You know what would make our universities collapse?

If all the faculty announced that we’re only going to work 10 hour days, and we don’t work on weekends anymore. Boom, done. We’d have to hire lots of new faculty and our administrators would all faint and the state government would denounce us all as socialists even worse than the do already and cut off our funding.

It’s not going to happen, of course, because we like our work and we’ve been indoctrinated thoroughly about our responsibilities. I was just thinking about that, though, as I was getting organized for a weekend to be spent completely rewriting a couple of upcoming genetics labs, because of new pandemic restrictions. What is it like for people who get to put down all their tools at 5pm on Friday and go home and just read a book or watch TV or take naps or play with the kids?

It could be worse, though. I could be getting paid minimum wage to do stoop labor or heavy lifting, and my weekend is spent in pain trying to recover so I can go back and do it again on Monday.

We should fix all that and recognize and respect labor of all kinds and maybe rip those profits out of the hands of the parasites who do nothing all week long.

UMM turns out good people, like Joshua Preston

Hey Josh! Good to see you in the news for the right thing!

Joshua Preston was a former student here at UMM, and he’s in the National Guard, and he spoke out against the lackluster response of the military leadership to the attempted insurrection.

A Minnesota National Guard soldier, after being nudged to remove a Facebook post that criticized the Guard for a tepid public response to last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is raising questions with leadership about how the organization roots out right-wing extremism within its own ranks.

The soldier is also questioning how the military conflates nonpartisan speech with apolitical speech.

Spc. Joshua Preston of Minneapolis, a 30-year-old attorney and soldier in the Minnesota National Guard’s 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, was upset when the first statement to come from leadership after the Jan. 6 violence in Washington, D.C., was a vague reminder that service members “must remain apolitical.” He was particularly upset that leadership referred to the coup attempt only as “the timely events occurring on the national stage.”

He thought the organization should have been more forceful in its stand against the attempted coup.

Preston posted a Facebook response that Guard leadership should root out right-wing extremism in its own ranks. He was later contacted by a commander bringing up concerns about the post, though leadership did not officially order him to take it down.

I am proud to have taught him a little biology here.

I’m not the only person with reservations about Eric Lander

500 women scientists feel the same way.

…we can’t help but notice that the recently announced nomination of presidential science adviser Eric Lander fails to meet the moment. His nomination does not fill us with hope that he will shepherd the kind of transformation in science we need if we are to ensure science delivers equity and justice for all. We had high hopes that the Biden administration would continue its pattern of bold nominations when envisioning a newly elevated cabinet position of science adviser. There was certainly no shortage of options, with a deep bench of qualified women and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) whose expertise and experience can transform the place of science as a tool for justice.

Lander, an MIT geneticist and former co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)—exemplifies the status quo. With this nomination, the opportunity to finally break the long lineage of white male science advisers has been missed. This was a chance to substantively address historical inequalities and transform harmful stereotypes by appointing someone with new perspectives into the top science adviser role. Despite a long list of supremely qualified people that could have held this position and inspired a whole new generation of scientists, the glass ceiling in American science remains intact.

While we can celebrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to science, we must recognize that Lander has a reputation among some scientists for being controversial, and colleagues have criticized him for his “ego without end.” We cannot forget that in 2016, Lander wrote a widely criticized history of the revolutionary technology CRISPR, dubbed the “Heroes of CRISPR,” that erased the contributions of two women colleagues. This conspicuous exclusion is emblematic of the forces in science that hold back women and scientists of color from attaining the level of prominence he enjoys.

They also reminded me of that time Lander toasted James Watson.

Whoops.

The article also has suggestions for how Lander could improve his role as a science advisor.

It has become harder to laugh at the Q idiots

Just yesterday, I was saying it brought me great joy to watch Q implode. Today, the joy is gone. I have discovered r/QAnonCasualties. I guess I overlooked the fact that the gibbering twits have friends and family that loved them, and are heartbroken by this devastating disease that has poisoned their loved one.

There’s the woman whose COVID-denying, conspiracy theorist father came near to dying.

I have to admit though. I am upset. I am frustrated in this funked up trap my dad is in. My dad is a Christian, and in many ways it has brought him peace, joy, and love. But he is also a white Christian man in America. And he is brainwashed. There is another pandemic going on and it is that whole clump of right wing, Christian, crap. Even before this all happened I have missed my father, I have felt like in many ways he is gone :( . He raised me to be empathetic and loving. To care for the earth and be responsible. Now, He doesn’t even trust science. He screamed at me in the car about how climate change isn’t real as I sobbed and kept telling him to stop yelling at me. I took many classes in the college he helped me pay for and he still mocks me. Thinks my professors were all alarmist opportunists. And more upsetting he is apathetic about civil rights and believes BLM Is a leftist conspiracy. Im pretty sure in 2016 he voted for trump. I couldn’t even ask him this past year. It’s incredibly sickening and upsetting. Yet I think of everything he has taught me and I think, this can’t be? And this is a minor thing but weird to me, he won’t stop ranting about how wrong evolution is (I keep trying to tell him there’s a way god and evolution to exist as god “works in mysterious ways” but he doesn’t hear me out). Everything circles back to this somehow. He are having a nice day outside? “Look at all this, so much beauty and perfection, how could this EVER have been an accident or a series of mistakes?!!” ..I just want to talk with him about NORMAL THINGS. With sentient clarity!!! Everything circles back to something religious or a conspiracy theory. It’s not living.

Or the woman whose husband was so absorbed in the cult that they divorced.

I divorced my husband a year ago because he became a devout Qanon follower; over the last 3-4 years of our marriage his entire personality changed so much (slowly, of course…it doesn’t happen overnight).

Or the guy whose boss is preaching at him at work.

I can’t do this, y’all. I can’t keep getting cornered for 40 hours of my work week, having my boss aggressively talk over me to share tales of celebrities gene splicing child sex slaves into half-man-half-beasts. I can’t keep hearing about how Michelle Obama is a “tr*nny”, sucking child blood and helping Mark Zuckerberg’s wife run a cannibal restaurant in LA, of which Katy Perry is the top customer. I can’t keep hearing about innocent celebrities diddling kids for eight hours a day, about how Paris Hilton is under mind control by the democrats, about how Johnny Depp is a warlock feasting on fetuses from Planned Parenthood, and about how Michael Jackson “did what he could to save the children from Nancy Pelosi before they killed him”. I am tired of hearing about how ProudBoy figureheads were actually ANTIFA. I am tired of my boss complaining about “the fog war”, and about how “disinformation is spreading like wildfire and poisoning the minds of Americans”, when my boss is an unknowing proponent of that. I am tired of being yelled at in the break room for drinking Dasani or tap water, because it is “birth control and vaccine water”. I. Cannot. Do. This. I don’t even make enough money to do this. I need a new job but I am terrified of not being able to find one, so I’ve stayed for the last year. I am so sick and tired. Someone tell me this is gonna be over soon.

My schadenfreude has been reduced to just schaden. So many lives wrecked by this stupid belief. The site does include a list of resources for people dealing with QAnon fallout, which looks pretty good.

On the brighter side, we can still laugh at the Trump family catastrophe.

Donald Trump returns to his company this week as it faces a deepening crisis, with key properties bleeding revenue and its bankers, lawyers and customers fleeing the company.

Financial disclosure forms, filed by the former president as he left office, revealed that his hotels, resorts and other properties had lost more than $120 million in revenue last year, as the pandemic forced long-term closures and kept customers home.

Those losses were worst in the places where Trump could least afford it: His Washington hotel, which has a $170 million loan outstanding, saw revenue drop more than 60 percent. His Doral resort in Miami — also carrying a huge debt load — saw a 44 percent drop.

On Thursday, the company’s troubles grew: One of its banks and one of its law firms said they would cut their ties with the Trump Organization. They are the latest in a string of vendors and customers who severed their relationships with the company after Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol directly after he addressed them at a rally.

Ely said the Trump Organization is a relatively small operation, which relies heavily on the work of others — lawyers and real estate brokers, and investors who paid to have Trump’s name on their buildings. Now, some of those outsiders are pulling away. “He’s done enormous reputational damage to himself,” Ely said.

Oh yeah, I can watch every member of that ghastly family weep and moan and suffer and, I hope, languish in prison without a moment’s sympathy for them. Bleed, you monsters, so I can laugh harder, and I hope you all end up impoverished and ruined.

I’ll make a provisional exception for Barron, unless he turns out to be a privileged, grasping little shit like his father.

Spider skeleton

It must be convenient to be a spider at Halloween. To decorate, you just rummage through your closet and pull out an old molt — instant skeleton!

The good news, too, is that my latest generation of spiders are growing up, and starting to molt. Here’s a shed spider cuticle I found today.

They shed by popping open the top of their head, which you can see at the top left, and then back out, pulling their legs up out of the old limbs. I keep hoping to catch them in the act, but I think they do it in the middle of the night, to minimize the danger while defenseless.

I put a picture of her post-molt down below.

[Read more…]

Do you like to play games?

A few news items:

  • I sometimes play on Sitosis, a free public Minecraft server. It’s totally vanilla, with a mature user base, and has been wonderfully free of drama and griefing — I strongly recommend it, if you’re into that game.
    But did I say “free”? Someone has to pay for the server, and that requires voluntary donations. If you play there, and you can afford it, it’s time to pay for the hosting, and they’re looking for a little bit of money to keep it going.
  • Lately I’ve been playing a little bit of No Man’s Sky, a space exploration game with a bit of minecraft-style creative construction thrown in. I live-streamed it last week, and I’ll be up to mischief again on Friday night.

    I’ve also been thinking a bit about that Netflix show, Alien Worlds, and that it has a lot in common, both strengths and weaknesses, with NMS. I’ll probably babble a bit about that while I build a primitive shack on a strange planet.
    By the way, there is some obnoxious interaction between NMS and Linux that I haven’t been able to track down that does funny things to the sound. I’ll probably sound like I’m inhaling helium the whole time, for extra fun.

Palpable desperation and schadenfreude

One of the things bringing me great joy right now is watching QAnon implode. None of the predictions came true! It was all a lie! It’s sinking in for some.

Despite attempts to keep the hope alive, QAnon followers watched in dismay as Trump left Washington, D.C., for Florida Wednesday morning while Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. With no military coup, no dramatic scenes of revolution, and no mass executions or retaliatory violence as prophesized, QAnon adherents began to wonder if they had been deceived.

“It’s over. We were played,” one follower said on a QAnon Telegram channel with more than 30,000 subscribers. “I’m going to throw up now.”

“[Q] has left me here looking out over the sea watching and waiting,” a QAnon disciple said on Telegram. “No word, no letter, no sign. Nothing tangible on which I can depend. I could wait forever but no true sign.”

“I’m crying and tired of this pain,” said one post on a QAnon channel. “All the evil is being praised right now while we sit and watch. No arrests, no swamp reveal. Nothing.”

With Biden officially inaugurated, one QAnon follower was clearly disgruntled. ​“We all got arse fucked,” ​he told the channel.

It’s great that I can laugh now, but these people haven’t changed. Give them time, and that gullibility and loony conspiracy thinking will have to bust out somewhere else. That’s already happening, and this is ominous:

Some QAnon channels attempted to maintain optimism by theorizing that “Biden will be the one who pulls the trigger” that leads to “The Storm”, that “Biden is Q,” and even that the 17 flags at Trump’s farewell speech—Q is the 17th letter in the alphabet—was a sign to “trust the plan.”

No, no, no — you’re supposed to have learned to be more skeptical, not to reach harder for goofy rationalizations.