Notes and Comment Blog

His hair got wet

Oct 27th, 2018 2:45 pm | By

Have a sick basin at hand.

“This is a dispute that will always exist I suspect”

Oct 27th, 2018 11:54 am | By

This fucking fool.

Oh they should have had armed protection. So what’s he saying? That there should be armed protection everywhere? Supermarkets for instance, like that Kroger in Jeffersontown, Kentucky where a white guy shot two black people to death a few days ago? But what if the security guard is in aisle 10 so the shooter goes to aisle 2 to shoot people there? It would take a lot of armed security to cover the whole space, and the parking lot (the shooter killed one victim in the parking lot). Now multiply that times every supermarket, bank, drugstore, hardware store, shoe store, and every other store of every kind – then add schools, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, office buildings, factories, hospitals, sports venues, parks, beaches – any place at all that people gather – it’s a bit of a drain on personnel, isn’t it.

Plus that’s a lot of armed security guards. How would we know none of them would go rogue? How would they be screened before hiring to make sure none of them are seeking the job precisely so that they can shoot up the store themselves?

Also what the fuck does he mean “This is a dispute that will always exist I suspect”? What “dispute”? Shooting people is not a “dispute,” it’s mass murder. Does he mean anti-Semitism? That needn’t “always exist.” It exists now because of people exactly like him: people who promote it and fan it and cheer it on.

During a baby naming ceremony

Oct 27th, 2018 10:49 am | By

Today in Pittsburgh:

A gunman attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue during services Saturday morning, killing multiple people and wounding three police officers, among others.

The suspect opened fire inside the Tree of Life Synagogue during a baby naming ceremony, Philadelphia’s attorney general told the Associated Press.

Ah, during a baby naming ceremony. Thoughtful touch.

Image result for holocaust boy

During a standoff, the suspect spoke multiple times about wanting or needing to kill Jews, police dispatchers said on the radio.

He surrendered to police around 11 a.m. Dispatchers said he had a pistol on his ankle and another in his waistband, and had been injured. KDKA reported that he came out crawling.

The Tree of Life synagogue is located in a leafy residential enclave near Carnegie Mellon University that has a significant Jewish population. Its “traditional, progressive and egalitarian” congregation, formed in 1864, is Pittsburgh’s oldest Jewish congregation.

It reminds me of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and the Birmingham bombing. Get people at their most peaceable and vulnerable, and mow them down.

Speaking to reporters later at Joint Base Andrews, President Trump said the shooting was “far more devastating than anybody originally thought” but did not offer details. “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly and all over the world and something has to be done,” he said.

He said that the death penalty should come in “vogue” and suggested that armed security would have made a difference. When asked if all churches and synagogues should have armed security Trump said, “it’s certainly an option.”

If he really thinks it’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country then he should do something about it. He could do something, and he should. He could and should stop cold his own hatred-stoking, and he could and should tell his fans to stop too. He could and should condemn it and reject it. He could and should apologize for all the hatred-stoking he’s done to date, and disavow and reject all of it. He could and should but he won’t.

In an exclusive investigation

Oct 27th, 2018 10:11 am | By

Oh look, an exciting investigative scoop by The Oxford Student.

Let’s rush to read this investigative uncovering of a truth:

Please note that this article contains explicit discussion of transphobic statements and images.

Professor of Sociology and Fellow of St Cross College Michael Biggs has been posting transphobic statements online under the Twitter handle @MrHenryWimbush, The Oxford Student can reveal.

The Twitter account, named Henry Wimbush and still online at the time of publication, has been tweeting statements such as “transphobia is a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons” since first Tweeting in January.

Wait. How is that remark “transphobic”? It doesn’t say trans people are horrible and he hates them, it harshly describes a (highly politicized) word. Also, of course, note the irony that their very first example of his “transphobia” is a rejection of the word “transphobia.” One begins to suspect that their claims may be a tiny bit self-referential.

And that’s the problem in a nutshell, isn’t it. The problem is that any failure to assent to every claim by the most fanatically absolutist and reality-denying trans ideologues is slapped with the label “transphobic” even though such failure – obviously – is not a matter of hating trans people at all.

In order to substantiate the allegations made that the true identity of the Tweeter was Professor Biggs, it was found that the account in question could be linked to a partial phone number…

So they have no editors on this student paper? And they let just anyone write for it? People who don’t even understand that it takes an actual person to substantiate allegations, that just a passive “it was found that” won’t do?

There follows a long unreadable parsing of Twitter minutiae, which should all be on the cutting room floor. There is, of course, no striking example of the accused expressing hatred of trans people.

Then they get to the part about punishing the tweeter, and that is more lucid:

The account’s bio states: “AMAB transmasculine non-binary demiboy. Polyam aro/ace. 2 + 2 = 4”. This appears to be mocking certain labels of the LGBTQ+ community: “polyam[orous]” – “the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships” – and “aro/ace” – short for aromantic, meaning “having no interest in or desire for romantic relationships” alongside asexual, meaning “without sexual feelings or associations” – are clearly intended to sound self-contradictory. “2 + 2 = 4” also appears to be a reference to George Orwell’s 1984.

In addition, both the Oxford LGBTQ+ Society and Dr Clara Barker, a trans woman and vice-chair of the Oxford University LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, have confirmed to The Oxford Student that they have passed on complaints about Biggs to the University in June. The account’s last activity was on July 1st. Further allegations by Mac Harrison could not be substantiated.

Dr Clara Barker, who is mentioned in the account’s Tweets, told The Oxford Student that she is “concerned by [Biggs’] personal views. That he may be linked to an account is one thing, but he has since started speaking very publicly as an expert of gender diversity.

“I find it hard to believe that he can say these things [referring to articles and printed comments by Biggs] outside of work, when they are so clearly in opposition to University guidelines and policies, [or] that those views can be left completely outside of a lecture hall. I really worry for any trans students that have to work with him. I would be very uncomfortable around him knowing his views.”

What does Biggs say?

Biggs, in response to a request for statement on his stance on transphobia, said: “It is not transphobic to discuss the merits of legislation or to debate theories about sex and gender. Dictionary definitions such as ‘woman: adult human female’ and ‘lesbian: female homosexual’ are not transphobic. Nor is it transphobic to call the convicted rapist Karen White – who was placed in a women’s prison – a man.”

When asked if he supported the University’s position on transphobia, he said: I treat students and colleagues with respect and so would never call a member of the University by a pronoun which he or she found objectionable.

“I do not, however, believe that gender identity supersedes sex, any more than I believe that Jesus was the son of God. Therefore I oppose any attempt by the University to establish an official doctrine on gender, just as I would oppose the imposition of a single religion or one particular position on Israel-Palestine. The enforcement of orthodoxy – often disguised as ‘diversity’ – would destroy the University’s very foundation: academic freedom.”

Then our brave investigative journalists solicit more anonymous reports of thought crime.

The Oxford Student is currently investigating other claims of harassment and inappropriate comments by staff members of the University. If you have experience of this, and would be happy to be quoted anonymously, please use this anonymous form.

There will be fewer but better Oxford professors.

If you inflame hatred, hatred will be inflamed

Oct 26th, 2018 3:16 pm | By

Gary Younge at the Guardian sees a connection between Trump’s constant stoking of hatred and the highly stoked hatred we see all around us.

Trump’s election and the xenophobic rhetoric that came with it not only emboldened schoolchildren to parrot bigotry to their peers, it gave the state free rein to unleash its power indiscriminately against a minority community. So when pipe bombs are sent to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, California congresswoman Maxine Waters and CNN it should be understood not only as a specific threat to democracy but as one of the most violent examples yet from a democracy that has long been under threat.

…Both in his candidacy and presidency Trump has made direct appeals to political violence. He has advocated protesters be beaten up at his rallies; tweeted a simulation of himself pummelling the news network CNN, as though in a wrestling match; encouraged police to rough up suspects; and in the week in which the Saudi government conceded that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in its consulate, he lauded a politician for body-slamming the Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs.

It’s not an edge case. He’s abnormal among presidents by a huge margin.

So when he says, as he did on Wednesday, “We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America”, it rings not only hollow but hypocritical.

This is the man who has led chants for Hillary Clinton to be imprisoned (“Lock her up!”); said the media were the “enemy of the people”; claimedObama founded Islamic State; praised those who marched alongside neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, as “very fine people”; and described Waters, who had called on protesters to face down administration officials wherever they find them, as a “low-IQ person” and warned her “be careful what you wish for”.

Despite his efforts to appear presidential he could not help himself. “By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving today? Have you ever seen this?” His curated contrition was a big joke – others may have had their lives threatened but, ultimately, it was all about him.

Narcissists don’t change.

“Very unfair to me”

Oct 26th, 2018 2:55 pm | By

Trump explains why it’s so necessary for him to keep inciting violence against journalists.

It’s all so unfair to Trump

Oct 26th, 2018 9:22 am | By

Suspect arrested.

Federal authorities made an arrest on Friday in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken critics of President Trump, a significant breakthrough in a case that has gripped the country in the days leading up to the midterm elections.

The arrest came only hours after the mysterious spate of pipe bombs spread further as federal authorities said on Friday morning that they had found two more of the explosive devices: one addressed to Senator Cory Booker and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence.

The package addressed to Mr. Clapper was meant to be delivered to the New York offices of CNN, where he works as an analyst, but was intercepted at a mail facility in Midtown Manhattan, police officials in New York City said. The package addressed to Mr. Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, was found in Florida, which two people briefed on the matter have said has become a focus of the intense, nationwide investigation into the bombs.

Speaking on CNN on Friday, Mr. Clapper said he was not surprised that a device had been sent to him. He has been a frequent critic of President Trump, a similarity shared with everyone whose names have appeared on the packages discovered so far.

“This is definitely domestic terrorism,” Mr. Clapper said. “Anyone who has in any way been a critic, publicly been a critic of President Trump, needs to be on an extra alert.”

That’s a lot of people.

Meanwhile Trump has been complaining about what a nuisance all this is for him.

Goddam bombs, hindering Republicans! It’s so unfair!

Before that he was whining about Twitter. Yes, really, about Twitter.

SO unfair

Oct 26th, 2018 8:09 am | By

A Jesus and Mo from ten years ago, brought back for obvious reasons.


J and M Patreon.

27,000 people, one remote polling place

Oct 25th, 2018 5:45 pm | By

Back to Kansas:

After moving Dodge City’s sole polling site outside city limits, county election officials sent newly registered voters an official certificate of registration that listed the wrong place to cast a ballot in the midterm election — the latest election snafu to surface in the iconic Wild West town where Hispanics now make up the majority of the population.

The southwest Kansas city, located 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of Wichita, has only one polling site for its 27,000 residents. For nearly two decades, that site was at the civic center in the mostly white part of town.

So, finding that too easy, officials moved it outside of town a mile from any bus stop…and then they sent out the wrong location to voters.

“I didn’t know this could get worse, and it did: ‘Hey, let’s move the site and not tell new registrants where they are supposed to go,’” said Johnny Dunlap, chairman of the Ford County Democratic Party.

Local election officials are now scrambling to notify newly registered voters who might be confused by its official registration notice that listed only their regular polling site — not the temporary site for the November election. At the same time, voting rights activists are marshalling their resources to get Dodge City voters to the new polling place — an effort boosted by an outpouring of money and volunteers after widespread national coverage.

Nearly 600 people have volunteered to come to Dodge City to give people rides to their polling place on election day, Dunlap said. The advocacy group Voto Latino is trying to provide Lyft rides to voters who need transportation. The party is also leasing vans for election day voting, canvassing in neighborhoods and advertising to inform voters of available rides.

Stealing elections right out in plain sight.

Why use one word when six will do?

Oct 25th, 2018 5:38 pm | By

Oh good, more erasing.

Weird, ain’t it? No mention of lesbians, but urgent recruiting of trans women.

Oh wait there is one mention of lesbians! Well sort of. Well not really mention, but tiny hint. Tiny bashful hardly there hint. There’s the L in LGBT Foundation.

Not for long though, judging by the replies.

Beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate

Oct 25th, 2018 2:17 pm | By

The Daily Mail (yes; sorry):

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled a woman convicted by an Austrian court of calling the Prophet Mohammed a paedophile did not have her freedom of speech rights infringed.

The woman, named only as Mrs. S, 47, from Vienna, was said to have held two seminars in which she discussed the marriage between the Prophet Mohammad and a six-year old girl, Aisha.

According to scripture the marriage was consummated when Aisha was just nine years old, leading Mrs S. to say to her class Mohammad ‘liked to do it with children’.

She also reportedly said ‘… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?’

It would be nice to know what kind of seminars, where, for what purpose, with what credentials…but even so, it’s not obvious what it means to “convict” someone of calling the Prophet Mohammed a paedophile, since it’s not obvious that doing so is a crime. Yes, fucking a girl of nine is in fact paedophilia, and it’s against the law in places with humane laws. I guess I’m now a criminal under Austrian and European law.

Mrs S. was later convicted in February 2011 by the Vienna Regional Criminal Court for disparaging religious doctrines and ordered her to pay a fine of 480 euros plus legal fees.

So Austria has a law against disparaging religious doctrines? That’s insane. This isn’t the 12th century; if we can’t disparage religious doctrines what can we disparage? We need to be free to disparage all forms of illegitimate power, and religion is high on that list.

After having her case thrown out by both the Vienna Court of Appeal and Austria’s Supreme Court, the European Court of Human rights backed the courts’ decision to convict Mrs S. on Thursday.

The ECHR found there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a statement on Thursday the ECHR said: ‘The Court found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant’s statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.’

That’s not peace; it’s forced silence.

‘It held that by considering the impugned statements as going beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate, and by classifying them as an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace, the domestic courts put forward relevant and sufficient reasons.’

I get that they don’t want people stirring up hatred against Muslims. On the other hand have they given enough thought to the way this tactful refusal to call fucking a nine year old girl what it is can teach believers that it’s ok for men to fuck nine year old girls right now? Are “religious feelings” more important than that?

H/t Author


Oct 25th, 2018 1:40 pm | By

By way of refreshment:

We are not treating these as hoax devices

Oct 25th, 2018 1:35 pm | By

The Guardian reports live on a law enforcement press conference in NYC:


This is America. It’s not good.

As the audience chanted “CNN sucks”

Oct 25th, 2018 1:08 pm | By

Charles Blow on Trump’s hate-mongering and how it may connect to all these bombs popping up:

Trump’s hatred, racism, insecurity, anti-intellectualism and grudge against the elite society that had always disdained him was perfectly suited for conservatives who were entertaining the same notions but had no one to openly champion their intolerance with effrontery.

On Monday in Houston, Trump was again whipping a rally crowd into a fear frenzy with his dystopian vision of America. He said:

“Democrat immigration policies allow poisonous drugs and MS-13 to pour into our country. And Democrat sanctuary cities release violent criminals from jail and straight into your neighborhoods.”

As the audience chanted, “CNN sucks,” he said, “Don’t worry. I don’t like them either, O.K.?” He added:

“Do you know how the caravan started? Does everybody know what this means? I think the Democrats had something to do with it.”

There is no proof that the caravan of Honduran migrants traveling through Mexico toward the United States was instigated by the Democrats, and the claim is ridiculous on its face.

And very typical of Trump, who just makes shit up all the time and couldn’t care less whether it’s true or not. It’s emotionally true for him, and that’s all he pays any attention to.

Trump rebukes news media for the Anger

Oct 25th, 2018 10:22 am | By

Bomb sent to CNN yesterday. Today Trump tweets:

In other words, Trump says SEND MORE BOMBS.

The Times:

President Trump on Thursday blamed the news media for the division and anger in the United States, as the authorities discovered more pipe bombs intended for the president’s political rivals.

Mr. Trump had called the night before for national unity in response to pipe bombs directed at some of his favorite targets, but soon after said the “Mainstream Media,” which he called “Fake News,” was at fault for the anger because of its “false and inaccurate reporting.”

In his tweet on Thursday, Mr. Trump did not mention that CNN, the news network that he has long assailed and called “fake news,” was among the targets of a pipe bomb, along with former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the actor Robert De Niro.

Trump didn’t mention CNN because he’d be quite happy to see it bombed.

Law enforcement officials have shown photographs of some of the packages that contained the pipe bombs. The packages discovered Thursday were similar to the packages intercepted the day before.

Packages sent to Mr. Biden and Mr. De Niro were discovered Thursday. A law enforcement official said it appeared to be from the same sender of packages to Mr. Obama; Mrs. Clinton; John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; and Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California — four of the president’s favorite political punching bags. Another device intended for Mr. Obama’s attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., was incorrectly addressed.

The Brennan one was sent to CNN (by mistake, apparently – he’s a commentator on MSNBC).

Mr. Brennan has been an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump’s, making pointed remarks that ultimately led to the president stripping him of his security clearance. The return address on the package sent to CNN was that of Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida and a former Democratic National Committee chairwoman.

Mr. Trump has called for the Justice Department to investigate Ms. Wasserman Schultz over the theft of internal Democratic National Committee emails, a narrative that has found traction among some right-wing conspiracy theorists.

After the discovery of packages sent to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton — which were found during routine mail screening by the Secret Service — a package addressed to Ms. Waters was intercepted at a congressional mail facility.

Mr. Trump has drawn excitement from crowds of supporters when would sling verbal insults at “Crazy Maxine Waters,” and call her the leader of the Democratic Party. Mr. Trump has also said Ms. Waters had a “very low I.Q.”

This is where we are.


Oct 25th, 2018 9:42 am | By

The Guardian has a letter plus answer thing under the headings In it together Women.

Headline: When I went home with period pains I told my boss I had a cold. Should I have told the truth?


Last month I had to leave work in the middle of the day. I was in a great deal of pain from my period, a problem I have had for several years. Sometimes I can manage it with painkillers, but not always. Even when I can cope with the pain, my periods affect my sleep, and make me slower and less productive. When my (female) boss saw how unwell I was, she kindly suggested I go home. I told her the next day I must be coming down with a cold. I’ve been thinking, why didn’t I just say “I have bad period pains”? I know it’s because I don’t want to be seen as weak and I don’t want to play into stereotypes that women can’t work or have important jobs because of their periods. That said, I worry about using a sick day or two every month. What are my rights in this area regarding sick leave? Should I speak up next time? Am I letting the side down by not coming out and being honest about my period?

Reply by Poppy Noor:

Something happens to you once a month that is painful and out of your control. You are not alone. Last year, YouGov asked 538 menstruators about their experiences of period pain in the workplace; 57% said it had affected their work.

screeeeeeeeeeech Wait, what?


What happened to “women”?

It says “women” at the top of the page, before the headline. The writer mentions that her boss is female, and then cites “stereotypes that women can’t work or have important jobs because of their periods.” The piece is about a thing that women have to deal with that can hinder them at work and school and life in general. It’s about an issue that affects women, it’s from a woman, it’s about a physical process inseparable from the female reproductive system. Why was the hideous contemptuous reductive word “menstruators” used instead of “women”?

Poppy Noor herself promptly uses the dreaded word:

Last year, YouGov asked 538 menstruators about their experiences of period pain in the workplace; 57% said it had affected their work. And yet, you feel you will be seen as weak or unreliable if you tell someone about it. Your fears aren’t unfounded: a number of studies show that women’s pain is routinely dismissed by health professionals, especially when it comes to gynaecological issues. And other women seem to share your fear. YouGov found that only 27% of women affected by period pains told their boss and many of them (33%) pretended, as you did, that it was something else affecting their work.

“Women” three times and “gynaecological” once. So why use “menstruators” at all?

Guest post: Imagine the sort of thing that can be gleaned

Oct 24th, 2018 6:11 pm | By

Originally a comment by latsot on He’d blab all the secrets if only he knew anything about them.

As the text says, it’s not only secret information that’s damaging. We all routinely give away far more information than is good for us. We tend to assume that the minutia of our lives are uninteresting and cannot harm us (if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear).

We do crazy things like tell Amazon who our friends and family are, when their birthdays are and the sort of stuff they like. In fact, it’s worse than that, because we tell them the sort of stuff we think they like. Of course, if they are Amazon customers too, they can compare what we think they like with what they think they like, which is one hell of a powerful way to target ads. Amazon constructs complex social networks based on the information we freely and unguardedly give them. It uses them to manipulate us into buying things in complex and subtle ways. It encourages us to flesh out the weak or hypothesised links in those social networks by, for example, sending us ads for things we think a person it guesses is connected to us would like, round about the time it thinks their birthday might be, in the hope that it will remind us of that person and trigger us to buy them something. They don’t really care about making money from whatever we’ve bought, they want us to flesh out the bones of the social network they’re building. It’s a long game and Amazon isn’t selling what you think they’re selling.

This is a really cheap thing for Amazon to do. It doesn’t lose anything with these fishing expeditions. In fact, it learns something from every time we don’t take the bait, too.

And this is just us. We’re nobody. We don’t have any big important secrets. Amazon doesn’t care about big important secrets because it knows it can manipulate us using the stuff we actually want to tell it. And all it wants is to make money. And Amazon is not targeting us specifically to achieve specific goals. It doesn’t care whether it adds a link to an aunt or to a friend. It doesn’t care what you buy for them. It cares about what you bought for them after it sent you some fishing ads.

So imagine the sort of thing that can be gleaned by monitoring Trump’s calls and data traffic. He’s a highly specific target and there are presumably vast resources aimed at him, with fairly specific goals. This makes him a much easier target than any of us, if the goal is to find ways to manipulate him. Imagine foreign governments building up the same sort of social network around him and his contacts as Amazon does about us, with the added benefit of highly trained and creative analysts, all focused on this one person…

Trump will never get it

Oct 24th, 2018 5:39 pm | By

Words matter.

The president of CNN strongly criticized President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his anti-media rhetoric, just hours after the network discovered that a pipe bomb had been sent to its headquarters in New York.

“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, said in a statement. “The President, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

Still not showing any comprehension. Trump is off at another rally as we speak.

Trump has frequently criticized CNN and other media organizations as “the fake news,” and even going so far as to label them “the enemy” of the American people — a characterization that often draws hearty applause and boos directed at the press at his rallies.

Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesperson, noted that less than two hours after CNN evacuated its headquarters on Tuesday, the Trump campaign sent an email attacking CNN and calling on people “to give the media another wake-up call.”

As in, BANG splinter tinkle rattle smash scream scream scream? That kind of wake-up call?

Judge strikes down Georgia voter suppression

Oct 24th, 2018 5:08 pm | By

In better news…

Another day, another rally

Oct 24th, 2018 4:54 pm | By

Meanwhile though Trump is taking those bombs sent to Democrats and CNN very seriously.

Kidding. Of course he’s not.

Will he rant about “fake news” and the evil Democrats at his rally? Of course he will.