Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 3rd, 2023

Bari Weiss Is Full of Shit

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Katherine Krueger writes in Discourse Blog:

Recently, Bari Weiss’ blog published an account from a “whistleblower” who used to work at a transgender healthcare clinic associated with Washington University’s children’s hospital. Unsurprisingly, the story depicted the clinic as a house of horrors.

Equally unsurprisingly, when some actual reporters examined the deeply alarmist, one-sided story Weiss was pushing, they found it to be total nonsense. It’s just the latest in a long pattern that proves one incontrovertible fact: Bari Weiss is completely full of shit, and you shouldn’t trust a thing she publishes.

The original first-person story, written by Jamie Reed, a former case manager whom Weiss pointed out is a “progressive” and “a queer woman married to a transman,” was published earlier this month by the Free Press, a site founded by the disgraced ex-New York Times opinion writer.

Reed portrayed the trans clinic as unrelentingly barbaric: “mentally ill” children misguidedly looking to transition rather than treat the root causes of their issues, a trans kid’s gender transition weaponized as part of a custody dispute between parents, children being prescribed hormone blockers and other medications willy-nilly and with little regard for side effects, both long and short term, and much more.

Reed wrote: “I left the clinic in November of last year because I could no longer participate in what was happening there. By the time I departed, I was certain that the way the American medical system is treating these patients is the opposite of the promise we make to ‘do no harm.’ Instead, we are permanently harming the vulnerable patients in our care.”

But a deeply reported story published on Monday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatchwhich involved interviews with some two dozen parents whose children sought treatment at the center—painted a starkly different picture, one that runs completely counter to Reed’s account.

Here are just a few highlights from the reporting (emphasis mine throughout):

Explosive allegations made public last month about a St. Louis clinic that treats transgender children have flung parents into a vortex of emotions: shock, confusion, anger, fear.

Kim Hutton, among those confused by the reports, views the treatment her son, now 19, received from Washington University’s Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital as vital to making him the outgoing college freshman he is today.

“The idea that nobody got information, that everybody was pushed toward treatment, is just not true. It’s devastating,” Hutton said. “I’m baffled by it.”

Patients recounted that the staff explained procedures using both medical and everyday vocabulary.

“The doctor reached out to me after hours to answer my questions and make sure I understood what my treatment plan was,” said a 16-year-old from the St. Louis area.

Rather than the “rapid medicalization” and “poor assessment of mental health concerns” that Reed cited in a complaint sent to Bailey in January, parents reported a well-defined, step-by-step approach that could be halted at any time.

Slow, methodical adjustments began . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 5:24 pm

How Tesla treats its employees

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A fish rots from the head, it is said. Need I say more?

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Unions

Some have the view that always the blame belongs to women

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Monica Hesse writes in the Washington Post:

I started my twice-a-decade rereading of “The Handmaid’s Tale” a few nights ago, and one scene that sticks out every time I pick up the book is when the miserable Janine is made to recount her sexual assault, then to assume responsibility for it. Her fault, her fault, Janine’s fellow trainees chant, surrounding her and pointing. This is the magic trick of Gilead’s worldview; this is the magic trick of a lot of conservative worldviews. Men are the ones in charge of what happens, but the women are the ones to blame.

Anyway, the next morning a friend sent me a clip of Tucker Carlson.

In a Tuesday evening segment, Carlson and Candace Owens discussed President Biden and Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who is seeking inpatient treatment for clinical depression while simultaneously recovering from a stroke. Carlson doesn’t believe either man should be in office — Fetterman because of his illnesses and Biden because of, Carlson claimed without evidence, diminished mental capacity due to age. But the point of that particular segment wasn’t to blame the politicians. It was to blame their wives.

“Why is Dr. Jill not the villain in this story? What is her problem?” Carlson demanded, asserting that a “a woman, a spouse, who loved her husband” would keep her husband away from campaigns. “What a ghoulish, power-seeking creep.”

“Absolutely,” Owens agreed. “These women are monsters.”

This wasn’t a new narrative in conservative media. “Jill Biden and Gisele Fetterman should be ashamed of themselves,” Laura Ingraham declared on air a few weeks ago. “Who’s the bigger elder abuser, Jill Biden or Gisele Fetterman?” radio host Jesse Kelly tweeted a couple of days after that.

“Jill Biden and Gisele Fetterman are failing their  . . .

Continue reading.

Misogyny is endemic on the Right.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 12:18 pm

“Expert” opinions from uninformed generalists

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Alec Karakatsanis has a really excellent thread that is very much worth reading. It begins with this post; click the date to see the rest:

I see this as another example of the Dunning-Kruger effect: NY Times columnists who don’t know how little they know about some field, weighing in with assumed authority. Combine that with the fact that the NY Times is not a learning organization* and thus is incapable of course correction, and you have a big ship headed toward the rocks.

* When Margaret Sullivan was Public Editor of the NY Times, responsible for speaking to editors and journalists with the voice of readers who complained about errors and bad framing in the Times, the editors and journalists (and opinion columnists) would listen to the complaints and investigate. But their investigation began with, and was based on, the premise that they themselves could not possibly be in error. Thus their ingenuity was exercised in finding the source of the problem somewhere else — anywhere else, really. What they inevitably came up with was that the readers had read it wrong, or that the reader simply did not understand the issues, or — though never explicitly stated but sometimes implied — the readers were complaining in bad faith. The editors, journalists, and columnists, however, never even considered that they might be at fault.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 12:12 pm

Excellent thread about reporters who have a block against trans kids

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This thread by Isaac Bailey is very much worth reading in full. Click the date to see the whole thread.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 11:24 am

International shave: Italian, English, French

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A silvertip shaving brush with white handle, a tub of shaving creams whose label shows a couple of tough-looking WWI pilots, and a tall bottle of Lilac Vegetal aftershave lotion. In front is a chrome razor lying on its side. The photo is rended as though it were painted, with visible brushstrokes.
Nationalities, L to R: English, Italian (shaving cream and razor), French

In a sense, today’s shave is just a regular workaday shave: not trying any new products, not comparing products or techniques, just getting shaved to start the day. Yet, withal, it is a pleasure. My Rooney Style 2 Super Silvertip looks good, feels good in my hand, and does a fine job, especially with a high-quality shaving cream like Extro 17 Stormo. This shaving cream is grey-brown in color and has a wonderful fragrance: 

Woody, aromatic fragrance that boldly contrasts mysterious, erotic and warm aromas with top notes of black pepper and with hints of heliotropies, resins and coffee and with a background of incense, oudh, amber, musk, and red pepper. 

The lather was thick and creamy with excellent glide, and the Fatip Testina Gentile did a wonderful job. The testina is indeed gentile but also highly efficient and easily produced a BBS result.

A splash Pinaud Lilac Vegetal — the oldest aftershave on the market (not this particular bottle, you understand, though it is indeed quite old) — augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel, and the shave is complete — a pleasurable and satisfying experience that makes me feel ready for the day.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s 1894 Select Orange Pekoe: “A union of bright Ceylon and rich Assam tea.”

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 9:45 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

A wonderful saga of pinball-machine repair

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Over and over I discover that things of which I have little knowledge turn out to be devilishly complicated and require true expertise for effective action. In other words, the less I know about something, the simpler it seems, but as I learn more, I find it’s more complex, and the more I learn and experience, the more complex it becomes.

Everything seems easy to those inexperienced and ignorant, but the reality generally is not like that.

I learned this first-hand when I was a programmer and some nontechnical manager would want a change, which was generally couched in terms of “just,” as in “just move this to there,” or “just add a button to do X,” showing total ignorance of both programming and user-interaction design. But to the ignorant manager, the change was no big deal. House builders, I’m told, run into this a lot with the person for whom the house is being built. “Just move the tub to the other side of the bathroom.”

Of course, this problem is much easier to recognize when you are the expert than when you are the one who’s ignorant, for the ignorant experience the Dunning-Kruger phenomenon: they do not know what they do not know — that is, they lack enough knowledge to recognize their ignorance, so they feel unwarranted confidence in their judgments. We all play both roles: when we have experience and knowledge in an area, we recognize the complexity, but when we view an area in which we are ignorant, it all looks rather simple.

There’s a long thread on Mastodon by Dan Fixes Coin-Ops that is a fun read and also reveals something of (a) the expertise required to do good pinball-machine design and the expertise in repairing pinball machines and (b) what happens when people lacking expertise design and build a pinball machine.

The thread begins with this post:

Me, inside a modern Stern pinball: “Man, Stern suck. I wish Williams had stuck around.”
Me, inside any other new manufacturer: “Oh my god Stern are amazing”

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 8:20 am

Why Bret Stephens is a poor source of information — in this case, medical information

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Thomas Pueyo writes in Uncharted Territories:

Recently, I stumbled upon some chatter against masks, and I thought it would be useful to dive into it for a couple of reasons:

  1. Should we update our beliefs?

  2. What can we learn about knowledge 1 from this debate?

This article encapsulates the debate:

But twitter threads are not a great way to be nuanced. This article is an in-depth and nuanced look at the studies, along with some criticism of my take, and my takeaways.

Jefferson et al. Main Results

This is the study that the articles reference (long version here).

This is a Cochrane systematic review. This is a strong point, as systematic reviews take in much more data, and the fact that it’s Cochrane reduces many of its potential biases. And it keeps results from 78 studies. Impressive!

Now let’s look at the studies themselves. The first thing I note is this: . . .

Continue reading.

It’s a very interesting article. For starters, of the 78 studies, only 6 seemed relevant (7 if you include one study that was not reported). And then further inspection reveals that in fact, only two studies were relevant.

Read the article for other ways Bret Stephens seeks to deceive. 

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 2:02 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Media, Medical, NY Times, Politics, Science

Tagged with

The Useful Idiots Fueling the Right-Wing Transphobia Panic

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Ryan Cooper reports in The American Prospect:

Former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss recently founded a publication called The Free Press, and several weeks ago it published an account from a woman named Jamie Reed. Reed, who worked as a case manager at a Washington University gender clinic in St. Louis, made inflammatory accusations (with more in a sworn affidavit) that numerous children at the clinic were being carelessly shoved into irreversible gender treatment en masse.

Reed’s article went viral on social media, and was cited by numerous conservatives and transphobes as conclusive proof that too many kids are getting transition care. A couple of prominent liberals joined in as well. Matthew Yglesias cited it as credible on Twitter and Substack. “The picture she paints of the clinic’s treatment of children is ghastly. The affidavit she signed is even worse,” wrote Jonathan Chait at New York magazine. (It’s of a piece with an ongoing trend in liberal and centrist publications of writing anxious articles raising questions about youth transition care.)

There is just one problem. Reed’s account is a pile of garbage.

Even when it was first published, any sensible person should have seen some obvious red flags. Reed was not involved either in treatment or management, and her lawyer founded an openly transphobic organization. As Evan Urquhart pointed out at Assigned Media, she made several wildly mistaken claims about the side effects of some gender treatments. In her affidavit, Reed claimed that children came into the clinic identifying as “mushroom,” “rock,” or “helicopter,” only to be quickly given puberty blockers or hormones. This is not only facially preposterous, but in the last case suspiciously lines up with a common right-wing transphobic “joke.”

Sure enough, subsequent reporting has demolished Reed’s story. A woman named Danielle Meert whose child worked with Reed told a local NBC affiliate: “Saying that kids walk in and get hormones right away has not been our experience. It was about nine months until we had a puberty blocker implanted.” Another trans boy treated at the clinic contradicted her assertion that hormones were prescribed after just a couple of meetings with a therapist: “That’s not possible at all because a therapist has to see a patient for six months consistently, before they can even start writing the letter [of recommendation].” The Missouri Independent also interviewed numerous patients, who reported “any treatments were only undertaken after long consultations with doctors and mental health professionals.” Finally, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently interviewed numerous parents whose children had gone to the clinic, who “reported a well-defined, step-by-step approach that could be halted at any time.”

Reed’s intention, which she admitted on the record, was to shut down the gender clinic entirely. Indeed, the outrage prompted the Missouri attorney general to demand that the university shut down the clinic pending several state investigations, though it refused and is doing one itself.

As our recent Left Anchor podcast with Michael Hobbes and Urquhart goes into in detail, the United States is currently in the grip of a full-blown transphobic moral panic. Dubious, unrepresentative, or entirely made-up anecdotes are trumpeted across right-wing media, prompting conservative legislatures to place strict limits on transition care for minors, or ban it entirely—or in the case of a bill that recently passed the Oklahoma House, ban transition care entirely even for adults. They are attempting to shove trans people back into the closet, if not prevent them from existing.

Many centrist and liberal journalists are doing the same thing, only in a passive-aggressive fashion. The repeated front-page investigations in The New York Times over the past year are, just like Reed’s article, based almost entirely on anecdotes—some of them from openly transphobic organizations that are not identified as such—rather than actual studies, which have overwhelmingly found that transition is quite raredetransition relatively unlikely, the regret rate of gender affirmation surgery low, and treatment difficult and expensive to access.

There are always risks and trade-offs with any health treatment, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2023 at 1:24 am

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