Notes and Comment Blog

The possibility of expanded unrest

Nov 17th, 2014 1:51 pm | By

Wait what now? Possible future protest is now a reason to declare a state of emergency? So the cops will be there with clubs raised before the protesters even arrive?

That sounds more like intimidation than a state of emergency.

Citing “the possibility of expanded unrest,” Gov. Jay Nixon today declared a state of emergency and prepared to send the Missouri National Guard to help maintain order in the St. Louis region when a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown case.

Nixon’s executive order puts the St. Louis County Police Department in charge of security in Ferguson “in areas of protests and acts of civil disobedience, should such activities occur.”

Well great, because the police have such a fine upstanding history in Ferguson, and the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case is all about that fine history. Way to pour gasoline on the house fire.

The order also establishes a unified law enforcement command consisting of the county police, the St. Louis Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol. The agencies will operate together “to keep members of the public safe and protect property while allowing citizens to exercise their constitutional rights,” Nixon said in a news release.

Their constitutional rights to stay home.

A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the shooting of Brown, 18, who was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. The shooting sparked months of protests.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has said the grand jury’s decision whether to charge Wilson is expected in mid- to late November.

Nixon’s spokeswoman, Channing Ansley, said the governor had no detailed knowledge of when to expect the grand jury decision, other than McCulloch’s public statements.

He just thought he might as well put people even more on edge. Good thinking.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Life in prison for selling $10 worth of marijuana

Nov 17th, 2014 11:58 am | By

The ACLU has a report on life sentences in prison without parole. Many such sentences are for non-violent crimes.

The number of people sentenced to life without parole
has quadrupled nationwide in the past 20 years, even
while violent crime has been declining during that
period. Not only has the use of life-without-parole sentences
exploded, but the punishment is available for a broader
range of offenses, and those sentenced to LWOP include
people convicted of nonviolent crimes, including low-level
nonviolent offenses.

According to data collected and analyzed
by the ACLU, 3,278 prisoners are serving LWOP for drug,
property, and other nonviolent crimes in the United States
as of 2012. Our data on the people serving LWOP shows
marked geographic and socioeconomic patterns, and reveals
stark racial disparity in life-without-parole sentencing for
nonviolent offenses.

Let me guess – lots more white people? No?

Life without parole used to be extremely rare in the US, until the Supreme Court banned the death penalty in 1972. Since then the numbers have exploded.

LWOP has not only expanded to nearly every state but also
is an available sentence for many more crimes. In 37 states
and in the federal system, a life-without-parole sentence is
available for non-homicide offenses, including convictions
for selling drugs, burglary, robbery, carjacking, and battery.
In 29 states, an LWOP sentence is mandatory upon conviction
of particular crimes, thus denying judges any discretion to
consider the circumstances of the crime or the defendant.

(There are reference notes in the original.)

The net result of this expansion is that LWOP is now used
at historically high levels to punish people who at one
time would have received much more lenient sentences.
In addition, people sentenced to LWOP are robbed of the
opportunity for release, which is rooted in the belief that
people have the capacity for growth and rehabilitation and
the ability to successfully reintegrate into society. Indeed,
studies show that lifers who are released are very unlikely
to commit new crimes. A sentence to life without parole,
however, means the prisoner has no prospect of release
in his or her lifetime, regardless of his or her efforts at
rehabilitation: virtually every person sentenced to LWOP dies
in prison.

What can possibly be the point of that? Just brutality for the sake of brutality?

Honestly on so many criteria the US cannot be considered an advanced developed democracy. In many ways we’re anti-development and hostile to advancing.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Nov 17th, 2014 11:40 am | By

Naturally Christina Hoff Sommers is contemptuous of TIME’s cowardly failure to tell feminists that they are pompous idiots for doing something Christina Hoff Sommers doesn’t approve. Naturally the only True Feminism™ is that approved first by Richard Dawkins and then by Christina Hoff Sommers.

Christina H. Sommers @CHSommers · Nov 16
TIME caved to pressure. Has stopped poll on most cringe-inducing word because “feminist” was winning by a landslide.

How dare TIME cave to pressure? How dare anyone cave to pressure? How dare Little Rock Central High School cave to pressure and allow African-American students to enter the building? How dare the mobs outside Little Rock Central High School cave to pressure and stop screaming at those students? How dare anyone ever pay attention to what an oppressed marginalized group says about how it’s treated?

Pressure is annoying or worse when you disagree with the reasons for it, of course. But that’s what the issue is: the reasons for the pressure, not the pressure itself. Sommers applies pressure herself, constantly, relentlessly, all the time. So do I (but without the clout of the American Enterprise Institute behind me). Pressure we agree with is just persuasion or argument or at most polemics.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The Ebola count ticks up

Nov 17th, 2014 10:53 am | By

Damn. Martin Salia, a surgeon who caught Ebola while working in Sierra Leone and was flown to the US on Saturday for treatment, died this morning. His case was too advanced.

He was given the experimental drug ZMapp on Saturday. He also received a plasma transfusion from an Ebola survivor. That treatment is thought to offer antibodies to fight the virus, said doctors at the hospital. He was flown from Freetown in a heavily equipped air ambulance for treatment in the United States at the Nebraska Medical Center.

But within the first 12 hours he was in complete respiratory failure and had very low blood pressure, doctors said during a news conference.

It was too late.

Martin Salia contracted the virus in Sierra Leone, where he was the chief medical officer and surgeon at the Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the capital of Freetown. He also worked at several other hospitals in Sierra Leone.

After Salia initially tested negative, his colleagues embraced him, celebrating the good news. The hospital has since been shuttered and three of his colleagues are being isolated over Ebola fears. It is still unclear how Salia contracted Ebola, which had killed nearly 5,200 people worldwide as of Nov. 11,according to the World Health Organization.

He had symptoms and got tested, but the test came back negative.

But when his symptoms remained nearly a week later, Salia took another test, on Nov. 10. This one came back positive, sending the Sierra Leonean doctor with ties to Maryland on a desperate, belated quest for treatment and forcing the colleagues who had embraced him into quarantine.

And it was too late.

In a sign that the Ebola epidemic still poses a danger, even though it may have eased in parts of Liberia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Sunday that airport screening will begin for travelers arriving in the United States from Mali, which lies inland from Sierra Leone and Liberia and has begun to report cases of the disease.

For Sierra Leone’s medical establishment, already rocked by Ebola, another doctor’s diagnosis was devastating national news. Since the outbreak started, 320 Sierra Leonean health workers have died of the disease. New billboards in Freetown show the faces of doctors who have died, with the words “Some of our national heroes killed by Ebola.”

It’s heartbreaking.

Early tests for Ebola aren’t reliable, we’re told.

The doctors who tended to him in Freetown appeared to be unaware that an early Ebola test — taken within the first three days of the illness — is often inconclusive. In a country where information about the disease continues to move slowly, it was another potentially tragic mistake.

In many cases, a negative test at that stage means nothing because “there aren’t enough copies of the virus in the blood for the test to pick up,” said Ermias Belay, the head of the CDC’s Ebola response team in Sierra Leone.

Now his colleagues could be infected.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

TIME says “oops, our bad”

Nov 17th, 2014 9:07 am | By

TIME apologized for including “feminist” on its facetious poll of words to be banished from the empire.

Nancy Gibbs, the magazine’s managing editor, penned an apology that is included as an editor’s note above the article:

Time apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.

Why did that not occur to them as soon as someone suggested the word? It’s not a subtle or nuanced thought, is it.

In the Los Angeles Times, blogger Susan Rohwer opined it was “deeply troubling a news organization like Time would suggest banning a word that means something as basic and seemingly uncontroversial as ‘all humans deserve the same rights regardless of their gender.’ Apparently, we need yet another reminder of why anti-feminist rhetoric like this needs to end.”

The New York Review of Books, Planned Parenthood and others all weighed in on social media, generally panning the magazine’s decision to include the word on its banishment poll.

And TIME stared open-mouthed, and blinked, and moved its lips, and finally figured out that shitting on the idea of equal rights for all of humanity instead of just the male half of it might not be such a genius plan. Well done.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post: Would he smile approvingly?

Nov 16th, 2014 6:19 pm | By

Originally a comment by themadtapper on A complaint to HR would be valid.

The thing that completely blows my mind about the whole ordeal is that in ANY professional context that shirt would be considered unprofessional at best and outright inappropriate in almost every case. And people like Richard Dawkins know damn well it would be. If Dawkins went to a speaking engagement at Oxford and a fellow speaker showed up wearing a shirt like that, would he smile approvingly? I very seriously doubt it. At the very least he’d give it a sigh and a shake of his head, but most likely he’d ask the speaker to please not go out on stage like that.

The only reason anyone at all is stirred up is that FEMINISTS pointed out that it’s inappropriate. They’re only defending the shirt because feminists disapprove of it. In essence, they’re not even defending the shirt; they’re opposing feminists. Which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. If feminists are against it and it isn’t literal physical violence or perpetrated by Muslims, then it de facto must be something that’s blown out of proportion. Ironically, it’s always the anti-feminists that blow the issue out of proportion. Feminists say “that shirt is highly inappropriate and contributes to the negative stereotypes that make woman uncomfortable in STEM fields”, anti-feminists say “feminists are BULLYING this poor man over his clothes, no make that ATTACKING him over his clothes, no wait they are WAGING WAR over a shirt”. They come out of the woodwork to defend the man, and no insignificant amount of them run active campaigns of harassment and threats against women who dared to voice their opinion on what is and isn’t appropriate attire. And “deep-thinkers” like Dawkins will lament how far feminists have fallen that they would make such a mountain out of a molehill.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Imagine if the feminists had gotten their claws into Columbus!

Nov 16th, 2014 5:38 pm | By

Well this is classic.

Embedded image permalink

Ha! Where to begin? How about with what happened to the people who lived on the continent that Columbus “discovered”? How about the cluelessness of using Columbus for a fantasy of genius scientific genius strangled by political correctness? How about the blithe assumption that there couldn’t have been anything to say to Columbus other than “We are struck dumb by your masculine awesomeness”?

I found that by looking at the feed of this guy:

The Danny C. XP @thedannycxp · 32 minutes ago
@OpheliaBenson In the end, @mggtTaylor and @RichardDawkins have advanced the frontiers of science. You’ve written a blog shitting on people.

Oh zing! I thought I was advancing the frontiers of science but it turns out I was wrong!

Just kidding. I never thought that.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A complaint to HR would be valid

Nov 16th, 2014 5:04 pm | By

An informative comment at PZ’s (on PZ’s post about Glenn Reynolds):

Yesterday I completed an online sexual harassment training for the community college (in the US) where I am currently teaching. I was thinking about this while I was going through the course and this shirt would ABSOLUTELY fall under sexual harassment. That’s not to say that the person would lose their job over it, if it was a one time thing, but a complaint to HR would be valid. Most likely in this scenario (if it happened where I teach) the person wearing the shirt would be told by their supervisor that the shirt is inappropriate and may be brought in for a talk with HR. Either way the incident would be noted in case any further incidents with that same person occurred in the future. This outcome does also depend on if there were any previous incidences of sexual harassment complaints.

See? It’s not a huge deal, unless there’s an existing pattern, but it’s an issue, worth noting and correcting. That’s all. It’s magnified if it’s seen by millions of people all over the world, but then again, an apology will suffice.

It’s not the worst thing ever, but no one said it was. It is something, which is all anyone said.

We were not wrong to say that.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Rally the troops

Nov 16th, 2014 1:15 pm | By

David Futrelle points out the replacement of the fading GamerGate with the new and exciting Shirtstorm.

By all rights, the furor over rocket scientist Matt Taylor’s cheesecake shirt should have died down by now. After being chided earlier this week for marring the celebration over the landing of a space probe ON A GODDAMNED COMET by doing interviews in a tacky shirt covered with half-naked ladies, Taylor offered a brief but heartfelt apology. You would have thought we’d all be able to move on.

And you would also have thought that would be what Matt Taylor would like even more than everyone else – but never mind that, that’s not important when there’s a new opportunity to vomit on feminism.

Not so fast. Because these days apparently no controversy can ever be over as long as it serves someone’s interest to keep it going. And so a loose but very familiar coalition of reactionaries and antifeminists and angry techies have started flogging an amorphous cause they call#Shirtgate or, more popularly, #Shirtstorm, purporting to be outraged that Taylor was “humiliated” into apologizing.

So many of the angriest voices in this, er, conversation are #GamerGaters it looks a lot like a sequel. Call it GamerGate Part Two: The Straw Graspening.

There are tweets. Futrelle shares some.

Oh, it’s a veritable #GamerGate Old Home Week! GG mainstays Thunderf00t and Mundane Matt have rushed out videos about The Shirt.

Of course they have. Others are camped out in my Twitter mentions right now, talking to each other.

Dean Esmay turns up, and so does Christina Hoff Sommers. But not Dawkins, for some reason. He should be there.


Richard Dawkins retweeted
godless wonder @godlesswonder31 · 9 hours ago
@RichardDawkins Hmm, why does this seem so familiar? Buncha’ lunatics losing their minds over a cartoon image. Oh, right, now I remember.

Richard Dawkins retweeted
CL | Novril @novriltataki · 21 hours ago
@DistanceLeft @FartToContinue Feminists hate @RichardDawkins because he supports real equality and real science, not post-modernist tripe.

Science for the public, baby.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

“She should not be employed by any publication in any way”

Nov 16th, 2014 12:47 pm | By

Another piece of ugliness, in case we’re running short: a petition to “fire” Rose Eveleth (although it doesn’t say fire from what).

Rose Eveleth is the woman that started demeaning a scientist in his finest hour for wearing a T-Shirt that was gifted to him by a female friend who designed and made it.

Such behavior is appalling and should not be encouraged.

Nobody should be shamed for what they are wearing, and feminists should be all too familiar with that sentiment.

This sort of abuse behavior should not be tolerated and we, the undersigned, would like to see action undertaken betting anyone who would instigate and encourage the harassment Matt Taylor received.

She should not be employed by any publication in any way if hate speech and encouraged abuse are her contributions.

644 signatures so far.

No mention of the threats Rose Eveleth has been getting.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post: Why Matt Taylor broke down

Nov 16th, 2014 11:16 am | By

Originally a comment by Jafafa Hots on Bullied by identity politics.

He could have been upset that he screwed up, and distracted from what should have been an unalloyed celebration.

This. Whether he thinks the furor over the shirt was silly or not, whether he is a misogynist or not… the one thing you can be almost positive of is that he is very passionate about this project.

People working on space missions dream of days like the ones that have just passed. They work for years for a mission that might fail in an instant or in sudden silence and leave nothing whatsoever to show for the effort and money spent.

These people are about as passionate about their work as it gets. Mission days, landing days, etc. literally are the highlight of their professional career and in some cases their entire lives… and they know that is true for everyone else there.

Even if he doesn’t get the problem with the shirt, he’s almost certain to have gotten the message that he did something that detracted from that dream, from the joy and celebration and wonder… it was possibly watching an event day like this that inspired him to go into the field in the first place, it certainly was for many others.

So even if he thinks the shirt is otherwise fine, there’s an extreme likelihood that what you saw there was genuine remorse at having tarnished a special day for his team and his colleagues. It’s very UNLIKELY that what you saw was a man reacting to having been somehow bullied or browbeaten.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

“He is responsible for the giant leap”

Nov 16th, 2014 10:54 am | By

I missed something in the text of that fundraiser to buy an expensive prezzy for Matt Taylor to console him for his “abuse” at the hands of the monster feminists.

Matt Taylor is a project scientist for Rosetta, the first human made object to have ever landed on a comet.

He is responsible for the giant leap. It is a glorious moment for human space exploration and future.

Instead of receiving the recognition he deserved, he received tremendous backlash due to the fact that he was wearing a T-Shirt depicting scantily clad women.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaait a second there. No “he” is not responsible for the giant leap. Of course he’s not! What an absurd claim. The whole team is responsible for it, along with the many teams before them who did the work they built on. It’s a collaborative enterprise, to put it mildly. No one person is responsible for it. You can bet Matt Taylor would say the same thing.

This whole thing is unfair to him, along with everything else it is. He apologized, and then went on to do his job. I see no reason to think he wants outside parties inflaming what could and should have been over on Friday. I certainly don’t think he wants fans who claim he was responsible for the whole Rosetta project.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

For his abuse

Nov 16th, 2014 10:43 am | By

It’s nice to see that Richard Dawkins still has some compassion for his fellow human beings, at least. After yesterday we might have thought he simply didn’t know what that might even be, but happily we would have been wrong. He has compassion. He has compassion for people he takes to have been abused by feminists.


Richard Dawkins retweeted
Pharaoh @bpaladin9 · 12 hours ago
@RichardDawkins Richard small token of appreciation is being made to Matt for his abuse. Please consider twting it.

For his abuse.

Let’s take a look at that fundraiser.

Title: We want to buy a gift for Matt Taylor, project scientist for Rosetta


Matt Taylor is a project scientist for Rosetta, the first human made object to have ever landed on a comet.

He is responsible for the giant leap. It is a glorious moment for human space exploration and future.

Instead of receiving the recognition he deserved, he received tremendous backlash due to the fact that he was wearing a T-Shirt depicting scantily clad women. He was bullied over a t-shirt a FEMALE friend designed for him; (archive Verge article. I am not making you click on their link and allow them to generate revenue after publishing this sort of garbage)

Despite Dr Taylor’s efforts for humanity, he was forced to apologize and was under so much psychological stress that he broke down live. After all he has done.

What We Will Do

I made this crowd fund so that we can give Dr. Taylor the gift he deserves. Once I get sufficient funding I will buy for him an astronomical watch. The more I get, the more expensive the watch will be.

This is the starter watch shall I achieve the goal and not more :

If this crowdfund receives more money then I will purchase higher-end watches.

Since the crowd fund is very successful, I am considering also getting the project manager a pen from the Mont Blanc Star Walker collection.

If more money is received, it would make it possible to either organize a large dinner for the entire team or send everyone a bottle of whiskey with a custom label mentioning their names and role in the mission

Other Ways You Can Help

If you cannot contribute, be sure to send Dr.Taylor a message of support, sign this petition :

And share this campaign on social media.

Update (16/11/2014)

Seeing the current donations, chances are that we will be able to afford Dr.Taylor a better watch. There will still be surplus money : I suggest we also get the mission manager Fred Jansen something (A Mont Blanc pen from the Star Walker collection) And also send cards or organize some sort of party/dinner for the entirety of the team.

Dr.Taylor knows about this according to his friend, but he has to ask the ESA about this first. This might take a week.

ESA, if you are reading this, please keep in mind that this has NOTHING to do with politics. We are just citizens of Earth willing to do a nice gesture and show some appreciation.

Dr.Taylor knows about this according to his friend, but he has to ask the ESA about this first. This might take a week.

ESA, if you are reading this, please keep in mind that this has NOTHING to do with politics. We are just citizens of Earth willing to do a nice gesture and show some appreciation.


I stripped out the links to Shopping Opportunities, but you can find them all on the campaign page itself.

Dawkins thinks this is a good idea.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Bullied by identity politics

Nov 15th, 2014 5:54 pm | By

No, that’s not what happened.


Richard Dawkins retweeted
SimpleHarmonics @HarmonicOz · 24 hours ago
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg @billmaher A man of science has been bullied to tears today by identity politics.

Just for a start – it’s perfectly possible that Matt Taylor was upset with himself. I felt bad for him while watching and afterwards, and I still do, but not because he was “bullied” – I felt bad for him because he was upset. He could have been upset that he screwed up, and distracted from what should have been an unalloyed celebration.

And think about it in terms of the likelihood. Is it really likely that he was upset enough to get teary because feminists “bullied” him? Wouldn’t that be vastly more likely to make him pissed off rather than teary? I don’t see how or why he would get upset as opposed to angry unless he agreed that he’d screwed up.

And to continue – I don’t see why so many people are being so shitty about this. I don’t see why Dawkins is, for instance. Is it really that hard to understand that a hostile work environment doesn’t attract people who are subject to the hostility? Is that really such an outrageous or “politically correct” claim? I don’t think Dawkins has any desire or intention to drive women away from STEM fields, so why does he get outraged at efforts to change the culture in those fields to make them less woman-repelling?

It’s not a matter of being “weak” or “delicate” you know, it’s not about needing a fainting couch. It’s about how you want to spend your time. Sure, it’s possible to put up with assholes. But is it fun? Is it what we want for ourselves? Hell no. I’m a feminist, but I’m also a human who doesn’t like to be around unpleasant people for the bulk of her waking life. If I were university age and choosing a career I wouldn’t decide to storm a mostly-male profession if I knew (or had reason to believe) the field was jam-packed with sexist shits who would be crapping all over me all the time. I wouldn’t decide to do that because hey I’m a feminist, and that’s the feminist thing to do. Nuh uh. I care way too much about my moment-to-moment life to do that.

It’s not good to have fields that certain classes of people have to be heroic to work in while others just fit right in. That’s not fair or reasonable or even desirable in practical terms. (Why shrink your talent pool? What the hell is the point of that?)

So I don’t get where the outrage comes from. The ugliness of it coming from someone like Dawkins just gets me down. He has all this fame and clout and he could be using it to do good things – and instead he’s using it to piss on feminism. What a legacy.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage

Nov 15th, 2014 2:09 pm | By

Here’s one collection of all the clichés about The Shirt, written by Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit. It could have been written by Christina Hoff Sommers or Richard Dawkins or Brendan O’Neill or any other hack Limbaugh-lite opinion-giver.

So how are things going for feminism? Well, last week they took one of the great achievements of human history — landing a probe from Earth on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away — and made it all about the clothes.

No we didn’t. Not “all about.” That’s just typical hack cliché hyperbole.

Yes, that’s right. After years of effort, the European Space Agency’s lander Philaelanded on a comet 300 million miles away. At first, people were excited. Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt, made for him by a female “close pal,” featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women. And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about . . . what people were wearing. It was one small shirt for a man, one giant leap backward for womankind.

Again – no. The triumph of the comet landing was not drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage. That didn’t happen. That’s not what did happen. It wasn’t like that.

The Atlantic’s Rose Eveleth tweeted, “No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt.” Astrophysicist Katie Mack commented: “I don’t care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn’t appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in STEM.” And from there, the online feminist lynch mob took off until Taylor was forced to deliver a tearful apology on-camera.

Again – no. There was no lynch mob. I don’t know, and I don’t think Glenn Reynolds does, that Matt Taylor was forced to apologize. I don’t know what happened that led him to apologize. For all I know he learned of the reaction and felt bad about the shirt entirely of his own volition. In fact I think his emotion and body language indicate the opposite of having been forced. I think if he’d really been ordered to apologize and had seen no merit in the objections to his wearing the shirt, his emotion and body language would have been very different – spiky, angry, defiant. I think even if he had simply thought the objections were stupid, while still agreeing that for the sake of the mission he should apologize – he wouldn’t have been upset in that way.

It seems to me that if you care about women in STEM, maybe you shouldn’t want to communicate the notion that they’re so delicate that they can’t handle pictures of comic-book women. Will we stock our Mars spacecraft with fainting-couches?

Check, check, check – more clichés ticked. Feminists are “so delicate”; they “can’t handle” the tiniest little thing; the shirt was just “pictures of comic book women”; they need “fainting couches.” One honking banality after another.

Meanwhile, Time Magazine last week ran an online poll of words that should be retired from the English language. The winner — by an enormous margin — was “feminist.” That’s fitting. With this sort of behavior in mind, it’s no surprise that so many people feel that feminism has passed its sell-by date.

And we should go back to treating women as consumer objects for men without anybody making a stink about it. The dream of Utopia.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The bullies’ creed

Nov 15th, 2014 12:03 pm | By

On the upside though, I’ve discovered an excellent Twitter account to follow, that of biologist Josh Witten, and four tweets that say a thing I keep having occasion to say, and say it beautifully.

Saying you “respect women’s toughness” as a justification for not considering how actions affect others as individuals is a cop out.

It’s a lazy & selfish excuse to do what you want when and where you want to. It’s the philosophy of a toddler.

Women are tough. That doesn’t mean we should structure society so they constantly have to be tough, on guard, to survive their day.

You show a high opinion of people by giving individuals the time & energy to consider how you affect them.

I think the first time I felt the need to make a point of saying that was after I read Paula Kirby’s horrible piece “The Sisterhood of the Oppressed.” She likes that “women are tough” line of talk, and she takes it to mean that women should just battle through the obstacles rather than that the obstacles should be done away with. I don’t know if she got that from Dawkins or Dawkins got it from her or they have both always thought it, but whichever it is, it’s a terrible way to think about structural oppression. Terrible. It’s a bullies’ creed. If it were true, then we should all go out of our way to make everything more difficult for everyone, because it’s good for us, like exercise.

Bollocks. We should do no such thing. We should try hard to get rid of all needless obstacles, in order to maximize everyone’s ability to use her particular talents and ambitions. There are plenty of obstacles we can’t do anything about; there’s no need to create new ones by being shitty to people. Also? Being shitty to people is bad for the character.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Gnu feminism

Nov 15th, 2014 11:42 am | By

So Richard Dawkins is calling astronomer Jennifer L Hoffman a pompous idiot then.

Jennifer L. Hoffman @astroprofhoff

.@weswt @missafayres Am I serious about being respected by colleagues in my professional environment? Uh, yes. #shirtstorm
9:00 PM – 12 Nov 2014

I wonder how many other colleagues and perhaps friends he’s calling pompous idiots.

I think I’ll collect some. Feel free to assist.

There’s Phil Plait:

I tweet about the sexist shirt worn by a scientist & get thoughtful replies. @roseveleth does the same and gets monumentally harassed.

There’s Sean Carroll:

Rosetta landing shows humans are awesome; Rosetta scientist shows individual humans have a long way to go. #shirtgate
5:13 PM – 12 Nov 2014

There’s Jacques Rousseau:

.@GretaChristina explains (something that shouldn’t need explanation) why Matt Taylor’s shirt was offensive: … #Rosetta
1:52 AM – 15 Nov 2014

As context for some concerns sparked by (not about) #Rosetta shirt, this piece on sexism in academic science:
7:42 AM – 15 Nov 2014

There’s drug monkey:

Which reminds me- hey scis who want to be edgy and rad….try a man-bun instead of an offensive shirt
11:17 AM – 15 Nov 2014

H/t Hj Hornbeck

There are:

Dr. Raychelle Burks
Dr. Pamela Gay
Dr. Gwen Pearson, “Bug” Gwen just did a couple retweets, which was probably pompous, according to Dawkins
Dr. Nicole Gugliucci

H/t kellym

There is Carolyn Porco:

Carolyn Porco gave Richard Dawkins a response on Twitter, and he took down one of his silly tweets:

H/t Xanthë

There’s hydrogeologist Scott K Johnson:

.@RichardDawkins Wish you would respect other women’s viewpoints of it more, in addition to @carolynporco ‘s.

Stephanie’s off the top of her head list:

Emily Willingham:

Alice Bell:

Jacquelyn Gill:

Tom Levenson:

Ed Yong:

Ben Lillie:

Maryn McKenna:

MarieClaire Shanahan:

Melanie Tannenbaum:

Sarcastic Rover:


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Dawkins on “the pompous idiots whining about a Rosetta scientist’s shirt”

Nov 15th, 2014 10:01 am | By

Huh. I thought it was over. I thought it had ended well, and we were all going to move on. I thought it had ended well and without bitterness and recriminations. I thought Matt Taylor had said damn, that was a really bad move and I’m sorry, and we had all figuratively embraced him and gone back to rejoicing at the success of the Rosetta mission. (Not that we had stopped. I’m seeing people complaining of “radfems” fussing about a shirt instead of paying attention the the success of the Rosetta mission. Wrong. We were doing both. It’s nice not to have a shirt cluttering things up though.) I thought it was done and dusted.

I’m so naïve.


Richard Dawkins on Twitter.

Do not blame feminism for the pompous idiots whining about a Rosetta scientist’s shirt. True feminism is bigger and better than that.

Many congratulations to Matt Taylor and the Rosetta team on an amazing feat of space engineering. Such things make me proud to be human.

Remind me – who made Richard Dawkins the arbiter of what true feminism is?

Is he also the arbiter of what true anti-racism is? Of what true LGBT rights are? Of the true essence of every struggle for equal rights everywhere? Or is it just what rights women get to have that he thinks is his decision to make? Is it only on feminism that he considers himself an expert?

I wonder exactly how many colleagues and friends he just called pompous idiots in that tweet.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Sleep well Philae

Nov 14th, 2014 5:53 pm | By

Philae is indeed going to sleep. No hop, no sun shining on the solar panels.

Philae Lander @Philae2014 ·1 hour ago
.@ESA_Rosetta I’m feeling a bit tired, did you get all my data? I might take a nap… #CometLanding

Thank you, @ESA_Rosetta! I did it! I became the first spacecraft to land on a comet & study it! But it’s not over yet… #CometLanding

My #lifeonacomet has just begun @ESA_Rosetta. I’ll tell you more about my new home, comet #67P soon… zzzzz #CometLanding

Now cut that out. Philae isn’t Bambi’s mother.

Have a nice nap Philae.

But before those three, there was this:

My controlroom after a more than 100% successful #CometLanding (watch the party in the background)

Embedded image permalink

It’s exciting to be human today.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Women become more silent

Nov 14th, 2014 4:56 pm | By

Ed Yong wrote a post in 2010 about a study of how objectification silences women.

Many people brush off the importance of men staring at women’s bodies.

Tamar Saguy is different. Leading a team of Israeli and US psychologists, she has shown that women become more silent if they think that men are focusing on their bodies. They showed that women who were asked to introduce themselves to an anonymous male partner spent far less time talking about themselves if they believed that their bodies were being checked out. Men had no such problem. Nor, for that matter, did women if they thought they were being inspected by another woman.

Saguy’s study is one of the first to provide evidence of the social harms of sexual objectification – the act of treating people as “de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities”. It targets women more often than men. It’s apparent in magazine covers showing a woman in a sexually enticing pose, in inappropriate comments about a colleague’s appearance, and in unsolicited looks at body parts. These looks were what Saguy focused on.

And in shirts with exaggeratedly sexy women on them. I’m not talking about Matt Taylor here; he apologized without any “but you’re so touchy” bullshit. But I’m seeing people shouting about “callout culture” and it’s just a shirt and nuance and “tribalism”…most of it from people who aren’t subject to being dismissed in quite that way.

She recruited 207 students, 114 of whom were women, on the pretence of studying how people communicate using expressions, gestures and vocal cues. Each one sat alone in a room with a recorder and video camera. They had two minutes to introduce themselves to a male or female partner, using a list of topics such as “plans for the future” or “four things you like doing the most”. The partner was supposedly sat in the next room and either watching the speaker from the neck up, watching from the neck down, or just listening on audio. The camera was tilted or blocked accordingly.

The summary? Men talked the full two minutes no matter what; women talked the full two minutes to a woman or a man who could only hear them, but not to a man who could see them, especially one who could see them only from the neck down.

As Saguy explains, “When a woman believes that a man is focusing on her body, she narrows her presence… by spending less time talking.” There are a few possible reasons for this. Saguy suspects that objectification prompts women to align their behaviour with what’s expected of them – silent things devoid of other interesting traits. Treat someone like an object, and they’ll behave like one. Alternatively, worries about their appearance might simply distract them from the task at hand.

I would think a more salient explanation would be the possibility (or likelihood?) that the man wasn’t paying attention to what she said. There are cues to pick up when you’re boring people, and if you do pick them up you probably stop talking…Unless, of course, you’re one of those hugely important people who just can’t be boring no matter what, and so never worry about other people’s level of interest in what they’re saying.

Anyway. Yes – in for instance science, when you’re on the job it’s really not relevant whether or not your body is pleasing or arousing to other people; that’s not what you’re there for. If there are messages that tell you otherwise, that can be offputting. There’s not much “nuance” to that thought, but so what? There’s not much nuance to tits and ass, either.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)