SL 723

The Last Slave: In 1931, Zora Neale Hurston sought to publish the story of Cudjo Lewis, the final slave-ship survivor. Instead it languished in a vault. Until now.

Nintendo Labo is simply the best video game ever. They turned a video game into robotics lessons. The game controllers become part of the robot. Ian has spent hours with it and isn’t tired yet. Highly recommend for middle school and early high school kids.

This writer wants to be rich and isn’t sorry. She’s my new hero.

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30 thoughts on “SL 723

  1. Interesting article on Hurston. I wonder, if it weren’t linked to a famous name, whether there would be a market now for a book that portrayed African involvement in the slave trade. Certainly most American history books of the middlebrow variety prefer their heroes and villains unadulterated.

  2. I read Luckiest Girl Alive, and I am not at all surprised that the author of this article is also the author of that book. It’s a good, fluffy read, and it was clear while reading it that it was designed to sell (just as she describe in her article – she researched what sorts of things make a book marketable and that’s the book she wrote). That’s not a ding against her – I enjoyed the book and loved her NYT article too. Rather, I’d say I am pretty confident she’s going to achieve her goals given what’s she accomplish so far. Good for her!

    1. I haven’t read the book, but the reviews certainly suggest a formulaic book that was written to make money. I have no issues with an author wanting to make money and producing content that someone wants to read. But it’s not something I’d buy.

      A teen I know once said he was giving up on Improv competitions, roughly, because he had decided that pleasing the standard audience was not worth his time. Knoll is taking the position that she’s happy to produce whatever the audience wants for money. That’s not a choice I’d make or encourage in those I respect, and, raises one of my fears: that children who grow up in the bubble of elite schools (Knoll attended Shipley) and trying to fit in with those wealthier than them (a challenge for the middle class, with the rich, and even with the rich, and super rich, and even the super rich, and the richest people in the world) will learn that being rich is more important than anything else.

      Knoll seems to have written her piece to provoke responses (i.e. clickbait), but, the nugget that says that it’s not crass to be paid for the value of your work (as opposed to being required to volunteer your talent, time and labor) is a valid one.

      1. Well, Samuel Johnson (“No man but a blockhead . . . .”) might disagree with bj! People write for various reasons, I presume, and making money seems like a pretty harmless one. (As do most of the others I can think of.)

      2. Yes, writing novels works that I consider sub-par to make money seems fairly harmless. Writing novels that the author considers sub-par to make money seems a little more harmful to the *author*, but is certainly a choice an author should be free to make, but one that I hope my kids don’t learn at their schools.

    1. I’ve seen much of that before in different places, but the effect of it all laid out together is kind of an overwhelming thing.

      1. Before anybody says it, yes, this is a very small group.

        But

        a) they absolutely do advocate for violence
        b) they idolize mass murderers
        c) we’ve already seen at least two mass killings committed by self-described incels.

        Any guy from the incel forums who commits a mass killing knows going in that he is going to be a hero to his old forum mates and immortalized by the community–because they’ve already got a virtual iconostasis of mass murderers that are either members of their community or have been claimed by them.

        https://jezebel.com/saint-elliot-rodger-and-the-incels-who-canonize-him-1825567815

  3. I hadn’t heard of “incel” until I read the NY Times article, even though I’d heard of men’s rights, and red pill, . . . . It’s a scary segment of society, and, I fear potential of vulnerable teenage boys finding community there (as well as at the red pill, . . . .). I’m seeing a significant isolation of a certain kind of teen these days; I can’t say its new, but I worry about them, these perfectly good boys who feel like they aren’t winning the masculinity battles and develop norms by finding solace in the internet (and, I don’t mean p*rn).

      1. AmyP, you may well be right about feelings of inadequacy, but the absolute flood-the-zone shaved-beaver-and-anal pictures free and three clicks away is a phenomenon of the last fifteen years, during which rapes have dropped very substantially. So I have an image of some schlub going home from his job as a deputy manager of a Kwik-Mart going home to fire up his computer and commit the sin of Onan rather than going out on the jogging trail to pull some poor girl into the bushes.
        Certainly the vile stories of the East Area rapist coming back into memory from Calif this week show odious pre-porn actions.

      2. Rape is about power, not sex, so it’s difficult to believe that access to p*rn would address that issue. There is something warped inside these guys, perhaps because of nature, perhaps because of nurture. It’s not just the sexual urge; it’s the belief that women’s role is to satisfy those sexual urges, and their refusal to do so is a diminishing of men’s rights/power. That can be genetic, I guess (traits of sociopathy), but it’s hard not to see how nurture could have a role.

        Amy said: “P*rn definitely doesn’t help with feelings of male inadequacy.”

        Hm, I think that’s framing the issue incorrectly. First, I don’t think that p*rn affects men’s feelings of inadequacy in general. Now, I’m not a man, nor have I spoken with a lot of men. But I have talked with some men who seem fairly typical, and I’m guessing looking at p*nises is not the point of p*rn.

        Second, if men feel “inadequate,” it’s because they see women as inferior, and if women are presenting themselves as equal to men, then men feel “inadequate” because they are not being treated as superior to women. THAT is the problem with incels, not whether or not they have sex.

        And that is also a metaphor for the current Trump voter as well. “Gee, if black people and immigrants can have the same things I have, then I’m not superior. That sucks for me! So to fix it, I won’t address my own racism; I’ll just vote for someone who reinforces my feelings of superiority by fucking up the lives of black people and immigrants in every possible way!”

      3. By the way, I was reading a very interesting thread on We Hunted the Mammoth on incels, and a poster was drawing a very interesting comparison between her own experiences as an anorexic hanging out on pro-anorexia sites and incels. She was pointing out that there is the same issue of having a warped view of one’s own body, as well as a warped view of how social life worked (the anorexic girls online were convinced that if they just got thinner, guys would start paying attention to them–as if there aren’t chubby girls with boyfriends, or as if they weren’t already pretty thin). But, as people were pointing out, the difference between the two is that anorexic girls primarily hurt and hate themselves.

        I was very struck by the analogy about inaccurate body image in anorexics and incels, because that’s also been my impression. Incels obsess about their looks, but the Toronto van guy was pretty average, and Elliot Rodger was ridiculously good looking (with that boy band look). Incels see something in the mirror that just isn’t there.

        (I once accidentally triggered a macho Red Pill guy by mentioning that my husband has been told he looks like Daniel Craig. Ooooh boy! The thing is, a huge percentage of youngish Slavic men look like Daniel Craig. There’s a lot of physical insecurity in those parts. This is a new thing, I think–there’s a lot more male insecurity about physical appearance than ever before in my lifetime. Part of it is that it’s possible to “overhear” strangers’ thoughts in a way that didn’t used to be possible, but it’s also true that a lot of young men have ridiculous ideas about what “good enough” looks like for their gender. Thanks for nothing, Marvel!)

  4. I agree with Wendy on one point: I don’t think most men focus on the male organs when they are watching pr*n. And although male performers are well-endowed, they are not otherwise particularly prepossessing (as compared to, say, regular movie actors). So I don’t know why it would create feelings of inferiority. Does watching James Bond or Batman movies create feelings on inferiority?

    However, I would suggest that pr*n is about power, not sex, just as much as rape is. So Dave S. is not refuted.
    (If I were channeling Catherine MacKinnon, I would question whether power and sex are actually different things, but that is another topic.)

    Lest some question the validity of eternal verities, I don’t agree with lots of other things Wendy says.

    1. y81 said,

      “I agree with Wendy on one point: I don’t think most men focus on the male organs when they are watching pr*n. And although male performers are well-endowed, they are not otherwise particularly prepossessing (as compared to, say, regular movie actors). So I don’t know why it would create feelings of inferiority. Does watching James Bond or Batman movies create feelings on inferiority?”

      I suspect they do–in an insecure person.

      It’s a commonplace in the manosphere, that women are only interested in guys with Brad Pitt/George Clooney level looks and charm (there’s a bit of a 90s time warp going on), and if women date or marry other guys, it’s only as a place holder until an alpha comes along or just in order to leach off beta bucks. (There’s a really rude expression with the acronym AF/BB, crystallizing that idea.) Plus, 20% of men are supposed to be “getting” 80% of the women.

      These are completely unfalsifiable beliefs, because you can point to as many happy couples with schlubby husbands as you like (I’m sure we all know dozens…), but they won’t accept the idea that these are actually happy couples or that the women aren’t secretly unfaithful/on the prowl for bigger and better.

      (Which, I have to say, sounds EXHAUSTING.)

      1. y81 said,

        “However, I would suggest that pr*n is about power, not sex, just as much as rape is.”

        I think you may be right about that.

        It’s not too late for a second career in women’s studies!

      2. Well, like many conspiracy theories, there are some connections to real life.

        It’s not neccessarily ’90s time warp; both BP and GC apparently rate really highly on facial symmetry: http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/entertainment/people/most-handsome-men-in-the-world-525909

        Symmetry is thought to be a marker of health, and lab experiments have shown that it is a factor in human relationships. Women who are not on the pill, and at the most fertile part of their cycle prefer the sweat of symmetrical men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1689051/ (Note they did not see the men who provided the sweat, which is incredible.) Women also prefer the sweat of men with complementary immune systems.

        Women’s extra-pair copulations tend to occur in their most fertile period, whereas their intra-pair copulations tend to be more evenly spread out across the cycle. This pattern is consistent with women preferentially seeking men who evidence phenotypic markers of genetic benefits just before and during ovulation.

        You have twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors: https://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/05/the-missing-men-in-your-family-tree/

        There have always been men who do not manage to have children. I would say that the successful couples I know are more likely to have matched on character and kindness than current perceptions of “hotness.”

        I don’t think the “incel” and “pua” communities are the same thing. Men who are able to make real, normal connections with women are not hanging around computer screens boasting of their prowess or blaming women.

        As to p*rn and rape rates, correlation is not causation. The rise in the use of drugs of all kinds over the last 15 years is significant; it is known that many drugs can reduce sexual drive and/or induce depression. Searching this online, it’s interesting that it breaks down into illicit and prescription drugs. I wasn’t able to find a chart that combined all drug use over time in the US population.

        Be that as it may, statins, heroin, marijuana, mdma, antihistamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and many more drugs decrease interest in sex. The use of all sorts of drugs has increased over the last 20 years. So the decrease in the incidence of rape could have multiple causes.

      3. Cranberry said,

        “You have twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors”

        Related:

        https://psmag.com/environment/17-to-1-reproductive-success

        “Once upon a time, 4,000 to 8,000 years after humanity invented agriculture, something very strange happened to human reproduction. Across the globe, for every 17 women who were reproducing, passing on genes that are still around today—only one man did the same.”

        They had only 450 DNA samples from across the globe, which bj is going to tsk tsk.

        “In more recent history, as a global average, about four or five women reproduced for every one man.”

        However, if we want to run with this study, the interesting thing about it is that it suggests that there may not be a lot of point in assuming that we are primarily shaped by ancient hunter gatherer social patterns, because there seems to have been a lot more selection happening after agriculture was invented.

        Cranberry said,

        “I don’t think the “incel” and “pua” communities are the same thing. Men who are able to make real, normal connections with women are not hanging around computer screens boasting of their prowess or blaming women.”

        The belief systems of different manosphere groups are distinct but are also definitely on a spectrum.

        “As to p*rn and rape rates, correlation is not causation. The rise in the use of drugs of all kinds over the last 15 years is significant; it is known that many drugs can reduce sexual drive and/or induce depression.”

        That’s true. I’d also point out that the public is a lot more educated about forensics now (thanks to a bajillion police procedural shows) and young women out and about tend to have both a cell phone and mace on them, so being a stranger rapist is a lot riskier than it used to be.

        Also, murder is way down from the 1970s and 1980s and we’ve got 2 million people locked up right now, so there’s a lot less crime in general, not just less rape.

        https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-u-s-murder-rate-is-up-but-still-far-below-its-1980-peak/

      4. Are the people posting on incel sites inclined to rape? So far, the news stories I’ve read about them link the sites to murders, not sexual assault. The PUA sites definitely seem to include outright primers in how to be a rapist.

        As to the traces of a 17 to 1 ratio thousands of years ago, I’d think that has to have been a virus that affected male fertility. I can’t think of any cultural control that would be able to restrict male access to reproduction to that extent. Of course, whatever it was, it eliminated 95% of the men alive at the time (and their faithful partners) from the human genome.

        It probably led to some interesting cultural practices to adapt to sudden childlessness.

      5. Cranberry said,

        “Are the people posting on incel sites inclined to rape?”

        The possibility has obviously crossed their minds.

        http://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2018/04/24/incels-hail-toronto-van-driver-who-killed-10-as-a-new-elliot-rodger-talk-of-future-acid-attacks-and-mass-rapes/#more-29754

        “So far, the news stories I’ve read about them link the sites to murders, not sexual assault.”

        One thing that has occurred to me is that some of these guys may not actually be attracted to women, but may think that they ought to be.

        “The PUA sites definitely seem to include outright primers in how to be a rapist.”

        Yeah.

        “As to the traces of a 17 to 1 ratio thousands of years ago, I’d think that has to have been a virus that affected male fertility.”

        That stat might just be wrong, of course.

        “I can’t think of any cultural control that would be able to restrict male access to reproduction to that extent. Of course, whatever it was, it eliminated 95% of the men alive at the time (and their faithful partners) from the human genome.”

        Some possibilities:

        –war
        –slavery
        –famine
        –disease from higher density living combined with weaker male immune systems
        –low protein diet compromising fertility of poorer men?
        –eunuchs
        –primogeniture/favoritism in inheritance producing unequal outcomes in reproduction
        –some men were having children, but the available resources were so poor that the children died, leaving no trace in contemporary DNA.

        bj, jump in!

      6. The 17 to 1 ratio is the ratio of Y-chromosome DNA to mitochrondrial DNA, which is not quite the same as the ratio of males to females, and the disparity need not have occurred in one generation. If you assume that substantially all the females in a population reproduce, while a significant number of males do not, then over hundreds or thousands of years there will be a gradual culling of Y-chromosomes. I probably don’t have the ability, and I certainly don’t have the time, to figure out exactly what the differential between the sexes must be, and how long it must continue, but it isn’t like 17 girls for every boy at one time. (Which, to echo AmyP, would certainly be exhausting!)

      7. y81 said:

        “The 17 to 1 ratio is the ratio of Y-chromosome DNA to mitochrondrial DNA, which is not quite the same as the ratio of males to females, and the disparity need not have occurred in one generation.
        If you assume that substantially all the females in a population reproduce, while a significant number of males do not, then over hundreds or thousands of years there will be a gradual culling of Y-chromosomes. I probably don’t have the ability, and I certainly don’t have the time, to figure out exactly what the differential between the sexes must be, and how long it must continue, but it isn’t like 17 girls for every boy at one time.”

        That sounds reasonable–the differences would be compounding.

        “(Which, to echo AmyP, would certainly be exhausting!)”

        Related:

        https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/05/easier-with-three-work-life-and-polyamory.html

        How freaking hard can it possibly be for two childless adults to have work life balance?

      8. I’m not a geneticist or anything, but obviously the mtDNA is going to progress down the genetic line further than the Y chromosome. A woman gives mtDNA to all her offspring, but a man gives the Y chromosome only to sons.

      9. MH said,

        “I’m not a geneticist or anything, but obviously the mtDNA is going to progress down the genetic line further than the Y chromosome. A woman gives mtDNA to all her offspring, but a man gives the Y chromosome only to sons.”

        !!!

  5. Apropos of nothing: There’s also a manosphere contingent that believes that sexbots and virtual reality are going to crush the current female monopoly on sex.

    They also tend to be interested in better male contraception (which I suspect they will like much less than they think) and artificial wombs.

    1. So they’re heterosexual? Because I’ve heard rumors that there’s all sorts of sex possible without female participation. Although any type of sex with another human will call for consent and communication of some sort; long term relationships will call for demonstrations of empathy and respect.

      As in earlier concepts, a seed of truth. I’m sure video games and more advanced video games (virtual reality) are serving to prevent some people from raising a family. I’m a little puzzled about the artificial womb part, because there’s the whole “raising a child” process which tends to involve a great deal of empathy, respect, and communication. And a great deal of wasted time, i.e., not devoted to video games.

      Freud was just born too early, or didn’t live long enough, because there’s some real weirdness going on in those online communities.

      1. “So they’re heterosexual? Because I’ve heard rumors that there’s all sorts of sex possible without female participation.”

        It is a bit of a paradox that on the one hand, many manosphereans hate, fear and distrust women, while still wanting women and only women. There’s a lot of talk about how sexbots will change everything–but the problem is that real live women are how people like that keep score (case in point–Donald Trump), and in that respect, sexbots are extremely unsatisying.

        I personally have a hard time believing that guys who express so much revulsion toward female anatomy and sexuality can actually be heterosexual, but they think they are…

        An interesting subvariant is the type of guy who seems personally affronted if women derive some sort of enjoyment from sex.

        “Although any type of sex with another human will call for consent and communication of some sort; long term relationships will call for demonstrations of empathy and respect.”

        Hence the attraction of sexbots.

        “I’m a little puzzled about the artificial womb part, because there’s the whole “raising a child” process which tends to involve a great deal of empathy, respect, and communication.”

        Yes, I’ve been in/watched these conversations, and the guys who want the sexbots and artificial wombs tend to be pretty vague about how exactly they’re going to be raising those motherless babies once they’ve got them.

        “Freud was just born too early, or didn’t live long enough, because there’s some real weirdness going on in those online communities.”

        You are absolutely right.

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