The movie this week is…The Equalizer

No, not this one.

We are very pleased to now have a two screen theater here in Morris — it means that first-run movies don’t clog up the sole screen for weeks and weeks, so we’ll get a more regular roll-over of movies. Most importantly, it means that that horrible Mission Impossible crap has already been shunted off to the mini-theater, and we get a brand new shiny horrible piece of crap already.

This week, we get The Equalizer 2. I have fond memories of the old TV series from the late 1980s, in which Robert McCall, played by Edward Woodward with a bit of class, would take on the problems that the police wouldn’t — and there’d be some twisty little plot where he’d use his vast sums of money, his network of talented characters, his mysterious background as a spy, and a clever scheme to cunningly give the bad guys their comeuppance. My wife was particularly fond of the show, probably because the protagonist was a handsome distinguished older gentleman with a nice English accent.

This movie is a little different.

In this one, Robert McCall, played by Denzel Washington, uses his mysterious background as a spy to track down the bad guys and brutally, bloodily murder them to death with his bare hands, or sometimes a wicked little knife. The movie opens with an irrelevant side plot in Turkey, in which McCall slaughters four big bruisers in a train car, and then we go off to Belgium, where a woman is being murdered in front of her husband, and then her husband’s brains getting blown out, and it kind of takes off from there — bones are broken, faces are punched, women are brutalized (but they fight back ferociously…I don’t think that makes it OK), bombs go off, a guy gets shot in the face with a harpoon gun, another guy gets his guts blown out with a cleverly made bomb in a bakery, one more guy gets slashed multiple times and bleeds to death slowly, and another one gets a similar slashing, but he gets off easy because he then falls from a great height and goes splat on some rocks. Lots of blood. Lots of nasty sound effects. Not quite what I expected. The talented Melissa Leo is totally wasted in her role, but I was surprised to see the ancient Orson Bean is still alive and played a significant part in the movie. He wasn’t any good at it, but it was impressive that someone who was in TV and the movies in the 1950s is still kicking.

Fortunately, I’d invited my wife to join me, but she begged off because she had better things to do. I don’t think she would have liked it at all.

Oh, hey, I think I had better things to do, too. I don’t know what, but just about anything would do. I could have eaten spiders for two hours, I’d probably feel less queasy.

I wonder what the Catholic League has to say about the Catholic pedophile ring in Pennsylvania?

Here we go again. As announced by Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a grand jury has released a report on the child-raping pedophiles employed by the Catholic church as priests.

The nearly 1,400-page report’s introduction makes clear that few criminal cases may result from the massive investigation.

“As a consequence of the coverup, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted,” it reads.

“We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents. They contained credible allegations against over three hundred predator priests. Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records. We believe that the real number — of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward — is in the thousands.”

Some details and names that might reveal the clergy listed have been redacted from the report. Legal challenges by clergy delayed the report’s release, after some said it is a violation of their constitutional rights. Shapiro said they will work to remove every redaction.

It’s indefensible, but then…the actions of the Catholic church have always been repellent and indefensible, but they just keep on keepin’ on. So I got to wondering what that ardent and reactionary defender of the Holy Mother Church, Bill Donohue, had to say. Easy: it’s a conspiracy.

So if no one can be prosecuted, and there is no investigation of the clergy from other religions, to say nothing of the widespread sexual abuse of minors in the public schools, why is Shapiro presiding over the grand jury report on priests? It’s not exactly hard to figure out: he wants to stick it to the Catholic Church.

The goal is obvious: the release of the most graphic accounts of molestation is being done to embarrass the Church. Why? So it will weaken its moral authority. That is what Salacious Shapiro wants to do.

Donohue has two excuses. The first is that other religions are doing it, and they’re getting away with it, so why pick on the Catholic church? I think most of us learned by kindergarten that somebody else doing a bad thing doesn’t mean you get to do it, too. This part is basically an admission that there are child-rapers in the Catholic clergy, it’s just that it’s unfair to only pick on Catholics.

But then his second excuse is that releasing stories of child molestation weakens the moral authority of the Church. I hate to tell you this, Bill, but it’s not the public exposure of moral corruption with the church that discredits it, it’s the acts of corruption themselves that do that.

I also don’t think the report is intended to stick it to the Catholic Church. There’s a simpler motivation. The Attorney General would like priests to stop raping children, for the Catholic Church to stop enabling them, and for the Church to stop its criminal efforts to hide the facts of heinous crimes.

You know you’re a Republican when…

You fall for a Sacha Baron Cohen stunt.

The guy is a gun nut named Dan Roberts, and is considering suing Baron Cohen for tricking him into doing something humiliating.

If I were in such a situation, I’d be arguing with the guy and refusing to go along, and I think that might be the difference. It’s not whether you’re conservative or stupid, it’s about how willing one is to submit to authority.

I don’t think we’ll be able to take a nap and wake up at Alpha Centauri

An article asks, Reaching the stars: is human hibernation really possible? It’s not very deep — and it seems to not understand that hibernation is a physiological state of reduced metabolism, rather than a kind of freezing — and it seems to shift the goalposts a couple of times. It also seems to think that therapeutic hypothermia is a practical way to fly to Mars.

A few years ago, SpaceWorks Enterprises delivered a report to NASA on how they could use this therapeutic hypothermia for long duration spaceflight within the Solar System.

Currently, a trip to Mars takes about 6-9 months. And during that time, the human passengers are going to be using up precious air, water and food. But in this torpor state, SpaceWorks estimates that the crew will a reduction in their metabolic rate of 50 to 70%. Less metabolism, less resources needed. Less cargo that needs to be sent to Mars.

Whoa. Therapeutic hypothermia is a technique to reduce cerebral metabolic demand when the cranial circulatory system has been compromised. As the article notes, it’s been used for as long as two weeks, with intermittent arousals. Would a healthy astronaut be willing to undergo this procedure? Doesn’t sound wise to me. And do I really want to go on a trip where the bean-counters have figured out that they can pack half as much oxygen for me by rendering me unconscious in an ice bath for half a year?

A 50% reduction in metabolism also isn’t going to get anyone to even the nearest star, sorry.

But even worse — therapeutic hypothermia isn’t trivial. Here’s a review of the medical consequences of therapeutic hypothermia.

Treated patients in this trial reached target temperature to 34°C quickly but adverse events included periorbital emphysema, epistaxis, perioral bleeding, and nasal discolorations.

Not too bad, right? Air around the eyeballs, nosebleeds, small hemorrhages around the mouth, and bruised noses. I suppose that’s manageable. But then there’s this:

Adverse events associated with endovascular cooling include pneumonia, cardiac arrhythmia, thrombocytopenia, and vascular dissection.

I’d definitely want a doctor attending my awakening. Unfortunately, the doctor might have experienced this:

Uncontrolled re-warming has been associated with rebound cerebral edema, elevations in intracranial pressure, and death.

I think I’ll pass. It’s not to say it doesn’t have benefits in specific medical situations, but I wouldn’t want to risk compromising a currently healthy body.

It’s also completely different from the idea of freezing someone solid, to virtually no metabolic activity, and then thawing them out and having them survive. There’s a kind of bait-and-switch at play in these kinds of articles: squirrels can hibernate all winter long, and hey, doctors have cooled people’s body temperature to 34°C, so why not just suggest the feasibility of sub-zero freezing? The problem is that these are entirely different problems and technologies, there is no continuum here, and you can’t make this kind of blithe extrapolation.

In the next few years, we’ll probably see this technology expanded to preserving organs for transplant, and eventually entire bodies, and maybe even humans. Then this science fiction idea might actually turn into reality. We’ll finally be able to sleep our way between the stars.

I don’t think so. And it wouldn’t be anything I’d call “sleep”, either.

The Freedom Budget looks like a fine idea to me

I was watching this video in which Chrisiousity takes apart a lecture by Gad Saad. Saad, as you may know, is one of those regressive types, an adherent of the cult of evolutionary psychology, who is the darling of all those conservative gentlemen who want to believe that traditional values are the best values, scientifically. He’s not exactly someone I think is worth listening to, but Chrisiousity does a fine job of questioning his claims, so that was worthwhile.

I was struck by one thing, though: Saad puts up an abbreviated version of Dartmouth’s Freedom Budget, a plan for increasing diversity and representation at the university, and seems to think it’s a bad thing. I guess this is a distinct difference between us, because I read it and thought it was excellent and aspirational, and would like to see it implemented everywhere. Saad seems to think it’s obvious that it is an evil plan.

Here’s the opening of the Freedom Budget, which clearly lays out the purpose and goals of the plan.

We, the Concerned Asian, Black, Latin@, Native, Undocumented, Queer, and Differently-Abled students at Dartmouth College, seek to eradicate systems of oppression as they affect marginalized communities on this campus. These systems–which include racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism–are deployed at Dartmouth and beyond as forms of institutional violence. We demand that Dartmouth challenge these systems by redistributing power and resources in a way that is radically equitable. We believe that dialogue and resistance are both legitimate and necessary ways of disturbing the status quo and forcing parties to deal with the roots of the issues.

For our resistance, we have chosen to invoke The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement because Dartmouth claims to celebrate both the man and the movement with month-long programming. Prior to his death, Dr. King had been working with the larger movement to produce a “Freedom Budget.” This Freedom Budget focused on redistributing power and restoring justice for communities who suffered economic oppression at the hands of rich, white power structures. This budget was not a proposal for better interpersonal interactions, but a proposal to transform oppressive structures. Dartmouth epitomizes power being isolated to rich, white males. As such, there is no better place than this campus to campaign for a Freedom Budget that will address the consequences of white male patriarchy today.

Yes. We need to stop shrugging our shoulders, retreating to the excuse that this is just the way it is, and make changes to enable better representation. Really, you can’t just appease white guilt and say “we wish we had more black faculty”…you have to take the next step and actually hire them.

But, as I said, Saad just put up a sample of the demands. This one.

It still looks fine to me.

Establish Japanese Language affinity housing, Korean Language affinity housing, and Hindi-Urdu Language affinity housing.

Saad moans about identity politics here, but this is an issue of practical concern. If you are attracting diverse students with different native languages, help them. Dartmouth apparently already has Chinese and Arabic affinity language housing, this is just asking to do likewise with other cultures. Your services should reflect the student body, and provide support for all of them.

Why does Saad find this controversial?

Ensure that 47% of post-doctoral students are people of color.

Unfortunately, they don’t have a mechanism provided for doing this: post-docs are typically hired by research groups, not directly by the university, so the university does not have much influence here. But the logic is sound: the full document points out that “They should match the student of color population at Dartmouth”, and since post-docs are the next generation of the professoriate, making their population match the undergraduate population offers both better representation now, and will improve representation in the future.

It’s a nice idea. We should be wondering why the students we’re training are not being fairly represented in the next stage of professional development. We should be doing something about it.

Create a professor of color lecture series, bring a professor of color once a month in to expose the Dartmouth community to a wide range of ideas.

Only once a month? This is a trivial request. At large research universities, it’s not uncommon for individual departments to bring in speakers once a week.

Departments that do not have womyn or people of color will be considered in crisis and must take urgent and immediate action to right the injustice.

Saad mindlessly echoes the bias that perpetuates this situation: do we really think we should insist that math and engineering programs that don’t have any women faculty are a problem? YES. There are plenty of women mathematicians and engineers. That there are more men in those fields does not imply an absence of qualified women, and you don’t get to use that as an excuse to amplify the bias. If your department cannot find non-white, non-male candidates for a position, that clearly says there is a crisis…most likely a consequence of implicit bias by current faculty.

Ask staff/faculty to use students’ and employees’ preferred gender pronouns.

This one always provokes indignation from assholes like Saad. He tells an anecdote about a women who suggested that he should ask all the students in his class what pronouns they prefer, and he acted like that was an onerous and ridiculous demand.

It’s not. We routinely ask students to tell us their names, and it’s reasonable to expect us to treat them as individuals and respect who they are. Pronouns aren’t significantly harder (but they are slightly harder, because we often have to overcome years of cultural training, and I sometimes screw up). But if you’re willing to see each student as a unique individual — as you should, as a teacher — this is not too much to ask.

Also, you don’t actually have to go around the room and ask. I’ve found that if I just include the phrase “preferred pronouns: he, him” on my syllabus, students are quite happy to offer their preferences in return.

All male-female checkboxes should be replaced with write-in boxes to make forms, surveys, and applications more inclusive for trans*, two-spirit, agender, gender-noncomforming and genderqueer folks. This should be a campus-wide policy.

Saad construes this as a denial of science, which he avers states that there are only two sexes. This is not true. There are reproductive concerns if we’re trying to breed organisms, but that is totally irrelevant to the classroom, which is a complex sociological construct in itself, with students who have complex and diverse identities which cannot be neatly constrained to two check boxes. Universities should have zero interest in grouping students into breeding pairs. They should have a strong interest in recognizing the unique identities within the student body.

This is also an easy no-brainer. Why insist that all students must conform to one of precisely two patterns? What is your purpose in this?

Enact curricular changes that require all students to interrogate issues of social justice, marginalization and exploitation in depth. Each student should have to take classes that will challenge their understanding of institutionalize injustice around issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. This learning objective should be embedded in all first year seminars.

Saad seems to think this is a demand for indoctrination. It’s the opposite. Notice the language: “interrogate”, “challenge”. This is a statement that a university education should wake people out of complacency and question the status quo. It’s not saying what they should think, but that they should think. I approve of this goal.

At my university, we already have requirements for breadth. Students are expected to take a year of a foreign language, for instance, and I can tell you…we get complaints about that. We require students, even biology majors, to take courses in history and social sciences and literature and all kinds of stuff, and we encourage them to study music and art as well. Universities are not vocational schools where you go to get a certificate in some narrow skill.

As for putting it as a learning objective in all first year seminars, this is also not a big deal. Maybe Saad thinks his classroom is a place for him to pontificate and ramble, but we actually have to put some thought into what we specifically want as outcomes of a course, and we lay out lists of objectives to be met. This is also important for accreditation — the accrediting agencies aren’t going to sit through every lecture in every course. They’re going to ask for evidence that we actually have a well-thought-out curriculum and that we assess our work routinely.

All professors will be required to be trained in not only cultural competency but also the importance of social justice in their day-to-day work.

I understand that some people, like Saad, have a knee-jerk negative response to the words “social justice”, but too bad. If you haven’t thought about the social context of your work, you don’t belong in a university where you have to teach a diverse student body, and not only compel them to memorize a bunch of facts, but learn how the material has context and meaning in their lives.

Of course, Gad Saad is outraged that universities are silencing, he thinks, conservative views, and he goes around lecturing people at other universities about how his kind of voice has been censored. It reminds me of that time David Horowitz spoke at St John’s University, and he ranted and railed about how he was oppressed and not allowed to express his views, and how those social justice types would never allow his opinions to be heard, and in the Q&A, one student raised his hand to mention that his entire class was in attendance — his entire class of women’s studies people studying peaceful strategies for the world.

I will just note that Gad Saad is employed as a university professor and gets far more respect and invitations to speak elsewhere than he deserves, given the deplorable quality of his arguments.

Ho-hum, Comma again

I leave town for a few days, and crackpots start dunning the university’s lawyers for petty information. Comma has been at it again. This email went to the university board of regents and general counsel.

Demand For Administrative Investigation Into Willful Refusal To Comply With MGDPA Over PZ Meyers Data, Fraudulent Bills, And Informed Consent Form Of Nemmers’ Subject Data

David J. McMillan, Chair U of M Board of Regents (612) 625-6300 & Douglas R. Peterson, U of M General Counsel (612) 624-7569:

Chapter 13 data request – Please email/file share me the following readily available, free, electronic, public data in its original searchable pdf format pursuant to 13.03 Subd 3(e):

1. I am demanding an administrative investigation into the University of Minnesota’s willful refusal to comply with my Chapter 13 data requests. I’ve attached the UM’s fraudulent bills (UM_Fraudulent_Bills.pdf) for readily available readily available, free, electronic, public data. I have reason to suspect the motive is to prevent your Class of 1985 UMM graduate from receiving damning facts about the corrupt UM and the corrupt UMM and their corrupt personnel. The fraudulent bill is for a tape of the University of Minnesota-Morris police during interviews in regard to the vandalism and the theft Northstar newspapers. First of all, I never requested an audio tape but the original DSS file. I have reason to suspect that the audio files have been tampered with prior to being placed onto the audio tape. Second, I’ve attached a March 22, 2011 bill for the UMM’s contract with Stevens County Sheriff for Law Enforcement Technology Group Computer Aided Dispatch and Electronic Records Management software which allows for the electronic transfer of DSS files but not audio cassettes. Second, the data that I received was not in the required searchablable format but had been maliciously converted to scanned pdf format. Third, I’ve included to BCA’s software deployment report that indicates that your corrupt UMM Police have been electronically transmitting DSS audio files since 2011.

[This is a bone he won’t drop: I was accused of stealing newspapers, with no evidence. The police asked me if I’d done it, I said no. That’s as far as it can go.]

2. I’m also making a data request for all my subject data from 06-24-2014 until today’s date. See attached signed informed consent form.

3. I’ve attached my 03-12-17 Chapter 13 data request entitled: “Chapter 13 data request – personnel data – grants for The Aurora Center.” This data is currently being illegally withheld from your Class of 1985 UMM graduate.

[I have no idea what any of that is about.]

4. Chapter 13.43 Personnel Data for Paul Myers Associate Professor Ph.D., University of Oregon B.S., University of Washington, Seattle Expertise Developmental Biology Neurobiology Email: Phone: +1 3205896343 Campus Location: Science 2390 Please email me University of Minnesota, Morris Associate Professor Paul “Logical Fallacy” Myers’ (Myers is an inciter Of Violence & Freethoughtblogs CEO, isn’t he?) current employment contract, actual gross salary for year 2017-2018; Educational Background, Professional Certifications, Teaching Areas, Health Care Interests, Research Interests, Current Projects, Publications, Awards, Curriculum Vitae, and work-related continuing education for the years 2008-2018. Why am I asking for that data? I want to know if PZ “Logical Fallacy” Myers received a degree to diagnose, don’t I? Why? Didn’t you know that PZ “diagnosed” me as a ‘kook,’ ‘local loon,’ ‘wacky,’ and last but not least a ‘demented Sovereign Citizen’? Has PZ deluded himself into thinking that he’s a licensed doctor or did he just pull a fake sheep-skin out of a box of Cracker Jacks? Hmm? Inquiring minds want to know, don’t they?

[Comma is such a nosy fellow. He can write to the University of Washington and the University of Oregon if he wants confirmation of my degrees…but, you know, when I was hired here the university required that I give them verifiable evidence of my degrees. I think they’re confident my degree didn’t come out of a box of Cracker Jacks.]

5. Since the statute of limitations has run out on my Chapter 13 data request for the 13.82 Subd. 7. Criminal investigative data for the theft and vandalism of the UMM Northstar’s newspaper I am making a brand-spanking new request. Email me the incident reports in searchable pdf format, handwriting samples, audio files in original DSS format and corresponding transcripts, Digital images of crimes scene and vandalized newspapers, and the signed letter declining prosecution.

[That’s nice.]

Terry Dean, Nemmers (320) 283-5713

P.S. Hey did you know that I helped cost PZ’s corrupt buddy Steven County Attorney/Morris City Attorney Aaron Jordan not one but two judge jobs? Did you know that the Committee for Judicial Selection doesn’t like to receive clear, precise and unquestionable evidence of their candidates willfully refusing to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act?

[I never heard of Aaron Jordan.]

P.S.S. You want to listen to my audio recorded conversations with your corrupt UM cops and your corrupt UMM cops?


In case you’re curious about how the general counsel replied, it was with a terse suggestion that he visit the Data Request Center and fill out a form…which anyone can do, you know.

I’m getting tired of dealing with loons. I’m sure they are, too.

Gruss Gott! Bienvenido a Morris!

I’m back home from my sojourn in Wisconsin, but now I have to flee the house, because my wife has turned on Fox News. That Orange Asshole is visiting Fort Drum today, where my son is stationed, and Connlann is supposed to be somewhere in attendance behind the dimwitted sphincter, so she’s hoping to get a glimpse of her baby boy.

There are many things I will do for my children, but I won’t do that. Which I’ve just realized must be what Meatloaf is singing about.

Wait, what? Jordan Peterson says he’s an evolutionary biologist!

Hard to believe, but he actually makes that specific assertion.

Uh, no, he’s not. He could not get a job as a biologist, let alone in a narrower field like evolutionary biology.

I haven’t listened to the rest of the interview — I was just informed that he made this claim at about the 12 minute mark, confirmed that it was actually said, and closed the window. He is either delusional or dishonest, and not worth listening to further.

I felt compelled to complain about his dishonest misrepresentation while strolling through a park.