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AvatarComments by veronica d in reply to Doctor Jay*

On “Kids! What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

What makes you think she has any pro-Trump friends?

See, you're doing exactly what I warned against. Associating "being Christian" with "being Fascist." That is not the case.

All I said about her is she wears a WWJD bracelet, and then you imagine she is a Trumpaloo. She is not. Now you're imaging her friends. But you have no idea. Cut it out.

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My parents both despise Trump.

Did you, for some reason, assume a WWJD bracelet implies she is pro-Trump? That seems a weird conclusion.

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Yeah, I get that.

The thing I struggle with: I don't see an easy rubric to separate "good parents guiding their kids" from "bigoted jerks who are driving their trans kid to suicide."

I mean, the difference is obvious to me. I like to believe it should be obvious to everyone, but clearly it isn't.

When I watched Frozen, it was such a great metaphor for the struggles of a trans kid, despite the fact that Elsa is very cis. But all the same, the subtext resonated with me and a lot of other queer kids. We see ourselves so much in these characters.

I also know kids who "express themselves" through, for example, heroin abuse. I feel a great deal of sympathy for their parents struggling to find the right kind of love to deal with that.

But those are extremes. I'll say this, behind every story of the "artsy" kid rebelling against their "practical" parent, there is a queer kid seeing something in that story about themselves. After all, we aren't "making things up" when we see quiet-and-artsy as code for gay. We aren't wrong to see "man up" as code for "be straight." Certainly not always, but I rather suspect the writers know exactly what they are doing. How many screenwriters lived that?

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Anyway, you're a parent. I'm not. I'm queer. You're not. I think it's natural we see different subtexts in these stories. Likewise, I do think that the "good parent trying to figure out how to love their messed up kid" is a story that is under-represented, compared with the "repression-is-bad-doncha-know" story, even if the latter is true and important. In other words, I agree with you.

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As an addendum to my last post: MLK was a man of faith. That can't be left out from his story. Similarly, I had a teacher in community college. He was raised in the south to be a racist. He shed his racism in seminary. For him, it was a "Saul on the road to Damascus moment," when he ended up holding hands with a black man during prayer. He suddenly realized the evil of racism. Stories such as his should be told. They're important, because faith is important to people. If we leave faith to the bigots, and insist that anti-racism and pro-LGBTQ is strictly secular, then we're missing out on a lot of strength.

(I say this as a thoroughgoing secularist. The point is, I want people free to seek out faith, while still fighting for tolerance.)

(Plus a rabbi once declared that I'm a cat. I'm pretty happy about that.)

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

There is a difference between "this is a serious problem that engineers need to fix" and "this is something that the general public needs panic over, go withdraw all your money cuz the ATMs will stop working, planes will fall from the sky, and medical equipment will fail."

The former is true. The latter didn't happen. The media definitely pushed the latter story, as the former story wouldn't drive ratings.

My own anecdote: on Y2K, we had extensively tested our code, but still, one subsystem failed on the actual date turnaround. No customers were effected because other subsystems were resilient. Moreover, the failing system actually worked fine once we restarted the service. It was just a weird glitch.

In other words, we did the work. Our systems stayed up.

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I think there are a lot of important differences between Y2K and COVID-19. The big one: Y2K actually could be fixed quietly by engineers working behind the scenes. COVID-19 cannot. Sure, hopefully smart scientists will give us better tests, vaccines, treatments, etcetera. But that is at best months (years?) away. In the meanwhile, COVID-19 doesn't have a "quiet, behind the scenes" solution.

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The similarity is in the public response. If these mitigations work, people will say they weren't needed. Public officials who did the right thing will be attacked. In other words, these are shitty incentives.

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I was an unpopular kid. I was weird. I got bullied. But dammit I was smart. I was so fucking smart. Everyone told me I was. I built my identity around that fact. My fragments of self esteem began and ended according to how smart I was.

I was a fucking idiot. Eventually I figured this out.

Nowadays I tell people I'm "math smart." I am, very much so. But there is so much I don't know.

For example, I don't know much about medicine, or epidemics, or any of that. I've read a few books. I know a fair bit about the history of the HIV epidemic. (In that story, the CDC were heroes. How the times change.) In other words, I have a decent Wikipedia level knowledge of the subject.

There is more that I don't know than what I do know. I understand math and software very well. If an epidemiologist needed help modeling something in software, I'd be a great fit. But I'd be useless without their guidance.

If I thought I could offer knowledge without their guidance, and if people listened to me, then I'd be worse than useless. I'd make things actually worse.

Smartypants people have a weird pathology. Often, along with their smarts, they have a chip on their shoulder. I often wonder if this is because of childhood trauma? How many were weirdos like I was? How many were bullied? Do they carry that resentment, like I did?

Anyway, I value smart people. I'm also very suspicious of people who seems driven to "seem smart," to lead with their smartness. Life is more complicated than that.

Anyway, Yang is clearly quite smart. However, he is also a fucking idiot.

Thus he attracts a certain type.

On “Kids! What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

Edit: He stood up before it was popular to stand up.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

I am talking about deaths, and if people don’t see them, actual bodies en mass, than it will look even more like peolple don’t give a shit about what the catastrophists are chicken littling about.

That's the paradox here. An effective intervention will appear unnecessary, because it works.

It's a bit like the Y2K thing. (The difference is, in the Y2K case, the media made a big shitstorm about it to the general public, who really didn't have anything to worry about, because of the efforts of the tech folks. By contrast, this requires effort from all of us.)

On “Kids! What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

I think we need to distinguish the kids today thing from the more general societal narcissism. The latter is real. Our society is image obsessed. We want signifiers. We care less about substance. We want the spotlight and the glory. We'd rather skip the hard work.

Note, this isn't about "kids today." It's about adults too.

Also note, when you see a movie about kids, it was written and produced by adults.

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On the whole "repression kills" thing, I know you didn't really touch on the LGBTQ thing, but heck yeah repression can kill. When I see a movie such as Footloose or Frozen, I see a queer subtext. In real life, I know kids (now young adults) who had to choose between hormone therapy and a college education -- because they can't get financial aid if their parents have $$$, and their parents make college conditional on being str8.

What should the kid do? I'll say this, if you're a cis person, you probably don't really understand the scope of the decision. At least, you can't have a visceral understanding. You might try to think of an analogy, such as the parent who wants their kid to "get an education" versus "become a musician," but it's not really the same.

That's just one example of the kinds of things I have personally seen. I've seen worse, much worse. Repression kills.

[Insert here long discussion of how horrible gender dysphoria is. Add deeply personal examples from my life, and from people I've known. I don't feel like typing all of that again.]

Anyway, it's easy to find example of self indulgent kids with decent parents doing their best. But dammit it's quite easy to find the opposite. Spend any amount of time on a "kids of narcissists" forum and you'll hear horror stories. Those stories are real. My ex, for example -- her mother is a full on narcissist. It was horrible. In her mother's eyes, the role of her children was to be status accessories. It was all about the image she could project. The reality of her kids was utterly unimportant.

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Regarding the whole "conservative Christian parents" thing -- again, I've known kids whose parents were conservative Christians. Those stories are real. I've personally witnessed so much hate being preached under the banner of love. It's disgusting.

The problem here isn't that Hollywood is unfair to conservative Christians. Nope. Hate is hate. Hollywood is correct to show the horrors that emerge. Instead, the problem is that plenty of Christians aren't like that at all. My parents, for example -- they are deeply faithful. They are also loving and accepting. Christians like that are common, but Hollywood seems to map faith-in-general as being automatically of the repressive and hateful variety.

I'd like Hollywood to show more faithful people like my mom and dad.

Back in the late 90s, my dad was forced out of a church where he preached because he was in favor of gay marriage. He stood up it was popular to stand up. Likewise, back in the 60's, he preached in favor of civil rights, before it was "the expected thing." He preached this to a white church in Georgia. Christians like my father exist. Their stories matter a lot.

My mom wears a WWJD bracelet. To her that mean to treat "the least of his children" with love and acceptance, not judgement and hate.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

If people form a steady prayer group, then things are still pretty safe. As I've said many times, social distancing doesn't have to be absolute. In fact, it can't be. The psychological cost is too high.

Of course, there are smart ways to do things. For example, protective masks, hand washing, cleaning the area before an after prayer, etcetera. The risk can be well mitigated. What helps is a prayer group is a high trust situation, very much unlike (for example) public transport or a stadium.

On “Ten Things I Think I Think About COVID As of April 3

10 -- Randall Munroe has always been the best of us.

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Stop being a jackass. Good grief.

This effects nearly everyone, and taken on that scale, this is collectively the biggest hardship to hit the nation as a whole in my lifetime. And I was alive for Vietnam (although very young). I was a teen during the AIDS crisis. This is bigger. Moreover, it dwarfs 9-11 and the "economic collapse" combined.

Yes, you can look back through history and find humans enduring worser hardships. Yep. Certainly. My parents were young teens at the end of WWII. My grandfather fought in WWI. My family back in Ohio used to can their own food for winter, a skill largely forgotten -- although I'm much better at ordering from GrubHub than they were.

The point: this is us, and it's now.

To mock people experiencing hardship now because other endured worse in the past is a fucking dick move. It makes you look like a complete ass. Cut it out.

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The question is, when is the extra complexity salient to the conversation? When talking about employment, saying "X pay Y" leaves out many other factors besides just pay. That certainly seems salient to the discussion.

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Lockdowns should be regional, based on current conditions.

You cannot beat this virus but 100% quarantine. It would be nice. Just have everyone sit in a sealed bubble, then no one gets sick. However, that psychologically impossible.

The goal should be to phase "in and out" various levels of social distancing as needed to "flatten the curve." These phases will vary region to region.

On “Wednesday Writs: Schoolboy Innuendo Edition

The concern is this: reasonable churches are already doing this. It's obvious. The issue is those who insist on breaking this rule.

We can say, "just use Zoom" (or similar products). Most will listen -- and they already are. In fact, we didn't really need to tell them. Once the facts came out about social distancing, it was an obvious conclusion.

The issue isn't the responsible religious groups. Instead, it's the contrarian holdouts. The law wasn't meant to defend only those who are rational. It was also meant to protect the nutters -- since one person's nutter is another person's voice of truth.

This virus fucking sucks. I don't like it at all.

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I suppose that public displays of affection will no longer be tolerated.

PDAs are fine between couples, or perhaps tight polycules. In the case of a couple, they are sharing risk, but largely between the two of them. By contrast, people crowded against a bar are sharing risk among all of them, many of whom will be strangers.

The differences between these situations seems rather obvious.

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I would hope this is less about atheists existing and more about the common good. Moreover, I would fully expect the majority of religious people, and specifically Christians, to support a (temporary!) ban on religious gatherings, precisely because germs infect indiscriminately.

This must not be "atheists versus religion," because that's not the point. It's "community health and the common good versus gross irresponsibility."

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That's it. That's the whole problem. If they were "snake handling" (or whatever), I would say leave them alone. It's stupid, but they get to make choices. This, by contrast, effects the entire community.

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I'm genuinely torn about this. After all, freedom of religion is really fucking important. It's not a general "nice to have" aspect of a free society. It's damn foundational. It's needed.

On the other hand, this is a pandemic. It effects everyone.

It is kind of busted that the only tool we have is to literally arrest people for worship. That has pretty awful implication.

On the other hand, this is a pandemic, and in fact we don't have better tools than arrest -- if someone can think of something that isn't "pie in the sky" "wouldn't it be nice if...", I'd love to hear it.

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I knew a guy who owned big cats, including tigers. It was a friend-of-a-friend situation, although I did go out to his compound a few times to meet the cats. It's quite an experience to be inches from a from a tiger.

One thing I learned: don't lean against a panther cage. They can reach through the bars.

Steve shouting "Don't lean against ..." just as a cat give me a gentle, playful hug. I suppose I should be glad it wasn't hungry.

Anyway, I just googled him and learned he passed last year: https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190624/obituary-former-tarzan-actor-whose-600-pound-tiger-escaped

He was an interesting fella. I don't have a lot to say about all of the controversy. He loved his cats. They had a fair amount of space. I think a lot of people didn't like the idea of him, with no concept of the reality.

On “Life Under Quarantine

@stillwater -- Dude, you realize you're being kind of a dick right now, yes?

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+1 from me.

Advice for everyone: when you're in shitty traffic, and truck needs to merge, slow down and let them get in front of you. Yeah it sucks to be behind a truck, but they're working. Don't make people's jobs harder.

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I was lucky in that respect, but I am kind of build like a tractor (which is great for fighting but kinda sucks when you turn out to be a trans gal).

Anyway, yeah injuries suck.

F

On “Class Action Being Filed Against Airbnb On Behalf Of Airbnb Hosts

I have no doubt that after all of this the "narcissistic types" who got sick will be bragging about how sick they got. Those who didn't get sick will be bragging about how healthy they are (but they'll secretly resent those who got sick, just as I've met str8's who resent queer people because at least we have an interesting story).

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