Who has the snake-filled head?

Courtland Sykes is a candidate for the US Senate from Missouri. He has certain opinions about feminists. Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to accelerate fast.

“I want to come home to a home cooked dinner every night at six,” Sykes said, referring to demands he makes of his girlfriend. “One that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives.”

According to Sykes, feminists push an agenda that they “made up to suit their own nasty snake-filled heads.”

The candidate said that he hoped his daughters do not grow up to be “career obsessed banshees who forgo home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the top of a thousand tall buildings they are [SIC] think they could have leaped in a single bound — had men not been ‘suppressing them.’ It’s just nuts.”

You banshees! How dare you! Courtland is hungry. Make him a sandwich, because he doesn’t know how and will starve if no woman serves him!

I agree with his last sentence. It is just nuts.

You’re not going to elect him, are you, Missourians?

Such wonders you can observe in the 21st century

I stand amazed at the progress we have made. People work together to aid those in need…like at The President’s Club Charity Dinner in London. They’re trying to raise money for hospitals! How can one possibly criticize them for that?

You can trust men to fuck it up.

It is for men only. A black tie evening, Thursday’s event was attended by 360 figures from British business, politics and finance and the entertainment included 130 specially hired hostesses.

All of the women were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels. At an after-party many hostesses — some of them students earning extra cash — were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned.

They’ve been doing this for 33 years, in relative obscurity, which has only been broken because a couple of women went undercover as “hostesses” to discover what shenanigans were going on. It was an unpleasant night for them.

At 10pm last Thursday night, Jonny Gould took to the stage in the ballroom at London’s Dorchester Hotel. “Welcome to the most un-PC event of the year,” he roared.

That was an omen. I’ve noticed that only assholes take pride in not being “PC”. That’s exactly what it was, too: a parade of privileged assholes letting their hair down to just be themselves, i.e. deplorable and unpleasant.

The nature of the occasion was hinted at when the hostesses were hired. The task of finding women for the dinner is entrusted to Caroline Dandridge, founder of Artista, an agency specialising in hosts and hostesses for what it claims to be some of the “UK’s most prestigious occasions”.

At their initial interviews, women were warned by Ms Dandridge that the men in attendance might be “annoying” or try to get the hostesses “pissed”. One hostess was advised to lie to her boyfriend about the fact it was a male-only event. “Tell him it’s a charity dinner,” she was told.

“It’s a Marmite job. Some girls love it, and for other girls it’s the worst job of their life and they will never do it again . . . You just have to put up with the annoying men and if you can do that it’s fine,” Ms Dandridge told the hostess.

Two days before the event, Ms Dandridge told prospective hostesses by email that their phones would be “safely locked away” for the evening and that boyfriends and girlfriends were not welcome at the venue.

The uniform requirements also became more detailed: all hostesses should bring “BLACK sexy shoes”, black underwear, and do their hair and make-up as they would to go to a “smart sexy place”. Dresses and belts would be supplied on the day.

For those who met the three specific selection criteria (“tall, thin and pretty”) a job paying £150, plus £25 for a taxi home, began at 4pm.

Now I wonder, though — I bet the attendees are furious right now at being exposed. Caroline Dandridge is probably being angrily denounced by organizers for having let a few spies sneak in. No one is upset by their behavior, but only at being caught in this behavior.

I also wonder whether the President’s Club Charity Dinner will take place next year, whether it will change its rules, and whether anyone will attend. Were the attendees actually there for an opportunity to assist worthy charities, or for the opportunity to harass and abuse women with their good sexist buddies?

We made the list!

Minnesota is on a list of the 10 most educated states in the country. So is my home state of Washington.

10. New Jersey
9. Washington
8. Minnesota
7. New Hampshire
6. Virginia
5. Colorado
4. Vermont
3. Connecticut
2. Maryland
1. Massachusetts

I had to look up a few other states I’ve lived in. Utah ranks surprisingly high, at #11 — we’re going to have to credit Salt Lake City for bringing up their score, which is a really nice city to live in, despite the weird religion, and is home to a great university that the state actually takes considerable pride in. Pennsylvania is surprisingly low, at #30. It’s surprising because Philadelphia is in the heart of a region rich in universities, with a long academic tradition. I guess the benighted middle of the state is dragging their average down.

There is some bad news for Minnesota lurking in the details: we have one of the worst gaps in educational attainment by race. I suspect that’s a consequence of welcoming many immigrants — Hmong, Somali, and Central American — and then failing to do right by them.

What is the point of an apology?

There are circumstances where saying “I’m sorry” is appropriate. You bumped into someone on the sidewalk, you say it, it means something because you’re expressing regret at an accident, you didn’t mean to do it, you don’t want to ever do it again. We can believe it.

But there’s another kind of sorry, the one where you’ve done something intentionally, repeatedly, and would have kept doing it if someone hadn’t stopped you — your primary regret was that you were caught. Yet we treat these kinds of cases as if they were similar to the “oops, excuse me, I didn’t mean to step on your toes” sort of case. We still expect an apology — a completely meaningless, pointless apology.

Like the Larry Nassar story. The judge seems to get it.

The former sports doctor who admitted molesting some of the nation’s top gymnasts for years was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison as the judge declared: “I just signed your death warrant.”

The sentence capped a remarkable seven-day hearing in which scores of Larry Nassar’s victims were able to confront him face to face in a Michigan courtroom.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said Nassar’s “decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable.”

“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable,” Aquilina said.

Yes. What he did was intentional and malicious and repeated hundreds of times. Why would anyone trust any sign of remorse? His ‘apology’ is garbage.

Nassar turned to the courtroom gallery to make a brief statement, saying that the accounts of more than 150 victims had “shaken me to my core.” He said “no words” can describe how sorry he is for his crimes.

“I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days” he said as many of his accusers wept.

This is the same guy who wanted to be excused from listening to the victims’ statements, because they hurt his feelings. The same guy who submitted a letter objecting to the women’s accusations.

“Those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over,” Nassar wrote. “The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

This is a whole different category of actions from the accident or error that warrants an apology; this was a purposeful action to do harm to children and teenagers for his own slimy gratification. You can’t say “I’m sorry” to that. There’s no point to it. You’re dealing with a damaged human with bad motivations and no social constraints. An apology here is an excuse told by a psychopath to escape punishment and be set free to commit his crimes some more.

There are a whole bunch of greedy psychopaths who deserve justice in this affair. Charles Pierce hits it just right.

Is there anything about the modern Olympic Games that isn’t corrupt? The people who run them make up a claque of international bagmen, shaking down whole countries and bankrupting cities as though the entire world was their goodie bag. There are drugs and bribery, and there was Sochi, which was a monument to both of them. And now there’s this incredible crime spree that took place right under the noses of the Olympic officials. Back in the day, East Germany had its steroid-peddling doctors. The U.S.A. had Larry Nassar. Two-tie, all tie.

NBC should refuse to pay a dime toward its rights fees until everyone involved in this catastrophe is unemployed. If they so choose, American gymnasts should be allowed to compete in 2020 under the Olympic flag or, perhaps, under the flags of the nations from which their parents emigrated. Their country failed them as surely as did the sporting organizations that purport to represent it. No punishment is too harsh for the inhabitants of this universe of ghouls and gargoyles to which these brave young women were condemned. Burn it all down. Salt the earth so it never rises again.

It would be comical to ask this hierarchy of criminal exploiters to apologize for the institutional child slavery and abuse ring they assembled. They knew what they were doing. They wanted to take advantage of these girls and young women, they built the structures that condoned their abuses, they profited heavily from them. No apology is permissable. They must have it all torn away from them, they must be stripped of their rotten gains, they must never be allowed anywhere near athletics ever again.

I’m too cynical to believe any of that will happen, though. Nassar is getting what he deserves, everyone else will walk away with their wallets stuffed.

Garrison Keillor exposed

When Garrison Keillor was fired for “inappropriate behavior”, the only explanation we got was Keillor’s: he’d merely touched a woman’s back, in an innocuous, friendly way. This has gone too far, some people raged, when harmless social behavior can get you fired! The problem was that MPR was silent. They gave no details about what had actually driven them to give him the boot, so only Keillor’s narrative was out there.

No longer. MPR News has published a long account of Keillor’s problematic history.

An investigation by MPR News, however, has learned of a years-long pattern of behavior that left several women who worked for Keillor feeling mistreated, sexualized or belittled. None of those incidents figure in the “inappropriate behavior” cited by MPR when it severed business ties.

Nor do they have anything to do with Keillor’s story about putting a hand on a woman’s back:

• In 2009, a subordinate who was romantically involved with Keillor received a check for $16,000 from his production company and was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement which, among other things, barred her from ever divulging personal or confidential details about him or his companies. She declined to sign the agreement, and never cashed the check.

• In 2012, Keillor wrote and publicly posted in his bookstore an off-color limerick about a young woman who worked there and the effect she had on his state of arousal.

• A producer fired from The Writer’s Almanac in 1998 sued MPR, alleging age and sex discrimination, saying Keillor habitually bullied and humiliated her and ultimately replaced her with a younger woman.

• A 21-year-old college student received an email in 2001 in which Keillor, then her writing instructor at the University of Minnesota, revealed his “intense attraction” to her.

MPR News has interviewed more than 60 people who worked with or crossed professional paths with Keillor. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because they still work in the industry or feared repercussions from Keillor or his attorneys.

The article tries to portray both the good and bad sides of Keillor, but you can’t escape the broad conclusion: he was a bad boss, autocratic and oblivious, and was only tolerable while you were on his good side.

People who worked with him across the decades say Keillor could be funny, charming, compassionate and gracious.

By other accounts, he could be cruel and dismissive. The office was driven by his moods, former colleagues say. A common complaint is he would punish his staff with prolonged aggressive silence, as Fleischman described.

He also grew tired of and discarded musicians, writers and staff, many of whom had been loyal to Keillor for years. Some employees were terminated without warning.

I now understand better why MPR should have tired of supporting him. There’s still a mystery, though: none of the stuff cited in the article was part of the specific case that led to MPR firing him. Only one person, Jon McTaggart, president of MPR, “knew the content of the allegations against Keillor”, and those haven’t been revealed yet. I don’t think the story is quite closed.

If you don’t realize this is creepy, maybe the problem is you

File that face under “C”, for creep.

You’re married, and you describe a much younger employee as your “soul mate”, and you think that’s OK, even though she never reciprocated or expressed similar statements.

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) sought to defend himself against an accusation of sexual harassment Tuesday, saying he “developed an affection” for a decades-younger staffer he considered his “soul mate” but never sought a romantic or sexual relationship with her.

You get upset when you discover she is dating someone her age, who you don’t know.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday — Meehan’s first lengthy response to the New York Times report — the four-term congressman denied engaging in harassment. He acknowledged lashing out when he learned the aide had started seriously dating someone outside his congressional office, attributing his reaction to the stress of a debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act.

“I started to talk to her about my reaction to [her relationship] and you know, selfishly I was thinking about what this was going to mean to me,” he told the Inquirer, adding that he “should have been looking at it from the perspective of a subordinate and a superior.”

I don’t know what that last bit means. So he should have ordered her, as her boss, to stop dating other men? It’s a bit ambiguous.

She accuses you of sexual harassment, and you actually settle for some large unspecified sum — not paid out of your pocket, obviously, but rather with taxpayer’s money.

Meehan settled with the former aide last year using taxpayer dollars after she filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment. The revelation of the settlement in a report by the New York Times on Saturday led to Meehan’s expulsion from the House Ethics Committee, which began investigating his behavior this week.

You are brought before an ethics hearing where you still insist that there was nothing abusive about your “relationship”, despite admitting guilt with a payoff, despite admitting that you’d been possessive of this woman, and despite openly talking about having an imaginary deeper relationship with her.

You know, by this point you ought to realize that you really are a great big creep, and that you’ve been oblivious.

But no can do: he’s a Republican.

I’d rather be a Thespian than a Spartan

It has always struck me as odd that the brutal meatheads, the Spartans, were portrayed brilliant heroes in that movie, 300. It was odder that they went into battle half-naked rather than as armored hoplites. It was oddest of all that they kept howling about “FREEDOM!”, but Sparta was a slave society, and one of the reasons they were so focused on war was the need to keep the helots oppressed. Finally, someone says it: the Spartans were morons.

The word spartan, taken separately from a military context has come to mean utilitarian, basic. In ancient times the word was more pejorative, carrying a connotation of stupidity and coarseness. The word Thespian, has come to mean artistic and sensitive. At Thermopylae the 700 Thespians fought as bravely as any other force. There was a city-state that balanced the need of self-defense and to develop culture.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the alt-right idolizes Sparta, with their simplistic worship of brute rigidity and hypocritical adoration of slogans. We just have to remember: the Spartans lost, and left nothing of value to civilization.