With Such Words
if you aren't a hypocrite, your moral standards aren't high enough
Commenting To 
14th-Nov-2014 09:46 am - weekend reading
talibusorabat: A cartoon man thinks "Deep thoughts" (Avatar: Deep thoughts)
Managed to cull this week's list down to 22 links, and I'm still crying a little over some of the ones I left out. (If you're an RSS addict like I am, you can subscribe to my Pinboard's RSS feed here and skip these entries entirely.)

I've realized that I'm currently in a phase where I'm consuming a lot of information but interacting with very few people. (I'm mostly on Plurk these days, but even there, I'm actually interacting with less than 5 people regularly.) That's something I'd like to work on changing, because why read cool things if you can't have meaningful conversations about them?

But for now —


Women Who Hire Escorts are No Different than Men
In one experiment in 2007 by Meredith Chivers and colleagues at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, both men and women were made to watch videos of sex, ranging from heterosexual penetration to fornicating bonobo apes. The apes proved a turn-on for women, whose blood-flow soared, while men reacted in much the same way to the primates as they did to mountains and lakes. But here comes the telling part: when asked, the women themselves reported less arousal than their bodies let on. At the root of this gap – between physical urges and psychological restraint – sits societal shame.

Can Money Buy Happiness?
Cornell University psychology professor Thomas Gilovich has reached similar conclusions. “People often make a rational calculation: I have a limited amount of money, and I can either go there, or I can have this,” he says. “If I go there, it’ll be great, but it’ll be done in no time. If I buy this thing, at least I’ll always have it. That is factually true, but not psychologically true. We adapt to our material goods.”

The Neuroscience Of "Harry Potter"
The research makes a fine starting point for the study of immersive reading, but The Neurocritic (who spotted the paper) is right to call the results "a bit underwhelming." Hsu and company failed to find any evidence for heightened activity in the anterior insula, another part of the empathy network, which puts a bit of a damper on their "fiction feeling" theory. That might be a consequence of J.K. Rowling describing emotion vividly rather than merely labeling it, which would recruit the middle cingulate gyrus (a motor region) more than the anterior insula (a sensory region). In lesser prose they might have found another result.

Don't Choke
But a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience highlights yet another psychological process that might be unfolding when people choke. How you perform under pressure, the researchers found, depends on how afraid you are of losing what you have.

Is the sexist scientific workplace really dead?
All this shows that interpreting the evidence is complex even when hard numbers are available; things are never clear cut. Certainly no other study I have seen reflects the simplistic, upbeat commentary of the Ceci and Williams article, which implies the problems all lie in women’s own preferences and early life choices, having nothing to do with the world of work. I don’t believe it. This is not the first time these authors pushed this sort of message: nearly 4 years ago they attributed the paucity of women to choices regarding motherhood and not discrimination.

The Philosophical Implications of the Urge to Urinate
The study of lay theory yields interesting insights about the factors that hold sway over our seemingly most deeply held beliefs. What if I were to tell you, for instance, that belief in free will is negatively correlated with the desire to urinate? Those are the implications of a new study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition by Michael Ent and Roy Baumeister. They predicted—and found—that the more people felt they needed to pee, the less they believed that humans are in control of their destinies.

Wild cats were tamed with strokes and treats, genetic analysis suggests
But the new research provides some hints about how our human ancestors may have done this. By comparing the genomes of 22 domestic cats from around the world with those of European wildcats and Near Eastern wildcats, researchers identified 13 key genes that differed, including genes involved in the reward centres of the brain and the development of neurons that are key to producing dopamine – the so-called pleasure hormone. This suggests that the first wild cats to be bred for domestication were those that had responded to offers of rewards such as food and stroking.

Politics & Social Justice

Pregnant, And No Civil Rights
But it is not just those who support abortion rights who have reason to worry. Anti-abortion measures pose a risk to all pregnant women, including those who want to be pregnant. Such laws are increasingly being used as the basis for arresting women who have no intention of ending a pregnancy and for preventing women from making their own decisions about how they will give birth.

MythBusters‘ Adam Savage Talks Privilege, Women in STEM, and Gamergate: “Shit’s Tough for Girls” - Confirmed.
I can’t help but feel that our culture is promoting impossible ideals. Ideals of ownership, ideals of success, ideals of body types — and women have suffered mightily. We have old dudes on Fox telling females hosts that they could all lose 10 lbs. They should have stomped him at that point.

This Battered Woman Wants To Get Out Of Prison
Hall is one of 28 mothers in 11 states who a recent BuzzFeed News investigation found were sentenced to 10 years or more for failing to protect their children. In every one of these cases, there was evidence the mother herself had been violently abused by the man. Hall is one of three cases BuzzFeed News found in which the mother got a longer sentence than the man who actually abused the child.

Reality TV Is The New Blackface
ONCE UPON A TIME, white America’s primary introduction to black people came in the form of the Minstrel Show. Stock characters, often played by white people, such as the Mammy, Zip Coon, and, of course, Jim Crow popularized through entertainment the idea that black people were lazy, ignorant, overly emotional, unsophisticated, and intellectually bereft. These ideas about black people are still being popularized today in entertainment thanks to white television executives (and, to be fair, some black ones too). Though the catchphrases have gone from “Who dat?” to “Who gon’ check me, boo?,” reality TV has kept the stereotypes tap-dancing along and made them more popular than ever!

Telling white people the criminal justice system is racist makes them like it more - Vox
As depressing as it is that telling white people about structural racism makes them support the structure more, what makes this study particularly interesting is that the criminal-justice reform movement isn't just made up of people concerned about racism. Some fiscal conservatives want to reform the system to spend less money on prisons; some cultural conservatives are motivated by Christian notions of mercy and forgiveness. And some of the states that have most successfully worked to reform their prison policies are red states. The argument that prison should be reformed to save taxpayer dollars can seem a little bloodless. And it can lead to support for policies like private probation agencies that end up being just as repressive. But when it comes to persuading the public — at least the white public — that criminal-justice reform is a good idea, activists already have an idea of what works:

The New Face of the Marijuana Movement
The latest D.C. campaign was inspired in part by an insight made by Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, who said in a recent conversation with DPA's Asha Bandele that certain things about how legalization was happening elsewhere in the country didn't sit right with her. "Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?" That observation, and others like it, spurred D.C. reformers like Councilmember David Grosso, who helped introduce Initiative 71 earlier this year, to emphasize that if and when a system for taxing and regulating marijuana is set up in the District, the proceeds should go to help communities hardest hit by the war on drugs.

Tristan Walker: The Visible Man
The outspoken attendee isn't wrong, but the answer to Misa's query is more complex, of course. "Racism, sexism, and other forms of exclusionary behavior are in and of themselves nuanced and multilayered," says Freada Kapor Klein, a prominent advocate for tech diversity and founder of the not-for-profit Level Playing Field Institute. "We don't have intentional bigots, but we have very smart, well-meaning, creative people who are systematically engaging in biased behavior." It is racist, for example, to approach a recruiting firm with the mandate to fill an engineering position only with someone from one particular Ivy League school, where blacks comprise a single-digit percentage of the student population. It is racist to rely on employee referrals for hires, when the typical social network of a white American is 1% black. And it is racist to impose standards of "culture fit"—the absurd notion that employees must behave (and sometimes appear) in a way that makes others feel comfortable—on job candidates. These are typical, and convenient, hiring practices of startup founders. Under enormous pressure to grow their companies fast, they feel entitled to dismiss niceties such as an HR department that might seek out minority candidates. But their very inaction is a manifestation of extreme bias, even if it's subconscious.

In Alabama, Judges Play God
Every six years, Alabama elects circuit judges (who hear capital cases) and members of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court. Judicial overrides tend to spike in and around election years. According to a 2011 study by E.J.I., thirty per cent of the state’s death sentences in 2008, an election year, were imposed through override, compared with seven per cent the previous year.

A Losing Battle
That’s exactly what we found. The Army Board says it grants relief in about 41% of cases it reviews. We analyzed publicly available decisions for people appealing three common discharges that leave veterans without benefits. Between 2001 and 2012, we found that about 5 percent of veterans were able to change the reason for their discharge. But only about 2 percent were granted a medical evaluation that could result in a medical discharge and additional benefits. Not one was granted a medical discharge outright by the Board.

How baby boomers ruined parenting forever - Quartz
The new parenting was not for everyone—many parents could not afford it. One of the most damaging legacies of helicopter parenting is the way it centered the practices of a wealthy elite as not only normal, but necessary and moral. Papers like the New York Times filled their education sections with tales of $40,000 per year high schools, preschools with waiting lists, and babysitter “patrons” who are professionals in the arts. That most Americans never lived this way was irrelevant. It was clear, given the high-earning, high-achieving progeny of the new winners, that they should.

What Happens When A Society's Most Privileged People Feel Like Victims?
A gaming site for men is absurd and its potential is small; a culture empire for whiteness preservation is absurd and its potential is huge. But both behave in the same way: they respond to criticism by reflecting back victimhood, and adopting a received language of oppression. But this was not their idea, they would suggest. It is what they believe the other people have been doing for years.

#645 Talking About Food and Animals and Justice
This applies more generally to social justice at large, as well. You cannot achieve moral purity; it is not humanly possible to refrain from compromise. Forgive yourself when you have to do it; forgive others when they do it; be at peace with the fact that the world is an imperfect place and you are doing your best. And if you’re going to evangelize, approach your fellow imperfect human beings with love and grace. There’s a Vonnegut quote I’ve been reciting to myself lately: “There’s only one rule I know of, babies. God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

The face of the wrongfully convicted: What life after exoneration looks like
He says people now know that he didn’t do the crime but they have a different concern about him as an exoneree. “They wonder if I picked up bad habits and became criminalized while I was in prison for all those years,” he said. “I feel like I have to defend myself against that fear.”

This Is What A Feminist Looks Like
But even if the shirt had been made under unethical conditions — and, considering the nature of the modern garment industry, the odds were always high — this anti-campaign outcry would have been incredibly misleading. The company behind the t-shirt were first promised that it would be made in the UK. When they questioned the “made in Mauritius” on the label, they were assured that the factory met their standards. At worst, they were duped, and the British newspaper equivalent of Fox News uncovered the “truth” in order to make the entire campaign look bad, and shift focus onto how these “feminists” don’t actually care about real issues like human rights, but only superficial, silly, “first world problems.”

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates
Perhaps worst of all, Twitter places the onus of reporting on the victims. In this case, the lines of defense against harassment are A) Sarkeesian and B) whatever other activists decide to step in. Instead of Twitter or the police patrolling and reporting the actions of people like Sousa, the job has fallen to the targets themselves, aided in some cases by a most unlikely watchdog: Gamergaters.

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