Saturday, January 19, 2008

Early Selections Posted by olvlzl

Part One

Part Two
Due to habits formed in the defense of the wall of separation and public school science against creationism it can be difficult for a leftist to read Marilynne Robinson’s essay, “Darwinism”. It is also uncomfortable for someone on the left to talk about Darwin’s language as she does because many will immediately assume you are a creationist, or accuse you of some other form of apostasy by stealth. This is guaranteed to happen no matter how explicitly you endorse EVOLUTION or a belief neutral, democratic government.*

But you can’t have integrity unless you say what you mean. You also can’t be a decent person if you don’t believe and act as if people are not objects, abstractions, mere ideas or actors in your dearly loved fantasy scenarios playing out what you take to be the grand forces of the universe.

In her essay, Robinson is unsporting enough to read Darwin and others and to believe that they mean what they have written. Asserting that someone didn’t really mean what he continually and lucidly writes should mean that he isn’t to be trusted. But in polite society you are expected to pretend it doesn’t in cases such as this. You are also to concentrate on the demurral appended as an obligatory afterthought and ignore the bulk of what is clearly proposed

As an example, among the quotes she dares to take directly from Darwin and others, I’ll concentrate on this one.

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. The Descent of Man

Darwin regretted that the lower orders will be saved from necessary pruning by our sentimentality. That is as clear as the words he wrote. He was afraid that the level of charity current in mid 19th century, the time of Dickens’ England, was too much charity due to its impeding natural selection. Not that Darwin means to subject himself to natural selection. One assumes that the Darwins and the mostly well off families of his followers didn’t gave up the practice of vaccination or seeking medical care themselves. I’ve looked and can’t find evidence that early Darwinists refused medical care as a matter of principle, if you know of any I will revise. Thus these advocates of the benefits of universal human culling allowed sentiment to overtake their responsibility as members of the rational class, to husband their own stock to a higher state through the death of the underbred.** Perhaps this is something more noticeable for people who have reason to suspect they or, as in my case my great-great grandparents, were included in Darwin’s underclass. Perhaps your ancestors in the 1870s were also among those referred to above.

It is especially interesting to think about this passage due to Charles Darwin’s history of hypochondria - which seems to have begun before his marriage and his decisive reading of Malthus - his history of seeking treatments, cures and just about anything available to, how did he put it, have medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of Charles Darwin to the last moment. Was not such an unfit specimen as Darwin clearly judged himself to be, and he did apprentice as a doctor, marked as one for whom nature should be allowed to take its course?

Some sources say that he worried that his malady was heritable. Charles Darwin was the last person in the world to have missed that possibility. Wasn’t he an example of the worst kind who should be discouraged, at the very least, from breeding? Eventually he produced ten children, two of whom died in childhood, one a famously beloved daughter. You wonder if he thought about his own daughter’s death when he wrote this.

If you think it’s harsh of me to bring up his daughter’s death, do you think it was harsh of him and his admirers to meditate dispassionately on the benefits of untold other peoples’ children being weeded out of the breeding stock by small pox, other diseases, violence and starvation? Does it being called ‘science’ make that noble and good, or at least all right? Does it being “science” preclude further consideration of these matters?

How does this clear warning of dire consequences stemming from the vaccination of the lower orders differ in kind from the Imams in Nigeria advising people not to have their children vaccinated for polio several years ago? That is a real question and there is an answer. The difference is that the Nigerian Imams were afraid of the vaccine being tainted. There had been a drug test in Nigeria several years before which, they believed , had killed eleven children and disabled 200. ***They were also concerned that HIV might be spread through contamination during the immunization program. The clerics and government officials in Nigeria acted through ignorance and paranoia, perhaps, but their crime, for which they were roundly condemned, was an ill informed and ignorant attempt to protect children, not a tacit approval of their culling for racial hygiene. Does anyone reading this doubt that Darwin would have classed these children among the ‘savages’.

Saying that Darwin wasn’t actually advocating that many people die is dishonest. Does anyone really believe that with the thinnest of alibis for cover, he didn’t endorse the idea of allowing people to go unvaccinated, untreated, unfed and allowing a huge number of them to die of disease, starvation or in a horrific, violent struggle for food? He was informed enough about the governmental and economic practices of his time to know that his suggestions could easily have been put into effect with the slightest encouragement, almost by accident.

And he had seen the people he believed it was a folly to save on his travels and at home. Here is his list, “the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick .... [the alleged beneficiary of] poor-laws ... the weak members of civilised societies” all of these should be allowed to undergo what he approves of as the brutal culling found among “savages”. Does this list contain no actual people? Do you really believe that? With the benefit of reading this after witnessing the brutality of the self-professed, scientific regimes of the twentieth century the list should seem all too familiar to us. The word “selection”, also.

The effect of the Darwinists’ casual dismissal of the lives of people in marshaling opposition to the fact of EVOLUTION isn’t considered nearly often enough. Anyone who doesn’t believe that is a part of the opposition to the study of EVOLUTION is deluding themselves. The links between Darwin and those who overcame sentiment to put his ideas into practice are real and the opponents of evolutionary science know about them. Look at their websites if you think this isn’t true. Darwin shouldn’t remain the public face of evolutionary science.

Maybe less noticeable at first reading is that there is no supporting data given, at least in the edition I’ve got, to demonstrate his contention that vaccinating for small pox actually has the degrading effect he suspects. It’s a speculation based on his supreme theory, which isn’t evolution but the origin of species by natural selection. Darwin predicts dire consequences in vaccinated populations. I’ve not been able to find science from his time or up to today which supports his contention that it has this degrading effect. You wonder if the WHO shouldn’t suspend their efforts if such evidence existed. You also wonder what contemporary advocates of mass vaccination would make of this passage.

It is impossible to read Darwin and his circle and not be reminded of these things, once you have gotten over the habit of ignoring what’s right there in front of you. That was the greatest effect of reading Robinson’s essay, it is a slap to wake up and admit what is there to be seen. I’m sure she knew it would be misunderstood and misrepresented, yet she wrote it and her bravery deserves to be noticed.

Robinson points out ironies in her essay, none greater than the fact that the Darwinists and those who agitate for creationism effectively share the same economic morality. Looking at Republican social policy of the past thirty years, you see a practical attempt to remove any barriers to brutal selection forces. Only it’s called ‘competition’.

My question is how can the very basis of the left’s agenda survive the idea that our reason and morality don’t matter or that it is incompatible with what’s purported to be scientific truth. Equality, justice, democracy, a decent, peaceful life in a habitable environment. If the left really comes to believe that biology is destiny, that free will and good will are illusions or impotent, that the market of natural selection is the inevitable law that governs human lives, our agenda is wrong.

I don’t think it is. I think that the history of the past century proves it isn’t and that there is no realistic alternative to it. Too many of us have been duped through public relations into accepting fundamentally anti-democratic ideas that are based in the assumptions made by self-interested people with an agenda basically at odds with our ideals. I believe that the depressing, dispiriting effect of falling for various species of biological determinism leads to impotent cynicism. Those ideas have been given the test of time. They produce a nightmare.

That is the subject of the third part of this series.

* “Darwinism” is from the collection of essays, The Death of Adam ISBN 0-312-42532-5
Many, especially the throng of devout blog Darwinists who have never read him, might be surprised that Robinson concentrates first and foremost on the economic origins of Darwinism. They should go look at him and see that for him reading Malthus was his breakthrough event, literally everything springs from that moral atrocity. Malthus isn’t simply an implication or a starting point in the line of biological determinism stemming from Darwin he permeates it. Malthus is the seed, Darwin sewed it and it grew.

** You might want to contrast the content and tone with this passage, not much farther on into the book.

Man accumulates property and bequeaths it to his children, so that the children of the rich have an advantage over the poor in the race for success, independently of bodily or mental superiority. On the other hand, the children of parents who are short-lived, and are therefore on an average deficient in health and vigour, come into their property sooner than other children, and will be likely to marry earlier, and leave a larger number of offspring to inherit their inferior constitutions. But the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil; for without the accumulation of capital the arts could not progress; and it is chiefly through their power that the civilised races have extended, and are now everywhere extending their range, so as to take the place of the lower races. Nor does the moderate accumulation of wealth interfere with the process of selection. When a poor man becomes moderately rich, his children enter trades or professions in which there is struggle enough, so that the able in body and mind succeed best. The presence of a body of well-instructed men, who have not to labour for their daily bread, is important to a degree which cannot be over-estimated; as all high intellectual work is carried on by them, and on such work, material progress of all kinds mainly depends, not to mention other and higher advantages. No doubt wealth when very great tends to convert men into useless drones, but their number is never large ; and some degree of elimination here occurs, for we daily see rich men, who happen to be fools or profligate, squandering away their wealth. The Descent of Man.

“But the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil.... Nor does the moderate accumulation of wealth interfere with the process of selection.” One suspects Darwin’s “moderate accumulation of wealth” which was not yet insalubrious included the wealth of the Darwin -Wedgewood families. Why, since he refuses to consider the possibility that humans’ capacity for reason, moral reflection and self-denial might exempt us from the brutal forces of natural selection, does he seem to think that membership in his notably brutal economic elite should render its members immune?

You also wonder why Darwin didn’t include the laws against stealing in the list of unfortunate curbs on the workings of natural selection. If you doubt that the laws protecting private property are one of the greatest inhibition of the weeding out of the unfit, imagine what would have happened in Darwin’s Britain if it was suddenly legal for the masses of the poor to take from those worthless drones bred to the aristocracy. The resultant struggle might have saved Darwin the embarrassment of explaining how he neglected to discourage their vaccination.

*** “The Pfizer drug test in 1996 is still on our minds. To a large extent, it shaped and strengthened my view on polio and other immunisation campaigns," said Mr bin Uthman. At the time, the US company had used an untested drug on children to fight an epidemic of bacterial meningitis in the Kano area. Lawsuits have since been lodged against Pfizer in the United States and in Nigeria, alleging that the drug trial was illegal and that it killed 11 children and left 200 others disabled.

Applied Science: Interlude Scherzando Posted by olvlzl

see: Part One

Living on the left you may eventually come across a very rare species, the principled, Hegelian cheap-skate. The few I’ve met have been Marxists, though I’ve read about other varieties, even anarchist skin flints. This scruple against giving alms or charity avoids corrupting the destitute into complaisance by making life too easy for them. You might ask what separates the leftist tight wad from those who make up a far larger percentage of the right? The ones who we justly think of as selfish swine? As usual, it’s different because it’s a matter of science. “Science” is supposed to settle all questions of motivation, isn’t it? You see, in addition to affording the poor the moral benefits of the strenuous life, whether or not they like it, depriving them the price of a sandwich is a means to force them to shake off their torpor and do their part in pushing the dialectic ever onward, back and forth, until the glorious day of its arrival at its scientifically determined destiny.

One example, who could be named but who may still be alive and, one imagines, might be litigious, was a fixture of the New York left of earlier decades. He was a noticeably comfortable psychotherapist who on at least one occasion said that he had held to the principle against charity since learning it as a red-diaper baby. And, being what he turned out to be, I’d guess he still holds to it. In less charitable moments one suspects that his subsequent drift from Marxism to neo-conservatism in the great migration of the late 60s and 70s was due to his realizing he wasn’t quite the figure in the left that he had believed himself to be. Though, thinking it over perhaps the former Marxist was doing his part to move history onward. No doubt, if this is true, he is just awaiting the word, printed in some small magazine with a plain cover and chaste type face, that the dialectic over Manhattan is on the move again. Propitiation sufficed. And, if he hasn’t since died, he will end his days as a neo-com.

None of the devotees of principled stinginess who I’ve observed, though, have undertaken self-improvement and applied their principle to themselves, voluntarily making their own lot more desperately miserable in order to rouse themselves from the coffee house table or book shop stall to the barricades and a more active part in the workings of history.

As we see, some principles of science are easier to put into practical effect than others.

Friday, January 18, 2008

You Wanna Read This

Piece on Chris Matthews. Trust me. I know, because I wrote it. Heh.

Goddess But I'm Naive

I am. Eternally the virgin when it comes to understanding the anti-feminists' strategies. When I posted the Chris Matthews pseudo-apology I wondered why he only discussed one specific incident when his history is full of such incidents of sexist comments. I thought he was just trying to save face.

But of course not. The reason was to prepare the groundwork for the argument that the feminazis are attacking poor Chris for one single isolated comment, taken out of context, and that this discussion is NOT about sexism but about censorship. And white guys are the oppressed group and Must.Fight.Back. for their right to make slurs about Hillary Clinton.

Don't believe me? Read this transcript about Scarborough's show:

SCARBOROUGH: Pat, I suppose I should guard my words here. I am not going to do it. This is offensive to me, that Chris Matthews said something that op-ed writers wrote about in '98, in '99, in 2000. That Bill Clinton scandal with Monica Lewinsky clearly helped Hillary Clinton politically because she showed enormous grace under fire, she showed just how strong she was, she continued doing her job. It was a very good moment for her. It was a bit like -- let's just say New Hampshire was a microcosm of that time, when she was getting abused last week. And we saw her the night before, when she thought she was going to lose by 15 points, she still showed an enormous strength -- and I've said this on the air before -- an enormous strength that I hope may be an example to my daughter, who -- or any woman who goes through so much -- so many problems but stays that strong.

Now, I've said all of that just to say, I think it's outrageous that Chris Matthews has to apologize for saying something, inartfully perhaps, so many years later that op-ed writers were talking about in '99 and 2000 because Gloria Steinem, who wrote an op-ed supporting Hillary Clinton before New Hampshire, Media Matters, who many people have called a front group for Hillary Clinton, just because they're attacking Chris Matthews, who has obviously been critical of Hillary Clinton. What's your take?

BUCHANAN: Well, let me say, look, I think you're exactly right. Hillary Rodham Clinton became for the American people for the first time a deeply sympathetic figure, not the sort of radical liberal she was perceived as being, when she stood up with grace under pressure under all that humiliation and frankly all that disgrace that was visited upon the presidency and upon her husband, and she handled herself exceedingly well, and that made her a sympathetic figure and was clearly an enormous boost to her when she decided to run for the Senate.

And frankly, I hope Chris was not forced to make any kind of statement like that or coerced. I do think what Chris said was very gracious in this sense: He seemed to say the only reason that she did well was because her husband was messing around. And I think Hillary Clinton -- frankly, I was astounded at how well she did running for the Senate, and she did go up to northern New York, that listening tour and talking to those people and taking the beating, and she did run a fine campaign, and she's been a fine United States senator from her standpoint, and those things have made her a prospective presidential candidate as well.

So what Chris said last night, I think was accurate. There were both things, were factors. But I do hope -- and I do agree with you. I hope nobody forced him to do that. And simply because Gloria Steinem or Media Matters or somebody else like that comes after you is no reason for anybody to apologize. It could be a badge of honor.


SCARBOROUGH: Well, it certainly has a chilling effect on what we do.

BRZEZINSKI: I'm probably going to say something that's wildly unpopular with women, but what bothers me about this is that the websites isolated one portion of what he said and that was a conversation, and I was a part of that conversation, and I actually remember saying to him that of course if Laura Bush or if someone else was humiliated by their husband, they wouldn't win for Senate because they didn't have the qualifications, and Hillary Clinton had worked all of her life getting experience. But what Chris was saying --

SCARBOROUGH: And Chris agreed with you.

BRZEZINSKI: He agreed with me, and that was the conversation. But what he was saying, like in New Hampshire, there was a confluence of events including sympathy --


BRZEZINSKI: -- that led to her success, and there was nothing wrong with pointing that out. There was nothing wrong with it.

SCARBOROUGH: And let me say, Pat, the reason I felt sorry for her personally -- personally, not as a reporter, but personally -- was because of some of the horrible things I thought her husband was saying about her on the campaign trail, and I've talked to a lot of men and a lot of women that felt the same way.

BRZEZINSKI: And she doesn't --

SCARBOROUGH: And we were like -- and we all said, "She deserves so much better than this."

BRZEZINSKI: She doesn't play the victim, but she happens to in some cases in time to have been one. It doesn't take away from her other qualities and her intellectual experience.


BUCHANAN: You know, Joe, on the morning of New Hampshire, I came on before John Edwards came on your show, and you played that clip of Edwards saying, "You've got to be tough to be president," you know, about her sort of emotional moment, and I said it was graceless. And behind that was the sentiment that she had been beaten up in the debate, and she had gotten emotional at the end of a campaign. It looked like everything was slipping away.

And I think, just like I did and others did who are not Clintonites, felt a sympathy for her. The women of New Hampshire came to her rescue there. And there's no doubt about it: It was again a deeply sympathetic moment for her. And just as the 1988 -- I mean, '98-'99, so in those 48 hours before New Hampshire, I think that emotion came to her, and I think it was the winning factor. And to the degree that Chris reflected on that, I think he was accurate.


SHUSTER: Just one comment about Chris Matthews. I've worked with him for five and a half years. I've been alongside him, on camera, off, good times and bad. Nobody is more gracious and has a bigger heart, and has contributed more in a positive way to our political discourse than Chris Matthews.

SCARBOROUGH: Now, let me say, let me say --

SHUSTER: And to see him have to go through this is absolutely infuriating, to see the way these groups used him for pure political gain is absolutely infuriating.

SCARBOROUGH: And let me say this also about Chris: He says things that drive me crazy. Some of the things he said on the war, on the president, on the vice president has made my face turn beet red, but you know what? I remembered what he said about the Democratic president 10 years earlier.

And again, it is so frightening. And I'll tell you what, Chris is hosting this show on Tuesday, and we're damn proud that he's doing that. The thing is, Pat, it seems that we live now in this media age, in this campaign where you've got groups like NOW, Gloria Steinem, Media Matters. They can take one clip out of a three-hour show and start putting pressure on journalistic operations, and this is what happens. It's terrible, isn't it?

BUCHANAN: The real danger, Joe, is not Chris Matthews, it is censorship.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, that's the bottom line.

SCARBOROUGH: It is censorship, and it's frightening.

BRZEZINSKI: And then at some point during the show, we do have to talk about Hillary on Tyra. I'm just saying. I'm just saying.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Very good. And I know Pat will agree with me, there is nothing wrong with a political campaign using third parties to try to beat up, to try to push back reporters that are tough on them. I -- Buchanan and I, we tried to do the same thing before. That's fine. That's what they do. It is up to the news agencies to show backbone. Right, Chris -- right, Pat?

BUCHANAN: I agree 100 percent, Joe.


Guarding the Custodians

That's my interpretation of the old Latin phrase about who keeps an eye on the bosses. It's Friday, so I won't look it up.

Anyway, I like the recount campaign in New Hampshire, paid by the Dennis Kucinich campaign. Every election should have demands for a recount until the election system is finally made safe, transparent and difficult to tamper. Yes, the recounts are a pain in the butt, yes, they take money and time. But this is one of those areas where all that is necessary.

If we can't guarantee that votes are delivered as they were intended then we have no democracy.

Some Things Worth Reading

Bob Herbert on politics and misogyny in the New York Times and Phila on the discourse about race at his very own blog.

Also Rebecca Solnit about the feminist aspects of the Zapatista movement at tomdispatch. com.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chris Matthews Apologizes

What do you think? He mentioned one incident about Hillary Clinton but not the many earlier incidents and neither did he say anything about the way he treats other women on his show. But an apology is a good beginning, I guess.

Added later: Media Matters has the transcript of the video.

The Invisible Candidate

John Edwards gets very little coverage when the media reports on the "horse-race", also called the Democratic Primaries. This is sad, because some of his policy initiatives are worth discussing and he is, after all, among the top three candidates at this time.

I believe that the voters lose by this news blackout of Edwards, and the Edwards campaign agrees:

Today's Action Alert

Remember the Lilly Ledbetter case? Her company paid her less than comparable male employees for nearly two decades. She sued the company for wage discrimination, won initially, but had the Supreme Court overturn the decision. The Supreme Court concluded that she should have filed her complaint within six months of the original act of discrimination, despite the fact that she wasn't aware of the discrimination at that point.

The Senate is now considering the Fair Pay Restoration Act which would allow victims of employment discrimination more time to file a complaint. If you support this Act, consider signing the Fair Pay Campaign Pledge.

Why You Should Buy the Winter Issue of Ms. Magazine

The main reason is so that they can pay me for the book review I wrote for that issue.

Just kidding, about the payment part (I hope). But the issue has other goodies in addition to my humble review (of Martha McCaughey's The Caveman Mystique: Pop-Darwinism and the Debates Over Sex, Violence and Science.). The editors note some of the other goodies:

The cover story looks at the dire effects of punitive U.S. family-planning policies including the "global gag rule"—which restricts health providers in developing countries from even mentioning abortion if they want to keep their much-needed U.S. funding. The piece includes a close-up view of a gynecological ward in Nairobi, Kenya that treats the victims of botched, unsafe abortions.

Ms. also undertook an investigation of the big-money interests behind the so-called "civil rights initiatives" initiatives sponsored by Ward Connerly, which are really intended to wipe out affirmative action programs for women and minorities. In addition, the magazine examines the threats to our voting rights in 2008—and profiles two feminist secretaries of state who are setting new standards for protecting voters from fraud, purges and defective voting machines.

Other articles include a feminist scholar's take on the women in hot sitcoms (Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes, Sarah Silverman, etc.), an analysis of the never-flagging interest in Jane Austen (and her attack on the patriarchy!), and a heart-wrenching memoir excerpt from a woman who was tortured in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

For more information about the Ms. magazine, go to their website.

A Rally To Protest Tweety

The National Women's Political Caucus is holding a rally today, January 17, at 4 p.m. outside of NBC News, 4001 Nebraska Ave NW (right off AU circle), Washington D.C., to protest and object to Chris Matthews sexist comments and behavior on "Hardball" and as a commentator on MSNBC.

The Caucus is eager to have lots of people turn up for the rally, so if you are in the vicinity do show up. You could wear a Tweety mask if you're shy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

EVOLUTION, evolution, ideology and the continuation of LIFE.

Part One. Posted by olvlzl

For my sister-in-law, Dr. M.W.D., the biologist who has talked through some of my questions with me.

EVOLUTION is long. It’s really, really long. It encompasses the entire duration of life on the planet Earth. Most commonly that is thought today to be a period of more than three billion years. That’s a number we are all familiar with hearing but getting your mind around what even one billion - 1,000,000,000 - years really consists of is impossible. What could a billion years mean to a person? What would the first, the last and all of the varied unknown and unrecorded days, seasons, years and ages in between years one and one billion mean. They are incomprehensible in their vast duration and compass of possible experience in terms of even the longest human life span. We have no frame of reference.

And not only is EVOLUTION (upper case) long, it is also large in numbers, encompassing, literally, all of the lives of all of the organisms that have ever existed. All of the organisms which have reproduced or been produced. That number is of many magnitudes larger than even the incomprehensible billions of years already mentioned. Consider, just as a sample of the complications, the known time periods between generations of living species of rodents, and of one-celled organisms. Consider the number of fertile eggs some species of plants, insects and mollusks produce in one reproductive cycle. Each of the surviving, reproducing individuals was and is a variation, many have the possibility of having an effect on future generations. Leaving the entirely relevant question of individuals aside, imagining even the number of what we might classify as species, each comprising subspecies, varieties, and other sub groupings is incomprehensible.

Now it’s necessary to make a distinction between EVOLUTION, the actual fact of life in both its ancient and contemporary diversity and numbers, and the human science of evolution (lower case), which attempts to study the mechanisms and artifacts of all those lives and to understand many different aspects of them, including the attempts to make general assertions about them. Let’s allow the conventional beginning of the science of evolution as the publication date of The Origin of Species, 1859. In that case, evolution as a formal, scientific, study has been going on for about a hundred fifty years.

Immediately we have come on something remarkable, the difference between the billions of years that EVOLUTION has been operating and the mere one hundred fifty years that it has been studied to date. The fraction which would represent the part of EVOLUTION which is taken up by the human study of it looks something like 150 over 3,000,000,000+. A hundred-fifty years outstrips the conscious experience of most human beings by about twice, but it would appear to be like the briefest noticeable moment when opposed to the time that EVOLUTION has been continually in process*.

As a way of beginning the approximation of how complete a picture our science of evolution can give us today , other factors, of equal and even greater importance than the number of years, species, and individuals, have to be considered. While these numbers yielded by these aren’t known we can know that whatever it is would tax our imagination so as to be incomprehensible even before multiplication of factors to be considered begins. It is far from the end of it.

There is much more to consider such as the individual physical aspects of the bodies and lives of all individuals which could impinge on the processes of EVOLUTION, those which we know about, those which we will never know about due to the fact that their traces are lost for all time. The available physical record available to us represents an infinitesimally small number of the physical variations that must have had some impact on the species and individuals alive today. Many of the examples available to us may or may not be representative of whatever species we might assign them to, if we were able to. Added into that the impacts of climate, pathology, nutrition, and those entirely unavailable variables, behavior and chance happening, which would properly enter into the study, the data available to study might be seen as nugatory. We can be certain that the information we have available or will ever have available is inadequate to present even a general picture of EVOLUTION, our study must, therefore, be limited to only a small part of it.

If, by some miracle, the reproduction by a single strand of life continued unbroken over more than three billion years it would produce astonishing physical variation if only as a matter of chance mutation over time. To say ‘by some miracle’ is not accurate, though, because that is literally the case of every single organism alive as you read this. It has been a single unbroken strand from the beginning of evolution that has produced each of us, no two alike. And that is entirely too simple, because we are at the ends of intertwining stands through innumerable exchanges of genetic material among different organisms, all of them subject to the possibility of mutation. Reproduction by the numbers we are considering clearly produces variety of results, in ways and almost certainly by means which we can not begin to imagine. It would be literally miraculous if it hadn’t. One thing that it is essential to keep in mind, at every moment in that three billion years there was a living being that was the offspring of living beings and which produced living beings all living in an environment that allowed them to survive.

This experiment could lead us to an important conclusion, while EVOLUTION is a fact supported by the relevant science, the belief that we know more than a tiny part of that phenomenon is absurd. EVOLUTION, in terms of human capacity, is effectively of infinite complexity**. It is almost certain that much many more facts will be known if the study continues, maybe many times more than what we have now. I would propose that it is certain we can’t even suspect enormous parts of even what will be knowable.

But this daunting picture doesn’t mean that what we do know is unimportant. A mathematician once pointed out that given the infinity of topics that could possibly be taken up to study in mathematics, the question of interest becomes a matter of greatest importance. And as we have seen the possibilities surrounding EVOLUTION are equally taxing of the attention of the human species.

What do those who study evolution want from it? What uses can it be put to, what uses is it put to? To what extent do people who hope to make a profession out of the study of evolution allow their personal interests to effect their ideally objective science? Do they hope to get a certain job with people of a certain ideology? It could be the hope of professional acceptance that might shade what is concluded. It might even be that the science itself, what has been published to date and what is currently fashionable skews consideration. Does the professional study of evolution limit the science itself ? Do those engaged in it find what they are looking for and miss other things?***

And, by all means, we have to limit the consideration to those who accept that EVOLUTION is a fact and who do not try to impose an agenda which cannot be evaluated with the legitimate tools and methods of science. To do that removes someone from serious, scientific, consideration.

I have said that the science of evolution is important but it isn’t the most important thing in life. Life has gotten along for billions of years without our science, as shown in the fourth paragraph above. Somehow its having done so without the custodial care of human science almost leads to a feeling of anxiety. And yet it happened unobserved and unremarked by us.****

There is a consideration made much more interesting than evolution by necessity, today. We are in the midst of a mass extinction event caused by human activity. It endangers a huge part of the diversity of the biosphere, shutting off the lines of huge numbers of species, entire biotas are in danger of extinction. It is entirely possible that the products of science, technology, economics, politics and other human activities could kill us all.

EVOLUTION compared to the human study, evolution, is infinitely more important. Preservation of the thing studied is more important than the study of it. Our most important tool to preserve the biosphere, the only link between the entire past of life and the entirety of what life there is in the future, is politics. Politics is one of the greatest tools we have to correct human actions that endanger us all. The political success of environmental protection and species preservation is far more important than protecting any dearly cherished ideology of humans. Capitalism, communism, socialism, physics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, Darwinism - which, many of you will be surprised to realize, isn’t the same thing as evolution -, creationism, etc. None of these are as important as saving the planet, none of them would have the possibility of existing without the life of the planet being saved.

Even these cherished ideologies and theories which our educations falsely lead us to believe are paramount, are entirely dependent for their existence on the future of EVOLUTION. Whatever they can lend to that effort is necessary, whatever preserves the life of the planet is necessary, whatever endangers it must be rejected. This includes whatever these ideologies, sciences, fads, etc. do which results in preventing political change that is necessary to save the environment. Environmental science, in so far as it is used to preserve the basis of life is the most important science we have ever devised. It is the science that deserves our greatest concern and effort. It is the key to our survival.

* We could also consider the number of researchers in evolution and its allied fields and wonder how that number could compare with the range of what is included with Evolution.

** The opponents of evolution and those who deny EVOLUTION aren’t stupid. They are quite able to read and figure out the weak spots in the man made theories about it. Not being honest about those weaknesses, pretending that the fact of EVOLUTION stands or falls on the basis of current ideologies within evolution plays into their hands.

*** Maybe it is right to look at the body of professionals who make their living in evolutionary science as being the product of selection pressures, or of adaptation to their profession’s environment. While EVOLUTION is a fact supported by an amazing amount of science it is large enough and unknown enough to produce different ideas. Perhaps a different species of evolutionist would dominate the field if the cultural environment and, especially, those with the ability to fund it hadn’t favored a particular point of view. Being a casual witness to just the death match over the rather modest idea of “spandrels”, in the 90s its clear there was a struggle for survival and reproduction. How could they object to these questions being raised about their profession?

**** It is undeniable that EVOLUTION would have fared better in species diversity and, most likely, in the possibility of its continuing at all, if humans and our culture, hadn’t evolved. Though they are not entirely to blame, science and technology are some of the primary causes of the destruction of the environment. They have accelerated the process of destroying the environment through magnifying the powers of human despoilers and they have provided chemicals and mechanisms not found by those without science and technology. They have done this at a rate many times faster than they have generated the knowledge needed to preserve the planet. To deny that is as irresponsible as it is ridiculous. To allow that fact to go unsaid precludes possibilities of reform and we need reform in the behavior that results from science. Science is almost as important as politics in the struggle to save the planet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh noes!

I can't believe Huckabee actually said this:

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

I'm gonna make a burqa out of a bedspread, just in case.

Just to remind you, when Huckabee says "family", he means a very specific kind of a family, with a man-priest leading the little flock and the woman gracefully submitting to his leadership. And no homos marrying, naturally. But the deeper reading is also important.

Some Republican heads will now explode, because the plan was to use the fundamentalists and not to actually turn the party over to them.

Learning the Womanly Art of Self-Defense

Shakes has written a very important post about why women flocking into those weekend self-defense programs will not keep them safe from rape, and how the idea that it is women, the potential victims, who should fix the rape problem, how that idea stinks to high heavens. I have no disagreements with her arguments when it comes to the politics of sexual violence against women.

What I want to write about instead is the womanly art of self-defense. This is a term I have decided to use, to reflect the kinds of things girls and women should know for their own safety in this world. The Caitlin Flanagan op-ed piece about the brutal biology crushing teenage girls if we don't lock them up* reminded me of an old patriarchal trick: Make women think and believe that nothing they can do will make any difference. Someone else must step in and protect them, because they are fragile flowers and incapable of anything but victimhood.

Thus, Flanagan's article doesn't mention contraceptives as a way for teenage girls to have sex and not to get pregnant, but it paints both abortion and childbirth as horrible, psychologically destructive and permanent punishments for women who have sex too early. Neither does she mention that the society could tell young men not to press their girlfriends for unprotected sex. "Abstinence only" campaigns don't come into her narrative, either, even though the prevalence of those campaigns could be the very reason why teenage pregnancy rates are up after falling for a while.

The picture I imagine of Flanagan's teenage girls is as tragic victims. Like all those fairy-tale heroes locked up in towers or lying pseudo-dead in glass coffins, waiting for the prince to come and rescue them. That way of thinking is a vicious, mean, horrible cycle which is just intended to make teenage girls into real victims: shuttered inside their houses with perhaps painted-over windows as in the Taliban Afghanistan.

For we really cannot be both free and totally safe. Ultimately a woman is only quite safe when she is dead. Does that thought make you happy?

Flanagan and others of the same ilk offer women the panacea of protection: protection by fathers and mothers and protection by husbands. What is the price of that protection? And how do the women protect themselves when the protector turns into a predator? No answers to these questions, because the point of these stories is to spread the myth of female victimhood, to paralyze women by fear into agreeing to be protected and governed by others.

So what is the womanly art of self-defense? It is anything that makes you feel as if you suddenly can breathe easier, as if your eyes can see more clearly, as if a heavy weight just fell of your feminine shoulders. It's life-skills which make you better able to take care of yourself: To learn about sex, about your health, about finances, about the hidden traps of patriarchy. To learn how to cook, how to drive, how to keep a job, how to take care of your own needs. To learn your legal rights and your political rights and to use those rights. To let yourself grow into an adult human being and to face the trials and tribulations all adults face, as well as the shining moments of joy which are not otherwise allowed. To change and to grow (yes, I know these terms have been diminished and warped, but there is a real kind of change and a real kind of growing and they are good).

And to face disagreement and acrimony and even violence without necessarily caving in. To learn to fight, in short.

All this requires taking down the myth of female fear, the one that has been slowly constructed by all those old movies where the trapped heroine hammers the attacker's ribcage (the best protected part of the human body, other than the skull) with her fists (which can't get in-between the ribs to do any real damage), and the one that is being reinforced right now with all the stories about the dead young women, preferably white, because in this society white women are still the majority of women. Those stories tell us that it's dangerous out there for women and that women better not go out there. They don't remind us that it's dangerous at home for women, too, because that's not what the myth needs us knowing.

There are many ways to dismantle the myth of female helplessness. Political action can do it. Individual action can help. Learning physical self-defense can help. Talking about the issues is useful. But all of these require the acceptance, on some levels, that women can fight, that it is acceptable for women to fight and that women might even want to fight. Even for themselves.
*My take on the Flanagan piece here is one with x-ray glasses on.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Today's Action Alert

Courtesy of, it concerns the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, one on which I have blogger several times earlier. This is a letter written by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter about Jamie Leigh Jones:

Dear Friends,

I need your help.

Two years ago, 20 year old Jamie Leigh Jones was drugged, assaulted, and viciously gang raped on the job by her fellow coworkers. Learning of the attack, her employers placed her under armed guard in a shipping container for 24 hours without access to food or water.

Two years later, these horrific acts of unspeakable violence, as well as, the unbelievable reaction by her employers have gone unpunished and justice has not been served.

Why? How this could this happen? Because the 20 year old victim was a government contractor at KBR in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq.

Jamie Leigh Jones, an American citizen, while employed by KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton was brutally gang raped by fellow KBR employees two years ago while stationed in Iraq. Army doctors performed a medical examination which showed that she had been raped both anally and vaginally. However, the rape kit was turned over to KBR and portions of the rape kit have vanished. Jamie was then ordered by her KBR employers to remain in a shipping container under armed guard for 24 hours without access to food or water until she was rescued after her Member of Congress demanded action by the State Department.

After two years, not only has the Justice Department not brought any criminal charges, but ABC News recently reported that they could not confirm that any federal agency was investigating the case at all.

There are over 20,000 Americans employed by US government contractors in Iraq. These individuals have the same right to treatment, services, and proper investigations when they are the victims of violent crime as those of us here at home. Their offenders, who are paid with American taxpayer dollar, should be held accountable.

Since Jamie has gone public with her story, it is clear that this is not an isolated incident; many women working for US Government contractors face sexual assault and harassment. Yet, the perpetrators of these violent crimes are not held accountable and justice is not served.

The current state of affairs is absolutely unacceptable. Action is required.

This is where I need your help.

I, along with Congressman Ted Poe and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, am taking the first step to ensuring accountability by sending letters to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding answers in the KBR rape cases and asking them to clearly define the steps they are taking to ensure that what happened to Jamie will ever happen again.

I need your help to get your Member of Congress to sign on to these letters. It’s been two years and it is obvious that the Departments of Defense and State are not taking this issue seriously. We need to show them that the House of Representatives demands action.

Please call your Member of Congress as soon as possible and ask them to contact me, Louise M. Slaughter, to sign on to the letters to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding answers about the KBR rape cases and how they plan to prevent these occurrences in the future.

With your help, we can take the first step to preventing what happened to Jamie from ever happening again.

In solidarity,

Louise M. Slaughter

Member of Congress

Contact your Congress Critter and ask him or her to sign on to the letters Congresswoman Slaughter mentions.

Selling Bombs to Saudi Arabia

That's what the U.S. is planning to do. International trade is fun. While the Saudis are buying bombs from the U.S., a Saudi prince is buying bits of the Citigroup Inc.. And of course the Saudis sell oil. Everybody ends up very pleased, except perhaps the final consumers of those bombs.

I can't help thinking of that old saying that a capitalist would sell you the rope you are going to hang him with.

What I Learned Yesterday, Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Yesterday was a busy day at the New York Times op-ed pages. A women's day! Can you believe that? I knew you couldn't, but I swear I'm not lying. Honest and cross my heart. It's so cool!

First there was a piece by Lorrie Moore, titled "Last Year's Role Model". See, feminism is no longer in fashion at all, so it's ok to write about that and to tell women that they missed their chance to get equality and that now it's too late:

Does her being a woman make her a special case? Does gender confer meaning on her candidacy? In my opinion, it is a little late in the day to become sentimental about a woman running for president. The political moment for feminine role models, arguably, has passed us by. The children who are suffering in this country, who are having trouble in school, and for whom the murder and suicide rates and economic dropout rates are high, are boys — especially boys of color, for whom the whole educational system, starting in kindergarten, often feels a form of exile, a system designed by and for white girls.

So there was that shining moment and women failed to grab it but got instead the total dominion in the school system. Awesome! We rulz!

Though I feel so bad for the boyz. Must be awful not to have good role models:

Perfect historical timing has always been something of a magic trick — finite and swift. The train moves out of the station. The time to capture the imagination of middle-class white girls, the group Hillary Clinton represents, was long ago. Such girls have now managed on their own (given that in this economy only the rich are doing well). They have their teachers and many other professionals to admire, as well as a fierce 67-year-old babe as speaker of the House, several governors and a Supreme Court justice. The landscape is not bare.

Boys are faring worse — and the time for symbols and leaders they can connect with beneficially should be now and should be theirs. Hillary Clinton's gender does not rescue society from that — instead she serves as a kind of nostalgia for a time when it might have. Only her policies are what matter now, and here — despite some squabbling and bad advice that has caused her to "go negative" — the Democrats largely agree. But inspiration is essential for living, and Mr. Obama holds the greater fascination for our children.

So I learned that politicians and Supreme Court Justices are selected to be role models and that rich white bitches already have plenty but the boyz don't. And boyz are more needy (well, we knew that already, dear diary, about their needs, hee), so they need not only all the presidents but also eight out of the nine Supreme Court Justices and it's still not enough, I guess. Do you think Lorrie really means that if Huckleberry gets to be the president all the Hispanic and black boyz will feel elated? I'm not sure, but then I have like a girl-brain. It's so hard to think politics and so boooorrriinnggg!

Dear diary, right after Lorrie's saga Kaitlin Flanagan piped in. Yes! Two women in a row! Which shows that Lorrie was right. Grrrlllpower! Kaitlin is worried about us teenage girls because we get pregnant if we have nookie. She calls fucking nookie elsewhere, in those articles where she talks about how much she hates modern women and women who have jobs and mothers who don't stay at home and especially feminism. But Lorrie already told us that feminism is so out of fashion, it's OUT. So nobody smart would be caught dead in feminism.

Anyway, in this piece Kaitlin pretends not to hate feminism so that she can be sad over how badly it has failed to protect teenage girls against the dangers that are out there. You know, like boyz. Wait, I'm getting all confused here. Wasn't it boyz who are in trouble? Now it's us. How did that happen? Can you sort it out, dear diary?

This is what Kaitlin sez:

We, too, have a deep commitment to girls, and ours centers not on protecting their chastity, but on supporting their ability to compete with boys, to be free — perhaps for the first time in history — from the restraints that kept women from achieving on the same level. Now we have to ask ourselves this question: Does the full enfranchisement of girls depend on their being sexually liberated? And if it does, can we somehow change or diminish among the very young the trauma of pregnancy, the occasional result of even safe sex?

Biology is destiny, and the brutally unfair outcome that adolescent sexuality can produce will never change. Twenty years ago, I taught high school in a town near New Orleans. There was a girls' bathroom next to my classroom, which was more convenient for me than the faculty one on the other side of campus. In the last stall, carved deeply into the metal box reserved for used sanitary napkins, was the single word "Please."

Jeesh, that's scary stuff. Dear diary, do you think that I should stay at home now? Maybe I get preggers and shit if I go out or maybe I shouldn't go to college because then some boy won't be able to? Or I end up scratching the word "please" with my bare fingernails on some used rag can somewhere? Because biology makes me do that? Fuck biology, sez I. Hugs and kisses, dear diary.

For more adult takes on these two pieces see The Carpetbagger Report on the first one and Whiskey Fire and Pandagon for the second one.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Today's Ha-Ha-Ha Moment

Brought to you by this cartoon from the Washington Post:

Click on the picture to really savor it.

Humor is tough to analyze, but Oliphant appears to think that the idea of a woman as a president is funny, and that no female leader has ever been viewed as a competent one by any country at any period of history (coughElizabethIcoughCatherinetheGreatcoughZenobiacoughandsoonhork). And that PMS is something a woman who just turned sixty might suffer from, which suggests that Oliphant should have someone take him aside to be gently explained all about menopause.

But of course none of that's the point of the joke. The joke is about the impossibly funny idea of a woman in power. Just imagine it! A vagina on that chair! It leaks! It has a fluffy and over-emotional brain, teetering somewhere above the vagina and the breasts, and the whole structure is guffaw-funny and meant to be fucked and to be kept minding small babies (why would a hare-brained and overly emotional person be allowed that important role?) and of course it should make sandwiches. Otherwise the U.S. will be the laughing-stock of all penis-centered countries on this earth. Now that is funny.

The Reclusive Leftist (the place where I got the cartoon from) has an even less calm and objective reaction to it:

Women have no idea how much men hate them, said Germaine Greer. You have to raise your head above the parapet to find out, or let some other woman raise her head. And then you see. Then you really see.

I remember reading that quote a long time ago, and also another quote by someone else, I think, who argued that men have no idea how much women fear them and that women have no idea how much men despise them.

I have always been a logical nitpicker (not all men or women are like that, what percentage is? why? how do we know this?), a pessimist about facts and an optimist in hope, so I have so far refused to agree with those statements. And I still do, but my refusal is on probation, given the current political discussion in the United States and what it reveals.

And one thing it certainly reveals is the sheer obliviousness of so many male writers, pundits and thinkers to gender. Gender is something that only women seem to have, and mostly women themselves are kind of invisible blots that one may pretty safely ignore. Or perhaps laugh at. They are not part of the audience for Oliphant's cartoons, for example. They are not part of the audience for Chris Matthew's Hardballs. That they are voters comes up only when they seem to vote "wrong" in some sense, such as in the argument that women vote for their gender when in fact it looks like men vote for their gender.

That these guys don't get the fact that they are not just laughing at Hillary Clinton but at all the women voters out there is stupendously, stunningly, shockingly apparent. That, or they are misogynists. You choose.
Added later: The e-mail address of the ombudsman at Washington Post is:

Science (Reporting?) Fails To Imitate Life. Posted by olvlzl.

Well, Duh! .... I mean Duh!

A series of studies, the latest published in November, has shown that children can solve math problems better if they are told to use their hands while thinking.

OK. So we aren’t told in the article how they are using their hands, called “nature’s abacus” by an elementary teacher I know. In the half hour I’ve been searching online I haven’t found out the answer to that either. Maybe they mention that in the published study but excuse my suspicions ....

In one study, Beilock and Holt had college hockey players, along with a non-hockey-player control group, read a sentence, sometimes hockey-related, sometimes not. Then the subjects would be shown a picture and asked if it corresponded with the sentence. Hockey players and non-hockey players alike almost invariably answered correctly, but on the hockey-related sentences the response times of the hockey players were significantly faster than the nonplayers.

Um, hum. No one in the world would guess that hockey players would be faster at that than non-players. Yes, I’m having a little bit of fun with this.

As happy as I am to have the predominant dogma about brains as computers made of meat challenged, I’ve got no faith that this kind of jumping to conclusions is the way to find reality. A lot of that is the fault of the media. We’ve gone over that here before. But the scientists don’t do much in the way of bringing things distorted in the media back to what their published papers really show. The article is full of partial descriptions of studies like these, the media has been presenting science like this for as long as they’ve been covering it. Scientists have a responsibility to not go out on a limb themselves but they also have the responsibility to bring things back to reality when the public is being coaxed out there too. Complaining that their work has been misrepresented only after that has been brought up to them isn’t the most efficient way of promoting the public’s understanding of science. It’s responsible for a good part of the cynicism the public has about science.


Why would anyone who looks at a person who is thinking and acting while living in a physical body try to find out how that happens through reductionist hacking away at the parts and ignoring the whole system? When the thinking is observable only as the expression of the whole person, why would anyone get away with ignoring that most obvious fact? That doing so makes it possible for a “study” to be done, a paper published, a theory or, God help us, an entire “school” of “science” set up doesn’t make it an honest endeavor. When there isn’t the exigency of a mental illness or harmful actions that have to be dealt with somehow, it’s not even defensible on the basis of necessity. And how can anyone who practices this kind of reductionism of convenience get away with making generalizations about “human nature”?

"It's a revolutionary idea," says Shaun Gallagher, the director of the cognitive science program at the University of Central Florida. "In the embodied view, if you're going to explain cognition it's not enough just to look inside the brain. In any particular instance, what's going on inside the brain in large part may depend on what's going on in the body as a whole, and how that body is situated in its environment."

Why, after more than a century of the allegedly scientific study of these things, with the “findings” allowed to have a direct and sometimes harmful effect on people, should the most basic fact about the phenomena constitute a revolutionary idea? What does that tell us about the practices of the behavioral sciences and why it is safe to remain skeptical of them?

Using Tonya. Posted by olvlzl.

It’s my own fault. You don’t read an interview titled "Elizabeth Searle Why Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan makes a perfect rock opera” and keep the right to not have a bad taste in your mouth.

Let’s get it over with. In 2008 the only interesting thing about that tabloid exhausted affair is what can it tell us about the sordid figure skating industry. Jeff Gillooly is rightly seen as a sleaze who exploited his wife who he clearly saw as his ticket to the good life but the figure skating industry chews up innumerable children, especially girls, and spits all but a few of them onto the floor. You don’t get the idea from the interview that this is what Searle has planned.

IDEAS: When did you realize that this material would become such an artistic bonanza for you?

SEARLE: Right from the start. It was such a girl scandal. The ice skating was so ballerina-like and then the clubbing was so brutal.

IDEAS: What is the most operatic moment of the story, aside from the obvious?

SEARLE: My first thought, when I wanted to expand this story into a full-length show, was "hairbrush."

IDEAS: Hairbrush?

SEARLE: It haunted me that Tonya's mother - allegedly - would beat Tonya with a hairbrush if she lost a meet.

Forgive me for believing that John Waters’ might make more artistic use of this material.

Maybe there’s a rock opera to be written about the use of Tonya Harding by what passes as our high culture and academe in this over-ripe empire. Seems that before Searle was done with these people, her niece borrowed them.

And Searle knew she had to transform the event into a grand opus.
In fact, the novelist would revisit the material for the next 14 years - and not just in her literary fiction. On Easter 2004, Searle learned that her niece planned to compose a one-act opera as part of her graduate work at Tufts.

Tufts graduate school? And then there’s the Boston Globes’ “Ideas” section.

If you can stomach it, you might look at the list of how Tonya has been used in the Wikipedia bio of her tragic life. I’m not going to link, you know how to find it.

Is there anything redeemable about this slummy interview in “Ideas” today? Maybe.

IDEAS: Did Tonya Harding make any kind of statement when she learned that an opera was in the works?

SEARLE: Yeah, she said she couldn't care less, because she has bigger fish to fry.

IDEAS: Literally? Because I know she's been doing car shows and celebrity boxing matches, so I could see how frying big fish might be her new big thing.

SEARLE: I think she was talking at that point about a reality TV show.

You wonder why Tonya Harding might not be interested in going over this subject again for the entertainment of, well, whoever else wants to go over it again. My hope is that she realizes that she’s more likely to walk away with more to show from a few car shows and has a better chance at being treated with some dignity if she’s the one to choose how she’s presented. I hope she gives up some of the more sordid spectacles. She's had too much taken from her already.

Note: I have nothing against Nancy Kerrigan. I’ve had good feelings about her ever since she got into trouble for apparently dissing Mickey Mouse.