So, I just wrote that big thing on ‘progressive’ white America’s modern view of the chattel slavery of African Americans, and I have deiced, on behalf of all white people, we need to stop lying to each other. Teachers, tour guides, even just random people, when they get asked “Was Master X nice to his slaves” or “But most slaves were treated well, right?” Need to uniformly answer “No.” 

No owner ever treated a slave well. Not George Washington, Not Thomas Jefferson, not your potential ancestors, not the nice family you heard about on vacation last year. To own another human being is to not treat them well.

We have to stop lying to kids (and each other) and saying that there is a humane way to strip another human being of there right to self, to take a person and create a marketable commodity . 

White Americans still benefit from the legacy of slavery, and Black American’s still suffer from it. We need to stop teaching it as an ancient quirk that left few scars because everyone was more or less happy. 

It wasn’t symbiotic, it was parasitic, and we need to stop saying otherwise. 

To own another human being is to not treat them well.

Aside (in relation to hearing about another conversation): To own another human being, means they cannot give enthusiastic consent to sex. There were no slave and master love stories. The inability to say no to the person who can beat you, kill you, starve you, sell off family members, sell you off away from all you’ve ever known, kill family members and or torture them – means there’s no consent to sex.

No slave master ever fell in love with a slave then treated them right by NOT freeing them and not freeing their family and not supporting abolition.

The fact that a person did not have the full autonomy and were forced to be at the whim of another person is abuse. Period. Slavery was ongoing abuse.

All of these bullshit ‘massa treated me well’ narratives are STOCKHOLM SYNDROME.



Want to know a good way to shut down Thomas Jefferson apologists? 

Point out the fact that under Virginian standards in Jefferson’s time, the children he fathered on Sally Hemings were white. 

Sally Hemings was one quarter black and three quarters white.* She had three white grandparents and one black grandparent in the maternal line. 

Jefferson was white. So the children that Jefferson impregnated Sally with were one-eighth black and seven-eighths white. Virginian law during Jefferson’s time stated that a person who had one black great-grandparent was a white person. They were, in the racial parlance of the time, ‘octoroons’ and octoroons were considered white people (NB: THIS IS A VERY LOADED RACIST TERM, AND I’M USING IT HERE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES, DO NOT USE THIS TERM TO DESCRIBE PEOPLE.) The children were slaves because they were born to an enslaved mother**, but they were legally white children, and Jefferson deliberately decided to keep them in slavery, which was allowed at the time.*** This is where the apologists get uncomfortable. They’re like “Don’t make this weird.” And you’re like WEIRDER THAN IT IS ALREADY?

Now, not only were they the half-siblings of Jefferson’s own children, and were raised in slavery, but Sally Hemings was the half-sibling of Jefferson’s wife. Sally Hemings and Martha shared a father. Sally was 25 years younger than Martha, and Martha and her husband inherited baby Sally as property after her father’s death. At the age of 14, Sally – used as a servant for the Jefferson’s teenage daughters – became Thomas’s concubine and got pregnant. SO THAT’S REALLY NICE. TOTALLY NOT CREEPY OR WEIRD.

Jefferson didn’t see a problem with enslaving and impregnating his wife’s sister IN HIS WIFE’S HOUSE – his wife’s teen sister that he had OWNED SINCE SHE WAS A TINY BABY – and keeping the resulting children as property. There’s no need to make it weird, guys! This is totally normal behavior.

The only reason that Sally, as a pregnant teen in France, did not run
away from Jefferson in a country where she was legally free was because
he apparently promised to free her children at the age of 21.

In their 20s, two of the children (Beverly, a boy, and Harriet, a girl) ran away to the North, where they were legally free.

They self-identified as white, entered white society, and married middle-class white people. They disappeared into history.

Jefferson did not pursue them or make any attempt to recover his property, which is seen to demonstrate his Compassion, and the fact that he totally Freed His Children. But not legally. And in such a way that they ran about in the North for a bit, sparking interested gossip and speculation, because they looked a hell of  a lot like Jefferson. People try to handwave it – “Oh, he freed them by letting them escape… we don’t mean that he FREED them, like gave them official papers to keep them safe from slavecatchers or allow them to vote or anything… he just didn’t…. run them down with dogs.”

Beverly ran away, he was 24. Remember how Jefferson promised to free the kids at the age of 21? That must have been an awkward few years. “So can I have some voting rights and the ability to get married, like you promised my mother, please? Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness? Can I get a little of that?” “Oh no, don’t worry about it. Tell you what, if you ever decide to run away and are forced to establish yourself in an alien society from scratch without ever seeing your family again, I won’t run you down with dogs.” NOW THAT’S GOOD PARENTING

Jefferson legally freed the two surviving sons in his will – it was a dicey moment, because he died in Lots of Fucking Debt and huge chunks of Wayles-Jefferson-Hemings family got auctioned off randomly and weren’t seen again. But the other two boys were freed and just about managed to dodge the debt collectors. After his death, they remained in the South and married, only moving away when they feared slavecatchers would kidnap them. Imagine leaving your own children (who were also your wife’s nephews) in that situation. BUT THAT’S NOT WEIRD.

Jefferson didn’t want to deal with any political awkwardness that would happen if he officially freed any of the children when he was alive. 

Because, you know. 

That would have made it weird.

* This is known and recorded; her family tree is clear. It was valuable information that contributed to her ‘market value.’ Disgusting! But clearly recorded!

**This changed later, and varied by state; you can read plenty of accounts of “white slaves” with predominantly Caucasian features being bought and sold in the South. The ‘just one drop’ rule was widely adopted to make this easier for slavers – if one black ancestor could be proved or suggested, the person could be bought and sold as property. A young vulnerable white person with no family could be conveniently be ‘accused’ of having black ancestry, so that blue-eyed-blondes could be purchased and sold as sexual slaves – and used to produce more slaves! This was absolutely shocking for European visitors at the time, who wrote it all down and went “LOOK AT THE FUCKERY THE AMERICANS ARE DOING?! DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? THEY INVENTED A SPECIFIC KIND OF RACISM TO JUSTIFY SLAVERY AND NOW THEY’RE NOT EVEN STICKING TO THEIR OWN RULES??” So you know, this was just incredibly terrible and unethical the whole way down. Hopefully everyone gets that? Does using white people as an example clarify matters for everyone? It’s problematic, but it’s a technique that abolitionists used for hundreds of years, because it’s effective and usually REALLY freaks out apologists. Thus there was the now-forgotten plot device of the “tragic octoroon” used in abolitionist plays and literature – usually a pretty blonde girl with secret African ancestry, forced into sexual slavery until rescued by an abolitionist in an extremely heavy-handed plot twist – but it was extremely effective at freaking out the middle-class white people in the North. “That could be my daughter! We have to stop slavery!” And Europeans were just like “Jesus CHRIST what are Americans even DOING?!” as they frantically wrote letters back home.

*** The Virginian law stated partus sequitur ventrem – the child of an enslaved mother is an enslaved child. Even if they aren’t technically ‘black.’ Because it made Jefferson’s life less awkward.

NB: SLAVERY IS WRONG and it was ALWAYS wrong to enslave people. The fact that the Hemings children were “legally white” – basically a meaningless term anyway – doesn’t mean they “deserved” to be elevated above other enslaved people and freed. It’s just a really good way to shut down the apologists, because they like to set up a fake fantasy system where slavery is totally justified and fair. This is not compatible with reality, particularly in the case of Presidential children.

an entomologist rates ant emojis


Beautiful big almond eye, realistic and full of expression as she gazes gently at you. Elbowed antennae and delicately segmented legs and body. Gorgeous pearlescent sheen like she is glowing. This ant moisturizes. This ant is round and huggable. This ant is a star. 11/10.

Beautifully detailed, lifelike pose but with an unexpected neck and odd antennae, perhaps scared straight. Her eyes suggest she has seen things. Her expression confirms she has seen too much. She is haunted and I want to know more. 7/10.

Floppy antenna, pointy muppet face, oddly posed legs. What is she? She has no waist. May be she is some kind of bee in disguise? I find her unsettling. 3/10.

This ant has an unexplained, double-jointed thorax, and no evidence of a waist. Her four-footed pose suggests that she a centaur rather than an ant. Centaur ants would be cool. I’m not sure what was intended here. 2/10.

Good first impression, kind of bland in the details. This ant has no particular waist to speak of, floppy rather than elbowed antennae, and an inexpressive face. Her color scheme is soft and hazy. I like the sharp angles of her stylishly sophisticated legs. This ant may not know quite were she is going, but she knows how she is getting there. 6/10.

Were you even trying. 0/10

Gasp! This ant is elegant. This ant has a beautiful tapered thorax, a segmented abdomen, alert, elbowed antennae, and a light-footed pose. This ant’s face suggests curiosity and a desire to explore the world. This ant inspires me. I want to be like her. 10/10

3-legged, waistless centaur-ant with strange, limp antennae and a beak. I don’t know what this is? It kind of reminds me of a Hork-Bajir. 1/10, not an ant.

This ant… makes me sad. All of her legs are broken. The MS Paint art style and gradient abuse convey distress. She has a duck beak. Despite this, her expression suggests perseverance and determined cheerfulness. I want this ant to have a better life. I am rooting for her. 3/10

This ant is a bold and challenging mixture of photorealism and caricature. She is broad and low-built and seems very sturdy. She looks like she would help you move. This ant is a dependable friend. 9/10

A picture of an ant from a children’s book.  She is wearing little boots.  This ant is wrong in every way, and yet I can’t stay mad at her.  7/10

An interesting, top-down view of an ant; her legs are positioned with slightly jarring symmetry.  Nevertheless, her overall impression is that of a graceful, stylized design, like a pictograph.  She is suitable for adorning fine garments and jewelry or perhaps gracing the walls of a tiny ant church.  I like this minimalist ant.  8/10.

This is a termite. -10/10

Ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change




Our research, recently published in Nature Climate Change, describes a series of sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts that have occurred recently across Australia.

These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

Despite land clearing, mining and other activities that transform the natural landscape, Australia retains large tracts of near-pristine natural systems.

Many of these regions are iconic, sustaining tourism and outdoor activities and providing valuable ecological services – particularly fisheries and water resources. Yet even here, the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events is causing environmental changes. These changes are often abrupt and potentially irreversible.

They include wildlife and plant population collapses, the local extinction of native species, the loss of ancient, highly diverse ecosystems and the creation of previously unseen ecological communities invaded by new plants and animals.

Australia’s average temperature (both air and sea) has increased by about 1°C since the start of the 19th century. We are now experiencing longer, more frequent and more intense heatwaves, more extreme fire weather and longer fire seasons, changes to rainfall seasonality, and droughts that may be historically unusual.

We identified ecosystems across Australia that have recently experienced catastrophic changes, including:

    • kelp forests shifting to seaweed turfs following a single marine heatwave in 2011;
    • the destruction of Gondwanan refugia by wildfire ignited by lightning storms in 2016;
    • dieback of floodplain forests along the Murray River following the millennial drought in 2001–2009;
    • large-scale conversion of alpine forest to shrubland due to repeated fires from 2003–2014;
    • community-level boom and bust in the arid zone following extreme rainfall in 2011–2012, and mangrove dieback across a 1,000km stretch of the Gulf of Carpentaria after a weak monsoon in 2015-2016.

    Of these six case studies, only the Murray River forest had previously experienced substantial human disturbance. The others have had negligible exposure to stressors, highlighting that undisturbed systems are not necessarily more resilient to climate change.

  • Ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change