Mueller Was Upset With Barr’s Misrepresentation of Report | The Mary Sue

From the article:

Mueller’s letter to the Justice Department said that Barr’s brief summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.” Because of that, he wrote, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Mueller urged the department to release his original introductions and executive summaries of his report and to do so immediately. Doing so, he wrote, would “alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen.” That wording is cordial and professional but the meaning is clear: Barr effed up (on purpose) and Mueller is pissed.

Source: Mueller Was Upset With Barr’s Misrepresentation of Report | The Mary Sue

This really comes as no surprise. That Barr would fuck with the report to fit his agenda. This has been all this administration has done since Trump got into office, and to add insult to injury it’s been done so poorly we can all see it.

As an aside, my wife had her facial feminization surgery, and it was a resounding success. Thank you for the support and well wishing, and putting up with some stale news for a week or so.


How the Rich Really Play, “Who Wants To Be An Ivy Leaguer?” — ProPublica

From the article:

A ProPublica editor who investigated how the rich buy their children’s way into elite colleges reflects on the latest scandal—and remembers when affluent readers mistook his expose for a “how-to” guide.

Source: How the Rich Really Play, “Who Wants To Be An Ivy Leaguer?” — ProPublica

Last week my feeds blew up with this. I was letting is simmer, but to give you an idea:

I remember when I first heard of that rich folks can get into college as a “legacy admission.” I was playing in a Call of Cthulhu table top game, and one of the players wanted to play a debutante that was in college as a legacy admission. I had never heard of this, nor had anyone else. We had to stop and look it up.

It turns out, if you are rich enough, and have familial relationship to alumni, the college can just let you in. This is not something that happens in other countries. This is something that happens in elite universities in the US.

These students have a substantially lower GPS and SAT scores, but they get in anyways. According to the linked wiki, being a legacy ups your chances to get into an elite college by 19.7%. This is from a 2005 study.

I was completely fucking outraged then, because I had been under the illusion that the US educational system was a meritocracy. That is was the one place where your hard work could pay off, and you could get ahead. As it turns out, that’s not really true. Here’s a great article about that illusion: Higher Education and the Illusion of Meritocracy

Our educational system is anything but a meritocracy based on your intelligence and educational progress and hard work. The only thing this scandal has brought to light, is that these rich and/or famous folks skipped the legacy system and all the other pay for play legal options with college admissions, and went to blatant outright cheating in a pay for play kind of deal.

I agree with the Meritocracy article that there is an every day admissions process that literally cuts out those students from poor and middle class backgrounds in favor of higher income students? Even without this giant cheating scandal, this is happening in our colleges every day.

From the article: 

In short, the real corruption of elite-college admissions is more mundane than this scandal suggests, though far more deleterious to America’s meritocratic ideals. To view this scandal as the problem is to unintentionally reinforce the actual problem: In a truly meritocratic society, higher education should correct inequity; instead, elite higher education exacerbates inequity.

The irony is that this scandal can look like an argument for restoring a meritocratic system that wealthy people are trying to subvert through extreme measures. That’s simply not the case. As Doron Taussig, an assistant professor of journalism at Ursinus College who is working on a book about perceptions of meritocracy, told me: “Flaws in meritocracy are defined as problems because they are violations of meritocracy,” but rarely are they taken as evidence that meritocracy is a bad or incoherent idea.

In other words, this isn’t a system wealthy people have to subvert; it’s a system set up for them to participate in without guile or palm-greasing. If falsified ACT scores and Photoshopped water-polo pictures were what corruption looked like, we could solve it. But the problem isn’t the criminal subversion of meritocracy, it’s the mundane ways in which the illusion of meritocracy perpetuates itself and gets us to buy in.

This doesn’t even cover the other college issues. Cheating is a common thing. When I got my accounting degree I was astounded by the number of business/accounting majors that just outright cheated. They bought prefab tests online with the answers, used electronic translators to look up answers on google, or just read the damn book on them, or just literally asked.

I had a guy in my class look over at my carefully written notes, and literally ask me in the middle of a test if he could borrow them, reach over and take them, and then use them to get an A whereas he had gotten a D last test. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING TEST. I just turned my stuff in, and packed up, but damn.

When I went to school for nursing, this would have been unheard of, and grounds for expulsion. Yet, when I went to a business college, literally half the students were engaging on some form of cheating. I was offered tests online. I saw tests that students had bought being brought into testing so they could match up answers. (The gal that did this still got a C, I mean how?!)

Cheating in college is a lot bigger than the latest admissions scandal

If we want our institutions of learning to have meaning, all this has to change.

Charges: Man harassed, assaulted lesbian couple at Seahawks game | KOMO

From the article:

SEATTLE – King County prosecutors have accused a 34-year-old Tacoma man of harassing a lesbian couple for their sexual orientation at a Seahawks game last month, groping one of the women and punching the other in the face. Jay Dee Harp III was charged last week with second-degree assault and malicious harassment, Washington’s hate crime statute. He bailed out of jail the day after his arrest, but a King County Superior Court judge increased his bail and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Source: Charges: Man harassed, assaulted lesbian couple at Seahawks game | KOMO

It’s like 99% of people or more are decent normal human beings if you are in the LGBTQ bubble, but then there’s this less than 1% who are fucking douchebags. The problem is you don’t know if they are just going to mutter about you being a “dyke” or a “fag” or a “tranny” or if they are going to act on their need to bully others and attack.

This guy, Jay Dee Harp III, attacked two women . by getting drunk and making malicious anti-gay statements, before yanking at their clothing and grabbing one women’s breast and throwing his beer in her face.

Luckily, this happened in Seattle where other fans took the guy down, but he got back up and punched one fo the women in the face casing damage to her teeth.

At least the police were on the side of justice. It might have helped that the dude punched an officer, too.

This is the fear I live with. My wife is entering a very trans-obvious phase of her transition, and that 1% is chock full of shit bags. Will they deny her employment? Will they say something shitty to her in an elevator? Both of those have already happened. Will she win the bigot Lotto and have one of these guys attack? You just have no idea.

These shitbags look like normal folks until they act out.

It’s nice to see Jay Dee Harp III is getting charged. I wish he never crossed paths with those women, because even if the crowd and the police were on the right side of history on this, they were still sexually assaulted and need dental work.

Radical Political Views Correlates with Poor Metacognition | NeuroLogica Blog

From the article:

The study involves individuals with radical political beliefs, as measured by a standard questionnaire. It has already been established that those with more extreme beliefs espouse greater confidence in their knowledge and beliefs. However, it is not clear how much this is due to an overconfidence bias vs a failure of metacognition. In other words – do people who are overconfident about their political beliefs like to portray themselves to others as being confident, or do they simply lack insight into the correctness of their own beliefs (a metacognitive failure). The current study tests the latter factor.

Source: Radical Political Views Correlates with Poor Metacognition | NeuroLogica Blog

This is only one study, but it’s an interesting one. It basically says those with radical political believes don’t really identify when they are wrong. They stubbornly adhere to ideas when they are clearly in error. This, according to the study, is probably a metacognitive failure for these people.

I, like the author of the article, am more inclined this failure of metacognition is an outcome of adopting radical ideology, and the necessary mental hoops needed to keep it, but that those with a tendency towards metacognition failure are the ones that do it most.

Simply put, this is why your racist conspiracy theory Uncle at the Christmas table will argue the sky is not blue at every turn, no matter the evidence to the contrary.

Science Based Medicine. The End of my Readership.

I decided to stop reading Science Based Medicine today. I made the suggestion that while they are looking for contributors that they also look for someone with some expertise in LBGTQ issues due to the tragic TERF-y posts that had recently been posted by Dr. Harriett Hall.

I wrote about Dr. Hall’s article where she thought children were being forced to transition, based on a religious groups article out of Australia.

I also wrote about how she decided when a poorly performed study that was created to bolster the ideology of the studies authors by the university they worked at was not “Squelching Controversial Evidence.”

People with “moderator” tags came in swinging at the request for contributors or advisors with LBGTQ knowledge, and that was allowed.

I’ve already seen the skeptic movement eat its own in regards to women being involved. It was a huge hairy deal in the athiest/skeptic groups where old guard neckbeards acted like outraged children when Rebecca Watson made the innocent comment that stalking a woman into an elevator late at night to pressure her into going to your hotel room is not behavior any woman wants.

A lot of bad science and logic was used to attack women in the skeptic movement. (Obvious disclosure, I used to write for the Skepchick’s sister site, Queereka for a short period, and Skepchick was heavily attacked by these giant man babies.)

I’m not particularly interested in a bunch of uneducated twats hiding behind bad science and sources to promote their own anti-transgender bigotry.

I feel the same way when I discovered the author of the webcomic Sinfest, is a TERF in the truest sense of the word, opening up a second forum for “radical feminism” and watching a transgender woman try to join in and get crucified and vilified for trying.

Mostly, I felt like Science Based Medicine were the good guys. I have read them since they started, and loved them. I felt they were fighting a good righteous fight to put out good science. I linked to their article on testosterone usage for middle aged men a lot, as it helped explain how testosterone is probably not going to be the fountain of youth middle-aged men think it is. I really looked up to them.

To see those two articles go by without a peep, a rebuttal, or anything was hard. In an ideal world, Dr. Hall would have taken that bounty of links and information and offers of help, and used them. Instead she doubled down.

Now I have to watch a moderator and several commenters pull up the TERF rhetoric that there is some sort of organized transgender front that you can’t dissent on, or we will what? Get them? Make a polite complaint asking them to educate themselves? Stop reading them in frustration?

Yeah, apparently my decision to stop reading a blog that is spreading misinformation about transgender people was a problem to the moderator. I guess us pesky transgender folks should just ignore the outright bad information, and just keep paying patreon for more?

If they can’t get that information right, then I can’t trust them on any topic to get right. At least I still have the Skeptics Guide to the Universe Podcast, as Steven Novella has written some well reasoned posts on gender, sex, and sexuality.

The thing is, there are a lot of topics about being transgender that do need discussion, and are weird grey areas because there are so few of us. That doesn’t include Science Based Medicine’s recent blogs by Dr. Hall and her fear mongering garbage.

More studies are in order, but the consensus on medical care for transgender adults and teens is very established, despite the outraged screams about it.

I just can’t recommend Science Based Medicine as a good source of information because if they borked it so badly on transgender people, who knows what else they screwed up, that I just don’t have the expertise to notice?

Deadname: What is deadnaming and who is guilty of it? – PinkNews · PinkNews

From the article:

People deadname all the time and are often oblivious to its harm. We explore the definition of deadnaming, who’s been guilty of it and how to avoid it.

Source: Deadname: What is deadnaming and who is guilty of it? – PinkNews · PinkNews

A deadname is the name a transgender person had before they changed it to suit their actual gender. This is an issue that can be done out of ignorance, reflex, or spite. We can fix the first two, and tell the folks doing the last one of fuck off.

The reason this is a touchy issue, is that there are so many folks that willfully do it to us out of spite. They are making a point. 

It’s a point that we get made to us so often, it’s frustrating. Like yeah, we get it. You have some weird perverse obsession on how we present our gender. Can we move on now?

It’s sometimes hard to determine if folks are doing it out of ignorance, or willfully being spiteful shits about our names.

There are so many damn folks that are also ignorant. Yet, that’s a respect issue. If I tell someone my name, and they refuse to use it, that’s a pretty big show of disrespect. I usually rename those folks to something less than flattering until they knock it off. Like I said, it’s really hard to tell if they are just uneducated or doing it on purpose at that point.

Then there are the folks that knew you, and reflexively get the name wrong. I have a little more empathy for this one. However, I’d like to point out that I used to run a lap with over a hundred people on the roll sheets, and those folks took my name change in stride, and switched over in a weekend. No issues. This is just to say that it is humanly possible to stop calling someone the wrong name. I have a huge number of folks in my life that were able to do it. Maybe they were better at it because they play different characters and cold do the mental switch? Maybe they were just more willing to accept a name change? For whatever reason, it was smooth as well in that group.

The only exception was Douche. Douche was a dick. He refused to call me by my new name so I literally bounced spoons off of his head, and encouraged others to do so as well. I don’t think he ever budged on his opinion that legally changing my name was something he refused to accept. It was definitely an action done as a way to be disrespectful. He did this despite being in a room of literally dozens of folks yelling at him to stop it. Bigots gotta bigot.

I’m including this article on dead names because I think it’s a good one. It is literally the least people can do to support a transgender people. Such a small gesture like using the correct name packs so much love and support into it.

Trans film critics blast Netflix Oscar contender ‘Girl’ as ‘dangerous’ · PinkNews

From the article:

Trans film critics have widely condemned the Netflix-distributed film Girl—a contender at next year’s Oscars—as “dangerous” and “sickening.”

Source: Trans film critics blast Netflix Oscar contender ‘Girl’ as ‘dangerous’ · PinkNews

This is a spoiler. Big spoiler coming.

The film closes with the 15 year old girl in question cutting her penis off with scissors in a gore spattered scene. What the ever loving fuck?!

I feel like this is horrific, and so fucking unnecessary.

The main transgender character, Lara, is played by a cisgender boy. They show her getting on hormone therapy, and then literally cutting her dick off with scissors.

Girl is directed by Lukas Dhont, a cis man. It’s co-written by Dhont and Angelo Tigssens, also cis men. However it was inspired by Nora Monsecour, a ballerina that inspired the work. She has spoken out in response to the backlash. 

Even if we go past the horrible and insensitive portrayal. The cis boy playing a transgender girl. The fact that this is a dangerously inappropriate portrayal that plays into bigoted views of transgender women. I can also come up with the fact that it’s boring, unimaginative, and been done to death already.

In the early 80s, I got a hold of a bunch of small press indy comics. One of them told a story of a group of gutter punks squatting in an empty home. One of the characters was a transgender girl, without any mention of the word trans anything. Her story culminated in her cutting her penis off with scissors.

Yet, this badly done comic showcased this as a problem of having a lack of access to medical care, and the sheer bullshit trans folks have to go through. I suspect the author knew someone that was trans.

I have seen this story played out again and again and again. It’s not a new idea. It’s not a great idea. It’s not a helpful idea. Yet, here were are watching people make movies with that bizarre cultural obsession on who has the penis.

I suppose it would be shocking to find out that some transgender women don’t care to remove their genitals. They have decided for them, to keep it, and are happy. Same for transgender men.

This single minded cultural obsession on if transgender people have penises is stupid, and results in movies like Girls.

The Horrifying Story Of A Sex Slave Orangutan | IFLScience

From the Article:

The story of Pony has been floating around the Internet for some time. Although it seems wrapped up in urban legend or has perhaps been treated with skepticism through sheer disbelief, numerous sources have told the deeply dark and distressing story of Pony.

She was used as a sex slave in the village of Kareng Pangi, Central Kalimantan in the depths of Indonesian Borneo. Men visiting the brothel would have a choice to pay for sex with a woman or Pony.

She was rescued in early 2003, when she was around six or seven years old. They found her chained to the wall, with all her hair shaved off and her body covered in mosquito bites and sores.

Numerous attempts to rescue Pony by animal rights groups and local police were thwarted by the villagers who saw Pony as a kind of “good luck charm.” VICE reported that eventually the village was stormed by 35 policemen armed with AK-47s, along with the Central Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority.

Source: The Horrifying Story Of A Sex Slave Orangutan | IFLScience

This is an outrageous story of animal abuse, but it’s a little outside my normal posting wheelhouse.

Not really when you consider, conservative politicians have a history of attacking gay men, and those with HIV or AIDS with the story of it being all gay men’s fault that AIDS is even a thing because some horny gay duded had sex with a primate and then another man.

This myth comes up again and again and again. I mean, there are a lot of myths about the disease, but this one is used to attack the gay community.

The real story is chimps are hunted for foot in Africa, in some areas. The current theory is that blood contact with the animal that was slaughtered for food is probably how the first known instance of HIV in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1959 ended up with it.

Yet, this shit about gay men fucking monkeys has been going around since the HIV crisis when I was a kid.

Turns out the only folks fucking primates in some sort of twisted beastiality kink were dudes going to a brothel for women. They loved having an orangutang to fuck so much it took over 30 armed police to put an end to it, because the locals kept fighting with machetes to keep Pony from being taken.

Hear that straight dudes? Don[‘t fuck monkeys.

Apparently they released Pony after a long road to rehab, and she is doing well with other orangutang. She escaped the never ending rape fest that was Horney villager dudes.

How “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Failed Prudence Night | Teen Vogue

From the article in response to the hanging of Prudence during the Harrowing scene:

The show did not issue a trigger warning for an image of a lynched Black woman in 2018; it comes on suddenly and in close-up view. To do so without warning was tone-deaf: It feels rare to go a day without seeing some news story about brutality against Black people. Showing it on a fictional TV show as one storyline of many felt like needless insult to injury, and it’s a telling marker of whose trauma is considered legitimate, and under what circumstances. The historical evils of lynching is not as distant a memory. Where was the consideration that such an image could be considered triggering, especially from a network that ostensibly knows better by now? (Teen Vogue has reached out to Netflix for comment.)

Source: How “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Failed Prudence Night | Teen Vogue

My read on the character of Prudence was different. I saw her, even as an orphan, as having a higher status to Sabrina because she was raised in the witchy world as a full blooded witch, and had witchy friends, and was the popular girl at the high end of the social scale. She also discovers her father, who is a calculating bastard, but she does find some closure on who she is.

The show framed her as being much more versed in, and invested in, the world, and as a leader in her witchy school. They also gave her a more three dimensional back story and set of motivations than your usual teenage bully archetype in shows about schools.

I actually hope we see Prudence and Sabrina work out their differences more, and become allies with what is happening.

This is where my privilege as a white person just fucked me on this issue. The image of a black woman being hung from a tree blew by me because three white women had already been hung as witches, and the racial connotations in a series where they were hanging witches did not occur to me.

I mean, I know there is a history of lynching of black Americans, but as a white guy, I can put that down and watch a Netflix show and walk away from that knowledge. It’s not something that will ever effect me, and as a human being, it makes it easy to just not see things.

So I missed this. I am glad I read the Teen Vogue article because I needed to be made aware of this, and obviously so did the folks that made Sabrina.

What do you do when you are a white guy who misses something like this? You put that nugget of info in your head. You will miss things that have to do with race, so it’s vitally important to keep reading and listening to people of color on issues you will be blind to. Then you try to do better next time. . . and the next time. . . and the next time, because this will keep happening because these are not your lived experiences. The best you can do is to keep trying, and keep listening.


The Caitlyn Jenner Thing


This is more of a blog post than a news post.

Historically Caitlyn Jenner has some issues in regards to the transgender community. She’s a rich gal, who lives in a social bubble created by money. She has always been a conservative, and naively thought her transition would just be a blip on the radar, nothing more for other conservatives.

She’s never lived like the rest of us transgender folks, or had to do things like consider staying in a shitty job to make enough money to buy her wife FFS surgery. She’s never had to put off top surgery for years because she had to wait for funding, like I did.

This means she can also insulate herself with people that will call her by her feminine pronouns and pay for acceptance in a way that none of the rest of us can.

So with that in mind, I do think she had no fucking clue that trans issues were such a big deal. For her, they never were once she had the money and safety to come out and transition. I’m not saying it’s easy, even then with the stigma we all face, but she can mitigate a lot of it by being able to throw cash at it.

I really think she is trying in the best way she knows how, but the only thing that makes us all transgender, is that we are all transgender. There is no training guide, no political test to determine if you are woke enough to join the ranks. She’s a conservative gal, who is trans. Period. This means she is probably not going to change that.

However, like a lot of conservatives, she does come around on issues that effect her personally. She is having a crash course in transgender stigma and the politics that are stacked up against us.

I think she’s learning and changing, and wants to help. She is never going to join the blue side of American politics, but I am more than happy to have a transgender money’d ally that is on the red side.

I just can’t get behind the kind of hate she engenders in the trans community. This might be because I am old, and remember a time when we all had different political views and it was okay. Nowadays it’s so polarized that we risk eviscerating our own just because they don’t fall into political line.

The way I see it, she tried to work with “her side” and got used as a trans puppet politically when it was convenient for them. That was naive on her part, but not a crime. Now she’s mad and working actively to circumvent the harm from this administration, and I am fine with that. She has a voice, and can speak to the politicians directly in a way we can’t.

She’s also been doing a lot of charity work lately. She is under no obligation to give her money to any charity at all, yet she has been doing that to help our community. I’m not upset about that, we need it. Trans related charities are always underfunded.

I guess I’m just saying, whether we like it or not, she is a part of our community. She is a human being just like we are, and is learning and changing in the face of the incredible political vitriol we are currently facing.

I think we can be critical of her choices, without all the ridiculous over the top hatred she faces.

I think the one flaw “my side” of the political divide faces is that we don’t give people room to grow and change. Human beings are imperfect, and sometimes it take time to come around on a viewpoint. That’s just the way we are built.

We need to create some room so that people can change, and grow.

ETA: Here’s another article regarding her charity, and generally discusses the thorny issue of Caitlyn’s politics.