It would give me pause if my causes required lies to be persuasive


It’s unfortunate that that doesn’t seem to be the case for abortion opponents. Even if I were sympathetic to their cause, I’d recoil from the dishonesty.

This has always been the case. There is no argument against abortion that doesn’t rely on misrepresentation and dodgy associations. Every one of those signs plastered all over my region that declares “My heart started beating at 28 days!” is fundamentally dishonest, relying on a false association between a heart beat and humanity. My zebrafish embryos’ hearts start beating at about 22 hours, does that make them human?

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I am not a number


I endorse this article: 5 Ways That Science Supports Feminism – Not Gender Essentialism. It’s making the point that when you actually study the relevant sciences, you discover that they fundamentally support a more complex view of sexuality than the usual boy/girl dichotomy. Here, in brief, are the five points it makes:

1. There Are More Than Two Sexes, Not to Mention a Vast Range of Gender Identities
2. The Environment Impacts Human Development from the Very Beginning at the Cellular Level
3. Socialization Is a Powerful Force
4. When Studies Do Find Gender Differences, They Are Often Too Weak to Serve as the Basis for Generalizations
5. Gender Means Different Things in Different Cultures

One other factor that leads people to adopt gender essentialism is a kind of innumeracy — I swear, I think the only statistical measure most people understand is the mean. But statistics was developed to describe variation, in addition to taking data sets and crunching them down to a single number.

There is also deficiency of logic. If you take any diverse set, divide it in two, and calculate the mean of any given parameter for both, you’ll get…two numbers. This does not validate your initial division as appropriate. It does not mean your artificial dichotomy reveals an absolute truth about the world. It does not mean you have encapsulated the essence of your two groups in a single simple metric. In particular, it’s possible to have a mean that does not describe a single individual in your group accurately.

The sad, lonely world of Ashley Madison


Lately, I’ve been getting a fair amount of email from people who’ve been browsing the stolen Ashley Madison subscriber list, telling me what famous or semi-famous person had an account there. I haven’t been impressed. A lot of it seems to be men who were looking for dates, and the thing is…I really doubt that any of them found anything approximating love or sex there. It’s peculiar to accuse people of cheating on their spouses through Ashley Madison, when it’s highly unlikely that any man was making contact with any women there.

A detailed look at the Ashley Madison database reveals…

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Brevity is a virtue

I am very much enjoying the vicarious thrill of reading a Feminist on Tinder. Tinder seems to be ground zero for embarrassingly ignorant mansplaining, and this woman put up a profile that says “hello i am a feminist,” which prompts so much stupidity to be put down.

For example:


I thoroughly despise anti-feminists, but it’s my male privilege that makes me just as angry at guys who abuse evolution.

How about if we just show this one video in all sex ed classes?

It would be such an improvement over what American schools teach now!

Although…it doesn’t really get around to teaching about sex much, does it? It’s mainly about how stupid and destructive sex ed policies are. We need a second video. It doesn’t need to be very long — when you get right down to it, the basics of sex are simple. Any suggestions?



That’s all I can say. The University of Minnesota athletic director has resigned. Why, you might wonder.

Since coming to the university, Teague had presented himself to the media as someone who was a good source and not afraid to get blunt. For a reporter, that was extremely valuable. After he arrived, and before Dec. 13, 2013, he and I had drinks five to seven times, all but one of those occasions in a group setting. I also attended several cocktail parties at his house. I was happy to have such a useful window into the program. We talked about basketball, coaches and his plans for the department.

So I agreed to have that drink. But this December night was different. Teague asked me about my longtime boyfriend, as he often did. My mistake was acknowledging that we had just broken up. The switch flipped. Suddenly, in a public and crowded bar, Teague tried to throw his arm around me. He poked my side. He pinched my hip. He grabbed at me. Stunned and mortified, I swatted his advances and firmly told him to stop. He didn’t.

“Don’t deny,” he said, “our chemistry.”

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It’s a mystery!


I have a question for the partnered gay and lesbian couples out there. I know you get the question, Which one of you is the “man”, and which is the “woman” from ignoramuses who are unable to think beyond their narrow sexual biases, but I’m wondering about a subtler, messier question.

Do you ever get asked, Which one is the mysterious one with incomprehensible desires? I’m curious because the BBC aired one of those science of sex shows titled, The MYSTERY of the Female Orgasm, which seems to be the standard question. Woman is mysterious…must seek out a pick-up artist to explain the cheat code (it’s up-up-left-down-down-right).

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Katha Pollitt is on the mark

She has written an excellent post on abortion.

I cringed as I watched Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, apologize in a YouTube video last month for the lack of “compassion” in two doctors’ language at supposed business lunches arranged and secretly recorded by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress.

Not because she wasn’t eloquent, but because of what her words said about the impossibly narrow path abortion providers now are forced to walk. After all, have you ever heard an apology from a crisis pregnancy center for masquerading as an abortion clinic? What about the women in Texas who lost access to gynecological care when the state defunded Planned Parenthood and did not, as promised, adequately replace its services? Has anyone said sorry about that?

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How does this get past an editor?


From a review by Roger Lewis of a biography of Dusty Springfield:

Call me a crazy old physiognomist, but my theory is that you can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin. Celebrity Eskimo Sandi Toksvig, Ellen DeGeneres, Jodie Foster, Clare Balding, Vita Sackville-West, God love them: there’s a touch of Desperate Dan in the jaw-bone area, no doubt the better to go bobbing for apples.

It is thus a tragedy that Dusty Springfield’s whole existence was blighted by her orientation, which explains ‘the silence and secrecy she extended over much of her life, and her self-loathing’. One glance at her chin should have revealed all — but the Sixties was not a fraction as liberated and swinging as people now assume. ‘Being gay was either a pitiable affliction or an actual mental illness,’ Karen Bartlett reminds us in this sympathetic biography. Victims were treated with aversion therapy and electric shocks.

My theory is that you can always spot an asshole by the thoughtless bigotry they say.