Notes and Comment Blog

Mind the gap

Apr 1st, 2019 10:00 am | By

If you look at it as a test of faith / proud defiance of reason in favor of faith, it all fits.

Thanks I guess?

Apr 1st, 2019 9:29 am | By

Oh. Ok. Always fun to read more about bashing feminist women.

Who counts as a woman? Is there some set of core experiences distinctive of womanhood, some shared set of adventures and exploits that every woman will encounter on her journey from diapers to the grave?

That’s the wrong question. It’s a leading question, set up to bash “TERFs” for claims they don’t make. The point isn’t about adventures and exploits, and it isn’t about who “counts” as a woman – it’s not a contest or an exam, it’s just a brute material fact.

It’s not about “counting” as a woman; it’s about being female and thus being subject to all the subtle and not so subtle cues in the culture that female people are 1. different and 2. subordinate. I say “subordinate” instead of “inferior” because many of the cues aren’t specifically about inferiority, but they are about “femininity,” delicacy, prettiness, compliance, seductiveness, flounces, stiletto heels, thongs, waxing, giggling, submitting. The subtle and not so subtle cues in the culture that male people get are different; they’re the ones appropriate for the sex that gets to dominate.

We’re treated to a quick visit to Judith Butler via an explanation that bad old feminism was about “the experiences of the wealthy, white, straight, able-bodied women who already have more than their fair share of social privilege.” Then we arrive at:

Any attempt to catalog the commonalities among women, in other words, has the inescapable result that there is some correct way to be a woman. This will inevitably encourage and legitimize certain experiences of gender and discourage and delegitimize others, subtly reinforcing and entrenching precisely those forces of socialization of which feminists claim to be critical. And what’s worse, it will inevitably leave some people out. It will mean that there are “real” women whom feminism should be concerned about and that there are impostors who do not qualify for feminist political representation.

The women who are accused of being impostors these days are often trans women. You might think that a shared suspicion of conventional understandings of sex and gender would make feminists and trans activists natural bedfellows. You’d be wrong.

It’s all Janice Raymond’s fault, apparently.

Feminists who deny “real woman” status to trans women seem to rely on a false assumption — that all trans women have lived in the world unproblematically as men at some point — and claim the importance of affirming the identity and experiences of those who’ve spent entire lives in women’s shoes.

Wait. One, as far as I know we don’t assume trans women – or for that matter any men – have lived in the world unproblematically as men at some point. The expectations of boys and men are far from unproblematic, and feminism has been underlining that since forever. Two, it’s not a matter of denying anyone any status, it’s simply a matter of declining to play let’s pretend forever. Being a woman isn’t like being upper class or a Nobel laureate, it’s just a brute fact. If we say that enough times maybe it will sink in.

After that the piece falls off a cliff, as she agrees how repellent it was when Caitlyn Jenner made it all about the clothes and says you can see why feminists wouldn’t like that, and then just says “but suck it up anyway.”


This is all metaphor, no really

Apr 1st, 2019 8:38 am | By

Meanwhile, ratcheting continues.

That’s the new Twitter header.

Does anyone else do that? Say something and sign it Dr. Important Person (2019)? I don’t think I’ve seen one like that before. And then using it to frame violent imagery of flames and a brick, muscled arms and threatening scowl, all of it directed at women…this ain’t social justice.

Note how I put my fist right up in front of your face but didn’t actually touch it.

Furthermore, “throw bricks at transphobia” is meaningless. There is no thing, transphobia, to throw bricks at. You could throw bricks at cars, or through windows, but not at “transphobia.” McKinnon is getting his jollies here by continuing his threats against women while repeating his “I’m not hitting you” taunts.

I wonder how future competitors are going to feel about racing against him. I wouldn’t ever want to be anywhere near him.


Apr 1st, 2019 8:19 am | By

Isn’t there some norm about how appropriation is a bad thing? I could have sworn there was.

Or it just quietly goes away

Mar 31st, 2019 11:29 am | By

Temporary fill-in substitute interim pretend White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is out there trying to convert the Mueller report into a reason to forget all about Trump’s obstruction of justice.

“The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,’” Barr wrote to lawmakers, adding that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that Mueller’s investigative findings are “not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

“That is not what these documents do,” Mulvaney said, referring to Mueller not reaching a verdict on obstruction.

“When you do an investigation like this, there’s typically two outcomes — either criminal indictments come down or it just quietly goes away. These types of investigations are not designed to exonerate people.”

Ah yes, they’d like that, wouldn’t they – if it just quietly went away. Firing Comey? Telling Lester Holt he (Trump) fired Comey because of this Russia thing? Telling Kislyak and Lavrov he fired Comey to take pressure off himself? Repeatedly meeting with Putin alone? Trump Tower Moscow? Yes, they’d just love it if all that just quietly went away.

Mulvaney declined to say whether the White House would release the written responses the president provided to Mueller during the course of the special counsel’s investigation and blamed Mueller’s appointment on “a small group of people within the law enforcement community, specifically the FBI and the DOJ, who really did want to overturn” the results of the 2016 election.

“They cannot accept the fact that he’s president and from the very beginning, in fact before the election, they actually set the table to try and prevent him from becoming president,” he said.

Because he’s a threat to the country. It’s not because they’re all libbruls, it’s because he’s left a long trail of what looks like entanglement (to put it politely) with Putin and Putin’s Russia. It’s because he could be compromised, and so could his family. It’s because that fact has very large implications for all of us.

All 3

Mar 31st, 2019 10:58 am | By

Fox News today:

Image may contain: 3 people

A pint of pickled peppers

Mar 31st, 2019 6:09 am | By

Lionel Shriver is a crap writer. Witness:

For it’s more the case that the EU is a bloated bureaucracy packed with pampered timeservers inventing gratuitous regulations to justify their sinecures.

The first sentence of the second paragraph of a piece in Harper’s. That’s a crap sentence. “more the case that” – why use a clunker like that? “bloated bureaucracy packed with pampered” – have you no ear?? Then that long string of lifeless stale words. It’s just a terrible sentence, and there’s something wrong with a writer who doesn’t notice.

And that kind of thing makes a difference, because it makes the reader suspect she’s not really thinking about what she’s saying, but just rolling out a punditty reaction. And she does it again in the very next sentence – “the profligate, power-hungry body has warped into a centralizing political project without asking the irrelevant little peons” – come on. Way too many Ps for one sentence, coupled with stale pseudo-opinion.

She needs a better editor.

They haven’t done a thing for us

Mar 31st, 2019 5:47 am | By

Trump decides the way to make people stay home is to make their lives at home even worse.

US opposition politicians and aid agencies have questioned a decision by President Donald Trump to cut off aid to three Central American states.

Mr Trump ordered the suspension of aid payments to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to push their governments to stop migration into the US.

To stop it how? A Berlin Wall type of thing? Just tell them they can’t leave, end of story? We tend to see that as tyrannical and unjust, those of us in the “no you’re not supposed to bully and torment people” community.

In 2017, Guatemala received over $248m while Honduras received $175m and El Salvador $115m.

“I’ve ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras and El Salvador,” Mr Trump told reporters on Friday.

“No money goes there anymore… We were paying them tremendous amounts of money and we’re not paying them any more because they haven’t done a thing for us.”

Those are actually not tremendous sums of money, and as for not doing a thing for us…why should they do a thing for us? We’ve done quite a few things to them in the past, not-good things, so I don’t really think they owe us a few million dollars’ worth of whatever it is he wants from them.

Trump threw it in the bunker

Mar 31st, 2019 5:37 am | By

It would be funny/tragic if it turned out that cheating at golf is what did him in.

Shortly after he became president, Trump played with Tiger Woods, the current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the veteran PGA Tour pro Brad Faxon. Given the quality and profile of his companions, you might have thought Trump would have been on his best behavior. Not so.

On one hole, Trump dunked a shot into the lake, but as his opponents weren’t looking he simply dropped another ball — and then hit that into the water, too.

“So he drives up and drops where he should’ve dropped the first time and hits it on the green,” recalls Faxon.

Apparently someone was looking.

During a game with Mike Tirico before Trump was elected, the former ESPN football announcer hit the shot of his life, a 230-yard 3-wood towards an elevated green he couldn’t see. But he knew it was close.

When he got to the putting green, however, Tirico’s ball was nowhere to be seen. Instead, it was 50 feet left of the hole in a bunker.

It made no sense — until Trump’s caddy caught up with him after the round.

“Trump’s caddy came up to me and said, ‘You know that shot you hit on the par 5?’” Tirico says. “‘It was about 10 feet from the hole. Trump threw it in the bunker. I watched him do it.’”

Well the caddy is probably Adam Schiff’s cousin or something.

Revocable only by an act of Congress

Mar 30th, 2019 5:57 pm | By

One judge says No.

Donald Trump exceeded his authority when he reversed bans on offshore drilling in vast parts of the Arctic ocean and dozens of canyons in the Atlantic, a judge said in a ruling that restored the Obama-era restrictions.

In a decision late on Friday, US district court judge Sharon Gleason threw out Trump’s executive order that overturned the bans that comprised a key part of Obama’s environmental legacy.

Presidents have the power under a federal law to remove certain lands from development but cannot revoke those removals, Gleason said.

“The wording of President Obama’s 2015 and 2016 withdrawals indicates that he intended them to extend indefinitely, and therefore be revocable only by an act of Congress,” said Gleason, who was nominated by Obama.

And Trump isn’t Congress.

Erik Grafe, an attorney with Earthjustice, welcomed the ruling, saying it “shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution to do the bidding of his cronies in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our oceans, wildlife and climate”.

Earthjustice represented numerous environmental groups that sued the Trump administration over the April 2017 executive order reversing the drilling bans. At issue in the case was the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

One is better than none.

The Chicxulub crater

Mar 30th, 2019 11:37 am | By


Paleontologists have found a fossil site in North Dakota that contains animals and plants killed and buried within an hour of the meteor impact that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. This is the richest K-T boundary site ever found, incorporating insects, fish, mammals, dinosaurs and plants living at the end of the Cretaceous, mixed with tektites and rock created and scattered by the impact. The find shows that dinosaurs survived until the impact.

The beginning of the end started with violent shaking that raised giant waves in the waters of an inland sea in what is now North Dakota.

Then, tiny glass beads began to fall like birdshot from the heavens. The rain of glass was so heavy it may have set fire to much of the vegetation on land. In the water, fish struggled to breathe as the beads clogged their gills.

The heaving sea turned into a 30-foot wall of water when it reached the mouth of a river, tossing hundreds, if not thousands, of fresh-water fish — sturgeon and paddlefish — onto a sand bar and temporarily reversing the flow of the river. Stranded by the receding water, the fish were pelted by glass beads up to 5 millimeters in diameter, some burying themselves inches deep in the mud. The torrent of rocks, like fine sand, and small glass beads continued for another 10 to 20 minutes before a second large wave inundated the shore and covered the fish with gravel, sand and fine sediment, sealing them from the world for 66 million years.

This unique, fossilized graveyard — fish stacked one atop another and mixed in with burned tree trunks, conifer branches, dead mammals, mosasaur bones, insects, the partial carcass of a Triceratops, marine microorganisms called dinoflagellates and snail-like marine cephalopods called ammonites — was unearthed by paleontologist Robert DePalma over the past six years in the Hell Creek Formation, not far from Bowman, North Dakota. The evidence confirms a suspicion that nagged at DePalma in his first digging season during the summer of 2013 — that this was a killing field laid down soon after the asteroid impact that eventually led to the extinction of all ground-dwelling dinosaurs. The impact at the end of the Cretaceous Period, the so-called K-T boundary, exterminated 75 percent of life on Earth.

The BBC did a documentary about it a couple of years ago.

Scientists who drilled into the impact crater associated with the demise of the dinosaurs summarise their findings so far in a BBC Two documentary on Monday.

The researchers recovered rocks from under the Gulf of Mexico that were hit by an asteroid 66 million years ago.

The nature of this material records the details of the event.

It is becoming clear that the 15km-wide asteroid could not have hit a worse place on Earth.

The shallow sea covering the target site meant colossal volumes of sulphur (from the mineral gypsum) were injected into the atmosphere, extending the “global winter” period that followed the immediate firestorm.

Had the asteroid struck a different location, the outcome might have been very different.

“This is where we get to the great irony of the story – because in the end it wasn’t the size of the asteroid, the scale of blast, or even its global reach that made dinosaurs extinct – it was where the impact happened,” said Ben Garrod, who presents The Day The Dinosaurs Died with Alice Roberts.

All the food went away, so everything died.

Editing to add: H/t Mona Albano

Choose your words wisely and speak with respect and compassion

Mar 30th, 2019 9:08 am | By

Down we continue to go.

Trump’s presidential campaign has started selling $28 “Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff” T-shirts that feature a drawing of Rep. Adam Schiff with a pencil for a neck and a clown nose.

It really has.

While we’re here, let’s pay a visit to Melania Trump’s “Be Best” campaign.

By promoting values such as healthy living, encouragement, kindness, and respect, parents, teachers, and other adults can help prepare children for their futures.

Mmm, encouragement, kindness, and respect – that would be nice.

When children learn positive online behaviors early-on, social media can be used in productive ways and can effect positive change. Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices—whether verbally or online—they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.

That too would be nice.

He lacks the intellectual gravitas

Mar 30th, 2019 8:41 am | By

No wonder Trump chose him.

Stephen Moore, the economics commentator chosen by Donald Trump for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, was found in contempt of court after failing to pay his ex-wife hundreds of thousands of dollars in alimony, child support and other debts.

Trump loves to refuse to pay people what he owes them, so no doubt he likes people who do the same as long as they don’t do it to him. Kindred spirits type of thing.

In a divorce filing in August 2010, Moore was accused of inflicting “emotional and psychological abuse” on his ex-wife during their 20-year marriage. Allison Moore said in the filing she had been forced to flee their home to protect herself. She was granted a divorce in May 2011.

Moore said in a court filing signed in April 2011 he admitted all the allegations in Allison Moore’s divorce complaint. He declined to comment for this article.

Same thing. Trump is abusive, and he feels kinship with other abusers, provided he’s not the one they’re abusing.

A former economics writer for the Wall Street Journal who has held positions at several conservative thinktanks, Moore was an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and has championed the president on cable television.

Unlike all current members of the Federal Reserve board of governors, Moore does not hold a doctoral degree. Greg Mankiw, an economics professor at Harvard University who was a senior economic adviser to former president George W Bush, has said Moore “does not have the intellectual gravitas” for the job and urged senators to reject him.

Yet another thing he has in common with Trump.

Top academic

Mar 29th, 2019 4:04 pm | By
Top academic

Not a misogynist dude at all.


You are CIS

Mar 29th, 2019 9:10 am | By

Sorry if you’re sick of McKinnon, but the combination of sports cheat and philosophy instructor and pugnaciously misogynist trans activist is just too special.

“You are CIS even though you reject that label; also, too, you are trying to control us.”

Currently he’s bragging about picking a fight with Paula Radcliffe.

Where did the adults go?

Mar 29th, 2019 8:51 am | By

So we’ve got philosophy instructors publicly fantasizing about women dying in grease fires and we’ve got presidents calling Congressional representatives “pencil neck.”

“Little pencil neck Adam Schiff,” he says, to cheers and applause.

He goes on to say Schiff has the “smallest, thinnest neck” he’s ever seen. Are we supposed to assume “neck” is a euphemism for “dick”? No doubt we are. But keeping it above the waist…is a wide neck better than a thin one? Really?

Image result for trump

Trump has plenty of neck, for sure. Trump’s neck is as wide as his head, so you get a solid block down to the shoulders. But…is that a good thing? I’m not seeing it, particularly. Is it supposed to bespeak manliness? I’m not seeing that either.

Image result for adam schiff

Looks like an ok neck to me.

If you pretend

Mar 29th, 2019 8:02 am | By

Meanwhile McKinnon – who teaches philosophy, let’s not forget – is still defending the “die in a fire” brand of rhetoric.

Haw haw. Yes, so funny, so wry, so sophisticated. Of course it’s also true that mouthy feminist women tend to be targets of a great deal of “voicing of violent revenge fantasies” of that kind on Twitter and other social media, and it has been known to drive some of them off social media altogether, which means they are silenced in that particular medium…but let’s giggle about it amongst ourselves anyway, because we know better than those stupid cis women who are too uncool to pretend to be the other sex.

Coherent guidance for practitioners

Mar 29th, 2019 7:51 am | By


“It is not possible to change biological sex.”

It takes only eight words.

“There is no agreed scientific basis for someone having the mind of someone from the opposite sex or being born in the wrong body.”


Rancid pork fat for dessert

Mar 28th, 2019 2:05 pm | By

The corrupt self-dealing sleazy treasonous shits on the Trumpian side of Congress are whining that Adam Schiff should resign as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. The hell he should.

The House Intelligence Committee’s Republican minority demanded Thursday that Rep. Adam Schiff, the panel’s Democratic chairman, resign from that role over his handling of Russia investigations involving President Donald Trump.

Schiff, who has been one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s leading advocates, laid out what called the “evidence of collusion” in a fiery response.

The call for Schiff to step down, submitted during a hearing in a letter signed by all nine of the committee’s Republican members, came hours after Trump tweeted Thursday morning that Schiff “should be forced to resign from Congress!”

Trump should be forced to resign from the presidency and then locked up in a damp oozing smelly cell with corn cobs to sleep on and lutefisk to eat for the rest of his life.

“Your actions both past and present are incompatible with your duty as Chairman of this committee,” the Republicans tell Schiff in the letter. “As such we have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your Constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation as Chairman of this Committee.”

What a pack of loathsome compromised hacks.

Bullied physically and mentally just for being who you are

Mar 28th, 2019 11:27 am | By

Sports editor dude at not-NY Times explains to women athletes why it doesn’t matter if trans women shove them aside:

I’m writing this knowing that most of the people reading it will disagree, knowing that the responses will likely be aggressive. But I’m writing it because I feel the other side deserves a voice. This does not make me right. This does not make me wrong. But in the debate over transgender athletes there has been one dominant narrative, so this is an attempt to try to change a few minds.

He means the women. You know, the historically dominant sex, historically in charge of all the narratives. He’s hoping to be able to be heard over the domineering roar of all these powerful women who’ve had it their own way for so long.

Sharron Davies explained in an interview with The Times about why she wants the IOC to take a stance over transgender women competing alongside people who were born women. She is not alone in feeling strongly about this, concerned that women’s sport is under threat and that there will no longer be a level playing field.

She and Martina Navratilova are important, influential voices who speak for many women on this topic. They, like most of us, are not experts though.

They’re not?

They’re experts on women in sport, surely, which is the subject at hand.

And while it’s important to hear and respect people’s views, I disagree and worry a circus is being created out of something that a) is not a huge problem in sport and b) further marginalises totally unthreatening people and creates a narrative of fear around them.

It’s not a huge problem for him, and that’s all that counts, yeah?

As for totally unthreatening…some of the people in question are in fact very threatening in the most literal sense: they make threats.

Minorities have forever been grouped together and been served up to the majority as threatening: don’t let gay men teach your children or they’ll get AIDS, don’t let black men in the same shops as you or they’ll rape your women, don’t do a business deal with a Jew or he will steal your money.

Oh look, he’s not even talking to us, he’s talking to men only – that “they’ll rape your women” gives it away. That’s default male aka assumed male: assuming only men are reading your paper. He’s not talking to us, and he’s also pretending our subordination doesn’t exist.

Or you could let people quietly go about their lives and acknowledge that they have been through hell compared to you.

Women have it easy, it’s trans people who have been through hell. Alex Kay-Jelski is expert enough to know this by virtue of being a man.

In the case of most transgender people that means growing up knowing you are different, an outsider and often being bullied physically and mentally just for being who you are.

He just has no clue, does he. Not the faintest glimmer of a clue.