The rapist who would be president

I guess this must not be an important story, because both the NY Times and the Washington Post have buried it in small articles far down on their pages…but it seems like it ought to be a big deal. Donald Trump is being tried for the rape of E. Jean Carroll. The leading Republican candidate for the presidency has been credibly accused of rape. Maybe we ought to care a lot more about that? Everything in the account is consistent, and fits with what we know about the man. Carroll has testified:

In a heart-wrenching testimony, Carroll told her story once again: She hung out with Trump on a whim. They bantered. Then he raped her. She was so scarred by the experience, she said, that she was “unable to ever have a romantic life again.” This, too, is consistent with her first public recounting of this story, published in her book and in New York magazine in 2019: “I have never had sex with anybody ever again.”

Donald Trump is the cure for desire. I believe it.

While Carroll has been present and bravely telling a story that clearly hurts her deeply, Trump is not present in the courtroom. His lawyers (who are scum-sucking creeps, whose only defense is to slander the victim) have wisely chosen to keep him away.

Of course, there’s a pragmatic reason to keep Trump away, which is that he’s too undisciplined. He can’t keep his story straight regarding sexual abuse, and whether he’s for it or against it. During the deposition, for instance, Trump tried to stick to his story that no encounter happened. But, being the sexist pig he is, he kept veering very close to contradicting himself in order to invoke another sexist myth about rape, which is that victims are asking for it.

“She actually indicated that she loved it,” he grumbled during the October 19, 2022 testimony, referring to a CNN interview he watched with Carroll. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”

Carroll’s attorney almost caught him, by replying, “So, sir, I just want to confirm:· It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?” Seemingly realizing his screw-up, Trump back-tracked and started dithering about how he was merely speculating about her mental acuity based on a cable news program. But one can see from this, and from Trump’s social media posts, why his lawyers are so worried he will let some damning detail slip if he’s under the pressure of cross-examination.

He’s a corrupt fool and a rapist, but he’s still running for the highest office in the land. The Supreme Court has been packed with corrupt and untrustworthy lickspittles to the rich. There is no justice in America.

Whoa, it’s been an awful long time since I had a french fry. Must be why I’m depressed.

Articles about nutrition are among the least interesting science articles I read. I’d like to care more, nutrition is important and affects our lives significantly, but so many of them look like this:

A research team in Hangzhou, China, found that frequent consumption of fried foods, especially fried potatoes, was linked with a 12% higher risk of anxiety and 7% higher risk of depression than in people who didn’t eat fried foods.

They fit into a simple template. We fished up a small statistical correlation of simple cause A to complex behavioral/physiological phenomenon B. It’s annoying because they don’t have a mechanistic explanation, only a correlation, and their result is the product of a huge amount of work.

The study evaluated 140,728 people over 11.3 years. After excluding participants diagnosed with depression within the first two years, a total of 8,294 cases of anxiety and 12,735 cases of depression were found in those that consumed fried food, while specifically fried potatoes were found to have a 2% increase in risk of depression over fried white meat.

The study had also found that the participants consuming more than one serving of fried food regularly were more likely to be younger men.

One hundred forty thousand subjects over 11 years! And all they have to show for it is that feeble increase in likelihood that young men who eat fried foods are somewhat more depressed and anxious. Oh, how surprising. Have they considered that cheap fried fast food might be what people who are depressed and anxious might choose to eat? Or worse, might have limited choices in what they can eat?

Instead, let’s look to animal models, specifically zebrafish. These researchers do some impressively detailed, thorough analyses of zebrafish behavior after they add up to 0.5mM acrylamide to their tanks. The fish didn’t like it.

In the new study, the researchers suggest that acrylamide, a chemical formed during the frying process, especially in fried potatoes, is to blame for the higher risk of anxiety and depression.

In a separate paper referenced in the new study, the researchers exposed zebrafish to the chemical, finding that long-term exposure had caused the fish to dwell in dark zones within the tank, a common sign of a higher anxiety level in the fish.

The zebrafish had also displayed a reduced ability to explore their tanks and socialize, as they did not swim closely with other zebrafish, even though zebrafish are known to form schools with their species.

I worked with zebrafish for many years and am familiar with their behavior. They are flighty and sensitive; it’s easy to provoke changes in behavior. They’re like people in that regard. Throwing software at detailed video analyses of their behavior might generate tons of numbers and lots of graphs, but I fail to see what we learn from it, beyond that short summary: they didn’t like acrylamide.

Behavioral profiles of zebrafish by the long-term exposure to acrylamide in the novel object exploration test and the social preference test. (A) Representative swimming trajectories of zebrafish in the control group and three acrylamide exposure groups (0 mM wide type, 0.125 mM, 0.25 mM, and 0.5 mM). A novel object for zebrafish was placed in the left part (Zone 1) and the right part was Zone 2. (B) Heatmap visualization of zebrafish trajectories in the novel object exploration test. (C) Duration time spent in Zone 1 or Zone 2 of total time (%). (D) Distance traveled in Zone 1 or Zone 2 of total distance (%). (E) Representative swimming trajectories of zebrafish in different groups (0 mM wide type, 0.125 mM, 0.25 mM, and 0.5 mM). (F) Radar chart of 12 behavioral parameters of zebrafish in different groups (0 mM wide type, 0.125 mM, 0.25 mM, and 0.5 mM). a, duration; b, distance; c, average velocity (cm/s); d, accelerated speed; e, average entry time duration (s); f, turning angle (°); g, turning angle (°)/time; h, activity; i, rapid move ratio; j, normal move ratio; k, freezing time ratio (s); l, freezing time duration (s). (G) Heatmap visualization of zebrafish trajectories in the social preference test. (H) Duration time spent in the left or right chamber of total time (%). (I) Distance traveled in the left or right chamber of total distance (%). (J) Traversing times between the left and right chambers. (K) Numbers of crossing the middle line. (L) Hierarchical clustering of zebrafish in the social preference test. All the histograms were present with mean ± SEM, while all behavioral parameter data were analyzed by the two-way ANOVA followed by multiple comparisons or the one-way ANOVA followed by the Turkey post hoc test. The level of significance was defined as *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, ***P < 0.001, ****P < 0.0001; #P < 0.05, ##P < 0.01, ###P < 0.001, ####P < 0.0001 (* indicates significance between different groups and # indicates significance between different regions within the same group).

Yep, I believe it. Stress zebrafish by dosing their tank with a strange small molecule, and stressed zebrafish are stressed. They proved it, I’m satisfied. I am more than satisfied, I must concur: they have quantified to a remarkable degree that zebrafish are stressed by the presence of one component of french fried potatoes in their tanks. That’s total overkill.

I would just ask, do you think fast food workers are stressed by the omnipresent smell of fried foods in their clothes, their hair, the air they breathe? Does that suggest that you have identified the specific biological agent that causes anxiety and depression? No, it does not.

I respect the amount of work that went into the analysis, and think that every bit of knowledge we gain from research is worthwhile. But is it “run to CNN and let the world know that french fries cause depression” level of worthwhile? Is it even “publish in PNAS” worthwhile? OMG, is it “16 authors!” worthwhile?

Anli Wang, Xuzhi Wan, Pan Zhuang, Wei Jia, Yang Ao, Xiaohui Liu, Yimei Tian, Li Zhu, Yingyu Huang, Jianxin Yao, Binjie Wang, Yuanzhao Wu, Zhongshi Xu, Jiye Wang, Weixuan Yao, Jingjing Jiao, and Yu Zhang (2023) High fried food consumption impacts anxiety and depression due to lipid metabolism disturbance and neuroinflammation. PNAS 120(18) e2221097120.

Two losers having a perfectly normal conversation

Tucker Carlson has been fired, Elon Musk has been exposed as an incompetent twit, so let’s look back at those heady, long-ago (a bit more than a week) times when the two of them would sit down as equals and solemnly discuss the important stuff — like how birth control is destroying civilization.

CARLSON: I mean, the urge to have sex and to procreate is – after breathing and eating – the most basic urge. How has it been subverted?

MUSK: Well, it’s just, in the past we could rely upon, you know, simple limbic system rewards in order to procreate. But once you have birth control and abortions and whatnot, now you can still satisfy limbic instinct, but not procreate.

So we haven’t yet evolved to deal with that because this is all fairly recent, the last 50 years or so for birth control. I’m sort of worried that hey, civilization, if we don’t make enough people to at least sustain our numbers, perhaps increase a little bit, then civilization’s going to crumble. The old question of like, will civilization end with a bang or a whimper? Well, it’s currently trying to end with a whimper in adult diapers, which is depressing as hell.

CARLSON: The most depressing.

MUSK: I mean, seriously, yeah.

CARLSON: War is less depressing.

MUSK: Yeah, I’d rather go out with a bang.

CARLSON: With your shoes on, not with your diaper on.

I’m really curious to know how he thinks we would “evolve” to deal with birth control. We seem to be reproducing just fine, population numbers are generally going up, and voluntarily reducing child birth seems to be a good way to deal with the other “problem,” the radical reduction in infant mortality rates, thanks to modern medicine and hygiene. I would think environmental stressors, gross economic inequities, and the assault on successful institutions, like education and democracy, are going to be a far bigger problem for civilization than the fact that the growth curve is flattening. Maybe what he’s worrying about is more that capitalism is crumbling, not civilization. Those aren’t synonyms for each other, you know.

Also really revolting is the idea that war is less depressing than reproductive freedom. Please, Elon, if you find it so horrible, do “go out with a bang.” The sooner the better.

Hey, maybe Carlson getting fired is how “evolution” is dealing with it, and Musk’s rapid erosion of reputation and wealth is simply Darwin’s invisible hand.

How to turn a bad relationship into a click-baity article

Hurt my feelings, why don’t you. Tell me about how awful men are. That’s the entirety of this muddled mess titled Masculinity Is Dead: Why Weak Little Boys Have Replaced Real Men. Gosh, it’s harsh.

Once upon a time, the vast majority of men were really proud to be men. They went to work, provided for their families, and actually behaved chivalrously towards women. They were good fathers, protectors of those they cared about, and actually tackled problems assertively. Of course, those times are long dead.

Once upon a time, men were men, but now they’re not. It’s not a substantial premise. But the way she keeps hammering at it makes me start taking it personally.

Everywhere I look, I see women lamenting the loss of actual manly men.

I hear girls bemoan the fact that guys are now too frightened to get into a committed relationship with a woman. I hear single moms talk about how men bailed on them after they became pregnant. I hear single women of all ages talk about how their last relationship dissolved because the guy they were with never actually brought anything to the table.

OK, I begin to see the basis of her definition of what makes a manly man: they commit to a relationship. That’s not a bad argument, I agree that commitment is what makes a person a strong partner. One could build on that idea to write a good article, but no, she’s just mad.

Make no mistake about it, there is absolutely, positively, nothing manly about most men in my generation.

“Most”? Is this a quantitative argument? Or did your last couple of dates go badly?

We’re now populated by whiny, insecure, entitled, lazy little children that are looking for a second mommy more than a wife and partner.


For the Millennial generation, old-school masculinity is as dead as a parrot in a Monty Python sketch. F-boys, Nice Guys, and Mama’s Boys are symptomatic of the problem.

The older I get, the more I realize how totally screwed up Millennial men’s attitudes on sex, relationships, and women really are. In this sense, many modern male dating stereotypes really are true.

So far, I’m seeing stereotypes all right, but no evidence that they’re true.

I’m going to skip over a whole lot of sweeping generalizations to what I think is a kernel of a good point: media mischaracterizations, which the author has swallowed wholesale.

A large part of the problem is that media tends to warp what we see as masculine. Music and media glorifies men who “pump and dump.” Media constantly talks about why men shouldn’t date gold diggers, or why Nice Guys™ should always get the girl.

Guys are told, constantly, that they aren’t sh*t unless they’re banging a million women. In many cases, the media makes women to be the enemy, regardless of what happened. From what I’ve seen, men are all too happy to find someone to blame for their shortcomings.

Andrew Tate is not “all men,” I assure you. He’s one spectacularly garish example. It is true, however, that a certain kind of loud, loutish, entitled man has become a symbol of one side of modern masculinity, and it is one that is popular among naive teenage boys, but unless the author has been dating MRAs or 15 year olds, it’s not generally representative. Don’t mistake media stereotypes for reality.

This is not a new problem. Back, way back, in the 70s and 80s, the caricature we young men had to deal with was the endless, annoying movies that portrayed us as callous horndogs on a constant quest to lose our virginity — think Porky’s or those Nerds movies. Nobody I knew was as obsessed with virginity as those movies made it all seem, and while we might have been a bit obsessed with sex, the media idolatry of virginity was just sick, warped purity culture.

This is not reality.

It’s a stupid meme. Don’t write articles that pretend it is accurate.

Another Supreme Court justice bought & paid for

We have the receipts: Neil Gorsuch has a great big conflict of interest.

For nearly two years beginning in 2015, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sought a buyer for a 40-acre tract of property he co-owned in rural Granby, Colo.

Nine days after he was confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, the then-circuit court judge got one: The chief executive of Greenberg Traurig, one of the nation’s biggest law firms with a robust practice before the high court. Gorsuch owned the property with two other individuals.

On April 16 of 2017, Greenberg’s Brian Duffy put under contract the 3,000-square foot log home on the Colorado River and nestled in the mountains northwest of Denver, according to real estate records.

It’s not as if this was an attempt to curry favor with a judge presiding over big cases…

Since then, Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 cases before or presented to the court


I guess when the process for appointing him was corrupt, you can’t expect a mere Supreme Court justice to behave ethically.

The sheep look up

I teach. I’ve been at this university for 23 years, and I try to avoid the management side of things — I stay away from the administration building, I don’t even care who is the university president as long as they leave me alone. This may have been a very bad idea.

I got a notice from the administration that they are accepting applications for interim president of the university, because the last one is abandoning us after a short 5 years of employment (that’s not surprising, U presidents seem to flit hither and yon, another reason to ignore them.) But it meant I had to take a minute to figure out what’s going on.

Our outgoing president, Joan Gabel, is paid over $700,000/year. I don’t know that she is worth that much. Now I learn that she’s being offered an additional $260,000 if she stays through June. All right, that’s a pretty sweet deal she’s had. What is she being offered by the University of Pittsburgh?

She’s had a few scandals — the biggest being that she took a position on the board of Securian, a financial company that does a lot of money management for the university. This was a serious conflict of interest, not to mention that she’s getting paid a buttload of money to be the U president, and should be devoting full time to her job. The Board of Regents said it was OK, though, although our governor said it was not. She resigned eventually. Maybe she’s mad at us because we wouldn’t let her rake in more money with a side gig?

And then, the Board of Regents…every time I hear about them, the less impressed I am. These are a bunch of politicians and business people who don’t understand the purpose of an educational system. I’ve mentioned Sviggum before — the bozo who thought UMM was “too diverse”. Now I learn that the chair of the board, Ken Powell, was the disgustingly rich CEO of General Mills who made $24 million in the year before he retired. He is, supposedly, retired, but is now appointed to the chair of the Board of Regents — he’s the guy who thought is was no problem for her to work with Securian, who approved her exorbitant salary. The Regents main purpose seems to be to dip into the university till and give money to each other.

All I can say is that if I got paid tens of millions in my last year here, I would definitely definitively absolutely retire. I’d be done. I’d go relax with my grandchildren, and wouldn’t come back to plague my university for years to come, and I certainly wouldn’t be working hard to transfer money from hardworking faculty and staff salaries to serve the leeches appointed to administrative positions.

There’s no hope that I’ll get paid that much — that’s like more than my lifetime income — but here’s the deal. Appoint me to the interim presidency, pay me like a half million for my services, and I’ll try to keep the money going to the people who really deserve it, and then quietly disappear when my term is done. You can trust me on that. I was such a good boy when the regents visited my university in March, not confronting them at all and turning around and walking away when I saw them coming. I promise to ignore all of their blandishments in the future, as well.

The most punchable face in America is back!

And he’s giving us even more reason to punch him!

Infamous “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli announced his newest venture yesterday, and it’s about as awful as you’d expect. In a Substack post and on Twitter, he unveiled, a “virtual healthcare assistant” that (predictably) Shkreli believes will disrupt medicine—in spite of some very real and worrying legal and ethical gray areas.

“My central thesis is: Healthcare is more expensive than we’d like mostly because of the artificially constrained supply of healthcare professionals,” he wrote on Substack. “I envision a future where our children ask what physicians were like and why society ever needed them.”

“Dr. Gupta” is just Shkreli’s latest health venture since being released from prison last May. Last year, he founded Druglike, a drug discovery software platform being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is looking into whether Shkreli is violating a court-ordered lifetime ban on working in the pharmaceutical industry by running Druglike.

Madness. If you replace all the healthcare professionals who generate the data that is leeched off by a glorified chatbot with said chatbot, where is the information that they parrot going to come from? All you’re going to have left is a feedback loop that is disconnected from any reality checks, it’s going to get progressively worse, and we’re not going to get any new medical knowledge.

It’s quite rich that he’s blaming the high expenses of medical care on scarce skilled medical labor and knowledge, when he’s the guy who artificially elevated the cost of life-saving drugs. Blame the greedy pharmaceutical executives instead.

Hey, people like Shkreli are the ones who could be replaced by a mindless software program!

I know what kind of houseplant I want to get this summer

Back in the long gone days of my youth, when I was working long hours as a nurseryman at a wholesale nursery in Kent, Washington, there were certain plants I admired greatly. This place had a small greenhouse just for bonsai that the owners tended carefully just about every day (mere laborers like me couldn’t touch those.) They sold lace maples, which were probably my favorite tree at that time — I bought one for my parents. But by far the most beautiful plants in the whole place were these big, gloriously bushy, vividly green plants raised out back, secretly, by a couple of the workers. These were the healthiest plants I’ve ever seen, lovingly tended by the crew on breaks, initially raised illicitly under the benches in a hothouse and then transplanted to a sunny spot in an empty field.

You can guess what kind of plant they were. Unfortunately, just as they were reaching peak growth, the owner discovered them and took a machete to them.

There will be no machetes in Minnesota this summer!

Minnesota’s foray into legal marijuana reached the first major decision point as the state House considered a bill Monday that establishes a seed-to-sale program and streamlines a process for clearing prior criminal offenses off records.

The vote – along with one set for Friday in the Senate – won’t end the debate. Differences in the two versions would have to be reconciled before anything reaches Gov. Tim Walz, who supports permitting adults over 21 to buy, possess and use cannabis.

But if a bill passes before May 22, Minnesota’s marijuana landscape would change starting this summer.

“Cannabis will be no longer illegal this summer,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids. “The regulation, rulemaking and licensing process will take many more months. Beyond that you will of course also be able to home grow starting this summer so it will be a while before Minnesotans can expect to see a dispensary open up.”

I should mention my least favorite plant: kinnikinik. They had acres of that potted stuff that I had to shuffle around and weed and load on trucks — it’s a popular, low growing ground cover that may have been the bread and butter of the nursery, but I just found it boring.

Tucker Carlson is OUT

Well, I’m surprised. As an aftershock of the Dominion lawsuit and the embarrassment of Fox News, Tucker Carlson is out on his ass.

In a shocking announcement, Fox News announced Monday that its controversial yet top-rated prime-time host Tucker Carlson is leaving the network.

“Fox News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways,” the network said in a statement. “We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”

The apparently hasty parting — Carlson gave no indication he was leaving in his last nightly appearance Friday, and the network was still running promos for his show Monday morning — came less than a week after Fox settled a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, which had sued the network for false claims about the 2020 election. Carlson was among several on-air personalities expected to testify.

You might be wondering…was it because of his racism? Because of his lies? Because of his lack of qualifications? No, of course not. Those things are prerequisites for working at Fox News.

It was because he told the truth and chewed out Fox management for promoting lies about the election.

But it was Carlson’s comments about Fox management, as revealed in the Dominion case, that played a role in his departure from Fox, a person familiar with the company’s thinking told The Post.

“Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience?” Carlson wrote to a colleague in a message a day after Fox, like other media outlets, called the election for Joe Biden. It was a sentiment echoed by others at Fox in the fall of 2020, as even network officials who disbelieved Trump’s election-fraud conspiracy theories fretted that countering them strongly would alienate their conservative viewers.

In another message, Carlson referred to management with an expletive: “Those f—–s are destroying our credibility.” He later wrote: “A combination of incompetent liberals and top leadership with too much pride to back down is what’s happening.”

This termination is sending a message to all the other “journalists” at Fox News: you can lie all you want, be as biased as you want, as long as you are supporting the particular lies and bigotry of Rupert Murdoch and other executives.

It must be scary being a highly paid apparatchik at a propaganda organ, but he’ll get no sympathy for me. Maybe he can land a new job with a North Korean news agency?