Jurassic Park = Awesome
June 9th, 2015

Two things:

(1) I have a piece over at Acculturated about the greatness of Jurassic Park. The nub of the argument is that the dinosaurs are actually the good guys.

(1.a) I kid. It’s the Enlightenment that’s the bad guy.

(2) This piece is really just a pile on to Ari Schulman’s great New Atlantis piece of a few years back.

(3) You remember the first draft of the the Jurassic World script had dinosaur commandos in it, right? Because that’s clearly what’s going on in the trailer with Starlord and his raptor-like dino buddies.


Schism Watch
June 8th, 2015

The Francis Effect gets better every week! Here’s Michael Brendan Dougherty with the latest roundup:

Recently Vatican officials held a conference on climate change. The invited speakers included economist Jeffrey Sachs and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The former has been a noted opponent of the church on a number of issues, and even promotes abortion as a “low-risk” intervention to reduce fertility, as part of an effort to reduce the global population. When Catholic and pro-life journalists sent questions to Archbishop Sánchez Sorondo, one of the conference’s organizers, he responded with a breathtaking glibness that reads like a mid-2000s contribution to DailyKos.

When asked simple questions by pro-lifers about the wisdom of the church offering those men a platform, Sorondo said, “The Tea Party and all those whose income derives from oil have criticized us.” He castigated the questioner by saying that Sachs and Moon “don’t even mention abortion or population control. They speak of access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.” What does this Vatican official think is meant by “reproductive rights”?

But Sorondo’s nasty, conspiratorial response was outdone by Margaret Archer, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Her response to pro-lifers accused the questioner of being a defective Catholic who must only be concerned with human dignity between conception and birth, a clichéd rhetorical attack that should be beneath a woman of her station, let alone a representative of the Vatican. She also accused the critics of being in the pocket of energy industry lobbyists. Does no one else find this unseemly? Her high-handedness and open partisanship were astounding: “I am appointed by the pope and responsible directly to him. I’m afraid that leaves you and your cohort out in the cold.”

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About Serena
June 8th, 2015

If you wanted to have an argument about the greatest women’s player of all time, there are really only three names: Margaret Court, Steffi Graf, and Serena Williams.

But is Serena were to win the Grand Slam this year, would that end the argument? I don’t think so, as of right now, but I’m willing to be convinced.


Monty Python is *really* problematic on Trans issues
June 8th, 2015

I know everyone like to think of Monty Python as the beau ideal of sophisticated humor, but I’d totally forgotten about this bit from Life of Brian, which presages the current moment of transphobia:

As Santino would say: Can you even? I hope apologies are forth coming. This isn’t humor. It’s hate.


The Hottest Take on Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner
June 3rd, 2015

Comes from . . . Hot Air?

Empowerment through adversity proved a winning ticket here; and while I can’t pretend to understand what she went through, I do believe God gives you only what you can handle. That common ground, to me – and probably many other conservatives – is more important than the clothes (or lack thereof) someone has on their back.

With the momentum from this announcement and affiliation, Catilyn inadvertently gave the Republican Party something it desperately needs more of – “street cred,” simply put, an understanding sense of humanity.

If the party overall was to warm up to these “differences” and use them as a broader tool to crush problems (not people) that really matter – like insurmountable national and student debt, ever-increasing national security threats and domestic encroachments on Constitutional liberties – Democrats would stand no chance.

This is Jezebel-level analysis. Ugh.


Transgender News Tip
June 2nd, 2015

Watch the Wikipedia page for the 400 meter sprint over the coming days. The page was recently edited to add the following line about the world record time for women:

The current women’s world record is held by Marita Koch, with a time of 47.60 seconds. However Caitlyn Jenner is the fastest woman’s performer of all time, running a time of 47.51 in 1976 while competing under the name Bruce Jenner.

After this line was added, the page went through a flurry of revisions before the line was stricken and moved over to the Talk section, where the following comment now resides:

Caitlyn Jenner ran a 47.51 at the 1976 Olympics, a best of all time for women in the event. At the time, she went by the name Bruce. I feel it would be extremely transphobic to erase her identity and belittle her accomplishments by failing to mention this time. Although the IAAF has not, and likely will not, ratify Caitlyn’s time as a world record, it deserves mention here as an all-time woman’s best. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:40, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

This is an obvious point of conflict. If Bruce Jenner was always a woman, even when he was a man, then wasn’t he competing in the wrong category at the Olympics? If not, why not? Should he be allowed to keep his medals? If so, why?

Some enterprising reporter ought to call up Glenn Kessler and some of the other “fact checkers” and ask them if it is true that Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is–as a factual matter–a woman and, if she is, ask them to fact-check the date on which she became a woman.

Their answers would be deeply revealing.


Paul Ehrlich in the NYT
June 2nd, 2015

Did you see that piece about Paul Ehrlich in the New York Times and did your head explode?

Me too.


Vanity Fair and Bruce Jenner
June 1st, 2015

In addition to being the most photoshopped cover in Vanity Fair history, the new story on Bruce Caitlyn Jenner might also be the most ironic.

Because the story is written by Buzz Bissinger. Which makes perfect sense.

You can’t make this up:

I own eighty-one leather jackets, seventy-five pairs of boots, forty-one pairs of leather pants, thirty-two pairs of haute couture jeans, ten evening jackets, and 115 pairs of leather gloves. Those who conclude from this that I have a leather fetish, an extreme leather fetish, get a grand prize of zero. And those who are familiar with my choices will sign affidavits attesting to the fact that I wear leather every day. The self-expression feels glorious, an indispensable part of me. As a stranger said after admiring my look in a Gucci burgundy jacquard velvet jacket and a Burberry black patent leather trench, “You don’t give a fuck.”

I don’t. I finally don’t.

Some of the clothing is men’s. Some is women’s. I make no distinction. Men’s fashion is catching up, with high-end retailers such as Gucci and Burberry and Versace finally honoring us. But women’s fashion is still infinitely more interesting and has an unfair monopoly on feeling sexy, and if the clothing you wear makes you feel the way you want to feel, liberated and alive, then fucking wear it. The opposite, to repress yourself as I did for the first fifty-five years of my life, is the worst price of all to pay. The United States is a country that has raged against enlightenment since 1776; puritanism, the guiding lantern, has cast its withering judgment on anything outside the narrow societal mainstream. Think it’s easy to be different in America? Try something as benign as wearing stretch leather leggings or knee-high boots if you are a man.