Pack it out

Jul 7th, 2024 4:09 am | By

In a colder place, Sherpas are picking up garbage left on Mount Everest by climbers. There’s a lot of it.

The highest camp on the world’s tallest mountain is littered with garbage that is going to take years to clean up, according to a Sherpa who led a team that worked to clear trash and dig up dead bodies frozen for years near Mount Everest’s peak.

The Nepal government-funded team of soldiers and Sherpas removed 11 tons (24,000 pounds) of garbage, four dead bodies and a skeleton from Everest during this year’s climbing season.

But there are maybe 40 to 50 tons left.

Since the peak was first conquered in 1953, thousands of climbers have scaled it and many have left behind more than just their footprints.

I hate that “conquered” trope. It’s so stupid and so pointlessly aggressive. Why can’t the word just be “climbed”?

Of the 11 tons of garbage removed, three tons of decomposable items were taken to villages near Everest’s base and the remaining eight were carried by porters and yaks and then taken by trucks to Kathmandu. There it was sorted for recycling at a facility operated by Agni Ventures, an agency that manages recyclable waste.

Nice of all those “conquerors” to leave all that crap on other people’s mountain.

Why do climbers leave garbage behind?

“At that high altitude, life is very difficult and oxygen is very low. So climbers and their helpers are more focused on saving themselves,” Khadga said.

Then don’t go. If you can’t climb the mountain without leaving all your garbage behind, then don’t climb the mountain. Nobody needs you to climb the mountain, so don’t.

By the way its name is not Everest, it’s Chomolungma.



Take the conditions seriously

Jul 7th, 2024 3:54 am | By

It’s warm over here on the west coast.

Extreme heat continues to inflict wide swaths of the U.S. This weekend, the brunt of the hot temperatures is falling on the West Coast and parts of the East Coast.

Afflict, not inflict.

In total, over 132 million people were under some form of a heat warning as of Saturday evening, according to Heat.gov. “These conditions will be extremely dangerous and potentially deadly if not taken seriously,” the National Weather Service said on Saturday.

Human-caused climate change is fueling longer and more intense heat waves, and making dangerously high temperatures more common.

And even now, after all this time to get familiar with hot weather, Seattle people don’t understand air conditioning. Grocery stores still fasten their doors open when it gets hot. I don’t have enough eye rolls to deal with it.



A tale of four secretaries

Jul 6th, 2024 4:46 pm | By

Top left David Lammy:

It’s probably the case that trans women don’t have ovaries but a cervix, I understand, is something you can have following various procedures and hormone treatments.

Top right Lisa Nandy:

Q: Should child rapist Christopher Worton be housed in a women’s jail now he identifies as a woman?

A: I think trans women are women and they should be accommodated in a prison of their choosing.

Bottom left Louise Haigh:

I fully support introducing self-declaration [when a man legally becomes a woman because he has said he is a woman.]

Bottom right Bridget Phillipson:

Q: Say I’m a male ‘trans woman’. Where do I go to the toilet?

A: If you’ve gone through the process of recognition – the female toilets.

The process of recognition – that should be the name of a pub.



More whats?

Jul 6th, 2024 10:57 am | By

But what do they mean?

After yesterday’s election, there are more women MPs in our Parliament than ever before. It’s an historic moment, but the work has only just begun.

There is a huge opportunity for this new critical mass to work together, across party lines, to improve the lives of women across the country. 

Drawing on inspiration from the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Senedd and the Scottish Parliament, the Fawcett Society will shortly convene all women MPs to facilitate the launching of a powerful women’s caucus.

Cool, but do they mean women, or women plus men who call themselves women?

It does make a difference.

Jemima Olchawski, CEO of the Fawcett Society, said:

“Thanks to the hard work of organisations working to change the culture of politics, there are more women in the House of Commons than ever before. But this won’t mean anything unless they deliver real change for women across the country. 

We need women to come together across parties to deliver reform that makes a tangible difference. With women still taking home £574 less than men per month, sexual harassment rife in our workplaces and so much harm done to women by public services, the need has never been more urgent. Fawcett will facilitate this cross-party working by convening women MPs to organise the caucus.” 

It also won’t mean anything if it turns out that by “women” they mean women and men who call themselves women.



The real ones?

Jul 6th, 2024 9:31 am | By

Good news.

Oh but wait.

Does she actually mean women?

So many people are asking.



Surprisingly silent

Jul 6th, 2024 9:05 am | By

Neil Gaiman accused:

Bestselling writer Neil Gaiman has strongly denied allegations of “non-consensual sex” and “sexual assault” reported in a Tortoise investigation led by Rachel Johnson.

Neither of Neil Gaiman’s UK publishers ha[s] responded to requests for comment following the reports. The allegations are explored in a four-part podcast, “Master: The Allegations against Neil Gaiman”. 

Roz Kaveney, friend of Neil Gaiman since the 1980s, and so, so proud of it, and Laurie Penny, who did a sycophantic interview with Gaiman in 2013, are both surprisingly silent on the recent (horrific) allegations of rape and sadistic violence by him against young, vulnerable women.

We live in interesting times. Women who say men are not women get flayed while men accused of rape and sadistic violence get ignored.

H/t Mostly Cloudy.



What it meant

Jul 6th, 2024 8:02 am | By

The Daily Beast on the Total Immunity threat:

When the Supreme Court declared presidents immune from prosecution for their official acts Monday, one man immediately feared what it meant: Donald Trump’s fixer-turned-nemesis, Michael Cohen.

We all immediately feared what it meant. The horror of it is all too obvious.

But quibbling aside, he does have a specific point.

Cohen is the only person summarily jailed by Trump, an experience he says awaits many more people if the Republican candidate wins in November.

Cohen admitted in December 2018 that he lied to Congress and paid illegal hush money to Stormy Daniels, and began a three-year sentence in May 2019. A year later he was granted early release from prison under arrangements to reduce the number of federal prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But he also happened to have a tell-all book—full of lurid details and one which he had heavily signaled would be damaging to Trump—coming out in September of that year.

It was that July he was presented with new early release conditions, reproduced today by The Daily Beast. At first, the release forms seemed straightforward. But after the formal procedures about Cohen having to subject himself to home monitoring and other conditions federal inmates agree to, there was something fishy.

The first red flag was the absence of a serial number in the top left corner. Then came language that, in effect, made waiving Cohen’s First Amendment rights a condition of his release.

In the Federal Location Monitoring Program Participant Agreement form he was told there could be, “No engagement of any kind with the media, including print, TV, film, books, or any other form of media/news… Prohibition from all social media platforms… No posting on social media and a requirement that you communicate with friends and family to exercise discretion in not posting on your behalf or posting any information about you. The purpose is to avoid glamorizing or bringing publicity to your status as a sentenced inmate serving a custodial term in the community.”

It was in effect a gagging order courtesy of the Department of Justice—and Cohen believes it came direct from Trump.

He believes that the documents offer an insight into how Trump could silence his political opponents by making them sign away their First Amendment rights as a condition of release.

Cohen refused to sign, sued, and spent 15 days in federal custody before a federal judge described the papers as an act of “retaliation,” and freed Cohen.

So, that’s interesting.



W & E

Jul 6th, 2024 7:50 am | By

People are waiting impatiently for Starmer to name his Minister for Women and Equalities.

Many are saying by rights it should be Rosie Duffield.

More likely it will be India Willoughby.



But a Defiant Speech is beside the point

Jul 5th, 2024 5:41 pm | By

Ugh. Speaking of that whole issue of competence versus politics…defiance and “grit” and determination aren’t always or necessarily virtues.

US President Joe Biden vowed to stay the course in his re-election bid and defeat Donald Trump in a defiant speech on Friday, as questions continue to swirl over whether he will drop out of the race.

At a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, the 81-year-old acknowledged his disastrous performance in last week’s CNN debate. “Ever since then, there’s been a lot of speculation. What’s Joe going to do?” he told the crowd. “Here’s my answer. I am running and going to win again,” Mr Biden said, as supporters in the crucial battleground state cheered his name. It marked his latest commitment to staying in the race as he seeks to defuse a political crisis that has snowballed in recent days.

Blah blah blah. And then he put on a surge of speed and crossed the finishing line, and then she took a deep breath and danced en pointe despite her broken ankle, and then they wiped away their tears and told their mother they had no idea where the baby had gone.

We get it. It’s a Frank Capra movie. It’s every Frank Capra movie. It’s a feel-good story. It’s not, however, a guide to what’s the right thing to do in every situation. Biden can be defiant all he likes but if he’s not in fact physically or mentally up to the job, if he’s neither physically nor mentally up to the job, all the Hollywoody defiance in the world isn’t going to change that.

The 17-minute speech, which was more energetic than his widely-panned performance on the debate stage, comes at a critical moment for his campaign, with donors and Democratic allies considering whether to stick with him.

I hate to break it to us but one 17-minute speech isn’t going to be the most he ever has to do in a second term.

“I see all these stories that say I’m too old,” Mr Biden said at the rally, before triumphing his record in the White House. “Was I too old to create 15 million jobs?” he said. “Was I too old to erase student debt for five million Americans?”

That’s a stupid question. It evades the point. Is he too old to stop evading the point? I don’t know, but he’s determined to keep doing it.

“Do you think I’m too old to beat Donald Trump?” he asked, as the crowd responded “no”.

Yes, I do. I don’t want to think that, I sure as hell don’t want it to be the case, but I can’t determine realities with the power of thought. I think this whole thing is a huge disaster.



Oh that Lexi

Jul 5th, 2024 4:01 pm | By

Such a fine young man.

So it turns out that that Lexi Bowen was just convicted of rape? Why yes, as the BBC reported (badly, evasively) just a couple of days ago. I objected to its distortions at the time. I’m glad I’m not the only one.



A long line of god-ignorers

Jul 5th, 2024 10:33 am | By

Humanists UK on the long history of godless Prime Ministers:

In the run-up to the general election, several newspapers published stories saying that Keir Starmer would be the UK’s ‘first atheist Prime Minister’ – but as Humanists UK pointed out at the time, that simply was not true! As a non-religious person with a belief in ‘irreducible human dignity’ (as he put it to a recent biographer), Sir Keir is only the latest in a long line of non-religious and humanist heads of government in the UK.

I’m envious. It’s decidedly not the case over here in The Colonies.

Prior to becoming the first ever Labour Prime Minister in 1929, Ramsay MacDonald was the Chair (sometimes ‘President’) of Humanists UK, in 1902 and 1904. Although [he is] sometimes remembered, even by biographers, for his early religiosity, MacDonald’s views changed significantly with age – starting off strict Calvinist, then Church of Scotland, before later giving sermons that were non-committal about the existence of god as a Unitarian, and then being drawn into the British Ethical Culture movement and the London Ethical Societies that together merged to become today’s Humanists UK.

Although a controversial figure for making political compromises and forced to implement austerity measures once in office, MacDonald is significant in history for being one of the earliest examples of an explicitly humanist Prime Minister. The fact that this is often left out of histories is a great example of a pattern in historical writing that the Humanist Heritage project was set up to challenge and redress.

Humans have a very conspicuous advantage over this putative “God” person: humans can be talked to, argued with, held to account. “God”? Not so much. Postulating a magic being undetectable to human senses who made and controls everything but can’t be personally confronted is a pretty reckless way to run a planet.

I’m surprised to see Churchill in the list. I don’t think I knew that.

Churchill was an agnostic atheist whose writings to friends evinced a deep personal dislike of Christianity. In one letter he said ‘I do not accept the Christian or any other form of religious belief.’ In common with the German communist philosopher Karl Marx, he likened religion to a drug, calling it a ‘dangerous narcotic’. He was no secularist, saying of the state Anglican church that he ‘supported it from the outside’.

Keeps the plebs in line wot wot.

Clement Attlee was a politician whose socialist and humanist values underpinned a commitment to implementing sweeping reforms in social welfare. Described by historian R.C. Whiting as an ‘unobtrusive atheist,’ Attlee believed in ‘ethics’ without ‘mumbo-jumbo’, and earned a reputation as a principled, decisive, yet modest politician.

Despite being a heathen.



Guest post: We are electing an administration

Jul 5th, 2024 7:55 am | By

Originally a comment by Sackbut on Look how energizzzzzzzz.

Kevin Drum raised an interesting point on his blog. He began by expressing some sympathy for the Republicans who don’t like Trump, but nonetheless feel compelled to vote for him. Drum then muses about what it would take for him to vote for the Republican candidate for president (not specifically Trump, just in general).

At least one commenter noted that we aren’t just electing a president, we are electing an administration. The people appointed and hired by the president and those around him matter as much as the president. And they almost always come from one political party, that of the president. Given this, and even absent the aberration that is Trumpism, I cannot conceive of a situation where I’d vote to give the Republican Party the administration. The goals and aims of the Republicans are contrary to what I think is reasonable. I am much more aligned with the positions of the Democratic Party, and would vote to give them the power to create an administration, even if I didn’t care for the candidate.

Trump and his followers have gravely damaged the Republican Party, but I expect there are many Republican voters who nonetheless want their party to be in charge of the administration, and will vote for the Republican candidate, even if that candidate is as awful as Trump.

It is of course the case that the election will not be decided by people like me or that hypothetical Republican who values which party is forming the administration, but rather by people who are open to voting for the other party. Personally, I’d hope that people who might vote Republican can see how terrible the Republicans have become under the influence of Trump and his followers, and they might vote, if not so much for the Democratic Party, at least against Trumpism. But it is more likely voters will vote for or against Biden or Trump, rather than for a party.

If the Democratic Party were to undergo a transformation as macabre as what’s happened to the Republican Party in recent years, maybe I’d vote against them. I still can’t see voting for the Republicans, though.

I voted once for a Republican for a top office, William Weld for Governor of Massachusetts, against the conservative Democratic candidate John Silber. I don’t think I’d make the same choice now.



He’ll always have the toilets

Jul 5th, 2024 5:17 am | By

Remember “Sophie Molly”? From The Scotsman a few weeks ago:

parliamentary candidate for the Scottish Greens has defended calling JK Rowling a “torn-faced cow” on social media.

Sophie Molly, a trans woman who is standing in Gordon and Buchan at the general election, said she stood by the comment. Ms Rowling highlighted the insult after becoming embroiled in a row with Ms Molly on X over the weekend.

The Greens hopeful criticised a book the author has contributed to called The Women Who Wouldn’t Wheesht, which includes essays from a range of women who have been critical of the impact of trans issues on women’s sex-based rights. It was co-edited by Susan Dalgety, a columnist for The Scotsman, and will be published on May 30.

That guy.

He didn’t do very well.

He did grab himself some fun on the way to losing though.



Designed to prove

Jul 5th, 2024 4:27 am | By

Sigh.

Nothing more than a bad night, eh? So we can be very sure it will never happen again? Even though it’s clearly been happening a lot, and getting worse? Even though we all know the arrow of time does not reverse course?

And then there’s the headline saying he stumbled over his words.

We’re doomed.



Look how enerzzzzzzzzz

Jul 4th, 2024 2:36 pm | By

There’s nothing to worry about, it’s just that he gets exhausted and needs a lot of sleep.

Questions about Biden’s fitness for office and ability to seek a second term have swirled since his stunningly halting debate performance at last week’s CNN presidential debate.

CNN reported Thursday that Biden privately acknowledged to an ally earlier this week that the next stretch of days are critical as to whether he can save his reelection bid. The White House and campaign have insisted the president is not considering ending his campaign.

Asked about concerns about Biden’s age, top advisers have repeatedly and emphatically cited his aggressive schedules during international travel as examples of his vitality and capacity to do the job at 81.

The president’s new explanation this week that he performed badly at the debate this week because of the grueling foreign travel before the debate – despite having had nearly two weeks back in the states before facing off against Donald Trump – has undercut that argument.

Just a tad!

It will be fine, look how energetic he is, he dashes off to Europe and then comes back again, also he’s wiped and needs a lot of sleep and has to stop working no later than 8 p.m.

It will be fine!



Fiat justitia ruat caelum

Jul 4th, 2024 2:17 pm | By

All RIGHT.

Very very good news.


His plan going forward

Jul 4th, 2024 1:04 pm | By

Ah. Yes, that’s the way to convince everyone that you’re the right choice for the grueling job – tell us you need more sleep and won’t be available after 8 pm. That’s very good, because there are never emergencies when presidents have to stay up late and deal with shit.

President Joe Biden told Democratic governors during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday that part of his plan going forward is to stop scheduling events after 8 p.m. so that he can get more sleep, according to three sources briefed on his comments.

Yeah, see, Joe, that was part of the issue all along. That’s always why it’s been tacitly understood that presidents over the age of 80 (or 70 or 65) would not be ideal. Reagan went doddery in office. It’s a risk.

The remarks, first reported by The New York Times, came as the 81-year-old Biden sought to reassure a group of more than 20 state leaders about his ability to defeat former President Donald Trump in November and govern effectively for another four years.

Pause for harsh bitter laughter. Yeah thanks Joe that’s not reassuring.

Biden’s comment during Wednesday’s meeting left several of the governors in the room frustrated, sources told CNN, and is one of the reasons that some of the participants have been rankled by the statement of loyalty and enthusiasm from them distributed by the Biden campaign on Thursday.

Oh great. They’re telling us Biden has to go to bed at 8 and they’re lying about how the governors responded. Brilliant.

We’re so screwed.



Body positivity

Jul 4th, 2024 7:43 am | By

Oh that was a body positivity campaign was it? I didn’t realize.

Their fans are well accustomed to seeing Team GB’s women’s Olympic rugby players assert their prowess on the pitch. They are less accustomed, however, to seeing them in lingerie. 

Faced with a stiff training session ahead of the impending Olympic Games, the last thing sports aficionados would expect to encounter is these accomplished athletes practicing their moves in a series of racy lace bras, knickers, teddies and suspenders. Where were their sports bras? In fact, where were their clothes?

For this particular training session at Richmond Rugby Club in south west London, the women’s usual kit was very much surplus to requirements. Team GB members Ellie Boatman, Celia Quansah and Jasmine Joyce were training in rather unusual circumstances, their every move captured on camera by Bluebella, the London-based lingerie brand whose underwear they were modelling in the shoot.

Released this week, the images are part of Bluebella’s ‘Strong Is Beautiful’ campaign, an initiative first launched in 2016 with the aim of encouraging teenage girls not to drop out of sport. 

Well, maybe, but also, and primarily, with the aim of encouraging teenage girls to buy Bluebella’s sexualized underwear.

According to a statement by Bluebella, the campaign’s rationale is “to encourage girls to be proud of their bodies and keep playing team sports. To emphasize their point, the athletes posed in body revealing lingerie for an impromptu training session.” 

But it’s primarily to sell the merchandise. This is a for-profit enterprise we’re talking about here, not a feminist organization.

But if the brand’s intentions were good, it rapidly transpired that the campaign had scored something of an own goal. 

Come on now. Are we pretending the underwear sellers never had the faintest clue that anyone would see the photos as insulting? Are we pretending that never crossed their minds? Get serious.

Maybe I have to be blunt. The underwear in the photos is not just underwear. It’s highly sexualized – it’s meant to make viewers see the women as fuck toys. Practical underwear is practical; lacy strappy tiny transparent bits of lace decorating drawing attention to the breasts and crotch are not practical.

While it’s not unusual for male athletes to star in underwear campaigns, these are usually shot in a studio, not during a training session. His nickname might be ‘Goldenballs’, but David Beckham has never been photographed on a football pitch, kicking a ball in nothing but a pair of designer boxer shorts.

Let alone a pair of designer boxer shorts the size of a postage stamp and made of lace.

For the broadcaster and former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies MBE, the campaign is problematic in a number of ways. “If we’re trying to encourage young girls of all shapes and sizes to be involved in sport, it’s a regressive move to suggest they have to be ‘sexy’ at the same time as doing said sport,” she tells The Telegraph. “We wouldn’t do this to young boys.”

Duh. Wouldn’t you think that’s obvious? Even if the people of Bluebella aren’t feministically-inclined surely it could have occurred to them that men don’t do rugby ads wearing bikini pants and nothing else so why are we doing it this way with women?

The campaign has also been met with ire by Women in Sport, the charity whose research that over half of secondary schoolgirls (64 per cent) drop out of all sport before the age of 16 due to body insecurities was quoted by Bluebella in a press release.

“We’re very uncomfortable that we have been mentioned in this campaign without our knowledge, as this is not the way we would want our statistics to be applied,” says Women in Sport CEO, Stephanie Hilborne. “We urge the brand to reconsider its approach to this campaign.”

Girls drop out of sport due to body insecurities so let’s make them feel even more body insecure. Good thinking.



Gender-affirming surgeries for the nursery school set

Jul 4th, 2024 6:11 am | By

MSN reports:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has issued a rare rebuke against President Joe Biden after his administration recently stated its belief that gender-affirming surgeries should only be for adults. While transgender children rarely undergo such procedures, HRC said such decisions should be left between families and medical professionals rather than politicians.

While the nature and reality or lack thereof of “gender affirmation” of course should be left up to the “Human Rights” Campaign.

The Biden administration has repeatedly expressed support for the right of trans youth to access gender-affirming care. However, the White House said, “The Administration does not support surgery for minors,” after Fox News and The New York Times both reported on efforts by Adm. Rachel Levine, the out trans assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to get the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) to drop its minimum age recommendations for different types of gender-affirming healthcare, including surgeries.

The Biden administration is happy to encourage “trans youth” to ruin their bodies and lives in general but it hits the brakes when it comes to cutting off the dicks.

H/t Blood Knight



Academics campaign against research

Jul 3rd, 2024 11:43 am | By

So much for “higher” education.

Academics have condemned the University and College Union’s decision to campaign against a widely praised independent review into NHS treatment for gender-questioning children, claiming its position is “anti-scientific” and could expose researchers to harassment.

The outcry follows the unanimous vote by the UCU’s national executive committee to adopt a motion which claims that the landmark Cass Review into gender identity services for young people, published in April, “falls short of the standard of rigorous and ethical research expected of research professionals” and “provides no evidence for the ‘new approach’ it recommends”.

Which being interpreted means “we don’t like it.”

The 388-page report by Hilary Cass, a former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, has been hailed as the most extensive and thorough examination of evidence relating to medical care for gender-dysphoric children.

Well, ok, yes, extensive, and thorough, but…er…still not good enough.

[T]he UCU motion – which was remitted from the union’s congress in May due to an industrial dispute – claims the report has “serious methodological flaws” and is defined by its “selective use of evidence and promotion of unevidenced claims”.

The motion asks the union to “commit to working with trans-led organisations to resist the Cass Report recommendations”.

That stance has been criticised by several union members. On X, one academic said the union’s position was now essentially “researchers against research”, a view echoed by others, one of whom questioned the wisdom of having an “academic union campaigning against research”.

Ok look. It’s like this. It isn’t about research. It’s about commitment. It’s about loyalty. It’s about solidarity. The holy dogma that Trans People Are What They Say They Are is just that: holy dogma. No amount of research can contradict holy dogma, because research is not holy.

Using a union motion to argue against a lengthy and detailed report was also unwise, suggested Alice Sullivan, professor of sociology at UCL. “The notion that the way to counter a scientific report is to vote against it shows a total lack of comprehension of the scientific method. It is sad to see a union which is supposed to represent academics opposing evidence-based medicine,” she said.

The union has shifted from representing academics to representing adherents of a dogma. They’re a small-scale Vatican.

A UCU spokesperson said the union was “an unequivocal supporter of trans rights, a position established and repeatedly endorsed by our annual congress”.

“This motion was brought by our members after listening to concerns about the Cass report from the trans community, including LGBTQ charities such as Mermaids and Stonewall.

“Our union will proudly work with trans-led organisations to resist any recommendations that could harm young trans people and will pressure the government for an approach to trans healthcare that affirms and centres the trans community.”

There you go. They come right out and say it. Their union will ignore or trash research and simply plough ahead with “affirming” and “centering” the “trans communinny.” Scholarship is entirely beside the point.