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Is there anything we can't fuck up?

The Great Nutrient Collapse:

When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the [zooplankton] had lots and lots to eat--but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. How could more algae be a problem?

...The biologists had an idea of what was going on: The increased light was making the algae grow faster, but they ended up containing fewer of the nutrients the zooplankton needed to thrive. By speeding up their growth, the researchers had essentially turned the algae into junk food.

...it's been understood for some time that many of our most important foods have been getting less nutritious. Measurements of fruits and vegetables show that their minerals, vitamin and protein content has measurably dropped over the past 50 to 70 years. Researchers have generally assumed the reason is fairly straightforward: We've been breeding and choosing crops for higher yields, rather than nutrition, and higher-yielding crops--whether broccoli, tomatoes, or wheat--tend to be less nutrient-packed.

In 2004, a landmark study of fruits and vegetables found that everything from protein to calcium, iron and vitamin C had declined significantly across most garden crops since 1950. The researchers concluded this could mostly be explained by the varieties we were choosing to grow.

Loladze and a handful of other scientists have come to suspect that's not the whole story and that the atmosphere itself may be changing the food we eat. Plants need carbon dioxide to live the same way humans need oxygen. And in the increasingly polarized debate about climate science, one thing that isn't up for debate is that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising.

...as the zooplankton experiment showed, greater volume and better quality might not go hand-in-hand. In fact, they might be inversely linked. As best scientists can tell, this is what happens: Rising CO2 revs up photosynthesis, the process that helps plants transform sunlight to food. This makes plants grow, but it also leads them to pack in more carbohydrates like glucose at the expense of other nutrients that we depend on, like protein, iron and zinc.

By fnord12 | September 16, 2017, 1:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

So much for Moon

I guess South Korea has the same problem as us, where no one can beat the military complex.

By fnord12 | September 16, 2017, 11:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

That makes more sense

Just an update on this. Finally got the roll call. My terrible Senator Menendez did not vote to repeal the amendment. He just did not vote (because he is on trial for corruption).

min: *snort*

By fnord12 | September 15, 2017, 3:21 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

C'mon Bernie you slacker

Is this productive in any way? Or is it just designed to infuriate me?

Holding constant rallies campaigning for her, in defense of ACA, on a unity tour, uniting Dems around Single Payer... clearly not enough.

By fnord12 | September 14, 2017, 5:04 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The Poseur Stamp

At least i got it before they put Tye Sheridan on the cover.

By fnord12 | September 14, 2017, 7:39 AM | Boooooks | Link


Matt Stoller has an interesting article on the history of credit rating agencies.

Two interesting tidbits, neither really the main point:

..in the 1960s, BankAmericard (now Visa), suffering from low adoption rates for its card, mailed millions of unsolicited credit cards to individuals. Not applications for credit cards, but the cards themselves. A crime wave ensued. Trucks full of cards were driven away by organized crime. People who received the cards didn't know how to use them. Many thought the cards were simply a way to get free stuff; they didn't realize they'd have to pay the bill later.


As they say in the industry, with a credit card you can buy a car; without a credit card you can't even rent one. (I have a pet theory that the rise of credit cards in earnest is one reason for the dramatic drop in street crime since the 1990s.)

By fnord12 | September 13, 2017, 7:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Who voted to keep AUMF?

Rand Paul managed to get an amendment to the floor on repealing the AUMFs that are justifying endless war. The amendment failed (no surprise), but Jonathan Cohn has the list of Democrats that voted against Paul's amendment. I'm a little surprised about who is on the list, including the Democratic Senators from New Hampshire and one from Hawaii. Also surprising is who is not on the list - my terrible Senator Menendez apparently voted for the amendment [see update], and so did Tim Kaine (!) and Dianne Feinstein (!!). Gives one (a small amount) of hope.

By fnord12 | September 13, 2017, 4:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

How to pay for Medicare For All

Bernie provides options.

By fnord12 | September 13, 2017, 4:21 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Asians Just Aren't Expressive


"I work with a lot of different people, and Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they're not very expressive," one other casting director told Yuen. "They're very shut down in their emotions ... If it's a look thing for business where they come in they're at a computer or if they're like a scientist or something like that, they'll do that; but if it's something were they really have to act and get some kind of performance out of, it's a challenge."

Yep. We Asians are just so inscrutable that it's amazing there are thriving film industries in Asian countries.

By min | September 12, 2017, 11:40 AM | Liberal Outrage & Movies & TeeVee | Link

Harris, Warren, Gillibrand, Booker... who's next?

We should encourage every Democrat to run for president. Then they will all have to sign on to Bernie's Single-Payer Bill.

By fnord12 | September 11, 2017, 1:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Double Down

Some more Naomi Klein on climate change for you.

AS ONE OF the most powerful storms ever recorded bore down on the continental United States, with much of Florida under evacuation order, President Donald Trump was focused on a matter of grave urgency.

He gathered his cabinet at Camp David and said there was no time to waste. With Hurricane Irma set to potentially devastate huge swaths of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, now was the time, he said, to rush through massive ... tax cuts.


Some have speculated that seeing the reality of climate change hit so close to home this summer -- Houston underwater, Los Angeles licked by flames, and now southern states getting battered by Irma -- might be some kind of wake-up call for climate change-denying Republicans.

But Trump's timing is even more revealing for what it shows about what's really driving climate change denial on the right. It's not a rejection of the science, but a rejection of the consequences of the science. Put simply, if the science is true, then the whole economic project that has dominated American power structures since Ronald Reagan was president is out the window, and the deniers know it.

Because if climate change is driving the kinds of catastrophes we are seeing right now -- and it is -- then it doesn't just mean Trump has to apologize and admit he was wrong when he called it a Chinese hoax. It means that he also needs to junk his whole tax plan, because we're going to need that tax money (and more) to pay for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. And it also means he's going to have to junk his deregulatory plan, because if we are going to change how we power our lives, we're going to need all kinds of regulations to manage and enforce it. And, of course, this is not just about Trump -- it's about all the climate-denying Republican governors whose states are currently being pounded. All of them would have to junk an entire twisted worldview holding that the market is always right, regulation is always wrong, private is good and public is bad, and taxes that support public services are the worst of all.

And the Dems are not blameless either. I think they're even worse because they acknowledge climate change but refuse to get the hell out of our way so something can be done about it. They are driving 35mph in the fast lane.

And this isn't only about the right -- it's also about the center. What mainstream liberals have been saying about climate change for decades is that we simply need to tweak the existing system here and there and everything will be fine. You can have Goldman Sachs capitalism plus solar panels. But at this stage, the challenge we are up against is much deeper than that.

I think we're pretty much doomed. Mebbe dinosaurs will eventually come back and get a second chance. At least they were blameless in their extinction.

By min | September 11, 2017, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

These Guys Have Cracked the Code on Asian Women

So much not. SMH

By min | September 10, 2017, 6:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

It'll Blow Over

Keep telling yourself that. Naomi Klein on our climate crisis and the wildfires engulfing the north of the continent.

For millions of people from California to Greenland, Oregon to Portugal, British Columbia to Montana, Siberia to South Africa, the summer of 2017 has been the summer of fire. And more than anything else, it's been the summer of ubiquitous, inescapable smoke.

For years, climate scientists have warned us that a warming world is an extreme world, in which humanity is buffeted by both brutalizing excesses and stifling absences of the core elements that have kept fragile life in equilibrium for millennia. At the end of the summer of 2017 -- with major cities submerged in water and others licked by flames -- we are currently living through Exhibit A of this extreme world, one in which natural extremes come head-to-head with social, racial, and economic ones.


Worse, in true shock doctrine form, some extractive industries are actively using the fiery state of emergency to get stuff done that was impossible during normal times. For instance, Taseko Mines has been fighting for years to build a highly contentious, open pit gold and copper mine in one of the parts of British Columbia hit hardest by the fires. Fierce opposition among the Tsilhqot'in First Nation has so far successfully fended off the toxic project, resulting in several key regulatory victories.

But this July, with several of the impacted Tsilhqot'in communities under evacuation order or holding their ground to fight the fires themselves, the outgoing British Columbia government -- notorious as a "wild west" of political payola -- did something extraordinary. In its last week in office after suffering a humiliating election defeat, the government handed Taseko a raft of permits to move ahead with exploration. "It defies compassion that while our people are fighting for our homes and lives, B.C. issues permits that will destroy more of our land beyond repair," said Russell Myers Ross, a Tsilhqot'in chief. A representative of the outgoing government responded: "I appreciate this may come at a difficult time for you given the wildfire situation affecting some of your communities."

By min | September 10, 2017, 3:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Turn Me Into Soup


U.C.L.A. is the only place in California that liquefies the dead. But after five years and hundreds of bodies processed, Dean Fisher, director of the university's Donated Body Program, hopes to change that. He has been working with state legislators on a bill allowing funeral homes to use this process, called alkaline hydrolysis.
Such machines break down tissue using lye (water mixed with a small quantity of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide), which snaps the chemical bonds that hold together proteins, fats, DNA and other bodily building blocks. Multiple mechanisms can be used: The most expensive machines boil the lye at high pressure and 150 degrees Celsius, which can disintegrate a body in few hours. Cheaper models--unpressurized and operating below boiling point--might take a day (and are frowned on by some of those championing the pressurized approach, who are not convinced the budget-friendly models will always fully digest the remains). Some machines keep the body horizontal; others tip it into the lye. But with any of these approaches what comes out should be a brown soup of simple organic molecules that can be poured into a sewer system. The bones, however, do not dissolve. They can be pulverized and given to the family of the deceased. Companies marketing the technique trumpet its low greenhouse gas emissions compared with flame crematoriums that burn natural gas. Alkaline hydrolysis uses energy primarily to heat and cool the lye--and thus emits about 80 percent less carbon dioxide--according to an estimate by TNO, an independent research and development consulting organization in the Netherlands. "If you're concerned about gas emissions, the choice is pretty obvious," says California Assemblyman Todd Gloria. He wrote California's new bill after being approached by Qico, a company in San Diego prototyping alkaline hydrolysis technology.
But is the soapy soup it dumps into the sewer safe? Disease should not be a problem because the roiling lye sterilizes the organic material, says Joe Wilson, CEO of Bio-Response Solutions. The company, based in Danville, Ind., built many of the low-cost units now used in funeral homes, including Jeff Edwards's in Ohio. "It's hot as hell in there, and alkali is a powerful sterilant at temperature," Wilson says. Testing on animal carcasses, much of which has been peer-reviewed, seems to back his claims. "Even the hardiest pathogen, an anthrax spore, is easily killed," he says, adding that the process also breaks down toxic chemicals such as embalming fluid.

I would like it better if the crematoriums had to put the goo thru a preliminary wastewater treatment process first before dumping it down the drain. Despite the process to bring down the pH, it could still be a problem for the pipes over time and because of sheer volume, especially considering the age of our sewer systems. Plus, the wastewater treatment plants weren't designed to deal with large volumes of high pH influx on a regular basis. It could adversely affect the microbial population in the digestion tanks used to "clean" the wastewater.

But i'm all for cremation. That or becoming a tree.

By min | September 7, 2017, 1:45 PM | Science | Link

...Which doesn't meant the problem doesn't need to be solved

Continuing from my last post: just because we're willing to excuse a candidate's lack of expertise (and/or the lack of existence of an expertise apparatus behind him) during the election, that doesn't mean that they don't need to develop that expertise once they're elected. In other words, the criticism from Vox, etc. (Krugman) was a valid; it was just a second order problem. Not solving that second order problem once elected definitely can be a disaster. After Obama won the primary against Clinton, it was pretty shocking and dismaying to see him pick up so many people from her campaign (and her husband's presidency). The explanation was that the Clinton people were the only ones who had "experience" in Washington, so they were the only people that could be chosen. That was debatable, and it led to bad policy (e.g. the poor response to the financial crisis), but i sort of kind of understand how it happened.

And we also see this with Trump. Trump is plenty evil on his own, but amplifying the problem is the fact that he was so toxic he was only able to populate his administration with people worse than him. So (if we believe it) we have situations like this regarding the decision to repeal DACA:

Still, the president was conflicted until the end about how to address the plight of dreamers, waffling repeatedly in recent days about how to phase out the program.

As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to comment on it.

I don't expect something like that to happen if Bernie were to run and win in 2020, but the possibility of him pushing not-ready-for-prime-time bills is real. That's why Yglesias' article below, appealing to think tanks to start working on real progressive ideas, is interesting. I also think that experts will flock to the White House if there's an opportunity, and i have more faith in Sanders than Obama in being willing to take outsiders without "experience", but it's definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration.

By fnord12 | September 5, 2017, 12:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Think Tanks

Vox has recently discovered think tanks, with Matthew Yglesias writing an article about how there's no progressive support network for ideas like Single Payer, and now Zack Beauchamp on how the Dems literally don't have foreign policy think tanks. Beauchamp briefly identifies the problem (which applies to Yglesias' article too): many "liberals" don't support ideas like single payer and are fine with our current foreign policy. And those "liberals" are exclusively the ones that have the money to fund think tanks. I honestly don't see how that situation changes.

I'm glad Vox is discovering this, because during the 2016 primaries they were at the forefront of people complaining that Bernie Sanders' ideas weren't at the flushed-out white paper level that Clinton's were, that he didn't have an array of foreign policy experts supporting him, etc.. For those of us who supported Bernie, the fact that he was willing and able to go beyond the conventional acceptable discourse was the whole point, and the fact that he didn't have sophisticated policy papers on his website didn't really matter much.

By fnord12 | September 5, 2017, 11:51 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Just invade us, Canada. You'll get help from the inside.

Canada on NAFTA renegotiation:

Canadian negotiators are demanding the United States roll back so-called "right to work" laws - accused of gutting unions in some U.S. states by starving them of money - as part of the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement.


Jerry Dias, the leader of Canada's largest private-sector trade union, said Ottawa's negotiators are: pushing Mexico on its corporate-sanctioned unions, which are accused of negotiating collective agreements unfavourable to workers; agitating for both countries to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does; and targeting American right-to-work laws that allow workers in unionized shops to refuse to pay dues, draining money from unions.

By fnord12 | September 4, 2017, 1:23 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Don't tell them yet

Marshall Steinbaum has a study showing how Universal Basic Income would give the economy a huge boost. The study's conclusion works from the opposite direction of tech magnates like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who have been advocating for UBI because they think their innovations are going to displace everyone's jobs. But don't tell those guys yet. I love that they are out there advocating for UBI. Let them do that, and let's get our UBI, and then we'll use our monopoly laws to bust their companies (or nationalize them).

Update: Vox also has a write-up on the study.

By fnord12 | September 2, 2017, 12:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Houston vs. Bangladesh

Dean Baker on global warming:

We are seeing many terrible pictures from Houston as a result of Hurricane Harvey. People with young children and pets are wading through high water in the hope of being rescued by boat or helicopter. Elderly people in nursing homes are sitting in waist high water waiting to be rescued. It's a pretty horrible story.

One thing we can feel good about is that because the United States is a wealthy country, we do have large numbers of boats and helicopters and trained rescue workers able to assist the victims of the storm. We also have places where we can take these people where they will have shelter, as well access to food and medical care. However bad the human toll will be from Harvey, it would be hugely worse without these resources.


Bangladesh experiences seasonal monsoon rains [which] are likely to get worse in the years ahead, as one of the effects of global warming. This will mean that the flooding will be worse.

Bangladesh does not have large amounts of resources to assist the people whose homes are flooded. It does not have the same number of boats and helicopters and trained rescue workers to save people trapped by rising water. Nor can it guarantee that people who do escape will have access to adequate shelter, medical care, or even clean drinking water. This means many more people are likely to be dying from floods in Bangladesh in part as a result of the impact of global warming.

Emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming are often treated as a natural market outcome, whereas efforts to restrict emissions are viewed as government intervention. This is nonsense.

Allowing people to emit greenhouse gases without paying for the damage done is like allowing them to dump their sewage on their neighbor's lawn. Everyone understands that we are responsible for dealing with our own sewage and not imposing a cost on our neighbor. It's the same story with greenhouse gases.

By fnord12 | September 2, 2017, 12:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Da-Ding Ding Ding Dada Ding Ding

This interview is legend among my people. I never considered trying to find it on YouTube, but i have stumbled upon it.

By fnord12 | September 1, 2017, 12:57 PM | Music | Link

Kirby the "Unknown" King?

Always fun to see normie mags talking about comics history. The Johnny Carson anecdote is interesting.

By fnord12 | August 28, 2017, 2:53 PM | Comics | Link

The Chump Defense


Republican leaders -- both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, as well as Ryan's predecessor John Boehner, and the chairs of all the relevant committees -- spent years and years lying to everyone in sight about Republican health plans...

Trump, of course, very much falls into that core audience for Republican Party spin. So when Republican leaders said over and over and over again that they had a plan to replace Obamacare with something better, Trump naturally developed the opinion that they had a plan to replace Obamacare with something better. And if they had had such a plan, it wouldn't have been difficult to pass it...

...All that said, Trump is president now. On the campaign trail, he outlined some humane and politically popular ideas about health care policy like that Medicaid shouldn't be cut and that the United States should have a system that covers everybody even if that means the government needs to pay for it.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2017, 10:06 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The Dems' small donor problem

Ryan Cooper.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2017, 6:58 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Deep down the Twitter hole

It is 4 am. I am sitting in my hotel room, high on Coke Zero, laughing my ass off at meta-level twitter memes that no one i interact with in real life will ever begin to comprehend.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2017, 6:50 AM | My stupid life | Link

I don't watch videos

Ryan Cooper has a number of more substantive points, but there's just a practical point against the "pivot to video" movement for me. I can read an article in a 10th of the time it takes me to watch a video, especially in this context where the videos just consist of people talking at me. And the dirty secret is that many people are consuming all of this stuff at work, where you can't really watch videos anyway.

(Once again in this regard i am like a Millennial.)

By fnord12 | August 24, 2017, 9:23 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Ben Carson Running HUD With the Power of Positive Thinking

Cause there's nothing else. No money, no management, no direction.


In the end, Singleton said, Carson accepted out of a sense of duty that came from having risen to success from humble origins: raised by a single mother, a housekeeper, in Detroit. "He's someone born in an environment where the odds were clearly stacked against him, and he believes by personal experience that he could do a lot of good for others." Kemp agreed. Carson accepted, he said, "because he wanted to do something about poverty." If anything, Kemp said, Carson felt more suited to the HUD job than he would to a health-policy one."Being surgeon general or secretary of [Health and Human Services], I don't think he was fully equipped to do that, having been a neurosurgeon," Kemp said. In other words, Carson knew how little he knew about health policy, an awareness he lacked when it came to social policy. "He thought with HUD, 'It's so clear that our approach to poverty has not been completely successful and we can do better, and I think I have some ideas that can be applied,' " Kemp said.

Underlying this rationale were two related convictions. One was the standard conservative bias against expertise and bureaucracy, according to which experts lacked the "common sense" that an outsider from the private sector could provide -- a conviction shared, of course, by the man who nominated Carson for the job. The other was a more particular conviction that he, Carson, possessed extra doses of such common sense by virtue of his biography.

He's a black man who grew up poor. That automatically makes him qualified to run HUD. Clearly.

He's also got some interesting ideas about what slavery was.

There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."

The assembled employees stifled their reaction to this jarringly upbeat characterization of chattel slavery. But in HUD's Baltimore satellite, where many in the heavily African-American office were watching the speech on an online feed at their desks, the gasps were audible.

And when the Trump administration cut the HUD budget by $7 billion, Carson told the HUD employees not to worry, poverty is a state of mind.

But if Carson was troubled by the disembowelment of his department, he showed no sign of it. Even before the final numbers were out, he had assured housing advocates that cuts would be made up for by money dedicated to housing in the big infrastructure bill Trump was promising -- a notion that his fellow Republican Kemp, among others, found far-fetched. "I'm not sure he understood how that would work," Kemp told me. "He was probably repeating what had been told to him." Then, a day after the budget was released, Carson downplayed the importance of programs for the poor in a radio interview with Armstrong Williams, saying that poverty was largely a "state of mind." This, more than anything, seemed to be a crystallization of the Carson philosophy of HUD: that privation would be solved by the power of positive thinking, that his own extraordinary rise was scalable and could be replicated millions of times over.

Two weeks later, Carson went to Capitol Hill to testify on the budget proposal before Congressional panels that would have the final say on the numbers. With Kasper perched over his shoulder, he told both the Senate and House committees that they shouldn't get overly hung up on the cuts. "We must look for human solutions, not just policies and programs," he said. "Our programs must reach out and so must our hearts." The budget, he added, would "help more eligible Americans achieve freedom from regulations and bureaucracy and the ability to govern themselves."

The one thing he seemed concerned about was the possibility of public housing being too luxurious. Yep. That's the problem. Poor people are living too well with their doors that open and close and elevators that only stop working some of the time.

And like Trump, Carson's got his family hanging around, attending meetings, and making decisions. Career employees are leaving. Those who are staying have been barred from doing the work that they normally do. And the HUD secretary running it all is perpetually mentally checked out.

By min | August 22, 2017, 4:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


By fnord12 | August 20, 2017, 12:24 PM | Comics | Link

How about now?

I missed this when it came out but it seems relevant today:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton will slam Republican Donald Trump for being too friendly with North Korea...

Trump has said he would sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to try to stop Pyongyang's nuclear programme and has criticized the decades-old NATO alliance with mainly European nations as obsolete and too costly for the United States.

..."Donald Trump's statements about North Korea show that he has more interest in making Kim Jong Un like him than backing up our friends and allies in the region," [Clinton aide Jake] Sullivan said, noting that South Korea has worked with the United States on missile defence.

Today, Dianne Feinstein is surprising me in a good way by admitting that isolating North Korea hasn't worked.

By fnord12 | August 8, 2017, 6:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Inequality illustrated

The New York Times has a nice animated chart illustrating the data from Piketty (et all).

By fnord12 | August 8, 2017, 10:48 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Thank you for your service

Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions.

...the distressing trend could have a grim upside: If people don't end up living as long as they were projected to just a few years ago, their employers ultimately won't have to pay them as much in pension and other lifelong retirement benefits.

By fnord12 | August 8, 2017, 10:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Deweaponize the debt limit

Brian Beutler argues that now is a good time.

By fnord12 | August 7, 2017, 12:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

How About We Stop Trying to Find Ways to Blame the Victim?

If someone gets punched by another person, do we ask the assault victim "yes, but did you fight back?" and use that as a measure for how guilty the attacker is. Link

Survivors of sexual assault who come forward often confront doubt on the part of others. Did you fight back? they are asked. Did you scream? Just as painful for them, if not more so, can be a sense of guilt and shame. Why did I not resist? they may ask themselves. Is it my fault? And to make matters worse, although the laws are in flux in various jurisdictions, active resistance can be seen as necessary for a legal or even "common sense" definition of rape. Unless it is clearly too dangerous, as when the rapist is armed, resisting is generally thought to be the "normal" reaction to sexual assault.

But new research adds to the evidence debunking this common belief. According to a recent study, a majority of female rape survivors who visited the Emergency Clinic for Rape Victims in Stockholm reported they did not fight back. Many also did not yell for help. During the assault they experienced a kind of temporary paralysis called tonic immobility. And those who experienced extreme tonic immobility were twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and three times more likely to suffer severe depression in the months after the attack than women who did not have this response.

Tonic immobility (TI) describes a state of involuntary paralysis in which individuals cannot move or, in many cases, even speak. In animals this reaction is considered an evolutionary adaptive defense to an attack by a predator when other forms of defense are not possible. Much less is known about this phenomenon in humans, although it has been observed in soldiers in battle as well as in survivors of sexual assault. A study from 2005, for example, found 52 percent of female undergraduates who reported childhood sexual abuse said they experienced this paralysis.

We have the expressions "deer in the headlights" and "frozen with fear". I'm sure there are plenty of horror movies depicting a victim standing still with their mouth moving silently as the terrible thing approaches. Is it really so amazing that someone who is threatened with sexual assault will experience the same kind of paralysis?

This "rape-induced paralysis," [University of Sydney psychiatrist Kasia Kozlowska] explains, is one of six automatically activated defense behaviors in animals and humans that make up the "defense cascade." Typically, nonhuman animals are programmed to go through each of the states as the proximity of the danger escalates. The stages are: arousal (alertness to possible danger); freezing (momentarily putting flight or fight on hold while assessing danger); "flight or fight"; tonic immobility; collapsed immobility (fainting in fear); and quiescent immobility (a subsequent state of rest that promotes healing). People who experience sexual assault may go through several of these stages, or skip straight to tonic immobility.

Each of the defense reactions, she explains, involves activation of motor and arousal centers in the brain and changes in pain and sensory processing. When flight or fight is possible, motor programs for running or fighting are activated, the arousal system is switched to a high-energy setting and nonopioid analgesia is switched on. This helps the victim either run away or fight the predator. When flight or fight is not possible, immobility motor programs are activated, causing the paralysis. At the same time, the arousal system is switched to a low-energy setting, and the brain is flooded with "opioid analgesia" to reduce the intensity of the fear and pain.

Humans and other animals cannot control these defense mechanisms. In humans who are being raped, tonic immobility may be immediately triggered when their sensory inputs (touch, smell and so on) reach a critical threshold and they feel there is no escape.

The system should be focusing on the rapists and their behavior and not on trying to shift responsibility to the victims.

By min | August 4, 2017, 2:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Some good discussion here.

This in particular was interesting, but it almost reaches conspiracy theory levels. IF it's true, it's pretty sick.

For a while it was, achieving impressive gains in health care, life expectancy, education, and social security; radically expanding political participation, bringing the excluded and marginal into the debate and giving diverse social movements access to political power; and charting a foreign policy independent from Washington. Now that model is in ruins. It's easy to criticize Chavismo for riding high oil prices. That critique, however accurate, captures only half the story: Chávez, and his cohort of oil diplomats, largely helped create those high oil prices, revitalizing OPEC, affirming Venezuela's commitment to OPEC production quotas and pricing, and working with non-OPEC energy-producing countries, like Brazil and Mexico, to reverse the neoliberal dream...

...saw high petroleum prices as a way to tax the First World, and then redistribute that revenue through equitable social programs, solidarity, and support for poor energy-importing nations, and an oppositional foreign policy. Thus many of Barack Obama's energy initiatives, especially when Hillary Clinton was at the State Department, were counterstrikes against this repoliticization of oil: promoting fracking, not just in the United States but worldwide; wooing of Mexico away from Venezuela while promoting the privatization of PEMEX, Mexico's state-run oil industry; turning Central America into one big biofuel plantation (that's one of the things the 2009 coup in Honduras was about). It worked.

By fnord12 | August 3, 2017, 5:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Bitter fight

Ryan Cooper on the left's distrust of the 2020 candidates.

Semi-relatedly, i've found this mocking of Mark Zuckerberg's "I Swear I'm Not Running For President" tour to be pretty funny.

Meanwhile, here is some full throated union support from Bernie, who is helping to organize at the Nissan plant in Mississippi.

By fnord12 | August 3, 2017, 12:42 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Hulk like beans!

I try to not do too much vegan advocacy on this blog and i just linked to a related article yesterday, but i won't pass up an opportunity to advocate for that prince of foods, the bean.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 11:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Valentine Moghadam

My level of sophistication on Syria doesn't extend much beyond "we should get the fuck out", but this is a compelling interview.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 1:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Kate Brown

As every centrist politician in the country has been hinting that they're going to run in the Dem 2020 primary, i've found myself wondering how to get around the problem that aside from Bernie and Elizabeth Warren* there's basically no one acceptable to the growing leftist wing. Not just for 2020, but just in general. There's Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison* and a few others in the House, basically no one else in the Senate. The Berniecrats are having a lot of success at local levels and with Our Revolution and Justice Democrats and the like i am hoping that they continue to bubble up. But not a strong bench of people ready now. But the governor of Oregon seems pretty good.

*Foreign policy still being a big problem with these two.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 1:08 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"shocked that $20 'rabbit ears' pluck signals from the air; is this legal?"


Carlos Villalobos, 21, who was selling tube-shaped digital antennas at a swap meet in San Diego recently, says customers often ask if his $20 to $25 products are legal. "They don't trust me when I say that these are actually free local channels," he says.

Earlier this year, he got an earful from a woman who didn't get it. "She was mad," he recalls. "She says, 'No, you can't live in America for free, what are you talking about?'"

Almost a third of Americans (29%) are unaware local TV is available free, according to a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters, an industry trade group.

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 12:04 PM | Liberal Outrage & TeeVee | Link

Fast food as government policy

New Republic reviewing Supersizing Urban America.

In the wake of the 1968 riots, Nixon's law-and-order presidency began programs that doled out federal funds to fast food franchises. The administration asserted that black-owned businesses serving fast food would help to cure urban unrest by promoting an entrepreneurial spirit in poor communities. The federal subsidization of McDonald's and other chains to enter urban markets previously considered too poor or dangerous was meant to promote "black capitalism."

By fnord12 | August 2, 2017, 10:51 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Kevin Drum Misrepresents Research Results on Public Perception of the Homeless

What happened to you, Mother Jones? Link

An article published on July 14 by Mother Jones produced widespread anger. The piece, written by Kevin Drum, began by discussing newly published research from two political science professors on public perceptions of homeless people. Drum addressed the seemingly contradictory findings that people generally support aid to the homeless but also favor banning panhandling and sleeping in public.

Drum's controversial passage came when he attempted to reconcile these views with this reasoning (emphasis in original):

The researchers solved their conundrum by suggesting that most people are disgusted by the homeless. No kidding. About half the homeless suffer from a mental illness and a third abuse either alcohol or drugs. You'd be crazy not to have a reflexive disgust of a population like that. Is that really so hard to get?
The profound problems with Drum's argument are self-evident. To begin with, it relies on a crude, ugly stereotype of homeless people -- as well as addicts and people with mental health problems -- that makes it hard to believe Drum ever interacts with any people in any of those groups. The work I've done with homeless people over the last two years confirms what should be extremely obvious: Many people end up living on the street because of some combination of economic hardship, bad luck, job loss, and a lack of family support; any decent human being reacts to their plight with sympathy, empathy, and compassion -- not disgust.

Worse, the reasoning in the Mother Jones article implies that people are naturally and justifiably disgusted by those who lose their homes, struggle with addiction, or have mental health afflictions. Who still thinks this way? It's as if a caricature of some 1950s retrograde moralizer was reincarnated as a 21st-century columnist for a magazine named after a fiery pro-labor revolutionary.

But perhaps the most serious problem is one raised by the researchers on whom the Mother Jones article purports to rely. In an email to me, which I promptly posted on Twitter, one those researchers -- professor Spencer Piston of Boston University -- objected that the Mother Jones article profoundly misrepresented their research:

Especially infuriating to me is that he misinterpreted our scholarship to do so. We argue that media coverage of homeless people often portrays them as unclean or diseased, which activates disgust among the general public. But he cites our research as proof that homeless people are inherently disgusting -- which perpetuates the very problem in journalism our research was trying to solve.

The article goes on to print the full response the researchers sent The Intercept for publication. Feelings of disgust for the homeless are a learned behavior that are, at the very least, exacerbated, if not caused by, the negative way they are portrayed in the media. And here comes Mother Jones basically saying, "Of course! The homeless are disgusting." *smacks forehead* Great self-reflection there, Kevin Drum. I'm also starting to question your reading comprehension abilities.

The response from Mother Jones' editor-in-chief shows how the magazine continues to miss the point.

[Clara Jeffery] had only this to say: "Piston and Clifford's point is that 'support for these counterproductive policies is driven in part by disgust.' Kevin was attempting, in a very brief post, to challenge readers and policymakers to contend with those shortcomings of compassion."

Uh, no. They were actually challenging you, the media, to overcome your shortcomings in they way you report on the homeless.

By min | August 2, 2017, 10:39 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.