Are high-ranking professors selected for cluelessness?

This is getting really old. It’s another case of sexual harassment of students by senior faculty, this time at UC Berkeley. Herr Doktor Professor Blake Wentworth seems to have a thing for obsessing over his undergraduates and making life hell for them.

Read this for an extraordinary example of a total lack of self-awareness. He promises to honor student-professor boundaries while calling her “honey” and “honey bear”.

Hemenway tried to minimize contact with Wentworth after a meeting on 17 February 2015 that she said was particularly upsetting. According to the complaint, the professor repeatedly called her “honey” and “honey bear” and put his hands on hers while complimenting her and staring intensely into her eyes.

He also allegedly suggested that he wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with her as soon as she graduated.

“I will always honor professor-student boundaries,” he said, according to the complaint. “Once you graduate, that’s an entirely different scenario. I look forward to the day when you graduate. … But until then, just know that I will never come onto you or make you feel uncomfortable. Got that, honey?”

That’s quite an inducement to graduate he’s given Ms Hemenway, isn’t it?

Wentworth is still at Berkeley, while Hemenway is considering leaving her field altogether.

“Leading edge”?

There’s this new book out, Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science, which has a number of people rightfully irate that it has 23 authors, not a one of them a woman. I was also astounded to see among its leading edge authors Ernst Mayr, who died in 2005 at the age of 100.

There are no women in evolutionary biology who can compete with the corpse of a centenarian man? That’s pretty bad.

And Kary Mullis? Good grief.

I guess this article wasn’t humorous after all, but dead serious reporting.

“Do as I say, not as I do”

I hadn’t realized that that was a fundamental philosophical dictum, but it’s sure looking that way. Thomas Pogge, a very big name in philosophical ethics, has been accused of being a serial sexual harasser, all while running a high profile Global Justice program at Yale. I say “accused”, but this very well written, very thorough, well documented account from Buzzfeed doesn’t leave him much wiggle room. As often seems to be the case, we’re looking at decades of constant allegations. He’d been accused when he was at Columbia, but of course that was ignored when Yale hired him. And then the accusations kept coming, and they kept being handled by university administrators who had a vested interest in keeping their superstar happy.

“It breaks my heart to have to say it,” said Christia Mercer, a former colleague from the Columbia philosophy department, “but it’s clear that Thomas uses his reputation as a supporter of justice to prey unjustly on those who trust and admire him, who then — once victimized — are too intimidated by his reputation and power to tell their stories.”

It is dismaying that someone can cultivate a public reputation for morality while acting as such a creepy sleaze with students.

The best and the worst

Let’s start with the worst. Chuck C. Johnson did an AMA for Reddit. Read for the spectacle of fawning turdwaffles praising a racist, sexist, vile shitlord, and wonder what’s wrong with people in this country.

It’s in a pro-Trump forum, and you can tell that a certain squat-fingered orange troll doll has really given a voice to the nastiest elements in the US. You will feel despair as you witness swarms of anonymous people celebrating ignorance and hatred.

But then you can read Rachel Swirsky and feel a little better. She’s a writer who has been targeted by Theodore Beale and his minions, and they’ve once again tried to subvert the Hugo awards, in part because they are horrified that she wrote “If you were a dinosaur, my love”. I think it’s because they didn’t understand it, or at least kinda vaguely grokked that it’s a) dreamy and metaphorical, which they hate, and b) it doesn’t approve of beating up people for racist/sexist reasons, which they also hate.

So she wrote about the harassment campaign, and their hilarious ineptitude.

That’s where the Hugos come in. Since trolls gotta troll in order to justify their petty lives, they decided to troll the Hugo Awards. Want to know why? The same reason the neighborhood bully knocks over your Lego tower. They can’t figure out how to make one of their own. Using underhanded tactics, they nominated a “satire” of my work to the ballot, which the white supremacist posted on his own blog. As the publisher, he included a comment saying I should be killed. Sure, it’s phrased as a “joke.” But the dogs can hear the whistle.

Luckily, there’s a hilarious silver lining. Because he and his followers are the kind of juvenile people who assume “gay = porn” (apparently, the word “gay” causes them to compulsively think of gay sex, which must be alarming for a homophobe), they also nominated a piece of porn about a dude who has sex with dinosaurs. It’s called “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” and it’s hilarious because the story’s author, Chuck Tingle, is some sort of subversive, queer, meta-fictional performance artist. Remember when Stephen Colbert hosted the white house correspondence dinner because no one bothered to do their leg work? It’s like that.

And she’s doing something more. If she reaches a certain level of donations on her Patreon account, she’ll write a parody story of her own. She has reached that level! But you should still donate, because she’s also going to give her first month’s awards to a charity that provides health services for LGBTQ people. It’s a good cause for a good reason, and it’ll also rankle the Chuck C Johnsons and Vox Days of the world.

But also, there are other rewards at other levels.

At $400, I’ll also release a silly version of “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” about cuttlefish. Because cuttlefish are bizarre and awesome. You know it to be true.

Yes. We know. So we should all support this story.

Seattle is a great city!

Except for a few men trying to spoil it all. They have a woman-majority city council–which voted against buying a plot of land for a sports arena. I approve — sportsball is fine, but let the fans and teams pay for it, instead of letting wealthy team owners mooch off the public teat. But guess how some people reacted?

In hundreds of email messages and social media posts, the female Council members were attacked by people — practically all apparently men — who said they lacked intelligence and an understanding of the importance of sports because they are women. One Twitter poster simply used a four-letter graphic insult to define them. Another man, in a signed email, suggested they should all kill themselves and “rot in hell.” Other critics, in less violent but equally demeaning terms, addressed them as “ladies,” who should “go back to the kitchen.”

Disappointingly, I am totally unsurprised.

Someday, I could imagine myself retiring to somewhere near Seattle, but it won’t be the sportsball teams that draw me there…and the sportsball fans are likely to repel me.

Proving men will sneak into the ladies’ room…by sneaking men into the ladies’ room

I don’t get the logic. The American Patriarchy Association is going to prove that these transgender-tolerant restrooms at Target are a problem, by sending fundamentalist men into them.

In an interview this morning with “Breitbart News Daily,” the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs, Sandy Rios, said that activists have been “testing” Target’s policy by sending men into women’s rooms at the retail chain.

That makes no sense. Shall I test the problems with American gun laws by putting guns in the hands of toddlers and pointing them at Mommy? Shall I prove that the security at big banks is inadequate by robbing a few of them?

This is like the story of the self-appointed civilian bathroom police, or the cops harassing a lesbian woman for using the women’s room. There wasn’t a problem until these assholes created one.

No, not Ian McEwan!


I love his books. But there he goes, getting all naive and narrow:

Novelist Ian McEwan recently summed up the impulse to see two categories: “Call me old-fashioned,” he told an audience, “but I tend to think of people with penises as men.”

I’m 9 years younger than McEwan, which I guess makes me one of those young whippersnappers. I’m still kind of peeved at this tendency to ascribe certain regressive views to entire generations, as if old people get excused from simple humanity, and are all done with learning and growing. I’m not planning on turning into a simple-minded fool in the next few years (not that it can’t happen!).

But right now I can say I don’t think like Ian McEwan.

I tend not to think about people’s penises, or lack thereof.

I’ve met thousands of people, and so far, none of them have introduced themselves by showing me their genitals. I don’t think that would be a particularly helpful revelation, anyway; I’ve found a bit of conversation to be far more revealing.

I tend not to characterize people into one of two groups by the degree of enlargement of their embryonic genital tubercle, either. That seems a kind of crude and useless taxonomy. In general, lumping humanity into men on one side and women on the other seems like a useless distinction that ignores a tremendous amount of nuance.

I’m going to start thinking of people in terms of their blood groups. I really should start hanging out with more type O people, in case there is a tragic accident and I need a transfusion. I’m incompatible with those A and B people, and those ABs, just forget it. But at least I’ve divided humanity into four arbitrary subsets, rather than a mere two.

Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think of type O people as potential blood donors.

That’s not dehumanizing, is it?

Same-sex marriage kills babies

At least that’s what the Heritage Foundation says. It’s going to kill 900,000 babies.

On the surface, abortion and same-sex marriage may seem unrelated. However, as explained in an amicus brief of 100 scholars of marriage, filed in the pending Supreme Court marriage cases and summarized here, the two are closely linked in a short and simple causal chain that the Supreme Court would be wise not to set in motion.

[Read more…]

There is more evidence that ex-wrestling coaches will molest your children, than that transgender people will

Ah, Republican hypocrisy. Ripe and pungent, flowing everywhere. While they’re flailing across the land to gin up a new moral panic over transgender people needing to pee, they’re also rushing to defend a convicted child molester who was one of their own. Dennis Hastert, form speaker, is guilty of sexually abusing children when he was a wrestling coach, and is about to be sentenced. His pals have written letters begging for leniency, and those letters have been made public, because the judge refused to accept them unless they were made openly.

So here’s the verminous Tom DeLay:

So I know his heart and have seen it up close and personal. We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a good man that loves the lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.

So we get a heavy dose of Christian hypocrisy, too. If Hastert gets his integrity and values from Him, that really puts an insidious twist on Matthew 19:14 (Suffer the little children to come unto me).

I also have to ask: do transgender men and women deserve what they go through?