January 18, 2018

Why do young women today feel they have less agency than their grandmothers did?

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Megan McArdle on the weird path young women have taken in recent years that earlier cohorts did not:

I have now had dozens of conversations about #MeToo with women my age or older, all of which are some variant on “What the hey?” It’s not that we’re opposed to #MeToo; we are overjoyed to see slime like Harvey Weinstein flushed out of the woodwork, and the studio system. But we see sharp distinctions between Weinstein and guys who press aggressively — embarrassingly, adulterously — for sex. To women in their 20s, it seems that distinction is invisible, and the social punishments demanded for the latter are scarcely less than those meted out for forcible rape.

There’s something else we notice, something that seems deeply connected to these demands for justice: These women express a feeling of overwhelming powerlessness, even though they are not being threatened, either physically or economically. How has the most empowered generation of women in all of human history come to feel less control over their bodies than their grandmothers did?

Let me propose a possible answer to this, suggested by a very smart social scientist of my acquaintance: They feel this way because we no longer have any moral language for talking about sex except consent. So when men do things that they feel are wrong — such as aggressively pursuing casual sex without caring about the feelings of their female target — we’re left flailing for some way to describe this as non-consensual, even when she agreed to the sex.

Under the old code, of course, we had ample condemnatory terms for men who slept with women carelessly, without much regard for their feelings: cads and rakes, bounders and boors. Those words have now decayed into archaism. Yet it seems to me that these are just the words that young women are reaching for, when instead they label things like mutually drunken encounters and horrible one-night stands as an abuse of power, a violation of consent — which is to say, as a crime, or something close to it. To which a lot of other people incredulously respond: now being a bad lover is a crime?

This isn’t working. And perhaps a little expansion of our moral language will illuminate not just our current dilemma, but the structural reasons behind it. I’m thinking of a fairly recent paper by political scientist Michael Munger, which introduced the concept of euvoluntary exchange. Put simply, though we talk a great deal about voluntary exchange, the fact is that we often think voluntary exchanges are morally wrong. After all, the quid pro quo offered by Weinstein was in some sense voluntary, and yet also, totally unacceptable. Likewise price gouging after natural disasters, blackmail and similar breaches.

We have an intuition, says Professor Munger, that in order for an exchange to be really valid, both parties need to have a minimally acceptable alternative to making the deal. And in the case of sex, I think that often women no longer feel they have those alternatives. So expanding Professor Munger’s analysis to consensual sex — we might call it euconsensual sex — may give us some insight into what’s gone wrong.

My generation of women was not exactly unfamiliar with casual sex, or aggressive come-ons. But we didn’t feel so traumatized by them or so outraged. If we went to a man’s apartment, we might be annoyed that he wouldn’t stop asking, but we weren’t offended, nor did we feel it was impossible for us to refuse, or leave.

Weird lawsuit filed against Waymo engineer

Filed under: Business, Law, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In The Register, Kieren McCarthy reports on the case:

The engineer at the center of a massive self-driving car lawsuit – brought by Google-stablemate Waymo against Uber – neglects his kids, is wildly disorganized, and has a large selection of bondage gear, his former nanny has sensationally alleged.

Anthony Levandowski may also be paying a Tesla techie for trade secrets, may have secretly helped set up several self-driving car startups, and at one point planned to flee across the border to Canada in an effort to avoid the legal repercussions of his actions at both Waymo and Uber, it is further claimed.

Those extraordinary allegations come in a highly unusual lawsuit [PDF] filed earlier this month by his ex-nanny Erika Wong, who worked for Waymo’s former star engineer for six months, from December 2016 to June 2017.

Wong’s lawsuit identifies no less than 41 causes of action – ranging from alleged health and safety code violations to emotional distress – and asks for a mind-bogglingly $6m in recompense. Levandowski’s lawyer said the lawsuit is a “work of fiction.”

Not safe for work bits below the fold:


Day 3 Cuban Missile Crisis – The Soviet Nuclear Forces on Cuba

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 2 Nov 2017

On October 18 1962, President Kennedy meets with USSR Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, one of the architects of placement of missiles on Cuba. While the two beat around the bush, Khrushchev and Gromyko’s execution of the Soviet military and nuclear build up on Cuba continues.

Live in Toronto? Feel undertaxed? Here’s your easy solution to give the city more of your money

Filed under: Cancon, Government — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Chris Selley points out that in addition to your opportunity to pay more than your fare share of federal tax (Her Majesty, in right of Canada, is always happy to accept any amount you wish to donate), Toronto taxpayers are able to use a simple form to donate money to the city:

Click to see full-size image.

So here’s a proposal: Torontonians who consider themselves undertaxed should give the city the difference. Every time you get a property tax bill, you get a little blue insert inviting contributions of up to $50,000 to the program of your choice or just into general revenues. Say your house is worth $750,000. Your bill should be around $4,962, or 0.66%. If you think Mississauga’s rate (0.85 per cent) or Brampton’s rate (1.05) per cent is more appropriate, then just cut the city a cheque for the difference ($1,413 or $2,913, respectively), send it back in the envelope provided and watch for your tax receipt. There are a lot of progressive homeowners in this city. It wouldn’t take much before we were talking about real money.

Is this likely to happen? Certainly not. The inserts date from 2010, when council cancelled the vehicle registration tax. A parade of deputants to budget committee said they didn’t want the money back; council gave them an easy way to give it back; almost nobody did, and almost nobody does now. The grand total of voluntary contributions under the property tax envelope program in 2016 was $81,320.77, and one of those donations was for $50,000.

Total contributions to city programs are of course much larger. The Toronto Public Library (which I support, however modestly) issued tax receipts for $3.4 million in donations in 2016, the zoo for $1.1 million. But the city itself only issued $1.35 million in total tax receipts, even as many of us beg it to take more of our money and spend it on council-approved priorities.

It might not be fair to pay more than your neighbour. But when you tell pollsters you want to be taxed more, political strategists don’t believe you. And when Doug Ford can win 33 per cent of the vote after four years of his brother as mayor, it’s tough to say they’re misguided. You can wait for a critical mass of your fellow citizens to come around to your worldview, or you can nudge the process along with your pocketbooks. Your money is as good as anyone else’s.

That Mitchell and Webb Look – “Grammar Nazi” (Mitchell & Webb Sketch Show)

Filed under: Britain, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

David Mitchell
Published on 19 Dec 2017

That Mitchell and Webb Look – “Grammar Nazi” (Mitchell & Webb Sketch Show)

Series: That Mitchell and Webb Look
Year: 2007

QotD: The news business, post-internet impact

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The job he was hired to do, namely to help the president of the United States communicate with the public, was changing in equally significant ways, thanks to the impact of digital technologies that people in Washington were just beginning to wrap their minds around. It is hard for many to absorb the true magnitude of the change in the news business — 40 percent of newspaper-industry professionals have lost their jobs over the past decade — in part because readers can absorb all the news they want from social-media platforms like Facebook, which are valued in the tens and hundreds of billions of dollars and pay nothing for the “content” they provide to their readers. You have to have skin in the game — to be in the news business, or depend in a life-or-death way on its products — to understand the radical and qualitative ways in which words that appear in familiar typefaces have changed. Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

David Samuels, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru”, New York Times Magazine, 2016-05-05.

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