Sam Harris shoves his foot down his gullet again

Remember, Sam Harris is the atheist leader who once, when asked where all the women were at in atheism, explained it away by saying atheism lacked that “estrogen vibe” instead of noting all the women who have been leaders and who were currently hard-working activists.

I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people..People just don’t like to have their ideas criticized. There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women. The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.

He has a great big blind spot for anyone who isn’t a rich white man. So when he says bullshit like this:

A paradox for our time: The far Left is disproportionately white, wealthy, and well-educated. So extreme “wokeness” is now one of the most glaring symptoms of “white privilege.”

He’s just doing it again. It’s because all the black men and women, and Hispanic men and women, and LGBT people who have been fighting for the Left all this time are invisible to him. That far Left is awesomely diverse, while his “Intellectual Dark Web” and the alt-right are a mess of mediocre white people suckling at the teats of conservative think tanks and promoting the status quo that maintains their privilege.

But this is typical of the tin-eared pronouncements from Harris, probably the most clueless of the “Four Horsemen”, and the one who is still regarded as the premier figurehead of alt-atheism. If only this was a position he could be fired from, but he’s still propped up by a horde of white male cultists.

Game of Thrones was a metaphor for the Democratic Party!

It’s all clear now. The series came to a slow, awkward close, by having all the complex story lines that had been building for years wrapped up by having a band-aid slapped on them. I’ll say that for it — it did end.

Then, to resolve who finally is going to sit on the throne of the seven kingdoms — you know, the whole core premise of the conflicts in the show — all the surviving noble leaders sit down and talk it out instead of murdering each other, which was weird and out of character. To decide who would be king, they then announce that stories are important, which I can agree with, and that the person who should be king is the one who has the most compelling, interesting life story, an idea only a writer could come up with. They think about it.

Would it be Arya, who fled the execution of her father, wandered up and down the country having adventures, trained in an exotic land to be a magical assassin, and who killed all of the zombies?

Would it be Sansa, the woman who went from a fawning child mooning over kings and queens, through a series of dynastic marriages and rapes and abuses to emerge a hardened, cynical queen of the North?

No, don’t be silly. They’re women.

Instead, they picked the most boring, mediocre guy in the whole show, the guy who spends most of his time staring vacantly into space, who just followed along in the wake of all the heroes in the series, who did nothing but pretended to know everything. He gets the throne for showing up. It seems “interesting story” is defined as “safe, harmless story”.

Obviously, the council of aristocrats who decided who is to be king is the DNC, and the show is prophesying that they’ll nominate Joe Biden, because he is the most mediocre white man they can find.

Only in this real world no one bothered to eradicate the zombie horde with Valyrian steel, so that pat decision isn’t going to end the conflict.

Winter is coming, we’re screwed.

Not a good day

Fresh off my horrible afternoon of bad entertainment, I’m going to have to watch another shitty piece of garbage in about an hour: the very last episode of Game of Thrones. This show has aggravated me for 8 years, and now they’re going to blow it up awkwardly in about an hour.

There are only two endings that I will find satisfying: 1) Benioff & Weiss are publicly beheaded, or 2) the peasants rise up and slaughter all the Lannisters and Starks and Whatevers and establish a democratic republic with no aristocrats. Both of these endings are fully compatible, and the best ending would combine the two.

I doubt I will be satisfied, and I very much doubt that Weiss & Benioff have the talent to come up with a better alternative.

Unplanned

Holy shit, that was bad. As I mentioned before, several local church groups booked the Morris Theater to show the Pure Flix piece of crap, Unplanned, so I attended today to have an informed perspective on the movie. It was worse than I expected. It’s pure nonstop defamation of Planned Parenthood from beginning to end, and doesn’t really address any of the issues behind abortion at all — the whole goal is to demonize abortion and family planning.

Unfortunately, the theater was packed. They had clearly brought in several churchloads of people to see this thing, and it was intensely religious. They had 4 pastors and the director of Options for Women, one of those bogus nothingburger outfits that claims to provide alternatives for women who find themselves pregnant, but really, as the director announced, only provides a “passion and love for Jesus”. There was an opening prayer, of course, and they announced that there were offering baskets in the lobby for donations on the way out.

I did not make a donation.

Then the movie began. (Warning: Spoilers Ahead. Not that you should care.) It was the story of Abby Johnson, supposedly, from her book, which we know to be full of lies. It starts with the earth-shaking abortion that never happened, in which Johnson is called to assist with the ultrasound in an abortion, and watches the little fetus struggle and squirm and claw at the sides of the uterus as it is sucked into a vacuum tube in extreme detail. They spent some money on this fake animation. You can see in exquisite focus its little fingers clutching vainly to prevent being aspirated to its doom, and then its head goes pop as it gets sucked in, and then we cut to the outlet tube, which is about an inch in diameter and quarts of blood, with lumps, are being pumped into a big bucket. It was gory and exaggerated to the point of absurdity.

Johnson runs wailing to the bathroom, tears pouring down her face. Then we cut back in time 8 years, and we’re going to follow her life leading up to this moment.

She volunteers to work for Planned Parenthood after college. Her first day on the job as a volunteer clinic escort, she demonstrates great compassion…for the protesters outside the gate. The protesters are very nice. When Johnson mentions that the dismembered fetus pictures and the guy dressed up as the grim reaper aren’t actually that nice, they assure her that they tell those freaks to stay away. It’s not their fault. They’re just praying.

Johnson does this frequently, maybe once successfully ushering a patient into the building, but even then she has to have a little discussion with the protesters. If the movie wanted to portray her as incompetent at her job, they succeeded.

We meet Cheryl, the director of the clinic. She is an evil witch: never smiles, the other workers go silent when she steps into the room, she’s heartless and unsympathetic. When Johnson gets pregnant, Cheryl urges her to get an abortion and suggests that she won’t be suited for the job if she doesn’t. Everyone has to wait for her to leave the office before they can throw a baby shower for her, that’s how cruel she is.

Another day, a dramatic event: a father brings his teenaged daughter in for an abortion. After the procedure, she’s sitting there with blood dribbling down — the doctor, who is presented as an unfeeling machine, has perforated her uterus. Everyone panics. They rush her into one of the clinic rooms, the doctor starts cursing, they’re stuffing gauze in her crotch that an ungloved, unwashed Johnson is handing to him. The clinic workers want to call 911 and get an ambulance there…Cheryl coldly says no, the protesters would love that, it would hurt their business, so they spend 5 hours putting the girl back together again. Cheryl isn’t worried, they’ll dope her with some strong drugs so she won’t remember a thing.

If that were a true story, that’s when Johnson should have insta-quit. The whole tale is unlikely, unethical, and not at all fitting with the mission of Planned Parenthood. I also wanted to scream out that if safe abortions are banned, there will be a lot more perforated uteruses in America.

Later, Johnson goes out to chat with the protesters again, talking about all the good Planned Parenthood does. They completly stump her by comparing abortion to slavery and the Holocaust. No, really, she immediately clamps her mouth shut and leaves.

Abby Johnson is really, really bad at her job.

Next comes an order from the state office to double the number of abortions, because they need more money for an expanded clinic. This makes no sense, because abortions are only a few percent of Planned Parenthood’s business, but this movie only shows abortions being done. No mammograms, no STD testing and treatment, no contraceptives, no education programs, nothing — only brutal, bloody, buckets of blood-style abortions of miserable, weeping women. Johnson is told that abortion is what pays for her salary, and once again, Cheryl shows contempt for people who have babies.

The next big event: George Tiller is murdered. Johnson is terrified. Who does she talk to for reassurance? Why, those nice abortion protesters, who are all sympathetic and regretful. Her Planned Parenthood colleagues, though, tell her that they were only showing false sympathy. No, the movie makers are not going to use the Tiller murder to allow any criticisms of these friendly protesters to show through.

Abby Johnson is threatened with firing, because she dared to criticize her boss for promoting more abortions, a convenient but completely fictitious explanation. We also get to see a worker wheeling out two 55 gallon drums for disposal. The protesters ask, “Is that what I think is in there?” He says yes, ambiguously. What I’d think was in there was dirty gauze and pads and old syringes and discarded latex gloves, on their way to an incinerator, but they ask to pray over it, and then babble about hundreds of dead babies in those gigantic drums. Yeah, right.

We get a reprise of the gory baby-sucking event, which is the first time Johnson has ever attended any of the medical procedures at the clinic, because she is not qualified to do any of it, and is more of administrator/clerical person, but this time she’s brought in to do the ultrasound, which she does like a real pro, getting amazing high-resolution images of a baby. I rather doubt that this event happened at all. It’s also unlikely because we have the records of all the abortions done at the clinic that day, and there was only one, of a 6-week fetus.

She quits. First she runs once again to the protesters, her very favorite people, but she’s finally out.

That’s kind of the story, except there’s a weird bit tacked on calculated to increase the perception of Evil Cheryl. They sue Abby Johnson (in real life, they only made a legal motion to prevent her from spreading confidential information, since she had had access to all those medical records). They hire a lawyer from a billboard, who is just played as smug, grossly over-confident, and smirking, which apparently the audience found hilarious. They laughed every time he announced that Planned Parenthood was going to get what they deserved.

This segment was really about making Cheryl a mouthpiece for their myths. She monologues evilly at Johnson, telling her that Planned Parenthood was “one of the most powerful organizations on the planet”, that they were a “billion dollar corporation”, that they were supported by “Soros, Gates, and Buffet” and nothing was going to stop their profits. When the motion to prevent Johnson from sharing confidential information was defeated, the audience cheered. Of course.

We’re finally done. Oh, that was painful. We also get the Breakfast Club Outro, in which we learn that Abby Johnson is currently on her 8th child.

It’s typical Pure Flix, unbelievable garbage in which they clearly have no knowledge of what clinic workers do or think, just as in God’s Not Dead they had negative knowledge of what philosophers teach. Their job is simply to represent the biases and stereotypes of their grossly ignorant audiences, and they do that well.

177 young men

Men get molested, too, and university administrations seem to care about as much as they do for the welfare of men. A doctor in the athletics program at Ohio state used his position to abuse students for years.

The abuse at Ohio State went on from 1979 to 1997 and took place at various locations across campus, including examining rooms, locker rooms, showers and saunas, according to investigators. Strauss, among other things, contrived to get young men to strip naked and groped them sexually.

The report describes one patient who came in with strep throat. Strauss spent five minutes fondling his genitals and never examined another part of the body. Another victim had grown up in a rural area and had never had a proper medical exam; Strauss put a stethoscope on his penis.

I am not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure the genitals are a long way from the throat, and I wonder what he expected to hear through that stethoscope? It would be almost comical, except that this was another of those “open secrets” that nobody did anything about, it did stress the students, and it’s probably going to cost the university millions of dollars to settle.

Additionally, Strauss killed himself in 2005, after retiring with honors from the university. No one spoke up before then? I’m sure there were many who knew, shrugged their shoulders, and let the behavior continue.

This is why everyone needs to speak up, and the people in power need to fucking listen.

Iceland should have won Eurovision 2019

They get bonus points for reflecting my mood so well.

English lyrics:

The revelry was unrestrained
The hangover is endless
Life is meaningless
The void will get us all

Hate will prevail
Happiness comes to an end
For it is an illusion
A treacherous pipe dream

All that I saw
Tears ran down
All that I gave
Once gave
I gave it all to you

Multilateral delusions
Unilateral punishments
Gullible poor fellows
The escape will end
The emptiness will get us all

Hate will prevail
Europe will crumble
A web of lies
Will arise from the ashes
United as one

All that I saw
Tears ran down
All that I gave
Once gave
I gave it all to you

All that I saw
Tears ran down
All that I gave
Once gave
I gave it all to you

Hate will prevail
Love will die
Hate will prevail
Happiness comes to an end
For it is an illusion
A treacherous pipe dream

Hate will prevail

At the final performance in Israel, they also whipped out a Palestinian flag at the end…triple score! How could Eurovision have given the win to the Netherlands, especially since all they had to offer was treacly pablum?

A sense of dread and impending doom

The end is racing at us so fast — we’ve been watching movies about the zombie apocalypse or handmaid’s tales, totally oblivious to what’s happening right here, right now. Michelle Goldberg warns us of the dangers of the anti-woman legislation sweeping various states.

…a lesson of fundamentalist regimes worldwide is that when reactionaries try to enforce their ideas about gender traditionalism, they can be more tyrannical than real tradition ever was. Granting personhood to fetuses has already enabled some states to subject women to new types of social control; as ProPublica reported, in 2014 a woman was arrested under Alabama’s “chemical endangerment of a child” statute for taking half a Valium while she was pregnant. Those who might be ambivalent about abortion should realize that these strictures can apply to them as well.

As we watch Donald Trump remake this country in ways that once seemed unimaginable, it’s tempting to reach for historical analogies to grapple with what’s happening. It’s why, as people struggle to understand how his abuses of power might be constrained, there’s been renewed interest in Watergate. Yet, as in the comparison between Richard Nixon and Trump, the past can prove inadequate to understanding the depredations of the present. Rather than moving backward, we’re charting awful new frontiers.

The new wave of oppression isn’t coming, it’s here, and it’s going to get worse.

Today I’m planning to make myself sick by attending the local showing of Unplanned, an event sponsored by conservative local churches. I expect to be surrounded by pious, ignorant hypocrites who will be angered by the lies on screen, for all the wrong reasons — not because they’re lies, but because they are religious absolutists who will praise anything that celebrates their ignorance, and will have their hatred of women and family planning confirmed. It’s going to be a bad afternoon. I’m going to have to sit there politely and quietly and harmlessly while wishing I could set the building on fire.

Then I’ll go home and read Robin Marty’s Handbook for a Post-Roe America, while the Democratic leadership dithers over everything.

320 students dispatched

They’re off to join the workforce, or professional or grad school. We had UMM’s 56th commencement ceremony today. This is the view of a biology faculty member perched on the steps of the atrium, along with other bio faculty and bio grads, looking out at the sea of family members taking pictures of us all. It’s better than being on the red carpet at the Oscars, because we didn’t just churn out a few hours of entertainment, we created a small swarm of smarter, better educated humans.

Unfortunately, we all had to wear heavy medieval black robes rather than Givenchy and Versace. If we were to dress appropriately for the event, it ought to look more like the Met Gala. I wonder what the administration would think if we all agreed to go all out with fabulous outfits for commencement? The students would probably think it a fine idea.

The latest big dickhead to be exposed is…

Tony Robbins! Tell me you’re surprised. He’s another over-inflated ass with no real talent or expertise beyond self-promotion, he maintains a secretive self-help empire, he’s a creepy cult leader, and he practically oozes privilege and greed. Of course he’d be full of himself and his bad opinions, and he’d expect his underlings to serve him in every way possible.

One woman had told him through tears that she had been raped. Robbins recounted how he had “cut her off” in a “warm” and “elegant” way and informed her that she was “fucking using all this stuff to try and control men.”

Every man who silences a woman who has been raped believes that they did it elegantly, I’m sure. Especially when they go on to blame the victim.

Don’t worry, he doesn’t support rape, he just thinks it unimportant.

“I don’t support anybody fucking raping her or taking advantage of her,” he said, according to the transcript, “but I don’t support her fucking manipulating herself, men, and other people by trying to use that tool when it’s really not the primary experience of her life now.”

Of course, he has a theory. He has no academic training or expertise at all — he does have a high school diploma, at least, but nothing beyond that — but he paints himself as a psychological authority.

By now, Robbins had set himself up as an authority on relationships, dispensing a theory about “two opposing energies — masculine and feminine.”

“Women’s torment is that men fucking look, and men’s torment is that women are fucking insane,” he said at the same 2003 event.

He’s made billions of dollars off that kind of bullshit. It’s about time someone took him down a few thousand notches.