Categories
Bullshit Health

Salad daze

This, by Amanda Mull for The Atlantic, is brilliant: Don’t Believe The Salad Millionaire.

It’s about the CEO of a salad chain for affluent customers. Said CEO claimed that the solution to COVID wasn’t masks or vaccinations: it’s salad. Americans are too fat, too lazy, and it’s their fault if they get sick.

As Mull writes:

that salad is the ideal medicine for an incredibly contagious respiratory virus might not be a trustworthy argument coming from a literal salad millionaire.

But there’s a wider point here.

More interesting, though, is how telling Neman’s salvational ramblings are of a harmful conviction about health that America’s wealthiest, most privileged class long ago laundered into common sense: that people who, unlike them, end up sick or poor have simply refused to make the right choices and help themselves. Speculating that America’s health-care crisis could be solved if everyone just had to eat some salad is not only lazy and wrong; it’s perpetuating an attitude that is making health—and the pandemic—worse for millions of people.

Although this is a story about the US, it’s just as relevant here: our media and political class has the same contempt. But despite the constant narrative of the undeserving poor, poor people don’t make bad food choices because they are stupid or greedy. They make bad food choices because they’re forced to. Poor people make bad choices because they’re poor.

Research has shown that poor people know what they’re missing from their diets, and they want quite badly to have those things.

Food is expensive. It’s expensive to buy good quality ingredients. It’s expensive to buy cookware and kitchenware. It’s expensive to pay for the energy to heat your food. And it’s expensive in terms of time: time spent preparing, time spent cooking, time spent shopping, time spent getting to and from the shops – shops that in many cases are far away from where many poorer people live.

I love to cook, but I’m doing it in a kitchen full of privilege: I can afford to pay my rent, cover my utility bills and still have enough money left to buy good quality ingredients. I have enough free time that I can afford to spend hours messing around with recipes I don’t know if I’ll even like, and I can make things for the kids in the knowledge that if they don’t like it I can simply whip up something else or get a takeaway. I can afford to waste food. These things are luxuries denied to many people.

I’m reminded of Terry Pratchett’s story about poor people’s boots:

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

As Mull writes:

The people who benefit most from this belief system tend to be those who have parlayed personal advantages into even more enormous personal wealth; they were born on third base and swear they hit a triple.

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+

“You are not one of the witches. You are one of the witch-hunters”

A fantastic thread from author Dr Claire Askew on the ignorance of bigots claiming to be the descendants of witches. Turns out they’re as ignorant about history as they are about biology.

Our ancestor-witches weren’t witches. They were people who, among other things, committed the so-called sins of being old, disabled, single, too sexually active, not sexually active enough, and/or – yep, you guessed it – living outside or subverting social norms around gender.

…’witchcraft’ in the olden days was actually an excuse to launch a programme of panicked eugenics. The people the witch-hunters wanted to get rid of were precisely the people who still face the most oppression in our society today: including trans/non-binary folx.

…If you chuck around transmisogyny or go in for this gender essentialist crap about biological female WHATEVER, you are not one of the witches. You are one of the witch-hunters. You are writing a new Malleus Maleficarum when you partake in transphobia, ableism, racism, bigotry.

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+

I see the biology experts have logged on again

A genuine post from a self-proclaimed “gender critical” feminist on Twitter today:

I don’t believe trans women are allowed in lifts. Something to do with the HRT they take. Read it on Stonewall.

Categories
Bullshit Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+ Media

The LGB Alliance isn’t a hate group. It’s much worse than that

A must-read thread on why the LGB Alliance aren’t a hate group: they’re much more sinister than that.

Well, that’s an oversimplification. They most certain are a hate group, and act the same as any other anti-LGBT hate group, but more than that, they’re something more sinister: They are controlled opposition. And that’s considerably worse.

…They’re not just a hate group; they’re masquerading as a legitimate LGB rights organisation, seeking to undermine the existing charity that fights for LGBT rights, and replace them, while being nothing but an arm of the religious right.

…Imagine for a second they hadn’t faced such public scrutiny and pushback and got their way? The UK would have an “LGB rights charity” that opposes anti-bullying, opposes hate crime legislation, thinks gay teachers are predators and that school LGBT groups are harmful

This is all well documented and easy to find. Media outlets that continue to platform them or present them as a legitimate organisation are either incompetent or malevolent.

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Twitter is not real

Whatever you think of the SNP/Green Party deal, it’s significant that 94.9% of the SNP membership voted in favour of a deal whose key points included GRA reform. Once again it demonstrates that the spittle-flecked anti-trans fury you see online isn’t representative of reality.

But it is representative of what gets printed in the papers. As many people have pointed out, Twitter is used disproportionately by people in the media. It’s a good source of stories on slow news days and of content to plagiarise, and it’s also home to a number of echo chambers where journalists hang out.

There was a good example of this earlier in the week when the BBC ran a story about Ofcom leaving the Stonewall Diversity Champions project. The wording of the article was very strange, suggesting that the LGB Alliance was a rival to Europe’s largest LGBT+ advocacy group (and since when did human rights organisations have rivalries?), completely misrepresenting why most of the LGBT+ community hates the LGBA and using the same language about trans people that anti-trans hate groups use.

If you look at the writer on Twitter, his following list is a who’s-who of anti-trans activism; his wife, also on Twitter, is an anti-trans activist who used her account to boast of “peak transing” her husband – the anti-trans equivalent of redpilling, where you successfully recruit somebody to the cult – back in 2018. Here in Scotland, a Scotsman writer’s recent piece on anti-trans activists being ejected from an Edinburgh pub had to be pulled completely: first it was edited to remove the deliberate misgendering she’d put in the news story; then it was pulled altogether, presumably because the lawyers decided it was legally actionable. If you look at the writer’s Twitter account, it too is a who’s who of anti-trans activists and hate groups.

These anti-trans activists are not writing columns, where opinions are labelled as such. These people are writing news stories, which are supposed to be unbiased and transparent. When you’re reporting news you can shape the story without telling any lies: you simply choose to platform this voice but not that one; to publish what group A tells you but not the rebuttal from group B.

People who are deeply immersed in the anti-trans movement should not be writing news reports on activism they or their friends are actively involved in. It’s unethical, immoral and in blatant breach of the NUJ Code of Conduct. In fact, it’s in breach of every version of the Code since the original in 1936: A journalist “should not falsify information or distort or misrepresent facts.”

Twitter is not real, and neither are the scare stories the echo chambers’ tame journalists circulate. What they’re publishing isn’t journalism; it’s client journalism, journalism that twists reality to suit the agenda of its friends. Or as it’s also known: propaganda.

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+

New Zealand vs new zealots

This is beautiful. The anti-trans group Speak Up For Women sent many submissions to the New Zealand Human Rights Council, but while they posted their submissions publicly they didn’t post the response – even though the letter explicitly asked them to. The reason? The HRC handed them their bigoted arses on a plate.

Categories
Bullshit Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Brain worms

Here’s a perfectly sane and normal response to Nicola Sturgeon’s post about the terrible events in Afghanistan.

There are many more like it, as the anti-trans crowd hail the Taliban because they are apparently Gender Critical.

These people have lost their minds.

Categories
Bullshit Technology

Overshared

Following on from my last post about “disruptive” tech firms, this excellent Jen Sorensen cartoon was published on The Nib (click <– for full strip).

Categories
Bullshit Technology

Uber is running out of road

I’m deeply cynical about so-called disruptive businesses: the AirBnbs, the Deliveroos, the Ubers. I don’t think there’s anything particularly admirable about using VC money to undercut and destroy the competition or trying to evade the regulations designed to protect the people who use the service or the people who do the work. But I was still surprised by this piece on Uber, which makes it clear that the firm is even worse, and in even worse shape, than I thought it was.

Uber was never going to be profitable. Never. It lured drivers and riders into cars by subsidizing rides with billions and billions of dollars from the Saudi royal family, keeping up the con-artist’s ever-shifting patter about how all of this would some day stand on its own.

According to Cory Doctorow, Uber is “a dazzle op that keeps new money flowing in, convincing people that a pile of shit this big must have a pony beneath it.” But there is no pony.

Doctorow has written about Uber before.

From the start, Uber’s “blitzscaling” strategy involved breaking local taxi laws (incurring potentially unlimited civil liability) while losing (lots of) money on every ride. They flushed billions and billions and billions of dollars down the drain.

But they had billions to burn.

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Olympian ignorance

Today in the Olympics, a weightlifter didn’t win a medal. This wouldn’t be remarkable if the weightlifter weren’t Laurel Hubbard, a transgender woman. But Hubbard it was, and her loss is confusing me. I thought trans women had to be kept out of sports because of their male-born advantage? That’s what social and right-wing media has been telling me about Hubbard for weeks now: her chances of winning because of her gametes or chromosomes or supposed lack of womanly essence were so incredibly high that her rivals shouldn’t even bother turning up.

And then she lost, all three times.

The anti-trans have an answer for that. Hubbard threw the event. Not only that, she threw it because she had a wider purpose in mind: to make people believe that trans women don’t necessarily have an unfair advantage in sport. It’s not that Hubbard was beaten by a stronger woman, because that couldn’t possibly happen: women are weak and need to be protected from the evil transes!

It’s incredible to see the speed at which the anti-trans mob have gone from “no woman can compete with a transgender woman!” to “the transgender woman threw the event!” But it’s easy to do that when your argument starts from your desired outcome – in this case, that trans women should be banned from everything. The same thing happened when the flaws in the “trans people are bathroom predators” argument were exposed; the anti-trans mob quickly changed to “predators will pretend to be trans people to get into bathrooms.” When reality disproves your argument, simply pick a different argument that leads to the same conclusion as your last one.

This is exactly the same thing cult leaders do, and that QAnon does. Every single prediction QAnon has made to date has been either meaningless or wrong, but because people are so invested in the conspiracy theory they interpret the evidence that it’s bullshit as evidence that it is real. We misinterpreted what QAnon said, or the Deep State got word of the event and made it too risky to continue with, or Q is testing us. The real answer, that Q is fucking with you, is not something the faithful can bring themselves to consider.

There are lots of names for this. I like the term sunk cost fallacy, which applies to illogical behaviour: it’s why gamblers keep on paying to play when they’ve lost almost everything. The rational behaviour is to realise that you’ve made a mistake and gambled more than you can afford and to stop. But the sunk cost fallacy says that you’ve put so much money in that it would be foolish to stop: the big win is coming any time now, and if you walk away you’ll lose the lot to the next person who comes along and plays.

With conspiracies it’s much the same. The more invested in the conspiracy you become, the more of you you have sunk into it and the more difficult it becomes to extricate yourself, or for others to help you extricate yourself. It’s much easier to flip to a different conspiracy theory than to accept that you’ve been hoodwinked, lied to, used. We humans do not like cognitive dissonance, which we experience when reality differs from our beliefs and expectations.

And with the Olympics, the reality is that in the 17 years since trans women were eligible to compete, not a single trans woman has won a medal. In fact, before these Olympics, not a single trans woman or trans man even qualified. Rather inconveniently for the anti-trans crowd, while one trans athlete did bag a medal this week the athlete was a non-binary person who’d been assigned female at birth, not a trans woman.

And yet our papers and airwaves have been filled with the supposed dangers of Laurel Hubbard all week in a way they haven’t been regarding any of the other issues concerning women’s sports, such as predatory coaches, income inequality or the apparently racist, misogynist demands for Black women athletes to take birth control to suppress their naturally occurring hormone levels or be excluded from events. It’s almost as if these pundits and social media posters don’t really care about women in sport at all.

As Hannah Jewell of the Washington Post (and author of 100 Nasty Women) put it:

and the gold medal for cruelty to trans people goes, as always, to britain 🏅

if you listen closely you can hear the tippy-tapping of a thousand british columnists rewriting their hateful columns to account for the fact that laurel hubbard did not do well at the weightlifting, while preserving their awful world view 🏅🏅🏅