ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













The White Noise

The White Noise


A hit of addiction and mental illness, chased by chemistry and culture.
The White Noise Home

I Invited Homeless Addicts to My House for Thanksgiving Dinner


Email   PrintPrint



This post is part of a collaborative narrative series composed of my writing and Chris Arnade’s photos exploring issues of addiction, poverty and prostitution in Hunts Point, Bronx. For more on the series, look here.

————————-
This year, I invited people from Hunts Point, Bronx to my Queens apartment for Thanksgiving. Michael, a homeless transsexual heroin addict, alone, came.

Twenty-four hours after Thanksgiving dinner, I found myself staring into my fridge with its leftover mac ‘n cheese and green bean casserole, crying.

I extended holiday offers to several people from Hunts Point, people who have become friends over this past year. I was happy to take whoever would come. Two days ago, Jen, a prostitute, texted me and declined for herself and her pimp, Charlie, saying that she was sick, that she couldn’t make it. Sick, not scared or uncomfortable.


My text with Jen. Me in green, her in white.

Another Jennifer, a crack addict, said she was cooking a big meal for her family, that she was working the streets to save money for all the food. Food, not drugs.

Jennifer on Thanksgiving Eve: Hunts Point, Bronx
Jennifer on Thanksgiving Eve. Photo courtesy of Chris Arnade.

In this manner, Thanksgiving invitations and promised appearances dwindled to only Michael from the neighborhood.

Initially, my concern, selfishly, was for me. I had vague peripheral worries — what if Michael stole something? what if he brought drugs to the house? what if he freaked out the non-Hunts Point folks at the dinner table?

Today, I found nothing stolen, not that I’d mind so much if I did. Michael did shoot heroin inside the apartment. He and my normal-life friends talked New York and made jokes, perhaps out of deference to me, me who wanted it to work so badly.

Thanksgiving didn’t happen like I thought it would happen. It didn’t go smoothly with a ramshackle and awkward mix of people.

My friends and I were cooking the turkey when Michael entered the house, escorted by Chris Arnade who had driven from Brooklyn to lend a ride. The slight 5’1″ man was weighed down with bags fastened by knots. He abandoned his cargo in the hallway and ate a proffered red velvet cupcake, lamenting the difficulty he had found copping drugs, before shirking away to shoot up in my bathroom. My friends, warned as they had been, exchanged glances. Chris and I went to observe the drug use.

Michael after shooting up
Michael after shooting up in my bathroom. Photo courtesy of Chris Arnade.

After his hit, Michael overturned his bag on the tiled bathroom floor, a cascade of travel-sized bottles to sort. He gave me “Being Sexy” hair gel. I gave him a pair of socks.

Michael Shower
Michael sorting. Photo courtesy of Chris Arnade.

I offered him a shower and handed him a towel. (It wasn’t the food he really wanted, it was the shower.) He came out of the bathroom nothing short of two-and-a-half hours later, after having turned it into a spa. His hair was the cleanest I’ve seen it, soft brown tresses past his shoulders. He opened the bathroom door to call me for a once-over before presenting himself at dinner: fresh makeup, thick mascara and dangling earrings. “Do I look like a total prostitute?” He was proud.

He looked beautiful.

Over his two plates of dinner, he and my friends joined in to make fun of me: they talked fashion, labels about which I knew little. Afterwards, we ate dessert, played Candyland and watched Edward Scissorhands on my couch. Michael painted his nails purple-grey then fell asleep against my shoulder, legs curled. It felt sweet, routine; absurd to how I see him every day on the streets.

I packed food in tupperware for him to take back, for others he saw, for himself later. Before returning with Chris, he commented on how quiet my street was, how nice a neighborhood.

———-

Yesterday was wonderful, probably my best Thanksgiving ever. That’s what I want to say. In reality, I don’t know if what I did was good. I thought it was something small I could do, to offer food to those I consider my friends. But by reaching out in such an intimate way to those in Hunts Point, did I unintentionally create discomfort, or lend a look into how life could be, only to snatch it away? Was it a selfish thing (me with my house and shower) to have done, to appease my own guilt of having a Thanksgiving dinner, my way of coping with the supreme inequalities that exist ten minutes from my apartment? I wonder if Michael came along to appease Chris and I, a small sacrifice to make us happy. I should have recognized the difficulty he, and others I invited, faced beforehand, but in my excitement, I didn’t. Now, I can only hope the day didn’t make him miserable.

Those struggling with addiction and ensconced in poverty have needs that often run in opposition to one another: housing and stability, freedom and self-awareness, an environment that won’t enable drug use. Besides encouraging rehab and detox, perhaps we who work with them can never know exactly what we can do to help, offer no sure-fire life balm. Maybe positive help is an offer of companionship on a holiday. Maybe it’s a shower. Maybe it’s driving food to Hunts Point. Maybe it’s simply being a friend who visits the neighborhood to hear everyday stories.
————————-
More Hunts Point Addiction Writing
Writing Beyond Addiction in Hunts Point
Chris Arnade’s Photos and his Facebook feed

Cassie Rodenberg About the Author: I write on culture, poverty, addiction, and mental illness: I explore things we like to ignore. I also teach public school in New York City's South Bronx. Follow on Twitter @cassierodenberg.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Comments 41 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. David Kroll 4:03 pm 11/23/2012

    I’m not sure if it’s right from a long-term, social services standpoint. But it was the right thing to do as a human being. I really wish more of your Hunts Point compatriots had availed themselves to your kindness.

    I know that you’re gone from the South for good but I’m touched by your show of Southern hospitality. You’re such a good soul, Cassie.

    Link to this
  2. 2. norm4254 6:25 pm 11/23/2012

    at some point in time , at some point in a persons life they will realize they are the some total of there choices. and then they change. only they can change. We cant change them anymore than we can march into foreign countries and fix them with bombing and killing the bad guys.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Tim May 7:12 pm 11/23/2012

    I miss the “Scientific American” articles of the 1960s through the first half of the 1980s. After the ownership change, the tone shifted more toward pop science.

    And in the new blog era, it’s unrecognizable.

    We need more physics, more chemistry, more engineering.

    And less about social issues.

    –Tim May

    Link to this
  4. 4. jasongoldman 7:27 pm 11/23/2012

    @Tim: It’s interesting that you think there is *less* of what you narrowly seem to consider “real science,” when the truth is simply that there’s a greater diversity of offerings around here. I don’t see how that can possibly be bad. If you’d rather stick to the physics and chemistry, there’s plenty to be found. Personally, I think pieces like Cassie’s have an important place at Scientific American.

    Link to this
  5. 5. timmaroney 7:32 pm 11/23/2012

    This is NOT the kind of article that needs to be in Scientific American. It is diverse, however, there are other forums for this. Bad decision by the editorial staff to allow this.

    Link to this
  6. 6. mrlbrmn21 8:04 pm 11/23/2012

    I REALIZE WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DO HERE AND THAT YOU HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS BUT I HOPE YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE JUST ENABLING THEM. I UNDERSTAND THEY ALL HAD SHITTY CHILDHOODS BUT AT A CERTAIN POINT THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS. THEY KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG. THERE IS HELP IF THEY WANT IT AND THEY CHOSE TO TURN IT DOWN.

    Link to this
  7. 7. Tim May 8:10 pm 11/23/2012

    Jason Goldman,

    I don’t see how taking up space in Sci Am, a once-prestigious magazine, with articles about trannies, addicts, and prostitutes is very “diverse,” except in the moder “defining deviancy downward” atmosphere.

    I last subscribed to SciAm in the early 90s, then let the subscription lapse. Reading about ESP and “Are we all just holograms?” was bad enough.

    Perhaps Cassie ought to realize that the reason she was crying the day after her experiment was that she was wallowing amongst those who have made some very, very bad choices.

    (Oh, and unless there are 2 or more bathrooms in her apartment or residence, letting someone hog the bathroom for at least 2.5 hours on a Thanksgiving Day with other guests present is just plain unacceptable. What was she thinking? Perhaps her apartment has 2 bathrooms. Still…)

    –Tim May

    Link to this
  8. 8. stderr 8:11 pm 11/23/2012

    While I’m sure that we can all celebrate the fact that this guy got a bath, it’s not clear to me how this is “science”. Perhaps the blog could be moved to “Good Housekeeping”.

    Link to this
  9. 9. Bora Zivkovic 8:21 pm 11/23/2012

    Taking up space? What space? This is the age of the Web. Space is endless. Content is endless. Nobody can read everything. One has to learn how to filter and only read what one is interested in and not waste one’s time – and everyone’s else nerves by derailing comment threads – by posting comments on content one is not interested in. Why do it unless one wants to rankle everyone else?

    There is a reason why Cassie’s blog is here. There is a reason why SciAm is thriving now, and was not in the 1980s. It is because most people are not so narrow to only look for “physics”, but see how science relates to all the other areas of life, society and human experience, and want to read about and discuss such issues.

    Link to this
  10. 10. s566583 8:59 pm 11/23/2012

    Bora,

    You are absolutely amazing. Thank you!

    – Sarah C.

    Link to this
  11. 11. RogerPink 11:45 pm 11/23/2012

    For people who are struggling (in any number of ways), the holidays are the worst part of the year. It’s the part of the year when they realize how different they are from the “ideal”. That’s the reason suicides are highest around the holidays.

    I know you meant well, but the reason most of the people cancelled was because the last thing they wanted to do was show up at your house for some weird sociological experiment.

    What you tried to do seems more about you than about the people you’re trying to help. I’m not saying your intentions weren’t good, or that you aren’t a good person. You obviously are trying to be both and that should be commended. But what you did was tell people what they wanted/need (a thanksgiving dinner), rather than listen to them and hear what they actually wanted/need.

    Just listen to the song “Common People” by Pulp as long as it takes till you get what I’m trying to say to you. And if you dislike this comment, take solace in fact that almost everyone who will read this will think I’m wrong about this, even though I’m not.

    Link to this
  12. 12. sleeplessaquarius 11:47 pm 11/23/2012

    Precisely Bora! I also think Cassie’s article was very relevant, & eye opening. If only more people could have such a generous, compassionate heart to those around them (& not just on holidays), the world would be a much better place. Should she have just shunned them like others would? Act like she didnt see them on the holiday? How selfless to think of others who have less. Way to go Cassie! Hopefully those of us who a good life will never have to ever be in the shoes of those who havent such a good life. Something to think about. They are fortunate to have someone like Cassie, & Chris, who DO care. So few do. So enjoy your physics & science in your home with your laptops, not everyone gets such luxuries. I hope Michael, Cassie, Chris & all the others of Hunts Point had a safe holiday to the best of their ability. Sincerely.

    Link to this
  13. 13. keelyellenmarie 1:07 am 11/24/2012

    I’m with Bora and David, and most of the rest of you are being close-minded at best and cruel at worst. As Bora said, there is infinite space on the internet, Cassie is not WASTING a damn thing. Also, ALL of SA’s content has improved markedly in the last few years, and from my perspective blogs have been almost entirely a positive part of that effort. If you don’t like a blog, consider NOT READING IT. This isn’t in the magazine, it’s in a damn blog post. Cassie blogs about addiction, which is a multifaceted issue relating to both hard science and more broad human concerns. If she talked only about the neuroscience/chemistry that would still be of value, but I think the discussion of actual people and the societal forces that shape their experiences significantly adds to the story she tells here. If you think addiction ISN’T an issue for science, you’re missing a key part of the picture, but if you think addiction can be fully addressed WITHOUT discussing other factors, you’re being deliberately obtuse.

    Link to this
  14. 14. dbtinc 9:38 am 11/24/2012

    While while well-intentioned, doing this is extremely dangerous and jeopardizes those doing the good deeds. Want to provide meals for these folks? I suggest you use a neighborhood church or other facility. On another note, I agree with some of the commenters that while interesting this material should not be published under the banner of Scientific American. There is too much hard science that needs to be covered as opposed to these feel-good pieces.

    Link to this
  15. 15. Panpiper 9:59 am 11/24/2012

    I do something similar once in a while, typically December 24th. However I do not bring people to my home. I suspect that is indeed going a bit ‘too’ far. Rather I will invite street kids to a restaurant (Chinese & Indian are often open) and fill them to bursting, and make sure they have leftovers to take with them afterwards. I do not spend any time lecturing or giving advice, I do a lot of listening and occasionally trade stories of my own time on the streets. I too was once an addict and street people, 30 odd years ago.

    The point is not to ‘save’ them or even really to help, other than a meal. It’s just to give them a tiny bit of social contact with a part of the world that usually shuns them. The benefit they gain from the experience other than the meal, if any, is simply to meet someone who has been there and gotten out. I don’t tell them how to get out or even suggest that they should. I am simply proof that it can be done.

    Street people believe it or not, still have pride. They do not relish taking charity or being seen to need it. For many, where they are is actually a choice they have deliberately made, they eschew what they perceive as the values of the society that they do not fit into and live outside of it. Inviting them to your home could well be construed as “rubbing their faces in it”. When the kids I invite ask me, “Why?”, I shrug my shoulders and say, “Because I’ve been there.” That is enough.

    Link to this
  16. 16. RSchmidt 11:11 am 11/24/2012

    @Tim, it is obvious that you want sciam to adhere to your personal agenda but fortunately, they have no obligation to do so. If you want hard science there are other venues for that including sciam’s parent publication Nature. Sciam provides science headlines, articles about events in the scientific community and a science perspective on real world events. I for one am glad to see a blending of science and real life. I think there are great lessons there, much better than the ones provided by religion which has had a monopoly on social issues since man first heard voices in his head. I find it humorous that you would complain about the content and then complain about the events in the content. If you don’t like it, take it on the road. But if you didn’t like it, then why did you read it?

    I applaud Cassie’s attempt to do a good deed for those in need but I kept asking myself, as did Cassie, is this what they really need? It seems they have not chosen that life for a reason. It is kind of like taking a loner to party because you think they are lonely. In a way you are passing judgement on them saying, this is the life you should have, all with the best intentions of course. I would be curious to know what life they want for themselves and what is stopping them from achieving it? But again, I think it is a very courageous thing you did, in the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Something, I admit I couldn’t bring myself to do. We need more people such as yourself looking out for those who can’t look out for themselves.

    Link to this
  17. 17. alan6302 1:04 pm 11/24/2012

    The first step to cleaning up society is to trash the pharma freaks. Doctors are the largest single cause of mental illness. Pollution ,bad food also contribute. Money may need to be destroyed, unfortunately.

    Link to this
  18. 18. Bora Zivkovic 3:18 pm 11/24/2012

    @julianperod – why do you start every comment with disbelief it will not get deleted? Isn’t it strange, after so many times your comments were NOT deleted? Why start that way? What is the purpose of starting that way, just to dig into one of your typical anti-science, anti-empiricism, anti-knowledge rants that we still leave up and not delete? Do you have an answer to that, or do you require some more time for introspection?

    Second – learn the media ecosystem as it works on the Web. This is not a stand-alone news article. This is a blog post. A blog post is not stand-alone, it is one of a long series of “mini-chapters”, the many blog posts that Cassie has already published – so dig through the archives in order to get the Big Picture. Some posts are “hard science”, some are not, but together they weave together an important story, important messages we all should heed. If not interested, go read what you are interested in.

    And yes, SciAm is online, so yes, there is no limit as to how many articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts etc we can publish on any given day… or minute if we want to.

    Link to this
  19. 19. Chryses 3:34 pm 11/24/2012

    Bora Zivkovic,

    “… SciAm is online, so yes, there is no limit as to how many articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts etc we can publish on any given day… or minute if we want to.”

    Can you provide any evidence to substantiate your “no limit” claim about posting at SciAm, or is that present it as a Truth that must be accepted on Fath?

    Link to this
  20. 20. Chryses 3:37 pm 11/24/2012

    julianpenrod,

    You remain correct; the defenders of this pseudo-scientific blog post have yet to defend the ‘science’ in it. They’ve restricted their efforts to attacking the critics.

    Link to this
  21. 21. Bora Zivkovic 3:43 pm 11/24/2012

    The problem are people who demand “science” and define it too narrowly. The other problem are people who waste their own time reading and commenting on stuff they personally don’t like. Masochism?

    Your trolling will not change our minds. Cassie is here to stay. We get to decide what is on our site (and yes, there is endless capacity, this is the Web). And we get to decide what is “science enough”.

    All you can succeed is getting us angry enough to start deleting. Cassie has every right to moderate her own comments, and she has our support in it. Why don’t you go do something productive instead? It’s Thanksgiving weekend, go play with the family.

    Link to this
  22. 22. Chryses 3:48 pm 11/24/2012

    Bora Zivkovic,

    “The problem are people who demand “science” and define it too narrowly …”

    You are mistaken. One problem is the group people who do not understand that the domain of Science is limited.

    “… The other problem are people who waste their own time reading and commenting on stuff they personally don’t like. Masochism? …”

    You may wish to reflect upon that comment as it applies to your posts.

    “… Your trolling will not change our minds …”

    Ah! So your Faith may not be challenged? Great Science there.

    Link to this
  23. 23. cjoyce 3:58 pm 11/24/2012

    I lived in an oceanfront community a few years back, in Florida, so this community was a true magnet for the homeless. Having a very strong personal objection to societal stratification and all of the detrimental effects of it, many of these displaced people were my friends. While having never been in quite their extreme situation I was/am able to empathize.

    Once or twice a month my spouse and I (she can also count empathy as a personal trait) would invite a few (efficiency apartment, could only fit a few) of these discarded persons to share our home for a day. Granted, some homeless have true mental problems, those you have to keep an eye on, but on the whole none were ever a problem. Sharing our home included food, personal hygiene, and social interaction. I stress “none were ever a problem.”

    On a human and humane level I applaud you Cassie. My experience is that quite often such simple acts have observable effects regardless of the circumstance of the individual person.

    While Cassie’s article is not in itself “scientific,” there is in fact a very substantial body of sound science in support of her actions. Not being able to “connect the dots” shows an unscientific bias. Not to mention that many of the above comments illustrate a basic lack of humanity.

    Link to this
  24. 24. RSchmidt 4:29 pm 11/24/2012

    @Chryses, julianpenrod, who the heck are you to tell sciam what they can or can’t publish? Do you own it? Are you on the editorial board? Are you hired consultants? Are you anything other than mindless trolls? Sciam can publish whatever it wants. That’s called free speech. Sciam claims it is, “The leading source and authority for science, technology information and policy for a general audience.” Policy is a very broad topic and this article can easily fit into that category. So unless you can provide something that is legally binding that states that sciam cannot publish this article please cram it. Or better yet, if you don’t like, leave. You will not be missed.

    Link to this
  25. 25. Bora Zivkovic 4:32 pm 11/24/2012

    @Chryses – I am the Blog Editor at SciAm. I invited Cassie to blog here. And she will stay here as long as I want. No amount of trolling will change my mind on this. And she knows she is free to delete any and every comment she wants.

    Link to this
  26. 26. Chryses 5:27 pm 11/24/2012

    Rschmidt,

    @Chryses, julianpenrod, who the heck are you to tell sciam what they can or can’t publish?

    While I shall not answer for julianpenrod, I shall respond for myself. A publication that contains in its title “Scientific” may be reasonably expected to focus on science. I ask you to articulate the science content of Carrie’s piece. I presume you’ll assign it to “Social Sciences,” but which one, why and for what content? What is scientific about the non-objective statement “He was beautiful”? Was his beauty corroborated by either of the two pictures, or were they included to evoke an emotional response by the readers? Please explain.

    Permit me to refer you to the About page of SciAm (http://tinyurl.com/bvnpmgt , under ‘Key Facts’, and I quote, “The leading source and authority for science, technology information and policy for a general audience”. What and authoritative science, technology information or policy was articulated in Carrie’s piece for the general audience?

    Do you own it?

    Do you? Is it scientific to suppress other POVs?

    Are you on the editorial board?

    Need I be to express a critical opinion?

    Are you hired consultants? Are you anything other than mindless trolls?

    Are you?

    Sciam can publish whatever it wants.

    Not if it claims a mantle of Science, it cannot.

    Link to this
  27. 27. cassierodenberg 5:39 pm 11/24/2012

    Hi all,

    Over the course of my time at SciAm, I’ve never deleted a comment. I hope I never have to. Thank you for sharing your points of view — I know some of you are dismayed that my blog is found on SciAm. I can simply say that I’m a chemist and science writer who fell in love with people and their stories. I hope what I write here lends the science others cover, and the hard science I sometimes still do, human context. If you like, you can consider this a blog on the urban anthropology of the street addiction subculture. I’m documenting an area and its nuances, tracking it for hundreds and thousands of hours. This obsessive documentation, in itself, is data collection and a form of science. If it leans against your tastes, I’m happy to point you to solid drug writers who write hard chemistry all the time — David Kroll is one, Dirk Hansen and DrugMonkey others. They’re excellent, and they’ll make you happy in what I think you’re looking for.

    Cheers,

    Cassie

    Link to this
  28. 28. Sue W 10:35 pm 11/24/2012

    Um…this is all a bit heated, ladies and gents.

    Scientific American was always a magazine of general interest to the moderately well-educated reader. I have been a reader since the ’60′s. My father (a great admirer of the USA) thought it showcased the most admirable qualities of the American character. Smart, humanist, secular, good-natured, tolerant, and thought provoking.

    I have been following this blog for a while. I find it important. I consider it to be a valuable reminder that our societies, with all of their chemistry, pharmacy, medical, welfare, justice, education systems and, yes, “Science!” have produced a large number of people who suffer with unhappy, unfulfilled lives and miserable jobs, if they have one at all…

    It’s not fair, and it’s not good for any of us.

    Link to this
  29. 29. Tim May 10:46 pm 11/24/2012

    Several commenters have said that there is infinite capacity on the Web, or at least a very large amount of space. Sure. But there is only a limited amount of “eyeball space,” or “reputation capital.”

    Dilution of reputation is always a concern. The Seed/PepsiGate issue itself was about this. (Otherwise why even worry that a set of measure 0 was filling part of a set of measure 1, the purported “infinite capacity”?)

    Eyeball space is finite. Headline listings on various Google widget/homepages are limited. What appears there matters. I’ve had the Scientific American widget/gadget on my Google homepage along with Google News, Reuters, BBC, some finance and weather boxes, Google Translate, and some other such things. Limited front page space, which I spent some time resizing and placing. I picked Sci Am as the least bullshitty of the various science summaries, at least that Google was then offering. Other sites I just bookmarked, of course. (Several I like a lot.)

    Sci Am resurrected a tarnished brand around 1950, when the Piel takeover. I started reading it around 1962, when I was 10. (Which means the “Fifty Years Ago Today” section has finally reached what was then the current events era for me! Hallelujan.)

    Many science magazines watered-down their brands. Science Digest, Science News, others. Many have remained solid. I hope the current owners of Sci Am have not just decided to turn it into a “Good Housekeeping” or “Psychology Today” version, with “Nature” reserved for the good stuff that Sci Am used to excel at.

    The issue is not infinite space on the blogs, the issue is sullying a brand with either pop science or, in this story of trannies and prostitutes, no science at all. (A sample of one trannie addict and crying in front of a refrigerator is not even a shadow of an anthropology item, now is it?)

    You guys need to get closer to your roots and further away from sentimentality and “free association” writing.

    Link to this
  30. 30. jbohland 1:02 am 11/25/2012

    Excellent article and actions Cassie. Science is our best effort to explain reality. Your urban anthropology article fits nicely with this aspiration. I thoroughly enjoyed it. All stones makes ripples in the water and touch the shore. The important thing is to cast the stone.

    Link to this
  31. 31. Chryses 7:02 am 11/25/2012

    Sue W (35),

    “I have been following this blog for a while. I find it important …”

    Many pieces of prose are persuasive. Most are not Science.

    “… our societies, with all of their chemistry, pharmacy, medical, welfare, justice, education systems and, yes, “Science!” have produced a large number of people who suffer with unhappy, unfulfilled lives and miserable jobs, if they have one at all…

    It’s not fair, and it’s not good for any of us.”

    Emotionally sodden pieces describing man’s inhumanity to man using subjective terminology such as “He looked beautiful” and replete with evocative pics are also not Science.

    Link to this
  32. 32. robert schmidt 11:03 am 11/25/2012

    @julianpenrod, “And, unsurprisingly, RSchmidt takes up the banner of “money, power, influence, possession makes right”. In RSchmidt’s view, Scientific American is allowed to say what they want everyone to think is “science”.” That is an absolute miss characterization of what I said! First of all it is you and Chryses that are imposing the restriction on sciam that everything they publish must be hard science. You have no right to do that and there is absolutely nothing in Sciam’s charter that compels them to do so. “A publication that contains in its title “Scientific” may be reasonably expected to focus on science.” wow, that is some logic! So Vanity Fair should only publish articles about Vanity? The Washington post should only publish articles about Washington? I’m sorry but that is an incredibly ignorant comment.

    “saying what you want on property that you own, even if it’s untrue or illegitimate or ill intentioned,”, how is this article any of those things? Yet another misrepresentation. The fact is that it is your and Chryses’ comments and that are illegitimate and ill intentioned. You are trying to impose your agenda on sciam. You have no right to do so.

    Link to this
  33. 33. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 11:06 am 11/25/2012

    Okay, this is ridiculous. A middle- or upper-income person who lives in a poor area does something nice for homeless people, writes about it on her blog, and gets spammed by a schizophrenic (julianpenrod) and a buffoon without any real point besides trolling (chryses). The blog editor, who is effectively a god on the SciAm blogs network, intervenes, and the trolls just repeat the same pathetic nastiness.

    People, why not just congratulate Ms. Rodenberg for doing a nice thing for disadvantaged people, instead of being misanthropic Randroids? Furthermore, there really is effectively unlimited space on the Internet. This means that, if we adjust our mental picture to focus on the technically finite amount of space, we see that this blog post takes up effectively zero space.

    As for those who complain that this doesn’t belong on SciAm, income inequality is a huge threat to science, as its logical conclusion is a society in which there are two groups of people: staggeringly wealthy autocrats, who order scientists to say what they (the autocrats) want, and a mass of poor, uneducated, illiterate people who effectively form a slave race. In such a world (which, again, is the logical terminus of spiraling income inequality), science as a process would no longer exist. Therefore, it is in the interests of science and scientific thinkers to bring income inequality to the attention of the public.

    Finally, if anyone here knows julianpenrod’s caretaker, please inform said caretaker that the penrod is spouting “new world order” gibberish on a respectable website again. Furthermore, I saw him/her/it spamming NPR’s website recently. Really, julianpenrod’s caretaker, it’s getting to be a little much. Please ask him/her/it to remove his/her/its tinfoil hat and ensure that he/she/it takes his/her/its schizophrenia medication. Thank you.

    Link to this
  34. 34. robert schmidt 11:23 am 11/25/2012

    @Chryses, You just don’t get it, this is a blog, the author is free to express themselves as they see fit. That is the purpose of a blog, for people to express opinions. It is not for published, peer reviewed papers. If that is what you want, why are you reading blogs? There is nothing that restricts sciam to publishing only hard science. Absolutely nothing. You are imposing your agenda on sciam. You have no right to do so. Those are the facts. Obviously the article made you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you need to address that rather than trying to prevent sciam from publishing articles that make you feel that way.

    Link to this
  35. 35. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 12:02 pm 11/25/2012

    @ Chryses: I can see that you are self-conscious about the size of your penis and feel (erroneously) that this is somehow w threat to your masculinity, but that does not give you the right to post long-winded, substance-free rants on a site like SciAm. Please leave now and never troll here again.

    Link to this
  36. 36. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 12:18 pm 11/25/2012

    Edit to my comment (comment 43) for the sake of grammar:
    “”"somehow w threat”"”
    Should be:
    “”"somehow a threat”"”

    Link to this
  37. 37. Bops 11:40 pm 11/25/2012

    Is there any science in this article?
    Nope.

    Link to this
  38. 38. BillR 8:43 am 11/26/2012

    Science is just another word for knowledge. Knowledge is not restricted to physics, chemistry and such. The most important knowledge is of ourselves and our relationship to the world and universe around us. We cannot separate the personal from the equation because as observers we are a part of the equation.

    Our problem is that we do not like dealing with issues that are difficult to define and that seem to be inherently impossible to quantify and resolve to our satisfaction. While it is true that addiction is the result of poor choices, tell me how scientists never make poor choices. We are all addicts in some way whether it is to drugs or to acceptance or to some sort of intellectual satisfaction. We are dependent on one another. To reject someone for whatever reason is to open ourselves to being rejected as well.

    I applaud Cassie’s effort and wish more people would attempt to touch another person’s life in a positive way. This is the way we learn best, by personal experience. And learning in any form is the acquisition of knowledge and hence is science.

    Link to this
  39. 39. sleeplessaquarius 2:40 am 11/28/2012

    I personally dont care if its science, or science related, or not scientific at all… I think it was an excellent artical. Way to go Cassie! However, if I were reading something that I didnt like, was offended by, found uninteresting, or deemed not what I was looking for, or hoped for – I would move on. I dont know why some of the people above KEEP reading & KEEP posting to this if their so dissatisfied. Do they need attention that bad??

    MOVE ON if your so bothered.

    Keep up the good work Cassie! You have many fans who are following your work, words, kindness – no matter if its science or not scientific at all.

    Link to this
  40. 40. Sue W 10:16 am 11/28/2012

    @Chryses: I didn’t that this blog was “Science”, although it has quite a lot of interesting information in among the “emotionally sodden” writing. (Emotions are hard, aren’t they? Why is that?)

    Science, by my understanding, is a tool for humans to use to advance knowledge; or as the sainted Carl Sagan said, a BS detector. You pose a question and propose an experiment and move the boundary forward. (Of course, there is always some BS that can be detected by most humans without Science, blog trolling for example, but I digress.)

    What I said was that this blog was important (imo, obviously). Important enough to interest a long-time reader of Scientific American. That’s all. I explained why I was interested, but you do not appear to care. There are, as mentioned by bird/tree/dinosaur etc. geek above, good reasons to worry about the fate of Science in a failing society (if that is what we have, which is arguable).

    Oh my dear, the statement that a tattered transvestite can dress himself up and be considered beautiful made you cross. Sad. But interesting. Why am I interested and you sad? Now that’s Science…

    Link to this
  41. 41. wickedken 11:29 pm 12/21/2012

    Why does this have to be more than the obvious fact Michael felt he had made a real friendship and felt comfortable enough to accept the invitation.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American MIND iPad

Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now >>

X

Email this Article

X