Monday, July 24, 2017

When Liberals Use Military Force For Humanitarian Reasons, They're Utopian World Police; When Republicans Do It, They're Defending Civilization And Humanity

This particular aspect of the conservative double-standard sends me through the damn roof.

Trump Re-Ups "Worst Deal Ever" With Iran

One of the many things that drives me crazy about politics is when candidates ridicule policy without regard for what the real, actual options are, as if they could simply snap their fingers and implement a policy with all the advantages they can imagine and no down-sides. Funny how the worst of all possible deals suddenly looks pretty damn good when you've got to deal with the real world of actual facts.

Senator (Kid) Rock?

Promise you'll shoot me if this happens.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

Two raptor claws down.
   And my standards for giant-apes-fighting-giant-skull-monsters-from-the-center-of-the-Earth movies are pret-ty low, lemme tell ya.

Wikipedia Is Astonishingly Biased With Respect To Race

Holy God. I was looking at that stuff again today, and, if anything, it's gotten worse. I don't have time to write anything fascinating about it now, but I'm just blown away by how distorted / biased basically all the major entries on race are. They basically all absolutely bend over backwards to shamelessly promote PC social constructionist theories of race. Really, they barely rise above the level of propaganda. There is just no way that it's merely a massive complex of honest mistakes. There is clearly a political / cultural / philosophical agenda in play.
   Do people understand that Wikipedia absolutely cannot be trusted on any matter than intersects with American politics, the culture war, and so on?

Should Community Colleges Abolish Algebra Requirements?

I'm not going dignify that question with a response.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Berkeley Radio Station Cancels Dawkins Interview Because Of "Hurtful" Tweets About Islam

Sooo...unsurprisingly, you can ridicule the shit out of Christianity, and the left is totally fine with that. In fact, psyched about it. But say something unflattering about Islam...not ok, shitlord...not ok...

Did Sessions Discuss Trump-Campaign-Related Matters With Russian Ambassador And Then Make False Statements About It?

But, of course, Kislyak could be lying.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A 747 Full Of Cruise Missiles


Say what you will about the email-stealin', election-tamperin', Trump-electin' Rooskies...they make some sexy-ass airplanes.

If You Want To Understand Gamergate, Look No Further Than The McEnroe-Serena Williams Dust-Up

Gamergate is basically the McEnroe-Williams dust-up. Behold the lefties and lefty journalists madly spinning McEnroe's comments into sexism (or "misogyny"...'sexism' is passe because there's anti-male sexism too.) McEnroe was 100% right. His critics are 100% wrong. And yet they are undaunted. They are convinced that his entirely true comments--comments he made only because prompted to by Lulu Garcia-Navarro's ridiculous prompting--have to be sexist. And they're willing to just flat-out make shit up in order to prove it.
   Now... Imagine that the issues were more complex, and not easily mastered in 30 seconds. And imagine that a chorus of drooling jackass McEnroe supporters decided to start harassing Williams because of the incident. (Actually to make the cases really parallel, you'd have to also assume that Williams was a terrible person and kiiiinda deserved it...). And imagine that Williams herself were unscrupulous, and exaggerated the harassment as a means to career advancement. And imagine that a few other vaguely Williams-like female tennis pros were similarly unscrupulous, and they got into the act as well...
   And what you'd have then is basically Gamergate. It was not a "campaign of harassment" against women in gaming--though there was, undoubtedly, harassment involved. It was, first and foremost, a backlash by gamers against shitty, incestuous, politically correct games journalism. But, as we know, one shouldn't quarrel with those who buy ink by the barrel... Shitty games journalism struck back by painting Gamergate as inherently and primarily misogynistic. Since nobody outside that world knows nor cares what's going on, and the kinds of guys who categorize themselves as gamers don't matter, socially speaking...well, the lie stuck.
   For the record, I wouldn't characterize myself as a gamer. I play video games sometimes--but it's not a community I identify with. So I have no independent reason for defending them on this.
   Gamergate is one of the reasons I've come to fear bias in journalism.  Another reason is the bullshit promulgated about the UNC academic AFAM scandal...which, as it turns out, sells way, way, way more papers if you tell people that it was about cheating and athletics... But I'm not going to get into that one right now.

[God, Vox is dreck.]

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New White House Press Secretary [No: Communications Director]

I can't listen to that guy for more than about five seconds at a time.

Is It Time To Start A New American Philosophical Association That Is Not The American Philosophical Association?

Reading the APA's "Good Practices Guide" makes me wonder whether it is--time for a new organization, I mean. The APA now seems to be primarily interested in promoting "progressive" political and social ideas rather than promoting...y'know...philosophy. The thing really is a mess, but I'm not going to get into it in detail now. Given its strong commitment to ideas that are clustered on the left end of the intellectual / political / social spectrum, the committee had to realize that a large percentage of the membership of the APA would disagree with a whole lot of it. I'm not sure why anyone would produce something so committed to such a particular, partisan set of ideas, knowing their unpopularity, if they didn't intend to try to ram the thing through and impose those ideas on those who disagree. Such an effort would likely be successful since a pall has fallen over discussions of such things, and many people are hesitant to disagree with ideas on the left for fear of being viewed as or called some version/complex of *-ist or *-phobic.
   The thing--which someone on the Metaforum has called The Miss Manners Guide To The Profession--actually contains the following paragraphs, which I just grabbed as the first laughable passage(s) I could find quickly:
Departments should discuss the value of promoting drinking in moderation at departmental social events. Steps that could be taken include limiting the number of drinks per person through the distribution of drink tickets; limiting the length of the event; and limiting the amount of alcohol served. 
Some institutions have taken the step of requiring that, at events where alcohol is served, a member of the department with training in good practices with regard to alcohol must be present. Such individuals can also be designated as persons to whom any concerns about alcohol-related behavior at the event could be communicated.
Obviously it's not that I have anything...much...against drinking in moderation. What seems laughable to me is the idea that the damned APA has any business taking a position on such things or telling people what it would allegedly be good for them to do in this respect. And "trained in good practices with regard to alcohol"????? Jesus Christ. It's really a bit difficult to believe that this isn't a joke. Then there are the bits about safe spaces at conferences... (Not making that up.) Not to mention that an entire section/chapter of the thing (of eight) is devoted to the quasipseudoscience of implicit bias. No objective person could seriously suggest that given the state of the discussion. If there were any doubt that it's a partisan document, the inclusion of that chapter alone would answer them. 
   The thing is seventy-seven pages long--seventy-seven pages of micromanagement of everything from what one should discuss in class to how much one should drink at departmental events. It includes quite a bit of material that seems to be intended to turn philosophy instructors into psychological counselors for their students. It deems innumerable things to be "good practice" that are very not good--e.g. choosing material for class on the basis of the biological characteristics of the authors. The thing would better be called something like An Attempt to Impose Early Twenty-First Century Obsessions Of The Left On The Formerly Noble (Or At Least Not-Completely-Shitty) Profession of Philosophy. 
   At any rate, the whole thing has made me wonder whether it might not be best for philosophy to go its own way, leaving politicized quasi-philosophy / social criticism / political activism to do as it will with the A"P"A. But I've got actual work to do now, so more on that later.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Christina Hoff Sommers On McEnroe On Williams

Right, as usual.
   I hadn't seen some of the nutty responses Sommers discusses. She's absolutely right that if people (including the media) can't handle this dead-simple, entirely clear-cut issue, then there's really not much hope for more complex ones. It's a kind of obvious point, but a really important one. Here's a completely straightforward, clear-cut issue that anyone can understand--and yet many people can't even deal with this honestly. Now imagine these same people discussing transgenderism or whatever. This is why it's so tactically important for the side with the crappier arguments to spew clouds of verbiage--people on your side want to believe. All you've got to do is muddy the waters just a little so that their contradictions are not so painfully obvious that even true believers can't swallow them... And that's almost always possible.
   And forget about handling more complex issues. Look at this one. Those criticisms of McEngroe simply make no sense at all. They're about a half-step above gibberish. Suppose that the truth about the matter suddenly became important to these people. Suppose the people trying to make this out to be some gratuitous insult by McEnroe stood to gain a million dollars if they produced a sensible analysis of what happened. Suppose their lives depended on it. Is there any chance whatsoever that they would say things like that? Nobody's that stupid. The problem is that they're so biased and intellectually dishonest--at least about this issue--that they're just making up nonsense that points in the general direction they prefer. Why? Is it because people like to have things to say back, even if they make no sense? That's a phenomenon that really ought to be studied. Is it simply an impulse to, in effect, make noises in response, no matter how idiotic? I mean...I understand people blurting out stupid things in the heat of the moment...but these people wrote that nonsense down and published it. They had time to think about what they were saying. They had opportunities to delete it. And still they said it. 
   It's downright chilling to me--despite the frivolity of the topic--that these people seem to have so little regard for the truth. It just doesn't seem to affect them in any way that McEnroe was obviously right--and not even being an asshole! Mostly, they're not even denying that--they're making up convoluted, senseless stories about how he's done something wrong by stating the fact. Though they'd be far less reprehensible if they'd at least come out and say that idiotic thing straight out: it's true, but he shouldn't have said it. That's not true either...but at least it's clear.
   That's it. I'm not going to waste any more time on these morons.

Dumb Joke, Dumb Inference: Drum on Campus Craziness

First, that's a funny-ass joke.
Second, you have to be an idiot to think that you should tell that joke in class. I know plenty of funny-ass jokes that I'd never even consider telling in class. And you have to be a doubleplus idiot to think that you can get away with it.
Third, Drum's inference is awful. WTF, Kevin?? That's not you, man....  The existence of one invalid criticism in no way shows that there are no valid criticisms. If it did, then all the crack-brained criticisms of Trump would show that there are no good ones. I know it was semi-tongue-in-cheek...but it needed to be totally-tongue-in-cheek...
   Drum, IMO, like many other sane, liberal bloggers, often feels as if he needs to throw some meat to his leftier followers every now and again. He's too smart and reasonable to really believe what he said, and too smart and reasonable to say what he thinks all the time without losing readers. I'm sure that reasonable people on the right do the mirror-image thing.

Implicit Bias, The Implicit Association Test, And Very Bad Science

Jesse Singal: "Psychology's Favorite Tool For Measuring Racism Isn't Up To The Job."
   Long, but more than worth a read. My own view is that, currently, much of the pro-IAT stuff is damn near pseudoscience. And, lurking behind the discussion, is the fact that the partisans of the IAT are rather clearly motivated, in part, by political commitments. Perhaps some day we'll find that the IAT actually tells us something about "implicit bias." (Though "implicit bias" itself is a tangle that desperately needs untangling.) But today is not that day. All we can currently really say, overall, about the IAT is that it's an interesting idea that doesn't seem to work and that has been radically overblown, largely for political reasons.
   As a sidebar: it's long been of interest to me that the intellectual and political left is known for its commitment to the view that political bias in inquiry is pervasive. However, when we look at actual cases and actual evidence of actual political bias in inquiry--instead of sweeping speculations and presuppositions--what we tend to find, IMO, is that such bias is extremely common and identifiable on the left itself. Perhaps the non-left is just as bad or worse...I'm skeptical, but I'm not the best person to judge. It wouldn't be surprising if the left were worse given, for example, that many on the left hold that objectivity is impossible, therefore non-obligatory--and even that certain biases are virtuous. But it'd be difficult to do a meaningful and accurate comparison.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mark Penn And Andrew Stein: Back To The Center, Democrats

I agree with everything in this.

Kyle Smith: "The Left's Hamburger Problem Is Not Going Away"

I--God help me--agree with the NRO again:
   It wasn’t that long ago — say, the early 1990s —when Republicans were perceived as intruding into people’s private lives by talking about family values, saying no to drugs, and framing issues in moral terms. Today there can be little doubt that the broad American wish to be left alone is more strongly identified with the GOP, and that the Democratic party is providing a lavishly welcoming political home for the busybodies.
   Professional progressives will not eliminate their hamburger problem. They can’t. Their nonstop need to hector others is fundamental to who they are. They genuinely think they’re creating a better world, one tweet or argument or angry unsolicited suggestion to a total stranger at a time.
   Jonah Goldberg has been saying for years that progressives are the aggressors in the culture war. The war will never end, because whenever the Left wins a new victory, it pushes forward to the next fight, often over a policy position that would have seemed ludicrously extreme even to Democrats just a few years earlier. Because of what Jonah astutely dubbed “Selma envy,” the virtue-signaling, the marches for this or that, and the insistence on bending the arc of history toward social justice are baked into the cake that the Left demands you provide for it, on pain of destroying your business.
   Each political party is these days centrally identified by its hatred of the other. Yet the Right concedes points made by the Left all the time; paleoconservatives, for instance, tend to agree with the Left’s framing of the Iraq War as an unnecessary and misguided adventure. Several National Review contributors have called for criminal-justice reform, with a particular focus on unduly harsh sentences for nonviolent offenders and the nightmare of civil-asset forfeiture without due process. This publication declared “The War on Drugs Is Lost” back in 1996.
   By contrast, when you sign on to the progressive cause, you know that ostracization and obloquy from your own side will attach to you like a traveling chorus of hecklers should you ever concede conservatives are sometimes correct. Unless you set out with the full expectation of being damned as a contrarian and a party-pooper for adhering to principle, you will find it exhausting always to be pushing back, to be damned to eternity on the intellectual Nautilus. Much easier, and more natural, is to just relax and accept the constant pull to the left. To put it another way, once you board the progressive choo-choo, it won’t stop until it reaches Crazy Town.
   To be on the left today is to look around and see nutty ideas accepted as perfectly reasonable, everywhere and at all times. Speech is violence, but violent acts are just a really neat form of expression. Gender is a social construct, so you can be a boy on Monday and a girl on Tuesday. If Paul Ryan calls for a spending increase that’s less than what Democrats want, in the progressive imagination this amounts to pushing Granny off a cliff. If the federal government considers ending its subsidy for the leading abortion provider in the country, or if a House dress code that didn’t bother Nancy Pelosi is discovered to have lingered on into Ryan’s term, we’re living in The Handmaid’s Tale.
More than worth reading the whole thing, IMO. Sadly, there's just a whole lot of damn truth in it. 

"Set Aside Putin And Follow The Money: A Russian Expert's Theory Of The Trump Scandal"

At Vox...but actually pretty interesting/plausible.

That's Not A Security Robot

That's not a security robot.
That's a security robot.

APA "Good Practices Guide"

At a glance, bad in the predictable ways. Just to mention one: it maintains the APA's more-or-less official commitment a politically correct, but apparently scientifically indefensible, view of "implicit bias."

PC Thought Police Get Classes Canceled; Long-Time Adjunct Resigns from SAIC

Via Leiter.
If this is accurate, it's...well...not unbelievable anymore, Obviously. Just another brick in the wall I suppose.

PC Madness Distilled Into One Page: "On The Hegemony Of Naturalized Violence: An Apology"

   Well, there you have it. My favorite part, as usual, is the mindless/spineless prostration in the face of mindless/groundless accusations of bigotry. It's almost like soldiers automatically hitting the dirt at the sound of artillery fire.
   The most surprising part to me is actually the laughably implausible gesture at self-defense--'derpy' has never meant "believing something despite the fact that it's been disproven." It's always meant something like dopey. I'm surprised that even such token efforts at explanation are tolerated--I thought the PC line was that any such attempt doubleplusproves that you're a double-dog racist(tm).
   And, God, that last paragraph is f*cking priceless. Seriously, I know we're all used to this nonsense--it's been "normalized." But just look at that. This is a degree of bullshittery about an order of magnitude more bullshittified than questions about pins and angels. It's unmitigated nonsense. And it practically pervades academia. It's no better than if Scientology had invaded the humanities and social sciences. It's as if whole journals and disciplines routinely referenced Xenu and engrams and thetans and whatnot. I think it's very important not to get used to the fact that the trendiest, most influential cluster of fads in academia are utter bullshit. And they've been around for thirty or forty years, and they're being taught to students as fact, and they're not going anywhere any time soon.

GOP's 7-Year Obamacare Obsession Comes To An End

Sometimes you get the whale...
...sometimes the whale eats your leg and sinks your ship.

Big Sibling Is Watching You: UCF Student Punished For Tweeting Graded Apology From Ex-GF

Goodbye, First Amendment. 
   The all-pervasive nanny state that makes up new thoughtcrime on a whim is being beta tested at a university near you.
   Oh and: if the roles had been reversed, I think it's a pretty safe bet that the gf would right now be receiving tens of thousands of sisterhood-is-powerful virtual fist-bumps from the Salon-Vox-Jezebel sector. 
   I sincerely hope Mr. Lutz sues UCF into oblivion.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Jezebel Writer Laments The Fact That We Have A First Amendment

Elliot Kaufman: Soon Will Arise The Anti-Academic Prophet

Can't say I'd bet a whole lot against this prediction.

Fightin' Putin: How Good Is Putin's Judo?

Benjamin Wittes at LawFare says that it's crap. And he's challenged Putin to fight him...IRL!!!111
   I'd like to have a shot at Putin, too, honestly...what red-blooded American boy wouldn't? But let's be serious. Putin's not going to fight some plebe. Also, he's 64. There's no glory in fighting a dude in his 60s. Also, apparently Wittes is 47. That's an almost incalculable advantage. Work hard, and you can be merely pathetic at 47, fight-wise... But just get to laugh at such challenges at 64.
   OTOH, Putin has apparently trained hard, at least earlier in life, at Judo and Sambo, and has some record of proficiency. Wittes has trained in Aikido and Tae Kwon Do. TKD is pretty meh unless its mixed with something else like Muay Thai. Aikido is closer to useless against a trained opponent. Judo is good. Sambo...well, I've never done any, but it's got a pretty good record in MMA. Other things being equal: Judo and Sambo beat Aikido and TKD. (Fortunately...or, rather, unfortunately...MMA has largely put an end to those old my style of Kung Fu is stronger than yours debates...)
   As Wittes notes, Putin's Judo videos just show him warming up and then practicing throws. That's what most of Judo class is. They don't show him rolling for real with anyone...but, then, if I were a world leader I wouldn't want to roll in front of God and everybody either.
   Anyway, I'd like to see someone kick Putin's ass, and no doubt. (I'd like it most if that person were me...) And Wittes could likely take him because of age alone. And Wittes might be right that he's a fraud. But none of the evidence presented thus far shows the latter to be true.

Jussim: Gender Bias In Science, Or Biased Claims Of Gender Bias?

Lee Jussim is one of my freakin' heroes.
I'm surprised he hasn't been burned at the stake by now for speaking the truth.

[Via the Forum That Shall Not Be Named]

Saudi Woman Arrested For Wearing Skirt

These people are crazy.

J. Nelson Aviance: "I Am Not Cisgendered"

Caveat lector!
Not because you'd be tempted to believe any of this hallucinatory nonsense...but because you might cringe yourself to death if you read it. It's absolutely chock-full of nuclear -holocaust -level PC cringe.
   But it's enjoyable in the sense that it's turning all the PC/SJ BS back on itself with respect to this issue. I mean it's all the veriest bullshit...but it's like watching two Scientologists or something try to outmaneuver each other on fine points of their unhinged doctrine. But boy, Aviance really is pretty steamed that people apply this entirely useless made-up word to him... And, I mean, from what I could force myself to read, he does have a pretty good point: basically PC doctrine says that you get to "identify" as whatever you want, independently of what the facts about you are like. So even if a term does describe you, according to the doctrine you can just say that that's not "how you identify," and your feelz constitute a trump card. So seriously, he's just applying the nutty doctrine consistently...or...y' consistently as an inconsistent doctrine can be applied.

[Also! It is serious wordcrime to say 'transgendered' or 'transgenderism'! One is, apparently, always to say 'transgender', English formation rules be damned...because reasons. So I wonder whether the (non-)words 'cisgender', 'cisgendered,' and 'cisgenderism' (?) are supposed to play by the same (non-)rules?]

Dr. Who??????

Well, I was never really able to get into Dr. Who, though I could see that it was pretty cool. Since I'm not a fan, commenting is really kibitzing...but...given the nature of the story, casting a woman as the Doctor seems like a natural to me, and always has. I kinda wish it had happened much earlier, and not now, as this will, undoubtedly, be seen as a victory for the forces of PC/SJ darkness...and that's bad, obviously. They don't need any more cultural momentum than they already have. But waddaya gonna do? Somebody dopey will probably always consider any good decision a you largely have to divide through by what the crazies think. I'm sure there are also some fans who always want the Doctor to be a dude...but...unless there's some element of the story I don't know about, that seems like a hard position to defend. I agree that this is about the worst time to do this...but I think the coolness and consistency considerations outweigh the other ones. I fear we'll see a bunch of this sort of thing to pander to the PCs...but waddayagonnado?
   A little additional minor bitching about terminology in the story. I've harped on this sort of thing ten thousand times, but: it's kinda bad to say that this is about the doctor's "gender." It's true that normal people tend to use 'gender' as a polite term for 'sex,' so they use them as synonyms in that context...but the old-school feminists were right: there's an important sex/gender distinction. The sexes are biological categories (male and female), the genders are behavioral ones (masculine and feminine). Trying to stick to this distinction allows you speak much more precisely, and say important things like men need not be masculine and women need not be feminine. Also, the PC left now intentionally blurs the distinction in order to advance the currently-fashionable PC theory of transgenderism. If you push people to mind the distinction, a lot of the fallacious reasoning undergirding that theory is more transparently sophistical. So I think there are good reasons to mind it.

[Just wanted to add once again that I find this kind of thing generally cool, and tend to like female protagonists.. So, though I'll wince if this becomes a PC-motivated trend, I like the idea in and of itself, even when there's no obvious narrative opening for it as in Dr. Who. Sarah Michelle Gellar used to say that she wanted to play James Bond, and I actually thought that was a kind of cool alternate-universe-y idea. Bond has to be British, obviously...but you could make up some little story about 'James Bond' being a code name... I dunno. I would understand pushback against that...but I still think it's a cool idea.]