7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.12)

1. This is pure genius. Saves water, encourages hygiene, why didn’t someone think of this sooner? This is also pure genius (via Zack Hunt, who has posted a couple other videos from the series).

2. Dr. Steven C. Brigham seems to be a predatory hack. But since his patients are just women with nowhere else to turn, he’s been able to keep practicing his dangerous brand of “medicine” for years. The link there, you’ll notice, is to a story by Sharona Coutts for RH Reality Check. Remember that story and that link a year or so from now, when the conservative media finally picks up on that story and Conor Friedersdorf imagines that, since it’s brand new to him, it must be brand new to everyone, and then he writes a story asking why Dr. Brigham isn’t front page news and the whole conservative wurlitzer picks up the tune, clucking and fretting about a supposed media conspiracy to silence the story. Again.

3. A century from now there will be a statue of James Hansen on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tourists will be able to look down at it in glass-bottom boats. Or, more optimistically, the Hansen statue will be carved into the wall of one of the huge Dutch-style dikes and levees that will be necessary to preserve places like the National Mall as dry land. Jeff Goodell says, though, that no such feats of engineering will be able to save Miami.

See also Brad Plumer on “How climate change makes it harder to keep the lights on.” And Holly Richmond with “Send this crazy graph to the climate deniers you know.”

4. “For much of the 20th century, people –usually women – in American prisons and mental institutions were subjected to forced sterilization.” That’s Paul Campos providing a history lesson at Time because, as it turns out, for much of the 21st century women in California prisons may have been subjected to forced sterilization. That’s monstrous.

One response might be to outlaw tubal ligation — to ensure that no one is ever again forcibly sterilized by ensuring that no one is ever again voluntarily sterilized. That response makes sense only if you believe that there could never possibly be a good reason for anyone to want such a procedure, or for any doctor to think that such a procedure might be medically necessary for the health of the woman in question. Or, I suppose, that response would make sense if you think that women aren’t fully human — that they are intrinsically untrustworthy and incapable of making wise and good choices for themselves in consultation with their doctors.

But some of us do think women are fully human and capable of making good, wise, prudent choices about themselves. Some of us even think that, because those choices involve those women’s own bodies, it would be wrong for anyone else to override their interest, their judgment, their choice.

Some of us, in other words, are pro-choice. And some of us are not.

5. James McGrath muses on how the endless day of Arctic summer and endless night of Arctic winter messes up biblical rules about the beginning and end of Sabbath. (He also notes that Arctic Sabbath would be a great band name.) This recalls one of my money-making schemes — one I would never pursue because: A) it’s immoral, and B) money-making schemes only work for those obsessed with making money (I find it comes in handy, but I’ve never had the monomaniacal drive it takes to chase after the stuff singlemindedly). The scheme involved a pair of luxury resorts catering to the indulgences of the ultra-rich — one in Scandinavia somewhere, the other in Tierra del Fuego. We’d need two such resorts because Ramadan is a moveable fast, sometimes arriving during summer in the northern hemisphere and sometimes in winter. … You can probably see where this is going.

6. One of the weirder aspects of American politics is that so much of it is fueled by resentment of the poor and the powerless. That’s ass-backwards and upside-down, but it’s an undeniable facet of American life. Many among the wealthy resent the poor. Many of those with job security resent the unemployed. Many whites resent black people. Many straight people resent LGBT people. Many men resent women. Many who adhere to the hegemonic majority religion resent religious minorities. Resentment isn’t supposed to work like that. It’s hard to see how it’s even possible for the powerful to resent the powerless, or for the rich to resent the poor. Yet they do. That mystifies me.

It puzzles Duncan Black, too. He offers a theory that may explain some of this backwards resentment:

An issue in American politics isn’t just that too many whites can’t stand the idea of blah people getting any of “their” money, it’s that they truly think there is some secret welfare system that only blah people have access to. Plenty of white people have had whatever it is amounts to “welfare” in this country and have found it to be quite stingy. All those young bucks with their Cadillacs and T-bone steaks must be getting the really good welfare.

That last sentence is, of course, a reference to several perennial right-wing urban legends. Those lies were designed to create resentment, and they seem to be working. But there must be more to it than just that because the wealthy, powerful people who invented those lies — who know them to be nothing more than lies — were themselves already seething with resentment. Why? How?

7. There’s been a great deal written in recent years about the failure of churches to attract younger members. It’s almost a cottage industry — hand-wringing posts, articles and books musing over the puzzle of why so many younger people are leaving our churches. One of the main reasons — and one that has been largely ignored — is also one of the most obvious: Younger people are leaving the church because they were asked to leave. Or told to leave. Or forced to leave. Joseph Amodeo didn’t jump; he was pushed. This is a guy, you’ll recall who was prevented from entering church earlier this year by a bishop who called the cops to keep him out. But, gee, if only we could figure out this mystery of why younger people don’t feel more welcome. …

 

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  • Jon Maki

    I think there would be far too many people assuming that the tap over the urinal dispenses urine, and it would be impossible to convince them otherwise.

  • Orc Orchard

    *A sweaty, barechested Bear Grylls absolutely KICKS down the door*

  • Panda Rosa

    And now I’m musing on Donating Urine, as seen on Monty Python.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I remember that, when we visited my sister-in-law in Japan (Narita, to be precise) some 10 years ago, the house she was staying in had something much like this in the house. The toilet had a basin in the top of its tank with a little bird-shaped fountain that spouted when you flushed. My reaction was much like Fred’s: “This is a genius idea for using water more efficiently!” I never missed a chance to use it to wash my hands. It filled me with delight. Also, the bird was cute.

    My sister-in-law wouldn’t touch the water coming from the bird’s beak, not even if you paid her. She knew, intellectually, that the water was just as clean as the water in the sink, but as far as she was concerned, it didn’t matter. It was coming out of the toilet and that settled it. I guess for her it was psychologically contaminated by proximity to the idea of bodily wastes.

    I guess it’s no weirder than being reluctant to reach your hand into the toilet tank to correct the position of the flap because ew toilet water.

  • aunursa

    We’d need two such resorts because Ramadan is a moveable fast, sometimes arriving during summer in the northern hemisphere and sometimes in winter.

    One of my Muslim friends said that he was able to manage last year. But this year the fasts are going to be even longer — from 4:30 in the morning to 8:00 in the evening.

    Although there are five or six fast days in Judaism (mostly minor fasts,) most Conservative and Reform Jews observe only Yom Kippur. This year the High Holy Days will fall on September 5th and 14th. The last time they fell this early in the season was 1899. Thus the Yom Kippur fast, which goes from before sundown on the previous evening until nightfall, will be the longest of our lives.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It hadn’t occurred to me before, but I assume there’s some official opinion on what to do if you’re a muslim who’s spending Ramadan above the arctic circle. Possibly “Don’t spend Ramadan above the arctic circle”

  • Alix

    I’ve had two different people tell me two different things. One is to go according to the times at (I think) Mecca, one is to go by civil dawn and sunset (i.e. 6 am and 6 pm). I have no idea which is the official position, if there even is one, or if people are left to follow their own consciences.

  • aunursa

    Arctic Muslims risk health during Ramadan
    “My wife and I couldn’t make that choice, so we’ve consulted mullahs from Iraq to Iran. They say we can wait to fast until the autumn,” he said, adding that some Sunni Muslims in Kiruna have chosen to break their fast when the sun sets over Mecca as a solution to their dilemma. Ramadan this years started on July 9th and should last until August 7th.

    There is still no consensus, however, on how Muslims living in Scandinavia should observe Ramadan without jeopardizing their health, according to Omar Mustafa, president of the Islamic League in Sweden.

    “Several imams and organisations have different opinions. It is up to each individual to decide, but it is not meant that you should fast around the clock. Islam provides many options,” Mustafa told the media.

  • Alix

    Interesting!

  • Daniel

    How do they work out what direction to pray in at the poles?

  • aunursa

    Jews pray facing Israel. (Jews in Israel pray facing Jerusalem, and Jews in Jerusalem pray facing the Temple Mount or Western Wall.)

    I suspect that Muslims pray facing Mecca.

  • Daniel

    But how do you work that out when all directions are the same?

  • aunursa

    I don’t understand your question. Even at the North Pole, if you turn around you’re facing a different direction. If you follow an arc down along the surface of the earth, you would arrive at a different location than if you were facing a different direction.

  • Daniel

    It’s based on something dimly remembered from an article I read on rationalwiki a while ago, and I can’t remember which article it was. However, the point was something about the deceptiveness of the curvature of the earth when it comes to locating Mecca or Jerusalem for prayers in the north pole. As I say it’s very dimly remembered. However, on your point, there would only be one arc that points to Mecca, and all the rest would miss it. I really want to find that article again.

  • themunck

    tbh, all you’d need to realize that is a globe and some string. Place one end of the string at the north pole, the other at the south. Now spin the globe, and notice how there’s only one line where the string crosses Jerusalem or Mecca. The only way for all the ways to do that would be if one end was in Jerasulem/Mecca, meaning you’d either be in the city or directly on the opposite end of it (which IIRC is in the middle of the ocean).

  • Daniel

    I know, I know, but the article was full of maths and things as well and it seems that much more convincing than the argument from string.

  • mattmcirvin

    Most Muslims seem to use a great circle through Mecca (when they can). If you were exactly at the North Pole, it’d be simple to do this, since meridians are great circles: just get the longitude right.

    If you’re *not* exactly at the North Pole but are somewhere in the polar regions, the great circle could point in a direction that seems counterintuitive based on flat world maps, such as generally northward. (Here in Massachusetts, in fact, it’s to the northeast.) But there are websites that will calculate it for you.

  • mattmcirvin

    …However, it appears that *some* Muslims believe they should use a rhumbline (line of constant bearing) instead, which would be a straight line on a Mercator map. Rhumblines get tricky very near the poles, but a meridian from the pole would still have constant bearing.

  • Ross Thompson

    Well, there’s the question of whether prayers travel in a straight line (so you’d have to pray down into the Earth), or follow the planet’s curvature (so you’d send your prayers out horizontally)…

  • themunck

    Funnily enough, I would suppose prayers go up, on the assumption that God is above us. then again, I don’t know the reasoning behind facing the holy cities in the first place.

  • aunursa

    According to Chabad, “Jerusalem is recognized as the portal through which our prayers ascend to Heaven.”
    Apparently based on 1 Kings 8:44.

  • Daniel

    I always assumed prayers were gaseous and so swelled to fit all available space. The question may be where is God watching from? But supposedly he’s everywhere too, so is direction really such an issue?

  • Jamoche

    They could be like ham radio signals and bounce off the ionosphere.

  • themunck

    And if you somehow find yourself on a raft in the middle of the pacific, where in each direction it’s exactly the same distance to Mecca…God will show you in your heart which way to face.

  • Ross Thompson

    How do you know which way to pray when you’re on the International Space Station, and it keeps moving, relative to Mecca?

  • aunursa

    Thankfully there’s an article for just that situation. And it just happens to be on Patheos</a.

  • themunck

    I was gonna make about about how you move the entire station into geosynchronous orbit, and what that’d mean for the Iranian space program, but the article Aunursa linked is too interesting. Make you own joke and inset it here.*

    * It’ll probably be funnier, anyway.

  • FearlessSon

    Geosynchronous orbit would also require that the space station move to a much, much higher orbit than it currently is. That would expend reaction mass, and frankly they do not have much of that up there and I doubt that they could afford to arrange it every time someone wants to prey.

    On the other hand, they do have a really good view of the Earth. It should be quite easy to determine where Mecca is from where they are. Kneeling in null gravity might be the more problematic part, but I am sure they can make do.

  • themunck

    The sheer inconvenience of doing it would’ve been part of the joke.

  • FearlessSon

    Oh, sorry. I can never be sure. Hollywood is pretty bad about understanding orbital mechanics, and that is how a lot of people know anything about it at all, so…

  • aunursa

    I suspect in that unique situation, any direction would be acceptable.

  • Vermic

    The direction of prayer in Islam is known as the qibla. Links at the Wikipedia article include various online tools for determining your qibla at any point on Earth. I’m not certain how you’d do it precisely at the poles, but I suppose you could avoid the problem by just walking a few feet in any direction.

  • MikeJ

    Regarding the secret welfare system, it’s interesting how few people can actually define “welfare”. Ask them what it means sometime. Which government agency oversees it? Federal or local? What are the rules for getting it? How long can you receive it?

    The vast majority of people just think there’s one thing called “welfare” and “they” just send you a check every week, no questions asked.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The thing that also makes me wonder is, have none of these “omg the non-whites get all the gravy” folks stopped to realize that if it actually happened, sooner or later someone would drop the secret? It would be the hugest freakin’ media frenzy, like, ever.

    It’s very hard to keep a conspiracy secret, especially if the circumstances are such that to keep it going it requires laws and regulations that would be written down somewhere.

    Like, if the law provided that persons of color got an adjustment to welfare rates, then the legislation would have it written down, and there would be reams of paperwork in every social services office in which a person indicated their ethnicity, upon which the link could be made to the checks paid out to said person —

    I mean, this isn’t like a few rich guys getting together, off the record, to price-fix a commodity. This is an entire governmental* apparatus that would have to all be in on the secret.


    * I will start using this term in lieu of “bureaucratic” to emphasize the positive aspects of the functioning of government rather than the more loaded term.

  • dpolicar

    Well, the media they consume is frenzied about it. The fact that the Other Tribe media doesn’t cover it is just further evidence that Other Tribe Media is deceptive and untrustworthy, probably because Other Tribe is foolish and evil.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Given that Fox News is predominantly given to sensationalistic, fact-free descriptions of things that terrify Fox Geezers, I have to wonder if any of them have ever sat down and actually tried to see if there were any verifiable numbers given.

  • Matri

    That would completely undermine their pledge to provide sensationalistic, fact-free news. Why, if they were to start doing what The Others do, then they would be no better than The Others!

    And we can’t have that!

  • Orc Orchard

    I’ve said it before: Obama won because a lot of polling places didn’t have ramps and hence Tea Partiers on their Medicaid- or SSI-paid Rascal scooters thus couldn’t get inside.

  • Orc Orchard

    They just sat out there, grinding their teeth, backing up six inches and then zooming forward again, once again bumping against the 2-inch step that led to the elementary school cafeteria

    Their little nylon “Don’t Tread On Me” flags (made in China) hanging utterly limp on a dowel behind each of them, most assuredly symbolizing nothing at all . . .

  • AnonaMiss

    That is absolutely inappropriate MikeJ. Disabled people are not worthy of mockery or disenfranchisement no matter what their political opinions.

  • Orc Orchard

    Truly your words have touched my heart. Battle on, Brave Internet Social Justice Warrior.

  • JustoneK

    Truly you have contributed meaningfully to the conversation by belittling others. Battle on, Brave Internet Tough Fellow.

  • Orc Orchard

    Look, AnonaMiss, maybe we got off to a bad start. You know the rules. So do I. A full commitment’s what I’m thinking of. You wouldn’t get this from any other guy.

    I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling. Gotta make you understand. Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry. Never gonna say goodbye.
    Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

  • JustoneK

    You sure showed me. Let us continue the oldmeme path to inanity together, that will definitely appease any people you may’ve hurt and improve your social status.

  • J

    True enough. It’s true that I may not have done enough work unpacking my own knapsack of privilege. I have an ablist outlook probably comes out of my own background in Philadelphia. I spent most of my days on the playground, relaxing after school, playing basketball outside of the school. Then a couple of guys who were up to no good started making trouble in my neighborhood. I got in one little fight and my mom got scared. She said ‘You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air’

  • JustoneK

    This is the part where I yawn and ask rhetorically if you are even trying because it seems obvious you are not.

    What’s it like, thinking you’re funny?

  • Orc Orchard
  • JustoneK

    I am in awe of your debate skills and humor.

  • AnonaMiss

    That actually wasn’t me, that was JustoneK. I assume Disqus has been huffing jenkem again.

  • The_L1985

    Wow, a Rickroll. That’ll show ’em.
    Disabilities should not be mocked. I have relatives with various disabilities, and life is hard enough for them without assholes like you coming along and belittling their daily struggles.

  • Orc Orchard

    Thrilling. Do your many, many black friends get along well with them?

  • JustoneK

    Do yours?

  • Orc Orchard

    Hah, nice try: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching blustery half-apologies from public servants and media personalities it’s this: Only racist people have lots of black friends.

  • JustoneK

    Totally relevant in a discussion where you specifically are defending mocking less able bodies and no one is a media personality!
    Your skilled deductions have prevented many readers here from any possible empathy toward someone admitting a possible connection with actual disabled people in the real world. Kudos!

  • Orc Orchard

    Hey now. I know we’ve had our differences but that is simply uncalled for. If you want to form any sort of a human connection, you’ll need to do better. Now, if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever friendship never ends. If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give. Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is

  • JustoneK

    Well done, another 90s reference. I never woulda seen that coming.

    You are a paragon of interpersonal internet interactions, good sir.

  • Orc Orchard

    We are the *real* Greatest Generation.

    http://youtu.be/AVmq9dq6Nsg?t=37s

  • JustoneK

    That’s totes why they’re going around fixing everything from the previous generations.

    The last word.

  • Orc Orchard

    The very last.

  • JustoneK

    Hipster macro. Clear demonstration of superiority. Taunt.

  • Orc Orchard

    A clear demonstration. For many are the darkling, forgotten facets of our world and boundless is our secret fascination with them. For the next half-hour, turn not a blind third eye to these twilight anomalies. But rather draw back the canvas portal and behold the wonder that is MTV’s . . . Oddities.

  • JustoneK

    Further taunting. Obvious schadenfreude. Animated gif featuring Disney movie characters.

  • Orc Orchard
  • JustoneK

    Snide indication of bad, visible html. Help on fixing it for proper display.

  • JustoneK

    Secondary response referencing 403 error of previously mentioned image. Embedded youtube of Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows.

  • Orchard

    Well, you came and I was mad for you and you cooled my mind that burned with longing.

  • JustoneK

    Cat macro. Taunt.

  • Orc Orchard

    Verily. With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow, and with my own hand labour’d it to grow:
    And this was all the Harvest that I show —
    “I came like Water and like Wind I go.”

  • JustoneK

    Cat macro with instagram filter.

  • Orc Orchard

    [something racist]

  • JustoneK

    Applause gif. Ad hominem attack in lieu of conversation.

    Basement Cat macro.

  • Orc Orchard

    [something about Pacific Rim]

  • JustoneK

    Query about brackets use. Ad hominem.

    Anime macro.

  • Orc Orchard

    Cautious inquiry

  • JustoneK

    Confirmation. Gentle reminder of thread’s original purpose.

  • Orc Orchard

    Muttered reply

  • JustoneK

    Query on longass series of replies in apparent knee-jerk defense and their place within otherwise average Slacktivist thread.

  • SisterCoyote

    …this has gotten so meta it probably qualifies for some kind of award.

  • Fanraeth

    Really? So black people have no friends whatsoever within their community? Fascinating.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    No, black people have friends. Non-racist white people have friends. Racists have “friends” and they have “black friends”.

  • atalex

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with mocking a subset of the disabled community consisting exclusively of people who themselves mock and disdain respect for the disabled. Or do you think any of those Teabaggers every gave a damn about wheelchair accessibility before Medicare provided them with a free Rascal Scooter paid for with taxpayer dollars?

  • AnonaMiss

    Oops, sorry MikeJ. Disqus mislabeled these comments as coming from you. (I thought it was out of character for you.)

  • JustoneK

    Disqus continues to be a butt, news at noon and CAT VIDEOS!

  • Michael Pullmann

    Mockery, no, but the irony of the very people disabled Tea Partiers want to vote for being for the repeal of the Americans With Disabilities Act is worth pointing out.

  • Notasaltine

    Not only is it an asshole statement to make, its untrue. Polling places are required to be accessible, and if they aren’t, the Justice Department is going to have words with whoever decided to put the polling place in a inaccessible location. Also, if the voter is physically unable to get out of the car and come to the polling place, there is a procedure for poll workers to bring a ballot out to them.

  • themunck

    2 Trolls turned against each other in a battle to the…point where they both cba anymore, I guess. I must admit, I didn’t expect much, and yet I’m still underwhelmed :/

  • P J Evans

    Making the argument that all polling places should be accessible? Or that all jurisdictions should be willing to take the ballot out to the voter at the curb?

  • aunursa

    When I served as a poll worker last year, we were instructed that if a voter shows up who was unable to enter the voting room, we were to take the ballot outside to him. (This was at an accessible precinct.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    In Canada, I believe that the rules are that a ballot box can be brought to a person who cannot access a polling station, so a person can vote basically at home.

  • Alix

    I know in my state, if you’re ill or disabled, that qualifies you for absentee voting.

    (Also, seriously, Office of Elections? “Absentee Voting in Person” is an oxymoron.)

  • ohiolibrarian

    Unless you realize that the law for absentee voting was sometimes (jury-rigged? expanded?) amended to permit early voting in person. AKA any voting other than election day voting.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    You lost me at “I’ve said it before.” Any post starts with “I’ve said it before” or “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” I immediately think, “I’ve read it before and I can skip it now.”

  • aunursa

    I haven’t read every post or every comment since the beginning of this blog. So if someone said it before, I might have missed it the first time around.

  • AnonaMiss

    Forced sterilization is horrible.

    However, I think there is an argument to be made for forced sterilization of people who lack the mental capacity needed for consent to sex, and who will never gain or regain that capacity. Not for eugenic purposes, but to protect them from pregnancy if they are raped – which as we know is all too common.

    I live with two women of reduced mental capacity – one congenitally, one due to brain damage resulting from an epileptic seizure during childhood. (I rent a room from their sister*, who is their legal guardian and a special education teacher at a nearby elementary school). They are well-loved and cared for, but I know that others are not so lucky. If either of these women had ever been assaulted, they would not have understood. If they had become pregnant, they would not have been able to understand why their bodies were changing, much less what they would be in for in 9 months. I can’t begin to imagine the torture that a pregnancy would be for either of them.

    So I think that, for women in the care of the state, who will never have the capacity to consent to pregnancy, forced sterilization is absolutely the best course of action.

    * Biological sister of only one; the other was adopted a few years after the biological sister’s seizure. In case having two mentally disabled women in the same family was sending up red flags for anyone.

  • Carstonio

    I have strong reservations about that, and not just because of the history of eugenics-based sterilization. The two women are obviously not capable of making decisions in their self-interest. But having someone else make bodily decisions for them that are irrevocable seems to cross a line. I admit I don’t know how I would define that line.

    Plus, your argument implies that sexual abuse of such people is an inevitability. Rapists in general shouldn’t be on the streets, but especially the ones whose victims aren’t capable of consent. That’s like arguing that domestic abuse can be stopped by arming the abused spouses.

  • AnonaMiss

    Are you also against vaccinating them? That’s an irrevocable bodily decision in their self-interest.

    There is no way that these women could get pregnant that wasn’t rape. They won’t ever be able to choose to have a baby. They won’t ever be able to choose to have sex. Absolutely zero good will ever come of their fertility, and a mountain of bad could come from it.

    And though it shouldn’t happen, women without the capacity to consent are raped and do get pregnant. Then the legal guardians need to make the irrevocable bodily decision of having the fetus aborted, or the irrevocable bodily decision of letting the pregnancy continue naturally.

  • Carstonio

    Mandatory vaccination for specific diseases is defensible no matter what the mental capacity, because infected people pose a risk to others.

    Chris has a point. If the women are not capable of consenting to sex, then they’re also not capable of consenting to sterilization. I think long-term contraception is a better route.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So forced contraception is okay?

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Forced contraception via the methods I mentioned is reversible, non-surgical, has non-invasive options, and carries little to no short or long term health risks. All the benefits of surgical sterilization with none of the risks, drawbacks, or harm.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Actually, blood clots are a known side effect of hormonal contraception, and a risk factor for people who have limited mobility. AnonaMiss didn’t specify it in this case, but a lot of the cases were someone would consider sterilizing someone unable to consent would involve someone non-mobile.

  • Alix

    By a non-permanent method, that’s not so skeevy to me, not if we’re really talking a scenario where the person in question really, truly can’t ever consent to sex. Then it would seem more like a sane medical decision, akin to antibiotics. *shrug* Maybe I’m splitting hairs, here, but to me the bright line is surgery and permanent vs. non-invasive and impermanent.

  • Carstonio

    Yes. That’s my distinction as well.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It seems like placing importance on reversibility requires engaging in magical thinking –the assumption that someday, the person might be magically cured, whereupon if it turns out they didn’t want it, we can reverse it and apologize. If the person “really, truly can’t ever consent to sex”, then the difference between a permanent and a non-permanent method is just that a permanent method doesn’t rely on a caregiver’s continuing decision.

  • Alix

    Not so much. It’s an instinctive horror I have against doing something permanently to someone that they haven’t consented to. The fact that they can’t consent does not entirely overrule the fact that they didn’t consent.

    I don’t think these people will be magically cured. I do think it’s prudent to tread really cautiously when it comes to making decisions about their bodies that are permanent and/or invasive because they cannot consent. I also didn’t say I was against every invasive or permanent surgery – only that in the case as given, when we have perfectly fine non-invasive alternatives, I don’t see why we are jumping straight over to invasive surgery.

    And, frankly, given our rocky relationship with mental health care and guardianship in this culture, I’m not sure I trust people to stick to “permanent, invasive sterilization only if they really, truly can’t consent.” And now my brain has gone straight to the old controversies over lobotomies, which is tangential but gives a pretty good idea of where the heck I’m coming from on this.

    Shorter me: Permanent, invasive procedures are to me a very last resort. In this case, we’ve got plenty of options that are neither, and heck, I’d settle for “permanent but not invasive,” honestly. But the bar for making those sort of otherwise-elective decisions for someone else ought to be pretty goddamn high.

    …Frankly, it’s kind of starting to feel like you’re avoiding the “non-invasive” part of my position. :/ Maybe that part seems irrelevant to you, but it’s absolutely critical to me. Edit: GAH, crossed the threads. >.< Sorry.

  • Carstonio

    Permanent, invasive procedures are to me a very last resort. In this case, we’ve got plenty of options that are neither, and heck, I’d settle for “permanent but not invasive,” honestly. But the bar for making those sort of otherwise-elective decisions for someone else ought to be pretty goddamn high.

    This.

  • Jenny Islander

    Indeed, there was a case a few years ago of a woman whose genes were missing the trigger that moves a person from the physical state of infancy to later babyhood and beyond. However, sexual maturation apparently works from a different trigger. So she was technically old enough to vote, but she was a bedridden, 30-some-pound woman who would never progress past social smiling and investigating her toes. Her parents cared for her at home, but they realized that she might very well survive them and end up institutionalized. They had no way to guarantee that it would be a safe place, either. So they got her a hysterectomy.

    AFAIC, that was a mercy.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    For a case that extreme, I’m glad her parents managed to get the surgery okayed. But isn’t there a saying that extreme cases make bad law?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I don’t think that saying means what you think it means.

    Specifically, I don’t think it means “The law should forbid things which would be bad in most cases, and say ‘too bad so sad’ for the exceptional cases where it wouldn’t be.”

  • Alix

    …except no one’s asked for a law like that. We’ve argued against making sterilization of legal dependents the default, not for a full ban of any sterilizations.

  • AnonaMiss

    The article Fred posted simply listed a number of sterilizations which the state of California had given to people in its care, without giving any of the details of why the procedure had been done in each case. It sure seemed like the article was against the state performing any sterilizations on people in its care no matter what the situation, and I think you’d find a lot of people holding that position as a reflex against the eugenics movement.

    Though yes my OP went too far the other direction.

  • Alix

    I just keep thinking there has to be a balance somewhere – a bar to meet before forced sterilization’s deemed acceptable, or some other people (doctors, was my thinking) signing off on it. That sort of thing. I don’t generally think blanket, across-the-board bans on anything is a good idea, because I can see cases like some of the very specific ones you and others brought up, where something like sterilization might be necessary.

    But I also balk at making such a thing the automatic standard for state care (or, frankly, private care, though the state-care scenario scares me more).

    There’s got to be some reasonable medium.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I just find something unsavory about anything that approaches a frame of “How many hoops shall we make the caregiver jump through before we deign to trust them to make medical decisions?”

  • Alix

    And I likewise find something problematic about a “blindly trust the caregiver to always be operating in the dependent’s best interest” approach – again, especially when talking about folks in state care, which is something we’ve shown throughout history we’re really, really bad at.

    Too much trust can be just as bad as too little, and as I said, my “hoops” would be: medical advice. That’s it. That the person is honestly diagnosed as mentally unfit to make that decision themself, that the doctor thinks such sterilization is advisable. That … really doesn’t seem excessive, to me.

  • AnonaMiss

    Having clicked through on the article it looks like the story it was in reference to was actually a case of performing tubal ligations on people who had “too many children already” etc., rather than for consent-based-ethics reasons. The article Fred linked was unclear and just went off on a eugenics rant, which is why I tried to counterpoint; but the actual situation in California is terrible and needs to be spread more.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You have left me puzzled as to why you’ve been arguing against something no one* has suggested.

    (* No one here. Yes, I know that a hundred years ago people seriously entertained the idea that we should automatically sterilize all undesirables, thank you very much, but I haven’t seen a single word in this conversation about “the default” from anyone advocating it.)

  • Alix

    From AnonaMiss’ initial post: “for women in the care of the state, who will never have the capacity to consent to pregnancy, forced sterilization is absolutely the best course of action.”

    That’s what I was arguing against – the idea that the default for any woman placed in state care would be forced sterilization, not only sterilization in extreme circumstances.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    No, the point is that extreme cases shouldn’t be held up as, “See, this is why [extreme measure] should be the default.”

    Pointing to an extreme case and saying, “This is why the law can’t be too inflexible, either” is entirely reasonable.

  • dpolicar

    My $0.02:

    As my estimate of the likelihood that a person can give informed consent to something decreases, my estimate of the harm done by eliminating their ability to do it decreases as well. That seems clear.

    So, yeah, as I get more and more cognitively impaired, such that the situations under which I can give informed consent to having a child grow more and more contrived/unlikely, the estimated harm done by eliminating my ability to have a child gets lower and lower.

    And, yeah, at some point along that path, the estimated harm done by eliminating my ability to have a child is less than the estimated harm done by preserving it, and thereby preserving the possibility that I will be nonconsensually made to have a child.

    Where exactly that threshold gets crossed depends on lots of things. One major factor is how likely such nonconsensual child-having is in the first place. Given how common rape of cognitively impaired people in my culture, it seems pretty likely.

    So, yeah, I reluctantly conclude that I agree with you: eliminating my ability to have a child when my ability to consent to it is low enough becomes worth doing at real-world confidence levels.

    I also agree with others that reversible procedures are preferable to irreversible ones, all else being equal, but that’s an easier question.

  • Lectorel

    I am really leery of arguing a mentally disabled person cannot consent to sex. I accept with little problem the idea that an adult who doesn’t have a reduced mental capacity should not have a sexual relationship with someone who does.

    But an adult with the intellectual capacities of a
    child is still not a child. Unless they’re asexual, they will have sexual desires and sexual urges, and I am further leery of saying that anyone can dictate that it is universally inappropriate for a certain class of people to have sexual relationships.

    I don’t know what the capacities of these women are, but you do seem to be generalizing to all women in similar situations.

    This kicks the can further down the road, to the questions ‘if they can consent to sex, can they consent to pregnancy?’ and ‘if they can consent to pregnancy, can they consent to motherhood’, and the practical ramifications of a mentally disabled person bearing a child. There are arguments in your favor. But I don’t think ‘they can’t consent, therefore‘ is one of them.

    (And dammit, discus. If I can log in, why are you demanding I prove user authentication? Argh.)

  • Alix

    I don’t think ‘they can’t consent, therefore’ is one of them.

    This. It’s sounding very much like the argument is “they have no capacity to consent to anything, so therefore we can do whatever we want to them” – the only difference is that we’re justifying this as being in their best interests, and … you know, I hate the slippery-slope argument, but sometimes it’s accurate. And it is really hard, also, to separate out the well-being of the patient from the desires of the caretakers – if the caretaker’s reason for sterilization is more that e doesn’t want to bother with administering hormonal birth control and thinks this will save em some time, is that valid?

    And, well. My brain keeps circling back to other otherwise-elective surgeries performed on people who can’t consent, and to how we really do not have the best track record with declarations of mental incompetency and caretakers really making invasive decisions in the best interests of their patients. :/

    (…I’m pretty sure “patient” isn’t the word I’m looking for, but I’m having one of those tip-of-the-tongue moments. :/)

  • general_apathy

    There was a case a while back where a guy murdered his daughter, who had CP, to end her pain (reason given). There were a lot of arguments about it being ethical euthanasia; it really upset my mom because her dad has CP, and this attitude that obviously death would be preferable, and obviously it’s what she would’ve wanted, was getting into rather dehumanizing territory.

    Extreme example, but I guess the thing is that a lot of these arguments are predicated on the idea that the person isn’t aware of what’s going on, and… we don’t know that. If you have a living person who can’t communicate, it’s hard to tell. I don’t know what the “right” answer is, but I’d feel really uncomfortable endorsing something for those incapable of consent that would be inhumane for someone who is capable.

  • Alix

    And, well. I’m not anti-euthanasia. And I’m not even categorically against killing a healthy dependent if needs must – in extreme and specific circumstances, and trying to prevent those circumstances is why I’m in favor of things like a robust safety net.

    I would absolutely not want to make a law that said “okay, since killing a dependent is acceptable in these very extreme and specific cases, it’s okay if you do it in other cases – we trust you to make that call.” That is why we don’t use extreme and specific cases as the basis for broader laws, and it seems the same kind of thought process is at work here.

    Also, frankly? I’ve worked with people who cannot legally consent to sex, sign contracts, that sort of thing. But that doesn’t mean they’re automatically just mindless things incapable of thought or emotion. They all were able to express their likes and dislikes, if in simple terms, and more often than most people would think, if you took the time to patiently explain (and re-explain) things to them in terms they understood, they could grasp … rather a lot.

    Obviously, that’s far from true for everyone – my point is that there is a vast gulf between “legally unable to consent, so a caretaker makes the decisions” and “completely mentally unaware of anything and therefore entirely uncaring of what’s done to them.” It seems this conversation keeps equating the two, which is … problematic. Just because they can’t legally sign a contract doesn’t mean they don’t have wants, thoughts or feelings of their own, and acting like it’s full mental competency vs. inability to consent and have any desires/understanding at all is erroneous.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I remember that. And while I do think that Robert Latimer loved his daughter and couldn’t stand to see her suffer anymore, I also can’t think of any way to modify the law such that he wouldn’t have gone to jail that wouldn’t also have opened the door to people murdering inconvenient relatives.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    In a court case, I suspect that “diminished capacity to consent” would come up as regards the victim. Even if capacity to consent is not a psychiatric thing, the legal system would almost certainly regard the question of whether the alleged victim even understood what they were agreeing to to be of importance.

  • Lectorel

    I’m sorry, I think I’m missing something. Could you elaborate? I’m not sure how this relates to my post.

  • Turcano

    I have reservations about if for no other reason than I have heard this sort of logic used to justify “the Ashley Treatment.” (Warning: Very, very, very creepy. Will probably destroy your faith in humanity. If you do not wish to be burdened for the rest of your life with the knowledge that this exists, you may want to blue-pill this one.)

  • ohiolibrarian

    If someone can make medical decisions for them, then why not this one? If one of these women got cancer, and her guardian authorized surgery/chemo/radiation would you think that was improper?

  • Carstonio

    You’re talking about lifesaving procedures, while AnonaMiss described an elective one. Elsewhere in the thread, I endorsed Alix’s position that permanent, invasive procedures should be a very last resort.

  • ohiolibrarian

    OK. What if one of these women had the gene that makes it probable that she will get breast cancer (like Angelina Jolie), but does not yet have breast cancer. Do you have to wait until the probable, but not inevitable, cancer occurs? Or is a prophylactic surgery permissible in your view?

  • Carstonio

    That would depend on the level of risk and the other types of treatments available. (Odd that all the posts I made on this subject the other day aren’t available in this thread.)

    I’m not categorically opposed to such sterilization. I’m saying that the bar for making these decisions for others should be pretty goddamn high, as Alix put it. At a minimum, the guardians should exhaust all other possibilities to prevent such pregnancies, such as long-term contraception.

    The only reason that people with mental capacity issues are at greater risk of rape is because the criminal justice system and the mental health guardian systems aren’t doing their jobs.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Nope. Sorry. Three problems with your claim. First, you’ve got a false dilemma, next your argument has serious logic problems, and finally you’ve got a serious ethical problem.

    First, the fallacy of the false dilemma. Surgical sterilization, or the constant risk of pregnancy? How about we utilize one of the many long term, safe, highly effective forms of contraception? Implantable hormones and intrauterine devices have the same effectiveness as surgical sterilization with the advantage of being reversible. Hormonal patches and pills also enjoy a low failure rate when used properly, something that is possible with modest skill training for anyone.

    Next, some bad logic: (emphasis added is mine)

    I think there is an argument to be made for forced sterilization of people who lack the mental capacity needed for consent to sex… to protect them from pregnancy if they are raped – which as we know is all too common.

    So people who are incapable of consenting should be sterilized to protect them from other people who would ignore their consent anyway? Does the term ‘victim blaming’ mean anything to you?

    Also “as we know” assumes facts not in evidence, and “is all too common” should have [ citation needed ] affixed to the end. Please feel free to link to a evidence (research, study, reporting) showing that adults incapable of offering consent are the victims of sexual assault at higher rates than the rest of the population.

    Lastly, I really hope you’re trolling or a Poe. Otherwise, you’re arguing that a violation of consent is a moral good if it might at some point potentially avoid the preventable consequences of someone else’s violating consent.

  • AnonaMiss

    I am absolutely serious, though I am speaking from the perspective of a woman with an extreme fear of pregnancy, plus a family history of feminine cancers which makes hormonal birth control too risky for me to take. (Seriously, my mom had breast cancer when she was in her early 40s, and my aunt died of ovarian cancer before she was 60, and they were sisters.) So I do tend to forget that hormonal birth control is considered a safe option for other people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_abuse_of_people_with_developmental_disabilities . I thought it was common knowledge, but apparently I was wrong.

    Also, it’s not victim blaming at all. I’m not blaming them for being assaulted, and I’m not blaming them for getting pregnant, I’m not blaming them for anything. The rapist is terrible for raping. The burden is absolutely on him. But I’m not saying that if they get sterilized, they won’t be raped, and if they had just gotten sterilized well then there wouldn’t be a problem. That would be victim blaming. I’m saying, an unwanted pregnancy is pretty much the worst thing I can imagine happening to a person short of an unwanted amputation; and given that it is impossible for these individuals to have wanted pregnancies, I don’t see why we should trust rapists not to rape, and then handle the problem after the fact if they do.

    A regimen of mandatory contraception would also be adequate, however, if medically appropriate for the woman in question.

  • Alix

    …The thing that’s funny is that I’m coming at this both as a person with a terror of pregnancy and someone with a fear of anything more than dental surgery. (I only got over the latter through long exposure. Grar.)

    Which is why I don’t think birth control itself would be a bad idea in the cases you describe, but I do find the idea of someone performing unnecessary surgery on me just ’cause I can’t consent … really problematic. :/ FWIW.

  • Alix

    …Wait. So if I lose my ability to meaningfully consent to things, that means I lose my right to bodily autonomy, and people claiming to act in my own best interest can cut me up and surgically alter me without my consent?

    Vaccinations, birth control, medicines … those are a different category, to me, and you can’t draw a meaningful analogy between them and actual alterative surgery. And life-saving surgery, if deemed necessary, I can see.

    This, though, seems … excessive. It crosses a line for me, and to me is much more akin to parents forcibly assigning an infant’s gender if they’ve got the “wrong” genitals than it is to vaccinations. It seems like something far too easy to abuse, in short.

    And I really really don’t see why the burden’s not on the rapist not raping, or on the caretakers to protect the person in their care. It seems like you’re basically saying that the default position should be sterilization, and you only get to opt out of that if you have the ability to make the decision for yourself. :/

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It bothers me that you seem to think that the “burden” being on the rapist would somehow make a lick of difference. What happened to consequentialism? It seems like you’re putting the abstract notion of bodily integrity of a person who is incapable of caring about the difference up above the real harm that would be done, saying “Though you may suffer real physical harm, at least we respected rights you are incapable of caring about,” and then wanting a cookie for being so high-minded.

    This is a situation where there is no “I respect this person’s right to choose for themselves and therefore will not make decisions for them,” because the person in question can’t choose for themself. The choice isn’t between “respecting their bodily integrity” and “not respecting their bodily integrity”, it’s between two different ways of trying to protect their comfort and safety. You don’t need to conclude that surgery is a better solution than constant caretaker vigilance, but your framing seems designed to prefer an outcome of “This person was forcibly impregnanted, but at least all the blame is on the rapist where it belongs” over “This person was not forcibly impregnated”

  • Alix

    …Which would be why I said I’m okay with non-permanent non-invasive birth control. It’s not like the only two possibilities are “let the rapists impregnate people incapable of consent” or “cut out their organs permanently.” We have other methods.

    The burden properly belonging to the rapists not to rape is a secondary point, because it seems like too often we do put the burden on the victims. It was also, if you note, coupled with another secondary point: that if I am a person unable to consent to anything, someone is supposed to be there taking care of me, and part and parcel of those caretakers doing their damn job is making sure I don’t get raped in the first place.

  • AnonaMiss

    Unfortunately it’s nearly always a caretaker who does the raping, which muddles the issue, especially with birth control that needs to be regularly administered.

    I respect the non-invasive boundary, but for a person for whom it would require a miracle for them to ever gain or regain the ability to consent, permanence seems to me to be preferable to non-permanence. The longer-term the solution, the less likely administrative error or, FSM forbid, abusive tampering with the method.

  • Alix

    …This is one of those issues where I do understand where y’all are coming from, but I still can’t quite agree. :/ I went into it a bit more below, but part of that is that I don’t entirely trust people to make sure they only do this to truly incapacitated people, and, I don’t know. I guess to me “erring on the side of caution” would be “not doing something violating that can’t be fixed later if there were a horrible mistake.”

  • Alix

    On another note, what exactly do you mean by consequentialism? (It’s a rather large umbrella term, and I don’t know why you’re ascribing it to me?) It sounds like, in the context of this thread, you’re saying that the only thing I should be concerned with is the possibility of a disabled woman getting pregnant from rape.

    From my perspective, though, there are a whole host of other thorny issues that crop up when we decide that forced sterilization of folks deemed mentally incompetent is the default position. A whole host of other consequences to take into account, one might say.

    Also, I just noticed this: “the abstract notion of bodily integrity of a person who is incapable of caring about the difference” – really? You don’t think that, maybe, a disabled person incapable of meaningful consent might still not want to be cut up? Are we talking here about people incapable of feeling pain or discomfort, or of understanding that they have a body? Because that’s sure in hell not what I thought we were talking about. I’d also quibble that “bodily integrity” is not really an abstract notion.

  • caryjamesbond

    “…Wait. So if I lose my ability to meaningfully consent to things, that means I lose my right to bodily autonomy, and people claiming to act in my own best interest can cut me up and surgically alter me without my consent?”

    Errr…..yes. If I suffer a massive stroke tomorrow and then appendicitis the day after that, someone- IE my primary caregiver- is going to have to consent to that surgery.

    Right now, if I so chose, I could just….die of appendicitis. Stupid decision, I think- but one I’d be free to make. If I was rendered completely mentally incompetent, heck, even if I lost my capacity “only” down to a childhood level, someone else would still be able to say “yes, take out hia appendix.” Same goes for any other surgeries I might need.

    That’s what being a caregiver MEANS.

    You don’t think that, maybe, a disabled person incapable of meaningful consent might still not want to be cut up?

    Neither does a five year old that needs an operation- that’s why we don’t let five year old children make medical decisions for themselves. A person with the cognitive capabilities of a five year old is, functionally, no different.

    Hell, I don’t WANT to be cut up. I’d really, reaaaaaaally rather not be. But if the appendix needs to come out, or I need to fix that lung, or remove that tumor- heck, even fix a cataract vs. being blind….It’s better that I do it than not. I would guess that you would probably make the same decision. Fear is bad. Death is worse.

  • Alix

    Sterilization is ordinarily elective. It’s not akin to appendicitis – and I already said elsewhere I’m fine with people deciding folks in their care need life-saving surgery.

    This, to me, is more along the lines of parents deciding they don’t like the shape of their infant’s genitals, and so having them surgically altered. Sterilization’s still almost always elective, not required, and there are other non-invasive alternatives that most of the time will do the job just as well.

    Why the hell should I find it okay for folks to jump straight to surgical options when non-invasive ones are available? Why are we even talking about this like it’s forced pregnancy or forced surgical sterilization? It’s not that black-and-white an issue!

  • Alix

    Shorter me: I don’t think caretakers have a right to jump straight to elective invasive surgical procedures without really seriously trying all other practical alternatives first.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    See, it’s phrases like “just because someone can’t consent” and “without really seriously trying all other practical alternatives first” that has me seeing you as locked into a narrative where the person in question might magically regain their facilities, and the caregiver is trying to weasel out of their obligations by taking shortcuts.

  • Alix

    …and I honestly don’t get how you get that from my comments. It is really starting to seem like you’re deliberately misreading me so you can argue against a position I’m not actually espousing.

    I will lay out my thinking, hopefully more clearly:

    1. We are talking about something that is – for a person with the ability to consent – elective, not life-saving surgery.

    2. We are talking about something that has, for most people, entirely non-invasive alternatives that will do the same thing.

    3. My country – and others, but I’m much more familiar with the U.S. – has a real sketchy history with determining who is and is not mentally competent.

    4. The U.S. also has a history of trying to forcibly sterilize “undesirables.”

    5. The U.S. also has a history of people performing entirely elective surgeries on folks in their care who are incapable of consent, entirely for the caregiver’s peace of mind. In the main type of case I am thinking of, a not-insubstantial number of people who had those surgeries performed on them against their will are very unhappy to find out this happened to them.

    6. For the last time, I understand we’re not talking about people who will be magically cured or will grow out of it. But that still doesn’t mean they’re not people, and it seems to me that the instant a caregiver starts forcing them to undergo elective surgeries for the caregiver’s peace of mind, when there are other options available, the caregiver’s not actually treating them like a person, just a thing to care for. To me, a caregiver going “Hey, this person’s mentally incompetent, let’s go sterilize ’em ’cause it’s easier on me” is trying to weasel out of their obligation to treat the person in their care as a goddamn human being.

    7. I consider the right to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity a human right. So to that end, I think it takes a really extreme case for it to be okay for someone to force someone in their care to get an elective surgery: as in, there are literally no other viable options that will work, and this really is a pressing need.

    Honest to god, I don’t understand why we’re a) diminishing the human rights of the people in question, b) prioritizing caregiver peace of mind over someone’s right not to have unnecessary invasive surgeries performed on them, and, most importantly, c) why we are acting like it’s a simple either/or between forced pregnancy and forced, invasive surgery when there are a whole range of other options.

    The default should be surgery as an absolute last resort. What I’m hearing from folks here is that surgery should be the first resort, because it’s expedient and it’s not like they can meaningfully say no. That disturbs me.

    And, on a secondary level, it opens the door to a whole host of potential abuses, both on personal and systemic levels. I … am really not sure it’s worth that.

    Are there really extreme cases where I’d find surgery acceptable? Sure. But these would be my criteria:

    1) they’d have to be genuinely incapable of meaningful consent – and frankly, being incapable of consenting to sex is not the same as being incapable of consenting to, say, surgery; I’ve worked with plenty of people incapable of consenting to legal contracts or sex who were still damn well able to let it be known when they did or didn’t want something, and their wishes absolutely should still be taken into consideration

    2) a doctor would have to agree it’s a good idea

    3) a doctor would also have to determine that things like hormonal birth control or other options won’t work.

    That’s it. Three criteria. And #3 is there not because I think these people in the scenario that started this will wake up one morning suddenly capable of full consent, but because humans are fallible, and I’d rather err on the side of “potentially reversible” or “least physically damaging” than “whoops, an unscrupulous caregiver/doctor/system permanently sterilized a person who turned out to be mentally competent after all. Our bad.”

    In short: sterilization should be opt-in, not opt-out.

    …Not as unrelated a tangent as it seems: should a caregiver likewise have the right to just decide a preteen similarly incapable of consent in their care get elective surgery to prevent them going through puberty? Or that anyone of any age in their care get an elective hysterectomy? I’ve seen both these things justified using the exact same preventing rape/preventing potential psychological trauma to the person/caregiver expediency-peace of mind grounds, and I guess I’m left wondering how extreme is too extreme. Is there ever a point when a caretaker has gone too far in getting the person in their care elective surgeries?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I have to agree. While I can understand AnonaMiss’s sentiment, we’re not at the point where we can be sure that the practice of sterilizing certain groups won’t be horribly abused once again. I don’t know if we ever will be.

    I see far less potential for abuse with, say, a copper IUD mandate.

  • Alix

    And I’m starting to think that’s the disconnect here – I just flat can’t picture the kind of perfect scenario where we are absolutely 100% certain that a) the person is really incompetent and b) the permanent sterilization is really necessary or in their best interests … for every single case.

    I can picture us being certain of both things in a few cases, but not being across-the-board perfect at it, and even abusing such a system. And so to me the potential damage outweighs the potential gain.

    …Maybe I am a consequentialist. I’m just looking at different consequences.

    …And for this whole thread, I’m sitting here going, “This is why it’s not usually a good idea to make laws based on a few extreme cases.” I’m hearing an undercurrent of “it’s good in some extreme cases, so it’s fine in all of them,” and … for the reason you point out more succinctly than I can manage, that worries me. That worries me a lot.

  • Isabel C.

    Copper IUDs can make life unpleasant enough, and in visceral enough ways, that I’d hesitate to mandate one for someone who couldn’t grasp what was going on. In theory, though, I’d agree–we just need science to come up with a better birth control method or two.

  • caryjamesbond

    : should a caregiver likewise have the right to just decide a preteen similarly incapable of consent in their care get elective surgery to prevent them going through puberty?

    No. Because that pre-teen will eventually NOT be a pre-teen. Someone with massive, severe, irreversible brain damage will always be functionally a two year old or a five year old.

    If I’m reading AnonMiss’s original example correctly- you are literally talking about people who have less understanding and capacity than your average 2 year old. Which means, functionally speaking, these people have less mental capacity than a dog. NOW LET ME BE VERY FUCKING CLEAR: I’m NOT AT ALL saying that they’re MORALLY equivalent to an animal- they shouldn’t be euthanized, they should be fed better, they should be entitled to legal protections and representation that a dog does not. They’re still HUMAN BEINGS from a “how should we treat them, morally?”

    However, when you’re talking about someone with a capacity that reduced- well, we live in a fucking miserable fucking world. And people will be vicious bastards and do horrible things. And just because they shouldn’t be vicious bastards doesn’t mean they won’t be.

    The U.S. also has a history of people performing entirely elective surgeries on folks in their care who are incapable of consent, entirely for the caregiver’s peace of mind.

    What possible benefit, to someone who is physically an adult, but with a two, or five year olds mind, can gonads possibly have? What possibly harm can come from other methods of birth control?

    If I should ever find myself in the position of caring for someone that terribly disabled- I’d seriously consider this. And yes it would be for my peace of mind, because you’re talking about caring for someone that isn’t capable of having input on the matter.

    we’re not at the point where we can be sure that the practice of sterilizing certain groups won’t be horribly abused once again.

    We aren’t talking about the state doing this, though, we’re talking about the primary caregiver of an individual.

  • Alix

    I said “a preteen similarly unable to consent,” which was admittedly poor phrasing on my part, but I meant a preteen with similar mental competency problems as the adult in the example.

    And we are indeed talking about the state doing this. From the originating comment: “for women in the care of the state”.

    I would also point out, again, that a person with “less understanding and capacity than your average 2 year old” is, first off, moving the goalposts, since initially we were simply talking “women of reduced mental capacity” who would be unable to understand pregnancy and would be unable to legally consent to sex – and, secondly, it still doesn’t mean they don’t have any understanding of anything at all, and their wishes would still need to be considered. And if we’re talking about women of reduced capacity unable to legally consent – there’s a huge range there, and the specters of misdiagnosis and abuse do come up.

    We have a lot of bits that can be taken away without much loss. Should we just cut out their appendices and tonsils early too, just to make sure they don’t deal with infections?

    We’re arguing over a few very, very specific cases, and every time someone objects to making a broader moral, social, or legal rule from those cases, people in this thread keep redefining the specific cases more and more narrowly. Yes, I can imagine a few very, very specific cases where sterilization might be okay. But that doesn’t mean, then, that it’s good to jump to that in other cases, or that it’s good to grant states – or even private caregivers – blanket power to make that kind of decision for the people in their care.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Errr…..yes. If I suffer a massive stroke tomorrow and then
    appendicitis the day after that, someone- IE my primary caregiver- is
    going to have to consent to that surgery

    Right now, if I so chose, I could just….die of appendicitis. Stupid
    decision, I think- but one I’d be free to make. If I was rendered
    completely mentally incompetent, heck, even if I lost my capacity “only”
    down to a childhood level, someone else would still be able to say
    “yes, take out hia appendix.” Same goes for any other surgeries I might
    need.

    That’s what being a caregiver MEANS.

    While entirely acknowledging that removing a gonad is a different sort of thing from popping out a vestigial organ which serves no purpose other than to occasionally have a go at killing its owner by exploding, this.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    By “consequentialism”, I mean that it seems like you are working from a moral frame that puts taking the right stance (Hard-line opposition to undermining someone else’s bodily autonomy) ahead of the potential outcomes (forced pregnancy).

    And no, I’m not saying it’s the “only thing” you should be concerned with. On the contrary, it seems like you are treating the right of a person unable to make decisions for themself to make decisions for themself as the “only thing” that matters — that nothing else matters so long as we respect not even that person’s wishes, but the safest guess we can make in order to avoid going against their wishes.

    The desire not to have a permanent modification made to someone who isn’t able to make the decision for themself is something that needs to be balanced against other concerns: there’s a cost to not doing it. (I’m thinking of one particular case of something like this in the news a couple of years ago. The caregivers, in this case the parents, were seeking permanent options specifically because “Some day something might happen to us”)

    You don’t think that, maybe, a disabled person incapable of meaningful consent might still not want to be cut up?

    And you don’t think that, maybe, a disabled person incapable of meaningful consent might still want to be permanently freed of that particular risk?

    We can’t know, of course, but I can’t make any sense of “And therefore we must err of the side of not performing an irreversible surgical procedure,” that doesn’t involve magical thinking. If you’re dealing with someone who might someday get better, then sure, you can say “This way, if we someday learn that she did not want to have her fertility permanently disabled, we haven’t done anything permanent, and can make things right,” but if you’re talking about someone with a permanent condition, that just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • Alix

    See, and from where I sit, you’re so narrowly focused on one consequence you won’t look at any others.

    Once more with feeling: I’m okay with birth control in these situations. I’d even be okay, though a bit less so, with permanent but non-invasive options.

    …Your position is really starting to sound like “we don’t know what they want, and we want to prevent this one specific thing, so hey, feel free to cut ’em up. Forget other options, those are just half-assing it.”

    My whole point is that these things do not happen in a vacuum. We don’t know what these people want – though again, I’d caution against thinking that a lack of ability to consent to sex means that these people understand nothing. If we don’t know what they want, and our job is to act in their best interests, why would we jump first to the most extreme solutions rather than trying more moderate ones first?

    But we also have to look at society. We have to look at history. And we have to confront the two major dark clouds hanging over this: the severe problems we’ve had with declaring people mentally unfit who really weren’t, and the severe problems we’ve had with forced sterilization of “undesirables.”

    Again, there are extreme cases where sterilization might be a legitimate option. But that should not be the first option we jump to – because surgery can be painful and traumatic, because we are meant to be standing in the patient’s stead, not doing things for our own convenience, because if there has been a mistake (or worse) – a wrong diagnosis of incompetency, unscrupulousness, whatever – something correctable keeps the mistake from being compounded, because society does not have a stellar track record on these issues. The bogeymen of eugenics, forced incarceration in asylums, and lobotomies are very much lurking around the edges of this conversation, for me. I do not trust people with these decisions, which is why I’d only be okay with this kind of thing if doctors signed off on it and good-faith efforts at other less-extreme options were tried first.

    And I do find it funny we’re sitting here talking about how these people would find pregnancy traumatic (something I deeply understand), but not talking about how they might find surgery equally traumatic.

    I really get the sense it boils down more towards caretaker convenience than anything else, and that … worries me. Not that we should go out of our way to make things inconvenient for caretakers, but that there are other options that are only slightly inconvenient, and we’ve apparently just written all those options off as irrelevant.

  • Alix

    Rereading this, it’s starting to seem like our disconnect is this: you are talking about a few cases where this level of mental incapacitation has been objectively and conclusively determined, and I am talking about any potential case where forced sterilization might come up – whether or not the diagnosis was correct.

    So I think, if we’re running with your more narrow scenario – honestly, I’d still want people to try less-invasive options first, but if those didn’t work and medical professionals agreed, sure, sterilization’s an option.

    But I – look, I know it sounds like hyperbole when I mention things like lobotomies and suchlike, but there were and still are too many damned cases of people getting folks declared mentally incompetent who shouldn’t be, or performing elective surgeries on folks they have the right to make those decisions for who didn’t actually want them. And I guess I just flat cannot separate out that broader context from the specific question.

    It seems like you and AnonaMiss are arguing for a really broad power to be granted to caretakers in response to a really specific circumstance, and that makes me uneasy because I can see, very clearly, how it can all go badly wrong.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I’m really having a hard time distinguishing — morally — between non-consensual sexual penetration and non-consensual not-medically-necessary surgical penetration. Regardless of the intentions behind your suggestion, it still sounds like a kind of rape.

  • caryjamesbond

    There are a lot of surgeries that are more elective but still necessary. Appendectomies are lifesaving surgeries, but a surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff isn’t. Or to get wisdom teeth removed.

    It is not difficult to think of a dozen different medical scenarios, decisions that you and I will make for ourselves, that are not strictly “medically necessary” but we’ll do anyway. Hell- I’m 25, It’s not medically NECESSARY that I have a prostate exam- it’s considered medically necessary in your 40’s. I’ll still get one most checkups, just to make sure everything is in order. If I’m taking care of a disabled 20 year old man, and I consent to a medically unnecessary prostate exam on his behalf, what is that? What about a pap smear?

    What about the dentist? I know a lot of people who don’t go to the dentist because they’re terrified. If the disabled person under my care indicates terror of the dentist, should I not take them?

    I think comparing this situation to rape is more devaluing rape than it is making this more serious. Rape is like rape. Much like not every politician is like Hitler, not every situation is like rape. Hitler is Hitler, rape is rape, lets stop devaluing these very serious things by using them as metaphors.

  • Alix

    Well, except here we’re talking an entirely elective surgery to get rid of a perfectly fine organ just because something might happen.

    And I think that’s the other thing disturbing me, in this thread. We’re acting as if rape – and pregnancy from it – is absolutely guaranteed to occur, so the only possibility is to preemptively mutilate the woman without her consent.

    Rape is horrible. Pregnancy from it is horrible, especially to someone not fully able to grasp what’s happening to them. But it doesn’t then follow that we can do whatever we like to make sure those pregnancies won’t happen, especially when there’s no guarantee that they will – and here’s another disconnect. We keep saying that the caretakers are the ones who care enough to want to prevent them being impregnated by rape – but suggesting that caring caretakers ought to rather not let them be raped just gets a dismissive “well, it’s the caretakers who do it.”

    Which leads to a problem: who’s doing the sterilizing? The state, which is problematic because the state has a bad track record here? The caretakers who rape their patients? I can’t see them caring. The caretakers who are actually trying to care for their patients? Seems, frankly, more and more like lazy caretaking to me – why aren’t they caring for their patients and making sure they don’t get raped in the first place?

    And, again, there are usually other non-invasive options. Why put someone through an unnecessary surgery when you don’t have to? Why jump immediately to surgery? I keep asking that and getting no response – just more comments ignoring that non-surgical birth control is possible.

    Hell, there are even things that can be done after a rape to prevent or discontinue a pregnancy. So why jump to possibly-unnecessary surgical mutilation of someone who can’t consent, instead of taking care of a problem if it happens? If.

    …This is what the thought process in this thread seems like to me: it’s possible someone in my care might get shot someday, so I need to make sure they always wear body armor. Except more invasive and painful than that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Hell, there are even things that can be done after a rape to
    prevent or discontinue a pregnancy. So why jump to possibly-unnecessary
    surgical mutilation of someone who can’t consent, instead of taking care
    of a problem if it happens? If.

    Whoah there. Are you suggesting that you’d be okay with giving a person unable to consent an abortion?

  • Alix

    Yes. And much more so than I would be willing to give the state or caregivers blanket power to forcibly sterilize people.

    Why? Because sterilization, in an extreme way, focuses on keeping something that might not even happen from happening, while abortion deals with something that really has happened.

    I would prefer non-invasive birth control prior to this over any invasive, surgical solution. But once we start talking invasive procedures, I do prefer ones that deal with things that have actually happened instead of just jumping to extreme preventatives.

  • dpolicar

    If I approach this topic from a perspective of what is guaranteed to occur, or what we ought to allow/not allow to occur, it’s really simple: we ought not perform an invasive procedure without consent on someone to reduce the negative consequences of something that isn’t guaranteed to happen and that we ought not allow.

    That said, I am not a great believer in approaching the world from that perspective. What actually happens has more of an effect on joy and suffering than what we guarantee or allow, and I mostly care about joy and suffering.

    If I approach this topic from the perspective of what is likely to actually happen, I end up roughly where I described here.

  • Alix

    …Except sterilization doesn’t prevent rape. It deals with a possible consequence of rape that isn’t even guaranteed to happen, and there are ways of dealing with those possible consequences quickly enough if they do happen. And again, in very specific and extreme circumstances I’m okay with forced sterilization.

    I am not okay, given our bad track record with these things, with giving caretakers and/or the state broad power to forcibly sterilize people incapable of legal consent under their care, which is my whole point in this whole thread.

  • dpolicar

    I agree, of course, that sterilization doesn’t prevent rape. It prevents pregnancy.

    I agree that there are ways of dealing with pregnancies if they happen. I don’t think those ways are equivalent to not getting pregnant in the first place. I don’t know if you are suggesting that they are equivalent. (You sort of imply it by the way you bring it up, but I might be reading too much into that.)

    I agree that whether sterilization is ok depends on the particular circumstances, and as the circumstances change that decision changes. I don’t know exactly what circumstances justify that decisions on your view; it’s possible we agree on this. I did my best to summarize my view in the post I linked to.

    The question of who gets the power to make decisions about when and whether to nonconsensually subject a person under their care to sterilization, to abortion, and/or to childbirth is a good one, as is the question of how we minimize the chance of such people being abusive.

    I don’t think “nobody gets to make those decisions” is a viable answer.

  • Alix

    No, they’re not equivalent to not getting pregnant, which is why I said my first preference is non-invasive birth control. (I’m not always good at stringing words together, sorry. :/)

    My requirements I enumerated somewhere in a monster post, but I only have three:

    -The person in question is truly mentally incompetent enough to warrant such a decision being made for them on their behalf – not just legally unable to consent, because the latter covers a whole range of people who actually do still have enough awareness of their bodies to make decisions about them. (And of course if it’s someone who has expressed a wish to be sterilized, I’m fine with that.) This would have to be a professional medical diagnosis, not simply a caretaker stating they’re too incompetent to know their own wants.

    -A doctor agrees the sterilization is a good idea.

    -Good-faith efforts have been made at other forms of non-invasive birth control. Again, with doctor’s expertise and guidance, and yes, “In my expert opinion, they cannot attempt hormonal birth control” counts as good faith.

    That’s it.

    And I didn’t say “nobody gets to make those decisions.” I agree that’s not viable. I’ve even said, more than once, that I’m fine with sterilization in extreme and particular circumstances.

    But this thread got started by talking about the forced sterilization of mentally-incompetent women in state care, and … that raises concerns. Both because the state has a bad track record concerning “undesirables,” and because our society has a bad track record when it comes to declaring otherwise-fit people mentally incompetent.

    I’m also concerned because there’s a distinct difference between “legally unable to consent to sex” and “has no understanding of anything concerning their own body,” and people keep acting like the latter is the former. There is a huge range when it comes to people who are legally unable to consent and require caretakers, and their wishes absolutely should be taken into account (both for and against sterilization; if someone expressed a strong wish to make sure they never had a baby, I’d be pretty upset at any caretaker who refused to take those wishes into account too).

    Someone needs to make those decisions, you’re right, and I’d say the answer is “caretakers, with required doctor’s oversight,” and meeting some basic criteria to make sure this isn’t just a caretaker making a random decision, or, frankly, a caretaker abusing their position. I don’t think the answer should be “the caretaker, just because e wants to, with no checks in place.” And, again, that’s all I’m arguing – that we need checks, because we’ve proven we can’t really trust either caretakers or the state alone (especially the latter) when it comes to people who can’t legally consent to things.

  • dpolicar

    I agree that noninvasive/reversible techniques are preferable to invasive/reversible ones, all else being equal.
    Your standards for what circumstances justify taking these sorts of steps in the absence of consent seem sensible to me, as does appointing caretakers-with-medical-oversight as the responsible parties. In some situations I would also include legal oversight (e.g. a judge).

    I agree that there’s a wide range of ability-to-consent demonstrated by people whose ability to consent is diminished, and it’s important to attend to what an individual is capable of when making decisions on their behalf.

  • Alix

    I was looking over your other comment, the one you linked me to, and I think we more agree than disagree.

    My bottom line is that I’m coming from a place where I don’t think we can just trust the state/caretakers, not without oversight. No oversight = system open to abuse, for me. (And yes, I know that even with oversight, the system can be abused. But oversight helps a lot.)

  • dpolicar

    Yup. I’m in favor of building oversight into systems generally. It won’t necessarily stop the untrustworthy, but it will encourage the trustworthy to remain so.

  • Alix

    That. And I think it does help catch marginal cases, at least, even if it doesn’t stop people really determined to game the system.

    …this is probably why I am a fan of government, in a nutshell. XD Government with internal checks, at that. (Government without checks is either just as bad as or worse than no government at all. I can’t decide which.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It’s bugging me that “We don’t trust caregivers to make the right medical decisions affecting their charges and therefore the government must be given the power to override them” sounds so close to “We don’t trust women to make the right medical decisions affecting their fetuses, and therefore the government must be given the power to override them” (And a lot of your language hypothesizing about caregivers “immediately jumping to” or allowing it “only when they can prove they’ve tried everything else first” or “It’s not that big a burden on the caregiver to do something else” sound frighteningly close to the “moderate” arguments for limiting access to abortions)

    If someone is temporarily disabled, if they might recover, I’m right there with you on “Let’s defer all non-emergency irreversible procedures.” But if someone’s really permanently unable to make decisions for themself, then there has to be a person with the right to make medical decisions on their behalf, and I can’t reconcile that with “But the government gets to intervene because we don’t trust you.”

    If you don’t trust the caregiver, working in conjunction with a medical doctor, to make this medical decision, you don’t trust the caregiver enough for them to be the caregiver.

  • Alix

    Well, except you’re comparing apples and oranges. One is a woman trying to make decisions about herself; the other is someone making decisions for someone else.

    If you don’t trust the caregiver, working in conjunction with a medical doctor, to make this medical decision

    …what the fucking hell? That’s what I just said was acceptable!

    I don’t trust the caregiver OR the state to have blanket permission to just decide to sterilize people because they feel like it. I trust either only with medical oversight. And I’ve said that repeatedly. How the hell do you get from that to me not trusting caregivers making decisions with medical oversight?

    if someone’s really permanently unable to make decisions for themself, then there has to be a person with the right to make medical decisions on their behalf

    Well, yes. But what I’m saying is that “unable to make decisions for themself,” first off, doesn’t categorically mean “has no worthwhile input” – but more importantly, that person who has the responsibility to make those medical decisions on their behalf? Needs checks and oversight in place, to make sure they’re not overstepping their bounds. That’s all I’m saying.

    …I’m starting to get the weird impression we mostly agree, with some disagreement over edge cases, and are somehow just completely talking past each other.

  • dpolicar

    I’m starting to get the weird impression we mostly agree, with some disagreement over edge cases, and are somehow just completely talking past each other.

    I’m not sure it’s weird. IME, that happens on emotionally charged topics by default unless people either work very hard to prevent it, or are part of the same ideological community to start with.

  • Alix

    Fair point. XD

    So, to reiterate more clearly, and hopefully more succinctly, in a not-charged comment: this is my position on sterilization of people who cannot legally consent and are dependent on others.

    -It has to be done with medical oversight, and it has to be done in such a way that does take into account, as far as is possible, the wishes of the dependent, because there is a whole range of dependent people “unable to legally consent,” and one cannot just assume that all of those are so mentally incompetent they have no wishes.

    -Medical oversight goes double for those in state care, which is what AnonaMiss initially brought up. There cannot, in my mind, be a blanket “all people in state care legally unable to consent to sex get sterilized” rule, because that’s exactly the kind of thing we’ve proven we can’t handle. Yes, it has to be on a case-by-case basis, because these are individual people we’re talking about.

    I am nowhere talking about a blanket ban on sterilization of dependent people, either. I just do not think it should be the default position, especially for people in state care.

    (…that wasn’t really more concise, was it? XD)

  • AnonaMiss

    No, no, it was.

    Thank y’all for the discussion on this, especially for most of you not immediately jumping to the conclusion that I was a horrible person (which I kind of expected). I really hadn’t thought through my position from all angles, but just from the position of a person who knows and has grown fond of two people who, if something had happened to their family, would have been extremely vulnerable to abuse.

    It also has occurred to me that my positions on the power which legal guardians should have over their guard-ees may be warped as a result of a series of cosmetic (reconstructive after an accident) surgeries I had as a minor which I would not then have given consent for, had I believed I could say no. (If I needed the same surgeries now I would say yes; I was just ready for the whole ordeal to be over at the time, even if that meant wearing dentures for the rest of my life). I may also have been underestimating the trauma/invasiveness of surgery as a combination justification/defense mechanism. I will be reflecting on that further.

    Anyway thank you for the thought-provoking discussion.

  • Alix

    immediately jumping to the conclusion that I was a horrible person

    Hey, I’m the person who argued in another post that in extreme circumstances, people should be allowed to kill their dependents. I’d hardly consider you a horrible person for this.

    No, these kind of issues are really thorny, and there aren’t easy answers. My best friend calls things like this “the clash of competing goods,” and for me that’s a helpful thing to keep in mind.

    I do, genuinely, see where you’re coming from. And FWIW, I think this was an interesting and worthwhile conversation to have, if at times rather frustrating. XD

  • ohiolibrarian

    Seems, frankly, more and more like lazy caretaking to me – why aren’t they caring for their patients and making sure they don’t get raped in the first place?

    You seem to be blaming caretakers now for not preventing every bad thing that might happen to someone in their care. Can they be there 24/7/365 for years and years on end? Even if they have to work? Even if they should die before the disabled person does?

    That is one monstrous burden you are placing on people.

    Just one question, have you ever been a caregiver of anyone?

  • Alix

    But we are talking about folks in state care. And moreover, people keep missing my damn point, which is that everyone’s acting like rape is inevitable and so therefore jump straight to surgery for every woman in state care.

    Why not, say, stop the rapes? Why act like they’re an inevitable fact that can’t be changed? (Hint: rape isn’t an inevitable fact of life. There are, for example, any number of cultures with very low rape rates – even war-torn ones.)

    And I’d seriously like to know why the hell everyone’s talking about private caretakers when that’s not what this was about. But even in that case, hell yes, I have a problem with caretakers jumping to the most extreme possible solution to a possible problem, especially when ensuring the safety and well-being of their dependents is kind of their job.

    Again, yes, there are extreme cases where I’d be fine with sterilization. And yes, no one is Superman and able to prevent every single possible rape. But I really really don’t like the sense I’m getting that oh, rape is just this inevitable horror that inexplicably happens to folks, like a natural disaster, and thus the only thing that can possibly be done is cutting out the gonads of folks who can’t consent to it, because lord knows no one has ever invented locks or hormonal birth control.

    Just one question, have you ever been a caregiver of anyone?

    For a while, yes, so you can stop being a condescending asshat whenever you’d like. Odds are pretty damn good I’ll end up doing that again fairly soon. And no, I don’t feel like going into specifics, because it’s not only my privacy at stake here.

    I’m done talking about this. Everything I have to say I’ve said multiple times throughout this thread, as clearly as I possibly can, and at this point I’m just tired. I’m sorry – I usually consider it pretty rude to just drop out if other people are still trying to talk to me, but … yeah, tired pretty much sums it up. :/ And, again, I see where other people are coming from, and how y’all are drawing your own lines, and your rationales, and all that – I just don’t agree, and at this point it feels very much like we’re just spinning our wheels. So.

    Edited because I hit post before I was done. :/

  • Vermic

    I saw Arctic Sabbath when they opened for Def Walrus. They did live versions of “Crazy Sled” and “War Seals” and it was insane. Real pioneers in the field of pinniped-themed rock.

  • Vermic

    “Bark at the Moon” becomes adorable when you assume it’s a seal doing the barking.

  • Daniel

    I prefer their early stuff- Behind the Walrus of Sleep, Seals of Confusion, Snowblind (obviously) and NIB (narwhal in black).

  • Launcifer

    Wholly off-topic, but I’d just like to take a moment to thank you both for making my day with a Black Sabbath gag ’cause, seriously. That was wholly gigglesome.

  • Daniel

    I forgot to add Fairies wear Mukluks, on which Geezer Blubber’s bass playing is fairly awesome. Tony Igloomi is sadly underrated as a guitar player too.

  • Marshall

    I’ve said it before, if you need to wash your hands after touching your dick, maybe you should wash your dick.
    (Washing hands before eating, before sex, and after working in the garden, and every so often just because, is a good thing.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    We do give people the wrong impression about handwashing. You don’t wash your hands after urinating because the act of urinating soils your hands. You do it because it’s a good idea to wash your hands a couple of times a day just because and you’re already in a room with a sink.

  • The_L1985

    True, but feces definitely contains nasties as well. Encouraging people to wash up after every trip to the bathroom ensures that you don’t have disgusting poo germs on your hands, infecting everybody.

  • Marshall

    If you’ve got feces on your dick, or skidmarks on your underwear, you _definitely_ need to improve your personal hygiene. Dogen has detailed instructions in Shobogenzo #7, Senjo (On Washing Yourself Clean), if you need them. Also trim and clean your fingernails.

  • The_L1985

    Not my point (also, I don’t have a dick). Germs from feces can get through toilet paper and onto your hands. You HAVE to wash your hands after you do #2. It is not optional.

    Encouraging people to wash up after other toilet trips ensures that they will also wash after defecating. Otherwise, diphtheria and other nasty diseases can make a comeback.

  • Marshall

    Actually it’s quite impossible to clean yourself decently with just toilet paper … if you actually need it at all you’re just smearing the bad stuff around. You actually need to _wash_. You really should read Dogen … he’s quite detailed. http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo/007senjo.pdf Careful cleansing is a Mindfulness practice.
    … NB, feces really are unsanitary. Double-plus ungood.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Instead of linking to some new-age site you could have just said “get a frakkin’ bidet”.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I came back from a Japan trip and was pretty tempted to drop a bunch of money on a bidet.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Very few public toilets (outside of Japan?) have bidets.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Really? Urban legend has it that France pioneered the usage of them in Europe, which apparently furthered the “LOL weird Europeans” trope among some Americans.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    From what I’ve heard, European public toilets vary from, “Does everything but tuck in your clothes afterward” to “ceramic-plated hole in the floor”. Sometimes in the same country.

    (My mother told me about one restroom she’d been in, somewhere in Europe, that had a female urinal. “Cold and uncomfortable” were the words she used. Also “awkward”.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Something or other recently caused me to realize that it’s pretty flipping weird that we consider rubbing our asses with a piece of tissue paper an adequate way to clean ourselves after defecating.

  • guest

    After spending some time in the Middle East i started using these:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lota_(vessel)

  • aunursa

    Can you provide evidence (from an authoritative source) that the primary reason for people to wash their hands following urinating is not related to the act of urinating?

  • Marshall

    Surely you have heard the joke, “…. in the Corps, they teach us not to piss on our hands.” Besides which, urine is sterile, so why should urinating have anything to do with spreading germs? For a good time, read about the aerosols from flushing.

    Truly, I think it’s obvious there’s a cultural phobia at work here. Somebody below said something about “not having to wear rubber gloves”, OMG. And consider the ubiquitous fly fronts on men’s underwear, which I believe some people actually use.

  • aunursa

    Urine is not sterile. And the article to which I linked above states that bacteria from below can reach the penis.

  • Marshall

    Apparently you are technically correct, but then likewise tap water and objects found in kitchens. Urine from healthy people is still safe to drink; no need for rubber gloves. BTW your article is “members-only”; here’s another: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120409164156.htm. I’m not going to point out that the study subjects were women, even though there are relevant anatomical differences. And cleanliness is still good.

  • aunursa

    Nevertheless, I haven’t seen evidence that health and medical authorities instruct men to wash hands after urinating primarily because it’s a good idea for us to wash several times a day.

  • Marshall

    Actually I think Municipal Health Boards make those regulations because a lot of guys really OUGHT to be washing their dicks way more than they do. Also because you get cooties from fondling your no-no’s.
    BESIDES that, it’s good to wash your hands whenever you get a chance.

  • themunck

    In fact, just cut them off and leave them in water permanently somewhere :P

  • Jamoche

    Judging by the various Mythbusters episodes, the main reason to wash up in a bathroom is because anything you touch in the bathroom is unsanitary, mostly from airborne contaminants.

  • banancat

    I’m a woman but I imagine that your penis sweats more than much of the rest of your body, and it also rubs against the drops of pee that are left over. Your hands also contact pee while you’re going, even if you don’t feel actual drops and you think you’re careful.

  • themunck

    Real actors reading Christian forums: I got through the first video and a third of the second. That was all my mind could take. Some people actually wrote those comments and thought they were being clever? oO

  • http://worldsandtime.blogspot.com/ sphericaltime

    I suddenly have to go see if I participated in any of the threads that they’re quoting from . . .

  • Carstonio

    Movable Feast would be a good name for a catering business.

  • Orc Orchard

    Ooh, or else a title for my memoir about those years I hung out in Paris and–oh crap.

  • Carstonio

    I was thinking about that book as well, but I imagine a movable feast as a giant table on casters loaded with food.

  • Daniel

    I ran into a similar problem with the title for my memoir about leaving long term employment in a prosthetic limb manufacturer’s. We only made replacements for the upper body.

  • Winter

    I think the worst thing about that abortion provider story is the near certainty that if he’d been botching services for men at the same rate (say, penis enlargements), he’d be behind bars by now, or at least permanently banned from practicing medicine anywhere.

  • TheBrett

    3. That’s a good Rolling Stones article. I suspect that for at least three decades, we’d probably spend billions trying to fight sea level rises in Miami. All the while, people would be moving out, and eventually we’d just give up and let it go.

    It’s hard to say, since we’ve reclaimed a lot of land from the sea (not just the Dutch – look up the history of land reclaimed from Boston Harbor).

    4. The choice issue is key, which is why we should really get into the habit of calling anti-abortion people “forced-pregnancy activists”. Because that’s what it really amounts to – they’re going to force women to carry fetuses to term whether they like it or not, or whether they even chose to become pregnant or not (immediately after the birth, of course, they don’t care anymore unless you’re putting the baby up for adoption to a conservative family).

  • Panda Rosa

    What is really wanted is getting the women pregnant in the first place, lie them down and ra–I mean fertilize them whether they like it or not, anytime, anywhere, anyone. It’s not enough to deny contraception or abortion, no, the real desire is to get that baby inside the woman first, then you can abuse her all you please.
    Tell me I’m not right.

  • SkyknightXi

    The RS article worried me in part because I’m currently living on Cape Cod. The claim that there might be 70 feet worth of sea level rise that we won’t be able to interdict doesn’t exactly bode well for said glacial moraine.

    I’ve heard tell of the idea of a solar shade–a satellite device that’s interposed between Earth and the Sun and interdicts some of the light–but I doubt that’s forthcoming for quite some time. While what I’m thinking of probably isn’t that much closer, I honestly wonder if we’d need to create a kind of mini-Chicxulub-impact. The trick is to get a meteorite/comet big enough to send enough dust into the air to properly reflect light back for a long enough time, but not so big that we wind up stopping a lot of photosynthesis. Not to mention where you’d be most willing to have it strike. Are there any particularly LARGE uninhabited sections of Siberia that we know about? (Or maybe there are some volcanoes we can coax into spitting just the right amount of ash into the air for just the right amount of time…)

    Never mind that NONE of these plans are going to do much about ocean acidification…

  • Alix

    …honestly? I’m at the point now where I feel like we’re just going to have to somehow find ways to cope, because I’ve yet to hear of a plan for stopping global warming that sounds a) feasible and b) like it’s not gonna cause some other huge problem, and it’s starting to really look like we’ve passed the point where just stopping our warming activities is going to do much.

    Maybe I’m cynical on this, or haven’t read the right info. :/

  • SkyknightXi

    It does sound kind of like Earth’s own track record. The Cretaceous mass extinction is the only one that was DEFINITELY caused by something extraterrestrial. The others came about from something, usually extra-active volcanic sinks, spitting so much carbon dioxide into the air that the world at large was overheated AND asphyxiated. Apparently, we’re not the solution to that quandary of Earth’s. (At least, not yet. And let’s not get into solar expansion…{sigh} What does it take to purge the universe of tragedy?!)

    By the way…pre-Carboniferous era? I think I read somewhere that shortly before the plants in question began trapping carbon dioxide, the planet’s general climate kept sine-waving between hot and muggy on the one hand, and frigid on the other. Not exactly fun for anything caught at an inversion area. It’s an unsettling thought, that by evolutionary and geological history’s lights, temperate and calm environs are the real heresy, and if existence was intended to be anything, it was to be IRREVOCABLY desperate and torturous…

  • Alix

    Ooh, interesting.

    I thought it was more or less ruled out, that this warming phase is entirely natural? I keep hearing that by all accounts we should be entering a global cooling period without anthropogenic climate change, but I have no idea if that’s accurate.

  • themunck

    IIRC, it’s more or less ruled out. If only because it’s a fact that we’d blown a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere in the past 200 years, and everything we know about physics says that it must have -some- effect.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Honestly, it’s not really about “stopping” global warming. It’s about the first rule of holes. Global warming is happening. Let’s stop making it worse.

  • Alix

    Oh, I fully agree there. I just still feel (and this is probably more indicative of who I talk to than anything else) that the conversation’s still stuck at “let’s prevent this” and hasn’t really moved to “it’s happening, let’s deal with this” yet. :/

  • Alix

    …So I have a really, really dumb and crazily off-topic question to ask of all you smart sciency folks. It has been bugging me for ages, and it just happened again, and I can’t figure out why and I am like a little kid with the weird science stuff – I want to know it all, even if the asking makes me look way stupid.

    Long story short, I make cream pies and generally freeze them in slices. If I pull one out of the freezer and eat it right away, it’s firm but creamy and doesn’t feel or look frozen, but if I let it sit in its container, even on a hot day, and go back ~5-10 minutes later, it’s developed frost, ice crystals, and a hard frozen texture it doesn’t lose until it fully thaws.

    This seems crazily counterintuitive to me, and it bugs me that I don’t know why it happens, and my Google-fu is weak on the matter of the weird freezing properties of chocolate cream pie. So. Help?

  • J_Enigma32

    I’m gonna dislodge this from my dusty collection of factoids and facts and suggest, without anything backing it at all, this:

    Cream is what’s called a “non-Newtonian fluid.” NNFs are noted for having very unusual properties for liquids. For instance, if I make a pool out of jell-o, I can run across it as long as I’m slapping my feet against it, since that’s how it reacts to sheer stress. Nail polish is another example. More advanced versions are sheer thickening fluids, which are being looked into as experimental nanotech armor (research for The Blue Pimpernel taught me that). Smart plastics are going to qualify as well.

    Because they have unusual properties, I imagine they freeze at a different rate than other solids or liquids would. But that’s just pure, baseless, speculation, so don’t cash this check at a bank.

  • Alix

    Whoa. That’s kind of awesome.

    I can understand the freezing-at-different-rates thing, but why would it apparently start freezing after being taken out of the freezer? Just leftover cold?

  • themunck

    No such thing as leftover cold, so I doubt that’s it :P. I must admit, I’m quite curious about the whole frost-crystals-forming late, too. If it was a rare thing, I’d just assume it had supercooled, but atm it just sounds weird.

  • Alix

    I realized right after I hit post that there’s technically no such thing as cold, only absence of heat (if I’m not totally misremembering my high-school science classes…), but I figured I still got my question across and I’m trying to break myself of the habit of obsessively editing my posts. XD

  • themunck

    I must admit, if it’s just a small sentence like that that isn’t necessary for the point you’re making anyway, I’d just have edited. Different strokes and all that ^^

  • Alix

    I … can get really kind of obsessive about editing. XD And I’ve been told at least one person here follows threads via email, which apparently doesn’t relay edits? (WTF, Disqus.) And I know that if you don’t refresh the comments, at least for me, edits won’t show. So.

    But not editing is haaaaard, ’cause I keep making dumb errors like the cold thing above and my usual superfluous-comma problem. XD

  • Alix

    Also, speaking of late-forming frost, isn’t there some trick you can do with frozen beer where it’s liquid in the bottle until you flick it, then it turns to ice? I don’t drink beer, myself, so I’ve never had the opportunity to test this.

  • themunck

    Probably? I don’t drink beer either :P
    I have once managed to make beer that exploded, though.

  • Alix

    Hee. We had an effed-up mini refrigerator, and instead of it freezing the little upper icebox area, it’d keep that cold-but-not-freezing and freeze the first proper fridge shelf instead. It took a number of sodas exploding for us to cotton onto the problem. XD IIRC, we initially thought we had bought some weird messed-up sodas.

  • Jamoche

    Supercooling – Mythbusters did it: http://mythbustersresults.com/mini-myth-madness – the state change doesn’t happen until something happens to trigger it. Superheating is similar – that’s when you microwave water past the boiling point in a smooth clean container.

  • Alix

    Oooh. Cool, thanks!

  • Alix

    Reply the second, courtesy of a gander at the Wikipedia page…

    I remember making oobleck in school. That was fun.

    …Silly Putty is a liquid? I’d’ve called it a really odd solid. :/

    Which brings up the follow-up: are there weird solids, too, that do this not-quite-a-proper-[x] thing?

  • J_Enigma32

    Funny thing is, it’s still a liquid by traditional definition. It just displays non-Newtonian properties. As far as weird states of matter go, something most people do not know is that there are more than 4 phases of matter.

    Your for classes:
    + Gas
    + Liquid
    + Solid
    + Plasma

    And there’s more, order now and you can get:
    + Glass
    + Liquid Crystal (like your monitor)
    + Pseudo-ordered crystals
    + Copolymeres
    + Superfluids
    + Supersolids (your weird not a solid-solid state)
    + Bose-Einstein Condensate
    + Degenerate Matter
    + Dark Matter
    + Superglass
    + String net liquid
    + Fermonic Condensate
    + Rydberg Molecule
    + Quantum Hall state
    + Strange matter
    + Quark-Gluon plasma
    + Possibly a gravitational singularity
    + Color-glass Condensate

  • Alix

    Ooh. XD Thank you. I know what I’ll be reading up on this weekend.

    (The world is so weird, and that is why I effing love science.)

  • themunck

    This comment was brought to you by the waterbear/platypus alliance. Because unlike fiction, reality doesn’t have to make sense.

  • Alix

    …? I’m finding some neat stuff on waterbears, but not on how they relate to platypuses.

    Because unlike fiction, reality doesn’t have to make sense.

    Hee. Yes.

  • themunck

    They don’t, aside from both being awesome and hard to believe exists.

  • Alix

    Ah! *facepalm* Okay, I’m following now.

    I love platypuses. (What is the proper plural?) And waterbears are … weirdly adorable. Tiny little extremophiles that pose well for the microscope. XD

  • themunck

    Wikipedia claims that since it’s Greek, it would be Platapodes. But of course, it’s English now, and thus Platypuses wouldn’t be wrong either. Platypi is just wrong, but still conveys the meaning and is easier to pronounce that either of the two others. In short, no common consensus…Does English even -have- an official entity that determines these things? In Danish, there’s a government department* that decides what the correct forms are**.

    EDIT: I was mistaken. They do not have that authority. I am both ashamed and saddened by this.
    —-
    * Dansk Sprognævn
    ** And before it’s brought up; yes, they do update the language as it evolves. After all, the most correct form is the one that’s being used, not the one the government claims should be used.

  • Alix

    Interesting!

    Does English even -have- an official entity that determines these things?

    Not as far as I’m aware. The closest things I can think of are some of the big dictionaries, and style guides put out by various organizations.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    And those dictionaries are just as prone to bias as anyone else, as we saw when one of them declared the definition of marriage to be “the civil and religious union of one man and one woman.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    “… And furthermore, would you guys fucking STOP saying ain’t?”

  • Alix

    *snicker*

    Them’s fightin’ words.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Tell it to Shakespeare!

  • Ursula L

    Does English even -have- an official entity that determines these things?

    Not at all.

    English thrives by pick-pocketing other languages for vocabulary. An official government office for determining what English is would be counter to what English actually is. We’ll happily have a dozen different words for the same thing, as long as no one is trying to tell us which word is right.

  • J_Enigma32

    And don’t forget that not only do we mug other languages for words in dark alleyways, we also proceed to use those words in ways that no native speaker ever would: see, for instance, the German loanword “uber”.

  • themunck

    Don’t forget good old Schadenfreude.

  • J_Enigma32

    English is pretty much a “play by consensus” language. Once a group of people speaking English have determined something, that’s usually how it goes. As much as some Prescriptionist Academics might wish, there’s no one governing body that determines this stuff; there’s tradition and that’s it. And in the United States, at least, that tradition goes back to middle-class and upper-class WASP speak being taught as the definitive form of English. Given how diverse the language is, I don’t think one governing body could. Take for instance “formal English.” Is formal English Midwestern Standard or Received Pronunciation? Is it color or colour? Is it analog or analogue? Depends who you talk to, and where in the world you are.

    The closest that I can think is the MLA, but they’re not so much language as they are literature and the study of modern languages.

  • Daniel

    Colour, analogue, catalogue, honour. I think “pedant” is the same everywhere though.

  • J_Enigma32

    If you get the chance, take a look at superfluid helium-4. It’s the step right above “screw you, thermodynamics” and right below “Gravity? Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

    See, Superfluid Helium-4 has zero viscosity and zero entropy. It is subject only to it’s own inertia and nothing more.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z6UJbwxBZI

  • Alix

    Wow. XD Even after watching that, I can’t really wrap my head around what that means.

    Science: blowing our minds since, well, forever.

  • Jamoche

    Then there’s the newly-discovered blue planet which, they theorize, gets its color from silicates that cause glass rain

    http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-hubble-blue-planet-20130711,0,1687798.story

  • themunck

    Since you’ll be reading up on non newtonian liquids anyway, you might as well see it in action, via the great Stephen Fry himself:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClqRFpQuaZ8

  • Alix

    …That is so cool. And LOL at all the ways they describe what the fluid looks like. XD

  • themunck

    Honestly, if you have not seen every single episode of QI yet, you have missed a cultural treasure :)

  • Alix

    I’ve never even heard of it! But that clip was awesome and hilarious and informative, so I think I need to track it down.

  • themunck

    Every episode is on youtube ^^. Search for QI series A episode one, and wave the next 2 weeks or so of your life goodbye.

  • Alix

    Every episode is on youtube

    Yay!

  • themunck

    You are one of today’s lucky 10000 :)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    We tried to shatter a ball of silly putty by dropping it from the top of the stairwell. Unfortunately, its terminal velocity was lower than the speed you need to get it to do that. (If you’re ever in the market for it, Dow sells Silly Putty wholesale under the name “Dilatent Compound 3179” fairly cheap, with the caveat that you have to buy it in 50 lb lots.

    My dad has an anecdote about a dilatent compound they made in the lab once when he was a young chemist. If you set a hammer on top of it, the hammer would (very slowly) sink to the bottom. But if you hit it with the hammer as hard as you could the hammer would break before the surface of the dilatent liquid would.

  • Alix

    Hee. I’m imagining what my nephew and I could get up to, with fifty pounds of silly putty. XD That sounds … kind of awesome, actually. (His mother would kill me. It’s going on the Christmas list.)

    …So you really could shatter silly putty by applying enough force? That’s pretty cool.

    And your dad’s anecdote is yet more proof that the world is really fucking weird, and therefore really seriously awesome.

  • P J Evans

    If you pull it apart fast, it breaks in two. Do it slowly, and it stretches. (Silly Putty has been around a long time, for a toy. When I was a kid, it only came in one color.)

  • Alix

    Stupid question #five million, but this triggered it: is gum a solid?

  • ohiolibrarian

    Weird pink, right? Remember copying the funnies (in color!) by pressing a flat pad of silly putty on them?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Toothpaste and ketchup are interesting examples of what are called thixotropic.

  • Alix

    …Hee. So you’re telling me science has figured out why it’s so damn hard to get ketchup out of the bottle.

    This whole thread is so damn cool, seriously. I’m learning way more about liquids and physics and matter and freezing than I’ve ever picked up before.

    (I just got off the phone with my sis, actually. “What are you doing, Alix?” “Reading about weird liquids.” “…” “It’s really cool, I swear!”)

  • SisterCoyote

    This thread is basically the coolest thing. I saw the comment number and braced myself for some painful debate on a hot-button issue, but instead we’ve got post-modern meta-arguing up top, and awesome science videos down here! Science is all the win.

  • We Must Dissent

    “Non-Newtonian” only refers to how fluids behave under stress: specifically that they don’t follow Newton’s Law of Viscosity which states that stress and shear gradients are linearly related by a constant viscosity. It categorizes how fluids respond to force not temperature.

    My first guess is that between taking it out of the freezer and letting it warm, it’s going through a state where the water is not locked into small crystals, melts locally, then refreezes in larger crystals because the surrounding material is still colder than its freezing temperature.

    It’d be related to why ice cream has to be churned–to keep breaking up ice crystals so they don’t grow big enough to feel–instead of just frozen unagitated.

  • Alix

    …This is what I love about y’all: I can post a really random, silly question and get a ton of really awesome information on the science of liquids and how things freeze and other awesome stuff. XD This is fascinating.

  • P J Evans

    Miine would also be that if it’s right out of the freezer, it’s also affecting the air next to its surface. The moisture would condense and then freeze.

  • Alix

    …So like what sometimes happens on clay or metal water bottles when filled with ice water on a hot day?

  • Jamoche

    Word trivia: “meltdown” predates nuclear physics – it refers to the behavior of ice cream.

    http://www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience/dairy-science-and-technology/dairy-products/ice-cream/ice-cream-structure/ice-cream-meltdown

  • Ima Pseudonym

    A physics demonstration of the most awesome sort:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2XQ97XHjVw

  • Winter

    I would guess that the fats and water are separating somehow when the sandwiches are thawed just a little. That would account for the growth of frost and hard texture. The miscibility of things is often different in solid and liquid forms (see: freeze-distillation, zone refining of silicon, and a few other applications), and the partial thawing may provide just enough energy for the cream to do funky things.

    Again, just a guess based on some half-remembered classes about alloys and solid solutions.

  • Alix

    Oh, cool. XD Science is freakin’ awesome. That’d also explain why after they thaw properly, they get really liquidy.

    So if I’m following: when in the freezer, the fats and water are just blended fine, being happy, and then they start separating – one warming faster? – and BOOM, FROST? because, that’s crazy neat.

    Thanks for all the info!

  • Emcee, cubed

    The answer I’m coming up with is completely dependent on how you froze the pie. If the pie slices are in a vacuum when frozen, ice crystals cannot form because they have no water vapor from the air to make them. This is the same concept as using a vacuum sealer when freezing meats to keep them from getting freezer burn. Once removed, the ambient temperature of the pie will likely still be cold enough to freeze the moisture in the air after some time, causing the ice crystals to form. Of course, if you aren’t freezing the pie in a vacuum, none of this makes sense, and I have no idea…

  • Alix

    …I pop the slices in old tupperware, and if I remember I put plastic wrap between the lid and base for a better seal. (If I can get the effing wrap off the roll. Goddamn plastic wrap.) It’s hardly airtight – I do have one of those vacuum-seal thingies, but frankly, it gets really messy to try and seal a cream pie slice in one of those things, and you don’t get, well, pie afterwards.

    …Maybe I’m inept. XD It wouldn’t surprise me – that machine is demon-possessed.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Yeah, I was trying to figure how one would actually vacuum seal pie. My thought was maybe a solid container that you could at least get most of the air out would likely accomplish it to an extent. But as I said, it was the only thing I could think of…

  • Alix

    I could actually imagine vacuum-sealing a more solid pie, or one still in a tin. If one is careful, and not me. XD In a tin with a hard crust or topping, or a filling not prone to squishing out six ways to Sunday. I could actually imagine it working pretty well with a solidly-frozen ice cream pie, but at that point, I’m not sure it’s worth bothering with vacuum-sealing.

    …I almost want to go make more pie and experiment now, but alas, it is nearing midnight, and I still have a lot of pie in the freezer. XD

  • Jamoche

    Would it help to put plastic wrap tightly around the pie slices before freezing them, to keep air away as they freeze? It’s what I’d do by default if anything has a surface that normally wouldn’t be exposed.

  • banancat

    Number 6 rings really true for me. I’m an engineer and I’m also a woman. Engineering is still a very male-dominated field. And in my short career of only 5 years since college, I have met not one, but two male engineers (white, of course) who think that companies in general or certain companies are falling all over themselves to hire women and to pay them a buttload more in order to get on with this super trend of being PC or whatever. Both of them had so much privilege that they never had to deal with being unemployed or underpaid, but they still believed this weird myth.

  • Laurent Weppe

    But there must be more to it than just that because the wealthy, powerful people who invented those lies — who know them to be nothing more than lies — were themselves already seething with resentment. Why? How

    You provided the answer yourself in your “I sit on a man’s back” post: it’s the fear of retaliation linked to the twisted conclusions of projection: many among the rich and powerful (and being a rich guy myself, I’m talking as an insider here) are utterly convinced that the plebs secretly want to slaughter them. Worse: being much more self-aware that many give “us” credit, for many among “us” rising against the corrupt rich and commiting a class-based genocide is the only rational goal one can have if born in the under-class.

    If you believe that the masses secretly want to kill you, and that they are right to want to kill you because that’s what you’d want to do yourself if the tables were turned, the logical conclusion of your worldview is that the survival of your kin is incompatible with egalitarian justice, that the survival of your kin demands that the under-class remains divided by infighting so it never gains the strenght to topple you. So you’ll make sure that the white poor hate the blacks more than they loathe the inept rich heirs, that the christian poor detest the Muslims more than they despise the inept rich heirs, that the male poor hate women more than they desire renvenge against the inept rich heirs.


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