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Posts Tagged ‘illogic’

… I ran into a charming mansplainer this week.

I have just acquired a new computer for work, so I thought I should go best practice and get some surge protection, too.

I dropped into my local hardware store a couple of weeks ago, and was shocked at the price difference between the top and bottom ends. The specs on these things are not very clear, and so I couldn’t figure out whether it was worth paying extra or not. So I asked someone.

The someone I asked was a big burly bloke who seemed to know what he was talking about. He was absolutely adamant that I needed to buy the surge protector at the top end, and his explanation made some sense. He was a little condescending, but I’m so used to that that I ignore it, as long as the information is useful. But I am always suspicious about people who try to sell me the most expensive item in the store, so I decided to think about it.

I had some time this week, so I went back to the same shop and asked another person. The someone I asked this time was a short burly bloke, maybe 18 or 20 (ie significantly younger than me, and nobody ever thinks I’m younger than I am), who in a blusteringly condescending tone gave me the exact opposite advice the first man had given me – but who couldn’t explain why, just said with a patronising sneer: “you don’t need that”. Let’s call him Condescending Fool.

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… or is anyone else slightly frustrated by the assumptions which are just absolutely loaded into Panasonic’s current catchphrase, which is “The smartest guys in the room”?

I know, I know, there are assumptions loaded into every statement, but these ones really get my goat. In particular, the following assumptions:

– Panasonic’s stuff was conceived/designed/built/sold/etc by men.
– Men are the default person/there are only men in the room/the only people in the room that matter are men/men are smarter than women anyway so one only needs to talk about the smartest men to get the message across.

*sigh*

(And yes, I know that “guys” can be used to equal “people” in some contexts – I myself use “hey guys” as a generic greeting sometimes, although with less frequency than I once did. However, the use of “guy” when talking about “a guy” or “the guy” (or the plurals thereof) is generally used to refer to men – I’d say almost exclusively so.)

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An article in the Sydney Morning Herald today states that a healthy diet will cost a “typical” welfare-dependent family of four approximately 40% of their average income.

This, presumably, is a bad thing, because 40% is a significant proportion. A large chunk of the rest would probably be covering your accommodation. You’re not left with a whole lot more.

There’s not really a lot of analysis about what this means for how less-well-off families might make decisions about purchasing food. Nothing about how the cost of a healthy diet might be reduced.

There is, however, this statement at the end of the article:

The convener of the food and nutrition special interest group of the Public Health Association, Andrea Begley, said she supported a food tax and subsidies for lower-income families, particularly given rising obesity rates among lower socio-economic groups.

Because the solution to high cost of healthy food is to make the other food options even more expensive, in a paternalistic example of social manipulation?

I’m all for assisting people to eat a healthier diet if that’s what they want to do, especially if what’s stopping them is the high cost. So subsidies might be good. However, I’m not in favour of this kind of paternalistic “let’s force them to spend nearly half their income on the food we think they should be eating” attitude. That implies a certain level of judgmentalism, and I’m seriously not in favour of that!

(Oh, and gotta love how they throw in the OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA at the end.)

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Headline: “How lethal is your load?”. Subhead: “Even skinny people may be carrying a mother lode of toxic fat”.

It’s the DEATHFATZ! FOR REALZ!

The article seems incredibly confused over the issue of good fat vs bad fat.

For example, the journo seems to have understood that fat in certain locations is a better indicator of problems that may impact on health. (I’m taking this at face value, for the sake of the argument. I am NOT accepting it as a statement of fact. For the record, I also think it’s a problem to judge people for their health, regardless of whether you are judging them for their size. But I’m not going to go into that in this post.)

However, there is no indication that the journo has understood that the corollary of this is: fat in certain locations is a poor indicator of problems that may impact on health, and therefore fat in general is a poor indicator of problems that may impact on health.

The journo is still also associating “fat” with “bad” and “thin” with “good”:

The fat belly on the outside, fat belly on the inside guideline does have its exceptions.

Japanese studies of sumo wrestlers, for example, have found that these obese men are commonly ”fat on the outside but thin on the inside”, says Carey. …

But in the general population, such people are in the minority. And the reverse of the sumo scenario also exists: people who look normal size or even skinny on the outside but who are carrying a toxic mother lode on the inside.

*headdesk*

Oh, and this is buried near the end:

after cigarette smoking, waist-to-hip ratio is the best single predictor of death from heart disease in Australia; better than a simple waist measurement and better than the much-touted body mass index.
[Emphasis added.]

You mean we don’t need to be worried about the OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA nearly as much as we thought we did? Well, knock me over with a feather, I don’t think I can handle the shock!

Bonus weirdness: reference to the supposed “healthiness” of the “natural” hunter & gatherer lifestyle – although there is an acknowledgement that the real reason that people living thousands of years ago wouldn’t have had a problem with fat as they aged was because they didn’t live so long. So yeah. This journo is somewhat confused!

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You might have heard the name Kurt Fearnley. He’s an Australian Paralympic athlete (marathon) who recently took on the Kokoda Track. He usually uses a wheelchair. The Kokoda Track is hardly wheelchair accessible. Fearnley walked on his arms.

Fearnley took a Jetstar flight on his way home, and staff insisted that he check in his wheelchair and use an airline-supplied one. Fearnley refused to accept the alternative wheelchair, and instead, used his arms to move himself around the airport.

His reasoning? From the ABC piece linked above:

“An able-bodied equivalent, a normal person’s equivalent would be having your legs tied together, your pants pulled down and be carried or pushed through an airport.”

I am entirely prepared to accept his assessment that using the airline-supplied wheelchair would be a humiliating experience which would have robbed him of his mobility and independence. I have two reasons why I’m prepared to accept it. First, and most importantly, it’s Fearnley’s own account of his experience. To deny it would be to deny that he felt that way, and I’m simply not in a position to do that. Can’t imagine anyone is, quite frankly. Secondly, and much LESS importantly, it actually makes a hell of a lot of sense from an objective perspective that, yes, having someone remove your mobility aid would be humiliating and would rob you of your mobility and independence.

Fortunately, the general atmosphere is one of accepting Fearnley’s experience, and Jetstar has apparently apologised. The ABC article quotes Bill Shorten, and an SMH article quotes Joe Hockey as well as Shorten, and both seem outraged that Jetstar treated Fearnley in this matter.* It’s great that there’s bipartisan recognition that treating people who use wheelchairs like shit is a Bad Thing.

It also allows us to focus on the details of how that acknowledgement is made, in some of which there is Fail.

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This post is inspired to some extent by Wildly Parenthetical’s post on sex ed – although I’ve thought for a very long time that sex ed should be a normal part of education generally (from a young age). I don’t know the best way to integrate it (but then, I’m not a teacher). However, I do know that knee-jerk reactions are not the best way to deal with anything much.

This post is essentially my reaction to the knee-jerk reactions displayed in this article here. The gist of which is: the federal government is talking about a national sex ed curriculum for primary and high school.

And the gist of my reaction is: *headdesk* after *headdesk* after *headdesk*.

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I was watching the ABC news on TV, and saw the TV version of this story.

In essence: NSW is trying to crack down on graffiti. One of the “initiatives” from the clever clogs in charge of this banana State is to impose higher penalties. For example, a quote from the TV version was something like: “kids as young as 13 will face up to 6 months’ imprisonment for carrying a spray can without a legitimate excuse.”

Whuhhh???

The TV version also had NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos saying something like “since people aren’t being deterred by current penalties, we’re going to raise the penalties”.

Uhhh…

The stupidity of this knee-jerk statement is obvious: if people aren’t deterred by the penalties, it’s often because they’re simply not deterred by penalties full stop, not because the penalties aren’t fucking harsh enough. In other words, imprisonment is not a specific deterrent. Even The Australian gets that!

It’s a bad idea to imprison kids. Really, really fucking bad. We should only do it where it’s absolutely necessary.

And where a kid has been carrying a spray can (or even spraying a bit of graffiti, and I find that as annoying and sometimes distressing as many others do), it’s not precisely necessary.

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