Skepchick Quickies 1.16

According to Wikipedia, this is what happened on January 16th, 378: “General Fire is Born conquers Tikal, enlarging the domain of King Spearthrower Owl of Teotihuacán.” I thought that was a pretty awesome sentence (plus, Mayan history is neat), so I’m going to leave it like that.

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. I like “funny foreign words” articles but I wish they’d leave out the claim that they don’t have an English equivalent – half of them usually do, which raises my skeptic hackles!

    1. Maybe a step above animals that look like people, but still a prime example of I-have-nothing-better-to-report-on-today journalism. Is there a word for that? “Lazy,” maybe?

    2. Is “overmorrow” ever still used for the day after tomorrow? (It’s not passing my spell-check, that’s for sure)

    3. If there is an English equivalent to Fremdschämen, I need to know it, because this is a word I desperately need in my vocabulary to describe why I can no longer watch ‘Modern Family’. The show causes much too much of this feeling for me to be comfortable!

    4. Remembering Will’s post on Boaz, some cultural anthropologists may claim that the absence of certain words in our language is a sign of the superiority of our culture.

      Clearly, we have no need of a word like rwhwe “to sleep on the floor without a mat, while drunk and naked.”

      Such things do not happen in our culture. No, nothing to see there, move on!

      I enjoyed the list a whole lot more with Will’s post in mind!

      1. I doubt any anthropologist trained in the last fifty years would claim that. Not that I don’t like Boaz.

        And I’m sure that college kids have a synonym for rwhwe, we just haven’t heard it yet.

  2. Deep Silver’s “apology” contends that the torso is that of a zombie. But the item is labeled as “zombie bait”. Typically, from what pop culture I have observed, it’s not zombie flesh that zombies would be after. Curious, wot?

  3. Mary

    I really don’t see why anyone would want to own that 12″ bloody torso statue. Seriously that actually makes me not want to buy the limited edition. Come to think of it, I was never really that interested in the Zombie Island game to begin with.

    1. At least if you saw it displayed by someone you can mentally note the emergence of a potential serial killer.

  4. Umm, I spend a lot more being married and having kids than I did when I was single.

    The tax breaks take into account that you’re spending money raising a family. So whatever single people lose, they often make up for in not having to pay thousands monthly for their children.

    1. Not that I’m anti-child [I’m ambivalent towards them,] but where does it logically follow that non-parents should have to “make up” for not having them?

      I accept that it’s reasonable for non-parents to help pay for schools and the like both as a means of repayment for the educations we received and due to the clear benefit to society, but that’s a different issue.

      1. And yes, I realize I’m conflating being married with parenthood and being single with not having children.

        1. Because children are very expensive, and it helps to have a tax break for it. Sorry if that’s offensive.

          Think of it as we’re the people creating the people who will pay for your social security.

          1. Okay, fine. So we give people with children tax breaks. Okie-dokey. No argument from me.

            Now, why do we have to give married people tax breaks for being married? Raising a child is typically far more of a financial strain if you aren’t married than if you are, so we should really be giving unmarried parents larger tax breaks, if anything.

          2. Yes, I don’t disagree that single parents should get tax breaks as well.

    2. I found the tax claim odd. When I got married (12 years ago), our taxes actually went up. (If you added what we paid as single people, it was much less than we had to pay after we were married.) I do see what they are saying on items such as housing.

      As far as having kids, I think they were comparing single people without kids to married people without kids.

      1. //As far as having kids, I think they were comparing single people without kids to married people without kids.//

        Yeahhh, that whole marriage-only tax break thing is questionable. Not sure why it can’t be extended to domestic partnerships… I suppose because that’s also offensive to people’s values.

    1. Animal research is one of those things that is unfortunate, but necessary if we’re to have any hope of advancing medical science. Cell culture just doesn’t cut it, especially if we’re talking about established cell lines (i.e. cells that haven’t very recently been taken from an animal, which means that cell culture itself wouldn’t completely spare animals).

      If you’re investigating something new, you have to assume that anything you see in culture is an anomaly until you see it in an animal. Then you have to assume that anything you see in an animal is an anomaly until you see it in a human. Then you have to assume that anything you see in a human is an anomaly until you see it in a bunch of humans. Jumping straight from culture to humans skips too many steps, and the sheer number of variables involved would make informed consent for test subjects impossible.

      I’ll agree that animal testing isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary or valuable. It comes down to pain and discomfort vs potential benefit. That doesn’t always pay off, which is why the process of getting animal research approved is a pretty involved process, and permission isn’t always granted.

    2. I used to sit on an Animal Ethics Committee.

      I vividly remember a senior surgeon pontificating that an animal has no awareness of its own existence.


      That said, most of the experiments performed were unobjectionable, quite a lot were to do with agriculture, e.g. early adoption of transgenic techniques to improve the quality of wool.

      The animals involved were rats or food animals – sheep, pigs etc. RSPCA forbade the use of dogs, and a good thing too!

      I and many others on the committee had a great deal of sympathy and consideration for the animals.

  5. Yeah, but the tax breaks aren’t breaks for having kids, they are breaks for marrieds. You still get them even if you don’t have any kids and have no plans to ever have kids.

    If the tax system were truly only about giving people a financial break to ease the burden of raising children, all of the tax breaks would depend on the number of dependents you have, not on your marital status. I am not terribly familiar with US tax code, but I know that Canadian tax code has breaks both – amounts you can claim for being married, AND amounts you can claim for having dependents (Which could include children, disable adults, or elderly people that you look after).

    So yes, these tax breaks ARE about privileging married people over single people.

    1. Indeed they are. I’d be in favor of keeping them :) because I enjoy the tax breaks.

      But, I’d advocate the following changes
      – Single parents should get a special tax break that takes into account their hardship
      – Unmarried co-habiting domestic partners with children should get the marriage tax break.
      – Gay couples NEED to be able to get married and receive these tax breaks as well.

      Honestly I’m frankly quite okay with any tax breaks normal citizens can get. What I have a much larger beef with is the fact that capital gains tax is at a rate that is commensurate with middle class tax brackets.

      Instead of nit-picking normal citizens, I’d prefer to close tax loopholes for large corporations and capital gains. And this would make sense given that this is where most of the money is.

      1. I’m not sure if offended is the right word for how I feel, but it is the same feeling I get whenever the government spend money on something I don’t approve of.

        I would like to see some data on the amount spent on child tax credits versus the amount to be paid into social security by said child before I pass judgment on that point.

        I am sure that it feels good to be on the receiving end of these breaks. However your enlightened self-interest does not necessarily equate with a rational or fair policy. It may be just as valid to suggest that the tax benefits of being married and/or having children is simply a way of appealing to voters.

        Presumably, the bulk of single tax-payers are young and at the start of their careers. They are likely saddled with student loan debt and not making a great deal of money. This does not seem like rational place to increase their tax burden to me.

        We can agree on corporate tax loopholes and the capital gains tax, at least.

        1. Well as you don’t have children, you don’t understand what it’s like to afford them. So I wouldn’t expect you to understand why the child tax break is good and necessary for many families to afford their lives.

          Also, Children tend to just happen when you have sex sometimes. So it’s not always a matter of “just not having children” unless we’re going to start telling women they need to abort unplanned pregnancies for the good of society.

          So the marriage tax break I could see as something to criticize, but the child tax break, absolutely not.

          Point is: a lot of lower and middle income families struggle to afford life, and the child tax break is lifesaving. Thus if you’ve got a problem with the child tax break, you’re simply wrong.

          And if we’re going to bring privelege into it. Guess who’s more likely to hold off having children for longer periods of time? Oh ya, higher income children and white people… so hrm, sorry people with children are infringing on that gravy train there.

          1. I never said that people should “just not have children,” you did. The same goes for privilege. I have no problem with welfare, but if the issue is that this is good for lower or middle income families, who does the child tax break also apply to those with larger incomes?

            Again, I am advocating critical analysis of this issue. Which is presumably why we’re here.

            I am not saying you are [necessarily] wrong, and I would appreciate if you did not resort to saying I am without a firmer grounding than opinion or personal history.

          2. //Again, I am advocating critical analysis of this issue. Which is presumably why we’re here//

            Not against that, but I’m against taking the child tax credit away because I see that it’s helped just about everyone I know through some hard times. Even those who aren’t low income.

            I’d be for looking at the marriage tax break though and making that more fair.

        2. And ya, the child tax break is a form of welfare.

          So what?

          The government is in place to take care of its people.

        3. //Presumably, the bulk of single tax-payers are young and at the start of their careers. They are likely saddled with student loan debt and not making a great deal of money. This does not seem like rational place to increase their tax burden to me.//

          Lot of on the spot assumptions there, got data for any of those claims.

          Also, if you want student loan relief, lobby for it. Attacking tax breaks for people with kids isn’t going to help the plight of single people with student loan debt/

          1. No, I don’t have data for them. I am not a sociologist. This is why I clearly stated they were assumptions and opinions.

          2. Assumptions and opinions? Really? They can be valuable sometimes, but you’re basing your ENTIRE ARGUMENT on assumptions and opinions. So, your arguments are rather … pointless and baseless.

  6. As one who calls herself Childless By Choice, I’d like to officially request that no one reproduce on my behalf, for Social Security or not. I’m sure that there will always be enough children. I mean, I’ve heard some Catholic nuns on a You Tube video warn that there weren’t going to be enough *cough*white*cough children, but, uh, I don’t believe them.

    Thank you.

    1. Don’t worry, no one’s reproducing for anyone else.

      The thing is that people DO reproduce, it’s a fundamental human right and it’s challenging to afford it when hard times hit. Therefore the tax break is lifesaving for some people.

      And you may say “well don’t have children you can’t afford”, well thank you very much for your endless wisdom single person, but things happen like people losing their jobs, getting injured in car accidents, or getting cancer and the tax breaks help people immensely when these times hit.

      A lot of low and middle income people with children in the US would have a hard time if it wasn’t for those tax breaks. So ya, they’re GOOD.

      1. Is it worth noting that single people also lose their jobs, have accidents, or get cancer?

        Everyone wants to pay less in taxes. The point is to critically analyze what social policies the government is trying to promote or discourage through the tax code.

        Clearly, the US government wants people to pair off into heterosexual marriages and reproduce. Is that a good idea? As a single person who does not believe that marriage or children are necessarily goals to which everyone should aspire, I think that critical analysis is exactly what is called for.

        1. Ya ya, you don’t have kids, so you don’t know how hard it is to afford them.

          And you ignore that a lot of people receiving the most help are underprivileged minorities, single mothers, etc.

          Your privilege is showing.

        2. //As a single person who does not believe that marriage or children are necessarily goals to which everyone should aspire, I think that critical analysis is exactly what is called for.//

          It’s not about GOALS, it’s about the government giving tax welfare to help people with the massive expense of children.

          AND you don’t always control whether a pregnancy happens or not, even on birth control. So for instance, if you’re one of these overburdened single people, and all of a sudden, ooops, you got someone pregnant (or got pregnant) and in 9 months your expenses increase to 150% of what they were, what then?

        3. //Is it worth noting that single people also lose their jobs, have accidents, or get cancer? //

          Yes but you have only yourself to support in these cases, not little people who can’t survive on their own.

        4. Is it worth noting that single people also lose their jobs, have accidents, or get cancer?

          I think it’s worth noting that the last thing anybody wants is streets full of abandoned children, or for the government to take on the full cost of raising those children, or for parents to turn to crime to support children that they have lost the ability to afford.

          Single, childless people have far more options than couples or parents. Their opportunity to adapt to evolving situations is simply incredible compared to those who have to take into account the life of a whole other adult, let alone a young person who they are also trying to feed, train, and hopefully transform into another productive, responsible adult (with whom you single, childless folks will have to share this world and its resources until one of you dies).

          I can think of plenty of situations where a specific single person’s options might be more limited than a specific parent’s (illness and injury, obviously, being potential causes, as well as economic status), but when you are talking about tax codes it is necessary to think about broad trends. I can’t really think of any such situation that is exclusive to single people. Single, childless people get cancer. But so do married parents – and when they do, their entire family may suffer for it.

          This is not just about some abstract concept of justice or proper behavior. It’s about creating a functional, sustainable society. “Don’t have children” is not a public policy we can implement. People will have children. Hell, they already have the children, and believe me that their economic reality has been examined from every almost every angle imaginable. That’s the situation we are dealing with. Even if we as a society choose to establish a system that discourages reproducing, we’ll still have to consider somehow with the financial realities of those families who reproduce despite those policies.

          Sometimes tax policies are not about encouraging people to act a certain way. Sometimes they are about the fact that people are already acting a certain way, and increasing the desperation and anxiety of those people is very likely to be disastrous for our future as a society.

        5. As a single person with no kids and who does not want kids and has no particular draw toward marriage, one of the reasons I don’t want kids is because if I get sick/lose my job/want to move/whatever — I only have to think about MYSELF, and not a child.

          (There are many other reasons I don’t want kids; this is just one of them.)

  7. About half of American pregnancies are unintended.
    So, unless you think women should be forced to have abortions, I don’t know why people are so comfortable saying ‘just don’t have kids’.
    Obviously, we need better access to birth control, but even then there will be unintended pregnancies. You don’t get perfect use for 30+ years with any medical intervention.
    Might as well say ‘Just have gay sex, heteros! Problem solved!’ or ‘Just sterilize all the poor people! Problem solved!’

  8. Personally, I don’t think I’m against child tax credits, but one should also get credits, or more substantional credits, for being a student/having student debt from a public university, working for a non-profit organization, working in an essential yet lower-income job like a teacher or nurse, or basically doing or having done things that benefit others (or society in general) at the cost of one’s own income (or maybe job security or health or some other measure of sacrifice). The problem is not that people get a credit for having children, it’s that the principle behind that credit is applied only selectively. That principle is, namely, that you are reimbursed somewhat for doing good things for society (which includes educating yourself, raising children, and many other things) while other people, having directed more of their energy toward their own financial success, make their contribution to the greater good through higher taxes. (of course, whether the tax money actually benefits the greater good in the best way possible is another matter to discuss…). In any case, if it is true that childless people tend to have burdens or take on responsibilities less likely to be recognized as justification for tax credits, the tax code does penalize them.

    As an aside, the philosophical justification for tax credits of any kind should not need to rest on the future social security contributions of anybody. I’d assume those who are pro-child-credit would agree with tax credits currently given to caretakers for elderly parents, who are more likely to be collecting social security than paying into it.

  9. Why did they feel the need to give the bust implants? I can’t really put my finger on why it’s so disturbing, but it is.

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