Sexual harassment is everywhere

Content note: Sexual harassment and sexual assault (especially at the linked stories)

More and more stories about sexual harassment and sexual assault is coming out.

It has been happening for at least the last 36 years at the US olympic sports organizations

More than 290 coaches and officials associated with the United States’ Olympic sports organizations have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct since 1982, according to a Washington Post review of sport governing body banned lists, news clips and court records in several states. The figure spans parts of 15 sports and amounts to an average of eight adults connected to an Olympic organization accused of sexual misconduct every year — or about one every six weeks — for more than 36 years.

The figure includes more than 175 officials convicted of sex crimes as well as those who never faced criminal charges and have denied claims, such as Andy Gabel, an Olympian and former U.S. Speedskating president banned from the sport in 2013 after two women alleged he forced himself on them; and Don Peters, the 1984 Olympic gymnastics coach banned after two women alleged he had sex with them when they were teenagers.

It happened at TED

I was a member of TED’s Office Culture Task Force, a committee of people appointed to help make the office a desirable place to work. While I think we did a great job planning fun activities, the committee functioned beyond it’s intended scope. It was the default HR team – TED didn’t have HR for most of my time there.

While in that role, many people told me in confidence how they were harassed. We all felt conflicted – do we tell our stories and risk losing our job at TED and the community surrounding TED that we love so much, or do we carry on and deal with it as best we can?

It also happened at DC comics

Eddie Berganza, a top editor at the company who oversaw Superman and Wonder Woman properties, faces allegations from several colleagues

And of course it happened at Hollywood, at Fox, at Congress, and everywhere else. Now, it seems like it might have consequences ( but then, Trump is still the elected president of the US)

Remembering

Came across this tweet, and thought I’d I share it

Wikipedia has a fairly good article on the 1973 student uprising.

Do video gamers have an advantage in learning?

Perhaps, at least according to ScienceDaily, who has a write up of a press release on a paper Games people play: How video games improve probabilistic learning. The paper is unfortunately behind a pay-wall, but the ScienceDaily write-up describes it thus:

Neuropsychologists of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum let video gamers compete against non-gamers in a learning competition. During the test, the video gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas that are relevant for learning. Prof Dr Boris Suchan, Sabrina Schenk and Robert Lech report their findings in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

This sounds interesting, and would obviously be good ammunition for all the young people wanting to play more computer.

Unfortunately, from the rest of the description of the article, it might be too early to start celebrating.

The research team studied 17 volunteers who — according to their own statement — played action-based games on the computer or a console for more than 15 hours a week. The control group consisted of 17 volunteers who didn’t play video games on a regular basis. Both teams did the so-called weather prediction task, a well-established test to investigate the learning of probabilities. The researchers simultaneously recorded the brain activity of the participants via magnetic resonance imaging.

There are some serious problems with the paper, as it is described.

First of all, the sample is tiny – there is 34 people in it. And since it consists of volunteers, the participants are self-selected.

Also, it appears that there were no blinding. We know that there are many ways to affect how well someone does on a test – even by just reminding people of stereotypes just before the test. This might be the case here.

On top of that, they have used a type of test, which could very likely appeal to the same people, to whom computer games are appealing.

There might be something here, but let’s not start forcing kids to play computer games just yet.

Who will be at QED?

The QED conference is coming up in Manchester, and I will be attending this year.

The program looks frustrating and amazing – frustrating because I want to several things at the same time, amazing because of the sheer quality of the speakers.

I haven’t decided what I am going to see yet, except that I am definitely wants to see the Z List Dead List session.

If you are at the conference, feel free to say hi

More on the Peter Madsen case

Content notice: violence, death, mutilation

In a recent post I wrote about the bizzare case of the death of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who was last seen on the submarine belonging to amateur rocket builder Peter Madsen.

As I wrote in that post, Peter Madsen claims that she died onboard the submarine in an accident, but that there are many signs that something more sinister had happened – a major reason why many believe so, is that only the torso of Kim Wall has been found, and that it contained stab wounds.

Since my last post, the Danish police gained access to Peter Madsen’s computer, which was found to contain deeply troubling videos of women getting tortured and killed.

And in the newest development, yesterday the Danish police managed to find the head and legs of Kim Wall, allowing them to examine those. The police has already said that there is no fracture in Kim Wall’s skull, making Peter Madsen’s story, about her getting killed by getting hit in the head with a heavy hatch, even more unlikely.

A bizarre case in Denmark

Content note: Violence, death, violence against women, possible murder, mutilation of corpses

The newspapers in Denmark is currently spending much time on one particular story that on one side is pretty common, and on the other side, is quite bizarre.

One the common side, it is the all-to-common story of a man and a woman going somewhere, woman disappears, and later turns up dead.

One the bizarre side, it involves a submarine, a well-known Danish rocket enthusiast, a Swedish journalist, and rumors about the sex tastes of at least some of the people involved.

The story that is known so far is this: On August 10, Swedish journalist Kim Wall boarded a submarine together with Danish rocket enthusiast Peter Madsen. Peter Madsen designed and built the submarine himself, and has been known to give tours in it.

After Wall failed to return home, her boyfriend alarmed the police, who started a search for the submarine, which at that time, also had disappeared.

The submarine was found, and Peter Madsen saved from it by helicopter. While Peter Madsen was saved, the submarine sank because of a leak in it. Peter Madsen claimed that the leak appeared after he had set Kim Wall on land.

So, to sum it up, Kim Wall went on the submarine trip with Peter Madsen, and was set on land. Afterwards, the submarine sank, and Kim Will disappeared on the way home from where she was set on land.

Unsurprisingly, the police didn’t quite buy this story, and started looking closer at the details.

There was camera footage from the place where Kin Wall was supposed to have been put on land, which showed that nothing of the sort happened.

This is where Peter Madsen changed his story – he claimed that Kim Wall had died by an accident in the submarine, and that he had buried her at sea.

Peter Madsen was accused of manslaughter and put into jail pending a trial.

Since then, the torso of Kim Wall has been found, and Kim Wall’s blood and underwear has been found in the submarine (which has been raised).

Currently, Peter Madsen is sticking to his story about burying Kim Wall at sea, claiming that the mutilation of the body must have happened after he threw her into the sea. He  has provided the details that Kim Wall was hit on the head by the hatch, which killed her. He also said that he used a rope to get her up the ladder, which somehow made her underwear slip off her.

Again, unsurprisingly the police isn’t buying it, and has added murder charges and charges of indecent handling of corpses (it is worth noticing that indecent here isn’t necessarily in a sexual sense, but also covers handling corpses in a disrespectful way, such as mutilating them).

The police is working hard to collect as much evidence as possible, in order to get Peter Madsen convicted.

And now for the sexual tastes – during the court hearings, there has been questions into the sexual tastes of Peter Madsen, asking if he is into BSDM. I understand the direction of the questions, but I find it problematic that it appears that they try to indicate that being into BSDM would lead a person to murder someone. This is hardly the case.

As wall as going to the court hearings, Peter Madsen is being evaluated psychologically. Unlike the US (or at least movie description of US courtrooms), an insanity plea won’t get you off the hook in Denmark. If you are considered insane, and thus a danger to society, you will be put into custody without a time limit. The only way to get out again, is to convince the judges and psychologists that you are no longer a threat to society.

In most countries, guilt has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and this is also the case in Denmark. However, this can be done in many ways, as explained in this NY Times article:

“The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a crime, but there are no rules demanding certain types of evidence,” said Trine Baumbach, an associate professor of law at Copenhagen University. “It’s a very pragmatic legal system and the sum of the circumstantial evidence can be enough,” she said, noting a recent murder conviction in a case in which the victim’s body was never found.

Given the changing stories of Peter Madsen, his admitted behavior after the death of Kim Wall, and the state of Kim Wall’s corpse, I personally think that there is a high likelihood that Peter Madsen will be found guilty. But it is good that the police keep working on finding more evidence.

I will continue to blog on this story as it develops.

Asshole creates safe space from dissenting voices

Showing once again that self-awareness is not the strong suit of right-wingers, a CEO has created an employment test, which will create a safe space for him, ensuring that he won’t experience people who disagree with him – all in the name of trying to show that “snowflakes” can’t expect safe spaces.

Company introduces ‘snowflake test’ to weed out ‘whiny, entitled’ millenial candidates

Of course, the CEO is a nobody, and the company doesn’t hire a lot of people, so this is just a PR stunt, trying to appeal to anti-millenials and all sorts of bigots.

Thoughts on the British election

Well… that was a bit of a culsterfuck, wasn’t it?

I love the fact that May in her arrogance called for an election to grant her a solid mandate to negotiate Brexit with the EU, and the population clearly demonstrated their unwillingness to do so, reducing the Conservatives enough to deny them the absolute majority that they held before May’s ill-fated decision.

I also love the fact that Labour seems to be winning votes among the young people – indicating that Labour stand a fair chance of winning the next election, either by themselves, or (quite likely) together with the Lib-Dems and the Greens.

The fact that there is no party that can form a government by themselves is, generally speaking, a good thing, as it means that whoever get the Premiership has to be able and willing to listen and negotiate – something which I think would be a useful trait in someone who is going to negotiate Brexit with the EU. Unfortunately, in this specific case, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Instead May seems to be leaning on the support of the D.U.P. – a far-right, bigoted party from North Ireland, with firm roots in terrorism. Hopefully the more progressive back-benchers of the Conservatives won’t put up with that, and will force her to either work across the middle or call for a new election.

All in all, I find it hard to imagine that May is able to negotiate a good deal with the EU, or that she will be the PM for a full election cycle.

Can they really be this culture-less?

This is an actual headline from Fox News insider: NYC Play Appears to Depict Assassination of Trump

The play in question is a modern adaption of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar put up by Shakespeare in the Park.

The only place the article mention’s the play’s name is when quoting Delta Airlines saying “do not condone this interpretation of Julius Caesar.”

The Delta Airline quote was stated through twitter, and whomever wrote that tweet should be fired as a craven, uncultured fool.

The Fox article heavily quotes Guy Benson, who apparently is a Fox talking head on Fox and Friends.

Benson said it is “not a subtle statement” to portray the murder of a sitting U.S. president.

“This is so incredibly in poor taste that I’m surprised they haven’t cast Kathy Griffin in the production,” he said.

If Benson, or anyone else employed by Fox, knew any culture, they would know that the play is not endorsing the murder of Julius Caesar (no matter how much he looks like Trump). That is what the whole famous funeral speech by Mark Anthony is about.

Given how fragile Benson and the other Fox employees are, I tried to find a YouTube clip of the speech that they might find acceptable, and I think I found one – here Mark Anthony is played by Charles Heston.

Or if watching Heston causes them too much pain, perhaps Marlon Brando’s version works better

Both of those movie clips are of course from productions of Julius Caesar which stay true to the classic version of the play, but it is hardly a new thing that play instructors update the settings (see e.g. Romeo + Juliet from 1996) or the location (see e.g Kurosawa’s Ran from 1985 which was based on King Lear)