Archive for the 'Ludicrous Language' category

So Sad

I've been reading the comment thread on this post over at Whizbang! and I grow so sad. Poor Boron! Subjected to a witch hunt, tried and sentenced by an angry mob, when he didn't commit legitimate rape or even real harassment, which God knows is a horrible thing IF you have ever seen it, trust me. I mean, people have a right to their hurt feelings, but that doesn't give them a right to violate Boron's privacy, because if the topic of sex is in any way under discussion - say, in relation to a bit of science  journalism - why then it is perfectly normal to describe at length how you like to get down and dirty with your partner, especially over coffee. There is no evidence! Of anything! No harassment to be seen! Boron is a victim! People are being silenced! The mob is scaring people from speaking the truth! Boron is just a poor lad with Asperger's from a foreign country where they do sex talk different and no one has asked him his side of the story about this lapse of good judgment! People are too emotional and over-reacting, probably because they were harassed, and so they see it everywhere and when you think about it, what is real rape anyway, especially in a marriage, or some strange foreign culture? A court of law would give a proper hearing to all sides.  If only some journalist would investigate the true story. Why, oh why are you mean, cruel, horrible people making such a great and wonderful man suffer consequences for his actions? Can't you just let him do whatever he wants and let him be the judge as to whether he thinks it was harassment and he should apologize or not? What do you people want? It's like you think you have the right to define things and take actions. That is not how it works. Shut up and keep pulling the levers for the Great and Powerful Oz. Come back and show love for this great and good man. Don't be so crazy. Don't make us kill you delete your comments.

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Defining the Discourse and Words We Use: Who Gets To?

So, this is not the way I imagined breaking my writer's block. Or my refraining-from-writing-as-an-act-of-mourning. Or my mourning-induced aphasia. Or whatever is this is. I'm gonna just cross my fingers and hope I don't snap during the writing of this and say something that worsens everyone's depression (except mine) and destroys the universe (because of my omnipotent evil feminazi womanish powers)  which in any case should be ignored (really, the whole post should be ignored, on account of its having been written by a screeching harridan whining about no big deal).  Here we go.

First, I ask thee, gentle Zuskateers, to read Let Me Fix That For You, Nature at Red Ink. (Thanks, @rocza for that link via the twitters.)  Then please read I'm sorry...but you brought this on yourself honey by my dear friend Drugmonkey.

In the first post, Henry Gee's original letter is a discourse-controlling tour-de-force, and Red Ink does a marvelous job of deconstructing his blatherings. One just sits in one's chair, jaw agape at the hilariously depressingly superb job that is this pulling of the truth out of truthiness's ass. It both entertains and instructs. One gets a delightful dose of schadenfreude in the reading of it, whilst simultaneous schooled by the unmasking of rhetorical tricks Gee deploys .

Next up is Drugmonkey's blog piece, offering a detailed analysis of  Gee's nonpologetic discourse. Wait for it... comment #4 tells us how he is doing itt rong, and in an inflammatory manner, and how the rong is ineffective to boot. Trifecta of discourse control!

Commenter #4's knickers got bunched over all the rong because (a) Drugmonkey used an analogy - ineffective! and (b) Drugmonkey picked a bad analogy - inflammatory!  Drugmonkey might as well be talking to a brick wall. Or worse, trying to talk to someone on the other side of the brick wall but all his shouting for attention makes them climb up the wall and shove some bricks onto his head to shut him up.

I'm sorry. I know that was confusing and possibly inflammatory. The person atop the wall could have poured boiling oil on his head. Or shot him with flaming arrows.

Now, as Drugmonkey did, we pause here for a trigger warning regarding abuse, should you read further.

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A Blurb For Venker's "How To Choose A Husband"

We lived in a strictly gendered world. We relied on it for everything. And then the power went out of gender norms. Everything stopped working. We weren't prepared. Fear and confusion led to panic. The lucky ones made it out of the hedonistic cities. The government collapsed. Women took over, controlling their own fertility and stockpiling their own money. We still don't know why the power went out of gender norms. But we're hopeful that Suzanne Venker will come and lead the way.

With apologies to the showrunners of Revolution, which I love.

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Taking the Mansplaining Out of Mansplaining, Again!

So I'm listening to NPR the other day and some dude is chatting with a correspondent about words of the year - one of those fun end of the year type segments - and they're all like, oh, fiscal cliff is soooo gonna win, but hey, let's chat up some of the other woulda coulda shoulda beena word of the year entries. And one of the ones the dude mentions is...mansplaining.* Even tho, like, mansplaining as a word of the year is so last year. Remember when the NYT saw fit to tell us what mansplaining really meant? and how it actually had nothing to do with mansplaining, but was just a fancy new word for boor?

Well now, in this year's incarnation of mansplaining mansplaining as a would-be word of the year, we are told that it is basically just about dudes who like to explain stuff.  That sounds pretty harmless, doesn't it! And sort of funny!  Like your crazy old uncle who shows up at Thanksgiving dinner and can't stop nattering on about "when I was a young boy, we used to bla bla bla". But alas. Mansplaining is about men who like to explain to women things that the women already understand and/or are experts on, or to offer a totally wrong correction of a woman's correct explanation, or even to bloviate on a subject about which the man knows nothing, but about which he feels confident he can educate the little women, because she's a woman.

And again, alas! even Lily Rothman in the Cultural History of Mansplaining will only go so far as to say that is is "often" done "by a man to a woman" and bizarrely says that "the idea wasn't political in origin."  Wasn't political in origin?  WTF? Who's been mansplaining its history to her?  Has she even read the Rebecca Solnit essay she references? Well, little ladies, I guess there's nothing political at all about the dudes telling you what you know. Until a politician tells you what's gonna be.  Then it's offishully about politics!

Sweet baby Jesus in the manger with his little golden diaper!  The. Personal. Is. Political.

Yrs truly,

Shrill old ugly hairy-legged Second Wave feminazi harridan

P.S. No, I can't find the link to the NPR piece.

 

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Yogurt: It's a Woman Thing


Yogurt: It's a Woman Thing, You Wouldn't Understand

Storified by · Sun, Sep 09 2012 20:00:14

At 10:34 am on 9 Sept 2012, @Scicurious tweeted (really sorry, I can't figure out how to embed this tweet):

"Open letter to commercials targeting women: So true. I express my own uniqueness through feminine care products."

(The bolding is mine.)
You must go read that article NOW!
@GertyZ tweeted the same article and also replied to @Scicurious
Haha! But true. MT"@GertyZ: Open Letters: Open Letter 2 the People in Charge of Commercials Targeting Women. http://zite.to/PORwow via @Zite"TSZuska
@scicurious doesn't everyone? BRING ON THE MINIVANGerty-Z
And we were all off and running!
@scicurious but the poor guys who keep getting rejected from the yogurt aisle? So sad!biochem belle
@scicurious enjoy it now. Someday, menopause. Then: no uniqueness, no femininity. Unless you eat yogurt.TSZuska
@scicurious Although those yogurt-eaters always look awfully young. I thing all that's left post-menopause is bone loss & hot flash meds.TSZuska
@TSZuska And wrinkle cream! LOTS of expensive wrinkle cream.sci curious
@scicurious Indian commercials include vaginal tightening creams, vaginal fairness & well, regular fairness creams. http://youtu.be/vPayFrCOiZMManasi Jiwrajka
Well now, that's something to look into! I am certain I have not been nearly worried enough about my vaginal fairness.
@TSZuska @scicurious @kateclancy perhaps you've missed news that Poise has developed a whole line of menopause-related products #innovative?Lisa Hinchliffe
Depressingly, there will come the day when we all need something like a Poise pad, or worse. #oldagesucks But I am seriously not going to worry about "feeling confident" in my bladder leakage years with panty fresheners and feminine wash. There will be no equivalent of an Air Wick Stick-Up on the bottom of my pantaloons.

Let's change the subject.

@TSZuska I really pity all the guys who, according to the commercials, don't eat yogurt. That stuff is great!sci curious
@biochembelle @scicurious I'm starting a Men Can Eat My Yogurt support group. There's an entry requirement for each straight man.TSZuska
@TSZuska @biochembelle Is it like a hazing process for men who want to eat yogurt? Like they have to eat plain?sci curious
@scicurious @TSZuska Or require them to distinguish regular vs Greek, nonfat vs full fat by blind taste test?biochem belle
@biochembelle @scicurious Well I was thinking of making them prove they'd eaten something else, but that's good, too.TSZuska
@scicurious @TSZuska Though the dude from Burn Notice is apparently the only man who isn't stripped of his masculinity by eating yogurt.Kate Clancy
@KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska and John Stamos. He's in a yogurt commercial. Greek yogurt. Manly yogurt. :DRadium Yttrium
@KateClancy @scicurious Always an exception here & there. Most men don't have the biological necessities to digest yogurt. #EvolutionTSZuska
@TSZuska @KateClancy @scicurious I've heard that they've got ways of shutting all of that down, though.Emily Willingham
@ejwillingham @KateClancy @scicurious If legitimately forced to eat yogurt, no gaseous bloating will result. It's a known scientific fact.TSZuska
@DrRubidium @SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @TSZuska You mean greek yogurt is MANLY?! I've been eating MANLY yogurt! HORRORZ.sci curious
@DrRubidium @KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska but John stamos isn't eating the yoghurt, it's just who appears when women eat yoghurtNatC
You are safe, @Scicurious.  Still appropriately feminine!
@SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska I do remember him eating some, but he was also feeding a woman, which is just creepyRadium Yttrium
@DrRubidium @KateClancy @scicurious @TSZuska clearly I'm not paying sufficient attention to ads aimed at me. Whoops!NatC
AARGH! RT @scicurious: @DrRubidium @SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @TSZuska You mean greek yogurt is MANLY?! I've been eating MANLY yogurt! HORRORZ.NatC
Or......not.  That manly yogurt may have some biological effects on gendered behavior.
@scicurious @SciTriGrrl @KateClancy @TSZuska yes, I eat it and then start random street fights :DRadium Yttrium
@DrRubidium @SciTriGrrl @TSZuska @scicurious I eat it before roller derby bouts for MOAR TESTOSTERONE.Kate Clancy
And now, a semi-serious tweet...
@TSZuska @biochembelle @scicurious @Mom101 wrote a post about it. If memory is correct, the adverts we want don't do well in focus groupsScientistMother
@ScientistMother @biochembelle @scicurious @Mom101 i have been in focus groups. Ppl r anxious 2 get out & get their $$; herd mentality...TSZuska
@ScientistMother @biochembelle @scicurious @Mom101 one or 2 strong voices, everyone follows them. Drink coffee, get done, get cash.TSZuska
This, among other reasons, is why we have such crap-ass commercials.  This, and the undying belief that patriarchy sells. Because #evolution!
@TSZuska @biochembelle @scicurious perhaps @Mom101 could provide more info. She's pretty awesome about getting change in advertisingScientistMother
@scicurious @ScientistMother @TSZuska @biochembelle Oddly, that's the first McS essay where I've ever felt, "Seen it."Liz Gumbinner
@Mom101 @scicurious @TSZuska @biochembelle seen it bc others have said it before?ScientistMother
Sigh. Sometimes I get the feeling it's all been said before, a thousand million times.  Still, we have to say it again and again, and laugh a little along the way. 
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When They Read The News, What Are They Telling Us?

I'm feeling my Olympic groove this evening, when here comes a commercial break blurb for the local newscast. They're promising me all sorts of wonderfully lurid stuff if I tune in later. Here's one exciting pitch:

This man's wife and baby were held up at gun point!...Details later...

There is a very, very quick shot of a man, and then we see the woman with her baby telling us "He had a gun and he told me 'don't make me do this, you have a baby with you'."

Here's my question:  Why "this man's wife and baby" and not "this woman and her baby"? In reporting crime against women, must we do it so as to make clear who owns them, in favor of that the crime was against them?  When we say "this man's wife and baby were held up at gunpoint" we are implying that the crime, although committed on the woman and baby, was against the man.

There's no excuse for locution like this.  News writers/readers, women are their own agents. You don't need to identify their closest male in order to report news on them.

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No Modesty Left At All

People keep saying the dead-tree format is over and done with but you can still learn so much from reading the newspaper.  Take for example this (for once) sensible editorial I chanced upon yesterday in the radical left-leaning Philadelphia Inquirer.  If you are "poor", ask yourself:  WWJD?  Be prepared to shape up in a hurry because He'd tell you something like this:

Our Lord Jesus: Are you a tween working 60 hours a week sticking things on pots while rats gnaw at you, just so you can get your dad out of debtor's prison?  No?  What you are is lounging about in your air-conditioned paradise with your cable tv, maybe even going to the public library and using the computer to get on the Internet there, and you're whinging away because you're "hungry".  If you're so hungry, why are you so fat?  Riddle me that one, Batman!  Your school (though I wouldn't let my kids go there) is free (for now, till we institute the voucher system) and your government pays for "much" of the tab of state and community colleges (if by "much" we include "ever decreasing amounts").  Why are you so dumb?  You can be as "poor" as you want and we won't even put you in debtor's prison!

 

You see, being poor used to be about really suffering in a hideous manner unto death. If the impoverished people are fat, have cars, and aren't in jail, the system is working pretty good for them.  But give the "poor" a little and they still aren't satisfied.  It's not enough to be a wage slave in a rat-free environment.**  They want equal opportunities, too!  But the whole point of success is to give your children unusually good opportunities. But no, the "poor" want to make it about the size of the gap, claiming that if the rich get richer, the poor should too.  That's just crazy talk!

Myself, I say it's time we solved this "poverty" problem, such as it is, once and for all.  Modesty will not serve; let us be bold in our proposals.  What few poor we do have should be fed an all organic, no hormones or antibiotics diet for three months to cleanse their systems, then humanely slaughtered on-site in old style, non-industrial abattoirs. We should not limit ourselves to just the more obvious, meatier cuts but strive for a whole human, nose to foot approach.  Many parts of the poor will pair well with a good pinot noir, and there is nothing like poor heart - tender, amazing, not funky like liver, and poor trotters make great tacos.  Even if it weren't respectful to the poor to practice nose-to-foot eating, the ecological benefits alone make it a wise choice for the environmentally conscious eater -- feeding multiple mouths with one whole animal and all its edible parts is much more efficient and less tolling on our environment than processing multiple animals to feed only a few mouths, which is what we do when limiting ourselves to eating only a single part.  You know, like chicken nuggets.  Which I hear, make the "poor" so fat, but also our wallets, so what are you going to do.

 

**Well, I did hear today about a transport authority worker stuck in a booth all day who has to dodge rats running around his feet so, technically, I guess we haven't quite achieved "wage slave in a rat-free environment" yet.  So close!

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Getting "In God We Trust" Back Into This Country

It's December 29th, and I'm taking a little time out of the mad holiday rush to sit down, relax, and write out some Christmas cards.  I know what you're thinking: Zuska, isn't this just a tad early to start working on the 2012 mailing list?  You are correct. However, it's a dandy time for cranking out the 2011 cards.  Hopes are high that they will actually reach a mailbox, maybe even in 2011.  For lo these several years I've not managed to send out anything more than a card to Z-mom, but I feel a Christmas miracle coming on. Surely a month of incessant Christmas carols everywhere I go will have inspired me.

Last year while digging around in a cupboard I came across a box of Christmas cards with envelopes already addressed and stamped.  A few signatures and a personal note or two were all that was lacking.  I thought briefly about converting these abandoned cards to a 2010 mailing. But the amount of extra postage each envelope needed would tell the whole embarrassing story.  Fortunately my township recycles paper.

I was inspired to mull over my ongoing Christmas card mailing list failures-to-launch while listening to All Things Considered; Iowan Man and Potential Mitt Romney Supporter plaintively inquired the following:

  "Yeah, I was wondering what you're planning on doing to get 'In God We Trust' back into this country again because our kids can't even celebrate Christmas in this country for fear of offending someone else," said the potential supporter. "Y'know, when we came here, we were founded on 'In God We Trust' and I'd like to see that back in this country again." [emphasis mine]

Could that be it?  Iowan Man may be on to something here.  I thought I was lazy and perhaps somewhat concerned about all the paper wastage. But I am fairly sure now that this is the problem:  I can't celebrate Christmas by sending out cards for fear of offending someone else.  It just has to be that.

In solidarity with Iowan Man, I offer below The Lament of the White Christian During  Xmas Election Season.

We can't even celebrate Christmas in this country for fear of offending someone else. Sure, you can buy Hanukkah cards - some of your best friends are Jewish! - but it's just a pity card because you can't send them a real Christmas card. They probably know it and wish their second-class holiday was the real one, and that makes you feel soooo awkward. Just because your holiday is Number 1 is no reason for other people to make you feel bad.

Then you have your atheist friends (hah! as if). You can't even say Merry Christmas because they will call out the ACLU and sue you, even if you X-out Jesus and say Merry Xmas.  What are you left with? Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays and Sparkle Season and other euphemisms that are just pushing "In God We Trust" right out of this country and making our kids afraid.

The worst of all is the Muslims, of which I don't personally know any, but they just get enraged when they hear anything about Christmas.  They are going to take over this country and mark my words, we are going to have to celebrate Christmas in secret, because they will kill us if they find out.  They have already gotten a Muslim elected president and pretty soon no Christian will be safe anywhere.

We need to get "In God We Trust" back in this country so that when the end times come, we'll be Raptured.  So, what I want to know, Mr./Ms. Presidential Candidate, can you promise me that if I vote for you, your first priority will be to install the authoritarian white christian theocracy I'm pining for?  Merry Christmas, In God We Trust.

 

 

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Taking Another Look at the Cheerleader Thing - Literally

Call me Zuska. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on t.v., I thought I would surf the web a little and see the bloggy part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever those apologists for the oppressor get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically puking on peoples' shoes - then, I account it high time to get to the blogosphere as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the posts and comment threads. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all hairy-legged feminazis in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the blogosphere with me.

 

I went off all whiny and screechy about SciCheer in this post.  But hey, if it’s inspiring, can it be wrong?

Yes, you idiot.  If the young girls are “inspired” by the cheerleaders now, why not move on to pole dancers?  That takes some serious upper body strength! And you can earn money pole dancing to pay for your college tuition!  Work nights and weekends, it won’t interfere with classes!  Let us be inspired by the heartwarming tales of pole dancers, in costume, encouraging the wee ones to go into science. They could talk about physiology! And physics! It would be awesome.

I understand that it is fashionable to claim that things like cheerleading and showing off one’s fabulous tits in tight clothing are empowerful for the young girls today.  This is a steaming crock of bullshit. When they are yelling "show yer tits!" this week in Nawlins and tossing beads at the compliant minxes, they are are not thinking "how empowered these young women are today!  so in control of their own sexuality!"  They are thinking "fuck yeah, I got that bitch to show me her tits for some plastic beads!" And don't go spitting that sex positive bla bla at me.  I love me some sex as much as the next person.  What I don't love is seeing women's sexuality debased and exploited, and I especially don't love seeing it done in the spurious name of recruiting young girls into science.

The vast majority of men, when pondering cheerleaders, think of one thing:  fucking. There’s a chain of “gentlemen’s clubs” in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that goes by the name of Cheerleaders.  Let’s compare.  SciCheer or Cheerleader's Club?  You make the call!

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Where We're All Heading in Scott Walker's Handbasket

Now indeed is the winter of our labor discontent.

Scott Walker, you'll recall, is the Rethuglican who has creatively called his union-busting scheme a "budget repair" bill.  Once we've finished stripping workers of all their rights - collective bargaining is just the first step! there's so much more that can be taken away once the collective bargaining is gone! - we can bring back many useful practices from the good ol' days.  The history of Blair Mountain is instructive in this regard.  Maybe you'll want to go visit Blair Mountain, and see the historical marker, but I'd do it now if I were you, before Mr. Peabody rips it off the face of the earth to get at the coal underneath.

Two years ago, Blair Mountain was entered into the National Register of Historic Places. And then, just a few months later, it was taken off by state officials.

Lawyers hired by West Virginia's largest coal companies came up with a list of landowners who, they said, objected to the designation.

"There's apparently a lot of money to be made by blowing this mountain up and taking all the coal out from it," labor historian Gordon Simmons says, referring to mountaintop removal.

Fuck you, coal companies. Isn't it enough that your predecessors had a hired army of goons and federal troops dispatched by the president to keep coal miners from forming a union?  Now you want to literally erase the history from the face of the earth? Fuck. You.

Well, Scott Walker's not calling in the troops yet on the citizens of Wisconsin. I'm sure that's just crazy to even imagine.  Why, people have the right to collective bargaining!  Oh wait, he's taking that away.  Well, they have the right to be in a union!  Oh wait, he's trying to make it really, really, really hard for there to be a union at all, what with the yearly votes for the union to exist, and the optional dues, and the fact that once your union can't bargain, and pay raises are strictly limited, you're going to wonder why you should pay dues or be in the union at all. You might as well join the Elks and spent your union dues on beer; at least you'll get drunk for your money.

So once the union is gone, and the plutocrats can pay us whatever they deem we are worth, and fire us whenever they feel like it, and take away our benefits on a whim - oh wait, you're saying, that's my life now?  Because you're not in a union.  Have you grumbled about unions in the past?  A union exists to protect you from all that.  But they talked you into thinking that the union was making your life hell, not the top 400 of them who hold more cash, stocks, and land than  the bottom 155 million of us combinedCrabs in a barrel, they wanted to make us, and it mostly worked.

Anyway, as I was saying, once they've taken us back to the point where we have as many rights as those coal miners at Blair Mountain (maybe they'll start paying us in scrip again!), they can imprison us even faster than they do now.    Pennsylvania's prison population has grown 500% in the last 30 years - that's a promising industry!  A caller to Marty Moss-Coane's radio show this morning suggested that prisoners be placed 3 to a cell, but only two of them in the cell at any given time; one would always be out working an eight hour shift.  Put the prisoners to work!  Well, at least they'd have an eight hour day, if not a five-day work week.  But why be limited by the arbitrary eight-hour day? We could pack them four to a cell and take out two at a time for 12-hour shifts.  It's not like they have a union or anything.

Yeah, where did you think your eight-hour day and five-day work week came from?  Oh, you say, not me, I'm a professional, I'm a scientist, I'm a grad student/postdoc/professor, and I work long hours.  I'm k3rntastic!  Science demands no less, I work for the love of it, I work long hours because if I don't someone else will step right into my place and work just as hard and take my job. Oh crap, that last one sounds just exactly like what the coal miners used to say before they got themselves organized and formed a union.  You know what?  Coal miners are professionals too, and take pride in their work, and love what they do, too.  They like having a union that regulates working conditions, and says if you work overtime you get time and a half.  What do policies like that do?  They create more jobs, and make employers think twice about overworking the employees they do have, because it costs more.  Oh, unions won't work for science. Science is so different!  Believe me, baby, if you wanted a union bad enough, you'd find a way to make it work.

Listen up:  Philip Dray, author of There Is Power In A Union: The Epic Story Of Labor In America, will be on Fresh Air this afternoon, to put the Wisconsin union battle in a historical context. Listen live at 3 pm or audio available online after 5 pm.  Read the little blurb about the show - it's fascinating.  Here's the piece that was a real shocker even for me.

[quoting Dray]: Every city in America has these large brick armories in the city. I used to think they were there for soldiers to gather to go abroad but those were built in an era when authorities wanted a place where soldiers could gather to bring down local labor unrest.

Yeah, they didn't teach me any of this history in school.  Certainly not in the coal patch public schools. They did not tell me how the tax dollars of our forebears went to constructing buildings for the express purpose of gathering troops to suppress the formation of unions by those same forebears.  Well, not the tax dollars of the Blair Mountain coal miners, per se.  They were paid in scrip, which could only be spent at the company store.

If you have a few extra dollars in your pocket this month, consider donating to a union to help fund organizing struggles, general strike funds, etc.  You can become an associate member of the United Mine Workers of America for $5 a month.  Write to your congressperson and insist that Blair Mountain be placed on National Register of Historic Places, not ripped apart by coal companies.  Speak up when someone is union bashing and say you wish everyone had the kinds of benefits and job security that a union can negotiate for its members.  Don't be a crab in the barrel that the plutocrats and Rethuglicans are constructing for us all.

My grandparents lived through the union-organizing hell of the past.  Let's not go back there in Governor Walker's handbasket.

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But I Want To Earn Everything All On My Own Merits! #scio11

At SciO11, Sheril Kirshenbaum, Anne Jefferson, Joanne Manaster, and Kathryn Clancy did a great session titled "Perils of blogging as a woman under a real name".  (See summary here.) The discussion ranged over a lot of topics, and near the end, someone in the audience said "I don't want to get a [job/fellowship/grant/whatever] because of affirmative action, I want to get it on my own merits." I said, why do you imagine that the dudes getting those jobs now all got them all on their own merits?

Not that they aren't qualified, but do you imagine they had no help along the way, that there was no one pulling levers for them, no one setting them up, no one greasing the wheels for them, no one opening doors and helping them glide along? Why do we imagine everyone else who gets stuff got there all by their lonesome with no assistance from anyone else? I don't even know what the fuck it means to get somewhere all on your own merits. You can't even learn to wipe your own ass all on your own merits.

UPDATE:  Hermitage's post on this same topic is tremendously awesome and full of much wisdom.  Please read.

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ScienceOnline 2011: Early Review

The conference proper hasn't actually started yet (okay, many worthy souls are busily workshopping even as I lounge about in the hotel room typing this) but it's already been totally worth the trip.  Why, you ask?  Three reasons.

1. Robert Krulwich's keynote address last night.  Interesting, useful, entertaining, inspiring, could have listened to another hour of it.  First time I can recall ever wanting to give a keynoter a standing ovation.

2. Joseph Hewitt's "2010: The Year In Science Blogging" comeek in the swag bag (which itself will make another nice grocery bag).  Josephe Hewitt is a genius.

3. Hanging out with Commenter Extraordinaire of Science Blogs Everywhere, Becca.

Item #3 has two sub-parts of wonderful to it.  3(a), last night at the Open Mike session, Becca instigated a performance of Ripple and inveigled me to sing along with her and Sandra Porter, with Kevin Zelnio backing us up on guitar.  Sandra and Becca can actually sing, and Kevin can actually play the guitar.  I screeched along as best I could.

3(b), you can always count on Becca's astute observations to generate a comment FTW.  Last night at the intro to the keynote was no exception.  Up on the screens in front of the room we were treated to a slide full of the names of supporters of this un-conference - sorted, as is so often done, into three categories.  You know how it's done.  Sometimes it's platinum, gold, and silver.  My local arboretum has oak, ash, and willow.  Whatever it is, you know the first category is Top Dawg, second category is Still Pretty Good, and third category is Well, Not Bad, Your Name Is Still Here, Someday When You Can Give More You Can Be A Top Dawg.  The categories chosen for SciO11's supporters are as follows:

Top Dawg = Charles Darwin Level

Still Pretty Good = Albert Einstein Level

WNBYNISHSWYCGMYCBATD = Marie Curie Level

Oh yes they did.

Becca's comment:  "That's an active disincentive to donate more money."

There's just something weird about associating Names of Famous Scientists with supporter levels in this manner.  When supporter levels categories are given somewhat innocuous names - like platinum, gold, silver, or oak, ash, willow - everyone understands that there is a ranking involved in the categories.  The ranking is there to distinguish and honor the supporters, and also to generate a little competition - oh, I see the Jones Company supported at the oak level, notes Smith Company.  We have got to try and keep up with the Joneses in this important arena.  Maybe next year we ought to be mighty oaks as well.  Marketers can use it as a selling point:  You know, the Jones have been mighty oaks for five years now.  We'd like to see you getting your name out there with the same level of recognition and influence, Smith Company.  Wouldn't you like to consider moving up from ash to mighty oak this year?  So you need the ranking system, both to sell to the supporters, and to recognize the supporters.  Everybody knows how the coded system works.  When you slap some Famous Scientist names on top of this system that everyone understands, it cannot help but send an implicit message along with it - Top Dawg is the scientist this particular community worships values most,   Still Pretty Good, is still pretty good, and WNBYNISHSWYCGMYCBATD is somebody we had to come up with as an afterthought, and we'd better make it a woman or the ladee science bloggers will complain, so let's pick Marie Curie because she's the most famousest woman scientist.

Blargh.  Revise and resubmit for SciO12, please.  Squid Level, Polar Bear Level, Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Level.  Sea, Land, and Air levels.  Book, Blog, and Twitter levels.  Ha ha ha!  my little joke. See how that ranking thing works?

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Every Little Girl Wants To Be A Cheerleader

Scicurious is a cheerhater.  How awful!  Science Cheerleaders is just a new kind of role model for young girls! Boo, you negative scientists and science bloggers!  Get over it!  It works!

Let me explain it to you.  As I understand it from reading Andrea Kuszewski's post, cheerleaders are there to support the team.  They aren't on the team.  They are typically attractive, and are supposed to do stunts to draw attention of the crowd to the team, and to the larger institution.  That is definitely a great role model for drawing young girls into science!

Scene: Friday lab meeting

PI:  "Jane, what results do you have to present this week?"

Jane: "Goooooooooo SCIENCE! "

PI:  "WTF?"

Jane:  "e to the x dy dx! e to the x dy! cosine secant tangent sine! 3.14159!"

PI: "WTFingF?"

Andrea asks, "[What is wrong with] being intelligent AND a sex object?"  And I answer, what is wrong  indeed.  If one has no problem with being a sex object in the first place, then it hardly matters if one is also intelligent. So it totally makes sense when Andrea implores

Feminists should be screaming at the top of their lungs in SUPPORT of [Science Cheerleaders]—strong, intelligent, independent, confident women who are trying to be good role models for young girls—showing them you don't have to give up your womanhood or your femininity in order to be a successful career person.

Right on!

Here's my top of the lungs scream in SUPPORT of Science Cheerleaders:

All girls love cheerleaders, unless they are (a) ugly hairy legged feminazis who can't get laid, (b) ugly hairy legged feminazi lesbian bulldyke ballcrushers, or (c) ugly sad pathetic uncoordinated wannabes who didn't make cheerleader in high school. It's a fact. Groups (a), (b), and (c) are at high risk of becoming scientists. This is unattractive and unappealing for dudes in science. Occasionally, a hot cheerleader sneaks through and becomes a scientist. In the interests of Dude Nation, it would be good if more Hot Babe Cheerleaders became scientists and focused on Looking Hot While Doing Science. In the interests of Women Who Support Dude Nation, it would be good to draw attention away from the gender non-normative aspects of doing science or engineering by emphasizing Hot Babe Cheerleaders Of Science - And You Can Be A Hot Cheerleader Sciencey Babe, Too! No ugly lesbians over here in nanotechnology, nosiree! Genomics is chockfull of pom pom waving blond bombshells in booty shorts! Rest assured, Science will not make you less of a Real Woman! Dude Nation will still want to fuck you up the ass!

Goooooooooooooo SCIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Dear St. Kern (and all your wannabes)

You've read St. Kern's blather.  You've followed the twitter fun - and doesn't that just make you k3rn3d!, because, alas, you were not curing cancer during the fun times you were having mocking St. Kern on twitter.  You've read Drugmonkey's excellent takedown of St. Kern.

And now...now what?  You know what's next.  The zombie St. Kern wannabe PI hordes are gonna come crawling out of their nicely appointed offices, borrowing the language of "I was walking around this weekend and didn't see you slaving away over the bench at 11 pm on Saturday" and "you gotta have PASSION!  PASSION, I tell you!" and "Science doesn't stop at 5 on Fridays" and "the children! think of the poor children with cancer dying because you had to go home and kiss your baby."  The "5 on Fridays" bit is a direct quote from my master's thesis advisor a month or two after the sudden and unexpected death of my dad, when I told the advisor I was having a bit of a hard time coping with everything and wanted to drop an elective course.  The St. Kern's we have always had with us.  

Well, my puke's too good for the shoes of those d00dches, but I'll tell you what.  I don't know about you, but I didn't go into science to work like a mule in a coal mine.

When my parents scrimped and saved to send me off to college, it was so I could get out of the blue collar life, and have a job that paid reasonably well with decent hours "where you don't have to work shift work" my dad said. Come home in the evening and be there with your family. His dad told us the story of the mules he worked with in the mine when he was younger. How if they found a good mule that would work for them, they worked it and worked it and worked it until it dropped dead in its traces. "Don't be that mule" he told us.

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Bechdel Test Hits The Big Time - Entertainment Weekly!!!!

Aug 12 2010 Published by under Ludicrous Language, Men Who Hate Women, [Etc]

Via WMST-L, comes this report on the Bechdel Test:

I was stunned (in a good way) to see that the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (cover-dated August 13) had a full-page column about [the Bechdel test].

You have got to read this post!   And don't you just know it, the first comment is from some d00dche, arguing about how d00ds are totes given a hard time in the film credits:

Although, the one point I would make is that names like “Guy on Bus”, “Drunk Guy At Party” are very prevelant. The “character not named, but described” is extremely common for men- few characters outside the supporting cast get actual names, especially if they are only in one scene. If secretary is present throughout the film and has dialog in more than one scene-she probably has a name. Otherwise, it was a great column and I am both surprised and pleased that the test has made as big of a splash as it seems to have over the last two weeks.

Ahahahahahahhaha!!!!  Yes, the one point I would make! About d00ds! The poor d00ds!  Let us not forget the d00ds! Not even for one microsecond!  Not even when we are talking about whether or not films ever, ever, ever, for an infinitesimal minute, allow women to have a tiny conversational interchange in which d00ds are not the point of the conversation!  Ahahahahahahahahahaha!  No fucking wonder the Hollywood wunderkinds think they cannot show two women talking about anything but how to get a d00d. Because anywhere you go in the universe, there you will find a d00d, piping up about how d00dly d00d shit is so fucking important and needs to be attended to. The Hollywood wunderkinds must think this stuff is God's truth.  And that all women, everywhere, breathlessly await further instruction on the endlessly fascinating topic of How To Get A Dude.  Like as if the d00ds aren't every fucking where we go every fucking minute of every fucking day. Or like they are so fucking difficult to get.  What I want is a Hollywood film on how to get rid of the d00dly d00ds who haunt our waking existence.  That would be an awesome film. I am not holding my breath.

Oh wait.  There was Men Who Hate Women The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  I hear Hollywood is gonna remake that.  I am sure that remake will be totes fucking awesome.

P.S.  Apologies for the profanity.  It appears that Comrade Physioprof hacked my blog.

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