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Jul 24 2014

Is Ted Nugent still a darling of the Republican party?

I knew Ted Nugent was a nasty piece of work, but this…can he possibly be a bit more blatantly racist? He’s had a couple of shows cancelled at Indian casinos — first by the Coeur d’Alene tribe in Idaho, and most recently by the Puyallups in Washington — and I guess it made Nugent a mite testy.

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights — for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity,” said a statement from the tribe.

A spokesperson for the casino said that the company didn’t want to provide a platform for the “racist attitudes and views that Ted Nugent espouses.”

Nugent responded to the cancelation by calling the Coeur d’Alene Tribe unclean vermin.

By all indicators, I don’t think they actually qualify as people, but there has always been a lunatic fringe of hateful, rotten, dishonest people that hate happy, successful people, he continued. I believe raising hell and demanding accountability from our elected employees is Job One for every American. I am simply doing my job.

Brilliant: fired for racist remarks, so he calls the whole tribe “vermin” and questioning their status as humans, perfectly confirming the accusation.

Jul 24 2014

A nice quote from Harry Harrison

Via Daz:

Stated very simply, I face reality and admit that not only isn’t there anyone at home upstairs, there isn’t even any upstairs. I have one life and I intend to make the most of it. Therefore it follows naturally that if I firmly believe this, why then I cannot deprive another person of their turn at existence. Only the very self-assured political and religious zealots kill people in order to save them.

It takes a real shallow thinker to claim that atheism has no consequences. It actually says that there is no escaping the consequences — you aren’t going to get a lollipop in heaven if you say the right words on your deathbed. You have one life and you have to live with it, and then you die, and there are no take-backs or resurrections or rewards or punishments.

Jul 24 2014

Ouch, anti-feminists, you made me sad

The latest noise the MRAs have been pouring into my mailbox has actually been effective in their goals: I find it very depressing. If your intent is to fill me with despair, you win!

First, some background. Y’all have heard of Cathy Young, right? She’s one of those anti-feminists who claims to be a True Feminist™, like Christina Hoff Summers. She’s one of those people who seems to hate the idea of consent, and spends most of her time writing about evil, man-hating feminists — she’s one of the sources of mischaracterization of feminism, of the sort that misogynists love to regurgitate.

Barry Deutsch takes her to task on her weird definitions of feminism.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines an anti-feminist as “One opposed to women or to feminism.” Cathy doesn’t oppose women, but you’d have to impossibly distort her work to argue that she doesn’t oppose feminism; virtually all her writings on feminism are attacks on feminists and feminism. The OED offers a second definition: “a person (usu. a man) who is hostile to sexual equality or to the advocacy of women’s rights.” Cathy isn’t hostile to equality (and she’s not a man!), but her writing clearly is “hostile to… the advocacy of women’s rights.” She thinks women already have virtually all the rights they need, and therefore further advocacy is unnecessary.

In the introduction to her book Ceasefire!, Cathy concedes that in one area – the family/work balance – women might still have a legitimate complaint. But virtually all other concerns that justify a “case for continued feminist activism,” she dismisses as illegitimate. There’s a big difference between criticizing some feminist views, and denying that there’s a legitimate need for a women’s movement at all. How can anyone who doesn’t see a need for a movement for women’s equality, be a feminist?

Deutsch also wonders about this myth of man-hating feminism, which Young tends to favor.

But this brings up something I’ve wondered about for quite a while. When I read MRAs, as well as “conservative feminists” like Christina Hoff Sommers, a narrative history of feminism tends to emerge, which goes something like this: Once upon a time there were the suffragettes, who were libertarian or conservative and they were Good. Then came the second wave feminists in the 60s and 70s, who fought for equal pay and the like, and they were Good. But in the 1980s came the Evil “gender feminists” or “victim feminists,” who turned feminism into man-hating victimology, and feminism has been Bad ever since.

But curiously enough, when reading Sommers and others, it quickly becomes apparent that most of their examples are from 60s and 70s feminism. And so Sommers makes a big deal of the word “ovulars,” a term from the 1960s that no one but Sommers herself uses nowadays. Dworkin, Young’s example, peaked in influence and prominence in the 70s, became a hugely controversial figure within feminism in the 80s, and pretty much faded from prominence after that. Most of the feminists I see quoted as proof of how awful and man-hating feminists are (Robin Morgan, Germaine Greer , Marilyn French, etc) came into prominence in the 60s and 70s.

Are we all up to speed, then? If you’ve ever heard MRAs pontificate sagely about how they are “equity feminists” but not “gender feminists”, terms that Sommers popularized, or accuse feminists of hating men, or of being professional victims, you’ve been hearing the echoes of conservative anti-feminists like Cathy Young. Their claims are nonsense, but they resonate well with the men who like their sexism endorsed.

That’s familiar. It’s a bit sad. But here’s the article I find most discouraging, an old review of one of Cathy Young’s books…a very positive review.

"Girls are not silenced or ignored in the classroom," Young writes. "Medicine has not neglected women’s health. Abuse by men is not the leading cause of injury to American women; the courts do not treat violence toward women more leniently than violence toward men. Gender disparities in pay and job status are not merely a consequence of sex discrimination. The ’80s were not a "backlash decade’ but a time of steady progress for women and, generally, of strong support for women’s advancement."

Young spends much of the book proving these assertions in a way that makes you want to cheer aloud. Finally someone has shed light (and reality) on all those bogus and overstated women-as-victims-of-patriarchy claims.

One just has to sigh at the misrepresentations and dishonesty. But this is what really gives me little hope: that article is by Robyn A. Blumner. This Robyn Blumner.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science U.S. today announced that Robyn Blumner has been named Executive Director, effective February 5, 2014. Blumner will replace the interim Director, Edwina Rogers, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. 

Blumner is a longtime columnist and editorial writer for the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. She has an extensive background as a public advocate for church-state separation, the rights of atheists and other nontheists, a spectrum of civil liberties and civil rights causes, economic and racial justice and other progressive causes. Her nonprofit experience includes having led two statewide affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I am delighted to have Robyn Blumner leading the Foundation in the U.S,” said Richard Dawkins. “Her published writings show her to be a strong, unapologetic atheist with the vision to pursue the imaginative aims of the Foundation, while her legal background and non-profit experience equip her to put them into practice.”

You win, MRAs, misogynists, and other pig-like beings, you win. I’m going to curl up in a corner somewhere and weep for a while. Go celebrate.

But I’ll feel better later, and get back to fighting.

Jul 24 2014

That went in an unexpected direction

Everyone knows the “12-inch pianist” joke, right? Here’s a retelling that changes it in a much more interesting way.

Jul 24 2014

[Lounge #469]

iguana

This is the lounge. You can discuss anything you want, but you will do it kindly.

Status: Heavily Moderated; Previous thread

Jul 24 2014

It’s mayfly season!

Every year around this time, we can expect a sudden eruption of clouds of mayflies to emerge, as Gwen Pearson describes. There have been a few times I’ve been out driving when caught in it, and the car gets coated with brown dead bug smears, to the point where visibility is a serious problem.

But she also shows a video I found even more terrifying: this is a dying mayfly floating on the water, and she constantly dribbles out eggs, making a big pool of them on the bottom. And then one minute in, they start hatching!

Now I study an animal which develops very rapidly, the zebrafish, but this was shocking — you mean they go on a mating flight, drop to the water, and spew out eggs that develop into larval hatchlings in minutes? Impossible! Laws of thermodynamics! Cellular interactions and pattern forming mechanisms! The biochemistry couldn’t go that fast! Cell cycle times must be in milliseconds! Inconceivable! My brain is melting!

Fortunately, I read more closely.

Most mayflies lay their eggs immediately after mating; the eggs then take anywhere from 10 days to many months to hatch. Cloeon cognatum is an exception. This species is ovoviviparous, which means that a mated female holds her eggs internally until embryonic development is complete (about 18 days), after which she lays them in water and they hatch immediately. This female was dropped onto the water surface moments before the video started.

Whew. That’s better. And 18 day development time? Easy peasy. I guess I don’t have to hover around the margins of local lakes trying to catch a few minutes of development, once a year, after all.


By the way, here’s a photo of my car from last year, when I got caught driving by Lake Minnewaska one night:

mayflycar

Jul 24 2014

Democrat behaving badly

The appointed Democratic senator from Montana, John Walsh, has a master’s degree from the United States Army War College. But does he deserve it?

An examination of the 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy” and posted online by The Times, revealed that about a third of Mr. Walsh’s 2007 paper consisted of verbatim language and extremely similar passages to other sources, without any kind of attribution.

“Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes but uses other authors’ exact — or almost exact — language without quotation marks,” The Times said.

That first clause made me pause…you can get a master’s by writing a 14-page paper? My undergraduate students write far more than that every semester. Thanks, War College, for cheapening the value of a degree so much!

Even if two thirds of the essay weren’t plagiarized (really, he wrote about 4½ pages to get his degree?), I’d say that isn’t graduate level work.

Jul 24 2014

Creepy ol’ Ben Stein

Remember Ben Stein? Lazy character actor best known for his mind-numbing drone, reactionary conservative who writes dull screeds on bogus economics, the creationist voice of Expelled? He’s in the news again, when we’d all rather he just goes away.

He wrote a bizarre rambling bit of nonsense for the American Spectator about how he travels the country, helping breathakingly beautiful women, taking them out to dinner, giving them writing advice, and boy, does airline food suck or what, and Obama is a failure. And he spent a fair amount of the essay just writing about this stunningly beautiful, absolute knockout young Eurasian woman who just happened to be in the airport.

As I walked through SFO in search of my driver, I came across a stunningly beautiful, absolute knockout young Eurasian woman. She was lying on a bench right next to where my driver was supposed to be, so I sat down next to her and chatted her up.

This story has evolved somewhat. Now she’s ambushing him and harassing him for money..

About five months ago, as I was walking through SFO to get into my car, I met a young woman who was extremely excited to meet me. She was literally jumping up and down with excitement. She told me she was a “performance artist” but hinted at some scary parts of her life. She said she would like to be a writer and asked if I could help. We exchanged texting addresses and off I went in my car. I spent fewer than five minutes talking to her in a busy airport terminal.

See? Ben Stein thinks Ben Stein is the kindest, sweetest person around. He deserves a medal for helping a young, beautiful woman out, giving her money and advice.

“I should get a medal for helping this woman. This is a person who appealed to me for money. She said she would send me some examples of her performance art. Some of those examples were racy, and some were not. I just don’t get what I have done wrong. She is mad at me because she wanted more money. … I didn’t expect anything from her.”

This “I am not a crook” moment was prompted by the fact that the young woman, Tanya Ma, released screen shots of their phone messages. And it’s true, he didn’t touch her, he didn’t do anything criminal — he just exposed the fact that the private Ben Stein is a deeply creepy person.

Sext messages below the fold. Wash your hands afterwards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 23 2014

The squirreliest thing I’ve seen all day

The NRA is just plain nuts.

This guy starts out by telling us how the government sets education policy, access to public parks, labor policies to protect minorities, and then springs his case on us: we should treat guns the same way. We need guns. We ought to treat them like food, shelter, education, and voting — wonderful things that the government ought to subsidize. So later he even suggests that the government ought to provide free shooting ranges, and a yearly allotment of free ammunition.

Further, progress through the school system ought to require gun training. Why? Because we need guns.

No, we don’t. We need jobs, we need shelter, we need education, we need food, we need clean water, but hell no, we don’t need guns. He says that our gun policy is designed around the assumption that we need to protect people from guns, that guns are bad or dangerous…exactly right. I want to be protected from guns. I’d rather not have to worry about some freak with an automatic rifle when I walk to the grocery store; guns are bad, since they’re tools for killing people; and oh man, guns are dangerous.

But this fool says, What if instead of gun-free zones, we had gun-required zones. No thank you.

He also says,

Sound crazy? Think about it.

OK. I thought about it. It’s utterly insane. The NRA is a festering cesspool of batshit lunacy.

Jul 23 2014

Botanical Wednesday: Cruel bird

This bird, over many generations, has warped the poor Centropogon‘s flower into that bizarre curve.

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