Notes and Comment Blog


Had Twitter let it be known

Feb 14th, 2019 11:08 am | By

Julie Bindel on Meghan Murphy’s lawsuit against Twitter:

‘Twitter would never have attracted the hundreds of millions of users it boasts today had Twitter let it be known that it would arbitrarily ban users who did not agree with the political and social views of its management or impose sweeping new policies banning the expression of widely-held viewpoints and perspectives on public issues,’ Murphy’s lawyers submitted.

That’s a good point. (This is why people pay lawyers.) Twitter certainly didn’t make clear from the outset that it would be doing that.

As I wrote at the time of her ban, Murphy, who, like me, is constantly de-platformed, attacked and vilified for daring to question the Orwellian madness of the transgender Taliban, is a target of vicious trans activists. Murphy had the gall to tweet about Jonathan Yaniv, who had demanded large payoffs from several female beauticians because they had refused to wax his scrotum. Yaniv, who claims to be female, had booked in for a Brazilian wax, a process done on women who wish to wear extremely skimpy bikini bottoms and not flash any pubic hair. Murphy’s crime?  She referred to Yaniv as, ahem, a man.

The lifetime ban from Twitter has come as a significant blow to Murphy. The freelancer relied on Twitter as a platform to promote her writing and online magazine, Feminist Current, and had painstakingly built up close to 25,000 followers, so the ban has affected her income, as well as her reputation…

And this is for saying that a man is a man. I still have trouble believing that we are required, often on pain of arrest or banishment or both, to say men are women if they “identify as” such. I have trouble believing it and I have trouble understanding how so many people manage to ignore the alarming implications of requiring others to affirm falsehoods.



No back pay for you

Feb 14th, 2019 10:12 am | By

Mister Populist is again finding a way to make sure workers get cheated out of their pay.

The Associated Press published a good overview, highlighting a variety of elements in the final package, but the Washington Post flagged a point of particular interest.

Lawmakers grappled with a series of last-minute disputes Wednesday as they sought to finalize the deal, including an ultimately unsuccessful push by Democrats to include back pay for thousands of federal contractors who were caught up in the last shutdown, and – unlike the 800,000 affected federal workers – have not been able to recoup their lost wages.

Alas, this isn’t too surprising. Democrats, led by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), pushed a provision to include back pay for federal contractors as part of the spending deal, but when reporters asked Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) yesterday whether it would be included, the senator replied, “I’ve been told the president won’t sign that.”

But but but we’re told he’s a populist. Surely populists don’t approve of stealing from The People?

As Vox recently explained, in reference to those adversely affected by the shutdown, “Up to 580,000 contractors, including cafeteria workers, security guards, developers, and IT consultants, could be missing out on back pay because of the impasse, according to NYU public service professor Paul Light.”

Cafeteria workers and security guards – Trump stiffs them while billing us for his many many trips to his golf resorts.



LOL #measlesoutbreak

Feb 14th, 2019 9:39 am | By

This is what you get when you set up a government of corrupt unqualified hacks: connections to people who bend their efforts to promoting epidemics.

The wife of White House communications director Bill Shine on Wednesday went on an anti-vaccine tirade while spreading conspiracy theories about an outbreak of measles in the Pacific north-west.

In a series of tweets, Darla Shine lashed out against a CNN segment detailing the outbreak, which has seen more than 50 unvaccinated people contract measles in Washington state and Oregon.

“Here we go LOL #measlesoutbreak on #CNN #Fake #Hysteria,” Darla Shine tweeted. “The entire Baby Boom population alive today had the #Measles as kids … Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy & fight cancer.”

Well yes, the ones alive today are necessarily the ones who weren’t killed by contagious diseases…but that tells us nothing about how many people were killed by contagious diseases. The people who survived Katrina are the people who survived Katrina; that doesn’t mean no one was killed by Katrina. I think we all grasp how that works.

Darla Shine, a former TV producer, is married to Bill Shine, the former executive at Fox News who was appointed last year as Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications.

Faced with criticism over her comments, Shine accused “the Left” of attempting to smear her.

That’s where they want to go? The left is in favor of preventing the spread of disease, and the right is for encouraging the spread of disease? Really?

When allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Roger Ailes, the network’s late former chairman, and ex-host Bill O’Reilly, Darla Shine sought to discredit their accusers.

Her husband, Bill, was forced to resign as co-president of Fox News following the allegations and has been accused of seeking to suppress the accounts of their accusers.

Fun couple.



Opportunity lives on

Feb 13th, 2019 2:33 pm | By

Farewell, Oppy.

The longest-lived robot ever sent from Earth to the surface of another planet, Opportunity snapped pictures of a strange landscape and revealed surprising glimpses into the distant past of Mars for over 14 years. But on Wednesday, NASA announced that the rover is dead.

“It is therefore that I am standing here with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission is complete,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science.

The rover was designed to last only three months, but proved itself to be one of the solar system’s most unexpected endurance athletes. It traveled more than the distance of a marathon when its designers only expected it to move about half a mile. As it completed this course, Opportunity provided scientists a close-up view of Mars that they had never seen: finely layered rocks that preserved ripples of flowing water several billion years ago, a prerequisite for life.



Shocked, shocked

Feb 13th, 2019 2:20 pm | By

Burn.



Your likability score

Feb 13th, 2019 11:13 am | By

Maggie Astor at the Times zooms in close on sexism in electoral politics.

Few Americans acknowledge they would hesitate to vote for a woman for president — but they don’t have to, according to researchers and experts on politics and women and extensive research on double standards in campaigns. Reluctance to support female candidates is apparent in the language that voters frequently use to describe men and women running for office; in the qualities that voters say they seek; and in the perceived flaws that voters say they are willing or unwilling to overlook in candidates.

And this describes all of us. The drip drip drip of background sexism does its work on all of us, no matter how feminist we may be in the front parts of our brains. Men are coached to have contempt for women and women are coached to have contempt for women. Totally fair and equal, see??!

There’s the “likability” issue for one. Men can get away with being seen as not likable; women cannot. Furthermore any woman presumptuous enough to run for president is automatically not likable. BZZZZZZZT game over.

Women also tend to be viewed as unlikable based on their ambition. Harvard researchers found in 2010 that voters regarded “power-seeking” women with contempt and anger, but saw power-seeking men as stronger and more competent. There is often some implication of unscrupulousness in descriptions of female candidates as “ambitious” — an adjective that could apply to any person running for president but is rarely used to disparage men.

Well, you know, it’s like beards or neckties – they look good on men, and ambitious on women.

The qualities voters tend to expect from politicians — like strength, toughness and valor — are popularly associated with masculinity. This often means that from the moment a man steps onto the campaign trail, he benefits from a basic assumption that he is qualified to run, while a woman “has to work twice as hard to show that she’s qualified,” Ms. Hunter said.

And that one is really hard to overcome. I think on some level we sort of need, or think we need, half of humanity to be more nurturing than the other half, and probably, correspondingly, half to be more tough than the other half. It could be different if we could start from scratch, maybe, but starting from scratch isn’t an option. I wonder – I don’t think I’ve thought of this before – if it’s that much more difficult for the US to elect a woman at the top because since WW2 we’ve been the military top dog.

For many years, female candidates tried to adopt the characteristics voters wanted to see — to act, stereotypically speaking, like men. This worked for some but also brought pitfalls. For one thing, it did not challenge the premise that masculinity is better suited for leadership. It also opened women up to a familiar double standard: A man who speaks authoritatively might be confident or opinionated, while a woman who does the same is arrogant or lecturing. Most pressingly, it created a backlash among some voters who saw women acting “like men” and deemed them inauthentic.

Quite. It’s lose-lose no matter what direction you turn your gaze.

Nichole M. Bauer, an assistant professor of political communication at Louisiana State University, found that when women played up stereotypically masculine qualities, voters — regardless of party — rated them better in terms of leadership ability, but voters in the opposing party rated them significantly lower in terms of likability. There was no similar backlash to male candidates who defied gender stereotypes.

Dr. Bauer said that in all her research, she had found no way for women to win the support of voters in the opposing party. It’s a basic psychological phenomenon, she said: If a Republican starts out disliking a Democratic woman, or vice versa, “they’ll use gender stereotypes about women to maintain that perceived negative relationship” no matter what the woman does.

The Times piece ends on an up note, saying maybe with six women running for president maybe things will improve. Me, I’ve succeeded in depressing myself.

H/t Screechy



Fore!

Feb 13th, 2019 10:16 am | By

Well, now we know what Trump is doing with his “executive time,” besides watching Fox & Friends. He’s playing Pretend Golf in a room of the White House.

President Trump has installed a room-sized “golf simulator” game at the White House, which allows him to play virtual rounds at courses all over the world by hitting a ball into a large video screen, according to two people told about the system.

That system replaced an older, less sophisticated golf simulator that had been installed under President Obama, according to two people with knowledge of the previous system.

Trump’s system cost about $50,000, and was put in during the last few weeks in a room in his personal quarters, a White House official said.

He paid for it himself, too – what a big boy.

President Trump has built his schedules around long blocks of “executive time” — unstructured periods in the day where the president’s schedules show no official meetings. He often spends this time watching TV, tweeting, holding impromptu meetings and making phone calls, aides have said.

And eating ice cream and playing Pretend Golf.

Trump — then a businessman and conservative celebrity — repeatedly criticized Obama for spending too much of his presidency playing golf. “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf?” Trump wrote on Twitter in October 2014.

As president, however, Trump has played golf more often than Obama did: Obama played about 38 rounds a year, vs. about 70 per year for Trump. That’s just the outdoor kind of golf: The Post could not obtain statistics on Obama’s virtual golf-playing.

Silly Post; they’re overlooking the scoring system. You have to multiply the times Obama played by 5 because his daddy was from Kenya, by 3 because he went to Columbia, by another 3 because he went to Harvard, by 10 because [you know]. Trump on the other hand gets to discount by half because he’s from Queens.



He offered no substance

Feb 13th, 2019 9:47 am | By

And then there’s this cloud on the horizon.

Same reason they gave Trump so much airtime, no doubt. Greed? Cupidity? Lust for gain? One of those.



The disruption forced Trump to pause his remarks

Feb 13th, 2019 9:35 am | By

NPR had more on the BBC camera guy assaulted by a Trumpist at Trump’s “rally” in El Paso. It raises some vexed questions.

The BBC’s Ron Skeans was working in the area of a raised camera platform at Trump’s campaign event when, he says, a “very hard shove” came out of nowhere. At the time, Trump was touting recent economic numbers to a roaring crowd in the El Paso County Coliseum.

Skeans’ colleagues say the apparent attack came after repeated verbal assaults on the media during the event. The BBC says it is “clearly unacceptable for any of our staff to be attacked for doing their job.”

NPR frames it very cautiously, as NPR always does, because hey it’s national pr so it has to talk to the Trumpists as well the people who don’t favor assaulting journalists. “Colleagues say”; they could be wrong. “The apparent attack”; maybe it was an accident, or maybe camera guy imagined it, or maybe he’s lying. “Came after”; could be just a coincidence. But caution or no caution, Trump is what he is and his fans react to them as they do. We see his insults and lies about people he wants to damage day in and day out on Twitter, and we know he’s not just talking for the sake of talking. He wants people to hate the people he hates, and he wants people to do harm to the people he hates, including, in my view, violent harm. He tries to pretend otherwise when he’s in a corner, but pretending is all it is. Trump is profoundly stupid, but he’s not so stupid that he thinks a constant barrage of insults and fear-mongering from a president cannot possibly inspire anyone to violence.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Skeans said, according to the BBC, describing the moment when his camera suddenly skewed down and away from the stage. Video footage showed a Trump supporter yelling obscenities as he was restrained and taken away from the area.

The disruption forced Trump to pause his remarks. Shielding his eyes to see better, the president asked, “You all right? Everything OK?”

He then flashed a thumbs-up in Skeans’ direction.

His concern is touching.

Other BBC staff members who were at the event said the Trump supporter went after a group of news teams and that the cameraman had seemingly taken the worst of it.

The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night

When you whip people into a frenzy for hours, there’s a real possibility that one or more of the people so whipped will become violent. Frenzies tend to reside next door to violence; that’s part of the meaning of the word. Frenzies are not a thing to mess with, especially with crowds.

Trump has repeatedly called the news media the enemy of the people and accused journalists of creating fake news in an effort to make him look bad.

On Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “President Trump condemns all acts of violence against any individual or group of people — including members of the press. We ask that anyone attending an event do so in a peaceful and respectful manner.”

This is possibly the worst thing about Trump and the Trumpers, this utterly revolting cynical pretense that they’re not doing what we can see them doing every hour of every day. Trump systematically and with malice incites loathing of and rage at various individuals and groups, he oversees an administration that works hard to damage and injure those individuals and groups, and when called on it he and his people look at us with big round eyes and claim to condemn the very things they’re doing out in the open where we can see them. Of course Trump doesn’t condemn all acts of violence against any individual or group of people — including members of the press; he loves those acts of violence, he incites them, he encourages them, he laughs gleefully at them, he looks forward to seeing more of them.



A beautiful big strong wall

Feb 12th, 2019 3:32 pm | By

Trump isn’t happy.

President Trump said Tuesday he’s not happy with a bipartisan border deal in Congress aimed at averting another government shutdown, but he suggested he could add to it to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall and predicted there will not be another lapse in government funding.

“Am I happy at first glance? The answer is no, I’m not, I’m not happy,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he met with Cabinet members.

“It’s not going to do the trick, but I’m adding things to it and when you add whatever I have to add, it’s all going to happen where we’re going to build a beautiful big strong wall,” Trump said.

See Don’s wall. Don’s wall is big. Don is happy. Don is happy to see his wall. It is big. Don’s ego is big too. Big walls are good. Don is happy to see his big good wall.

A number of Senate Republicans were cognizant of Trump’s uneasiness with the deal, but they also noted that he had stopped short of saying it was unacceptable.

*interruption*

Cognizant – what is it with that word? It sounds silly to me. Why would a reporter use it instead of “aware”? I’m sure it’s a perfectly cromulent word but it has that faintly pretentious, used-for-filler air to it. It sounds like the kind of word people use to show off when they’re not very good at writing. [scrolls back up] Oh I see, these are business reporters. That probably explains it.

*end of interruption*

Trump said he did not want and would not accept another government shutdown, although he defended the one he already had.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown. I wouldn’t want to see a shutdown. If you did have it, it’s the Democrats fault,” Trump said. “And I accepted the first one, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished because people learned during that shutdown all about the problems coming in from the southern border. I accept it. I’ve always accepted it. But this one, I would never accept it if it happens.”

Well that’s an enormous lie. He did not accept the first one; after saying in that embarrassing meeting with Pelosi and Schumer that he would own it and would be proud to own it, when it happened he repeatedly blamed it on the Democrats, so it’s just a huge shameless lie to say he accepted it. The man cannot open his yap without lying.



Guest post: We need a new narrative and a new agriculture

Feb 12th, 2019 10:41 am | By

Originally a comment by Laurent on Hurtling down the path to extinction.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where that would go well.

That’s because the idea that only intensive agriculture is working is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. It would be good to assess what good it does to us all, actually, and start questioning it and look at what the data is actually telling us. It may have been necessary to step into this narrative post-war in order to increase food safety, but we are now in need of a new narrative and a new agriculture.

It’s only partially true, thus. There are workable scenarios within reach with only partial intensive agriculture and remaining environment friendlier agriculture can work out both a green sustainable future and a socially integrated society.

We should first realise more food is produced from small scale agriculture, which is also friendlier to both environment and social. We should note that there’s an ever going debate as to try to understand why small farms are actually more productive than the bigger ones. (The debate is known as the “inverse farm size-productivity relationship”, it is not trivial, and it is a very counter-intuitive fact, but fact nonetheless). There are several competing explanations for this, but clearly the work surface ratio is an interesting factor in the equation.

We should then realise the unleveled effect of very basic agroecology and agroforestery management at the many scales involved (not just primary productivity). It is certainly not a huge loss to accept small scale decreases in productivity if that means huge gains in coexisting biodiversity. (Amazingly, this debate is framed in reverse too in North America: we should intensify more to save space for full wilderness).

Last, it is important to realise that relying on a handful of crops, even with a very heavy knowledge and technology around them, is not a safe bet at all. Conversely, increasing agrodiversity and food diversity is known to lead to a much greater resilience in the face of both coming climate challenges and diversity challenges. We should not do it by the dime, rather, we should focus on increasing our efforts toward increased agrodiversity stewardship, both in our science and in our daily citizen life.



Why is it that black or Asian women have to pass an authenticity test?

Feb 12th, 2019 10:30 am | By

Why does the BBC keep doing this?

They did a segment to observe the anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and his blasfeemius book.

To discuss it they invited Farzana Shaikh, Geoffrey Robertson (Rushdie’s lawyer during the fatwa), and Peter Tatchell. Gita Saghal informed us that they could have had Pragna Patel but decided not to.

So they decided against Pragna and got Tatchell instead – also not a Muslim! What the hell?

Grrr indeed.

I suspect it’s partly or mostly the stupid self-perpetuating BBC (and other news media) habit of repeatedly asking this one person and then going on asking that person forever because that person is such a household name…thanks to the fact that the BBC keeps asking said person. Said man, in fact, because it pretty much always is a man, isn’t it. For years they would summon Iqbal Sacranie to discuss all things Islam-related while ignoring ex-Muslim critics along with liberal and secular Muslims. They’ve stopped reflexively phoning the MCB now but telling Pragna “never mind” because she’s not Muslim is not a huge improvement.



The Barbie-GI Joe scale

Feb 12th, 2019 9:27 am | By

Mermaids is doing “gender training”:

At the top of this image the slide informs us: Gender identity is also on a spectrum. We all have our own unique identity.

Image result for mermaids gender chart

Do your arms stick out a little bit? Have you measured how far? That measurement would be your exact unique gender identity. If that’s too hard to measure you can check to see if you have things flapping out at the sides of your head, or if you have a waist, or if you wear a triangle. That is, those of you lucky enough to be 1 through 5. You unfortunates who are 6-12 are a good deal more limited. To tell the truth I can’t see a whole lot of difference between you.



The shameful moment

Feb 12th, 2019 8:47 am | By

Yesterday at Trump’s “rally” in El Paso:

A BBC cameraman was violently shoved and abused during a Donald Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, in an incident the corporation described as “unacceptable”.

The BBC’s Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue said his colleague Ron Skeans was “fine” despite the “incredibly violent attack”.

Footage from Skeans’ camera, tweeted by O’Donoghue, suggested he and his equipment were knocked off balance for around 10 seconds, as he was filming Trump’s speech. Skeans recovered to film a man in a red Make America Great Again cap being restrained and shouting: “Fuck the media.”

As he was led away some in the crowd at the rally could be heard chanting: “Let him go.”

This is who we are now.



Je ne devinais pas les traumas subis

Feb 11th, 2019 4:06 pm | By

The Guardian on the Ligue du LOL’s campaign of bullying women and Other races:

The group, believed to have had about 30 members, is said to have spread pornographic memes online and doctored photos to humiliate its victims.

What group members claim started as dubious humour in private exchanges, however, appears to have soon degenerated and spread on to the wider web mostly through Twitter.

Even “humour” in private exchanges doesn’t have to involve, say, pornographic memes and doctored photos. There are other ways to be funny and even other ways to gossip about people’s flaws.

They’re posting lengthy apologies / explanations on Twitter, saying they didn’t realize how nasty it all was for the people they did it to.

Doucet wrote on Twitter: “I was a member of the Ligue du LOL for two years. I left the group six years ago … in the small world that was then Twitter, I saw that certain people were regularly targeted but I never guessed the depth of the trauma suffered…

Hervaud wrote a long message on Twitter apologising for “condescending” tweets he had posted on Friday when the scandal first broke, and said he offered “sincere if belated apologies to those he had hurt”. He said the Ligue “never aimed to coordinate hateful campaigns targeting anyone. But it doesn’t serve to minimise or deny the evidence. The permanent spirit of mockery and cynicism of the group obviously influenced the actions of certain more borderline members, notably those covered by anonymity, who, by the snowball effect inspired other internet users outside the group.” He admitted some of the victim statements had “literally twisted my stomach”.

In an apology published on Twitter, Glad said he had “created a monster that escaped”.

“The object of the group was not to harass women, just to amuse ourselves. But quickly, our way of amusing ourselves became very problematic and we didn’t realise this. We thought that everyone visible on the internet, by a blog, or Twitter account or something else, deserved to be mocked,” Glad wrote. He added that he didn’t realise that this could “become a hell for the people targeted”.

Well why the fuck not? How fucking stupid or callous do you have to be to fail to realize that?

And I don’t really believe it anyway. If it’s true it just means they’re callous self-centered shits, but it probably isn’t true and they’re just trying to save themselves. The reality is they probably knew perfectly well and didn’t care even the tiniest little bit, because they were having fun and that’s all that mattered to them.

Capucine Piot, a former journalist now in marketing, said she had been the victim of several “mocking” photomontages and videos criticising her appearance. “It was very hard for a developing young woman. After reading so much dirt about myself … I was convinced I was worthless,” she tweeted.

Other victims have remained anonymous. “Those guys, they thought they were making jokes but they were ruining our lives,” said one. France’s minister for digital affairs, Mounir Mahjoubi, described the men behind the Facebook group as “losers”.

“It is a group of guys high on their power at being able to make fun of other people. Except that their mockery had an effect in real life,” he said.

Of course it did, and saying they didn’t realize it would be unpleasant for the people they did it to is just horseshit.



They don’t look Indian to him

Feb 11th, 2019 2:29 pm | By

1993. This is 1993, 26 years ago. This is Donald Trump.



The league of harassers

Feb 11th, 2019 11:58 am | By

BuzzFeed reports:

A secret group of mainly male French journalists have been accused of coordinating a sprawling, yearslong campaign of harassment abusing women writers, feminist activists, people of color, and LGBT people.

The group, Ligue du LOL, or LOL League, has been operating for about a decade. So far, three journalists have been suspended, one has resigned, and one has been fired since the accusations were made public online. People working at four of France’s biggest news outlets have been implicated.

Journalists – you know, people who help shape our opinions and worldviews.

The LOL League started as a Facebook group in 2009 by journalist Vincent Glad, who now works at one of France’s largest newspapers, Libération. The group operated as a shitposting space for people in French journalism and advertising who were popular on Twitter.

The current controversy started when Slate France journalist Thomas Messias tweeted cryptically last week about a “model reporter” who “used to have fun in a pack of feminist stalkers.”

That is, not feminist stalkers but feminist-stalkers, i.e. stalkers of feminists.

Messias’s tweet was quoted by Libération journalist and LOL League member Alexandre Hervaud, who sarcastically called it a “brave subtweet” and said he wasn’t sure whom Messias was talking about. Then another Twitter user, @IrisKV, asked Hervaud directly about harassing her. Her tweets were the first recent mention of LOL League. Everything seems to have kicked off from here.

By Friday, the #ligueduLOL hashtag was trending throughout France.

Hundreds of testimonies from victims who say they were targeted by the group flooded Twitter all weekend. Slate France contributor Lucile Bellan accused them of years of systemic harassment that undermined her confidence as a journalist. A French marketing manager named Benjamin LeReilly wrote a Medium piece accusing them of anti-gay and anti-feminist harassment that started eight years ago and has gone on for years.

I wonder how many American groups of the kind there are – specifically of journalists, I mean; I know there are plenty of generic ones.

Journalist Melanie Wanga tweeted that she was chased off Twitter by the LOL League in 2013. She described an inner circle of LOL League members surrounded by “cool girls” in French media who protected them and helped them pretend to be liberal and progressive in public.

It’s all so very familiar.

Currently, the main outlets implicated are all liberal and left-leaning: Libération, Les Inrocks, Slate France, and Télérama. Glad, the founder of the LOL League, wrote in a statement on Twitter that the group was “a monster that he had lost control of” and apologized for his involvement. He was suspended this week from the magazine he’s currently writing for. Doucet was also suspended from Les Inrocks as a precautionary measure.

As the scandal has grown over the weekend, private sexist groups similar to the LOL League have been outed. Similar groups were revealed to have been operating at Vice France and HuffPost France.

The more powerful setting up little online enclaves for the purpose of harassing the less powerful. So that’s what humans are like.

Bellan, the Slate France contributor who has since come forward about her years of abuse by the LOL League, published a piece this week about her experience watching LOL League member Christophe Carron become the editor of Slate France in 2017.

Bellan in her piece writes that Carron becoming editor made her fear for the column she was working on at the time.

“Over the years, the LOL League has become a terrifying kind of hydra,” she wrote. “If we decided to never collaborate with people who had been connected to all of this, it would have been easier to just change jobs.”

Sound familiar? Sounds like the debacle of New Atheism, to me.



We have been dropping enough hints

Feb 11th, 2019 10:31 am | By

Oh come ON.

Oooooooh yes I guess you could systematically study whether or not women are subject to more disparaging commentary than men are, why has no one ever thought to do that???

Much acid rejoindering.



Crossing the line

Feb 11th, 2019 10:07 am | By

Priorities. On the one hand, permanent brain damage; on the other hand, profits. We all know which one wins; it’s The American Way.

Former NBC sports commentator Bob Costas says the network pulled him from its football coverage after he criticized the NFL and its handling of the concussion crisis. In an interview with ESPN’s E:60, Costas revealed that NBC executives removed him from its Super Bowl LII broadcast after he spoke at a 2017 journalism symposium. “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains,” he said during that discussion. After an ensuing series of media appearances, Costas says NBC Sports’ executive producer texted him, “You’ve crossed the line.”

What line? I guess it’s the line between rah-rah coverage of football and factual reporting on how football as currently played features a great deal of head trauma.

Costas had been at NBC since 1979 and often used his platform to discuss controversial topics. He had covered concussion-related illnesses on Football Night in America before, but the ESPN story notes that NBC nixed a monologue he intended to read during a 2015 Sunday Night Football game relating to the release of the Will Smith movie Concussion. “I remember the reaction almost verbatim,” he tells ESPN. “They said, ‘This is a very well-written piece, wouldn’t change a comma. We can’t air it.’ ” Shortly thereafter, Costas drew ire from NBC executives by mocking the NFL’s “Football is Family” ad campaign in outside interviews.

After his 2017 appearance at the University of Maryland journalism symposium, NBC released a statement saying, “Bob’s opinions are his own, and they do not represent those of the NBC Sports Group.” Costas was subsequently informed that he would not be part of the network’s Super Bowl broadcast at the end of that season, which was already slated to be Costas’ last Sunday Night Football appearance.

Well now who matters more here? The workers or the bosses? The players or the owners? Silly question, isn’t it, this is America, where unions have faded to ghosts and the boss always wins.



Guest post: Still no foresight, beyond the quarterly statement

Feb 10th, 2019 4:21 pm | By

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on Hurtling down the path to extinction.

In War of the Worlds, the Martians meet their demise through lack of foresight, because they have no resistance to Earth germs; they are killed “after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.” Now, with our devices and technology working all too well, and plenty of warning (but still, no foresight, beyond the quarterly statement), we may bring about our own end by killing off the insects. Who knows, this might have a bigger, faster impact on human thought (and numbers) than the comparatively slow motion disaster that is climate change.

Time to nationalize agriculture.

I’m not sure that would really help at this point. We would probably have to internationalize agriculture. For the time being, because of our numbers, I think we are trapped in industrialized, mechanized, chemical and energy intensive agriculture. Shifting over to methods that are less destructive would likely require more people working in the agricultural workforce. It would take time, and a lot more state intervention in the economy than many are going to welcome, but whatever we do, whatever happens, there is going to be massive societal and economic disruption as knock on effects of the ongoing ecological and climate disruption we have loaded the system with. The longer we wait to act, the less we will be able to control or mitigate that disruption, and the worse it is going to be. We are racing headlong into crisis and the earth is going to slough off a few billion humans (and countless other species) before it reaches some new equilibrium.

Too few people (and certainly too few people in power) are aware of the fundamental connections between the human sphere and the biological foundations from which it arises and upon which it depends. We’re still learning about those connections in our slow, halting way. Traditional societies that are/were more immediately tied to the cycles of the living world around them might have had some awareness of this, but perhaps in too much of a mythological or metaphorical sense (where propitiation of spirits might be seen as more important than not actually overhunting an animal or exhausting the land), rather than the nuts and bolts causality that the scientific method offers. Whatever traditional awareness of the intimate bond humans have to all other life, that awareness was lost, set aside or ignored as we adopted agriculture and adapted our ways to it.