Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 9.11

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. Well that ghost hunting woman knew right where to look, huh?

    I can’t decide which animals I like best, but the mongooses are impossibly cute, the cat clearly not that bright, and, like NoAstronomer says, the chimp has got to be a blood relative.

  2. This assumes that there will be “more” people in the express lane. Usually when I’m at the store there are less people, since most people are buying more than 10 things. So it ends up being faster, but certainly there is diminishing returns as it gets longer due to the constant overhead of payment.

  3. At first, I couldn’t figure out why 1 in 33 was such an issue. Then I read the following sentence:

    “The study also found that more than two-thirds of the offenders were married to someone else at the time of the advance.”

    Aha!

  4. Thanks for the link, Amanda! Almost immediately after I posted it, I noticed how many other news sources were talking about it. A friend at the University of Toronto told me about 3 hours later, “Dude, did you hear about the ghost-hunter who died here? You should totally write about that!” But I digress…

    Just a comment about the grocery store meets-math. When I read the headline, I thought “Bullsh*t! This is a social phenomenon and there is no way that…okay, it makes sense now”. After thinking about it for just a moment, it was pretty obvious and awesome. Also, @TheCzech: I worked in a grocery store (as a clerk) one summer, and by-and-large, the store only puts the fastest workers in the express lane. That lane sees the most foot traffic and the store needs their best workers. Don’t blame the workers, blame the ber-jillion customers who slow things down by mixing 3 different types of fruit into the same bag, try to haggle the cashier for a 50-cent discount on milk, or buy items that take up the most-possible space in the bags (such as frozen pizzas, cooked chickens, and cereal) and then stare dumbly at the employee who is struggling to check out all these items while bagging them at the same time….after all, the customer COULD help things along and speed up the entire process, but it’s so much easier to stare at the worker, and marvel at how slow the line is going.

    Working as a cashier at a grocery store sucks so hard. Please don’t blame the workers….they get paid little enough as it is, and when the store goes wrong, they’re the ones who have to hear about it simply by virtue of the fact that they’re standing there (all day).

    Hubris: I has it.

  5. In the ghost hunting article (the one where it doesn’t in anyway make it clear that she was ghost hunting) they refer to the extreme cordless bungee diver in question as “the victim.” Anyone who gets drunk and tries to jump from ledge to ledge is not a victim. They are, in technical forensic parlance, a dumbass.

  6. Also, there is pretty much no way I can avoid spending the remainder of my day coming up with clerical pickup lines:

    “If I could rewrite the bible, I’d put you and I in original sin.”
    “Seriously, it turns into wine in your mouth.”
    “It’s not cheating if its your priest.”
    “Want to see what god created on the 8th day?”

    It’s like shooting fish in a stupid, sexually repressed barrel.

  7. @Some Canadian Skeptic: I always seem to get stuck behind someone who’s arguing with the cashier over using an expired toilet paper coupon against a box of donuts. OK, it’s not always toilet paper but it’s almost always donuts.

    “and then stare dumbly at the employee who is struggling to check out all these items while bagging them at the same time….after all, the customer COULD help things along and speed up the entire process, but it’s so much easier to stare at the worker”

    I always feel vaguely uncomfortable about bagging my own groceries. It’s like I’m violating some demarcation of responsibilities. I mean, imagine doing the same thing in the post office. “I’m here to pick up a package. No, don’t get up. I’ll go find it myself.”

  8. The absolutes of the math in the checkout line piece are pretty funny. If only the real world were really so perfect, absolute, and invariable.

    In the real world it is pretty easy to determine through simple observation which lines are goung faster: sometimes it’ s the fast lane, sometimes it’s not.

    Here in British Columbia (BC, Canada), about 50% of the food marts encourage, or even require that the customer do their own bagging. And observation leads me to the conclusion that in a majority of instances customers tend to do so anyway because it is clearly faster.

    In a couple of chains here in BC they have self-check out lines. For the most part that’s the slowest because it’s one person doing the tasks of two, and because people don’t know what they’re doing, and because the system seems to break down a lot.

  9. I guess my questions about the clergy article are:

    1. Why is it a “problem”.

    2. Why are they “offenders”?

    Has political correctness and the fear of expressing interest of an emotional and/or personal and/or sexual nature now gotten so out of hand that it is seen, automatically and by rote, as an offence? Or is it illegal or something for clergy to have and/or express such feelings?

    I don’t get it.

  10. @SicPreFix:

    In a couple of chains here in BC they have self-check out lines. For the most part that’s the slowest because it’s one person doing the tasks of two, and because people don’t know what they’re doing, and because the system seems to break down a lot.

    The self checkout lanes have become quite popular where I am. What I see is that they usually have the shortest lines, with a highly variable speed. The problem, as you suggest, is that the systems don’t have all the kinks worked out. You end up needing assistance from an employee far more often than would seem to actually be necessary.

    It seems like a great place for automation. There’s very little skill required, and the average person should have very little difficulty. I look forward to improvements in these systems. I hope it is one day taken for granted, the same as self-service gas pumps are now.

    I wonder if the stores are intentionally moving slowly with it so they can understand the effect it will have on theft. It seems that it would be pretty easy to simply fail to scan a couple items, if one is the kind of person to do that. The stores may want to learn if the additional losses from theft outweigh the additional savings from reduced labor costs.

    I am a Hedge

  11. @SicPreFix: It’s the power dynamic. Just like a professor hitting on a student. It’s not always going to be a religious leader taking advantage of a church member, but a lot of the times it probably is.

    Also, most women don’t go into church to get hit on.

    Think about how often religious leaders sexually assault church members, especially children.

    http://www.feministing.com/archives/017667.htm

    There is a bit more there.

    The piece has a story of a young woman who was sexually assaulted by her pastor at her Evangelical Lutheran Church – when seeking spiritual guidance, he told her that having sex with him was ordained by God. Even after years of therapy, she still has a hard time walking into a Church.

    And further, it is illegal in some places:

    Sadly only a couple of states have laws in place around this, including Texas, which defines clergy sexual behavior as sexual assault if the leader “causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser.”

    I suggest reading some of the comments at the feministing article I just posted for a few personal experiences.

    And how many women do you think will report a religious leader sexually assaulting them? Very few, I’m sure.

  12. @SicPreFix: Also, you need to remember how patriarchal religion is. That makes a big difference. In most modern religions, women are taught to be inferior to men, and they are further taught that women tantalize men and therefore it’s their fault if am an assaults them.

    The power dynamic is VERY important.

    Clearly some religious leaders are “innocent” but it’s still not appropriate to hit on a women who enters a church.

  13. 1 in 33 women, how many men? lol

    And I’ve spent many long boring minutes in the express line looking at the other lines and realizing I’ve made a major mistake. I have noticed that I tend to hit the Check lottery, it seems every time I’m in the checkout line I always have someone ahead of me writing a check. On Monday I had a woman ahead of me in line, not only write a check, she was also buying stuff for a friend and needed seperate receipts, so she had to write 2 checks, (SON OF A BITCH!!) I should stop picking my check out line based on the attractivness of the cashier.

  14. @marilove:

    It’s the power dynamic. Just like a professor hitting on a student. It’s not always going to be a religious leader taking advantage of a church member, but a lot of the times it probably is.

    OK, I can see that. I’m still not sure I agree that it makes the person an offender or the situation a problem. After all, students make advances to teachers too. As for the clergy, well I’ll admit I have no idea.

    Here’s another question, only slightly off-topic. In such situations like this, for which you point out the issue of the power dynamic, should it be considered the norm that neither side (so to speak) be allowed to make passes or advances on the other?

    I mean, should it be against the rules (law?) that whenever there is an imbalance of power neither side of the equation be allowed to make passsses on the other?

    Or should only the power holder (so to speak) not be allowed to make the passes?

    And where in that conundrum does the role of sexual politics and genetic influence come in? Not to mention the various multitudinous and always confusing and conflicting social mores, rules, and so-called normal behaviours. I just don’t see these kinds of things as being as straight forward as I think you might.

    I think there are far too many social, political, gender role, and genetic/biological issues at hand to make any kind of simple decision about it, or to label it all as some specific thing.

    Also, most women don’t go into church to get hit on.

    Well, yes, I guess that’s probably true indeed. I must admit I hadn’t thought of that. However, perhaps the world would be in a better state if they did? You know, trying to get that hairshirt wearing old clergy to lighten up a little bit and have some fun, for crying out loud.

    Think about how often religious leaders sexually assault church members, especially children.

    Well, no. I don’t think I need to think about that here because that’s not what the article or this discussion is about. To think about that in tandem with this article and this discussion is to bring in tangential incendiary associations of the kind that lead to vigilante groups beating up paediatricians rather than pedophiles, if you see what I mean.

  15. @SicPreFix:

    After all, students make advances to teachers too.

    That doesn’t really matter. If you’re talking about underage students, the adult teacher is still the adult. I don’t care if a minor sits on a teacher’s lap naked. The adult is still the adult.

    When it comes to professors and adult students, things get a bit muddled, though, but as a rule of thumb, professors shouldn’t be accepting advances from their students, ESPECIALLY if they are their actual professor.

    I mean, should it be against the rules (law?) that whenever there is an imbalance of power neither side of the equation be allowed to make passes on the other?

    Well, I don’t know what I’d consider the norm. I mean, humans are sexual beings after all. I don’t feel comfortable saying no one should ever hit on anyone ever again. HOWEVER, the power falls entirely on the religious leader, and so the onus is on them to be responsible with that power.

    And for the record, I’d feel exactly the same for any genders involved.

    Well, yes, I guess that’s probably true indeed. I must admit I hadn’t thought of that. However, perhaps the world would be in a better state if they did? You know, trying to get that hairshirt wearing old clergy to lighten up a little bit and have some fun, for crying out loud.

    No. As a woman, I do not appreciate getting hit on everywhere I go. It gets to be a bit old after a while. I’m not trying to be vain, but sometimes a woman just wants to go about her business without getting hit on constantly, ESPCIALLY by someone in a place of power above her. I wouldn’t want to walk into a police station and get hit on by a cop for the same reason. Now, if that same cop were in plain clothes, things would be a bit different. Context does matter.

    Well, no. I don’t think I need to think about that here because that’s not what the article or this discussion is about.

    I was just using it as an example about how religious users regularly use their power to take sexual advantage of their members, of all genders and ages.

    The fact of the matter is, women (and children) aren’t exactly held to the same level as men in religion. That is VERY important to remember.

  16. @Im a Hedge: “The self checkout lanes have become quite popular where I am. What I see is that they usually have the shortest lines, with a highly variable speed. The problem, as you suggest, is that the systems don’t have all the kinks worked out. You end up needing assistance from an employee far more often than would seem to actually be necessary.”

    The self-checkouts at my local supermarket tend to be OK. One problem though – if you buy any age restricted products (booze, DVDs, etc.) you have to get a member of staff to confirm that you’re the correct age. Kind of defeats the point.

    The main problem is that people don’t listen to/read the instructions. The one’s at my local, once you’ve paid, say something like “Please take your change, notes are dispensed below the scanner.” Usually I get stuck behind the person who interprets this as “Please take your change and look blindly for the notes everywhere except the place I’ve just told you where they are.”

  17. @marilove:

    No. As a woman, I do not appreciate getting hit on everywhere I go….

    Yes, I see your point. I think I misphrased myself. I should have said something along the lines of perhaps the world would be a better place if women went to church rather than the bar looking for a bit of sex play, thereby shocking the clergy into some semblance of reality.

    Fantastically silly I know, but hey … I was just trying for a bit of humour.

    I was just using it as an example about how religious users regularly use their power to take sexual advantage of their members, of all genders and ages.

    Yes, I know that. I just felt it was inappropriate in this context.

    You might be surprised to know that way, way back in the late 60s, Playboy magazine (of all things) printed an extensive series of expose articles of how American religious leaders — priests, bishops, clergy, et al — took sexual advantage of their, um, flock. In particular taking sexual advantage of women who were in emotionally distraught circumstances )loss of husband, children, and other traumatic events) by asserting that a bit of sexual healing was all that was needed to make things better. Quite shocking for the time. It was, though, a bit to soon culturally-historically speaking, to bring up the issue of the clergy and young boys.

    By the by marilove, I really am not the sexist, anti-woman ogre that I suspect you may think I am. Heck, I’ve even written, published, and performed several pieces of of poetry and a number of songs about the evil shit dumped onto women by the Church and the State all in the name of morality. I only appear nasty and cold hearted because I do not, cannot, see the world and all its issues as black and white and easily defined and resolved. I think we human beings, and our cultures and societies, are far, far more complex, conflicted, and undefinable than seems to be the status quo of opinion here or pretty much anywhere.

    Please excuse the self-serving mini-rant.

  18. At my local grocery store, I am familiar with most of the check-out clerks. Some are much faster than others and some are very slow. I usually decide on which line based on who is working there. At my grocery store, it is usually the fastest clerk who is working the express anyway.

  19. Yes, I see your point. I think I misphrased myself. I should have said something along the lines of perhaps the world would be a better place if women went to church rather than the bar looking for a bit of sex play, thereby shocking the clergy into some semblance of reality.

    GOOD POINT! lol :) I gotcha now. I was in SERIOUS REPLY MODE, sorry.

    Yes, I know that. I just felt it was inappropriate in this context.

    I’m not sure that it is. It’s pretty evident that people in power take advantage of others all the time.

    You might be surprised to know that way, way back in the late 60s, Playboy magazine (of all things) printed an extensive series of expose articles of how American religious leaders — priests, bishops, clergy, et al — took sexual advantage of their, um, flock.

    Weirdly enough, I’m not surprised. Playboy has its issues, but it’s not all bad.

    By the by marilove, I really am not the sexist, anti-woman ogre that I suspect you may think I am.

    I don’t think that at all, and I hope I haven’t given you that impression. I always enjoy our discussions, even if we don’t always agree.

    I think we human beings, and our cultures and societies, are far, far more complex, conflicted, and undefinable than seems to be the status quo of opinion here or pretty much anywhere.

    No, I agree with you. And as I said above, I’m sure not all religious leaders are intentionally taking advantage of the women they hit on in church. Still, it’s highly inappropriate nearly always, regardless of the intentions, and the onus is on the leader to know that.

    Think of it this way. I’m pretty sure Monica Lewinski consented to sex with Clinton. I don’t think he necessarily took advantage of her — HOWEVER, as the president, he should have known better (and certainly did know better) not to accept her advances, even if she “started it”. (More than likely they were both equally involved, but he should have said, “No, I’m the president.” And walked away.)

  20. @marilove:

    … Still, it’s highly inappropriate nearly always, regardless of the intentions, and the onus is on the leader to know that.

    OK. I think I might agree with that, under most circumstances.

    … but he should have said, “No, I’m the president.” And walked away.)

    But I’m not sure I agree with that. Aside from the negative after-effects of getting caught, why should he have said no? Why was it inappropriate?

  21. @SicPreFix: Because he’s the president and the chance of him taking advantage of someone below him even unintentionally — especially an intern — is FAR too high. It’s similar to a teacher-student relationship. It ain’t cool and as the president, he should take responsibility of the situation. For the record, I don’t think he should’ve been impeached (she’s an adult and I don’t feel comfortable turning her into a victim when she insists she’s not), but he certainly made a hugely dumb mistake and should have known better.

    If I was to get pulled over by a cop and he started hitting on me, his superiors would be pissed if they found out, even if I didn’t mind, and for damn good reason.

    The power dynamic is just too great and there are too many things that could go wrong.

  22. @marilove:
    I think the impeachment was officially about the perjury and obstruction of justice, not about the sex. I think if he had just fessed up when it came out it would have fizzled out a lot sooner. There would still have been the ethical question (from the whole power differential thing ya’ll are discussing), but I don’t think it would have become a legal issue. When the president is (allegedly, at least) trying to destroy evidence and lie under oath, it is pretty serious.

    I am a Hedge

  23. @marilove: I think we see pretty much eye to eye on this one. I would like to add that often the appearance of propriety is just as important as propriety itself.
    If you felt you were in need of clergy, teacher, cop, doctor, how likely would you be to approach a particular one if you knew that he/she had hit on the previous person to seek assistance?

  24. @Im a Hedge: Nah, you’re totally right. I just didn’t want anyone to think that I had some major issue with him having sex with her in the office, because on one level I really don’t give a shit what two adults do with their time, but things do get, erm, rather sticky when power differences are involved, so I thought it a rather apt analogy.

    @Skepotter:

    If you felt you were in need of clergy, teacher, cop, doctor, how likely would you be to approach a particular one if you knew that he/she had hit on the previous person to seek assistance?

    Yep, yep, another good point.

    And … just so y’all know, if a really hot cop hit on me when he pulled me over, I’d probably hit on him right back, because I can hold my own and I’m not easily intimidated by men. But I’m a horn dog and I have no shame (and men and women in uniform are delicious). That said, the cop shouldn’t be hitting on me in the first place.

  25. @Skepotter: And oh god, you mentioned doctors. That is somehow even worse to me, and even bigger breech of trust. You are SO vulnerable when you are in the care of a doctor. How would you ever feel comfortable being put under, or being in a state of vulnerability, around doctors again?!

  26. @marilove: Note that Clinton was not impeached for getting some triple-O. (That’s Oval Office Oral.) Nor was he impeached for victimizing Monica L., to whatever extent an eager, willing adult can be victimized. Instead, he was impeached for lying under oath about it during the Paula Jones mess. (For that he ultimately lost his law license for five years and got a $90,000 contempt-of-court citation, though the lies about Monica were only one part, not the whole reason, for this result.)

    It’s the lying under oath part that made him fair game for impeachment hearings.

  27. @ekimbrough: Yes I am a Hedge mentioned that, but I was just using it as an example but putting the disclaimer in there that I wasn’t one of the crazies that thought he should be impeached for that. I probably don’t need to put such disclaimers here at skepchic, though. I’m just too used to people taking things the wrong way in other venues.

  28. Fifty comments so far (spread out over various items) and no one has pointed out that the title of the “Clergy hit on 1 in 33 women” is *not* what the following text supports??? The text indicates that one in 33 women who regularly attend worship services have unwelcome advances from the clergy. These are not the same thing. I’m not carrying a flag one way or the other on this issue, but it is plain bad journalism that should be the target of skeptical thinking. If 50% of marriages end in divorce, does it mean that 50% of people get divorced?

    Also, re: justncase80 at comment 6, it is amusing that a reply to an article about express lanes (10 items or less!) also confuses “less” and “fewer.” If we can fight against linguistic entropy (a losing proposition, I admit), we could keep the distinction of “less” referring to a quantity of continuous measurability vs. “fewer” referring to a quantity of discontinuous/unit measurability. There may be fewer people in the barber shop, but (unless it is Sweeny Todd’s) not less.

  29. @SicPreFix: Another problem is that pastors are not just spiritual leaders, they’re also counselors. I believe that the more responsible denominations require a reasonable amount of formal training in counseling before ordaining anyone.

    Now suppose you’re the pastor, and that girl you were juuuust about to hit on comes to you, says she recently became engaged, but is now having some problems with the relationship. She needs some advice on whether to work on resolving the problems with hopes of still getting married, or whether to call off the engagement.

    Now you have a serious conflict of interest…

  30. @marilove: Understood – I was composing my message to you off-line while the non-Hedge was posting, so I accidentally duplicated.

    Impeached-but-not-convicted was probably the best outcome here. On one hand, it would be scary if Congress’s response to perjury was just “Meh – who cares? Do anything? Nah, we’ll just blow this one off.” On the other hand, it’s also scary if Congress casually tosses democratically elected presidents out of office – especially when the average moderate citizen, though very disappointed in the president’s behavior, isn’t really pressing for his removal.

    (Oops – considering the circumstances, maybe I should have chosen an idiom other than “blow this one off.”)

    So, a really close impeachment vote that _almost_ convicts is the perfect compromise here between really putting the Fear o’ God into the next idiot tempted to pull a stunt like that, while not thwarting the vote of the citizens.

  31. Is it just me or is Wal-Mart a portal into another dimension? I swear I could walk into one, go buy a drink from one of the coolers at a register with no one else in line, and when I come back outside a half hour has gone by. I need to see if I can test this further, because then I’d be a million dollars richer.

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