Guys. Guys. You should be terrified of this new development.

You know all these accusations emerging about how famous (or not so famous) men are harassing and abusing and ignoring boundaries and being world-class jerkoffs? Some of you are not being dissuaded at all. I’m suspecting that you might be thinking that being an inconsiderate ass is kind of macho, or maybe you’re just oblivious to the idea that trampling all over a woman’s dignity is a bad thing. Welp, you ought to read this explicit,
detailed description of a bad date with Aziz Ansari
. She spills the beans about everything. It’s very TMI.

But here’s the deal. Yes, this woman is explaining how Ansari ignored all of her requests to stop, from gentle hints to clear “NO”s, and awkward attempts to extricate herself from the ‘date’. But again, maybe you don’t care about her desires. But here’s what ought to stop you cold, even if you are a card-carrying member of the MRA/caveman/gorilla school of sexual encounters.

Grace reveals, in cringe-inducing detail, that Aziz Ansari is bad at sex. Clumsy, bumbling, childishly-demanding, needy, with weird quirky behaviors that no one wants to hear about. She doesn’t do it in a vindictive way, either: she’s just objectively reporting what Ansari tries to do on a hot date.

Your performance is being evaluated by outspoken women who won’t be shy about broadcasting everything to the whole wide world. Especially if you’re incapable of respecting them.

Bad Canada, good Canada

Tonight, the CBC is showing a ‘documentary’ called Ice Bridge.

CBC’s science show The Nature of Things is set to air a documentary that purports to prove the first humans in the New World came across the ocean from Europe and not, as most scientists think, via a land bridge from Asia.

It’s about the Solutrean hypothesis. As you might guess from the description, it’s part of that old school of anthropological thought that tries to claim that Europe is the wellspring of all human progress, spreading outward to bring enlightenment, or at least better weapons, to the more barbarous regions of the world. It’s not impossible that some ancient Europeans, painting themselves blue with woad and bundled up in furs while waving pointy sticks, might have stumbled across arctic ice to Iceland and Greenland and then to North America, but it was damned unlikely. “Not impossible” is insufficient argument to support an idea, however; I suppose it’s also not impossible that little green men landed in England and helped the druids erect Stonehenge with their anti-gravity rays. I’m going to insist on more evidence than pointing and saying, “Well, that’s a mighty big big rock, innit? It’s heavy. How else would the Druids have lifted it? Magic? Hur hur hur.”

This idea that Solutreans from Europe actually colonized and spread across the Americas before Asians got there is of similar quality. It is based entirely on flint tools found in America having a resemblance to flint tools found in Europe. That’s it. The key thing is that Solutrean tools were made by pressure flaking rather than just bashing rocks together — a technique in which you use, for instance, a bit of antler to apply controlled pressure to the edge of a flint tool and snap off smaller flakes, allowing more precision in shaping. Apparently Asians and Indians were incapable of figuring this out.

But there is nothing else to support the Solutrean hypothesis.

There is, for example, no evidence of Solutrean seafaring, and no evidence of their cave art in North America, which would be unusual for a people known for the elaborately painted Cave of Altamira in Spain. There have also been no discoveries in North America of Solutrean human remains. It is just as possible that the American flint blades that look Solutrean were made by ancient Native Americans, and the similarity is just coincidence, or that the blades are not as old as they appear.

Still, the CBC documentary sympathetically casts the two main advocates of this fringe theory as brave resisters against a blinkered scientific orthodoxy. They will “never give up searching for the truth,” says narrator David Suzuki.

It sounds like a miserably bad documentary with a skewed perspective that promotes a couple of fringe scientists. Shame on you, Canada. But at the same time I’m finding this out via Canada’s National Post, a newspaper that leans conservative, and that article isn’t at all shy about pointing out the huge problems with this ‘documentary’.

One major issue is that, while there is no evidence to support it, it is fervently supported by racists, a concern that the documentary actively avoids, while the National Post article discusses it.

One prominent example is the book White Apocalypse by Kyle Bristow, which fictionalizes the theory with a story about the “Solutrean Liberation Front” and their modern-day battles, and argues that ancient Solutreans were exterminated in North America by more recent migrants of Asian background — the ancestors of modern Native Americans.

Paul Fromm, a leading Canadian white supremacist organizer, called the book a “soaring inspirational dramatization of our people taking our continent back from the Third World invaders.”

It is “extremely irresponsible” for the scientists to keep pushing their own lifelong passion in this racist context, Moreno-Mayar said. He mentioned online discussion of the “outdated” Solutrean theory.

“It’s crazy horrible what you see there. You see basically all of these racist ideas that are justifying colonialism, and justifying this super racist way of thinking,” he said. “Most people supporting this are associated with this racist way of thinking, that Native Americans are not really Native Americans.”

The new documentary does not address the issue of racism at all. Bicknell said she was aware of it, but did not address it because she “didn’t want to give it a lick of airspace… It’s just such crap.”

White nationalists love to justify European genocide of the Indians by claiming that they did it first — we were just getting even for all the Imaginary White People slaughtered by Imaginary Barbarous Red Hordes. See also the mythology of the Book of Mormon for further examples. All it’s based on is superficial similarity of some stone tools and several hundred years of White European bias. It is grossly irresponsible of the documentary to bury this association, because you know the show is going to be used by the kinds of ignorant people who get all their information from TV to rationalize further bigotry.

And worst of all, the Solutrean hypothesis is contradicted by the genetic evidence. Not only is the hypothesis built on froth and fantasy and bigotry, it goes against the massive amounts of solid evidence that shows that the native peoples of the Americas are descended from Asian ancestors.

Association with a sex worker should not be a criminal charge

Adam Lee has a good take on the “believe women” trope.

The call to “believe women” isn’t an assertion that women’s claims ought to be held to a less rigorous standard of evidence. It’s a rejoinder to the sad reality that, for most of history, women were held to a more stringent standard than men and their claims were reflexively disbelieved.

It’s also not a claim that women are incapable of lying. It’s just that, in general, you should trust that people are mostly telling the truth, unless you’ve got good reason to doubt them, and being female is not one of those reasons.

Which means that when a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, says she did not have sex with Donald Trump, you should believe her, barring any solid evidence to the contrary. It is a non-story. At its worst it might be a tale of consensual sexual interactions between two people, one of whom is sleazy and repellent (it’s not Daniels I’m talking about)…but as long as it’s consensual, it’s only their business.

This is nothing but an attempt to harm Donald Trump, an activity I might approve of, by associating him with the unfair disrepute of sex workers. All it can do is further damage the standing of sex workers in general and Stormy Daniels in particular, to no good end.

And really, in a single week in which we’ve got Trump flaunting unmitigated racism and another rambling, incoherent, arrogant interview in the Wall Street Journal, don’t we have better things to do?

Friday Cephalopod: How does a cephalopod poop?

It seems like a topical sort of topic, what with the President of the United States expressing his opinions on holes and fecal waste. So you might be wondering, “where is the shithole of an octopus or squid?” I am here to tell you.

The cephalopod anus is inside the mantle cavity, a ways behind the siphon.

The siphon, of course, is that prominent funnel that they also use for jet propulsion. So sure, they can squirt poop right out that big hole when they jet away.

Now you know.

A trivial point about selection that some people just don’t get

Another day, another talking head video. Sorry, this one is mostly just me talking at a camera — I’m too bogged down in work to make it fancy (classes start next week, which rhymes with “eeeeeeek”).

You really can just ignore it and go straight to Joe Felsenstein’s book, Theoretical Evolutionary Genetics. It’s mathier and more detailed.

Steven Pinker and the New York Times are making us dumber

Because I exposed Steven Pinker’s atrociously bad arguments, I have now been accused of “smearing” and “distorting” Pinker’s words, and gotten all kinds of fun hate mail. Alas, nobody has been able to show where my arguments actually distort Pinker’s claims; he really does argue that “political correctness” is driving people to the alt-right, and that there are all these “facts” that Leftist Academics refuse to discuss on campus, which drives students further right when they discover that they’ve been lied to. It is a bullshit contrafactual, wrong and dishonest in every way, and the best people can do is say, “well, there’s some parts afterwards that are more nuanced, and you ignored those”. Nope, that’s irrelevant. When someone states outright lies, it doesn’t matter if later they say something else.

But that’s the fallback everyone is resorting to: it’s the logical equivalent of someone pointing out that Trump said something that was outright racist, while others refuse to acknowledge it and instead like to mention how he had a taco salad, so he’s not that bad. It’s not relevant. Quit dancing around the facts. I addressed Pinker’s lies, specifically. No one has refuted the fact that he did speak dishonestly.

If you want a perspective that’s less pissed-off than mine, I recommend Thomas Smith’s latest podcast. He thinks maybe I was a leetle too aggressively in-Pinker’s-face, to put it mildly, but then I think he’s a leetle too charitable, but then I also think maybe he’s new to Pinker’s history of making shitty arguments. Pinker is an advocate for evolutionary psychology, he criticized the March for Science as anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric (gosh, how many dog-whistles can you pack in a phrase?), he invoked the second law of thermodynamics to explain poverty, he endorsed the absurdities of Gamergate and Christina Hoff Sommers, and wrote the most arrogant piece on scientism ever. I say this not as a rabid anti-Pinker zealot — you can also find articles praising bits and pieces of Pinker’s work in my archives — but as someone who doesn’t just assume that Harvard confers infallibility with tenure, and who actually suspects that many aspects of Harvard reinforce an ugly sense of entitlement. He’s just really bad at thinking about way too many things.

Smith does point out something I could have been clearer about. If you look at the kinds of arguments Pinker often makes, they reduce to blaming the Left/Progressives/Liberals for things that the Right/Republicans/racists do. Somehow it’s always possible to make the worst things the alt-right does entirely the fault of those who oppose them, and also, he never bothers to say what we’re supposed to do instead. Encourage racists? Say kind things about them? Compromise on fundamental issues: suggest that maybe black people are only a little bit inferior rather than a lot inferior?

Even when they vaguely puzzle out this point, Pinker supporters don’t understand it. What does Jesse Singal say in the New York Times?

The clip was deeply misleading. If you watch the whole eight-minute video from which it was culled, it’s clear that Mr. Pinker’s entire point is that the alt-right’s beliefs are false and illogical — but that the left needs to do a better job fighting against them.

No. He clearly says that the alt-right’s beliefs are the fault of the “PC” Left, which says nothing about making better arguments to oppose them, and is a falsehood. His talk was about doling out the blame to the Left, not about fighting the alt-right. If you listen to the whole 8-minute video, what you hear is Pinker first saying that you can’t voice certain facts on campus, then stating those facts (self-refutation, anyone?), then explaining that his facts are more complex than he let on,
which is what the college professors he’s blaming already do.

But then this kind of disingenuous denial of reality, of focusing superficially on he said/she said note-taking, is exactly what the New York Times specializes in.

I’d rather not have my meals spiced with bullshit, thank you very much

I rather like cooking. I make no claims to being a great cook, but I can enjoy throwing together something tasty, and I can appreciate a good recipe and fresh ingredients and all that basic stuff. I do not like fad cookbooks, which are usually about some agenda other than enjoying good food, and are often coupled to some weird new pop mania that will change next year. Give me healthy and flavorful food first — telling me that it’s diet food to make you lose weight is like telling me that here’s a recipe for food you’ll want to eat in very small portions and that you probably won’t want to eat at all, which is contrary to the spirit of good cooking. Portion control and variety and exercise are fine ideas for losing weight, but don’t try to live on a diet of cardboard.

I have found a kindred spirit in The Angry Chef, who reviews a recent set of cook books.

All I want to see is a book about eating well, getting some variety, and making food that warms the soul. Where nothing is demonised, there are no strict rules, and there is no need for guilt and shame. I would love to see simple accessible recipes that appreciate how not everyone can afford three avocados a day, or grass-fed organic beef each evening. Something that considers how damaging the demonisation of foods can be for people’s mental health, and understands that telling people they can lose weight if they just try harder, actually does more harm than good.

Most of all, next January, I would like to see a book on the shelves that cares only about how healthy we are, instead of how much we weigh.

That’s what I want, too!

Unfortunately, at the same time I found my guiding angel, I also found his antithesis. It’s Amanda Chantal Bacon, “founder and owner of Moon Juice—the Los Angeles destination that serves beautifying herbal powder blends, tonics, and treats to A-list fans like Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley”. You will be disappointed to learn that in spite of her name, she doesn’t start her day with a side of bacon. No, she has listed her eating habits for a typical day, and it sounds…unpleasant.

At 8am, I had a warm, morning chi drink on my way to the school drop off, drunk in the car! It contains more than 25 grams of plant protein, thanks to vanilla mushroom protein and stone ground almond butter, and also has the super endocrine, brain, immunity, and libido- boosting powers of Brain Dust, cordyceps, reishi, maca, and Shilajit resin. I throw ho shou wu and pearl in as part of my beauty regime. I chase it with three quinton shots for mineralization and two lipospheric vitamin B-complex packets for energy.

At 9:30am, I drink 16 ounces of unsweetened, strong green juice, which is my alkalizer, hydrator, energizer, source of protein and calcium, and overall mood balancer. It’s also my easy, ‘lazy,’ and delicious skin regime. I also take three tablespoons of bee pollen. I love Moon Juice’s soft and chewy bee pollen—it’s a creamy, candy-like treat that gives me my daily B-vitamin blast, and also helps feed my skin and aids hormone production. I’ll also grab a handful of activated cashews. I try to get these in every day for their brain chemistry magic. I chase this with a shot of pressed turmeric root in freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.

Maybe that snootful of dried fungus is utterly delicious — I don’t know. But she’s not saying she’s eating it because it tastes good, but because it has “super endocrine, brain, immunity, and libido- boosting powers”, which is bullshit. You don’t need “alkalizers”. Everything does “brain chemistry magic” — a cup of coffee does things to your brain and energy and doesn’t cost $60 for a four ounce jar. Everything she’s nibbling on sounds awful, and like she’s just eating it because of bizarre notions about its medicinal virtues.

No thank you. Moderation and simple local foods, fresh and well-prepared with an eye towards good flavor, would be my ideal. Exotic ingredients selected for imaginary magical effects is precisely the opposite of what I want.

The Norwegians cover their eyes, embarrassed to be singled out

Our president is a racist and a shameful laughingstock, part MCXVIX.

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met yesterday.

Meanwhile, the more polite and diplomatic members of the rest of the world are all thinking about what a shithole the United States is becoming.

Are you depressed enough yet?

No, you are not. Not even close. Go read about our reality.

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

But, you say, you don’t want to be depressed. That’s fine, but the only acceptable alternative emotion is fury. Get out and do something about it then.

The kitchen as a metaphor for the war against the patriarchy

Remember Mario Batali’s clunky apology for harassment that included a pizza dough cinnamon roll recipe? We found it hard to believe how inappropriate and off-key the whole thing was.

Welp, someone made the pizza dough cinnamon rolls. It’s beautifully angry. Everything about it — the sloppy, incomplete recipe, the bad combination of pizza dough and a pastry, the terrible result — is a bitter metaphor for the institutionalized sexism women have to deal with all the time. I thought the apology was bad, but now I’m sure the celebrity chef is bad, too.