Ovarian Lottery

December 20, 2011 at 10:11 am (politics, psychology)

Warren Buffett is the third-richest man in the world, but he demonstrates a surprising amount of understanding in his exercise called “Ovarian Lottery”. In speeches for other rich white people, Warren says the following:

It’s 24 hours before your birth, and a genie appears to you. He tells you that you can set the rules for the world you’re about to enter — economic, social, political — every possible parameter you can think of.

Rich white guys are totally on board with this.

However, before you enter the world, you will pick one ball from a barrel of 6.8 billion (the number of people on the planet). That ball will determine your gender, race, nationality, natural abilities, and health — whether you are born rich or poor, sick or able-bodied, brilliant or below average, American or Zimbabwean. You’re going to get one ball out of there, and that is the most important thing that’s ever going to happen to you in your life.

It’s a great lesson in unpacking white privilege. It’s the cultural majority’s folly that “you get by on your own wits” and “if you pick yourself up by your bootstraps and work hard you can do anything you like”. As a privileged white person, that’s complete bullshit. It is my hope that at some point it will become hack to even mention white privilege- it’ll just be a thing that everyone is aware of, but until that’s the case, Buffett’s thought exercise is a useful one. The people setting up societal parameters are most often the people for whom the parameters have favored so much that they’re unaware that the parameters even exist.

This is why it is important to set up a society that doesn’t leave behind someone who accidentally got the wrong ball and is not well-wired for this particular system. Warren says:

If you could put your ball back, and they took out, at random, a hundred other balls, and you had to pick one of those, would you put your ball back in? Now, of those hundred balls … roughly five of them will be American. … Half of them are going to be below-average intelligence, half will be above. Do you want to put your ball back? Most of you, I think, will not. … What you’re saying is, “I’m in the luckiest 1% of the world right now.

If you wanna slog your way through all of Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder letters (I did not, I found an excerpt), go for it.

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I hope to God you’ve learned something today.

January 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm (politics)


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You shouldn’t have to choose between freedom of speech and the safety of women.

December 19, 2010 at 9:44 am (politics, women's issues) (, , , )

I wanted to repost this absolutely visceral and hard-to-read but important-to-read post at Tiger Beatdown by Sady Doyle about Julian Assange and the allegations against him.  I repost it in shame, because this whole Assange arrest hoopla worked on me.  I dismissed the rape charges against Assange as being a weapon in the fight to bring him down by any means necessary, but I was wrong.

Read these recaps of the whole thing for more info.

There are women behind these charges, real women who could be your friends, your moms, or your sisters, and their names were leaked by both Keith Olbermann and releaked by Michael Moore from a frankly offensive article in the Herald Sun. Moore went so far as to completely poohpooh the charges completely, saying:

What they say he did… his condom broke during consensual sex; that is not a crime in Britain. This is all a bunch of hooey, as far as I’m concerned.

They’re so busy trying to protect free speech, apparently, and pat Assange on the back for his heroism, that they’ve completely lost all empathy for the women who have experienced this trauma.

Olbermann issued a bit of an apology via Twitter, saying

Rape has touched my family, directly and savagely, and if anybody thinks I have addressed it without full sensitivity, then that assessment is the one that counts, and I apologize. But these accusations that I “revealed” an accuser’s identity by retweeting Bianca Jagger’s link, or that I ‘shamed’ an accuser by asking a question about the prosecution of a man governments are trying to bury, or that I do not ‘understand’ charges that have yet to be presented in their final form, reflect exactly the kind of rushing to judgment of which I’m accused, and merit the same kind of apology I have just given.

And then he quit Twitter, saying he’d return when the “frenzy” has died down.

I have nothing really to add on this topic, I just want it to reach as many people as possible, and instead of throwing another two cents into an already overflowing pot, I will just keep learning and reading and making sure that Sady Doyle’s words get to as many people as possible.  Please go read her post now.

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A tip for freelance writers looking to get published- just say something nasty and fake about the President.

November 28, 2010 at 10:25 am (politics) (, , )

Check this out-  this past week the Fox Nation blog reposted a scathing article about Obama in their “culture” section, but never bothered to mention that it was an Onion story, and therefore not real. They’ve since taken down the article, but Mediaite got a screengrab of both the article and the first few comments, which are sad and hilarious.  Three cheers for professorbrown for being the only person who seems to understand that it’s a fake news story.

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Fists of Voting Steel

November 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm (my life, politics)

Yes, I’m wearing a Hangover shirt. That’s what I always vote in.

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Cynthia Nixon on gay marriage.

October 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm (politics, pop culture) (, )

“I want to say to the gentleman to my left, gay people who want to marry have no desire to redefine marriage in any way. When women got the vote they did not redefine voting. When African-Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter alongside white people, they did not redefine eating out. They were simply invited to the table…We have no desire to change marriage. We want to be entitled to not only the same privileges, but the same responsibilities as straight people.”

Go to Towleroad to read more!

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Party Laws!

October 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm (Los Angeles, politics, science) (, )

In the past few days, two major pieces of legislation have passed (one federal, one in California) that you should be aware of.  Let’s dig in.

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Gynomite’s Reading Room

September 10, 2010 at 11:29 am (Comedy, food, Los Angeles, movies, politics) (, , , , )

Here’s a thing I wrote for the comedy magazine Re: Com about why watching comedy at festivals is better than watching music at festivals.

This is a really interesting article about why more people believe Obama is Muslim now than ever.  Essentially, it’s about their dissatisfaction with his presidency and the way the questions are worded more than anything.  If you ask someone if Obama’s a Muslim you get one number, but if you ask a person what race they are and then if Obama is Muslim, the number jumps because they’re reminded of how he is different than them.  A must read. *NEWSFLASH* He’s not Muslim, but why on earth would it matter if he was?

A creepy experiment with men’s pants at Esquire, where they measured the actual waistband of size 36 pants to see how big they actually were.  Every single one they measured was over 36 inches.  It’s ingenious, because if you go to Old Navy and are pleasantly surprised to fit your fatass into a 36″ waist, you’re going to keep going back.  Often.  Plus then they can accommodate plus sizes without having a plus sized line.  Evil genius.

Disappointing 90s movies.  Dig it.

I just interviewed Alie and Georgia for Lemondrop (it’ll go up next week sometime), and they are the coolest.  Their webshow “Drinks with Alie and Georgia” premieres this Monday at Food2, and here’s one of the YouTube videos that got them the show!

This Chinese woman sued a movie theater for wasting her time.  Sounds like Coupon: the Movie: the Sequel.

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Getting Distance from the Demons That Look Like Us

September 1, 2010 at 11:06 am (politics, psychology) (, , , )

Stanley Fish wrote an absolutely mindblowing piece in the NY Times blog about the similarities between American reactions to Islamic terrorists compared to their reactions to Timothy McVeigh (he was a disturbed individual) and Michael Enright (the white guy who slashed a cabbie after asking if he was Muslim- also a disturbed individual).

The formula is simple and foolproof (although those who deploy it so facilely seem to think we are all fools): If the bad act is committed by a member of a group you wish to demonize, attribute it to a community or a religion and not to the individual. But if the bad act is committed by someone whose profile, interests and agendas are uncomfortably close to your own, detach the malefactor from everything that is going on or is in the air (he came from nowhere) and characterize him as a one-off, non-generalizable, sui generis phenomenon.

Absolutely amazing, go read it here.

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Stereotype Check-in

August 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm (politics, research) (, , )

In light of the several drownings of black kids across America this past summer (six in Louisiana, one in Ohio), I decided to check in with my good friend L, who is a writer, thinker, truth teller (as dumb as that phrase is, it’s true), survivor, and also the guy who I tell more stories about than anyone else.  On top of all that, he’s a black guy, so I asked him to shed some light on the stereotype of why black people don’t swim.  Have you heard this stereotype?  I thought everyone had, but I’ve learned recently that it’s not as widespread as I thought.  Either way, kids unnecessarily drowning needs to be called out as much as possible, so jump if you’re intrigued.

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