diversity

The GOP, Pitching Their Biggest Tent

House committee leadership for the second session of the 114th Congress, via The Rachel Maddow Show, 18 November 2014.

When Republicans pitch a big tent, it’s usually still a sausage-fest.

How’s that? Comedically concise enough? Or do we need the lede?

House Republicans have selected white men to chair all but one of their standing committees next year.

The secretive Republican Steering Committee announced its recommendations late Tuesday after an all-day meeting to pick the heads of 17 committees, with all of those slots going to white men. Rep. Candice Miller, who was previously reappointed by Speaker John Boehner to lead the House Administration Committee, will remain the only woman to wield a gavel.

(Newhauser)

We would be remiss to omit the fact that Rep. Miller (R-MI10) is not the extent of GOP diversity in House leadership. House Republicans also picked Devin Nunes, a man of Portuguese descent who also carries a title of nobility from that country, to chair the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

It should also be noted that the House Administration Committee is the chair least sought by any member of Congress. Rachel Maddow tried her hand, last night, at telling the story of how Rep. Miller got that job. It would be funny, except that a humorous telling does nothing to abate the tragedy of the tale.

Meanwhile, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise responded to inquiries about the lack of diversity by explaining just how diverse Republican leadership is:

“Well, as part of leadership, we have a lot of women in our leadership team,” Scalise said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” when asked about the near-total absence of women in committee top spots.

In the House, 20 men were chosen for 21 key positions — the exception was Rep. Candice Miller, who will continue to chair the House Administration Panel.

Scalise also cited Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who was re-elected chairwoman of the Republican Conference and said, “Obviously, we have a number of other women that are very talented as part of our conference leadership.”

(McCalmont)

Look, it’s not quite the same as saying a private company has strong female representation among executives because all the males have female administrative assistants, but neither is it so different.

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Newhauser, Daniel. “House Republicans Just Picked 21 Committee Chairs. 20 Are Men.” National Journal. 18 November 2014.

Maddow, Rachel. “Diversity not a priority in House GOP picks”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 18 November 2014.

McCalmont, Lucy. “Scalise defends male-dominated committee chairmanships”. Politico. 19 November 2014.

Not Politics (Orb Weaver Mix)

The scientists described their estimate of 35,176 spiders/m³ as “markedly conservative” and “representing a minimum volume” of spiders, by the way.

Question: do you measure spiders in Metric ShitTons? Or in Imperial ShitLoads?

Either way, it’s an awful lot of spiders.

Gwen Pearson

It is, actually, difficult to admit just how it is that spiders affect so many of us so irrationally. And it offers no useful comfort to point to the next person and note that they’re even worse about it. Then again, four acres of orb spinners just waiting for some unfortunate organism to blunder into their trap, amounting to a population estimated somewhere above one hundred seven million spiders, and a “markedly conservative” estimate of maximum population density at 35,176 spiders/m³.

Detail of Greene, et al. (2010). Table 1 shows Architectural Elements Used to Estimate Total Amount of Volumetric Webbing in Back River Sand Filtration Facility.Come on. Admit it. You’d be just as bad about it as the next person.

The 2010 technical paper is available, for those so inclined, either through Pearson’s blog for Wired.com, or in our own archives.

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Pearson, Gwen. “4-Acre Spider Web Engulfs Building”. Charismatic Minifauna. 31 October 2014.

Greene, Albert et al. “An Immense Concentration of Orb-Weaving Spiders With Communal Webbing in a Man-Made Structural Habitat (Arachnida: Araneae: Tetragnathidae, Araneidae)”. American Entomologist, 56 (3). 2010.