Pharyngula

Ferocious smart people

I like ‘em. There are a few you absolutely must read today.

Comments

  1. #1 Caledonian
    December 5, 2006

    Huh. I wonder who else has used the “I don’t want to catch flies, I want to kill them” meme besides myself.

    Whoever it is, they should be caught and killed immediately, as they’re stealing all my best material.

  2. #3 Caledonian
    December 5, 2006

    Before I forget: someone at Digby’s asked why Americans aren’t doing anything about the atrocities committed by our government, collectively speaking.

    It’s because we’ve been conditioned to accept that the only responsible course of action is to act within the system; that violence of any kind is wrong; that saying or doing ‘extreme’ things is wrong; that offending’s someone’s sense of propriety or sense of meaning is abhorrent; that being well-behaved is everything; that we’re the greatest, most wonderful people in the world; that all it takes to fulfill our political responsibilities is to show up and choose options on a ballot, and that if we do that, the system will magically function without our having to think; that government is “fire-and-forget” and will take care of things without our having to think about them.

    There will never, ever, be a revolution here.

  3. #4 TheBowerbird
    December 5, 2006

    I must say it, that Zuska rant is a bit lame. Who knows the facts of that case. There have been circumstances where so-called sexual advances were nothing more than wild fantasies of the women involved. While sexual harassment is deplorable, if the person involved looked or acted like Zuska, who knows if it really happened… At any rate, the whole thing comes off as trite and only marginally cleverly written by a woman who virtually exudes sexual frustration and who is angry about having never been reproductively fit. Ahahaha reality is cruel sometimes!

  4. #5 Anonymous
    December 5, 2006

    Why does even an arch-materialist like Caledonian see the lack of action as a largely psychological problem? The psychological barriers are there, certainly, but irrelevant. Do you think the people of Iraq have failed to end the occupation not because they believe all violence is wrong, that the system is always right, that Americans are the greatest, most wonderful, etc.? No, they fail because the occupation army wields greater force. No civilian rabble can defeat the military, and to say it’s merely because of their attitude is Chopra-esque power of positive thinking nonsense.

  5. #6 Ken C.
    December 5, 2006

    As one of the readers that Zuska may be responding to (and I’m “usually male”), my complaints were not about “stridence”, or anger, or politeness, or the usual “catching more flies with honey”, but about simple respect for the truth, and about not imputing bad motives to people upfront.

    An article by a college freshman said bad things about a study whose conclusions Zuska supports; the college freshman made several specific factual points about the study. Multiple people at multiple blogs discovered many things about the freshman clairvoyantly, about her self-loathing, ignorance, bad attitudes, and general no-damn-goodness. However, as I pointed out, no one actually bothered to dispute her factual claims. Somehow, my suggestion that the fact-checking precede the scorn-heaping was provoking to Zuska. To her credit, at this point in response to my “whining” she actually addressed (successfully) the factual points in the freshman’s article.

    These and other general comments of mine provoked her to clairvoyantly discover various bad things about me, which she let me know without actually responding substantively. Maybe this was satisfying for her, but ultimately it’s generally useless and boring. I like to have discussions that are something besides vigorous agreement, but it seems to be impossible to disagree with some people without being put immediately into the big box with all the Bad Guys. If that’s an excessive concern with “politeness”, then call me Miss Manners.

  6. #7 NJ
    December 5, 2006

    If you thought that was bad, Ken, check out the posts and comments on her response(s) to Chad Orzel and Rob Knop:

    http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2006/09/post_3.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2006/09/this_is_the_patriarchy_when_ta.php

    Even granting some horrific experiences in her past, it’s clear that there is no measured response to anything; it’s just grab the suitcase with the launch codes and open up the silo doors.

  7. #8 jackd
    December 5, 2006

    Shorter TheBowerbird:
    I feel threatened by strong women like Zuska.

  8. #9 truth machine
    December 5, 2006

    TheBowerBird must really be a woman angry at men, who is parodying a male chauvinist — I mean, no one can be that transparently piggish and not realize that they are transparently piggish, can they?

  9. #10 truth machine
    December 5, 2006

    If you thought that was bad, Ken, check out the posts and comments on her response(s) to Chad Orzel and Rob Knop:

    Do you actually have a counterargument to what she wrote?

    Even granting some horrific experiences in her past, it’s clear that there is no measured response to anything; it’s just grab the suitcase with the launch codes and open up the silo doors.

    No, I thought not — just ad hom hyperbole.

  10. #11 MNObserver
    December 5, 2006

    Speaking of the speaking Zuska, I came across this description of what has happened to Zuska over the last months: http://radio.weblogs.com/0151290/2006/11/04.html

    I don’t often read Zuska, but I suspect that NJ and TheBowerbird might be related – if only in spirit – to some of the crtiiters who have decided to browbeat her.

    Ken C. simply comes off as a stalker.

  11. #12 Ken C.
    December 5, 2006

    “Ken C. simply comes off as a stalker.”

    What the hell kind of accusation is this? Among other things, my comments were on Janet Stemwedel’s blog, and didn’t address Zuska specifically, until she addressed me, in those comments and on her own blog, on which I’ve never commented.

  12. #13 TheBowerbir
    December 5, 2006

    Actually I don’t feel threatened by Zuska, instead I see her as a boring, untalented hack of a blogger (at least the entries on her main page come off that way), to whom all men are evil. The pendulum of sex discrimination swings both ways, you know? While the world always needs more feminists, I’ll take the ladies over at Pandagon or Feministing anyday.

  13. #14 Zuska
    December 5, 2006

    Hey PZ, thanks for the nod to my post!

    Misogynist male commenters, you make me giggle! Trotting out your same worn tropes.
    1. Hasn’t been laid. 2. Never had kids. 3. Ugly bitch. 4. Man-hater. 5. Must have been traumatized in the past. 6. Her anger is over the top and threatening. 7. But no, her writing is weak and therefore insignificant.

    Which can all be summarized as: Angry women must be SILENCED. Because they are frightening to men.

    Well, it’s all so boring. Same old, same old. Hey, you could save time and space on the comments in the future by just cutting and pasting the 7 points above whenever you want to complain about some woman’s writing that makes you feel threatened and scared.

  14. #15 Ken C.
    December 5, 2006

    QED

  15. #16 TheBowerbird
    December 5, 2006

    Despite some validity in Zuska’s post, there is a fallacy. People thinking of underlying causes of attitudes and behaviors does not mean that women must be silenced or that angry ones are scary. Those are two completely distant and unrelated attitudes.

  16. #17 TheBowerbird
    December 5, 2006

    I also just wanted to point out that my first post was done in the spirit of an inverse of Zuska. That said, some of my points stand. Perhaps it’s a cynical outlook, but sometimes what I almost jokingly laid out really are that way.

  17. #18 MNObserver
    December 5, 2006

    Really, Ken C., you sound like those people who google their own names and the names of people they don’t like and then track them through the tubes of the internets so you can continue to try to – I don’t know – defend your honor or something. Whatever.

  18. #19 nj
    December 5, 2006

    Do you actually have a counterargument to what she wrote?

    Perhaps, truthmachine, you could read the comment strings for Rob Knop’s patient rebuttals of her behavior?

    No, I thought not — just ad hom hyperbole.

    Perhaps also, you could learn the actual meaning of ad hominem. Try searching Ed Brayton’s blog. Or consider Zuska’s response above: It is pointed out that her behavior is disproportionate to what is actually occurring in a particular circumstance (not what is in her past). She responds how? Labeling Ken and I as frightened and misogynist.

    As Ken notes, QED.

  19. #20 Zuska
    December 5, 2006

    You guys are too funny for words. The imagery of the disappointed but patient and kindly male going “now, now Zuska” is just too cute. Rob patiently rebuts my points. Except I don’t have any points to make, because I am just angry and ranting all out of proportion. I have nothing to say, or everything I say can be rebutted. You are not threatened, but I should not be so angry. You are not frightened, but I should not be so angry. You are not distressed, but I should not be so angry.

    Boys, get over it and get on with your lives. If you don’t like reading what angry women have to say about injustice, discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse that takes place in science and engineering, then spare yourselves some agony and don’t read Thus Spake Zuska.

    But if you insist on torturing yourselves by reading what angry women have to say, even though you quite clearly don’t have the balls to listen to it, you’d think you’d at least be smart enough to realize that you are wasting your breath exhorting angry women to please shut up and be more polite.

    Bowerbird: your comments had nothing of the spirit of Zuska. There’s nothing f*cking funny about quid pro quo sexual harassment. Why on earth morons like you ever think that women go around making up charges of sexual harassment is beyond me. Because you see how much good it does for us to bring such charges: she had her career stalled. Had to change advisors, delayed her PhD, hurt her cv, is in danger of having a rep as a troublemaker. He: was not punished, got a job as a department chair at another university. There’s essentially nothing to gain for women who bring charges of sexual harassment. By the time you get to that point you have already lost, even if you “win” the judgement, which as we see in this case doesn’t even always result in sanctions.

    Which is just one more thing that makes me so goddam angry.

    Teresa Nielsen Hayden writes a very angry post and men don’t go there and leave angry, tut-tutting comments about how she ought to be more polite in what she says, use a nicer tone, not be so angry. No one suggest that her anger is due to the fact that she hasn’t gotten laid, or that she’s ugly, or she must have had a traumatic past.

    Why do you suppose that is? Why is her angry tone acceptable for her topic? Why, because she’s not criticizing the patriarchy, that’s why. You can be as angry as you wanna be when you criticize anything but the patriarchy. With the patriarchy – well, now, there you ought to be polite. Speak respectfully. Hah! Did that for years already. It’s anger’s turn now.

  20. #21 Davis
    December 5, 2006

    That said, some of my points stand.

    And what points are those? The only legitimate point you made was your rather lame question “who knows the facts of the case?”, which is weak in the face of the fact that the professor in question was determined to be guilty of harassment by the university. At that point the evidence is in favor of the accuser’s side, unless you have information to suggest otherwise.

    Your only other “points” are your statements that Zuska’s rant is “lame,” that she “exudes sexual frustration,” your attacks on her physical appearance, and your irrelevant comment “There have been circumstances where so-called sexual advances were nothing more than wild fantasies of the women involved.”

    So who’s the lame one here?

  21. #22 Koray
    December 5, 2006

    Although I generally enjoy angry blogs, I quit reading Zuska very quickly.

  22. #23 Ken C.
    December 5, 2006

    “Really, Ken C., you sound like those people who google their own names and the names of people they don’t like and then track them through the tubes of the internets so you can continue to try to – I don’t know – defend your honor or something. Whatever.”

    It’s really not very devious or mysterious. Some blog that I read linked to Janet Stemwedel’s blog entry on that college freshman. I read this blog regularly. These things do not make me a stalker. Expressing a desire to discuss feminist issues and have the discussion not involve baseless attacks (such as being accused of being a stalker) is not “defending my honor”.

  23. #24 MNObserver
    December 5, 2006

    Ken, you are waaaay too engaged in a series of conversations the rest of us believe to be wholly irrelevant.

    Hey, PZ, you coming to any DL in the cities in the next few weeks? My offspring wants to meet you. She’ll knit you an octopus or something if you want.

  24. #25 PZ Myers
    December 5, 2006

    I might be there on the 21st — I have to pick up my son around then.

  25. #26 Ken C.
    December 5, 2006

    “Ken, you are waaaay too engaged in a series of conversations the rest of us believe to be wholly irrelevant.”

    So what?

  26. #27 Azkyroth
    December 5, 2006

    No civilian rabble can defeat the military

    Yeah. I mean, it’s certainly never happened before, which explains all the Union Jacks flying around here…

    These and other general comments of mine provoked her to clairvoyantly discover various bad things about me, which she let me know without actually responding substantively. Maybe this was satisfying for her, but ultimately it’s generally useless and boring. I like to have discussions that are something besides vigorous agreement, but it seems to be impossible to disagree with some people without being put immediately into the big box with all the Bad Guys. If that’s an excessive concern with “politeness”, then call me Miss Manners.

    I’ve definitely noticed this as well, along with an absolutely insufferable unwillingness to extend the benefit of the doubt to anyone with a penis. “zzz” and “Alix” and some of the other responders on this thread come immediately to mind. This sort of behavior is what I attempted to address with my repeated requests that people stop “feeding stereotypes” about feminists.

    While the sexist garbage surrounding it made me rather inclined to kick TheBowerBird in the teeth (somewhat less so after reading his explanation of it), the following is, sadly, very true.

    There have been circumstances where so-called sexual advances were nothing more than wild fantasies of the women involved.

    There have been, in particular, instances where innocuous comments to the effect that “your hair looks nice” were construed as sexual harassment, where the woman in question had no legitimate reason to feel as though she would be in danger if she communicated her discomfort with such commentary directly to the person making them, but instead went immediately to her boss. Also, “sexual harassment” is erroneously assumed in most quarters to consist entirely of behavior of males towards females–such that boys in elementary schools often have no recourse when groups of girls follow them around the schoolyard shouting “fag” and similar, wordier epithets. There are a lot of legitimate concerns about the present climate and society’s present perceptions of sexual harassment, and contemptuously lumping anyone who voices them in with people who don’t believe sexual harassment is ever a problem is absolutely unjustifiable.

    Seriously. Have we, possibly excepting TheBowerBird accused you of thinking all sex is rape, or than men should all be castrated? Of course not (here, at least), but that’s the level of straw man you’re attacking us with. Grow up.

    But first, tell me: how is “Either you’re with us [on everything] or you’re with the chauvinists” (and that is the vibe I’m getting here) better, morally or logically, than “Either you’re with us [on everything] or you’re with the terrorists?” Seriously.

    Note: I’m not asking you to be gentle. I’m not asking you to be “polite” which for reasons beyond me you seem to regard as an insult. I’m asking you to be FAIR. I would be very interested to hear whether, and why, you feel this is unreasonable.

    “Ken, you are waaaay too engaged in a series of conversations the rest of us believe to be wholly irrelevant.”

    So what?

    Heh. Reminds me of how what’s her name was imploring me to stop defending myself from the volley of Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coulter level attacks that were leveled at me, and consumed the thread, when I expressed my disapproval of what looked for all the world like Creek Running North’s decision to back down from a bully, because “This thread is not about you.” Ken, I don’t know what you might have said elsewhere, but I’m finding a high degree of resonance with your comments here.

  27. #28 Rev. Raven Daegmorgan
    December 6, 2006

    I found the discussion of unapologetic anger and aggression worrisome and saddening: not so much Zuska’s rant itself, but the numerous commenters decrying any attempt to discuss the issue as simply “men trying to put women in their place”, and much more so, the support and justification for the use of anger and aggression — the embrace of and praise for such — expressed by so many.

    I find it frustrating and disheartening given the numerous modern studies that have shown engaging in anger is actually a failure as a solution, that it is a destructive emotion, that it makes us irrational while creating the illusion that we have remained rational, and that it is addictive and contagious.

    We might note how angry people can be bad for your brain, and note how being angry is also bad for YOUR brain.

    Controlling anger, because aggression is not assertiveness, and assertiveness does not require aggression.

    How expressing anger can be unhealthy and addictive, and various modern myths surrounding the “glory” and “necessity” of anger.

    And, despite the momentary positives it provides, down at the bottom you’ll note how anger makes your brain stop working rationally, critically, thoughtfully…and another mention of how it simply builds on itself to keep you angry.

    I have strong suspicsions I will be labelled as just another misogynist, and possibly be dissected personally for the cheering masses, for daring to question the use of anger — since the anger-use happens to be coming from a woman in this specific case.

    Though I am also hoping human nature overcomes itself.

  28. #29 Ken C.
    December 6, 2006

    “Hey, PZ, you coming to any DL in the cities in the next few weeks? …”

    By the way, I must admit, this was an especially cute touch.

  29. #30 TheBowerbird
    December 6, 2006

    Daegmorgan’s comment was spot-on. While it is good to be passionate about something, spouting venom and anger without any real content is childish. Whining about some guy getting a chair at a university after chidlishly and grotesquely hitting on some female accomplishes nothing in terms of furthering the cause of equality. You want to affect change? Tell your readers to stop playing the victim, and the weaker sex, and espousing the cliche angry woman complex. From some of her posts, Zuska seems to have a hatred of white males, and I find that deplorable. I’m sure many others do, and thus her persistent “problems” with people calling her out on blogs. Coincidentally, my boss is a female engineer, and she’s not only extremely skilled, she’s upwardly mobile, intelligent, and powerful. If she posessed either the angry bitch complex, or the victim ideology, I doubt she’d be where she is today. People shoot themselves in foot all the time, and blame it on the culture at large, or the institution. Never mind that they might lack people skills, intelligence, or real drive.

  30. #31 PZ Myers
    December 6, 2006

    When you see an outrage perpetrated, when a dominant majority abuses its power, don’t get angry. Learn to avert your eyes, bow your head, and say “yessuh”. That’s the way to end inequities.

    It’s worked before, hasn’t it?

  31. #32 Ken C.
    December 6, 2006

    Nothing like a brisk mid-morning strawman-whacking, eh, PZ?

  32. #33 TheBowerbird
    December 6, 2006

    PZ, you definitely have a point : ( Some of my posts on here in the past have been directed at people’s apathy towards things, so perhaps I’m being a bit of a hypocrite. It’s just that the I’m a victim/anger combination seems to be a poor way of approaching things. How about a bugger off you rapscallion, but not all males are like this, this person is an abberation sort of attitude? Some of Zuska’s pursuits are certainly noble, and there *are institutional problems out there, I’ll admit that much. Perhaps my instantaneous dislike of her and her writing is merely a matter of taste.

  33. #34 Azkyroth
    December 6, 2006

    When you see an outrage perpetrated, when a dominant majority abuses its power, don’t get angry. Learn to avert your eyes, bow your head, and say “yessuh”. That’s the way to end inequities.

    It’s worked before, hasn’t it?

    Goddamnit. PZ, I am sorry to say this is the first thing you have ever said that struck me as genuinely stupid. Did you even READ my, or Rev. Raven’s, comments?!

  34. #35 Azkyroth
    December 6, 2006

    I suppose I should have expanded on that before posting it. Fine.

    NO ONE here is saying that people should not oppose outrages. NO ONE here is saying that women should not object to members of a dominant majority abusing its power. NO ONE is saying that women should avert their eyes, bow their heads, or say “yessuh.” This is as flagrant and infantile a strawman as that “evolution is like a tornado in a junkyard” line.

    What I AM saying, and what I am hearing from others, is that it is unreasonable and unwise to allow oneself to be so consumed by anger that, whenever a person who agrees with your general conclusion voices disagreement with some aspect of your approach to the problem or even a specific instance of it, you immediately begin treating them as a card-carrying member of The Enemy. You may not agree with this, and that’s fine, but I do ask that you at least engage the argument, rather than attacking strawmen. I’ve come to expect better from you.

  35. #36 NJ
    December 6, 2006

    What he said.

  36. #37 Rev. Raven Daegmorgan
    December 7, 2006

    Mr. Meyers, I am not certain if you are responding to Bower or myself.

    If the former, Bower does seem to be overly wound up about Zuska specifically, and makes a few statements I can’t really advocate for (they seem a bit too dimissive of real problems in their tone, and there is an implication that outrages are the fault of the individual, which I would not agree with), though we would agree in general principle regarding passion vs. anger.

    If the latter, then I am going to quote you (from a bit back) as a reply: “It’s a bad argument when you have to mischaracterize your opponents that grossly to make a point.”

    I would give a “Yes. Exactly” to Azkyroth. After all, I said it right there in black-and-white: “…aggression is not assertiveness, and assertiveness does not require aggression.”

    Thus, I am at a loss to find where closing one’s eyes, advocating bending over and saying “yessuh” lives in my statement, especially given it was not a prescription for behavior, and since the opposite of anger is not passivity or meek acceptance.

  37. #38 MNObserver
    December 7, 2006

    Hey, Rev. Raven, that’s DOCTOR Mr. Myers to you.

  38. #39 Azkyroth
    December 7, 2006

    Perhaps Prof. Myers would be most appropriate?

    And were I any less magnanimous I would suggest PZ give MNObserver a biscuit and a tummy rub now.

    (Oops. 0-:)

  39. #40 Caledonian
    December 7, 2006

    Actually, subservience/acceptance IS the opposite of anger. It is not, however, the negation of anger.

    Get your English straight, please.

  40. #41 Azkyroth
    December 7, 2006

    I don’t see where you get subservience/acceptance as the opposite of anger, unless you’re doing balloon animals with how each of these concepts is defined. Resistance is the most straightforward opposite of acceptance, and assertiveness is the most straightforward opposite of subservience. Anger is a concept that is only tangentially related in that it often accompanies and energizes resistance.

  41. #42 Caledonian
    December 7, 2006

    Opposing on which axis?

  42. #43 Rev. Raven Daegmorgan
    December 7, 2006

    True, Prof. or Dr. would have been the more appropriate and respectful title. Thank you both for the correction, MNObserver and Azkyroth, and I hope Prof. Meyers does not take offense at my oversight.

    Caledonian, “subservience” and “acceptance” are behaviors, whereas “anger” is a feeling (which may regularly correlate with certain behaviors). These are, as such, not “opposites”. If you wish to maintain your assertion, please back up your argument with quotes from a reputable linguistic source defining them as opposites. Thanks!

  43. #44 Azkyroth
    December 10, 2006

    Raven: If I hadn’t just snarked at MNObserver for arguing on PZ’s behalf in a way that PZ should properly do himself, I might point out that it’s actually “Myers.” Perhaps I owe Observer an apology, though I did take the time to give PZ a chance to make this clarification himself…