Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thoughts on #ShirtStorm

This blog post should have been about the amazing human achievement of landing a space probe on a comet that moves at 40,000 mph and is located hundreds of millions of mils away from earth. Instead, it is about a nasty woman named Rose Eveleth, a woman who got her panties in a wad when Matt Taylor, an astrophysicist who was part of the team that landed Philae on the comet, wore a T-shirt that was made by one of his friends.

In a nutshell: a brilliant scientist wore a T-shirt made by his friend (a woman, for the record) when he was taped on the biggest night of his life.  It’s a Hawaiian-themed shirt with ’50s-style cartoons of women in bustiers who are shooting guns.  It’s fun and lighthearted, although not exactly professional.  But hey, when you land a rocket on a comet, you can wear whatever you damn well please.

Not all see it this way.  Science journalist Rose Eveleth tweeted out comments about how the T-shirt makes women unwelcome in STEM and “ruined the comet landing” for her, thus turning the EDS achievement into a Rose-Eveleth pity party. Matt Taylor was forced to make a tearful, blubbering apology, which wrecked the greatest week of his life. (It is worth noting that Eveleth is a science writer precisely because she sucks at doing actual science.  In an interview with Scientific American, she said, “It really wasn’t until college when I was studying abroad and doing research that I realized I’m just not a very good scientist. I didn’t really care as much about the data as I did about the stories I could tell about it. “) Feminism doesn’t have to be this way, kids.

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Filed under Feminism, Science & Engineering

Debunking the “Republicans Gerrymandered their 2014 Win!” meme

As we all know, the Republicans won big last week, taking over 240 House seats and flipping control of the Senate. This has lead to some predictable hand-wringing from the Left, who are all loathe to admit that maybe, just maybe, Americans haven’t been thrilled with their performance.

One meme claims that Democrats actually won the elections on Tuesday, but lost because “gerrymandered” districts pack Democrats into dense urban areas and give Republicans a slight advantage in other districts.  Thus, Democrats received 54,301,095 votes for their Congressional candidates, Republicans only received 53,822,442 votes, and the victorious Democrats lost.  (See article by Ezra Klein.)

The claim to gerrymandering isn’t supported by actual evidence in an actual state of actual districts that have been gerrymandered to Republican advantage.  The claim rests solely upon a straight-up comparison of number of votes received to number of seats won; here is one example of this sloppy thinking.

Let’s start a mathematical debunking of this nonsense.

First point: there are a lot of ways to gerrymander a district, but they don’t involve crossing state lines.

The people who are wailing and gnashing their teeth about Congress have precious little to say about the absolute destruction that was wrecked upon Democrat candidates in the Senate, but focus only on the House.  If the analysis of “more votes but fewer wins because of gerrymandering” were correct, we would expect that the Democrats would have held their own in the Senate.  Senate candidates run statewide, in lines determined decades or centuries ago, while Congressmen run in districts that were redrawn after the 2010 Census.  No such argument was made.  Nor was any argument made that winning states like Wyoming or Montana, which have exactly one ungerrymandable Congressional district, is somehow not fair.

Likewise, the Republican dominance in gubernatorial and statewide elections indicates that the issue is not one of gerrymandered districts so much as electoral disgust with Democrats.  What is Ezra Klein’s argument: we gerrymandered the entire state of Illinois? Maryland? Massachusetts?

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Filed under Nerdiness

Potatoes: the tubers of death

I’ve always been a dark chocolate person: the darker and richer, the better.  Some ten years ago, science vindicated me: dark chocolate was found to have all sorts of health benefits, ranging from improving memory to lowering blood pressure.  Same thing with red wine – I’m a red drinker, not a white drinker, and the red stuff is what is good for you.

As a lifelong hater of all things potato (I used to flush the things down the toilet when my parents tried to force me to eat them), I’m gratified to learn that potatoes contain carcinogens. (Hat tip.)   The undeniable grossness of the potato is nature’s way of telling us to leave the blasted things in the ground and eat real food instead.


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The Cruel Paradox of Modern Feminism

I have called myself a feminist since I knew what the word meant.  Back in the day, I was an athletic nerd, a girl who loved to do math and play sports.  Ballet, knitting needles, and dolls just really weren’t my thing.  Those were the times when feminists made a passing claim to stand for the less fortunate, those who had not been anointed as one of society’s chosen ones since birth.  Feminism proudly stated that we need the talents of all people, that everyone has something to contribute to society.

Feminism deserted me.  When Lena Dunham, Wendy Davis, and Sandra Fluke – three wealthy, educated women – parade around their unfortunate circumstances as an excuse for acting like terrible human beings, those of us who believe in equality and justice are left behind.  For those who have missed the news, Dunham wrote a book in which she admitted to basically molesting her baby sister.  Davis ditched her kids to attend Harvard Law, ditched her husband the day after he cashed out his 401(k) to pay off her loans, and became famous by filibustering a bill that would have restricted abortion after twenty weeks.  Fluke firmly believes that it is oppression to buy your own contraception, a burden that justifies overriding the consciences of religious people.

These women are the elites in our culture, from wealthy families or married into wealthy families, with snobby degrees and plenty of connections.  Yet they believe that their “oppression” is an excuse to treat babies, their own children, nuns, and their own siblings like dirt, as if children, women of conscience and faith, and the unborn are not actual human beings who also have rights.

I fail to understand how “feminism” can justify molesting a girl child, or how women who won life’s lottery ought to be crying foul about their circumstances.  Thankfully, not many other people can, either, which is why those three sorry excuses for women have imploded in spectacular fashion this week.  Good riddance.

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Filed under Feminism