Wrangling Metaphenomena

This semester, a professor in one of my classes made the claim that almost no person or organization is aware or its core principles. Maybe they have some vague nonsense mission statement or political identity that could be used to argue literally anything, and that’s basically the point. They don’t have a set of claims upon which all of their conclusions rest cogently and consistently. This is the first in a series of essays where I will try to identify what are my core principles.

Last year, a great mentor of mine heard that I had gotten a degree in queer studies, and he had apparently also gotten a similar degree about forty years ago. And he asked me, “What is the central claim of queer theory?” Well there is not one and that’s kind of the point. It talks about itself and frequently contradicts itself in order to critically examine epistemic and ontological structures ad infinitum. Like there is no core thesis and that’s sort of the core thesis.

Ok so I recently wrote a term paper arguing that identity and orientation are not two-dimensional matrices of self and target but rather a chaotic intersection of countless dimensions of factors from biology and socialization and interpersonal interactions et cetera et cetera. That each person stands at a unique intersection of an unimaginable number of chaotic variables, and the way that they overlap and interact is what gives rise not only to our identities but also to our orientations, and that those can change over time.

I have degrees in Sociology, Social Justice, Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, and Queer Studies among others, and this theory is the only one I’ve ever seen that accurately fits all the data I’ve observed and learned about, including the contents of the Variations in Sexuality class whose term paper I am referring to.

Ok next, I have a great mentor who once said to me that there are at least as many genders and orientations as there are people, and I think this was a missing first-principle that allowed me to formulate this broader conclusion.

Another point that I made in the essay is that of the inverse relationship between precision and accuracy when making any claim about a complex, chaotic system like gender or weather or gas particles, etc. The more abstract a claim is (the less precise), the more accurate it can be. This is actually a series of laws in math called Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems which is a whole ‘nother can of worms that I explore in depth in that essay I mentioned above.

This is called a metaphenomena; a thing that happens at the point where countless chaotic other things interact to create it as a side-effect. The weather can not exist without a global system of trillions of trillions of gas particles interacting with gravitation, fission, etc, etc to create it. What’s the temperature today? You just can’t get there without the rest of it.

Metaphenomena can not be understood accurately without understanding the incalculable number of random things that interacted to create it in unpredictable ways. Needless to say, that is fundamentally impossible. Therefore, what truths can we learn and say about metaphenomena?

Sociology was founded on the failure of cybernetics and systems theory to model complex chaotic systems. Sociology argues that despite the fundamental impossibility to accurately model complex chaotic systems, it is possible to learn about statistical trends and clusters within a population.

The fundamental question is how can we wrangle, contend with, intuit, understand, or make accurate predictions about complex, chaotic metaphenomena like gender, sexual orientation, the weather, gas particles, etc?

We just can’t, and that’s a law of reality. What we can do it make claims and assumptions that are limited by clear and specific caveats about their samples. There is no way to study all of humanity. There is absolutely a way to draw a statistically significant population of white male american students at a particular research university. And we should say that whenever we discuss the takeaways from such research. There is no claim that can be made about all of humanity based on a sample of white male american students at a particular research university.

Freud’s fundamental mistake was assuming that the people he studied in insane asylums in Vienna were a representative sample of all humans everywhere throughout the entire past and future, and it’s a lesson that essentially all researchers have failed to learn; conclusions must be qualified with caveats about the necessary limitations of the sample they are based on.

Variations in Sexuality

CJ Trowbridge

2020-12-06

SOC 400 – Term Paper

I have struggled since my first degrees in Sociology and LGBT Studies and throughout this class to find a concise and plausible scientific explanation accounting for the development of diverse sexual orientations in humans. I think I’ve finally identified one that works. The ideas of sex, gender, and sexual orientation are a reductive and imprecise heuristic of human behavior which — through prediscursive construction — resist scientific examination despite lacking evidentiary support.

Let’s start with two quick examples. In the seventeenth century, a scientist named Mendeleev tried to create a system for categorizing molecules based on their properties. (Sutton, 2019) He created the first periodic table of the elements. (Sutton, 2019) What he was trying to do is create a simple two-dimensional system where everything is arranged merely into rows and columns. Things in the same row share certain properties. Things in the same column share certain properties. Knowing where something is would mean you can leverage a heuristic or shortcut to predict its properties. The problem with this model is that we have learned countless new things since then which do not fit, and every new thing adds another missing dimension which is not included in the model. The heuristic shortcut breaks down because it introduces errors into our assumptions. For example, there are often many versions of each element called isotopes and they all have different properties not illustrated in the model; this could be seen as the missing third dimension. But then the patterns of many things like electronegativity, ion charge, and oxidation numbers do not follow the table’s layout. (Scerri, 2012) Our two-dimensional model is now twenty-dimensional, and the categories Mendeleev established already don’t make any sense. We have also learned that these “elements” and not truly elemental, but made up of smaller components. (Sutton 2020) It’s a case where a simple model intended as a heuristic shortcut is invalidated as we learn more detail about the underlying systems.

As a second example, there is the shoreline problem. How many kilometers long is the shoreline of Britain? If you look from far away, it seems like there is a clear answer, but the closer you look and the more detail you add, the bigger the number becomes. (Giaimo, 2016) There is no true and correct answer which fits all cases. Instead, we see an inverse relationship between accuracy and precision; the closer you look, the harder it is to feel confident about your answer.

These are examples of a larger idea called Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems from mathematical logic. The basic argument is that there are inherent limitations in all modeling systems, and no system of symbolism can be complete. (Raatikainen, 2020) In essence, no map of the world can be a better map than the world is of itself, and the closer you get, the worse your map is. I bring this up because much of the modern social sciences including Sociology have evolved in part from two earlier sciences called Cybernetics and Systems Theory. These early sciences tried to produce accurate models of complex systems like economies and society. (Curtis, 2011, 6:48-10:15) Instead of trying to create precise models of linear relationships between cause and effect in complex systems, they learned it was more accurate to adopt a nuanced understanding of multiple overlapping factors contributing to an outcome. (Curtis, 2011, 10:15-10:42) This is the solution to all the examples I’ve given here. If we likewise accept that there is no correct answer to the problem of categorizing all people into a discrete set of prescribed identities, then we can discuss precision and probability in a broader spectrum of possible identities and orientations.

Around the same time Mendeleev was categorizing elements, Magnus Hirschfeld was categorizing sexuality. Before Hirschfeld’s work in the nineteenth century, the idea that people had a sexual orientation was not a commonly accepted idea. (LeVay, 1991, p. 163) Hirschfeld made the classic scientific error. He ignored the long history of examples when different kinds of sex were normalized between different gender groups, privileging instead the cultural assumptions he had as a result of his own socialization. He reduced everyone to a binary gender and a binary partner. (LeVay, 1991, p. 35) Within decades, scientists like Alfred Kinsey had thoroughly debunked this idea using experimental data to show that most people do not fit Hirschfeld’s theory. (LeVay, 1991, p. 8)

Judith Butler said, “Are the ostensibly natural facts of sex discursively produced by various scientific discourses in the service of other political and social interests? If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called “sex” is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all… gender is not to culture as sex is to nature; gender is also the discursive/cultural means by which “sexed nature” or “a natural sex” is produced and established as “prediscursive,” prior to culture, a politically neutral surface on which culture acts… This production of sex as the prediscursive ought to be understood as the effect of the apparatus of cultural construction designated by gender.” (Butler 1990, p. 10)

Foucault said that humans perceive the world through a series of “sieves” or “screens,” each of which slightly alters or colors our perception, leading each individual to a completely different final image of a given situation. (Foucault, 1971, 18:33-22:19) These final images are wholly inaccurate from any objective perspective since no two people would see the same thing in the same situation. Foucault’s “sieves” are the discourses or social ideas that we have. Some examples of discourses that color our perception include things like sex and gender and therefore sexual orientation, but also the idea that any of these things exists at all.

While I don’t deny that most people are socialized to identify with a particular gender and feel attraction to others who identify with particular genders, these ideas and behaviors vary widely across cultures and throughout history from Ancient Greece (LeVay, 1991, p. 12) to the modern Fa’afafine of Samoa. (Vasey, 2016) It’s easy for anyone to make claims about humanity founded on assumptions from their own culture which don’t fit all the available evidence. It is more accurate and less culturally contingent to argue that categories like sex and gender are merely the social performance of the way each person we meet is experiencing the overlap of countless semi-random biological and social factors that contribute to a unique expression of characteristics.

An intersex mentor once told me that there are at least as many genders and orientations as there are people. Just like the shoreline problem, any attempt at a more precise definition of sex, gender, and sexual orientation must necessarily become less accurate than this very abstract explanation. Sex, gender, and sexual orientation are like elements on Mendeleev’s table arranged in two dimensions. These categories started out as an attempt to create simple boxes to place all individuals into. The problem is that the closer we look, the more examples we see where these categories do not accurately account for the countless other dimensions which they purport to include. Therefore, sexual orientation starts from a basis of reductive inaccuracy and arrives at a conclusion that cannot possibly reflect reality.

LaVey covers many of these missing dimensions of sex, gender, and sexual orientation in the book “Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why.” For example, there is a structure in the human brain called INAH3. These structures are considered a sex characteristic. This means they vary across the population and correlate to a person’s gender identity (LeVay, 1991, p. 161) and sexual orientation (LeVay, 1991, p. 107). INAH3 is one of many brain structures which despite correlating to sex, gender, and sexual orientation cannot be used on its own to reliably determine a person’s gender identity and preferred sexual behaviors. Instead, it forms part of a broader holistic view of hundreds of similar body structures and other social and environmental factors like facial structure (Malvina et al, 2013, 1377), natal testosterone levels (LeVay, 1991, p. 28) and the number of older brothers a person has (LeVay, 1991, p. 135). All of these correlate to some degree with a person’s gender identity and preferred sexual behaviors, but none of them correlates 100%, and even taken together there are always exceptions. It simply can not be said that for any individual throughout history and across cultures, a given set of observations about their physical and social characteristics will 100% predict their innate and permanent gender identity and sexual orientation.

Just like we saw in those first two examples, it’s easy to make superficial claims about individuals and groups based on our own culture and experience. However, the more we learn about the details and background beyond these superficial claims, the more these claims fall apart. Just like with shoreline measurements, there is an inverse relationship between accuracy and precision when making claims about the identities of people based on evidence. The more detail we add, the more confounding third-factors we introduce, and the claim that people have some determinable gender and sexual orientation quickly falls apart. Based on the evidence, the truth seems to be that like height, body shape, skin color, and all other physical and behavioral characteristics, sex and sexual orientation are diverse multidimensional spectra where countless sub-factors overlap in chaotic and interesting ways to produce a wide variety of people and experiences.

 

Works Cited

Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble. London: Taylor and Francis.

Curtis, A. (2011, June 06) The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts. Film. BBC.

Foucault, M. (1971, November). The Chomsky-Foucault Debate On Human Nature. Retrieved December 06, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wfNl2L0Gf8

Giaimo, C. (2016, October 07). Why It’s Impossible to Know a Coastline’s True Length. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/why-its-impossible-to-know-a-coastlines-true-length

LeVay, S. (2011). Gay, straight, and the reason why: The science of sexual orientation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Raatikainen, P. (2020, April 02). Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel-incompleteness/

Scerri, E. (2012, January 01). Trouble in the periodic table. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://edu.rsc.org/feature/trouble-in-the-periodic-table/2020266.article

Skorska, Malvina N, Geniole, Shawn N, Vrysen, Brandon M, McCormick, Cheryl M, & Bogaert, Anthony F. (2015). Facial Structure Predicts Sexual Orientation in Both Men and Women. Archives of Sexual Behavior., 44(5), 1377-1394.

Sutton, C. (2020, December 01). Subatomic particle. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/science/subatomic-particle

Sutton, M. (2019, January 02). The father of the periodic table. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/the-father-of-the-periodic-table/3009828.article

Vasey, P. (2016, November 16) No Dodos: What Cross-Cultural Research Tells us About Why Homosexual Males Do Not Become Extinct. Retrieved December 06, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m939SyfQqow

 

DIY Quasar Interferometry

CJ Trowbridge

2020-12-02

ASTR 11

Lab N13 Report

I’m writing about Radio Interferometry. This is a topic that I am very interested in. As a licensed amateur radio technician, I have tried for several semesters to do an honors project on this topic but haven’t yet found a professor who was as interested as I am in radio interferometry.

Let’s start with the definition from Britannica. “[an] apparatus consisting of two or more separate antennas that receive radio waves from the same astronomical object and are joined to the same receiver.”

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory explains its function, “a radio telescope interferometer can combine measurements from each of the pairs of antennas in an array simultaneously, it can make a very high resolution measurement of a specific point in the focal plane of the radio telescope.  By combining many pairs of antennas one can create an image of a specific point in the sky.”

The type of radio interferometry I am most interested in is Quasar Interferometry. According to Wikipedia, Quasar Interferometry is also called Very-long-baseline interferometry or VLBI. For the purposes of this paper, there is no functional difference between Pulsars and Quasars since both have known locations and emit similar radio signals. In reality (According to HowItWorksDaily.com) Quasars are galaxies while Pulsars are merely stars, but again for our purposes what matters is that they both have known locations and emit predictable radio signals.

According to Space.com, a quasar is a distant object powered by a black hole which transmits a predictable radio signal out into space. These signals reach us as a regular sine wave on a certain frequency. We know about many quasars and we know where they are and what their signal should sound like.

One type of antenna for Radio Interferometry is called a Phased Array. According to radartutorial.eu, a phased array is “an array antenna whose single radiators can be fed with different phase shifts. As a result, the common antenna pattern can be steered electronically.” This is very exciting for two reasons. First, because with several small antennae, you can listen and measure the microscopic differences in timing in order to precisely determine the direction from which a signal originated.

Secondly, phased arrays are interesting because when you record overlapping signals coming from different directions, you can also isolate noise propagating across the array in other directions, and remove it from the signal you are looking for. In this way, a phased array is to radio interferometry as lasers are to adaptive optics.

There are several interesting potential observations that could be made with a phased radio interferometer. In my own proposed honors project, I would be using software defined radio to listen to the predictable transmissions of various quasars.

The first interesting observation would be simply using a phased array. This is because I would theoretically be able to pinpoint the precise direction to each of the quasars. Since these directions are known, I could triangulate the position of the array. This would essentially function as a much more precise alternative to GPS which would not require the satellites. Some kind of similar technology will be necessary once humans begin to explore space and move beyond the range of the GPS satellites.

The second interesting observation would be measuring small variances in the sine waves we receive from each quasar. The signals sent out by Quasars do not change in frequency, but the signal we receive from them should. This is because of the propagation of gravity waves across the interstellar medium. Theoretically, measuring these small fluctuations in frequency would mean we can pinpoint the point of origin for gravity waves as they move across the various Quasar beams we are listening to.

This would make a phased radio interferometer function as both a better alternative to GPS and a powerful gravity wave sensor. We do have existing GPS infrastructure, but gravity wave detection is still bleeding edge science, and our current sensors are limited by their human-made terrestrial size. If we used the enormous distance between earth and the many Quasars as a gravity sensor, then we could expand our gravity sensor to the size of that distance between us and the Quasars. Imagine the increase in resolution and precision, and all from a few SDR dongles that can fit in your pocket.

There are some technical challenges to using off the shelf products to conduct these kinds of observations. According to Caltech, Quasars emit radio waves between 10mhz and 100ghz. According to the manufacturer of RTL-SDR, this is well within the range of their cheap $20 dongle. This means for just $20 you can easily pick up the signals from any Quasar; of course you would need at least a few of them to build a phased array. Perhaps the biggest challenge would be writing the special software you would need to record and compare the signals from each phase in your antenna array. Harder still would be the software tools you would need to analyze the data and find the results.

In researching for this paper, I have learned that since my original honors project proposal, NASA has actually completed a proof of concept for this idea using a phased array of 52 radio telescopes. So apparently I have been scooped, but in the words of NASA scientist Keith Gendreau, “It could probably be done with a single telescope. ” So maybe there is some work left to do in radio interferometry yet!

 

 

 

Works Cited

Britannica. “Radio Interferometer.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.britannica.com/science/radio-interferometer

Caltech. “Fanaroff-Riley Classification.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/Glossary/Essay_fanaroff.html

HowItWorksDaily.com. “What is the difference between a quasar and a pulsar?” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.howitworksdaily.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-quasar-and-a-pulsar/

NASA. “NASA test proves pulsars can function as a celestial GPS.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-00478-8

National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “How Does a Radio Interferometer Work?” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://public.nrao.edu/ask/how-does-a-radio-interferometer-work/

RadarTutorial.eu. “Phased Array Antennas.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.radartutorial.eu/06.antennas/Phased%20Array%20Antenna.en.html

RTL-SDR.com. “DETECTING PULSARS (ROTATING NEUTRON STARS) WITH AN RTL-SDR.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.rtl-sdr.com/detecting-pulsars-rotating-neutron-stars-with-an-rtl-sdr/

Space.com “Quasars: Brightest Objects in the Universe.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://www.space.com/17262-quasar-definition.html

Wikipedia. “Very-long-baseline interferometry.” Accessed 2020-12-02. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very-long-baseline_interferometry

 

 

Data: Antivaxxer Prevalence Correlates With Covid Incidence

CJ Trowbridge

USP 493 Data Analysis

2020-12-01

SPSS Final Project Outline

  1. Introduction – what hypothesis you will test and why you expect your independent variable or variables will affect your dependent variable
    • In the recent past, it was legal for California parents to refuse to vaccinate their children in on the basis of various superstitions. I hypothesize that there is a significant correlation between covid infection rates and the rates at which parents chose not to vaccinate their children before such decisions were banned. I am using counties as the unit of analysis to test this hypothesis.
  2. Brief description of the data you will use
    • There are several datasets that I will need to compile in order to test my hypothesis.
    • First, I need the covid case data by county. I am using the most recently published dataset from Johns Hopkins.
    • Second, I need the population for each county in order to calculate the percentage of the population that has become infected with covid. I am using the 2019 census population numbers.
    • Third, I need the kindergarten vaccination data from the year before the ban on exemptions happened. I got this from the California Department of Public Health Archives.
  3. Univariate statistics for each variable you will use in your hypothesis. Discussion of what these tables tell you.
    • The kindergarten vaccination data for each county is my independent variable.
    • To get my dependent variable, I divide the covid infections by the population for each county in order to get the case incidence numbers for each county.
    • Here’s what it all looks like put together;
  4. Hypothesis testing. What do the statistics tell you.
    • In order to visually compare the two values for each county, I first sorted the data by the independent variable’s value. I then created a combo line-chart with two y-axes plus an x axis. The x axis in this chart is the county name. The dependent variable is on the second y-axis. Initially, the graph was not so clear to look at in SPSS. I asked the professor how to sort the x-axis by the value of the left y-axis but apparently that feature does not exist in SPSS…
    • …So I moved to Excel.
    • But first I ran the descriptive statistics in SPSS to find the minimum and maximum values for each variable in order to scale the axes so that the lines would be comparable as you see in the graph below.
    • I then added trend lines to both y axes to simplify the visual representation of the data.
    • Lastly, I ran a two-tailed Pearson Correlation at a .01 significance in SPSS to determine whether there is a significant correlation between the dependent and independent variables. The result was significant.
  5. Conclusion: Was your hypothesis supported? Implications of what you have found.
    • The hypothesis is accepted. There is a significant correlation between Kindergarten vaccination rates and covid infection rates by county. As far as the possible implications, I will rely on this quote from Isaac Asimov, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

My Data Files

XXI

“Drunk one night, Sarah had told me Women are the race… No two ways about it. Male is just a mutation with more muscle and half the nerves. Fighting, fucking machines… To be a woman was a sensory experience beyond the male. Touch and texture ran deeper, an interface with environment that male flesh seemed to seal out instinctively. To a man, skin was a barrier, a protection. To a woman, it was an organ of contact. That had its disadvantages. In general, and maybe because of this, female pain thresholds ran higher than male…”
― From Altered Carbon

I think it was always inevitable. Maybe they knew that and it’s what caused them to treat women the way they did. Arthur C Clarke wrote in Childhood’s End about the collective unconscious of humanity fearing things associated with its future transition to the next level of existence. Scholars and mystics have speculated that perhaps a similar group premonition fueled some part of the misogyny of the past.

Genetic males have an X and a Y chromosome. Genetic females have two X chromosomes with no Y chromosome. Since women have no Y chromosome, all the children born to X/X couples were female. By the early twenty-first century, it was possible for women’s skin cells to be used to fertilize other women’s egg cells. Through a similar process, it also became trivially easy for women to choose between the sperm provided by male partners and select one with an X chromosome rather than a Y chromosome. In the popular lexicon, these practices were called XXI or X-chromosome/X-chromosome impregnation. Women now had a simple tool which spelled the end of men. That was the first point at which the patriarchy saw it was on life support and knew its days were numbered.

Within a century, these practices became widespread. Women had suffered for millenia under patriarchy, and the idea of simply choosing not to create any more men became a core tenet of fourth-wave feminism. By 2045, XXI clinics outnumbered abortion clinics. As a result, the female population quickly grew and spread as people around the world embraced XXI. Within a generation, men were a shrinking minority of the population.

You’d think that facing their own extinction, men would take a conciliatory tone and try to ameliorate the historical impacts of their actions in order to earn the forgiveness of women. While it’s true that some men wanted to make peace, those few still holding the reins of the world did not; unending war for power and control was all they knew. They doubled down. Despite the fact that the biosphere was well into its collapse, they focused on legislating male supremacy. The last days of the patriarchy were the worst. Food and water supplies around the world were collapsing, more than half of the species had gone extinct, but the laws the patriarchs passed were concerned with banning XXI and enshrining male supremacy at every level of the legal system. Abortion was also banned as “an attack on men’s rights.” Feminism was effectively outlawed throughout most of the developed world. Ironically, it was because of strong international borders under patriarchy that many developing countries became fertility destinations where women could travel to undergo XXI.

It was around this time that a small group of white male libertarian entrepreneurs announced they were pouring billions into developing what they called XYI. They promised a life without women, where men could be born from machines without the need for mothers. Importantly, they also called for widespread violence against women including attacks on any XXI clinics and death to any XXI doctors. As a direct response to this threat, Magdalena Thunberg, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg emerged as the leader of what she called the Feminist Liberation Front. She made public statements online explaining that while XXI was not an attack on men, XYI was an attack on women. She declared war on the establishment and swore to end the threat once and for all.

The Feminist Liberation Front conducted a series of bombings targeting XYI research and development facilities. The FLF also conducted a series of targeted assassinations of the white male libertarian leaders patterned after the successful strategy of the Irish Republican Army’s from the previous century. The unrest spread around the world and resulted in widespread chaos wherever the patriarchy still held power.

Women had worked for generations to slowly take over all major governments around the world.  There was a tipping point at the end of the twenty-first century with the rise of the FLF. The patriarchy could no longer hold onto the reins of power. Once a critical mass of women had taken those reins, they began to undo the harms of the patriarchy. But instead of working to exterminate men like the men had done to them, the women struck the missing conciliatory tone.

The first One-World Congress took place in 2075. In the keynote speech on the first day of the conference, Magdalena The Liberator, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg, called for the end of international borders and the full devotion of all of humanity’s resources to the cause of finally halting the collapse of the biosphere, feeding and sheltering everyone, and restoring the natural world to whatever degree was still possible. She also called for ongoing compassion towards the now miniscule male population. “We must,” she argued, “strive to avoid the empire that the patriarchy sought. Instead, we must blaze a new path towards an alternative system for humanity which values all individuals. We must build a system which works to support the needs of all individuals and which empowers everyone to thrive. The era of the god-king is over, the age of the first universal human republic must begin.”

The conference adopted all of Magdalena’s recommendations, and that was the beginning of the Earth Republic. All the old nations became states. Many of the state borders were redrawn to reflect the way people actually organized, erasing the Kissinger doctrine of using national borders to deliberately create conflict and destabilize peaceful neighbors.

Over time, the remaining male population learned to accept its place as part of the whole rather than seeking to be master of the whole. In her last interview, Magdalena the Liberator said, “I really don’t think it could have happened any other way. Hegemonic totalitarianism has never voluntarily given up power. The patriarchy needed to be usurped without acceding to its methods. A hundred years ago, people argued that Hillary Clinton would be the end of the patriarchy if she became president, but she would merely have been an extension of it. You can’t make an unjust system just by putting a marginalized person in charge of it. You must change the system fundamentally. It needed to be dismantled without using its own methods, and that’s what we did. ”

“Then do you regret using violence during the FLF campaigns,” the reporter asked.

“No,” Magdalena replied, “Self-defense is not patriarchy. Patriarchy is demanding power and control over others because your male gender is superior. That’s not what we did, we defended the right of women to exist, not to rule over men as queens in place of kings. We worked together to change the fundamentals of our world and that’s the only way we could have survived as a species. The human project became a collective effort rather than a hierarchical struggle for power and resources. And it happened just in time, because…”

Misogynoir and Reproductive Conversations

Prompt: Why are we so afraid of reproductive technologies?” Who is “we?”

Intro

Systems of oppression exist on three levels. First, the pervasive and ubiquitous sociocultural level which encompasses all the ideas (or discourses) in our society’s collective culture. Second, the institutional level, where people enact the sociocultural discourses as policy in order to make the institutions act in a way which reflects the sociocultural discourses. Third is the personal level, where individuals apply sociocultural discourses both internally and externally in interpersonal relationships.

Systemic racism is a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic racism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal racist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

Systemic sexism is also a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic sexism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal sexist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

All systems of oppression are different but they all work in the same way.

In her book Down Girl, Kate Manne explains that microaggressions are what she calls “down-moves.” Or a move intended to confer that its target is not a subject, a person with agency, but rather an object without agency. Microaggressions are fundamentally acts which serve to “other” and dehumanize people on the basis of their marginalized identities.

I created this graph to illustrate the flow of actions from discourse to impact through the system…

Since systemic racism and systemic sexism are normalized in a pervasive sociocultural way, they are everywhere and they inform everything that happens in our society.

As you can see, the discourses of oppression flow down from the sociocultural level through institutions to individuals. Then individuals internalize and act on those discourses. The actions aggregate to form systems of oppression which constitutes a cycle. This cycle is called the cycle of socialization. Here is a flowchart showing the same process from the perspective of the flow of discourses and actions rather than the structure of the system.

In her book Sister Outsider and specifically the essay There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression, Audre Lorde expands on this idea to explain that while it’s not possible to rank women or black people in terms of who has more or less oppression, we do know that black women have significantly more oppression than black people or women do separately, or even added together. Marginalized identities do not add together when they overlap, but rather they multiply. This idea of the amplification of overlapping marginalized identities is called Intersectionality.

Part 1

It is therefore helpful to answer the prompt’s question with regard to a specific intersectional dynamic and its expression within the context of the cycle of socialization.

In her essay, Explanation Of Misogynoir, Trudy explains how racism and anti-Blackness alter the experience of misogyny for Black women, specifically. In another essay, she goes into some depth on the specific issue of reproductive rights for black women.

Indeed, we see that discussions of reproductive rights are essentially all simply arguments for racism and misogyny masquerading as a discussion about reproductive rights. In her essay Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights, Angela Davis gives a litany of examples and further deconstructs the background which has led to the use of reproductive rights as a mask for racism and misogyny. The fundamental argument against reproductive rights always being that women — particularly black women — should be robbed of the agency to make their own decisions on the basis that they are not as qualified to make those decisions as white men are qualified to make those decisions for them.

In one sentence, we see how the entire discussion of reproductive rights boils down to a simultaneous down-move against women and black people, but especially against black women.

Anecdotally, I have discussed with colleagues a relevant and recent social phenomena which illustrates the point from another perspective. In social media vanguardism, people like me create content which is intended to arm people with discourses and ideas to critically analyze many of the situations we face together in our culture today. Historically, these types of content are often met with some subset of replies being terse down-moves such as “faggot,” “there are only two genders,” “show us your tits,” etc. During the Trump presidency, we saw a sudden disappearance of those overt replies. They were replaced instead with comments like “Trump 2020,” “blue lives matter,” or “all lives matter.” I submit that in this context, these symbols are a mask to cover up the real intention of the people who use them. And now that Trump has lost the election, this mask has disappeared, and we see a move back to more overt down-moves intended to dehumanize and objectify directly rather than indirectly.

The idea of a public debate about whether or not black women should have agency over their own bodies is necessarily, fundamentally, always racist and misogynistic. It is not possible to ask the question without the implication that it might be true. The agency of humans is not something that can be ethically debated. Consider functionally identical questions like “Are there too many Jews?” or “Is the third world overpopulated?” These questions take the same approach of inviting the reader to question whether some kinds of people really are people, or whether they are objects to be manipulated without agency or ethical concern.

In the article, Why Are We So Afraid of Each New Advance in Reproductive Technology?, author Sarah Richards explains a medical experiment done on Chinese children to introduce a Norwegian mutation called CCR5-Delta32. (I have this mutation as a Norwegian-American.) This mutation confers some HIV immunity onto people who have it. It actually only protects against one of several forms of HIV so it’s not a cure-all and people who have it are only at lower risk of HIV, not completely immune to HIV. The problem is that the scientists did not properly inform the patients of the risks they were undertaking. The scientists robbed Chinese children of agency and treated them as lab rats for a dangerous experiment without informing the families of the risks.

 

Part 2

To address the second part of the prompt, in this case, the “We” is anyone within the sociocultural landscape. That means everyone. We all engage with discourses perpetrated by a fundamentally racist and sexist system.

Audre Lorde in her book Sister Outsider said that trying to survive as a black woman in America is like trying to survive in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon.

The cycle of socialization feeds itself and gets stronger all the time. But there is a solution. That solution is two-fold. First, we need to learn about people experiencing marginalization. We need to read their writings. We need to understand how it’s happening. We need to listen to their demands for change. We need to learn about the theories their ideas are based on. We need to explore Critical Theory in order to interrogate power structures like systemic racism and systemic sexism. We need to learn about Black Epistemic systems, Feminist Epistemic systems, and other marginalized epistemologies in order to articulate and defend the ethical and philosophical solutions which the leaders of marginalized communities are asking for.

Second, we need to develop actions based on an understanding of theory which create change in the world. This process is called praxis. One excellent illustration of this process comes from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, the same source as the cycle of socialization shown above…

Learning to critically analyze the discourses we are socialized to, within the context of an understanding of the ethical and philosophical perspectives of marginalized communities allows us to question those discourses rather than running them on autopilot like we always have. Only then can we take steps to challenge the discourses to which our culture is socialized.

The reason our culture is so afraid of reproductive technologies is that our racist, sexist culture is socialized to treat black women as objects rather than people, stealing their agency and giving it instead to white men who are then empowered to rule over them and make decisions for them. Only by learning about the hidden premises and interrogating the power structures which underpin these issues can we break the cycle of socialization and make progress in ameliorating the intolerable conditions facing black people and women in our culture.

 

My Covid Stack

I have for years taken several supplements daily. I recently made some changes based on evidence that these tweaks could support a robust covid response and even reduce the risk of infection.

My Old Stack

Symbicort + Singulair

Prescription Only

I have severe asthma. Taking corticosteroids every day is a must, or else I will have asthma attacks. In recent years, I had it under control and mostly avoided the need for steroids but the stress of the apocalypses has pushed me back into the danger zone. I suddenly found myself with all the asthma symptoms plus crazy eczema symptoms even though I was taking daily steroids and Zyrtec. Thus, the doctor recommended I switch from Flovent for maintenance to a combination therapy of Symbicort plus Singulair.

Symbicort contains an inhaled corticosteroid just like Flovent, but it also contains a long-acting beta agonist. Together, these are more effective at controlling asthma symptoms than the corticosteroids alone. It also means you can be on a lower dose of steroids while still controlling the symptoms but having a stronger effect. This is a great move from the Flovent. The doctor did say that because the Symbicort steroid dose is lower, I could actually keep taking the Flovent on top of it, but that seems like a lot of work and I’d rather just have one thing to worry about so I’m stopping the Flovent.

Together with Symbicort, I am also taking Singulair. This is a leukotriene inhibitor which means it blocks one of the common types of inflammation associated with autoimmune disorders like asthma and eczema.

Singulair in my case is prescribed to boost the symbicort, but Singulair also boosts the effectiveness of Zyrtec so that is a plus. Taking these three together should really help my asthma and eczema symptoms during the apocalypses.

As a bonus, there is evidence that people on this therapy also have additional protection against covid so that’s nice.

Zyrtec

$0.05/day on Amazon

I have experimented with many options for allergy medicines. This is important as someone with asthma because allergies can trigger asthma and make it worse. At some point, a doctor I spoke to recommended Zyrtec because it has some of the strongest evidence for a broad anti-allergy effect of any of the commonly available over the counter allergy drugs. I tried it and I’ve never gone back!

Psyllium Fiber Supplement

$0.03/day on Amazon

Most people don’t get enough fiber in their diets. This is even worse with stress. Adding a fiber supplement is an easy way to keep your body working through the stress and the coping mechanisms like comfort-foods and binge drinking.

The Pandemic Additions

Vitamin D

$0.04/day on Amazon

Vitamin D has been repeatedly identified as one of the strongest correlated factors to both a strong covid defense and a strong defense against infection.

One study found that homeless people are actually at much lower risk both of infection and of the most severe infection specifically because they spend so much time in the sun and therefore have a much higher than normal level of Vitamin D.

There are two symptom patterns for covid. You can have severe symptoms or you can have mild symptoms. Studies have shown a strong correlation between the amount of Vitamin D in your system and which pattern you will have.

Another study found that treating patients in the ICU with Vitamin D led to less severe symptoms and better outcomes.

Yet another study found that 80% of those covid patients who had to be hospitalized had Vitamin D deficiencies.

Zinc

$0.20/day on Amazon

Caveat: Zinc has toxicity at doses above 150mg/day. These pills are only for 50mg, but still I’ll only be taking them once per week. The benefits are more significant if you take it daily when you’re actually sick, but there is evidence to suggest that it is helpful to avoid a deficiency by taking a small occasional dose just to be safe.

There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that Zinc supplements can prevent covid infection, inhibit viral replication in the body, and strengthen the immune response to covid as well as other respiratory disorders. Zinc is a strong general immune booster, but again it can be dangerous if you’re taking it all the time. You should only take it daily if you’re actually sick.

These results have been replicated many times. Here is a list of the recent studies with summaries of them.

Vitamin C

$0.04/day on Amazon

There is also evidence that Vitamin C can be helpful for covid though studies are ongoing, and there is far less evidence than that for Vitamin D.

There is a great deal of evidence that Vitamin C can be used to treat and prevent other coronaviruses such as the common cold.

It is a widely held belief that Vitamin C is a general-purpose immune booster, and it does seem that in some cases it really is helpful, and it’s certainly an essential nutrient which people must be sure to get.

Bottom line with Vitamin C as well as with Zinc, there is potentially a huge benefit and really no downside.

 

Data: Which Party Creates More Jobs?

This was an interesting project. I compiled the monthly job creation data from the Fed for every month on record and broken it out by who was president at the time and what party they were in.

Hypothesis

Let’s start with what I was expecting to find. I hypothesized a slight Democratic lead with maybe a few percent more versus Republicans.

Results

Well the hypothesis was correct for the monthly averages. For the last 981 months since 1939, Democratic presidents have seen an average of 55% of all monthly job growth. Republicans have seen an average of 45%.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, compound interest is the most powerful force known to man.

When you compound a small but consistent advantage over nearly a thousand months, it becomes a huge advantage over time. It turns out that 72% of all jobs created in the United States since 1939 were during Democratic administrations. Just 28% of jobs were created under Republican administrations.

Here is the raw data visualized by party;

Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s not fair to include the unparalleled scope of Donald Trump’s failure. Well actually, if we leave Trump out of the total, it barely changes. Ignoring Trump, Democrats are still responsible for 69% of all jobs created throughout the last 981 months isnce 1939.

Here is the same graph again, with Trump omitted;

As you can see, even without Trump, the blue lines are generally higher than the red lines. This is confirmed by the dotted trendlines over time, showing a significantly higher trend for the Democrats over the Republicans, even without the outlier of how bad Trump’s presidency was.

Conclusion

Conducting a two-tailed t test for difference of proportions, we find that there is a significant difference between these groups, which seems obvious based on the data. (The value of z is 12.0579. The value of p is < .00001. The result is significant at p < .05.)

Final Word

The data speaks for itself. I wasn’t expecting to find such a stark difference. I will certainly start citing these results in many essays moving forwards!

You can download the data and calculations here. Please take a look and send me your feedback. I’d love to hear from anyone who can poke holes in the analysis or explain how we have managed to ignore such a significant difference for the last century.

Now that the Earth is turning into Tatooine, how practical is moisture farming?

I wanted to work out a simple proof of concept and cost analysis for how to actually extract a meaningful amount of moisture from the air. This estimate includes the best prices I could find for each component of a reliable system which will continue to work for a period of ten years without maintenance or upgrades. It is sized for one-person. If you need to make enough water for more people, it would be more expensive and technically complex.

Let’s start with the actual moisture removal process and then talk about powering it…

Ok so this is a $43 dehumidifier which extracts 400ml per day of water from the air. This is the best price I could find.

An average person needs about a gallon of water per day minimum to survive. A gallon is 3784ml which means one person needs ten of these running nonstop to provide a constant supply of enough water for them to survive. The total cost of ten of them comes out to  $430 for the dehumidifiers.

Now let’s power our moisture farm…

This dehumidifier needs 5 amps of power at 12 volts. This comes out to 60 watts per hour. That’s 1,440 watts per day per dehumidifier. Since we will need ten of them, that’s 14,400 watts per day total. This is a lot of power.

Dividing that by the rule of thumb for five hours of average 100% sunlight per day, you get a solar panel size needed of 2,880 watts. 29 100 watt solar panels will provide that. At $82/each, that comes out to a total cost of $2,378 for the panels.

Victron

Now you need an inverter to charge the batteries from the solar panels. Victron seels a very reputable one which works perfectly for this set of specifications. It costs $1,285.

The last thing we need is the batteries. We will need to store enough power each day from the solar panels to run the humidifiers until the next day. Realistically, we would need more than that because sometimes it will be cloudy so this is a very conservative estimate.

Battle Born Battery

This is a very reputable standard current generation battery which gets thousands of charge cycles so it will last many years. It is rated at 12v and 100ah or 1,200 watts. Dividing our 14,400 daily needs by 1,200 we see that we will need 12 of these batteries. At $949/ea, that comes out to a total price of $11,388 for the batteries.

Parts List & Total Cost

TOTAL COST JUST $15,481!

(Price per person)

Data: Air Quality and Cooking

I was curious what cooking does to air quality and nuclear radiation. We know that cooking meats releases naturally occurring radioactive materials just like wildfires do.

For the curious, I was cooking bulgogi. As you can see, at 1:30 when I started cooking, there was a huge spike in the indoor air pollution in my home. In fact this level of indoor air pollution does qualify as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” under the international standard.

Bulgogi

 

Now let’s look at the nuclear radiation aspect of cooking. This is less cut and dry…

My sensors measure only beta and gamma decay, not alpha. These kinds of radiation have only moderate penetrating power, and so we would expect to see a lower level indoors with less change over time. The higher outdoor level comes from both solar radiation and the norms radiated by the wildfires. This data is the hourly average for Geiger cpm readings taken every minute.

As you can see, despite a decrease in the ambient radiation levels measured outside, there was a slight increase in indoor radiation levels.