Happy Birthday Title IX! Keep on Fighting.

Donna deVarona, who had no college swim programs to attend after the Olympics.

They learned the hard way that even groundbreaking civil rights laws are not self-executing.

Kelly Belanger. Invisible Seasons

Considering that an earthquake of legislation was enacted on June 23, 1972, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the newspaper archives. Title IX isn’t mentioned in the NY Times story on June 24, which references Nixon signing the “School Aid Bill.” The president’s major gripe about the bill is the lack of restriction on school busing. A tiny note towards the bottom mentions that colleges would lose funding if they discriminated against women in admission policies.

Front page of the NYT when Title IX is signed; most of the discussion about the Higher Education bill is about busing.
Title IX, almost a footnote at the time. Photo from NYTimes.com.

On that day, Kissinger was in talks with “Peking.” The Hurricane Agnes flood was devastating Pennsylvania. The president held a press conference on Domestic Matters, whose first question was about what the administration knew about the break-in at the Democratic Headquarters the previous week. Nixon said, “I know nothing.”

Looking back now, you’d think there was a switch flipped somehow (by Nixon) and voila! Megan Rapinoe and the WNBA burst like fireworks on to the scene. But that’s misleading. Title IX was a slow burn. People at the time didn’t see the fire kindled and, when they did, tried various endeavors to stamp it out. Those pushing for it were political animals, jockeying for position. No one thought about women playing sports. Some of the best ideas come as unintended consequences.

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Thanks for the Pride Reminder

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

So much irony! They came in matching shirts and hats. They brought special effects to liven up their display. They came from far around to gather and display their pride–they brought trucks, to pull floats perhaps? There was a U-Haul, which is ironic given that old LGBTQ U-Haul joke… They even wore bandanas! I’ll bet they played music on the road… what kind of music do you play, when you’re a white supremacist traveling to Idaho from Texas? Is there Neo Nazi death metal country western?

There was a second group, too, that chose this Pride month, this month that marks a history to commemorate a riot. The original spark for June to be Pride month was the Stonewall riot in June of 1969, when a group of spunky drag queens (that’s probably redundant) stood up to the cops and decided not to put up with the abuse any more. How ironic that this new group of Proud Boys chose to be disruptive! Although instead of standing up to oppression this time they decided to be oppressive–to harass a bunch of little kids at a library story hour.

Land of the Free and the Home of the Chickensh*t

You’ve probably read by now about the U-Haul full of good ol’ boys that drove up to Idaho. This group, which called itself the Patriot Front, wore matching outfits and had apparently come from eleven different states. Their aim was to disrupt a Pride in the Park event in the booming metropolis of Coeur d’Alene.

I kind of want to see them do the can can, in those matching outfits. Photo of the Patriot Front from CNN.

Have you ever been to Coeur d’Alene? It’s a town of 50,000 people, which is to say slightly larger than my little northern California village, Castro Valley. Three freeway stops and a Petco. Coeur d’Alene does happen to be the only population center across a large rural area. So it’s probably the “big city” to the locals.

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How Do Scientists Know?

Those scientists dudes–and dudenas–are so smart! They can tell you how much oxygen a dinosaur was using. They can figure out where the bubonic plague came from, 700 years ago. They can use new computers to rescan old pictures to look for earth-nudging asteroids. Exploring the universe with tools, logic, and an understanding of the behavior of things, they can describe what happened in places they can’t see and have never gone. Knowledge spreads ever-so-slightly outward into the vastness of the unknown.

Drawing of Dr. Jasmina Wiemann’s test subjects from scitechdaily.com.

Strangely enough, it gives me a warm and fuzzy sense of comfort. As the kids say, Science gives you All the Feels. But let’s not get it tangled up with Belief.

Hot Blood Begets Hot Thoughts and Hot Deeds

Whether dinosaurs were hot-blooded or cold-blooded is a century-old argument. It was two whole classes in my semester of Paleontology 2A, back in the 1980s. Dr. Jasmina Wiemann at CalTech may have come across clues that explain why it’s been so hard to determine. The answer is a little of both.

Dinosaurs were reptiles. They lay eggs, and they don’t have fur/hair–I will spare you the much longer explanation involving clades. Modern reptiles are cold-blooded, ectothermic; they rely on external sources to raise body temperature enough to move around. They have slow metabolisms, so are very thrifty with their energy movements. Mammals and other creatures are endothermic or warm-blooded, with fast metabolisms. We can move around even when it’s not warm or sunny, even though we’d rather burrow under the covers. And some of us have such low metabolisms that even thinking about Cheetos causes bloating. But I digress.

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