Creative Destruction

October 31, 2006

US Military Recruits From All Classes, Races

Filed under: Science,War — Robert @ 1:54 pm

Some conventional tropes of critics of the American military:

* the military draws mostly or disproportionately from the poorest Americans

* the military draws disproportionately from minority populations

* the military draws disproportionately from the poorly educated

All wrong.

The median household income for recruits is slightly higher than the national median.

The top income quintile provides 22.85% of the recruits; the bottom quintile provides 13.66%. (Suggestion to the critics: switch your argument to an inquiry into why the poorest Americans feel so alienated from their country, they won’t even fight for it.)

Racial statistics are a little harder to pithily summarize, but basically the military is ethnically representative of the country. Blacks, who were over-represented by about 17% a few years ago, are now under-represented by about 4%. Pacific Islanders are the most over-represented group, with a whopping 649% over-representation. Asians are the most under-represented, at 69% of proportionality. Those groups are relatively tiny; the Big Three are all close to 1.0.

Educationally, the military considers a “high quality” recruit to be a high school graduate who scored above the 50% on the Armed Forces standardized test. The proportion of high-quality recruits has gone from 57 percent in 2001 to 64% last year (down slightly from 67% in 2004). Category IV recruits (essentially the “let’s give them a chance but not have high hopes” cohort) are 4.4% of total recruits.

The one piece of conventional wisdom that’s accurate: more recruits come from the South.

(H/T: NRO)

October 29, 2006

Blogroll

Filed under: Blog Status,Blogroll — Daran @ 10:10 pm

The policy here at CD is that each blogger gets his or her choice of up to three links. Until now, I’ve only used two of my allotment: Infothought, which doesn’t usually address gender issues, and Riba Rambles – a feminist blog. It seems only fair to link to the loyal opposition too, so I have added Toy Soldiers.

Now go blogroll us back. 🙂

Anatomy of a Feminist

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues,Link Farms — Daran @ 6:08 pm

Marcella:

You seem to be focusing on word games as a way to attack what I do.

Marcella misunderstands. I wasn’t attacking what she does*. I was criticising what she did, i.e., what she wrote, in the specific comment to which I was replying. I was also criticising what feminists typically do, which that particular post exemplified. It was always possible that her post might in fact be atypical of her own writings. My overall impression of them – and of her – is that they are generally insightful, fair, and interesting. But I had not studied them in sufficient depth to form a view as to whether the specific criticisms were typical of her or not.

(*I’ll take that footnote here: I am in no way hostile toward either Marcella herself or to what she does. I do, however, have a very robust style of criticism which I apply just as rigorously to those, such as herself and Barry, whom I respect and like, as I to to those I don’t. I understand that this style may be perceived by its targets as hostility, though it is not intended as such.)

Unfortunately the comment with my substantive criticism appears to have disappeared, but my objection was that in that post, she, through her wording, collectivised the behaviour of men as perpetrators, and excluded them as victims.

If you read my blog you’d find that I don’t exclude male victims or pretend they don’t exist. I don’t give male victims equal time because the victimization isn’t 50/50.

Let’s have a look at a few of her recent blog posts, not so much for the substance of what she says, but her choices of topic, and how she frames the issues:
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October 27, 2006

Substantive Criticisms of the Lancet Report: Part 2

Filed under: Iraq,Science,Statistical Method — Robert @ 10:06 pm

Only a week later than promised (hey, I’m not getting paid), my review of the problems I see in the Lancet article on mortality in the Iraq war.

The article is much briefer than the study, which I examined here. So this review will also, theoretically, be briefer (cheers from the gallery). In fact, I only found three issues. However, one of them is potentially damaging to the study’s methodological choices (although I lack the mathematical skills to make a determination of that point), another casts direct doubt on the reliability of the authors’ reporting, and the third makes it clear that the study’s sampling method was not, in fact, random. These are major issues, in other words.

To repeat my disclaimer from last time:
I am not a trained statistician; any numerical analysis which crawls its way into this post should be viewed with a skeptical eye and read broadly and generally. I am skeptical towards this article’s conclusions on grounds of its consistency with the other things that I know, but this post is not about that inconsistency, and is instead a list of what valid critiques I can come up with against the study and the article. I have skimmed the IBC press release slamming the study, and have glimpsed other criticisms, but have not done any extensive reading in the “opposition research”.

Criticisms of the article which also apply to the first document I reviewed will not be repeated unless new information is noted.

1. The study authors selected a target survey size of 12,000 people in 50 clusters through the country. The sample size is adequate. The small number of clusters raises a statistical concern. With each single cluster contributing 2% of the total study data, any unusual cluster will have a disproportionately large effect on the total outcome of the study. The authors make the (legitimate) point that movement in Iraq is difficult and dangerous, and word-of-mouth about the benign purpose of the interviewers propagating through the households of each cluster reduced this risk, an effect which would be greatly attenuated by a larger number of clusters. That is true, but immaterial to the degree of confidence we can have in the study result.

The mathematical statistics needed to figure out how many clusters you ought to use in a study are complex. An article in the International Journal of Epidemiology provides a nomogram (that there is fancy language for a “chart”) that tells you how many clusters you should use for a given prevalence rate (how often you expect to find what you’re trying to find), design effect (how much variation your methodology will create relative to an ordinary random sample), and cluster size (number of respondents per cluster). I do not know the design effect value, but we do know the prevalence rate (about 2.5%) and the cluster size (about 240). For middling values of design effect, the nomogram suggests between 125 and 1500 clusters be used.

It will take a better statistician than your humble correspondent to nail this one down, but it does seem plausible that the number of clusters selected is inadequately small.

2. On page 2, the study authors detail their selection methodology. Each cluster’s origin point was selected from a province and then a town weighted by population (fair enough). The cluster’s starting household, however, was picked in this fashion: “The third stage consisted of random selection of a main street within the administrative unit from a list of all main streets. A residential street was then randomly selected from a list of residential streets crossing the main street. On the residential street, houses were numbered and a start household was randomly selected.”

This is hugely problematic. If you do not live on a residential street which adjoins a main street in your town, then your household is excluded from the statistical universe the study is measuring. The study did not sample Iraq; it sampled the subsection of Iraq that happens to adjoin a major road in town. This is a problem for a study attempting to measure anything, but in the case of a study measuring wartime fatalities, it is a critical flaw. Main streets are densely populated areas. Densely populated areas are the locales to which insurgents in an urban conflict flock. There’s no point in carbombing Farmer Ahmed’s cow; you go to the market. Which is on a main street.

The study authors could have at least partially corrected for this non-random element of their sample by assessing the proportion of the Iraqi population that could have been sampled by this method, and using that total population figure in their overall calculations. They did not do this, and in fact make no mention of the non-random element of their selection.

This is a serious objection to the study’s validity; the most serious I have found.
3. Also on page 2, the study authors write “The survey purpose was explained to the head of household or spouse, and oral consent was obtained. Participants were assured that no unique identifiers would be gathered.”

This is problematic.  Not intrinsically, but because it directly contradicts claims made by the study authors concerning their validation work on the study, specifically in the area of detecting and accounting for multiple accounts of the same death. Study author Burnham, in a media interview (h/t Amp), said “Double counting of deaths was a risk we were concerned with. We went through each record by hand to look for this, and did not find any double counting in this survey. The survey team were experience in community surveys, so they knew to avoid this potential trap.”

If no unique identifiers were gathered, then it is not possible that they went through and checked for duplicates. Either they lied to the respondents, or they lied to the press, or their article inaccurately reflects the methodology that was in place.

Overview and Conclusion

When I completed the first half of this critique, my overall impression was that there were some issues with the study that I found troubling, specifically the strength of their claims regarding the study’s validity and the difficulty their methodology created for other researchers attempting to verify their work. However, I thought that on balance the authors had done an adequate job of a very difficult task, and that – while their numbers were probably a little bit high – they were on the right lines.

I am forced to reconsider that proposition. The exclusion of an indeterminate, but large, fraction of the Iraqi population from the study’s potential range of survey respondents – particularly in view of the fact that the excluded fraction is also the group most likely on common-sense grounds to have avoided mass fatalities – is extremely troubling.  It isn’t a priori proof that the study authors are dishonest or incompetent; it is proof that the study does not measure what it purports to measure. What appears to be an attempt to cover over another flaw, the impossibility of avoiding duplicate reporting under the study’s purported methodology, amplifies my concerns about the study’s integrity.

What are the real civilian casualty figures in Iraq? “Depressingly high” is an unsatisfactory answer, but until someone conducts a proper population-based study, that’s the best we have to go on.

Abandoned Cruelly Mocking Posts, 1

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor — Robert @ 8:33 pm

Inspired by one too many viewings of “Team America”, coupled with my wife’s inexplicable attraction to “The View”:

VOICEOVER: “Today on the View, Barbara Walters interviews North Korean strongman Kim Jong Il.”

BW: “Hewwo. I am Baba Wawa, and we are tawking with Kim Jong Il. Hewwo, Kim.”

KJI: “Hewwo, Bawwa!”

Remorse: It isn’t NICE to make fun of the way people talk. But it’s pretty funny, especially when they’re the evil ruler over a nest of villainy and wickedness. Or Kim Jong Il, for that matter.

October 24, 2006

Suit to Strike Pointless Law

Filed under: Current Events,Free Speech,Political Correctness — Brutus @ 11:22 am

The Salt Lake Tribune picked up an Associated Press report that “Salon.com, Nerve.com and other plaintiffs backed by the American Civil Liberties Union are suing over the 1998 Child Online Protection Act.” This is one of many laws that rely on “community standards” to determine when a particular behavior, especially those associated with unpopular though protected free speech, crosses the line and becomes criminal. Such a nebulous definition has always been a recipe for highly selective enforcement, and the AP reports that the Child Online Protection Act has yet to be enforced. However, it gave politicians at the time it was passed the opportunity to line up behind the intention to “protect the children” and enact a pointless law that in fact doesn’t protect anyone from anything.

The chill in the air the Child Online Protection Act creates, however, reminds me of recent brouhahas over an expletive let slip on air, a dramatized rape or sex scene broadcast on network TV (always in poor taste), and the flash of a boob during the Super Bowl halftime show. Those instances resulted in damaged or lost careers and hefty fines for the broadcasters, which also protects no one but does create an atmosphere of low-grade hysteria in public electronic forums. One wonders what sort of world the FCC lives in, where foul language, sex, crime, war, and/or various other atrocities aren’t already replete in the information environment. If we wish to protect children from that reality (itself a suspect motivation), it’s foolhardy to try to choke it off at the source rather than filter it out in the home.

The Child Online Protection Act deserves to be struck down or repealed. I for one hope that some common sense is applied to the issue and that fair-minded thinking prevails.

A Proposal to Republicans

Filed under: Human Rights,International Politics,War — Robert @ 2:47 am

Let’s go for a twofer.

The Republican Party ended slavery in this country. (Lots of other people helped, to be sure.)

Let’s end slavery in the world.

You have read the same depressing news stories as I have. Slavery is on the verge of making a transcontinental comeback.

How should we do it? It beats the hell out of me. This is a “man on the moon” type decision.

But we could do it, probably much as the British did it once – with fire and steel. (Although it would be nice if we could do without the fire and steel for once.)

It’s a job worth doing.

Do the Democrats Want to Win?

Filed under: Election 2006,Politics,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 2:37 am

The Dems look to have a shot at taking the House this year. Do they want to?

The war is going badly. It will continue to be a bad situation for quite some time – regardless of which party is in power, and regardless of their policy decisions.

North Korea remains a problem. Iran remains a problem. Neither is likely to change; both are likely to continue generating genuine incumbent-damaging news.

Genocides worldwide remain a problem. Slavery – for God’s sake, slavery – has broken out in force once more in many parts of the world.

More on that in the next post – first, the point of this one:

Do Democrats really want to win?

I know Hillary wants to win, I mean, does Joe Democrat on the street want to win? And be suddenly responsible for all this stuff?

This is an honest question, open for any Democrat out there who wants to opine. Do you guys & gals want to win?

October 22, 2006

They Haven’t a Clue

Filed under: International Politics,Iraq,War — Daran @ 6:21 pm

If leading counterterrorist officials within the American Government don’t even know the difference between Shiite and Sunni, what hope do they have of being able to coordinate an effective response?

October 20, 2006

Class and Security

Filed under: Content-lite,Politics — Daran @ 7:45 am

Those of our readers interested in how class intersects other social phenomema might be interested in this article about security double-standards. (via).

Substantive Criticisms of the Lancet Report: Part 1

Filed under: Current Events,Debate,Iraq,War — Robert @ 6:12 am

Well, I should be going to bed, but I’m not tired. I can think of nothing better than statistical nitpicking to put me to sleep, so herewith is the first annual Lancet Skeptical Review and Somnolence Soliloquy.

There are two documents in play here. The first one is entitled “The Human Cost of the War in Iraq” and subtitled “A Mortality Study, 2002-2006”. That document can be viewed in the original here. The second document is a companion article which provides some more detail on the study and which can be viewed here. I shall refer to these documents as “the study” and “the article”, respectively.

Let me begin with a quick disclaimer. I am not a trained statistician; any numerical analysis which crawls its way into this post should be viewed with a skeptical eye and read broadly and generally. I am skeptical towards this article’s conclusions on grounds of its consistency with the other things that I know, but this post is not about that inconsistency, and is instead a list of what valid critiques I can come up with against the study and the article. I have skimmed the IBC press release slamming the study, and have glimpsed other criticisms, but have not done any extensive reading in the “opposition research”.

Some of the following criticisms may seem trivial. I have not made an attempt to pick every possible nit, but I have listed each flaw or criticism that I can find in the interest of completeness and thoroughness.

1. My first criticism comes in the first sentence of the first paragraph of the study, which states that 600,000 people have been killed “in the violence of the war that began with the U.S. invasion in March 2003”. This criticism is not statistical, but historical and editorial. The war did not begin in March 2003; the war began in Kuwait on August 2, 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded his neighbor. We do not speak of World War II as beginning on D-Day, or when Operation Torch put Allied troops back into the continental mass in 1942. This may seem a minor quibble, but it is revelatory of an authorial mindset that the war is blamed on the United States, and not on the original aggressor.

2. Later on the first page, the study states “The survey also reflects growing sectarian violence, a steep rise in deaths by
gunshots, and very high mortality among young men.” These are all facially plausible claims, but only the second and third are actually supported by the study. The study goes on to assert “growing sectarian violence”, “sectarian violence”, “sectarian animosity” and “sectarian lines”, again as assertions. These assertions of sectarianism are plausible from what I know, but an attempt appears to be being made to rest the “fact” of sectarianism upon the study’s foundation. No such finding is supported, however.

3. In the Introduction (p. 4), the study authors assert “Such methods [passive data collection such as morgue reports] can provide important information on the types of fatal injuries and trends. It is not possible, however, to use these methods to estimate the burden of conflict on an entire population. Only population-based survey methods can estimate deaths for an entire country.” This is flatly untrue. Survey methods are in most circumstances the best method for estimating a systemic variable like countrywide-deaths, but it is trivial to reach reasonably strong conclusions concerning deaths using counting methods. Demographers do not do this very often, because survey methods are really very powerful. But they could do if they needed to, and in fact they used to quite extensively before the development of the statistical knowledge that permits us to use survey methods. The survey authors here appear to be attempting to bolster the strength of their work by denying any validity to alternative methods. Those other methods, however, function – and the study authors, if they are competent statisticians, know that they function.

4. In the Introduction, the authors claim that 2.5% of Iraq’s population has been killed since the invasion. The casualty figure they use, 654,965, would thus indicate a total Iraqi population of 26,198,600 people. However, the chart on page 5 detailing the population figures as they were used to assign clusters has a total Iraqi population of 27,072,200 people. With that population total, the percentage ought to be 2.4%. Either they are misreporting the figure, or they are using a different population total for their conclusions versus their starting point.

5. On page 5, the authors note that “For ethical reasons, no names were written down, and no incentives were provided to participate.” While it is indeed ethical to refrain from providing incentives, it is difficult to see the ethical merit of making it impossible to verify or check the study results. That information must ethically remain confidential, but in order to validate a demographic study, it must be possible for other researchers to recompile data. This is a major lapse. It may be justified by the security situation, but given the seeming eagerness to participate in the study on the part of the Iraqi people, it seems unlikely that cooperation could not have been elicited even while following standard demographic survey protocols. The survey work is not reproducible.

The lack of name recording, even informally by the survey takers, also opens up a major area of uncertainty. Without recording names, it is impossible to reliably check for duplicate reporting. Household statuses in war zones are not always fixed and immutable. It is entirely possible that the death of a relative who lived in more than one household over the course of the occupation was reported twice or more. This is made even more likely considering that the surveyors went literally house to house in the cluster area; in Iraq, as in many places in the world, it is quite common to see brothers and cousins living in proximity. The magnitude of this effect could be quite small or it could be very substantial, and we will never know because the surveyors did not keep records of the names.

6. Also on page 5, it is noted that 92% of respondents who reported a death were able to produce a death certificate. This is not a priori impossible but it does seem like a high value considering the condition of the country’s health and governmental infrastructure over the period in question. The central bureaucracy is reported by the study authors as failing to retain a miserable one-third of the death certificate information in peacetime, yet the local versions of that same bureaucracy managed to achieve an essentially 100% rating on ensuring that every dead body went through the proper government protocol. This is again not impossible, but there does seem to be a disconnect between these two observations.

7. On page 7, the post-occupation non-violent death rate for the country, as indicated by the current survey reports, is calculated by the study authors as being essentially the same as during the pre-occupation period, with a deteriorating trend beginning to show itself. The authors hypothesize that “this may represent the beginning of a trend toward increasing deaths from deterioration in the health services and stagnation in efforts to improve environmental health in Iraq.” This seems unlikely; it would seem much more reasonable that those infrastructure components would deteriorate rapidly following the invasion and then either slowly recover as coalition troops and Iraqi government agencies restored capacity, or stay at a low level if insurgent activity was sufficient to eradicate any gains made. This is a small but potentially significant indicator that the survey sample used by the authors does not jibe with the overall population of the country.

8. On page 10, the authors compare this study with the 2002 study and find that the surveys indicate similar results. The authors report “That these two surveys were carried out in different locations and two years apart from each other yet yielded results that were very similar to each other, is strong validation of both surveys.” To describe it politely, this is wishful thinking. That the two surveys yielded similar results is a strong validation that the surveys have similar methodology, execution, and sample, and nothing more than that. A smashed barometer will give the same wrong reading a hundred days in a row; this indicates nothing about the weather and everything about the barometer. This is not the only instance of the study authors hyping the strength and quality of their results without providing foundation for the assertion.

I will hopefully post Part 2 of this on Friday, covering the article itself, which contains some fairly serious problems. Thanks for reading thus far. Comments are welcome. (Update: Part 2 posted.)

Pay It Forward

Filed under: Blogosphere — Off Colfax @ 1:07 am

From Teh Atrios, Wisest of All Wise Men:

According to reader b, Limbaugh just said that Lieberman is “seething inside” and has “payback in mind” for the Democrats if he wins.

We’ve tried to warn you…

No, Duncan. I tried to warn you.

And when the Senate ends up with 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 1 Lieberman, I will be strictly torn between hysterical laughing and hysterical weeping if Joe actually does cast the decisive vote for the GOP leadership.

October 18, 2006

How to Win

Filed under: Uncategorized — Robert @ 9:42 pm

For Republicans to win this thing, they’re going to need to throw somebody over the side. I nominate businesses that rely on illegal labor.

If Bush and the Congressional Republicans come out with a solid reversal on illegal immigration issues and agree to get serious (and if we believe them), then I think they could still pull it out.

(We need an Election 2006 category.)

Best. Subheadline. Ever.

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor,Reproductive Rights — Daran @ 1:46 pm

Sometimes the headline tells you all you need to know about a story

Austrian nails testicle to roof

If you had taken this view here, however, you might have missed the subheadline in all its gory…, er, glory:

Favourite thing now tied up with string

Filed under Content-lite, Humor, and Reproductive Rights (because he lost his reproductive left, silly.)

Americans Too Stupid to Act Democratically

Filed under: History,Navel Gazing,Philosophy — Brutus @ 12:43 pm

Are there are certain thresholds necessary for the operation of democratic institutions? The founding fathers certainly thought so. Our participation in the electoral process, public debate, and other community action is predicated on being informed and educated to at least, say, a high school level. One acid test performed periodically is polling Americans to see how many believe that the sun revolves around the earth. The number changes a bit depending on how and when the question is asked, but the usual finding is that 1 in 5 believe that the sun revolves around us.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the scientific community muddies the waters by periodically redefinining planets and stars or introducing evidence that the earth has a second moon. But still, a fifth of Americans have a basic concept of our place in the universe discredited centuries ago by the Copernican Revolution?

One of my favorite authors, Morris Berman, has a new book called Dark Ages America. I’ve not yet read it, but the blurbs and reviews say that Berman paints a picture of America’s entry into a new dark age and its imminent collapse, at least in part because of its inability to maintain the very democratic institutions that brought it to prominence. It isn’t just the dominance of the Right Wing in politics or fundamentalism in culture, though; it’s that we’ve returned to a sort of shuttered mind characterized by magical thinking and outright denial of scientific knowledge.

There is good evidence that logic, reason, and other Enlightenment values may not be all they’re cracked up to be, that for all their utility they don’t provide substantive human meaning and lead only to a soulless, technocratic society. However, American-style democracy cannot survive without them. If there is a new paradigm forming around us — and many believe there is — it cannot plunge us into a mindset that foresakes what we have learned and achieved in the last 400 years. Rather, we need a synthesis that reincorporates human value, not one that irrationally places man again at the center of the universe.

October 17, 2006

Those Wacky Females

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 7:53 pm

Just took the van in for new tires, brake job, and miscellaneous widgets which, to gauge from the price, are apparently manufactured in low earth orbit. By investment bankers. From diamonds.

That aside, my lovely bride now tries to tell me that in the future we should have the tires periodically “rotated”. I tried to explain to her that tires by their very nature do nothing else, but she is insistent. It’s scams like these, perpetrated on unsuspecting naive females that give us men a bad name, you know, fellows!

The Great Wall Of China Fallacy

Filed under: Iraq,Statistical Method — Ampersand @ 3:09 pm

From Gateway Pundit (with a curtsy to Crooked Timber):

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Threats of Population and Nuclear War

Filed under: Current Events,International Politics,War — Brutus @ 3:07 pm

While many of the recent posts and comments on Creative Destruction have been busy thrashing and gnashing about how someone has misstated, misinterpreted, misdefined, misconstrued, etc. some tiny bit of feminism or statistical data, I note that today is the day the U.S. population passed the 300 million mark. What does that mean, really? Not much, at least to some. It’s a milestone, a big round number of which we take note, shrug, and move on. I think the term population pressure ought to be of some concern to us, as capitalist dependence on continued expansion is known (though scarcely acknowledged) to be unsustainable.

population

Similarly, we take note of the fact that we may already be in an undeclared state of war with N. Korea over it nuclear ambitions (if we allow N. Korea to define that for us or note that no peace treaty was signed at the conclusion of the Korean War — only a cease-fire is in place) or are at least poised to reenter a phase of nuclear brinkmanship not experienced since the 1960s, but I guess we’re more interested in sniping at each other about pomo deconstruction of political correctness.

Even in the face of dire and imminent threat, I realize that life goes on: we still eat, sleep, love, make love, and yes, hate. But we currently face some pretty major threats to human survival both on our doorstep and perched over the horizon. I don’t want to think about them, either. But who will if not us? I’ve lost faith in our government(s) providing stewardship. They’re too consumed with electioneering and serving their top 5% constinuencies. Ugh.

Update: Even before any substantial comments, I’m already feeling silly, sheepish, and a little ashamed. While it’s true that I’m getting personally disoriented and dispirited about the current state of the country and world, getting shrill and antagonistic is the sort of thing that leads to moving to a shack in Idaho, writing a 35-page manifesto for publication in the New York Times, and eventual self-immolation on the sidewalk in front of the White House because NOBODY IS LISTENING TO ME! I don’t want to go any further down that road. So we return you to your regularly scheduled program. Go back to what you were doing.

The Women and Children of Haditha

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Iraq,War — Daran @ 7:16 am

In the headline of his Sunday Herald story, Neil Mackay characterised the atrocity as follows:

Haditha: the worst US atrocity since Vietnam 
 Iraqi women and children massacred by American marines.

After giving a little background, including a comparison with the My Lai massacre during the Viet Nam war, (“mainly women, children, and the elderly”), he gives the following summary of the events in Haditha:

Minutes after Terrazas died, the remaining 13-strong unit of marines went on a bloody rampage, wiping out whole families, killing women, children and an elderly man in a wheelchair, and hurling grenades into homes. In all, 24 Iraqi civilians were murdered by American troops.

Let’s parse the entire story, to see how many of these women and children were actually men.

In the first house attacked, according to MacKay there was a girl called Eman, her “father… mother, grandfather, grandmother, two brothers, two aunts and two uncles”, of whom one aunt and a niece escape – a total of 12 people in the house to start with. We’re told that Eman and one brother survived, Presumably the escaping Aunt was the “Only one of the adults in the house that day [who] survived.” Also the niece, giving a total of four survivors. We’re told that seven family members died, leaving one unaccounted for, which must have been a child, probably the other brother.

Here’s the tally for house number 1:

Dead:

2 Men. (Grandfather, Father)
2 Women (Grandmother, Mother)
2 Male probable Adults (Uncles)
1 Female probable Adult (Aunt)

Injured:

2 or 3 Children (Eman, Brother, maybe other Brother)

Uninjured:

1 Woman (aunt)
2 or 1 Children (Niece, maybe other Brother)

The second house contained eight individuals, of whom seven died:

1 Man (Father)
1 Woman (Mother)
1 Female probable Adult (Mother’s Sister)
5 Children

Not killed:

1 Child

House number 3:

Killed:

4 Men

Uninjured

1 Woman (intentionally spared by the Marines.)

Taxi:

Killed:

5 Adults (almost certainly all Male)

Total Killed:

7 Men
2 Male probable Adults
5 Adults probably Male
3 Women
2 Female probable adults
5 children.

Of the 24 people killed in this massacre of “women and children”, it looks like at least seven, and probably as many as forteen were men, perhaps five were women, and five were children. Morever it appears that what started out as an indisriminate slaughter, had morphed by the time it reached the third house into a targetted cull of men.

But you really have to dig deep into the story to tease this information out. Would a normally attentive reader who read to the end have realised just how deceptive the headline and summary paragraph were? What about someone who only read as far as the summary paragraph? Or who only read the headline?

In actual fact the gender gap is even more striking. This list of the victims confirms many of the details given in the story. It also confirms some of the assumptions I made in my analysis: The uncles and aunts were indeed adults. The taxi passengers were indeed male. However, there are a couple of discrepancies. Firstly the other brother in the first house, who was indeed a child and who I assumed survived, in fact died. One fewer adult died than MacKay accounts for. Either there was an error in his list, or a second adult escaped. My lack of familiarity with Arab naming conventions means I cannot tell for certain, but my impression is that it was one fewer woman. (Perhaps the “two aunts” were each the mother of the other’s niece, leading Mackay to double-count the mother. However this is speculation.) I assumed the mother’s sister in the second house was an adult who died, but no such person is listed as a casualty. Instead, there is an additional child. The revised tally of the dead is as follows:

14 or 13 Men
3 or 4 Women
7 Children (5 girls, 2 boys)

Update: Fox News confirms the victims’ sexes, though differs again in some of the details.

Three Strategies

There are many ways you could describe this atrocity. It was a massacre of men, and maybe of children, in which a small number of women got caught up. But a massacre of women it was not. How then, does MacKay manage to pass this event off as a massacre of “women and children”? He doesn’t give false information; the factual claims match the United for Peace list almost exactly. Rather it is the placement, and selective concealment of facts which create this impression. The specific errors and omissions which lead me to infer perhaps two more women casualties than there were, were surely unintentional, but the pattern of exclusion, displacement, and incidentalisation which served to marginalise the male victims was not.

Of the three techniques documented by Dr. Jones, exclusion is most obviously at work here. Men were excluded entirely from the headline. The taxi occupants were excluded from the summary paragraph. The phrase “women, children and an elderly man in a wheelchair” appearing as it does superficially to be a characterisation of the victims, not just some of them, serves to exclude the men.

displacement also rears its head in this paragraph. Having highlighted the “worthy” victims – the women, the children, and the disabled old man (therefore “worthy” according to the distorted cultural values at issue), the “unworthy” remainder (who would they be?) are displaced and effectively concealed behind two gender-neutral terms. “Whole families” might suggest that some men were killed, but not necessarily. The phrase is unlikely to be read as asserting that every single member of each of the families was killed, and indeed there were survivors from each of the three families attacked. Likewise the claim that “In all, 24 Iraqi civilians were murdered” does nothing to suggest that any of them were men. Later on in the story, the male occupants of the taxi were displaced into “driver” and “students”.

Finally we see incidentalisation. Dr. Jones explains the process:

Modern news, as noted, is a hierarchical creature. It generally “leads” with the dominant theme of the article, which the headline is also meant to convey. Many newspapers, printing or reprinting an article or wire-service report, will include only (a version of) the headline and the first several paragraphs of the story. Thus, to relegate an important theme to passing mention in the middle reaches of the article, or to introduce it only at the end, is effectively to render it incidental and inconspicuous, if not outright invisible.

MacKay’s treatment of the murdered men is anything but “passing”. Indeed, he is to be commended for merely doing his job his extensive coverage in the middle and latter parts of the article, but one fact, utterly crucial to our understanding of what happened in Haditha is given the scantest attention. By the time they reach the third house, the marines had stopped targetting women and children. (Update: Of course, the women and children had never been targetted. It is likely that it had always been the men the marines were after. Notice how the woman had been able to escape from the first house, even though burdened with a child, while an unencumbered man hadn’t. Nor did they finish off the injured children in both houses. What happened at the third house is that they had stopped disregarding the women and children. Their rage had subsided, just enough for the code of ‘civilian’ immunity to reassert itself, but only for the “default” civilians.)

Feminists tell me that the goal of feminism is not merely to advance the aspirations of women, but to challenge sexist systems which disadvantage men too. The systematic marginalisation and concealment – effacing – of male victims of war surely meets that definition. When will feminists challenge it?

Missouri Supreme Court Invalidates Photo ID Requirement For Voting

Filed under: Current Events,Politics and Elections — Ampersand @ 6:32 am

Racists and Republicans (not identical groups, but groups with significant overlap) everywhere are disappointed.

I’m not convinced that there’s a significant voter fraud problem to be solved by requiring IDs. (And if there were, it could be solved with less extreme measures, such as provisional ballots). But if we must have voter ID, it should be combined with free, proactive government programs to get IDs into the hands of every single eligible voter in time for election day. But Republicans have shown zero interest in any anti-fraud program that doesn’t promise to disenfranchise eligible voters.

This is an issue that should matter to everyone who favors democracy; but anti-voter laws like Missouri’s disproportionately effect the elderly, the disabled, and poor people (who are disproportionately people of color). I also wonder if it disproportionately effects transsexuals, not only because transsexuals are more likely to be poor, but in addition because being transsexual could create additional issues in acquiring ID. (But it could be that I’m completely off-base about that.)

From the Court’s opinion:

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Having A “Hot Dean” Contest For Males and Females: “Creepy Sexism”

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues — Robert @ 2:01 am

Did I draw a couple “Bash Jill For Dishonest Posting” cards from the deck this morning? I don’t know why, but the hits keep coming at Feministe. Jill, pay attention – we can fact check you, and we will – particularly as the number of dishonestly reported stories mounts.

The controversy: a law gossip blog is having a competition for the “sexiest female law school dean” and it’s an outrage! And of course – do tell me that you’re surprised, gentle reader – it turns out that the feminist blog she’s linking for the story, once again, leaves out the part that makes 99% of the readership say “oh, so there’s no issue here”: it’s a contest for BOTH sexes and there are nomination pages for both men and women. Jill’s story mentions only the female side – in fact, comes out and calls it a contest for women. Ann Barstow’s blog (the source), only reports the half of the story that supports the feminist narrative, but makes no claim and leaves no impression of reporting the whole truth.

I suppose it’s possible that Jill read the story, assumed it was true in good faith, and is reporting in honest ignorance. Alternatively, she knows the contest is for both sexes and doesn’t care, because it makes a pithy point. Most depressingly, she could know the contest is for both sexes but decided not to mention the, you know, facts of the case because they conflict with the narrative.

Again, none of the (to me) plausible narratives speak well for her or her blog. Bloggers aren’t saints and we certainly shouldn’t be expected to act like it – but is basic intellectual honesty too much to strive for? There’s enough misogyny and sexism that actually exists in the world without having to leave out facts or spin stories to find the inner truthiness. Jill is a sufficiently gifted individual that she could make a positive difference by articulating the real truths. Your side has enough recyclers of warmed-over agitprop, Jill – be a truth teller instead.

October 16, 2006

Who Is Oppressed By The Hijab?

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Political Correctness,Race and Racism — Tuomas @ 3:26 pm

About that feministe…. Following Jill’s previous post covered by bobhayes here, I’ll make some pointers on the headscarf debate matter. Or rather, a single extended point. It is pointed out that wearing a hijab frees religious women to act on the public sphere and:

What we shouldn’t do is support policies which, in the name of “modernism,” only serve to limit the mobility and the public rights of certain women and girls.

(on banning hijabs)

But, on the other hand, should we, in the name of “religious tolerance” support a behaviour that sends a message: “I am pure. I choose to not provoke men with my hair.” When in reality, such behaviour has de facto created a class of women* who are considered to legitimate targets for sexual harrassment by Muslim men (in Muslim countries, and in Western countries with significant Muslim minorities, where Imams encourage this behaviour) After all, if they didn’t want to be treated like whores, surely they would cover up like decent women, right?

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Expecting Muslim Employees to Do Their Job: “Bigotry”

Filed under: Current Events,Political Correctness,Race and Racism — Robert @ 1:51 pm

Jill is up in arms regarding Aisha Azmi, the Muslim teacher’s assistant in Britain in danger of being let go because she refuses to teach without a headscarf if there could be men around.

Ordinarily I would side with Ms. Azmi. Although I hold no brief for Islam, and my response to the idea that we need religious diversity is “why?”, she’s a citizen (I assume) and so has the same right to religious expression as any other Briton. (Unfortunately, that quanta of rights is apparently diddly-squat if you want to wear a cross. But there OUGHT to be such a right.)

However, Ms. Azmi teaches English to immigrant children. Anybody who has ever learned a foreign language can tell you that being able to see the mouth of the person teaching you is critical to the process. Language acquisition is partially visual. Being able to see the face of your teacher is a bona fide occupational requirement for teaching English.

Jill either doesn’t know this (which, given that her source for the story is another feminist blog which reports Azmi’s assertion that no student has complained but leaves out the statements by the school that students have complained, is not impossible) or she doesn’t care because “evil Western civ oppresses defenseless Muslims” is already congruent to her views. (Or, although I’m reluctant to think it, Jill participates in the surreptitious liberal racism of lower expectations for Others.) Either way, bad show.

(Updated: removed an unfairly generalized “standard” prefix for liberal racism and replaced it with “surreptitious”.)

More Oppressed Than Ever

Filed under: Feminist Issues,International Politics — Tuomas @ 3:34 am

In which country is the officially endorsed policy of the former ruling party (until very recently):”women are systematically and structurally subordinated to men”?

The answer is, obviously, Sweden (I’m sure what everyone is thinking now: “Damn, I knew that!”)

From Wikipedia article on Feminist Initiative::

One of the foundation of the party’s policy platform is the concept called könsmaktsordning (literal translation: Gender Power Hierarchy), a term used within Swedish feminism for the belief that women are systematically and structurally subordinated to men. This concept is also endorsed by the Social Democratic party.

(my emphasis)

This is feminism at it’s best: Being the Officially Accepted Truth,(=being in power) and having already achieved it’s supposed goals, all the while denying having any actual power, living in “patriarchy”. An endless revolution of the proletariat women as class against the oppressive capitalism patriarchy.

Oh, I forgot. It’s a Big Tent and there is no “one true feminism”. All are accepted.

October 14, 2006

Denying, Dismissing, Minimising, and Ignoring the Harm to Men

Filed under: Feminist Issues — Daran @ 2:41 pm

Me (in the context of the war in Iraq):

[F]eminists typically do view the harm solely in terms of its impact upon women, while denying, minimising, and ignoring the harm to men.

I should also have said “dismissing“. I should clarify that by “feminism”, I mean mainstream feminism, as exemplified by the bloggers and typical commenters at Alas. I also mean radical feminism, as exemplified by the bloggers and typical commenters at the Margins. I do not mean to include such individuals as Christine Hof-Sommers, Wendy McElroy, and Cathy Young. I think that’s a fair exclusion, because mainsteam feminism itself appears to reject these people, and their ilk.

curiousgyrl:

I dont think that is a fair characterization. A fairly old development in feminist thinking/theory is the notion of ‘gender’ as a relationship between humans–both ‘men’ and ‘women.’ The change over last decade from university Women’s Studies Departments to departmetns of Gender and Sexuality was largely made to make exactly the point that feminism is about the negative impact of gender opression on society as a whole.

I assume that the feminism I see on the web, and the feminism I have encountered in Real Life in the tiny corner of the world which I inhabit, are typical of feminism as it is practised elsewhere in the western World. I hesitate to comment on Gender Studies Departments, since I have never attended one, but it is not immediately clear to me that “gender studies” necessarily equals “feminism”. Nor is it clear to me that they differ in practice. It does not follow that the rebadging of “women’s studies” as “gender studies” has been accompanied by a meaningful expansion of the topic area, or a shift in the analytical norms. An example of such a rebadging can be found in Mary Anne Warren’s 1985 book Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection:

By analogy, gendercide would be the deliberate extermination of persons of a particular sex (or gender). Other terms, such as “gynocide” and “femicide,” have been used to refer to the wrongful killing of girls and women. But “gendercide” is a sex-neutral term, in that the victims may be either male or female. There is a need for such a sex-neutral term, since sexually discriminatory killing is just as wrong when the victims happen to be male. The term also calls attention to the fact that gender roles have often had lethal consequences, and that these are in important respects analogous to the lethal consequences of racial, religious, and class prejudice.

As Dr. Adam Jones, founder of Gendercide Watch observes:

Warren explores the deliberate extermination of women through analysis of such subjects as female infanticide, maternal mortality, witch-hunts in early modern Europe, and other atrocities and abuses against women. […] The difficulty with Warren’s framing of gendercide, though — and this is true for the feminist analysis of gender-selective human-rights abuses as a whole — is that the inclusive definition is not matched by an inclusive analysis of the mass killing of non-combatant men.

Had Warren stuck to “femicide” or a similar formulation, then her treatise might have been guilty of no more than ignoring similar atrocities committed against men. By using inclusive terminology, the implication is that she is covering the entire spectrum of sex-selective killing. Therefore the absence of sex-selective killing of men from her analysis implies that such killings do not exist, or are insignificant.

In other words, she did not merely ignore sex-selective killings of men. By implication, she denied them which, as a perusal of just a few of Gendercide Watch’s case studies will show, is tantamount to holocaust denial.

Here’s an example of a feminist minimising the harm to men:

However, there’s strong evidence that for girls and women in particular (but not exclusively), things have gotten much worse since we invaded [Iraq]

My italics. To Amp’s credit, he doesn’t completely ignore the effect on men and boys – unlike many feminists, he gives them a parenthetical nod. But the implication of the italices portion is clear – It’s less bad for males.

A priori, that statement may or may not be true. In the complete absence of any analysis whatsoever of just how much worse things had gotten for males, I couldn’t see how such a statement could be justified, so I asked him. His reply:

Daran, provide me with some evidence that non-combatant men have been killed more than non-combatant women. Provide me with an example of an important Iraqi political/religious leaders saying that if Iraqi men are under virtual house arrest, that’s a good thing. Provide me with evidence that Iraqi men are being raped or sold into sexual slavery at anywhere near the rate that Iraqi women are.

Notice how he shifted the burden of proof onto me. Nevertheless, I responded here, and here.

curiousgyrl:

I know that BPHMT is often derided, but that doesnt mean that most of us think that it isn’t true.

BPHMT at it’s most derisory is a rhetorical device used by feminists to dismiss male victimisation. But even when it’s treated seriously, it is a minimising discourse, which I critique here.

Its just not ALWAYS the most relevant point.

The problem with feminism is that it’s not EVER the most relevant point. Here are a couple of questions I put to Barry:

Can [Barry] identify more than a handful [of mainstream feminists] who have blogged honestly about the catastrophic gender-selective targeting of men for slaughter in Iraq and elsewhere? Can he identify any?

Barry’s honest answer was “no and no”. And to his credit, he has addressed the issue in subsequent posts, though he has never lead on the subject. I’ll put the same two questions to curiousgyrl: Can she identify more than a handful of mainstream feminists who have blogged honestly about the catastrophic sex-selective targetting of men for slaughter in Iraq and elsewhere? Can she identify any, other than Barry’s recent posts? I have a few more questions. How is it that Barry, who is unquestionably well-read on the subject of the Iraq war, could have been unaware of the catastrophic sex-selective targetting of men for slaughter? Is curiousgyrl aware of it? If not, why not? If so, how did she become aware of it? Not through feminism, or a “gender studies” class, I’ll bet.

The problem with feminism is that it concludes that women are more oppressed than men, but in making that judgement, it looks at female oppression through a microscope, and male oppression through a telescope. Backwards. Pointing at the ground. With the lens covers still on. And both eyes closed.

October 13, 2006

Playing with Fire

Filed under: Current Events,International Politics — Brutus @ 5:54 pm

A fairly spooky blog entry at Victor Davis Hanson’s blog Works and Days offers a brief though rambling analysis of the current campaign by N. Korea to develop nuclear capability and suggestions for a proper response. The first thing that caught my eye was his reference to “this wider war against Islamism.” Linking N. Korea with Islam is silly enough, but the blogger apparently believes we’re in the midst of a religious war. Some of the fundamentalists in U.S. government responsible for the war undoubtedly believe the same thing, but it’s not generally acknowledged that the clash of cultures and values we more commonly refer to as the War Against Terror (of which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are merely symptoms) is specifically aimed at fighting Islam of one type or another.

Comments on China’s certain intransigence about sanctions against N. Korea were untrue even before the entry was posted, as USA Today  and The Washington Post both reported. If China’s attempt to brake some of the more virulent calls for extreme sanctions are heeded, it may actually forestall an overreaction that could well destabilize N. Korea to everyone’s detriment.

The most dangerous observation in the post is about brinkmaship, namely, that it works (for N. Korea at least, and by extention, for the U.S.). Commenters on the post, who mostly come across as a gang of cheering sycophants, waste no time recommending that the U.S. adopt a lunatic posture of unpredictable recklessness, perhaps by nuking someone/something. It’s a chilling scenario that could easily plunge the world into — literally — a fight for survival once the genie it let back out of the bottle. It’s a strategy that would likely make the world less safe rather than more secure.

Considering the stakes involved in geopolitics, we might do well to practice considerable self-restraint and enter into armed conflict only with the most extreme reluctance. Twentieth-century wars have provided ample instruction in that regard, and some countries have learned those lessons and chastened themselves. Unfortunately, the U.S. continues to act with extraordinary hubris and is apparently unwilling to learn much from its own costly and failed wars since 1950. When I read others’ calls for further military expansion (as though our military doesn’t already dwarf everything else arrayed against us) and a willingness to destroy our enemies, I can’t help but feel at a loss, unable to fathom how cruel, unfeeling, and even barbaric we are in pursuing our interests around the globe.

Well, I suppose It Was Inevitable

Filed under: Blogosphere,Content-lite — Tuomas @ 5:09 pm

I just got banned at feministe. Zuzu mocked celebrities that adopt kids from the third world for just trying to be fashionable, I pointed out that similarly Zuzu (and any liberal multiculturalist doing anything for the benefit of non-white people) could be mocked for just trying to be fashionable for, say, doing post-Katrina charity work (which Zuzu did), which of course is apparently totally different.

(edited for typos)

October 12, 2006

Lancet Study Methodology Gives Validation Test

Filed under: Current Events,Iraq — Robert @ 2:40 pm

The Lancet study saying that there are as many as 655,000 extra civilian deaths in Iraq as a result of the war and occupation has attracted considerable interest. Some say the study is right, others point to the disparity between it and other analyses.

There is a small point in the methodology of the Lancet study which I believe may offer a quick and simple facial test of the study’s validity.

The Lancet authors report that they attempted to confirm the death reports given to them by their interview subjects. They report being able to confirm 80% of the death reports by finding official death certificates filed by local and provincial governments. This augments the credibility of this part of their methodology – if, in a war zone, 80% of your self-reports are verified by government records, the reporting you’re getting is probably of good quality.

However, if 80% of the sample’s death reports are verifiable, then a similar fraction of the total population should show similar levels of documentation. There should be 500,000 death certificates on file through Iraq. If there are not, then the study authors have destroyed the presumption of the validity of their sample, because there’s a huge disparity between the sample and the population. From where I sit, there are either a half million death certificates on file somewhere (in which case the Lancet study is noncontroversial, and we have to start asking what is wrong with Iraq Body Count, Brookings Institute, and other non-Pentagon estimates that put the civilian toll in the 50 to 100K range), or we have to ask why the study sample shows such an enormous differentiation on the documentation question.

In other words, show me the death certificates.

October 11, 2006

Alas, an Eruption

Filed under: Blogosphere,Feminist Issues,Link Farms — Daran @ 7:03 pm

At the beginning of September, I was idly browsing at Alas, when I came across the following buried at the bottom of one of the pages:

Alas, a blog runs on WordPress blogging and review software.

I was curious. I knew about the blogging, but what’s this “review software”? I clicked. Imagine my surprise at encountering a whole section of the site I never knew even existed. “Amped Reviews”, it said, “Honest Reviews of Movies Retailers, Products, and Websites”. “Don’t believe the hype”, it exhorted.

So Barry has a second string to his bow, I thought, and to start with it looked pretty innocuous. The first section is “Movies”, featuring reviews of “Grandma’s Boy” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Scrolling down there are reviews for an Ipod, Faraday Flashlight, Fleshlight, A PPC 7600…

Fleshlight? That took me by surprise. Somehow I didn’t think Barry would be into sex toys, but why not? It’s not obviously something he would necessarily disapprove of.

…MILF lessons, MILF next door, Bangbros??? For those of you who don’t know it, Bangbros are a porn outfit that cater for a distinctly misogynistic segment of the market.

I wasn’t sure where Barry stood on the anti-porn/sex-positive feminism front, but I’ve never gotten any sense of his being pro-porn in any way. (He’s since clarified.) I really couldn’t imagine him approving of this. What was going on? Had the site been hacked? Did he have an evil twin? Whatever the explanation, it was clear that I had a major scoop here. Ampersand is a big name in the feminist blogosphere, so I did what any blogger would do. I immediately posted a humiliating exposĂ© without bothering to find out any facts emailed him to find out what was going on:

It’s not my intention to embarrass you, but in the tradition of blogger-as-journalist, I feel duty bound to blog about this. I’d like to give you an opportunity to comment before I do.

I also promised to give him notice before publishing. Since I hadn’t given him that notice, he was under no immediate threat when he posted an explanation on Alas.

As he pointed out in that post ‘a couple of “Alas” readers ha[d] noticed’ – me and at least one other person. So he probably realised that it was only a matter of time before it became public. Better for him to do it at a time of his own choosing. And having done so, I felt there was no need for further coverage by me.

He made a mistake in not allowing comments. A comments thread would have allowed people to let off steam. A comments thread would have kept the post visible for longer, so that certain people who didn’t see it, would have. The inevitable eruption would have happened sooner, and have been over sooner. He’s now remedied that, but only for (pro)feminists. Feminists aren’t the only people who feel they have a stake in Alas. I have feelings about it too. However critical I may be of feminism in general, and Barry in particular, I recognise and value the resource that is Alas, and don’t want to see it damaged.

So what’s the verdict? Did he sell out? Yes, I think he did. His claim that “how that all works isn’t something I have any knowledge of” isn’t tenable He may not know the details, but he knows (because I explained it to him) that links from Alas to the review site improve the latter’s search rankings. In any case, ignorance isn’t really an excuse. The only possible defence to the sell-out charge was that he was conned, that Mr. Douglas, the buyer, exploited a loophole in the contract to violate it in spirit, but Barry himself has rejected that defence:

A couple of readers have speculated that I didn’t know that the new owner would link to porn on his pages. That’s not true; I kept the links off of “Alas,” but I knew that he would be putting links to porn on his own pages.

His current defence – that he doesn’t think porn is that bid a deal, one way or the other – doesn’t wash either. Barry may not care much, (I don’t either. It’s not my Ox being gored here) but a large part of his constituency does, and if he want Alas to be a place where they can come to engage in open debate, then he had a duty to them to keep the space clean for them. Neither do I think selling cartoons to magazines which might accept adverts for porn sites is comparable. There’s no connection between his cartoon sales, and what should be a neutral space for anti-porn feminists.

I hope it’s not too late for him to repair the damage. He’s made a start in his most recent posts.

I can’t finish this without commenting on the behaviour of some of his critics – not the ones expressing their hurt, or making reasoned comment, but the ones engaged in vilification and character assassination. I remember Heart, for example, who seems to be leading the charge against him “making a demand” that Barry create women/feminist only spaces on his blog running on his server using his bandwidth paid for with his money because he had attracted a larger audience than she had, like she had some Goddess-given right to the fruits of his labour written into her double-X chromosomes. Barry gave her a platform; I would have given her the boot. Several others I remember pissing all over him, even while he was giving them the breaks.

He may have stumbled, but he’s better than some of his critics.

Alas, an overview: (Originally courtesy of curiousgyrl, though I’ve added a fair few myself.):

http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/alas-a-blog-reviews-hardcore-pornography-websites-did-everybody-but-me-already-know-this/#comment-3416
http://sourduck.blogspot.com/2006/10/alas-porn-site.html
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/the-revolution-will-be-commodified-alternatives-to-selling-feminist-websites-and-blogs-to-the-man/
http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/10/ampersand_male_.html
http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/?p=411
http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/?p=412
http://laurelin.wordpress.com/2006/10/10/alas-a-sell-out/
http://viv.id.au/blog/?p=88
http://angryforareason.blogspot.com/2006/10/no-really-im-feminist.html
http://sparklematrix.wordpress.com/2006/10/09/alas-a-blog-sold-out-to-pimp-my-ride/
http://ginmar.livejournal.com/909066.html
http://witchywoo.wordpress.com/2006/10/10/fuckery-and-betrayal/
http://rocr.xepher.net/weblog/archives/001793.html
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/12/pimp-my-domain-for-dummies-not-mysterious/
http://fauxrealtho.com/2006/10/10/um-yeah/
http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2006/10/11/bad-ideas/
http://community.livejournal.com/mf_unicorns/7838.html
http://incurable-hippie.blogspot.com/2006/10/alas-bastard.html
http://community.livejournal.com/mf_unicorns/8004.html
http://www.slanttruth.com/2006/10/11/confused/
http://community.livejournal.com/mf_unicorns/8258.html
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/42929/
http://danaseilhan.livejournal.com/98287.html
http://melancholicfeminista.blogspot.com/2006/10/new-feminist-blogosphere-blowup-porn.html
http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/index.php/2006/10/13/the-fascinating-tale-of-pro-feminist-male-blogger-and-the-porno-sell-out/
http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-10-13_426
http://www.feminish.net/2006/10/13/another-world-is-possible/
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/13/amp-gate-epilogue/
http://angryandqueer.wordpress.com/2006/10/13/turned-out-to-be-a-unicorn-after-all/
http://castironbalcony.media2.org/?p=268
http://just.shelleypowers.com/diversity/just-walk-away/
http://forfuckssakes.blogspot.com/2006/10/amp-got-hit-by-feminist-police.html
http://www.reappropriate.com/?p=24
http://rocr.xepher.net/weblog/archives/001817.html
http://www.melted-dreams.net/definition/2006/10/12/this-whole-alas-drama-thing/
http://faultline.org/index.php/site/comments/on_blog_policy/
http://pandagon.net/2006/10/11/fuck-ritual-condemnation-but-love-this-post/
http://mindthegapcardiff.blogspot.com/2006/10/alas-fall.html
http://www.rachelstavern.com/?p=224
http://feet2thefire.blogspot.com/2006/10/on-with-ritual-condemnation-i-dont.html
http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2006/10/13/bought-and-sold/
http://just.shelleypowers.com/diversity/this-is-not-a-feminist-weblog/
http://catallarchy.net/blog/archives/2006/10/12/how-not-to-sell-out/
http://www.juliansanchez.com/notes/archives/2006/10/does_the_left_hand_know_what_t.php
http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/site/amptoonscom_ownership_and_site_traffic/
http://www.crescatsententia.org/archives/2006/10/12/#006792
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/14/ampgate-reprise-the-good-the-funny-the-real/
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/14/pimp-my-domain-for-dummies-experts-weigh-in/
http://happyfeminist.typepad.com/happyfeminist/2006/10/i_dont_have_tim.html
http://thurgood.blogspot.com/2006_10_01_thurgood_archive.html#116058827972363318
http://forfuckssakes.blogspot.com/2006/10/radfem-love-for-yours-truly.html
http://forfuckssakes.blogspot.com/2006/10/if-this-is-radfeminism-i-want-no-part.html
http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2006/october#000493
http://irrationalpoint.blogspot.com/2006/10/and-this-will-be-my-only-word-on.html
http://wampum.wabanaki.net/vault/2006/10/003130.html
http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/news/985/more-on-barry-deutsch039s-sale-of-his-url-to-search-engine-optimization-company
http://www.culturekitchen.com/liza/blog/alas_a_blog_and_good_feminist_business_practices
http://comixpedia.com/more_on_barry_deutschs_sale_of_his_url_to_search_engine_optimization_company
http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/10/amp_thinks_i_hu.html
http://redgarterclubwebsite.com/SmackChron_Blog/2006/10/18/intermission-special-the-alas-a-porn-portal-controversy/
http://redgarterclubwebsite.com/SmackChron_Blog/2006/10/18/the-alas-a-porn-portal-controversy-a-bibliography/
http://myamusementpark.blogspot.com/2006/10/its-official-im-not-feminist.html
http://elayneriggs.blogspot.com/2006/10/major-mega-meta-post-as.html
http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-love-smell-of-dissent-on-monday.html
http://angryscientist.wordpress.com/2006/10/23/men-who-claim-feminism-but/
http://wendymcelroy.com/news.php?extend.476
http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/25/ampgate-wendy-mcelroy-women-and-male-power/

Update 2: OK, I give up. I’ve dumped the classification, and merged the lists. I was getting too much grief. The following is just a record of what I intended, and no longer applies.

Update: A note on the classification

I started this round up, with two things in mind. Firstly, when I oringinally wrote the post, it wasn’t clear to me whether Barry was still in denial about the general fucked-upness of what he’d done. I thought by listing the posts, I could draw his attention to the sheer volume of criticism – not just the jackbooted thugs who started the pile-on, but also the thoughful, sensitive objections from people who were hurt by what he’d done.

Barry was hurting too, and I also wanted him to know that he still had friends. So I separated out what at that time was the only unequivocally supportive post by Shelly.

Since then it’s become clear that the community has started to use the lists as a resource. This has been my most read, most linked-to post ever, by a wide margin. I’m not vain enough to believe that my glorious prose is what is attracting so much attention, but hopefully the visitors at least read my glorious prose, even if that’s not what they came for. So I’m very happy to continue maintaining the lists.

It’s also become clear that the simple division between “critical” and “supportive” is quite inadequate to capture the full range of opinion in all its nuance. Some posts – mostly from outside the community – expressed no discernable view one way or another, so I created a separate “other” section. Other posts were mild, or ambivalent. Still others were both critical and supportive. My criteria for assigning them to one of the two categories is entirely subjective – If I were Barry, would I feel more criticised than supported?

I’ve considered rejigging the classification, but in the end, I don’t see the point. Any new set of categories I could come up with would suffer the same problem. On the other hand, I still think it’s worth keeping the classification because Barry is still feeling battered, even if he’s no longer in denial, and this makes the support he’s getting visible.

Bottom line: Please don’t feel offended if I’ve filed you under ‘critical’ and your post was intended to be ‘supportive’, or vice versa. The division of many of the posts has been on a knifeedge.

NY Times Coverage Biased Against Lancet Study

Filed under: Iraq,Statistical Method — Ampersand @ 10:16 am

UPDATE: The Lancet Study can be downloaded here (pdf link). A companion paper, which provides some additional details, can be downloaded here (pdf link).

The New York Times coverage of the new Lancet study of Iraqi deaths, while maintaining an objective tone, is heavily slanted against the study; many of the painfully bad right-wing arguments against the earlier survey are repeated by the Times, usually without rebuttal. For example:

(more…)

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