Monthly Archives: January 2015

The relentless march of the eugenics movement

On CNN.com, radiologist Dr. Grazie Christie writes about new parents who are contemplating suing her for ‘wrongful birth,’ i.e. a physician’s failure to diagnose a problem, which, if the expecting parents had known about, would have lead them to choose abortion. The defect in question is a cleft lip.

I have written about wrongful birth actions before and think that, legally, they ought to be prohibited.  Basic humanity suggests that we not allow someone to sue people over life rather than harm or death. Dr. Christie’s testimony shows us that there is no logical endpoint to such actions: it is not merely about a child who should have been diagnosed with Tay-Sachs or other such death sentences, but is really about any child that is not perfect. A cleft lip is one of the most common birth defects in America and is repairable with a simple surgery.

This goes beyond euthanasia, which acknowledges that a human being is dying (or never being conceived); it is the objectively incorrect idea that a pre-human, a not-person, is being returned and swapped out for another, more perfect, less cleft-lipped, person.  Once we’ve ceded the ground on abortion in the cases of Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and the like, the rationale used to justify those procedures is used to justify abortion in the case of an easily-fixable cosmetic defect.

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Filed under Bioethics

#DeflateGate? #BallGate? #ColtsAreSoreLosersGate?

After the Patriots shellacked the Colts last night, 45-7, allegations surfaced that the Patriots cheated to win by… [drumroll]  deflating the footballs.  As a deflated football is easier to handle in the rain and 40-mph wind, the Patriots gave themselves an advantage by deflating the ball.  (The Colts did not reap any benefit from said deflated football, because they never actually managed to hang onto the ball for more than a millisecond.)  The allegations came because the referees were seen weighing the football.  Thus was born this bit of awesomeness:

Patriots

Now that we have the lowbrow humour out of the way, let’s examine this whole premise of weighing a football to determine its internal pressure.

A football holds approximately 4.237 L of air and that air has a mass of approximately 10 grams.  The football itself weights approximately 400 grams.  The football is inflated to a pressure of between 12.5 and 13.5 psi. The referees inspect about three dozen footballs before the game to determine if they meet regulations.  What the #DeflateGate supporters allege, essentially, is that the footballs were underinflated because instead of having a mass of approximately 410 grams, plus/minus 5 grams, the football had a mass of, perhaps, 408 grams.

(I’ll let that one sink in.)

You don’t measure inflation by weight, especially not when that something is wet and has been bouncing around in the mud.  You measure inflation of a football the same way you measure the air pressure in your tires: with one of those nifty gauges that tells you the pressure.

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Filed under Nerdiness, Science & Engineering

If it makes you feel better, gents, they don’t like us, either

“They” are radical feminists; “us” are female nerds.  Glenn Reynolds linked to an interesting piece about how lefty feminists treat nerd men.  (Short version: very badly.  Somewhat longer version: the women like reminding the men that they were dorks in high school and do their best to forever keep reminding those nerdy men that they aren’t good enough.)

Thing is, these women don’t like us, either.  I remember putting in eighty or hundred-hour weeks studying chemical engineering.  Far from making me a darling of the “feminist” Left, they screamed about how “unfair” it was that I was going to make more money than, say, a social worker or a writer. (It has not gone unnoticed that their tax policies hurt professional women in the private sector.)  Life didn’t get better as I got older; all I ever heard from “feminists” was that being a lady engineer wasn’t “feminist,” didn’t make me a “feminist,” or didn’t make me understand the plight of women in STEM.  Also in the “#@&$Q# I can’t make up” category is a games journalist who condescendingly implied that I can’t do math and that my space elevator work isn’t real engineering. They tell me that I’m “anti-science” because I don’t ignore every embryology textbook out there that explains why human life begins at conception.

This isn’t just me. All of two days ago, a woman at a NYE party described feminists as “for the most part, c-nts” who try to cut other women down.

I don’t know what it is – perhaps jealousy, perhaps the fact that a woman’s success undermines the ‘narrative’ of women as victims – but “feminists” aren’t that much kinder to nerdy women than they are to nerdy men. Sure, they bleat about “women in STEM!!!,” but it mostly seems like they want men to stop doing STEM, not to have more women kick butt in the field.

That’s not feminism; that’s just pathetic.

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Filed under Feminism, Science & Engineering

Where have all the student-athletes gone?

In the back of Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue,” there’s a picture of her cross-country team and the caption of “The whole team was on the honor roll.”  My track coach was thrilled to announce one year that the varsity team had a 3.7 average GPA.

There is a long tradition of scholar-athletes: people who study hard and also apply themselves to athletics in pursuit of being a well-rounded person, strong in body and mind. The skills that make for a good student make for a good athlete, too.  My siblings, who both made the varsity basketball team as freshmen, went outside every single day to shoot hoops; it wasn’t enough for them to be at practice. I did extra math homework if there was a concept I wasn’t getting perfectly, read books several times (not just the assigned one time), and turned in papers that didn’t just scrape by the minimum word count.

So when I read about the UNC athletics scandal, it hurts. Instead of teaching these kids to apply the same dedication to their studies as they apply on the football field, administrators gave them grades for forged work or no work at all – in the best interests of the students, of course.

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Filed under Academia