19 November 2015

Acknowledging International Men's Day

November 19 marks International Men's Day. No, I'm not mocking it or the people who celebrate it, and I'm not facetiously asking what other opportunities have their been for the achievements of men to be celebrated. Because IMD isn't, shouldn't be about that.

The recent rise of the men's rights movement has. somewhat ironically, proved a point that feminists have been making for decades - that there are issues that affect men and women differently on the basis of gender. It doesn't mean that these issues never affect anyone of the other  sex and/or gender. But this is why domestic violence is frequently, and correctly, framed as a feminist issue; it does disproportionately affect women, and no matter how many times men's rights activists state "1 in 3 victims are men" or "women can be just as violent" it doesn't arise out of a vacuum, or from the individual actions of violent men or women, but from a society underpinned by notions of different power roles of men and women. And no amount of stating 'we should condemn violence against everyone" will change that.

But on IMD, we should focus on the areas where men are disadvantaged; such as in educational outcomes, suicide rates, as victims of violence in general. These are areas where men come off worse, and we need to talk about why, and what we can do to try to make it better. That's what we mean when we say the patriarchy hurts men and women, It creates a toxic masculinity where are young men are still taking swings at each other on boozy nights out and driving to fast and failing to engage with help and support services and feeling there's no way out but to end it all. And they're only going to fall further behind, with the dismantling of trades training and the rise of the mandatory degree for even entry level jobs, boys who are not being engaged by the education system risk becoming further marginalised. More fights, despair, addiction, lives ruined and lost.

Unfortunately you wouldn't know this from the men's rights movement, certainly it seems to ignore such issues in favour of an obsession with false rape allegations and denying the gendered issue of domestic violence.

It suits the agenda of men's rights activists and the women who support them to claim feminists hate men. We don't. We have male partners and friends and brothers and sons we adore. They also claim that women are now equal, even have it better than men, and men's rights is just a way of reclaiming equality. No. There are still too many areas where women are subject to misogyny and disadvantage, and that's why I'm a feminist. But we certainly have it different, and I think it is important on this day to look at the problems and challenges that men and boys  

07 November 2015

How does Andrew Bolt get away with this?

I often wonder how Andrew Bolt gets away with writing the stuff he does. No, not the constant stream of vile racist rubbish. We've already been there, done that.

I mean how he gets away with - and gets paid for - publishing up to ten posts a day of cut and pasted junk that defies the most basic logic and would insult the intelligence of a bright 11 year old (but not a Herald Sun reader).

To wit, today, under a column entitled "What drowning seas?" he claims contradicts the sea level rise predictions of "warmists" (nonce word that, may as well call those advocating for vaccination "diseasists") and then consists in its entirety text taken from another site:

I stumbled the other day across a user-friendly website for actual sea-level data (no forecasting or homogenising involved). It’s not one of those sceptic sites, like joannenova.com.au, but from NOAA, America’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. NOAA tracks sea-level movements around the globe via tide gauges.
Try starting with the NOAA sea data for Sydney (Fort Denison) and Fremantle.
The Sydney data go all the way back to 1886. The reference point is a plug in the northern wall of the Department of Lands Building in Bridge Street. There are other plugs in the stone wall on Fort Denison and Mrs Macquarie’s Point.
For the period 1886-2010, the sea level at Fort Denison rose by 0.65mm/year, a rate of 6.5cm per century. That is a fifth of a foot, in other words.
So tiny? Some mistake, surely! Let’s check the Sydney numbers against those for Fremantle, 4000km to the west. In this case, the reference point is a little brass plate set in concrete below a cover plate at the inshore corner of ‘A berth’ landing. From 1897 to 2010, the average annual rise at Fremantle was 1.54mm, or 15.4cm or a mere 6 inches per century.
So head north to Bundaberg and Townsville, and all you get is 5.8cm and 14.8cm per century, respectively, a few inches and half a foot. Criss-cross to t’other side, Port Hedland (21.8cm/century) and Carnarvon (28.9cm/century). That’s a bit higher, but we’re still only talking of barely a foot in 100 years.
Over to NZ then, let’s spread our sample.  Same boring story, 12-23cm per century. So head for those drowning Pacific isles, Tuvalu and Kiribati. Tuvalu gets an average annual rise (since 1977) of 3.74mm or 37cm a century: 15 inches. This rate could become a problem in 30-50 years if the islanders maintain their high birth rate and continue degrading their environment. Even so, the island chain’s surface area is growing, not drowning.[vi]
But here’s Kiribati: a mere 6cm per century, a few inches. Then there’s the Cook Islands (15cm per century or half a foot), Palau just a tad higher, and the Marshall Islands, higher again at 36cm, or 14in.. But those statue-building descendants on Easter Island can relax: their vast Pacific Ocean surrounds are rising at a mere 3.3cm per century, or not quite 2 inches in a 100 years.
Numbers like this spoil the narrative of our coastal-catastrophes-to-come.
When  I first heard people say "you know, I don't believe this global warming tripe. Plenty of hot days when I was a kid", I actually thought they were joking. Surely they couldn't be that stupid, to confuse weather and climate, to not understand the concept of overall trends. But then I realised people were actually serious when they disregarded global warming cause it's always seemed hot to them.
So it is with this. I'm sure a lot of people will read it and think well there's more proof against this alarmist nonsense. See! Sea levels only rose a little bit over the past 100 years. Look at that tiny annual average. Everything is fine.
But where it should strain the credulity of anyone intelligent enough to sit upright in a chair is that we can somehow use this data to ignore future predictions about sea level rise. Come on Mr Bolt, surely you can't believe this. Maybe I could average the number of, say, emails sent worldwide per year since 1886 and say that proves the number of emails sent per year in the future? Or, let's use a figure you'd understand and use to push your Islamaphobic agenda, how many Australians have been killed per year on average in Islamic terrorist attacks since 1886? If we use that number to predict the risk of terrorist attacks in future, that doesn't really seem like something worth worrying about now, does it?
I honestly don't think Andrew Bolt is that stupid. I don't think he does believe it. But he's smart enough to peddle it to manipulate a bunch of people gullible enough they will believe, without a moment's critical analysis, that this data disproves the chance of sea level rise in future, and global warming generally. And thus certain it's all a hoax, they'll vote accordingly. And that is what's so galling. 

You might like...