Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, December 05, 2021

The ongoing release of Kinsey, a movie account of the life and times of sex-research pioneer Alfred Kinsey, has become a flashpoint for conservative groups, who are seeking to discredit the depiction of Kinsey in the film and, by extension, the body of his work.

I think the core motivation against Kinsey the movie and Kinsey the man is nicely summed up thusly:

“People who are raising these allegations have many more concerns than just Alfred Kinsey,” [Indiana University information services director Jennifer] Bass said. “I think there’s a desire to look for a reason for all the problems we have in society and place blame somewhere. Sex research is not the cause of problems in society today; it’s trying to understand why they exist and what we can do to make a difference with these terrible issues of public health and violence toward women and in the family.”

Not that anyone on the other side will acknowledge that. To mask their hangups, they use misdirection tactics, like questioning the basic statistical work that underlay the Kinsey research:

“You only need to look at the re-election of George Bush to understand why (Kinsey’s surveys) weren’t scientific,” [conservative groups spokesperson Kristi Hamrick] said. “No matter what the exit polls said, it was not a good cross section, and the numbers were wrong. John Kerry didn’t win the presidency. The poll numbers were bad, and that’s also the problem with Kinsey.

“He may have talked to 18,000 people, but when you look at the fact that he talked so disproportionately to prostitutes, sex offenders and pedophiles, you get the mind-set of a sex offender which he then projects on the rest of society. This is not a scientific sample.”

How disproportionate were Kinsey’s interviews? Of course, the scope of the interview pool is described as including “bootleggers, clergymen, clerks, clinical psychologists… housewives, lawyers, marriage counselors, n’er-do-wells, persons in the social register…”, but that doesn’t give much of a clue as to how many of each were included. I haven’t seen the data, but plenty of other researchers have, and the integrity of the methodology continues to be admired decades after it was compiled.

Again, it all comes down to who/what you believe, and none of it really matters to the voices who are dissenting. Frankly, I get the strong feeling that if, out of the 18,000 interviews, only a single one was with a sexual “deviant”, that would be enough to stain the entire study. Scratch that — actually, the entire subject of the study is enough to discredit it, in this worldview.

Get ready for these groups, including the Family Research Council, to declare a grand victory in this fight, on the basis of Kinsey not placing high on any ticket-sales charts by the time its theatrical run ends. It’ll be patently false, because the movie is being distributed on a strictly limited art-house circuit; and so distributor Fox Searchlight Pictures isn’t shooting for blockbuster-like numbers, only a decent return.

A few fringe “family values” groups tried to make a similar argument a few months back over Saved!. Saved! was another limited release, more notable for starring roles by Macaulay Culkin and Mandy Moore than its spoofing of ardent Christians. Naturally, it didn’t come close to matching the box-office of then-still-in-theaters The Passion of the Christ; again, it wasn’t shooting for that level. Not only are all movies not created equal; they’re also not shooting for comparable results.

The situation matches the one for Kinsey simply by stimulus. The re-election of Bush on the crest of the moral-values issue is interpreted by conservative social activists as a starter’s gun for advancing their agenda. This movie is a perfect target for an early litmus test for future campaigns (although this movement started well before the November election). These groups know their timing will never be better than it is now.

Back to the core of it: It’s a blame game, and a futile one at that. Instead of sticking their own heads in the sand regarding sexual issues — which is their prerogative — they want to put the issue itself in the ground. I’m not too big a fan of either action, and so I’ll be buying my ticket for Kinsey whenever it rolls into the Tampa Bay area.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 09:32:09 PM
Category: History, Movies, Society
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Even while internal ringbacks are being developed, work continues in Japan on making external ringtones even more nifty.

Some of this hardware refinement for mobile phones sounds like it’ll yield nice results:

But researchers at DoCoMo have gone a step further, working on a next-generation 3D sound technology that would let mobile phones produce sounds that appear to come from different directions.

In a museum, for example, consumers could receive commentaries on their phones as if they were coming from the artifacts themselves, or a business executive could be on a three-way conference call via mobile phone and the other participants’ voices would sound as though they came from two different directions to avoid mix-ups.

It occurs to me that ventriloquists can use such technology to their advantage, too…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 06:57:43 PM
Category: Tech
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Make cranes, not war: Thailand’s air force dropped millions of origami paper figurines onto separatist Muslim regions in the country’s south, in hopes of fostering good feelings.

Of course, the dropping of propaganda leaflets and the like has been done ever since airplanes began being used in warfare. And Clausewitz noted that “war is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means”; I’m not sure if the “other means” he had in mind included little folded-up paper birdies.

I’m just glad they chose cranes as their origami subjects. Other possibilities probably wouldn’t have been appreciated.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 06:41:32 PM
Category: Political, Society
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So Psych Grad Momma pondered recently on whether or not there was a protocol for responding to comments left on a blog, with varying opinions weighing in.

I’ve wondered about it every so often myself, even all the way back to my former blogging home.

I don’t get a tremendous amount of comments here; I’d be lying if I said that didn’t matter. Enabling feedback on each post is a way of welcoming such feedback. It’s also a sign of a sizable and (more importantly) engaged readership.

Granted, some posts aren’t designed to elicit much response, and I guess my presentation often leaves little more to be said on a particular topic. But often, I’ll write a post, like this one, that I expect to generate some input from others, and am disappointed when none materializes. Conversely, sometimes a post I don’t think much about when writing it unexpectedly gets way more commenting than I’d expect.

Obviously, there’s a magic bullet for attracting sure-fire feedback that I don’t possess. And to a certain extent, there’s no sense in focusing on it: While you can’t completely disregard your readership, you also can’t wholly cater to it.

But as far as responding to the comments I do get… In my early blogging days, I would jump on every infrequent comment I got with a response, hoping to spark a conversational thread. That never happened — typically, my comment response would be the only counter-response for that post, and that would be the end of it.

After experiencing this a few times, I started to wonder: Did a comment response from me, as the blog author, have some sort of chilling effect on further dialogue? I never framed my comments in a way that suggested I was delivering the final word on the subject (at least not consciously). But the thought crossed my mind that it could be interpreted that way, simply because of who the messenger was. If nothing else, it could have created the impression of an exclusively two-person conversation being created, when that’s not the intention.

With that in mind, I decided to curtail my direct responses to comments, for the most part. I didn’t stop altogether: If there was a direct question being asked, or something that particularly merited a response, then I’d chime in. But I didn’t look upon each and every comment as demanding a direct response from me. I guess I wanted to encourage a flow, and was afraid that any interjection from me would stop that.

The thing is, that didn’t have the desired effect either. The trick is getting an initial comment to start the ball rolling; without that, there’s nothing for me to interject into. And like I said, a lot of my posts don’t get even that. So I don’t know if my hands-off policy is really working.

As I mentioned, there are different takes on this. And I can point to a couple of bloggers who operate (largely) on either extreme: Dustbury.com seems to reply to most comments, while Off Wing Opinion mostly doesn’t. I’m neither condemning nor endorsing either approach; rather, I cite them as modus operandi for comparable blogs.

This has been a rather long-winded way to declare that I don’t really know if there is a “right” way to handle feedback on a blog. Is an acknowledgement by the blog author an expected courtesy? Or is it a damper on other chime-ins? Should I even worry about it?

I’m not expecting a definitive answer, but by all means, comment away!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 05:50:24 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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Regular visitors may have noticed some slight changes throughout this blog. I list them here, in no particular order and more for my record than anything else:

- Blogroll: Various additions and subtractions; additions obviously because I like them, subtractions mostly due to lack of updating on those sites.

- Categories Listing: I finally figured out the PHP coding for presenting these things as they should be — with subcategories nested under their parent categories. Unfortunately, something in the CSS formatting (I think) is causing them to display with way too much space above and below the subcategory listings. I know it looks bad in current IE and Firefox versions in Windows; IE 5.5 on Mac, oddly, displays much cleaner, with all that extra space gone. I can’t figure out how to fix it; if anyone knows the trick, please enlighten me.

Secondarily, I also included the number of posts per category/subcategory. A nice barometer for what I’m scribblin’ on.

- Post Footer: In the footer, I’ve inserted a three-letter abbreviation for the day of the week between my name and the rest of the post-dating information. For those bloggers who post no more than once a day (if that), and short posts at that, I’m sure this makes absolutely no sense. For those bloggers who tend to post several times every day (like me) and scroll up and down their home page in search of recent posts, I’m sure this stylizing makes perfect sense.

- Single Post Title: Each permalink single-post page now includes the title of each post in the browser’s header bar. If you open multiple windows as much as I do, it’s another one of those little things that makes life easier.

I don’t relish tinkering too much with the layout and backend of this site; it’s like walking through a minefield. But little by little, I manage to do it.

I’ll be making more changes in the near future, most of them largely invisible. One thing I’d like to implement is a multiple-page output for search results, as hacked by Scriptygoddess (I can’t find the exact permalink at the moment). I’m also intrigued by the possibility of displaying per-post comments on the main index page, in a hide-unhide mode.

It’s all about the look…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 12:56:45 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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