How Sexual Harassers Get Away With It



Donald and Billy on the bus and the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, including at least 20 lawsuits accusing Trump of mistreating women, have left many people asking why more women don’t report sexual assault and harassment when it happens. I’ll tell you why: it’s a terrible burden to be forced into becoming an accuser, and there is usually little reward and the very real possibility of punishment for doing so. (Fox anchor Lou Dobbs recently doxxed one woman who came forward with a story sexual misconduct by Trump.) Anyone who questions why women so rarely report this kind of abuse or why it can take years for sexual predators to get outed would do well to examine the Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes cases.

On December 19, 2012, I published a post about how creeps get away with sexual harassment, and Trump has made the story as relevant as ever. (Can you hear women across the country getting ready to grab back on November 8?)

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Your Brain on Sexual Assault

L0013119 Testa anatomica; man's head made up of writhing male figures. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Testa anatomica; profile view of male human head composed of writhing, apparently tormented naked men. Pre-conservation image shows a crack down the centre of the painting. See image L0069617 for post-conservation treatment. Oil By: Filippo BalbiPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0
This recent revelation about Donald Trump and crotch-grabbing has triggered an outpouring of stories and memories. I posted something on the matter on Facebook and people’s deeply sunken tales came out comment after comment. The same has happened on a national scale. People are stepping forward with their stories. A friend of mine, a touring musician, wrote a song, picked up her guitar and put it out there in a video. Down inside our tangled nests of personal denial, self-blame, and fragmented recollections, a sharp twang has struck from many pasts. This is no imagined twang, it has a physical and lifelong component.

In moments of fear or terror, combat or sexual assault, the prefrontal cortex is overridden by stress chemicals. You don’t need your prefrontal cortex to get out alive. In essence, you switch to the reptile brain, which means nuances like hair color, clothing, shoes, or exactly what was said are harder to access. Fine details may be burned into the brain, but many others are cross-wired and even backwards or misremembered. The hormones released during an assault make it hard for the amygdala and hippocampus to work together, meaning information can be encoded incorrectly.

I recall being grabbed myself at an early age by a man in a bookstore. He rubbed against me uncomfortably and I moved away, then he moved in. I had a big book in my hands, I don’t remember the title. I have ever since thought of whamming it into his face, where I know he would have wept and cursed and run away. I see blood, a look of shock. But I didn’t do it. I stood in complete surprise and confusion. In fact, it feels as if part of me is still standing there, frozen in disbelief, a statue of a boy with a book in his hand that does not weather, does not erode, a ghost I left somewhere long ago.

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The Last Word

kiko1October 10 – 14, 2016

With the de-embargoing of Cuba, Cuban and American geologists can finally talk to each other.  That’s a good thing, says guest Alex Witze, because Cuba is a crunched-up (and gorgeous) mess between a rock and an ocean.

Michelle reminded us of Lady Ada Lovelace, an inventor of computer programming, who died young and whom the world needed because, when she was even younger, she wrote “As soon as I have got [a] flying [machine] to perfection, I have got a scheme about a steamengine.”

Guest Olivia Walch once spent a summer in a rat lab, observing them and running tests of their memories.  Her hours were long and she filled them with a memory game which she thinks, she hopes, she prays with all her soul, is unobserved.

Assuming pot gets legalized (which, duh), Jessa wonders what the legal pot-buying age should be — drinking age, driving age, marrying age, draft age?  Science says yes.

Baby Willyard has some science she wants to share with you and just because scientists haven’t discovered it yet, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Baby Willyard talks like a tiny, cute Marine drill sergeant and if you’re smart, you won’t mess with her.



Baby Science

There is a wealth of research on child rearing, some of which I’ve read. But my 14-month-old daughter recently pointed out that many of my so-called “evidence-based” views are hopelessly outdated. So I asked her to write a post in which she shares the very latest findings. This is cutting-edge baby science, dear readers. I think you’ll find it illuminating.  


On sleep:

Some parents have been led to believe (by charlatans) that babies need to be sleep “trained.” I didn’t think you would be duped by these hucksters, mom. But a couple of weeks ago, I saw that you were reading that book by Richard Ferber (aka Lucifer). For those of you not familiar with his methods, I’ll give you the gist. (Warning: what I’m about to describe may be upsetting to some readers.) Sleep training consists of letting a baby cry for a prolonged period of time at night. I know. It’s totally barbaric. But it’s an all-too-common practice.

The theory is that falling asleep is a skill that babies must learn. But psychologists now know that crying is a baby’s way of saying, “Help!” My cry means that something is wrong. Now, maybe it’s a small something. Like, my paci is at the other end of the crib and I can’t find it in the dark. Or the corner of my blanket is making my hair feel creepy. Or I threw Bunny out of the crib and now I regret it. But then again maybe it’s a big something. Look, I could be in danger. No, really! The cat has been giving me the evil eye lately. I think she is hatching a plan to off me. So here’s what should happen: I cry, you come running. Your brain has evolved to respond to my cry. So, you better f&*%$ing respond. Continue reading

Teen hippies get off my lawn


Next week, Ottawa Public Health will table a submission before a Canadian federal task force, recommending that the minimum age for buying legal, recreational marijuana should be 25. Age limits are just one of the myriad decisions we will have to make as the government moves toward fulfilling Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise of legalizing pot.

It’s an exciting time, and the move toward legalization has some surprising advocates. Retired Toronto police chief Bill Blair leads the team crafting pot legislation. After all of those decades in the force, he feels he finally has a real chance to do something about organized crime, as the proceeds from pot currently make up the vast majority of the billions flowing into biker gangs and other mobsters in Canada. Continue reading

Redux: Happy Lady Ada Day

10618433553_6fd8d1f039_zIt’s that time again! Happy Ada Lovelace Day to you and all the Lady Adas in your life. For more on this year’s observances, see Finding Ada. This post was originally published in 2014. 

I’m not, in general, huge on holidays. I often wish that those of us in the U.S. would observe the weeks between Halloween and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day with a nice long nationwide nap. But I feel differently about Ada Lovelace Day, founded by British digital-rights activist Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009. Now, every year in mid-October, the world has a chance to recognize Lady Ada, the woman some call the first computer programmer.

This year, Ada Lovelace Day arrives with a fine new Lovelace biography, Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age. The last major standalone biography of Lovelace was published in the late 1990s, and a lot has happened since then: a new set of letters between Lovelace and her collaborator Charles Babbage was discovered in 2000, and we’ve all clicked and poked and LOLed our way through another decade of the digital age. Ada’s Algorithm argues that Lovelace was one of the first—if not the first—to foresee just how deeply computing would affect our lives. Continue reading

Guest Post: Cuba’s Stories in Stone

fragmento_del_valle_de_vinales-_cubaStarting about 135 million years ago, long after the Pangea supercontinent fragmented into shards of planetary crust, one of those geological slivers began noodling toward the north and east. Near the end of the Eocene epoch, it bumped into what is now Florida. With a newborn ocean giving it a shove from behind, it overrode and then permanently glommed onto the North American crustal plate. Thus, geologically speaking, was Cuba born.

The island’s first geological maps came in 1869, from Manuel Fernández de Castro of the Spanish Geological Survey. A century later, the Cuban Academy of Sciences worked with its equivalents in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Soviet Union to produce detailed modern surveys. Today academics from Spain, France, Germany, and elsewhere publish on Cuba’s natural wonders. But one major research partner has of course been missing: American geologists. “Cuba accreted to America 44 million years ago,” says Robert Stern, a geologist at the University of Texas at Dallas, “and got ripped apart again 55 years ago.”  Continue reading