Quickies: Diet Soda vs Water, Men Surprised by Misogyny, and Supreme Court Death Penalty Ruling

On May 28, 1936, Alan Turing submitted On Computable Numbers, a paper that proposed Turing Machines, for publication.

BONUS: Dale DeBakcsy, from Mad Art Lab, is teaching a class this summer in San Francisco about historical women in science. Check it out!

A woman who financed an expedition to the jungles of South America to study insects–in the seventeenth century. A chemist who invented the science of food and air. The animal behavioralist who figured out just what rooster wattles are for. For the last half-year, Dale DeBakcsy has been telling stories and drawing comics about great women in science at MadArtLab, and this summer, he’ll be teaching a class about them at The Learning Studios of Burlingame, going deeper into their stories, struggles, and triumphs. It’s science! It’s history! It’s scienstory! If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are interested in attending, or know a kiddo who could use a few more female scientist portraits on the wall to keep them inspired and encouraged, send Dale a note at countdolby [at] gmail [dot] com for more information!


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. The diet soda story rightly points out the poor study that really shows little usable data, and bravo for that. But then it finishes with this steaming pile of horseshit
    “It’s important to keep in mind that other research has linked long-term consumption of certain artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, and saccharin, to cancer in animals or humans,” he says.

    Emphasis mine. There are studies showing elevated cancer rates in animals for these substances (usually at ridiculously elevated consumption levels) but they have not been linked to increased levels of cancer in humans despite what the alarmists would have you believe. If you are going to attack a study for its biases it is probably best to police you own biases.

    1. I noticed that part too, I didn’t like how they ended it with the cancer reference either. I was like, Oh, so close!

      1. I thought it was just saccharin linked to cancer in mice. Aspartame’s foes claim it causes…well, basically, they stole the antivaxxers’ playbook and decided it caused every neural disorder in the ICD, as well as a few unsubstantiated ones like “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” Truth be told, there is a problem with aspartame for a small number of people, phenylketonuria, but everyone gets tested for that at birth, and you would know because you’d also be limiting your protein intake a lot.

        1. Right you are, I should have said some of these substances. I find it amusing that the same people who demonize artificial sweeteners (and I realize that they do have their problems, just no more so than any sweetener) will also poo-poo corn syrup because it is “processed” but just love, love, love Stevia because apparently it falls from the sky in crystallized form, no processing here I tell you.

          Your likening the histrionics regarding Aspertame to those surrounding MSG is interesting, but I’m not sure there are people with legitimate issues with MSG (I could be wrong but IIRC the “Chinese restaurant syndrome” that you referred to was debunked years ago) unlike Aspertame. I think a better comparison would be to gluten since celiac’s disease is a real thing but the fad of claiming “sensitivity” seems to be unfounded.

          1. Actually, I said made-up neural disorders like “the histrionics…surrounding MSG”. Clearly, the existence of PKU makes it similar to the histrionics wrt: gluten, where a small minority of people really do need to worry about that, but the majority don’t, and, well, Domino’s now has a gluten-free crust, but it’s not really gluten-free because it uses the same pizza stone, same oven, same pizza cutter, same everything as the regular.

  2. Mary,

    As much as I would like to believe the study that says that diet soda is better than weight lose for water ( since I really like soda ) the fact that the study was carried out by the soda industry alone gives us reason to doubt the findings. This is just something that they would love too much for it to be true, and industry hardly has a perfect track record when it comes to doing science.

  3. I read through a chunk of the comments on that Shortpacked comic and it’s so frustrating to hear someone completely straw man the hell out of folks trying to talk about institutionalized -isms and white supremacy.

    It’s just “Wah wah wah! Not all men! Wah wah wah! Not all white people! Wah wah wah!”

      1. Worse than that, really. One rape can be extremely traumatic. You didn’t describe the dosage of the poison in that M&M.

        The real question is, why not cockblock rapists if you see them doing things that really should set off red flags? (For instance, hitting on one woman for more than 30 minutes if she hasn’t agreed to anything.) You might say he’ll just rape someone else, but if we all cockblock rapists when they use these low-risk tactics to get potential victims alone, they’ll have to either quit raping or graduate to higher-risk tactics. The former is what we want. The latter ends up with them in prison. Either way, they stop raping, at least for a time.

    1. I think the reason people bring out the “not all white men” argument is that they see a lot of articles that say things like “the reason he raped her was that he was a white man and rape is endemic to white male culture,” and they want to say “I’M not like that.” I am personally a white male, and I can see someone being worried about being lumped in with rapists. To us non-racist, non-misogynist white guys, it appears to be in the same vein as someone saying that all Muslims are terrorists, or that all gay men want to have sex with me. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be to be a woman or a minority (I think it says something about our society that “women” are considered a minority, given roughly 51% of the population is female), but in my opinion, hating white men isn’t any better than hating black people or hating women. People who are a member of a minority group are still people, and that means you’re prone to make the same mistakes all people make. In other words, racism against white people is still racism, regardless of how justified it may be.

      1. The problem with your line of reasoning is twofold.

        First, I’ve never actually seen anyone give an explanation for rape of, “He raped her because he’s a white man.” Unless you can come up with an example, I’m going to label that a strawman. This means that your “racism against white people” comment is irrelevant. Misogyny and rape culture are hardly limited to white men and I’ve never once seen anyone make the argument that they are.

        Second, your concern over being linguistically grouped with rapists is kind if hilarious, and unintentionally you’re saying a boatload about your privilege with this complaint. Your biggest issue is that someone might use verbal words that imply that you are in a group with rapists! A woman’s biggest issue is being in the room with a rapist who proceeds to rape and kill her. I hope you understand why your tender feelings are not a big priority for women, who are in the position of trying to protect themselves from physical harm.

        If it bothers you that someone might use a term that includes both you and rapists, maybe you would consider doing something about that. Make rapists look weird. Make them stand out in a crowd, make their behavior look aberrant instead of normal.

        Rapists get away with it because many men who aren’t rapists act like them (PUA methodology is essentially a primer for how to act like a rapist). Men who aren’t rapists give them cover, make excuses for them, make and laugh at rape jokes, normalize their behavior. Men who aren’t rapists disbelieve survivors, question and interrogate them, refuse to even socially ostracize their rapist friends who have victimized and been pointed out by multiple victims, but will ostracize the victims. Men who aren’t rapists remain friends with rapists, but not with survivors of rape. Men who aren’t rapists make sure that rapists are always welcome in society but rape survivors are not.

        Men who aren’t rapists sympathize with and protect rapists.

        If your delicate feelings are so bruised by the notion of being grouped with rapists, do what you need to do in order to exclude the rapists from the group that includes you.


        1. For your first point, if you would like an example of “he raped her because he’s a white man,” I can give you one from this very site, and from this very day.
          The following paragraph is the crux of the matter

          “These were not things [i.e. really horrific misogyny, to the point where he had a manifesto] that his mental illness (if he had one) told him. Even if he has Asperger’s, there is nothing about that diagnosis that turns someone into an entitled, spoiled asshole. That comes from being a white man. Even if he had depression, or was in the process of having a mental breakdown, neither of those things is particularly linked with violence. That comes from being a white man. What is linked with violence, and particularly violence against women, is imbibing the ideas that Rodger has repeatedly espoused. What is linked with these horribly maladaptive beliefs of entitlement is being a white man, particularly a well to do white man.”

          I had paraphrased it, but that’s basically saying “he raped her because he was a white man.” Now, I’m not saying these views aren’t without merit, but the fact that these views exist naturally lead people to be defensive about such topics.

          As far as your 2nd point is concerned, are you saying words can’t hurt people? Are you honestly bringing out the “you’re just thin-skinned” argument? The exact argument that people use to support slut-shaming and online harassment? The exact argument that this website is in part dedicated to stopping? What I was saying was basically “be careful you don’t become a hypocrite,” and you seem to have done exactly that.

          Additionally, just because people are worried about being raped doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to be worried about being incorrectly labelled a rapist. Aside from the obvious reasons for not wanting people to incorrectly think you’re a rapist, being on the sexual offender registry really fucks up your entire life. There are plenty of stories of people who were at a party in college and hooked up with a girl who swore she was of age, and they were both really drunk, and both regretted it in the morning, and then it turned out she wasn’t of age, and now this guy’s on the sexual offender registry for the rest of his life because of it. The point is, rape is very serious, and accusations of rape should be treated seriously, and not used as an idle ad hominem attack.

          In terms of the kind of rape sympathizers you were talking about, and “doing what you need to do in order to exclude the rapists,” I do consider their behavior abhorrent. I don’t laugh at rape jokes, and although I’ve never been in the position of having to, I sincerely doubt that I would remain friends with a rapist. I’m on your side here, I’m just saying we need to be careful, lest we become the people we so despise. We should never judge anyone based on the color of their skin, or by what kind of genitals they have.

          1. While reading the first half of your response I was prepared to point out that you have simply directed your anger in the wrong direction, that you were more concerned about someone saying that some rapists look like you rather than being concerned about the rapists who look like you. I was going to point out that while you can be concerned about being thought to be a rapist you don’t get to derail this discussion to make sure your precious feelings are being addressed.

            That’s what I was going to say, but then you seriously pulled out the false rape/bitches be lyin’ bullshit and now I just need to call troll. Either that or you seriously got lost on your way to The Blaze, they also seem to think that rape statistics are way made up.

          2. Rereading what I said, that 2nd to last paragraph was stupid. I’ve heard people say that stuff, and I didn’t really stop to think about it. The rest of what I said, however, I stand, by.

            As for the direction my anger is pointed, that’s not true. I AM more concerned about rapists than people thinking I’m a rapist, but I assumed everyone agreed that rape is bad and therefore didn’t need to be mentioned. I usually comment only on the parts of things I disagree with, and leave it as assumed that I agree with the rest. This has backfired on me more than once before. I promise you, I’m not a troll, just someone who’s relatively unfamiliar with a lot of the common pitfalls in this topic. My original post was “here’s why some people might say something like that.” I wasn’t trying to excuse it, just help provide some perspective. And then skeith attacked me personally, so I got defensive, thereby unintentionally proving my own point.

          3. Quinn:

            That article does not say that someone is a rapist because: white man. That says that Rodgers had a gross entitlement complex because, being a white man, he was the recipient of loads of unearned privilege. It’s interesting that you can’t see the difference. You’re focusing on “white” and missing “man.” You’re focusing on “rape” and missing “gross entitlement complex.”

            “As far as your 2nd point is concerned, are you saying words can’t hurt people?”

            I’m saying that people didn’t focus on racist language when black people were suffering in slavery. Racist language, an injustice, became the focus when slavery, a much more serious injustice, had been resolved. And the bruised feelings of non-racist white people who felt they were/are unfairly being grouped in with racist white people has pretty much never been addressed because a worse injustice related to race still exists.

            I’m saying that your feelings are real, but women, who are facing much more serious consequences of rape culture than bruised feelings, are not required to give a shit about them. I’m saying that you’re a member of an already-privileged group, and the physical safety of an oppressed group is way more important than your feelings.

            When rape culture had been resolved, when sexism has been resolved, we can talk about your feelings.

            “Additionally, just because people are worried about being raped doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to be worried about being incorrectly labelled a rapist.”

            Of course you’re allowed to worry. You’re just not allowed to put your worry at the top of the priority list, above the physical safety of women. Trying to do so reveals your immense privilege and internalized sexism, that you think your miniscule chance of being falsely accused of rape is far more important than the physical safety of women, who face about a 25% chance of being subjected to attempted or completed rape.

            “There are plenty of stories of people who were at a party in college and hooked up with a girl who swore she was of age, and they were both really drunk”

            1. Don’t sleep with drunk people then. 2. Most states have Romeo&Juliet laws that do not criminalize underage sex when the participants are close in age and the contact is consensual. Why don’t you check if your state has that and work to resolve that if it doesn’t? 3. If you’re overage for Romeo&Juliet to apply, don’t fucking sleep with really young women, that’s gross.

            “I don’t laugh at rape jokes, and although I’ve never been in the position of having to, I sincerely doubt that I would remain friends with a rapist.”

            Do you look the rape-joker in the eye and say, “That’s not funny. Don’t make those jokes around me. It’s disgusting that you think that’s funny, and if you are the person who thinks rape is a big hilarious joke we can’t be friends.”

            Have any of your friends been accused of rape? Have you ever been at a party with a person who’d been accused of rape, and stuck around because a great party is more important than the rapist in the room?

            And before you go the “innocent until proven guilty” route, let me point out that that is a standard used in a court of law. In the court of “are you invited to the party at my house” I don’t have to abide by that standard. In the court of “can we be friends” I am allowed to stop being friends with someone who has been accused of rape, the same as I am allowed to stop being friends with someone accused of stealing a mutual friend’s jewelry. If you choose to remain friends with a person who has been pointed out as a rapist, even if no legal consequences occurred, you are sending a message to actual rapists (of which your friend may or may not be one) that it’s okay to rape and the friend group will still be there if you rape a person.

          4. Actually, skin color is important here, but not because he was just white. In his own words he brings up this dangerous intersection of race and misogyny, particularly in his half-Asian heritage. People have to stop erasing this. It ignores a powerful fact of white supremacy and misogyny that involves how men of color view themselves in American society. His “whiteness” he felt gave him superiority over those men he considered to be full-blooded Asians, but his resentment towards women was compounded by his inferiority and insecurity about not being a white man. It’s in his own words. His was a toxic combination of self-loathing and entitlement where his twisted desires were seemingly just out of reach.

          5. Scribe, what you say makes perfect sense to me.So his racism was a transference or projection of his own self loathing? Sounds like a little Austrian painter we all know! Do you think that part of it started in childhood? After all he would have been aware of his origins early on, well before puberty, then the misogyny and rejection would have kicked in and the whole thing would have escalated. Pure speculation of course.
            It’s odd though, most Asian folks I know, work friends and such, are justifiably quite proud of their heritage.

          6. The simplest way to put it: People of color grow up steeped in it whether they consciously realize it or not. Even for those of us in the Asian-Am community (many of whom don’t, can’t live up to the model minority myth) are made to feel as the “other” to varying degrees. In terms of Asian-Am men, much of the experience is ’emasculating’, where it’s particularly reinforced in our popular culture (though changing slowly as we speak). Having pride in our heritage doesn’t have as much to do with it as feeling the external pressure. The lashing out at women, particularly Asian and white women, for this particular insecurity, is unfortunately fairly common among Asian-American communities, where even some Old World patriarchy/misogyny can also be passed down:
            Masculinity vs. “Misogylinity”: what Asian Americans can learn from #UCSB shooting | #YesAllWomen

            In his own rant, Rodger goes out of his way to denigrate “full-blooded” Asian men, fully internalizing that systemic emasculation, while simultaneously realizing he’s “tainted” himself…thus blaming THAT as the sole reason for his failure of attaining his ideal sex partner: white, blonde women. Not to mention, he also absorbed his father’s own behavior towards his mother, his stepmother, and I’m sure growing up around Hollywood didn’t help.

          7. The dude kept writing about how sex doesn’t count unless it’s “with a white girl…at least an 8”. You don’t see some racial element there?

          8. Scribe, thanks for that link. I had no idea it was so bad and so widespread.

          9. “People have to stop erasing this.”

            Is this referring to me? If so, it was certainly not my intention to erase anything. Could you give me a clarification of the erasure? Not arguing that I did it, but I don’t know how, and I want to do better next time.

          10. skeith: It wasn’t you per se. It just gets left out of the conversation, such as the OP that started this complaining about ‘racism against white people’. I just want people to keep the dimension of his biracial status in mind.

          11. @Scribe: Interesting about the erasure, it’s almost a contrapasso of sorts, that he hated being half Chinese in life, and nobody remembers it now.

            Doesn’t help much, I suppose, that the more manly images of Asians are often ignored or even sloughed off onto other populations. (I don’t know why people think my people traditionally went hawking, but Indians holding eagles is up there with petting wolves and calling down lightning in “bad fantasy art featuring Indians”. On the other hand, Mongols really do hunt with eagles.)

          12. The more traditionally “masculine” vision of Asian men tend to be of a hyper-idealized violent kind, where they still rarely have overtly romantic/sexual relationships, or a more villainous kind meant to generate fear and alien loathing.

            Weirdly, G.I Joe, the animated series, went full bore with the noble Indian with psychic link to eagle thing while his Asian teammate, Quick Kick, dressed in stereotypical Kung-Fu fashion, but was actually a snarky Hollywood stunt man who even, eerily enough, dates a white, blonde girl in an episode. The 80s were particularly weird.

          13. I remember in the late 90s, I stumbled on possibly the first PUA site on the internet, certainly the first one I ever saw. It was called Ayzn Pryde (Yes, the l33tsp33k, and yes, it was all in Fraktur with all its hip hop associations, before you ask.)

            A weird site, it saw white men dating Asian women as fully the equivalent of Spanish colonialism. (You know, excluding the mass murder, slavery, and biological warfare. I mean, obviously, white men who exclusively date Asian women are racist, and the manosphere’s version of lesbian separatists, MGTOW, a few of them recommend dating Asian women because they’re allegedly more submissive.) Interestingly, Ayzn Pryde recommended that if you couldn’t get a girlfriend, you go to a mail-order bride. (IOW, pay thousands of dollars to the people who encourage Asian fetishism.)

            The site’s defunct now, of course. But back then, it struck me as…weird. I almost felt like submitting it to the 90s equivalent of Something Awful.

      2. See now? When I object to the “What about TEH MENZ!!!” meme, it’s because of it being appropriated to erase male and GLBTQIA+ victims because the last thing we need as victims of rape or abuse is to be at each other’s throats over each other’s authenticity. But after your post, I think I’m ready to lose my WATM virginity, and I’m fortunate enough that it’s with a nice guy such as yourself who deserves to be my first WATM. And all of Skepchick is invited to view this wonderful rite of passage.

        Okay, here we go: *deep breath* What about TEH MENZ!!!

          1. Yeah, it’s actually fun to do.

            I still won’t use it when we’re actually talking about prison rape or genital mutilation or whatever. (I’ve been told by a white woman that Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a MRA before. True story.)

            But for “Not all men are rapists.” or “Stop talking about rape; it makes me uncomfortable because I don’t want to be thought of as a rapist.” or “Enthusiastic consent takes all the passion out.” or…WATM is appropriate.

  4. A big problem is that when you’re in a position of little power, you have to placate those in power just to survive. And of course, they know that most men won’t put up with their shit. When I was in college, several women I knew would always invite me to a party because, if some dude wouldn’t leave them alone, The implication was “Yeah, here’s my six-and-a-half-foot boyfriend. Oh, and he’s a fifth dan in Shotokan. Enjoy!”

    Now, I’m more aware of it because Indian, of course I’m more aware of it. At least when it comes from white men. But you’ll also get Indian men who promulgate on the old days and matriarchy, fail to define the latter in any meaningful way, and none of it helps with today.

  5. Just a thought: could much of the weight-loss of folks who drank diet pop be attributed to dehydration?

    I am very aware of what goes on with my body, because I have a number of diseases. I found that drinking mostly diet pop (and oh, how I love thee) did not properly hydrate me. In fact, I got so dehydrated, I started to feel nausea. *light bulb moment* Maybe some people want to lose weight like that, but not I.I’m back on just water, and everything is going swimmingly (I see what I did there).

    I’m still ordering diet coke when I go out. Nya.

    1. I’d say that is a possibility since many diet pops contain caffeine. The thing is, it’s such a poorly conducted study and the criteria for joining didn’t exclude those who drank regular pop so it could just as easily be that alone. I lost 40 lbs in 6 months just by switching from two cans of regular Coke a day to two or three cans of Diet Pepsi 15 years ago. Reduced calories really do help you lose weight, whether diet soda or water is better at that without screwing with other functions, like your appetite, metabolism, or palette, is something that really should be tested. But this study is not the way to do it.

  6. It’s such an uphill battle convincing people that feminism is valid. It doesn’t help that the media treats us like we’re a pack of loons, focusing on the fringe of the fringe as if it can discredit the core.
    I know that’s a natural human thing, all around…
    After all, men don’t experience the sorts of crap that women go through on a daily basis, so it’s hard for them to wrap their minds around it until they’ve been shocked out of their complacency.
    It’s easy to take a slice of an extreme view and tar the rest of us – stars know they do it all the time to Muslims,

    It proves that we can’t stop for even a moment. We need to keep the conversation moving forward and build momentum so that the forces trying to stymie us don’t trip us up. More #YesAllWomen, please.

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