Live Coverage of MN Protests for BLM Mon April 12: Shots fired

I’m obviously not in MN, but there’s quite a lot to see in the live coverage provided by Unicorn Riot.

Less than 5 minutes ago there was audible gunfire. The reporter was speculating that it was coming from protesters shooting bullets into the air. Obviously that’s very dangerous, since the bullets won’t reach escape velocity. I’m not entirely clear why the reporter thought it was protesters, but I’m assuming it’s because they have a general sense of distance and direction. Here’s hoping this shit doesn’t escalate further.

ETA: I thought I might add multiple updates to this as more info came in, but the protests were almost over when this happened. Everyone has gone home for the night and from where Unicorn Riot was filming there was simply no way to get any more info about the shooter, not even whether or not they were arrested. Because things ended so quickly after I wrote this post (maybe 10-15 minutes, tops) there’s simply nothing of substance to add, but I thought I had to at least write “nothing else happened” here lest the dangerous cliffhanger become needlessly alarming over the long hours of the night.

I’m not going to head to Minnesota like I went to Portland, but I’ll keep an eye on Unicorn Riot’s channel & make posts if I notice something important.

Transsexual, Transgender, Trans… and that damn asterisk

I’ve been asked again about why I sometimes use an asterisk after the word “trans” when describing the broader transsexual and transgender community (which, tbh, aren’t even thought of that anymore so much as just “the trans community”). Me being me, I didn’t just throw up a link, but I attempted to write again what it has meant in my life. I like this version, so I’m copying it from where it was originally written over to here. This way, hopefully, this bit of community and individual history is less likely to get lost, and maybe next time I can simply offer someone a simple link instead of spending 3 hours collecting my thoughts on the topic again.

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llyris, daulnay, & Iran give us a lesson in correlation and causation: Part 2

And here we are, part 2 of our extravaganza. We’ll focus on daulnay’s comments for a bit. First I think it important to acknowledge that this is daulnay’s first comment in that thread:

This is an anecdote, and also data; an outlier data point that needs to be accounted for.
A member of my family, who I’ve known well their entire (20ish years) life, is transitioning (M->F). At age 6, they were drawn to female characters. Throughout childhood (and beyond) when they played computer games, they would make a female character. They strongly resisted coaching to conform to male stereotypes, like stiff-upper-lipping pain or putting up with discomfort. A few years after puberty, they became more and more depressed, then suicidal. They described feeling that the body they were in was wrong, and felt life was unbearable. After starting transition, the suicidal urges disappeared. They’re much happier, and planning to live a long life.
For her relatives, this lifts an immense dread. The family she sees day-to-day is very accepting, and she’s found a larger trans community online. Where there was despair, now there’s bright hope for the future.
This is what transition is about, not a ‘social contagion’ but fixing something fundamentally askew.

This comment is clearly a statement of support for PZ’s OP, and for trans* liberation in general. When daulnay later asserts being an ally to trans* people, there’s a reason for that. They do seem to be speaking up in favor of gender liberation and against ATR (Anti-Trans Reactionary) philosophies at least some of the time. But I’m not here to praise good daulnay comments, but to criticize the bad ones. Trans, genderqueer, non-binary: lend me your ears.

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Embarrassing admissions that don’t really embarrass me anymore: part the first

Before we go any further, I don’t actually know that there will ever be a part 2, but who knows, I’ve had lots of embarrassing moments in my life so maybe someday we’ll have a part 3,246. Might as well start out the naming convention with room for growth, then, eh?

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llyris, daulnay, & Iran give us a lesson in correlation and causation: Part 1

So by placing this here, I’m guaranteeing that it will be missed by many, but again I have to say some things that feel inappropriate as a comment (lest they take up too much space) and also might risk being lost on the internet if I ever wanted to track them down again at a later date. So here we are, making an OP out of molehill, again.

The need to say these things arises out of a thread over on Pharyngula. It’s this one, if you couldn’t guess. While PZ’s OP is fine and most of the discussion is as well, a few things crashed together destructively. I think this is important to tackle because it is an example of how people who think of themselves as allies can get called out for good reasons, but the imprecision of everyday language makes it hard for anyone to get past the fact of calling out to actually learn any lessons from it. Trans folk may think that people aren’t honestly trying to be on their side (because, frankly, we’ve seen a lot of bad faith arguments and it can be hard to tell the difference between “bad faith deployment of misinformation” and “good faith repetition of misinformation”) when, yes, they are trying. People working to be allies may simply not understand the lessons on offer and conclude that some is – wait for it – being hysterical. They may even quit listening. And this too is not entirely outrageous since merely being trans doesn’t guarantee that one is a good or even reasonable source of information. Being trans doesn’t prevent someone from saying stupid shit about being trans or about cissexism.

But in this case there is a problem (or two), and a huge one (or two), with things embedded in the comments of Ilyris & daulnay, and I think this needs discussion.

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On Hasbro’s Potato Head Be It

Conservatives: Gender is all about the penis. If you were born with a penis, you’re a man. If not, you’re a woman. These are the inevitable facts about gender encoded in the laws of biology. You can’t change that by just calling yourself by a different name or using a different pronoun, and I won’t submit to your linguistic fascism, not even if you attempt to enforce it through cancel-culture economic terrorism!

Also Conservatives: This no-dick, extruded-plastic root vegetable is a man: how dare you disrespect him by removing his proper title? Next you’ll be calling this nutritious, starchy gentleman “it”! FOR SHAME. Call him “Mister” or I shall boycott your company forever!



Video of Perseverance Landing

Many of us watched in real time as NASA got signals from Perseverance sent during its landing maneuvers. However, what we actually watched was video from earth of NASA’s team responding to this news + supplemental videos that were recorded in advance, including a simulation of the landing procedure.

It takes quite a while to send data from Mars to Earth. We can’t easily send a multi-frequency or high-frequency signal. We use radio frequencies for a good bit of the data transfer, and radio frequencies carry very little information compared to, say, a household internet connection. The ubiquitous household internet connections in 2020, after all, allow real time video. But radio signals do not.

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This isn’t a defense of politicians, it’s an indictment of the media

So, there’s an article up on Raw Story about how House Republicans are likely to impeach VP Harris and/or President Biden should they gain a majority in 2022. In discussing this fact, some people claim that elected Republicans don’t necessarily want to engage in a corrupt tit-for-well justified tat. Rather, according to retired House member Tom Rooney:

“It might not necessarily be what some of those guys want to do, but it might be what the base expects. People want Armageddon.”

The article continues:

Rooney wasn’t saying that he thinks that impeaching Biden would be a good idea should Republicans retake the House in 2022 — only that parts of his party are feeling incredibly vindictive. And that type of severe partisanship is why Rooney decided not to seek reelection in 2018.

Brendan Buck, a Republican media strategist who worked for two former GOP House speakers — Paul Ryan and John Boehner — told the Times, “We’re in an era where you need to make loud noises and break things in order to get attention. It doesn’t matter what you’re breaking — as long as you’re creating conflict and appeasing your party, anything goes.” [emphasis mine]

As the title of this post says, the fact that they’re willing to go along with a raging mob in violating the spirit of the constitution in order to preserve the privileges of their elected position and further their own power says nothing positive about House Republicans. But it certainly does say something negative about the US media landscape that “breaking things” results in the media attention that generates political power.