Wikipedia’s zombie navy women

Gladys Commons, appointed by Obama, does *not* work for Trump

So what is new… yet another group of women ignored by Wikipedia. This time it is women in the U.S. Navy.

Exhibit A is one Gladys J. Commons, who served as a high level comptroller, or maybe assistant, from 11/3/2009 – 3/29/2013.  According to her official Navy bio, she retired from the Navy in 3/29/2013.  But according to her Wikipedia article, this Obama appointee is still holding down a seat in the Trump administration.

Fortunately for the Navy, they still have the unfortunate Kumioko as their only link to fixing these Wikipedia snafus, and Kumioko has posted it on one of the criticism sites.

So, is she notable?  Did she do any “heavy lifting”, as one of the regulars asked? Probably and probably not. Her bio lists all kinds of awards and honors, so that’s good enough for me. And without knowing the particulars of this specific individual, my understanding of these “assistant” positions, especially so high up in the food chain, is that they are political appointees and as such have been able to garner political and/or financial support for their candidate. Chances are, as comptroller, her signature might even have appeared on the paychecks, so there’s that. For anyone who wants to delve into these things, here is the chart, the “Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller)” is in the second row, third from the left.  I found the chart here (and here), in this book by the U.S. Office of the Federal Register so it’s probably even in the public domain.

So what else is in this little book? A list of Navy employees from 2011. Hmm shall we have a look?

Scanning for more names of women, I see that Gladys J. Commons is not Wikipedia’s most egregious case of neglect. That would be:

Exhibit B:  Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, former Assistant Secretary (Energy, Installations and Environment), who is dead.  Yup, she died in April.

From this profile, you can see she stepped down from the Navy in 2012. And her obit says she battled cancer for five years, so she must have left government service at that time, but it also looks like she had a position (see internet archive) with Haskell Point Advisors, an energy and infrastructure consulting firm. Her bio remained on that website until early in April, and is still in google cache. Archived here: Her navy bio isn’t any more up to date; it is here.  According to a very short note in the Sacramento Bee, her husband may be notable as well, Dan Richard, chair of the high-speed rail commission. At the very least they must have been a “power couple”.  And the longer Sacramento Bee obit fills in her career history after she left government service: “After leaving the Navy in 2013, she joined the board of directors of Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure and was named to the National Academies Board of Energy & Environmental Systems. In 2013, Ms. Pfannenstiel co-founded the San Francisco energy start-up firm, Advanced Microgrid Solutions.” And there is a lot of stuff about her “greening the fleet” efforts at the Navy, not to mention her economics background, in this interview.

For anyone who wants to go fishing, there is a navy bio list here:


The Trump Merkel female snub

“Trump did to Merkel what men do to women all the time. Men constantly ignore women – but most of the time no one notices it.”

She’s right, I noticed – but didn’t notice – because like street harassment, it’s so common it’s been normalized.

You can see it very clearly in the video. When she speaks, he moves slightly and he has definitely heard her, but he chooses to snub, to dismiss, the leader of the free world.

“The assumption, of course, is that the women in the room simply aren’t important enough to warrant attention or conversation.”

Yup. And thanks to the Guardian writer who noticed.



…I realized that the English language was in need of a new addition: the manologue.

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“The prevalence of the manologue is deeply rooted in the fact that men take, and are allocated, more time to talk in almost every professional setting. Women self-censor, edit, apologize for speaking. Men expound.”


Oh, goody, statistics:

“The fact that this tendency is masculine has been well established in social science. The larger the group, the more likely men are to speak (unless it is in a social setting like a lunch break). One study, conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and Princeton, found that when women are outnumbered, they speak for between a quarter and a third less time than the men.”

This never ends well, does it.

“Having a seat at the table is very different than having a voice.”

Different than???!?  <sigh>

Forgotten rebel virgins of the desert

paula and eustochium1
Paula and daughter Eustochium

When St. Jerome arrived in Jerusalem, the rebel virgins were already there, wealthy women who had become church leaders, ascetics, and hermits, and who started the monastic movement: the “desert mothers” of early Christianity. But today they are largely lost to history, except for the records left by a few men.

“…laws passed by Augustus just before the start of the Common Era still required all upper-class men to marry and all women to procreate, in a return to Roman family values that were largely political myth. Women could only become financially independent—or, simply, independent—if they’d been divorced or widowed or given birth to a minimum of three children. To escape this system, some upper-class women went so far as to register as prostitutes in order to have free rein with their own money.

map--the pilgrimage of Paula“It is in this environment that Christian women began to use the vow of chastity as both an act of devotion and an excellent legal loophole. Virginity became a movement, the ultimate hack. As a consecrated virgin, a woman suddenly became free of many of the empire’s gender laws, free to preach and to lead in their community, free to model themselves after the apostles. The majority of the virgins were women in the cities who formed their own network of house churches.”

  • Melania, the wealthiest woman in Rome. When her husband died, she turned her son over to a  guardian, then loaded her fortune into a ship and sailed for Egypt. She is known through Jerome, who didn’t approve of her, and Evagrius of Pontus, who did (“Letters from the desert”).
  • syncleticaThe Blessed Hermit Susan (no Wikipedia article), drew apart from her desert convent for fasting and praying in a cave, warned about the apocalypse, and attracted visitors from Alexandria and from Libyan villages.  Eventually a holy man arrived with ten disciples and formed a monastery around her, with separate sections for men and women. Chronicled by the Monophysite bishop, John of Ephesus in “Life of Susan” (Lives of the Eastern Saints).
  • Paula was a member of Marcella’s circle in Rome. She used her wealth to build monasteries in Bethlehem, and to support Jerome in his translation of the Vulgate Bible, as she was also fluent in Hebrew and Greek. She is known to us today because Jerome addressed two of his letters to Paula, and wrote “The pilgrimage of the holy Paula“.

jerome with paula and eustochium2