.

Still, though, if we call off the customary tax return release? It’s easy enough to expect the ritual to survive Donald Trump, but we’ve seen this happen before. No, really, did you know that politicians were never supposed to get paid for public speaking when they weren’t in office? Apparently this has always been the rule, and Hillary Clinton just wasn’t smart enough to know. And since her predecessors didn’t really use the private email systems that they actually did, Secretary Clinton should have known that behaving like her predecessors was forbidden; I mean, it’s not like we suddenly invented this standard that what she did was unacceptable out of thin air just because she’s Hillary freakin’ Clinton, right? It’s not like we didn’t care when it was anyone else and then just decide to care because some scandalmongering political opponents decided to pretend something entirely ahistorical and―you know, since it’s “Her”―well, yeah, why not, sounds great. Sorry, I guess that’s just a distraction, isn’t it? Because while we’re spinning pay for play fancies because transparency means we can, the only reason we don’t care about the idea of pay for play through Colin Powell’s foundation, while he was Secretary of State, is because he’s Colin Powell, not Hillary Clinton, so that sort of thing could never, ever happen.

Nor is it just about girls, though it’s true in this case it kind of is. But the underlying principle of schoolyard socialization dynamics includes a function whereby a bellwether among the despised might achieve a threshold of respectability, and the communal response is to alter the threshold in order to maintain exclusion. That is to say, some kids will simply never be allowed by their peers to be cool; it’s a general bully principle, because without it the list of people bullies are allowed to treat poorly pretty much crumbles to dust in the wind.

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Image note: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Maddow, Rachel. “Historic debate could reset campaign norms”. msnbc. 27 September 2016.

The Internet and the Attention Span


Just once, when people are arguing online, I would like to see someone complete whatever rhetorical maneuver it is they attempt.

I happened to witness someone I’m not especially sympathetic toward seemingly attempt a windward tack in order to bait an opponent. Naturally, internet discourse being what it is, there are plenty of peanuts in the gallery lining up to shell the one. The weird thing is that if they wait, this maneuver can go one of two ways, and the most obvious reading is that the early critics would be pleased by the outcome if the other actually takes the bait.

And, yes, just once I would like to see someone actually complete this maneuver. Or pretty much any other rhetorical maneuver, instead of sound-biting from one moment to the next as if nothing anyone is saying has any relevance to anything.

Does life imitate art, or is it the other way ’round? Observation suggests it’s a dynamic interaction, but if we all are supposed to loathe politics and politicians, why does everyone seem to want to behave like politicians in a political spat?

Kind of like the people who disdain or disbelieve psychology trying to psychologize.

And pretty much as vapid.