Quickies – Historical context, giant viruses, and vetoed bathroom bill

  • Men of their times – “Any mention of the word “racism” in association with names like Tolkien or Burroughs or Campbell or Lovecraft is a bell whose chimes will trigger an immediate response of “But historical context!” Context does matter. Unfortunately, as with so many arguments, it all tends to get oversimplified into a false binary. On one side are the self–righteous haters who get off on tearing down the giants of our field with zero consideration of the time and culture in which they lived. On the other are those who sweep any and all sins, no matter how egregious, under the rug of “Historical Context.” This false binary is, in academic terms, utter crap.”
  • CRISPR-like “immune” system discovered in giant virus – “Gigantic mimiviruses fend off invaders using defences similar to the CRISPR system deployed by bacteria and other microorganisms, French researchers report1. They say that the discovery of a working immune system in a mimivirus bolsters their claim that the giant virus represents a new branch in the tree of life.”
  • South Dakota governor vetoes bill stipulating transgender students’ bathroom use – “After the bill was approved by a 20-15 vote in the state Senate last month, its opponents held protests and questioned lawmakers about it. Daugaard, who in the past had said that he saw the legislation as providing accommodations for both sides, had also met with transgender students and parents.” From Courtney.
  • On being who I am: My life as a tall blind woman – “What complicates the ways people respond to my height is that I am also blind. I cannot always see the double takes, the astonished gaze sweeping up and down the length of my body – though it is possible to feel these responses, or rather to hear them.”


Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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1 Comment

  1. March 3, 2016 at 2:53 pm —

    This is good out of South Dakota. I’ve read somewhere that Indians are more likely to be LGBT, or at least more likely to be out, so the possibility of a racial intersection on SD’s anti-gay and anti-trans bigotry?

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