They don’t understand insurance, and they don’t understand biology

So why do these guys think they can figure out health care policy? Here’s Pete Olson, Republican from Texas, objecting to some simple provisions in health care. He thinks he shouldn’t have to pay for prenatal and maternity care.

I have some concerns because, one thing, they still guarantee coverage for ten essential conditions, Olson said, and one of those conditions—this is care for all,includes you and me—it’s prenatal care. …I think we all have what we call an X chromosome. You, me, JP, Tom and Chuck have those, which means we can’t have a baby. Why do we have to pay for that coverage that we can’t use?

That is absurdly idiotic.

May I point out that Olson wouldn’t be here without a mother, and that he directly benefited from the care given to his mother at his birth? He may not give birth, but jesus fuck, he was born. Also, does he think males have nothing to do with pregnancy?

The whole point of insurance is to spread the risk around a larger pool, so of course you pay for conditions you don’t have or may never have. I don’t have cancer, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t chip in to the pool to help those who do. I also don’t have an appendix, so can I ask to have my insurance payments reduced since I’ll never get appendicitis?

That may be a bad example. These morons probably would think that way.

That X chromosome comment…christ, that’s such low-hanging fruit. He just flunked high school biology. We all have X chromosomes. About half of us have Y chromosomes, which are a triggering component for a cascade of developmental changes that render males incapable of becoming pregnant, OK?

I find myself exasperated at these ignorant incompetents in government. There is no knowledge standard to get elected, and once they’re in, they aren’t assigned to committee based on their abilities.

People are still unaware of Jim Watson’s reputation?

The Illinois News-Gazette has an interesting twist in an editorial. Read it and let’s see if you can detect a bit of bias here.

One recent blot on the UI’s reputation, one that received statewide attention, was the disgracefully successful effort by a faculty ideologue to block a planned speech on cancer research by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. Alas, the faculty members who were so agitated by the Salaita episode were conspicuously silent about the cancellation of a talk by Dr. James Watson, an esteemed 89-year-old molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist.

Kate Clancy, a faculty member at the University of Illinois, is a faculty ideologue.

James Watson is an esteemed 89-year-old molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist.

Clancy is a well-regarded anthropologist with a commendable record of public outreach. Watson, on the other hand, as every biologist knows, has a reputation as a raving loose cannon with deplorable ideas about women and black people. You wouldn’t go to a talk by him to hear about new developments in cancer research, you’d go anticipating the moment when it would go off the rails and produce a spectacular crash, and you’d be disappointed if he managed to stay focused (which he wouldn’t). It would be very exciting in the way that a NASCAR race is — cars going around and around in circles, livened up with the occasional disaster.

That editorial is grossly misinformed about the actual situation, and the author is relying on superficial information with an authoritarian twist — Watson has a Nobel prize! He would never deliver a talk about oversexed African men, spiced up with slides of women in bikinis! Except that he did. I’ve had my own encounter with Jim Watson, and really…he’s not a good choice for a speaker anywhere.

Unfortunately, that misleading editorial has now led to online harassment, and for Clancy to fear for her safety. This looks trivial, but it’s actually rather chilling.

Why would you email someone, and then drive to their home and leave a note to tell them to check their mail? One reason: to let them know that you know where they live.

Clancy has a recommendation. Let this newspaper know how dishonest and dangerous they were by publishing such nonsense.

The sad story of Laci Green

Emphasis on sad. I’ve been a fan of her work for years and years, and quite abruptly she has completely flipped from an ally and supporter of social justice to someone who is more concerned about defending harassers. It’s a terrifying reversal: how can somebody so completely change their perspective, and worse, how can they switch from a white hat to a black hat? Katelyn Burns has a very good summary, it’s especially useful because there are a lot of obscure alt-right YouTubers I’d never heard of before explained and defined.

How did she switch sides? It’s a familiar story to anyone who knows anything about religious cults. She got love-bombed. It was especially effective against someone who has a long history of empathy and willingness to listen to anyone.

In a series of videos, Green revealed that her shift was a result of “red pilling,” the term for a twisted Matrix-inspired recruitment process coined by men’s rights advocates, pick-up artists, and the “alt right.” The process involves a recruiter who attempts to position white supremacists as oppressed truth tellers while spinning phony racial and gender science as “free speech” that’s being trampled on by feminists and the political left.

I also learned something about YouTube.

Lindsay Amer, a queer YouTuber who has experienced response videos firsthand, explains:

“You see these anti-feminist YouTubers who gain hundreds of thousands of followers in under a year. I think there’s a lot of money in anti-feminism. The content is really easy to make and it doesn’t have to be high quality. Someone can just turn on a camera and rant and say something controversial and know that it’s going to get a ton of views. I see people who recut my videos with their bullying commentary added.”

Troublingly, up until recently, such videos were not only supported by YouTube, but incentivized. Because response videos are so easy to make, it was easy for reactionary YouTubers to churn out a lot of content, which YouTube then prioritized in an algorithm that favored prolific output, high view counts, and abundant comments — even if those comments were toxic. Gaming the very closely held secret of the YouTube algorithm became a de facto path to internet stardom, and the format was perfect for response-video creators. Even after changes to their algorithm in December of last year, YouTube has continued to discourage vloggers from preventing harassment — according to Amer, when users disable comments and the sidebar for other suggested videos, their content is less likely to be promoted by the algorithm, and their view counts plummet.

I had no idea. A couple of years ago, I shut down comments to my YouTube channel because I was seeing the opposite of love-bombing — I was constantly getting hate-bombed. The comments became useless because the swarms of anti-feminist trolls would barrel in and rage about feminists and throw in buckets of incoherent abuse no matter what the topic was…and there were multitudes of downvotes that would automatically appear within minutes of an hour-long video. Not only is there a simple-minded formula for gaining avid followers, but those same simple-minded, avid followers become a tool you can use to suppress other critical points of view.

YouTube is broken. It’s still broken. I don’t think Google is incentivized to fix it, either, and it’s become a reactionary breeding ground for assholes who don’t need to provide substantive discussion to become popular — they just need to repetitively echo the same hatreds over and over, reaffirming the prejudices of the lowest common denominator. As Anita Sarkeesian accurately said,

“You make your name on YouTube by making these dumbass videos that just say the same shit over and over again. I hate to give you attention because you’re a garbage human, whatever dude.”

That’s some ego the guy has

I was going to point and laugh at Donald Trump for hanging a fake Time magazine cover in his golf clubs, but then I realized — we all fake this stuff to inflate our egos. Right? Perfectly normal. Entirely natural.

I mean, I’ve got photos of my 3 kids hanging on my wall at home. Two of them are totally fake (I won’t reveal which). I’ve been inflating the number of children I have just to make myself seem more virile. But then, you all claim to have more kids than you really do, I’m sure. It’s ordinary human behavior.

I’m supposedly able to drive, but — true confession — I actually don’t have a driver’s license. I posted a photo of Tom Selleck that I downloaded off the internet onto my library card. We all do it. My wife has a photo of Jennifer Aniston taped to her credit card, it fools all the police who’ve stopped her for her autograph.

My degree? It came out of a Cracker Jack box (not the regular size, though, you have to invest in the super-duper economy sized box, obviously), but it’s good enough. Impressed everyone who gave me this job, after all.

Having pathologically engorged narcissistic tendencies is simply part of the human condition, as I’m sure you all agree. It’s normal. You can’t condemn Trump for lying, you know, or being an egomaniacal buffoon, especially since Obama faked being president for a whole eight years, and nobody complained about that.

Those under-appreciated carbohydrates

This is a promotional video for the University of Utrecht, but it doesn’t lie (although I’m beginning to detest the phrase “dark matter of the ______”). Glycans are essential components of the cell.

In our cell biology course — and probably in most cell bio courses — we start with an overview of those key macromolecules, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids, and then spend almost all of the semester focused on proteins and nucleic acids. I think in part it’s because we have a straightforward connection between them, and so much of the discipline of molecular biology is about just those two. It’s also the case that there is no such thing as a gene coding for a lipid or a glycan, which immediately removes them from consideration or interest to many biologists. Instead, glycans and lipids are produced indirectly by the cellular and extracellular environment, which makes them an order of magnitude more difficult to understand.

But that should make them even cooler!

It doesn’t make them “dark matter of the cell”, though.

Welcoming the deep rifts!

Clementine Ford has published a book, Fight Like A Girl, and has written a number of columns like this one, It’s time we demanded more from boys, for all our sakes, to promote her next one, Boys Will Be Boys, that universal phrase used to excuse vile behavior. In that essay, she writes about some high school football players who anally raped an intellectually disabled 17-year-old African American boy with a coathanger and made him sing a song about lynching black people, and who then got off with probation.

For orchestrating this crime, Howard was sentenced to three years’ probation and 300 hours of community service. In his sentencing remarks, district judge Randy J. Stoker stated the attack was not, in his opinion, racially or sexually motivated.

This is a real problem Ford is describing. The judge let them off, and citizens of the town excused their behavior. How can you excuse anal rape? That’s just what boys do.

They’re 15-, 16-, 17-year-old boys who are doing what boys do … I would guarantee that those boys had no criminal intent to do anything or any harm to anyone. Boys are boys and sometimes they get carried away.

I was once a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old boy. I was never even tempted to sexually assault other boys, black, handicapped, or not. I think I rather resent this idea that because of my sex, I am predisposed to viciously and violently carry out sexual attacks on others, and I think I’m going to have to side with Clementine Ford on the fact that this attitude does a disservice to boys.

But having that attitude is apparently beneficial to a lot of Australians, because they’re very upset that Ford is going to be a speaker at the Atheist Foundation of Australia‘s Global Atheist Convention in 2018. I’m glad she’s speaking there — atheists need that kind of wake-up call — but wow, you should see all the hatred for Ford sweeping out of Facebook and YouTube right now. How dare she confront male privilege and chastise not just bad actors, but also all the people who make excuses for them, people like…the people hating on Ford.

So, the anti-feminists have launched a campaign to boycott a bookstore stocking her book (they seem not to have decided to campaign against either atheism or Amazon, though), and are trying to fill the AFA’s facebook page with threats of violence.

Just on 10% of all comments (that have been also deleted) have included threats of physical violence by men against not just Clementine Ford but other women here. These have included suggestions of being raped and having throats slit, a women told to ‘sit on a knife’, called whores and sluts, retards and so on.

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. But hey, as one person made note. The women here deserved the threats because they were feminists.

Wait, aren’t these the same people who usually howl about free speech and hate deplatforming and other such sins? Never mind…it’s OK, because they’re feminists.

The title of the 2018 Global Atheist Convention is “Reason to Hope”. I don’t see much reason to hope in the misogyny sector of atheism, but elsewhere I do — in particular, that the anti-feminists have become so cartoonishly villainous and stupid that maybe more people will understand why they are pariahs. The anti-feminist atheists were furious in their attacks on Atheism+, as they are now on Clementine Ford, but I think what they’ve accomplished is to drive much of mainstream atheism away and create little ghettos of hatred for themselves. Congratulations to them on successfully establishing Atheism!

Anita Sarkeesian responds to the garbage humans

She has a fine statement on their fundamental dishonesty.

Now, he and his followers are acting as if me publicly calling him a “garbage human” is the equivalent to what he has done to me. In truth, he and his followers cannot begin to imagine what it is to have to constantly beg for and fight for your basic humanity in a culture that fundamentally refuses to acknowledge it. He cannot imagine what it is to spend years and years being the target of floods of harassment and hate, and then to still go out there and keep fighting. The companion of his who made that apology video I referenced earlier also tweeted that women are “powerful” enough to “deal with things like workplace harassment to rape.” As if power is in accepting a culture in which women are second-class citizens, in which misogyny and workplace harassment and rape are the norm. Fuck that. I’ll never settle for that. You’re damn right I’m powerful. After everything I’ve been put through by Carl and other men just like him, I’m still powerful enough to go out there and try to change it.

Just the fact that they’re trying to conceal their history and pretend to moral equivalence tells you that they’re a gang of smug goons.