All entries by this author

Where misuse can get you savaged on the Internet

Sep 1st, 2015 5:19 pm | By

David Auerbach on the uses of Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein’s first period, culminating in 1921’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus(which Pears had co-translated), drew heavily on Bertrand Russell’s work in philosophical logic and made a huge impact on the logical positivist movement of the time, which would later in turn influence computer science, artificial intelligence, and linguistics. The Tractatus makes an ambitious and ostensibly definitive attempt to chart out the relationship between language and the world.

Then he went away and did other things for ten years (like teaching school and beating up his students, for instance), and then he said no that was all wrong, and started over.

Language did not have such a fixed, eternal relation to reality bound by logic.

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Bullying in Hillsboro

Sep 1st, 2015 3:57 pm | By

This is just cruelty: students walk out of class to protest a trans student’s use of the girls’ restroom.

More than 100 students at Hillsboro High School, about an hour south of St Louis, walked out of class on Monday in protest.

“I’m hoping this dies down,” said Lila Perry, the 17-year-old who began identifying as a girl publicly in February. “I don’t want my entire senior year to be like this.”

Ms. Perry, who began feeling “more like a girl than a boy” when she was 13, said school officials gave her permission to use the girls’ facilities as the new school year began.

It’s not just kids feeling squicked out – there’s something more sinister behind it. … Read the rest

With gender as the contested territory

Sep 1st, 2015 1:34 pm | By

From a 2013 piece by Delilah Campbell at Trouble and Strife about the [cough] tensions between feminism and trans activism:

It is notable that the policing of what can or cannot be said about trans in public is almost invariably directed against women who speak from a feminist, and especially a radical feminist, perspective. It might be thought that trans people have far more powerful adversaries (like religious conservatives, the right-wing press and some members of the medical establishment), and also far more dangerous ones (whatever radical feminists may say about trans people, they aren’t usually a threat to their physical safety). And yet a significant proportion of all the political energy expended by or on behalf of trans activism

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The life of Inky

Sep 1st, 2015 9:44 am | By

Michiko Kakutani on Oliver Sacks:

Those case studies captured the emotional and metaphysical, as well as physiological, dimensions of his patients’ conditions. While they tracked the costs and isolation these individuals often endured, they also emphasized people’s resilience — their ability to adapt to their “deficits,” enabling them to hold onto a sense of identity and agency. Some even find that their conditions spur them to startling creative achievement.

I remember reading one of his books in a book group years ago and getting into an intense argument about that ability to adapt to “deficits”…arguing over Temple Grandin, and what she said about experiencing being Temple Grandin. I argued that from her perspective her autism wasn’t a deficit, it … Read the rest

This confusion sucks up a lot of mental energy

Aug 31st, 2015 6:21 pm | By

Sometimes being a feminist is a strain, because there is reality and then there is feminism and there can be a quarrel between them.

Michelle Goldberg points out the trap this can lead to.

Because sexism is so interwoven with how we live our lives, it sometimes feels like the transformation of our personal lives is demanded by feminism. This is extremely exhausting, leading to a neurotic level of analysis and justification of our own preferences, motives and interpersonal relationships. Two kinds of personal essays, repeated with nearly infinite variations, manifest this neurosis. One is confessional: I’m a feminist, but I enjoy X, in which X is some traditionally female thing like not working, wearing makeup, being submissive in

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The girl that nobody wanted

Aug 31st, 2015 4:59 pm | By

This is a terrible story from two years ago.

A Belgian man has chosen to die by euthanasia, after his sex change operation turned him into “a monster”.

Nathan Verhelst, 44, was administered legal euthanasia on Monday afternoon, on the grounds of “unbearable psychological suffering”, by the same doctor who euthanized two deaf twins last year.

Shortly before he died, he told Belgium’s Het Laatse Nieuws: “I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself.

“My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be a monster.”

Verhelst was born the only daughter in a

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Participants had lost gray matter

Aug 31st, 2015 3:53 pm | By

There’s a new study of changes in the brain caused by hormones. I find it rather disturbing. Rachel Gross reports for Slate:

Research has shown that women have the advantage when it comes to memory and language, while men tend to have stronger spatial skills (though this too has been disputed). But due to ethical restrictions, no study had been able to track the direct effect that testosterone exposure has on the brain—until now. Using neuroimaging, Dutch and Austrian researchers found that an increase in this potent hormone led to shrinkage in key areas of the female (transitioning to male) brain associated with language. They presented their findings at last week’s annual meeting of the European College of

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He spent his final days doing what he loved

Aug 31st, 2015 2:41 pm | By

The Oliver Sacks Foundation on Facebook:

Oliver Sacks died early this morning at his home in Greenwich Village, surrounded by his close friends and family. He was 82. He spent his final days doing what he loved—playing the piano, writing to friends, swimming, enjoying smoked salmon, and completing several articles. His final thoughts were of gratitude for a life well lived and the privilege of working with his patients at various hospitals and residences including the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Bronx and in Queens, New York.

Dr. Sacks was writing to the last. On August 14, he published an essay, “Sabbath,” in the New York Times. Two more articles are to be published this week,

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Guest post: Being an AIDS patient in a Catholic building

Aug 31st, 2015 12:22 pm | By

Originally a comment by Kevin Hutchins the Bellinghamster on Left to the Church and its tribunals.

My HIV physician is continuing her private practise, but because so much of the work involves the hospital, she might be actually moving her practise INTO the hospital by the end of this year. She said it’s a trend in Infectious Disease specialists.

It’s a Catholic hospital which has already almost killed me before.

When I try to tell her i’m concerned about this, she says she doesn’t see anything improper happening, she assures me she’ll keep taking good care of me the same as always. I didn’t have a chance to press the issue with her because we were too busy talking … Read the rest

Siobhan is speaking her truth

Aug 31st, 2015 12:05 pm | By

Coming out as trans-everything.

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A Milestone in International Freethought

Aug 31st, 2015 | By Center for Inquiry

A press release from CFI

The Center for Inquiry is delighted to announce the formation of its first branch in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. CFI-Pakistan will be operated by “Emanuel Enoch,” and work to promote science, reason, and secular humanism in a country beset by religious extremism and sectarian violence.

// // // // //


Pakistan is a flashpoint for almost all of the core issues of concern to the Center for Inquiry. In Pakistan, blasphemy is a crime, and a charge regularly invoked to persecute atheists, secularists, and political and religious dissidents. It is a deeply religious country, with extremist forms of Islam holding enormous sway over the public and the government. At the same time, … Read the rest

Mostly it is women who pay the price

Aug 30th, 2015 4:36 pm | By

Another excellent post from Diana at Neopythia.

I want to talk about something I find offensive and morally repugnant.  It is the notion that trans women, who have arrived at a gender critical position, or simply accept certain realities are self hating.  I know this is a popular meme.  It’s an easy rationalization for those who hold certain political ideologies, or those too consumed by irrational fear to think.  It is completely without merit and harmful [to] women and trans women alike.

I think I know what political ideologies she means, and I think I know of several people who hold them.

Literally nobody identifies as a terf*. It is a term which has moved far beyond whatever usefulness

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Enough money and fame to be insulated from everything

Aug 30th, 2015 10:28 am | By

A trans woman wrote a post about Caitlyn Jenner back at the beginning of June, when the Vanity Fair cover was all over the place.

The post says many things I thought at the time (and continue to think when I catch a few minutes of “Meet Cait” on cable tv) but didn’t dare say – things about how odd it is to treat a rich privileged self-absorbed conservative as an icon of both trans rights and feminism.

Friends sent me notes of congratulations as if I’d done something, as if I cared. An aging reality star spent more money than I will see in my lifetime to make himself into a pin-up queen and this is cause for celebration?

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Even those who once held him in high esteem

Aug 30th, 2015 8:33 am | By

More terrible news from the subcontinent:

The police suspect the involvement of Hindu extremists in the murder of Dr Malleshappa M Kalburgi, a prominent Kannada scholar and former Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi.

Kalburgi was shot on his head by one of the two unidentified men on Sunday morning at his residence in Dharwad’s Kalyan Nagar locality. He was later taken to a district hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Even as the police suspect Hindutva extremists for Kalburgi’s murder, Bajrang Dal co-convener Bhuvith Shetty allegedly took to Twitter to say that that Indian critic and rationalist KS Bhagawan will be their next target for making fun of Hinduism.

Making fun of a religion is a reason for … Read the rest

India: prominent scholar murdered *

Aug 30th, 2015 | Filed by

Police suspect the involvement of Hindu extremists in the murder of Dr Malleshappa M Kalburgi, former Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi.… Read the rest

This woman is dying before our eyes

Aug 29th, 2015 6:15 pm | By

The rest of that article on miscarriage management (or the lack thereof) in Catholic hospitals.

Some doctors have decided to take matters into their own hands. In the following case, the refusal of the hospital ethics committee to approve uterine evacuation not only caused significant harm to the patient but compelled a perinatologist, Dr S, now practicing in a nonsectarian academic medical center, to violate protocol and resign from his position in an urban northeastern Catholic-owned hospital.

I’ll never forget this; it was awful—I had one of my partners accept this patient at 19 weeks. The pregnancy was in the vagina. It was over… . And so he takes this patient and transferred her to [our] tertiary medical center,

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Unless it looks as if she’s going to die

Aug 29th, 2015 5:45 pm | By

This should make your hair stand on end:

When There’s a Heartbeat: Miscarriage Management in Catholic-Owned Hospitals. Lori R. Freedman, PhD,corresponding author Uta Landy, PhD, and Jody Steinauer, MD, MAS:

The findings reported here were not the original focus of our research. In the process of conducting a qualitative study about abortion provision in the clinical practice of obstetrician–gynecologists, we interviewed 30 obstetrician–gynecologists around the United States. During the interviews, which were conducted in 2006, 6 physicians working with or within Catholic-owned hospitals revealed that they were constrained by hospital policies in their ability to undertake urgent uterine evacuation. They reported that Catholic doctrine, as interpreted by their hospital administrations, interfered with their medical judgment. For example, some of

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A picture to say

Aug 29th, 2015 12:21 pm | By

Hmm. Tim Roberts isn’t such a good poster boy for freedom of Twitter after all.

Near the top of his Twitter timeline right now:

Tim-A-Roberts ‏@Tim_A_Roberts 1 hour ago
Oh – for the obsessed fans out there – a picture to say – I’m sorry

But remember – in the UK, “cunt” is in no way a misogynist epithet.… Read the rest

She’s not going anywhere

Aug 29th, 2015 11:54 am | By

Jessica Valenti talks to Anita Sarkeesian.

Sarkeesian also points out that explicit abuse is just one way women are harassed online: some are targeted with conspiracy theories, or social media accounts that impersonate the victim. One person fabricated a tweet from Sarkeesian claiming she had spent her Kickstarter funds on designer shoes (with a picture of Gucci flats alongside a caption reading, “Buying 1,000-dollar shoes”).

Women are much more likely to be harassed in online spaces than men, and the harassment is much more likely to be sexually violent. A 2006 study by theUniversity of Maryland found that when the gender of a username appears to be female, the user is 25 times more likely to experience harassment.

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Senior salutes

Aug 29th, 2015 10:58 am | By

Meet a clear example of rape culture.

Boys at an elite New Hampshire prep school, where a former senior is accused of raping a 15-year-old freshman girl, rubbed the carved name of a man from the class of 1947 on a campus wall for good luck during an annual spring game of sexual conquest, according to a prosecutor.

Defendant Owen Labrie, 19, and his friends would touch the name of a man they dubbed “The Slaymaker” as they plotted to “slay” female classmates during a long tradition at St Paul’s school known as “senior salutes,” deputy Merrimack County attorney Catherine J Ruffle said outside the courtroom.

“‘Slay’ was the term the defendant and his friends coined,” Ruffle told a

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