Which seminar should you attend?

Would you believe that the Twin Cities branch and the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota are having major seminars in the same week? Next Wednesday, UMTC will be hosting Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Hoff Sommers on feminism (try not to laugh); on Friday, UMM will be hosting a Philosophy of Biology symposium, with Marlene Zuk, Alan Love, Emilie Snell-Rood, and many other highly qualified speakers.


Is it nice or fair of me to compare the two institutions on the basis of an official university event and a crackpot group of students? No, it is not, but you know how institutional rivalries are.

Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to this one. What’s particularly perfect about it is that it’s being held at the same time as my first year course, where we’re talking about evolution. Guess who gets to skip out on teaching that day and instead send all his students to listen to some extremely appropriate expertise?

As for the rest of you, you could attend both, since they’re two days apart. If you’re in the Twin Cities, though, I’ll understand if you decide to flee the stench early and come out to fabulous Morris for an extra day or two.

I think I can skip this one

The Minnesota Republic is another of those fringey conservative student newspapers that get surprisingly well funded by the Republicans, and aren’t at all representative of the campus as a whole. This one is on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota, and they get enough money that they’re bringing in a couple of well-known speakers to discuss an issue of concern.

That issue is feminism.

And to discuss it, they’re flying in two people. Guess who? Hint: they’re not well-informed experts. They have more of a reputation as anti-feminist ideologues. Try to come up with the two worst names you can imagine.

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Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to meeeeeee!

For some reason, those lyrics came to mind as I listened to this video, only, unfortunately, it’s not Freddy Mercury reaching for those notes — it’s Brian Dalton, and no, I’m sorry, you don’t have anywhere near the range.

Let us all consider what is wrong with this rather patronizing monologue.

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Looks like CFI got itself a winner

Robyn Blumner is busily defending Richard Dawkins now.

I think Richard Dawkins is purposefully misunderstood at times as a way to generate clicks on some bloggers’ page. It’s because his name brings page views and eyes so why not generate a lot of heat around something that is pretty tame if you really unpack it.

What is this? 2005? “Blogging for the clicks” is so last decade ago, and it was wrong even then.

Controversy doesn’t bring in long-term viewers. Consistency and frequent content builds an audience. Getting links from other big-time bloggers gets you traffic. This is remedial blogging 101.

What happens is that sometimes someone says something stupid, and when people notice and comment on it, they want to claim that there is some ulterior motive for their personal embarrassment, so they blame the blogger.

What Blumner is saying is simply a classic silencing tactic. You’re a bad person writing for money if you call attention to this other person’s bad behavior! So stop mentioning it!

And in my case, I dragged my heels for a long time, as regular readers can attest, trying and hoping that these outbursts on twitter and in blog comments were not representative of his views. I guess I should have cashed in on all those controversial clicks years ago!

I’ll also point out that criticizing the Heroic Leaders of the Atheist Revolution does not win you accolades and praise and money and appointments to leadership positions at major organizations. It gets you hate mail and stress and non-stop vilification and web sites dedicated to nothing but hating you. Blumner might want to think things through a little more if she thinks misinterpreting the biggest name in atheism is a fast-track path to success in the atheist community. It is a small tribal group that does not do introspection at all well.

No Roosh

Do I need to mention Roosh, he of the books full of rape stories, he of the cunning plan to end rape by legalizing it on private property, he who announced a world-wide set of meetings of his fellow pick-up artists, he who cancelled all of those meetings as people around the world learned of them and laughed at him? Yes, I do, but I’ll be brief. He had a “press conference”, that started like so:

All right, so the world has gone insane in the past week. Why? Number one, I had organized meet ups around the world for men to enjoy a social happy hour to meet in private and talk about anything. Work, politics, girls, just to meet. Okay? Number two, a year ago I wrote an article How to Stop Rape. This article, to a 10-year-old, was obvious that I didn’t intend to legalize rape or cause harm against women. But starting on Sunday, a lot of you have lied by saying that I am a pro-rape advocate. He wants women to get hurt! And then the third thing, you said the meet ups are about rapists. They want to gather to learn how to rape. They are going to exchange tips. Some of you have called it a rape rally! What the hell is that? A rape rally? So because of that I’ve been all over the world in terms of the news. Over 100 articles have been written.

I think Dave Futrelle has Roosh’s history covered. Social meetups are not the problem. The problem is that Roosh brags about traveling around the world “banging” women who are drunk, unconscious, or otherwise unable to consent, he publishes recipes for tricking women into sex, he regularly disparages women, and yes, he published a bizarre article in which he suggested that rape would go away if the law disallowed charging men with rapes that occurred on their own private property — after all, the woman consented to entering his rape cave, therefore she consented to anything he might do to her there. So basically his “press conference” was all about lying about what he does.

But the operative sentence is that last one: Over 100 articles have been written. That’s exactly what he wanted. His plan was a success.

Therefore, I now declare Pharyngula to be a Roosh-Free Zone. I won’t be mentioning him in the future. I’m entering his name into the blacklist, so don’t even bother trying to mention him in the comments. Defending him will be grounds for an automatic ban.

You might be surprised at what is computable nowadays

Meet Oliver.

I’m a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) researcher and programmer living slightly north of Castle Black. I study online communities, focusing on how people consume content, how user behaviour varies between desktop and mobile platforms, and how we can best understand systemic bias in peer-production communities.

He writes C++ and R code. His perspective sounds like the kind of contribution a lot of programming communities need, so I would think it valuable to keep him around. Unfortunately, he has resigned from the R community. He found something simple, obvious, and wrong, so he fixed it and submitted a report. Exactly as you’re supposed to do, right? Only this was the problem:

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Online Sudoku Workshop: A pretty little puzzle

We have, of course, more than enough material to construct a metaphor useful to analyzing gender. But just for fun, let’s take a genderless gander at another puzzle. This one:

Series Start - Feb 1 @2pm

You now have all the information you need to get the top-right square into the following state:

PS to Feb 1 @2pm

Don’t move forward with any other aspect of the puzzle until you’ve gotten the top-right square to this position. The 8 gained in box C:A (the top-left square) is a consequence of filling in the top-right square to this point. The 1 & 8 gained in the bottom-middle square are not relevant, though they follow easily from our starting position because of the 8 in box A:F.

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