Christina Amphlett has died

If you were ever into 80s pop, you’d know Christina Amphlett, the lead singer of the Australian band, the Divinyls. She’s had some rough years since, dealing with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, which finally did her in this past weekend, at the too-young age of 53. (Cancer sucks, and so do progressive neurological disorders, and she suffered through both.)

Americans mainly know her for just one song, “I Touch Myself,” but she actually did a number of successful albums in her own country, so I thought rather than playing the most obvious one, I’d put up a different song.

How do we reduce crime?

Increasingly, this is the image we have of the police.


Terrifying, isn’t it? Once again, America reduces an abstract problem to the metaphor of war, and proposes armored vehicles and armored men with big guns as the solution. All we have to do is go in and kill crime, and we’ll be victorious!

Maybe, instead, we should try these 12 tactics that work first. Addressing the sources of the problem constructively seems infinitely preferable to waiting for criminals to do wrong so we can blow them away.

Maybe the right phrase is “revolutionary feminist”

The most “radical feminist” feminist I read religiously has got to be Twisty Faster, at I Blame the Patriarchy. She’s a ferociously passionate writer, and simply brilliant in her insights. So when we had the recent hatin’ and shriekin’ from #radfem2013, I had to wonder (maybe that’s the wrong word; I had high expectations) what Twisty would be saying on the issue. And have no fear, she’s all over it.

So, on a transwoman who was denied admission to Smith College, she writes:

So Wong can’t just declare herself to be whatever it is she is. Woman, they say, is denoted completely arbitrarily by lacking a dick. Not by any of the other factors that might just as easily be employed to differentiate members of the sex class from members of the regular class. Factors such as hormones or chromosomes or giggly head-tilts or — heaven forfend! — personal preference. The genitalia are the only thing anyone gives a fig about.

The carpet must match the drapes. One must be consistent, down below, with what one advertises up top. A girl can’t have a dick. The entire fabric of the universe, in fact, depends entirely on girls entirely not having dicks. No dicks, not of any kind.

That’s right; as is usual in all matters pertaining to everything, nothing matters but pure, unadulterated pussy. So Wong needs a doctor’s note stating that she’s had vaginoplasty. She must become legally penetrable. She has to get a fuckhole installed. That’s because the Global Accords define “woman” as “that which can be fucked.”

On the subject of radfems declaring transwomen as not fit for their movement, she’s got lots to say. Here’s the overview.

There are three aspects of this trans “debate” that particularly chap the spinster hide. One is that it is even considered a debate. Is there anything more demeaning than a bunch of people with higher status than you sitting around debating the degree to which they find you human? I don’t think so.

Go read the rest for her three aspects, but I have to mention her Four Ds:

Oppression is oppression. Race, ethnicity, religion, pigmentation, sex, gender, health, education, class, caste, age, weight, ableness, mental health, physical health, marital status, employment status, diet, IQ, internet access — any combination of these or a thousand other arbitrary markers may be used by the powerful to justify oppression, but the net result is always the same: discrimination, disenfranchisement, degradation, dehumanization. It’s the Four Ds! The Four Ds make all oppressed persons identical enough.

On almost every marker she lists, I’m one of the powerful…which means I have to be particularly careful not to turn my privileges into oppression.

Steubenville hasn’t learned a thing

The football coach who reportedly joked to his team members about the sexual assault on an unconscious girl, who the team trusted to cover up any problems their behavior might cause, who threatened a reporter and her family if they pursued the case, has had his coaching contract extended another two years.

Symbolic of this unholy marriage of jock culture and rape culture was the revered Big Red football coach Reno Saccoccia who didn’t seem to give a damn that his players could have treated a woman this way. Given Coach Saccoccia’s controversial behavior before and during the trial, which drew national scrutiny, many of us thought he at the very least would be shown the door after three decades of service. We all thought wrong. Today we learned that “Coach Sac”, as he is known, has been granted a two-year contract extension by the Steubenville school board. They made this decision despite the fact that a grand jury is meeting next week to assess whether he and others obstructed justice in the case. Saccoccia was legally required to report the sexual assault as soon as he was aware it took place. The grand jury will determine whether or not he in fact knew and tried to sweep it under the turf.

Two members of his team were convicted of rape and sent off to jail. You know, even if all anyone cared about was his win/loss record, this is not evidence of a good coach.

But maybe they should care about more. Isn’t it peculiar that many atheist and gay teachers are terrified to come out because they know it could cost them their job, yet a coach can facilitate a culture of rape with total impunity?

Earth Day: Atheism+Environmentalism

We’ve started the hangout on Google+. Stop by if you’re interested.

And…here’s the result.

This is the brief introduction I gave, to try and focus the discussion:

For a long time, I’ve been saying that atheism is a heck of a lot more than just disbelieving in gods: we arrive at that conclusion by various means, so the history matters, and recognition of the consequent reality matters — it has implications. I am an advocate for increasing the depth and meaning of atheism, for broadening it and increasing its relevance to more people. In that sense, I’m kind of an ur-atheism-plusser.

But actually, I think we all are. Atheism has always meant more than just disbelief. Probably the narrowest interpreter of atheism on freethoughtblogs is Edwin Kagin, who has openly said that he thinks the only issue that ought to matter to atheists is separation of church and state. But even that is adding extra meaning to the word, and it’s also a terribly narrow meaning, that really only applies to constitutional issues in the United States. The New Atheists (and Old Atheists, too), blithely fold Science into atheism, with scarcely any complaint from other atheists. There seem to be some affiliated issues that atheists, even atheists who still dumbly assert that atheism just means an absence of god-belief, are happy to unthinkingly accept as natural parts of atheism.

And then there are others. All you have to do is look at the angry loons who have freaked out over Atheism Plus. You want atheists to care about equality, and ethics, and social justice? NNNNOOOOOO! How dare you add stuff that isn’t in my minimalist understanding of atheism to my obligations as a human being? I want to be selfish and self-centered and Darwinian!

Now I’m curious to see what would happen if we say that environmentalism is a natural part of atheism, too. Will there be a freak out again? Will the Libertarians finally go away? Or will a majority happily recognize it as a necessary component of an ethic that tries to build a sustainable society on a world that is not propped up by magic?

So you’re all here to agree or argue with me, to consider the ramifications, to suggest where we’re going to hit a brick wall. And maybe we can also talk about why religion is a poor foundation for a responsible stewardship of the planet.

PSA: Don’t take the Cinnamon Challenge

Oh, it’s good to be past the stupid kid phase, but it’s too bad many are not. One bit of painful excess I’ve heard about for many years is the Cinnamon Challenge, in which you try to gulp down a teaspoon of cinnamon without water. I’ve never been tempted in the slightest — see what I mean about growing old up? — but apparently a lot of people are more impulsive or more susceptible to the double-dog-dare. The problem is that aspirating cinnamon can be very bad for you.

The actual amount of cinnamon isn’t the problem – well over a teaspoon is fine in cookies, apple cider, pies, and other cooked goods. It’s the risk of aspiration (inhaling the stuff) in such a large dose. As Dodgen did, it’s easy to breathe in the cinnamon, “a caustic powder composed of cellulose fibers which are bioresistant and biopersistent; they neither dissolve nor biodegrade in the lungs,” as the Pediatrics authors put it. Too much non-dissolving, non-biodegrading cellulose fibers in your lungs can lead to long-term damage.

Now you know. You won’t succumb, and also, you won’t let your friends do it.