Harassment in the news

If there is one thing I think 2017 will be remembered for, it is how the climate has changed in regards to sexual harassment and sexual assault.

In the past, these subjects were often ignored or actively covered up, and in the rare cases where they made the news, it usually ended up with the victim’s reputation being attacked and life made hell.

In 2017 this has changed someone – now it is rare to read the news without new articles about sexual harassment and assault, and there is often consequences for the perpetrator.

Given how widespread sexual harassment and assault has been, and still is, I expect that we will continue to see more and more articles about these subjects.

Note content warning for all links: sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, bullying

Today I have seen these stories:

‘A Complete Culture of Sexualization’: 1,600 Stories of Harassment in Higher Ed

She created a survey in which academics and former academics can submit their stories about sexual misconduct, and their responses will be shared anonymously online.

On Tuesday, 12 days after the survey was posted, more than 1,600 people had submitted stories. Academics wrote about being groped or kissed by Ph.D. advisers, being subjected to sexual comments in front of peers, being stalked by a professor.

Q. Did you anticipate it would be that many?

A. I am not surprised at the number. I am surprised at the severity of many of the stories. I expected more quid pro quo or handsy passes made after drinking at an open bar at a conference. I didn’t expect as many stories of rape and stalking and abuse.

The two expat bros who terrorized women correspondents in Moscow

Twenty years ago, when I was a Moscow correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, two Americans named Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames ran an English-language tabloid in the Russian capital called the eXile. They portrayed themselves as swashbuckling parodists, unbound by the conventions of mainstream journalism, exposing Westerners who were cynically profiting from the chaos of post-Soviet Russia.

A better description is this: The eXile was juvenile, stunt-obsessed and pornographic, titillating for high school boys. It is back in the news because Taibbi just wrote a new book, and interviewers are asking him why he and Ames acted so boorishly back then. The eXile’s distinguishing feature, more than anything else, was its blinding sexism — which often targeted me.

Sir Peter Jackson: Harvey Weinstein made me blacklist stars

Sir Peter Jackson has described the Weinstein brothers as “second-rate Mafia bullies” and accused them of orchestrating a smear campaign that led him to blacklist actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino.

Jackson, speaking to Stuff for the first time since multiple sexual assault allegations emerged against the disgraced Harvey Weinstein, said he had “no direct experience or knowledge of the sexual allegations” against the Hollywood powerbroker, but had earlier made a conscious decision to never work with him again.

The later story is particularly interesting, since I think it could be the basis for a lawsuit against the Weinstein brothers by Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino. If that happens, I hope they take everything from the Weinstein brothers.

Comic book suggestions?

I am trying to find new comic books to read – unfortunately, the algorithms at Amazon are good for discovering things that are related to stuff you’ve already bought, but it is not great for making suggestions for completely new stuff.

So, I thought I’d ask people here. What comic books do you suggest I check out?

I’d prefer stuff I can buy in tradeback (but single issues on comiXology also works), and stuff that isn’t too heavy on super heroes in the traditional DC/Marvel sense.  I will obviously read superhero comics, if they are good enough, but I don’t feel like having to follow an entire superhero universe.

Comics I have read in the past and enjoyed, include:

  • Saga
  • Chew
  • Y: the Last Man
  • DMZ
  • The Goon
  • Locke & Key
  • Sandman
  • Transmetropolitian
  • Umbrella Academy
  • Manhatten Project
  • Morning Glories
  • Strontium Dog
  • Judge Dredd/Judge Anderson
  • The Runaways
  • The Rat Queens
  • Paper Girls
  • The Wicked + The Divine
  • Most Alan Moore stuff

I have also tried getting into the Walking Dead series, but it didn’t work for me.

 

 

For the Jazz lovers

It might come as a surprise for many people, but Copenhagen used to be one of the Jazz capitals in the world, with many major jazz musicians living or at least frequently playing in the city. Much of this was due to Jazzhouse Montmatre.

Dexter Gordon was probably the musician who played most frequently in Copenhagen among the Jazz giants of the time – usually he played for several weeks during summers in the late sixties.

One of those concerts was filmed, and I thought I’d share it.

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.