Wednesday, July 29, 2009

False dilemmas and snake oil, from Greta Christina?

Greta Christina, your Fat-Positive Diet post was almost perfect. Seriously, as both a skeptic and a FA advocate, I enjoyed both of your posts.

But when I read this, I knew I needed to say something:
And when I start thinking that this weight loss thing isn't that big a deal and I can have that ice cream if I want it, it helps to imagine my old age, and to think about whether I want to be spending it dancing, walking in the woods, exploring new cities, on my knees committing unspeakable sexual acts... or sitting on a sofa watching TV and waiting to die.
Lovely, lovely Greta. Firstly, that's the False Dilemma fallacy, and you should know better. I know that framing it that way might help sustain you in achieving your goals, but that doesn't make it something you should necessarily promote on your blag.

Most importantly, though... look, I know that in this case, you're talking about your knee, and how much better your knee feels since you've lost weight, and all the awesome things you'll be able to continue doing with your knee... but this paragraph still echoes the Fantasy of Being Thin. Strongly.

I know that you haven't let your fatness stop you from doing any of those above-mentioned actions, and you don't think they're reserved only for those Good Moral Skinny People. But you do basically state that you need to be thin(ner) to continue doing those things.

Yes, yes, because of your knee! Your bad knee, which will only get worse if you don't stop being fat on it! But you don't acknowledge that losing weight is only a temporary measure. Not because I think you'll gain the weight back, but because weight is not the only thing that causes bad knees to get worse. Age, everyday wear-and-tear, accidents... look, I don't know your medical history, but I'm betting with all that dancing and walking and kneeling for unspeakable acts, your knee's going to get worn on regardless. Losing weight now will reduce the rate of that wear, fer sure, but it won't cure your bad knee.

I get the impression that you think that losing weight is a permanent, life-long cure, because that's how you're framing it. Lighter me = active self into my old age. Heavy me = sitting on couch waiting to die. And that's how your readers are reading it. Us fatties have been told that shit - "Just lose some weight, and [complicated, multi-faceted problem] will be ALL BETTER, FOREVAR!" - over and over AND OVER again, and it's always an exaggeration.*

I understand you have your theory in the right place both with FA and skepticism, and that writing about dieting sucks when you're on a diet (for the same reason that writing about quitting smoking sucks when you're quitting smoking - it reminds you of That Thing You Want To Do But Aren't Supposed To Be Doing), and that it's easy for you to let an irrational-but-motivating thought pattern slide.

But.. gah. You're just wrong here. And it's making this reader cringe.

*Progressively angry aside:

This is, of course, not to say that losing weight won't ever help a bad knee at all and so you shouldn't even try losing weight. I'm not a fucking moron, and I'm willing to bet that most in the fatosphere aren't either, so your other post claiming just that is even more cringeworthy. In terms of putting weight on a bad knee, I'm fairly certain that reasonable FA peeps would agree that simply in terms of physics, it's better to put 140 lbs on it than 200, and if you're willing and able to give it an attempt, then good luck! All the best! Hope it works!

In terms of diet and activity level, even as a scientist and a skeptic, I've seen no good reason to believe that one person can't be just as healthy at 200 lbs as another person is at 140, but I do have a hard time believing that any one person could be practicing equally healthy habits at 200 lbs and 140 lbs.

In addition, the implication that fat people are fat because they are eating quadruple- patty hamburgers and chocolate chip pancakes and sausage on a stick and candy bars is a little unnecessary from someone who calls herself a fat-acceptance advocate, especially when that person acknowledges 1) that you can eat healthily and still be fat and 2) it's still important to plan in some non-weight-loss-y foods while dieting because total deprivation would be, in your own god-damned words, "intolerable".

Oh, and for fuck's sake, comparing eating to drug use?! Christ, Greta. I still love you, but... fuck.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

You mean polls can be biased?! SAY IT AIN'T SO...

Onenewsnow is one of the most unintentionally hilarious sites out there, as illustrated by this poll of theirs:
What is the impact of positive portrayals of homosexuality on network and cable TV?
Ow. Owwwww. Ow. The pain, the agony, the stupid. I seriously think they covered all of the stupid bases. Maybe add an option "5. Sodomy in the streets" and call it a night.

But it isn't quite as amusingly blatant as BillO's "No Spin Poll". Yet.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm never too busy to post neuroscience linkies!

Whenever you're letting your mind wander, not thinking about anything in particular, there's a few areas in your brain that have coordinated, cyclic activity levels. This activity is suppressed whenever you decide to concentrate on a task. This brain network has been labeled "the default network", and it's theorized to play a role in abstract simulations.

If you want to read a little about it, ScienceNews has this really neat piece out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Graduate school preparation...

Departure date: Aug 1
TA training begins: Aug 7
Class begins: Aug 23? 24? Shit. I should know this.

Things I've done:
  • Acquired housing (and an awesome roommate, to boot!)
  • Sent my immunization record to the new university
  • Sent all appropriate forms from the Welcome Packet to the new U
  • Boxed up my cat's litter pan, food dish, water dish, and poop scooper to pre-ship to my new place (so my cat will have her needs met when we arrive)
  • Set up my university mail account
  • Registered for the grad student open-house introductory thingy
  • Bought a one-way plane ticket (gulp!)
Things I have yet to do:
  • Have my official I'm-graduated-I-swear transcript from Pitt sent to the new U
  • Pack any of my clothes or personal effects (affects?)
  • Clean the room I'm sleeping in
  • Vacuum the room that's currently the cat-poop-box room
And on top of all that, I have a going-away party tomorrow, and a bridal shower on Saturday (for which I am a bridesmaid, so I must help pwe...pwewp...pewpwewe... get weady).

There's a small knot in my stomach, for some reason.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I have a very good idea.

I want to do a pop-up style neuroscience kids' book, with a slidey thing to demonstrate action potential propagation.

(c) me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Big Ben's civil suit

As a native Burgher who isn't a woman-blaming fuck, I need to take a second to counter this "gold-digger" narrative coming from almost everyone I know regarding the woman taking Big Ben Roethlisberger to civil court over an alleged rape.

The alleged rape happened a year ago. If the she really had been raped, why wouldn't she have called the police then? Gotten a rape kit done? Pressed criminal charges?

This might give you a clue as to why. Or this.

If that's too vague for you try a quote from this...
According to her suit, the hotel’s chief of security told her, "Most girls would feel lucky to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger.”
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Roethlisberger really did rape this woman. Put yourself in her hypothetical shoes. It's your word, you silly unknown schmuck, against Ben freaking Roethlisberger's. Big Ben, the quarterback for a nationally beloved team, the SuperBowl-winning team for fuck's sake. Jesus fuck, people, think about it for a second. It'd probably be easier just to try and get over it without involving the criminal justice system.

That leads, always, to question number 2: Why would she press a civil suit now?

Well, let's look at the details.

From the NY Times:
According to the civil complaint filed Friday in the Second Judicial District Court in Washoe County, Nev., the woman accused Roethlisberger of assault while he was a guest at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, where she is an employee. The suit, however, is also for libel and slander and is filed against nine defendants, including Roethlisberger. The eight others are reportedly employees at Harrah’s whom the woman accuses of defaming her following the assault. She also says Harrah's did not adequately investigate her complaint.
And these from The Examiner:
The lawsuit was coincidentally filed the week that Roethlisberger happened to be in Nevada attending another golf tournament.
Coincidentally, eh? Let's assume this woman's claims are true. Big Ben rapes her while in Nevada for a golf tournament. She presumably doesn't report it because of the horrible backlash that she'd face. She presumably tries her best to get over it. But it doesn't work. Over the next year, people she works with throw it in her face repeatedly. They tell her she's lucky to have been raped. She ends up spending time in a mental health hospital with depression.

And then the prick comes back to town a year later for another golf tournament. Wouldn't you be worried, if the man who raped you (and got away with it) was strolling back into town, just like before? Wouldn't you be furious, that this man who raped you, who made your past year miserable, was just walking around like nothing happened?

If you were in her position, and everything she said were true, wouldn't you want some justice?

At that point, a year later, a criminal suit is out of the question. So what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to go on pretending nothing happened? You saw how much good that did you. The only real recourse you have is a civil suit.

Which is what she's doing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blog Silence

So, you guys should be used to semi-periodic blag silences from me by now, right?

I'm moving several hundred miles on Aug 1 to start graduate school, and what with getting my old place all cleaned up, doing obligatory Family Stuff, managing a surprise summer relationship, seeing all of my friends before I leave, and maintaining my sanity... I suppose you can forgive me for spending more time in meatspace than usual.

But, hey, if you're bored you can scroll down to my post below and delurk! Cmon, you know you want to... :P

Monday, July 6, 2009

Penny Arcade

The story arc going on right now at Penny Arcade is simply magnificent.

It starts here, and then is continued here. After #2, you can just hit "next" and page through them.

I can't wait for #5.

Also, it's as important to check the "News" tab when reading PA as it is to check the alt-text for xkcd.

I haven't forgotten about you, Stephanie!!

Hokays, so I got tagged by Steph Zvan about 90 years ago in blagoweb time, and in this moment of perusing youtube I should really get on with it.

I'm supposed to pick out the worst cover song, and then the best. I haven't been ignoring you, I've just been carefully researching. (Also, ignoring everyone. Not just you! Lol.)

So the very worst? Alanis - My Humps. Ok, yeah, I know it's supposed to be this whole commentary thing, but THE ORIGINAL HAS SUCH A GOOD GROOVE TO IT. I just didn't dig this reinterpretation. At all. Yech.

The very best? Hands down, to Trent Reznor covering Physical. Omggg, his breathiness into the microphone pretty much leads to insta-orgasm on my part. (/fangirl)

So, um, tags... yeah, as I think this meme has passed its prime, and I'm pretty sure anyone who actually reads my blog has done it already... but if you're reading this, you have a blog, and you haven't done this meme yet, CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED.

I have a motherfucking bachelor's in this subject - WHY DID I NOT LEARN THIS?

I knew NOTHING in that above link.

The University of Pittsburgh fails to teach me adequately where MY FUCKING FIELD came from. Why do I have to hear about Freud in every damn class, but NOTHING about ANY of these people?

Oh yeah, brown people don't count. Gotcha.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Gender discrimination among playwrights.

Have I mentioned how much I love reading feminist critiques of science journalism?

Echidne of the Snakes opens a can of science whoopass on journalists who cannot read the studies about which they report.

To make a long story short, it had been reported in several news outlets that a recent study showed that female directors and managers give worse ratings to female-authored plays, thus women are really the cause of discrimination against female playwrights.

The reporting was very, very wrong.

The study design was:
1) Send out identical plays to many such directors/managers, all of which were actually written by women, but put male names on half of them.
2) Have such directors/managers fill out long questionnaires that asked both about how the director thought the play would be received and also about what the director thought about the actual quality of the play.

The results?

Male directors rated the "male" and "female" authored plays equally on both personal ratings and how they thought it would be recieved.

Female directors rated the "male" and "female" authored plays equally on personal ratings, but they responded that "female" authored plays would be received less-well by others, likely because they were more aware of how gender-based discrimination plays out in these situations.

Apparently in the eyes of science journalists, as Echidne says, "To notice discrimination is to be guilty of it."