Stat of the Union

Time to do another deep dive on polling in the US. The first item comes via Steven Rosenfeld over at AlterNet. A number of polling companies have examined Trump’s standing in swing states, and compared it to how they voted. Their findings? They like him more than the average American, but less than when they voted for him. As Chuck Todd/Mark Murray/Carrie Dann put it at MSNBC,

In the Trump “Surge Counties” — think places like Carbon, Pa., which Trump won, 65%-31% (versus Mitt Romney’s 53%-45% margin) — 56% of residents approve of the president’s job performance. But in 2016, Trump won these “Surge Counties” by a combined 65%-29%. And in the “Flip Counties” — think places like Luzerne, Pa., which Obama carried 52%-47%, but which Trump won, 58%-39% — Trump’s job rating stands at just 44%. Trump won these “Flip Counties” by a combined 51%-43% margin a year ago.

So the sagging of support I mentioned a few months ago continues to happen. Rosenfeld also links to a few interviews with Trump voters, to get a more qualitative idea of where they’re at. There’s no real change there, they have a pessimistic view of what he’ll accomplish but praise him as a disruptor in fairly irrational terms. Take Ellen Pieper.

Poll respondent Ellen Pieper is among those disapproving of the president’s performance so far. The independent from Waukee voted for Trump and said she still believes in his ideas and qualifications. It’s how he behaves that bothers her. “He’s trying to move the country in the right direction, but his personality is getting in the way,” she said, calling out his use of Twitter in particular. “He’s a bright man, and I believe he has great ideas for getting the country back on track, but his approach needs some polish.”

Still, Pieper says, she’d vote for him again today.

Rosenfeld also makes some interesting comparisons to Nixon, but you’ll have to click through for that.

The second item comes via G. Elliott Morris, who’s boosted some diagrams made by Ian McDonald as well as their own. [Read more…]

Change Of Plans

I’ve had a draft cooking for a while over Laci Green’s view of trans* people. I don’t claim to know why she’s hanging out with MRAs or treating TERFs as if they were feminists, but if she’s going to sit down and attempt to make logical arguments the least I could do is return the favor.

But then this happened. [Read more…]

Proof From Miracles (1)

September 21st, 1995, was a good day to be a god. Or, alternatively, to own a grocery store.

A worshipper of Ganesha offered a statue of their god a sip of milk. To their surprise, the milk slowly disappeared from their spoon. Word travelled around New Dehli like lightening, and soon other devout Hindus were astonished to find their own statues were just as thirsty. Temples struggled to keep up with the flood of visitors, traffic took all day to recover, and even distant, exotic locales like England saw a marked rise in milk sales. The event was officially sanctioned as a miracle by the Vishva Hindu Parishad, better known as the World Hindu Council.

The Catholic Church tends to use more careful words, like “worthy of belief,” when declaring miracles.

Take the events of Fátima, Portugal, as an example. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, plus Lúcia Santos, claimed to have seen a glowing woman while tending to their sheep on May, June, and July 13th, 1917. Each time, the woman told the children to perform sacrifices and penance, as well as pray regularly. On the July visit, the woman gave them three secrets. The first two were kept quiet until 1941. The third was supposed to be held until 1960, but was eventually revealed forty years behind schedule.[168]

Word spread quickly, especially after that third visit, and by August 13th thousands of pious had flocked in to have an experience. The three children were jailed for that day, on the grounds that religious visions were politically disruptive, and alas no vision occurred. On August 19th, however, they claimed the woman came knocking again while they were alone. There was a crowd around on September 13th, but all that happened was a quiet picnic in the country.

Excitement was building for October 13th, however, which was supposed to be the “big reveal” that would convince even the sceptics. At least 30,000 people gathered in hope of a good light show. The angels didn’t disappoint.

From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver, and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up, and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!”

Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.

Standing at the step of an omnibus was an old man. With his face turned to the sun, he recited the Credo in a loud voice. I asked who he was and was told Senhor Joao da Cunha Vasconcelos. I saw him afterwards going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God.

Identical scenes were repeated elsewhere, and in one place a woman cried out: “How terrible! There are even men who do not uncover before such a stupendous miracle!”

People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and the dancing of the sun; others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin; others, again, swore that the sun whirled on itself like a giant Catherine wheel and that it lowered itself to the earth as if to burn it in its rays. Some said they saw it change colours successively….

(“The Immaculate Heart,” quoting from Avelino de Almeida’s article for “O Seculo.” John de Marchi, 1952)

Crack open any holy book, and you’ll find all types of events that are “worthy of belief,” from reviving the dead to candles that burned longer then they should.

Only a god is capable of breaking the laws of the universe. Doesn’t this clinch it?


Before going any farther, we’ve gotta agree on what a “miracle” is. In the Transcendence proof, I defined a miracle as any permanent or near-permanent change in the universe. This is a good start, but there are shades of grey that need to be examined.

Changes are easy to make, after all. I can change this spelling of tis word, for instance, and yet no-one would call that a miracle. The sort of change that qualifies as a miracle has to violate the laws of the universe, in some way. This leads to some awkward situations. If a magician threw down a stick and had it turn into a snake on hitting the ground, we’d clap and think it was a good show; magicians don’t claim to violate the laws of the universe, after all, they just fool our expectations of how the universe works. There’s always a material explanation behind the curtain.

Actually, the stick is a snake at the very start. The trick depends upon a species called the naja haje, or the Egyptian cobra. A peculiarity of this snake is that it can be made motionless by pressure just below the head. Thus temporarily paralysed, the naja haje becomes rigid, like a stick, but when it is thrown on the ground, it is jolted back to action.[169]

(“Secrets of Magic,” by Walter Gibson. 1973)

If Aaron or an Egyptian holy man turn a staff into a snake, however, it’s now a legitimate miracle.

 וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר

(The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,)

כִּי יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר תְּנוּ לָכֶם מוֹפֵת וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל אַהֲרֹן קַח אֶת מַטְּךָ וְהַשְׁלֵךְ לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה יְהִי לְתַנִּין

(“When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Provide a sign for yourselves,’ you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff, [and] cast [it] before Pharaoh; it will become a serpent.’ “)

 וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן אֶל פַּרְעֹה וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כֵן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְ־הֹוָ־ה וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אַהֲרֹן אֶת מַטֵּהוּ לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה וְלִפְנֵי עֲבָדָיו וַיְהִי לְתַנִּין

([Thereupon,] Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and they did so, as the Lord had commanded; Aaron cast his staff before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.)

  וַיִּקְרָא גַּם פַּרְעֹה לַחֲכָמִים וְלַמְכַשְּׁפִים וַיַּעֲשׂוּ גַם הֵם חַרְטֻמֵּי מִצְרַיִם בְּלַהֲטֵיהֶם כֵּן

([Then,] Pharaoh too summoned the wise men and the magicians, and the necromancers of Egypt also did likewise with their magic.)

וַיַּשְׁלִיכוּ אִישׁ מַטֵּהוּ וַיִּהְיוּ לְתַנִּינִם וַיִּבְלַע מַטֵּה אַהֲרֹן אֶת מַטֹּתָם

(Each one of them cast down his staff, and they became serpents; but Aaron’s staff swallowed their staffs.)

(Torah, Shemot 7:8-12, English translation by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg)[170]

While both situations look identical to any witnesses, only the second is claimed to be a miracle, because only it broke the laws of the universe. On the surface this seems to be no problem, since both the magician and prophets have made the situation clear. But what if the magician lied, and claimed their own work was a miracle? A witness has no way of spotting the lie, and would happily believe a false miracle. Conversely, what if the magician is mistaken, and there really is no material explanation? Our witness would falsely agree that no miracle happened, when in fact one did.

It all points to a simple conclusion: it doesn’t matter if something is declared to be a miracle or not. We need to examine the evidence, in every case, and cannot take it on faith.

This story of duelling snakes is not the first ever miracle; a few people claim that the very existence of the universe counts as a miracle. That’s already covered by the Fine-Tuning proof, which is examined in another chapter.

However, the creation of everything and the creation of the Earth are two separate things.

That Agni, when in loftiest heaven he sprang to life, Guardian of Holy Laws, kept and observed them well. Exceeding wise, he measured out the firmament. Vaisvanara [Agni] attained to heaven by mightiness.

Wonderful Mitra[171] propped the heaven and earth apart, and covered and concealed the darkness with his light. He made the two bowls part asunder like two skins. Vaisvanara put forth all his creative power.

The Migbty [?] seized him in the bosom of the floods: the people waited on the King who should be praised. As envoy of Vivasvan[,] MatariSvan[172] brought Agni Vaisvanara hither from far away.

(Rig Veda, Mandala 6:8.2-4,  translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith)

Declaring who came first is a bit of a challenge. The followers of Jainism point to the birth of Rishabha, the first Jain “Tirthankar” or enlightened person, as miraculous; the wind became perfumed, the sky had a warm glow, and a good vibe flowed over the land. According to legend, that was about 10224 years ago, which puts it roughly 10224 years before the Big Bang. Worse, Rishabha is only the first Tirthankar in our own epoc; Jainism believes there were an infinite number of cycles before then, so that year represents the first known miracle, but nothing [HJH: looks like I forgot to write a part back then. Whoops! Please accept this crude approximation…] in their religion states there was ever a first miracle, full stop.

Un-shockingly, there’s no evidence to support any of that. The source of Rishabha’s legend, the Adipurana, was written between 941 and 1000CE by the poet Adikavi Pampa. In contrast, Jewish tradition states the Shemot was revealed to Moses by God around 1312 BCE; no written copies existed until after 600 BCE, however, and some evidence suggests it was created at that time.[173] By historical standards, Judaism can claim to be earlier.

Hinduism has both of them beat. Thomas Oberlies estimates the last Mandala of the Rig Veda was composed in 1100BCE.[174] The earliest Mandalas, which includes the one I quoted above, were crafted between 2000 and 1400BCE, with the second date being the most widely accepted. While the Rig Veda itself wasn’t written down until about 10BCE, the text gushes on and on about holy rivers. By comparing their descriptions within the work to the historic paths of rivers, archaeologists can estimate when the oral versions of the Mandalas were first written. Some claim this adds an additional millennia or two to their age; others dispute this.

There may be earlier records of miracles. Imhotep was an advisor to several Pharaohs, and one of the few commoners to be declared divine by the ancient Egyptians. His skill as an architect, physician, and sage were long celebrated, and most likely he could perform some sort of “magic.” Alas, no record of his tricks have survived, and without details I can’t declare him to be a true miracle worker. It’s too bad, since he could have easily stolen the crown; he lived from 2655 to 2600BCE, after all.

[168]  Maybe. There are a lot of sceptics who claim the Catholic Church forged or altered this prophecy, pointing to oddities like the number of pages (the official release had four, yet previous reports claimed there was only one). The Church has continually denied this.

[169]  I’m sceptical of Gibson’s explanation, but my point survives even if he’s wrong. You’ll see why shortly.

[170]  This passage is also in the Christian bible, filed under “Exodus” in the same location.

[171]  This god was named after contracts, but also influenced friendship and honesty.

[172]   Vivasvan is the name of a sun god, while MatariSvan is the person who brought fire to the rest of the world.

[173]  “Exodus,” by William D. Johnstone, an essay published in Eerdmans Bible Commentary (2003).

[174]  “Die Religion des Rgveda,” Wien, 1998.

A Quick Note on So-Called “Bathroom Bills”


Gendered restrooms are a relatively recent phenomenon. Before then restrooms were unisex, but not in the way you’re thinking.

… public facilities in Western nations were male-only until the Victorian era, which meant women had to improvise. If they had to be out and about longer than they could hold their bladders, women in the Victorian era would urinate over a gutter (long Victorian skirts allowed for some privacy). Some would even carry a small personal device called a urinette that they could use discretely under their skirts and then pour out, [Sheila] Cavanagh said. […]

This lack of female facilities reflected a notable attitude about women: that they should stay home. This “urinary leash” remains a problem in some developing nations, said Harvey Molotch, a sociologist at New York University and co-editor of “Toilet: The Public Restroom and the Politics of Sharing” (New York University Press, 2010). Women in India today, for example, often have to avoid eating or drinking too much if they have to be out in public, because there is no place for them to go, Molotch told Live Science.

But with the rise of the Industrial Revolution and changing attitudes towards gender, forcing women back into the home wasn’t tenable. Instead, during the last quarter of the 19th century a new philosophy became dominant.

Scientific discoveries at the time showed that working women were “unable to [physically] withstand strains, fatigues, and privations as well as [men],” so sex-separated restrooms provided “a protective haven . . . where a woman could seek comfort and rest when her weak body gave out on the job.” Maintaining separate facilities that were “properly screened” also provided more privacy to both men and women with regard to their bodies and bodily functions, an obsession derived from Victorian society. By providing a separate space for the special needs of women and protecting the privacy of all workers, sex-separated bathrooms upheld “[l]ate nineteenth century concerns about germs and sanitation . . . [and] early nineteenth century ideological concerns of pure womanhood.”

Governments began mandating sex-segregated washrooms in the workplace, starting with Massachusetts in 1887. As attitudes towards women changed, however, the reasons for segregation shifted.

Though modern thinking has certainly progressed and women are not treated as inherently inferior as they once were, the current argument that sex-separated restrooms provide greater safety for women harkens back to the nineteenth century justifications for separate restroom facilities. For example, literature opposing transgender bathroom access focuses heavily on protecting the safety, privacy, and dignity of women and girls, yet rarely mentions any issues men might have with sharing a restroom with a female-to-male transsexual. Even some transsexual women wish to maintain the “safe haven in a male dominated world” of a women’s restroom “where women can have their own space without needing to worry what a man might do (in front of them, to them, or to their daughters and young sons.)” At the very least, these opinions expose an underlying belief that women and girls are more fragile than men, have a deeper need of privacy than men, and are more likely than men to be afraid or offended by the notion of sharing a restroom with a male-born transgender woman.

Faced with this information, you’d think a feminist would tread very carefully. Yes, there’s a gender imbalance in who commits sexual assault, but the historic use of washrooms to control women should give pause about banning someone else from using them.

TERFs don’t pause, they’re fully in favour of “bathroom bills.” Even when a butch lesbian gives a convincing plea against this legislation, they still find a way to justify support.

Those of us who believe that men belong in the men’s washroom come in two major types—conservatives and feminists—but this author doesn’t distinguish between the two groups. Conservatives understand that certain men will use any excuse to prey on women and children and they want to protect them. They are also homophobic and do not accept ordinary lesbians and gays, and they promote traditional gender roles and marriage. Feminists know that men with sexual fetishes like to declare that they have a gender identity and therefore have a right to expose themselves in women’s locker rooms. We differ completely from conservatives because we are against gender roles and sex stereotypes. We want the entire range of women in all our diversity to feel comfortable in women’s spaces, which will be accomplished by eliminating sexism and homophobia. […]

She’s implying here that the reason for sex-segregated facilities is the misguided notion that women need protection from men, and that people only believe that women need protection because of gender roles/stereotypes about women. But in the real world, women do need protection from men, because men abuse women on a regular basis through assault, rape, harassment, stalking, flashing, taking photos without consent, and the list goes on. Unfortunately this writer didn’t check the stats on violence against women before writing her article.

This is evidence that TERFs are not truly feminists: they advocate for the elimination of sex stereotypes, yet push a stereotyped view of sex. They are ignorant of feminist history, and advocate for sexist policies that date back to the Victorian era. The aforementioned division between “conservatives” and “feminists” is rich, especially since the two love to team up to oppose the rights of trans* people.

The real issue behind “bathroom bills” is control over who gets to enjoy the public sphere, security is secondary at best.

Cory Pass Loop

The Short Version: A bit less strenuous than the tin says, this hike will introduce you to a wide range of biomes and rock formations. It’ll also test your navigational and avalanche skills, so don’t let it be your first or shoulder hike.

13.4km distance, 1130m net gain, 961m peak-to-valley, 2376m max elevation, 6 hours.

[Read more…]

Objectively Biased

Enjoyed that inspirational break? Good, because it’s back to Depresso Land.

Astronomy and planetary science, as the fields concerned with celestial objects and processes, help shift human attention outward. Gazing at the stars is an accessible introduction to science, one that gets many young children dreaming of being an astronaut, astronomer, or planetary scientist one day. […]

At the same time, the accessibility and inclusive atmosphere within science, including astronomy and planetary science, has been called into question. Science syllabi use gendered language that not only can show women as incompetent but also normalizes masculine behaviors, belief systems, and priorities [Bejerano and Bartosh, 2015]. Several studies of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields have found implicit bias, or the bias in judgment resulting from implicit attitudes that operates below cognitive awareness, related to both gender and race limits opportunities in mentorship [Milkman et al., 2015], hiring [Moss-Racusin et al., 2012], and opportunities in the classroom [Eddy et al., 2014, 2015; Grunspan et al., 2016], as well as workplace conflict [Williams et al., 2016] and experiences that map onto stereotypes of scientists’ racial-ethnic identification [Williams et al., 2014, 2016]. Women of color faculty in STEM are also more likely to experience the dominant culture of their disciplines as outsiders, with their views validated less than the dominant group [Rios and Stewart, 2015]. Further, the number of women of color science faculty has recently decreased, even while the number of white women science faculty has increased [Armstrong and Jovanovic, 2015]. These marginalities are further compounded by power differentials, as women of color are more likely to be junior in rank compared to those with majority identities [National Science Foundation (NSF), 2015].[1]

That much was known; left without examination, though was the extent that this sexism hits on a personal level. Now we have a study that covers that, and whoamygawd:

Women were more likely than men to observe remarks that they interpreted as racist, sexist, that one was not feminine or masculine enough, or disparaging someone’s physical abilities or mental abilities (Table 3, see supporting information Table S1 for all analyses). Women were also significantly more likely than men to report that they experienced both verbal and physical harassment because of their gender. When asked if they had ever felt physically unsafe in their current position, more women than men reported that they felt unsafe as a result of their gender (30% versus 2%, p < 0.001). Finally, women were also more likely than men to report skipping at least one class, meeting, fieldwork, or other professional event per month because they felt unsafe (13% versus 3%, p = 0.01). […]

Respondents of color were significantly more likely than white respondents to observe remarks that were racist (from peers and others, p = 0.0001 and 0.023) or homophobic (from supervisors, p < 0.0001, Table 4, see supporting information Table S2 for all analyses). Respondents of color were also significantly more likely than white respondents to report that they experienced both verbal and physical harassment because of their race. When asked if they had ever felt physically unsafe in their current position, more respondents of color reported they felt unsafe as a result of their race (24% versus 1%, p < 0.001). Respondents of color and white respondents reported similar frequencies of skipped classes, meetings, fieldwork, or other professional events per month because they felt unsafe (15% versus 9%, p = 0.08).[1]

There’s more bad news, and thankfully the paper is open-access so you can wallow in it yourself. Suffice to say, not only does this establish sexism and racism is pervasive within astronomy, there’s strong reason to suspect its killing careers.

An even stronger portrait emerges if we include the LGBTQA+ community. This relates to physics, rather than astronomy, but

About 15% of LGBT men, 25% of LGBT women, 30% of gender-nonconforming individuals characterized the overall climate of their department or division as “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable.” Also, 30% of trans individual regardless of gender identity characterized the overall climate of their department or division as “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable.” […]

Over 40% of climate survey respondents agreed with the statement, “Employees are expected to not act too gay,” and about 45% disagreed with the statement, “Coworkers are as likely to ask nice, interested questions about same-sex relationships as they are about heterosexual relationships.” […]

More than 20% of climate survey respondents reported experiencing exclusionary behavior in the past year, while about 40% reported observing exclusionary behavior due to gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. These numbers were significantly higher (49% and 60% respectively) for trans respondents. […]

Over one-third of climate survey respondents considered leaving their workplace or school in the past year.[2]

That last line is important; we’re excluding people from working in the sciences for reasons that have nothing to do with competence. This has to change, and as always awareness of the problem is the first step.

[1] Clancy, Kathryn B. H., Katharine M. N. Lee, Erica M. Rodgers, and Christina Richey. “Double Jeopardy in Astronomy and Planetary Science: Women of Color Face Greater Risks of Gendered and Racial Harassment.” Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, n.d., 2017JE005256. doi:10.1002/2017JE005256.

[2] Atherton, T. J., R. S. Barthelemy, W. Deconinck, M. L. Falk, S. Garmon, E. Long, M. Plisch, E. H. Simmons, and K. Reeves. “LGBT Climate in Physics: Building an Inclusive Community.” American Physical Society, College Park, MD, 2016.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I’ve been a negative Nelly lately, haven’t I? How hate feeds into itself, why Boghossian is wrong, OMG TRUMP… I think it’s time for something more uplifting. Ever since including this link on one of the Boghossian articles, I’ve wanted to promote it to a full post. It’s Michael Kimmel talking about gender equality, and how it benefits men as well as everyone else.

Gender equality is good for countries. It turns out, according to most studies, that those countries that are the most gender equal are also the countries that score highest on the happiness scale. And that’s not just because they’re all in Europe. Even within Europe, those countries that are more gender equal also have the highest levels of happiness.

It is also good for companies. Research by Catalyst and others has shown conclusively that the more gender-equal companies are, the better it is for workers, the happier their labor force is. They have lower job turnover. They have lower levels of attrition. They have an easier time recruiting. They have higher rates of retention, higher job satisfaction, higher rates of productivity. So the question I’m often asked in companies is, “Boy, this gender equality thing, that’s really going to be expensive, huh?” And I say, “Oh no, in fact, what you have to start calculating is how much gender inequality is already costing you. It is extremely expensive.” So it is good for business.

When you know where to look, there’s actually quite a few videos in this genre. For instance, here’s Tony Porter (warning, he gets explicit about sexual assault)…

… we as men are taught to have less value in women, to view them as property and the objects of men. We see that as an equation that equals violence against women. We as men, good men, the large majority of men, we operate on the foundation of this whole collective socialization. We kind of see ourselves separate, but we’re very much a part of it. You see, we have to come to understand that less value, property and objectification is the foundation and the violence can’t happen without it. So we’re very much a part of the solution as well as the problem.

And Jackson Katz (double warning, he focuses on sexual assault)…

… there’s an awful lot of men who care deeply about these issues. I know this, I work with men, and I’ve been working with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of men for many decades now. It’s scary, when you think about it, how many years. But there’s so many men who care deeply about these issues, but caring deeply is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them.

By the way, we owe it to women. There’s no question about it. But we also owe it to our sons. We also owe it to young men who are growing up all over the world in situations where they didn’t make the choice to be a man in a culture that tells them that manhood is a certain way. They didn’t make the choice. We that have a choice, have an opportunity and a responsibility to them as well.

But my favorite has to be Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you would threaten the man.” If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, you have to pretend that you’re not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.

But what if we question the premise itself? Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man? What if we decide to simply dispose of that word, and I don’t think there’s an English word I dislike more than “emasculation.” A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me. I was not worried at all. In fact, it had not occurred to me to be worried because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.

It’s easy to feel ground down by the endless parade of sexist bullshit in the news. Outrage and train wrecks tend to steal our gaze, but if you keep mindful and dig a little, you’ll find no shortage of people pushing back. Take inspiration from them, and if the time is right, join them.

Well, That Escalated Quickly

If you’d asked me about it six months ago, I would have been adamant that we’d never get an email from the Trump camp admitting to collusion. Anyone merely considering collusion would ensure there were multiple layers of plausible deniability, layering on handlers and indirection to throw smoke at anyone on the trail. [Read more…]