“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling continues support for extreme anti-transgender rhetoric

From LGBTQ Nation:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/05/harry-potter-author-j-k-rowling-continues-support-extreme-anti-transgender-tweets/

Rowling approved of a tweet that called a trans woman a “guy” who is “an adult human male who claims to be a lesbian.”

By
Monday, May 18, 2020

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, is once again drawing criticism for liking anti-transgender rhetoric on Twitter.

Rowling, who has a strong Twitter presence, has liked transphobic tweets in the past, although her publicist said that the author clicked “like” by accident in a “clumsy and middle-aged moment.”

This past December, Rowling tweeted that “sex is real,” a common statement used by transphobes to imply that sex assigned at birth determines a person’s entire life, effectively erasing gender identity.

She used the hashtag #IStandWithMaya in that tweet, a reference to British anti-transgender activist Maya Forstater, who lost her job at a progressive organization for her statements about transgender women, including “men cannot change into women” and that transphobia against trans women only “hurts men’s feelings.”

Over the weekend, Rowling liked a tweet from anti-transgender activist Fred Sargeant. On Twitter, Sargeant frequently advocates that it’s “time to remove the T from same-sex advocacy groups” and that transgender women can’t be oppressed because they’re assigned male at birth.

The tweet in question wasn’t on a different topic. Sargeant wrote about Alex Drummond, a Welsh trans woman who has a beard, calling her “an adult human male who claims to be a lesbian.”

She “believes that real lesbians who aren’t into penises are transphobic and should be excluded from the lesbian community,” according to Sargeant, who misgendered her by calling her “this guy.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/05/harry-potter-author-j-k-rowling-continues-support-extreme-anti-transgender-tweets/

 

Who Will Prosper After the Plague?

From The Tablet:  https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/kotkin-coronavirus-feudalism

The tech sector and the managerial class will get richer, while the rest of us become their serfs

by Joel Kotkin
April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to widen even further the growing class divides now found in virtually every major country. By disrupting smaller grassroots businesses while expanding the power of technologies used in the enforcement of government edicts, the virus could further empower both the tech oligarchs and the “expert” class leading the national response to the crisis.

In our increasingly feudal society, the small property owning yeomanry who operate the local businesses essential to Los Angeles shopping streets, and New York neighborhoods are already under threat and will be squeezed further by both the pandemic and its aftermath. But even more hard-pressed will be the growing, propertyless serf class that includes laid-off workers and the roughly 50 to 60 million workers in essential jobs, notes a new report from Richard Florida, and of those, 35 to 40 million require close physical proximity as opposed to those who can retreat to safety behind their computers. Roughly 70% of these workers are in low-wage professions, such as food preparation, and often, despite their increased risk, often lack health insurance from their employers.

Plagues, such as in the 14th century, may have wiped out as much as one third of Europe’s population, and devastated great Renaissance trading cities. In the Middle Ages, the wealthy sought safety in their country estates, much like the affluent now fleeing major European and American cities. Diets and survival rates varied enormously between the upper and lower classes. As one 14th-century observer noted, the plague “attacked especially the meaner sort and common people—seldom the magnates.”

But the wreckage also created new opportunities for those left standing. Abandoned tracts of land could be consolidated by rich nobles, or, in some cases, enterprising peasants, who took advantage of sudden opportunities to buy property or use chronic labor shortages to demand higher wages. “In an age where social conditions were considered fixed,” historian Barbara Tuchman has suggested, the new adjustments seemed “revolutionary.”

What might such “revolutionary” changes look like in our post-plague society? In the immediate future the monied classes in America will take a big hit, as their stock portfolios shrink, both acquisitions and new IPOs get sidetracked and the value of their properties drop. But vast opportunities for tremendous profit available to those with the financial wherewithal to absorb the initial shocks and capitalize on the disruption they cause. As in 2016, politicians in both parties have worked hard in the new stimulus to get breaks for their wealthy constituents, whether they are big retail chains, rich California taxpayers, or, in some cases, themselves.

Over time, the crisis is likely to further bolster the global oligarchal class. The wealthiest 1% already own as much as 50% of the world’s assets, and according to a recent British parliamentary study, by 2030, will expand their share to two-thirds of the world’s wealth with the biggest gains overwhelmingly concentrated at the top 0.01%.

In an era defined by “social distancing,” with digital technology replacing the analog world, the tech companies and their financial backers will prove the obvious winners. In a sign of what’s to come, tech stocks have already soared.

The biggest long-term winner of the stay-at-home trend may well be Amazon, which is hiring 100,000 new workers. But other digital industries will profit as well, including food delivery services, streaming entertainment services, telemedicine, biomedicine, cloud computing, and online education. The shift to remote work has created an enormous market for applications, which facilitate video conferencing and digital collaboration like Slack—the fastest growing business application on record—as well as Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Other tech firms, such as Facebook, game makers like Activision Blizzard and online retailers like Chewy, suggests Morgan Stanley, also can expect to see their stock prices soar as the pandemic fades and public acceptance of online commerce and at-home entertainment grows with enforced familiarity.

Continue reading at:  https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/kotkin-coronavirus-feudalism

Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Approaches: The Evidence Is Now In

I should have put this up sooner.  I’ve been totally vegging out, bingeing on Netflix and learning to bake bread.

AA works.  As of Dec 31 this year I will have been sober for 20 full years.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/upshot/alcoholics-anonymous-new-evidence.html

An updated review shows it performs better than some other common treatments and is less expensive.

By Austin Frakt and Aaron E. Carroll
March 11, 2020

For a long time, medical researchers were unsure whether Alcoholics Anonymous worked better than other approaches to treating people with alcohol use disorder. In 2006, a review of the evidence concluded we didn’t have enough evidence to judge.

That has changed.

An updated systematic review published Wednesday by the Cochrane Collaboration found that A.A. leads to increased rates and lengths of abstinence compared with other common treatments. On other measures, like drinks per day, it performs as well as approaches provided by individual therapists or doctors who don’t rely on A.A.’s peer connections.

What changed? In short, the latest review incorporates more and better evidence. The research is based on an analysis of 27 studies involving 10,565 participants.

The 2006 Cochrane Collaboration review was based on just eight studies, and ended with a call for more research to assess the program’s efficacy. In the intervening years, researchers answered the call. The newer review also applied standards that weeded out some weaker studies that drove earlier findings.

In the last decade or so, researchers have published a number of very high-quality randomized trials and quasi-experiments. Of the 27 studies in the new review, 21 have randomized designs. Together, these flip the conclusion.

“These results demonstrate A.A.’s effectiveness in helping people not only initiate but sustain abstinence and remission over the long term,” said the review’s lead author, John F. Kelly, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The fact that A.A. is free and so widely available is also good news.

“It’s the closest thing in public health we have to a free lunch.”

Studies generally show that other treatments might result in about 15 percent to 25 percent of people who remain abstinent. With A.A., it’s somewhere between 22 percent and 37 percent (specific findings vary by study). Although A.A. may be better for many people, other approaches can work, too. And, as with any treatment, it doesn’t work perfectly all the time.

Rigorous study of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous is challenging because people self-select into them. Those who do so may be more motivated to abstain from drinking than those who don’t.

Unless a study is carefully designed, its results can be driven by who participates, not by what the program does. Even randomized trials can succumb to bias from self-selection if people assigned to A.A. don’t attend, and if people assigned to the control group do. (It may go without saying, but we’ll say it: It would be unethical to prevent people in a control group from attending Alcoholics Anonymous if they wanted to.)

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/upshot/alcoholics-anonymous-new-evidence.html