Awesome Women: pirates, lesbian weddings past & present, and topless Victorian fight club May 24, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: Ching Shih, dueling, feminism, history, Mary Fields, pirates, Sarah Robles, the gays
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“Up until her death in 1914 at the age of 82, Old West badass “Stagecoach” Mary Fields had a standing bet at her local saloon: Five bucks and a glass of whiskey said she could knock out any cowboy in Cascade, Montana with a single punch. After the third or fourth dumb asshole tried to take her up on it, nobody ever had the balls to do it again.“
“The first recorded duel between English women took place in 1792 over an insult about age. Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone exchanged pistol shots at ten yards, missed each other and then concluded the event with smallswords. Upon drawing blood from Mrs. Elphinstone’s elbow, Lady Braddock declared her honor satisfied, and the two curtsied to each other and left the field. Witnesses agreed that the ladies conducted themselves with great courage and dignity.” A history of women in European dueling.
“An LGBT blogger and her partner became the first gay couple to get married at Tokyo Disney last Friday, undeterred by a lack of legal recognition for same-sex partnerships in Japan.” (Their dresses are so pretty.)
So, okay, we know that the most successful pirate in history was Ching Shih, a Chinese woman. And her gender wasn’t exactly an outlier, either.
The highest-ranked weightlifter in America is one Sarah Robles. Not highest-ranked female weightlifter, but highest-ranked weightlifter, period. And she was still having trouble getting a sponsor in time for the Olympics last year — although, in a credit to justice, she finally did.
“During the 19th century, women in what some Victorians referred to as “female marriages” lived together, owned property in common, called each other “hubby” or “wedded wife” and were recognised as a couple, including by the traditionalists among their neighbours and friends.”
Science!: a nature & outer space roundup May 23, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: astronomy, SCIENCE!, things made of awesome
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Human beings have mostly-invisible stripes. You can see them with certain skin conditions, or with chimeras; current theory says they’re based on the way cells grow during with embryo development.
A bunch of creepy-looking new species (and mutations), including a Yoda-faced bat, a one-eyed shark, and a NSFW snake.
Eighty-thousand-year-old grove of trees! That is, it’s a single connected root system, with a ton of apparently-separate trees growing out of it.
“Astronomers said Thursday that they had found the most Earth-like worlds yet known in the outer cosmos, a pair of planets that appear capable of supporting life and that orbit a star 1,200 light-years from here, in the northern constellation Lyra.“
“Researchers in the United Kingdom have found algae-like fossils in meteorite fragments that landed in Sri Lanka last year.” It’s still not a certainty that the fossils are biological in nature…but they sure do look like it.
“NASA astronomers announced Thursday they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy.” With pictures. Amazing pictures.
This is why we can’t have nice things May 16, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: gun control, Politics
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Gabrielle Giffords shreds the Senate’s gun vote in a scathing editorial. All the more admirable when you consider that she still has trouble speaking in complete sentences since that gunshot she took to the head.
“I’m a libertarian who played a role in reducing handgun restrictions in the nation’s capital. In 2008, in a landmark case I helped initiate, Heller v. District of Columbia, the Supreme Court declared for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to bear arms. But the stonewalling of the background check proposal was a mistake, both politically and substantively.“
“The ATF is officially responsible for inspecting and overseeing licensed firearms dealers. But in 2004, the gun lobby successfully pushed a rider to specifically prevent the ATF from requiring dealers to conduct an annual inventory. As a result, tens of thousands of lost and stolen guns go unreported every year.” And other ways the NRA has blocked efforts to reduce gun crime.
“Letting a lawsuit go forward may not sound like a big deal, but Congress enacted a law in 2005 — under heavy lobbying from the NRA and the gun industry — that gives gun manufacturers and dealers broad immunity from being sued.“
“When Zina Haughton, 42, got a restraining order against her husband, Radcliffe, last October — she told a court that his threats “terrorize my every waking moment” — he became ineligible to buy a gun under federal law. But he found a way around that: he bought a gun from a private seller he found on the Internet who, unlike federally licensed dealers, was not legally required to check his background.”
“Burdick began receiving, as she puts it, “the usual threatening e-mails” — as did a fellow gun control advocate in the Legislature, Mitch Greenlick. He told The Oregonian that the e-mail he received from gun extremists was often abusive, obscene and anti-Semitic. He predicted that gun legislation would go nowhere because legislators were too frightened to act.”
A spot of bright news: “A continent removed from Washington’s shameful resistance to new gun controls, California has just enacted a law that will speed up the confiscation of firearms from an estimated 20,000 people who bought them legally but were later disqualified because of a conviction for a violent crime, a finding of mental illness or a restraining order for domestic violence.” More changes like this, please.
How’s that economy been doing? April 27, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: gainful employment, Politics
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A recent study: The longer you’re unemployed, the less eager employees are to hire you. Goodie.
“Recently, Rand Ghayad ran a follow-up experiment, sending 4800 fictitious applications for 600 job openings. The applications differed by length of unemployment, how often they switched jobs, and experience. What he found was long term unemployment dramatically lowers your chance of a callback. In fact, long term unemployed with relevant experience were less likely to get called back than those that did not have relevant experience, but who had a shorter unemployment.”
“I would say between April and August I probably had 45 to 50 different meetings that I would just initiate on my own, asking someone, ‘Can we just go have coffee, or just go to lunch?’…from an Internet standpoint, I have filled out and put in resumes for about 380 to 390 positions….Interview-wise, I would say I’ve gone on maybe 40 interviews over the last 17 months…I learned, obviously, now, after 17 months, that it has not necessarily [been] easy to secure another position.“
“‘After nine months of ignored letters and legal threats, I filed an online complaint with the CFPB,’ writes Charles, referring to the agency’s mortgage complaint portal, which requires lenders and servicers to respond to each complaint within a given time frame. ‘I heard from Wells Fargo’s executive customer service office within 48 hours. Within three weeks, the lien was released. This saved us the trouble of filing a lawsuit, which would have been enormously costly and exhausting.’”
“One of the most surprising, and perhaps confounding, facts of charity in America is that the people who can least afford to give are the ones who donate the greatest percentage of their income. In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income.”
“Each year, the government doles out tax breaks worth $1.1 trillion. That is more than the cost of Medicare and Medicaid combined. It is more than Social Security. It tops the defense budget, and it tops the budget for nondefense discretionary programs, which include most everything else.”
“But the big news here isn’t just about the politics of a Republican House speaker tacitly admitting they agree with a Democratic president. It is also about a bigger admission revealing the fact that the GOP’s fiscal alarmism is not merely some natural reaction to reality, but a calculated means to other ideological ends.“
Same-sex marriage everywhere! April 25, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: religion, the gays
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Also, the current Pope advocated civil unions for same-sex couples in his home country. And Maryland (which has been cool on the same-sex marriage front for a little while now) nixed the death penalty not so long ago.
Sometimes things don’t suck.
Tags: gun control, kids, Politics
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Including some from the following accidental gun shots, none of which happened earlier than this February:
Ukranian child shot in the head by his American adoptive father. Who was “teaching the boy to shoot” at the time.
“The [Texas] school district was sponsoring the class as part of its program to arm teachers and other school employees, in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre and the NRA’s call for America to arm its schools. [...] You can guess what happened next.“
“A school district in New York has put a program to put armed officers in schools on hold after a policeman’s handgun went off at Highland High School.“
“A Massachusetts police dog was digging in a snow bank early Saturday morning found what he was looking for: not only did police canine Ivan discover a stolen handgun, he fired it too.“
“A 3-year-old boy from Manchester, Tennessee was left in critical condition over the weekend after being shot while handling a small gun that an adult left sitting on a nearby counter-top.“
“Family and friends in Michigan are mourning the death of a 4-year-old Jackson County deputy’s son, who accidentally shot and killed himself over the weekend.“
“A 6-year-old Toms River boy was shot in the head with a .22 caliber rifle early tonight while in the yard of a 4-year-old neighbor, police said. [...] He said police were investigating whether the 4-year-old boy pulled the trigger or the rifle accidentally discharged.”
“[W]hy can’t we come up with a technology that would keep a gun from going off when it is being held by a child? [...] It turns out — why is this not a surprise? — that such technologies already exist. [...] Why aren’t these lifesaving technologies in widespread use? No surprise here, either: The usual irrational opposition from the National Rifle Association and gun absolutists, who claim, absurdly, that a gun that only can be fired by its owner somehow violates the Second Amendment.”
Medical myths and malpractice April 5, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: feminism, Politics, sexism
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“She, too, was raised in an evangelical home, and she, too, is now the black sheep in her family. She tells me that one escort was raised Mennonite, and that another escort actually years before founded a Students for Life chapter in her high school. Our conversation reminds me of what my supervisor told me when I told her during training that I had grown up pro-life: ‘We get that a lot.’“
“At 15, I was a good student and determined to apply to college. But after I had my daughter, my high school guidance counselor refused to see me and help me with my applications. She never expected me to graduate. Most people, even within my family, assumed I wouldn’t amount to anything and would be dependent on government assistance for the rest of my life.”
Non-consensual vaginal surgery performed on women starting in the mid-1960s by a deeply creepy doctor who thought it would make them more sexual. Unsurprisingly, it just screwed them up. And he was somehow allowed to get away with it for more than 20 years.
“…the Christian modesty of girls must be, in a special way, safeguarded, for it is supremely unbecoming that they flaunt themselves and display themselves before the eyes of all.” That’s an argument from the ’30s against women competing in the same sporting arenas as men. And here’s one from the ’40s, guess what it’s about: “On the medical evidence made available, the bishops very strongly disapproved of the use of these appliances, more particularly in the case of unmarried persons.“
“The Virginia General Assembly has joined the state house in approving an amendment proposed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell to forbid any insurance plan in the state exchange from offering abortion coverage, even if the coverage is paid for out-of-pocket and with separate funds.” The party of small government, ladies and gentlemen!
“The idea that men are naturally more interested in sex than women is ubiquitous that it’s difficult to imagine that people ever believed differently. And yet for most of Western history, from ancient Greece to beginning of the nineteenth century, women were assumed to be the sex-crazed porn fiends of their day.“
Tags: feminism, gun control, Politics, statistics
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A multi-state review of the laws regarding firearm possession for violent abusers…and a broad sampling of murders that could have been prevented if those laws were stronger. Shockingly, when men with a history of violence and threatening behavior are less able to get their hands on guns, fewer women get shot.
“State statutes restricting those under [domestic violence restraining orders] from accessing firearms, and laws allowing the warrantless arrest of DVRO violators are associated with reductions in total and firearm [intimate partner homicide].“
“Studies suggest that far fewer American teenagers would commit suicide if gun owners were required to use trigger locks. Seventy-five percent of the guns used in youth suicides and unintentional injuries were accessible in the home or the home of a friend.”
“[S]imple things that can delay access to a gun, like mandatory background checks for all handgun purchases—including private sales—like those that would be required by a new bill recently passed by a Senate committee, can make a big difference in preventing suicide. States with such a requirement have a gun suicide rate 50 percent lower than states that don’t, even when their non-gun suicide rates are about the same.“
“Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) — chief sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, expected to be reconsidered this week — made the connection between gun violence and domestic violence. Leahy testified in a hearing that in states that require background checks for handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot by their partners. [...] According to 2010 FBI data, firearms — and specifically handguns — are the most common weapons used to murder women. In the U.S., 64 percent of women who are murdered each year die at the hands of a family member or intimate partner. In situations involving domestic violence, having a gun in the home makes a woman eight times more likely to be killed.”
“However, consistent with other research, gun availability still had substantial independent effects that increased homicide risks. As expected, these effects were due to gun-owning abusers’ much greater likelihood of using a gun in the worst incident of abuse, in some cases, the actual femicide. The substantial increase in lethality associated with using a firearm was consistent with the findings of other research assessing weapon lethality. A victim’s access to a gun could plausibly reduce her risk of being killed, at least if she does not live with the abuser. A small percentage (5%) of both case and control women lived apart from the abuser and owned a gun, however, and there was no clear evidence of protective effects.”
“Many Republicans claim to share the national concern over unabated violence, but, as the committee hearings showed, whenever there is an opportunity to do something about it, they find a way to object.“
Some reality checks re: women. March 16, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: feminism, omg sexism, things made of awesome, video
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“‘Anybody saying these mannequins encourage obesity or look unhealthy, you have a seriously warped perception of what is healthy. I guarantee the “bigger” mannequin in the front there represents a perfect BMI’ wrote another.”
“In the university’s physics course, men typically do better than women but Miyake’s study shows that this has nothing to do with innate ability. With nothing but his fifteen-minute exercise, performed twice at the beginning of the year, he virtually abolished the gender divide and allowed the female physicists to challenge their male peers.“
“When researchers have studied the [supposed explanation for the gender wage gap] ambition gap, they’ve discovered something peculiar: It’s not there. Women do ask for more. They just aren’t rewarded for it.“
“What’s scarier is that New Yorkers are encouraged to report dangerous situations, but when we did, somebody who could have helped did nothing and treated us like silly little girls. Silly little girls who brought it on ourselves.“
“… applications involving a wide variety of income levels and lending amounts that have a woman listed as the primary borrower and a man listed as co-borrower were 24 percent less likely to have a loan approved compared to applications that listed the man first.“
This one is my favorite: “Six months later, Deputy Chief Doug LePard says the Don’t Be That Guy campaign has contributed to a turnaround in statistics on sexual offences in Vancouver. The rate dropped in 2011 by about 10 per cent, the first time in several years it had gone down.“
But this one came close: “Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno, hosts of the Dutch TV show Guinea Pigs, put their testes where their uteruses ain’t. With electrodes strapped to their stomachs, they experienced simulated contractions with slowly increasing intensity over two hours until they’re screaming in agony.” With video!
Stars, planets, and our simulated universe March 15, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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So it turns out there are hard limits in our universe’s physical laws that don’t (yet) make a whole lot of sense…but have the same pattern as the kind of limits you would have to encode into a computer simulation of a universe.
Stupidly huge new black hole discovered. At the heart of galaxy NGC 1277, it’s 17 billion times the mass of our Sun…and 14 percent of the total mass of its galaxy.
Screw life on Mars, all the action these days is happening on Mercury: NASA reports discovering water ice and “organic material” in one of its permanently-in-shadow craters.
We found another Earthlike planet! And this one’s only twelve light-years away!
“The world’s highest radio telescope, built on a Chilean plateau in the Andes 5,000 metres above sea level, has captured the first image of a new planet being formed as it gobbles up the cosmic dust and gas surrounding a distant star.“
“This object is an expanding cloud of gas rushing away from a dying star. Right in the very center you can see the star itself, a tiny blue dot whose appearance belies its power. [...] So what’s with the huge backwards S-shape?”