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The Union of Concerned Scientists Got Science Champions January 14, 2016

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Bad Science.
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UCS had a survey inviting people to vote for a Got Science Champion. I used to send them money, but became disillusioned, as I concluded they’re too compromised to deserve my support. One of their selections was California State Senator Richard Pan, who co-sponsored the bill taking away the philosophical exemption for parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated. This was their blurb about him:

3. Richard Pan: Protecting Children’s Health
Health care professionals and public health experts in California spent the first few months of 2015 desperately trying to contain a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland. At least 125 California residents were infected, and among the victims were some of the most vulnerable: pregnant women, newborns, and infants in neonatal intensive care units. This largely avoidable episode exposed the frightening consequences of the anti-vaccine movement. California State Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician by training, stepped in to address the problem by sponsoring a bill requiring that all schoolchildren in the state be vaccinated, closing the religious and ‘personal belief’ exemption loophole that many parents had leaned on to avoid vaccinating their children. The bill was signed into law in July, and since then, Pan has been the target of death threats, protests, and a recall campaign for his seat in the state legislature. He’s taking the recall effort seriously, but has no regrets about his science-based response. “I ran to be sure we keep our communities safe and healthy,” Pan told The Sacramento Bee. “This bill is a shining example of me keeping my promise to the people of my district.”

They also invited suggestions for people “who stood up for science in 2015” they didn’t include. This was my response:

Gary Null, though no doubt you, as a defender of mainstream medical orthodoxy, consider him a dangerous quack.

Richard Pan doesn’t belong on this list. His bill protects nobody’s health, but he, along with most of the California legislature, received plenty of money from the pharmaceutical industry to hype “the frightening consequences of the anti-vaccine movement.” Do the Nuremberg principles mean anything to you? Do you deny that vaccines contain toxic ingredients and that their safety and efficacy is debatable? How’s that flu shot for this year working out? How about Gardasil? You are aware of the corrupting influence of money on mainstream science, no? Need I mention genetic engineering, nuclear power, poisoning food to kill pests, VIOXX, antipsychotics, the long list of drugs and other chemicals that had to be banned after the truth of their dangerous consequences could no longer be suppressed? Why do you believe the vaccine industry is immune to this corruption?

I got no response. I wonder if they will finally realize I’m not a supporter and will take me off their e-mail list. I shouldn’t be surprised; they think the climate conference was something to celebrate. Sometimes I wonder about organizations like these, whose side are they on? Some of the mainstream environmental groups maybe really don’t know any better, so are easily fooled by political chicanery, but UCS really should know better. This bill is based on faith in vaccines, not science, since science has shown clearly that faith is undeserved, that the risks of vaccines aren’t debatable and their efficacy is. For those who don’t know, the protection rate of the latest flu vaccine is estimated at under 20%. As usual, they blame a poor match between the vaccine, which has to be based on the flu strains expected to be circulating, and the flu strains that actually are going around this year. There’s no way to predict that in advance, so the flu vaccine is based on guesswork, since it has to be produced several months before people actually start getting infected.

I had measles and chicken pox as a kid, so I have lifetime immunity. They were unpleasant, but even if I hadn’t had them, I’d never get the vaccines. As I recall, when I was a child the only vaccines considered important were for polio and DPT. The vaccination for pertussis is notoriously ineffective, and the oral polio vaccine, at best, is responsible for more cases of paralysis than it prevents.

As the number of cases of the paralytic disease fall, world health officials have to grapple with a vexing problem: a component of the most widely used polio vaccine now causes more disease than the virus it is supposed to fight.

That’s a subtitle from Scientific American, which as far as I know isn’t known for peddling unscientific claims. The full article is available only to subscribers or purchasers of the digital issue.

Is 125 people now considered something to panic about? Of course the predictions were that the outbreak would spread like wildfire, since the number of children who didn’t get their MMR shot is substantial. I’ve yet to hear these vaccine crazy scientists or politicians explain why it didn’t. One death got blamed on the outbreak, but she was taking immune system suppressing drugs, which supposedly explained why the measles vaccine didn’t protect her, and practically anything could have killed her. She developed pneumonia as a complication and died.

Gary Null has repeatedly challenged vaccine defenders to debate him on his show, but of course they won’t; they think the science is settled as clearly on their side, and that Null is a quack. He notes that many of the most vocal protestors against this bill are mothers whose children have suffered dire reactions to vaccines, and that vaccine apologists make fun of them in ways that would be considered sexist if it were some other issue at stake. Vaccines are a sacred cow for many leftists, so they feel free to ridicule these mothers as stupid and ignorant. They should look in the mirror. But then, sexism among liberals and leftists is nothing new.

The Bernie Sanders Issues Poll October 23, 2015

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Bad Science, Feminism.

Bernie 2016 Official Supporter Survey
Tell Us What Matters To You

A presidential campaign is about the issues. We want to know what matters to you. Submit this survey today to tell our campaign what you care about.

What is the #1 issue for you for this election?

What other issues do you care about the most?

Ending Citizens United and Reforming Campaign Finance
Fixing our Broken Criminal Justice System
Combatting the Effects of Climate Change
Reducing Income and Wealth Inequality
Immigration Reform that Helps Undocumented Workers
Fighting Institutional Racism
Ending Failed Wars and Reforming Our Foreign Policy
Enacting Paid Family Leave
Ensuring Equal Rights for LGBT Americans
Expanding Medicare for All
Make Public College Tuition-Free
Protecting and Expanding Social Security
Stopping Unfair Trade Deals
Taking on Wall Street and Breaking Up Banks
Defending Women’s Rights to Choose
Protecting Workers’ Rights

Why do the issues you chose inspire your support for Bernie?

This was my response:

None of those are among the top issues for me. How about the causes of climate change? Is combating its effects the only environmental issue you deem important enough to mention here? Nuclear power? Fracking? Genetic engineering? The pesticide and herbicide treadmill? What about equal rights for women? Or creeping fascism, national security going way overboard? Isn’t failed wars redundant, at least since World War II? Oh I forgot, Bernie wants to continue the drone strikes. I think Bernie is on the right side of some of these issues, but maybe they don’t seem important enough to put on this list. These are just some of the reasons I will never support a Democrat for President.

Israel Has Gone Too Far June 7, 2010

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Uncategorized.

I’m making this my business because I have Jewish ancestry. I renounced religion when my rabbi shredded my Bar Mitzvah speech, teaching me religion wasn’t about speaking truth. I was naive then, didn’t realize speaking truth could get me in so much trouble. I’m wiser now, but despite my reluctance to discuss matters of religion, I have to denounce the blockade of Gaza. This latest incident was so outrageous, I’m compelled to stand up to say this Jew is sickened by the actions of Israel. Maybe it’s time it should be treated as a rogue state. Maybe it’s time this country stops vetoing Security Council resolutions that Israel thinks are unfair; whatever watered down version gets passed Israel ignores anyway. The siege of Gaza is beyond unacceptable and unsustainable, to paraphrase the Secretary of State. This is an ongoing war crime, with the implicit support of Jews and those who enable these war crimes to go on with impunity. I can renounce my religion, but not my ancestry. I’ve never been so ashamed of the actions going on in the name of Israeli security as now. Go on, call me a self-hating Jew, as if I could break the bonds of blood. Israel has gone too far once too many times for me; I can pretend it doesn’t stain me no longer. War crimes should be prosecuted, regardless of who commits them. The United States should stand aside and allow international law to deal with Israel. I’m not naive enough to think that’s going to happen, but I’m saying, this is one United States born and raised Jew screaming in disgusted protest, and I’m not alone in that. I wouldn’t go so far as Auschwitz survivor Dr. Hajo Meyer, comparing Israel’s dehumanization of Palestinians to Nazi tactics, or Helen Thomas, who just quit after being roundly denounced for saying Israeli Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine,” but I can understand their sentiments.

I copied this image from the Atlantic.

Contraband, Israeli style

Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip

This is what Israel calls security, why it must board these ships and make sure no contraband gets into Gaza. I read this and wept. This I don’t blame on bad science, rather the belief system that can justify that as necessary, or justifiable, as part of Israel’s arsenal in its war against Hamas. This has nothing to do with self defense or security. Some call it collective punishment. I think that fits the crime. The government of Israel has forfeited its legitimacy. It may be time to at least threaten to impose a peace settlement on Israel, or maybe confiscate its nuclear bombs. Since Israel is so worried about arms shipments to Hamas, international inspections could be arranged. Bottom line, Israel doesn’t own Gaza, and has no right to blockade Gaza. The state of war Israel uses to justify these actions is as one-sided as it gets, maybe even worse than the United States trying to squash the resistance of one of the poorest nations on Earth, Afghanistan. At least there, the resistance fighters have some ability to fight back, despite the overwhelming military superiority of the occupying forces.

Conversations with the President, Part 1: Gropergate December 16, 2008

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Bad Science, Feminism, Uncategorized.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to the actual President-elect is strictly intentional, but the statements I’m attributing to him are pure guesswork on my part.

Me: Now look here, Mr. President, I’ve kept my peace while you assemble your team of hawks,  corporate friendly free traders, and pro-nuclear pro-agrofuel pollution-marketer scientists and environmentalists for hire. You’re not in office yet, and you’re supposed to get a honeymoon. Sorry, you have a scandal to deal with already.

Obama: I was stunned and dismayed by the actions of Governor Blagojevich, but neither I nor any of my staff are implicated in his corrupt dealings.

Me: I meant your speechwriter Jon Favreau, immortalized in a Facebook photo fondling a lifesize cardboard model of a famous woman while a buddy poses as if he’s trying to force beer down her throat, pulling her head back by her hair. I’m sure you know the story. Do you think an apology is enough?

Obama: Senator Clinton accepted the apology. That’s the end of the matter.

Me: So, that’s supposed to be the end of it? Wow, are you naive. Women aren’t about to put this aside just like that. You better believe they are pissed. Clinton has to make light of it. She wants that job. She’s in a bad position, hostile work environment I believe is the legal term?

Obama: Nothing could be further from the truth. Jon was naive and disrespectful, but he has learned from his mistake. He is sorry and will show proper respect to members of the Cabinet in the future.

Me: At least on camera. Do you expect anybody to believe that?

Obama: Why shouldn’t they? The apology was sincere. I believe Jon thought that was an innocent joke, but a lesson learned the hard way will stick.

Me: You are a hopeless optimist. You should fire him. He’s all fine words and you have to provide the substance. Why don’t you write your own speeches?

Obama: As if I have the time or the talent for that. I’m a communicator. That’s one of my talents.

Me: It’s called charisma. You don’t snow me. I think you’re stuck with Mr. Favreau because you think he writes great lines. Lines are only great if the speaker puts real feeling into them. Guys with charisma can put great feeling into lines, but it’s not quite the same as real feeling.

Obama: And they call me a parser!

Me: You’re a politician. You know the difference between acting and speaking your own words with your own feelings.

Obama: You know what happens to people who try that. The media is merciless, sharks pouncing at the first sign of vulnerability.

Me: I think the women in this race can attest to that. Do you think it’s wise to have a shark writing your speeches?

Obama: He’s a young man who didn’t realize the implications of his drunken actions. Senator Clinton has forgiven him. She has been gracious about the entire affair. What’s your problem?

Me: The implications of those actions.

Obama: The matter is closed.

Me: You wish! Fire the guy quick, or you risk women getting really riled up!

Obama: (Snorts) I think I’m a better judge of American women than you. I’ll take my chances. Senator Clinton has accepted the apology. She is satisfied Jon won’t be causing any more trouble making embarrassing spectacles of himself.

Me: You have great faith in this guy. Why? Is it if it’s not broken, don’t fix it? He is broken, so his apology isn’t worth much.

Obama: Jon Favreau is a fine upstanding young man. I’m certain he will grow and learn from this experience.

Me: Hard to argue with blind faith. You don’t need this kind of baggage. Bad enough you gave Larry Summers a high post. He’ll never live down that crack about women not being able to compete in hard sciences because of genetics. This is a great mind? Some people think Sigmund Freud was a great scientist, but his understanding of women was atrocious. He was a great one to pathologize female psychology, since he wanted to stuff it into his own framework. It didn’t fit, just like Summers and Favreau don’t fit in a government I could believe in, though they do seem to fit right in with the rest of your crew. That’s my problem. These are party hacks and scientists for hire. What is this, a kinder gentler version of corporate empire you’re promising?

Obama: I surround myself with the best minds, regardless of political affiliation, so I can hear different sides of each issue to inform my decisions. I reject your insinuations. These are people of the highest integrity. Your suspicions are baseless and cynical. America needs its people to hope for the best, so we can all contribute our best to make America a beacon of hope and liberty for the world again.

Me: All right, enough of you for now! You really ought to fire that speechwriter! I’m sure Obama isn’t listening to silly fools like me, or outraged feminists in the blogosphere. I had to say something, regardless. This is really callous and disrespectful to women. I don’t much like Senator Clinton, but she almost won, could have been VP, and Secretary of State is a top Cabinet post, if not the top. She deserves some respect from a speechwriter for the President. He sure has no business groping a mockup of her, grinning as though he was proud as could be. This was no joke or laughing matter, despite the yuck it up attitude of such luminaries as James Carville (It’s a piece of cardboard, stupid!). This is typical of the blatant abuse of the women running for President and VP in this campaign. Obama ought to put a stop to it here and now. This is his golden opportunity to show respect for women means something in this country, at least for this President. But he’ll pass. Political expediency rules the day. This is the change I need?

ETA: I decided to trackback to one of those outraged feminists who wants to keep this scandal front and center, and whose call to protest inspired this entry.

Camp Trans Waging War on Michfest September 12, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Feminism, Uncategorized.

And now for something completely different.

I think Camp Trans, an organization set up to harass and infiltrate the woman-only music festival held every August in Michigan, is way out of line. It seems not to understand the concept of a boundary, since it insists people once male but now identifying as female should be allowed to crash this festival. This has been going on to some extent all along, but now they dare laugh at the request to honor festival intent, openly demanding a ticket as transwoman. This looks to me like blatant malicious violation of the boundary of a free assembly, motivated by misogyny and perhaps envy. People can identify however they please, but I think it is deception, of oneself and others, for men to claim womanhood through a sex change operation. Sex change is not what is happening. I am no expert on trans matters, identifying as straight androgynous male, but I see loads of hot air, incivility, disrespect, tricky liberties taken with language and truth by trans and sympathizers in this long battle caused by trans determination to invade woman only space.

Consider this thought experiment. If I shaved, maybe with my long hair, I could pass. If I crashed this festival, as these ex-males think is their right, I would be around all these women in various states of dress. Would I be tempted to feast my eyes, or pretend to be a lesbian? I think in this context, trans are spies, intruders, guilty of gratifying male ego and lust at the expense of women paying to attend an exclusive festival away from males, violating the privacy boundary just like any Average Joe harassing a woman. The purpose of this festival is to provide a woman only space for a week of concerts. Maybe transwomen should think about, why is this unreasonable, or too much to ask? How is it you think you have a right to be there? Through surgical and hormonal intervention you may look and sound more like a woman than a man, but technology cannot alter biological sex, previous lived experience, attitude, behavior, depth of understanding and respect for women. You may experience life treated more like a woman than a man, after awhile read women with some recognition of experience, but always from a male perspective you cannot toss aside entirely. That can be balanced or repressed, but not escaped. What about drag queens? Why not, if any guy who feels like saying he is a woman has a right to crash woman only space? I sure would enjoy this festival blindfolded, just for the music, but I find the motives of these minted females questionable at best. I think male understanding and respect for women can only be learned, no high tech shortcuts.

Something on this misuse of science and language called transsexuality will probably get on my blog soon. Camp Trans Waging War on Michfest. Maybe you transwomen who think woman only space is unfair to you can tangle with me there, if you have the nerve to answer pointed questions. I think you have caused enough trouble for women. Their definition of woman is not for males, or once-males, to cast aside, negotiate, or usurp. If you have respect for women, show it, leave woman only space alone!

I posted the above over at the trackback, (if I can figure out how to trackback) which has much more information about what is really going on with all this. I have a correction, and also something to say about male androgyny. I used the phrase exclusive festival away from males. This is imprecise, easily misconstrued. The festival is music by women for women. It is not for male or once male entertainment. Exclusive can have connotations such as rich hideout, snobbish,or by invitation only. Michfest is far from any of that. I meant it to say, exclusively for women. Exclusive is logic jargon, vague, misplaced, superfluous, and liable to be deliberately misunderstood in this context. I should know better than to use loaded scientific terms. I actually wish I could excise it from the post, but that I could only do on this blog. It is too late now, just another lesson in the limits of my understanding. I have learned much from my mistakes, but I know I still have limits, blind spots, things hard for me to learn.

Androgyny is often considered the province of other than straight guys, but some are intrigued, and a few reject outright the idea of some cultural straitjacket of what men can and cannot be. If the assignation of traits to male and female is arbitrary, as is plain to me as a scientist by observing my generation of females, what is the point of going through all the trouble of operations and hormones? Sure it would make a man feel different; the hormones alone would suffice for that. I cannot believe there is no long-term risk of taking sex hormones. Menopausal women learned that the hard way, trusting doctors peddling the miracle treatment.

The point being, men do not have to mutilate themselves to experiment with traits our culture has gendered female, or to learn something about how women think. A man can read a book, or ask a woman he thinks he knows. He can experiment with his concept of himself. Men can be caring, affectionate, open about their feelings. It is such BS that real men must suppress their feelings. Easy way out, lots easier than facing feelings and dealing with them honestly. A man can learn ways to appreciate a woman for who she is, without having to be in control. That has nothing to do with manhood, in my view; being a decent man is a matter of personal honor, integrity, character, civility, dealing fairly and honestly with others. By those standards, I know there are not many good men around. For me, being androgynous means I do not believe in gendered roles except as determined by biology. Motherhood is the primary example, since biological males are incapable by definition. Some biological females do not develop this capacity, but this is not the norm. But women can choose not to be mothers, and mothers can be tomboys too. I have known too many tomboys in my life to believe stereotypes about women, so why should I subscribe to stereotypes about men? The benefits those confer on men are shallow temptations, undeserved power, not worth sacrificing my sense of integrity. I am weird, not like other men, by choice and love for rebellious women.

Another role determined by biology is belonging or not in woman only space. It really does not matter what gender one thinks one is, since gender is intrinsically mostly arbitrary, but not in this culture. Transwomen have pulled other outrageous stunts. One sued a Vancouver shelter for protecting its safe space for women. Nice going, Kimberly Nixon, if I recall. Sure got them back for rejecting you. That was the feminist thing to do? Sounds more like typical spite to me.

I know transsexuals will say, it has nothing to do with anything I wrote. Educate me, why you had to go through all that trouble to reject the constraints our culture puts on men. I will not pretend to understand anything about women trying to become men. My tomboy friends seemed reasonably stable and functional to me. It felt natural, their rebellion against the constraints our culture puts on females, expected to be properly subordinated to male superior wisdom. Such poppycock. Our culture has neither wise leaders nor philosophy, so the world careens wildly toward utter ruin, perhaps the loss of ability to sustain intelligent life. We ought to listen to all the dying canaries, these species going extinct, then take a long hard look at what passes for wise leadership in this culture. It is still mostly male, but those guys sure as hell do not represent me. I am a rebel, an angry scientific heretic, a man fascinated by feminists, but I digress. I cannot say I could reasonably expect anyone to represent me anyway. Maybe I cannot understand, what is the big deal about passing as a woman, unless it is to conquer lesbians. It is easy for me to relate to rejecting the popular concept of manhood. I have my own ideas about that, requiring no surgery or hormones, only hard lessons to unlearn preconceptions about gender omnipresent in our culture. A male trying to take a shortcut to that unlearning has unlearned nothing, in my estimation.

I would never say androgyny is easy for a male, but it would be easier if our culture did not link it with being gay. It may be true that most guys claiming androgyny are gay, but not all. Other linkages do not make it any easier, such as weird, wimpy, pussy, you get the picture. I am weird, but not in those ways. My longish hair is far enough for me on the outside; otherwise I look male. I really could not imagine trying to pass as a woman, except as a thought experiment. I could never recommend being like me, because my life has been no piece of cake, and my weirdness cannot be followed. I will be developing my theory of androgyny considerably over time in the My Theories section.

My Book on Male Mythology August 2, 2006

Posted by angryscientist in About Me, Feminism, Uncategorized.

This is most of an introductory letter I sent around to a few agents before I gave up on that book in 2000, since I could not get an agent interested enough to take it on. It is not an easy read.

I have written a book about myths crucial to male dominance, developing a thoughtful male perspective on feminism. The Crumbling of Male Mythology is my skeptical dissection of the imbalance of male power, still prevalent despite all the work of feminists to challenge it. Despite claims of inevitability, people need not be stuck in traditional male dominant two-sided logic. What would it take to truly level the field, to crumble such destructive fabrications into the scrap heap?

By vocation a software developer, I appreciate the depths of originality and insight I have found in feminist literature. This book disassembles the basic pretenses of sexism, confronting assumptions, motives, and results, to weave my case why its practice cannot be fair, sound, or practical. Interacting without rigid roles, sharing respect, power, and love, I argue is the worthy pursuit for men, as opposed to superiority over women. Another theme is how sexist regimes thrive on dividing and disempowering people, while feminist perspectives emphasize the principle of internal power that can empower everyone to realize their best.

Male control of traditional relationships and most fields of endeavor may presume to be due to superior skills, common sense, and what is best for all, but ultimately derives from violence or its threat. This is not hard to show, yet trite stereotypes still skew the perceptions of many, symbolic of underlying prejudices I call the blind wall, that they dare not look beyond. Other sciences have similar blind spots, such as disregarding the economic value of housewives or ecology. I take apart some of these errors to illustrate that science has its share of bias.

By way of evasion men may support equality in theory, but have trouble living it, think it is already achieved or going overboard, or deeper implications escape them. I examine how such fragmentary consciousness persists in the face of all women’s efforts have brought to light, preserving denial by contorting the meanings of feminism, equality, manhood, power, life itself.

I also wrote articles, dialogue, essays, and one science fiction tale intended for a movie. That story is about a couple of innovators for a small research lab whose breakthrough develops into a battleground between biotechnology and alternative health approaches to life extension.