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Abortions using pills aka medication abortions can be a workaround

If you’re not allowed to control your own reproduction, there’s a word for you. Livestock.

However, even though Alito and Thomas and their helper goons haven’t noticed, women are not livestock. We’ll be using everything we have to dodge their bullets and branding irons.

There are two big differences to my high school days when fellow 15 year-olds desperately tried to scrounge up money to go to New York, where they hoped they could find somebody who wouldn’t kill them, while trying to look totally normal and carefree so nobody found out.

One is that information is much more accessible. Two is that we have abortion pills now. So, in the interests of both, here’s some information about medication abortions.

Legal disclaimers: I am not a doctor or a pharmacist. None of this is medical advice. For informational purposes only.

Another important warning: The info applies to morning-after situations or ordinary missed-period pregnancies. If there’s very heavy bleeding or exceptional pain, it could be life-threatening. Medical help is needed immediately. It’s unnecessary to discuss abortion or abortion pills with doctors or nurses. The symptoms are the same as a miscarriage, and the treatment is the same. All that need be said is “I don’t know what’s happening,” which is true.

Clicking on the headings below links to more detail further down.

Resources. PlanCPills This site has excellent, detailed, practical information. There are also links to other abortion services. Under Support and Resources > Other Options there’s information pointing to surgical abortion providers. Medication (pill) abortions are effective only up to 11 weeks pregnancy, which is 7 weeks after a missed period. [Edited to add:] AidAccess, also an excellent resource.

Regular Medication Abortion. Uses mifepristone + misoprostol, sometimes shortened to mife-miso. Also known as RU486.

Morning After pills These prevent a pregnancy (i.e. prevent implantation). They don’t stop an established pregnancy. So they’re only effective within 5 days of having sex. These pills have been available over the counter (known as Plan B and other trade names), but anti-women states are working to stop that. Obviously, given the time frame, if they have to be ordered, it has to be done ahead of time. A table from 2012 is included below that gives dosages of birth control pills that can act as morning after pills.

Make your own misoprostol tablets. Edgelord stuff….

 

Resources

Getting pills in an anti-women state is not very difficult, but it does take a couple of weeks at least, some money (on the order of a couple of hundred dollars), and some fiddly filling out of forms. This page for specific states goes over the exact procedures. If possible, look it over and be clear on all the steps ahead of time.

Abortion pills only work up to 11 weeks pregnancy. That means 7 weeks past a missed period. Or five weeks after you’re likely to have a reliable pregnancy test. Plus the pills work best the earlier they’re taken. So there’s not a lot of time. The more that’s sorted out ahead of time, the less franticness.

More information available at: Planned Parenthood. Mayo Clinic.

Scams: It’s a sad fact of life that as soon as people are facing any kind of emergency, there are too many slimeweasels trying to make a buck off it. Do not assume links you see on social media are legitimate, even when they come from friends. Friends can forward bad information without meaning to. Search for reviews or more information on any site before using it. One example: Mayday Health which was getting a lot of mentions for a while. They may be legit, they may not be. They came out of nowhere about a month ago, after the leak of the draft Roe decision. That’s a red flag. Use PlanCPills instead.

 

Medical abortion drugs

Mifepristone + misoprostol combinations. 95% to 98% effective. Taken earlier works better than later.

Or misoprostol alone, which is about 85% effective. Still better than nothing. These are drugs with powerful effects, so dosages must be followed. Overdosing is a bad idea.

Medical abortion drugs ONLY WORK IN THE EARLY STAGES OF PREGNANCY. They won’t work if a period is more than about 7 weeks late.

(Obgyns count from the start of the last actual period. So 7 weeks after a missed period counts as the 11th week of pregnancy, assuming 28-day cycles. It’s likely to take another two weeks for a definite pregnancy test. At that point there’s maximum 5 weeks left to get a medication abortion. The reason obgyns count that way is because the first day of the last actual period is not ambiguous. It’s a specific day you can write down without guesswork.)

If it’s too late for medication, a surgical abortion is needed. PlanCPills has links under Support > Other Options.

Since abortion using pills induces heavy flow, it’s not used for women with blood clotting disorders that could make bleeding dangerous. IUDs need to be removed before a medication abortion. It is very important to be sure the pregnancy is NOT ectopic. The telehealth consultation in the process of getting the pills will go through all these issues. They’re important to continued health, so it’s important not to cut corners on this part of the process.

There is some talk floating around the web that mife-miso works best in women weighing less than about 165 lb / 75 kg. From what I see of actual medical data, that’s not true. There is always individual variation in anything to do with biology. Mife-miso will be somewhat less effective in a few individuals because of their specific hormonal situation.

Edited to add: an article about weight effect on morning after pills, see next heading, in today’s NY Times. (Paywalled unless you turn off all scripts.) Some studies have seen a slight weight effect for levonorgestrel, others have not. That is a progesterone-like drug, unlike mife-miso. Mife-miso have prostaglandin-related effects, which is a very different hormone, and not a sex hormone. Morning after pills have much lower doses of hormones and could be expected to be more sensitive to an individual’s hormonal situation.

 

Morning After pills

If it’s still possible to get a supply of these pills at your local pharmacy, you may want to do that ahead of time. Morning-after pills don’t cause an abortion. They prevent pregnancy by stopping a fertilized egg from implanting. So they have to be taken within 5 days (120 hours) of the sex you’re worried about and weeks before you know whether you’re pregnant.

If morning-after pills are no longer available, some birth control pills contain the same hormones in lower doses.

The following table is copied from The Emergency Contraception Website, post dated 2012 (some of it will be out of date). The link is to the archived website which is likely to stay up. The site was originally at Princeton. It has more information about usage and is worth reading.

Table 1.
Oral contraceptives that can be used for emergency contraception in the United Statesa

Brand Company First Doseb Second Doseb
(12 hours later)
Ulipristal Acetate per Dose (mg) Ethinyl Estradiol
per Dose (µg)
Levonorgestrel
per Dose (mg)c
Ulipristal acetate pills
ella
Watson 1 white pill Noneb 30
Progestin-only pills
Levonorgestrel Tablets  Perrigo 2 white pills Noneb 1.5
Next Choice
Watson 2 peach pills Noneb 1.5
Plan B One-Step
Teva 1 whilte pill None 1.5
Combined progestin and estrogen pills
Aviane Teva 5 orange pills 5 orange pills 100 0.50
Cryselle Teva 4 white pills 4 white pills 120 0.60
Enpresse Teva 4 orange pills 4 orange pills 120 0.50
Jolessa Teva 4 pink pills 4 pink pills 120 0.60
Lessina Teva 5 pink pills 5 pink pills 100 0.50
Levora Watson 4 white pills 4 white pills 120 0.60
Lo/Ovral Akrimax 4 white pills 4 white pills 120 0.60
LoSeasonique Teva 5 orange pills 5 orange pills 100 0.50
Low-Ogestrel Watson 4 white pills 4 white pills 120 0.60
Lutera Watson 5 white pills 5 white pills 100 0.50
Lybrel Wyeth 6 yellow pills 6 yellow pills 120 0.54
Nordette Teva 4 light-orange pills 4 light-orange pills 120 0.60
Ogestrel Watson 2 white pills 2 white pills 100 0.50
Portia Teva 4 pink pills 4 pink pills 120 0.60
Quasense Watson 4 white pills 4 white pills 120 0.60
Seasonale Teva 4 pink pills 4 pink pills 120 0.60
Seasonique Teva 4 light-blue-green pills 4 light-blue-green pills 120 0.60
Sronyx Watson 5 white pills 5 while pills 100 0.50
Trivora Watson 4 pink pills 4 pink pills 120 0.50
 
Notes:
a
ella, Plan B One-Step,
Next Choice
and Levonorgestrel Tablets
are the only dedicated product specifically marketed for emergency contraception. Aviane, Cryselle, Enpresse, Jolessa, Lessina, Levora, Lo/Ovral, LoSeasonique, Low-Ogestrel, Lutera, Lybrel, Nordette, Ogestrel, Portia, Quasense, Seasonale, Seasonique, Sronyx and Trivora have been declared safe and effective for use as ECPs by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Outside the United States, about 100 emergency contraceptive products are specifically packaged, labeled, and marketed. Levonorgestrel-only ECPs are available either over-the-counter or from a pharmacist without having to see a clinician in 60 countries. In the U.S.,
Plan B One-Step
and Next Choice
are available over-the counter to women and men aged 17 and older. You can buy these pills by prescription if you are younger.
ella
is available by prescription only.
b
The labels for Next Choice and
Levonorgestrel Tablets
say to take one pill within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, and another pill 12 hours later. However, recent research has found that both pills can be taken at the same time. Research has also shown that that all of the brands listed here are effective when used within 120 hours after unprotected sex.
c
The progestin in Cryselle, Lo/Ovral, Low-Ogestrel and Ogestrel is norgestrel, which contains two isomers, only one of which (levonorgestrel) is bioactive; the amount of norgestrel in each tablet is twice the amount of levonorgestrel.

Table.

 

Do-it-yourself

Misoprostol

This is, obviously, not the best route. As a last resort, it’s better than coathangers. It involves only one of the mife-miso pair, only misoprostol, so is less effective than the “real thing” (85% vs 95%+).

It’s possible because misoprostol is used as an ulcer medication for horses in veterinary medicine. Transforming that into human-usable doses requires careful attention to detail and ability to weigh powders precisely and handle them correctly. It’s to be expected that anti-woman states will try to make veterinary misoprostol inaccessible as well, but at least initially use your money for stocking up on the real thing rather than this, if you can. It’s also a complex enough process that anyone who expects to need to do this should make it ahead of time.

A video by Mixael Laufer of the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective has a slow and careful explanation of how to make the pills. The archive.org link should stay up. It’s a 16 minute video, and it takes several minutes to start getting down to business. Vice magazine had an article discussing the project.

In brief, one orders the powdered misoprostol for horses on the web, being careful to get one that does NOT have other active ingredients. One then carefully weighs it out (need an *accurate* scale for milligram quantities) to get the right dosage for humans, and, at least per Mixael, one uses one’s handy pollen press (no, I didn’t know what that was either) to make tablets using cornstarch for buffer and binder, confectioner’s sugar, and the actual misoprostol powder. (For diabetics, I’m not sure you absolutely need sugar. I think it merely provides a bit of stickiness to bind the ingredients into a tablet. Possibly a bit of milk would work for that too.)

In his example, the product has 2mg (milligrams) per scoop and 60 total scoops. If you know the total weight of the powder in the tub, you can work out how much weight (which he calls mass) of powder you need to get 800 micrograms (800 mcg, which is the same as 0.8 milligrams, 0.8 mg). That is the dose we’re aiming for per pill. Oddly enough, the total weight isn’t obvious in the video, but a web search says you’re getting 213.6 grams in that tub.

–2 mg active ingredient per scoop, and 60 scoops total per tub, means there is a total of 120 mg (2 x 60) of misoprostol per a full tub of 213.6 grams.
–The number of human doses (0.8mg) in 120 mg is 150 doses (120mg/0.8mg).
–So 213.6 gm / 150 = 1.424 gm of powder provides the right amount of active ingredient for a tablet to be used by a human.
–A full course for misoprostol-only is 3 doses of 800 micrograms spaced out by 12 hours, ie all 3 doses would be over 36 hours. Looking around the web, there are also other timings, such as 800 mcg spaced 3 hours apart. This will mean a bigger dose all at once in the body and would, I expect, lead to stronger cramping and bleeding.
You can plug in the amount of misoprostol per scoop, the total number of scoops, and the total weight of the tub based on your specific item.

Method of taking is to dissolve the tablet slowly, during about half an hour, in the cheek, under your tongue, or inside the vagina. The reason for this is that if it’s not swallowed and is not in the stomach and digestive system, the liver can’t try to process the misoprostol. Which it will do, and therefore reduce the effectiveness.

A web search for “equine misoprostol” returns quite a few results with 200 microgram pills. I’m not sure why one wouldn’t use four of these for each of the three doses. Possibly the way the tablets are made up is not suitable for people.

Menstrual extraction. This is definitely not for amateurs. Some of the equipment needs to be sterile and a good bit of manual skill is involved. In Ye Olden Times women used to learn the skills in self-help groups and pass them on to each other. It takes months of practice. But it is quite doable, given time and knowledge and skill, and is something women might want to consider learning if all other avenues are closed.

 

Last Word

My prayer is that this inhuman treatment of women turns out to be a short-lived aberration. I know the Democrats tend to do one-tenth of what they’d hoped, but that’s still a lot better than thugs who like to reclassify us as service animals. So we need to pack the House and the Senate with Democrats who pledge to get rid of the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court so that it follows the law again, and recognize women’s inalienable right to body autonomy in law. And make Manchin and Sinema irrelevant.

If we can do that, which depends on all of us, then by next February this whole post might be wonderfully useless.



Is it all over?

We’re reaching the end of the line. The US Supreme Court looks forward to turning women (back) into livestock.

If you don’t control your own reproduction, you are livestock.

Too many Supremes and a shitload of Republicans want women in that position. They haven’t yet reached the Taliban zone where they want women penned up, but give them time.

Meanwhile, what is the left concerned about? In the perfect words of Helen Lewis,

The right has declared a war on women. The left has responded by declaring a war on saying “women.”

So half of humanity is shoved into body slave status, but the important thing is the feelings of a few thousand people who have the time to worry about their gender identity.

That is the end of the line. When nobody, anywhere, on any side of politics, has a clue which way is up.



What covid has taught me

That too many people are even bigger idiots than I thought.

Really. That’s not just the frustration talking. Consider the whole “Okay. it’s over. We’re done” mentality.

Hello? Would anyone dream of saying, “I’m tired of all this gravity shit. I’m jumping off this here cliff and you try to stop me.” And then, half way down, saying, “See? I’m doing fine.”

Nor did people and their governments get to that point after implementing sensible public health measures.

covid-started-as-a-virus-mutated-into-an-IQ-test
author unknown

There’s no 100% vaccine mandate (with exceptions for the medically exempt).

There’s no mandate for building ventilation good enough to prevent viral spread.

[Edited to add, forgot a major one, :redface: ] Germicidal UVC lighting everywhere it can reduce viral loads.

There’s no mandate to mask up everywhere that people are within two meters of each other, and triply so when indoors.

No. Instead vaccine and mask mandates are being ditched everywhere by everyone all together. As if there’s some kind of global airborne miasma that destroys the neurons needed to understand anything. As for building ventilation, that never became important enough to mandate so there’s nothing in progress that could be ditched.

Accurate testing of prevalence and genotypes has gone right out. We’re supposed to do our own risk assessments and carry the entire load of infectious disease prevention individually (even though this is a social issue of transmission from person to person). But the tools to understand the risk are removed.

Note: none of those things are life-changing lockdowns. They’re just public health measures that improve our chances if we have to live with this particular virus. Instead of dying with it.

And also note, I’m not arguing any of this because I’m concerned only about vulnerable people. This affects everybody, including us immortals who’ve come through the last two years with minimal losses.

I’m boggled that we can stampede into spreading disease far and wide when we know so little about it.

One thing we do know is that the more sick humans there are to incubate new variants, the more variants we’ll have. The more variants, the more reinfections and the more new and worse forms of the disease. (Until a universal vaccine exists and is mandated for everyone not medically exempt.)

We have no idea, yet, of the long term burden of downstream disease. We’ve only had two years. There’s no way to know the number of excess dementias, heart attacks, strokes, and sudden diabetes ten years from now or twenty years from now. We don’t know whether the chance of long covid goes up with each reinfection. Now that we’ve decided to have millions of human petri dishes, instead of as few as possible, it’s guaranteed that new variants will make reinfections happen.

We’ve taken on a thousand unknown risks of mass disabling events because, the hell with it, masks are icky.

It’s insane.

In the high and far off times, people figured out that cholera and typhoid are spread by open sewers. If they had thought then like we apparently do now they would have said, “Ahh, screw it. Closed sewers cost too much. We’ll just live with it.”

By which, of course, they mean they hope they will live. And somebody else does the dying.



International Women’s Day

Forgive me. I don’t know how to be grateful for baby steps. I’m not sure you can even call it a step of any kind. More like a bit of flag-waving. Like the anti-lynching bill the US Congress finally managed to pass after 200 years (or whatever it was). A microdrop. So little, so late. A microdrop in a giant vat.

A day is, to me, just an insult. It’s not even a day without rape.

A millenium would be a beginning, after the mess left by the last couple of dozen of them.

From Nick Kristof: People think there are more females than males in the world, but there are actually more males—because of lethal discrimination in access to food and health care, plus sex-selective abortion. Asia alone has about 100 million “missing” females.

More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars of the 20th century. More girls are killed in this routine gendercide [femicide!] in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century. Nicholas Kristof. Half the Sky.



Thoughts from an ethnic Russian on Ukraine

Actually, just one thought. There’s so much talk about how Ukraine has its own language and culture and history and therefore “deserves” to be independent.

To me, this is bollocks.

I speak English and live in an English-speaking country but we’re not part of Britain.

The culture where I am is next to indistinguishable from our nearest neighbor. We were even, for a while, going to be one country with that neighbor. But we’re not, and nobody here or there feels an overwhelming urge to charge in and reunite the two by force.

The point is: you don’t need a distinct language or culture to be a separate nation. You just need a group with a desire for self-determination. Ideally, it’s a big enough group to be an economically viable entity, but that’s a practical side issue. The main point, the principle of the thing, is that a group of people who want to be independent have the same right, and to the same extent, as any other to self-determination.

Ukraine needs no other justification. It’s not something you “deserve.” It’s something you are.

Ukrainian woman telling Russian soldier to carry sunflower seeds so flowers will sprout when he dies on Ukrainian soil
Ukrainian woman confronts Russian soldiers in Henychesk, Kherson region. Asks them why they came to our land and urges to put sunflower seeds in their pockets [so that flowers would grow when they die on the Ukrainian land] (from Ukraine World)


On Understanding Nothing

I just had a gobsmacking experience. A glimpse into another way of thinking that I didn’t even know existed.

There was an interminable thread discussing among other things the validity of self-ID with regard to gender. (I came upon it via brilliant Rebecca Reilly-Cooper.)

This exchange cropped up:

Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
Nope, you’re misunderstanding the difference between the categories existing, and them being recognised and given a name. Hydrogen and Helium really exist as separate elements, and did within a very short time of the Big Bang. They didn’t have those names, sure.

Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021
Nope, those categories don’t exist separate from humans categorizing them.

Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
Nope. Hydrogen really exists. So does helium. They existed with all their properties long before life, let alone humans, evolved. This isn’t a debate, Mary. You’re simply wrong.

Gem @_____Gem Dec 29, 2021
It is AMAZING what people are prepared to argue in the service of gender ideology.

Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021
Yeah how dare people recognize what a social construct is

The Iron Labia @TheIronLabia Dec 29, 2021
Hydrogen isn’t a social construct.

Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021
Oh I’m sorry, when we discovered hydrogen was it wearing a name tag? Did it introduced itself [by] name? [emphasis added]

Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
Something existing and having clear, distinctive properties and something having a name are not the same thing, Mary. How are you still struggling with this?

Mary @xmarylawrence Dec 29, 2021
But you’re avoiding the whole entire point. How was helium classifying itself prior to humans doing it? Did it have a name prior to our existence? Did it have noble-gas parties were they all got together and shot the shit?

Unavailable to the Mortal Man @EdwinDroom Dec 29, 2021
That’s not the whole entire point, Mary. Either you know this, and it’s pointless continuing, or you’re so far from knowing it … it’s pointless continuing.

This exchange is like finding out that babies don’t have object permanence. When Mother hides behind a cupboard, she’s gone.

Mary apparently can’t imagine a situation where anything has objective existence outside of its name. To her, the naming of a thing really is “the entire point.” (She’s right, of course, that names don’t exist outside of human constructs. But, really?, she thinks the name is the same as the thing in itself? Mother disappears when she has no name?)

How could she possibly have avoided noticing that facts are those things that continue existing whether you believe them or not? I mean, in my world, even when I believe everything in the laundry bins is clean, it stays whiffy. But in her world, presto!, she never has to do laundry?

Amazing.

It’s a way of thinking with no relation to reality. But, as I think about it, there’s nothing unusual about that. Humanity has spent most of its millenia believing bizarre legends. So just because in the last few hundred years we’ve found a much more effective method based on paying attention to facts, that doesn’t mean the fantasists will necessarily come to their senses.

Scary.



Women might be easier to see as chattel slaves

I’m tired. I can’t even work up interest in the back and forth going on now among the Supremes.

Sotomayor doing her best by reminding her colleagues they have a personal stake in not looking like pawns. Hollow laughter. Ki-i-i-i-d, I want to say, if any of them cared whether they look like fools, they would have stopped acting like clowns years ago.

And then all the yammering about viability. Of the fetus, of course. ZOMG if anyone else’s rights are at stake, anyone’s at all, ever, anywhere, so long as they might be male, anyone!, then of course the incubator has to do its job. Maybe if women had an actual price on their heads, somebody would notice that the property depreciates from the huge marathon of pregnancy and delivery?

So, forgive me while I shout.

Women are human beings who have the right to control their own bodies.



It’s all the fault of us college teachers

Well, maybe not all, but look at the state of reporting now. From Jennifer Rubin, one of the best, quoting another one:

Journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen observes that “the incremental coverage, the focus on the inside game, the notion of tactics and strategy, and the joining up of the political class with the information junkies” does little to inform voters about major pieces of legislation. We get nonstop coverage of the “sausage making” but little about the content of bills that cost trillions.

And I just keep flashing back to teaching basic biology to all kinds of pre-med hopefuls way back in the Stone Ages. We’d joke about how the students who did not remotely have what it takes should “go into journalism.” (Not in front of the students, it should go without saying. Just when us teaching assistants were trying to preserve sanity after grading endless bafflegab lab reports.)

I’d be willing to bet they made the same jokes in history departments. And performing arts. And accounting.

Because, really, from the outside, journalism (subsequently “Communications”) looked like the one field where you could get through on bullshit alone.

We were wrong, of course.

It’s obvious now that actual journalism takes analytical ability, perseverance, and a rare willingness to be disliked.

But the BS artists drifted to Communications, too many of them squeaked through, used their flimflam successfully in the job market and the promotion ladder, and here we are. Days of discussion about people’s suits (tan?, pants!, blue). Weeks of discussion whether A insulted B. Were there corn dogs or pizza? Was the pizza eaten correctly? Constant focus on elimination brackets, mostly in fantasy playoffs. Meanwhile, the fate of the humanity hinges on understanding the climate crisis and how juvenile fascism grows up.

It all shares one thing. (Two things, actually. One being easy clicks which is vital to for-profit “news.”) None of it requires any actual knowledge. You have your article/newscast/whatever ready to go after skimming TV or twitter feeds, and no need to sprain your brain. And we, by not having the heart to bounce these yoyos out of college entirely, enabled that mess.



Mandragora swallows the moon and the oceans turn to fire

Is it a prion disease? Have aliens orbited Make’EmStupid Satellites to keep us in our place? Why is this happening everywhere at once all over the world?

Fundamentalists in India gobble up Modi’s us-against-them bullshit and start torching mosques. They’re Hindu fundies, not Christian, but it doesn’t seem to help one bit. Duterte, Putin, Trump, LePen (although the French managed to avoid electing her), Taliban, Bolsonaro, Xi Jinping, the list goes on and on, everywhere. Reality disappears behind made-up stories people kill for. Or would like to kill for.

The top-of-mind recent example is antivaxxers. They invent metastasizing conspiracies in favor of a devastating disease to avoid the safest medical intervention there is. Covid vaccines are gobsmackingly safe. Safer than aspirin. Safer than burgers. Safer than lettuce, for all I know. I don’t think we collect statistics on lettuce. But if we did, I wouldn’t be surprised if vaccines turned out to be safer. Antivaxxers condemn people to die rather than admit that all — all! — of the evidence is against them.

There’s the anti-choice crowd. They’ve twisted “my body, my choice” into its opposite. Reproductive choice means women don’t die from botched abortions. Nor does it kill their neighbors. Antivaxxers are saying they can do whatever they want, no matter whether it kills you. It is the opposite. But words mean nothing now and nobody cares that “Don’t kill me” morphed into “Shut up while I kill you.”

Then there’s the whole melee about transwomen. (Transmen barely appear, which gives the game away. Misogyny 101.) Instead of escaping society’s invented gender boxes, that movement has decided sex doesn’t exist. Biological sex. The method for making babies, which leaves babies everywhere, which would kind of prove it exists. They’ve decided it doesn’t. It’d be news to Silurian fish that sex is vague. It’d be news to pine trees, if pine trees read the news. Evolution could barely happen without it. It’s a denial of reality on the order of flat earthers. (To be clear, you can believe what you like in your own world, where it doesn’t damage nonbelievers. Nobody else has to buy into your sense that it’s turtles all the way down.) But a bunch of trans rights activists (#NotAllTranswomen) have decided to believe in the transubstantiation of the flesh of men into the essence of women, and ruin and death to the heretics.

The biggest and most lethal group, though, is the deniers of the climate crisis. The chemistry that means carbon dioxide in the air traps heat has been known since the 1800s:

In a series of experiments conducted in 1856, Eunice Newton Foote — a scientist and women’s rights campaigner from Seneca Falls, New York — became the first person to discover that altering the proportion of carbon dioxide (then called “carbonic acid gas”) in the atmosphere would change its temperature. This relationship between carbon dioxide and the earth’s climate has since become one of the key principles of modern meteorology, the greenhouse effect, and climate science. … [N]o one acknowledged Foote was the first to make this discovery for more than a century

Meanwhile, right up until now (yes, I mean Manchin), people whose salary depends on not understanding that fact tell themselves stories about natural variation or a hotter sun or tech solutions or that we’ll just turn up the A/C. Anything to force somebody else to take care of it, even when it kills people.

(Just for the record: No, the variation is off the charts. No, the other planets aren’t warming. No, people make and use technology. If technology was the solution, rather than people being the problem, the tech would have already been applied. No, there’s no way to turn up the A/C for all of nature, except by not idiotically warming the planet to begin with.)

The climate crisis deniers are the worst of the lot because they’ll kill billions of people. Billions with a “b.”

So here we are, trapped in alternative “facts.” If the loonies don’t get us for ignoring them, reality will when it crashes down.



Afghanistan

 
Another black border post.
 

The US again abandons tens of thousands of allies, workers, helpers to their fate.

(Update, border not so thick as it was, see first comment. The US and other countries seem to be trying to help Afghans leave.)

Update, 25 August Black border removed entirely. The US and other nations involved there are working hard to get people out. It is, I hear, one of the biggest civilian evacuations ever. Much as I was down on Biden before he was elected, biting this bullet of US mistakes in Afghanistan deserves respect.
 

Should the US have stayed in Afghanistan on the plea that insanity forced it to keep doing the same failing thing, over and over, year after year? No.

It should never have been there, if that’s all they were going to do.

Is there anything they could have done that would have actually made a difference?

Yes.

Elect Al Gore.

And even that would have helped only if he’d had the courage to do real nation building.

Since it’s a country that throws away half it’s population right from the start, before even inventing ways to exploit the remainder, the first step for nation building in Afghanistan was always clear.

Help women.

Change the laws so they could have their own money, land, and wealth, and enforce it. Make sure girls received educations all the way through high school. Put women’s health and medical care on a serious and effective footing. Provide millions of scholarships for women to study in the world’s great universities.

After twenty years of that, with women therefore becoming more important than testosterone-poisoned defectives in families, workplaces and government, there’d be a different country now.

Of course, no senator could have boasted about bringing dollars home to his district because Blackhawk helicopters got sold to Afghanis. Nobody could have stood on the deck of a naval ship after a couple of years, declaring victory.

The kind of victory I’m talking about takes much longer.

If nobody was going to do anything real victory required, the US should have stayed home.

Biden is right to correct that part of the error. A deathly shame, though, that he thought he could wait for the paperwork before rescuing the women and men who have been betrayed.



Medicine has been too successful

People have lost their fear of disease. It only took about two generations without major deadly infections. That comes as a surprise to me. I thought people understood cause and effect. But, no. Apparently, if you’re not in immediate and personal danger of dying, it’s Somebody Else’s Problem. And a SEP field, as Douglas Adams astutely pointed out, is the only proven way to make anything invisible.

Years ago, 1990s?, I read an article about attitudes to vaccination. In places like Bangladesh, where they actually had to contend with actual disease, people were overwhelmingly in favor of it. More than 85% of the respondents were incredulous you could have any other attitude. (This was before extremists started spreading paranoia about Western contamination.) It was only in well-to-do parts of the wealthier countries that people had the luxury of fantasizing about what vaccines would do to their precious bodily fluids.

The loss of healthy fear towards something that can kill you has made too many people incapable of understanding where a lethal threat fits into the scheme of things. You see sentences like, “But the extent of the European lurch toward mandatory measures has also prompted unease and questioning over loss of freedom.”

The mind reels. Do they not understand that your freedom ends where your threat to my life begins?

(Rights, unlike people, are not all equal. Some depend on others. Some are a precondition for everything else. There is not one single freedom that can be enjoyed if you’re dead. Of course it’s more complicated than one right always being first. The link goes on about the intricacies.)

 

 

Public health measures to prevent the spread of disease take precedence over people’s convenience every single time.

Mask wearing, social distancing, and temporary lockdowns are all merely inconvenient. There is no, absolutely no, rights-based argument to make against them.

Contact tracing does raise privacy issues. But there again: you can’t enjoy privacy when you’re dead. Privacy is a secondary consideration. It must be respected to the extent possible while the primary public health priorities are achieved. For instance, we’re horrified the government could be using our cell phones for location data to track covid contacts, as they did in South Korea. That is nonsense. Location tracking to save your life is a Good Thing. It should be done from the start to the end of a pandemic. After that the data should be expunged.

What should not be done is using that data to sell us fast food, or to store it forever to target political ads at us, or to deny us jobs based on some AI bullshit model of who we are based on where we’ve been. And yet, we put up calmly with the latter while throwing fits about lifesaving temporary public health tracking. Commercial tracking, which should be illegal, has made us allergic to lifesaving tracking. It’s insane. And I suspect it’s all because we feel powerless against corporations but not the government.

Vaccination is the third major public health measure, and it does intersect with the basic right to control your own body. When two foundational rights conflict — the right not to be harmed and the right to control your own body — then the scale of the harm on each side is important.

Vaccines can cause nanoscale harm. Things like sore arms, a day of lethargy, or even super-rare blood clots which can be effectively dealt with if doctors know they should look for that. Compared to the megascale harm from disease — death, long term disability, sickness for millions — there is no contest at all . The greatest good of the greatest number is the right criterion to apply when the difference is so stark. Vaccine mandates are justified to bring the cost of non-vaccination home to anti-vaxxers. As are mandates that limit them from any place where they could potentially spread the disease they’ve refused to prevent.

There is zero place for any “unease and questioning over the loss of freedom.” [Ed. note: idiots.]



Example 5,459,738

Consider the section of the Texas Constitution of 1836 below, currently doing the rounds as an example of the foundational racism in the Good Old Days.

Sec. 10. All persons (Africans, the descendants of Africans, and Indians excepted,) who were residing in Texas on the day of the declaration of independence, shall be considered citizens of the republic, and entitled to all the privileges of such. All citizens now living in Texas, who have not received their portion of land, in like manner as colonists, shall be entitled to their land in the following proportion and manner : Every head of a family shall be entitled to one league and labor of land;

[definition from somewhere on the web] A league of land equals 4,428 acres and a labor, 177 acres, combined they add up to 4,605 acres [19 km²]. This was the. amount of a headright (first-class) granted to “all persons except Africans and their descendants, and Indians, living in Texas.” (Convertunits.com, however, says one square league is 7628 acres.)

Either way, that’s a nontrivial homestead. And it’ll obviously set you back if it’s not handed to you and you have to scrape up the cash to buy all that by yourself. Racism, indeed.

Notice anyone missing from that list? So excluded they didn’t even need to be mentioned by name? Notice anyone missing from the current discussion about that list? Unlike “Africans and Indians”, those people are still unseen.

At the rate we’re going, it’s going to be centuries before we understand why disasters keep crashing in on us (You’d like an example? Trump.) from the blind side.



Oil majors! Working on global warming!

We’re doomed, aren’t we.

ConocoPhillips’ oil project in Alaska calls for inserting giant “chillers” into the melting permafrost, so the ground is stable enough to drill for oil.

Melting permafrost causing houses to topple in Shishmaref, Alaska
“With the ground melting beneath them from global warming, Alaskan lawmakers are calling for more oil drilling to deal with the problem.” (Vox, 2017)


About touchscreens

This is your future speaking. If you’re lucky, you will grow old. When you get there, your skin will be drier. I’ve had Death-Valley-Desert-dry skin my whole life, and it only gets more so.

Guess how touchscreens react to very dry skin?

They don’t.

It can take me three or four swipes or taps on a phone, after breathing on my fingers to make them moister, before anything happens. By then, because I’m frustrated, it’s usually the wrong thing.

So, what am I saying? That touchscreens don’t work for a whole large part of the population. A part which is getting bigger, not smaller.

Now picture that kind of not-working in a car. You’re driving. The last thing you want to do is study a screen with stupid icons on it. And when it doesn’t turn on the A/C or close the windows, you have to study it again. When you look up, the two tons of metal you’re in are bearing down on a lane closure sign that the car is ignoring because, hey, it’s not moving. (I know. They’ll fix that someday. But then we’ll just move on to the next AI idiocy.)

That doesn’t even get into the topic of tactile feedback and muscle memory and how necessary they are to maintain situational awareness when driving. All those levers and buttons and knobs and steering wheel and pedals allow you to use a different part of your brain for control of the car so that your eyes and ears and frontal cortex are available for the unexpected. It’s called human factors engineering. The electric car makers ought to try it sometime.

Right now I have an old car. So old, you open the windows with one of those little hand cranks. My relationship with my phone is bad enough that I’ve often thought I should give up and get myself a cocktail sausage to use as a stylus. Then I imagine trying to run a car with a cocktail sausage.

Koreans wearing gloves in winter, using sausages on their phones.


Why Bernie’s BS Matters

Bernie Sanders was talked about a while ago, blathering his usual blather about how there is nothing but class struggle. Racism? Caused by poverty. (In which case, why aren’t poor blacks racist against whites?) Trumpism? Caused by poverty. (But, but, but, his fans give him boat parades. Have you priced boats lately?) Crime? Caused by poverty. (Has he never heard of Madoff? Or, for that matter, Trump?)

Now, admittedly, poverty is tough. People tend to react badly to it and bother their neighbors trying to get out of it. But that’s a whole different matter from poverty causing bigotry. Plus it does nothing to explain centuries and millenia of elites sneering at the stupidity and laziness of their underlings. If only poverty could cause that, elites should be the intelligent, highminded people they imagine themselves to be.

What does follow a pattern, though, is that people make sure they think poorly of anyone they hurt. After all, if the piefaced whatnot didn’t deserve it, they are the bad guys for inflicting harm.

The more harm, and the more baked-into-the-society and structural the harm, the greater the contempt for the underclass who are made to suffer.

In other words, Bernie has it backwards. It’s not poverty that causes racism. It’s the need to justify exploitation. Damaging others causes racism. And sexism.

That means the solution is not to make poor whites richer, to take an example at random. Or to make men more confident of their masculinity, to take another. It’s not to increase the status of the group causing harm.

It’s to remove it. It’s to maintain real equality.

Equals have enough social status to inflict a cost when someone tries to get something for nothing out of them. Without the ability to get away with hurting each other, there’s also no need to label others contemptible enough to deserve it. With real equality the need for contempt to justify bad treatment gradually fades.

Bernie’s BS would make the problem worse, and it sends people hoping for the solution down the wrong road. That’s why his BS is not simply silly.



Bwahaha

I don’t subscribe to the Financial Times, so I can’t read the article, but the front page shows this:

US women consider parenting alone after coronavirus. By Patti Waldmeir.

And a couple of days ago I saw that the patriarchal fossils running China are so frantic about similar thoughts they are nabbing women and punishing them (how, I don’t know and hate to think) for having such ideas.

The whole point of stuffing women into the sex caste is to use their bodies. For sex, certainly. But also for producing children.

It’ll be hilarious when, after centuries of pretending having families was a terrible burden foisted on them by women, a “ball and chain,” and so forth and so on, suddenly men find themselves on the outside, looking in.

Everything human beings actually care about is on the other side of that glass. And I’m not sure another smash and grab wreckage will be tolerated a second time around. Been there, done that.