It’s the future: Non-browning apples

Today I learned about polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme apparently responsible for the browning of lettuce and apples upon exposure to oxygen.

Then I learned about a set of Golden Delicious apples that have been genetically modified to reduce their production of polyphenol oxidase, allowing them to go three weeks in exposure without browning–an industry standard previously met with additives.

Carter reduced the enzyme polyphenol oxidase to prevent browning when apples are sliced, bitten or bruised. The apples match the industry norm of not browning for three weeks after slicing but without using flavor-altering, chemical additives that the rest of the fresh-sliced apple industry uses.

Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji varieties have been approved by the USDA and Canada. An Arctic Gala could be approved in 2018. Only Goldens and Granny Smiths have been planted long enough to produce fruit in commercial quantities by next fall.

Read about the summary here or the full post here.

It’s the future! Do me next!

-Shiv

Transition Reactions p15: Just being descriptive

By now, what I learned in genetics is rusty enough that new genetics papers are starting to get unreadable, but I can remember distinctly what it was like to read the scientists that had been mapping and describing the human genome. Contrary to the claims of the many antagonists to trans rights, there was–and still us, upon blowing off the dust to review–very little objectionable about the way they described human sex determination, and it is quite compatible for trans feminism. The key difference was that these geneticists weren’t flying off the rails to draw grand conclusions–they knew they were still trying to find all the puzzle pieces, never mind ready to assemble the picture.

I suppose if I were to be karyotyped and have my genome mapped, I would still have no qualms with the geneticist performing this making statements like “you have a y chromosome, therefore you only have one copy of certain genes ordinarily housed on the X chromosome.” That’s a statement that is testable, something that can be affirmatively proven. The problem is that so few people outside of developmental biologists and human geneticists can actually keep their conclusions conservative and in line with the evidence. I have never once had the statement “you have a y chromosome” ever actually end in a neutral statement, despite the claim from trans-antagonists that they are simply trying “to be descriptive.”

If being called male were only ever a prelude to testable statements involving genetics, I would be considerably more indifferent to the designation. But it’s not. Specifically in the context of trans rights, my theoretical* y chromosome is rolled up into a paper bludgeon and continuously smacked against my head during arguments that suggest anything from a propensity to rape to invented sexual motives for transitioning.

One of the inevitably predictable “gotchas” lobbed at me is a strawman of this argument. They’ll say something like “but you could get someone pregnant” in order to support the idea that some predictions can be justifiably drawn as to the nature of my actual sex. But I have never objected to empirically supported observations like capacity to impregnate or that the gametes I used to produce were smaller than ova. That’s all fine. What they sail past is that my reason for bristling at the whole “you’re still male” conversation is that it is never about the well supported observations on the likely natures of any given human, it’s about hitching a long-ass baggage train to those concepts.

Instead what I get is, you have a y chromosome, therefore:

  • You’re a man
  • Men produce testosterone
  • Testosterone makes a person violent
  • You’re violent

If this never ending baggage train ceased to be predictably hitched onto the term “male,” I’m sure I wouldn’t read such assertions as the snarl of a trans-antagonist revving their engine in preparation to run me over. If it were simply, “you’re male, so you probably produce gametes smaller than ova” or “you’re male, so you only have one copy of [gene housed on X chromosome],” I’d have nothing to write about.

But then, you know, TERFs are getting paid handsome sums to compare me to rapists, so. Bristles. Probably here to stay.

-Shiv


 

*I’ve never actually been karyotyped, so I don’t know for certain I even have one. It is quite likely I do, as I was assigned male, but I try to use the word “know” for things that have been repeatedly tested.

 

Julie Bindel is not a woman

Content Warning: Virulent TERFy trans-antagonism

I imagine I would be rightly discredited if I spent my entire career honing in on Julie Bindel and publishing defamatory essays justifying my frankly bizarre obsession with whether or not Bindel counts as “a woman.” Yet antagonizing trans folk is still so politically palatable that you can do exactly that and still achieve success. On no other topic can I imagine it is possible to have columns on both The otherwise-queer-friendly Guardian and the misogynistic half-fake conservative rag The Daily Mail.

Yes, that’s right, an essay comparing trans women to serial killers and rapists was published on The Guardian, a supposedly progressive news site. Somehow Bindel has mastered the art of making transphobia look simultaneously progressive and reactionary. It’s Schrodinger’s Bigotry, if you will.

Nonetheless, there are vast tracts of Bindel’s career dedicated to obfuscation and false equivalency. In her wake virtually no productive conversation on trans issues will prevail, because she kicks up enough dust that all you can do is cough. And the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, UK, decided this was who they wanted to represent their “LGBT” History month.

I’m not going to try and appeal to Bindel or her supporters–their “feminism” is little more than a gangrenous limb that refuses to fall off. Nor is this post meant to be a direct response to Bindel’s work–a quick search for “criticisms of Julie Bindel” produces hundreds of posts responding to Bindel’s nonsense.

Instead, I’m going to issue a very straightforward question for the WCML:

Do you have the integrity to be honest and rename your event the AFAB, Lesbian Separatist, Cisgender Supremacist History month? Because not even lesbian separatists want anything to do with Bindel’s particularly virulent strain of bile-spewing done in the name of “feminism.” Certainly bi folk and trans folk–you know, the “B” and “T” in your initialism–do not in general support their own defamation through bigoted talking piece Julie Bindel. So why on Earth is Bindel your “LGBT” speaker if she represents a highly specific, extremely hostile iteration of lesbian separatism that aggressively alienates the other letters?

Oh, right. “Freeze peach.” Just not for the B and T, apparently.

I’m starting to feel at this point that the only argument anti-rights advocates can muster on this topic is that it isn’t literally illegal for them to state their position. Somehow it doesn’t occur to anyone that this is the flimsiest, saddest defence one can imagine for a position. But Julie Bindel will carry on doing the patriarchy’s work and calling it feminism, and there’ll be no shortage of venues simply handwaving away criticism as “sensitivity.” More dust, less talk, and a lot of trans people struggling to cope with the stress knowing that the wrong conservative crusader could pick up these ideas and try to legislate us out of existence.

-Shiv

 

Jason Kenney is literally just making shit up this time

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney went to Twitter to express outrage about the provincial government’s tax plan and how it was ruining the economy because it made taxation high.

The problem with Kenney’s claim? Well, one of those pesky details he can’t be bothered with is that the New Democratic Party have a tax scheme that is still lower for all tax sectors than the Progressive Conservative posterboy Ralph Klein’s.

One wonders how taxes are “ruining” the performance of the Province which still has the lowest taxation rate in the country, even taking into account our new carbon tax.

Oh, and that “ruined economy”? Still the strongest in the country.

Can’t let pesky facts get in the way of our sabre-rattling, though. Governments don’t need details! And neither do pundits! That’s why all the papers say the province will fall apart, any second now!

-Shiv

Self care Saturday, Revisited: Cleaning out the gunk

I pushed myself a little too hard.

Between Thursday and Friday I woke up at 3 AM. I couldn’t fall back to sleep anyway. Knowing “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best” had been aired, I briefly popped it into Google to see what the internet spewed forth. Obviously I found Sarah Ditum and felt compelled to respond.

Then I picked up some more evidence for another piece I’m doing on the judicial undermining of gender identity laws in the UK, USA, and Canada, and something snapped. Or shattered, perhaps. Like a dropped champagne glass, and suddenly the whole room went silent and turns to face you. All the areas of my brain which usually just bounce information around at a speed and volume that leaves me caught between “hyperfocused” and “disoriented” gave way to a single voice.

You monsters.

A flippant comment on a petition. I know the comment was based on a blatantly false assertion, and still the imagined voice of the commentator filled in the silence. Abominations. You’re all sick.

I’ve been examining a bit too much transphobia, lately, and now those positions are taking root in my head. Even as I know they are wrong.

It’s a feeling I haven’t had since I ended my relationship with my abusive ex, someone who routinely engaged in manipulation and emotional abuse. Like feeling that I suddenly can’t trust my own judgement, despite the great pains I take to fact check.

We know if Trump repeats something enough times to the media that the volume of people who believe him increases. Is this the strategy of trans-antagonists? Can they really repeat it enough times to make even an evidence-based trans feminist crack? It seems my clarity has finally left me, and all I can see is the trail of fog left in trans-antagonistic’s wake.

This is the “hyperbole” as it is often characterized by opponents to trans rights. This debate, that trans people are sane and worthy, ironically eats away at your sanity. Who could possibly retain a flawless psyche against a never-ending undercurrent from every fucking thing you open questioning “HEY YOU? ARE YOU SANE? ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE SANE? ARE YOU REALLY REALLY SURE?”

And it feels like no matter how confidently I answer, I get another round of “ARE YOU REALLY REALLY SURE?”

Imagine if that was all people wanted to talk about. Imagine you liked NASCAR and every day of every year some asshole somewhere on the internet is petitioning the government to intern NASCAR fans in psychiatric hospitals. Imagine the courts stripped your parental custody because they think liking NASCAR is child abuse. Imagine hearing story after story of police raping NASCAR fans. Imagine entire sections of the internet dedicated to both hosting and mocking violent videos of NASCAR fans being assaulted, raped, and murdered.

And then imagine a snarling asshole whose career is organized around telling you all these things are made up.

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can convince me I deserve it.

I’ve got a few posts left in the queue, but I’m gonna try my best to unplug for a few days.

-Shiv

Sarah Ditum: More smoke screens and white noise in service to transphobia

While it’s likely going to take me an enormous amount of page space and several weeks to form a full, detailed critique of BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best”*, I thought that there was nonetheless enough information within Sarah Ditum’s article “Transgender Kids: why doctors are right to be cautious about childhood transition” to respond to. This is because she admits that she hasn’t yet seen the documentary. Neither have I, which at least allows us to respond in specifics without consulting it altogether.

Knowing how much is going to be dusted up in this documentary, no doubt peddled by well meaning but ignorant cis folk, the trans feminists you know and love on the internet are likely going to have to work overtime to overcome the sheer injection of misinformation we can anticipate from trans-antagonistic feminists.

Ditum, in brief, says absolutely nothing new, and nearly nothing correct.

[Read more…]

Signal boosting: Some red flags in trans issue “debates”

I’ve not had the spoons to dive into anti-trans nonsense as of late, so I’ve been plundering the interwebs for trans commentators who have. I recently discovered Singularly Bizarre, a blog that has discussed Jesse Singal at length. The author is considerably wordier than I am (and that’s saying something) but they’ve also documented a pretty thorough inventory of well-cloaked dishonesty employed by anti-trans pundits.

One in particular I’ll signal boost is the tendency to start a conversation about trans children, and then make the illogical leap to discussing surgery. Undermining this trope–which does crop up a lot in Singal’s work–is this basic fact: No trans kids qualify for surgery under the prevailing standards of trans healthcare set out by the Worldwide Professional Association of Transgender Health. In fact, if we want to talk about subjecting children to “mutilation,”* we ought to be discussing the egregious human rights violations enacted on intersex children virtually everywhere in the world.

Yes, it’s this peculiar double standard that should immediately be recognized as a red flag. The idea of trans people voluntarily seeking changes to our body seems to reliably get a chorus of hoary-throated screams, but when you point out that the one of the epidemics of genital mutilation happening to children in mature Western democracies is on intersex children and infants, you get nothing but crickets.

[Read more…]

Alberta political roundup

Trinity Christian, the private school that was caught cooking its books by the NDP, have had an administrator appointed to manage their finances while the RCMP conducts its investigation concerning allegations of fraud.

Professional douchebag Fred Henry, a Bishop in Calgary infamous for typical Roman Catholic Church douchebaggery, has resigned from his post. He accused the NDP of breathing “pure secularism” …and meant it as a bad thing.

Progressive Conservative supporters continue to cite the NDP’s progressive income taxation and vice taxation as primary reasons to oppose the NDP. Except both policies were also on the PC agenda. Oops.

The Progressive Conservatives have announced no findings of wrongdoing within their own party following the allegations of harassment by former moderate leadership candidate Sandra Jansen. Never mind that they investigated themselves. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

Brian Jean still has no idea how he’s going to “Unite the Right,” but it’ll be good, he pinky-swears.

-Shiv

Jason Kenney wants your kids on a short, short leash

(Background: Alberta, eh?)

Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney, my all time best friend and favourite politician, is back in the news again after having responded to a survey proposed by my other all time best friends and favourite lobbyists, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE). After admitting he was pro-theft–as long as Christians are the ones doing the stealing–Kenney went to PCE to talk about his support for some of the most egregious weaknesses in Alberta’s education system.

Among his answers and accompanying commentary, Mr. Kenney indicated:

  • He supports allowing different approaches to curriculum in publicly funded schools, as well as different approaches to school clubs. He indicated the strongest level of agreement, 1.
  • Parental approval should be required for any instruction related to sex education, sexuality and gender identity, and parents should be allowed to pull their children out. 2.
  • Parental consent should be mandatory for a child’s participation in all extra-curricular activities, including student organizations and clubs. 2.
  • Parental permission should be required for children to attend any event involving an outside facilitator or program. 2.
  • All materials and resources used by students in instruction or extra curricular activities should be made available to parents. 2.
  • Taxpayers should provide “equitable” funding for independent, religious, charter and alternative schools, plus all forms of home schooling. 1.
  • Alberta should reintroduce and strengthen standardized testing for Grades 3, 6 and 9 and continue such tests in Grade 12. 1.

Of course, in this context, references to school clubs mean the gay-straight alliances required under Alberta law passed by the province’s last PC Government under premier Jim Prentice. Pastor Brian Coldwell, chair of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society that has openly defied the legislation at two schools it runs in the Edmonton area, sits on the board of Parents for Choice.

Yes, it has long been a thorn in my side that our province has allowed bigots to tailor-fit which aspects of reality will be taught to their children. It’s not like we’re the country’s STI capital or anything OH WAIT YES WE ARE.

Despite the fact that the single strongest predictor for anti-queer prejudice is a lack of exposure and education, Alberta’s education system has had an opt-out system for sex ed. So, you know, there’s a slough of parents pulling their kids from fact-based sex ed–which is soon to include mentions of homosexuality–and giving their kids what they want to teach instead.

Sure, I suppose it’s possible some parents are still giving their kids a comprehensive “talk,” but, you know, STI capital. Chances are, most kids being pulled from class are being fed incomplete bullshit or outright lies. But hey, compromising the health and education of our citizens is worth it, as long as we do it in the name of the Bible. Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney for Premier 2019!

-Shiv