All entries by this author

Tomorrow it will be people who march in the streets

Dec 18th, 2015 5:04 pm | By

Julie Bindel talked to some secular feminist women in Paris about the current situation.

The Left has allowed its tendency to blame the West for everything to offer a justification for terrorism as resistance to colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. As a lifelong feminist, and firmly of the Left, I have long been bitterly disappointed with those who supposedly campaign for women’s rights yet capitulate to Islamofascist men. Such women, in the UK, France and other European countries, have given their support to Sharia courts, the wearing of the full-face veil, arranged marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), and gender segregation in public places. Supporting traditional Islam flies in the face of feminism, and even of basic equality between men and women.

Read the rest


Saints should always be presumed guilty until proven innocent

Dec 18th, 2015 4:37 pm | By

In the news: the pope “confirmed” a second “miracle” by “Mother Teresa” so the church will be able to go ahead and declare her a “saint.” In the spirit of my hostile scare quotes, Slate republished a 2003 piece by Christopher Hitchens on the Albanian fanatic.

As for the “miracle” that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn’t have a cancerous tumor in

Read the rest


The United States is somewhat exceptional

Dec 18th, 2015 3:31 pm | By

iknklast made this very important point in a comment:

When I was in Texas, the divide between the money spent on educating minorities and educating the white citizens was notable. I had students of color in my classroom who struggled to keep up because they had less preparation. This fed into the preconception of people who assumed they were not as smart. Because they had less opportunity earlier in life, they came to college with less preparation, therefore they typically did worse (especially at first) than white students. Ergo, they were less capable by nature.

Sometimes it required a little extra work on my part when teaching a student from a poorer school, usually a person of color,

Read the rest


Black students come to the physics classroom for the same reason white students do

Dec 18th, 2015 12:17 pm | By

Jedidah C. Isler sets Scalia and Roberts straight on some things.

The truly damaging part of Chief Justice Roberts’s question is the tacit implication that black students must justify their presence at all.

Black students’ responsibility in the classroom is not to serve as “seasoning” to the academic soup. They do not function primarily to enrich the learning experience of white students. Black students come to the physics classroom for the same reason white students do; they love physics and want to know more. Do we require that white students justify their presence in the classroom? Do we need them to bring something other than their interest?

No, we don’t, and you know what that does? It frees up … Read the rest



See the table

Dec 18th, 2015 11:51 am | By

Peace talks. Paris. The table. See the table.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Notice anything?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Paris on Monday for a ministerial meeting with his counterparts from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, and Turkey to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing crisis in Syria. Take a good look at the photo above. Noticeably absent are … you guessed it … women. Sure, there are a few in the room, but not one woman is seated at the table in a position of power — because not one of the above countries has a woman foreign minister. Such an abject lack of gender parity at high-stakes talks like

Read the rest


So that women are not silenced on the new streets of social media

Dec 18th, 2015 10:46 am | By

MP Yvette Cooper in the Guardian on social media harassment of women:

The comedian Kate Smurthwaite received 2,000 abusive tweets for objecting when a men’s rights activist called her “darling” in a TV debate. Some called her “bitch”, “slut”, “harpy”; some were explicit threats of violence and rape.

I remember that. It was The Big Question, and it was Milo Yiannopoulos who called her “darling” in a patronizingly insulting way.

After going on Question Time, the historian Mary Beard received hundreds of messages attacking her appearance. And the scientist Emily Grossman received so many hostile, sexist tweets when she talked about sexism in science, she was forced to take a break from social media.

I remember those, too. I’ve … Read the rest



Remember the breastfeeding fathers

Dec 17th, 2015 5:28 pm | By

From last month at the Huffington Post blog – The Troubling Erasure of Trans Parents Who Breastfeed.

When we think about breastfeeding, the image that comes to mind — the one pushed on us by society, medical professionals and the media alike — is that of a mother nursing her newborn baby. Brochures, websites and PSAs promote the picture of a woman lovingly looking at her child as the baby suckles at her breast. The language accompanying this imagery is inevitably gendered, specific to cisgender women who are nursing a baby that they themselves gave birth to.

Isn’t that awful? Women are always shoving themselves forward that way, hogging the mic, taking up all the slots, erasing everyone else. … Read the rest



A canonical body of literature in which women’s stories are taken away from them

Dec 17th, 2015 12:28 pm | By

Don’t miss Rebecca Solnit’s magnificent essay on Lolita and female characters in literature and reading while female, Men Explain Lolita to Me.

The rest of us get used to the transgendering and cross-racializing of our identities as we invest in protagonists like Ishmael or Dirty Harry or Holden Caulfield. But straight white men don’t, so much. I coined a term a while ago, privelobliviousness, to try to describe the way that being the advantaged one, the represented one, often means being the one who doesn’t need to be aware and, often, isn’t. Which is a form of loss in its own way.

Straight white men don’t, so much, because Ishmael and Dirty Harry and Holden Caulfield can stand in … Read the rest



Happy holidays

Dec 17th, 2015 10:52 am | By

The Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, Sid Miller, on Facebook yesterday:

If one more person says Happy Holidays to me I just might slap them. Either tell me Merry Christmas or just don’t say anything.

That’s not nice. That’s not necessary. This is a big country; Texas is a big state; not everyone is religious and not everyone who is religious is Christian. If someone says a friendly “happy holidays” why get in a rage about it?

But I guess he’s not that kind of guy. His most recent post:

Good morning my friends. I hope your day is off to a great start. We are just a few days away from welcoming the birth of our savior. As

Read the rest


$750 per pill

Dec 17th, 2015 9:39 am | By

It’s not nice to rejoice in a misfortune that befalls someone else, but sometimes the misfortune fits the apparent character of the someone else in question so well that…

…well I won’t rejoice but I’ll just quietly point out.

Martin Shkreli: busted.

Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager who has been widely criticized for drug price gouging, was arrested Thursday morning by the federal authorities.

The investigation, in which Mr. Shkreli has been charged with securities fraud, is related to his time as a hedge fund manager and running the biopharmaceutical company Retrophin — not the price-gouging controversy that has swirled around him.

Different thing, and yet so similar at its core.

Mr. Shkreli, 32,

Read the rest


Playing the get out of male free card

Dec 16th, 2015 5:57 pm | By

Glosswitch has a fiendishly brilliant post about the old sexism and the new.

Back in the olden days, sexism was so straightforward, even a person with a uterus could understand it. It was the belief that men were superior to women — more intelligent, more important, more human — and while it affected different groups of women in different ways, feminists were in a position to identify who benefited from it and who was harmed. Of course, nowadays we can see that this was a very simplistic way of understanding gender-based oppression.

So dreadfully crude, isn’t it? Probably, as she says, because women thought of it. But now we have a better kind.

These days sexism is different. It

Read the rest


So nobody else would get hurt

Dec 16th, 2015 5:25 pm | By

The end of that terrible story:

After O’Leary was linked to Marie’s rape, Lynnwood Police Chief Steven Jensen requested an outside review of how his department had handled the investigation. In a report not previously made public, Sgt. Gregg Rinta, a sex crimes supervisor with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, wrote that what happened was “nothing short of the victim being coerced into admitting that she lied about the rape.”

That Marie recanted wasn’t surprising, Rinta wrote, given the “bullying” and “hounding” she was subjected to. The detectives elevated “minor inconsistencies” — common among victims — into discrepancies, while ignoring strong evidence the crime had occurred. As for threatening jail and a possible withdrawal of housing assistance if Marie

Read the rest


When he had seen Jabba the Hutt enslave and chain Princess Leia

Dec 16th, 2015 5:07 pm | By

People are talking about this story today – Pro Publica’s long report on a teenage girl in Lynwood, Washington (a suburb just north of Seattle) who reported being raped, was doubted by her foster parents and then by the cops, and ended up with being charged with the crime of false reporting. Spoiler: she wasn’t lying.

In the part late in the story that narrates how the rape happened, there’s this bit that brought me up short:

He had a term for what he was about to do: “rape theater.” Deviant fantasies had gripped him since he was a kid, way back to when he had seen Jabba the Hutt enslave and chain Princess Leia. Where do you go when

Read the rest


Training revolutionaries

Dec 16th, 2015 4:07 pm | By

Sarah Tuttle explains to Justice Roberts what unique perspective a minority student brings to a physics class.

I am a white woman about to start a faculty position in astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle. Justice John Roberts wants to know why I would care who was in my class. Although I find it baffling that a man who leads the court of a country built in an attempt to honor and value those disparate experiences and backgrounds doesn’t understand the strength of that diversity, I will do him the service I do for all of my students. I will assume that his intentions are good and explain to him why his question is easy to answer, if only

Read the rest


The press should treat such studies with skepticism

Dec 16th, 2015 3:38 pm | By

Another one: a worked-up panic about anti-depressants and autism. David Auerbach reports at Slate:

The alarm has been sounded: Antidepressants cause autism! Or so one could easily think based on a new study in JAMA Pediatrics. Four researchers in Quebec conclude that “the use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of [autism spectrum disorder] in children.” In a ResearchGate interview, study senior author and perinatal pharmacoepidemiologist Anick Bérard of the Université de Montréal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre firmly advocated avoiding antidepressant use during pregnancy: “Depression needs to be treated during pregnancy but with something other than antidepressants in the majority of cases. The risk/benefit

Read the rest


Breeding program

Dec 16th, 2015 11:37 am | By

So we’re not rid of the Duggars after all. They’re back, in the form of two of the daughters who show us what it’s like being raised as a breeding cow by fanatical Christians.

I spotted it while channel-surfing and watched a few minutes. (I can’t take them for very long – the hostage smiles freak me out.) It’s horrifying watching one very young woman, pregnant for the first time, talk to her slightly older sister who has already given birth, her “nervousness” about what childbirth is going to be like. It’s horrifying because we know she was raised to do exactly this, so it’s not a matter of a very young woman who is keen to have a baby … Read the rest



Advanced falling

Dec 16th, 2015 10:54 am | By

A Saudi millionaire has been acquitted of raping a teenage girl; he claimed he accidentally tripped and fell on her. Could happen to anyone, couldn’t it. So tragically easy to do.

Updating to add: this was in Southwark Crown Court, in London.

Ehsan Abdulaziz, 46, was accused of forcing himself on an 18 year-old-girl who had slept on his sofa in his Maida Vale flat after a night out drinking.

The businessman had already had sex with the teenager’s 24-year-old friend, whom he already knew, in the bedroom and said his penis might have been poking out of his underwear when he fell on the teen.

The young woman said she had woken up in the early hours of

Read the rest


Guest post: Our current free speech model, where more speech is the solution for lies, does not work

Dec 16th, 2015 9:51 am | By

Originally a comment by quixote on Guest post: The HPV vaccine saves lives.

Studies of how people process weapons-grade BS in the news show that once the nonsense is presented it soaks in. Any subsequent correction simply does not cancel out the initial BS in enough people.

That last is important. The feeling is always, “Oh, but that doesn’t apply to me.” Which can be true. But if it does apply to 60% or 40% or even 20% in the case of immunization BS, then we still have a problem.

Which has a deeply disturbing implication. Grimes is doing essential work trying to set the record straight. But the only real solution is to prevent total BS from … Read the rest



They will arrange meetings

Dec 15th, 2015 3:58 pm | By

The Goldsmiths Student Union has “concluded” its “investigation” of the ASH event where some men in the front row tried to disrupt Maryam’s talk. Here’s what they have to say about that:

We have now concluded our investigation into the events that took place at the ASH event on 20th November. [That must be a typo for 30th November]

Goldsmiths SU will be taking the following actions:

(i)  We will arrange meetings with the Islamic and Atheist, Secularist and Humanist societies individually and identify actions that will be taken by each society. This may be followed by disciplinary action against individual society members and/or a society.

(ii)  We will review our external speaker procedure and safe space policy in

Read the rest


Guest post: The HPV vaccine saves lives

Dec 15th, 2015 2:40 pm | By

Guest post by David Robert Grimes, first posted on Facebook and posted here by permission.

I like to think I’ve become immune to bad science stories in mainstream media, but every now and then a story so rife with obscene errors and dangerous precedent that it rudely awakens me from my creeping nonchalance. TV3’s abysmal and completely bad faith scaremongering on the HPV vaccine tonight did just that. I’ll be writing one of two longer features on this shortly for a few different publications, but there a few crucial points I think needs to be clarified….

(1) The HPV vaccine saves lives. There are dozens of strains of HPV, and most sexually active adults have at least a few hanging Read the rest