Quickies

Quickies: Ashley Madison Number Correction, Fish Oil Pills, and Dollhouse Crime Scenes

  • Ashley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More Bots – “After searching through the Ashley Madison database and private email last week, I reported that there might be roughly 12,000 real women active on Ashley Madison. Now, after looking at the company’s source code, it’s clear that I arrived at that low number based in part on a misunderstanding of the evidence. Equally clear is new evidence that Ashley Madison created more than 70,000 female bots to send male users millions of fake messages, hoping to create the illusion of a vast playland of available women.”
  • Kentucky Clerk’s Request For A Stay Is Denied By U.S. Supreme Court – *fail trombone noise*
  • These young Mexican women artists are speaking up – “Meet Mexican artists Aline Herrera and Natasha Kroupensky. They’re young, opinionated, and most importantly, full of ideas. They’re using their voices, and creativity, to bring attention to indigenous communities in Mexico.”
  • feminist_tinder – If you haven’t already checked out this Instagram account, written by one of the bloggers at Everyday Feminism, you need this in your life.
  • If Fish Is Brain Food, Can Fish Oil Pills Boost Brains, Too? – “In lieu of eating fish, many adults take fish oil, or omega-3 supplements. But a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that these supplements are no magic elixir when it comes to staving off cognitive decline in older adults.”
  • How it feels when white people shame your culture’s food — then make it trendy – “My family’s food went from ‘Chinese grossness’ to America’s ‘hottest food trend.’ “
  • Google Life Sciences Makes Diabetes Its First Big Target – “Signals suggesting Google wanted to do more than dabble in biomedical research were growing even before Google co-founder Sergey Brin said its life sciences operation would be spun out as an independent company under Google’s reorganization into Alphabet. Google has in recent months hired prominent scientists, including immunologists, neurologist and even nanoparticle engineers to feed its life sciences ambitions.”
  • How dollhouse crime scenes schooled 1940s cops – “Frances Glessner Lee’s dioramas helped bring a scientific approach to forensic science.”

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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8 Comments

  1. September 1, 2015 at 11:55 am —

    Wow, the comments on the food story.

    • September 1, 2015 at 2:09 pm —

      I agree they were horrid, however I was a bit confused by what the takeaway was supposed to be from that story myself.

      I get that we shouldn’t treat food as a cheap replacement for travel and that the take-out versions of dishes are rarely as authentic as the restaurant might claim, (and the whole “you can tell which one’s are authentic by how dirty they are” thing was just gross) but what are we to do? Do we need to research the area where a cuisine comes from before we are allowed to eat it? Because I actually did that the first time I ate Thai food and it helped tremendously in making sure I got what I wanted. But then the first time I tried dolsot bibimbap I knew nothing about Korean cuisine and I was just feeling adventurous and I loved it.

      I mean, to me dim sum is just another version of dumpling just like ravioli, pierogi, or empanada and I almost forget that they are all “ethnic foods”. Maybe that part of the problem, I really don’t know.

      Should it be mandatory to know all about what we are about to order least we be called out for cultural appropriation? And what cuisines would be exempt from this research requirement, if any? Italian, German, French, American? I’ve been offered lutefisk without needing the entire back story of why someone thought that lye was the best fish preservative (the answer? No one really knows, and also, it’s kind of disgusting), was I being an insensitive Nordic tourist? Must I watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi before I can try sashimi? Or read from the Torah before noshing on matzah?

      Maybe that is the answer, I don’t know. Maybe we should require a viewing of Deadliest Catch before we allow anyone at the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, or is that just too cruel?

      • September 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm —

        Also, at what point does something become ‘authentic’? Chiles are used quite a bit in Sichuan cooking; obviously, no one in China had ever seen one until 1492.

        Again, I wish people would stop appropriating the term appropriation. #meta

      • September 1, 2015 at 5:55 pm —

        I read it more of an expression of anger and frustration than I did as a call to action. I have a hard time seeing the idea that people should only eat food from their native culture as legitimate. I think there is something to trying to do away with the notion that if you eat food from other cultures that you’re a cultured person even if you have no knowledge of the cultures. But, I’m not sure how common it is for somebody to honestly claim they’re familiar with Chinese culture because they eat spring rolls.

        • September 2, 2015 at 12:36 pm —

          Well, the original point of cultural appropriation was about white hippies playing Indian and performing religious ceremonies.

          The difficulty is, the Sioux, and most other Indians, are an ethnoreligious group, meaning the religious practice is related heavily to social organization.

          When we talk about cultural appropriation, that’s the type of thing we’re talking about: Religious ceremonies, usurped honors, that sort of thing.

          It’s only much later that it became ‘white people who like anime’ or whatever.

      • September 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm —

        I was a bit confused by what the takeaway was supposed to be from that story myself.

        Me too. Some of it may be the limits of the short opinion-piece format combined with the fact that the author was talking about a lot of different-but-related phenomena, but I’m not sure how clear the author was in her own mind on what should be done. To be fair, the piece was called “How it feels…” not “What I think we should do…”

        Should it be mandatory to know all about what we are about to order least we be called out for cultural appropriation?

        That does seem to be Tam’s opinion. But I can’t agree. I do think that it’s reasonable that a chef be expected to know a bit about the history, though. I think that learning about the culture behind the food is a lot more likely to happen, with authentic enthusiasm, after trying and enjoying the food. I think Tam is right on here:

        Americans are increasingly interested in where food is sourced. Surely, that interest should extend to a meal’s cultural roots as well as its biological origins.

        Or at least, I think that both the “cultural roots” and the “biological origins” can be interesting and worth studying–but I don’t think being uninterested in either one is worthy of condemnation.

        As far as the kids who made disparaging comments about her family’s food, “don’t yuck someone else’s yum” is a rule I endorse in all manner of situations.

    • September 1, 2015 at 4:58 pm —

      Agreed; the comments are HORRIBLE.

      The assumption on the part of the author that bone broth was specifically Chinese (it’s not even specific to a particular CONTINENT) was mind-blowing, though. The sort of assumption that, when combined with colonialism (which, to be clear, it’s not in this case), is exactly the type of thing that often goes into the more infuriating forms of cultural appropriation.

  2. September 3, 2015 at 9:48 am —

    The discovery of those 70,000 bots is bad news for the site operators. There were always rumors that the site was mostly populated by bots on various forums and these were denied. Now it is clear that the company was lying, intentionally deceiving paying members to take their money. That is called criminal fraud.

    I investigated AM around 2010 for a prospective client that was being affected by their associate marketing scam. It is now pretty obvious that AM protestations that they would cut off associates for spam marketing were lies as well.

    Problem then was there was no way to prove my suspicions without breaking the law.

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