Things you ought not to read while trapped in an interminable faculty meeting

I’ve just gotten out of a 2½ hour faculty meeting. During one of the breaks, I read this page on McSweeney’s, and when I got to #5 and #6, I almost lost it. Then #8, and I felt a funny noise trying to rise up the back of my throat. I seized up at #9, beginning to wonder if they had a spy camera on the wall behind me.

But then I read this article and realized they must have the spy cams installed at the University of Chicago, not here. Whew. We’re only sorta exactly like that.

Jack Chick is dead


There will be no rejoicing at his death, because his poison and lies and ignorance live on. I just really can’t care much — it doesn’t help that I just got home after a 13 hour day — and I think he’s just been a malignant goofball with a team of believers doing the work for him, and the absence of one foolish man won’t make a lick of difference.

He has ceased to exist and won’t even know that he’s not going to meet a faceless glowing giant on a throne, or a horned Jewish caricature with a pitchfork. He’s just dead meat.

Further travels, to Cincinnati & beyond!

I’m planning to attend the 2017 Midwest Zebrafish Meeting in mid-June, which is, unfortunately, being held in Cincinnati. It’s only unfortunate because I’ll be tempted to make a side-trip to…Ken Ham’s goddamn Ark Park. There’s an excellent overview by Dan Phelps of what I can expect to see. I’ll also leave $40 poorer.


Just looking at that makes my brain poorer.

Well. This is going to be a fun week.

I’m flying to China on Wednesday, and in order not to be unfair to my teaching colleague in cell biology, I’m taking on extra lab sections today and Tuesday, since he’ll be covering for me on Wednesday and Thursday. So I’m going to be working long hours for a while.

And then tomorrow night, it’s Cafe Scientifique with Yuzhi Li, who will be talking about her work on animal behavior. You should come. It’ll be at the Common Cup Coffeehouse in town at 6pm.

Immediately afterwards, I’ll be zooming off to the Twin Cities because I have an early morning flight to catch. I can rest on the plane, right?

More fun! I got to zip in and get a bunch of vaccinations this morning, and boy are my arms tired.

Race for the bottom of the slime barrel!

I was horrified years ago when Fox News emerged as the shambling, dishonest, sleazy voice of conservative thought — I mean, I thought the National Review was a racist organ, but at least they put on bow ties and talked in elevated accents and pretended to be decent human beings, and William F. Buckley Jr. was clearly an intelligent man with odious views. Fox News decided that intelligence was irrelevant and that the odious views were what sold. And the Republican Party embraced it all and decided to jettison intelligence along with decency (although one could argue that they led the way with Reagan).

Brace yourself. It gets worse. Fox News is now passé. It is insufficiently contemptible for the next crop of conservative politicians.

They are all jumping to…Breitbart.

Trump is going to cash in on his electoral defeat by forming an alliance with Breitbart, creating an abomination called Trump TV so far. That may change, since the Trump name is so tainted that it isn’t being used on any of his new hotels.

And if you thought Trump was bad, wait until you get a load of the next generation of far right conservatives. Curt Schilling is considering a political career, and hitching his star to Breitbart. After all, if the primary qualifications for running for office as a Republican are a loud mouth, racism, and ignorance, he’s a perfect match.

Another guy who is trying to rehabilitate his political career by diving into the raging dumpster fire is Dinesh D’Souza. So presidential.

Obama’s dad dumped him at birth & his mom got rid of him at age 10–did they know something we didn’t when we signed up for this guy?

Just wait. After the 2020 elections, when Breitbart is branded as a loser and gets discarded like Fox News, the Republicans will go looking for an even more repulsive vehicle for their views, and we’ll see the rise of Aryan Nation TV. Then, in 2024, when that one goes bust as a medium for getting Republicans elected, they’ll have to go even lower. I don’t know what form that horror will take, though. Maybe they’ll join forces with the Catholic Church.

How is Donald Trump like the Catholic Church?

John Oliver explains why Trump bombed at the Al Smith dinner, when he should have been in his element.

It was three thousand dollar a plate fundraising gala at a moth-eaten Manhattan hotel organized by the Catholic Church, a real-estate-owning, male-dominated, sex-scandal-plagued organization with whom Trump clearly shares a uniquely unqualified interior decorator.


This is too true. Academics face a very confusing career transition.


Of course, it also varies. The post-doc chart is a fairly accurate illustration of my life before getting a position, but the assistant prof chart will depend on what kind of position you land — mine would be much, much heavier on various duties associated with teaching.

The screwy thing is that there is no teaching at all as a post-doc, so the thing we spend most of our time doing now is the one thing we got no training in.

We have a BigBro442 problem

You knew it was coming. The technologies are developing to introduce us to virtual reality games, and right away, there are men showing up to ruin it all.

I wasn’t as experienced a player as BigBro442. Everywhere I ran, he appeared beside me, ready to grope as soon as the zombie wave was over. I’d had enough. With a final parting obscenity, I yanked the headset off my face and stood back in the sunny, familiar room of my brother-in-law’s home.

What had just happened? I hadn’t lasted 3 minutes in multiplayer without getting virtually groped.

There are no penalties for that sort of behavior in the game. There is no one looking on to see that someone is having a miserable experience in what should be fun entertainment. BigBro442 — even his chosen name is a tip-off that he’s a creep — is more experienced in that particular game, which means he’s been playing it regularly, and hasn’t experienced anything to drive him off, unlike the woman who would write that piece.

We just shrug and accept that there will be assholes in games. It’s people like BigBro442 who convinced me to abandon multiplayer games — that, and the developers didn’t give a damn. Every game is targeted right at the young male jerk audience.

Contrast that, though, with what happened when two women went on a date, and the creepy real-life version of BigBro442 started harassing them.

Here’s what happened when the man started asking me and my date about our private lives: First of all, not one, not two, but three employees — two men and a woman — rolled up on this dude, like a very refined food-service gang. Then, everybody behind the bar looked up, watching the scene, and you could almost hear them all thinking Just make one move, fool, I swear to fucking God. I realize now that the staff had been watching us for some time, trying to measure our level of discomfort at an intervention versus their obligation to their customers to maintain a chill, relaxed atmosphere. I’m going to guess that some of these staff members were LGBTQ folks, but all of them were the strongest allies I’ve ever met in my life.

The manager then spoke clearly: “Sir, you need to leave. You’ve made our patrons uncomfortable, and we do not tolerate this kind of behavior in THE BRANDY LIBRARY.” That’s a hilarious statement, but it’s also a very beautiful one — especially when you’re a scared twenty-something on your first big date with a person of the same gender, and you just want to have a nice night.

Wow. That’s how you do it.

It sounds like The Brandy Library is a good place to visit in New York…hey, wait a minute. I looked at the photos of the interior, and the address, and I think I have been there, years ago. But it had a different name. I think?

Well, gosh, I guess I’m going to have to visit New York again and check it out.

I’m not so keen on checking out yet another multi-player video game with little boys running rampant.

Continental circulatory system

It’s pretty. But you know, we could use this map of the American river basins to figure out where to do a lot of fracking and run oil pipelines to maximize the size of the area we poison in the center of the continent. Somewhere up on top of the large purplish area looks good.

Maybe we could put a big nuclear waste repository in the middle of the orange area, while we’re at it.

I sure hope no evil geniuses get any ideas from this.