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Odds And Ends

A grab bag of things that flopped across the transom

I have been awake all night, working, and then heading to the Vienna airport to catch a flight to the US. Going to Dallas for CPAC. That whole pot of coffee is not doing me a lot of good right now. I'm going to post a few random things before I get on the plane and, um, crash.

First, let me warn you not to try the Viennese classic "leberkas" (liver cheese). I thought, what the heck, I like chopped liver. This was more like near-Spam. Ugh. Reckon I should have gotten the cinnamon roll.


On to even less pleasant things:


I swear, how on earth does this happen? A public library and a public middle school are teaming up to subvert parental authority to help minors pretend they are the opposite sex. These people are GROOMERS, and they are grooming on the taxpayers' dime! Why do people in Oregon, or anywhere else, put up with it? Are we honestly so demoralized as a country that we just shrug at this evil? Because that's exactly what it is: evil.

Where are the churches in Oregon? Are y'all standing up to this? At least warning your congregations about it?


As America descends further into this ideological madness, Britain might just have turned a corner. From the Times of London's powerful editorial on the forced closure of the Tavistock Clinic, the Mengelian facility that ruined the lives of many children. Excerpts:

The damage done is immeasurable. No one knows how years of ideological dogma, inappropriate treatment and a culpable failure to consider the overall mental welfare of the children treated by the Tavistock Clinic will affect the thousands referred to its Gender Identity Development Service. Yesterday the government thankfully brought the scandal to a swift halt. In the wake of a devastating report in March on the clinic’s reckless prescription of puberty blockers, ministers have shut it down altogether. Treatment of children questioning their gender identity will now be handled instead by established and respected regional children’s hospitals.

Disbanding the Tavistock is not before time. The once pioneering north London centre focusing on the psychiatric care of children has become an institute captured by a pernicious clique of “queer theory” trans activists, unwilling to question the reliance on puberty blockers, analyse the long-term effects of this untested treatment, or tolerate any dissenting opinion among staff. The Tavistock failed to collect data on puberty blockers for those under 16, refused to follow up the effects of its treatments and paid virtually no attention to other common factors such as autism, eating disorders or histories of trauma and abuse. It naively confused sexual orientation with gender identity, accepted at face value all declarations by children that they were born in the wrong body and treated all complex problems through the prism of gender.

There were plenty of warning signs. A number of senior staff objected that the clinic did not follow established protocols for the safe use of life-changing hormone treatment. Unable to voice their doubts, many left. Whistleblowers were denounced as transphobic. And as discussion of trans issues became more polemical and political, the clinic saw an extraordinary rise in the number of referrals from across the country, especially among young girls seemingly distressed about their gender. Last year there were more than 5,000 referrals compared to 250 a decade ago. Parents, warned by trans activists that failure to offer early access to hormone treatment before puberty could lead to their children’s suicide, besieged the clinic, the only one in Britain focusing on the issue.

The entire editorial is well worth reading. This is what happens when ideologues capture scientific and medical institutions.

So is this. From a job posting:

The Department of Physics at the University of Guelph invites applications for a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Experimental Physics. The Department of Physics is a research-intensive academic unit with a broad and well-balanced spectrum of research activities in astrophysics and gravitation, biophysics and medical physics, condensed matter physics and materials science, physics education, planetary surface exploration, and subatomic physics. Many of the Department’s faculty members are internationally recognized research leaders. The graduate and research programs of the Department are enhanced by participation in the Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute (GWPI) and the Biophysics Interdepartmental Group (BIG), and through collaborations at facilities such as the Canadian Light Source, TRIUMF and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

The successful candidate will be an outstanding and innovative world-class researcher in experimental physics whose accomplishments have made a major impact in their field. They will also have a superior record of attracting and supervising graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The successful candidate is expected to establish a diverse research team, to create an inclusive environment that enables all members to reach their full research potential, and have a track record of providing opportunities for equity-deserving groups. It is also expected that the successful candidate will add to the Department’s rich history of interdisciplinary collaborations, with emphasis placed on the potential for collaborations and synergy between the candidate, the Department’s research strengths, and the University’s research strengths. Candidates with research programs in the following areas are encouraged to apply: Biophysics, Medical Physics, Subatomic Physics, and Condensed Matter Physics.

An "outstanding and innovative world-class researcher in experimental physics whose accomplishments have made a major impact in their field"! Wow! That must narrow down the candidates a lot. But it's good to know that the University of Guelph is searching for the very best scientists in astrophysics, condensed matter physics, subatomic physics, and so forth.

Oh, but wait. Read on. Emphasis is in the original:

Candidates must have a PhD and be full professors or associate professors that are expected to be promoted to full professor within one or two years of the nomination. Alternatively, if they come from outside the academic sector, candidates must possess the qualifications necessary to be appointed at these levels. Candidates must be from one or more of the following equity-seeking groups to apply: women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and racialized groups. Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. Salary is negotiable and commensurate with experience and qualifications. Positions are subject to review and final approval by the CRC Secretariat. Review of applications and nominations will begin on September 21, 2022 and will continue until the position is filled.

The CRC Program is one of Canada’s most prestigious Research Chair programs. This CRC position is associated with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) which is the major federal agency responsible for funding natural sciences and engineering research in Canada. The program is designed to attract leading scientists and scholars. A CRC Tier I Chair attracts funding of $1.4M over seven years (renewable once), with most of this funding allocated to support the Chair and the Chair’s program of research. Please consult the CRC program website for full program information, including details on eligibility.

They don't want the best candidates at all. They want tokens. And they don't actually care about top-quality science.

There's a reason why I track all this stuff. It's evidence that we are not a serious civilization anymore. I remember when I read about the catastrophic collapse of technical knowledge when the western Roman Empire fell, wondering how on earth an advanced civilization can forget so much. Well, now I know. Except the Romans didn't choose to forget; we are doing exactly that.

Here's a fascinating story about Jumi Bello, tapped to be a leading emerging voice in fiction-writing, until she was discovered to be a fraud and a plagiarist. She plagiarized part of her debut novel (which was withdrawn before publication), and then, in an essay explaining why she did it, she plagiarized again. Excerpts:

Just a few hours after Bello’s essay was posted, it was removed from Lit Hub’s Web site and replaced with a message: “We’re sorry, but the content you are looking for doesn’t exist. Perhaps searching could help.”

Cached copies of the essay began making the rounds. “def googled part of the essay, and it popped up online as something someone else wrote :/,” tweeted Riverhead author Kristen Arnett. Just one minute later, she tweeted again: “the part about the history of plagiarism!!!!”

Arnett was right. In a paragraph on the history of plagiarism, Bello had committed plagiarism yet again, this time in hewing too closely to the words of Jonathan Bailey, who runs a Web site called Plagiarism Today. (Lit Hub posted a statement that afternoon, saying that the essay had been retracted due to “inconsistencies in the story” and “a further incident of plagiarism.”)

“That was a mistake I made in not citing,” Bello says now. “I’m sorry to the guy I plagiarized. [But] I didn’t plagiarize his personal feelings or his story or his way of looking at the world. It was the history of plagiarism.”

But the irony inherent in the incident unleashed a wave of online Schadenfreude. Soon some of the discourse was breaking down along racial lines, with many BIPOC writers hastening to her defense. “This industry is not safe for Black neurodivergent writers and the people in power are not interested in making it safe,” tweeted the best-selling novelist Akwaeke Emezi. “When it goes well, everyone and their mama was now involved, but when it goes to shit, it’s only the author who takes the fall.”

“White people who are excited and happy to be cruel and judgmental towards a Black woman who’s obviously struggling—you’re showing yourself,” tweeted Terese Marie Mailhot, author of the best-selling memoir Heart Berries.

Bello sees things somewhat differently. “I don’t think what happened to me is because I’m Black,” she tells me. “I think what happened to me is because I committed plagiarism.” But, she adds, “the reason that The New York Times and The Guardian picked it up is because I’m a Black woman.”

Of course. Woke solidarity even to defend a plagiarist, which is one of the worst things you can be as a writer. No, the reason the papers picked it up is because Jumi Bello was supposed to be a big star. She got a huge advance for the book. This is big news!

You've got to read the whole thing. It goes into the dysfunctional culture of the Iowa Writers Workshop, which produced Jumi Bello. She's not a victim, if you ask me, but man, you couldn't pay me enough to go into that nest of crazy.

OK, plane is boarding. More later...