Skepchick Quickies 5.27

On May 27, 1703, Peter the Great founded the city of St. Petersburg in Russia. I visited there this past summer and it was beautiful–the city is huge and there are lots of museums and palaces to tour. Also, happy Memorial Day to everyone in the US!

BONUS: SinFest’s take on the Bechdel Test (from Veronica). Also, are you going to watch Before Midnight (my favorite trilogy of all time)? Finally, there is nothing I don’t love about this Billy Joel interview.


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. I became a grandpa yesterday (he said narcissistically, because he can’t not talk about it for even one second). No dolphins were involved.

    My daughter (the new mom) and her little guy are doing great, as is the new dad.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now.

    1. Congrats! I have a 4-week-old myself, I have to bite my tongue as well to stop myself from talking about her all day. We also did not use dolphins.

    2. Congratulations to bcmystery and to Mary! I have 2 grandchildren myself and they are great – a good excuse to watch Phines and Ferb with them for instance.
      No dolphins were involved though their names are Rowf and Ooowwwooo, so there’s that. Dolphins would be very strange.

    3. Woooo-hooo
      Congratulations, especially to the new mom.
      Nah, we didn’t have no stinkin’ dolphins either. But there was smoked salmon waiting for me after delivery. Definetly something to look forward to.

  2. Hmm. Bets on the girl recently arrested for the same thing (or was that for being lesbian.. I lost track) actually ending up in jail as a sex offender, while the guy didn’t? Nah, never happen that way, right?

    1. 1) The case cited here is in Australia, so you are comparing different laws in very different jurisdictions. Just saying.

      2) As for the US case you are referring to…IF an 18 year old pressured a 14 year old into doing things she wasn’t ready for, as the 14 year old is now claiming, yeah, that merits some sort of legal action. (The versions of events being supplied by the mother of the accused, not surprisingly, is different.)

  3. I can’t think of many ideas worse than giving birth in a tank full of predators, or even with just one predator. Dogs are cute and cats are fuzzy and I live with them in my home but I’m not giving birth at the animal shelter, FFS. All the human effluent which is going to end up in the water could very well cue a feeding or other aggressive instinct, not to mention that ocean water? Not exactly the cleanest stuff on earth. Water births are all well and good but I wonder how the laboring mom plans to defend herself should the dolphin decide it’s had enough of this bullshit?

    I am terribly disappointed to read about the experience of cdh and his friend at WiS, and I sincerely hope that the organizers make accessibility a priority next time.

  4. The post that made me really angry was the one about bloody Meryl Dorey and her so-called AVN. bullying grieving parents. Fortunately the authorities are beginning to take notice. There were statements by the Federal Health Minister and the AMA in support of vaccination recently on national TV. Also there are moves afoot to ban unvaccinated kids from kindergartens so there is hope that science and common sense will prevail.

  5. Also, I am on the same page as you Jack. Angry enough to spit. I think I may have pissed off a few anti-vaxxers when I posted t on Facebook. Best comment so far “If your point of view leads you to harass a mother about a dead baby- you’re doing it wrong.”

  6. Re: the invisible blind man –
    Are there guidelines for conference organizers to follow, to help them remember all the stuff that might not have occurred to them to do?
    If I were organizing a conference I’m pretty sure I would become so overwhelmed with all the details that it would be really hard to accommodate requests that I hadn’t planned on. I’m not great at delegation – at least, I’m fine at delegating, but not so good at actually inspiring people to do what I’ve tried to delegate. So if I thought I had a specific list of tasks to do, and then when I’m in the middle of trying to make sure none of them gets forgotten someone emails me with a request to do something that hadn’t occurred to me to do, I can imagine I might not be able to take it in. Or even delegate it, because that would require me to have the leftover capacity in my brain to process the information. What I’m trying to say is that, when I’m overwhelmed and trying not to forget important details that I know must be dealt with, I sometimes can’t take any new requests on board, even to evaluate their importance.
    I’m clearly not someone who should organize a conference. But if I ever did, I’d want details like accommodations for blind folks and wheelchairs to be clearly on my “Instructions For Organizing A Conference” guide so I wouldn’t have to remedy my omissions mere weeks before the conference.

    1. Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be part of the planning process. None of the problems would have been surprises, they could have had accommodations in place, if organizers had used accessibility guidelines during the planning process. Hopefully, they’ll be better informed and prepared next time.

      Although, talking to the service animal and not the person? What the hell, people? Were you raised by wolves?

      1. “Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be part of the planning process. None of the problems would have been surprises, they could have had accommodations in place, if organizers had used accessibility guidelines during the planning process.”

        Thanks, you put it so much more clearly than I did.

        And yeah, talking to the dog not the person – pretty fucking weird and unpleasant.

        1. When you first meet someone with an animal, it\s often a good conversation breaker to talk briefly to or about the animal before continuing the conversation about other topics.

          Is the problem here that this is totally inappropriate with a service animal (as opposed to a pet), or is the problem stopping after step one (talking to the animal) or step two (talking to the person about the animal) and not proceeding to step three (talking to the person)? In other words, did they start out okay but get derailed somehow, or did they start out completely on the wrong track? Or something else I’ve completely missed?

          (For the record, I met Chris and Xcelerator once, and I’m afraid I did exactly that. Sorry. If we meet again, I’ll try to do better.)

          1. http://www.petpartners.org/document.doc?id=231

            Some Rules for Interacting with People with Service Dogs.
            1. Speak to the person first. Do not aim distracting or rude noises at the dog .
            2. Do not touch the service dog without asking for, and receiving, permission.
            3. Do not offer food to the service dog.
            4. Do not ask personal questions about the handler’s disability, or otherwise intrude on his
            or her privacy.
            5. Don’t be offended if the
            handler does not wish to chat about the service dog.

          2. I occasionally encounter people with seeing-eye dogs around where I work (downtown NYC) My usual conversation starter is to try to be helpful; for example, to mention to them if the “walk” light is on. In a conference, I might try to see if they look a little lost and, if so, to offer to give directions or tell them where things are.

            Some other bits of advice I’ve heard (I think from Miss Manners):
            – don’t touch a blind person unless they invite it.
            – the blind (or otherwise handicapped) person knows better than you what they need and don’t need. Ask before “helping.”

            FWIW, in NYC, I’ll offer help to obviously sighted people who look lost, too. The blind people who I see there usually look like they know where they’re going, though.

          3. @Will

            Too bad Miss Manners didn’t teach you not to call people handicapped.

            I’m merely showing my age.
            Back when Miss Manners was teaching me stuff, “handicapped” was the new politically correct word. It was in the process of replacing the word “crippled.” But even way back then, talking to (or about) the seeing-eye dog and ignoring the owner was considered disrespectful.

  7. I was intrigued by Why Some Evangelicals Are Trying to Stop Obsessing Over Pre-Marital Sex.

    Up to now, I’ve been turned off (pun intended) by pretty much everything that gets said about sex in public discourse. Most of what you hear is that sex is sort of like chocolate — something to be consumed, the more the better, and that even bad chocolate is better than no chocolate. The only other point of view that you ever hear is the “sex = mortal sin” or the “better to marry than to burn” idea (the “sex turns you into used gum” is just a variant of this), which is stupid and inhuman(e). I’m someone for whom emotional connection and trust are essential to sex, and the way everyone seems to talk about it makes me feel like an invisible sexual micro-minority.

    So I like the way the people described in that article are going, even if it is coming from a group I wouldn’t trust any further than I could throw a Gutenberg bible.

    1. I thought the part about Elizabeth Smart was sad. I wonder what would’ve happened if her “value” as a young woman hadn’t been only her sexuality.

      And I agree with you on the other stuff. I think most people occupy that sexual middle ground, but it’s awkward to talk about it.

      1. Mary,

        On the bright side Smart was saved from her rapists and eventually came to realize that her value, does not come from her “sexual purity.” She’s done us a great service by talking about the unintended consequences of abstinence only “education.” Maybe because of how she spoke out against how it made her feel like her life was worthless once she was raped, will get more people to oppose it. Hopefully in the future, fewer and fewer women will feel so ashamed of themselves when someone hurts them in the way that she was, that they won’t even try to escape.

        1. I wouldn’t call them “unintended” consequences. Though the abstinence-only people might not admit it, they are an essential part of the justification of abstinence “education.”

          The entire logic of abstinence, a.k.a. “purity,” is based on the idea that a woman’s value (but not a man’s) lies in her being “intact,” so that a woman who has had sex, even if entirely against her will, is “used goods” and has lost most of her value. If Ms. Smart’s life wasn’t made worthless by being raped, the whole rationale of abstinence-only is undermined. (BTW, in case it’s not clear, I think that “the rationale of abstinence-only,” along with all its writings and maybe some of its proponents, should not only be undermined, but picked up and dropped in the nearest live volcano.)

          The odd thing is that this idea is strongest among so-called “biblically centered” Christians, yet AFAIK, there is no New Testament basis for this. (I’m prepared to be proven wrong, though.)

          1. Amm1,

            In all fairness I don’t think most supporters of abstinence only really fully understand the consequences of those policies. I also don’t think that many of them understand how it makes victims of rape feel worthless. That’s why I would love to see a bunch of them in a room with Miss Smart, with the camera rolling while she explain her ordeal, and how her upbringing made her feel worthless in that situation. Even if they refused to accept the reality, all but the most extreme fanatics among them would have a hard time attacking her.

          2. @criticaldragon1177 —

            In all fairness I don’t think most supporters of abstinence only really fully understand the consequences of those policies.

            I supposed I’m getting old and cranky, because I’m no longer willing to be “fair” to (= excuse) people who don’t think through the consequences of their actions before doing something and refuse to see the consequences after they’ve done them. I’d say that most of the evil that has been perpetrated in my lifetime has been based on willful blindness. (Exhibit A: Vietnam War.)

            It’s not like the abstinence promoters don’t have any opportunity to see the damage they do. Abstinence as a policy is most popular among those groups with the greatest rate of teen pregnancy, so the evidence of premarital sex and the identities of those doing it are right in front of their eyes. It’s not just strangers they’re teaching to feel worthless, it’s their own children and the children of their friends and neighbors and people they know from church. If they’re not going to listen to the pain of children they know, why would they be any more moved by the pain of a stranger? (e.g., Ms. Smart.)

            We all know what the road to Hell is paved with, and there’s a new paving crew every day.

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