Why We Get Harassed

Two days ago, shortly after I asked 18 questions of him in a post, Justin Vacula promised me answers. All of the answers.

I will have all of the answers for Stephanie Zvan later tonight. For now, it is "reputation management" http://t.co/XlrxPs099n @
@justinvacula
Justin Vacula

Late that night, he produced an eight-minute video. That seemed awfully short to provide advice in response to that many questions, as well as being a highly inefficient way to deliver information when text was available. Well, as it turned out, the video wasn’t about answering the questions I’d asked. (This is not terribly surprising, as non sequiturs seem to be Vacula’s stock in trade, from his very first appearance on this blog.)

Vacula appears to have no interest in answering my questions, so I guess I’m just stuck continuing to point out the ways in which his self-serving “argument” doesn’t hang together. Let’s go through the video, shall we? [Read more…]

Have You Heard the Good News?

I mean the news out of Saint Paul. Via Minnesotans United for All Families:

A bipartisan group of legislative leaders announced a bill Wednesday morning to give same-sex couples the right to get married in Minnesota.

“It would simply allow folks who so desire, who have demonstrated a lifetime of love and commitment to get married,” said Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), a co-author of the bill. “We’re affirming things that we all prize, love at the center of marriage.”

The legislation aims to repeal Minnesota’s 1997 law that banned marriage between two people of the same sex.

Co-author Sen. Branden Petersen (R-Andover), is the first Republican state legislator to publicly support gay marriage in Minnesota.  He said this bill “strengthens children, strengthens marriage and families and protects religious freedom.”

Despite Minnesota voters defeating an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment in November, opponents of same sex marriage aren’t backing down.

Read the whole thing here. Help Minnesotans United get out the support for this bill here or here. If you live in Minnesota, please contact your state rep and senator. We can make this happen.

Vacula Talks (Updated)

Let me know if he says anything that makes it worth eight minutes of my time and sitting through a podcaster who can’t be bothered to figure out how to pronounce the name of someone who says it half a dozen times every other weekend for her radio show. Right now, it’s past my bedtime.

Or feel free to transcribe your favorite bits in the comments. I assume there was a reason it wasn’t all written down in plain text for quoting.

Update: athyco has come through with a transcript! I’m (slowly) going through and making sure we agree on the wording, as well as adding some annotations for tone and images. I’ll include them here when I’m done. These are now included. [Read more…]

Think About the Consequences!

If you haven’t already seen Surly Amy and Harriet Hall come together on common ground, it’s definitely worth looking at. It’s a master class in generosity and humility. Steven Novella, who acted as an intermediary in helping Amy and Hall smooth the path toward understanding, also posted their letters at his blog Neurologica.

Along with the letters, Novella posted his take on the general situation in which both last year’s TAM and the recent blog posts have happened. In response, the usual arguments were trotted out to suggest the harassment really isn’t something the skeptical and secular communities really need to worry about. Novella’s responses to that were good and much appreciated.

Then Justin Vacula showed up, still trying to peddle the idea that the harassment is just the little price that some of us have to pay in order to have an opinion. Novella pointed out that he was both minimizing and mischaracterizing the situation. So Vacula (in a comment that included a couple of quotes for which he both seems to be the source and is demanding citations) tried again. [Read more…]

But Men Work More Hours

Jason’s back at blogging again, after a bit of a break to get all credentialed up. Easing back into the swing of things, he put up a post pointing to the “11 Signs You Might Be an MRA” t-shirt that was going around. As the first one of these “signs” is “You have no problem with the gender wage gap. But you hate having to pay for dates”, it of course brought out the standard reasons why the pay gap is totes not discriminatory. For example:

It’s not that we don’t have a problem with it, it’s that we’re aware that when you account for factors such as that men work for longer hours, it almost disappears. If women want a higher wage, they should make choices that will bring them a bigger paycheck.

Both the idea that the pay gap “almost disappears” and the question of choice have already been more than ably handled in the comments at Jason’s. I want, however, to pull apart this idea of working hours.
[Read more…]

Mock the Movie: Black Leotard Edition

Our last choice for Mock the Movie turned out to be an unusually sweet treatment of the sexual underground. Those of us watching mostly gave up on mocking and started enjoying. We’re pretty sure this won’t happen this time around. This Wednesday, we’re headed into space for Cat-Women of the Moon. It would be hard to improve on the IMDB description for this one.

Astronauts travel to the moon where they discover it is inhabited by attractive young women in black tights.

I understand there’s something of a plot as well.

The whole thing is on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. [Read more…]

Young, Sick and Invisible

There’s rather a lot I can identify with in this:

When I was 18, I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. The following year, I lost the ability to walk, and was ignored by doctors who looked at my age before my symptoms. I struggled with finding a treatment and getting some mobility back.

When I was 20, I started experiencing some mysterious symptoms, including rapid weight loss, pain, bleeding, and more. I desperately searched for an answer, and eventually, a treatment.

The journey itself, to diagnosis and treatment, was incredible, difficult, and enlightening. Living with the disorders has been eye opening as well. Chronic illness is an invitation for everyone to comment: either with regards to a cause, a treatment, or otherwise. Suddenly, everyone’s aunt is an expert and everyone’s fad diet a cure. You wade through a constant stream of ignorance and lies, in a desperate attempt to find peace and a stop to pain. In my years living with both disorders I have been faith healed, poked, prodded, stuffed with powders and magic potions, and now is my opportunity to tell everyone about it.

My conditions were different, as were the exact problems they created on the side, but the experience of being disabled at an age when life is supposed to be treating you well has certain universalities.

Ania Bula (DearAnia) is writing about that experience in a book called, Young, Sick and Invisible: A Skeptic’s Journey With Chronic Illness. She’s funding it through IndieGogo, which means you can get yourself a copy and help support her through the writing process. I know I’m not the only person at this blog who is going to be interested in having a copy. If it’s a book you want–for yourself or for someone near you who needs someone to explain this stuff to them–check it out.

Saturday Storytime: Nanny’s Day

One of the great things about fiction award season is that authors have come to understand that making good fiction free to read increases the number of people who can vote for it. That’s this case with this story by Leah Cypess, which was nominated for the Nebula. Leah also writes fantasy for young adults.

Kate’s ex-husband had custody of her daughter, and Annette was a stay-at-home mom; this was going to be a pointless discussion. I smiled weakly and went to get wine for both of them. Last week, Kate had broken up with her latest boyfriend, so I’d made sure to get her favorite (and very expensive) wine. She grinned when I handed her the glass, and I settled on the couch between her and Annette.

It was our yearly Mother’s Day ritual: we got together, ate pizza, drank too much, and watched Goodbye Nanny. I wasn’t looking forward to it this year.  But I flicked on my v-screen, and began drinking even before the movie started.

“The case imprinted on America’s memory,” drawled the voice-over, and the screen lit up with the overdramatized version of the story everyone knew. It started from the point of view of the nanny, a plump fifty-year-old woman who had raised someone else’s child from infancy, grown to love him “as if he was her own” – the phrase they used back then. Then it switched to the mother, with her business and recreational trips, her strings of affairs, her history of neglect.

“I never really wanted children,” she told one of her lovers in one of the most famous scenes of the movie (famous mostly because the lover was played by Steve Yu). “But since he exists, I guess I love him. It’s biological, you know?”

By the time the lawyer revealed that she didn’t even know the name of her son’s favorite teddy bear, we were all bawling. But we saved our real tears for the end, when the nanny lost the case and was led away. The little boy flung himself against his mother’s grip, her long fingernails cutting into his shoulders, screaming, “Nana! Nana, don’t go, please stay with me! Nana, why are you going away? WHY?”

The movie ended there, and text scrolled across the screen. The decision had been overturned five years later, reversing the bioist trend of American custody law. Too late for Edward Seiver or his nanny. But in time to save the next generation of children.

THE NEXT GENERATION OF CHILDREN remained on the v-screen, black on white, for a full minute. Then the credits rolled.

“Ironic, isn’t it?” Kate said, propping her feet up on a couch pillow. Annette was still sobbing. She’d only had two glasses of wine, but she got tipsy fast. “They’re thinking of renaming Mother’s Day. Calling it Nanny’s Day or Caregiver’s Day or something like that.”

“Doesn’t really have the same ring, does it?” Annette sniffled. “Still, it’s about time. Mother’s Day is kind of bioist.”

“Most children,” Kate said, wiggling her toes, “are still raised by their parents.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t show sensitivity.” Kate and I exchanged amused glances; Annette tended to get self-righteous when drunk. “There’s a reason this movie is shown every Mother’s Day. To remind us about the dangers of bioist privilege. Just because we’re their biological mothers, that doesn’t automatically mean we’re the ideal people to raise our children.”

I burst into tears.

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