Morning Ed: Society {2016.03.29.T}

From Christopher Carr: Under the CyberKnife

From Christopher Carr: A lot of these are things that are mostly well known, but I’m shocked that lifetime risk of HIV in DC is 1 in 13.

Freddie, as always, has some thoughts on Taking Offense. In this case, taking offense on behalf of the unoffended.

No comment.

Somewhere along the way, Taco Bell quietly became healthy.

The Challenger engineer who tried to sound the alarm has died.

At Vox, a lamentation of the fat person that sits next to you on a plane. Airbus in investigating ways to charge fat people more.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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258 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2016.03.29.T}

  1. Taco Bell is still very unhealthy even though it might be the healthiest of fast food chains.

    Charging overweight people more on airplanes seems unfair even though it might make business sense.

    Freddie’s posts: I’m not entirely sure if Freddie is right about this. There are always going to be outliers that do not take offense at things most people in a particular group would take offense at. There might be women that find cat-calling an affirmation of their sexual appeal rather than something threatening or insulting like most women. If we hold that there is something close to approaching a universal norm of behavior than it is possible to take offense at the non-offended without being a moral busybody.

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    • Agreed on fat people. There is plenty of evidence showing that, at least for some, losing weight is not a reasonable possibility. This makes it out of their control, which makes it a civil rights issue. I’d say this follows the same logic as the ADA.

      Fat people are widely despised. We give them no understanding, show zero sympathy. This is wrong. Shame on us.

      That said, given the way airline inventory and revenue works, it would be very difficult for them to comply. But still, they should. This calls for laws. The market won’t fix this.

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          • Really? Where’s the proof of this. Bear in mind that we don’t have a free market and that the current market is distorted. But even if it wasn’t and it did result in more costs, why is that unacceptable?

            You pay more for bigger seats and screens in first class, etc.

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              • Actually, that’s not possible if it’s a free market. A “manufactured market” is possible. However, for free markets, there is always the potential for a new market to arise when there are changes in technology or resource changes. Usually it’s the demand that was always there but the supply part was the problem.

                In the cast of carbon sequestration, I doubt this would be a market if not for gov’t mandates. That’s what I mean by “manufactured”.

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                • of course, you’re right.
                  I don’t see much need to say that a “free” market is inherently better than a “manufactured” market as a problem solving tool.
                  (we can debate individual markets and their flaws/failings of course, but I’d rather not say “this is obviously a worse market because it isn’t free”)

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                  • The only real concern I have is that a “manufactured” market is generally created by a bunch of politicians/bureaucrats, which usually means they don’t get it right, and they created a lot of unintended consequences that now have to be dealt with.

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                    • Bush 1 did pretty good with the whole acid rain market.

                      The Democrats under Obama did so poorly with the Concept of a Carbon Market that we were all glad it sunk under the weight of “there’s no market anymore…”

                      I’m not certain corporations do any better at creating markets than politicians do, sometimes. They’re still writing 30year mortgages in Miami, for god’s sake!

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                      • Agreed. Never confused my preference and admiration of free markets to mean that I think corporations do things better than gov’t. They suffer some similar problems.

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                      • It’s always useful to point out that the sulfur emissions market didn’t deliver the anticipated solution. Everyone was thinking pre-treatment, scrubbing the flue gases, shifts to natural gas, and higher prices forcing reduced electrical demand. No one was thinking about 100-car coal trains moving low-sulfur western coal hundreds or thousands of miles. My favorite example is the Scherer power plant in Georgia: 100% Wyoming coal, three trains per day, 2100 miles each way. (Each train spreading some tons of fine coal particulates every mile of the way, because no one thought to regulate particulates at the same time.)

                        I like markets, but recognize that they won’t necessarily evolve the constraints I think ought to be in place on their own. Doing constraints on markets is a really interesting piece of systems analysis.

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                    • Damon:
                      The only real concern I have is that a “manufactured” market is generally created by a bunch of politicians/bureaucrats, which usually means they don’t get it right, and they created a lot of unintended consequences thatnow have to be dealt with.

                      On the other hand, a “free” market is generally constructed by a bunch of politicians/bureaucrats, which means they don’t get it right, and the “free” market is one of those unintended consequences that now have to be dealt with….

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                      • Pretty much this.

                        All markets are constructions of property and contract rights and whatever else we decide to throw in the mix.

                        And if we can ridicule the existence of a “right” to a larger seat, (and i do!), then by the same logic we could ridicule the “right” of airlines to exist, period (and I do!).

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                      • It’s apparent you and Chip do not understand the concept of a free market, confusing markets (notice I didn’t use “free” in that description) in the west as free when they aren’t.

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                        • That’s an interesting accusation, but one that seems unsupported by anything in my post, or Chip’s. One of the most important elements of a functioning market–as libertarians and conservatives are usually eager to remind is–is a clear determination of who owns what. In actual markets that exist and work, these are the product of functioning state institutions; when those institutions cease to exist or function, it usually becomes much harder to see markets working as any sort of problem-solving tool.

                          This, by the way, isn’t just an anti-libertarian, “Hope you enjoy Somalia!” argument, but also a pro-libertarian, “Much better to have drugs legalized so dealers don’t shoot each other over street corners,” argument.

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              • What does “OK” mean? I think it would be rude in the context of retail trade but all right if you’re selling certain types of insurance. Blacks who dislike how they’ve been treated in a given establishment can take their business elsewhere. As for the Jim Crow South, there was a reason segregation was mandated by state law; absent state law the piss and bother wasn’t worth it for a critical mass of establishments.

                That aside, you’re attempting to smuggle in sympathy for blacks, who are generally impecunious, commonly live in neighborhoods with a security problem on the streets and in the schools, and who were subject to contrived abuse in the Southern United States for nearly the entire period running from 1865 to 1971, for every other category of human being you could imagine. Whatsherface yapping about the civil rights of the fat is what would have been understood as a reductio ad absurdam 50 years ago. Following the logic of all this, every actor should have his discretionary decisions second-guessed by lawyers lest he make a decision on ‘unapproved’ grounds.

                Or, we could just accept that people often make decisions we do not care for but that the law is a sledgehammer which cannot substitute for a stiletto.

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      • Problem is, the number of people for whom weight loss is a truly problematic biological issue, rather than a lifestyle issue, is very small; and sussing out exactly how much of a weight problem is a biological imbalance instead of a lifestyle issue is also a nasty knot. On top of that is the fact that airlines concerns aren’t aimed at shaming fat people, they are aimed at the very real economic impacts the increasing average weight has on air travel.

        Now it’s one thing to have all travelers subsidize the occasional heavy traveler who goes above the target adult weight estimate, given that lots of folks fall under it (especially kids, who still pay full fare). And of course, if the target average weight estimate goes up, it’s easy enough to change the target and scale prices accordingly, so the weight impacts, while real, are more easily managed.

        The real problem is seating. It is straight out not fair to other travelers to be forced to deal with the loss of space because the person next to them is severely overweight for whatever reason. This isn’t fat shaming, it’s just courtesy. I’m certain overweight people are, for the most part, not interested in making travel miserable for their seatmates (see the linked article), but short of paying a massively inflated fare for first class, or buying two tickets, they don’t have any options.

        Of all the things suggested, the one I thought was best was put forth by (I think) Southwest, in that an overweight person would buy two tickets up front, and then if the flight wound up having empty seats, they would have the second ticket refunded (or perhaps get bumped to first class if a 1st class seat was available). It can be more expensive, but it’s still usually cheaper than 1st class fare. And yes, it isn’t very fair, but again, neither is it fair to other travelers who are also paying full fare and expect to have access to their whole seat. Very few situations have a perfectly fair solution, and in the absence of one, cost should fall to the party incurring it.

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        • Problem is, the number of people for whom weight loss is a truly problematic biological issue, rather than a lifestyle issue, is very small

          That’s not really consistent with modern research.

          Modern research is, of course, incredibly depressing on the subject.

          The average human body, for reasons which should be pretty obvious, really likes to pack on pounds and really hates to get rid of it. It will do everything possible, in fact, to avoid shedding excess fat (including fun things like ‘screwing with your metabolism’) because those fat reserves, biologically, are the difference between death and survival in a true famine situation.

          If you pay attention, you might have noticed that the more up-to-date doctors have quietly switched from talking “weight loss” to talking “fitness” (unless you’re diabetic, have PCOS, or other hormonal conditions wherein the problem is compounded by bodily self-sabotage) because “fitness” is a thing the average human can alter, whereas “losing weight” is…tilted against you.

          Of course, as a society, we’re not really there yet. We have just-so stories of people losing 50% of their weight and we talk about willpower. (And I say this as a guy who is big, but not obese. I’m 6 foot and large framed, and was even when I was high school skinny as opposed to 40-year old mostly sedentary).

          But back to the point — if you want to be depressed, look at the modern understanding of weight gain and loss, and despair in how little the average person can affect it.

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          • There is a difference between “difficult to shed” and “fricken near impossible without significant medical intervention”. And, as a person who is struggling to lose weight, I’m aware of how hard it is to get it off & keep it off. I’m also very aware of how much society compounds that difficulty by making the lifestyle changes damn hard*. But for most people, it is a difficult issue, not an impossible one, so falling back on the reasoning that overweight people can’t help it is over-generalizing considerably. And in many cases, the difficulty is less one of willpower and more one of figuring exactly what you need to change to make weight loss successful (it’s different for everyone, which is why no one “diet” works for everyone in the long term; my doctor says that sometime in the next few years, they hope to be able to run some metabolic tests and give people solid advice on what to change to make things work, but they are still sorting out what is causative versus correlative).

            *Work, time, food, dietary fads, etc. I swear the whole “fat is bad for you” fad was the most misguided thing we ever did, since everything that was low fat just added a ton of sugar.

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            • Yeah, a decent dash of fat doesn’t harm ya much.
              My friend is currently on a “fat restricted” diet because of medicine… it really really sucks.

              Oats have fat in them. (Nearly everything does, really).

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            • There is a difference between “difficult to shed” and “fricken near impossible without significant medical intervention”.

              Actually…not as much as we like to believe. I’m not kidding when I said the research is depressing. There are enough edge cases for people to keep the hope alive, but bluntly — for most people, you’re just going to toe at the margins if it’s not a medical problem in the first place. (PCOS as an example. Once treated, people with PCOS often lose a large amount of weight).

              To really lose weight and keep it off, it’s pretty much a full time job — and it’s always waiting to come back. Because, you know, packing on fat and keeping it on unless there’s an actual famine is biologically advantageous — or was until the last century or two).

              Like I said, lots of doctors have stopped saying “lose weight” and started saying “be active” because shedding pounds isn’t going to happen but improving cardiovascular health can.

              I hold out some moderate hopes that medical science (and frankly I suspect there’s a ton of money search) locates some advantageous chemical pathways — ways to make empty fat cells get cleaned up (instead of waiting to be refilled) seems the safest (the body will occasionally do that) because the other stuff — things like preventing your body from seeing dieting as a “OH GOD SLOW DOWN THE METABOLISM” or getting it to burn fat preferentially is tinkering with some deep down survival mechanisms. More chancy.

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              • I’m actually trying something that cuts back on processed sugars and grains (theory being that added processed sugars and grains mess with insulin response in a bad way). It isn’t meant to cut those things out of the diet, but rather to re-sensitize your body to them such that your satiation response kicks in a lot sooner.

                10 days ago I cut the sugar I put in my coffee in half. It took 3 days before my coffee stopped tasting super bitter. Now, it’s back to the way I like it, and I haven’t added any additional sugar, I had just grown desensitized to the sweet flavor, so I needed more to get the same sated feeling. It kinda blows my mind just how desensitized I was to sweet. This is why the fat free fad was, IMHO, so bad; because sugar was added to everything to replace the flavor lost when the fat was removed. We don’t seem to acclimate to the flavor of fat nearly (if at all?) as much as we do to sweetness, and sugar is in fecking near everything. And fat also tends to trip the sated response faster.

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                • I cut out sugared sodas in favor of diet ones years ago. I lost about 10% of my body weight (I drank a LOT of them) and stabilized — actually gained about 2% or so of it back over the long run. That’s been literally the most significant weight loss I ever had.

                  I am quite a bit heavier than I was in college (where I had a much worse diet than now), but not as heavy as my worst (I did improve my diet — the soda thing and a few other changes)

                  I doubt NutraSweet is all that great for me, but given how much soda I drank — it can’t possibly be as bad as all that sugar. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was sucking down a thousand calories or so a day of that stuff.

                  I’m hoping 10 miles a week (walking or jogging) will get me another 10% over the next few years. As long as I don’t stop, you know?

                  But what killed my weight was, in fact, getting older. I ate like I always had, but I wasn’t 20 anymore. By the time I thought “Holy crap” I’d gotten much heavier (it is a slow thing, isn’t it?)

                  Stupid metabolism.

                  It’s like a slow-motion version of what happens to a lot of athletes when they retire. They don’t need 8k a day in calories just to fuel all that muscle — but they’ve got 10 years of eating habits, and a body demanding that much.

                  I don’t know how MUCH my caloric need dropped as I passed 25, but between than and now? I’d guess at least a quarter — I don’t know if my body needs less or just uses it more efficiently or what, but what was sufficient to keep my BMI pretty healthy at 22 is…way too much from 25 to 40. I’m happy I arrested it where I did, and even then I was lucky I had a few simple fixes that made a big difference.

                  (Seriously, switching to diet coke isn’t exactly the hardship of calorie counting. I had a really low hanging fruit, and I took it happily).

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                  • Alton Brown said that one of the things that helped him succeed when he started to lose weight was to cut out certain foods not because of their caloric content but because of how they affected his perceptions of other foods. For example, he cut out the daily Diet Coke because, even though it contained zero calories, it was badly recentering his perception of how sweet other foods should taste. When you’re comparing to Diet Coke, a pear is just “meh” when it should really be one of the sweetest most amazing luxuries your pathetic monkey brain knows how to experience.

                    I’m lucky to be one of those people who likes sweet things here and there but can’t eat a whole bag of candy. Ice cream has basically no draw for me except on very rare occasions. Hard candy is mostly gross. The first few sips of a soda are a pretty great treat and the rest of the can is a chore. Savory fatty foods are a whole different story, though. Stick some bacon bits on that ice cream and we have something to talk about.

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                  • Mine was worse. I had just finished training for (& passing) the SEALs physical fitness test, then BAM!, I get hit by a car, shatter both arms, & have my right knee destroyed.

                    The fact that I’m only 40 lbs overweight is pretty amazing.

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                    • I was rather into execise and fitness in my early 20s — then injured my back (soft tissue only), took several months to get back and have problems with it to this day.

                      I just couldn’t seem to get myself to start practically over. (I was doing martial arts, and almost a year off is basically ‘starting over’).

                      The actual moral of this story is: See a specialist. Because what I needed back then was advice to sleep on a firmer mattress until it healed (my recovery time would have been halved) and see a physical therapist for perhaps two months to rehabilitate my lower back.

                      Instead I had back problems for almost two decades before they got fixed as an afterthought by the PT I was seeing for something else! (The weak back was a contributing factor).

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          • — This is correct. In fact, it seems like the public health community have kind of given up on recommending weight loss as a major public health goal. It’s just too difficult for too many people.

            Now, some people can lose significant weight. I did. I’ve kept it off for a a few years, although I cannot know if that will last forever. All the same, “changed entire endocrine system and grew tits” is not a sensible intervention for most people. Nor is requiring people get their stomach stapled.

            There is a public health issue here, but we really need to look at processed foods and all of that. In any case, that’s a big huge debate and I doubt anyone here has a real answer. Whatever the case, it clearly falls beyond the behavior of individual fat people.

            The point is, most fat people I know really wish they could shed pounds. They try, many ways, everything they can think of. They may get rid of some, but not all, and a “bit thinner” is nice, but an airplane seat is pretty narrow. At the same time, many fat people find many normal things impossible for them, or at least outlandishly difficult.

            If you remove the shame from fatness, if you remove the judgment, it is hard to see it as notably different from a variety of other medical issues that are outside of people’s control. In other words, this tracks closely with the sorts of things covered by the ADA.

            In other words, if you are so fat that you cannot fit in an airplane seat, that is a form of disability that limits your life, just as the lack of wheelchair access limited the lives of those who use wheelchairs. Thus this is precisely the same logic as the ADA. The justifications that supported the ADA work exactly the same here. Likewise the arguments against this work as well against the ADA. We require wheelchair access for good reasons. It was expensive, but as a democracy we chose to pay.

            So unless you are going to say, “Oh, but all you fat people are just faking and you could lose weight–”

            Well, that is incorrect and hurtful. Stop being incorrect and hurtful.

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            • There’s also the issue of a lot of things about how fat (or food) can, itself, be an answer of sorts.

              There’s a quotation of Russell Brand’s (that I can’t find) that says something to the effect of “I don’t have a problem with drugs and alcohol. I have a problem with existence. I have a solution with drugs and alcohol.”

              Food can be like that. Being fat can be like that.

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            • All of them? There’s a plethora of studies out there on it, and it’s not like this is an edge position. It’s just a depressing one.

              Here’s a start (newspaper article) but here’s the key bit:

              “That’s because their biology wants them to return to the maximum weight they had achieved,” she said. “Once people have become overweight, then biology changes. An understanding of how difficult it is to lose that weight and keep it off needs to be communicated.”

              They’re not kidding.

              There was an Australian experiment where they fed people a highly restricted diet (calorie deficit) designed to make them lose weight. Then kept them on that diet after they’d hit the weight loss target. They all gained half or more of it back.

              Because your body is an a**hole, and it’s response to weight loss is to lower your metabolism (meaning you have to lower your caloric intake even more to compensate) while jacking up your hunger. The diet you take to lose 15% will literally stop working because your body will cheerfully lower it’s energy needs to match. (It takes awhile, and obviously there’s a lower limit). Which means you feel like crap (and reducing your ability to exercise).

              All of which, evolutionary speaking, makes a great deal of sense. Badly adapted for modern life, but pretty darn good even for a hundred years ago.

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    • But Freddie’s article is about the ‘victims’ of a given behavior not finding it offensive and third parties getting worked up about it on their behalf and I think it’s one of his stronger pieces of writing.

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      • — The thing about Freddie’s article is he cherry picks the most egregious examples. Like yeah, the kimono thing is silly. I wish people would stop pattern matching from one social justice issue to another.

        Which is to say, the “appropriation debate” is one of the most difficult in social justice. There clearly is a way that the mainstream keeps gutting black and queer culture. Which maybe fine. Cultures share. But when Madonna took the whole “vogue” shtick, the people whom she got it from remained poor, silenced, and marginal, while she basked in the glory of a mainstream culture that was happy to let the queers die in bunches.

        The point is, these people were part of a resistance culture that developed because the mainstream hated them. To watch the mainstream take their cultural artifacts and ideas, while continuing to hate them — I hope you can see how awful that is.

        Blah.

        Yeah, white elite “SJW” types can be wildly insipid. Like, duh. I don’t like them much either. That want me around as an accessory in their little charade.

        (If one more basic white bitch comes up to me and tries to talk “sassy” — it’s like, look, 1) I’m not a drag queen, 2) I’m not black, 3) you’re not black, and 4) what the fuck are you doing you sound stupid?)

        Anyway, just as social justice arguments often generalize in dumb ways, when picked up and stupidly dropped on another context —

        — like, someone the other day tried to argue that cosplay was appropriation. I just kinda laughed —

        — on the other hand, the shop girl at Macy’s this weekend thought I was cosplaying Ramona Flowers, and I told her this was just my regular look, which pleased me immensely —

        — but still! Freddie’s argument runs into the same problem. Sure, it’s silly to object to kimonos. But then, Freddie can certainly find a trans woman or three who have no problem with “shemale” as a term, but that don’t mean he gets to ignore me when I complain. Nor does he get to dismiss cis allies who point out that that term is hella offensive.

        Like, we happy trans actually need cis allies to step up. We cannot do this alone. I might get annoyed at the “social justice accessory” crowd, the banal, self-proclaimed “ally” who wants a piece of me. Fuck that guy.

        But we need allies. We need their voices, and we need Freddie to shut the fuck up for once and listen.

        He really is the paragon of “good white liberal.” (‘Cept I guess maybe he doesn’t fit the broad meaning of “liberal” or something. Whatever. The guy is immensely pretentious and punchable.)

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        • Which is to say, the “appropriation debate” is one of the most difficult in social justice. There clearly is a way that the mainstream keeps gutting black and queer culture. Which maybe fine. Cultures share. But when Madonna took the whole “vogue” shtick, the people whom she got it from remained poor, silenced, and marginal, while she basked in the glory of a mainstream culture that was happy to let the queers die in bunches.

          The point is, these people were part of a resistance culture that developed because the mainstream hated them. To watch the mainstream take their cultural artifacts and ideas, while continuing to hate them — I hope you can see how awful that is.

          Of course, mainstreaming efforts by people like Madonna are what normalized that culture and made the normals more accepting of it. If gay culture could only remain in their cultural spheres, the advancement of gay rights would have been much slower. Will and Grace and Madonna were valuable allies. Also, it seems odd to criticize Madonna of all people who had gay and trans dancers and wasn’t shy about it. She also spoke out for gay people and on the impact of AIDS way before it was cool or mainstream.

          http://www.advocate.com/print-issue/cover-stories/2012/02/02/madonna-truth-she-never-left-you

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          • Well gay culture is a painful subject in general because the bleak truth appears to be that absent the confines of mass hate a lot of it seems prone to dissoluting back into the general mass culture.

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              • The Church is busily trying to save Church culture qua Church culture let along Church gay culture. Also without persecution to hide from there ain’t that many ‘mo’s who wanna go into the Church so Church gay culture is especially vulnerable to disappearing in a tolerance society. Ever wondered what happened to the “eccentric” aunts and uncles all the old stories used to talk about?

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            • The same goes with any other subculture for the most part. Subcultures exist because of real or perceived need to remain a sense of separation. As soon as the real or perceived need disappears than so does the subculture. At least some elements of LGBT culture will persist because some LGBT people will find a similar need to maintain their own space in the same way that Ultra-Orthodox Jews do even though the mass of Jews are fine with acculturation and do no maintain a separate space.

              I wouldn’t necessarily say that gay culture solely existed because of homophobia. Modern LGBT identity began to emerge during the late 19th century at the same time as modern mass entertainment. A lot of LGBT culture seems to have evolved as an alternative version of modern mass entertainment. If modern LGBT identity began to emerge a generation or so earlier when life was closer to the bone for most people than LGBT culture would be very different. LGBT culture that exists in a relatively affluent society with time and money for leisure is going to be different than LGBT culture in a more agricultural economy.

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              • I wasn’t saying that the subculture existed because of homophobia, but rather that acceptance of the subculture led to a reduction in homophobia. Jewish culture was once considered relatively alien and non-mainstream in the US, but there’s definitely a virtuous cycle of mainstreaming of much of Jewish culture and acceptance in the US.

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          • I think it’s worth asking whether Madonna picking up on gay issues was a genuine feeling for bringing these people more into the ken of mainstream culture in the hopes of promoting familiarity and acceptance, or whether it was just another cone bra.

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        • Sure Freddie is definitely picking the most goofy looking stuff and he’s an ally himself so imagine what our myriad enemies can do with these things.

          I mean I want to try and approach the subject respectfully. For one thing it’s predominantly confined to the academy and Twitter/the net-o-sphere and is primarily taken seriously by a significant minority of young people so that always needs to be kept in mind. Also as you point out there’s genuine pain at the heart of each of these manifestations and consideration of that is important. Also too I’m a white gay man myself and as that category is being read out of the social justice movement and categorized as privileged I recognize that I’m probably biased in my views.

          That being said it sure feels like this is a problematic turn for the movement. Sure Freddie, like me, is privileged but he is there on the ground at the universities and when he talks about how many people he sees being turned away from advocacy and liberalism by this kind of thing I feel distinctly uneasy. If passionate young college kids are being turned off by this I can only imagine how many people who don’t fit into that category (aka the overwhelming majority of people in the country) are turned off by it too. I mean we made the progress we’ve made by turning ourselves from others to people in the eyes of the majority of people; that is the arterial blood that has nourished what strides the social justice movements have accomplished. If someone says that a new line of thinking is imperiling that core process that strikes me as a very serious concern.

          Also when Freddie fumes about how the movement keeps instinctively turning to the establishment and demanding interventions and the empowerment of the authorities and the establishment to police these things I can see his point. Historically the establishment and the authorities have not been a friend to liberals and most assuredly not to the minorities and the marginalized. I mean surely the ability to silence people, which is what much of this is about, has been used extensively against the marginalized in the past. Are we so sure these tools and powers the social justice movement is trying to create to silence people can’t and won’t be turned against them?

          But again, at the moment the majority of this and all of the most egregious of this stuff is confined to colleges where kids are finding themselves and sorting their shit out so this could be a lot of tempest in a teapot stuff. I don’t know that it’s near as serious as Freddie and Chait* make it out to be. I certainly don’t think it’s the tromping iron clad boots of oppression like how the conservative-o-sphere is blowing it up to be. I just worry is all.

          *though it amuses the hell out of me how horrified Freddie is to find himself a fellow traveler with Chait on this.

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          • — I don’t disagree, it’s just, I think Freddie gets the balance wrong, and his stuff fuels a lot of “good white liberal” bullshit. Which is to say, there is a middle ground he doesn’t bother to find.

            I dunno. I see him spend a lot of time on pure class analysis, which fine. That’s okay. On the other hand, It’s kinda boringly typical to see white folks pull the “it’s all economics” line. It’s half true. Economics matters. The fact I earn a high salary certainly changes a lot about how I experience being trans.

            But still, I don’t think I’ve every seen Freddie say something genuinely sympathetic about trans folks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him really try to understand our issues. It’s like, we don’t fit nicely into his whiteboy social analysis, so we get ignored.

            I’m not saying he should center us all the time, but maybe sometime. At least he should recognize that we’re hopping mad for good reasons. If our allies get hopping mad alongside us, that really helps.

            I mean, has he even bothered to weigh in on the North Carolina thing?

            Which, I know he’s not “current events” guy, nor do I expect him to be “always on” on queer issues. But it’s like we don’t exist to him, just another annoying “identity” group I suppose. But this is actually a big fucking deal.

            Blah. To me he’s another smug white cis guy who doesn’t really like people like me much. Whatever. Dime a dozen.

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            • Well yeah Freddie is class first on everything, must be seriously feeling the Bern. It’s definitely his MO. Social issues are definitely secondary. In fairness to him he’s “officially” not a current events blogger.. just writes on what catches his attention.

              I don’t know that makes him wrong on this subject though. I -fear- that he’s not wrong on this. We are still a tiny minority (gays, let alone Trans); this whole worm could turn on us so easily.

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          • “it amuses the hell out of me how horrified Freddie is to find himself a fellow traveler with Chait on this.”

            I don’t think he’s so horrified at Chait. Remember that he defended Chait back when the latter posted his big essay about the problems with callout-culture activism.

            I think he is horrified at the thought of being a fellow traveler with Republicans. All his life he’s been marinating in the idea that you cannot talk like a member of a group without being like a member of that group. And now he’s talking like a Republican.

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        • “If one more basic white bitch comes up to me and tries to talk “sassy” ”

          Reminds me of the time I came up to a co worker, who is black, flashed some bad imitation gang signs, and said “what up?” and she laughed, and said. “It’s funny because you’re a fat white guy that doesn’t know what you’re doing and you look goofy doing it.” She’s the ONLY one I’d risk saying that to at work on on the street. But she knows me. anyone else would be inviting a complaint/lawsuit/street brawl.

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        • But when Madonna took the whole “vogue” shtick, the people whom she got it from remained poor, silenced, and marginal, while she basked in the glory of a mainstream culture that was happy to let the queers die in bunches.

          Thank you for that – I knew nothing at all about the origin of the vogue thing, now I know a tiny bit.

          I never really was into Madonna (specifically, around the early 90s I was insufferably snobbish about pop music in general and Madonna in specific), so I can’t say whether I would have known more about it had I been less active in my ignorance.

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                  • It was a fun article, although probably a little over the top. This part:

                    Watching Paris Is Burning and looking at the last generation, the eros has been so diverse and will only get more so (just the LGBTQIA initials tell us that) but the agap? has been remarkably unified, based on the practice of recognizing each other’s Being. However they identify their sexuality, race, gender, history, everyone in this community lives the need to recognize everyone else for what they are. Everyone recognizes the need to help each other and respect each other. The Enlightenment gives us the virtue of tolerance, which is simply another aspect of freedom, another way of saying “leave each other alone.” Recognition of another’s Being, though, is much more active, even imperative, and it may be this community’s most enduring legacy.

                    Ha! I don’t know who the writer is, but I betcha they ain’t a trans gal. I mean, I have some good times in gay communities. Certainly there are plenty of gay men who “get it” on trans stuff. But plenty don’t. I’m pretty sure there are ton of young guys slobbering over the big dicks on Grindr who couldn’t be arsed to recognize my “being” — whatever the fuck that is. Half of them just think I’m a weird, confused drag queen.

                    On this:

                    In her essay against The Danish Girl, which goes far beyond a mere review to an extraordinary affirmation of values and selfhood, Sally Jane Black has said that transgendered people are Messiahs…

                    If she means we get murdered a lot for dumb reasons, then yeah I suppose, but I’d rather not see people romanticize that. There ain’t a damn thing good about getting murdered —

                    — well, except the pain stops, since not all of us have the guts to do it ourselves.

                    Blah.

                    Still, it was better than the average essay.

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                    • Okay, so I wandered over and read Ms. Black’s article. The “messiah” money shot is this:

                      Let me tell you a transition story. A woman experiences a moment that makes her realize there’s something different about herself. She seeks out answers to this and finds someone or something that can help her, and she faces obstacles in that journey. She faces doubt and outside pressures, and she suffers horrible defeat. And then, then she rises. She finds peace with herself and discovers she had it in her the whole time, and she returns empowered and capable and Herself. This is transition. This is Star Wars. This is Harry Potter This is the monomyth. We are the monomyth, the living embodiment of resurrection. We–transgender people–are all messiahs; that’s why you fear us so much.

                      And that’s why this film gets it wrong, because it chooses a story that doesn’t have the resurrection–not for the trans woman. Gerda is resurrected in the end, “healed” and “released” from her “burden.” The film goes out of its way to insert violence and hatred, fabricating a violent altercation between Lili and some Frenchmen. It makes sure to include suicidal ideation that also suggests dissociative thinking on Lili’s part. And then it foreshortens her death by two or three surgeries out of narrative economy and cynicism. It tells the same story that has always been told, of trans women and men never rising again, never making it past the bottom of the story circle to bring the Gift of the Goddess. Yet that is the story we live, if we’re lucky. We never get to see that.

                      Okay, that isn’t so bad as I thought. I mean, I find the literary-motif-as-real-life thing kinda silly, but I guess that is normal for this mode of discourse.

                      In any case, I agree with her that The Danish Girl is execrable garbage that should be forgotten. So yeah.

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        • But when Madonna took the whole “vogue” shtick, the people whom she got it from remained poor, silenced, and marginal, while she basked in the glory of a mainstream culture that was happy to let the queers die in bunches.

          There’s no identifiable harm here, is there? This sounds like something inspired by the Copenhagen interpretation of ethics. She interacted with marginalized people without solving their problems, and thus acquired responsibility for those problems.

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    • Charging overweight people more on airplanes seems unfair even though it might make business sense.

      I believe the relevant question here is: Is what sense does it seem unfair?
      The whole reason that weather conditions are reported from airports is that air density dramatically affects the lift of an airfoil.
      If cargo has weight limits, why not people?
      Elevators and manlifts handle the matter in a different way, which requires a bit of arithmetic.

      Not unrelated:
      Do you think people should be encouraged to take a crap before getting on a plane?
      It would cut down on the amount of sh!t dropping down out of the sky.

      Not really a concern, I guess, unless you live close to an airport.

      But then, Skylab . . .

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      • With people it just feels like discrimination to charge different prices for the same services based on physical or other characteristics many times. Not always but many times.

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        • I get it alright.
          It’s just that the crosswalk doesn’t stay lit up any longer just because it’s a little old lady on a cane trying to cross.
          And the fact that it doesn’t stay lit any longer isn’t some diabolical trait.

          Headline:
          People with Big Asses Find Number of Sheets on Toilet Roll Discriminatory

          Doesn’t grab my fancy.

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          • the crosswalk doesn’t stay lit up any longer just because it’s a little old lady on a cane trying to cross.
            And the fact that it doesn’t stay lit any longer isn’t some diabolical trait.

            It’s not a diabolical trait, no. Doesn’t make it good either.

            Initially it was the only option because of engineering capability, but nowadays it would probably be possible to do either, making it a design choice – even if it’s a choice city planners don’t have a lot of leeway about, because one alternative isn’t on the market yet.

            And, in the spirit of endeavours like Vision Zero, probably the preferable design choice would be to have the crossing light accommodate the humans using it, rather than forcing the humans into accommodation of the crossing light whether they’re able or not (how machines are supposed to serve us, rather than the reverse).

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            • In areas with light traffic, crosswalks are usually controlled by pushing a button. These could be modified to sense the presence of pedestrians in the crosswalk and act accordingly. In areas with heavy traffic, the lights are generally synchronized across intersections to optimize traffic flow, and the crosswalk signal operates according to that schedule, with no human input. Keeping the crosswalk on longer would mess up the synchronization. Maybe it’s still worth doing, but the cost is non-trivial.

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              • The cynic in me wonders how many of the buttons are actually hooked up to anything, at least in real time. I wouldn’t put it past them to use it for data collection for traffic analysis but not actually change the timing sequence in any meaningful way.

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                • Crosswalk buttons are an example a UI designer friend of mine always used when discussing good UI vs bad UI. The newer, better ones have a light that lights up that says, “I see you pressed the button. I’ll take it from here. You can stop pressing the button.” The ones without that just get jammed on constantly until the light changes. If you’re a really crafty UI designer and really want to discourage repeated presses, you can turn the light off if they press it again.

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              • I agree it would be non-trivial – particularly in that those intersection controls haven’t been invented yet (though I’m pretty confident they’ve been well within our technical ability for some years now). Some of those intersections timed to optimize motor traffic can be so darn human-hostile, it seems like it would be worth it.

                Really though, I don’t know how much of a change to actual traffic flows such a change would make – if a person is crossing the street and can’t make it across in the (sometimes absurdly short) walk light cycle, responsible motorists wait for them to finish crossing safely anyway. Having the light stay red for people on foot would mostly only affect the impatient drivers who try to rush around people in the crosswalk because “Green means GO!” – and those folks are messing up traffic patterns anyway.

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      • “If cargo has weight limits, why not people?”

        They already take that into account when designing the aircraft; and the luggage is moved around to trim it properly after the passengers are on board.

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    • Charging overweight people more on airplanes seems unfair even though it might make business sense.

      I can maybe see a justification for charging people by weight or volume. I really can’t see a justification for charging them based on whether they’re overweight. I’m a bit overweight, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that I’m heavier than the author of that article, but then again I’m probably about 8″ taller than she is.

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  2. Freddie: “We need to remember that we are not the cosmos, that the world is full of other people making their own adult decisions. To forget that isn’t progressive. It’s, well, a kind of imperialism.” Dear god, SO many liberals and conservatives need to process and implement this.

    On line commentators: Of course. It’s constant trench warfare out there in the culture war.

    I don’t see how you can call any fast food “healthy”.

    Lamentation of the Fat Person: ” That caricature doesn’t just hurt when I see it? — I crumble under its weight. I am a confident woman with wonderful friends, like you, and a fantastic job. But when I see that caricature of who I’m expected to be, I crumple, sinking into a wave of depression and alienation.” OMG! Jebus H Christ, grow a pair, put on your big girl panties and deal. Everyone is dealing with all kinds of annoying things on a plane: 1) the bitchy flight attendant, the 90 pound woman trying to manhandle a 100 pound bag in the overhead bin and about to drop it on a person’s head below, the idiots who cannot seem to sit down into a seat in less than 10 minutes, causing the whole boarding process to back up, and the noobs who won’t turn off their electronics.

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        • I had the best flight ever coming back from Hawaii in August. A nearly empty Airbus A380. A big plane to begin with and the outer rows have no middle seat. Add to that nobody in front of me so I could stick my feet all the way under the seat and nobody behind me so I could lean all the way back. I still get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking about it.

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          • Best flight I had recently was a 747 to Beijing. 30% occupied. It was only marred by a nutjob choking a woman. Once we diverted to Chicago and they pulled him off the plane, it was a nice flight. Still, sleeping horizontal in a row of three seats, even in economy plus is still not that comfy. And we at least went straight on from Chicago, and they didn’t cancel. I only arrived 7 hours late in Beijing.

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      • I was ready for this when we first flew with Bug, and I still am, even though he is almost 4 (he doesn’t quite get that swallowing a bunch of times helps, so we make him eat or drink something small during climb & descent).

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    • There’s nothing inherent in a food being fast that requires it be unhealthy. A stir-fry from pre-prepped veggies is fast whether or not the cook sloshes on a cup of vaguely Szechuan flavoured corn syrup.

      A salad made from pre-prepped veggies is fast and not unhealthy. Throw some pre-cooked ground beef on top, put it in a weird cornmeal bowl, and you’ve got a bit of balance of protein and carbs, and a thing you can order at Taco Bell.

      It’s possible Taco Bell has too much oily and sugary dressing and not enough fresh veggies for it to really be a well balanced dish, but again that’s not inherent in its being fast.

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        • It kind of does though. Kind of.

          That is, the basic nature of the foods on offer – sandwiches, hamburgers, stir fries, taco salads – has nothing inherently unhealthy about it. And making it less healthy (which has largely happened) was mostly not necessary to making it faster – so, altering the recipes again to make them more healthy can be totally consistent with remaining a fast food restaurant.

          So. Looking for healthy options among fast food places, and congratulating the restaurants for offering healthy foods, and pointing out where they exist so people can take advantage of them, seems reasonable.

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  3. I’m more surprised and alarmed that the incidence for African american men who have had sex with men is 50%, which certainly drives the 1 in 13 DC number.

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  4. I’m curious how much more it costs to fly a “fat person” versus a skinny person. What is the added costs per extra 25 pounds?

    My mom is tiny… 5’0″ and probably 110 pounds. She always complains that she should get free checked backs because her and a bag still weigh less than an average person. But charging by weight is complicated for a number of reasons.

    How about this for a solution (not unlike the proposal in the article but I think still workable): make seats of varying widths and charge more for the larger ones. People would get to choose their seat — therefore you aren’t necessarily charging people more or less based on size. So a heavier person can opt for a larger, more comfortable seat and pay more or they can sit in a smaller, less comfortable seat and pay less. Smaller people would have the same options. Not quite the distinction between first class and economy and not necessarily with other upgrades. Just some rows with three seats and some with two, the latter costing more.

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      • So I weigh 180 pounds. A 300 pound person would cost approximately $72 more. But my 3-year-old could fly for $90 less!

        Somehow I don’t see them offering that sort of scheme.

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    • — It really isn’t weight, it’s volume. Once that plane has gotten fueled and taken off, with all the inherent weight of the fuel, avionics, engines, and fuselage, etc., etc. ,etc., the extra weight of the human meat on board pretty much doesn’t matter.

      It’s all a matter of opportunity cost. An empty seat earns the airline nothing, so figuring out how to get a paying passenger in that seat, even at a peanuts fare, can make or break an airline. But you can’t give everyone a peanuts fare. You gotta get a bunch of them to pay tons. Fuel ain’t cheap. Labor is prickly.

      Which is why buying airline tickets is holy hell.

      (I do this stuff of a living by the way. In my other window is an emacs buffer with a big chunk of hairy LISP code that deals with the byzantine rules of discounts for children and infants. It implements the contents of a 90 page PDF. It’s one small bit of one million lines of tricky code, which implement all the other byzantine rules from hundreds of varied PDFs, written by different industry consortiums.)

      (Bad things happen with “automated information systems” are developed by people who don’t know computer science. But I digress.)

      Anyway, it’s physical volume. The airlines want to pack in a lot of seats, cuz seats are money. More seats, more money. Wide seats cost money, they would go unfilled, or they would get filled by thin people, with fat people on a budget still making everyone else uncomfortable. Blah.

      Plus roomy seats go at a premium. Instead of a $300 fare, you’re looking at a $1200 fare. It’s fucked up, but that’s how it works. It doesn’t make sense if you just look at cabin space as a linear quantity. But it is not. It is highly non-linear. The hyper-budget-conscious contemporary flier doesn’t behave in a linear manner, so you cannot price that way.

      It helps to keep in mind, for a modern airline, flying planes is only half the business. The other half is maintaining a complex inventory/revenue model that responds to market conditions in real time, seeking to optimize profit while keeping planes full.

      Which is why the fare prices change so frequently. Which is why the seats are so fucking small. The airline with roomy seats goes out of business. The margins are make or break.

      #####

      People (many of them) cannot control their body weight. Access to transport is a requirement for full participation in civil society. Many people are fat. This is a civil rights issue. There needs to be a law.

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      • Access to transport is a requirement for full participation in civil society. Many people are fat. This is a civil rights issue. There needs to be a law.

        Are there any other civil rights you’d like to invent by magic while you are at it?

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        • Yes, the requirement for a television and a telephone and a mailbox.
          OH WAIT WE ALREADY HAVE THOSE.
          (No, really. Civil Defense from Ike has a decent presumption of “methods of communicating” for emergencies).

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        • — It’s not zero, but the marginal cost to add one passenger is pretty low once the plane is off the ground. These are big planes. They are designed to fly with a full load of humans.

          There is a reason Ryan Air will sell tickets for like $20 from Paris to Rome and shit. They ain’t making much on that. But they ain’t losing much either. Those are seats their revenue model predicts won’t sell at a higher fare, when they’ve already sold a good number of seats at those higher fares. To not fill those final seats leaves money on the table. An airline who leaves money on the table loses out.

          Think marginal cost. It’s always and everything marginal costs.

          This is business 101, but the airlines are one of the trickiest revenue models you could even imagine.

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          • Veronica, I agree with you 100% on the logistics and economics. I am curious, what do you think the law that there should be would look like? What would its contours be? Airlines are forbidden from…what? Airlines must…what? I’m just struggling to think of what the regulatory answer would be.

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            • — I actually have no idea. I mean, I’d be happy to let the industry work it out, as long as it meets the criteria: fat people are accommodated at no extra cost.

              Like, how do they handle wheelchairs now? They are (I assume) required to do so by the ADA. (I don’t actually know the specifics of that.) This could be something similar.

              Now, if they conclude it’s cheaper to give large people an extra seat at the same cost, then fine. If they decide to have special seats and a protocol to distribute them (falling back on extra seats if needed), then fine. Maybe different airlines will try different strategies.

              You’ll probably have people pretend to be fat — cuz everything is terrible and can we just flush antisocial assholes down the toilet? I’m not sure how to police that without fucking over genuine fat people.

              Which, dignity matters. Dignity matters a lot. You can’t ask people to lift their shirt.

              Blah. I guess, if you wanna wear a fat suit that badly…?

              If you catch cheaters, chuck ’em out the door at 30,000 feet? (That would probably be an unworkable solution for a variety of reasons, but it sure would feel good.)

              So yeah. Governing a civil society is hard.

              But dignity matters. Accessing full civic life matters. Some fat people are budget constrained. They deserve the same travel opportunities as skinny people. They deserve the same business opportunities.

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              • IIRC they get the wheelchair bound person onto the plane and put them into a seat in the pre-boarding and post-deplaning process. Not hard really because outside of a smidge of time wheelchairs don’t cost people anything.

                As you noted, however, airlines run on volume so one persons gained volume is necessarily another’s lost volume. I suppose you could require the airline to have a certain number of empty seats (I just heard airline executives clutch their chest all over the country). Otherwise I honestly don’t know what you do when you have a full plane and passenger X shows up and is double size.

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                • — Well, I do expect that the plus-size requirements would have to be disclosed at booking time. The airlines do need to know what to expect when managing inventory.

                  I mean, no one buys “generic tickets that can be used by anyone.” Everything is by name. It would be a very unusual situation that a person doesn’t know they’re “wide” when they buy their ticket.

                  Right now, I’m imagining the nightmare as the airlines scramble to hire Java consultants to update their IT systems. (Believe me, I can picture this in all its terrible glory.)

                  This would be really hard. There is no denying that. It would cost money. Passengers would pay more. You and I would pay more. But civilization matters, and this won’t happen without a law.

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              • Nope, I disagree that this should be something that is a distributed cost. Weight is already a distributed cost, the volume/personal space issue should not be. I’m absolutely sympathetic to the concerns of overweight travelers not being cruelly discriminated against, but there has to be some point where the cost falls on them since they are incurring a non-financial cost on others when they can’t fit well into a seat.

                I’m all for finding an option that minimizes that cost to them as much as possible, be it wider seating, or putting a deposit on an extra seat, or just being creative with seat selection/assignment*, but the opportunity cost should not be spread to the whole plane.

                *I could see flight crew telling people to change seats so that maybe a small child could sit next to a larger person, or perhaps an indication on the seating chart when a customer is picking seats that shows which seats are potentially above or below average size, so customers can be selective, etc.

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                  • I’m all for airlines trying to meet the problem with a variety of seating options, but doing so will require them being a bit hard nosed about making sure that passengers know that while passenger choices will be taken into account, seating is ultimately up to the flight crew, and any complaints can be delivered to the gate agent, after the flight departs.

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                    • There will have to be a lot of both incentive and institutional support for the flight crew to be willing and able to control a flight with many passengers disgruntled about their seating arrangements.

                      Look at the issues they have now with people from certain religious traditions who refuse to sit in their own purchased seat if they’re next to people with certain demographic characteristics. This is one person at a time, obviously in the wrong, pissing off all the other passengers, and the flight crew still is not empowered enough to bring a satisfactory resolution.

                      Admittedly, it’s not common. But it should be easy. The fact that it isn’t suggests that similar situations industrywide would require significant institutional changes.

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                      • Now perhaps this is a law that could help (requiring that flight crew have the authority to manage seating as they deem appropriate, airline PR be damned – much like a pilot can land or refuse to fly a plane if they can articulate a sound reason why)

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          • ” the marginal cost to add one passenger is pretty low once the plane is off the ground.”

            adding a passenger once the plane is off the ground is pretty expensive actually

            “There is a reason Ryan Air will sell tickets for like $20 from Paris to Rome”

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          • I have a friend who was bumped from a flight because they were overweight due to luggage. They had a seat for her, but they were overweight. This had little to do with her weight, she was quite slim. Though she had a 20 lb cat.

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            • Speaking of overweight… I have a friend who was on Flight 811, the 747 where the cargo door ripped off shortly after taking off from Honolulu, at the beginning of a 10-hour flight to Auckland. He was listening to the audio channel that had the cockpit crew on, which no one bothered to shut off. He says that the tower offered to let the pilot make another couple of circles to dump more fuel before attempting the landing. The pilot’s response was reportedly along the lines of, “No, we’re 200,000 pounds over the rated landing weight, and we won’t dump enough to make a difference, so let’s just get this over with.” My friend also says it was the smoothest touchdown he’d ever experienced.

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              • That could be the rated weight of the gear, or the runway. Either way, I bet the pilot was doing his damnedest to make that a smooth landing to avoid overstressing either and causing a gear collapse. According to the Wiki, he landed at a higher speed than normal, so a gear collapse with a large section of fuselage structure missing would likely result in the hull breaking and the plane splitting into two sections, neither under any kind of control.

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    • So a heavier person can opt for a larger, more comfortable seat and pay more or they can sit in a smaller, less comfortable seat and pay less.

      Not opt. The airline is renting me volume of certain dimensions, and I’m not hot about sharing it. “I’m sorry, sir/ma’am, but you simply don’t fit in the smaller seat without your arms extending into the space of the passengers next to you. You’ll have to buy a larger seat.”

      I don’t fly much these days, so my recollections are probably from an era when seats weren’t crammed as close as they are today, but even then I dreaded being put in a seat next to a large person whose arm was going to be on my side of the divider for the entire flight. Not just fat people. I recall a muscular young man who was 6’4″ or so with very broad shoulders who simply couldn’t fit in the middle seat he’d been assigned — if he relaxed, one elbow hit me and the other hit the person in the window seat.

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      • But don’t you have the same option? You can fly like a sardine for cheap or spend a little more for assured personal space. Or spend MUCH more and fly first class.

        The thing I like about my plan is it doesn’t require people with larger body types to pay more simply for having that body type (which may be out of their control… and not just for issues related to weight).

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            • This I have no problem with, provided airlines give preference for those seats to people who need them because they are big. That means bumping the skinny guy who wanted extra elbow room back to a regular seat & refunding him the difference.

              I can hear the bitching already.

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      • Arms are one thing — legs are even worse. “no you can’t recline, you’re already hitting my knees”

        I don’t mind the fat person who is clearly trying his hardest to not be on my side…

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      • I’m a pretty small guy – ten stone or so – and if I get a window seat and wedge myself into the window I can just about avoid man-contact for most of the flight by surrendering the armrest to the poor dude in the middle. I can’t imagine it for a normal-sized or larger guy.

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    • Quick googling suggests a 747 (including passengers, luggage, and fuel) weighs on the order of 1,000 kg per seat it holds. Let’s say an average North American airline passenger, from the skinny 6 year olds to the well-insulated Harley Davidson enthusiasts, weighs 85 kg.

      So, a little 15 kg kid accounts for 930 kg, 93% of the average, and a 140 kg person accounts for 1140 kg, 114% of the average.

      It seems like there’s some ‘there’ there.

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  5. The Challenger engineer who tried to sound the alarm has died.

    “The”? There were several engineers employed by Morton Thiokol who waved red flags in front of NASA. The one most prominent at the time was Allan McDonald, who continued working for Morton Thiokol for 15 years afterward and is still very much alive. Re McDonald’s trajectory v. Roger Boisjoly’s, some people are just more resilient than others.

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  6. “you should only consume that which comes from your own culture” is functionally identical to the efforts of white supremacists to keep the people pure.

    Not quite Freddie. White power cranks do not populate the sociology department or the student affairs apparat.

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    • 1) The questionable use of federal electronic surveillance tools by municipal level law enforcement is well documented, but, as long a Democrat is in the oval office, the only people that care about it are internet civil libertarian wankers.

      2) It’s not a media blackout, it’s that the national news doesn’t provide traffic reports from New York City every Monday.

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    • I live just outside the city and commute in every day via public transport. I don’t read the news — local or otherwise — but will occasionally pick up the free commuter paper they give out by the subway. I feel like I’ve seen an article here and there about the protests but not much more.

      It is hard to make much of that though. Even the coverage of OWS died down over time unless “something” happened. On the other hand, Sean Bell’s shooting was covered heavily in the local papers and I’m not sure made a dent nationally (though that was before things really came to a boil and pre-social media age).

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  7. As a person recently diagnosed with the chub and told to lose some dang weight (14 pounds over Lent!), lemme just point out that it is so much *EASIER* to eat unhealthy. Buying 6 frozen pizzas gives you 6 dinners and 6 breakfasts and your time investment can be measured in seconds and the grocery bill is… what? 30 bucks? 40 bucks if you get the good ones? For TWELVE meals?

    If you want to eat low-carb and have a salad and chicken breasts and cheese and whatnot, if you can get 4 meals out of 40 bucks, you bought stuff on sale, hardcore… and you spent at least an hour making it. Make something in the crock pot, and you’ve can spend 20-30 bucks and get six meals and maybe it takes a half hour of prep (but, eventually, everything that comes from the crock pot tastes vaguely similar…)

    And that’s without getting into the intangibles related to emotional/mental issues related to changing one’s relationship to food (which is probably where the root is anyway).

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    • My grocery bill for making six pizzas by hand is well under $10.
      That might be why I posted “how to make a pizza” here.
      And they’re quick and easy for a weekday night, too!

      (My salads take about an hour to make, but most of that’s turkey bacon cooking and cooling)…

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    • — I’ve lost quite a lot of weight the past few years. Like, I went from a men’s 54″ waist size to a woman’s 14, which according to the Torrid website is a 38″ waist, although I find that unbelievable. (I suspect Torrid is lying to make me to make me feel good.) In any case, yeah, I lost a fuckton of volume (and a fair bit of weight).

      Of course, in the meanwhile I changed my sex. That might have affected my metabolism a bit (she says with a jaunty air).

      These days I’m shedding pretty fast, which pleases me. I wanna be skinny. Now, I work at one of those big tech companies that feeds us, so I get my breakfast and lunch made, with very healthy options. Of course, I have to choose those healthy options. I could get a cheeseburger if I wanted. Instead I usually go to the vegan line or, even if I don’t, I make sure my plate is 1) not full and 2) twice as much veg as starches and just a tiny amount of meat. So yay.

      I cook on Sundays, where I make a big stew or a lasagna or something, or vegetable soup — lotsa veg soup. Anyway, I’ll eat a small serving, freeze about half, and put the rest in the fridge for Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week I eat my leftovers, small portions. The point is, outside of work, I make what I eat. I have healthy snacks, small portions. I put some in a bowl and leave the bag in the kitchen.

      I ease up on Friday and Saturday, where I eat out and have fun and don’t worry much about calories. I mean, I don’t go pig out on ice cream or anything. I’m not going to gobble a large pizza. But I might order enchiladas and some number {mumble mumble} of margaritas. Which I suspect is actually good. You don’t want your body to get too accustomed to low-cal. Keep your metabolism guessing, says I.

      I walk a lot. In fact, unless it’s raining, I deliberately get off at the wrong subway stop and walk a mile each day. I walk all over the place on weekends. I don’t even own a car.

      Anyway, weight loss is possible. Just change your sex, get a posh job at bigtech, and cook your own food. Plus move to the city and get rid of your car. Easy peasy. Anyone can do it.

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      • Way back in my 30s, I somehow managed to work out 3-4 times a week, cook 30ish meals (for two people) 14ish times a week, and still find time to play video games and watch the occasional television show.

        I have no idea how I did that.

        I can’t imagine doing that today without quitting my job.

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            • When my commute dropped from 2 hours a day to 0, it was amazing how many things changed. I started to lose weight. Household repairs started getting done. That’s 10 hours a week–a full work day. I never really thought of commuting in those terms until I wasn’t doing it. Having a full extra day off per week to get stuff done is amazing.

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              • If I didn’t commute, I’d be in terrible shape – or I’d have to make a real effort of will to get some exercise. Right now, there’s no willpower effort involved at all – if I want to arrive at work, or buy groceries, I have to get on my bike. And just like that, five or six hours of exercise a week.

                Working out by actual choice – going dancing or to a swimming pool or (shudder) a gym – gets me maybe one extra hour of exercise a week. I’d have to make some major habit adjustments if I worked from home.

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        • Yeah, I’m stuck with portion control, trying to catch an hour-long (40 minutes without commercial) show 3x a week on Netflix while on a treadmill,and trying to find healthy eating options near work.

          I only manage the treadmill because of an iPad and Netflix. I was already GOING to be watching Person of Interest (right now) or two episodes of Trailer Park Boys or….well, you get it. :)

          (And hey, treadmill calories burned is “your weight and age and distance traveled. I do between 2.75 and 3.5 miles, depending on how fast I feel like going. Walk or run, only matters for cardio. And 3 miles, for a guy my size, ain’t peanuts).

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          • Portion control just messes with my head. I feel hungry *ALWAYS*. That messes with my moods something awful and too many days of that in a row and my personality shifts to something else (and it’s (even) less pleasant).

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            • There’s tricks to portion control.
              1) Soup! Plenty of it. Salty water makes you feel full.
              2) Popcorn (light on the oil) — basically anything with tons of fiber will leave you feeling much fuller than other things.
              3) Don’t forget a bit of protein and fat.

              4) Stop eating early. Eat again in an hour if you’re still hungry. “I’ve had 400 calories, I should stop eating now”

              5) If you really want, portion control 2 days a week to 500 calories a day. Eat as normal the rest of the week.

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            • I had it easier. I was always a fast eater. I found that it was more…waiting a bit, before deciding if I needed more. Filling up the plate less, and then..waiting a bit, before deciding if I needed more.

              The ‘satiated’ feeling lags eating by quite some time, so for fast eaters it’s easy to go from hungry to “god, ate too much” pretty much instantly.

              Also, an air popper is nice. Air-popped popcorn with nothing on it is both delicious and low calorie. :)

              As for the treadmil: I’m 6+ feet tall and with a big frame. I burn off a LOT more than that little readout says. :) It ain’t energy cheap to move me around, even if I’m just walking. So adding 10 or so miles a week is a nice win, as long as I don’t eat that much more in food.

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        • American geography and life encourages un-healthy living patterns. I’m able to work out because I’m single and have a gym in my building. Its a lot easier to exercise when you have to just go down an elevator than anything more.

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          • No kidding. And then there’s the fact that most gyms available cost ridiculous amounts of money.

            Freakin’ scams. Yes, please, take my 50 bucks a month. I guess that’s reasonable — wait, you want 1200 dollars as an ‘initiation fee’? Is this a frat? Screw up. I could buy a treadmill with that and exercise without leaving my house or having to deal with other people….

            I keep hoping my health insurance would have some sort of deal. You’d think healthier people would be good for business…

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            • I think the problem is that having a gym membership doesn’t mean you’ll actually go. In fact, most people who have them don’t, which is why gyms aren’t even more expensive. A health insurance company might have to subsidize ten gym memberships to get the advantage of one person actually going.

              I don’t know what gyms you were looking at, but 24-Hour Fitness was much cheaper than that.

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              • It’s very true most people who pay for a gym don’t’ go. It is also true people used to get more exercise decades ago. In some ways the amount of exercise people used to get can be overstated. But in case, as soon as people could do less, through driving or moving to the suburbs or labor saving devices or getting off the farm, most of them did so. Many people wanted to stop exerting themselves as soon as they could and many people don’t’ enjoy exercise.

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      • It sucks and I need to lose more and I don’t feel any particular benefit to doing so though I’m fairly sure my doctor will tell me that these theoretical benefits actually exist.

        I mean, thank you.

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          • Well I recognize I speak from a position of extreme fortune and privilege with regard to weight management, I think the best advice is to make small but manageable lifestyle changes. Going on a diet rarely works long term. But making sustainable changes to one’s diet (and we all have a diet) can make real, long lasting differences.

            At this point, I’d find it harder AND more expensive to eat unhealthy than healthier. Sure, ordering a pizza or Chinese can be convenient. But even if I order from the cheap Chinese place and get two discounted lunch specials, I’m still spending $15 for two, maybe three meals. On the other hand, I just cooked up 4.6 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast ($7.80) and a pound of baby spinach ($5.99 cuz I buy the prewashed stuff) and will get 5 meals out of it. Well, I’ll probably need to cook up more veggies as a giant clamshell of spinach cooks down to much less after sauteing it, but I’ll probably just slice up the peppers I bought on sale ($1/per). I cook all the chicken at once… takes about 45 minutes, but now I don’t have to cook protein again this week.

            More importantly, while it can be hella fun to sit down with a bag of Doritos and a whole pizza and not move, I very quickly start to “feel it”. Even if I don’t actually gain weight, I don’t feel good after more than a couple days of gorging and soon start craving the gym or running trail.

            Took a while to train my body to get to this point but it’s doable.

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              • I bribe myself. Well, actually it might be consequences. No beer unless it’s after a workout. No pizza unless I’m carboloading before or after a soccer game. I don’t get anal about calorie counting as long as I don’t stray by more than 500 or so but if I do, the food record comes out again …

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                  • Stephen Fry, who would know much better than myself, on an episode of QI, riffed on Christopher Hitchens – “Hitchens said the 4 most overrated things in the world are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics. He was right on 3 of them”.

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                        • I really only like lobster meat when it’s been wholly removed from the bug, like lobster rolls, or my local trendy gay brunch spot has this to-die-for lobster omelette. Gobble gobble.

                          Those people who can disassemble and consumer a lobster in its full anatomical horror — WTF! Nope!

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                    • I enjoy lobster but think it is rarely worth the price and effort. When I was in Maine and the stuff was cheaper than bologna (literally), we ate it every day. But otherwise, I rarely eat it. Champagne… eh… not bad but nothing special. I’ve never had anal sex so I can’t really comment there.

                      But picnics? Picnics are awesome. ESPECIALLY if you involve booze. Day drinking!

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              • This is where being compulsive helps out! I finished my half-marathon on Sunday morning around 9:45. Walking was hard the rest of the day, but I had such a good experience, I was wanting to run again that afternoon.

                When my training is going really well, I’ll crave runs even on days I can’t physically perform them.

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                • Good on you. I’m told I look a lot younger than I actually am, but I’m afraid that I’m losing the race to defy aging – in particular my unexpected genetic susceptibility to Haglund’s deformity is accelerating year to year, and I can no longer run any meaningful distance more than two days in a row. Sufficient willpower allows the thickheaded among us to bull their way through a lot of things, but not everything.

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  8. Though I would not support legal action, if it adopts such a policy I very much hope Airbus goes out of business. And I hope it takes a financial hit for even considering such.

    It won’t though, because if there is one group of people we are all still allowed — nay, encouraged — to feel contempt for and to make their lives miserable to make ourselves feel better, it’s fat people.

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  9. As a whistleblower myself, I sympathize deeply with any whistleblower.
    We need some kind of support group.

    I know a young man, D., who was recently fired from his job at a nursing home for reporting elder abuse.
    It’s hard not to see the people who wished to do away with whistleblower protections as deserving of such acts after having been through the hell I have.

    Many people are under the mistaken impression that it is the job of federal law enforcement officers to enforce the law.
    On an effective level, the primary job duty of a federal law enforcement officer is to deny the existence of federal law.
    I’ve already been through that.

    The incident referred to here occurred in the parking lot to the north-northwest of this location. The map is centered above my old office.
    (And in case you’re wondering why I was there or how I got there, please call your neighborhood pipefitters local and ask them about their referral procedure. For me, the story of how I got there begins in Matanzas Shores, Fla. and organizer Charlie Long, Jr. I was in Indianapolis when I got my certification. I was in Illinois when I got my referral, when I sent my resume in for review, and when I did my interview by telephone. My hire was approved by another inspector whom I had worked with on another site, and another inspector I had never met, who probably doesn’t like me very much by now. Then I had to take my certs to the hall downtown after getting the paperwork from Merrillville.) Which is to say, that is a long story in and of itself.)
    The irony that the one man willing to speak truthfully is the one with the least credibility is not lost on me.
    I really don’t blame the other guys for not doing what I did. Most of them have families. Most of the rest are afraid to lose their careers and their pensions. Most of them would be concerned over the prospect of spending a few weeks in the hospital.
    And to be honest, I regret reporting it.
    But report it I did. This spill here is directly attributable to the response of a federal law enforcement officer when speaking to an inspector. I know that for a fact, because I was the guy on the other end of the phone. There was also another spill of 30,000 barrels five months after I left.

    Now there is a thing going on with tampering with public records in the Office of the Clerk of the Illinois Supreme Court.
    Yet there is a strong presumption that I couldn’t possibly know what the hell I’m talking about, because I am not an attorney, and all that implies:
    That Mr. Andre Parker (he was Chief Parker when I spoke with him) doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to criminal law. This is not because of what he said, but because of who he said it to.
    Similarly, the Hon. Glenn H. Collier (ret.) could not possibly know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to criminal law. This was my professor that I asked in class one day concerning the conduct of the Clerk previously named. Again, it is not what was said, but who it was said to that is the important part. Myself, not being an attorney, could not possibly have a clue as to what Judge Collier was talking about.
    Likewise, Commissioner Thomas P. Higgins, Esq. cannot possibly know the first thing about any matter of criminal law. We know this for a fact, because it was my professor, Mr. Higgins, in an after-class discussion concerning the offending conduct, who advised me to report the incidents at the Clerk’s Office to law enforcement. (And whatever else he might be, Higgins is not a dirty cop.) Of course, me not being an attorney, I could not possibly comprehend anything Mr. Higgins said, nor of what the employees at the Clerk’s Office may have said.
    There is another professor, a prominent defense attorney in the area, who first advised me to report the conduct of the Clerk in a five-minute class discussion on the offending behaviors in the module on unauthorized practice of law in Intro to Paralegal.) He is not a public figure, and so I will not identify him personally.) It should be noted that none of these aspiring paralegals in that class were attorneys, and therefore could not possibly understand anything even remotely connected to law.

    But that’s what soothes my conscience about other environmental contamination going unreported.
    These are a people who value the tampered document over the authentic one; who prize the false marking above the unerring one.

    Let them have what it is they desire.

    This is why it is fully proper that the people of the State of Illinois should be poisoned.
    No snark.
    This is why it is fully proper that the elderly of this stated should be battered by their caregivers in assisted living facilities.
    No snark.

    If they desired it otherwise, perhaps it would be so.

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    • I would like to revisit this for a moment to clarify certain matters and preemptively address some criticisms.

      First, to be clear, I have no doubt that Mr. Parker, Collier, Higgins, and others were correct in their assessments. Mr. Parker directed me to a specific unit and division in the State Police. He did everything but look up the number for me. As typical, Judge Collier’s facial expression said more than his words. It was clear he felt the matter to be notable. I cannot think of another occasion where I have seen Mr. Higgins emphasize a statement as he did when urging me to report the matter. The unnamed attorney was measured and affable, as always, but repeated himself to demonstrate emphasis in urging me to report the matter.

      And it is not some matter of snobbery by attorneys which I rail against here, but that of court personnel, who, having little or no training in law, deem to take it upon themselves to sit as arbiter of decisions; i.e., usurpation of judicial authority. This is a matter which is actually fairly widespread.

      And lastly, though the statements are unabashedly temperamental, this is by no means an indication they are emotionally-driven. That would be quite against my temperament.
      Having recently undergone a battery of assessments as part of organizational management training, my “emotional landscape” assessment indicates that I experience happiness and respect at a higher intensity than the general population, and wonderment at an increased level; while experiencing fear and anger at much lower intensities than the general population. Nonetheless, cognition was identified as my primary attribute.
      Additionally, the Big Five Plus assessment indicates emotional stability at high enough levels to experience the negative social effects of it: Tendency to obsess over details, losing sight of larger objectives and co-workers. Nonetheless, the positive tendencies associated with very high emotional stability are also present: High job performance, good organizational citizenship behaviors, and low counterproductive work behaviors.
      All of which indicate an unlikelihood of gross hyper-emotional response.
      In fact, the bulk of negative assessment toward the end can be attributed to halo effect in the negative sense; i.e., the cognitive bias of a cognitive miser. It is really more of a peevish sort of respect; the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach.
      And this is why I have no issue whatever in stating that it is improper for any inspection documents for the pipelines carrying jet fuel halfway across the state, or the pumphouses and control huts necessary to maintain them, to be free from false entries and intentional misstatements of fact. After all, it is false entries and intentional misstatements of fact which the people of the state, through their representative government, have established as being of higher priority than any manner of duty imposed by law.
      If not for the purpose of exceeding one’s lawful authority, then what is the purpose of employment by a governmental entity? The people themselves have determined that this is indeed the case, without regard as to how I might feel about it, and i have no right to gainsay the majority in this matter.
      If they hold that the most sublime form of democracy can only be maintained by the burglary of vehicles in the parking lot of the municipal golf course by the golf course employees, then let the vehicle burglaries proceed unchecked.
      The extent of my hostility is that they should receive that which they request in specific. Granted, that is a truly horrible thing, but again, I have no right to gainsay the majority in this.

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  10. Oscar Gordon:
    Problem is, the number of people for whom weight loss is a truly problematic biological issue, rather than a lifestyle issue, is very small; and sussing out exactly how much of a weight problem is a biological imbalance instead of a lifestyle issue is also a nasty knot.On top of that is the fact that airlines concerns aren’t aimed at shaming fat people, they are aimed at the very real economic impacts the increasing average weight has on air travel.

    Does the paralyzed person who got that way from a skiing accident deserve less or more accommodation than the one who got that way from a stray bullet or a progressive disease? Every disability is in some way a result of personal choice, even if that choice wasn’t yours to make. Why is fat different? Why do you insist that it is?

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    • And what is the percentage of the population that is paralyzed as opposed to large enough* to not fit in a coach seat?

      Any system can absorb costs for accommodation (especially if the accommodations are beneficial in other ways) if the population requiring it is small. If the population gets too big either costs have to be borne or a paradigm has to shift. That shift should ideally be toward healthier weight, but it could also shift to more flexible seating options.

      *id extend this to body builders as well.

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      • Oscar Gordon:
        And what is the percentage of the population that is paralyzed as opposed to large enough* to not fit in a coach seat?

        *id extend this to body builders as well.

        Funny you should ask. The 50th percentile seated male is 15.8 inches wide at the waist and 21.7 inches shoulder-to-shoulder. Airline seats are 17-18″ wide these days. So more than 50% (Actually something like 70%) of men are wider than a standard airline seat plus armrests shoulder to shoulder. In fact, less than 5% of men are less than 19″ wide at the shoulders. Forearm-to-Forearm (which is what your armrest fights are about) is even a bit worse than that.
        And those are the last century numbers, I’m pretty sure I saw new ones recently that were worse.

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  11. One thing to note about the “charging fat people more on airlines” idea is that airlines are continuously making the seats smaller. So if they can keep making those seats smaller in order to force more people to pay extra, and use obesity as an excuse, they’re going to do that.

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