[syndicated profile] pipeline_feed

This makes for a very disturbing read. The author details his participation in a clinical trial for an asthma therapy being developed by Amgen at a clinic in Newport Beach (CA). He doesn't say what the drug was, but my guess is that it's brodalumab, an anti-IL17 antibody which has been in trials for asthma and psoriasis.

What he recounts is very disturbing. Here's a sample:

Moment of Truth #2 came during one of the many whispering sessions they gave me. The lead technician had a disturbing habit of frequently pulling me into a corner or another room and whispering things like “We’re just going to say that you take this medication.” I had to fill out numerous questionnaires, and she would often stand over me and whisper which answer I should mark. At last, one day after a battery of breathing tests, questionnaires, and vital-sign checks, it was required that the doctor (listed as the principal investigator on this study) verify all this, personally examine me, and sign off on it. Amgen was very clear on that point. “But he’s not here today,” she whispered, “so we’re just going to mark this off and send it through. We’ve already done everything he was going to do anyway.” By now I knew this contractor was willfully and knowingly giving Amgen invalid data, and I resolved to stick with it only long enough to see what more I could learn. I’d already decided I would not complete the trial and contribute bad data to a medical clinical trial.

It gets worse from there. The comments to Brian Dunning's post are already starting to fill up with the expected "Yeah, that's what Big Pharma does" stuff. So I'd like to help provide an antidote to that: Hey Amgen! Hey FDA! Check out this Newport Beach trial center! Dig into these allegations, and do something about them. And tell everyone what you've found!

[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed

It's September again, and fashion is in the air. I was immediately smitten with the elegance of Erdem's recent collection and thought it would translate beautifully to home design. With hints of mud cloth and tropical patterns mostly set on dark backgrounds, the collection could easily have felt heavy; but thanks to ample lace, feathers, loosely structured compositions, and sheer, gauzy fabrics, there's a softness that feels both comfortable and refined.

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Lesson #2238 - Recipes

Sep. 17th, 2014 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] survivingtheworld_feed


Octopus is a great substitute for steak, though. Especially when it comes with extra ink.

ATLANTA: I'm going to be in Atlanta for a conference in November - will look to see if I can set up a talk or meet-up at the minimum. My conference plans to go to Indianapolis earlier this year got scuttled, but Atlanta is on for sure. I'll let you know!

In the meantime, I'm talking about crowdfunding tonight. It likely will not be overly terrible. So that's going on in my life, I guess. Either way, I updated the STW Faculty page because of it. Realizing I've told a lot of lies in this space.

PATREON: You can become a patron of STW and help us make more and better comics!

PhD UNKNOWN: My other webcomic about science, school and monsters! Drawn by Joan Cooke!

hagar_972: woman with a laptop at a rocky shore looking at the ocean (Default)
[personal profile] hagar_972
Some digging around turned out that B'tulot is expected in "autumn" - so probably After The Holidays - and the second season of everyone's darling, Ptzuim BaRosh, is tentatively slotted for "early 2015", which makes me think they ran into some production issues with that one.

But just. Can has the cop show with mermaids already please?
[syndicated profile] tanehisicoates_feed

Posted by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Hi all. Thanks for joining in on this collective read of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. The conversation will take place in comments below. You can tackle any angle as long as you've done the reading. That last part bears some emphasis--This conversation is for people who are reading The New Jim Crow. If you haven't done the reading for the week, please refrain from commenting. Please respect the space of people who've actually put in the hours.

I'd like to start off the discussion with some brief thoughts on Chapter 1 and the Introduction. I can't remember a book that's brought more attention to a particular societal injustice in recent years than The New Jim Crow. This is a credit to the intellectual courage of Michelle Alexander. Alexander is direct and frank about the influence of white supremacy in our history and in our society, and refuses to hem and haw in the name of an empty "moderation." I suspect its that direct and frank approach that has attracted so many readers to her case. Should any sanity enter our sentencing laws over the next few years, some portion of the credit will likely belong to The New Jim Crow.

Activists and writers have long argued that there are "racist elements" or "racist injustices" embedded in our current crisis of mass incarceration. Alexander would have us push this claim much further, arguing that mass incarceration is "a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow." She disarms the popular notion that it is somehow wrong to discuss a modern Jim Crow in the age of Barack Obama, noting that the "No other country in the world imprisons so many of its racial or ethnic minorities. The United States imprisons a a larger percentage of its black population then South Africa did at the height of apartheid." In Alexander's rendering Jim Crow didn't die, so much as it mutated.

The trickiness of white supremacy is a major theme in the first chapter. Alexander pulls from the current Morganite historical consensus, which holds that there was nothing particular in the way that Africans looked or acted that necessitated race-war. On the contrary, racism was created by a series of policies meant to achieve particular ends. In Alexander's view, those ends were continued profits for the nascent American planter class:

Deliberately and strategically, the planter class extended special privileges to poor whites in an effort to drive a wedge between them and black slaves. White settlers were allowed greater access to Native American lands, white servants were allowed to police slaves through slave patrols and militias, and barriers were created so that free labor would not be placed in competition with slave labor. These measures effectively eliminated the risk of future alliances between black slaves and poor whites. Poor whites suddenly had a direct, personal stake in the existence of a race-based system of slavery. Their own plight had not improved by much, but at least they were not slaves. Once the planter elite split the labor force, poor whites responded to the logic of their situation and sought ways to expand their racially privileged position.

This theme continues through much of Alexander's first chapter--just when it seems that poor whites and blacks are about to unite, a powerful interest bribes poor whites with skin privilege and the grand alliance is sundered. So it was after Bacon's rebellion. So it was after Reconstruction. So it was after the populist movement. And so it was after the Civil Rights movement. In each case, Alexander finds an interest cleaving poor and working whites away. The New Jim Crow is only the latest machination.

Alexander sees the first rumblings of this in the Nixon presidency:

H.R. Haldeman, one of Nixon’s key advisers, recalls that Nixon himself deliberately pursued a Southern, racial strategy: “He [President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”  Similarly, John Ehrlichman, special counsel to the president, explained the Nixon administration’s campaign strategy of 1968 in this way: “We’ll go after the racists.” In Ehrlichman’s view, “that subliminal appeal to the anti-black voter was always present in Nixon’s statements and speeches.”

Crime, Alexander argues, was one of the key issues Republicans used to send that "subliminal appeal." But the usage of crime did not end with Republicans. It quickly spread to Democrats. And thus we behold Bill Clinton endorsing "three strikes and you're out" laws, funding a massive prison buildup, and promoting a "One Strike and You're Out initiative" that "made it easier for federally assisted public housing projects to exclude anyone with a criminal history."

And yet despite claims of shrinking government and kicking the poor off the dole, mass incarceration effectively meant a new sprawling bureaucracy. Prisons, it turns out, are expensive. "The reality is that the government was not reducing the amount of money devoted to management of the urban poor," writes Alexander. "It was radically altering what the funds would be used for. The dramatic shift toward punitiveness resulted in a massive reallocation for public resources. By 1996, the penal budge doubled the amount that had been allocated to AFDC or food stamps."

There's a lot to like in these first two chapters. Connecting mass incarceration to the larger story of white supremacy is important work. As is moving from abstract terms like "mass incarceration" to actual actors and actual policies.  Ensuring that  progressives remember the damage done by one of their modern presidents is equally important. I am in broad sympathy with Alexander's basic thesis--that caste did not disappear from America in 1968.

But I was also somewhat frustrated by a few (perhaps minor) historical problems.  Alexander claims that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves. In fact the Emancipation Proclamation immediately freed thousands of slaves in rebellious states under Union control.  ("Never before had so large a number of slaves been declared free," writes historian Eric Foner.) Later Alexander uses Daniel Patrick Moynihan's report "The Case For National Action" as an example of a new consensus that sought to ignore structural racism and indict black culture. It's true that conservatives used the Moynihan report for those purposes, but I don't think Alexander's rendering is as nuanced as could be. Unlike most conservatives, Moynihan was never confused about the root causes of black poverty:

That the Negro American has survived at all is extraordinary -- a lesser people might simply have died out, as indeed others have. That the Negro community has not only survived, but in this political generation has entered national affairs as a moderate, humane, and constructive national force is the highest testament to the healing powers of the democratic ideal and the creative vitality of the Negro people. But it may not be supposed that the Negro American community has not paid a fearful price for the incredible mistreatment to which it has been subjected over the past three centuries.

Moynihan believed that part of that price was "culture." I obviously disagree with this, but I think it's important to fairly represent the debate. Moreover Moynihan, unlike most conservatives, did not think the answer to the "tangle of pathologies" was to wag one's finger at black people. Moynihan believed in full employment--"government as the employer of last resort." He authored Lyndon Johnson's famous address at Howard University--arguably the best speech ever given by an American president on racism and white supremacy.

Peter Christian-Anger gets it right here:

Scholars have shown that the 1950s nuclear family was an outlier in history, not the rule. But Americans shaped by the postwar "cult of domesticity" did not know that, and it is important to note that Moynihan was not ringing the alarm as a social conservative. He believed that poverty was concentrated among large families, white and black, and that these conditions were leading to break-up and potential social dysfunction. Years of research have confirmed his suspicion: break-up can indeed be a trigger for poverty, although it is most often a correlate, not a cause. More typically, as he suggested, the relationship is the other way around: Money problems exacerbate the difficulties of marriage and child rearing. Conservatives have often reversed this part of his message, or ignored it.

Perhaps More importantly, I am less than convinced by Alexander's rendition of white supremacy as a means of cleaving poor whites away from blacks. My view on this is that white supremacy is an interest in and of itself. It's not clear to me where the politics ends and the bribe begins.  I generally think that the Left tells itself this story in order to evade the political complications of dealing with white supremacy as a sensible, if deeply immoral, choice as opposed to a con played on gullible white people.

Maybe in the final analysis none of this matters. And I think the broad outlines of Alexander's thesis is correct and evidenced by data. But I found her rendition of history to be a little too pat and would have liked to see her push a bit more on the finer points.

This article was originally published at http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2014/09/books-for-the-horde-the-new-jim-crow-chapter-one/380350/








Shades After page 14

Sep. 17th, 2014 03:59 pm
[syndicated profile] khaoskomix_feed

Posted by khaoskomix

http://www.discordcomics.com/shades-after-014/

I’m off to J-con this weekend! Last year I did a talk on how to start a webcomic, but this year I’m talking about how I do costume stuff, more specifically my How to build a Loki Costume panel, which you can read the run down of over here.

http://khaoskostumes.com/?p=1334
[syndicated profile] in_the_pipeline_feed

This makes for a very disturbing read. The author details his participation in a clinical trial for an asthma therapy being developed by Amgen at a clinic in Newport Beach (CA). He doesn't say what the drug was, but my guess is that it's brodalumab, an anti-IL17 antibody which has been in trials for asthma and psoriasis.

What he recounts is very disturbing. Here's a sample:

Moment of Truth #2 came during one of the many whispering sessions they gave me. The lead technician had a disturbing habit of frequently pulling me into a corner or another room and whispering things like “We’re just going to say that you take this medication.” I had to fill out numerous questionnaires, and she would often stand over me and whisper which answer I should mark. At last, one day after a battery of breathing tests, questionnaires, and vital-sign checks, it was required that the doctor (listed as the principal investigator on this study) verify all this, personally examine me, and sign off on it. Amgen was very clear on that point. “But he’s not here today,” she whispered, “so we’re just going to mark this off and send it through. We’ve already done everything he was going to do anyway.” By now I knew this contractor was willfully and knowingly giving Amgen invalid data, and I resolved to stick with it only long enough to see what more I could learn. I’d already decided I would not complete the trial and contribute bad data to a medical clinical trial.

It gets worse from there. The comments to Brian Dunning's post are already starting to fill up with the expected "Yeah, that's what Big Pharma does" stuff. So I'd like to help provide an antidote to that: Hey Amgen! Hey FDA! Check out this Newport Beach trial center! Dig into these allegations, and do something about them. And tell everyone what you've found!

[syndicated profile] zarhooie_tumblr_feed

thunderboltsortofapenny:

suddenly really want the opening to Cap 3 to be a replay of the train, re-shot from different angles to really mess with the perception of what happened and who’s POV this is supposed to be and the sound is harsh and abrasive and too loud and you can hear the bullets ricochet and the guns blast, the klnnng of the shield against metal and you can really hear how raspy Bucky’s breath is and how calm Steve sounds and then

"Bucky look out"

and the blast of the laser and the cacophony of the shield and the guns and the side of the train and metal on metal being torn apart and then just the wind the air howling and screeching and the metal groaning underneath Bucky’s hands and barely hearing Steve call out and the wind the wind the wind

and no music and no lead up just the wind and “take my hand” and the wind and then the drop-

and then he jerks awake and tries to catch his breath and all the audience sees is this figure in shadow in bed, trying to find his footing again, and you can’t really tell if it’s Steve or if it’s Bucky

because it doesn’t really matter, because they both dream about the damn train.

brainwane: My smiling face, in front of a wall and a brown poster. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane



It might be good for the world, though temporarily stressful for one's marriage, to edit an anthology together, as Leonard and I discovered when we created and published our speculative fiction anthology Thoughtcrime Experiments together in 2009.* Despite the risks, maybe you should become an editor. "Reader" and "writer" and "editor" are tags, not categories. If you love a subject, and you have some money and some time, you can haul under-appreciated work into wider discourse, curate it, and help it sing.

Thoughtcrime Experiments cover You can do this with lots of subjects,** of course, but doesn't it especially suit science fiction and fantasy? We love thought experiments. We love imagining how things could be different, with different constraints. I love enlarging the scope of the possible, and both the content and the production of Thoughtcrime Experiments did that. Neither of us had professionally edited science fiction before, we released it under a Creative Commons license,*** and we wrote a "How to Do This and Why" appendix encouraging more people to follow in our footsteps.


Every story needs an editor to champion it. One thing we conclude from this experiment is that there aren't enough editors. We were able to temporarily become editors and scoop a lot of great stories out of the slush pile....


It's well known that there's an oversupply of stories relative to readers. That's why rates are so low. Our experiment shows that there's an oversupply of stories relative to editors. By picking up this anthology you've done what you can to change the balance of readers to stories. I wrote this appendix to show that you've also got the power to change the balance of editors to stories.



Another way to enlarge the scope of the possible is to seek out, publish, and publicize the work of diverse authors.***** But if you don't explicitly say you're looking for diverse content and diverse authors, and make the effort to seek them out, you will fall into the defaults. I ran into this; I did not try hard enough to solicit demographically diverse submissions, and as a result, got far more submissions from whites and men than from nonwhites and nonmen. However our final table of contents was gender-balanced, and at least two of the nine authors were people of color.

And if you do not explicitly mark characters as being in marginalized demographics, the reader will read them as the unmarked state. Here I think we did a bit better. And our selections caused at least one conversation about colonialism, and really what more can you ask?


Mary Anne Mohanraj and Sumana Harihareswara at WisCon in 2009(To the right: E. J. Fischer's photo of me with Mary Anne Mohanraj at WisCon in 2009.) It turns out that Thoughtcrime Experiments made a lot more things possible. For example, we published "Jump Space" by Mary Anne Mohanraj, a story that stars a South Asian diaspora woman. I remember sitting in my brown overstuffed chair in my apartment, reading Mohanraj's submission, completely immersed in the story. As I emerged at the end, I had two simultaneous thoughts and feelings:


  1. This is the first time in a whole life of reading scifi that the protagonist has looked like me. This feels like a first breath after a lifetime in vacuum.
  2. Why is this the first time?

Mohanraj, encouraged by the response to "Jump Space", wrote a book in that universe, and may write more. The summary starts: "On a South Asian-settled university planet" and already my heart is expanding.


And then there's Ken Liu.

It turns out Thoughtcrime Experiments restarted Ken Liu's career. Yes, Ken Liu, the prolific author and translator whose "The Paper Menagerie" was the first piece of fiction to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award, and who's been doing incredible work bridging the Anglophone and Chinese-speaking scifi worlds. You have us to thank for him. As he told Strange Horizons last year:



I wrote this one story that I really loved, but no one would buy it. Instead of writing more stories and subbing them, as those wiser than I was would have told me, I obsessively revised it and sent it back out, over and over, until I eventually gave up, concluding that I was never going to be published again.


And then, in 2009, Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson bought that story, "Single-Bit Error," for their anthology, Thoughtcrime Experiments (http://thoughtcrime.crummy.com/2009/). The premise of the anthology was, in the editors' words, "to find mind-breakingly good science fiction/fantasy stories that other editors had rejected, and release them into the commons for readers to enjoy."


I can't tell you how much that sale meant to me. The fact that someone liked that story after years of rejections made me realize that I just had to find the one editor, the one reader who got my story, and it was enough. Instead of trying to divine what some mythical ur-editor or "the market" wanted, I felt free, after that experience, to just try to tell stories that I wanted to see told and not worry so much about selling or not selling. I got back into writing -- and amazingly, my stories began to sell.



There is no ur-editor. It's us.

And there is no ur-geek, no ur-fan. No one gets to tell you you're not a fan, or to stop writing fanwork because it's not to their taste, or that you need to disregard that a work is insulting you when you judge its merits.*****

The Ada Initiative's work in creating and publicizing codes of conduct for conventions, in creating and running Ally Skills and Impostor Syndrome workshops, and in generally fighting -isms in open culture, helps more people participate in speculative fiction. TAI's work is even more openly licensed than Thoughtcrime Experiments was, so you can easily translate it, record it, and reuse it to make our world more like the world we want. For everyone. Please donate now, joining me, N.K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Annalee Flower Horne, Leonard Richardson, and many more. You can help us change the constraints -- help us edit the world.

I'm gonna close out with one of my favorite fanvids, an ode to fandom. This is a different kind of love song / dedicated to everyone.



Donate now





* Some couples can basically collaborate on anything together. Leonard and I, it turns out, can get grumpy with each other when our tastes conflict. Just last night he pointed out that the multi-square-feet poster I presented at PyCon (mentorship lessons I learned from Hacker School) barely fits on the wall in our flat, anywhere, and will be the largest single item of decor we have. My "it would fit on the ceiling" well-actually gained me no ground. I pointed out that it would easily fit over the head of our bed, and mentioned that after all, some couples do put religious iconography there. I backpedaled off this in the face of his utter unconvincedness, and suggested that we *try* it above the TV. It now watches over us, slightly overwhelming. He might be right.


** Maybe you heard about The Aims Vid Album, encouraging and gathering fanvids to the tune of Vienna Teng's Aims? Which is FANTASTIC AND AMAZING and omg have you seen raven's "Landsailor" vid?? I have all the feels about that vid.


*** Although not as free a license as we sort of wished. In retrospect I wish we'd gone for an opendefinition.org license so we didn't have niggling questions about whether our sales counted as commerce, etc.


**** Strange Horizons is seeking out submissions from new reviewers, and a Media Reviews Editor. Why not you?


***** I particularly like Patrick Nielsen Hayden's formulation:

I think it's fine to ignore and not read something because the author has called for harm to you or to people you care about. Art and politics can't ever be completely separated. As a general rule of thumb, when we think our approach to something is politics-free, that generally means the politics are so normative as to be invisible.



Cross-posted to Cogito, Ergo Sumana.

[syndicated profile] wsjlaw_feed

Posted by Jacob Gershman

Presidential elections have been decided in Ohio. The fate of same-sex marriage bans -- at least in the near future -- could also be settled there too, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested Tuesday.
[syndicated profile] wsjlaw_feed

Posted by Joe Palazzolo

The U.S. Department of Justice sought a record number of court orders last year for information about whom criminal suspects were communicating with by phone and email.

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