Why do we force penguins to apply to Harvard?


Roisin O’Connor asks in the Independent

Why do we reduce a woman’s work to whether it’s feminist or not?

Eh? First of all, “we” don’t. Hating on feminism is a thriving business (and an even more thriving hobby). Second, even among people who do see things from a feminist point of view, very few of them “reduce a woman’s work to whether it’s feminist or not.” That rhetorical question is sort of like asking “why do we force-feed children stale Raisin Bran?” It assumes facts not in evidence, and it’s kind of random.

It comes at the end of a piece explaining why a new video about torturing and murdering a woman is a great thing. [Read more…]

She worked hard but her writing wasn’t great

So this guy teaches a fiction class at Emory. He’s there for only two years, on a fellowship, which turned out to be fortunate for him.

Blunt and scabrous, he prides himself on being frank with his students. “My class is like a truth-telling, soothsaying class, and I tell them no one is going to talk to you like this, you will never have another class like this,” he says.

One student, he says, a freshman woman, sat besides him throughout the course, actively participating. At the end of the semester, he gave her a B+, because, although she worked hard, her writing wasn’t great. “They don’t really understand that they can do all of the work, and turn in perfectly typed up, typo-free papers and stories, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to get an A, because quality matters, talent matters,” he says.

So, according to the story, she accused him of sexual harassment. [Read more…]

Guest post by Leo Igwe: Save the Kano Nine: An Open Letter to Buhari, Ganduje and Sanusi

To President Buhari
To Governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje
To Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

We are writing from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, a human rights advocacy organisation accredited as an NGO at the United Nations Human Rights Council. We write to express our distress and deepest concerns over the death sentences reportedly handed down to nine individuals in Kano state this week. Our concerns include the following:

We are appalled that a death sentence should be considered a legally enforceable punishment in any circumstance. In this case where the “offence” committed appears to be little more than the expression of a minority religious belief, the death sentence is particularly disproportionate and constitutes an egregious violation of the right to life.

We object fundamentally to the notion that “blasphemy” is treated as a criminal offence. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and numerous other bodies and experts, have repeatedly called for the abolition or repeal of laws prohibiting “blasphemy”, which in practice criminalize the expression of religious beliefs. The fact that some religious ideas conflict with other religious ideas, or cause offense to other religious believers, is no reason to curtail the right to freedom of religion or belief, and to freedom of expression, and yet under the Sharia courts’ “blasphemy” prohibition, both these human rights are clearly being violated.

We understand that Abdul Inyas, Hajiya Mairo Ibrahim, and the other seven convicted of blasphemy this week are all of the centuries-old Sufi Tijjaniyya sect, whose annual Maulud ceremonies are sometimes regarded as blasphemous or provocative by other Muslims who perceive the sect as elevating Tijjaniyya religious figures above the status of the Prophet Muhammad. Reliable local reports of the mob violence surrounding the initial arrest of Abdul Inyas, and of ongoing threats of violence should Abdul Inyas and his co-accused have been acquitted, constitute serious pressure on the judiciary and raise the most severe doubts about both the decision to prosecute, and the trial itself. The trial was conducted in secret, with no transparency, many of the names of the co-accused not released, nor the name of the judge. The initial and ongoing threat of violence and the closed nature of the trial, the obscurity around the exact nature of the charge, and the doctrinal basis of the court, lead us to conclude that the right to a fair trial has been violated.

Our understanding is that federal intervention, citing the constitution (Section 38, subsection 1) which is superior to any court, could enable these horrendous and illiberal convictions to be lawfully overturned in a civil court. We urge you all to do whatever you can to seek true justice, respecting and restoring the human rights of those accused, and to work to end the malicious and unjust use of “blasphemy” as a criminal prohibition anywhere in Nigeria.


Andrew Copson,
President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union

Leo Igwe,
Nigerian Humanist Movement

Distortion up front, correction at the back

The Guardian wrote an editorial on the Tim Hunt question…a shockingly misleading one for the first two paragraphs. Wouldn’t you think newspapers would manage to get the basic facts right, especially three weeks in?

Those first two paras:

It is three weeks since Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize winner, shared his sexist opinion of female scientists – distractingly sexy, prone to weep when criticised and best segregated at work – with a room full of science writers. His remarks were relayed into the Twittersphere by several of those present, including British-based science writer Connie St Louis. At once, he came under global and sometimes viciously personal attack on social media. He delivered a non-apology on BBC radio. According to his wife, also a senior scientist at UCL, it was made clear to her that to protect UCL’s reputation, he had to resign. [Read more…]

Everything is aired in the bracing dialectic wind

From Rebecca Goldstein’s Plato at the Googleplex:

Plato presents the journey to the light as a largely solitary one, though some unseen person does yank the prisoner out of the cave; but the format of the dialogues (as well as his having founded the Academy) encourages the view that, on the contrary, Plato conceived of philosophy as necessarily gregarious rather than solitary. The exposure of presumptions is best done in company, the more argumentative the better. This is why discussion round the table is so essential. This is why philosophy must be argumentative. It proceeds by way of arguments, and the arguments are argued over. Everything is aired in the bracing dialectic wind stirred by many clashing viewpoints. Only in this way can intuitions that have their source in societal or personal idiosyncrasies be exposed and questioned. [pp 38-9]

Good eh?

No Fifth for you

Poor Duggars. They’re still in the weeds, trying to figure out why god won’t pluck them to safety.

According to In Touch, which first broke the molestation story involving the former “19 Kids and Counting” star, one of 27-year-old Josh Duggar’s victims who isn’t in his immediate family will be filing a civil lawsuit against him.

The anonymous source who told In Touch about the lawsuit added that it could be very damaging not just for Josh, but the entire family, because as a civil proceeding about a crime whose statute of limitations has expired, neither he nor his parents would be allowed to plead the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination.

Aww…so they have to spill or be in contempt?

Being forced to answer uncomfortable questions about when they knew about Josh’s behavior — and after they learned about it, what measures they took to protect his siblings and their friends from him — could put the future of “19 Kids and Counting” in even greater jeopardy than it already is.

Or, who knows, it could just prompt even more on-air crying and complaints of martyrdom to the Libbrul Agenda.

Legal experts told In Touch that the victim will be eligible to sue Josh Duggar under Arkansas Code Annotated Section 16-56-130, which stipulates that victims of a sexual assault can bring civil litigation against their attackers whenever they begin to feel the effects of the abuse — even if that occurs years later.

I wonder if there are similar stipulations in states where Bill Cosby pursued his hobby.


How The Times science journalism rolls

Chapter 72 or thereabouts.

Hilda Bastian ‏@hildabast 4 hours ago
@deborahblum @david_colquhoun @David_Dobbs How The Times science journalism rolls http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4485280.ece … 1/2 #Yeesh

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Honorary fellowship is conferred by UCL to people who “have attained distinction in the arts, literature, science, business or public life”. The Times approached those fellows whose contact details were available online. Of those who responded, 21 criticised the university, four were neutral and none backed UCL.

Notice the problems? How can they know “those who responded” were representative of anything? How can they know people who took the opposite view didn’t just decide not to give the Times any more oxygen? How can we know the Times really did approach “those fellows whose contact details were available online”? Haha we can’t, they didn’t even approach David Colquhoun, whose contact details are available online.

[Read more…]

Guest post: So, should I make poutine instead?

Guest post by Anthony K, inspired by a conversation about multicultural cooking and eating as “appropriation.”

“Hi, you’ve reached ‘Livin’ Liberal’. Anthony from Edmonton, you’re on the line.”
“Hey, love the show. First time caller. It’s Canada Day, and we’re going to a party. My wife wants me to make avocado dip. Is that allowed?”
“Well, that depends. What’s your nationality?”
“Canadian. So, should I make poutine instead?”
“Do you speak French?”
“I know where my aunt’s pen is.”
“Then, non. What’s your ethnicity?”
“Croatian and Lithuanian. But I don’t speak those languages either.”
“Alright. Well, what’s the first thing your parents taught you to cook?”
“Breaded fried chicken.”
“No good. What else?”
“Oh, I remember we ate a lot of potato pancakes. That’s a Lithuanian thing.”
“Are you Jewish?”
“No, we were Catholic. I think the Catholics appropriated the potato pancakes from the Jews. My grandmother used to bake bagels before church.”
“Well, I think we can give you a bit of a pass. Thanks for call—”
“—I hate ’em.”
“What’s that?”
“Potato pancakes. Can’t stand them.”
“Alright, well, what do you like to cook that’s close?”
“Roti. First thing I taught myself to cook. And curry.”
“But you’re not—”
“Nope. Not as far as I know.”
“Well caller, there’s only one thing you can do: fake sick and stay home. Thanks for calling.

Folks, you’re listening to ‘Livin’ Liberal’. You check your cat’s litterbox, but do you check its privilege? Find out why you should after these messages from our sponsor.”

What’s next? Donating the proceeds from sale of his unicorn?

A blistering explanation of what’s sexist about the backlash against the response to Tim Hunt’s day out by medical doctor Amy Tuteur.

Tim Hunt made offensive comments about women scientists in front of a group of women scientists. He apologized and he resigned.

Many men feel very bad about this.

No, not bad about the fact that Hunt felt free to humiliate women at a meeting designed to honor them. Be serious! They felt bad that any male scientist should be held to account for his not so subtle put down.

[Read more…]