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.

The Buster Keaton Ballet

I don’t know how I can enjoy a movie where someone is shot in the head at close range every minute, but so help me, I do find the John Wick movies fun. I don’t know if it’s something wrong with me or with America, but they’re so over the top bonkers, while Keanu Reeves is so earnest, that you can’t take the murder sprees seriously. It also helps that it’s a fantasy world where there are avaricious assassins lurking everywhere, so when one of them leaps out at you with kung-fu or a big sword or a nasty looking gun, it’s perfectly excusable to shoot them in the head. What else could you do? Style points for executing them elegantly and brutally.

The movie is also self-conscious. I didn’t come up with the comparison in my title, the movie overtly references both Buster Keaton and ballet at several points. It combines the slapstick physicality of Keaton with the grace of a dance, although neither of those influences usually culminate in bloody violence. There is a kind of inevitability to the story, too. You know that when Reeves finds himself in a shop selling exotic knives, he will be breaking open every cabinet and throwing and stabbing and slashing with all of them. When he has a fight in a ritzy high end hotel with glass statuary lining the place, someone is going to get thrown into each and every one of them. It’s a thematic obligation, and it’s strangely satisfying when expectations are fulfilled.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum was predictably unpredictable, fun, and horrific, a nightmare where everything turns out OK. It also beautifully sets up John Wick: Chapter 4, so now I’m going to have to go see that as soon as it comes out.

How did he persist?

I am just shocked at the stories emerging about David Yesner, the University of Alaska anthropologist. He is being sued for sexual harassment by 20 women, for events spread over 26 years.

The women allege that Yesner subjected them to years of sexual discrimination, harassment, abuse, exploitation and retaliation that was crippling to both their academic careers and their emotional well-being and that the university failed to comply with federal Title IX requirements in response to their numerous complaints.

They describe Yesner as someone who would deliberately stare at their breasts, make inappropriate sexual comments and advances and find ways to touch them without consent. He was known to keep an extensive pornography collection on his computer that was discovered by multiple women on different occasions during his time at UAA. He also kept photos he had taken of students participating in field digs, cropped to highlight body parts rather than archeological artifacts. One woman reported walking into his office to find him masturbating.

In one of the most serious claims against Yesner, a woman who spoke to Title IX investigators reported that Yesner sexually assaulted her in a public shower during a field project.

There’s something rotten at the University of Alaska. They’re suing Yesner, the whole dang university, and the regents of the university — they reported the problems many times, and the Title IX office dragged its heels, the chancellor did nothing and was in fact about to bestow emeritus status on Yesner. There seems to be a real problem among the faculty there.

Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II “constantly” reported Yesner’s behavior to professors and other faculty, according to the suit, but were met with excuses like “Oh, that’s just David being David.”

Jane Doe II was also told she “should cover up more” and that she should just “switch advisors” – a move that would have set her studies back by years since she was already writing her thesis under Yesner’s guidance.

The lawsuit alleges Yesner retaliated against Jane Doe I for rejecting his sexual advances by delaying grading her comprehensive exam, which prevented her from graduating. The task should have taken the professor five weeks at the most, according to the suit, but instead it took 2 1/2 years. She eventually withdrew from the university, but still must pay back student loans with interest.

“David being David.” Jesus. Try mentally reviewing your colleagues and coworkers, and you probably know their personalities and quirks well enough that you can say that’s “[Name] being [Name]” about something — it’s about the emptiest thing you can say — but it can also numb you to what harm they’re doing. “Oh, that’s just Joe, he likes holding up liquor stores on the weekend. That’s Joe being Joe!” Usually, when we’re told about criminal behavior, we don’t excuse it by dismissing at just a feature of their nature.

Unless, it seems, it’s sexual harassment. Boys will be boys, you know; if we kicked out all the men who fondled young women and made lewd jokes about them and held up their progress in the system, why, we wouldn’t have a department any more. As one of Yesner’s accusers put it, though:

“Because the university ignored a longstanding problem, my dream of becoming a professional archaeologist came to an end. All of the hard work I put into my chosen path leading up to graduate school was subverted by Yesner and UAA when I had to quit. Yesner made it clear to me I would never finish my degree. Every student should have the opportunity to work hard and succeed, not work hard and have their professional confidence debased. Every student should be able to trust the institution they attend.”

Exactly right. When Yesner started his petty tyranny over two decades ago, he should have been fired then. I understand precisely the pressures universities face, where dismissing a faculty member means the administration is going to take years to replace them, and meanwhile, everyone else has to work harder to fill the gap because he was also teaching essential courses and doing the administrative work, but the procedures should have been initiated long ago, not the year he is retiring. Sure, if you kick out the harassers you’re going to weaken your department for a while, but what will thoroughly destroy your department and blight the careers of your students is if you keep him there.

Would anyone recommend to an enthusiastic student who wanted to study anthropology that UAA would be a good place to go? I wouldn’t. I’d steer them to just about any other university. Yesner may be gone, but the faculty who said, “Oh, that’s just David being David” is presumably still there. The chancellor still has his job. The Title IX office is still understaffed and not doing its job.

Labor!

I am not used to this. I’m cleaning up the garage today, and it is a cluttered mess. My wife pointed out to me that there might be spiders in the debris, so of course I’m out there poking about and moving heavy objects and looking under old boards. I’ll probably be all worn out and sore tomorrow.

Tomorrow, by the way, is the UMM Commencement ceremony. I’ve got my strange medieval robes and funny hat all ready to go, and it’s going to be streamed live, so if you’re incredibly bored, you can watch me sweltering in the faculty stands somewhere in there.


Ugh. I just finished the major cleanup. I swept everything, turned over every box and mystery pile, went through it all with my acutely tuned eye for spiders…NOTHING. Not a one. I know they’re hiding somewhere in there, they’re just avoiding me.

I can’t believe Biden is the front-runner

A former writer for The Onion regrets the gentleness of their satirizing of Uncle Joe. Isn’t just the fact that “Uncle Joe” has become one of his nicknames telling enough?

I can’t speak for my colleagues, but at the time, I didn’t take him seriously enough to think we were doing anything wrong. I thought of him as little more than a political necessity: the older, more conservative white guy who softened Barack Obama’s image in regions where the prospect of a black president was too radical. A deeper dive on Biden never felt necessary.

I’ve since changed my mind. Today, Biden is the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, despite women calling him out for touching them in ways that made them uncomfortable at public events, and despite objections from the left wing of the party. He has said he has “no empathy” for the problems millennials are experiencing and claimed that Republicans will embrace bipartisanship after Trump is defeated. As I watch him campaign as an old (-fashioned, -school, -old) centrist, I realize how badly we screwed up. Instead of viciously skewering a public figure who deserved scrutiny, we let him off easy. The joke was funny, but it didn’t hit hard enough.

A Biden nomination by the Democratic Party would be another out-of-touch catastrophe. He generates no enthusiasm, except by comfortable older white people who like the fact that he’s not going to change a goddamn thing — smug confidence in the status quo might make him the Democratic nominee, but I don’t see him winning when all he can instill is apathy, and he’s going to be an easy target. Trump is going to claim that Biden is in the pockets of the bankers (not that Trump isn’t), that we can all see that patronizing women is fine and nice, that he’s the Establishment that the populists want to bring down.

If he does win, all we get is a right-of-center centrist who will waltz before congress thinking his affability gives him an edge, and the Republicans will just say “NO” and eat him alive. He’s the lose-lose candidate.

I’m just hoping he’ll commit some terrible gaffe and go down in flames before he’s the nominee, and I expect he’ll oblige. He usually does. Right now, though, the media seems to be anointing him as the right and electable candidate, so he might get the kind of pass no other Democrat would receive.