Today in 1952 was the first reported sighting of the Flatwoods Monster in West Virginia. I’m not going to give away the secret because this is a fun read, especially at the end when Joe Nickell from the CSI gets involved!

Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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26 Comments

  1. Avatar of Louis Doench
    September 12, 2012 at 10:45 am —

    The Rothfuss books keep popping up in my Amazon recommendations… food for thought as to whether to invest my time.

    • Avatar of violets
      September 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm —

      I read the first book and it seemed like a self-insert male fantasy. The main character was good at everything he ever tried to do,from the very first time he did it and people fell all over themselves around him because he was just so awesome. All other characters are basically caricatures to illustrate how fantastic the main character is. I haven’t read the sequel but it seems more of the same, as a prominent scene involves him losing us virginity to a fairy queen who has seduced thousands of men and she promptly declares him the best she ever had and just cannot believe it was his first time.

      A lot of people seem to love these books though.

      By contrast, I have been reading the Acacia trilogy and I think it’s pretty great. It’s an epic fantasy written by an African-American who writes both historical fiction and fantasy and I think its themes of power and subjugation and the cost of acquiring and holding power are really interesting.

      • Avatar of violets
        September 12, 2012 at 11:29 pm —

        Oops correction, the author is David Anthony Durham and he is Caribbean-American.

  2. Avatar of Anne S
    September 12, 2012 at 11:09 am —

    Elyse! I was planning to do a little post for the Lab about the fruit salad trees!

    • Avatar of Skepotter
      September 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm —

      You might want to do a bit more research. Multifruit trees are not new. They have been around for a long time, probably since not long after grafting was invented. They have been commercially available for at least 30 years that I know of. They have always been a novelty, and may be new in the author’s locale.

      Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are all hybrids, but they have different parentages. A seed from a lemon will not produce an orange tree, though it may well produce a lemon that is different from the parent. Pomelos are not hybrids, and there are a number of species of lime, maybe a dozen or more.

      Those 2 errors are just off the top of my head, without checking anything.

  3. Avatar of acasey
    September 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm —

    Sad! I decided to stop reading Jezebel after their attack on Patrick Rothfuss. It is such an uninformed article. Patrick Rothfuss is in no way anti-woman or misogynistic. Quite the opposite in fact. As someone who has followed him for years, I am continually impressed with his drive to bring diversity to the world of fantasy fiction. Seriously, here’s what he posted today regarding getting his son his first haircut: “And that hair. I can’t bring myself to cut it. He’s just too pretty. About 80% of the people who meet him think he’s a little girl because of it. But I love it. Plus can’t help but feel that will probably be healthy for him in the long run. Maybe if folks think he’s a girl for another couple years he’ll be slower to absorb some of the gender bullshit that’s constantly fucking up our culture.” Does that sound like a guy who’s crusading against women? Not to mention, the new pin-up calendar has men AND women. Equal opportunity objectification! Let’s not cut of our noses to spite our faces and alienate people who are genuinely on “our side.”

  4. Avatar of ajvs
    September 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm —

    I’ve never read Rothfuss, so I can’t form an opinion on him. I do have a rule when reading: if the author describes a woman’s breasts or butt before describing her face or personality, I stop reading. I broke this rule for Illuminatus recently and ended up spending much of the time reading it getting irritated. The book would not pass the Bechdel (sp?) test.

  5. Avatar of faux
    September 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm —

    At least the Asian woman got his consent before hugging him.

  6. Avatar of victoriadashtwenty
    September 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm —

    I have to disagree with the Jezebel article too. I don’t think it’s icky for a man to talk about his sexuality. I’ve personally made that same criticism of porn, though not as an analogy for something else.

    I’ve actually had the experience he describes. I don’t think he’s doing the Madonna/Whore thing. Your high school crush is not the same person a decade later. There’s also the issue that pornography in general depicts women as not having unique personalities.

    I wouldn’t have put it in the way he did, but I don’t think it’s wrong enough to justify the article.

    His description of the fan hugging him is in my opinion the right way to talk about that sort of thing. He didn’t objectify the fan at all.

    I don’t know about his prose, though.

    • Avatar of Mary
      September 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm —

      That’s why I chose that link, to have a discussion about the post. I can see both sides of the argument and I didn’t see anything wrong with the fan hugging either. The crush metaphor was a little obnoxious but I can’t quite get the words out as to why I don’t like it (damn you science writing!).

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        September 13, 2012 at 1:37 am —

        Objectification and ownership.
        He turned her into an object for his personal use, and would be upset if it (he turned her into an ‘it’) was available for free, because the item’s value would fall as it became less exclusive.
        She also changed without his permission.
        That’s the problem, in my mind.

        • Avatar of acasey
          September 13, 2012 at 10:53 am —

          I don’t think this is about objectification or ownership at all. He is sad that his memory, fantasy, nostalgia is being destroyed. What is in its place is good in its own right, and fine, but not what he remembered. There is nothing about exclusivity or permission.
          I, as a straight, heterosexual woman, can relate to this post. I do have a fondness for my favorite books that can be equated to childhood friendship and romance. And, like Patrick Rothfuss, I feel equally betrayed when the big screen turns them into something different from my memories. I’m not just disappointing, I am sad that I was told they were the same thing.
          I also am disturbed that, if the situation was reversed, there would be little to no comment on this. It’s all because Rothfuss is the “white male” that this becomes an issue at all.

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            September 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

            No, I think the entire analogy is fatally flawed.

            It calls to mind this (unforgivable :D ):
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=BqDjMZKf-wg

            It’s also trying to shove ‘they raped and exploited my childhood’ into an analogy about a (fictional) woman. Awkward. ‘Problematic’.

            And again, it made me think of that J. Geils Band song. *shudder*

          • Avatar of marilove
            September 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm

            Oh my god, it’s that song to a “T”! Haha. Talk about CLICHE. IT IS AN 80′s song!! Put to paper!

  7. Avatar of Science Bulldog
    September 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm —

    I also don’t know about that Jezebel article. I am not familiar with the work of Rothfuss, so I may be missing something. However, based on the article I found no compelling evidence of overt sexism. I was not terribly keen on his crush metaphor either, but I wasn’t sure exactly what the specific issue was. The fan hugging example seemed particularly innocuous.

    • Avatar of marilove
      September 13, 2012 at 2:17 am —

      It’s kind of weird that he’s using that sort of metaphor for describing disappointment about a MOVIE, though, isn’t it? I mean, why was that the first thing he thought of? It’s just kind of weird.

      The pin-ups are also kind of unoriginal and not all that appealing.

      Come to think of it, his crush metaphor isn’t all that original, either.

    • Avatar of marilove
      September 13, 2012 at 2:21 am —

      And by weird, I mean I don’t like it at all.

      He described an abstract “virgin” woman as the ideal (his crush). And then his disapointemnt is finding out she’s no longer the untouched, pure girl and is now a “whore”.

      I guess you could maybe say he’s trying to make some sort of comment, but … I just don’t see it. It’s not particularly fleshed out. It’s really vague.

      And why the hell does he need to use such overtly-sexualized imagery of women to showcase his disappointment in a freakin’ MOVIE?

      Is it supposed to be edgy? Or insightful? To me it just seems so trite and cliche and boring.

      Sex sales, baby. Or gets you page clicks. Whatever.

      • Avatar of Mary
        September 13, 2012 at 6:53 am —

        Yeah, you’ve put what I felt into words, and I didn’t realize it was a stupid metaphor about a movie either!

        Not to mention that apparently he is allowed to grow as a person and have his own sexual experiences but his metaphorical crush isn’t.

        • Avatar of Science Bulldog
          September 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm —

          As I said, I was not keen on the metaphor either, but the words you are using are boring, cliche, vague, and unappealing. This may be true but it does not mean sexist. I don’t even mind the word “icky” , but I think sexist is too far at least based on the single article I read. There are all kinds of sexism from the mild to the extreme, and it is good to point all of them out. However, I just don’t think this quite meets that criteria.

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            September 14, 2012 at 4:35 am

            “He described an abstract “virgin” woman as the ideal (his crush). And then his disapointemnt is finding out she’s no longer the untouched, pure girl and is now a “whore”…
            And why the hell does he need to use such overtly-sexualized imagery of women to showcase his disappointment in a freakin’ MOVIE?”

            You seem to have missed the rest of Marilove’s comment.
            Virgin/whore, sexual objectification, male entitlement to female sexuality. Sexism.

  8. Avatar of notfromvenus
    September 13, 2012 at 1:38 am —

    I can’t tell you how much it appalls me that parents will willingly, intentionally put their children at risk for potentially fatal diseases.

    Yeah, maybe their kid will feel a little sore or under the weather for a couple days after getting a vaccine, but how on Earth could that be worse than *possibly dying*?

    It’s almost criminally negligent, it really is.

    • Avatar of Mary
      September 13, 2012 at 6:51 am —

      The problem is that they don’t see most diseases as possibly fatal because we don’t live in a time where most parents have lost at least one child.

      And I think that if children to start to die of diseases they have been vaccinated for (due to the loss of herd immunity and mutation), these same illogical parents will say something like, “See, vaccines don’t work anyway so what’s the point!”

  9. Avatar of acasey
    September 13, 2012 at 11:00 am —

    Ok, this is bothering me, so I want to throw it out there. I get why reducing a woman to only her physical attributes and judging her based on that is wrong. But feminism isn’t about “women on top.” It’s about equal rights, no matter what your gender is. Why isn’t there more backlash against genres like romance, which absolutely reduce characters to just their physical attributes, male and female? Romance is the largest selling genre and, in at least one unnamed book of recent popularity, the main male character is frequently described as “walking sex.” Is it even possible to objectify further than that? Or is there a class of people who we have determined are “below” the discussion so we’re going to cherry pick blog posts of people who are felt to be “good” enough to be part of the conversation? Or is there an unequal gender divide here too?

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      September 13, 2012 at 11:32 am —

      Women as the sex class. That’s why women are harmed more by it.

      The romance genre has been picked apart by feminists, mainly for gender policing, though. I haven’t seen much about the more recent trends in fanfic.

      I’ve been really disheartened to see objectification of men occasionally held up as some kind of egalitarian ideal.

      • Avatar of acasey
        September 13, 2012 at 11:55 am —

        I think the problem I am struggling with is that I am confident enough as a woman to draw a hard line that treatment should be equal regardless of gender…I am not going to fight for one gender over another so much as define specific behaviors as unacceptable regardless of their target. Just like I won’t tolerate racist slandering, regardless of the race of the target. I don’t see the feminist dialogue going that way, though…it’s all about the women and, if a man gets cause up in some sexist backlash, well he is a man after all. People forget that if men weren’t involved in the suffrage movement, women would never have gotten the right to vote…this is not a one sided fight.
        Also, the other thing that’s really pissing me off lately: sexism is not the same as sex and sexuality. Eliminating sexism does not mean we all have to be sexless bots. In a world that is completely gender equal, I should still be able to look at someone who I don’t know, judge them entirely on their physical appeal and go “goddamn, they’re sexy.” It doesn’t mean I define them by that initial impression, but we, as humans, will still have sexual reactions. Kinda like the pin-up calendar…I can look at a pin-up and think “goddamn she’s sexy.” It doesn’t mean that I would be shocked to learn that she can speak or has motivations of her own. I’m not even saying that I expect her to be one thing or another because she appears in a calendar.
        Or, for a real life example in the other direction: When I watch Johnny Depp’s movies, I don’t think “Wow, his dedication to acting and his personal motivations make him so attractive to me.” No- I enjoy looking at him because he is physically attractive. Am I objectifying him? Yes. Should I ever meet him on the street and start a conversation with him (highly unlikely) would it change how I treated him? No. I think that’s where the difference lies.
        Phew. Had to get that off my chest.

  10. Avatar of acasey
    September 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm —

    Not done yet…here’s what N.K. Jemisin had to say about pinups and her participation: http://nkjemisin.com/2012/09/forthcoming-stuff/

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