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Jumping the shark is that moment when something just starts to go… down.

In this case, Brendan Eich was fired forced to resign for his donations to various political causes in his past. Specifically, he donated $1000 to a CA Prop 8 campaign, and also reportedly to other right-wing causes.

Now. What’s interesting about this is that even as OKCupid and Mozilla were busy bending knee to the gay rights movements/preferences, a whole lot of people realized that Eich was being punished for expressing views they way they might express them — confidentially, on their own time, on their own dime, as it were. Regardless of how most people feel about the issue or what side they’re on, they just saw someone fired for merely expressing an opinion, and one that’s not particularly fringe at that — but one that doesn’t conform with what They want us to think.

This would seem to be a moment when the very hard and personal reality of the thought police, specifically on the Gay Rights front – where it’s become open and apparent that all views are not accepted, all views are not equal, and diversity isn’t — is hitting home to every-day people. And having been so exposed, begins to recede.

And of course, by “Gay Right” I mean the politicized movement bent on extirpating all contradictory viewpoints… not things like actual, y’know, rights.

 

Mozilla’s input page for early april 2014:

mozilla input1

 

 

 

moz2

 

Etc etc etc.

In my post Military Female Doublethink and Rape Myth Debunking I was shocked incredulous by some statistics showing that reported sexual assault and rapes in the military were orders of magnitude greater than civilian comps.

There was some blowback in the comments, specifically around a few assertions I made:

1) Females in the military are more promiscuous than civilian counterparts. 

Commenter Sarah says:

I find it insulting you think women in the military more promiscuous. Do you think they’re all just going out having sex with every male military member regardless of rank just to “fit in?”

Is there evidence for this?

Apart from abundant anecdotal evidence (although not conclusive to my statement), there’s not a lot of detailed surveys comparing military vs non-military females. I did run across this report of a study (actual report linked here):

Andrew S. London, chair of the sociology department and a sociology professor at Syracuse University, said the study is based on data from a 1992 national survey, which found that more than 32 percent of ever-married veterans reported extramarital sex — about twice the rate among ever-married non-veterans at 16.8 percent.

Hardly conclusive because as the report notes the number of females in the study was too small, but double-the-sex is what we might call an “indicator.” Especially if you buy the argument that culture begets action (see also: all the arguments about how society imprints behavior on people, military culture, male/female roles, etc), then if a group of people behaves one way, then most of those people–by definition– behave that way.

As always, I welcome factual correction and thoughtful criticism.

2) False Rape/Assault reporting is a significant problem

Specific comment was from Sarah:

But let me educate you a little. If a report is found to be false the person who reported does see repercussions. That’s a serious offense in the military and a false report can actually get you discharged depending on the command.

I disagree that the incentives are enough to balance the temptation to false-report for a variety of reasons. Although UCMJ says false reporting shouldget punished, does it? And are those repercussions enough to serve as deterrents?

There are two articles that deal with this:

1) Article 120. Here is a summarized list of offenses and punishments, with examples from severe to “minor”.

Rape and Rape of a Child: Dishonorable Discharge, death or confinement for Life, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Aggravated Sexual Assault: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 30 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Aggravated Sexual Contact:Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 20 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances…

Abusive Sexual Contact: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 7 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Indecent Act: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 5 yrs, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances…

Wrongful Sexual Contact:Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 1 yr, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Indecent Exposure: Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 1 yr, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

So, a false rape accusation can result in up to death, life in prison, and forfeiture of all pay / allowances for the accused.

What if the accuser is found to be falsely accusing, and prosecuted?

2) Article 134 for False Swearing: 

Maximum punishment: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 3 years.

Possibly (and maybe a lawyer can help out here) Ch 10 Article 107:

Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent to deceive, signs any false record, return, regulation, order, or other official document, knowing it to be false, or makes any other false official statement knowing it to be false, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

So, technically, yes, there can be repercussions for false accusations, but per my original statement, the payoffs are highly asymmetrical. A person falsely accused but convicted of rape can be imprisoned for life or even put to death. Lesser offenses can net 20-30 yrs in prison. The false accuser can get up to 3 yrs in prison.

How many false-rape-accusation prosecutions were there last year?

Here is the breakdown of sexual assaults and crimes from the Pentagon’s report on 2012: (emphasis added)

At the end of FY12, the Military Services reported dispositions for 2,661 of the 3,288 military and civilian subjects receiving or waiting for a disposition for the allegations against them at the close of FY12. 12 Investigations determined that 947 of the 2,661 subjects were either outside the legal authority of the Department or a military criminal investigative agency determined the allegations were unfounded (false or baseless). 13 The remaining 1,714 subjects investigated for sexual assault were presented to military commanders for consideration of disciplinary action. Of the 1,714 military subjects, commanders could not take action against 509 due to evidentiary problems.Eighty-one of the 1,714 military subjects received no disciplinary action because commanders determined the criminal allegations were unfounded (false or baseless). Commanders had sufficient evidence to take disciplinary action against 1,124 of the 1,714 military subjects. Of the 1,124 subjects, sexual assault charges were substantiated for 880 subjects for whom it was determined a sexual assault offense warranted discipline. For the remaining 244 subjects, evidence supported command action for other misconduct discovered during the sexual assault investigation (such as making a false official statement, adultery, underage drinking, or other crimes under the UCMJ), but not a sexual assault charge. Sexual assault charges and other misconduct charges included court-martial charge preferrals, nonjudicial punishment, administrative discharges, or other adverse administrative actions. Sixty-eight percent of subjects receiving disciplinary action for a sexual assault had court-martial charges preferred against them.

So we have two edge cases to consider.

1) Low-False-Rate: 81/2661 cases were definitively false accusations, or 3%.

2) High-False Rate: (81 definitive+509 evidentiary+947 jurisdictional / false + 244 other-than-sex-crimes) / 2661 = 1781 /2661 = 67%. 

The truth is likely somewhere between the two, because the evidentiary and jurisdictional and other-offense cases likely contain pools of false accusations, but there are also other considerations involved. This is in line with other evidence (cited inCenter for Military Readiness’s Sex, Lies, and Rape) showing ranges from 9% to 40% of accusations are false.

Additionally, we do not see whether any of the false accusations went to trial and got convictions, because those would not be broken out from the other court-martial numbers.

So somewhere between 81 and ~1800 false rape accusations happened in 2012.

So how many were prosecuted?

The only information I found on that question was here:

“Unsubstantiated accusations remain a significant problem, but the SAPRO is doing nothing about it,” Mrs. Donnelly said. “I went through both volumes and found no evidence of concern about the significant 17 percent of ‘unfounded accusations.’ Something should be done to reduce the numbers of false accusations, the first step being an admission that the problem exists.”

I spent a while searching other forums, but did not find any mention of any military prosecution of any false-rape accusers for that offense. So to Sarah’s point above, I say: Bollocks. I will happily post updates if someone does find them.

The point here, if you’ve read this far, is to highlight the asymmetry between incentives for reporting assault and how much of a real problem this is. While there are provisions in UCMJ for prosecuting that offense, it’s been noted that this is an extremely difficult thing to do. Therefore, inherently, there is — even beyond the stated possible punitive action– a very very small risk taken by the false accuser, and a very very very large one for the accused. Again, I ask: What does that incentivize?

Instead, we hear only about how terrible the rape culture in the military is. As mentioned previously, and being the obvious truth, no one should be assaulted or raped– and those who do should be punished. But that’s a very different attitude than automatically condoning or blithely disregarding the very real possibilities of lifetime imprisonment for frivolous accusations, and the effects that environment has on military effectiveness.

As always, I welcome factual correction and thoughtful criticism.

Over the last few days, there have been a number of interesting articles I haven’t had time to write about.  As follows:

1) Gonorrhea on the verge of being antibiotic-resistant:  Actually quite scary, given the implications for other diseases and treatments. There may be some alternatives — e.g. bacteriophages — but right now the research dollars aren’t enough to make it work. Bottom line: Don’t go to a hospital.

 

2) Camille Paglia notes that sex ed is biased for an agenda and against actual education. Sins of omission vs sins of commission, editorial bias writ large, and all that. Funny that this particular lapse

Fertility is the missing chapter in sex education. Sobering facts about women’s declining fertility after their 20s are being withheld from ambitious young women, who are propelled along a career track devised for men.

hasn’t been called out before (that I’m aware of) even by relatively sophisticated observers. After her piece on A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues, I’m starting to respect her thinking.

 

3) Neural Digital Interfaces are starting to take hold in popular imagination after years of being relegated to sci-fi and wonk-thought. Still decades off for sure, but coming, coming…

 

4) Eric Schmidt of Google fame takes a swipe at Peter Thiel:

Schmidt vehemently disagrees. “The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.” It’s true, on average, economists find that college raises wages by about 15-30 percent. Despite the debt, it’s a wise investment for many students… [Ed: Maybe, if you assume that college is causative of higher wages. But we saw how giving houses to poor people to create more middle class citizens worked out, right?] 

Schmidt also noted that — especially for gifted students — teachers should focus on teaching “grit.”

“It looks like the thing that separates out the capable students from the really successful ones is not so much their knowledge,” says Schmidt, “but their persistence at something.” In other words, if a kid quits at the first sign of trouble, all the natural intelligence in the world won’t matter…

Still, for the vast majority of students, Schmidt argued that college is worth it no matter what their goal.

“If all you care about is money, you should go to college. If all you care about is culture and creativity, you should go to college. If all you care about is having fun, you should go to college. Go to college. I can’t be any clearer.”

Teach grit? How do you do that? With Gender Studies? Categorically stating that college is a good idea for all students is incorrect. It might be a good idea for all able students, or most people, but definitely not for all. Peter Thiel, for one, definitely disagrees for the folks on the far right end of the ability curve, and it may not even make a whole lot of economic sense for some people, period.

5) Also in education: Upstart, a student-equity startup, is getting wings. I had this idea and even did some more extensive legwork on it (not posted), but it looks like someone figured out the pricing and adverse-selection impacts. If issuing equity works for companies, why not people? Eventually student loan pricing will reflect market conditions, and this will be even more profitable.

Now I’m kicking myself for not getting after it, hard, when I had the opportunity.

Google is Sexist

In keeping with Google’s history of being politically correct and lefty, today we see that the Google Doodle commemorates Women’s Day with a video celebrating women.

womens day

With the 80s video depicting ~100 women saying “Happy Women’s Day” or something to a vaguely irritating “Hup Hup” soundtrack.

womens day 2

We’re reminded by thoughtful bloggers that, before we get uppity, there’s an international Men’s day too.

uppity

Condescending much?

Except Google decided that it’s not worth a separate doodle, much less a video with music and famous people.

mens day

Do you see a Men’s Day on November 19th?

Says a lot about modern attitudes and culture, and specifically Google’s mindset towards men – reinforcing attitudes that only women matter. Part of the problem is that Google is filled with a lot of smart people who see themselves, per Thomas Sowell, as on the side of angels. This sort of thing wouldn’t even occur to them as out of place or wrong, and it’s pervasive cultural messaging.

The next time you hear about how women are disadvantaged and the patriarchy is keeping gals down, remember things like this – emblems and symbols of the gynarchy. Google’s entirely within their rights to do this stuff, but it should be noted as indicative of where their priorities lie, so they can be held accountable to the attitudes and thoughts they encourage.

 

In other words, use Bing.

This has gotten a lot of shares and general buzz in the past couple of days:

The Spritz reader is a simple, small box that streams text at the reader, one word at a time. The words are presented in a large, very reader-friendly font, and centered around the “optimal recognition point” of each word. In fact, the box will only display a maximum of 13 characters, so larger words are broken up.

What’s really interesting is just how quickly this system can pipe information into your brain. I did a couple of online reading speed tests and found my average reading speed for regular blocks of text is around 330-350 words per minute. But I can comfortably follow a Spritz box at up to 500 words per minute without missing much, losing concentration or feeling any kind of eye strain. In short stints I can follow 800 words per minute, and the team says it’s easy to train yourself to go faster and retain more.

Apart from the tech-writer’s hump-the-leg mentality of the startup, I see this having a couple useful applications:

1) Fiction and concept-based reading. Reference books need not apply – if you think one advantage of e-books is that they’re not as easily referenced (tabs, notes, etc) as hard-copy books, then a single reference-less line of text –nay, a single word stream–will be much, much harder. So that means your fiction, lit, social-science, etc, will be easily adapted to this tech, I don’t see textbooks or references moving to this.

On the other hand, as I look at my bookshelf and reading list, the majority of works would be easily transferable to this medium. And I’d get through them much more rapidly, although the retention piece probably needs some more study.

2) It may make smartphones competitive with e-readers. Amazon might snap this startup up.

3) I’m curious about how the user interface is going to work. A constant stream of hundreds of words a minute doesn’t leave much time for blinking and things like that. Do you speed it up and slow it down with a slider?

4) Another nail in the coffin of the conversation starter “So what’s that book you’re reading?”, and another step toward total phone immersion.

But it’s an interesting concept that will be useful until we get to neural-digital implants. More important is the underlying theme that even tech that has been around for millenia can be improved upon, given a set of fresh eyes and some root-causing of what’s holding it back in its current form. What else is out there waiting to be optimized?

Breaking: There are guys that will actually pay women in order to be friendzoned.

While there is a “sex cam” aspect to it, the more interesting phenom here is the platonic relationships that men and women form on the site. Money changes hands on the site for any of a number of reasons, even for something as innocent as a guy helping a woman pay her rent that month.

MyGirlFund is host to roughly 8,200 women from all sorts of backgrounds and sees 15,000 new male members signing up each month to chat and spend money. Members buy credits worth $1 apiece, and spend it on whatever they’re looking for within the site’s rules, which mainly prohibit exchanging personal info and meeting in person.

WowJustWow. Paying credits for interaction without the possibility of escalation. Is the need for emotional connection that bad out there?

The lack of physical interaction, coupled with a cash transaction, would seem to perpetuate the most shallow, short-lived exchanges possible. But in many instances it has led to months or years-long relationships that seem to have a degree of genuine emotional investment.

The prospect of a man sending money to a woman he’s never met in person is a bit puzzling. Here’s how Brian, founder and CEO, explained it: “Guys send girls money whether it’s for content or simply to be a nice, generous guy. Some guys want to feel important to these girls … we’ve heard of them helping pay for things from tuition to speeding tickets.”

The founder is certainly a very perceptive opportunist, monetizing the current cultural masculinity malaise.

Women, of course, are happy to capitalize on this, as playing emotional prostitute is much easier and more respectable than actually selling the goods.

This is the unhappy but logically consequent meeting of female entrepreneurship and herbivorism. At least, if you want to consider cam-friend an entrepreneurial venture. It’s almost enough to make you wonder why there aren’t more female programmers.

Side note: The internet has transformed many industries into winner-take-all dynamics. Scalable businesses, media, etc etc. I wonder whether it will also end up stratifying people by social interaction abilities. This sort of site will tend to pull its members out of ordinary social opportunities, leaving the remaining few actually out and about and more able to deal with other people.

 

Automating Slut-Shaming

While reading Captain Capitalism’s post on the Duke Porn Star stumbling her way through the cognitive dissonance introduced by doing porn and being caught doing porn, I had a brain wave:

Porn has been the driving factor behind many new technologies or media standards. Why not put it to use making women behave?

With all the facial recognition, machine learning, and social networking technologies out there, what an enterprising programmer needs to do is create a facial-rec scraper that will watch porn videos, match the faces to social network photos, and spit out a collection of videos / pics to girls that you or your friends know, a la LinkedIn or Facebook. Facial Rec and public video was used for the Boston Bomber, and while the tech isn’t mature yet, it will get there.  There are lots and lots of data-points out there – time to tie them together.

What the Duke porn star relied on (initially) was the anonymity of the volume of porn videos on the net. She was brought low and public because of the match of her viewing audience and her social circle. So let’s automate that manual process.

What happens when all amateur porn stars can be searched by degrees of separation from you and your friends? All your future girlfriends and wives doing shoots that you’d never know about now, simply because of the vast amount of data to sift through, will be searchable.

It seems that would provide a powerful disincentive, given that one of the Things Women Don’t Like is being called out for bad behavior,  for women to be doing that sort of thing.

Given the pace and trajectories of these technologies, this will happen. Maybe it will introduce some shame back into society, and make dads’ jobs easier. But I won’t bet on it.

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