29 December, 2021

u/earlyy_bird on alcoholism


Drink once, feel a buzz. That was nice. Drink more, get drunk, whoa. Go to party, drink, drink, drink. Black out for the first time. Wake up to stories about yourself you dont remember. "You were so funny last night. Life of the party!" Cool. So you're charming when you're wasted. Become 'that guy/girl' and be the party animal you were always born to be. Get invited to parties because you're always funny to watch. Make drinking friends. Master the hangover. Teach yourself to throw up to feel better. This is a science now. You got a handle on this. Alcohol is the tool, you're the master. It makes you feel good, act charming, have a great time. Picks you up when you're sad and makes happy days even happier. Day drink for summer vibes, night drink for sexy times. Alcohol makes everything better.

Sometimes you do or say something embarrassing, but who cares? You're the class clown. Everybody is having a good time when they're laughing. Hear stories about yourself, maybe feel a little ashamed. Push it down, if they don't have a problem with you acting like that way then neither do you. Maybe you regret doing or saying some of those things but whatever, you can live with your shame. We all make mistakes.


u/9k3d on NFTs


I'm going to take a moment to talk about NFTs since I see people in here talking and arguing about them. NFTs have some actual use cases, but what people are currently doing with them on altcoin platforms is not one of them.

Below I will explain how the NFTs on altcoin platforms work on a technical level and I will explain why they probably wont even exist in 10 years. I will also explain why some of these NFTs are selling for such high prices.

Many of those NFTs that were sold for crazy high prices were not actually sold to other people. The person who bought those expensive NFTs is often the same person who minted the NFT in the first place. I will explain how whales can easily own very expensive rare NFTs for very little cost. They can just mint an NFT and sell it to them self for $500,000 worth of etһ. They will only lose the small percentage that the NFT marketplace takes and now they own a super rare NFT worth $500k and they will still have most of their etһ because they sold the NFT to them self. And there is a small chance that they might be able to to sell that worthless NFT to some fool who believes that it is actually valuable. Doing this also entices more newbies to mint NFTs in the hopes of getting rich. 

27 December, 2021

That Twitter Thread (On Criticism)


Art does not exist to be evaluated on a scale of “harm” to “uplift,” and if we want to talk dog-whistles, that right there is a huge one: it’s deeply anti-intellectual, and it centers a form of toxic individualism that evacuates solidarity/difference in favor of moral purity.

Also, relevant from other recent intra-community trans Discourse: the fact that something triggered or hurt you, personally, is real— but that doesn’t actually make it bad, or wrong, or Harmful (tm) because you *are not the center of the universe.* Other trans folk who have different experiences of gender and the world might be deeply seen by the art that you think is morally bad and harmful personally. To some extent, we know why this is common: traumatic stress forces your focus to be survival oriented, internal, and evaluative. It’s hyper-vigilance! However, what it is *not* is healthy or productive— especially when turned relentlessly outward to hold others responsible for your bad feelings as opposed to processing them, or saying “ouch, not for me.” (Which is not to say artists shouldn’t be cognizant of other people’s pain and the larger social implications of their work, so please don’t reduce what I’m saying here to “fuck it, who cares.”)

The other huge flaw with “the story harmed me” or flat harm-critique is the lack of acknowledgement that, if we’re using that metric, then your insistence on the story harming you is EQUALLY harming to the other trans folk for whom the piece was a revelatory story, or productive.

26 December, 2021

Intimate portraits of a hospital COVID unit from a photojournalist-turned-nurse


Steven Murray did not get the vaccine. "I thought that if I got COVID, I'd be able to fight it off like the flu. Boy was I wrong. There is nothing you could have told me to make me get the vaccine. After this experience, I'm telling everyone I know to get it now. The grim reaper was reaching out for me. I was scared."

But within an hour of being admitted, Murray says doctors told him he would likely not leave the hospital alive if he didn't get intubated — inserting a tube into the trachea to maintain an airway.

Stubbornly, he refused and now admits he was scared he would die if put on a ventilator.

He survived.

When health care staffers asked why he'd decided against getting vaccinated, Murray says he told them, "because I'm a dumbass."

Murray says he bought into what he calls the misinformation and politics surrounding the pandemic. He goes out of his way to share his story whenever he can, and "when I tell them, I'm like please, please, please get the vaccine. If you haven't gotten it, please." 

u/Snowypinkrose on experiencing COVID hospitalization


Sometimes it’s choking to death acutely but much more often it’s this slow burn that takes a couple weeks. It robs people people of all dignity.

We give you a ton of oxygen. Then that’s not enough, and your blood is becoming acidic, denaturing the proteins in your blood and slowly hurting your organs. Your ability to heal and fight is compromised. Your kidneys start to become damaged. We put you on bipap, hoping the machine will help force CO2 out of your lungs to reduce the acidity of your blood.

Eventually that’s not working so good either. We spend half a day watching your saturations drop. You’re exhausted. You can barely speak. The bipap mask muffles what words you do wheeze out. We start discussing the odds of you coming off a ventilator if we put you on it. We’re in a rock and a hard place. We are watching you breath harder and faster. Your body is going to go into respiratory failure.

We ask if you want to be coded. We ask that you say goodbye to family, because we might not be able to get you off the ventilator. Maybe you’re scared. Maybe you’re so exhausted that anything to help you not struggle to breathe sounds preferable.

We get you on the ventilator and spend a few hours to a day trying to get the sedation right so you don’t wake up and yank the tube out. We shove a catheter into your bladder. We put you in a brief. We place more IV’s cause many of the meds we are going to need to give are incompatible in an IV line.

You hover for a bit, but you start going downhill. Your labs are getting worse. Sometimes you may develop emboli in various parts of the body. Please don’t have a massive stroke. There’s not much we can do against the dying of millions of your cells in various organ systems all being starved of oxygen, exacerbated by tiny little clots that are clogging your capillaries.

The fluid is building up in your lungs. You’re drowning on dry land. You organs are starting to show a lot of damage. Your ability to keep your pressures regulated is plummeting. Your kidneys are dying. We need to get a fistula in you for dialysis. We have to get all the IV’s on that arm moved.

You don’t have that many areas to poke. The doctors have a central line placed, usually triple lumen so we can give multiple meds through one site. Your dialysis is working a bit, but not enough. You’re still going downhill. We go through the process of proning you, literally getting the fluid in the lungs to move in such a way that your alveoli aren’t submerged. The front of your body isn’t meant to take this weight. We turn you every 2 hours, a process that takes 4 nurses and respiratory therapy, in case the specially elongated ET tube used in proned patients dislodge. We pray you don’t code every time we move you.

You’re still not getting better. We update your family as best we can, we can’t call very often cause each of us has 3 of you that we are doing all this on.

Your labs are still getting worse. The doctors weigh ECMO intervention. Shit, do we even have any ECMO machines available? Fuck, do we have to get this person transferred to a different facility?

Oh! Another one of you died. Thank God, maybe we can at least get that machine onto you now so maybe I won’t have to go searching the hospital again for a body bag.

Fuck. You’re still going downhill. It’s been a few weeks now. Sores are developing on your body. The meds we are giving are harsh, and we are dealing with their consequences, and the consequences of all of your homeostasis being fucked up.

The doctors will call your family. Things aren’t looking good. If you have family far away, ask them to be ready to either say good bye over a phone or a computer screen. We can allow maybe one of you to the floor to say goodbye. They can’t for very long, it’s a dangerous last act of love.

You’re still declining. We are showing signs of neurological damage. You’re still declining. The docs tell your family there’s nothing more to be done. We may be able to help you linger but the odds of there being much of you left if we wake you up are remote. Maybe they decide to push through. In that case, we will eventually code you. Again. Did I not mention that? You’ve probably coded a few times so far. Maybe they let us let you leave with “dignity,” if you can call lying in a bed, unconscious, machines functioning as your organs, soiling yourself, sores developing all over you, if you can call any of that “dignity.”

Care fails. I’ve watched you dying. I knew you would die. It still hurts. I’ve fought minute-by-minute for you. Sat with you. Talked at you, hoping some part of you knows you’re getting my best and that your people love you.

One way or another, you end up in a body bag. After I get you to the morgue, it’s right back to the unit. I have 2 other people in this situation. And there’s another in the ER who needs your old room.

I have no hope this will stop. Your death was completely meaningless. And so will be the deaths of those who follow you. 

24 December, 2021

My Work Almost Crushed Her Family. Now I’m Welcomed at Her Table.


Even as Lori Anne and I both continue on the path to restoration, with much still to grieve and lament , our time together felt like a significant step toward understanding and wholeness.

“There is nothing ‘Hallmark’ about this level of harm,” Lori Anne later told me. “What you witnessed in our home is a miracle—but it was a bloody one. It also cost victims to commune and communicate with you, even as it may have cost you to commune and communicate with them.”

She is right. There is an immense cost to listening to survivors, to believing their voices enough to journey alongside them in pursuit of justice, to reckoning with our own complicity in a system that has further harmed those already victimized.

It’s costlier still to forgive those who have wronged you, to love those who are different than you, to offer a seat at your table to an unlikely and undeserving guest. 

18 December, 2021

Movies Are Worse Now Because Their Corporate Funders Are Risk-Averse


New Hollywood represented a changing of the guard, which brought ambitious directors and studio heads into a fragile alliance with big money for a short period — before big money won out. The fact that this period coincided with massive social upheaval and a shattered cinematic monoculture after World War II galvanized a golden age of American film.

But now that they’d been let inside, the big conglomerates realized how inefficient Hollywood was. While people like David Begelman were good for the motion picture divisions of studios, they presented a conflict for corporate investment. Over time, investors have developed more efficient means of judging what will be a hit, which diminished their reliance on studio heads like Begelman.

The entrenchment of multinational conglomerate control of film does not necessarily mark a divergence from the incentive structures of the studio systems — studios have always existed to make money. The real inflection point was when the studios’ funding and distribution came under the total control of investment capital, which was then able to exercise complete authority over what and how movies were made.

16 December, 2021

A QAnon con: How the viral Wayfair sex trafficking lie hurt real kids


But with limited immediate intervention from social media companies, the Wayfair conspiracy theory would become one of the fastest-spreading disinformation campaigns on the Internet, ensnaring concerned mothers, Tiktoking teenagers, racial justice advocates and people all along the political spectrum.

They didn’t realize they were amplifying a QAnon propaganda artist trying to convince the masses that President Donald Trump was saving the country from a ring of Satanic pedophiles.

And they didn’t know how dangerous child sex trafficking myths were about to become. That actual victims would be blocked from getting help. That women fearing traffickers would be driven to violence. And that the real children whose pictures were used in this ploy would have their lives upended.

One of those children was trying to make sense of what her dad was saying. 

This Terrible Book Shows Why the Covid-19 Lab Leak Theory Won’t Die


The through line in all of these possible scenarios is that there is no through line. There’s no overarching coherent narrative about when or how this “lab leak” happened. And in making that clear, Viral also shows why the very weakness of the lab leak case is also its greatest strength: The great part about suspicions—from a conspiracy theorist’s perspective—is that they don’t have to gel into any coherent theory. You can just have a bad feeling that becomes someone else’s job to resolve for you.

This is why the lab leak theory will never die, no matter how much evidence virologists are patiently accumulating on the side of natural origin. It’s all about suspicion and innuendo. And when one supposedly suspicious event is unpacked, it’s usually a long and boring explanation nobody wants to hear. Meanwhile, the theorists have already found 10 more things that seem spooky to them. Conspiracy theories, we’re learning, are even harder to eradicate than infectious diseases.

14 December, 2021

If We Can Report on the Problem, We Can Report on the Solution


So many creative solutions rely on people who are otherwise treated by public systems as powerless or even impediments. Our column headlined “Teaching Parents to Help Stop the ‘Summer Slide’” was about Springboard Collaborative, a Philadelphia-based organization that shows parents of all education levels — even those who can’t read — how to be effective reading teachers for their children. Schools in low-income communities often treat families as liabilities. They’re actually assets.

There were other columns that showed the impact of nonexperts, like one titled “Building for Real With Digital Blocks,” about a program that teaches people Minecraft so they can help plan neighborhood projects. Another, headlined “Hi, There. Want to Triple Voter Turnout?,” showed that the person most persuasive in bringing a voter to the polls is a friend who’s not involved in politics. 

12 December, 2021

‘Sea Slaves’: The Human Misery That Feeds Pets and Livestock


While forced labor exists throughout the world, nowhere is the problem more pronounced than here in the South China Sea, especially in the Thai fishing fleet, which faces an annual shortage of about 50,000 mariners, based on United Nations estimates. The shortfall is primarily filled by using migrants, mostly from Cambodia and Myanmar.

Many of them, like Mr. Long, are lured across the border by traffickers only to become so-called sea slaves in floating labor camps. Often they are beaten for the smallest transgressions, like stitching a torn net too slowly or mistakenly placing a mackerel into a bucket for herring, according to a United Nations survey of about 50 Cambodian men and boys sold to Thai fishing boats. Of those interviewed in the 2009 survey, 29 said they had witnessed their captain or other officers kill a worker. 

10 December, 2021

Zillow did not have metallic balls


  1. You cannot bootstrap off an existing dataset. Full stop. These datasets can contain implicit assumptions or associations that you are not aware of. This is the original sin of many a algorithmic risk underwriting startup.
  2. You are operating in an adversarial environment. Most folks in ML are used to working with pretty boring data—demographic data, handwriting samples, etc. That changes as soon as you introduce cold, hard cash into the equation. As soon as there is money to be made, fraudsters are going to be hard at work reverse engineering your model. Have you separated your fraud detection models from your risk underwriting models? Do you have systems in place to detect these fraudulent requests, and are you directing the right requests into the correct training pipelines?
  3. Startups underestimate how much money it will take to train the model. As previously noted, you should expect to lose 50% of your capital allocated towards underwriting. I suspect many startups drastically underestimate this amount, realize they are going to run out of money, which means raising capital under duress, which means extremely bad terms, which makes future success even less likely.

Rachael Denhollander on Josh Duggar


Everyone – EVERYONE else, from Josh’s own children, to a woman afraid to have him in the home, to his own wife, are bearing the risks and costs of his behavior. And they are being told it is godly and right to do it. 

Each man in the situation, from Josh’s dad, (who isn’t protecting his own grandkids or caring about the risks to anyone else), to the husband who decided it was fine despite his wife’s very justified fear, make the decisions. The women and children who pay the price, are expected to submit, forgive, and support, no matter how foolish or wicked the decision.

This is the exact same mindset that allowed this to happen in the first place, when so many were warning years ago that the minimization and sin-leveling were signs that this wasn’t in control and wasn’t being taken seriously. The cost and impact is being born by everyone but the perpetrator, and the men given free reign to be “leaders”.

This is abusive culture. This is toxic Christianity. This is not manhood. This is not womanhood. This is depraved.

And the worst part is, I know literally hundreds of women are the receiving end of this garbage. Josh, and this situation, aren’t the anomaly. They are the norm.  

08 December, 2021

Sen. Bob Dole's final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much'


None of this is easy – any more than finding a definition of freedom with which 330 million Americans can agree. This much we know. Too many of us have sacrificed too much in defending that freedom from foreign adversaries to allow our democracy to crumble under a state of infighting that grows more unacceptable by the day. Take it from Eisenhower and the dwindling band of brothers who fought under his command: “Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.”

And take it from me: Our history is rich with political debate and deep divisions, but collectively we share a common purpose for a better America. We cannot let political differences stand in the way of that common good.

04 December, 2021

Stephen Glass, the most notorious fraud in journalism, decided he would live by one simple rule: Always tell the truth. Then he broke that rule


Glass didn’t win over the crowd. The students later said they were impressed to meet him and glad to hear about the payments, but they felt he came off as introspective and a little meek. When I asked them in a survey if they would consider hiring him as a political fact-checker, most said they would not.

That day he told me about his wife, Julie Hilden, who had early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He didn’t mention that he was engaged in a new lie, one that he would later describe as “the biggest lie of all.” 

02 December, 2021

25 November, 2021

u/haberdasherhero on the first ENIAC programmers

There was only one in the world and it was this one, the ENIAC. It was run by a team of 6 women who had to literally invent programing. The guys who built it gave them full schematics and said "you can ask the engineers any questions, here's the diagrams, make it work". Seriously.

They programed ENIAC by manually connecting inputs to outputs. Like, instead of code telling this parcel of information to "go here, do this calculation, then the result should head over there", the electricity just flowed and wherever the cables led the information went.

Imagine an entire stage packed full of oscillators and modular synths for an electronic artist, with wires manically being pulled and pushed into different components and the vigorous turnings of knobs. Like that, except with AC, spinny skirts, sensible pulling and pushing of cables, delicate and exact knob turning, and levels of pencil biting only a half dozen mathematicians can achieve.

They had to manually reconfigure every input-output pair each time they wanted to run a new program. They are responsible for many of the fundamental aspects of computer programing that are still around to this day.

After the 1940s all but two of these amazing mathematician-turned-programmers went home to cook, clean, and start families. They got zero credit for the amazing contribution to modern society they all made.

For 40 years no one knew of their existence. They were noted in zero history books, plaques, textbooks, or the minds of anyone save those who worked on the project or knew them personally.

Then, one day in the 80s a college student asked about pictures of them holding parts of ENIAC and at work programming. There was no names, no explanation, nothing except a few pictures in an archive.

The answer the student received was "those are models they used to make the computer seem more interesting". After finding that answer insufficient the student dug into the paper records and interviewed people who worked on the project and found out what these women really did.

They are finally known about, though you rarely hear of them. Everyone reading my words should take a moment to mentally thank/pray for/sacrifice a chicken to Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Meltzer, Fran Bilas, and Ruth Lichterman.

23 November, 2021

u/commentsOnPizza on why trolley systems failed

I'd say that it was more than just car industry propaganda that got rid of the trolly systems.

First, the trolly systems were privately owned. This is important for several reasons.

1) They didn't get government subsidies. Transit systems today are mostly funded through government subsidy (and I'm including roads as a "transit system"). If the government is going to pay for the roads via taxes, but you have to build and maintain your trolly tracks based on fare revenue, you won't make ends meet. People using your trolly system would still be paying the taxes to fund the roads which means that driving would end up comparatively cheap.

2) They were taxed. Most jurisdictions had a franchise tax on trolly systems (ie. they had to pay the city to operate). They also had to pay property taxes on the land they used. Again, roads don't pay property taxes and roads don't pay franchise taxes. From point #1, they're even subsidized.

3) One of the business models of a lot of trolly systems was building a line along a strip of land that you owned. You buy a lot of property along a linear space and then build a trolly bringing people to that area and the value of your real-estate skyrockets. You can run the trolly at a loss and make it up on the real-estate. Of course, once you start selling off that real-estate, you don't have a lot of incentive to invest in your trolly. When busses were replacing trolly systems, the trolly systems were pretty decrepit and in need of huge overhaul and replacement. [...]

09 November, 2021

Inside the machine that saved Moore’s Law


To give a sense of scale, if you took the mirror in your bathroom and blew it up to the size of Germany, it would have bumps about five meters high. Blown up to the same size, the smoothest EUV mirror Zeiss’s engineers had yet made—for space telescopes—would have bumps only two centimeters high. These mirrors for ASML would have to be orders of magnitude smoother: if they were the size of Germany, their biggest imperfections could be less than a millimeter high. “These are really the most precise mirrors in the world,” says Peter Kürz, who is responsible for the development of the next generation of EUV optics at Zeiss. 

A big part of Zeiss’s work would be inspecting the mirrors to look for imperfections and then using an ion beam to knock individual molecules off, gradually smoothing the surface over months and months of work.

While Zeiss was developing the mirrors, Benschop and other ASML suppliers were working on their other big challenge: how to create a light source that would produce a steady flow of EUV. 

It would haunt them for years.

03 November, 2021

Where We Stand, and Why


Third, prioritize real relationships. One of the most important and insightful reported pieces in the entire 2020 election cycle came from The New York Times Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy. They analyzed data from the Hidden Tribes Project and concluded that “the outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online.”

Spend too much time online, and you’ll emerge with a distorted view of your opponents and your allies. 

02 November, 2021

Tse Chi Lop, the suspected ringleader of a $21-billion crime syndicate, may be the world’s most innovative drug lord.


Tse rose to prominence as a criminal disciple of open multicultural hypercapitalism. David Au of the RCMP says that’s what sets Canada apart. “When I used to go down to the western U.S., every group was very siloed,” Au says. “The Chinese would only work with the Chinese. The Vietnamese would only work with the Vietnamese. The African-Americans among themselves, Latinos among themselves.” The inter-ethnic collaboration here is distinctly Canadian. “Other jurisdictions find it unique,” Au says.

What gave traditional organized crime its strength in the past—the violence, the control of territory, the ethnic loyalty and defined hierarchies—are the heart of its weakness in the present. Tse had a better system. Instead of ethnic loyalty, transnational and inter-organizational co-operation. Instead of territory, logistics. Instead of hierarchy, metrics. Instead of centralized control, connections. Tse Chi Lop is easily the most significant criminal in Toronto’s history, and he represents, in an entirely diseased way, a perverse triumph of the city. His vast criminal organization flourished through open-mindedness and entrepreneurship, by creating markets and exploiting them in a spirit of eager globalization and cosmopolitanism. He is one of capitalism’s grandest and most polite monsters. He is very much one of us.

31 October, 2021

Why Did Everyone in My County Just Go Crazy at the School Board?


This brings me to why you only are getting my first name on this article. No one seems to know who is behind this uproar. Some of my neighbors have full-on bought into these fights as if they are their own but haven’t seemed to stop to ask who’s fight it is or who made all this up. They’ve never stopped to think about where all this money is coming from or how they even heard about “CRT’ or started to think that masks had something to do with freedom. I think they are being manipulated and they don’t who is behind it. They’ve got Proud Boys and other anti-patriots going to school board meetings trying to look tough and they don’t even know who’s bidding they are doing.

There is no way that these issues of masks and CRT came up in thousands of school boards all at the same time all over the country without someone planning it and spending money on it. People are looking for conspiracies all over but they seem to be playing along inside one and not know it. I’ve gone to a few school board meetings now and I’ve seen people looking like they want to throw punches. I can do that if we need to but we don’t. I’m not putting my neck out there or my family and kids out there until I know who is pulling the strings. I can tell you for sure that it’s nobody in Johnston County.

The McDonald's Test -- Learning to Love Back Row America


You also visited many churches. As an atheist, what was that like?

I was certainly an atheist when I began; it’s more complicated now. Initially, I went to church for the same reason I was going to McDonald’s: it was where the people I was speaking to were going. I didn’t discriminate, I just went to whatever church or mosque was there, whatever faith was reflective of the community.

Like McDonald’s, the churches worked. They were often the only institutions that were lit up and functional; usually they were storefront operations. You’d go down a street that was boarded up, derelict buildings, and then there was a church. Its doors weren’t closed.

There aren’t many success stories in my book – there’s almost nobody who got out of a negative lifestyle. The only people who succeeded did it through faith – through the church. And so I had at first a grudging respect, and then a full-blown respect for what churches are doing.


You suggest that one thing which may have stayed more the same than people would like to admit is racism.

There’s awful racism in the United States, which cannot be denied or diminished. What’s forgotten, though, is that the most progressive towns are often the most segregated. We tend to focus on the ugly incidents of racism that happen among the white working class and ignore the racism of the elites, which is less overt because it’s structural. It’s a matter of zoning laws, of where the best schools are, who is more likely to be arrested or imprisoned, where good jobs are available.

My visit to Milwaukee, which is well-known for its progressive politics, illustrated this to me. Historically, the African American community was intentionally confined to a tiny neighborhood in the city, and it’s largely still concentrated there. 

23 October, 2021

The Methods of Moral Panic Journalism


The real story of the McDonald’s case was always available, it just didn’t matter. By the time the Liebeck verdict came down, Americans had already spent nearly a decade hearing about ambulance-chasing lawyers, “jackpot justice” awards and the debilitating “tort tax” on American businesses. As early as 1986, Ronald Reagan speeches included a laugh line about a woman who sued her doctor after a CAT scan robbed her of her psychic powers. (In reality, the woman had an allergic reaction to a surgical dye, suffered severe headaches for the rest of her life and had her lawsuit thrown out. She never received a dime.) 

This pre-existing narrative explains why the exaggerated version of the McDonald’s case was so durable. Sure, some of the details didn’t check out and the facts turned out to be a bit more complicated than they seemed. But still, journalists argued at the time, we know frivolous lawsuits are a problem in America.

But they weren’t. Civil cases were actually falling throughout the 1990s. Seven-digit payouts attracted headlines, but they were vanishingly rare — just 3% of plaintiffs got punitive damages at all; the median award was $38,000 — and nearly always got overturned on appeal.

The central premise of the “frivolous lawsuits” panic — it is too easy for citizens to sue corporations — was an obvious lie, a blinking, howling whopper that would have been laughed off of front pages if it weren’t for all the overblown anecdotes making it seem plausible.

16 October, 2021

u/CockGoblinReturns on Dave Chappelle's recent comments


The irony of Chappelle's defenders saying 'I guarantee you that they didn't watch it' is that they never actually looked at the criticisms. What's more flabbergasting is they openly admit this, 'I guarantee', 'I bet', etc. It's peak lack of self-awareness

It's lengthy to explain Dave's phobias, because Dave makes several pro-Trans statements. He wants them to be equal. He dissed the transgender bathroom laws. His conversation about his trans friend human experience was moving. But this is my best attempt to break down the phobias exhibited in his set despite these.

But what is a Fourier series? From heat flow to drawing with circles | DE4

11 October, 2021

The Ship That Became a Bomb


In March, 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which included the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, intervened to stop the Houthi advance. The U.S., Britain, and France provided intelligence, planes, naval support, and bombs. The Saudis saw in the Houthi advance the hand of their regional enemy Iran, a Shia nation. But, despite the aerial might of the Saudi coalition, the Houthis weathered the attacks, and entrenched themselves in northern Yemen. When Saudi Arabia entered the conflict, it predicted that fighting would last six weeks; instead, it has endured for more than six years. During the war, other regional actors, such as the U.A.E., have flexed their military muscle. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has maintained a foothold in the south of the country. A secessionist group called the Southern Transitional Council holds Aden. It is extremely unlikely that the Yemen of 2014 will ever be put back together.

The consequences for civilians have been devastating. Both the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition are alleged to have committed many war crimes. The Saudi air campaign has been recklessly conducted, and has killed thousands of civilians, including children. The Houthi regime has used child soldiers, deployed banned antipersonnel mines, and fired indiscriminately into civilian areas. Meanwhile, a sea-and-land blockade of Houthi-controlled areas by the coalition has contributed to life-threatening shortages of food, medicine, and fuel.

02 October, 2021

u/gorgewall on educational attainment


For decades longer than you have been alive, men have been being sold an expectation that is a lie and are increasingly finding out that it is just that: a lie. The evidence becomes clearer and clearer. The thing that men are supposed to be able to achieve slips further away from where the average man is. "There is a good thing here if you do X, Y, and Z," and they try their damnedest to do those things--succeed, even--and don't wind up at that good thing. It's depressing.

Over that same timespan, women have been another expectation, one that's more grounded in reality. It starts with the depressing state: things will suck for you unless you do X, Y, and Z. Doing these things is the only way you're going to have a chance, and that's not even guaranteed. You're already on the back foot, so any little bit you can move forward is a win....

26 September, 2021

How Church Sexual Abuse Cover-Ups Succeed


A second dynamic at work in various sorts of institutional cover-ups is that many of them count on co-opting or destroying those who can see or who have experienced what’s happening. Some people enjoy conflict and controversy—maybe especially so in an institution built around a founding story of a “great battle.” Such people, who long to find a grand purpose or meaning in their lives, can then reenact the battles of the past over and over, with an ever-narrowing and ever more ridiculous definition of who gets to be the “liberals” or “the Catholics” or whatever the enemy used to be.

What’s especially sad about this is that usually these people are conscripted to become the very thing they once fought against. If, for instance, an institution was once adrift, moving theologically leftward while those in charge used “double speak” (talking one way in the pulpit and another in the seminar room), we sometimes find that a generation later, the very people who objected to it are doing the same thing. Their about-face is not about whether the Virgin Birth happened or whether faith in Christ is necessary for salvation but about whether blatant racism demands repentance or whether rape and sexual assault—clearly condemned in the inspired and inerrant Word of God—are just part of a “liberal” #MeToo culture to which the church should not listen.

Just as some people in some traditions say, “Pay no attention to our theological heterodoxy, because if you do, the institution will be hurt,” in the fullness of time, people in other traditions can say, “Pay no attention to our set of theological heresies or our crimes or our cover-ups; otherwise, the institution will be hurt.” If we are in an institution where we have been taught literally since birth that our tradition is God’s best and only hope for reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, that argument often works.

23 September, 2021

What the Never Trumpers Want Now


Once, Republicans and conservatives defined themselves as the party of life. Human life was so precious that the law should require women unwillingly pregnant to give birth anyway. Then came a deadly pandemic, and suddenly “life” became less important than protecting the spring-break revenues of hotels and restaurants, or indulging the delusions and fantasies of people who got their scientific information from YouTube videos and Reddit threads. And again dissident Republicans and conservatives were left to wonder: What do we have in common with you?

This process of estrangement builds on itself.

I thought we believed X, says the dissident. You’re a bunch of hypocrites for now saying Y. You’re betraying everything I thought we believed.

No, reply the majority. We always deep down believed that Y was more important than X. We never before had to choose. Now we do. And if you choose X over Y, it’s you who are betraying us.

The leader of a Hawaii anti-vax group caught COVID-19 and almost died. He now supports vaccines and wants his group's protests to stop.


Wikoff said he previously believed vaccine mandates and passports seemed "over-the-top totalitarian control" because he didn't believe the disease was that serious, Hawai News Now reported.

"We were told the COVID virus was not that deadly, it was nothing more than a little flu," he told Hawaii News Now.

"Well, I can tell you: it's more than the little flu."

Wikoff's change of position came after he was hospitalized after catching COVID-19 in August, per Hawaii News Now. "I was afraid I was going to die," he told the outlet.

He urged people to stop participating in the protests and rallies his group was organizing, including those taking part outside of Hawaii's Lieutenant Governor Josh Green's house, Hawaii News Now reported.

"Before I thought Josh Green was exaggerating the situation and after my experience, he sounds very rational to me," he said, per Hawaii News Now. 

21 September, 2021

Glitch Reveals Ballot Choices of N.Y.C. Voters, Including Mayor’s Son


The researchers were able to identify the voting records of the individual New York City voters by cross-referencing the New York State voter file — a list of every registered voter, whether they voted and their address — with the board’s cast-vote records, which contained hundreds of voting precincts where just one ballot was cast.

Those precincts included that of Mr. de Blasio, who is registered at Gracie Mansion, and that of Mr. Steel, a registered Republican who lives in NoHo, a heavily Democratic part of Manhattan.

20 September, 2021

Memo shows Trump lawyer's six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election


The Eastman memo laid out a six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election for Trump, which included throwing out the results in seven states because they allegedly had competing electors. In fact, no state had actually put forward an alternate slate of electors -- there were merely Trump allies claiming without any authority to be electors.

Under Eastman's scheme, Pence would have declared Trump the winner with more Electoral College votes after the seven states were thrown out, at 232 votes to 222. Anticipating "howls" from Democrats protesting the overturning of the election, the memo proposes, Pence would instead say that no candidate had reached 270 votes in the Electoral College. That would throw the election to the House of Representatives, where each state would get one vote. Since Republicans controlled 26 state delegations, a majority could vote for Trump to win the election. 

18 September, 2021

‘I can still feel it’: Groundbreaking arm amputation surgery makes a ‘phantom’ hand seem real


Since the first of the new amputation procedures was performed in 2016, 30 patients have had the surgery performed on one or both legs — including U.S. Paralympian Morgan Stickney, a double amputee who just won two swimming gold medals in Tokyo. Their results show that Majetich’s experience is not uncommon.

“What we’ve found are a number of distinct advantages of the AMI amputation,” said Hugh Herr, an MIT Media Lab professor, using the shorthand for the procedure he jointly developed with Carty. (AMI stands for agonist-antagonist myoneural interface, which refers to the joining of opposing, agonist and antagonist, muscles.) Herr said the AMI patients have felt less pain in their residual limbs, and their limbs don’t atrophy, as is typical after a standard amputation, resulting in a poor fit and pain when using a prosthesis.

In a study published last December, MIT postdoctoral fellow Shriya Srinivasan and colleagues in Herr’s group reported that when AMI patients moved their phantom ankle, a part of the brain associated with proprioception lit up on functional MRI scans just as much as it did in patients with intact limbs. This suggests the surgery fully restored patients’ ability to sense their limbs’ position and motion, a result Herr called “truly remarkable.” In people who had standard amputations, activation of this region was significantly reduced.

08 September, 2021

The Other Afghan Women


Shakira was bewildered by the Americans’ choice of allies. “Was this their plan?” she asked me. “Did they come to bring peace, or did they have other aims?” She insisted that her husband stop taking resin to the Sangin market, so he shifted his trade south, to Gereshk. But he returned one afternoon with the news that this, too, had become impossible. Astonishingly, the United States had resuscitated the Ninety-third Division—and made it its closest partner in the province. The Division’s gunmen again began stopping travellers on the bridge and plundering what they could. Now, however, their most profitable endeavor was collecting bounties offered by the U.S.; according to Mike Martin, a former British officer who wrote a history of Helmand, they earned up to two thousand dollars per Taliban commander captured.

This posed a challenge, though, because there were hardly any active Taliban to catch. “We knew who were the Taliban in our village,” Shakira said, and they weren’t engaged in guerrilla warfare: “They were all sitting at home, doing nothing.” A lieutenant colonel with U.S. Special Forces, Stuart Farris, who was deployed to the area at that time, told a U.S. Army historian, “There was virtually no resistance on this rotation.” So militias like the Ninety-third Division began accusing innocent people. In February, 2003, they branded Hajji Bismillah—the Karzai government’s transportation director for Gereshk, responsible for collecting tolls in the city—a terrorist, prompting the Americans to ship him to Guantánamo. With Bismillah eliminated, the Ninety-third Division monopolized the toll revenue.

05 September, 2021

What We Need to Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction

What We Need to Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction is the 11th lessons learned report issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The report examines the past two decades of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. It details how the U.S. government struggled to develop a coherent strategy, understand how long the reconstruction mission would take, ensure its projects were sustainable, staff the mission with trained professionals, account for the challenges posed by insecurity, tailor efforts to the Afghan context, and understand the impact of programs. There have been bright spots—such as lower child mortality rates, increases in per capita GDP, and increased literacy rates. But after spending 20 years and $145 billion trying to rebuild Afghanistan, the U.S. government has many lessons it needs to learn. Implementing these critical lessons will save lives and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in Afghanistan, and in future reconstruction missions elsewhere around the world.

26 August, 2021

You’re Not Imagining It: Biden Is Building His Team Slower Than Recent Presidents


Getting infrastructure through Congress has been front and center to Biden’s first 200 days in office, which passed us by on Saturday. It also helps explain why other parts of his Administration are moving so slowly, in particular Senate confirmation of his nominees to top government jobs. Biden has put forward approximately the same number of nominees at this juncture as predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and markedly more than Donald Trump. Yet Biden is badly lagging all three in terms of getting them approved, according to a new analysis.

In all, 1,200 federal gigs require Senate sign-off under the body’s “advise and consent” power, from the big ones like Cabinet secretaries to lesser known posts like overseeing the quality of life for residents of the Mississippi Delta region.

At this point in his presidency, Bush had nominated 448 people to those positions, Obama had nominated 430 and Trump had nominated 308. Biden stands at 400. But the Senate at this point had confirmed 65% of Bush’s picks, 71% of Obama’s and 42% of Trump. Biden’s success rate is parked at 32%.

25 August, 2021

The Ides of August


I reported for a month or so, then passed off to Steve Inskeep, now Morning Edition host. Within another couple of months, I was back, not as a reporter this time, but to try actually to do something. I stayed for a decade. I ran two non-profits in Kandahar, living in an ordinary house and speaking Pashtu, and eventually went to work for two commanders of the international troops, and then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (You can read about that time, and its lessons, in my first two books, The Punishment of Virtue and Thieves of State.)  

From that standpoint — speaking as an American, as an adoptive Kandahari, and as a former senior U.S. government official — here are the key factors I see in today’s climax of a two-decade long fiasco: 

Scents & Sensibility


How the author helped Afghans build a thriving soap and body-oil business—and overcame the incompetence of America’s aid establishment

24 August, 2021

Killing Tibetans Is Cool Now in Woke Hollywood


Now, China being a totalitarian state controlled by a one-party mafia, they are particular about what gets seen in their country. If you offend them, they don’t just ban your film, they ban your slate of films for the next five years as they did to Disney for releasing Kundun.

Every American studio makes their films now understanding that reality. You no longer celebrate the Dali Llama. You go out of your way to genuflect to the Chinese Communist Party.

A foreign government is having their way with American movies and you the movie goer barely notice it

Remember when the British actress Tilda Swinton was cast as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange (2016) and woke Twitter was up in arms about Hollywood white-washing a role meant for an Asian?

Well, the actual reality was more insidious. The Ancient One was a Tibetan male which was offensive to the Chinese censors (you are not supposed to acknowledge that Tibet is a thing). The studio made her a white woman to avoid any controversy (see here).

Red Dawn (2012) was originally made to depict a Chinese invasion given they are our current major geopolitical adversary (the original made in the 80s depicted a Soviet invasion). Upon seeing the final product, the studio had a panic attack and did an extensive series of post-production digital edits to change the villain to North Korea (see here). You were none the wiser when you watched the film.

The Uncomfortable Truth of Biden’s Rapid Afghanistan Withdrawal


The Biden Administration’s rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has spurred a debate over the moral responsibility that America bears to its partners in a failed foreign intervention. Deciding who receives help getting out and why will only grow more urgent as the completion of the U.S. withdrawal approaches, on August 31st. Across Afghanistan, thousands of local civilians have participated in one of the largest efforts to rebuild a nation since the Second World War, establishing thousands of schools and health clinics, along with hundreds of human-rights groups and local-language news outlets. What once was a well-paying, steady job contributing to the nation’s future has now become a dangerous liability. Younger Afghans embraced the use of new technologies to help modernize their society; cell phones, social media and cable television—from “American Idol”-like singing competitions to twenty-four-hour news channels—exploded in popularity. But now that online visibility makes it easier for the Taliban to track and find those who embraced the American-led effort. “We are just a Google away,” an Afghan working at a European embassy told me. “Search, everybody can find you.”

21 August, 2021

Georgy_K_Zhukov on the evil of slavery

 When your teacher says that slave owners were "nice", he means that they used the whip less, or perhaps that when they did feel it necessary, they allowed the wounds to be dressed immediately. What he doesn't mean is that they recognized their enslaved persons as full human beings. The mere fact that they owned another person at all gives that the lie, as in doing so they inherently participated in a system that was perpetuated the dehumanization of their human property.

And to be sure, the slaves themselves were aware of this, even if the enslavers might be oblivious. In the recollections of his period of enslavement, Frederick Douglass remembered how his owner would occasionally give him a penny or two (I've written more here on slaves and property), but as Douglass relates:

I always felt worse for having received any thing; for I feared that the giving me a few cents would ease his conscience, and make him feel himself to be a pretty honourable sort of robber.


18 August, 2021

Biden (and Trump) did the right thing on Afghanistan


Since the Taliban was never the internationally recognized government of Afghanistan, one totally plausible approach to 9/11 would have been a fast military action aimed at killing top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, putting the Afghan opposition coalition back in charge of Kabul, and then basically leaving them to figure things out.

Another approach would have been to try to really commit wholeheartedly to the U.S.-led reconstruction of Afghanistan — to go all-in on what was called at the time “nation-building.”

The Bush administration didn’t want to take what was behind door number two for basically two reasons. One was that they were skeptical of the odds of success in a massive rebuilding effort. But the second and more important reason is that they wanted to invade Iraq. When 9/11 happened, American military preparedness was based around the 1-4-2-1 doctrine. The first 1 was the defense of the homeland. The 4 is to deter enemies in four key regional theaters. Then the 2-1 meant, to quote Fred Kaplan, that “the U.S. armed forces must have the strength to win swiftly in two near-simultaneous conflicts in those regions. The final 1 means that we must win one of those conflicts ‘decisively,’ toppling the enemy’s regime.”

So basically do a regime change operation in Iraq while also helping South Korea win a war against North Korea.

In other words, Bush had to choose. Either Iraq or Afghanistan could be War Number One, but they couldn’t both be. He chose Iraq. That should have implied taking the quick-and-dirty approach to the war in Afghanistan. But Osama bin Laden got away at Tora Bora, so the quick-and-dirty war lacked an emotionally and politically satisfying endpoint.

Given that context, he made a very fateful choice that has haunted us ever since. He adopted the expansive nation-building goal but deliberately turned the war into an economy of resources effort in order to devote maximum resources to War Number One against Saddam Hussein. But then of course he didn’t level with the public that this is what he was doing. And even though the war was sidelined in terms of American resources, it nevertheless was shot-through with maximalist goals.

15 August, 2021

Biden’s Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy


There’s plenty of blame to go around for the 20-year debacle in Afghanistan—enough to fill a library of books. Perhaps the effort to rebuild the country was doomed from the start. But our abandonment of the Afghans who helped us, counted on us, staked their lives on us, is a final, gratuitous shame that we could have avoided. The Biden administration failed to heed the warnings on Afghanistan, failed to act with urgency—and its failure has left tens of thousands of Afghans to a terrible fate. This betrayal will live in infamy. The burden of shame falls on President Joe Biden. 

14 August, 2021

You Can't Censor Away Extremism (or Any Other Problem)


Of all the pretense and hubris that regularly spools forth from the social justice crowd, probably the most deluded is their dogged belief that if some new laws restricting speech were to be passed, they would inevitably be the ones to choose who gets silenced and what they don’t get to say. This is from a group that constantly self-identifies as marginalized and othered, and yet they are certain that they will be the ones left on the throne to decide who gets to say what. Why? I have no idea. The cops like you as little as you like them, lefties. You really think they’re gonna enforce the hate speech law the way you want them to? You want to defund the police, you think they’re irredeemably racist, you think they’re all fascists at heart, but you also want to give them sweeping new powers to limit what people say? That’s… strange.

These Precious Days


I can tell you where it all started because I remember the moment exactly. It was late and I’d just finished the novel I’d been reading. A few more pages would send me off to sleep, so I went in search of a short story. They aren’t hard to come by around here; my office is made up of piles of books, mostly advance-reader copies that have been sent to me in hopes I’ll write a quote for the jacket. They arrive daily in padded mailers—novels, memoirs, essays, histories—things I never requested and in most cases will never get to. On this summer night in 2017, I picked up a collection called Uncommon Type, by Tom Hanks. It had been languishing in a pile by the dresser for a while, and I’d left it there because of an unarticulated belief that actors should stick to acting. Now for no particular reason I changed my mind. Why shouldn’t Tom Hanks write short stories? Why shouldn’t I read one? Off we went to bed, the book and I, and in doing so put the chain of events into motion. The story has started without my realizing it. The first door opened and I walked through.

But any story that starts will also end. This is the way novelists think: beginning, middle, and end.

The Dance that Sculpts Society


Yet for all of these advantages, the right cannot stop the left, they can only hope to contain them. Sure, the right might win a skirmish here or a battle there. They might even string together a series of victories. But the left always wins the war. Always. Young people are collectively more open to change than older folks, more likely to embrace new ideas. It’s true that most people drift rightward as they age. But the shift is rarely total — some portion of one’s views are usually carried from their youth. As the generations change, conservatives die of old age, to be replaced by young leftists who retain some of their progressive views throughout their life. Most of the left’s ideas permeate and percolate through society in this way until time has laundered them of their unfamiliarity, complexity, and radicalism — at which point they become mainstream.

The left endeavors to speed this process along with political activism and by leveraging their cultural dominance. Left thinking naturally aligns with art and creativity, and every generation’s storytellers and cultural influencers end up doing more than political activists to advance left-leaning ideas and sentiments. The task then falls to the right to either hold the line or attempt the roll back the clocks if they can, and to obstruct and stymie the left if they cannot. As the left (and the right, for that matter) rarely controls majorities of political power or public opinion commanding enough to unilaterally pass their agenda, the right, even when in the minority, can successfully stand in the way of change. The ensuing war of ideas, cultural back and forth, and political negotiations serve to moderate and soften change. This is the ebb and flow, the give and take, that is needed for the stable, sustainable, long-term health of a society. 

I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated


The head of the high school responded to me that “people like Loury’s lived experience—and therefore his derived social philosophy” made him an exception to the rule that black thinkers acknowledge structural racism as the paramount impediment in society. He added that “the moment we are in institutionally and culturally, does not lend itself to dispassionate discussion and debate,” and discussing Loury’s ideas would “only confuse and/or enflame students, both those in the class and others that hear about it outside of the class.” He preferred I assign “mainstream white conservatives,” effectively denying black students the opportunity to hear from a black professor who holds views that diverge from the orthodoxy pushed on them.

A Failure in Generalship


The need for intelligent, creative and courageous general officers is self-evident. An understanding of the larger aspects of war is essential to great generalship. However, a survey of Army three- and four-star generals shows that only 25 percent hold advanced degrees from civilian institutions in the social sciences or humanities. Counterinsurgency theory holds that proficiency in foreign languages is essential to success, yet only one in four of the Army’s senior generals speaks another language. While the physical courage of America’s generals is not in doubt, there is less certainty regarding their moral courage. In almost surreal language, professional military men blame their recent lack of candor on the intimidating management style of their civilian masters. Now that the public is immediately concerned with the crisis in Iraq, some of our generals are finding their voices. They may have waited too long.

Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America’s general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem. The services themselves are equally to blame. The system that produces our generals does little to reward creativity and moral courage. Officers rise to flag rank by following remarkably similar career patterns. Senior generals, both active and retired, are the most important figures in determining an officer’s potential for flag rank. The views of subordinates and peers play no role in an officer’s advancement; to move up he must only please his superiors. In a system in which senior officers select for promotion those like themselves, there are powerful incentives for conformity. It is unreasonable to expect that an officer who spends 25 years conforming to institutional expectations will emerge as an innovator in his late forties.

If America desires creative intelligence and moral courage in its general officer corps, it must create a system that rewards these qualities. Congress can create such incentives by exercising its proper oversight function in three areas. First, Congress must change the system for selecting general officers. Second, oversight committees must apply increased scrutiny over generating the necessary means and pursuing appropriate ways for applying America’s military power. Third, the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure.