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.

Try showing a little class

Dec 1st, 2014 12:44 pm | By

The Republican Congressional staffer who pissed on Malia and Sasha Obama the other day has resigned.

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for congressman Stephen Fincher, gave up her post on Monday.

Ms Lauten earlier criticised Sasha and Malia Obama on Facebook following their appearance in short skirts at a Thanksgiving ceremony.

Yeah she “criticized” them all right.

Her deleted post reads: “Dear Sasha and Malia: I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play.

“Then again, your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter. So I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department.”

The post goes on to advise the girls to “rise to the occasion and act like being in the White House matters to you”.

“Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar,” she added.

That’s barely even coded. It’s all too easy to read what she’s really saying.

Good riddance.

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

Foundational daddy dearest

Dec 1st, 2014 11:47 am | By

Right Wing Watch discusses a scathing review by Gregg Frazer of a David Barton book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

RWW says Barton likes to call everyone he approves of a “Founding Father” and includes this passage from Frazer’s review:

This leads to one last area of concern in America’s Godly Heritage which can best be expressed as a question: Who counts as a “Founding Father?”

This issue reappears frequently in Barton’s works. He seems to count anyone of whom he approves who was living at the time of the Revolution, the founding of the political system under the Constitution, or within fifty or sixty years of those times as a “Founding Father.” For example, he says that “the American Tract Society was started by the Founding Fathers.” First, not one of those listed as a Tract  Society founder signed the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. By what standard are they “Founding Fathers?” Furthermore, the Society was started in 1825 – 36 years after the Constitution was ratified. Madison was the last living framer an d he died in 1836. How many Founding Fathers were even alive in 1825? Similarly, in his discussion of Vidal v. Girard, he said it was decided in “the time of the Founders.” It was decided in 1844 –55 years after the Constitution went into effect and, a s was just mentioned, the last framer died in 1836! Barton refers to John Quincy Adams as a “Founding Father.” At the time of the Constitutional Convention, he was a 20 year-old just out of law school (he was 8 when the Declaration was signed) – by what standard is he a “Founding Father?” Barton also claims that the “Founding Fathers” established the New England Primer as a text, but the Founding Fathers did not establish any texts for schools – that was left to local communities to decide. Apparently, by Barton’s standards (whatever they are), local school boards were “Founding Fathers.” Finally, Barton says that the state constitutions indicate that the “Founding Fathers” wanted to be sure that Christians held public office. But the Founding Fathers, in Article VI of the Constitution, specifically disallowed any religious test for office. That would seem to be a strange and counterproductive prohibition to be put in place by those who want to ensure that Christians hold the various offices.

It’s almost funny, except that many people take Barton seriously. But it is quite funny to see such passion for the combination of founding and father. All the good things in one phrase and one kind of person! Daddies, and not just Daddies, but Daddies who Found things. And not just any things but THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF OURS.

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

No Hockney for you

Dec 1st, 2014 10:11 am | By

Adam Rutherford doesn’t have much sympathy for James Watson’s complaints of undue neglect.

The great scientist James Watson is to auction his Nobel prize medal. He told the Financial Times this week that following accusations of racism in 2007, “no one really wants to admit I exist”, and as a result his income had plummeted and he has become an “unperson”.

If his income plummeted as a result of people avoiding him, that can mean only that he no longer gets big fees for speaking or lecturing. Well…yes, and?

If people no longer want to pay to hear him talk, then they don’t. If that’s because he revealed himself to be a racist, then well done people who no longer want to hear him talk. He’s not simply automatically entitled to big speaking fees.

This sounds awful: an 86-year-old hero ostracised for his views, shooed from public life by the people who walk in his scientific shadow.

But it’s not awful. Watson has said that he is “not a racist in a conventional way”. But he told the Sunday Times in 2007 that while people may like to think that all races are born with equal intelligence, those “who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. Call me old-fashioned, but that sounds like bog-standard, run-of-the-mill racism to me.

And this current whinge bemoans a new poverty born of his pariah status. Apart “from my academic income”, he says, Watson is condemned to a miserly wage that prevents him from buying a David Hockney painting.

In short, he’s no longer popular, because of his bog-standard racism. Well there you go.

With Nobels, we put people on pedestals and gift them platforms to say whatever they like. Here, they represent science, but contrary to stereotype, there isn’t a typical scientist. We’re just people.

Some Nobel laureates say stupid ignorant things. Most say little beyond their expertise, and some, such as the president of the Royal Society, Paul Nurse, are great leaders and campaigners for science and society.

And the same applies to non-laureate scientists. A famous scientist can be both a great campaigner for science and a racist or sexist or both. This is a thing that can happen.

“No one really wants to admit I exist” says Watson. That’s not it. It’s more that no one is interested in his racist, sexist views. Watson, alongside Crick, will always be the discoverer of the double helix, to my mind the scientific breakthrough of the 20th century. Here’s our challenge: celebrate science when it is great, and scientists when they deserve it. And when they turn out to be awful bigots, let’s be honest about that too. It turns out that just like DNA, people are messy, complex and sometimes full of hideous errors.

And we can always look at David Hockney paintings in books or museums.


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

Didna foo

Nov 30th, 2014 4:21 pm | By

Jesus takes a stab at speaking in tongues. He’s a natural.


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

Curb the other one

Nov 30th, 2014 4:14 pm | By

Some terrible people in Pakistan accused the Bollywood star Veena Malik of “blasphemy” and hurting feelings and inflaming sentiments and the rest of the menu of bullshit. The other day a judge totes agreed and sentenced her to 26 years in prison.

What was the blasphemy? She acted in a scene loosely based on the marriage of Mo’s daughter.

The offending scene involved Malik re-enacting her own wedding to businessman Asad Bashir Khan while a religious song played in the background.

There was outrage following its original broadcast in a daytime programme on Geo TV in May, with blasphemy cases filed against the channel’s owner and the show’s anchorwoman, as well as Malik and her husband.

On 26 May, the senior vice president of the Gilgit-Baltistan chapter of Muslim religious organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat lodged an official complaint alleging the show had defiled Ahl al-Bayt – the family of the prophet Muhammad – in playing “a contemptuous Qawwali”.

Nobody “defiled” anything. Go build a school or teach math in a school or make lunch in a school; do something useful instead of persecuting artists who don’t share your loathsome narrow view of the world.

Announcing the verdict on Tuesday, judge Raja Shahbaz ordered the police make arrests under Section 19 (10) of the Anti-Terrorism Act in case of disobedience, as well as sell the properties of the offendants.

“After evaluation of the entire evidence of the prosecution, I am of the considered opinion that the prosecution has proved its case against proclaimed offenders and absconders,” Shahbaz said.

The order reads: “The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency.”

No there isn’t. That is not the tendency that needs to be curbed in Pakistan. You’re looking in the wrong place altogether.


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


Nov 30th, 2014 4:03 pm | By

Football. Germany. Frankfurt v Dortmund. Frankfurt’s Hans Seferovic scored the winning goal. He dedicated the goal to Tuğçe Albayrak.

Seferovic lifted his jersey after the goal to reveal a written tribute to Tugce on his undershirt, with the hashtags “civil courage,” “angel,” “courage,” and “respect.”

Embedded image permalink

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

They can keep their computer models

Nov 30th, 2014 3:11 pm | By

Curious as always, I naturally looked around this Young America’s Foundation place to see what it’s like. I found a link titled UCSB Students Believe Global Warming is One of the Biggest Threats to the World. I could feel the scorn rising off the words. Silly silly UCSB students – what does it matter if sea levels rise and glaciers melt and rivers dry up and crops fail?

And yet, I was still surprised by Ashley Pratte’s style of argument.

According to Weather Channel founder John Coleman, man-made climate change is a myth.  Well, college students at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) would strongly disagree.

In a statement Coleman said, “The ocean is not rising significantly.  The polar ice is increasing, not melting away.  Polar bears are increasing in number.  Heat waves have diminished, not increased.”

However, the students at UCSB feel very differently.

Uh? A tv weather guy said something, and that’s supposed to be conclusive?

Snopes has a page on Coleman.

As Coleman’s critics have noted, he does not hold a degree in climatology or any related discipline, nor has he studied or conducted any research in that field; he merely parrots arguments advanced by others.

So just saying “In a statement Coleman said” isn’t quite good enough.

Critics of Coleman who do study and work in the field of climate science have produced detailed line-by-line rebuttals of his arguments against global warming.

Young America’s Foundation people please take a look.

Now back to Ashley Pratte:

There were a few students who made it clear they are doing all they can to reduce their individual carbon footprint.  One student claimed that he bikes 15 miles to school everyday, and another student said she’s vegan.

When asked what they would say to climate change deniers the answers were unanimous, “Educate yourselves.”

Well, maybe these students should take their own advice and realize that science isn’t on their side.  Over the years global warming has become a policy agenda spurred on by leftists and environmentalists, but the science just isn’t there.

This year marks, an 18-year “pause” in global warming-which leaves environmentalists scratching their heads to come up with excuses to combat climate-change deniers.

They can keep their computer models and we will keep our science-based in fact, not projections.

Yeah none of your god damn computer models for projecting what’s going to happen next, we prefer surprises!

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

How boys are faring in a society that now favors girls

Nov 30th, 2014 2:42 pm | By

anthrosciguy pointed out that something called Young America’s Foundation has a speaker’s page for Sommers.

Topics:Education, Feminism, Law / Constitution, Political Correctness, Race & Culture
Fee: 3,000 – 5,000

Not bad for an hour’s work.


1. The Case for Conservative Feminism (How the once noble cause of feminism lost its way and why it may take conservative women to put it back on track)

2. Guilty Because Accused: Why the new federal regulations on campus sexual assault are a travesty of justice. (Pressured by the Obama administration, our colleges and universities have abandoned all pretense of due process in cases of sexual assault.)

3. When Bad things Happen to Good Laws: The Truth About Title IX (How an idealistic law intended to eliminate discrimination against women turned into a quota law that discriminates against men.)

 4. The War Against Boys: Is it Over?  (How boys are faring in a society that now favors girls)

5.  Say No to CEDAW: Why the UN Women’s Treaty Should Not Be Ratified (CEDAW contains many noble declarations, but its key provisions are 1970s feminism preserved in diplomatic amber. Releasing those aged provisions in 21st-century America would be harmful)

She’s making a lot of money as a parasite on feminism. What a pestilent niche she’s created for herself.


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

Sinn Fein is refusing to say

Nov 30th, 2014 12:37 pm | By

Oh dear god here we go again.

Sinn Fein is refusing to say if it will hand over to gardai the minutes of a star chamber-style inquiry into 100 cases of suspected sex abuse involving members of the Provisional movement, held in Dublin eight years ago.

The secret investigation flies in the face of repeated denials by Sinn Fein leadership of their knowledge of a culture of sexual abuse within the Republican movement.

I guess Sinn Fein learned from the bishops? And Holy Mother Church?

The 2006 ‘review’ was carried out in the wake of information which emerged in Northern newspapers and the Sunday Independent that a “rape victim” had been summoned to appear before a Provo kangaroo court. This was a reference to Mairia Cahill, though she was not named at the time. This was the meeting Ms Cahill was ordered to attend at an apartment belonging to a Sinn Fein member in west Belfast and at which Martin Morris, her alleged abuser, was given her statement. After Ms Cahill’s allegations against Morris, Sinn Fein apparently moved him to a more prominent position in the ‘policing’ body.

It was only in 2006 when Sinn Fein was pushing for more British and Irish government money for their community policing project that the matter over the rape allegations came to a head. The rape allegation was brought to the attention of the Irish Government by the SDLP in a damning document about the conduct of Morris, who was referred to as ‘CRJ’. Only then was Morris moved out of Belfast, initially to Donegal.

No attempt was made to bring the allegations about Morris to the PSNI, and gardai were not notified of his ‘re-settlement’ in Donegal. Morris subsequently moved to England and remains living in north London.

So the answer is yes – Sinn Fein learned from the bishops and the church. Well done.

On Friday, SF’s Martin McGuinness, the North’s Deputy First Minister, refused to apologise to Ms Cahill for the IRA’s handling of her abuse allegation. “I suppose the sad thing about the Mairia Cahill case is the alleged abuser has disappeared into the smoke and people are focusing their concentration on people who were not involved in the sexual abuse of Mairia Cahill, and I think that’s a mistake,” he said.

Oh that’s the sad thing, is it? And people who didn’t themselves sexually assault Mairia Caihill but who did cover it up and protect the perp – they have nothing to be sorry for, is it?




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

Guest post: On gaydar and growing up

Nov 30th, 2014 12:11 pm | By

Again Josh, Official SpokesGay writes a Facebook post that I have to put here.

Had a long conversation with one of my best friends last week. We talked a lot about how different life, sex, love, politics look as we enter middle-age as compared to how it looked to us in the late 80s when we were just coming out.

About the double-edged sword of cultural ghettoization. How the closure of a famed gay bar provokes sadness and outcries about how those young baby fags don’t understand what they’ve lost. And they don’t, but not necessarily for the Very Important Reasons we middle-aged are thinking of.

So gaydar. That way “you can tell” if someone is gay. Maybe he’s a bit “artistic.” Maybe she cuts her hair short and doesn’t speak with the melodic pitch intervals associated with women’s speech.

Those old heuristics work less and less well. I’ve complained about how it’s hard to tell the straight boys from the gay ones anymore. Men can be foppish just a little bit more, even if they’re straight. Women can be just a bit more tomboy-ish even if they’re straight. Yes, the change is halting and punctuated with backlash. But it is happening. Because, millimeter by millimeter, non-negotiable gender roles and their behavioral cues are becoming more negotiable.

So what am I complaining about? The fact that the codes and tells developed as self-defense mechanisms aren’t as relevant anymore because there’s a tiny bit less of a need to self-ghettoize? Yes, that’s what I was complaining about.

This is to mistake the edifice, the costumes, the arbitrary behavioral etiquette, for the essence of what it means to be gay or queer. It’s fetishizing a subculture that arose in reaction to violence and squelching. It’s bemoaning the loss of a cultural identity that only ever existed as a way to give some solidarity to a terrified group of people who had to hide in the shadows.

But then, we are all nothing but the people and identities who emerge from a specific time, a specific place, with specific vocabularies and restaurants and film stars and laws and brands of coffee. There is no Platonic essence of us. We are only emergent manifestations of our when and where. That’s the really-real, the there-there. So maybe we can be forgiven a bit for mourning the loss?

Affection for one’s subculture is complicated. It’s always bittersweet. And it almost always misleads one by emotion; you have to second-guess yourself when you start pining for how it used to be.

I don’t know where to go with it all. But I do know it’s no good to age into a comfortable but reactionary nostalgia. Even if it seems like a loss, one must remind one’s self that longing for the comfortable, familiar signals of the ghetto one grew up in is not an unalloyed good. It may not be a good at all.

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

Think-tanking and lobbying

Nov 30th, 2014 11:38 am | By

The New Republic ran a piece by Ken Silverstein about salary inflation at DC think tanks in February 2013.

Jim DeMint had recently left the Senate to become president of the Heritage Foundation, going from $174,000 a year to $1.2 million or more.

Once upon a time, the only way for a pol to cash in like that was to leave elected office in order to become a lobbyista nice living, but one that carries with it a stigma that would likely kill any future ambitions for high office. By contrast, a gig at Heritage, the main voice of the conservative movement, could be a good launching pad for a potential 2016 presidential bid. Candidate DeMint could run as a man of ideas, not another pol out shilling for his donors.

Yes and that’s the thing – these think tanks are only tenuously related to ideas.

The problem with that wholesome imageand the anachronistic thing about Rubin’s lament over Heritage’s potential loss of intellectual virginityis that think-tanking and lobbying have come to look more and more alike. Just like lobbyists, think tanks can frame policy debates and generate political pressurefor the right price.

Heritage had $109 million in assets in 2002, a figure that has ballooned to $174 million in 2011, according to its tax filings. During the same period its annual fundraising haul (in contributions and grants) climbed from $40 million to more than $65 million. Donors include major companies like Boeing and Chevron and conservative foundations such as the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. In addition to Feulner, at least 19 other officials there cleared $200,000, including former attorney general Ed Meese ($420,000), former congressman Ernest Istook ($303,000), and former labor secretary Elaine Chao ($290,000).

AEI makes an appearance.

  • The American Enterprise Institute had assets of $155 million and raised $37 million from contributions and grants, up from $40 million and $16 million, respectively, in 2002, according to tax filings. According to its2012 annual report, AEI gets 39 percent of its funding from foundations and 15 percent from corporations. Arthur Brooks, head of AEI, took in $645,000 in 2011. Meanwhile, AEI’s 2011 tax filing shows Dick Cheney received $210,000 for toiling an average of one hour per week as a board trustee.1 Poor John Bolton, a senior fellow, took in roughly the same as Cheney even though those same tax documents say he spends 60 hours per week on AEI work.

Brookings and the Center for American Progress show the same pattern (and have more money than AEI).

There are plenty of well-respected scholars at prominent Beltway think-tank positions. But supporting such large organizations requires the same ceaseless fundraising that politicians conduct when running for reelectionand the same sort of ignoble temptations. “Things have to be paid for, I respect that,” one former think tank staffer, who quit his job in disgust due to the intellectual horse-trading he observed, told me. “But at some point it becomes hard to turn down money from [big donors] and then it becomes hard not to do their bidding.”

I can’t see that applying to Sommers though. Her contribution is political, not corporate.

“Think tanks have become more like PR and lobbying shops than research organizations,” says Steve Clemons, a former executive vice president at the New America Foundation. “That they’re lesser regulated than lobbyists makes them especially attractive to some funders.”

Intellectual promiscuity, of course, doesn’t just happen because a donor wants to steer research in some particular direction. The more partisan outfits, like Heritage and CAP, display high a degree of deference to political allies (a group that often overlaps with financial patrons).

When George W. Bush was president, CAP tended to view U.S. involvement in Afghanistan as a bungled failure and the war in Iraq as a neoconservative-spawned debacle. It became far more supportive after Obama took office…

So that’s where Sommers fits – the partisan box as opposed to the corporate box.

The end result of all this has been a general degradation of think tank research. Bruce Bartlett, who was fired from the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis after writing a book critical of George W. Bush’s policies, says much think tank scholarship today is akin to market research. “You don’t study data to see what position you should take, because you know your position in advance,” he says. “Now you do research to help better advocate for your position and identify constituencies that you can target and bring along. It’s like P&G studying the coffee market to see if it can come up with a new niche brand and take a few customers away from the competition.”

So Sommers represents the outreach to Republican-style “feminists” – the lean in crowd, the toughen up crowd, the we already have equality crowd.

Political messages do need testing and tweaking in order to be more effective. But that’s a job for well-paid market-research typesDeMint’s avocation before entering politicsrather than humble scholars. Anyone confused as to which category describes large chunks of Washington’s think-tank output need only to look at their payrolls.

It can be informative to check their Twitter timelines, too.


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

Follow the money

Nov 30th, 2014 10:40 am | By

You know how I keep expressing astonishment at the way C H Sommers has gone from being an academic to being a shameless hack. It occurred to me to wonder if it’s just a simple matter of being better paid as a hack. Having wondered that, I decided to see if I could compare her salary as an academic to her salary as a hack for the American Enterprise Institute.

The bulk of her teaching career was at Clark University; she was an Associate Professor when she left to be a scholar at AEI. Clark reports the salary for associate profs to be $107,580.

The 990 tax form for the AEI reports some scholars’ salaries but not all.


That lists Gary Schmitt, John Bolton, Charles Murray, Thomas Donnelly, and Frederic Hess as scholars. Their salaries range from $170,500 to $178,500. It seems safe to conclude that Sommers’s pay is in that range or lower (as a more recent hire).

So…maybe 60 or 70 thousand more. Worth having, certainly, but it hardly seems enough to motivate palling around with the MRA crowd.

On the other hand…there’s no teaching. It’s in DC. It’s among a bunch of like-minded reactionary lobbyists as opposed to a bunch of PC liberal academics. All that and a 2/3 bump in pay. Maybe it’s worth it.

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


Nov 30th, 2014 9:43 am | By

Here’s a good thing. I saw it via Leo Igwe on Facebook: he posted a picture of himself with a young girl who was fundraising for it at the Foundation Beyond Belief conference last July. The good thing is the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda.

The more humanist schools the better, I say.

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

Wholly inadequate for the issue of sexual offences

Nov 29th, 2014 5:28 pm | By

Sandy Garossino, a former prosecutor, explains at the Huffington Post Canada how Jian Ghomeshi threw a wrench into his own defense by writing and publishing that Facebook post.

Normally in sexual assault trials, the accused doesn’t have to do anything and all the hassle falls on the complainant. The defense strategy is usually to batter the complainant’s credibility to death while the accused just looks on.

The Jian Ghomeshi trial will be very different.

Apart from the media notoriety and Ghomeshi’s status as a public figure, the most outstanding evidentiary feature of this case is his own widely disseminated statement on Facebook (now removed). This one act, seemingly taken in solitary desperation, radically re-set the trial dynamic by putting Ghomeshi’s own credibility and even his character on trial.

In light of multiple but very consistent versions of events from a variety of sources dating back many years, that Facebook statement is devastating.

While there will be many legal technicalities, the complainants’ evidence will be measured against Ghomeshi’s own publicly stated defence. That defence, almost lost in an effusion of highfalutin malarkey, amounts to a claim that his sexual relations were not merely consensual but unambiguously and consensually violent; any statements to the contrary are all lies and the fruit of embittered female collusion.

The Facebook post is here.

Assuming one or more of the complainants are described in the Facebook post, how is Henein now supposed to claim they drank too much to remember clearly or that the accused had a mistaken but honest belief in consent? Her client left virtually no room for any strategy but an all out attack on his accusers. Her problem is that she’s dangerously low on ammunition.

And Jian’s biggest problem is Lucy DeCoutere. A 43-year-old captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force and a public figure in her own right, Ms. DeCoutere came forward apparently out of a sense of civic duty. Her riveting account of being choked by Mr. Ghomeshi without warning on a date some 11 years ago will colour every other aspect of the trial.

But this is the exception. Normally – the targets of the abuse are out of luck.

And yet what’s become starkly clear in the allegations engulfing Jian Ghomeshi, the MPs in Ottawa, and Bill Cosby, is that our justice system, civil procedures, and even our press and media traditions are wholly inadequate for the issue of sexual offences and crimes.

Had Ghomeshi not posted his Facebook statement, the Toronto Star would never have published its story. Even when the Star went to print, it faced an overwhelming barrage of criticism that anonymous sources shouldn’t be permitted to besmirch a man’s reputation. The clear implication being that if women were not prepared to file police reports, they weren’t credible.

Also known around here as the Michael Nugent Doctrine: it’s the police or nothing; call the police or shut the fuck up.

Notice anything about the complainants who’ve surfaced in all these cases?

Most of them are white, and all of them (as far as I know) are middle class.

Yet millions of our weakest and most vulnerable (including children) are neither, and they live in daily fear of sexual violence from assailants who know society will never believe them.

That could be called the Priest Doctrine – they’ll never believe the targets, so help yourself and have a good time.


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

Saint Based of 17th Street NW

Nov 29th, 2014 4:08 pm | By

This will give you nightmares.

David Futrelle at We Hunted the Mammoth collected some “fan art” devoted to Christina Hoff Sommers by her adoring admirers who call her (god I hate this, it’s so fucking twee) “Based Mom.”

GamerGaters sure do love their Based Mom! Christina Hoff Sommers, as you may or may not know, is a libertarian think-tanker who’s been grinding away at feminism for two decades, while still, rather perversely, claiming to be feminist.

Right? Right? That’s exactly what I say. Yes, of course, feminists can be critical about feminism; feminists can separate good feminism from bad feminism; feminists can say some ideas and claims that file themselves under feminism are shitty ideas and claims. But non-stop sniping and sneering at feminism, not to mention solidarity with GamerGaters, is not compatible with being a feminist.

Though not a video gamer herself, she’s jumped aboard the GamerGate train, and GamerGaters have repaid her interest in their little crusade with interest, anointing her their “Based Mom” and talking about her with weird reverence.

Weird and ooooooky.

Futrelle has five samples of fan art; check them out. This one is by far the creepiest.



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

More light

Nov 29th, 2014 3:41 pm | By

Saying good-bye to Tuğçe Albayrak.

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

John Sayles and negative capability

Nov 29th, 2014 3:03 pm | By

I’ve been re-watching Lone Star.

We talked about it last month, and this past week I’ve been re-watching it. There are a lot of threads in it, that weave together throughout the movie, so there’s a lot to keep track of. There are some things I don’t think I caught before.

To remind or inform you of the core story: there was a murderous corrupt sheriff in the Texas border town where the story takes place named Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson). His deputy Buddy Deeds (Matthew McConaughey) challenges Wade, and when Wade starts to threaten him, Deeds threatens to expose his corruption. Wade disappears a few hours later (in 1957), and Buddy Deeds is the next sheriff. About 35 years later a skull is found on an abandoned firing range outside of town, with a sheriff’s badge nearby; naturally it’s Charlie Wade. Buddy Deeds has recently died and his son Sam (Chris Cooper) is the sheriff. Sam was alienated from Buddy but everyone else sees Buddy as a hero. Sam uncovers a lot of Stuff while investigating the murder.

Here’s what I don’t think I caught before. When Buddy challenges Charlie Wade and then threatens to expose him, at the start of the movie, the item he threatens to expose is a county road project from which Wade skimmed 2/3 of the funding.

Much later, after many crisscrossing threads and overlapping conversations, someone tells Sam about an old controversy in which a lot of Mexicans were displaced by developers of a land parcel next to a lake, and that Buddy wound up owning a lakefront property at 1/3 of the market value.

See what Sayles did there?

The other artfully planted pair: there’s another flashback to Charlie Wade, in which he’s bullying young Otis Payne in the town’s only bar where African-Americans feel welcome. Wade mentions that he just sentenced a guy to “the farm,” and menacingly asks Otis if he knows why he put the guy in jail. “Somebody wanted a crop picked, I guess,” is Otis’s reply – which is in fact a real thing: there were prison farms in the South and they did serve as a substitute for slavery and charges were often trumped up. This enrages Wade, who ends up sucker-punching Otis and then shooting up the bar.

In a completely separate place in the movie Sam is talking to a jail inmate who is tidying his office, pointing out that if the inmate quit growing loco weed he would get more fresh air. The inmate mentions that Buddy had arrested him years before for having a still. “I wouldn’t think he’d bother with that,” Sam says. “He was afraid I’d poison people,” the inmate says. Then the inmate talks about what a wonderful person Sam’s mother was – she gave him the nicest lunches when he was building their patio. “Better than what they gave us here in the jail,” he adds. There’s a little pause and then Sam says “You worked on our patio while you were doing time?” Sure, the inmate says, it was much better than sitting in jail.

See what Sayles did there?

Buddy Deeds was actually quite corrupt, in ways that parallel the ways his predecessor was corrupt, and yet, Charlie Wade was so horrendous that Buddy seemed like a great guy in comparison. Or, to look at it another way, Buddy was quite corrupt but he was also a good sheriff in many ways. Or both. It’s left open.



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

Tuğçe Albayrak

Nov 29th, 2014 11:09 am | By

I saw this via Tehmina Kazi…and I can’t bear it. I can’t stand this one.

The Independent reports:

Thousands of people have joined silent vigils across Germany to pay tribute to a student who was beaten to death after stopping a group of men harassing two women.

Tugce Albayrak, 22, intervened when she heard the women screaming for help in a restaurant toilet in the city of Offenbach on 15 November.

But later, in the car park, she was brutally attacked with a bat by one of the men and left with critical head injuries, theSuddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Her parents made the decision to switch off her life support on Friday after doctors told them she would never regain consciousness and declared her brain dead. It was her 23rd birthday.

Tugce, who was of Turkish descent, is being hailed as a hero across Germany, with thousands of people joining candlelit vigils in her honour outside the restaurant where she confronted the attackers and around the country.

Fuck. It’s breaking my heart.

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

Secrets and lies

Nov 29th, 2014 10:59 am | By

The whole interview with Chris Boyce is on the CBC website.

There’s one clear discrepancy between his account and that of other people. He says he asked people who worked with Ghomeshi if they had anything more to report, and to tell him about it. The Fifth Estate people (see what I mean about awkward?) polled all those people to ask if Boyce had asked them that and every single one said no, there was nothing like that at all.

So…yes, it’s all too reminiscent of the way the JREF and DJ Grothe and even James Randi dealt with reports of sexual harassment and even rape. Silencing and lies.

And it’s in the same cause – the protection of popular Star men, and the organization’s ability to profit from the popularity of the Star men.

It’s all too familiar.

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

He said he didn’t do it

Nov 29th, 2014 10:38 am | By

The CBC show The Fifth Estate last night was about…Jian Ghomeshi.

Imagine the awkwardness! Ghomeshi was a CBC star, his show was a CBC show, his bosses were CBC bosses, the institution that fired him was the CBC, the institution that didn’t fire him sooner was the CBC – and there was Gillian Findlay on The Fifth Estate discussing the whole mess.

It makes for a fascinating program, which is frequently squirmy to watch. The Executive Director of CBC radio, Chris Boyce, is deeply uncomfortable to watch. He’s also terribly familiar. There are so many echoes in this whole show, and especially in what Boyce says. Findlay asks him why he didn’t act sooner, and he says with great earnestness: “Jian told me he didn’t do it.”

Did it really not occur to him that Ghomeshi might be saying he didn’t do it because he preferred not to deal with the consequences of being known to have done it? Did he really think that if Jian said he didn’t do it that meant he in fact didn’t do it? Was he really not aware that Jian had an obvious motivation for telling his boss that he didn’t do it?

But at the same time, it sounds so familiar. Have we not all heard it a thousand times over the past year and a half or so.

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