A Grace Note To Ann Laurie’s Post Below

Reading Ann Laurie’s post reminded me of the obvious: being aware of the experience of others takes constant effort.  And, (as I wrote about one example here), the failure to do so amidst white male self-assumed universality leads to harm in just about any domain — more for those dismissed, but non-zero for the presumed pre-MOTUs as well.

With that as pre-amble, check out this from CNN Money:

All virtual assistants have to deal with inappropriate comments and questions. From seasoned vets like Siri and Google Now, to the rash of new specialists with names like Amy, Molly, Mia and Robin.

When Microsoft launched Cortana in 2014, a good chunk of early queries were about her sex life, according to Microsoft’s Deborah Harrison.

It turns out people feel very comfortable talking freely with text and voice assistants. Humanizing the bots with names, faked emotions, personalities and genders (mostly female) helps build trust with users.

Microsoft has its corporate head in the right place, at least on this one:

Cortana is clearly identified as a woman. She has a female avatar and is voiced by human woman Jen Taylor. But the writers are conscious about avoiding female-assistant stereotypes. Cortana isn’t self-deprecating and avoids saying sorry.

“We wanted to be very careful that she didn’t feel subservient in any way … or that we would set up a dynamic we didn’t want to perpetuate socially,” said Harrison.

But the ‘bros and any MRA/PUA trogs need not worry.  The market will make sure that their all too familiar sex/power fantasies will find their representation in our brave new era.

Not all assistants will take the same firm approach. Robin Labs, which makes a voice-assistant for drivers, thinks there might be a market customizing personalities. CEO Ilya Eckstein says there is a high demand for an assistant personality that’s “more intimate-slash-submissive with sexual undertones.”

Full title: The Arnolfini Portrait Artist: Jan van Eyck Date made: 1434 Source: http://www.nationalgalleryimages.co.uk/ Contact: picture.library@nationalgallery.co.uk Copyright © The National Gallery, London

All of which to say is that it’s easy to call out, say, Chris Christie, when he talks of beating Hilary Clinton’s rear end.  As all here know, it’s far harder to combat the influence of the jabs and gestures that pervade daily life, well below the level of explicit speech, up to and including the robot in your GPS.

How this post may be read in the context of Hilary Clinton’s candidacy and (some of) its discontents?  You make the call.

Image: Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Wedding1434.

Wingnuttery Has Costs

Researchers studied reproductive health choices in Texas after the attacks on Planned Parenthood, and the outcomes are not good (unless forced birth is your kind of thang):

Defunding Planned Parenthood clinics leaves some poor women unable to access the most effective forms of birth control, according to a new study from Texas-based researchers.

Experts from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, a multi-year research project that’s tracking reproductive health outcomes in the Lone Star State, examined data from women who rely on Medicaid after GOP legislators stripped funds from Planned Parenthood in 2013.

Among women in the public health program, there was a 35 percent decline in claims for IUDs and implants — and a dramatic 27 percent spike in births — after Planned Parenthood was kicked out of Texas’ family planning network. Those numbers suggest that disadvantaged women are struggling to get the contraceptive services they need and are instead going on to give birth.

“The U.S. continues to have higher rates of unintended pregnancies than most rich nations, and we know that U.S. and Texas women face barriers as they try to access preventative services,” Amanda Jean Stevenson, one of the lead authors of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas of Austin, said in a statement accompanying the study results. “It’s a public health issue that Texas women struggle to achieve their reproductive goals.”

Previous research examining Planned Parenthood’s patient base has confirmed that pulling support for the national women’s health organization disproportionately harms low-income Americans who don’t have anywhere else to go for affordable contraceptive services. In a recent survey of Texas patients themselves, more than half of them said they’ve faced at least one barrier to getting the reproductive health services they need in the years since politicians made changes to the publicly funded family planning network.

Whether it is Clinton or Sanders, we simply can not lose on the national level and we have GOT to get our asses in gear on the local and state level.

Delightful News

A grand jury has indicted David Daleiden and another videographer:

A Harris County grand jury today decided not to take any action against Planned Parenthood in Houston. But two people who used undercover videos accusing the group of selling fetal tissue have been indicted.

The sting videos recorded last April alleged that Planned Parenthood illegally profited from donations of fetal tissue. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigated those allegations for more than two months, along with the Texas Rangers and the Houston Police Department.

In the end, a grand jury has cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of breaking the law.

“It affirms 100% what we have said from the very beginning, and that is that Planned Parenthood follows local, state and federals laws and extremely high medical standards, and our first priority is patient care,” said Rochelle Tafolla, with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “These individuals broke the law and committed fraud in order to spread lies about Planned Parenthood and today they’re going to be held accountable for breaking those laws.”

Both David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been indicted for Tampering with a Governmental Record, which is a felony. Daleidan was also indicted for Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs, meaning he illegally offered to purchase human organs in the video recording. A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

In Texas, no less.

From the Weight of Your Own Past

UCSF researchers are studying women turned away from abortions due to state restrictions.  Their first effort showed that more of them end up in poverty:

In its first analysis of turnaway data published two years ago, the team found that women seek out abortions for complicated reasons, with the most common being a feeling of financial unpreparedness. This earlier analysis also showed that 86 percent of turnaways chose to keep their children, and 67 percent of them wound up below the poverty line a year later. By comparison, 56 percent of women granted abortions in the study were below the poverty line a year later. […]

Their latest effort looks at hope for the future:

Of all the goals measured, 47 percent were achieved. There was little difference between turnaways and women who had abortions when it came to achieving their goals. However, as the researchers write in their paper, women who received abortions “were significantly more likely to have both an aspirational plan and to have achieved it” than turnaways who kept their children. Upadhyay was quick to point out that overall, most of the women’s goals were aspirational. “They all had high hopes,” she said. But Turnaways “were much more likely to have negative goals.”

What this latest phase in the Turnaway study reveals is that not having access to abortion can negatively impact women’s lives. As Upadhyay and her colleagues put it in their paper, “Whether or not a person has aspirational plans is indicative of her hope for the future. Without such plans or hopes, she misses out on opportunities to achieve milestones in life.”

Put bluntly, the Turnaways had fewer hopes, so they had fewer reasons to push themselves toward what they defined as better lives.

It’s not surprising that an unplanned and unwanted child is more likely to make you poor and hopeless – this study just puts a number on the poverty and hopelessness.

Time To Face the Courts

Well, well, well:

Recordings secretly made by an anti-abortion group at meetings of abortion providers do not show criminal activity and could put the providers at risk, a federal judge said Friday, citing the recent shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick made the comments during a hearing over the National Abortion Federation’s request for a preliminary injunction that would continue to block the release of the recordings. Orrick did not immediately issue a ruling. He previously issued a temporary restraining order blocking the recordings pending the outcome of the preliminary injunction hearing.

The Center for Medical Progress has released several secretly recorded videos that it says show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal. Planned Parenthood has said it abides by a law that allows providers to be reimbursed for the costs of processing tissue donated by women who have had abortions.

Alright, legal eagles. Does this mean that David Daleiden and the sociopaths at the “Center for Medical Progress” are in danger of facing criminal and/or other charges?

Late Night Open Thread: If It’s Good for the Goose…

Not that the bill will pass, but major props to State Rep. Stacey Newman. Per the STLMag website:

Missouri is home to some of the strictest requirements on abortion in the U.S., including a 72-hour waiting period and mandatory, state-directed counseling.

Missouri is also home to some disturbingly high gun crime rates. St. Louis and Kansas City each rank in the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest rates of gun violence, and a recent report showed that toddlers shot more people in Missouri than in any other state.

A new bill from State Rep. Stacey Newman attempts to tackle Missouri’s gun violence problem by applying the restrictions placed on women seeking abortion services to all prospective firearm purchasers, such as a requirement that anyone buying a gun first watch a 30-minute video on fatal firearm injuries.

“Since Missouri holds the rank as one of the strictest abortion regulation states in the country, it is logical we borrow similar restrictions to lower our horrific gun violence rates,” Newman said in a statement.

The bill, pre-filed Tuesday for the 2016 session, is doomed to die in Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature, something that Newman knows perfectly well…

If we truly insist that Missouri cares about ‘all life’, then we must take immediate steps to address our major cities rising rates of gun violence,” Newman said. “Popular proposals among voters, including universal background checks and restricting weapons from abuser and convicted felons, are consistently ignored each session. Since restrictive policies regarding a constitutionally protected medical procedure are the GOP’s legislative priority each year, it makes sense that their same restrictions apply to those who may commit gun violence. Our city mayors and law enforcement drastically need help in saving lives.”

Full details at the link.

Now Can We Blame Political Rhetoric and Easy Access to Guns?

Ok, concern trolls, we now know that Robert Deer, who shot up and attempted to blow up and PP and stated “no more body parts” upon arrest wasn’t a transgendered leftist, and believed the following:

But in court documents and interviews with people who knew Mr. Dear well, a picture emerges of an angry and occasionally violent man who seemed deeply disturbed and deeply contradictory: He was a man of religious conviction who sinned openly, a man who craved both extreme solitude and near-constant female company, a man who successfully wooed women but, some of them say, also abused them. He frequented marijuana websites, then argued with other posters, often through heated religious screeds.


A number of people who knew Mr. Dear said he was a staunch abortion opponent, though another ex-wife, Pamela Ross, said that he did not obsess on the subject. After his arrest, Mr. Dear said “no more baby parts” to investigators, a law enforcement official said.

One person who spoke with him extensively about his religious views said Mr. Dear, who is 57, had praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work.” In 2009, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concerns for the privacy of the family, Mr. Dear described as “heroes” members of the Army of God, a loosely organized group of anti-abortion extremists that has claimed responsibility for a number of killings and bombings.

Now can we point out that irresponsible rhetoric from politicians ranting and raving about baby parts and abortion and Planned Parenthood might have contributed to his murderous spree? Is it still too soon? Just tell me when you feel comfortable. I don’t want to rush you.

Jesus fucking christ, I am so sick of the sniveling horseshit from people every time some lunatic is prodded into doing something evil. It’s a gigantic hoocoodanode, ain’t it? How were we supposed to know that this might cause problems:

During the second Republican presidential debate on 16 September, Fiorina made a sharp impact when she said: “As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain’.”

If you continue to believe that kind of political rhetoric had no impact on this and other previous murders, you’re as full of shit as Fiorina but don’t have the balls to go all in like she does.