Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Pants in flames

Nov 14th, 2014 12:03 pm | By

News not news: Brendan O’Neill “argues” dishonestly.

Case in point: he has a stupid rant about how the Grand Old Feminism of Yesteryear has reversed course and gone all wrong. You know what it is without looking – feminism used to be brave and tuff and liberatory, and now it’s all about being viccctimzzzzzzzz. The first few paragraphs could have come from Christina Hoff Sommers or Richard Dawkins or TIME magazine. Then he gets into particulars, and that’s where the dishonesty comes in.

From aspiring to freedom to conspiring with the authorities to harry and censor alleged deviants — how did feminism’s star fall so hard? For a glimpse into feminism’s stunning shift, look at what feminists in the West have been hitting the headlines for during the past fortnight.

Here in Australia, a mob of intolerant feminists chased the silly pick-up artist Julien Blanc out of the country and got Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to revoke his visa. Morrison said Blanc, who advises sad men on how to cosy up to the opposite sex, said things that were “derogatory to women” and had “values (that are) abhorred in this country”.

Right there. How to “cozy up to” women. That’s dishonest. Choking women is not cozying up to them. Teaching men how to cozy up to women sounds sweet and affectionate, while what Blanc “teaches” is hostile and dangerous. Blanc advocates criminal violence, not “cozying up.”

Now you, like me, may think Blanc is a tosser, but think about the dangerous precedent being set here: the state has been empowered to say what kind of values it’s acceptable to hold in Australia.

Again – that’s dishonest. It’s not a matter of “values”; it’s a matter of criminal assault. If O’Neill wants to argue that states shouldn’t deny visas to foreign visitors who are visiting in order to teach men how to assault women, then he should argue that, not something very different.

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

Use coercion and threats, use intimidation

Nov 14th, 2014 11:42 am | By

Excellent – so Brazil is another place that won’t be giving Julien Blanc a visa. John Morales left a link to this ABC (Australia) article yesterday.

Brazil has said it will deny a visa application from an American “pick-up artist” who was forced out of Australia last week after a social media campaign against his methods of teaching men to seduce women.

No, not seduce – assault and (if successful) rape. Seduce means persuade. You don’t “seduce” people by grabbing them and shoving their heads onto your crotch.

In a statement, Brazil’s foreign affairs ministry said there were “enough elements” about Julien Blanc’s background to deny him a visa.

Blanc teaches men to seduce women using techniques that include choking and intimidation.

Again – that’s not “seduce” – it’s more forceful than seduction is. That should say “Blanc teaches men to force women into sex using techniques that include choking and intimidation.” Choking ≠ seduction.

The 25-year-old, from US-based group Real Social Dynamics (RSD), was forced to leave Australia after his visa was cancelled in the wake of protests against his workshops in Brisbane and Melbourne.

If he had really just been teaching men “to seduce women” I don’t think his visa would have been cancelled. I can’t know that for sure, but it seems like a reasonable guess.

According to RSD’s website, bootcamp workshops in Brazil are scheduled in Rio de Janeiro and Florianopolis in January, at a cost of $2,500 per participant.

$2,500 to listen to a very unprepossessing young man give advice on how to assault women. That’s quite a scam.

“It’s very positive that the Brazilian government is reacting to this and saying this guy is not welcome here,” said Leila Reboucas, from feminist organisation CFEMEA.

“We can’t just accept it and call it freedom of expression, because it’s not.”

In videos of his workshops on YouTube, Mr Blanc advocates using physical aggression and emotional abuse to convince women to have sex.

One of his pick-up techniques to “open” a woman is to approach the target and choke her before covering her mouth to keep her quiet.

Mr Blanc shared a pie-chart designed to educate victims of domestic violence about the behaviours of abusers, promoting it as a cheat-sheet of his techniques.

The chart, published on his Facebook profile, shows “power and control” in the centre, and slices describing how to “use coercion and threats, use intimidation, use emotional abuse, use isolation, deny, blame and minimise, use children, use economic abuse, use male privilege”.

And it that doesn’t work, there’s always the shooting rampage. Elliot Rodger was reportedly a fan of Blanc’s.

H/t Eneraldo


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

Philae may go to sleep in a few hours

Nov 14th, 2014 10:56 am | By

The Rosetta scientists are going to try to make it hop out of the shadow, but it sounds like a long shot.

Scientists controlling the Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko are preparing to make a last ditch attempt to “hop” the robotic probe into a sunnier spot on the comet’s surface.

If they fail, the lander will go into hibernation. Without sufficient sunlight on its solar panels, its mission will be over.

The lander’s legs have a built-in spring action that can be commanded to fire. These commands will be uploaded tonight during an expected communications window that opens at around 21:00 GMT. There is no guarantee of success.

Yeah no kidding. Where’s the complaint desk we could go to if there were a guarantee?

The odds don’t seem good. It’s lying on its side with one leg up in the air, in the shadow of a boulder or cliff. They’ve tried things to make it move and they haven’t worked.

But. It’s still done most of what was hoped for.

Philae’s primary mission was always designed to last around 60 hours. Engineers then covered the spacecraft in solar panels in the hope that sunlight could recharge a set of secondary batteries and extend the mission for months.

Despite the awkward landing, Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager, DLR, estimates that 80% of the science Esa was hoping for has been achieved. If the current drilling operation works and Philae delivers samples to one of its onboard instruments, that will rise to 90%.

That’s pretty good when you consider it’s 4 km in diameter and millions of km away. Dropping the Rover on Mars looks like a walk to the grocery store in comparison.

If the attempts at moving the lander do not work, then tonight’s communications window will almost certainly be the last one in which the scientists can talk to the lander. But all might not be lost forever.

The comet is currently out beyond the orbit of Mars, heading for its closest approach to the sun in August 2015. This will bring it as close to the sun as Earth’s orbit. There the sunlight will be brighter and may just allow Philae to re-boot and power up.

Good luck, Philae.


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

TIME flops

Nov 14th, 2014 10:37 am | By

Surprising no one anywhere (maybe that can be  one of TIME’s “words” to be banned next year), TIME’s offering of “feminism” as a candidate for its annual “what word should be banned” poll provided inspiration for the kind of people who hate feminism. How could TIME possibly have foreseen that??! Other than by thinking about it for a quarter of a second, that is.

Yes, why does everyone have to talk about feminism? Why can’t we all just be feminists quietly? At home? Only very late at night when everybody’s sleeping? Or like in our teeny tiniest voices? Or in a soundproof hyperbaric chamber, maybe, where it won’t, like, bother anybody?

Ok, maybe that’s not quite fair, but making a case for banning a word that refers to a mass social movement alongside the nonsense phrase “om nom nom” is pretty stupid. So stupid we suspected it’s the work of 4Chan’s /b/ board, and we were correct. Over at /b/, the Internet’s home for barely potty-trained trolls, everyone’s being encouraged to vote for “feminist,” with one user declaring, brightly, “Let’s trigger some bitches.”

And that’s exactly why there’s no need for feminism any more and the word should be banned.



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

European Space Agency hangout

Nov 14th, 2014 8:58 am | By

For your enjoyment and enlightenment: a hangout with a bunch of people involved in the Rosetta project. They are there to give updates on what’s happening.

One of the people is Matt Taylor, he of The Shirt. Starting at 15:20 (which is the first time he talks) he apologizes for wearing The Shirt. Good; thanks, ESA. Then he collects himself, and gets a pat on the shoulder from the guy next to him, and then he talks about the project.

Good. Done. Now we can talk about the project and leave The Shirt behind!


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

Women are characterized as crazed and vindictive

Nov 13th, 2014 5:52 pm | By

A very interesting commentary on Jian Ghomeshi from a couple of weeks ago.

…graphic videos were presented to CBC executives — by Ghomeshi! — as a pre-emptive gambit, to save his job, an attempt to convince the stunned suits assembled that the women were willing participants and, look, bruising could occur even when the activity was consensual.

The women who’ve spoken out insist they never consented to this treatment.

Within a legal framework, consent is crucial. In practice, however, it turns into a judicial ledge from which an accused can jump into the “she-was-willing” safety net below. The standard of proof is simply too high, as victims have learned to their traumatizing dismay.

With plain assault, that doesn’t work – people don’t consent to being beaten up (apart from the occasional genuine masochist). People don’t consent to having their noses broken and their teeth knocked out. But people do consent to sex, so saying “she wanted it!” does work in rape cases. This is why lack of prosecution or conviction doesn’t necessarily mean lack of guilt. This is why sometimes warnings are all anyone has. “Watch your back with that guy; keep an eye on your drink; don’t let him get you alone.”

In the midst of the Ghomeshi whirlwind, Chief Bill Blair said no investigation had been launched because no complainants had gone to police. Now they have. As of this writing, no charges had been laid against Ghomeshi.

Blair encouraged any woman who has endured a sexual assault to come forward. Crowns who prosecute sexual assault endlessly make the same plea.

Many women won’t go there. Their wariness is understandable.

Every historical fallacy, every outrageous stereotype, every cultural misconception is heaped upon the complainant. Sexual assault victims are de facto disbelieved. Women are characterized as crazed and vindictive.

Does that sound familiar? Very, very familiar? It does to me.

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

Very small and very far away

Nov 13th, 2014 1:54 pm | By

Reading up on the Rosetta mission.


What makes the Rosetta mission so special?
Rosetta will be undertaking several ‘firsts’ in space exploration.

It will be the first mission to orbit and land on a comet. That makes Rosetta one of the most complex and ambitious missions ever undertaken. Scientists had to plan in advance, in the greatest possible detail, a ten year trip through the Solar System. Approaching, orbiting, and landing on a comet require delicate and spectacular manoeuvres. The comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is a relatively small object, about 4 kilometres in diameter, moving at a speed as great as 135,000 kilometres per hour.

And doing that very very very far away.

How did Rosetta reach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and how long did it take?
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko loops around the Sun between the orbits of Jupiter and Earth, that is, between about 800 million and 186 million kilometres from the Sun. But rendezvousing with the comet required travelling a cumulative distance of over 6.4 billion kilometres. As no launcher was capable of directly injecting Rosetta into such an orbit, gravity assists were needed from four planetary flybys – one of Mars (2007) and three of Earth (2005, 2007 and 2009) – a long circuitous trip that took ten years to complete.


But – it may not last as long as they’d hoped. It’s in a shadow so its battery isn’t going to last long because it can’t be recharged by the sun. So the scientists are working fast to grab what they can.

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

Despite a request from the prosecution

Nov 13th, 2014 1:31 pm | By

A bit of sadism from the Italian Supreme Court. A couple in their 50s tried three times to adopt a child and failed, so they paid a woman in the Ukraine to have a baby for them.

Italy’s supreme court has ruled that a baby born to a surrogate mother in Ukraine cannot be kept by the Italian couple who paid for it and must be put up for adoption.

Under Italian law, the person who gives birth to a baby is legally its mother, and the use of surrogate mothers is outlawed.

I have my doubts about surrogacy, and maybe some about people in their 50s adopting, but yanking an existing baby away seems like a crap thing to do.

The mother in Ukraine refused to put her name on the birth certificate.

When the couple returned to Italy and tried to register the boy at the registry office, they were charged with fraud, La Stampa daily said, without providing details on how the would-be parents were found out.

Despite a request from the prosecution to leave the child in the Italian couple’s care, the court decided that the “child of no-one” – whose mother cannot be traced – must be put up for adoption.

Just pointless sadism.

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

Guest post: Dumping them out is a fine solution

Nov 13th, 2014 12:41 pm | By

Originally a comment by themadtapper on Dissent of the day.

I don’t believe in an identity politics that seeks to remove structural oppression by forcing others to say things they may not want to say, or do things they may not want to do, or by ostracizing people for whatever-ism they are found guilty of.

Isn’t “ostracizing people for whatever-isms” precisely the remedy libertarians suggest in place of “forcing people to do things they may not want to do”? Don’t require restaurants to serve black people, just boycott them and let them know you won’t deal with racists! Don’t require Christians to serve gays, just boycott them and let them know you won’t deal with homophobes! Free market will work it’s invisible-hand magic and all the bigots will be gone!
What does he suggest in place of both force and ostracism? Does he think calm rational dialogue is going to make sexist jerks realize they shouldn’t harass women on the street or grope them on the subway? Does he think a friendly intervention is going to make frat boys realize they shouldn’t try to liquor up women so they can have their way with them? Does he think a polite tweet is going to make gamergaters realize they shouldn’t threaten to rape and murder women they disagree with? He says he doesn’t scorn feminism, but also seems to not want feminists to do anything that would actually change the status quo. Standard “conservative libertarian” indeed; only supporting equal rights as long as it doesn’t rock the boat. Fuck that noise. The boat is full of assholes. Dumping them out is a fine solution.

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

It’s all about the provocations

Nov 13th, 2014 12:31 pm | By

Via Lou Doench and Craig Stiles, a piece about Andrew Sullivan that the excellent Eric Alterman wrote for The Nation in January 2013. I think I once knew some of this and buried it, but a lot of it I didn’t know.

The fact that few individuals can be shown to have demonstrated worse judgment over the course of the past two decades, and risen higher as a result, is yet another example of the changes that Sullivan-style “journalism” has helped to bring about.

He first made a splash as the young conservative editor of The New Republic, where he championed a lot of terrible people.

It’s no easy matter to determine which of these charlatans did the most damage to the magazine’s reputation. (Indeed, it’s a measure of just how abysmally TNR’s editorial filter functioned under Sullivan that Camille Paglia calling the then–first lady “Hillary the man-woman and bitch goddess” doesn’t even make the top five.)

Jeezis god. That makes me want to put Paglia and Sullivan in a cell with Christina Hoff Sommers and Rush Limbaugh, and let them duke it out for eternity.

As a freelance journalist, Sullivan made waves by outing public figures without their consent and making medically unsustainable claims for the drug treatments he was taking (in The New York Times Magazine, no less). His recklessness reached a kind of weird apogee after 9/11, when his own personal panic led him to describe the tens of millions of Americans who voted for Al Gore as “the decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts,” who “may well mount a fifth column.” He specifically named yours truly as an alleged fifth columnist and suggested that others read my work “and you’ll see that I’m not exaggerating.” Alas, Sullivan did not take his own advice, as I supported the US attack on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and never said or wrote differently. (Sullivan also used the occasion to slander the late Susan Sontag in the same sentence, insanely inventing what he called a “constant attraction” to the “acolytes of Bin Laden”—and, later, Katha Pollitt, whose position on Afghanistan he compared to someone who leaves a rape victim lying in the gutter due to her short skirt.)

And he’s not good at combining his changes of mind with admission that he got things wrong in the past. I know from experience that the one entails the other. I’ve changed my mind about various things, and that means I have come to think I was wrong about them in the past. That’s how that works.

Sullivan has moved steadily leftward over time but argues, like the French ex-Stalinist Pierre Courtade, that he was right to be wrong. As recently as 2007, when The New Republic lamented its role in publishing McCaughey’s dishonest attack on the Clinton healthcare plan, Sullivan bragged: “I was aware of the piece’s flaws but nonetheless was comfortable running it as a provocation.” And he still calls his support of Murray’s racist, eugenicist-based arguments “one of my proudest moments in journalism.”

So Sullivan takes publishing a dishonest piece as “a provocation.” Interesting.

Were Sullivan a great reporter with some screwy opinions, one could conceivably embrace the one and ignore the other. But speedy snap judgments are really all he’s selling. Yet if one reads the breathless coverage of his decision to launch an independent blog—to say nothing of the promotional copy from the publications that have hired him over the past two decades—one will find precious little discussion of the accuracy of the information in which he traffics. In this sense, Sullivan resembles his fellow British performance artist and celebrity scribe, Christopher Hitchens. Though a far more stylish writer than Sullivan, Hitchens, too, repudiated the balance of his life’s work without ever admitting having done so, much less explaining how he had come to be one of the people he’d spent a career eviscerating. Both of these charming British imports put their talent in the service of a journalism of “provocation,” as Sullivan terms it, untethered to traditional conceptions of evidence or even honesty.

Well, possibly, but Hitchens did do a lot more in the way of substantive or useful journalism than Sullivan ever has.

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

Dudes in shirts

Nov 13th, 2014 10:38 am | By

Discussion of Matt Taylor continues, for instance via Alice Bell in the Guardian:

It’s not just what he wore either, his language stunk of a casual sexism too. Watch the video in the Mail’s version of this “British scientist taking Twitter by storm” story, and you can hear Taylor refer to the Rosetta mission as “the sexiest mission there’s ever been. She’s sexy, but I never said she was easy.”

I captioned a Facebook post about this yesterday “with dialogue by Chuck Lorre” but I didn’t realize quite how accurate that was. “Easy” – good god, he sounds like Julien Blanc.

ESA can land their robot on a comet. A comet! It’s amazing. But they still can’t see misogyny under their noses. It’s painfully ridiculous. Pointing this out is not a distraction to the science. It’s part of it. It’s time science finally realised that.

I suppose Andrew Sullivan would say “but science doesn’t want to realize that, much less to act on it, so it’s bad to try to get them to realize it and act on it.”

One absurd counter-argument I’ve been seeing is that this is just “puritanism” and hatred of sex. Please. A shirt plastered with mostly-naked hotty women isn’t “sex”; it’s women-as-sex-toys for straight men. A shirt like that is “sex” only if you assume that the only point of view is that of the straight man, or perhaps even more narrowly the straight man who finds imaginary cartoon hotties arousing. That is not the only point of view, so that kind of shirt is not a metonymy for sex.

No, on the contrary, what that shirt amounts to is a tacit claim that the only point of view that counts is that of the kind of straight man who sees women as either hawt and a target, or a nuisance.

If the shirt stands for just “sex” in general, why don’t we see gay men at space agencies wearing shirts plastered with mostly-naked hotty men? Why don’t we see straight women at space agencies wearing shirts like that? Why don’t we see all parties wearing shirts plastered with pictures of people fucking? Why bother to talk about the probe’s landing on the comet at all, why not just talk about sex instead?

So have a photo instead.

landing location

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

Dissent of the day

Nov 12th, 2014 5:20 pm | By

Our own friend MrFancyPants wrote Andrew Sullivan’s Dissent of the Day for today. There’s glory for you!

I’m also disappointed in the continuing scorn that you heap upon feminism. You don’t seem to understand even the most basic facts about it and the sneering tone that you take is unbecoming and not like you. You seem to lose all ability to understand nuance when you write about it. I’m a “straight white male” and even I realized that, in that video, my demographic “as a group” was not being disparaged. You’re like a walking poster child for the #notallmen hashtag and the enraged, entitled, petulant man-boys who complain on it.

And the strawmen – could you just stop with that? You wrote: “Instead of seeing the web as opening up vast vistas for all sorts of voices to be heard, they seem to believe … that women are not strong or capable enough of forging their own brands”. Um, what? Show me a feminist who thinks that women are “not strong or capable enough.” Go on, show me one, anyone, anywhere. You cannot, because they don’t exist. It’s the anti-feministswho think that. Just look at the words of Phyllis Schlafly, for example, and the immeasurable damage that she has done.

And then there is this: “They want gender quotas for all media businesses, equal representation for women in, say, video-games, gender parity in employment in journalism and in the stories themselves.” Gender quotas, huh? Well, I looked through WAM’s “About us” page, the “What we do” page, and the “Action center” page, and didn’t see a thing about “gender quotas.” In fact, what they seem to want to do is simply to raise awareness of the disparities – there is no call for legal action to implement and enforce some quota. It’s intellectually dishonest, Andrew, to write things like that when you know them to be untrue.

Sullivan responds:

[L]et me address the assumption that I am pouring scorn on feminism. I’m really, really not. I favor the removal of any formal or legal barriers to women’s success.

Just not any of the other kinds of barriers – the informal barriers, the belittling, the patronizing, the interrupting, the overlooking, the underestimating, the sexually harassing. Those all have to stay, because to get rid of them would be tiresome to the people who don’t want to.

But I’m still a conservative-libertarian. I don’t believe in an identity politics that seeks to remove structural oppression by forcing others to say things they may not want to say, or do things they may not want to do, or by ostracizing people for whatever-ism they are found guilty of.

Wow. That’s quite an admission. He doesn’t believe in seeking to remove structural oppression by forcing others to say things they may not want to say, or do things they may not want to do.


He doesn’t believe in seeking to remove structural oppression by forcing others to say things they may not want to say, or do things they may not want to do?

How about forcing people not to say things they may want to say, or not do things they may want to do? Does he also not believe in that?

So in the workplace, for instance, I guess Sullivan is opposed to policies that forbid employees to harass other employees for being of the wrong gender or race or class? He’s against “forcing” people to talk and act in ways that refrain from treating other people as inferiors and/or subordinates?

Still. He did say he would stop using the epithet “SJW.” He said it voluntarily, I think.

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

What a theory is

Nov 12th, 2014 4:38 pm | By

Have a very cool video that Alom Shaha pointed out to me, without even mentioning that he’s the one wot wrote it. It’s narrated by Jim Al-Khalili. It’s about the difference between “just a theory” (as in a “theory” that Elvis is still alive or a “theory” that the reason your friend believes that is because she has low self-esteem) and a scientific theory.

It’s got brilliant animations.


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

“The people I work with don’t judge me by my looks”

Nov 12th, 2014 4:00 pm | By

Business Insider comments on Matt Taylor aka Mr Lookit teh Haff-Nekkid Laydeez On My Shirt guy.

All of humanity made history today by landing a spacecraft on a comet.

Unfortunately, many of the women following that development — and a few men, too — were made to feel pretty unwelcome in the space exploration sphere when one of the people leading the mission decided to show up to talk about it wearing a shirt covered in dozens of half-naked women.

Really, what kind of clueless jackass does that? I’ve seen it suggested that Taylor wanted to emulate the coolness of Bobek Firdowski’s mohawk.

If so – dear god how clueless. Spot the difference – one is an amusing fanciful haircut that doesn’t degrade anyone, and the other is a shirt covered with women-as-consumer-items. How much though does it require to grasp that the second is neither cool nor a good thing to do?

Contrast the feeling you get seeing this guy in a shirt that objectifies women to this image from the Mars mission control room in India when that country launched its first orbiter to the Red Planet earlier this year.

View image on Twitter

Wow, I hadn’t seen that before. Engineers in saris!

Interestingly, Taylor recently participated in a live online chat with the Wall Street Journal in which he was asked how he gained acceptance in such a respected field while sporting sleeve-length tattoos.

He responded, “The people I work with don’t judge me by my looks but only by the work I have done and can do. Simple.”

If only women could hope to someday be judged that way too.

Seriously. Jesus, Matt Taylor, if it works for you, how much effort does it take to realize it works for people who aren’t you as well?

Business Insider asked the European Space Agency for a comment, and will report back if and when it gets one.

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

Making a statement

Nov 12th, 2014 11:49 am | By

Sexism? What sexism? I don’t see any sexism.

(I wonder how many posts I’ve begun that way. I have a feeling it’s several. Also some with misogyny replacing sexism.)

Behold Matt Taylor, the lead project scientist of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta project:

Embedded image permalink

Gee, I wonder why there aren’t more women in STEM fields.

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

Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?

Nov 12th, 2014 10:23 am | By

Time magazine has an annual “what word would you most like to see disappear?” feature. This is its fourth annual one. It gives a list of Horrible Words for people to vote on. Guess what’s in there. Go on, guess.


If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids. What word is this? You tell us.

For TIME’s fourth annual word banishment poll, we’re asking readers to vote another word off the island, following previous castoffs OMG, YOLO and twerk. Cast your vote, encourage your friends to share their curmudgeonly angst and we’ll announce the results next week on Nov. 19.

If you need help deciding (or a little background on the words), see our blurbs below the poll, in which we’ve channeled the type of person who would like to see each nominee launched into the deepest, darkest, most hopeless eternity from whence there is no salvation nor return.

All the other words are either trendy slang or jargon or both, with the single exception of “kale” – which is a trendy vegetable rather than a trendy word. Slang, jargon, slang, jargon, slang, kale, jargon – oh yes and that word for the equal rights of women, yes by all means let’s get rid of that word.

Here’s a word we won’t be getting rid of any time soon.


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

Philae has landed

Nov 12th, 2014 9:48 am | By

No biggy – just setting down a probe on a comet.

The Philae probe has landed on the surface of a comet, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) announced Wednesday.
It is the first time a soft landing has been achieved on a comet.

It will be sad if we succeed in putting things on Mars and comets but fail at keeping the planet from becoming inhospitable to mammalian life.

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

It’s not rape if you’re famous

Nov 11th, 2014 5:18 pm | By

Huh. So celebrity rapists don’t always get to silence all their victims or accusers. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon tells us how Bill Cosby hasn’t been able to lately.

there was beloved icon Bill Cosby – who’s come under fire recently thanks to a new 500-page biography that conveniently omits a 2006 lawsuit and settlement from a woman who claimed he drugged and raped her — and the more than a dozen women who have also come forward with very similar stories. The response to Cosby today is vastly different than it was eight years ago, when the entire case went largely unremarked.

Comedian Hannibal Buress made it part of his routine last month in Cosby’s old stomping ground of Philadelphia. “The Queen Latifah Show” announced it was canceling an appearance by Cosby – while insisting the controversy had nothing to do with the abrupt scheduling change.

So as the drumbeat of public inquiry has grown ever louder, the Cos picked a bad time to tell the world “Go ahead. Meme me!” and unveil the hashtag #CosbyMeme. And meme him people did, with hilarious photos of him mugging with captions like “14 allegations of rape? Zipzopzubittybop!” and “I just can’t stop puddin’ it in other people without their consent.” Unshockingly, the 77-year-old has now backed away quietly from making further requests of his followers.

Oh yes? No empty threats of lawsuits? No infinitely verbose bloggers rushing to his defense?

Let’s see a few of those memes…

View image on Twitter

Pete Forester @pete_forester

View image on Twitter

Jason Steele @FilmCow

View image on Twitter

Cornhole West @Floyd_Banks

View image on Twitter

sideshowRaheem @sideshowRaheem

More here, as well as of course on Twitter.

Then she tells the Dapper Laughs story, and sums up:

I could write, literally every day, about men whose apparent loathing for women has been the rocket fuel for their creative inspiration. That these guys get work and can make money while behaving badly isn’t going away any time soon. But what gives me the slightest glimmer of hope that the world may be a less horrible place for my daughters someday is that more people are speaking up about this BS. They are calling out the trolls who threaten women, they are having conservations about street harassment, they are urging venues to cancel events hosted by sexist jerks, and they are saying, again and again, that if you behave badly it will be noted and it will not be supported. Last year, Australian Lt. Gen. David Morrison issued a statement on sexual abuse in the military in which he laid it out simply that “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” We’ve walked past long enough. And we’re not accepting it anymore. So if you have a woman problem, take note, before the joke’s on you.

I hope so.

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

The duck’s off

Nov 11th, 2014 3:51 pm | By

Ah there’s more today. Daniel O’Reilly aka “Dapper Laughs” is getting cancellations left and right. Could people have finally figured out that rape and misogyny aren’t funny?

A UK tour by the controversial comedian Dapper Laughs has been cancelled following the axing of a second series of his ITV2 show.

A string of dates due to be played at top venues such as the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London and the O2 Academy in Leeds have been pulled following outrage over content that derides women.

And treats rape as a funny haha joke.

During the performance at London Scala, Dapper Laughs – real name Daniel O’Reilly – said of a female audience member: “She’s gagging for a rape.”

He’s still doing some gigs though, Tara Conlon reports.

A quick trawl of bookings for the Dapper Laughs shows reveals that booking is still open for gigs in February at the Institute in Birmingham and the Ritz, Manchester.

That could always change, of course.

A spokeswoman from Academy Music Group said that refunds would be available from venues for those who had bought tickets: “As a major UK venue operator we regularly host events of varying styles and content in music and comedy. In light of the cancellation of the second series of the Dapper Laughs ITV2 show and significant criticism, Dapper Laughs (Daniel O’Reilly) has himself apologised for any offence caused by his material, and we are aware that Dapper Laughs’ brand of comedy may not be to everyone’s taste.”

Sigh. It’s not a matter of “offence” and it’s not a difference in “taste.” They always insist on trivializing it…no doubt because they don’t want to admit what kind of thing they’re promoting.

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

“On the Pull” has been pulled

Nov 11th, 2014 3:09 pm | By

Huh. “Dapper Laughs” is in the shitcan.

ITV has decided not to commission a second series of the controversial comedy series Dapper Laughs: On the Pull, following criticism of the show.

The decision was made after around 60,000 people signed a petition calling on Adam Crozier, the network’s chief executive, to pull the ITV2 show, and after footage emerged of a gig hosted by Daniel O’Reilly – who plays Dapper Laughs – which made a reference to the rape of women and which mentioned ITV2’s show.

Notice the story (reported by Tara Conlan) carefully says “after” not “because.” Post not propter. Following, not on account of. But anyway it’s good news. (Spare us the cries of free speech and political correctness. Free speech doesn’t depend on the permanent existence of tv shows “bantering” about raping women.)

In the programme O’Reilly gives laddish advice on how to “pull birds” under the guise of a deliberately provocative character with lines such as: “Just show her your penis; if she cries, she’s just playing hard to get,” and: “If she’s looking at me and playing with her hair, by the end of the night she’ll need a wheelchair.”

What does that mean, “deliberately provocative”? Provocative of what? How is laddish banter about putting women in wheelchairs “provocative”?

The petition called on ITV to can the programme, saying: “O’Reilly’s work frequently depicts real-life harassment of women and in his new show he offers dating tips to members of the public inspired by his misogynistic views, all under the guise of harmless comedy.

“O’Reilly’s attitudes towards women, and ITV’s backing in particular, are far from harmless, however: because ITV has granted O’Reilly the massive exposure and credibility of its platform, everyday sexism is being normalised for both young men and women.”

So many things are normalizing everyday sexism. It’s depressing and discouraging.

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