Homesick for Ukraine

Dec 4th, 2019 9:59 am | By

He did what?

From the department of “you really can’t make this up”: the New York Times is reporting that Rudy Giuliani traveled to Europe this week to meet with former Ukrainian prosecutors who have pushed baseless corruption allegations against Joe Biden.

The Times reports:

Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, met in Budapest on Tuesday with a former Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who has become a key figure in the impeachment inquiry. He then traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday seeking to meet with other former Ukrainian prosecutors whose claims have been embraced by Republicans, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, according to people familiar with the effort.

The former prosecutors, who have faced allegations of corruption, all played some role in promoting claims about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a former United States ambassador to Ukraine and Ukrainians who disseminated damaging information about Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in 2016.

By “Tuesday” they mean yesterday. By “Wednesday” they mean today. Rudy Doodey is doing this while the impeachment hearing is under way. We live in strange times.

Guest post: All the stars

Dec 4th, 2019 8:52 am | By

latsot’s review of Kate Smurthwaite’s show:

Kate’s gig took place in the immediate aftermath of some Facebook misogyny so braying that it was simultaneously almost impossible to believe and entirely expected. Kate gets called “bitch” a lot on Facebook and other sundry internet places so she called her tour “Bitch”, intending to talk about that. Facebook was entirely sanguine about the bitch-calling business but decided that Kate’s calling her own gig “Bitch” violated their community guidelines so they refused to advertise the York one even though Kate had paid them to do that. Consequently, the show wasn’t well-advertised.

Yeah. Like I said, almost impossible to believe but at the same time entirely expected. It’s why I went to the show. I’ve seen Kate perform before and am a big fan of her telling off religious idiots on those Sunday morning god shows we don’t seem able to rid ourselves of so I would probably have gone to the gig anyway but I hadn’t heard about it until Facebook STREISAND’D it. York is half an hour south of where I live so the ticket sold itself.

The show was upstairs in The Artful Dodger, a pub that, to be fair, Fagin himself would feel comfortable doing business in. There was an excellent dog who seemed to live there. I think he was trained to stare at people playing the fruit machine, basically daring them to put more money in. When they ran out of money he came to be stroked by me. He was no Bullseye but he cheered me up no end. I’d forgotten that all pubs in York smell of the river when it has been raining, which is to say they smell of sewerage and not-Bullseye distracted me from that with his antics.

The pub was fairly rancid and the beer wasn’t good, but the gig was upstairs, through a portcullis. The upstairs was kind of Downton Abbey but with cheap electric heaters in violation of every health and safety rule ruled. It was nice, but there weren’t a lot of people there, presumably because of the Facebook business. There was quite a lot of trying to make the projector work. Part of me wanted to point out that in the hundred or so computer science conferences I’ve been to and the hundreds more CS meetings, the projector never worked either and you’re usually better off without the bugger. But it being sorted out was fun and friendly. People teetered around on a ladder pressing buttons, that alone was worth the price of the ticket.

Then the gig started with a support act, Andrea Louise Watson (@andanina) who was very good. She was introduced as someone who had been to one or more of Kate’s stand-up classes. I don’t know whether Kate is a good teacher but Andrea was funny. Highlights included a story about how – when she had to slam on her brakes – she was most worried about whether her vibrator would roll to the front of the car. It probably isn’t the sort of story even I would tell in front of my elderly mother, but Andrea’s mother was there in the front row obviously and rightly proud of her daughter. If Andrea does other gigs, go and see her if you can.

Then it was Kate’s turn. She was very animated. She said some things that many people in the audience didn’t seem to know how to react to. It wasn’t calculatedly ‘edgy’ stuff, it was anecdotal, all the time referring back to the hateful idea that women aren’t supposed to say that kind of thing. It was fun to watch people try to decide whether or not it’s OK to say it. A big part of the routine was Kate putting on a bitch dress – as defined by the likes of Disney and Facebook. It hammered home the point in the way Kate always does.

It was a good gig. From my perspective better because it was small, gathered around the health-and-safety-violating electric heaters. Kate probably had an entirely different perspective because she presumably wasn’t paid as much as she should have been for a solid performance which she obviously and rightly enjoyed.

Kate is as smart and funny as any other comic I’ve seen and she’s not fucking about. Her anecdotes aren’t jokes, they’re descriptions of having fun and the hostile reactions people seem to have about, mostly, female sexuality.

All the stars, go and see Kate if you can. Andrea too.

The biter bit

Dec 4th, 2019 8:15 am | By

Trump left the NATO gathering early because he mad.

US President Donald Trump called Justin Trudeau “two-faced” Wednesday after Canada’s Prime Minister was caught on camera appearing to joke about Trump with other world leaders at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

So…until that moment he thought Trudeau liked him?

I don’t know why I keep being surprised, but I do. My theory of mind isn’t good enough to grasp the complete lack of theory of mind in Trump.

The video appeared to show British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte having a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit.The 25-second clip, which has gone viral and was first reported by CBC, begins with Johnson asking Macron why he was late.

“Is that why you were late?” Johnson asked.Macron nodded, as Trudeau replied, “He was late because he takes a … 40-minute press conference at the top.”At no time in the video do the leaders mention Trump by name, but Trudeau’s comment appeared to reference Trump’s lengthy remarks to the press during their earlier meeting on Tuesday.

That’s what he does, isn’t it – he talks endlessly. He talks and talks and talks and talks. He must think that’s what he’s there for. He says almost nothing, but he says it over and over and over. It’s either Alzheimer’s or cumulative stupidity, but either way it’s embarrassing and dysfunctional.

Trump spent Tuesday in meetings in London headlined by a clash with a key ally, France. He met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau, making extended remarks and taking questions from the press on each occasion.

Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Macron was remarkably tense as the French President refused to back down from remarks that Trump called “nasty” and “insulting.” Last month, Macron had described NATO as suffering from “brain death” caused by American indifference to the long-time alliance.

Trump complaining about someone else being “nasty” and “insulting.” Oy oy oy.

The adults left long ago

Dec 3rd, 2019 4:46 pm | By

What Trump has unleashed, part 47 thousand.

Yeah. Haw haw. This is one of our Congressional Representatives, making racist jokes right out in the open. Perfect.

Guest post: Trumps junior stoking our xenophobic instincts

Dec 3rd, 2019 4:24 pm | By

Originally a comment by latsot on Let’s be serious.

And Trump does the thing he always does when someone else is talking* which is to jerk his head around in apparent annoyance, roll his eyes and blow out his cheeks in boredom until it’s his turn. Then say something absolutely blithering to the deep embarrassment of everyone else on the planet.

Over here we have Trumps junior – Johnson and Farage – stoking our xenophobic instincts. It’s as though we forgot to tell foreigners how much we hate them for a few decades, while all the time employing them to do vital jobs for low pay and then throwing them out of the country with no possibility of appeal and lying about it. But now it’s suddenly OK to tell them we hate them as well as acting as though we do.

The only UK party leader who is worth listening to is Nicola Sturgeon, and she’s not even a real sturgeon. She answers questions with actual answers rather than pustulant bluster, gish-gallop or outright equivocation. She puts bad interviewers in their place by telling them why she thinks they’ve asked the wrong question instead of droning on about something else. She’s head and shoulders smarter than Johnson and Farage and Corbyn. She opposes Trident. She opposed austerity. She agrees that the climate is the biggest emergency we will ever face. She’s a feminist who believes feminism should be at the front line of politics.

I rather wish we could have her as Prime Minister.

* Unless it’s a woman speaking, in which case he can just bellow an insult at her and make a lunge for her crotch.

Yo, Rudy, what’s up?

Dec 3rd, 2019 4:19 pm | By

Uh oh, Devin Nunes looks to be in trub-ble.

The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released its report on its central findings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, and buried within it were details on phone calls between Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California and several key figures implicated in the inquiry.

The report said that “phone records show contacts” in April between Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress; Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who’s now Trump’s personal lawyer; the Ukrainian-born businessman Lev Parnas; and the investigative reporter John Solomon, who has written several articles for The Hill peddling conspiracy theories about Ukrainian election interference.

So that kind of looks as if…he had a hand in it? Up to the elbow perhaps?

Everything, and MORE

Dec 3rd, 2019 3:28 pm | By

Trump is the landlord, and he keeps jacking up the rent and these deadbeats keep not paying it! It’s an outrage!


REPORTER: Are you concerned about rising sea levels at all? TRUMP: “You know, I’m concerned about everything, but I’m also concerned about…

He’s concerned about everything, but he’s also concerned about…

Words, how do they work.

Let’s be serious

Dec 3rd, 2019 3:07 pm | By

The shame of a nation.

Macron talks like an adult on a serious subject, in an informed way – in a language not his own. Trump can’t even talk like an adult in his own language, let alone an informed one.

Gynecologist envy

Dec 3rd, 2019 11:03 am | By

Ooh, good question, that’s a tough one.

Yes it’s probably the law that they have to put you on the table and put your feet in the stirrups and tell you to let your knees fall wiiiiide apart and then…um…I guess give you a good hard poke in the balls with the speculum?

Can you clarify?

Dec 3rd, 2019 10:16 am | By

UCU is the University and College Union; UoE is University of Edinburgh.

Many have asked how, exactly, the event contravenes national and local equality and inclusion policy. Explanation has not been forthcoming.

Even another branch of the UCU is taken aback.

Grace under pressure

Dec 3rd, 2019 9:35 am | By

Trump, in London, making a spectacle of himself.

If you want to get the full glory –

Threaten until they shut it down

Dec 3rd, 2019 8:58 am | By

Another gender-discussion event shut down (“postponed”) by people making threats:

An Edinburgh University event discussing how gender issues are taught in Scotland’s schools has been cancelled amid claims that the safety of women speakers and attendees was at risk.

The research seminar on schools and gender diversity, organised by the university’s Institute for Education, Teaching and Leadership, was due to be held next week, but despite plans for increased security staff, the event has been postponed.

Organisers had arranged the event in light of the Scottish Government’s plan to produce new schools guidance on supporting transgender pupils, after it announced that previous advice, written by charity LGBT Youth, was to be replaced as it risked “potentially excluding other girls from female-only spaces”.

What “other girls”? Which kind? Actual girls, or boys who identify as girls?

The event was set to discuss what the new guidance should look like and how “curricula, pedagogies, pastoral care and safeguarding practices” should be developed to ensure all children and young people can “interrogate gender norms whilst ensuring that gender-nonconforming and transgender-identifying pupils are safe, supported and included in schools”.

But the terms of current trans dogma have made it impossible to do both those things. Feminist girls are not allowed under the terms of that dogma to “interrogate gender norms” because doing so is instantly and threateningly branded “transphobic” just as this event has been.

However, the event was branded “transphobic” by the university’s Staff Pride Network which wrote to management in an attempt to have it stopped. In a blog members of the Network said the seminar would have a “harmful impact” on the “trans and non-binary community at the University.”

One of the Network’s members, Dr Katie Nicoll Baines, also urged EventBrite, the online ticketing site, to take the seminar from its website, claiming on Twitter that it was “actively platforming speakers with a history of transphobic hate speech” and encouraged people to register for the event, to prevent genuine attendees from being able to get tickets.

See? We’re not allowed to question gender norms, it’s only trans people and their “allies” who are allowed to do that. If we persist they will simply shut us down. Feminism has been eliminated and trans dogma has taken its place.

Yesterday, a source at the University said the organisers had originally tried to invite LGBT and transgender organisations to take part “to look at what research is telling us and find a way forward”, but they had refused to “share a platform” with the other speakers.

“Then there was an attempt to sabotage the event through the ticketing system, and the university management were asked to get involved but they did not do so. The organisers were told that there was going to be too hostile an environment to hold the event and while there would be nine security guards they couldn’t guarantee the safety of speakers or attendees – most of whom would likely be women – which is pretty terrifying.

“It has made many women academics feel unsafe on campus and that they are on their own.”

Feminist women are the oppressors now. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Members of the University’s Staff Pride Network had previously resigned en-masse because the women’s rights event went ahead, but the organisation has since relaunched.

In its blog on the now-postponed event, it says: “The Staff Pride Network Committee are relieved the event is not going ahead at this time and we are working with the University to provide a safe, inclusive environment for ALL staff and students to work and study.”

No, not all. Not feminist women. The Staff Pride Network Committee are working hard to exclude feminist women from any kind of safe inclusive environment.

Trump wonders why Macron is so rude

Dec 3rd, 2019 8:24 am | By

Oh, brilliant, Trump is in London lecturing other people on being “nasty” and “disrespectful.Trump is.

Macron had tried to galvanise the agenda for the summit in London by calling the 70-year western alliance “brain dead”, but Trump said: “Nato serves a great purpose. I think that’s very insulting.”

He added: “Nobody needs Nato more than France. It’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

Macron made his criticism of Nato in an Economist interview partly to reflect his frustration that Turkey, a Nato member, had entered northern Syria in October without coordination with any Nato partner apart from Trump. Macron believes the invasion has undermined the fight against Islamic State.

But Trump appeared to side with the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying Turkey “couldn’t be nicer, more supportive, very helpful.”

Sigh. Macron is “insulting” and “dangerous” while Erdoğan is “nicer” and “supportive” and “helpful.”

We’d be better off if we’d sent Ivanka’s youngest child to do the job.

He also reeled off a string of insults against France, saying: “I think they have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all.

“It is a very tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France, when you look at what is going on with the yellow vests [anti-government protesters].

“They have had a very rough year. You just can’t go around making statements like that about Nato. It is very disrespectful. I’m looking at him [Macron] and I’m saying that he needs protection more than anybody, and I see him breaking off [from Nato]. So I’m a little surprised at that.”

Does Ivanka have any pets? Maybe we could send them next time?

Now or in the future

Dec 2nd, 2019 5:07 pm | By

Oooh yes, so it might, thank you for spotting that. Feeling more comfortable in trousers is definitely likely to mean not that you want to be warm enough, or don’t want bare skin chafing, or want to feel free to run or do headstands or sit on a bus without worrying about showing your bum, it’s likely to mean you want to “identify as male” despite being female and having the body to prove it, either now or in the future or indeed in the past. Never mind those silly body things, nobody cares about those, they’re chaff, husks, dirt, the true reality is clothes.

The abundant absence of mind paid

Dec 2nd, 2019 4:43 pm | By

Anti-vaxxing makes it hard to remember how to word.

Sneak it in

Dec 2nd, 2019 4:27 pm | By

James Kirkup at the Spectator addresses the “how did this become mandatory dogma so fast?” question.

Well, thanks to the legal website Roll On Friday, I have now seen a document that helps answer that question.

The document is the work of Dentons, which says it is the world’s biggest law firm; the Thomson Reuters Foundation, an arm of the old media giant that appears dedicated to identity politics of various sorts; and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organisation (IGLYO). Both Dentons and the Thomson Reuters Foundation note that the document does not necessarily reflect their views.

The report is called ‘Only adults? Good practices in legal gender recognition for youth’. Its purpose is to help trans groups in several countries bring about changes in the law to allow children to legally change their gender, without adult approval and without needing the approval of any authorities. ‘We hope this report will be a powerful tool for activists and NGOs working to advance the rights of trans youth across Europe and beyond,’ says the foreword.

Step one is be sure to ignore the parents. What business is it of theirs?! Who knows better, adults or adolescents? Well then!

Then there’s advice to get out ahead of government.

‘In Ireland, Denmark and Norway, changes to the law on legal gender recognition were put through at the same time as other more popular reforms such as marriage equality legislation. This provided a veil of protection, particularly in Ireland, where marriage equality was strongly supported, but gender identity remained a more difficult issue to win public support for.’

So, in other words, sneak it past them. Tie it to other causes and then TALK VERY LOUD AND FAST and hope no one will notice. That’s what’s been going on for the past ten or so years.

Guest post: The long-standing paradigm that women just feel things

Dec 2nd, 2019 3:25 pm | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on The medical paradigm establishment narrative.

I am so sick of the anti-scientific, anti-expert obsession, especially in women’s health issues. Challenging the patriarchy does not mean rejecting every single thing any man has ever done or said. It does not mean branding science as a “male” field, or branding medicine as something “men” do to oppress “women”. It means getting rid of the things men do to oppress women, while maintaining the things that are in our best interests. It does not mean abandoning all rationality and reason, though I have seen that argued (in my playwriting program, I protested parts of one book my mentor had me read because they implied women don’t do rationality and scientific thinking, we need a mother paradigm and emotional woo-based things).

Women do science. Women do medicine. And women are expanding these fields in new directions, taking women’s needs and women’s “lived experience” into account, to incorporate the unique bodies and experiences of women into the scientific paradigm of the medical establishment. So we don’t kill women with stupidity, or with treating them like deviant versions of men, but as fully functional human beings in their own right.

It is people like Paltrow and Block that contribute to the patriarchy, because they willingly accept the long-standing paradigm that women just feel things, and can’t think them through rationally. They buy into the language of the male-dominated establishment that told women we couldn’t be what we wanted to be because our brains were fuzzy lady brains, and not fit to do math or science. Women like Jen Gunter are proving them wrong, and too many women are trying to push her back into the box.

Shame on you, Jennifer Block, for aiding and abetting the patriarchy by showing them yet more examples of women who react in an emotional, fuzzy way, rejecting science in favor of woo.

An alternative narrative

Dec 2nd, 2019 11:57 am | By

So we might as well read that open letter to Jen Gunter by Jennifer Lang.

There is nothing the patriarchy likes to see more than a good cat-fight. I read your open letter to Ms Paltrow when it was published in 2017, and at the time found it very unfortunate. I, too, struggled with whether it was worth my time or mental energy making a public response as urgent social, environmental and political events piled up around us. I decided to classify your letter as yet one more public beat-down of a female voice offering an alternative narrative to the monopoly-on-truth claimed by the western medical model. I ignored it. However, the publication of your new book and in particular the Guardian Interview article I read this morning have goaded me into a response.

First, I’ll say that I have no interest in participating in a take-down of any woman, least of all a single mom with medically-challenged kids who (I truly believe) is trying to help. This f***ed up patriarchal world does enough of that every single day. I celebrate strong female voices, professional success, and especially doctors who have found ways to bring in alternative revenue streams as insurance company reimbursements decline by double-digits annually. That being said, the condescending tone and overall arrogance of the stance you take on these issues is, in my opinion, the precise reason why so many women are moving away from allopathic medicine and seeking alternative or complementary care and sources of information.

I find in your words a callous blanket dismissal of the lived and felt experience of women, justified by the claim that you are an “expert.” What I do not encounter in anything you have written or been quoted as saying in an interview, is a genuine humility regarding our understanding of the complexities of the human body, nor an acknowledgment that the dominant medical advice of the moment has often been subsequently proven erroneous. I do not hear or see any responsibility-taking for the well-documented and very serious harms that have resulted from women unquestioningly following the advice of experts like ourselves prescribing pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions.

In other words Gunter doesn’t frame her criticism of the exploitative, expensive bullshit of Goop within apologies for the mistakes doctors have made in the past. But why should she? Why can’t she focus on Paltrow’s profitable scam which wouldn’t be so profitable if it weren’t marketed as “alternative” and “spiritual” and womany? Personally, I find Lang’s invocation of “lived and felt experience of women” far more annoying than anything Gunter says. Why can’t Lang do her thing and let Gunter do hers?

The medical paradigm establishment narrative

Dec 2nd, 2019 11:29 am | By

A couple of comments on Jennifer Block’s Facebook post reporting and denouncing the removal of her hit-piece on Jen Gunter:

Maya Shetreat You hit a nerve because you’re taking aim at the misogyny of medicine and of patriarchy in general. How dare you imply women are capable of making educated decisions on their own?! You are describing a paradigm that is deeply threatening to the establishment.

It doesn’t feel good when the haters swarm, but know it’s because what you’re saying is deeply important and resonates with many people. Otherwise they’d ignore you…

Jennifer Lang Maya Shetreat It’s nice to see you here. I KNOW you understand what happens when the dominant narrative gets challenged in a poignant and insightful way. Grateful to have your voice and wisdom here.

Jennifer Lang was cited by Block in the hit piece because she’d written an open letter to Gunter on Facebook hitting the same themes.

All these catch-phrases – patriarchy, women are capable, describing a paradigm, the establishment, the dominant narrative – they can reflect a truth but they can also be used as tokens, symbols, substitutes for thought. It can be true that some doctors are too dismissive of women’s concerns and that Jen Gunter is pretty much the worst example of that that Block could have come up with.

Maya Shetreat Also, can you imagine in a million years someone saying that men should only listen to the medical experts, because they will otherwise be misled by potentially non-scientific options? 😒

Uh…yes? That is, if she means “can you imagine in a million years someone saying that men should pay attention to medical professionals on medical issues rather than Gwyneth Paltrow or Doctor Oz,” then yes, I can easily imagine that, in under a second.

Ten years old

Dec 2nd, 2019 10:52 am | By

News from Pakistan:

A ten-year-old girl in rural Pakistan was stoned to death by family members after a tribal council decided she had been planning to elope, according to local reports.

Gul Sama, a resident of the village of Shahi Makan, in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, was killed on November 22. Local activists and residents were threatened with death by the tribal council, or jirga, if they spoke about it. However, social media posts showing the girl’s grave went viral with activists calling for justice. The police stepped have arrested the dead girl’s parents and Mushtaq Laghari, a cleric who conducted the funeral in secret.

“Her face and head were unrecognisable and she was brutally killed,” a resident of the village said.