Monthly Archives: April 2016

Friday Links (voles in danger edition)

A vole sleeping inside an iris blossom
A vole sleeping inside an iris blossom (click to embiggen)
I am happy that it is Friday. I am even more happy that it is not last Friday. My father entered hospice care last Friday midday, but before he was transferred from the hospital there was some wholly unnecessary drama which kicked off a series of triangulation attempts the likes of which you wouldn’t believe. Seriously, if I wrote in a novel the altercation that resulted, it would be universally panned as wholly unbelievable. Anyway, that seems to be over, now. Though I was 1200 miles from the funeral, so if anything happened there I might not hear about it for a while.

Oh, wait, I promised someone I would phrase things this way: We weren’t really close. We hardly ever spoke for forty years.

Meanwhile, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Link of the Week

What I Gained from Having a Miscarriage: When It Comes to Pregnancy Loss, There’s So Much We Don’t Talk About or Understand.

This Week in Tech

Confessions of a Luddite professor: Hi, my name is Dan, and I have grown wary of using technology in the classroom.

This Week in Diversity

Merriam-Webster brilliantly smacks down complaints about new ’politically correct’ dictionary words.

Savage Love Letter of the Day: Bonus Reader Advice for Kids Who’ve Lost Parents to Fox News.

How to Explain Mansplaining.

This week in People Doing Good Things

A compassionate judge sentences a veteran to 24 hours in jail, then joins him behind bars.

This week in Topics Most People Can’t Be Rational About

Twenty Years Ago, Australia Found a Way to Stop Mass Shootings. It Worked.

News for queers and our allies:

Instead of trying to ‘fix’ me, my mom protected me from her homophobic boyfriend: The first time someone slurred me with the other f-word, she had my back.

Gay Men Tell Us Why They Wouldn’t Choose to Be Straight.

LGBT anti-discrimination employment bill advances in Louisiana Senate.

Senate Dems Introduce Bill To Ban Ex-Gay Torture.

NCAA adopts anti-discrimination process for sites bidding on championships.


The extinction crisis in a warming world – North America’s most endangered mammals: the Amargosa vole.

An Image Processing Trick Shows Mars in Unprecedented Detail.

300TB of Data From the Large Hadron Collider Are Now Available to Download. I’m going to need more hard drives…

Absolutely Massive Subglacial Lake Found Beneath Antarctica’s Ice.


Researchers have accidentally made batteries that could last 400 times longer.

Motherly love helps children’s brains grow bigger, scientists find .

An orbiting ‘Microscope’ is about to discover if Einstein was right.

Risks of harm from spanking confirmed by analysis of 5 decades of research.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Hugo awards shortlist dominated by rightwing campaign.

The Hugo finalists: John Scalzi on why the sad puppies can’t take credit for Neil Gaiman’s success.

A discussion on twitter with a rabid puppy.

…most of the finalists on this year’s ballot have no business being on any awards list of any kind. Some of them really didn’t deserve to be published to begin with, and probably wouldn’t have been if it were not for a certain racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit with an ax to grind and a pile of money handed to him by his mother.

We Have Always Been Here & Always Will Be: On the Hugo Awards and Cultural Vandalism.

This week in Writing

More Omniscient.

This Week in History

The Forgotten Lessons of the American Eugenics Movement.

Culture war news:

Rated “R” for Research: Sexualizing Women’s Health and Censoring Student Research at UMBC.

All the Things You Can No Longer Buy if You’re Really Boycotting Trans-Friendly Businesses.

People in Stone Mountain Park, Georgia valiantly defend racist flag.

Theater Takes Legal Action Over Utah Deadpool Censorship.

When Doctors Refuse to Treat LGBT Patients.

Newsweek’s bold new cover: Women bleed. Get over it.

‘These Freaks Are Going To Get Us All Killed’: Rick Wiles Warns Target Restroom Policy Will Spark Nuclear War.

Oxford, Alabama to Jail Transgender People for Using ‘Wrong’ Bathroom.

This Week in the Clown Car

THE KILLER INSIDE ME – I CAN’T HATE TED CRUZ — WE HAVE TOO MUCH IN COMMON. “My empathy for Ted stems from recognizing not just a shared freakish compulsion to quantify human interaction, but sensing that it comes from the same source: We were both smart kids who changed schools a lot and had driven, professional parents… Ted’s and my paths diverged very shortly after we came up with our respective crusades of middle-school Machiavellianism. After I put together my “Mission: Popular” plan, I didn’t go through with it… Cruz, on the other hand, not only went through with his plan, but — to this day — believes it worked. He thinks it’s still working.”

Women play the #womancard on Twitter in response to Trump.

10 reasons Cruz’s Fiorina gambit will likely flop.

Nutbag Cruz Supporter Steve Deace Melts Down On CNN, Screams That Everybody Is Lying.

Trump refuses to rule out nuclear strike against ISIL.

This week in Other Politics:

What Hillary Clinton gets that Bernie Sanders doesn’t: Identity politics.

The Return of the Women Scorned: We’re still coming to grips with 1990s misogyny, which has complex implications for Hillary Clinton.

How imperialism and eugenics during America’s Progressive Era spawned international drug control.

Alleged Hastert victim files $1.8 million lawsuit.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 4/23/2016 – Republican child molesters, redux.

Confessions of a bad son.

Confessions of an absent-minded misplacer.

Confessions of a fan fiction fan.


Liberal Redneck – American Family Association Boycotts Target:

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Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band “Purple Rain” Prince Tribute:

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Tegan and Sara – Boyfriend [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]:

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Confessions of a fan fiction fan

fanfictionMy husband and I had a disagreement the other day on a topic that surprised me. He made the comment that a particular story which won some awards a few years ago shouldn’t have, because it was, as far as he was concerned, a piece of fan fiction, rather than an original tale. I thought it was going to turn into a much more spirited debate, because I have rather strong feelings on the subject. But I barely got a few sentences of my first point out, when he smiled, shrugged, and said, “Okay, I see your point. But I still don’t think the story deserved an award.” And I laughed and replied, “Maybe it didn’t, but that’s a different point than saying it should never have been considered for one.” And he said, “Yeah, I guess.”

And that was it.

Which wasn’t much of a debate. And I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that we wrapped that topic up so quickly, because I think it’s one that deserves more consideration. Which means I’m going to blog about it. Lucky you!

Fan fiction, according to Professor Rebecca Black, “is writing in which fans use media narratives and pop cultural icons as inspiration for creating their own texts.” A lot of people look down on fan fiction, characterizing it as not real writing, often arguing that it is just retelling existing stories, rather than someone telling their own. My first disagreement on that is that all human story telling can be characterized as retelling of existing narratives. Humans have been telling each other stories for tens of thousands of years, and there is no such thing as a wholly original story idea, any longer… Continue reading Confessions of a fan fiction fan

Confessions of an absent-minded misplacer

"Oh no! I forgot something, but what?"
“Oh no! I forgot something, but what?”
Many years ago, after we had been living together for a few years, someone at a social function asked what the first thing we had ever argued about had been. We looked at each other for a few seconds, and one of us said, “I can’t think of anything,” while the other asked more-or-less simultaneously, “Have we ever had an argument?” And the person who asked the question didn’t believe us. One of the other people argued that we couldn’t possibly be a real couple if we’d never had an argument. Which is what prompted me to say, “Well, he does get aggravated at me when I lose my keys. Or my wallet. Or my glasses—” And he interrupted to say, “That’s not an argument! You’re never angry at me when you lose stuff. You’re always angry at yourself.”

And one of the others said, “There we go! See, now you’re disagreeing about whether that was an argument! I knew it wasn’t possible for people to live together and never disagree!”

Which caused both of us to explain that a disagreement isn’t an argument. An argument is a usually heated or angry exchange of opposing views with the intent to prove the other person wrong. We disagree about all sorts of things, but we discuss things amiably. And usually we wind up, as we explain our thoughts to each other: either talking ourselves into agreeing, or both realizing we already agree about the big topic and only have a niggle on a side issue, or both coming to the conclusion that either position is a valid one, and each of us have picked one side mostly for reasons of emotion or as a matter of preference.

One of the people at the table shook his head and said, “You guys have no frickin’ idea how a relationship is supposed to work!” And walked away. I think that since we just passed the 19th anniversary of our first date, still living together, and both seem to still be pretty happy about it, that maybe we have at least a notion.

I do get very, very upset when I lose things. And my poor husband has to put up with it while I’m rushing around the house, looking underneath things while I mutter and grumble ever more angrily. Then he tries to calmly work around me, methodically checking more carefully all of places where I might have set my keys down while I was fetching the travel mug I wanted to take with me… Continue reading Confessions of an absent-minded misplacer

Confessions of a bad son

Myths about violence, #3: "Children need their father even if he is abusive. Fact: Children need a safe, non-violent environment in order to feel secure and thrive. They are often relieved when the violent relationship ends."
Myths about violence, #3: “Children need their father even if he is abusive. Fact: Children need a safe, non-violent environment in order to feel secure and thrive. They are often relieved when the violent relationship ends.” (Click to embiggen)
One of my earlier childhood memories is being scolded by my mother and grandmother for not being excited about going with my dad to do some errands. I was 3 or 4 years old. The thrust of both scoldings was that I should be grateful that Dad wanted to spend some time with me at all, and didn’t I realize that being nice to Dad might make him less likely to be mean to me? I hadn’t wanted to go with him because I could never remember a time that I wasn’t afraid to be alone with him. I reluctantly agreed to pretend to be excited to spend time with him, but only because I was afraid of what he might do if I didn’t please him. Nothing terrible happened on that particular trip.

Contrast this with my first memory of a hospital emergency room. It was about a year later and I was 4 or 5 years old. I had lost consciousness after Dad smacked me around because I had cried when one of his friends that were attending a barbecue in our back yard had scared me. Later, after I woke up, one of the other adults (I think it was one of the wives who was refraining from alcohol so my mother, who was very pregnant at the time, wouldn’t be the only one sober) had realized that I wasn’t kidding when I said there was something wrong with my eyes. The others were eventually convinced that I needed to be taken to a hospital. During the ride to the emergency room, Dad drilled me with the story that I had been running around in the dark playing hide and seek and had climbed somewhere I shouldn’t have, I had been surprised when someone shone a bright light in my eyes, so I fell down and landed on my head. It was made very clear that if I did not stick to this story, not only would I get an even more severe beating when I got home, but that my mother would also suffer… Continue reading Confessions of a bad son

Weekend Update 4/23/2016 – Republican child molesters, redux

This is going to be a quickie, since it’s my husband’s birthday and we’re off to do some furniture shopping as well as celebrate. Also, I’m avoiding answering the phone since some of my family members escalated the grieving process to the crying and screaming at each other stage earlier than I expected. I had thought that wouldn’t happen until after the person who just entered hospice care had actually died. But the dying man is a lifelong abuser, so I should have realized he’d drive people to turn on each other at least one more time.

While we’re on the subject of evil, abusive men, let’s talk about one that didn’t raise me…

Betty Powers footnotes former House Majority Leader, Tom Delay's, letter for us.
Betty Powers footnotes former House Majority Leader, Tom Delay’s, letter for us. (Click to embiggen)
Hey, so a couple dozen of the people who wrote letters asking for leniency for admitted child molester and former Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, agreed to allow their identities and the contents of the letters made public (which was the condition the judge insisted on before he would look at any of them). That’s a bit less than half the letters the lawyers originally tried to submit under seal: Tom Delay and ex-CIA director among those who ask judge to go easy on Dennis Hastert.

In case you forgot, Hastert has been indicted for illegally trying to conceal millions of dollars in hush money payments to try to keep the public from learning that when Hastert was a High School football coach he molested at least four of the boys under his supervision. Oh, and he’s also been indicated for lying to the FBI about what all the financial shenanigans are about: Dennis Hastert’s secret gay ‘misconduct’ is even worse given his terrible voting record on gay rights and Dennis Hastert Molested At Least Four Young Boys: Prosecutors.

He’s not being charged with the molestation, which drove at least one of the boys to commit suicide, because conveniently there’s a statute of limitations on sexually molesting children: Dennis Hastert Case Renews Debate Over Sex Crime Statute of Limitations. I think Eileen McNamara, a journalism professor at Brandeis University, puts it best in a quote from that last article:

“Why should a rape victim’s access to the courthouse depend on when the crime was committed?” McNamara wrote then. “There is no statute of limitations on murder because no one thinks the passage of time should shield a killer from answering for his crime. Why should perpetrators of the soul-killing act of rape have such a legal escape hatch?”

Why, indeed, do these hypocrites who rail against other people’s sexuality, and use it to deprive queers, women, and others of civil rights, keep being given these escape hatches?

Friday Links (farewell, o’ purple majesty)

University United Methodist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
University United Methodist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ordinarily this post would begin with a declaration of gratitude for the arrival of Friday. Ordinarily this post would also have a lot more links than you will find below. There has been a slow stream of unpleasant health news from my extended family for the last few weeks, only some of which have I mentioned online. Most of the news has involved extended family members. Last night I learned of a much closer member of the family moving into hospice care. Several of my immediate family members are naturally distraught, and I am trying to be supportive. I will eventually go into things in more detail, but I think this is all I’ll say for now.

Meanwhile, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Link of the Week

Ingrid Lyne’s Murder Is Every Woman’s Worst Fear.

This week in Design

Episcopal Church Fonts.

This Week in Tech

Google just scored a major victory against US authors.

This Week in Diversity

Petition Against School Play Backfires in New Jersey.

This week in Evil People

Rush Limbaugh’s contract is up, his benefactors are broke, and his audience ‘toxic.’ Next?

AP: S. Korea covered up mass abuse, killings of ‘vagrants’.

News for queers and our allies:

A New LGBTQ Victory Is a Victory for All of Us: The Social Security Administration Does the Right Thing.

In the Early 20th Century, America Was Awash in Incredible Queer Nightlife.

In Landmark Decision, Court Rules That Federal Law Protects Trans Students’ Bathroom Access.

Companies with openly LGBT employees at senior level are more profitable.


Panicdotal Evidence: “Anal Tearing”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to a reporter’s seemingly sarcastic comment by launching into a genius explanation of quantum computing.

Dara got to visit the certified quietest spot on earth: anechoic thunderdome.

Modern human females and male Neandertals had trouble making babies. Here’s why.

Why Our Science Institutions Fail Us: The Case Of Boaty McBoatface.

How Magicians Trick Your Brain – They hijack its limited ability to deal with perceptual ambiguity.

Astronomers just discovered a huge galaxy orbiting our own.

NASA has detected strange signals coming from the gravitational wave source.

Human brawn may be an evolutionary fluke — courtesy of our big brains.

Let’s go ahead and make Earth invisible to aliens, just in case.

Paleontologists find first fossil monkey in North America – but how did it get here?

Study Finds Straight Parents and Gay Parents Have Equally Healthy Kids.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

‘He Wears the Mask Just to Cover the Raw Flesh’.

How Sleepy Hollow Single-Handedly Destroyed Their Own Show.


Film’s lost Nessie monster prop found in Loch Ness.

Good Omens: Neil Gaiman to adapt Terry Pratchett collaboration for TV.

This week in Writing

It’s Not Just You.

Novelist Gabby Rivera On Creating A Young Adult Novel With A Queer, Teenage Latina Protagonist.

Culture war news:

Target Shows How Simple It Is To Be Welcoming Of Transgender People.

Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds.

Uline supports homophobic, anti-choice politic.

Stop Using Women’s Safety To Justify Transphobia.

10 Things We’ve Learned From the North Carolina Debacle.

Calif. school district bans atheist scholarships — but allows them from Scientology.

Catholicism’s multi-billion dollar brand is struggling — despite Pope Francis.

Corporate opposition to LGBTQ discrimination laws shows the GOP alliance has shattered.

Belinda Carlisle Rips Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant: ‘You Are Making Life Hell on Earth’ for LGBT People.

The Writing’s on the (Bathroom) Wall: State Anti-Transgender Laws Are About to Get Flushed.

The South’s new divide: Blue cities and red states.

This Week in the Clown Car

Seth Meyers Decimates Donald Trump’s Claims About a ‘Rigged’ Delegate System.

John Kasich Doesn’t Understand Why Anyone Would Think He Was Blaming Victims For Sexual Assault.

John Kasich to LGBT People Facing Discrimination: ‘Can You Just Get Over It?’

Donald Trump Tells Supporters He’ll ‘Bring Back’ Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. He apparently doesn’t realize that the legendary coach has been dead nearly four years…

This Week in Racism


Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood? The history of a myth.

This Week in Misogyny

vox day, eric raymond, and the lambda conference blacklist.

Why Does Hollywood Keep Disrespecting Melissa McCarthy?


Pop music superstar Prince is dead at 57.

Prince Rogers Nelson: ‘Every song was either a prayer or foreplay’.

Doris Roberts, Star of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ Dies at 90.

Gareth Thomas, Blake’s 7 actor, dies aged 71.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 4/16/16: Republicans shielding sex criminals (again and again and again).

Why I hate hay fever reason #6273.

I love walking.


THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – Teaser Trailer (HD) {I had no idea that I wanted a remake of this classic, but then I watched the teaser trailer; Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt? Why, yes, I’ll take some!}:

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Stephen Colbert: A Word About North Carolina:

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God is a Boob Man – SNL:

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Purple Rain Prince AVI:

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The Best Prince Videos Available on YouTube.

I love walking

Siberian Lynx © San Diego Zoo.
Siberian Lynx © San Diego Zoo.
I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic about 14 years ago. Having seen so many relatives (mostly on Dad’s side of the family) develop adult-onset diabetes, and particularly seeing what happened to some of them who never took the diagnosis seriously, I’ve been obsessing about carbohydrates, blood sugar, and calorie-burning ever since. Now that I’m at the point where I’m actually testing my blood-sugar directly several times a day, I’ve learned that a lot of the advice my general practitioner and the nutritionist he sent me to is… well, let’s just say the advice was not based on the latest research, nor does it match what’s happening in my body day-to-day… Continue reading I love walking

Why I hate hay fever reason #6273

…and a cold cloth for my head, please.
I’ve written before of my frustration at being unable to distinguish a really bad hay fever day from the early stages of a head cold. Because we had such a mild winter, this was one of the years where I never got a break from hay fever. My frustration and confusion have been exacerbated by the fact that I was more or less continually sick from early January until (I hope) a bit over a week ago. What I think happened was this: I caught the virus that was going around this year making people very sick for a week or so with flu-like symptoms, then lingering for many weeks after with low key (but still annoying) symptoms. And while my immune system was bogged down fighting the virus, I got a bacterial infection in my throat, that was spreading to my sinuses by the time I went in to see the doctor and got the first prescription for an antibiotic. I got slightly better while on the antibiotic, but the throat infection surged back as soon as the pills ended, and spread to my ears before I went back to the doctor, who took more swabs to culture and put me on another, longer round of antibiotics

At the end of the second round, the sore throat came back along with a new, keep-me-up-half-the-night cough. The doctor didn’t like how my lungs sounded, so I got chest and sinus x-rays along with more swabs before the next round of a different antibiotic. And so on.

And each time I was on antibiotics, I felt better, but never completely well. Which both I and my doctor figure was probably because the original viral infection was still lingering. Except during that three month period, at least two other bouts of some sort of cold seemed to run through my office. So it’s possible that it wasn’t one long lingering viral infection, but really three or four unrelated viral infections that each hit me one after the other.

But we have also had a lot of high pollen/allergy alert days during that time. Coincidentally, some of the highest pollen count days happened to occur right after the end of each of the first two rounds of antibiotics. So each time that the sore throat and sinus symptoms started to re-occur, I told myself it was probably just allergies, and didn’t call my doctor right away.

Regardless, it’s been ten days since the end of the last round of antibiotics, with so far no sore throat and no ear ache. I think that means that the bacterial infection is finally gone. And while I’ve been having sore sinuses, congestion, and itchy eyes throughout for that entire time, nothing that isn’t very typical hay fever symptoms have shown up.

So far.

But I’m still feeling paranoid. So when I woke up feeling overheated and more congested than usual, I panicked a little. Until I remembered that because of the work being done on the exterior of the house, we’ve closed up all the windows and disabled the air-conditioning vent in the bedroom. It merely took opening the front door when I took out the garbage minutes after waking up to make me feel much more normal.

Though I had pollen alerts on my phone from both a weather app and my pollen tracker, and I see we’re going to be in the red all week. So this congestion and itchy eyes and sinus headache are probably here for the long haul.

Dang it!

Anyway, could you pass me that box of tissue, please?

Weekend Update 4/16/16: Republicans shielding sex criminals (again and again and again)

I’ve written a few times about the case of former Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, who has pled guilty to charges of trying to illegally conceal large cash transfers he made to pay millions of dollars in hush money in order to prevent the public from learning that while he was a high school wrestling coach he molested at least four of the boys under his supervision. The sexual assaults occurred long enough ago that due to a statute of limitations on such crimes, Hastert can’t be charged with the molestation. (Which prompted the Daily Show to point out, “You’d think something as awful as molesting children would have no statute of limitations”, because things like parking tickets have no statute of limitations, for example.)

There was one interesting little twist this week as Hastert’s sentencing date approaches: The judge in Dennis Hastert’s hush-money case says that if the former House speaker wants letters of support considered during his sentencing, they must be made public. Hastert’s lawyers have drummed up 60 letters of support from various people asking the judge for leniency. However, those letters have been submitted under seal, keeping the identity of the letter writers and the contents of the letters private. Presumably because most of the people (if not all) who wrote the letters only agreed to do so on condition of anonymity. Because no one, particularly no elected official, wants to go on record supporting a child molester. The judge has rightfully pointed out that ordinarily such leniency pleas are part of the public record.

I’ve been harping on Hastert because he was an anti-gay politician when he was in Congress, going so far as to, after promising the parents of Matthew Shephard (who was murdered in a gruesome hate crime) to help pass a hate crime’s bill, actually did everything in his power to kill it (and succeeded). Some reporters have tried to claim that Hastert wasn’t that anti-gay, or at least not as anti-gay as some of his fellow Republicans. Michelangelo Signorile begs to differ: How Dennis Hastert Demonized Gays as Predators While He Was the True ‘Super-Predator’

The records show that Hastert’s office kept a legislative file titled “Homosexuals,” filled with policy statements from social conservative groups like the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council that criticized same-sex marriage and Clinton administration efforts to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. The file also includes a 1996 Weekly Standard article, “Pedophilia Chic” that warned that “revisionist suggestions about pedophilia” were being embraced by the left…

…What was curiously not in Hastert’s files, according to the Politico report, was anything about the scandal that enveloped former GOP congressman Mark Foley, who was exposed in 2007 for having sent sexually explicit messages to teenage boys in the House page program. Hastert in fact was accused of dragging his feet in dealing with Foley’s activities, his office having known about it for months but either covering it up or simply not acting with the speed expected from the office of a House member who was so concerned about child predators.

New York Daily News front page breaking the scandal
New York Daily News front page breaking the scandal (click to embiggen)
Hastert, of course, isn’t the only Republican who demonized some people’s sexual lives while engaging is sexual misconduct himself: Cosponsor of Tenn. Transphobic Bill Accused of Sexual Harassment Not just accused—the accusations have been around for months—what has finally happened is the Attorney General’s office has found sufficient evidence against GOP Rep. Jeremy Durham that the rest of the legislature felt compelled to act, and has exiled him to an office in another building and essentially quarantined him from any contact with woman on any legislative staff position. I am very amused at Think Progress’s headline earlier this week about it: The Surprising Sexual Harassment Scandal Accompanying Tennessee’s Anti-Transgender Bill, because the only thing that any reasonable person should find surprising about this is that his fellow republicans have taken any action against their fellow family values champion at all.

And remember those statute of limitations laws in various states that shield child molesters, while letting other, far less severe crimes be punished many many years later. You want to know how those laws came to exist? Disgraced Former NY Assembly Speaker had affairs with at least two women — one a lobbyist, the other a former assemblywoman, court papers show According to records unsealed this week, former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had affairs with two women, one of whom is a former aide turned lobbyist who was hired by the Catholic Church to pressure legislators against a bill that would have extended the time period in which victims of molestation could sue their attackers. Sheldon dropped his support for the bill once his former aide/mistress began lobbying against it. So the sex criminals being shielded were pedophile priests whose victims didn’t speak up while they were still children. Again.

And I have to ask once again, why do any of us ever take any of these anti-sex, anti-gay politicians seriously? There is not one single case of someone using a trans rights law to try to sexually assault someone, but there are hundreds of cases of anti-gay, pro-family elected officials molesting children, sexually harassing or assaulting people, having extramarital affairs, taking their same sex “photographer” who also happens to live with them on taxpayer-funded junkets, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Friday Links (interactive analysis edition)

You may be cool, but you will never be Benedict Cumberbatch buying Dr Strange comics while dressed as Dr Strange Cool.
You may be cool, but you will never be Benedict Cumberbatch buying Dr Strange comics while dressed as Dr Strange Cool. (Click to embiggen)
Thank goodness it’s Friday! It has been more than a week since the end of my third round of antibiotics, and there has not been a return of the sore throat or ear ache! I think, maybe, it finally worked. On the other hand, two different cousins had seriously bad medical issues pop up this week, both requiring emergency surgery for very different things. So while I may be getting better, not all of the news around me is good.

Meanwhile, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Links of the Week

THE LARGEST EVER ANALYSIS OF FILM DIALOG BY GENDER: 2,000 SCRIPTS, 25,000 ACTORS, 4 MILLION LINES. It’s not just data, it has amazing interactive graphs.

I’m on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones.

And other news:

Attawapiskat declares state of emergency over spate of suicide attempts – Chief Bruce Shisheesh desperate for mental health services after 11 attempts on Saturday night alone.

Gay Air France cabin crew object to Iran flights over death penalty fears.

This week in History

The ugly truth about Confederate memorials.

Make the Confederacy’s Defeat a National Holiday.

This Week in Tech

A farm in Kansas receives non-stop threats and harassment because of mapping glitch.

THE SECRET RULES OF THE INTERNET – The murky history of moderation.

The dark side of Guardian comments.

This Week in Diversity

Nobody Knew She Was There….

Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas.

The Triumphant Return of Archie Comics’ Gay Character.

Adam Lambert: Music execs are still ‘scared’ of gay men singing about male lovers.

Why I Came Out As A Gay Children’s Book Author.

‘Anyone Can Die?’ TV’s Recent Death Toll Says Otherwise.

How African writers are taking LGBT issues mainstream.

Superheroes Get Progressive With LGBTQ Superteam THE PRIDE.

This Week in Not Understanding Diversity

Bridal Party Problems: How Bachelorettes Are Ruining Gay Nightlife.

This week in Difficult to Classify

I’m an American living in Sweden. Here’s why I came to embrace the higher taxes.

The dark side of Guardian comments.

News for queers and our allies:

MSNBC Posts Report On Harlem Hate Church’s Coming Bankruptcy Hearing & Ali Forney Center.

LGBTQ advocates need to get over their championship hangover.

Reimagining an Uncle’s Secret Transgender Life in the 1950s .

Transgender teenage ballplayer at Santa Monica prep school spreads message of hope and acceptance.

Trans Kids Can Be Happy Kids, With Support.

Appreciating and lamenting the influence of a porn king – How Chuck Holmes Engineered Gay Beauty.

How to debunk the religious right’s transgender scare tactics.

Reclaiming The Queer Dance Floor.

I Didn’t Know I Was Transgender.


US Homeland Security Returns Rare Dinosaur Fossils To Mongolia.

The Science of Why You Do Your Best Thinking While Walking.

Birds on Islands Are Losing the Ability to Fly.

Billionaire Yuri Milner And Stephen Hawking Team Up To Send Nanospaceships To Alpha Centauri.

Scientists Have Published a New Tree of Life.

This Optical Illusion Will Break Your Brain.


New Hypervelocity Binary Star Challenges Dark Matter, Stellar Acceleration Models.

The Brazil Nut Effect Is More Complicated Than You Think.

Oil Industry’s Suppression of Climate Science Began in 1940s, Documents Reveal.

For the first time ever, a human with paralysis can move his hand again.

How a Sense of Purpose Adds Years to Your Life, According to Scientists.

The Surprising Science Behind Blue Balls (And Blue Vulvas).

A swarm of thousands of crabs headed in the same direction in the Pacific is baffling scientists.

Humans Can Still Do One Thing Better Than AI.

Robots, apps and chickens: The 2016 White House science fair.

What a young scientist found when he started researching a famous ‘boiling river’ in Peru.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Stephanie Burgis on Finding the Fantasy in History.

Women in SF&F Month: Elizabeth Bonesteel.

Five SF/F Books With Asexual Protagonists.

Culture war news:

Federal Appeals Court Confirms Gay Marriage Is Legal in Puerto Rico Despite Judge’s Ruling.

Tennessee Legislature Resurrects Discriminatory Transgender Bathroom Bill.

A Bunch Of People Dressed As Angels To Protect Teens At An LGBT Dance.

Pope Francis Quashes “Who am I to judge?” Speculation in Amoris Laetitia.

Lesbian teen asked to prove gender, ejected from McDonald’s for using women’s toilet.

Pope Francis: It’s aggressive narcissism to teach kids about safe sex and protection.

Can LGBTQ people ever forgive Christian evangelicals for their sins?

Porn Site Bans North Carolina Users Due To State’s Anti-LGBT Laws.

Planned Parenthood shooter admired abortion foe who killed Fla. doctor.

Tenn. AG: Anti-Trans Bill Will ‘Almost Certainly’ Cost State Millions.

Cosponsor of Tenn. Transphobic Bill Accused of Sexual Harassment.

NC Guv Issues Executive Order That Doesn’t Change Anti-gay Law One Bit.

A Trojan horse of hate: North Carolina’s new bill is a “hostile takeover of human rights”.

Corporations Criticize N.C. LGBT Law — But Aren’t Dropping Donations To GOP Governors Group.

A researcher explains how racial resentment drives opposition to gun control.

Boycotts and responses to one particular front in the Culture War:

Cyndi Lauper To Donate All Profits From Raleigh Concert To Equality North Carolina.

"Historically conservative." A polite way to say "Bigoted, fearful, violent, irrational, and an embarrassment."
“Historically conservative.” A polite way to say “Bigoted, fearful, violent, irrational, and an embarrassment.” (Click to embiggen)
Lawmakers drive backlash against LGBT rights across the historically conservative South.

Bipartisan group of U.S. Senators urge NBA to move ’17 All-Star Game.

It’s easy to dismiss everything below the Mason-Dixon Line. It’s harder and more necessary to actually help people in this troubled part of the world.

Why Should My Store Be Boycotted Over a Law I Despise?

Forget the boycott: This is how we teach North Carolina and Mississippi a lesson.

I sympathise, but I think this is spot on: Boycotts Are Supposed to Hurt.

This Week in the Clown Car

Ted Cruz’s 3 Biggest Donors Reveal Just How Creepy He Really Is.

The Time Ted Cruz Defended a Ban on Dildos.

Zombie nominee: These new Trump poll numbers are hideously, unbelievably awful.

John Kasich Supports ‘Moving On’ From Gay Marriage Debate.

Ted Cruz: Immigrant-Loving Socialist NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio Will Be Finished Once I’m President.

This week in Other Politics:

Hillary Clinton rakes in Verizon cash while Bernie Sanders supports company’s striking workers.

Bernie Sanders must accept that Pope Francis isn’t a friend to the left: The pontiff can’t be a true humanitarian with his anti-woman and anti-LGBT views.

Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates should stop whining: Why Sanders supporters have every right to challenge their super-votes.

The progressive movement is in the shadows: It’s time to rally, protest and get in politicians’ faces to become a force they can’t ignore.


The readings that helped make Open Books.

Things I wrote:

Another anti-gay politician caught molesting children.

Confessions of a technology addict.

A Day of Pink and the Stupidity of the Transgender Bathroom Argument.


Bob Mould – Hold On (Official Music Video):

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Marvel’s Doctor Strange Teaser Trailer:

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