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Democracy works

We should try it sometime.

From Kaivan Shroff:

  • He used rallies often
  • He fed off of white male rage
  • He refused to release his tax returns
  • He had no detailed policy plans
  • His campaign was illegally supported by the #Russians
  •  
  • Hillary Clinton beat him by millions of votes
 
Bernie Sanders on the left, Trump on the right, both in the same 'I'm holding forth' attitude.

 


About the Debrowning of the USA

After all the testerical yelling about ridding the country of aaaaack-CRIMINALS-!!!!! we’re deporting people brought in as toddlers, who hold jobs (doctors, astronomers, teachers), and have families.

Most recently, a father of five has been in the news. Sole support of his family, his wife is pregnant, and one of his children is struggling with leukemia. The father has not held up a pharmacy or anything. All he’s done is be brown in the USA. So ICE has to get rid of him.

Let us, just for a moment, entertain the fantasy that something is to be gained by debrowning the country.

People who’ve done the arithmetic point out that it’s impossible, merely by the numbers. Forget the cruelty involved.

But just as a thought experiment, what happens when you give the project your all and throw out every brown person you physically can? Not taking any legal or other resistance into account. This is about ideal conditions according to the Trumpalo philosophy.

You reduce the browning of the country by five years.

Five years.

That’s all. You buy yourself a slightly whiter country for a grand total of five years. And the price is endless suffering and a shredded Constitution.



Inching closer to a cure for some cancers

So long as you avoid politics, there are some interesting things going on in the great wide world.

Sagiv-Barfi and Levy led the work on a possible cancer treatment that involves injecting two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors.

The bottom line is this: 87 out of 90 mice were cured — as in they had no cancers after treatment. The three that weren’t did respond to a second treatment. These results are phenomenal.

Yes, humans don’t always respond as well as mice, etc., etc., etc. Even with all the caveats, these results are phenomenal.

What’s equally phenomenal is that the treatment does not cause the whole immune system to go into overdrive, which has caused problems, even fatalities, in some immunotherapies. It just kicks the responsible immune cells already in the tumor into recognizing the culprits. And then those T4 cells kill that cancer wherever it’s found in the body.

There’s no need to design proteins, culture patients’ cells, or do any other fancy, expensive and customized-to-each-patient procedures.

The treatment also worked on mice genetically engineered to develop solid tumors.

It was tested only on solid cancers, not, for instance, leukemia.

Both of the immune-stimulating agents have already been used in humans, one is already an approved treatment, so the regulatory slog is likely to be less sloggy than normal.

Can’t wait!

Ronald Levy and Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Stanford.

(Steve Fisch)

Eradication of spontaneous malignancy by local immunotherapy, by Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Debra K. Czerwinski, Shoshana Levy, Israt S. Alam, Aaron T. Mayer, Sanjiv S. Gambhir and Ronald Levy. Science Translational Medicine 31 Jan 2018: Vol. 10, Issue 426, eaan4488
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4488



#MeToo and why sex is in no danger

The status quo is beginning to regroup after the initial onslaught of the #MeToo movement. Of course, it’s more effective to have women to make its case. Keeps everything polite. It’s just a bunch of women with different opinions, right?

Recently, for instance, Catherine Deneuve, who has been a movie star since the 1960s, and her co-signatories lamented the loss of sexual fun if men had to start paying attention to what women want. As Laura Kipnis points out at the end of her excellent article:

It’s the historical amnesia of the Deneuve document that’s so objectionable. To the extent that women’s bodies are still treated as public property by men, whether that means groping us or deciding what we can do with our uteruses, women do not have civic equality. To miss that point is to miss the political importance and the political lineage of #MeToo: the latest step in a centuries long political struggle for women to simply control our own bodies. …

The political requirement of the post-#MeToo moment is insisting that control of our bodies is the beginning of freedom. Not its terminus, but a starting point. Freedom needs to be more than notional, it also needs to be embodied.

Autonomy, freedom, civil rights are the substance of #MeToo.

But I wanted to address the silly end of the spectrum: the concept that somehow sex will become a robotic interaction requiring permission slips signed in triplicate.

The problem is that we (humans) don’t have a reality-based concept of what sex is.

No, really. Hear me out.

One school of thought imagines that it’s anything to do with sex organs. So, if sex organs are involved, rape and torture are somehow about sex. As if anyone spends their days dreaming about how to be brutalized. To paraphrase Kipnis a bit, “It sounds like an especially Catholic form of [sex], involving much mortification of the flesh.”

The intense stupidity of that definition has led to the recent refinement centering consent. Sex is still about using sex organs, but it has to be preceded by the people involved saying, “Oh, awright already.”

That means out-and-out crimes can’t hide behind sex, but it doesn’t solve the problem of jerks or of the social power they hold. Jill Filipovic wrote an insightful article pointing out that “sex in a misogynist world” has thousands of ways of giving women colorless unsatisfying experiences at best. They may not be assault, but they have the same philosophy: women don’t count.

#MeToo exploded at that attitude. The movement wants the end of the entire steaming pile of crap, and that’s what has some people so worried. They may not really see why sex crimes are crimes and not sex, but they’re learning to shut up about it. They’ve heard of the concept that the woman should be getting something she wants out of sex and they’re so broadminded they’re fine with that if it doesn’t require anything from them.

But the #MeToo movement is also objecting to, well, what can you call it but plain old rudeness? That lack of consideration you dump on worthless people because there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. Where will it all end? (Yes, of course those same men are quite capable of being polite to bosses and policemen, but women are so weird and mysterious, you know? They don’t understand jokes. They take offense at mistakes.) Nobody will be able to do anything and you’ll never get any sex again.

(In one limited respect it is a valid concern. We’re dealing with a scale that goes from criminal to socially unacceptable to rude. At the nether ends of the scale, the sorts of situations where exposure or job loss or jail are good consequences, due process is a real concern. Margaret Atwood was jumped on by the twitverse for having the temerity to point that out. Due process may not always entail the full nine legal yards. It might be less formal ways of verifying the truth of complaints. But whatever its precise form, the point is to avoid lumping the innocent in with the guilty. How can anybody, whose whole complaint is an inability to find justice for themselves, insist on depriving others of justice?)

So, to return to the worry that sex as we know it will vanish and nobody will ever get any again, that would be true. If sex is something to get, there’s no part of that spectrum that’s any use to the thing being got. Not the relatively less harmful end of intravaginal masturbation, and growing worse all the way down till it disappears into criminal types of getting. That’s why Rebecca Traister in her excellent article points out that consensual sex can still be bad and quotes Dusenbery saying that what’s needed is to “promote a specific vision of what sexual equality could entail.”

Well, here’s my version of that vision.

Have you ever been with a group of good friends, sharing jokes that just get funnier and funnier until you’re all helpless with laughter? Possibly the individual jokes aren’t even all that hilarious, but the mood catches everyone and gets stronger in the sharing. If you told yourself the same joke in an empty room, it might be funny but you’d barely smile.

You see where that analogy is headed. That’s how to view sex. It’s a feeling of play, and fun, and delight, and pleasure that’s gets stronger in the sharing. And it’s definitely not the same by yourself in an empty room. Sex organs help trigger the feeling, but the feeling is the point, not the organs. Just as breath and vocal cords enable laughter. The feeling of fun is the point, not vocal exercise.

Another way the analogy is useful is to demonstrate that sex is not and cannot be on any spectrum where sharing is impossible. If the boss tells a joke and everybody has to dutifully laugh, it’s not fun at all. And that’s analogous to the relatively benign, masturbatory end of the scale of unshared sex. There’s no equivalent for the tortured end because nobody ever terrorizes someone into immobility and chokes puffs of air out of them and tries to call that laughter.

Power differentials preclude sharing, and the bigger the difference the less sharing is possible.

But wait, I hear objections at the back. Men get off. They don’t care about the rest of these fancy sex feelings.

That would be like saying sneezing is the same as laughter. It is not. Laughter happens when you’re having fun. Sneezing, like orgasm without feelings, is just a reflex. It’s a release, but it’s not exactly fun. The two are not the same. One doesn’t feel like happiness. The other does.

Besides, if getting off was the only requirement, everybody would simply masturbate. Much simpler, if the result was the same. It’s not. Instead, women turn themselves inside out and their lives upside down in the hope of sharing good time with men. And men bend the whole society into making sure women need them and will be there for them. If men didn’t care about loving feelings, they wouldn’t need to try to turn women into some kind of domestic pets trained to provide them.

Trying to keep humans as sex pets requires crosslinkage between dominance and sex. That may work to justify keeping human pets, but it doesn’t change the fundamental incompatibility between sharing fun and forcing submission. You can crosslink the use of sex organs and dominance all you want, it’ll never bring happiness. It’s like crosslinking a bicycle and a sledgehammer and expecting the combination to bake a cake. None of those things work together or achieve any result. It’s a fundamental error about what sex is.

The result is an irony floating on top of the cosmic waste that is patriarchy: you’ll only get the highs it promises when you ditch it.

The thing is, love and life and laughter will always pull people like the sun pulls the earth. People will always stream toward sex that feels good and away from pain and humiliation. Sex is in no danger. The patriarchy is.



We’re having a slo-mo Kristallnacht

The parallels have moved on from words to deeds.

There’s a huge difference of course. The US approach is not systematic. It’s scattershot. And it relies on non-state actors to commit the actual rapes, tortures, and killings. For the most part.

Ask any woman who has to avoid dark streets, subway stations, buses, parking garages, and who has to put bars on the windows and doors of her home how effective non-state terror can be.

Disorganization and using other people to do your dirtiest work does not actually prove you are better than the classical Nazis.

It just proves you’re more dishonest.

 

Burned mosque in Victoria, Texas. January 2017

(Bob Daemmrich)
 


Not even close

I love Joy Reid. Funny, true, insightful, informed, everything you could hope for in a journalist.

She’s not always deathly serious (laughter is the only balm these days) so on her twitter feed I found this, which led to many photos along these lines:

 

 

I was laughing till my stomach hurt at the whole series and many of the priceless comments, in spite of being clear on how likely compensatory (BIG) button-pushing would be in consequence.

But then further down in Joy’s feed was a link to an article in The Economist:

Conserve elephants: they hold a scientific mirror up to humans.

 

Fording the Ewaso-Nyiro River in Samburu, Kenya. 2013. Carl de Souza

 

You really can’t talk about the species in the first picture and elephants on the same page. It’s just lucky they’re too advanced to hire lawyers.



A thousand thanks to black people

You’ve saved us all from the worst. Again. Talk about the value of diversity.

I remember the first time this hit me between the eyes. David Duke decided to challenge Edwin Edwards for the governorship of Louisiana. Duke, card-carrying Nazi white supremacist. Edwards, not totally awful, fairly competent incumbent governor who’d used his position for some truly massive corruption. It was so bad he eventually got sent to Federal jail for ten years. But at the time he was out and about. And we all had bumperstickers: Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.

Well, Edwards won, but I was aghast to see that if it had been up to whites we would have woken up to the Nazi. Sixty percent of the white vote went to the card-carrying Nazi. Sixty percent.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the blacks of Alabama. Thank you to the NAACP who had the sense to work on voter registration and turnout. Thank you to all the other groups who helped facilitate voting. Thank you to Doug Jones who had the sense to understand that people needed help voting. And thank you to the large minority of white women and the smaller minority of white men who were capable of telling right from wrong. At a time like this, it’s useful to remember that good people come in all shapes and sizes.

We really are stronger together.

black woman hugging white woman in a crowd

 

(Mickey Welsh)



There’s a lesson here

Somewhere. This is why science is useful. Scientists go to the bottom of the ocean (reported via Oceanwire and @azula) and find:

 

 

The redlipped batfish. A fish that’s serious about make-up. And here’s the thing: It uses those outrageously plumped up and fire engine red lips to lure predators toward its mouth. (No doubt they swim up expecting a meal and instead they become dinner.)

There’s a moral to this story, I think, if I could just remember which other species sometimes has this kind of display.



Language, people. Mind your language!

I see this headline:

At least as many voters want religious freedom as marriage equality.

Sounds good. Religious freedom sounds good. Marriage equality sounds good. Both sides sound reasonable. How to decide? So difficult. So very very difficult.

But … really?

We know what marriage equality means. Same sex marriages should have the same legal standing as other sex ones. That seems to say what it means and mean what it says. So far so good.

How about religious freedom? In context, what they’re talking about is permission not to recognize other people’s gay marriages. They want to treat others according to their own religious beliefs. To, for instance, not rent to a gay couple. Or quite possibly not employ them.

But religious freedom refers to you living according to your own religion (within the bounds of civil law). Forcing others to live according to your beliefs is the opposite of religious freedom.

Calling it “religious freedom” is a shameless attempt to drape coercion in the respectability of civil rights.

And assisting the shell game by parroting the self-serving terminology is aiding and abetting the deception.

Being a reporter or opinion writer means being as objective as you can, and it doesn’t mean acting as a stenographer for every interest group’s flimflam for their agenda.

Call things by their right names. Religionist coercion is anything but religious freedom.

Regurgitating deceptive names is the same nonsense that has allowed people to call themselves pro-life when they seem totally uninterested in helping anyone to actually live. After a few decades of that newspeak, de jure forced pregnancy is almost back.

These things matter. Words matter.

Truth is not lies and lies are not truth. Until we start using language as if it means something, the slide into meaningless bullshit will only accelerate.



Why sexual assault is fine and abortion is not

Honestly, people. This isn’t hard. You just have to keep your priorities straight.

Sexual assault makes everyone without a man card try to be invisible. That makes life much easier for real people who do have man cards.

Forced pregnancy keeps women chained to their biology and, bonus!, can never be used against real people with a man card.

You could of course use any part of biology to accomplish the same thing. You could withhold food or air or keep the nobodies immobile in a cage. But that’s crude. And besides, this way you can give yourself a nice little halo for caring so much about something that doesn’t exist while making sure that women, who do exist, don’t count.

So, if you’re trying to keep your cozy, nice high status man card, of course assault is okay and abortion is the end of all things.

For God’s sake, if women could just walk around loose, how would you keep them down on the farm?

“End sarcasm” tag perhaps. See comments.

 

Equality is poison when your worth depends on power over others.



Toxic Masculinity is not about masculinity

It is not about anything to do with maleness. Bits will not fall off if men stop being toxic.

It’s about status. Being toxic is the mark of high status. Being vulnerable or kind or nobody or pleasing is “not being a man.” Fighting off fifty storm troopers singlehanded while having a bunch of faceless naked women in the background gets you the unattainable Super Man card.

It’s all about the man card. It’s all about the social definition of being a man because it’s all about status. Biology has nothing to do with status. Status is 100% social. Playing the man card is not about being a man.

That’s good news and bad news.

It’s good news because if we really had to change what men are born with, something like preventing the development of testes, it would be impossible.

It’s bad news because changing people’s desire for social status is much harder than changing biological reality. It is physically possible, unlike ordering up a different biology, but it’s like pulling teeth without anesthetic.

However, and this is the point (I do have a point), if we understand what we’re actually trying to do when curing “toxic masculinity,” our efforts can apply to the real problem instead of the wrong one.

The problem is not maleness. The problem is the social definition of masculinity.

So, sure, it’s useful for men to stop toxic behavior. But that’s never going to stop the crap from regenerating bigger and worser than ever.

To cure toxic masculinity we have to stop having a top caste of men. We have to stop admiring it. It has to stop being in ads. It has to stop being in movies and videos and music and news programs and clothes and the pushing of a million products to get men to spend money to bolster their man cards. (Yes, the economy would crash.)

It means men would get 50% of the money and assets for 50% of the work instead of, as now, 90% of the benefits for 30% of the work. It means women would be 50% of government at all levels, and 50% of police and of the military at all levels. And … well, you get the picture.

There’s a lot of work to do. A lot more than men stopping their current bad behavior. A lot less than ending maleness.



One man gets it. One doesn’t.

Ben Rosenbaum outlined the price of patriarchy for men.

Lexi Alexander @Lexialex Oct 5:
Do men ever look at the week’s news and think “what the fuck is going on with men?”

Benjamin Rosenbaum @ben_rosenbaum
Replying to @Lexialex
sadly i think i know exactly what’s fucking going on with men 🙁

i am never surprised by the horrible shit men will do to stave off the terror of feeling dependent, inadequate, dominated, out of power …

… by the fever dream of entitlement, the desperate lies we tell ourselves, the starvation of human emotion that results when every …

…interaction is a struggle to dominate and failing to dominate feels like destruction….

…every oppressor class imagines themselves oppressed because the removal of privilege feels like death, but sexism is uniquely cruel…

…b/c it demands of men that, to be men, we poison our first & deepest love relationships w/ contempt, & conceal this from ourselves…

…if you wanted, from first principles, to design a broken & dangerous group of humans, you’d teach them love os weakness…

…dominance is safety, vulnerability is danger & that they are entitled to everything & losers if they cannot win it…

…& that losers are undeserving of love, of existence, that not winning is oblivion. and this is no accident. like other oppressions…

…sexism has a functional design & purpose in maintaining status-hierarchy societies. you cannot get a large # of humans to reliably…

…kill other humans w/o mangling their ability to feel, their self-knowledge, & their self-trust as emotional agents…

…but it’s not just the soldier class; the pattern developed there permeates the rest of patriarchy. My own conversational style, even…

…after 40+ years of struggle, is warped by the dictates of scholar-class patriarchal emotional starvation & warfare….

…tl:dr; men be fucked up; we are brutal to boys to make them brutal, much of it invisible to us; hug your sons & expect humanity of them.

i mean you probably knew all that @JustineLavaworm 🙂
but you asked!

i hope none of this sounds like “oh poor men, so coddle oppression”

denounce men’s behavior, destroy men’s privilege, have zero tolerance…

…for sexism. expect men to act like fucking humans. a command to heal, not an excuse to avoid healing. cutting it the fuck out is step 1

The joke-not-joke among women is that the comments on any post or piece or tweet about feminism proves the need for feminism. The same is obviously true for men trying to throw off the shackles. Within minutes, the following showed up.

Selor @SelorKiith
/14 Until such Men are deemed more desireable, nothing will change… We all have to work on this… on ourselves if we want a better world.

Benjamin Rosenbaum @ben_rosenbaum 1h1 hour ago
but being shitty to other people out of fear of loneliness is a shitty way to live, and not actually very sexy in the final analysis.

consider the possibility that standing up for what you believe in and being who you really are is a) more satisfying and b) probably sexier.

Selor @SelorKiith 1h1 hour ago
Forced to be alone with your thoughts. sitting there in your dimly lit room, a microwave meal-for-one the only thing giving you company.

Benjamin Rosenbaum @ben_rosenbaum 1h1 hour ago
I get the fear of loneliness; patriarchy does have a stick.
But fight back & you might actually find lots of comrades on the barricades.

Selor @SelorKiith 59m59 minutes ago
It’s not a fear, it’s bitter reality… also: I don’t want comrades, I want Love, I want Family, that is not achieved by casting myself out

The mind reels. At least mine does. There’s a caste system to limit women to cages (and men to being prison guards) and this guy thinks the problem is that some people escape? Because then they’re not there when he wants to use them? And he calls that “love.”

I wonder why no free agent wants anything to do with him.

 

Eastern Sierra. Beautiful, impassable, a walk in the park.



The new hip! Flat Earth Society

Noted on the twitter machine:

Gender politics has officially jumped the shark when a penis doesn’t make you male, but eyeliner makes you female

And in The tangled politics of transgenderism:

…[T]rans activists have recently targeted the provision of tampons in all-female spaces as transphobic.

We could also not bother with a space program. Just sail to the edge of the world and drop the satellites into orbit. Facts are what you make ’em. Right?

 

 


Just call US a Dark Age dictatorship

The global gag rule the Dump in the White House signed not long ago will kill women. But officially that’s an unfortunate unintended consequence.

Not this. The whole point is to go out and find people minding their own business and kill them. [Update 2017-10-08] It’s about more than gays. It also supports the death penalty for apostasy (leaving a religion), blasphemy (saying things like “Christ on a bike!”), and adultery. At this rate, the planet’s overpopulation problem could soon be solved. (Ostensibly, this US vote is because of the dreadful risk it might interfere with their ability to off prisoners when they want to.)

US votes against UN resolution condemning gay sex death penalty, joining Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The full list:

 

And you shall know them by the company they keep.

 


Heather Heyer

Killed by a fascist yesterday. Thirty five others injured. I can’t shake the dread that in ten years we’ll be looking back on this as the good old days, when the problems had barely begun, when we could have yet turned back.

Ah well.

The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed. (William Gibson)

 


Picture where The Donald would be without affirmative action

They haven’t thought this push against affirmative action through very well.

Take away the preferences white boys have been getting and colleges will be swamped by women and Asians.

Somehow, I don’t think that’s the outcome Sessions and Co. are looking for when they say they want colleges to purify themselves of “intentional discrimination.”