Men behaving badly and false equivalence

Worst. Grope. Ever.

John Oliver had a wonderful show recently discussing the logical fallacies employed by Donald Trump whenever he’s challenged on his numerous falsehoods. One thing to watch out for (and not just from Trump) is false equivalence.

This has been the season for bringing misogyny into the open. Beginning with Harvey Weinstein, a parade of dumbshit men like Roy Moore, Lewis C.K., Charlie Rose and others have been exposed for their misogynist, sexist, and degrading behavior towards women.

Overall, I say right on. These men abused the trust of the women who looked up to them. Some, like Moore, crossed a moral line (if not a legal one) in chasing teenage girls. The transgressions all have different shades but overall they consist of a man abusing his power or authority over women and/or girls.

This brings us to the case of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Franken has been accused by LeeAnn Tweeden of an unwanted sexual advance, saying Franken aggressively kissed her during a rehearsal of a USO sketch they were both doing:

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

No photos exist of the kiss in question and Franken remembers it differently.

I hated to think that Franken was a scumbag the likes of Moore and Rose. He’s always seemed like a good, upstanding guy, those Minnesota values still strong in him. Over time, though, I had to conclude that this was something different.

According to Tweeden, she and Franken were rehearsing a kiss that was scripted into their sketch. It was no surprise. It was no unwanted advance. They were both acting. This was something they had agreed to do. You can debate the intensity of the kiss, sure, but it was in the script.

Secondly, Franken held no power of Tweeden. He was not her boss nor was her career hanging in the balance if she refused his kiss (which, as I just pointed out, was part of a sketch). In 2006, Franken was a minor celebrity at best. He was a former SNL writer, a bestselling author, and a radio host on Air America, a struggling liberal talk show network. Though I like his SNL work, no one would mistake Franken for a comedy industry titan, able to make or break careers.

Thirdly, let’s take a look at the photograph Tweeden says shows Franken allegedly groping her. Franken is not even touching Tweeden. He couldn’t touch her if he tried because she’s wearing a flak jacket. Tweeden nevertheless claims he did:

I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.

I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.

How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?

On this USO tour Tweeden has been shown to be open to grabbing, if not being grabbed herself, as a photo of her on stage shows her helping herself to a big ol’ handful of guitarist butt.

Double standard much?

Was Franken’s photo in bad taste? Possibly. Was there any contact? Not according to the photo. It looks to me like everyone got chummy and now that suddenly has become a problem for Tweeden.

It is a false equivalence to compare Franken’s actions with the likes of pedophile Roy Moore or misogynists like Weinstein, Rose, or Louis C.K. For those who want to wag their finger at liberals for allegedly turning a blind eye to Franken’s actions just because he’s a liberal, too, get real! Franken’s alleged misdeeds have been blown totally out of proportion and don’t compare to the actions of the others.

I’m disgusted with bad behavior of Weinstein, Rose, and Louis C.K., who are all liberals, and will freely say so. Not painting Franken with the same brush, though, has nothing to do with liberals protecting our own and everything to do with weighing the evidence.

Red Hat IPO

A red hat


I was thinking about the early days of Red Hat this weekend and the company’s IPO. That got me looking up Red Hat’s S-1 statement which was filed for their IPO. Two things made me laugh:

1. Red Hat all of 125 employees when it went public, and
2. Red Hat actually told investors it was banking on ad revenue from its website!

OUR STRATEGY

We seek to enhance our position as a leading provider of open source software and services by:

– continuing to enhance our Web site to create the definitive online destination for the open source community; [Emphasis mine]

– expanding our professional services capabilities to capture large corporate business on an enterprise basis;

– increasing market acceptance of open source software, particularly through technology alliances and sharing our development efforts and resources with third-party developers;

– continuing to invest in the development of open source technology; and

– enhancing the Red Hat brand through targeted advertising and public relations campaigns.

What makes this even funnier is that the S-1 also lists Google as a Red Hat customer:

Red Hat Customers in 1999

Hmm, where do you think all of that web advertising revenue went?

The company is quite different today than the company that went public in 1999, which seems to have been more smoke and mirrors. I’m glad they finally figured it out because it’s good to still have them around!

Blogging tugs at me again

A teletype keyboard at the Living Computer Museum, Seattle, WAAs I scrolled through Facebook today, I noticed the location on a friend’s post was listed as Hayes, NC. It turns out that Hayes does not exist as a municipality but still appears on maps as it was once a stop on the railroad. That reminded me of the old “Neuse Station” depot that I used to live near and how it, too, shows up in maps as Neuse, NC though there’s nothing really there. I then did a search of my blog for posts including “depot” and turned up a great one I wrote in 2005 when I researched Neuse Station:

It was a day spent working in my yard which ignited my current interest. I took a break from digging a trench to climb up the hill near the tracks. On my way up, I spotted the stump of a sawed-off telephone pole. Nearby was a glass insulator, which led me to discover a long length of telegraph wire.

Curiosity got to me. How old was that wire?

I started putting a picture together from the resources on the Internet. These tracks behind our house are the oldest railroad tracks in North Carolina. They belonged to the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, which was commissioned in 1834 to build a line from Raleigh to Gaston, where other lines led to Petersburg and Norfolk.

Work was slow and sloppy, but progress was eventually made. The first stop northward was a station called Huntsville. Later this stop became known as Neuse Station. Neuse was located right outside my neighborhood. That makes this spot near my neighborhood the second-oldest depot in the state.

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A witness to #metoo behavior

It was a warm Sunday afternoon in October, 2016.

I’ve just left the Amtrak station in downtown Raleigh. Unable (or too cheap) to call a cab, I drag my overnight back behind as I trudge up Dawson Street toward my home 2 miles away. The rhythm of my pace and the grinding of my bag’s battered wheels along the sidewalk lulls me into a sort of trance.

As I reach the corner of Hargett, I see a rough-looking man approaching. As I’m starting to make room for him on the sidewalk, a woman on a bicycle passes me (safely) from behind. As she passes, the man catcalls her and makes loud, suggestive comments.

In a blink it was over. The man, possibly drunk, stumbles on behind me. The woman, wearing headphones, was immune to his drunken come-ons and was long gone. I pause to think what I should have done or what I might have done.

Had the man been dumb enough to touch that woman I would’ve certainly jumped him. I’m a pretty friendly guy but I don’t like bullying of any sort, yet I was also stunned at what I just heard. It’s 2016. Some men still do this shit? I mean, really? What did this guy hope to accomplish with his clumsy come-ons?

He was clearly a loser and a drunk one at that. She was oblivious and went on with her ride. I continued walking, pondering how the world still needed some work.

You Do You

Steve Crider, senior recruiter at McKinsey, recently posted this story on LinkedIn:

“Years ago, I cold-called a candidate about a new opportunity. It was a big step up from his current role, and he had all the right skills and qualifications.

“Sorry, but I’m not interested,” he politely said.

I pressed him on it until he said something that really confused me. He told me that he “already made it to the top”.

I was familiar with his current company and looked at his resume again. He wasn’t anywhere near the top. He would have needed a telescope to see the top. He wasn’t even a manager yet.

He explained to me that “making it to the top” for him meant he loved the exact work he did each day, he loved his company, he was treated fairly and with respect, he made enough money to be comfortable, he had excellent benefits, he had flexibility, and most importantly to him, he’s never missed a single Little League game, dance recital, parent-teacher conference, anniversary, birthday, or any family event.

He knew what taking the next step in his career meant. More time, travel, and sacrifice. “Not worth it,” he said.

Your definition of “making it to the top” doesn’t have to be society’s or anyone else’s definition. You Do You.”

Breathtaking cluelessness

I just went a few rounds with a friend of a friend on Facebook and it left me aghast. This woman was defending Trump’s Puerto Rico response all the while not knowing what she was talking about. Several times she referred to Puerto Rico as “that country” and mentioned that Trump had “lifted the sanctions” to get the aid flowing.

I couldn’t help but point out that Puerto Rico is, in fact, part of America and that the “sanctions” are actually the Jones Act, the 1920s-era protectionist law that protects the U.S. shipping industry. Her only response was ad hominem attacks which I easily deflected.

I am flabbergasted by her utter cluelessness, coupled with the rabid conviction that she was correct. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Look, it’s okay to not know everything! It takes time to learn stuff. When you’re presented with facts that reveal the gaps in your knowledge, however, you should take the time to fill those gaps. There’s a giant Internet out there and plenty of good, reputable sources that can bring you up to speed. If you don’t trust what you find on the Internet, wander into your local library and ask the nice folks behind the counter for reference materials about your topic. You’d be surprised how far that can get you.

But please try. The country depends on it.

Four college basketball assistant coaches hit with federal fraud, corruption charges – CBSSports.com

Acting US Attorney of New York, Joon H. Kim.

While the FBI’s charges of bribery and fraud are concerning, I am not at all shocked. In fact, I hope this leads to much-needed reform of college basketball – and why not all of college athletics, while we’re at it? Overlooked in this story is the fact that universities, cable TV networks (and, yes, shoe companies) are literally making billions of dollars off the labor of unpaid “student-athletes.”

College athletics is big business, undeniably. It’s all about the money now, the quaint idea of a “student-athlete” be damned. We shouldn’t be so shocked at the flow of money as we are that none of it flows to those who deserve it most: the athletes. It’s time to stop this farce once and for all.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced early Tuesday that charges of fraud and corruption have been brought against four current college basketball assistant coaches — namely Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson, Auburn’s Chuck Person, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans and USC’s Tony Bland. Managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major sportswear company have also been charged with federal crimes in a scandal that has rocked the sport.”

The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,” Joon H. Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “Coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits. … For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March. Month after month, the defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”

Source: Four college basketball assistant coaches hit with federal fraud, corruption charges – CBSSports.com