Female nerds take a stand:

I think your reader is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with this particular sordid corner of NerdCulture. As a woman, I earned my nerd status in exactly the same way as every other picked-on kid in school ever did: by being labeled that by my peers. I was bullied, I was mocked for reading too much SFF, for playing Dungeons and Dragons, and for not being very good at sports. Now this guy and folks like him want to tell me I didn’t earn that nerd card? That I don’t belong with the only group where I have ever belonged? I have some choice four letter words for him, as well as advice on where he can stick them.

The wonder of it all is that he clearly can’t even see his hypocrisy – that he is doing exactly the same thing to women that has been done to him. And while I may sympathize with his situation, I 1979474_354805564678076_7909139515221880476_ndon’t need his permission to lay claim to territory that has been mine since the first time I read The Hobbit at age five or discovered Batman comics at fourteen. Nerd territory is the domain of the outcast and the iconoclast, and it has never been about needing anyone’s approval. Watching these men try to say that they suddenly have some kind of say in who gets to wear the label would be hilarious if it wasn’t so infuriating.

Another is a tad more direct:

Speaking as a female nerd, your reader can definitely go fuck himself over that thought train. I’ve spent my entire life dealing with assholes like him and how I’m a “fake nerd” simply because I have breasts and a vagina. News flash dude, my adolescence was probably twice as less fun as yours.

Read On

Vote Early, Vote Often

Oct 23 2014 @ 11:21am

John Fund argues against early voting:

Consider that for all of the hullabaloo about early voting, studies have shown it hasn’t increased overall voter turnout. Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, notes turnout is down even in states that have made it easier to vote through Election Day registration or early voting. Gans and other observers are also concerned that early voters won’t have the same information as those who vote on Election Day. They may miss out on candidate debates or be unable to factor in other late-developing election events. “Those who vote a month in advance are saying they don’t care about weighing all the facts,” says Adams, the former Justice Department official. One secretary of state I interviewed compared early voting that takes place before debates are finished with jurors in a trial who stand up in the middle of testimony and say they’ve heard enough and are ready to render a verdict.

In response, Chait proposes “a perfect solution that would address Fund’s professions of deep social commitment to a single national voting day while also addressing concerns about the inconvenience”:

You’d simply have to make Election Day a national holiday.

Read On

The Globe and Mail reports on Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the suspected shooter. He had been named a “high risk traveller” and blocked from leaving the country because of fears that he might become a jihadi:

“He wanted to go back to Libya and study,” [friend Dave] Bathurst said. He urged his friend to make sure study was on his mind and “not something else.” Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau insisted he was only going abroad with the intent of learning about Islam and to study Arabic. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was blocked from fulfilling those plans. Sources say he intended to travel abroad, but he had not been able to secure a valid travel document from federal officials, who have been taking measures to prevent Canadians from joining extremists overseas.

Reid Standish notes that the “attack comes as Canada has ramped up its role in the fight against the Islamic State militant group, though it remains unclear whether the attack has any connection with these recent decision”:

Canada has sent 26 special forces troops to Iraq to serve in an advisory role, and on Oct. 7 Parliament voted in favor of joining U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq. In late September, a video released by the Islamic State’s spokesperson, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani urged the group’s supporters to kill Canadians and commit domestic attacks on Canadian territory.

Joe Friesen also tries to put the attack in context:

For a country that lived through more than a decade of Western anti-terror wars largely without domestic bloodshed, Wednesday’s attack was a potential turning point.

Read On

“Empowertising”

Oct 23 2014 @ 10:20am

Ann Friedman raises an eyebrow at empowerment conferences:

These conferences all follow a similar formula. Take a vintage feminist icon (Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda), a Clinton, a media maven (Arianna Huffington or Tina Brown, but probably not both), and three or four celebrities with a conscience (Oprah, Angelina, Geena, Meryl). Throw in Sandberg — who is absolutely mandatory — along with a half-dozen women who run Fortune 500 companies. With only 24 CEOs to choose from, organizers can’t be too picky. Book a five-star hotel (Ritz-Carlton or similar) in Southern California or, if you’re keeping it simple, Manhattan. Choose a hashtag. Pay a few entry-level bloggers to flood the internet with 30-second video clips of the world-changing conversations taking place in front of a logo-spattered backdrop. And watch the sponsorship money roll in. …

For as long as there’s been a mainstream feminist movement, there have been corporations eager to capitalize on women’s desire for empowerment.

Read On

Activists March In Ferguson On Nat'l Day Of Action Against Police Brutality

The WaP0 reports on the autopsy of Michael Brown, the black teenager shot to death in Ferguson. It “suggests that the 18-year-old may not have had his hands raised when he was fatally shot”:

Experts told the newspaper that Brown was first shot at close range and may have been reaching for Wilson’s weapon while the officer was still in his vehicle and Brown was standing at the driver’s side window. The autopsy found material “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm” in a wound on Brown’s thumb, the autopsy says.

Another key piece of evidence:

Seven or eight African American eyewitnesses have provided testimony consistent with Wilson’s account, but none have spoken publicly out of fear for their safety, The Post’s sources said.

But Trymaine Lee relays some pushback on the WaPo’s reporting. He writes that “one of the experts whose analysis was central to those claims told msnbc that her analysis of the findings had been taken out of context”:

Read On

Emily Singer introduces the innovative research of Harvard biologist Michael Desai, who “has created hundreds of identical worlds in order to watch evolution at work”:

Each of his meticulously controlled environments is home to a separate strain of baker’s yeast. Every 12 hours, Desai’s robot assistants pluck out the fastest-growing yeast in each world — selecting the fittest to live on — and discard the rest. Desai then monitors the strains as they evolve over the course of 500 generations. His experiment, which other scientists say is unprecedented in scale, seeks to gain insight into a question that has long bedeviled biologists: If we could start the world over again, would life evolve the same way?

Many biologists argue that it would not, that chance mutations early in the evolutionary journey of a species will profoundly influence its fate. “If you replay the tape of life, you might have one initial mutation that takes you in a totally different direction,” Desai said, paraphrasing an idea first put forth by the biologist Stephen Jay Gould in the 1980s. Desai’s yeast cells call this belief into question. According to results published in Science in June, all of Desai’s yeast varieties arrived at roughly the same evolutionary endpoint (as measured by their ability to grow under specific lab conditions) regardless of which precise genetic path each strain took. It’s as if 100 New York City taxis agreed to take separate highways in a race to the Pacific Ocean, and 50 hours later they all converged at the Santa Monica pier.

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As the West suffers from an ongoing drought, Brad Plumer flags a sobering chart from The Hamilton Project’s “Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States“:

What’s interesting is that many cities in dry areas – Denver, El Paso, Phoenix, Las Vegas – have some of the lowest water bills around, whereas a wet city like Seattle has much higher bills. Some of that can be explained by provisions in the Clean Water Act that required cities like Boston to upgrade their sewage-treatment systems. Still, the disparity is notable. Other surveys have also found that there’s little relationship between the price of water and how scarce it is.

The report notes that some cities, like Phoenix and Los Angeles, have begun to reform their pricing schemes so that heavier water users get charged more. But this is hardly universal. In most parts of the United States, the price of water doesn’t reflect the infrastructure costs of delivering that water or the environmental damage that excessive water withdrawals can cause. As long as that’s the case, there are few market incentives to conserve or allocate water more efficiently.

A Diploma Wrapped In Red Tape

Oct 23 2014 @ 7:32am

Albert H. Teich urges legislators to chuck a part of the student visa process:

The United States is in a worldwide competition for the best scientific and engineering talent. But its regulations and procedures have failed to keep pace with today’s increasingly globalized science and technology. Rather than facilitating international commerce in talent and ideas, they too often inhibit it, discouraging talented scientific visitors, students, and potential immigrants from coming to and remaining in the United States.

Many elements of the visa and immigration system need attention, as I discuss at length in an article for Issues in Science & Technology. But one critical reform involves reconsidering the requirement that STEM students demonstrate intent to return home.

Read On

The Best Of The Dish Today

Oct 22 2014 @ 9:15pm

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A reader sends the above screenshot:

You might note the contrast between American and Canadian reporting on the Ottawa shooting. I listened to CBC on my drive in to work (I live in Los Angeles), and I was impressed by just how measured the reporting was, even with the crisis still ongoing. The attached picture probably goes a long way to explaining why Americans are terrified that tomorrow ISIS will be invading and imposing Sharia, and that we’re all going to die of Ebola, even though the chance of that actually happening is about 1/100th the chance of getting hit by lightning.

Meanwhile, there is a truly disturbing blog-post out there by Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Dave McKinney. It’s simply his letter of resignation to the chairman of the paper, Michael Ferro, after his reporting of a tough story on the GOP candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner. According to McKinney, the Rauner campaign was furious at the story – it detailed an ugly dispute with a business associate, Christine Kirk, in which Rauner allegedly threatened to “bury her”. The editor of the paper defended the story and McKinney in the strongest terms, but McKinney subsequently found his beat curtailed, and some of his reporting excised from the paper:

I was told to go on leave, a kind of house arrest that lasted almost a week. It was pure hell. Kirk told me that his bosses were considering taking me away permanently from the political and Springfield beats. He offered up other potential jobs at the paper, all of which I considered demotions. Because of my unexplained absence from my beat, colleagues started calling, asking if I had been suspended. Or fired.

Eventually, he was allowed back – but then told not to pursue the story any further, as he was intending to. He asks the chairman of the paper, Michael Ferro:

Was all this retaliation for breaking an important news story that had the blessing of the paper’s editor and publisher, the company’s lawyer and our NBC5 partners? Does part of the answer lie in what Kirk told me – that you couldn’t understand why the LeapSource story was even in the paper? Days later, the newspaper reversed its three-year, no-endorsement policy and unequivocally embraced the very campaign that had unleashed what Sun-Times management had declared a defamatory attack on me.

Readers of the Sun-Times need to be able to trust the paper. They need to know a wall exists between owners and the newsroom to preserve the integrity of what is published. A breach in that wall exists at the Sun-Times.

The race between Rauner and the Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, is currently too close to call. Stay tuned.

Today, we published both a riposte to our readers’ defense of #gamergate and an apologia of sorts by a self-described nerd. This topic clearly touches a whole bunch of nerves all round, judging by the avalanche in the in-tray.

So too did my citation of the inebriated tale of Bristol Palin in the now-famous brawl in Alaska. I’m sorry of some of you thought I was belittling a woman claiming she was attacked; my point was merely the sorry, Springer-style language and general mayhem of the moment, captured by one quote. I could have used others. But I have to say I’ve tried mighty hard to restrain myself with respect to the fantasist and fabulist whom John McCain thought could be president at a moment’s notice. I treat the Palins these days a little like an alcoholic would treat a Jäger shot. I sip. And put it down. Don’t I get any props for that? Or do you secretly want me to get all obsessed again?

Four other posts: the growing evidence that the Obama administration is going to bat for the CIA on torture; the news – surprise! – that intervening in Syria can sometimes help the people we’re trying to defeat; an homage to Shia LaBoeuf of viral proportions; and a stunning fall view from St Paul, Minnesota.

The most popular post of the day was Bristol Palin’s quote and John McCain’s shame; the runner up was Vengeance of the Nerds, Ctd.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 22 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here. One reader really wants one:

Please keep up the “Know Dope” shirts for sale as long as possible. I’m broke right now, but I know I’ll have some money around tax season (Jan-Feb) so I can re-new (for the second time!) and buy one of these shirts. I know supplies are limited, but I just wanted to say that IF they are still available then, I will cop one, so I hope you don’t take them down once November 4th passes.

Also, I’m looking forward to the November 2016 California versions!

Know hope. And see you in the morning.

(Photo: A sign is displayed at the Ottawa City Hall, 4 blocks away from National War Memorial where a soldier was shot earlier in the day in Ottawa, Canada on October 22, 2014. By Mike Carroccetto/Getty Images.)

Face Of The Day

Oct 22 2014 @ 8:32pm

The Moscow State Circus Returns To The UK

Acrobat Vlad Khvostik performs during a photocall at the Moscow State Circus in Clapham in London, England on October 22, 2014. The circus is located at Clapham Common from 22nd October to 2nd November. By Carl Court/Getty Images.