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      Came across this tweet about the Philadelphia water spillage the other day: Yo Philly—don’t drink the water today. Boiling won’t help. More than 8,000 gallons of a latex-finishing solution spilled into Otter Creek in Bristol on Friday night. The spill includes butyl acrylate, which was one of the chemicals released in the East Palestine train derailment http […]
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Obligatory New Years Eve Open Thread

Happy New Year, Feliz Año Nuevo and Gung Hay Fat Choy!

We here at The Confluence want to thank you all for putting up with us for another year. Eventually we’ll figure out this blogging thing.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss New Year’s resolutions, but tonight is the time for excess and overindulgence.

Live it up tonight. As my grandpa used to say, “You’re not drunk unless you have to hang on to the grass to keep from fallin’ off the earth!”

Naomi Wolf – Anti-Feminist of the year

Her eyes are blue because she's a quart low

Just when you think she’s plumbed the depths of stupidity, she grabs a shovel and starts digging:

Why is Rape Different?

As Swedish prosecutors’ sex-crime allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange play out in the international media, one convention of the coverage merits serious scrutiny. We know Assange by name. But his accusers – the two Swedish women who have brought the complaints against him – are consistently identified only as “Miss A” and “Miss W,” and their images are blurred.

News organizations argue that the policy is motivated by respect for the alleged victims. But the same organizations would never report charges of, say, fraud – or, indeed, non-sexual assault – against a suspect who has been named on the basis on anonymous accusations. In fact, despite its good intentions, providing anonymity in sex-crime cases is extremely harmful to women.

The convention of not naming rape accusers is a relic of the Victorian period, when rape and other sex crimes were being codified and reported in ways that prefigure our own era. Rape was seen as “the fate worse than death,” rendering women – who were supposed to be virgins until marriage – “damaged goods.”

Virginia Woolf called the ideal of womanhood in this period “The Angel in the House”: a retiring, fragile creature who could not withstand the rigors of the public arena. Of course, this ideal was a double-edged sword: their ostensible fragility – and their assigned role as icons of sexual purity and ignorance – was used to exclude women from influencing outcomes that affected their own destinies. For example, women could not fully participate under their own names in legal proceedings.

Indeed, one of the rights for which suffragists fought was the right to be convicted of one’s own crimes. Nonetheless, even after women gained legal rights – and even as other assumptions about women have gone the way of smelling salts and whalebone stays – the condescending Victorian convention of not identifying women who make sex-crime charges remains with us.

That convention not only is an insult to women, but also makes rape prosecutions far more difficult. Overwhelmingly, anonymity serves institutions that do not want to prosecute rapists or sexual harassers.


It is wrong – and sexist – to treat female sex-crime accusers as if they were children, and it is wrong to try anyone, male or female, in the court of public opinion on the basis of anonymous accusations. Anonymity for rape accusers is long overdue for retirement.

I guess it never occurred to Naomi that the thought of having their names publicized would deter many rape victims from reporting the crime to law enforcement. Rape isn’t quite the same thing as getting your car stolen or your home burglarized.

This is actually hard to write a reaction to because it’s surreal. My first reaction was “She didn’t really say that, did she?” I had to check and make sure this wasn’t a spoof by The Onion.

But then again it’s not like Naomi had any feminist credibility left to lose.


The Guardian has reprinted Naomi’s inanity.

The Empire Strikes Back

Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do when they come for you?

Nobody saw this coming:

FBI Raids Texas Company in Hunt for Anonymous

The FBI has raided a Texan hosting company and seized equipment believed to have been used in the distributed denial of service attacks that targeted supposed “enemies” of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which included the likes of PayPal and MasterCard.

It was actually PayPal that set the wheels in motion, as investigators working for the company supplied the FBI with eight IP addresses that had hosted an IRC chat of Anonymous members. Agents operating out of the Bureau’s San Francisco office then began to trace at least two of the IPs, with help from law enforcement organizations in Europe.

The first IP was traced back to a company called Host Europe, which is based in Germany. The German Federal Criminal Police investigated further and discovered that the server in question belonged to a man in France, but that it had been compromised by a third party. The IP of this third party put the ball back in the FBI’s court, as it originated from a dedicated server hosting company based in Dallas, Texas. Agents copied the contents of two hard drives from inside the server on December 16th, but the Bureau not revealed what – if anything – it has discovered.

The second IP that PayPal handed over was traced to a server held by a Californian hosting company. It’s not known at this time if the FBI has also seized data from this second site, but it seems a reasonably safe assumption that it did.

It was inevitable that the government would do something like this. There is no such thing as “anonymous” on the Internet anymore (if there ever was.) Anything you do online can be monitored, traced and/or tracked. The feds have the resources and the will to do it.

I said before that those 15 year old hackers from 20 years ago are now 35 year old cyber-security experts. Some of them work for the government.

Before the usual suspects start calling me an authoritarian again, this isn’t about what I think should happen. This is about what I think WILL happen.

The feds are gonna catch some of these wannabe revolutionaries. Not all, but some. Then they are gonna make an example out of the ones they catch.

You can read the warrant affidavit here.

Quick! I need an appetizer recipe

I need help. I have to bring an appetizer that needs minimal heating to a party tomorrow. I used to bring Reuben dip but everyone has seen that one a zillion times. None of the other recipes in my myriad books seem to fit the criteria that isn’t along the lines of the same, lame seven layered dip variety.

Put your suggestions down below. Unusual is better. Nothing like marinated seafood. (been there, done that). This crowd had very jaded tastes.

Ok, go!

Foliehatt Friday

This week’s foliehatt goes to: Jennifer Rubin

Is Palin-mania A Liberal Plot?

Apparently PDS is bipartisan.

From Seward’s Folly:

Murkowski certified Senate election winner
Sen. Lisa Murkowski was officially named the winner of Alaska’s U.S. Senate race Thursday, following a legal battle that lasted longer than the write-in campaign she waged to keep her job.

Oh goody, instead of another Republican in the Senate we get . . . a Republican.

China keeps building walls:

China makes Skype illegal
China on Thursday announced that it had made illegal the use of Skype, the popular internet telephony service, as the country continues to shut itself off from the rest of the world.

Oh, well. There wasn’t anybody there I wanted to talk to anyway.

Paul is shrill today:

The New Voodoo
Hypocrisy never goes out of style, but, even so, 2010 was something special. For it was the year of budget doubletalk — the year of arsonists posing as firemen, of people railing against deficits while doing everything they could to make those deficits bigger.

I think it’s terrible the way people want to defame a perfectly good religion by associating it with economics.

Speaking of which:

Academic Economists to Consider Ethics Code
Academic economists, particularly those active in policy debates in Washington and Wall Street, are facing greater scrutiny of their outside activities these days. Faced with a run of criticism, including a popular movie, leaders of the American Economic Association, the world’s largest professional society for economists, founded in 1885, are considering a step that most other professions took a long time ago — adopting a code of ethical standards.

I thought one of the defining characteristics of a profession was a code of ethics. Now if only bloggers would get one.

All good things must end:

Stanford women end UConn’s winning streak at 90

The Streak ended here.

Finally, after 90 games and more than 32 months of non-stop winning, top-ranked Connecticut lost Thursday night. Jeanette Pohlen scored 31 points as Stanford jumped ahead early and rolled merrily away to win 71-59 before a raucous capacity crowd at Maples Pavilion.

It was a convincing and historic outcome. UConn’s run of 90 consecutive victories counted as the longest winning streak in NCAA basketball history, men or women.

Thanks to Title IX the girls get to play too. Predictions of the ruin and destruction of college sports turned out to be wrong.

Apparently you right coast types had a few snowflakes recently:

NYC mayor to probe claims that workers delayed snow cleanup

Four days after a monster blizzard blanketed much of the northeastern U.S., New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will investigate whether sanitation workers intentionally delayed cleanup efforts over frustrations regarding citywide budget cuts.

Cuz you know it couldn’t have been the mayor’s fault, right?

Peachy-keen news from Obama’s Good War:

US military investigates ‘death squad’ accused of murdering Afghans

Brigadier general to conduct review of 5th Stryker brigade as evidence emerges of widespread complicity in deaths

If you kill them, their hearts and minds will follow.

Transocean questions CSB’s power to probe oil spill: report
Transocean Ltd has written to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), challenging the federal agency’s authority to investigate April’s deep-water drilling accident, Bloomberg said.

Under federal law, floating rigs are exempt from oversight by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Rachel Clingman, an attorney for Transocean, said in a letter to the agency, Bloomberg reported.

Where did all that oil go, anyway?

Today in History:

1967 Oakland Raiders beat Houston Oilers 40-7 in AFL championship game
1962 “Match Game” debuts on NBC with host Gene Rayburn
1935 Charles Darrow patents Monopoly

Birthdays today:

1959 Bebe Neuwirth
1959 Val Kilmer
1948 Donna Summer
1943 John Denver
1937 Anthony Hopkins


1999 Elliot Richardson
1985 Rick Nelson
1972 Roberto Clemente

The #1 movie in the country: