Be kind of obsessed

Mar 28th, 2024 3:34 pm | By

Victoria Smith aka Glosswitch takes on the bros who pride themselves on their top class rationality. She starts with Freddie de Boer and moves on to Jon Ronson and Adam Buxton who discussed

how a “mutual friend” of theirs (Graham Linehan) had become “kind of obsessed” with the issue, which they didn’t see fit to examine themselves. The intimation was that it was all a little bit mad and unseemly. Why would anyone get obsessed with that? Isn’t it funny how people go down those rabbit holes? You’d never catch either of them doing that. Anyhow, Ronson did think about the issue once and decided it would be mean to think about it again. 

And in doing so he decided that women don’t matter and that men who stick up for women are weird.

It’s tricky for these men, Smith points out, because their split the difference approach entails ignoring a lot of very obvious bullshit. It’s uncomfortable doing that; it feels itchy, or scrapey, or pully.

For those whose brand values — rationality! curiosity! scepticism! — are quite incompatible with any serious engagement with what has been happening, it has been necessary to portray it as a “culture war” between two equally extremist sides.

Yeah, so? Isn’t that what it is?

No. It fucking is not.

Both sides have to be treated as though they are equally irrational, in order to make it possible for self-styled voices of reason to shake their heads and performatively muse on what drives perfectly ordinary people to adopt such ludicrously polarised positions. Can’t they find some middle ground? Like, experiment on half the number of kids? Let uterus havers and bleeders call themselves adult human females every other Tuesday?

I do love her writing. I’m kind of an extremist about it.

Read the whole thing.

Flying Bats FC won every match

Mar 28th, 2024 8:40 am | By

More on “women’s” football in New South Wales:

A women’s football competition has been branded “misogynist” after it was won by a team featuring five transgender [male] players amid accusations one had broken an opponents’ leg in two places.

Flying Bats FC won every match they played during the four-week Beryl Ackroyd Cup, including a 10-0 victory in which one of their trans players scored a double hat-trick.

Since winning [Flying Bats FC won] Sunday’s final in Sydney, Australia, 4-0, it has emerged [that] organisers had earlier held a crisis meeting, during which rival teams were warned forfeiting games against the Bats would result in disciplinary action and could even be viewed as “an act of discrimination”.

This thing is incredibly badly written, but I think we can detect the facts through the fog.

The same meeting included accusations a 6ft 2in, 14st Bats player had once broken the leg of 5ft 6in, nine-and-a-half stone opponent in two places and claims 24 of the injured player’s team-mates had quit because they did not want to face the LGBTQ+ side.

The what? A women’s football team doesn’t become “the LGBTQ+ side” by replacing 5 women with 5 men. The female players quit because they did not want to get smashed up by men.

The president of the Flying Bats, which boasts of being “the biggest LGBTQIA+ women’s and non-binary football club in the world”, told Daily Mail Australia trans women had been playing for them for at least two decades.

Yeah see that’s beside the point. Endangering and injuring women doesn’t become ok because you’ve been doing it for a long time. Same goes for trashing women’s sports.

Jennifer Peden said: “As a club, the Flying Bats FC stand strongly for inclusion, and pride ourselves on safe, respectful and fair play, the promotion of a supportive community for LGBTQIA+ players, officials and supporters, and the significant physical, social and mental health benefits that participation in sport brings, especially to marginalised members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We are a club that values our cisgender and transgender players equally.”

As a club, the Flying Bats FC stand strongly for letting men take over women’s sports, and physically injure women in the process. Rah rah.

To extend the definition of “woman”

Mar 28th, 2024 8:20 am | By

Bad lying dishonest deceptive evasive manipulative “reporting” continues:

The UK’s first transgender judge is seeking leave to join the litigation in a crucial supreme court case that could significantly affect legal protections for transgender women, the Guardian has learned.

Terrible lede. Deliberately omits the most vital piece of information. This is a man who is trying to steal women’s rights for himself.

Victoria McCloud, a senior civil judge who became the youngest person appointed as master of the high court in 2010, will make an application to intervene in the supreme court appeal brought by the campaign group For Women Scotland about the legal definition of “woman”. Interveners can put a case without being among the main parties to the litigation.

And male judges who pretend to be women can use their power to trash women’s rights further.

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 has been the subject of a long-running court action by the group, which most recently resulted in a ruling by Lady Haldane at the court of session that it was lawful to extend the definition of “woman” to transgender women with a gender recognition certificate.

Great. Just fill the public boards with men who call themselves women then. You can get away with having no women on the boards at all! It’s magical!

McCloud, who transitioned in the late 1990s and subsequently changed her legal sex under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, is supported in her application by the Good Law Project.

Of course he fucking is. He and Jolyon are probably besties.

An attempt to burnish the kingdom’s image

Mar 28th, 2024 6:39 am | By

Speaking of brazenly unapologetically insulting women –

UN picks Saudi Arabia to lead women’s rights forum

Hello, UN? Define “women’s rights” for us.

Saudi Arabia has been chosen as the chair of the UN commission that is supposed to promote gender equality and empower women around the world, after an unopposed bid for leadership condemned by human rights groups because of the kingdom’s “abysmal” record on women’s rights.

The Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdulaziz Alwasil, was elected as chair of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), by “acclamation” on Wednesday, as there were no rival candidates and no dissent at the CSW’s annual meeting in New York.

Normally a country holds the chair for two years, but the Philippines was put under pressure from other members of the Asia group to split its tenure and pass the post on to another country after one year. Bangladesh was expected to take over but late in the process, Saudi Arabia stepped in and lobbied for the chair, in what is widely seen as an attempt to burnish the kingdom’s image.

At the expense of…?

Oh yes, women. Ok that’s fine then.

The Saudi mission to the UN did not respond to a request for comment, but Saudi officials have pointed to a “personal status” law established in 2022 as evidence of progress in women’s rights.

However, the law stipulates that a woman has to obtain a male guardian’s permission to marry. Under the law, a wife has to obey her husband in a “reasonable manner”, while her husband’s financial support is dependent on the wife’s “obedience”.

Refusal to have sex with her husband, live in the marital home or travel with him without a “legitimate excuse” can also justify the withdrawal of financial support under the law. Amnesty International said a leaked draft of a forthcoming new penal code “fails to protect women and girls from all forms of gender-based violence”.

“Saudi Arabia’s election as chair of the UN Commission on the Status of Women shows shocking disregard for women’s rights everywhere,” Louis Charbonneau, UN director at the Human Rights Watch (HRW), said.

It’s not even disregard, it’s in your face contempt and sadism.

I wonder why they win all their games

Mar 28th, 2024 6:17 am | By

Golly gee, I wonder what’s going on here.

The Flying Bats won the pre-season final last weekend 4-0. On their way to the final they won all their games including a 10-0 win. Five of the Flying Bats team are trans-women.

A “lesbian” soccer team with five player who are MEN.

Ava Rose Folan won

Mar 27th, 2024 5:11 pm | By

Yet another.

The new law gives few assurances

Mar 27th, 2024 12:53 pm | By

I read Lucy Hunter Blackburn on the hate crime bill a day or two ago but not as anxiously as I did just now. Since the new law will apparently apply to anyone anywhere, the sitch is worse than I realized.

The new law gives few assurances for protecting freedom of speech: there’s a small caveat for religion, but not for what have become known as gender-critical beliefs. Those who campaign against gender self-ID fear they will soon be reported to the police. Joanna Cherry KC, a Scottish Nationalist MP, has said she has ‘no doubt’ that the law ‘will be weaponised by trans rights activists to try to silence, and worse still, criminalise women who do not share their beliefs’.

And the women in question don’t have to be Scots or in Scotland.

The law doesn’t just apply to social media posts or newspaper articles. It covers anything said anywhere – even in your own home. Children will in theory be able to report their parents. Scots can inform on each other anonymously, through an expanded network of ‘third-party reporting centres’. The list of centres includes a striking number of university campuses, as well as a Glasgow sex shop and a North Berwick mushroom farm.

It will not be deemed abusive to engage ‘solely’ in ‘discussion or criticism’ about age or any of the other new entries on the list. It is expressly permitted to voice ‘antipathy, dislike, ridicule or insult’ for religion, but – pointedly – not for the other categories on the list. So what if you ridicule police who refer to male rapists as women? That’s anyone’s guess.

And if it’s anyone’s guess…well what if we guess wrong? What if we’re too optimistic?

The way the law will be enforced will come down to police guidance, which remains secret. We have had anxious hints, leaks and whispers from frontline officers who have their own concerns about what lies ahead. The main training resource is a two-hour online course which is ‘not fit for purpose’ according to David Kennedy, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation. ‘We are asking officers to police a law that they are unprepared for,’ he says. ‘That’s where mistakes will happen.’ He regards the whole project as ‘a recipe for disaster’. One of the leaks from Police Scotland training shows that comics and actors may be in trouble. The guidance tells officers that ‘threatening and abusive’ material can be communicated ‘through public performance of a play’.

Last week, Police Scotland promised Murray Blackburn Mackenzie, the group of policy analysts to which I belong, that we could see the core training package before 1 April. This viewing has been pushed back until after the Act is in force. The country is, even now, still in the dark.

So there’s this law, that will empower cops to arrest people and make their lives hell, and the particulars are being kept secret until after it’s in force.

efore the law was passed, Yousaf promised critics that he would at least give them some input into the post-legislation process. ‘We are in listening mode,’ he said. He shamelessly and unapologetically broke his promise. The Scottish government has instead adopted a bunker approach and locked itself in a room with its allies.

So as far as anyone can tell, a person who is accused of hate speech, fairly or not, stands a good chance of being investigated by Scottish police. And even if their comment is judged not to be a crime, it is still recorded as a non-crime hate incident (NCHI). Police in England have been told to strike from the record complaints that are ‘trivial, irrational, or if there is no basis to conclude that an incident was motivated by hostility’. Twitter spats over gender are offered as an explicit example of what England’s police have no business getting involved in. There is no similar guidance in Scotland.

But! But! As we (or at least I) just learned, the Scottish law applies in England.

Things will go wrong with this Act, as is inevitable when there are attempts to crack down on a problem that is not properly defined. The odds are that clarity will be provided in the end by judges asked to balance Yousaf’s law against freedom of expression with the Human Rights Act. But this will take months, perhaps years.

And people will have been put through hell.

People across Scotland are now discussing whether they should be deleting their old WhatsApp chats, for fear they may be being dredged for evidence of ‘hate’ against a threshold which they have no confidence will always be applied ‘reasonably’.

But now we learn that people everywhere should be discussing that.

Guest post: You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride

Mar 27th, 2024 12:25 pm | By

Originally a comment by Screechy Monkey on Process as punishment.

There is apparently an expression among some law enforcement types that “you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.” Meaning that if cops decide to arrest you and drive you around in the back of their squad car for hours before processing you (typically so that it’s too late to arraign you until the next day and you have to spend the night in jail before you can get bail set), then you’re not getting that time and inconvenience back even if the charges are quickly dropped or dismissed.

This is also why I get so ranty about speech-restrictive laws being dangerous even when they’re supposedly only targeted at things that you don’t think deserve legal protection. They absolutely WILL be abused to harass people for things that are clearly protected, and the threat of this will chill people from doing perfectly legal things that they fear will piss off the wrong cop, prosecutor, etc.

It’s also analogous to many of the anti-abortion laws being passed in the wake of the Dobbs decision. “What are you so worried about,” ask Republicans, “this law specifically makes it an affirmative defense if the abortion was necessary to save the mother’s life!” Great, so if a doctor performs an abortion, then he or she will have an opportunity to try to persuade a jury that the exception applies and they shouldn’t be convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, and if it works, then all that will happen is that they’ll have spent months if not years awaiting trial, spent six or seven figures on legal fees, and probably had their practice suspended in the interim. That sounds like something that a prudent doctor would be willing to endure just to help one patient!

Tl;dr version: vague laws suck, and saying that judges or juries will eventually sort it out doesn’t cure the suckitude.

Process as punishment

Mar 27th, 2024 11:18 am | By

Wings Over Scotland:

Welcome, readers, to what may be the final week of Wings Over Scotland.

We’ve been covering the Scottish Government’s horrific, draconian Hate Crime Act for almost four years now. But until this month, we hadn’t felt directly under threat by it. Wings is – sorry if this comes as a shock to anyone – based in Bath, in England, and we couldn’t see how the Scottish police could come after us.

But then they were informed that Scottish law holds that anything on social media which can be read in Scotland is published in Scotland.

…then lawyer after lawyer queued up to support his interpretation, and we became alarmed. Along with JK RowlingFor Women Scotland and Murray Blackburn Mackenzie, it’s hard to think of anyone the transgender cult would rather bring down than Wings Over Scotland, and the Hate Crime Act puts that goal firmly in reach.

They would not have to achieve any sort of criminal conviction to do so. The point of the law, with its basically non-existent threshold for “hate”, is to terrorise those with views that are unpalatable to the Scottish Government out of voicing their opinions at all, via a method often called “process as punishment”.

Wings has already experienced the technique. In 2017, under a very similar law, I was subjected to a malicious, ridiculous allegation of “harassment” by a journalist whose work we’d critiqued, and arrested. I was dragged off to a police station, thrown in a cell, detained for 15 hours, and then released just before midnight, 10 miles from home in a remote and unfamiliar location with no money and no mobile phone, and told to make my own way back.

The police kept all his phones, tablets, laptops and desktops, so he had to spend several thousand pounds to replace them all.

And the purpose of the Hate Crime Act is to menace dissident voices with the prospect of being put through that more or less constantly.

Because no sooner would we have replaced one set of confiscated gear than another barrage of complaints would arrive from transactivists, another arrest and confiscation would follow, and the cycle would repeat until we either closed the site down or were swiftly bankrupt.

The principle is similar (in both method and its intended target) to that of the infamous 1913 Prisoners Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health Act, commonly referred to as the “Cat And Mouse Act”, which was deployed against the Suffragettes.

Just keep arresting people who have broken no law until they give up.

The object was to put women under relentless stress and keep them perpetually cycling in and out of prison in order to break their resistance. But in this case the heroic strength shown by the Suffragettes is not enough by itself to overcome the tactic, because neither we nor FWS nor MBM or any of Scotland’s other gender-critical voices have access to an infinite supply of money to keep buying new electronics.

(JK Rowling probably does, but the police aren’t going to be stupid enough to arrest her in a million years. Foul-mouthed oiks like Wings and working-class women like FWS are much easier targets, as we’ve already seen in the ludicrous cases of women like Jennifer Swayne and Marion Millar, arrested and dragged to court for stickers and ribbons. FWS have also been warned by Police Scotland that the phrase “Women Won’t Wheesht” might constitute a hate crime.)

All this for the sake of…penniless migrants? Refugees? Victims of racism? Women subject to violence? Workers? People with disabilities? Orphans? Victims of sex trafficking?

No. All this for men who enjoy pretending to be women.

And politicians aren’t immune. Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, who opposed the Act in a fine illustration of the “stopped clock” principle, revealed at the weekend that he now has a “Non-Crime Hate Incident” recorded against his name for saying “Choosing to identify as ‘non-binary’ is as valid as choosing to identify as a cat. I’m not sure governments should be spending time on action plans for either.”

Wings, therefore, after a few brief chats with lawyers, finds itself forced to seriously consider its position, and that means taking proper advice. We have commissioned, and await, a formal legal opinion from a very senior Scottish KC with expertise in the field about whether it’s safe for the site and its social media accounts to continue to exist, either in their current forms or some kind of censored ones.

It’s not clear to me how this works. Is the problem that Scotland has jurisdiction over Scots no matter where they are? Wings has to take proper advice because Rev. Stuart Campbell is from Scotland, so they can reach out and nab him even though he’s in Bath? Scotland has a special, peculiar to Scotland “hate crime” law but it gets to arrest people under that law even in England and Wales?

Maybe the Rev could change citizenship?

Widespread concern

Mar 27th, 2024 9:50 am | By

A new hate-crime law in Scotland causes widespread concern


Transgender identity is protected; biological sex is not

Thank you for noticing and saying. That’s so unusual. The BBC and the Guardian take great pains not to notice and not to say. They take such great, and conspicuous, pains that I’m pretty confident they know they’re doing it, that they do it with malice aforethought, that it’s not mere clumsiness or absence of mind or confusion.

Scotland already has an offence of “stirring up racial hatred”. From April it will become a crime to use “threatening or abusive” behaviour with the intention of stirring up hatred on the basis of other characteristics, too—namely religion, age, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity. 

But not sex. Not sex. Definitely not sex. Women are fair game. Stir up hatred of women all you like – it’s not as if women are subject to violence, now is it.

“Discussion or criticism” of protected characteristics is acceptable, and a carve-out has been made that allows Scots to voice “antipathy, dislike, ridicule or insult” for religion. But the carve-out does not apply to the other characteristics named under the law. And some characteristics are not covered by it at all, most obviously sex and non-religious beliefs. That explains why some of the law’s most vocal critics are women who argue that biological sex should take precedence over proclaimed gender identity in areas from sports competitions to changing rooms to prisons. Many of them believe the new law will be weaponised by trans-rights activists to try to silence them.

And we believe that for damn good reason. Trans activists never stop trying to silence women who know that men are not women.

Another concern centres on investigations that do not result in a prosecution. These are still recorded against the person’s name as a “non-crime hate incident” and may show up on safeguarding checks for job applications. On March 25th Murdo Fraser, a Conservative politician, threatened to take legal action against Police Scotland after a tweet of his criticising the Scottish government’s policy on non-binary people was logged as a “hate incident”, even though no law had been broken.

Hate of what? The Scottish government? Non-binary people? The weather? Sheep? Haggis?

You call that ethical?

Mar 27th, 2024 3:31 am | By

Always lead with the careful obfuscation.

Practical suggestions on how sports federations can be fair to transgender athletes

He means male “transgender” athletes of course, but he hides that in the usual way. He is one Andy Harvey, a former lecturer in sport science at Swansea University, writing for an outlet called Play the Game.

In the absence of robust scientific data, sports federations should take an ethical approach on how to include transgender athletes. Andy Harvey suggests developing benchmarks for tolerable unfairness and baselines for acceptable safety risks as a way to determine if transgender athletes should be included or not. 

That’s cool because the “tolerable” unfairness will have to be tolerated by women, not men. Obviously that’s an ethical approach. You may wonder why inclusion of men in women’s sports is more important and more “ethical” than fairness in women’s sports. I wonder too.

Transgender inclusion in sport is one of the more difficult issues facing international federations and national sports governing bodies. How transgender athletes can participate and compete in sports has become a vocal feature of the ‘culture wars’ that have ignited in many Western countries and elsewhere. 

Recently, I have participated in two conferences and one expert meeting on the topic and am convinced that sport’s rule makers need some assistance in working out how best to include trans athletes in their sports. This article sets out a brief guide to some of the relevant matters they should take into account when developing policy. 

Again, the careful deceit of saying “trans athletes” instead of “male athletes wanting to play women’s sports.” He admits it’s a “difficult issue” but carefully doesn’t say why it is.

There are good reasons why some sports are organised along separate sex/gender lines: as a population, men enjoy a physiological advantage over women for those sports that rely on strength, speed and power that would make mixed gender competitions untenable and unfair. Enabling women to compete against each other, rather than against men, leads to contests of greater fairness where participants have a chance of winning if they are good enough. 

Sex segregation has proven to be a powerful tool to expand participation in sports to include girls and women. However, the problem is that the world is not neatly divided up into binary categories of sex.

And there it is. He gives one whole paragraph to the admission that women need their own sports, and then moves on to the more interesting and gratifying business of explaining why it’s necessary to let men invade women’s sports anyway.

There’s a whole lot more, but nothing we don’t already know. It’s smug, insulting, manipulative; a cold, calculated “women don’t matter.”

Only 700

Mar 27th, 2024 2:38 am | By

Case dropped.

A government lawyer who faced legal action after expressing gender-critical views at work including commenting that only women menstruate has had the case against her dropped.

Elspeth Duemmer-Wrigley works for an arm’s-length body affiliated to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and was due to appear at a tribunal this week accused of harassment.

The claimant has now officially withdrawn all accusations against Duemmer-Wrigley, who is a chairwoman of a civil service network that represents staff with gender-critical views.

That is, a civil service network that represents staff who are aware that people can’t change sex. Weird that it needs a network; weird that there are apparently staff who think people can change sex.

The network has more than 700 civil servant members across 50 government departments who support the belief that biological sex is binary and immutable.

It’s not a belief though, it’s just a dull obvious fact.

They don’t mean the “dear” bit, do they

Mar 26th, 2024 4:17 pm | By

Is there an authoritative list of what we’re allowed to hate and what we’re not?

Are we allowed, for instance, to hate the trans ideology?

Are we allowed to hate misogyny? (That’s a pun of sorts, but it’s also what I mean. Are we allowed?)

Are we allowed to hate bad illiberal lawmaking?

Are we allowed to hate religions?

Are we allowed to hate tyrants?

Is it a hate crime to hate Donald Trump, and to say so, with details?

Is it a crime to hate Putin? Hamas? Netanyahu? Kim Jong Un?

Please advise.

Put a muzzle on him

Mar 26th, 2024 2:33 pm | By

But will they enforce it?

A New York judge on Tuesday issued a gag order barring Donald Trump from making public statements about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors in his upcoming hush-money criminal trial.

Judges have issued gag orders on Trump before, and he’s violated them, if I remember correctly. He’s violated them and gotten away with it.

The judge, Juan Merchan, cited Trump’s previous comments about him and others involved in the case, as well as a looming 15 April trial date in granting the prosecution’s request for a gag order. “It is without question that the imminency of the risk of harm is now paramount,” Merchan wrote.

Prosecutors had asked for the gag order citing what they called Trump’s “long history of making public and inflammatory remarks” about people involved in his legal cases.

As well as about people he dislikes, people who annoy him, people in his way, people who make him look small and stupid and without talent.

The order also bars Trump from making or directing others to make public statements about people involved in the trial, but it does not apply to Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, because he is an elected official. The gag order adds to restrictions put in place after Trump’s arraignment last April that prohibit him from using evidence in the case to attack witnesses.

He needs restrictions and gag orders because of who he is – a loudmouth bully who never shuts up unless someone stuffs a towel down his throat.

Guest post: A New Academic Field

Mar 26th, 2024 11:29 am | By
Guest post: A New Academic Field

Guest post by Jonathan Gallant

Contemporary academia in the US is blessed with a wealth of programs that start with the word “Critical” and end with the word “Studies”.   I hereby announce a new discipline which will interrogate the history, sociology, hermeneutics, and astrology of all these programs.  Our new discipline is called Critical Studies Studies, and its monographs will appear in our own scholarly journal, to be called Studies in Critical Studies Studies.  We intend this journal to take its place in high-powered scholarly publication, alongside such outstanding examples as Social Text, the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, the Journal of Progressive Policy & Practice, Hypatia, and Gender, Place & Culture.  We will require “positionality statements” with every submission—in fact, we welcome submissions that contain nothing but the authors’ positionality statements.  And, like our colleagues at similar leading journals, we will never quibble about such obsolete issues as repeated publication or duplicative language.  

We will soon advertise positions in this new discipline, with preference going to members of minoritized racial, ethnic, sexual, transgender, transanimal, and transvegetable communities.  In the interest of Inclusion, we will employ cluster hiring so as to staff our field exclusively with members of these communities.  Every member of a minoritized community will feel him-, her-, they-, zher-, or it-self to be fully majoritized in the exciting new field of Critical Studies Studies.  

Get more dolphins

Mar 26th, 2024 10:34 am | By

Engineers say yeah that’s what happens.

To bridge experts, the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge after being hit by a heavy cargo ship was as inevitable as it was devastating.

When a vessel as heavy as the Singapore-flagged Dali collides with such force against one of the span’s supercolumns, or piers, the result is the type of catastrophic, and heartbreaking, chain reaction that took place early Tuesday.

So maybe take all possible measures to keep that from happening? If you have a setup where massive container ships regularly go toddling under bridges, you’re gonna wanna make sure they don’t go oops on the way through.

No bridge pier could withstand being hit by a ship the size of the Dali, said Benjamin W. Schafer, a professor of civil and systems engineering at Johns Hopkins University. “These container ships are so huge,” Schafer said. “That main span has two supports. You can’t take one away.”

Those ships have grown and grown and grown. Remember the one that got stuck across the Suez canal, blocking shipping for days and days and days? It’s one of the new massive type.

Ian Firth, a British structural engineer and bridge designer, reviewed video footage and said there appeared to be at least two protective objects in the water next to the Key Bridge. The objects, known as “dolphins,” are supposed to protect maritime structures from being hit by vessels. But Dali, the container ship that struck the bridge, appeared to have come in “at an angle,” Firth said, which means the devices were unable to prevent the ship from striking the bridge, sending part of it tumbling into the water.

If the Dali had been traveling straight on instead of at an angle, Firth said, it probably would have hit the protective objects. And if there had been three or four vessel-protection objects around the bridge, the outcome might have been different, Firth said, adding that he expects lessons will be learned from Tuesday’s tragedy.

Firth noted that the bridge, which was built in 1977, was erected at a time when ships were not as big as they are now and the flow of traffic was not as busy. These days, structures are designed with better protective measures in place, he said, though he noted that even a brand-new bridge would have “come down in the same way” if it were hit by such a large vessel traveling at speed.

So make sure they don’t do that.

I’m wondering about the role of tugboats. One of their purposes is to keep larger vessels from crashing into things.

Schafer, who said he used to teach about the bridge in his Johns Hopkins classes since it was “one of the signature bridges of Baltimore,” called the collision “a huge infrastructure failure,” but not because of the bridge collapse. He said the shipping industry needs systems to keep a ship on track when it loses power.

Why yes. Fork out for some tugboat assistance when you have bridges to go under.


Mar 26th, 2024 9:12 am | By

I was accidentally awake in the middle of the night, as I often am, so I saw that clip of the bridge disintegrating soon after it happened. It grabbed my attention rather. I live in a port city and see container ships chugging in and out all the time. Seattle is also a very bridge-having city, because of being so up and down, so seeing a massive bridge go from normal to in the water in pieces in a matter of seconds is a shocker.

CNN is updating:

The DALI container ship that struck Baltimore’s Key Bridge dropped its anchor prior to impact as part of its emergency procedures after losing propulsion, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement Tuesday.

It apparently happened insanely fast.

Here’s a timeline of how the incident unfolded. All times are ET:

  • 1:24 a.m.: The DALI container ship’s lights flicker as it travels down Patapsco River, according to video from the scene.
  • 1:26 a.m.: The ship begins to change course toward the Key Bridge’s pillar, CNN analysis shows.
  • 1:26 to 1:27 a.m.: The ships lights continue to flicker on and off, video of the ship shows.
  • 1:27 a.m.: The ship hits the Key Bridge, quickly causing it to collapse.

Three minutes.

An emergency call from the container ship gave officials time to begin closing the Francis Scott Key Bridge to vehicle traffic before the ship slammed into it, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said on Tuesday.

“I’m thankful for the folks, once the warning came up and once notification came up that there was a mayday, who literally by being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge — these people are heroes. They saved lives last night,” Moore said.

I guess Seattle is fortunate in having no bridges for container ships to go under.

Because of concerns they would be seen as

Mar 26th, 2024 8:43 am | By

The BBC is so infuriating on this subject.

More than 100 elite British sportswomen have told the BBC they would be uncomfortable with transgender women competing in female categories in their sport.

That’s such a bad, stupid, misleading, unfair, sneery lede.

Yes, duh, elite sportswomen don’t want men competing in female categories in their sport. Why would they?! The issue, as always, is not being “transgender” but being male. But the Beeb just will not admit that, ever, so instead it solemnly reports that sportswomen are creepy nasty bigots for feeling “uncomfortable” about their darling trans sisters.

But many have expressed fears over sharing their opinion publicly because of concerns they would be seen as discriminatory.

Says the BBC, having just framed its own reporting on this so that the women are seen as discriminatory. It’s not until the fourteenth paragraph that the Beeb admits that the reason for the nasty women’s lack of comfort is “physical performance advantages” – and even then it does it with sneers and nudges and at the end a denial.

In the debate surrounding the inclusion of transgender athletes, many argue that transgender women should not compete in elite women’s sport because of any physical performance advantages they may retain – but others argue that sport should be more inclusive.

See that? It can’t even stand to admit, in the fourteenth paragraph, that men have “any” physical advantages they “may” retain, without adding the rider about how decent people think sport should be more “inclusive” – of men in women’s sport.

They make me want to hit them with a brick.

H/t Mostly Cloudy

Guest post: We don’t have the luxury of time

Mar 26th, 2024 1:34 am | By

Originally a comment by Artymorty at Miscellany Room.

The Trump appeals court reprieve really bothers me. Here’s a take by David Graham in The Atlantic, which argues that, even though Trump routinely exploits legal procedures to get out of justice, it’s right of the appeals court to lower his bond and grant him yet more extensions. It would be “unjust” for Trump to lose his ill-gotten assets if he succeeds in getting this case dismissed:

But then imagine that a few weeks from now, Trump won his appeal, convincing the court that Engoron’s finding was incorrect, or that the calculated amount of the penalty was unfair. Trump would have no way to recover the assets he’d been forced to unload at fire-sale prices. It doesn’t take any affection for Trump to see why a court would want to avoid such an outcome, and why—even if Trump would still be filthy rich—this would be unjust punishment

In other words, in the face of Trump’s brazen abuse of legal procedures to get out of justice, if we lean into offering him more legal leniency, the very kind which he keeps using to his advantage, it will in the end prove that the legal system works just as it’s supposed to. The idea is, give him every possible chance we can, so we can show the world that when he eventually loses, there can be no question that he lost fair and square.

The problem is, we’re not trying to use Trump as an example to demonstrate how noble the legal system is. That’s a foolish idea. Right now we need to use the legal system to urgently stop a dangerous man from destroying democracy. Trump and his followers don’t care about fair-and-square; they won’t ever be reasonable. The judgment against him is plainly reasonable and the odds of a successful appeal are minimal. That’s grounds to take hard action, now. He will rage about procedure no matter what you do moving forward, so stop trying to appease him. There’s no fucking point in saying please and thank you to an angry bull. It won’t stop him from charging.

This is exactly the kind of cowardice we saw when the Germans were puzzling over how to stop Hitler’s brazen power grab in 1932. In the face of someone recklessly trampling over the institutions that uphold a democratic society, the instinct to lean harder into process, procedure, decorum and restraint is perhaps understandable, but it’s all wrong. That logic ignores the asymmetry at play when you’re dealing with a corrupt narcissist.

Democratic systems keep failing at dealing with raging bulls because too many individuals within “the system” are cowards. What people like the appeals court panel who granted Trump reprieve today and the SEC who greenlit his blatantly illegal stock scam are doing is passing the buck: they’re preemptively ceding to Trump the benefit of the procedural doubt because they’re scared to do their jobs, to uphold the rules, when it’s their turn to step into the ring and face the bullhorns. They tell themselves that the system will eventually work and justice will prevail, because viewing “the system” as an abstract force for good is easier than facing the fact that “the system” is only ever as just as they, the tangible, fallible individuals it’s made of, are willing to act under duress.

Trump has lately taken to comparing himself to Al Capone. That’s an apt comparison. It took Eliot Ness and his Untouchables to bring down Capone. Ness recognized right away that playing strictly by the book was no use after corruption had reached the threshold where it was threatening the survival of the system of law and justice itself. Extreme circumstances sometimes call for extreme measures.

And Trump has shown very clearly that today, more than the justice system is broken — the entire democractic system is ill-equipped to defend against this kind of tyrant.

But don’t worry, says David Graham. There’s plenty of time to play nicey-nice; it’ll all get sorted out down the road:

As for Trump, he may just be delaying that outcome—but that’s another problem for him to try to wriggle, cat-like, out of on another day.

No, David. We don’t have the luxury of time. There may not be any legal system left by the time the credulously pedantic legal idealists are done extending Donald’s rope. The time for passing the buck is over. This is a tyrant and if there are opportunities within the legal system to stop him, we must grab them now while we still can.

We should have brought the Untouchables in to clean this up years ago.

Wrong side of history

Mar 25th, 2024 3:25 pm | By

More from the women in sport front:

All this energy – conferences! more conferences! yet more conferences! – expended on getting more men into women’s sports. Why? Trans rights could be a thing without that, after all. Why is there such an obsession with ruining sports for women? If you pause and step back and look at it, it seems just spiteful. Just done for the sake of ruining things for women. Just because that many men really hate women and want to expend a lot of money and energy just to trash their sports.

It’s not a pleasant thought.