Notes and Comment Blog

Too much has been read into that

Aug 14th, 2017 7:49 am | By

Goodness, what a shameless liar Jeff Sessions is. He’s been trotting around the tv stations this morning to defend his boss, saying yes he did too so condemn white supremacy and racism and stuff.

“His initial statement on this roundly and unequivocally condemned hatred and violence and bigotry,” Sessions said of Trump on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “White supremacy was certainly included in bigotry and hatred.”

And so was anything else anyone cared to think of. That’s the problem. White supremacy didn’t need to be included, it needed to be singled out.

Pressed on Trump’s omission of any reference to such groups as neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan, the attorney general said: “Too much has been read into that….He totally opposes those kinds of values.”

The hell he does, you lying rat. He loves those values, he embodies those values. Remember the birtherism; remember the Central Park 5; remember “bad hombres.”

“He made a very strong statement that directly contradicted the ideology of hatred, violence, bigotry, racism and white supremacy,” Sessions said. “Those things must be condemned. They’re totally unacceptable … He’s been firm on this from the beginning. He is appalled by this.”

No, he didn’t. That’s another lie. He didn’t say a word about racism and white supremacy.

Sessions of course is a racist himself.

It is not some twisted, crazy view

Aug 13th, 2017 5:30 pm | By

Awesome. Peter Singer also thinks James Damore shouldn’t have been fired. He says why in the Daily News. (Shouldn’t it be David Brooks writing for the Daily News and Peter Singer writing for the Times? This arrangement seems backward to me.)

James Damore, a software engineer at Google, wrote a memo in which he argued that there are differences between men and women that may explain, in part, why there are fewer women than men in his field of work. For this, Google fired him.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent Google employees a memo saying that “much of what was in that memo is fair to debate,” but that portions of it cross a line by advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

Pichai did not specify which sections of the memo discussed issues that are fair to debate, and which portions cross the line. That would have been difficult to do, because the entire memo is about whether certain gender stereotypes have a basis in reality.

No it isn’t. There are other things in the memo.

Singer goes through the list of Damore’s stale observations about how wimmin R diffrunt.

Damore is careful to point out that the evidence for these claims does not show that all women have these characteristics to a higher degree than men.

Oh for god’s sake. How credulous can you be? Yes of course he is, because he’s putting on a show of Highly Reasonable Dude.

I wonder if Peter Singer would have said all this if Damore had written exactly the same memo but substituting “blacks” for “women” and “whites” for men.

Except I don’t really wonder. I’m pretty damn sure he wouldn’t have.

There is scientific research supporting the views Damore expresses. There are also grounds for questioning some of this research. In assessing Google’s action in firing Damore, it isn’t necessary to decide which side is right, but only whether Damore’s view is one that a Google employee should be permitted to express.

I think it is. First, as I’ve said, it is not some twisted, crazy view. There are serious articles, published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, supporting it.

Second, it addresses an important issue. Google is rightly troubled by the fact that its workforce is largely male. Sexism in many areas of employment is well-documented. Employers should be alert to the possibility that they are discriminating against women, and should take steps to prevent such discrimination. Some orchestras now conduct blind auditions…

And more businesses should do that, Singer says cheerily.

But once such anti-discrimination measures have been taken, to the greatest extent feasible, does the fact that a workforce in a particular industry is predominantly male prove that there has been discrimination? Not if the kind of work on offer is likely to be attractive to more men than to women.

If the view Damore defends is right, that will be true of software engineering. If it is, then moving beyond the avoidance of discrimination in hiring and promotion to a policy of giving preference to women over men would be questionable.

That may be true, but we’re not there yet. We’re not anywhere near that yet. We’re still mired in a world where dudebros spend much of their spare time explaining what’s so wrong and stupid and inferior about women. Damore’s banal “memo” was just more of that, dressed up carefully enough that it – bafflingly – fooled Peter Singer. I find that kind of pathetic.

So on an issue that matters, Damore put forward a view that has reasonable scientific support, and on which it is important to know what the facts are. Why then was he fired?

Pichai, Google’s CEO, says that “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.” But Damore explicitly, and more than once, made it clear that he was not reducing individuals to a group, and so was not saying that all — or even, necessarily, any — women employed by Google as software engineers are less biologically suited to their work than men.

Jesus christ! Has the man never heard of lying? Has he never seen any advertising or public relations or political speechifying? Yes we know what Damore explicitly made clear, but he didn’t mean it, and that was blindingly obvious to any woman who has already heard this shit 90 thousand times and doesn’t need to hear it again.

Wouldn’t you think a philospher of Singer’s caliber would have the nous to figure that out?

Google is a very selective employer, and so it is highly probable that Google’s selection processes have led to Google employing women who are, in specific traits, uncharacteristic of women as a whole. The target of Damore’s memo was the idea that we should expect women to make up half the software engineering workforce, and that Google should take measures directed towards achieving that outcome.

Pichai also quotes Google’s Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.” Damore’s memo did not harass or intimidate anyone, and in a society that protects freedom of expression, there was nothing unlawful about it. Was it biased? To show that it was, it would need to be demonstrated that Damore was biased in selecting certain scientific studies that supported his view while disregarding others that went against it. Perhaps that case could — and should — be made, but to do so would take some time and research. In any case, Pichai does not attempt, in even the most cursory way, to make it.

See above. All this depends on taking Damore completely at face value, which is just dense, and not only dense but obnoxiously clueless about injustices perpetrated against people who aren’t like him. If he had read even one of the many articles or posts by women in tech that explained why Damore’s memo is crap, he probably wouldn’t have written this.


Slogans including “Beware the International Jew”

Aug 13th, 2017 12:06 pm | By

The Guardian tells us a little about that Charlottesville driver.

The man accused of murdering a woman by deliberately driving into her during protests against a far-right rally was photographed earlier in the day standing with the white supremacist, neo-Nazi group Vanguard America.

James Fields, 20, of Maumee, Ohio, allegedly killed Heather Heyer, aged 32, and injured 19 others when he rammed his car into a group peacefully protesting on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Photographs from earlier that day appear to show Fields rallying with Vanguard America and carrying a shield bearing the group’s insignia. He wears the white polo shirt and khaki pants that are the group’s uniform.

Vanguard America were a highly visible presence at the Unite the Right rally on Saturday, where they marched in military-style formation, and the torchlight rally the previous night on the University of Virginia campus. On the group’s Twitter account, and on social media accounts belonging to regional chapters, there was extensive promotion of the Unite the Right rally in the weeks leading up to the event.

The group’s motto, “blood and soil” was a popular chant at both events. It is derived from the Nazi slogan “blut und boden”, which links conceptions of racial purity with a particular national territory.

Nothing like Nazi chants to demonstrate one’s peaceable intentions. Just here to express an opinion, y’all.

Vanguard America’s manifesto, American Fascism, details its desire for a white ethnostate, the restoration of strictly patriarchal families and limiting the influence of “international Jews”.

Of Vanguard America, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says the group “is particularly focused on recruiting young men and has engaged in unprecedented outreach efforts to attract students on American college campuses”. Its leader, military veteran Dillon Irizarry, has said “the future is the youth”.

During the 2016-2017 school year, chapters were active in posting flyers on college campuses in 10 states, from Arkansas to Oregon. On the group’s website, printable flyers bear slogans including “Beware the International Jew”, “Imagine a Muslim-Free America”, and “Fascism: The Next Step for America”.

Just part of the rich tapestry of American life. No chance at all that this kind of thing will spread. It’s all good.

The sickness unto death

Aug 13th, 2017 11:20 am | By

I was this agitated about the Charleston murders. I remember feeling this sick and horrified and sad and furious. I forced myself to do a little research on the victims and write about them even though it made me cry every time. I wrote many many posts about it.

Just one of them:

Rebecca Carroll yesterday at Comment is Free.

Six black women were shot to death during a community prayer service by a young white man who allegedly declared: “You rape our women.”

These women and men welcomed a white man into their close-knit church, and likely encouraged others in their community to join and listen and pray and let God into their hearts.

I read somewhere else yesterday that during the hour discussion that preceded the terrorist attack, while the terrorist sat at the back of the church, people at the front several times urged him to join them. That fact breaks my heart.

And think of it. He sat there for an hour, staring ahead at a group of kind, warm people who tried to welcome him…and then he went ahead and took out his gun and shot them.

There is something inconsistent with the Charleston shooter’s alleged evocation of the historical myth of black man as beast and rapist of white women, and the fact that he killed mostly black women. Did he only shoot black women because there were no more black men to kill? Because black women birth, care for and love black men? Or because he didn’t see black women as women at all, and, as something less than women (and certainly lesser than white women), felt us undeserving of the same valiance he conjured on behalf of the women he claim to be protecting?

I can’t even begin to imagine why he did that. Why, or how; I can’t imagine how he did it, after that hour.

In the opening scene from Ava DuVerney’s film Selma, she captured the innocence of four black girls detonated in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Four black girls were just walking down the wooden steps to the basement for prayer meeting; DuVerney showed the light trickling through the stained glass window, let us listen to them talk about their hair and how they do it and how they like it, showed us their Sunday clothes pressed and colorful. And then, in the movie as in our history, they were just dead.

The girls killed in Birmingham in 1963 are the child forebearers of the grown women killed in Charleston in 2015, in a country where our ancestors keep getting younger and younger because violence too often prevents us from getting older, from growing fully into our lives. Somehow, protecting the world from black men has, far too often, meant killing, beating and raping black women and girls. So we have prayed in solidarity and what we have looked upon as safety. On Wednesday, a white man took that from us, too. What remains to be seen is whether the law and this country will recognize that there is now nothing left to take from us.

Nowhere is safe.

God bless him

Aug 13th, 2017 10:31 am | By
God bless him

Ok I took a deep breath and went to Daily Stormer, so that you wouldn’t have to.

Last night:


The reaction to Trump’s “many sides, many sides” observation.


The “of course” brigade appears

Aug 13th, 2017 9:17 am | By

Now Trump’s people are dutifully lining up to say of course he condemned the Nazis in Charlottesville, it’s obvious that he did, he was unambiguous about it.

The White House said in a statement Sunday that when President Trump condemned “all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred” that were on display in Charlottesville this weekend “of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

Of course. Of coursey course.

But inclusion of Nazis wasn’t what was needed. That “and all extremist groups” at the end wasn’t and isn’t what was needed. “Everybody was to blame” isn’t what’s needed. A robust condemnation of racism and racist hatred and incitement of racist hatred is what’s needed. That’s what Trump refused to give.

You can tell the “from many sides” part wasn’t in the prepared remarks he was haltingly reading. You can tell from the way he looks up and throws his arm out to the side – you can see that that’s one of his ad libs.

And three of Trump’s top advisers appeared on Sunday morning news shows to defend the vague statement that the president delivered the previous afternoon at his private golf club in New Jersey, although their messaging shifted as the morning progressed. Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and a top adviser, broke with her father’s messaging Sunday morning to tweet: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”

Yes, and then she immediately returned to her father’s message with the second tweet – and she numbered them, so we know the two are one statement – that what we need is to Unite as Americans.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster said on ABC News that the president was “very clear” in his statement and “called out anyone, anyone who is responsible for fomenting this kind of bigotry, hatred, racism and violence.” Later in the morning, McMaster added on NBC News that it “ought to be clear to all Americans” that Trump’s comments about bigotry and hatred included white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Yes, and that’s the problem, because his comments merely “included” the murderous Nazis. He needs to single them out. It wasn’t a lefty who drove that car into the crowd.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said on CBS News that the president was “specific,” “very clear” and, “frankly, pretty unambiguous” in responding to the violence. He added: “When someone marches with a Nazi flag, that is unacceptable, but I think that’s what the president’s saying.”

No, it’s not. He specifically, deliberately avoided saying that. He raised his head and threw his arm out to say “from many sides, from many sides.” He didn’t need to say that. I think it was probably not in the prepared statement. He chose to say it. It’s a lie.

Tom Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, who has been in direct contact with Charlottesville authorities, repeatedly praised the president on CNN for not naming the groups that were involved and instead focusing on an overarching call for Americans to love one another.

To love one another? Did he say that? Not that I’ve seen. He told us to “unite.” I don’t recall anything about love. And not naming the groups involved is not something to praise him for. We know who the groups are, and we know they are devoted fans and admirers of Trump’s. This is his baby, not ours.

Bossert said that people “on both sides” showed up in Charlottesville “looking for trouble” and that he won’t assign blame for the death of a counterprotester on either group, although he said the president would like to see “swift justice” for the victim. After repeated questioning, Bossert did say that he personally condemns “white supremacists and Nazi groups that espouse this sort of terrorism and exclusion.” He did not say whether the president agrees with him on that.

It must be awkward to be a Nazi in a Nazi administration and be pressed to reject Nazism on national tv.

While Bossert acknowledged that white supremacy is a problem in the country, he quickly shifted to talking about the greater threat of “a global jihadi terrorist problem.” This is a common tactic used by the Trump administration, which considered refocusing the government’s Countering Violent Extremism program on Islamist groups, not white supremacists, and has proposed slashing funding for the program. A recent study found that between 2008 and 2016, the number of designated terrorist attacks on U.S. soil carried out by right-wing extremist groups, including white supremacists, outnumbered those carried out by Islamists by 2 to 1.

Trump has a lot more in common with Islamists than lefties do (though many lefties fail to grasp that). Both have contempt for women, both have contempt for gay men (I think they ignore lesbians), both love a good fight.

Numerous Republicans and Democrats have criticized the usually blunt-speaking president for reacting to the violence and racism in Charlottesville in such vague terms, for placing equal blame on the counterprotesters and for not specifically condemning the white supremacists involved.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) urged the president to use the words “white supremacists” and to label what happened Saturday as a terrorist attack. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) declared that “white supremacy is a scourge” that “must be confronted and defeated.” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) tweeted, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer (D) has directly blamed Trump for the explosion of hate in his city this weekend, and he continued to do so Sunday in an interview with CNN. He accused Trump of intentionally courting white supremacists, nationalists and anti-Semitic groups on the campaign trail, and he criticized the president for not condemning these groups.

“This is not hard. There’s two words that need to be said over and over again: domestic terrorism and white supremacy,” Signer said. “That is exactly what we saw on display this weekend, and we just aren’t seeing leadership from the White House.”

If you vote a hate-mongering racist misogynist evil toad of a man president, this is what you get.

Moral idiots

Aug 13th, 2017 8:39 am | By

The Trumpists are trying to spin this as a matter of “division,” with the solution being for all of us to UNITE behind AMERICA. Trump’s idiotic point-missing xenophobic tweet yesterday sent the signal:

The others are taking the hint:

No. The issue is not division, and nationalism is not the solution. Making it about AMERICA just deflect the hatred and violence outside our borders.

The nadir

Aug 12th, 2017 6:04 pm | By

Vox typed up his remarks in full:

We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.

It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, this has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.

What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society. And no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.

I just got off the phone with the governor of Virginia, Terry Mcauliffe, and we agree that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true — really, I say this so strongly, true affection for each other.

Our country is doing very well in so many ways. We have record — just absolute record employment. We have unemployment, the lowest it’s been in almost 17 years. We have companies pouring into our country, Foxconn and car companies and so many others. They’re coming back to our country. We’re renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker.

We have so many incredible things happening in our country, so when I watch charlottesville, to me it’s very, very sad.

I want to salute the great work of the state and local police in Virginia. Incredible people. Law enforcement, incredible people. And also the National Guard. They’ve really been working smart and working hard .They’ve been doing a terrific job. Federal authorities are also providing tremendous support to the governor. He thanked me for that. And we are here to provide whatever other assistance is needed. We are ready, willing and able.

Above all else, we must remember this truth, no matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our god. We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are.

So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally we have to love each other.

It’s all horrible, but the worst is:

Above all else, we must remember this truth, no matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our god. We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are.

Any fascist could happily agree to that.

I can’t agree to a single word of it. I don’t love my country, because look at it. A country that could put this terrible terrible man in power is not a lovable country. I’m not American first, there are many things I am before I’m American. I detest god. I don’t care about “our flag.” I’m intensely ashamed of our country. I’m ashamed of who way too many of us are.

He hasn’t done his job

Aug 12th, 2017 5:41 pm | By

The Times details Trump’s avoidances and lies.

President Trump on Saturday condemned thebloody protests in Charlottesville, Va., but did not specifically criticize the white nationalist rally and its neo-Nazi slogans beyond blaming “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.’’

Mr. Trump made the comments to reporters after initially tweeting a statement in language so vague that he omitted mention of Charlottesville…

The president, who has spent much of the past two days threatening North Korea and congressional Republicans on Twitter and in other public statements, remained silent on the violence for most of the morning even as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, and dozens of other public figures condemned a march by white nationalists chanting anti-Semitic slurs.

Mr. Trump first weighed in at 1:19 p.m. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” the president said on Twitter.

He doesn’t mean a word of it. He’s just mouthing a formula because they told him he had to. Telling us to “condemn all that hate stands for” doesn’t mean anything, especially coming from a man who came to power by splashing hate around like holy water.

Mr. Trump did not single out the marchers, who included the white supremacist Richard Spencer and the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, for their ideology. He did, however, amend his original tweet to include a reference to Charlottesville.

His response drew criticism from Democrats. “Until @POTUS specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasn’t done his job,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a tweet posted after Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages.

More than a half-hour before the president commented, Melania Trump, using her official “@FLOTUS” Twitter account, wrote, “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.”

Mr. Ryan was even more explicit. “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry,” he wrote on Twitter at noon, around the time that Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia declared a state of emergency in the typically sleepy college town.

The president has long denied any connection or affinity to so-called alt-right, racist or anti-Jewish groups, although some of his supporters have made little secret of their beliefs.

Steve Bannon works in his White House. His denials are an insult.


Aug 12th, 2017 4:27 pm | By

One dead, at least 19 injured

Aug 12th, 2017 4:10 pm | By

This country has fallen into the abyss.

Violence erupted on Saturday as hundreds of white nationalists had gathered here for a rally and clashed with counterprotesters, resulting in at least one death and prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency.

After the rally at a city park was dispersed, a car plowed into a crowd near the city’s downtown mall, killing at least one person and injuring at least 19 others, according to a spokeswoman for the University of Virginia Medical Center. The authorities did not immediately say whether the episode was related to the white nationalists’ demonstration, but several witnesses and video of the scene suggested that it might have been intentional.

Well, if you look at the video, there seems little question it was intentional.

Witnesses said a crowd of counterdemonstrators, jubilant because the white nationalists had left, was moving up Fourth Street, near the mall, when a gray sports car came down the road and accelerated, mowing down several people and hurling at least two in the air.

“It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Robert Armengol, who was at the scene reporting for a podcast he hosts with students at the University of Virginia. “After that it was pandemonium. The car hit reverse and sped and everybody who was up the street in my direction started running.”

People who make a principle of racial hatred are more likely to do that kind of thing than people who don’t.

Donald Trump has unleashed a nightmare on us. He did it deliberately, with malice aforethought, both to get attention and acclaim for himself, and because he likes it.

Saturday afternoon, after initially issuing a brief denunciation on Twitter, President Trump, speaking at the start of a veterans’ event at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., again addressed what he described as “the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

In his comments, President Trump condemned the bloody protests, but he did not specifically criticize the white nationalist rally and its neo-Nazi slogans beyond blaming “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

Which is a malevolent, blood-curdling lie.

“It’s been going on for a long time in our country, it’s not Donald Trump, it’s not Barack Obama,” said Mr. Trump…

No too damn right it’s not Barack Obama, but it damn well is Donald Trump. Barack Obama is the one who went to that funeral in Charleston; Donald Trump is the one who targets immigrants and Mexicans and wanted to see the Central Park 5 executed for something they didn’t do.

The demonstration, which both organizers and critics had said was the largest gathering of white nationalists in recent years, was organized to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park that once bore the name of the Confederate general, but was renamed Emancipation Park.

It was organized to protest the removal of a symbol of slavery. They want to keep symbols of slavery in public spaces. That’s their “cause.”

The turmoil in Charlottesville began with a march Friday night by white nationalists on the campus of the University of Virginia and escalated Saturday morning as demonstrators from both sides gathered in the park. Waving Confederate flags, chanting Nazi-era slogans, wearing helmets and carrying shields, the white nationalists converged on the Lee statue and began chanting phrases like “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us.”

We’re in the abyss.

The noise and the silence

Aug 12th, 2017 10:10 am | By

This is highly edifying.

Donald “president” Trump has not said a word about the Charlottesville rallies.

NPR spreads the Brooks around

Aug 12th, 2017 9:36 am | By

NPR gave David Brooks a chance to repeat his very inept reading of James Damore’s memo yesterday.

[AUDIE] CORNISH: One last idea that came out of Silicon Valley, and this is a debate over a viral memo from a Google engineer who argued, among other things, that Google had a left bias that created a politically correct mono culture that shamed dissenters into silence. Also made some comments about men and women and biological differences. David, you argue that the person who should have been fired is Google’s CEO. How come?

BROOKS: Well, you know, all of this starts with a long debate we’ve been having for decades about evolutionary psychology and the differences between men and women. And there’s this vast body of research out there on this subject. And it shows, first, mostly, there are no real significant differences between men and women on abilities, on the ability to do math, on IQ – pretty much the same. There are some minor differences between populations, mostly in levels of interest, not in levels of ability. And – but these are all about populations. You can’t tell anything about a person, about an individual from any of these studies. Who should work at Google? Who should not work at Google? Who’s good at tech? And James Damore…

CORNISH: But just to stop you there, like, if you say something bad about your…

DIONNE: That sounds like a critique of James Damore.

BROOKS: No, that’s exactly what James Damore…

CORNISH: This is the name of the engineer.

BROOKS: And this is exactly what James Damore wrote in his memo. And now a whole series of evolutionary psychologists have come out – I quoted a couple in my column today – saying that he was a pretty accurate summary of the body of research. And so someone at a scientific company should not be fired for sort of accurately summarizing the science. Now, I understand why – go ahead, E.J.

No, that is not what Damore wrote in his memo. Jesus. If you can’t even get that right then shut up about it.

DIONNE: Oh, go ahead, David.

BROOKS: I understand why some of the people who are there, who are – especially some of the women who are in a hostile work environment being silenced in meetings are upset because they’re living in one reality, which is the reality that we live out every day as individuals. And they’re absolutely right. But James Damore, his – the research he summarized is talking about populations. And he, too, is right. And Pichai should have done a much better job of, A, not firing him and, B, explaining the differences.

CORNISH: E.J., last word to you.

DIONNE: Where I disagree is I don’t think the research is anywhere near as good as David is suggesting it is. And some of what he said were pure stereotypes. Women generally have a stronger interest in people, rather than things relative to men. And I thought Anna Wiener in The New Yorker really had it right that this memo was a kind of smack in the face for plenty of tech workers and executives – for plenty of women who are used to tech workers and executives considering hiring women as lowering the bar. I mean, there was something just terribly wrong with this memo. I’m a pro-labor guy. I don’t like people getting fired, but I think this memo had a lot of problems in it.

I’m pro-labor too, so that includes being in favor of women’s ability to work in an environment where their presence is just taken for granted. Women shouldn’t have to feel they’re only provisionally there, subject to the daily judgement of men who swap stories about how much more neurotic women are.

I wonder…if Damore’s memo had been about Other Races as opposed to the Other Sex, and had been otherwise identical, would David Brooks be defending it and saying the CEO should be fired?

I don’t know, of course, but I doubt it. I doubted it when Michael Shermer said it’s more of a guy thing – I thought if it had been “it’s more of a white thing” it wouldn’t have made it out of his mouth. I still think that. The same applies to Sam Harris’s “estrogen vibe” – I don’t think he would have said “melatonin vibe.” I think guys like Shermer and Harris and Brooks can hear it when it’s about race, and stop themselves, but they can’t damn well hear it when it’s about women.


Aug 12th, 2017 9:03 am | By

Last night.

Image result for charlottesville torches


Aug 12th, 2017 9:00 am | By

White supremacists are holding rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Last night it was a torchlight parade.

In daylight they skip the torches.

You have become extremely famous all over the world

Aug 12th, 2017 8:18 am | By

I think Trump is getting stupider every day – noticeably stupider, strikingly stupider.

He called up the governor of Guam to tell him the North Korea thing is just wonderful for him and for Guam, because it’s making them famous. They’re celebrities! Tourism will soar!

You think I’m exaggerating for sarcastic effect as usual. I wish I were.

The threat by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to create “an enveloping fire” around the tiny United States territory in the Western Pacific will boost Guam tourism “tenfold,” Mr. Trump is heard saying in the recorded conversation with Gov. Eddie Calvo.

The recording was put on the Republican governor’s Facebook page and other social media accounts.

Mr. Trump said: “I have to tell you, you have become extremely famous all over the world. They are talking about Guam; and they’re talking about you.” And when it comes to tourism, he added, “I can say this: “You’re going to go up, like, tenfold with the expenditure of no money.”

And it’s all thanks to Trump! He is so awesome!

Mr. Trump had threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea for any provocation. Alluding to Mr. Kim, he told the governor, “You notice he hasn’t spoken recently. He doesn’t talk so much anymore. We’ll see how it all works out.”

He added, lowering his voice: “This is between you and I. But you don’t talk like they talk. You can’t do that. You can’t do that with people like us.”

Ok first the small item – it’s between you and ME, bozo.

Next – it’s between you and him? Because you lowered your voice? I think you’ll find that’s not quite right.

And finally – that’s how a street corner tough thinks and talks. That’s how a prickly impulsive self-absorbed neighborhood bully thinks and talks. Trump is supposed to be on a larger stage now. He should have moved beyond narcissistic injury by now, to think about the safety and welfare of seven billion people and however many trillions of animals and the planet.

But he hasn’t. His mind is shrinking rather than expanding. He’s getting more narcissistic and idiotic every day, not less.

I mean seriously. He’s recklessly gambling with the lives of billions of people, and he’s babbling about making a few of them famous? How divorced from reality do you have to be to say a thing like that?

While Guam is generally calm about the escalating threats of a missile attack, some were not thrilled by the tone of conversation between the two men.

“Listening to that call left me feeling disgusted,” said Andrea Nicole Grajek, a local artist from Dededo village. “I was so shocked I was actually crying. They’re leaders discussing a rise in fame and tourism, while the world is watching our island carefully to see if we’ll still be here tomorrow.”

But the lunatics think it’s all going swimmingly.

Mr. Calvo, however, told Mr. Trump that he had “never felt more safe or so confident than with you at the helm. So, with all the criticism going on over there from a guy who is being targeted, we need a president like you. So I’m just so thankful. I’m glad you’re holding the helm.”

Mr. Trump responded, “We’re going to do a great job. You don’t have to worry about a thing. They should have had me eight years ago, somebody with my thought process.” He added, “And frankly, you could’ve said that for the last three presidents.”

Her own child

Aug 12th, 2017 7:51 am | By

Alabama’s Attorney General is appealing a ruling by US Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker that blocked aspects of a state law requiring minors to get written permission from a parent or guardian before they could legally end a pregnancy.

“We’re disappointed that the state of Alabama has chosen to continue defending this reprehensible law,” Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. The ACLU brought the original lawsuit against the Alabama law, resulting in Walker’s ruling.

“While many teens turn to their parents when faced with an unintended pregnancy, others — particularly those with abusive parents — just can’t,” Beck continued. “Forcing a teenager to go on trial to get an abortion does nothing to promote her health or safety — if anything, it just exposes her to further harm.”

Well, yes, but of course it’s not about her health or safety – it’s about the all-important fetus. Maybe the fetus was put inside her against her will by a rapey stepfather? Doesn’t matter. It’s the fetus that has rights, not the child forced to host it.

Both the appeal and the ruling that inspired it are timely in light of an Alabama judge’s recent decision to allow a 12-year-old girl, a victim of both rape and incest, to get an abortion without parental consent. Alabama limits the legal abortion window to 20 weeks post-fertilization; at the time of her hearing, the girl was 13 weeks pregnant and recently removed from her mother’s home — which she had occupied along with four siblings, her step-father and an uncle — on allegations that her mother physically abused and neglected her, according to

While the girl’s relationship to the relative who raped her was not spelled out in court, her case does highlight a few circumstances under which a minor might not want their family involved in terminating a pregnancy. Still, abortion opponents decried the judge’s decision. Win Johnson, the executive director of COPE crisis pregnancy center in Montgomery, Alabama, angrily questioned whether or not a 12-year-old “was mature enough … to decide to murder her own child in her womb.”

Is Win Johnson mature enough to understand that a raped child might not consider it “her own child” at all? Is he mature enough to understand that in that situation the fetus can easily be seen as an imposition, an intruder, an invader? Is he mature enough to understand that it really should not be up to him what a raped child does about her product of rape pregnancy?

Clearly not.

H/t Sackbut


Aug 11th, 2017 4:25 pm | By

Childe Pinhead has been making yet more threats at North Korea. It’s worked beautifully so far, so why would he stop?

President Trump made fresh threats of force Friday against North Korea, writing on Twitter that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” and later telling reporters that the isolated country would “truly regret it” if it attacks Guam or any other U.S. territory.

“This man will not get away with what he’s doing, believe me,” Trump said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose nation, in open defiance of the United Nations, has been developing nuclear weapons capable of reaching the United States. “I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said, and what I said is what I mean.”

Because he’s tough. He’s a manly man. He’s tough and strong and macho. Obama was weak and he is TOUGH.

Image result for tough

He’s not without optimism though.

“Hopefully it will all work out,” he said. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution more than President Trump. … We will see what happens.”

Childe Pinhead is the best at everything. He’s the best at being TOUGH and he’s the best at loving a peaceful solution.

Asked to respond earlier Friday to those who say his threats could backfire, Trump told reporters, “My critics are only saying that because it’s me.”

“If somebody else uttered the exact same words that I uttered, they’d say: ‘What a great statement, what a wonderful statement,’ ” Trump said. “I will tell you, we have tens of millions of people in this country that are so happy with what I’m saying, because they’re saying, ‘Finally, we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation and, frankly, sticking up for our friends and our allies.’ ”

Oh christ. I can’t stand it.

Guest post: How the cake got burned

Aug 11th, 2017 3:51 pm | By

Originally a comment by Screechy Monkey on Let’s debate his points, so his bad ideas can be defeated.

Pastry Chef: So, I see the cake got burned. Weren’t you supposed to take it out of the oven when the timer went off?

Assistant: Well, I agree that the cake is burned. But I believe that we need to investigate the role of sugar in this.

Do we really?

Oh, absolutely. You see, this cake recipe uses a full cup of sugar, but I found a couple of recipes on the internet that only use 11/12ths of a cup. Sugar tends to burn. That’s just science.

What time were you supposed to take the cake out of the oven?

2 o’clock. But, really, the sugar content…

And what time DID you take it out?

3 o’clock. But I think you’re focusing too narrowly on a single issue here. Look, nobody’s denying that cooking time and temperature play a role in baking a cake, but you’re showing an appalling disregard for science in claiming that the chemical make-up of the cake batter has no effect.

Well, I’m NOT claiming that. I just think that the fact that the reason the cake is burned is almost entirely due to the fact that it was in the oven for an extra hour; whatever contribution an extra 1/12th of a cup of sugar might have made is pretty negligible compared to that. So our focus should maybe be on following the recipe and taking the cake out on time. If after that, we still have a problem, then maybe we can tinker with the sugar level. And by the way, top culinary schools and cookbook authors have tested this issue and found that a cup is correct.

But I have Google links! You are refusing to discuss ideas! Ignoring SCIENCE!

(sigh) Look, just make up a fresh batter according to the recipe, and remember to take it out on time this time, ok?

(surly expression) Whatever. Maybe

Fine, you’re fired.


The GI tract is not a clean place

Aug 11th, 2017 11:41 am | By

I don’t think I’d heard of “clean eating” before. Apparently it’s a thing.

In the spring of 2014, Jordan Younger noticed that her hair was falling out in clumps. “Not cool” was her reaction. At the time, Younger, 23, believed herself to be eating the healthiest of all possible diets. She was a “gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, grain-free, legume-free, plant-based raw vegan”. As The Blonde Vegan, Younger was a “wellness” blogger in New York City, one of thousands on Instagram (where she had 70,000 followers) rallying under the hashtag #eatclean. Although she had no qualifications as a nutritionist, Younger had sold more than 40,000 copies of her own $25, five-day “cleanse” programme – a formula for an all-raw, plant-based diet majoring on green juice.

Huh. Sounds very Gwyneth Paltrow, doesn’t it. Be a person with no technical expertise in the subject whatsoever, and tell people to put jade eggs up their vaginas and avoid eating everything except kale and coconut oil. What could possibly go wrong?

For as long as people have eaten food, there have been diets and quack cures. But previously, these existed, like conspiracy theories, on the fringes of food culture. “Clean eating” was different, because it established itself as a challenge to mainstream ways of eating, and its wild popularity over the past five years has enabled it to move far beyond the fringes. Powered by social media, it has been more absolutist in its claims and more popular in its reach than any previous school of modern nutrition advice.

At its simplest, clean eating is about ingesting nothing but “whole” or “unprocessed” foods (whatever is meant by these deeply ambiguous terms). Some versions of clean eating have been vegan, while others espouse various meats (preferably wild) and something mysteriously called “bone broth” (stock, to you and me). At first, clean eating sounded modest and even homespun: rather than counting calories, you would eat as many nutritious home-cooked substances as possible.

But it quickly became clear that “clean eating” was more than a diet; it was a belief system, which propagated the idea that the way most people eat is not simply fattening, but impure.

Of course it’s impure. We’re impure, and we require impure stuff to keep us alive. Purity is not an option for organic beings.

As the negative press for clean eating has intensified over the past year, many of the early goddesses of #eatclean have tried to rebrand – declaring they no longer use the word “clean” to describe the recipes that have sold them millions of books. Ella Mills – AKA Deliciously Ella, the food writer and entrepreneur whose coconut-and-oat energy balls sell for £1.79 apiece in British supermarkets – said on Yeo’s Horizon programme that she felt that the word “clean” as applied to eating originally meant nothing but natural, real, unprocessed food. “Now, it means diet, it means fad,” she complained.

But however much the concept of clean eating has been logically refuted and publicly reviled, the thing itself shows few signs of dying. Step into the cookbook section of any book shop and you will see how many recipe writers continue to promise us inner purity and outer beauty.

Good lord. Food is food, it’s not magic.

But “clean food” is a belief system, complete with hostility to questioners.

It’s striking that in many of the wellness cookbooks, mainstream scientific evidence on diet is seen as more or less irrelevant, not least because the gurus see the complacency of science as part of what made our diets so bad in the first place.

Amelia Freer, in Eat. Nourish. Glow, admits that “we can’t prove that dairy is the cause” of ailments ranging from IBS to joint pain, but concludes that it’s “surely worth” cutting dairy out anyway, just as a precaution. In another context, Freer writes that “I’m told it takes 17 years for scientific knowledge to filter down” to become general knowledge, while advising that gluten should be avoided. Once we enter the territory where all authority and expertise are automatically suspect, you can start to claim almost anything – and many #eatclean authorities do.

That night in Cheltenham, I saw that clean eating – or whatever name it now goes under – had elements of a post-truth cult. As with any cult, it could be something dark and divisive if you got on the wrong side of it. After Giles Yeo’s BBC programme was aired, he told me he was startled to find himself subjected to relentless online trolling. “They said I was funded by big pharma, and therefore obviously wouldn’t see the benefits of a healthy diet over medicine. These were outright lies.” (Yeo is employed by the University of Cambridge, and funded by the Medical Research Council.)

It’s increasingly clear that clean eating, for all its good intentions, can cause real harm, both to truth and to human beings.

I’m sticking with ice cream.