Good work, Minnesota

Taking effect immediately:

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday signed into law a proposal that guarantees in state law the right to abortion and other reproductive health care options.

The move backstops the current right to an abortion laid out in a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision, and it expands that to include access to birth control, sterilization, family planning support and other services. The law also prohibits local governments from enacting policies that infringe on those rights.

Bored with zombie movies, but…

I’ve given up on certain movie genres: superheroes and zombies leave me cold. The Walking Dead killed zombies for me — just drove them right into the ground — and the coup de grâce was that terrible Zack Snyder (sorry, the adjective is redundant) zombie mess. It would take a lot to get me to turn on a zombie movie anymore, even though they’ve become ubiquitous.

Then people were raving about this new zombie movie based on a video game (that’s really the kiss of death right there), The Last of Us. I sort of half-watched the first couple of episodes this weekend. It starts off with a pedestrian zombie plot, the twist being that it’s a fungal infection based on Cordyceps, and then it makes it clear that the overall story is about a girl who has a natural resistance to the fungus, and is the key to saving humanity.

Ho hum.

Then the third episode rolled, and was effectively distracting me from my work. Dang it, that’s a love story, a very human love story, and it was beautifully done.

It wasn’t at all what I expected from a zombie-video-game movie, and now I’m all confused. I’m going to have to watch the next episode on Sunday night. Will it collapse into the usual kill-the-humanoid-monster story, or is it going to keep going with human-centered tales of love and struggle? No spoilers, please. I haven’t played the video game, some of you may have.

Montana is right next to North Dakota

The disease is spreading. Montana legislators have introduced a new law.


WHEREAS, the purpose of K-12 education is to educate children in the facts of our world to better prepare them for their future and further education in their chosen field of study, and to that end children must know the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory; and
WHEREAS, a scientific fact is observable and repeatable, and if it does not meet these criteria, it is a theory that is defined as speculation and is for higher education to explore, debate, and test to ultimately reach a scientific conclusion of fact or fiction.

That isn’t how it works! That isn’t how anything works! The legislators clearly don’t know the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory, and it sounds like their understanding is straight from the Answers in Genesis school of ignorance.

If I were to dig up a trilobite fossil in my backyard, a location that makes finding 350 million year old fossils highly improbable, it is still a fact; it is a demonstrable phenomenon, even if I can’t repeat it and find more of them. I would then have to formulate an explanation for how the fossil got there, that’s the theory part, and it’s often the more interesting scientific question that requires further investigation and hypothesis testing.

There isn’t a progressive scale from theory to fact. Theories are explanatory frameworks to integrate a body of facts. They don’t ‘become’ facts, although they can be so well supported that you’d have to be a fool to reject them.

It’s clear that this is a bill targeting evolutionary theory, composed by ignoramuses who know nothing of science. Evolution is a fact and a theory. There is a body of facts that creationists would like to disappear, such as it is a fact that the Earth is billions of years old, it is a fact that life exhibits a pattern of constant change on a geological time scale, it is a fact that there was no global flood, but that there have been many cataclysmic geological and geochemical changes, it is a fact that organisms share genetic properties that reveal common descent. Then there are theories to explain those facts: evolution is a good one that robustly accounts for the phenomena we observe, and creationism is a bad one that fails multiple tests and does not explain the facts we have.

Trying to associate scientific theory with the colloquial interpretation of “theory” with unsupported guesswork is a tired old stratagem that creationists have been playing with for decades and it doesn’t work, it just flags them as idiots and fools and liars.

A deficiency of education in language

What a sad etymological confusion.

Many words have Trans in them. Transport, translate, transcribe etc
But Cis? Before recently it was only used in one word before it was hailed as “How To Describe Not-Trans People”
A cistern. Ya know, that thing in a toilet
They’re comparing biological women to toilets. Lovely

It’s also in “transparent transformer” and “transition”. Also “transacetylase”. You’re reaching if you find that list of words relevant.

No, this is not an insulting comparison, not on multiple levels. “Cis” is a reasonable common prefix — it just means “on the same side.” It’s unfortunate that some people’s education is so lacking that they don’t understand the term…or rather, willfully misinterpret it.

“Cistern” doesn’t have the same derivation (I looked it up, and it comes from the Latin “cista”, or box). Saying that someone is cis is not comparing them to a toilet, or a box for that matter, nor it is in any sense pejorative.

Also, a cistern is not a toilet. It’s a storage container. I hope she hasn’t been excreting in a cistern, that would be very, very bad.

Don’t worry, she has an excuse — she doesn’t care about those obscure technical words, and she’s going to blame it on her father.

Oh wow so it’s in some obscure technical words, too? Well that’s me shut up.
Except no. I was having a chat with my lovely Dad who is a translator from Latin, Greek, Swedish, Italian, Spanish, French & German.
He understands the nuance of etymology vs the context of language

Sorry, wrong again. If he was telling you that calling someone cis is comparing them to a toilet, he really doesn’t understand the nuance of etymology. I suspect, though, that that was an invention of Ms Rosetta. Poor dad.

Really, just look it up in a dictionary, or recognize the common usage. I’m cis, I’m not uncomfortable saying so, and no one I know associates it with being called a toilet. That’s just stupid.

Good luck with accreditation, New College of Florida!

This is how Ron Desantis wants to handle higher education: fire everyone! Kick the faculty and administration out!

He somehow seems to think that a university is just a collection of buildings, rather than people and traditions and a well-established curriculum. So he hires a couple of clueless goons, Chris Rufo and Eddie Speir, and tries to put them in charge of everything.

Somebody should explain to them that their accreditation is not a piece of paper glued to a building. It’s part of a process that involves active engagement with the faculty and administration — you know, all the people that they want to dismiss — and when they go, the institution evaporates. It’s gone. All the currently enrolled students are screwed. The university will have to start over completely from scratch, rebuilding a reputation and a curriculum that was just annihilated.

New College is a public liberal arts college that was founded in 1960. I’m at the University of Minnesota Morris, a public liberal arts college that was founded in 1960. I’m going to have to take this a bit personally.

Not clear on the “free speech” concept, I guess

North Dakotans are making themselves look like idiots again. They’re trying to pass a bill that literally criminalizes free speech.

A Republican lawmaker in North Dakota introduced a bill that would fine people $1,500 if they refer to trans people using their correct pronouns, rather than the pronouns they were assigned at birth.

The rule would apply to organizations that receive state funding—which includes public schools. That means schools and teachers could be fined for using their trans colleagues’ or students’ pronouns.

‘Words used to reference an individual’s sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression, mean the individual’s determined sex at birth, male or female,” states Senate Bill 2199. “Any person that violates this section must be assessed a fee of one thousand five hundred dollars.”

Remarkable. So, if a teacher uses a student’s preferred form of address, they can be slapped with a $1500 fine? Just for saying “he” or “she”? I’m glad I don’t live in North Dakota, or I’d be bankrupt right now, all for respecting students’ identities.

Thank goodness it’s still legal to reference David Clemens as a horse’s ass with a bad haircut, who looks like he’s trying out for a remake of Dumb and Dumber. At least that’s an upgrade from being known as a member of the North Dakota state senate.

Where do Nazis come from, Mommy?

If I had to guess, I would have figured they were hatched out of the slimy runoff from a sewage treatment plant, but no! There are people who take little kids and teach to be Nazis! It’s an online school, of course, titled “Dissident Homeschool.”

“It is up to us to ensure our children know him for the deceitful, dishonest, riot-inciting negro he actually was,” the administrator of the network’s Telegram channel wrote, alongside a downloadable lesson plan for elementary school children. ”He is the face of a movement which ethnically cleansed whites out of urban areas and precipitated the anti-white regime that we are now fighting to free ourselves from.”

Since the group began in October 2021 it has openly embraced Nazi ideology and promoted white supremacy, while proudly discouraging parents from letting their white children play with or have any contact with people of any other race. Admins and members use racist, homophobic, and antisemitic slurs without shame, and quote Hitler and other Nazi leaders daily in a channel open to the public.

One problem here is that we’ve been steadily degrading the meaning of the word “school”. When I was a kid I had a relative who bought a house and set up a “school” to teach the principles of the John Birch Society — at that point, you had to have some kind of facility and had to fill out some paperwork in order to shovel your garbage into children’s heads. He was only able to poison the brains of a small number of families, but nowadays, anyone can assemble a pile of bullshit, call it an online school, and spew it out through a channel on Telegram, and amplify the signal. “Dissident Homeschool” has 2400 members! We can at least hope many of them are critics tracking the nonsense, and that some of those families are treating it as supplemental and also sending their kids to a real school.

The “Dissident Homeschool” network is run by a husband and wife team who use the aliases “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon.” This week the antifascist research group Anonymous Comrades Collective published a detailed report that unmasked the Saxons as Logan and Katja Lawrence, who live in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, with their four young children.

Oops. I doxxed the Nazis! No regrets.

Lawrence expanded on her view on why she wanted to educate her children at home. “We have our children’s best interest at heart and nobody can do a better job than we can because it’s our child. We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi,” she said.

There are no good Nazis.

The Right Stuff and the National Justice League were described by the Anti-Defamation League as “virulently antisemitic”, while 31 members of Patriot Front were arrested last year inside a U-haul truck on their way to an LGBTQ Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, carrying shields and smoke grenades.

Yet Katja attempts to describe these group’s activities as entirely wholesome.

If your agenda involves treating a significant proportion of the population as degenerate and evil on the basis of irreverent criteria like the color of their skin, you aren’t “wholesome”.

We really need better enforcement of rules defining what constitutes a school, preferably one that establishes a required curriculum, but the combination of Republicans trying to carve up educational funding for their own selfish benefit, and religious groups demanding special privileges to indoctrinate their dogma means all these gaps and loopholes form that allow Nazis to burrow in and thrive.

Uses of language

Once again, the cops are exposed. They beat a man to death at a traffic stop. Along the way, they also tortured the English language — but don’t get our priorities confused, they murdered a man and that’s what matters most. Part of the process of building an ‘elite’ police unit that can carry out street executions is to dehumanize potential victims and distance themselves from their actions.

The first time Memphis police described what happened between their officers and Tyre Nichols — the 29-year-old who died of his injuries after being beaten by police — they wrote that “a confrontation occurred” following a traffic stop. Nichols fled on foot, and then “another confrontation occurred.”

“Afterward, the suspect complained of having a shortness of breath,” reads the statement posted on the Memphis Police Department’s Twitter account the morning after Nichols was beaten on Jan. 7. “The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition.”

Brutal video footage released Friday, an hour’s worth of clips from body-worn and mounted cameras showing police pepper-spraying, punching and kicking Nichols, underscores the disparity between what police first reported and what actually happened.

Across the country, police sometimes use passive language that can paint a very different picture from what cameras later show. Initial news releases are often based on police officers’ self-reporting, and were it not for the ubiquity of cameras in modern times, the discrepancies between those filings and the reality of a police interaction may never come to light.

See? The police apparently did nothing. A confrontation just happened. The victim complained. The victim was transported, presumably on the wings of angels. Batons apparently moved of their own accord to batter the man. The active voice is anathema when what you are actively doing is inhuman and criminal. Even in the body cam videos, the cops are trying to portray what they’re doing as wildly different from the truth.

While videos can show what police do not write in incident reports, experts also say officers could be starting to use body cameras to influence narratives. Some believed they saw that in the Nichols videos.

In the first altercation shown in the videos, multiple officers shout at Nichols to lie down, though he is already pinned to the ground from shoulders to feet. “I am,” he shouts back, desperate. During the second video, officers tell Nichols to give them his hands when an officer is already holding him by the wrist; then the body camera points away. Officers also say on film that Nichols reached for their guns and is high, neither of which the videos show, though their first traffic stop was not included in the videos because it wasn’t filmed.

All cops are bad. All cops are liars.

Here’s another infuriating example. The unit responsible for this crime is being “deactivated,” cop-speak for “we’re going to rename this group and disperse the guilty parties throughout the department,” and an officer, Major Karen Rudolph, Commander of Public Information, sat down to write a press release. She’s a professional liar, and really ought to reconsider her place in the universe.

Today, Memphis Police Officers assigned to the SCORPION Unit (Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods…

Fuck me. They gave this unit an aggressively macho name, and then invented a contrived acronym to justify it? Jesus. I bet someone was proud to have come up with that one, and they deserve to be fired for it.

…in the aftermath of the tragic death of Tyre Nichols.

“Gosh, someone died? Tragic,” says the group of thugs who murdered him. Own it, you cowards. You are disbanding a unit because they intentionally and viciously killed a civilian. You don’t get to pretend to be sad at a death you caused.

…listening intently to the family…

When has a cop ever listened to the people they abuse? Did they try listening, attentively and politely, to Tyre Nichols?

…it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit.

Oops. We have to sweep this one under the rug, quick. I wonder if they had listened to the community when they decided to form a unit called SCORPION that would drive around the neighborhood in unmarked cars and pull over people they didn’t like?

The officers currently assigned to the unit agree unreservedly with this next step.

I’m sure they did. Hide the name, please, just don’t send us to prison for the violence we do.

While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION…

Christ. SCORPION was never a title with any honor in it. You can tell what strategy they’ve decided on, though: it was just a few bad apples who somehow ended up on the police force, serving dishonorably in an honorable unit that just happened to be named SCORPION (But look, the “P” is for “Peace”!).

For the next phrase, I’m afraid Major Karen Rudolph, Commander of Public Information, deserves to be fired, pilloried, and prohibited from ever being employed in any job involving public communication.

…it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police department take PrOacTiVE StePs iN tHe HEalIng PrOCEsS FoR AlL IMpAcTeD.

AAAAAaaargh. Where’s my red pen? Where’s my goddamn flamethrower?

You’re not going to believe this, but Major Karen tops that in the next sentence.

…to rebuild the trust that has been negatively affected by the death of Mr. Tyre Nichols.

That’s an appalling twist of the knife. The poor police department…the trust that the citizenry had in them has been damaged by the death of Tyre Nichols. It’s his fault. He shouldn’t have died and hurt our reputation.

Hey, Karen: I think that what negatively affected the trust was the savage brutality and violent tactics of the cops, not the fact that the victim died.

The passivity and displacement of blame can be traced all the way to the administration of the police. The bad apples are rotting everywhere.