Tuesday, April 30, 2013

You Don't Need Us To Tell You...

...that gas prices...

That is some creepy shit right there.

Ag-Gag: Welcome to the Corporate Police State


 This is insanity. This is corporations marshalling the coercive power of the state to protect their blatant wrong-doing. And the post-9/11 state--which apparently thinks that it can observe everything you do, but that you have somehow lost the right to record its activities--seems only too happy to extend its authoritarian anti-taping initiatives in such a way as to protect corporate wrong-doers.

This is utter madness. There is no possible justification for this bullshit.

Sargent: The GOP and Post-Policy Nihilism


At this point, they might as well be trying to destroy the country.

Colbert: Get Your LotR Facts Straight, CNN

I think I had that calendar...

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Pacific Rim Trailer


It is with great sadness that I predict this movie will suck.

What we really need is a really dark, rainy, awesome semi-Cthulhu-esque giant-monsters-from-the-Pacific story...without the giant combots.

Or, actually, see, the first movie should be the the Alien analog...a horror movie where mere survival is the goal. Then comes the we-strike-back shoot-'em-up monster movie with the giant 'bots, i.e. the Aliens analog...

The monster scenes look great, but the human clips don't inspire confidence.

I really hope GdT can pull this one off, but I'm not optimistic. Yet I will be there as soon as this mofo comes out.

Jason Collins Is The Man

Props to you, man.

This takes guts, even in this age and day.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Krugman: Bush, The Great Degrader


But I think there was something even bigger, in some ways, than his policy failures: Bush brought an unprecedented level of systematic dishonesty to American political life, and we may never recover.
 My suspicion has long been that it was Reagan who made bullshitting and spinmeistering so central to the presidency...though Bush '43 did degrade the institution by pushing lying, selling, spinning, and bullshitting to a new level. I've typed that sort of thing over and over. So, anyway, I basically agree. with Professor K, FWIW.

Among the many things that anger me about all of this is that the hard core of Bush apologists and reconstructors know that all they have to do is keep repeating their lies. Thirty years from now relatively few people will have clear memories of how disastrous Bush's presidency really was. And those who try to find out what it was like just by reading historical accounts will encounter a swamp of he-said-she-said...er...ing? 'ness? Whatever.

And this is one reason why I have authorized my friends to beat me with a 2x4 if I ever vote Republican again: the party still hasn't admitted that Bush was a bad president, and it never will. Or it'll only "admit" it in a self-serving way: e.g. on the grounds that he was insufficiently conservative. Since being a Republican means never having to say you were wrong, they simply attribute every failure to bad "communication," to a failure to get their inherently excellent "message" across to people--who would surely embrace it with great ardor could they only understand it...

If the GOP would admit that the Bush administration was a godawful disaster, we could at least conclude that they'd be likely to avoid foisting another such administration on us in the future. But, given that they remain committed to the conclusion that the Bush administration was just dandy, there's no reason for us to think that they'd not give us another, equally bad or worse, in the future. If that's what counts as an acceptable presidency to the GOP, then they cannot be trusted to get anywhere near the office.

Of course one salient question here is: are the Dems any better? I think the answer is 'yes.' First, partisan Democrats on the SCOTUS haven't stolen the presidency with sophistical arguments of late...so that's something...  The Dems haven't given us anyone as awful as Bush/Cheney... And their innate self-doubt and tendency to flagellate themselves over their errors helps tone down their dogmatism a bit. So, yeah. The Democrats, as usual, win by sucking less than their opposition. Such is the way of human politics...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Another Huge Bank Scandal?


I almost don't even care anymore.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Krugman: The One Percent's Solution

Will people give up austerianism given that the preponderance of evidence and expert opinion seems to be against it?

Probably not.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Worldz TOP Thinkarz WOOOOOO!!!11

Oh for the love of...


I'm not even going to...

Ok listen, which of the following is the most embarrassing?

1. That this list exists at all

2. That Richard Dawkins is ranked #1

3. That Slavoj Zizek appears anywhere on it   (#6, in case you're interested...)

I'm just going to pretend I never saw this.

Beck Bombshell Fizzles

Well, looks like Beck's BIGGEST STORY EVAR has...and how could anyone possibly have seen this coming?...turned out to be nothing.

Marathon Bomber Had No Gun

Jesus this is weird.

Obviously, I'm not a cop. It's not my ass on the line. But that's an awful lot of rounds to fire in response to...exactly zero rounds fired your way. No gun glimpsed. No gun present.

This was also a case in which it was very important to take the suspect alive, and in which there was no real chance that he would escape. It also doesn't exactly seem to be an isolated incident--stories of the police firing excessive numbers of rounds seem to crop up over and over.

I've never been in a firefight, but I do have a lot of experience with firearms. It's not like you can accidentally fire off your whole magazine...  Sometimes such things are inexplicable from the outside, but not so from the inside...and this, of course, could be such a case...

But it could also be (more?) evidence that the police have a tendency to be--perhaps extremely--trigger-happy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


...It's usually not about those things...  Those things are an infinitesimally small bit of the universe. Even if we focus only on H. sapiensit's still not always  about those things. It's still not even usually about those things.

As it turns out, in the cosmic scheme of things...it's almost never about those things at all...

Ten Years of Krauthammer Days

Crooked Timber on the wrongest man in the world.

I Whupped Batman's Ass


Slightly NSFW.

(Via MeFi comments)

"Cultural Appropriation"

Does anybody know how it is that people get this confused? Anybody?

Actually, I know the answer: bad theories, a lack of intellectual honesty, dogmatism, and a desire to appear morally superior.

Yet another ass-backward, ridiculous sin dreamt up by the lefty/"SJW" set.

Now hear this: there is absolutely nothing--nothing--wrong with adopting stuff from other cultures. Contra the moron on the other end of the link, such things are eminently speparable from bits of their history (e.g. colonialism). You wanna wear paisley? Go right ahead. Not a damn thing wrong with it. In fact, that in particular is a frivolous decision, and the stuff is now a part of our culture anyway for chrissake. Wanna listen to African music? Read the Kalavala? Wear a kilt? Be a Buddhist? Paint Aztec designs on your wall? You go girl. That is all cool. You are under no obligation to pile stuff from other cultures into your life, but there's tons of great stuff out there, and you'll likely have a richer life for doing so. It'll be good for you and good for the culture in question. Added benefit: you'll piss off stupid people. Win-win-win.

Jebus, the confusions runs so deep over there it's hard to even know where to begin.

Remember how, like, a few years ago you'd have been terrible and ethnocentric if you didn't go out of your way to bring bits of other cultures into your life? Well, see, lefty fashions have changed, and now it is verboten. (Oops...there I go, appropriating the German language... )

"Cultural appropriation" is an invented sin, manufactured by third-rate intellects in an effort to alleviate the boredom associated with moving incrementally forward with actual moral and political reforms in the actual world.

These people are just religious fanatics in political guise. They love living in a world of original sin, in which we are all automatically irredeemably prejudiced by virtue of our very birth, they love pofessing their sinful "privilege," and love displaying their putative purity/alleged moral superiority even more. These people are political fundamentalists.

It's a kind of madness sweeping through a not-terribly-bright sector of the interwebs.

The sloppy thinking, crackpot philosophy and letfist fanaticism...yet another generation of lunacy descended, as seems clear, from postmodernism.

If you'll remember, I predicted that the loony left would crawl out of the woodwork in a second Obama term, as they did in Clinton's second term...  Dang I hate bein' right all the time...

Fortunately, it kinda seems to me that liberals are having none of this stuff this time around. They knucked under and cowered in fear of the PCs in the '90's...but the SJWs are so patently loony that I'll actually be kind of surprised if this particular flavor of insanity gains any currency...

Pro-American Yemeni: Drone Strikes Generate Anti-American Sentiment


(h/t The Mystic)

Salvaging Bush: Jennifer Rubin's Alternate Reality

Another salvo in the battle to rehabilitate the Bush presidency.

This is one of the reasons that the GOP deserves to be voted out of power permanently: no matter how horrific the fuck-up, they are incapable of admitting that they were wrong.

Having pissed on our national leg nonstop from 2000-2008, they now hope to convince us that it was raining.

Are the Marathon Bombers Best Classified as Terrorists or Murderers?

Ex-CIA Deputy Director says it may be more like Columbine than like terrorism.

Just for the record, I was asking about this before.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Drezner on Bush: Was He a Disaster or just Out of His Depth?


Drezner pushes back against revisionists who are trying to make Bush's legacy to be non-terrible:
At best, George W. Bush was a well-meaning man who gave the occasional nice speech and was thoroughly overmatched by events. At worst, he was the most disastrous foreign policy president of the post-1945 era. 
That's about the most charitable way one could put it...

The Bush administration was a disaster. It is, in a way, fitting, I think. We allowed the GOP to conduct a soft coup in the election of 2000. People should still be demonstrating in the streets about that. We allowed the Republican party to subver American democracy, and we paid a heavy price for it, including, iner alia, no seroius effort to stop 9/11, and a radically counter-productive war that could ultimately cost us $6 trillion. And that's to mention only the treasure, not the blood, nor the loss of moral authority. The Bush administration was a self-inflicted wound that might take a hundred years to heal.

Monday, April 22, 2013

O'Sullivan: Believe It Or Not, We're Safer After the Iraq War



This is really, really terrible. I keep not getting to it, though, so I thought I throw out a quick link.

Important information for Ms. O'Sullivan:

The following form of inference is invalid;

Possibly p
Therefore p

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Austerity Scam? Exposed?

Is austerity being pushed on account of a couple of coding errors?

Update: the dude what may have busted them.

Everybody Gets His/Her/Their/Cos/Zir/Hir/Per/Thon/Em Own Pronouns


 Sadly, that is apparently intended to be serious.

Man it'll be much more convenient when everybody has his...er....her...er...xyglomph...own pronouns.

Though..."pronouns" that are different for everybody, and which are such that you have to ask people which ones apply to them are, basically, names and not pronouns at all...

My pronouns are Gandalf/Gandalf's, incidentally, and I will thank you to use them. Actually, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, my pronouns are Great Cthulhu/Great Cthulhu's.

Next thing, you're going to start oppressing my headmates, too...

Update: More pronouns, oppressors. (via Reddit/r/TumblrInAction).

Updater: Still more pronouns. Props this time. (In the sense of gadgets, not of kudos.)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Americans (a) Decide to Abuse Chechnya For Marathon Bombing, (b) Confuse Chechnya With the Czech Republic

We are a stupid and ignorant people...

Glenn Beck: Literally Insane?

Wow. This guy has mental problems.

He's "giving" Obama until Monday to fess about about...I'm not sure...  I think he's saying that the marathon bombing was an inside job, and/or that the U.S. government Obama administration spirited the real perpetrator--the Saudi witness?--out of the country to...cover it up? Hard to say exactly.

My favorite part is the overwrought hyper-pious tone.

This guy is way, way, way off his nut.

This is like distilled essence of fever swamp right here.

Will the Marathon Bomber Be Read His Miranda Rights?

Interesting, if slightly hysterical, piece on the erosion of Miranda under Holder and the Obama administration. The piece simply presupposes that he won't be read his rights, and goes from there... But the main point of the piece is that Holder's DoJ has pushed an expansive conception of the public safety exception to Miranda. The suspect might very well not be read his rights. And that's worthy of attention.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Background Checks

I'm fairly pro-Second Amendment. But I really don't get the argument against expanded background checks.

The advantages of such checks are obvious.

What are the alleged disadvantages? The most common argument goes like this: if the government goes bad, then, if they have records of who owns guns, and then they can come and get them, and this will make armed resistance to a rogue government impossible.

First, this argument has always seemed weak to me. Suppose the government starts seizing legally-owned firearms. Now...if you're considering armed resistance against the government...what exactly are you waiting for? If they're coming around to seize your firearms, then they've crossed the Rubicon. If armed resistance is warranted, then it's warranted by the very act of trying to seize legally-owned firearms, and if armed resistance is going to happen, then it's going to happen at that point. Consequently, I just don't see how the government could stop armed resistance by seizing firearms.

But, second: background checks don't entail a firearm registry. You can check to make sure criminals don't buy guns without keeping records of purchases by non-criminals. And the recent Manchin-Toomy bill actually prohibited the creation of any firearm registry.

The failure of this bill seems to me to be bad news indeed. This is a measure that could have really mattered.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Glenn Greenwald is an Idiot; Torture Edition

It's too bad that he's right a fair bit, because he basically just makes reasonable positions seem nauseating. If there's a more self-righteous twit knocking about the interwebs, I haven't encountered him.

The torture issue is extremely serious. It needs to be treated seriously. Sadly, Greenwald is so concerned to advertise his own putative moral superiority, and so eager to castigate Obama at every opporunity, that he apparently has no energy left to consider the actual situation faced by the President.

There is simply, so far as I can see, no way to prosecute Bush, Cheney et al. for torture. It just cannot happen. The GOP has made the country virtually ungovernalbe as it is. We continue to face an economic near-crisis, Afghanistan drags on, and it's not as if the problem of terrorism has evaporated. Do people deserve to be prosecuted? That seems extremely difficult to deny. What would happen to the country if they were? I shudder to think... A large part of the population is already fanatically anti-Obama--hell, way more than one in ten people apparently believe him to be the Antichrist...

Look, I am never happy about subordinating principle to utility. But I honestly don't see any alternative here. Trying to prosecute those who approved torture would produce a veritable civil war. It would be likely to hand the White House over to a deranged GOP in 2016--turn it over, that is, to the very people who used 9/11 as a pretext for invading Iraq, and who approved the torturing in the first place.

Some people seem to live in a fantasy world in which Obama is sitting in the Oval Office making context-free decisions. He could close Guantanamo Bay, he just chooses not to. He has no good reasons for conducting targeted killings, he just likes it. He whimsically decides not to prosecute the fomer President of the United States for torture, when it would be the easiest thing in the world...

It makes me sick that we cannot prosecute the torturers. Hell, I'm happy to have my mind changed about this. Allowing torturers to walk free is, in my opinion, no better than allowing rapists to do so.
But I simply don't see how anyone can believe that prosecution is a serious option in this case. Even if that is wrong, and it is a serious option, that hardly means that it is an open-and-shut case. Even if we could pull it off, the cost might simply be prohibitively high. And, let me stress, I am not a consequentialist...

Condemn Obama for making an error here if you will; hell, you're likely to be right. Condemn him, even, for making a serious one. But to pretend that his decision is clearly despicable, that defending Bush, Cheney et al. from justice is some malicious pet project of his...that is lunacy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hoping the Boston Marathon Bomber Wasn't One Of You...

I often hear that, when something like this happens, many Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent hope that the bomber doesn't turn out to be one of them.

If it helps at all, my friends, you'll note that males don't even bother to hope that it wasn't one of us. Because that hope would be futile.

You know it was a dude, I know it was a dude, everybody knows it was a dude. We don't even have to ask the question.

It goes SO without saying that nobody even seems to think it's weird. It just is what it is. We don't usually even get singled out for it very often.

So we basically know that the perpetrator was a male.

And try getting somebody to take a bet, even at 100-1 odds, that it was an elderly Japanese woman...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Terrorism vs. Just Wanting To Kill People

I don't see why there's a rush to conclude that the marathon bombings were acts of terrorism. Everything we know about them is perfectly consistent with the hypothesis that the bomber just wanted to kill people. And that's murder (and attempted murder), not terrorism.


Among the many pathologies fostered by the interwebs is this.

Question: if Smith is clearly not a dragon (or an angel or a cat or a demon or an alien or a wizard from Hogwarts...), but insists that he is one...are others obligated to indulge him? That is, pretend that he is one? Address him as such, say?

If I felt like I was, say, Australian--I really identified with Australians or whatever--and I said things like "G'day mate" and so on in an affected Australian accent...and if this were really, really important to me...would you be a bad person for not indulging me?

What if I insisted that I should be treated as Australian even by the U.S. and Australian governments? Would those governments have obligations to recognize my putative Australian-ness?

Believe it or not, I'm seriously asking this question.

Report Concludes U.S. Tortured

A report by the Constituation Project concludes that the U.S. tortured prisoners after 9/11.

Getting harder and harder to deny...

Kennedy Meeks Says We're Going To Get Andrew Wiggins


Come to the Hill, Andrew...

It's the obvious choice.

People Are Idiots: The Boston Bombing as a "False Flag" Attack

Link to the Atlantic Wire.

Funny how long this Alex Jones moron flew under my radar... My crazyology is usually pretty good. And this Bidondi fellow is entirely unknown to me.

Jillian Keegan: Legalize Polygamy

This is weak. (h/t Dr. Tao)

It doesn't appear to be a serious effort at all.

The case for polygamy is simple and straightforward. In fact, there's barely any reason to articulate it: if people want to do it, and there's minimal harm, then the burden is on the anti- position to identify reasons against whatever is in question.

Keegan makes no serious effort to grapple with the apparent costs of polygamy--costs to women, children, young males, and society at large.

So this Slate piece doesn't advance the debate an inch.

Look, I'm pretty up front about my wildly inconsistent inclinations here. I'm fine with a few instances of three- or four-person marriage here or there. But I'm not fine with large tribes of religious nuts where one dude is "married" (in some sense of 'married') to five or ten or twenty women. I don't want the state sanctioning that sort of insanity. I don't see how a line can be drawn in terms of numbers, so my current guess is that we should expect to draw the legal line at two people.

Needless to say, there's nothing wrong with three people falling in love and spending their lives together. But the question is whether the state should sanction the relationship and give it the standard protections and privileges. I hate to think in these terms, but the fact of the matter is that probably we will never be able to draw the lines perfectly; some good people and some admirable relationships will, probably, fail to be captured no matter how we divide things up. What we want to do is minimize the number of errors, but without sanctioning and encouraging destructive/crazy types of relationships (see above).

Look, in the history of humankind, there have, no doubt, been many admirable relationships between people we now consider to be of the age of consent and people we now consider to be under the age of consent. But that doesn't obviously mean that we should lower the age of consent.

Incidentally, nobody's mentioned the insurance-related problems for polygamy. We have a system of employer-provided insurance. Weird, but we have it. (Will the ACA help us break away from that? Yes, right? I can't remember...) We've also got a system that has tended to shift more and more of our salaries into benefits. And health care is very expensive. I don't have kids. In effect, part of my salary goes to provide health care for my colleagues' children. Hey, ok. Raisin' the next generation and all that...  But I don't want to pay for other people's three wives and ten kids. The system would go haywire if hiring one person meant providing health care for twenty people. This is not a fatal objection; there are possible ways around it. But we would have to find those ways.

I'm not sure what we should do in this vicinity, but I'm pretty damn sure of this: a rush to legalize polygamy would be a terrible error. Lots of thought and research and, probably, experimentation at the state level (Utah: laboratory of democracy?) needs to be conducted before we go and do anything possibly crazy. This is the kind of thing that makes me sad that we don't have a real conservative party that, while non-crazy, would urge that any change in this respect be slow and circumspect.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ball Bearings / Claymores?

Since nobody but the usual crew reads this stuff, I'll feel free to note that I've been hypothesizing about Claymores since I first heard this had happened, and heard the reports about ball bearings.

Just speculation. Nothing more.

How Long Before The Right-Wing Criticism of Obama Starts Up?

If I had to guess, I'd guess that somebody in the rightosphere is already spinning out some bombing-related criticisms of Obama.

But I'm pushing this thought out of my head right now.

The Marathon Bombing

It will, somehow, make me feel better to just say that my thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.

Gitmo is Killing Me

At the NYT.

We, the United States of America, are doing this.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pickin' and Trimmin'

Some damn fine music happens in the back of a barber shop in Drexel NC.

Drexel's over by Morganton near Linville Gorge and Blowing Rock. Pretty country up there.

Missouri Man Arrested for Refusing to Leave his Partner's Bedside At Hospital

link  (via Reddit)

Ah, Missouri... Can you not ever control your dumbassitude?

Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia...hell, I gotta develop a wider conception of possible places to live... Seems like I always end up in the dumbass states...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Council On Foreign Relations: Targeted Killings

Did McDonnell Take Money Illegally from a Campaign Donor?

Damn, sure looks that way.

I'm not wild about McDonnell, but I don't loath him. Which basically makes him one of my favorite Republicans...

I'm neutral enough to not have a dog in this fight. I just want the facts to come out.

Doesn't look good though...

Flirting With Lysenkoism: The Media and "Gender" Stereotypes

Some less-than great stuff at ThinkProgress.

So, a lot of science is crap, and a hell of a lot of science journalism is crap. So there's more than enough crap in play here already. Now add a layer of objections from the left about studies that aren't sufficiently PC and you get...even crappier crap.

The object of TP's ire is a study alleging to show that women prefer men with larger penises. This, we are told, promotes "gender-biased stereotypes." (Note: they mean sex-biased.)

Why is any of this sexist? Well, of course, it isn't. The line used to be that size didn't matter to women. Was that sexist? Of course not. No claim in this vicinity is inherently sexist. Just because you can make up some vague, hand-wavy story about the bad motives some theoretical person might have for wanting to believe claims of this kind, that doesn't make them sexist.

Other studies have apparently drawn similar conclusions...but TP dismisses this important fact by noting that the report in question indicates that the past results“have been disputed as sexist, or scientifically flawed, or both.” This is, apparently, supposed to show that the current study is sexist as well.

Scientific results are sexist only if they aim at proving some conclusion in order to cast one of the sexes in a bad light. There is no indication that this study is sexist, nor any explanation of why the claim that women prefer men with bigger penises might be sexist. If anything, you'd think it'd be guys who'd object...

Look, women either do or do not, on average, prefer dudes with larger junk. Neither of those two options shows anything bad about women. The frantic quest to find sexism everywhere just makes people looks stupid.

Well, to be more precise: it makes them stupid. Then they look stupid because they are stupid.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


A concept worth having.

I post it so that I won't keep forgetting the word...

David Livinstone Smith: The Roots of Racism

This is chock-full of easily-identifiable errors.

In case I don't get around to going through it in detail, I thought I'd just mention it.

I shudder to think what his stuff about free will is like...

Monday, April 08, 2013

Go Blue

Let's go Wolverines!

Grinding U.S. Workers Down and Redistributing Wealth Upward

Obama Wants U.S. Food Aid Rules To Not Be Stupid

Well, we could feed 17 million more people per year, but....

U.S. lobbyists already fighting it:
“Growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping and transportation of nutritious U.S. food creates jobs and economic activity here at home, provides support for our U.S. Merchant Marine, essential to our national defense sealift capability, and sustains a robust domestic constituency for these programs not easily replicated in foreign aid programs,” the groups wrote. 

Twenty-one senators from farm states also wrote to the Obama administration last month, after being lobbied by the groups, asking that the food aid program be kept in its current form. 

James Caponiti, executive director of the American Maritime Congress, a trade group, said the proposed changes to the food aid program would have a devastating effect on shippers, because the law requires that 75 percent of food aid has to be transported on American-flagged ships.

“We are talking about hundreds of jobs lost,” Mr. Caponiti said. “This is a very, very bad idea.”
Hundreds of jobs to save mere millions of people...

Obviously not a smart trade.

(And, yes, I do realize that it'd actually be more than hundreds. But it's angrifying.)

GIngrich Campaign Election Fraud in VA

In Augusta county.


Sunday, April 07, 2013

Lead Poisoning In Kids Down, But Still High

Kevin Drum

I'm kind of interested in the hypothesis that lead and crime are linked, so that's another reason to be interested in this.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

"The Cuch"

I did not know that this was Cuccinelli's nickname...

(slightly possibly NSFW audio)

That's a name that even someone named "Krystal Ball" can make fun of...

Though I don't think that you should make fun of people's names, so I shouldn't say that...  Though nicknames are fair game, says me...

(h/t S. rex)

The DoJ Targeted Killing White Paper

A version without all the 'NBC News' watermarks.

Why Did the Pre-Socratics Write in Fragments?

Because they were influenced by the architecture of the time.

Holder: "We Will Not Sit By" While GOP Tries To Rig Electoral College

Go get 'em.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Obama and Kamala Harris; In Which I (Mostly) Agree With Amanda Marcotte

First George F. Will...now Amanda Marcotte...

Jebus. Who next?

I guess I think this is less serious than she does. I reckon it barely worth mentioning. But I do guess it's the kind of thing best not said in a professional context.

I do have competing concerns about the radical desexualization of humans in professional contexts...  But they're pretty speculative, and less weighty, I think.

Same-Sex Marriage and the Polygamy Objection

Proponents and opponents of SSM often clash over whether or not the view that SSM should be legal entails that polygamous marriage should be legal, with SSM proponents typically arguing that it does not and SSM opponents arguing that it does. The contested premise is:

(SSMP)  If SSM should be legal then polygamous marriage should be legal

SSM opponents think the reasoning should run like so:

(1) (SSMP) If SSM should be legal, then polygamous marriage should be legal
(2) Polygamous marriage should not be legal
(3) SSM should not be legal

Some SSM advocates are willing to accept (SSMP) and run:

(1) (SSMP) If SSM should be legal, then polygamous marriage should be legal
(2) SSM should be legal
(3) Polygamous marriage should be legal

(One man's modus tollens is, after all, another's modus ponens...)

However, most advocates don't try to run this argument, for at least one of these two reasons:

(A) Polygamous marriage currently has zero chance of social and political acceptance

(B) There are non-terrible reasons to think that polygamous marriage is morally bad and/or socially harmful

That is: PM is DOA politically, and one need not have overtly retrograde attitudes to oppose it. So PM is, currently at least, a loser on political grounds, and legitimately morally suspect--as is anything linked to it. So it's not a good idea to link same-sex marriage to polygamous marriage.

I take it that (A) is clear, but (B) less so. I won't delve too deeply into that here, though casual acquaintance with the sociological literature (which is all that I have, and that's actually being rather generous to me) indicates that there is at least some evidence that PM is bad for women, bad for younger, less well-established males, and bad for children. (Bad, that is, even on a relatively thin conception of badness.)  A few frisky triads here and there aren't going to bring down society--the important objections are not puritanical ones. But lots and lots of large families with one male and several females may very well do significant harm.

However, the moral argument comes out, the currently political landscape is clear: If the legality of SSM entails the legality of PM, then it's no SSM for the U.S.

So what about (SSMP)? Is the conditional true? Does accepting SSM require us to accept PM?

Though SSM advocates scoff at the conditional, the argument for it is fairly clear (though I deluded myself for years into thinking that it wasn't). Here's a quick way to put it:

There are two competing conceptions of marriage in play, one more traditional, and one more liberal, to wit:

(TM) Marriage is a union between two people of different sexes who love each other.

(LM) Marriage is a union between two people who love each other.

Liberals criticize the (putatively) traditional conception of marriage on the grounds that it arbitrarily restricts marriage to heterosexuals. They liken this arbitrary restriction to that against miscegenation. That is, they argue that we can all agree that TM constitutes moral and social progress over:

(RM) Marriage is a union between two people of different sexes and the same race who love each other.

LM is then represented as constituting the same kind of progress relative to TM that TM constituted relative to RM. The general idea is that the (morally and rationally) arbitrary restrictions in RM were stripped away, giving us TM, and that the proposed movement to LM is warranted by the same type of idea, i.e. the removal of morally/rationally arbitrary restrictions.

Conservatives tend to argue, of course, that the restrictions in TM are non-arbitrary, invoking premises about reproduction and so forth (which I'll also skip over here, as they're well known.*)

Now. The trajectory of the argument so far seems to leave LM open to the objection that the proper conception of marriage is really:

(M) Marriage is a union between/among people who love each other.

Advocates of M can argue that the restriction of marriage to two people is every bit as arbitrary as the restriction of marriage to two people of different sexes, or to two people of the same race. The insight that supports SSM is that it is possible for two people of the same sex to love each other. The insight that supports PM is that it is possible for more than two people to love one another. If marriage is, in fact, primarily about love (I leave that unspecific, but you see the idea), then that seems to warrant both SSM and PM.

That is to say, there is a fairly clear argument for (SSMP). And that is to say that there does seem to be a very slippery slippery slope from same-sex marriage to polygamous marriage. That's not happy news, but there it is.

There are a couple of obvious options open here, not to mention the unobvious ones:

1. Give up on SSM

2. Accept PM

3. Find some other way to distinguish between SSM and PM

Both 1 and 2 seem like bad options to me. So that seem to leave some version of 3. The most obvious version of 3 involves appealing to (B) (above). Such responses would also have to involve some premises to the effect that a legal institution mustn't be likely to do too much harm. I'm not happy with that position, but that is what I currently, tentatively accept.

But my point here isn't to try to solve this sticky problem, but, rather, just to note that I think that the old liberal line that the polygamy objection to SSM is patently invalid is, well, false. I, like other advocates of same-sex marriage, tended to dismiss the objection. Some advocates try to kill it illegitimately with purely rhetorical responses to the effect that it is "offensive" to even raise the issue. But that's BS. The problem is a real one, and it ought to be addressed squarely. Even though I'm not sure how to do so.

* Though, incidentally, if the case for TM is largely a case about reproduction, a different kind of case will have to be made against PM. (And we're not even mentioning the well-known point that a reproductive conception of marriage would rule out infertile couples and those that elect not to reproduce.)

Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs Can Move from Animals To Humans

The meat industry is, in effect, knowingly raising the probability of a health catastrophe in order to make a few more bucks. We've put in place a system that cranks out antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the people who profit from it are lobbying like crazy to make sure that sanity does not prevail.

Yet another very good reasons to avoid supporting the meat industry.

I'm an omnivore, and I don't think that there is anything wrong with humanely killing animals for food. But I don't think you should torture them, and I'm personally against the creation of superbugs that can kill us all. I'm funny like that.

Cuccinelli Tries to Recriminalize Sex In the OD


Cuccinelli is bad news.

In this case, he's using the fact that a 47-year-old dude was trying to solicit oral sex from a 17-year-old girl as his stalking-horse. But, given his lunatic views, it's pretty clear what's probably really motivating him.

Terry McAuliffe is our only hope. [Um, there is an implied facepalm here, in case that's not obvious.]

(Although, let me say that I do think that there should be some legal recourse for women of any age who are disrespectfully and/or aggressively propositioned for sex. I don't see what that's not a species of verbal assault.)

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Czinger: "Sexual Regret Is Not Rape"

This is good.

Of most interest to me is the objection to the grossly defective term "rape culture." This is a term that is so loosely defined, and thrown around so irresponsibly, that it creates a kind of conceptual train wreck. It would be bad enough if we just encountered relatively clear sentences containing the unclear term--like "we live in a rape culture. Then at least we could simply ask for clarification and hold the proposition up for confirmation or disconfirmation. Instead, the term is typically thrown in as part of a kind of presupposition. So you're more likely to encounter claims like "In addition to having to deal with rape culture, women must..."

It should go without saying that a rejection of the confused term 'rape culture' in no way entails that rape is not an enormous problem. It's too bad this even has to be said.

"Relativism" Watch: Tom Martin on Same-Sex Marriage

I can't say I agree with much here... Largely because I'm kinda with Popper insofar as I think it'd be crazy to take the Republic seriously as advice about how to run the state.

Here I'm just interested in this bit:
The democrat, a free spirit who is not guided by moral principle, is one step away from a tyrant; He is a relativist who refuses to distinguish higher from lower, right from wrong, or good from evil.
For the record, that's not relativism. The view that there is no real distinction between the right and the wrong is moral nihilism. (What it would mean, strictly speaking, to say that someone "refuses to distinguish" right from wrong...well, who knows?)

Schools Push Propaganda: In Which I Agree With...George F. Will


I think he's right.

There I said it.

I'll be in my room.

Glenn Greenwald vs. Sam Harris: Is "Islamophobia" Afoot?

In my view, both of these guys are bad news.

Greenwald is in typical form: barely-contained rage: check. Fawning over Chomsky: check. Cheap rhetorical tricks: check.

But he seems to rather have the goods on Harris, who has gone rather over the top about Islam. Opposing the ground zero mosque is pretty damn hard to excuse...

It seems to me that a rational person can believe that contemporary Islam is more worrisome than most contemporary religions. It may not be true, but you do not have to be bigoted against Islam to believe it. One might argue that full and objective appreciation of the evidence tends to disconfirm the claim--maybe so, maybe not. But the evidence that I have--and I have more than most people have--is consistent with the hypothesis that Islam represents more of a threat to liberal democracy than, say, Buddhism.

And that is something that Greenwald seems to deny. He does explicitly admit that criticism of Islam is permissible; though he seems unwilling to acknowledge that one might reasonably conclude that the problems with Islam are weightier than problems with most other religions. Again: maybe they are, maybe they aren't. But it isn't a crazy view, and one need not be a bigot to accept it.

One might reasonably argue that the burden of proof should be unusually high on claims like: "Islam represents more of a threat to the West than Christianity does." I think that's a reasonable view. But it's one that might also reasonably be rejected.

But I think I'll just ignore this dust-up

Mark Kleiman, Washington State's New Pot Czar

Or "Pot Head" as some are calling him...

Way to go Mark!

Another big step toward a sane drug policy.

Georgia High School Still Has Segregated Proms


(via Reddit)

Friedersdorf: The War On Drugs Is Far More Immoral Than Most Drug Use


It's easy for philosophers to forget that the terms 'moral' and 'morality' have been so corrupted by the right that they are now thought by some to concern only puritanical prohibitions against, e.g., sex, drugs and, well, you know...

Friedersdorf is absolutely right when he points out that throwing a kid in jail with murderers and rapists is far more immoral than smoking weed. And that's not to mention all the other immoral aspects of the "war on drugs," e.g. bringing death and destruction to Mexico and much of the rest of the Americas.

But Friedersdorf doesn't mention the most salient immoral aspect of the drug war: denying individuals their right to freedom in the private sphere. It's not as consequential as encouraging murderers to murder...but it's in some sense the central, original crime of the state in all this.

'Illegal Immigrant': Kevin Drum Acknowledges the Foolishness

Though he's pretty low-key about it:

I've used "illegal immigrant" before, and I've always had a hard time buying the argument that it's an inherently insulting term. But times change, and I generally adhere to AP style since that's what I learned many decades ago. Cranky stubbornness aside, I certainly don't have any reason to make an exception here, so I won't. Illegal immigrant is now out.
But I do still have a problem. AP apparently now feels that there's no acceptable way to refer to people who are in the country illegally. Neither "undocumented immigrant" nor "unauthorized immigrant," is acceptable, and neither is anything else. Labels are flatly not allowed, despite the fact that we label people all the time. Kevin Drum is a blogger. Barack Obama is a politician. Etc.
This leaves us with constructions like "John Doe is a person who immigrated to the United States illegally." Or: "A bill pending in Congress would bar immigrants who are in the country illegally from receiving Medicaid." Clunkiness aside, I guess we can all get used to that, but I'm not sure how it especially serves the cause of accuracy.
Drum is eminently reasonable, and lots more cool-headed than I am. But, just for the record:

1. You have a hard time buying the argument that 'illegal immigrant' is insulting because the arguments are preposterously bad, and the term is in no way insulting.

2. The policy of sticking to AP style is a good one...but the policy of knuckling under to the PC Word Police is not a particularly good one.

3. Correct: there is now no convenient, PC way to refer to illegal immigrants. But a dopey, smarmy PC term that gains some rhetorical advantage for the lefty position will come down the pike soon enough. So don't fear.

4. Of course we label people--i.e. describe them with single words or short phrases--all the time. I'm a blogger. Kevin's a wonk. Etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. And there is no avoiding it.

5. No, none of this serves the cause of accuracy. PC reformulations rarely do. See: 'gender reassignment surgery' for 'sex change operation.'

Look, a much better reason for shunning the term goes like this: for no good reason, the group in question just finds the phrase insulting. So, hey, how about being nice about this and avoiding its use?

That is about a million times more sensible than the crackpot reasons being thrown around.

Though, of course, if we actually said this, we'd have to acknowledge that it's really just a relatively small group of activists and PC "social justice" types who have decided the term is "offensive." And then we'd really have to ask whether we were going to allow ourselves to be terminologically pushed around by such people for really bad reasons.

And that discussion is not going to be had by liberals.

GOP: Our Ideas Are Fine, But We Didn't Communicate Them Well


One of the last refuges of the intellectually dishonest...

Look, I'm happy for you guys to believe this. But here's the thing:

You communicated your ideas fine.

There's not a damn thing wrong with that bit.

We know exactly what you think.

Problem is, it's crazy.

Just sayin'.

NC GOP State Legislators Propose Bill Declaring NC Can Establish A State Religion

Ah, the Old North State never disappoints...

Here's the bill itself. Very short.

Jebus. How is every body so stupid all of a sudden.

O.k. Just go ahead and strike that 'all of a sudden' bit...

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

AP Drops "Illegal Immigrants". For Stupid Reasons


I really hate the PC word police. They frequently demand (as if they were in a position to demand) that we change our ways of referring to people, generally do so for bad reasons, and generally propose new ways of referring that pretend to be more precise than the old ways, but are, in fact, less so.

One of my favorites was their demand that we call American Indians "Native Americans," despite the fact that most American Indians preferred "American Indians"...

"Illegal alien" is absolutely fine, and in no way derogatory, but people got their panties in a wad about it. I still use it, given that there's no good reason not to. "Illegal immigrant," they demanded, was the preferable alternative. Many of us knew what was coming next--it was just a matter of time. And, indeed, "illegal immigrant" is now on the terminology Index as well. So it has been decreed by those whose sensibilities are delicate beyond measure. So the Word has been handed down to the rest of us...

I'll be ignoring the decree...but I expect most will cave to it...

Oh, there's some made-up bullshit about why we are not to use the verboten terminology anymore. One version goes: actions are illegal, people aren't.

What utter, unmitigated horseshit.

Everyone knows what such a term means. "Illegal immigrant" means "immigrant here illegally." There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the term. There is nothing even vaguely derogatory about it. Similar terms get used all the time, and there is no suggestion that "the person is illegal." I've heard: 'Illegal gun-owner,' 'illegal pot-grower', 'Illegal truck-driver." I've also heard 'illegal midwife,' 'illegal contractor,' and 'illegal electrician.' God knows how many we'd turn up if we thought about it for a bit. None of these terms is derogatory. The meaning of each one is perfectly clear. No one has ever complained that to call someone an illegal contractor is to say that they are, qua person, illegal. Such a person is a person who illegally performs electircal work. This is not complicated.

Jesus this is some stupid nonsense.

We should start taking bets one what the arbiters of PC terminology will decree to be the Permissible Terminology here...

I'm going to guess:

Differently Legal Americans.

But perhaps:  Citizens In Potentia...

It's really too bad that time is wasted on such nonsense, too bad that people knuckle under to it, and too bad that it will, inevitably, just alienate people on the right who are, sadly, somewhat more sensible than those on the left in this respect. And harder to push around. Pushing mindless, ungrounded pieties on them (not to mention the rest of us) does absolutely nothing positive. This is little more than an attempt to score points in the debate by arbitrarily changing terminology in a way that de-emphisizes the fact that the relevant people are here illegally.

Really, really, really stupid and off-putting in my book.

Indiana Bill Would Make It Illegal To Expose Factory Farms, Clear-Cutting and Fracking

ALEC strikes again.

(via Reddit)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

"If You're Good At Lying, You're Good At Everything": Top Ten Godlman-Sachs Elevator Quotes

LOL at these assholes.

Kinda makes you wish there were a Hell...

The "Online Mean Girls Club"

Or "crazy girls' club" as I'd rather put it...

Sensible post on online feminism by Sadie Smith.

I don't agre with her about 'cis.' I mean, she is, I think, wrong to say that it's an insult or an affront...it's just stupid, like so much PC terminology. It'll die out like 'co' and 'cos' and other ear-offending lefty terminology. So, yeah, it's dopey, but I can't agree that it's insulting.

It's too bad that feminism is crashing and burning like this. I remember, back in the day, when it was full of promise, a sensible, rational, liberal movement. There are still a lot of good people and good thoughts out there, though they tend not to be represented by the loudest voices. Nevertheless, I have full faith that the level-headed core of the movement will continue to make progress, and will still be here ten years from how, after the current wave of loons has burned out. The PCs of the '90s flamed out spectacularly--though, sadly, not until after bequeathing us a renewed conservativism. Thanks, guys! Anyway, so, too, will this wave of extremists pass away.

And, on the bright side: they're just annoying, they're not really dangerous. And that's not true with every political movement...

However, in case you think that American conservatism is dead: well...it isn't. Among the many things that might/will help breath life back into it...or...raise it...back to undead status...so it can ...rampage across the...well...you see what I'm trying to say here...is this crap. There's little that drives people into the arms of the right faster than the wild-eyed, shrill cant of uber-lefties all hopped-up on self-righteousness. If you doubt that, check out the early pages of David Brock's The Right-Wing Noise Machine sometime, in which he ponders how he, a basically reasonable dude, ended up being a right-wing propagandist. The answer: he got so fed up with being brow-beaten by shrill lefties at Berkeley that the right started to look like a bastion of reason to him. Imagine that if you can...

I'd like to see sensible liberals be better about standing up to these people, but they just don't seem to have it in 'em. Well, who knows? People can surprise you sometimes...

Prisons and The Aryan Brotherhood

Yet another reason to have a healthy arsenal to my mind...

...though, um, not all liberals agree...

My friend Peter the Public Defender is a ridiculously smart guy. Downright wise even. Years ago, in a conversation, he referred to prisons as "monster factories," and that's always stuck with me. Here's how it works: first, take a bunch of murderous, psychopathic fuckwits. Then, add in some poor schmucks who were stupid or unlucky enough to get busted for smoking weed or whatever. You might have started wtih 50 psychopaths and 50 schmucks. But after a couple of years, you've got something more like 75 psychopaths and 25 (broken, PTSD-addled) schmucks. The policy of throwing a bunch of non-violent drug offenders in with murderous lunatics to play Lord of the Flies...well, not the smartest idea ever...

Among other bad things, this encourages people to join gangs just to survive. Now, I doubt that the Aryan Brotherhood really is a major threat. But it ain't good. It's not the sort of thing you want your policies to be promoting. It's like using public funds to feed people paint chips or something. Not smart. I'm fine with locking up real crooks. Hell, I'm all for it. I'm certainly not a liberal criminal-coddler. But the combination of (a) having a shameful prison system in which psychopaths can basically run amok, and (b) throwing a bunch of people in there who aren't even real criminals... Not smart. Hell, not even sane...

So, anyway, there's that link to brighten your day...



We actually need a new type of punctuation for internet "SJ" types.

Exclamation points aren't nearly shrill enough...

Fallacies On Parade: Donna Freitas on Hookup Culture

My god this is terrible.

It's like a joke piece written for a critical thinking textbook or something.

Seriously, the Washington Post has nothing better to print that this stuff?

Storing Energy in Trains

This is brilliant.

Conservatives and the Arms Race Between Civilians and the Military

So, I've mentioned this before, but here's someone with a big platform now making the point.

Although I tend to favor Second Amendment protections of some fairly robust variety, and to do so in some part because I think the populace should have the ability to stand up to the government if absolutely necessary (and, incidentally, to stand up for it in case of invasion). So view obviously tends to be more popular among conservatives than among liberals...though I've never understood why.

Anyhoo, though I'm an advocate of a strong military, I also think that our military could be lots, lots, LOTS smaller and still count as very strong. I also don't understand the conservative inclination to have a much, much bigger and more powerful military than we need.

And, if you advocate both (a) a preposterously strong military and (b) the view that civilians should be well-armed enough to stand up to that military if necessary, then you basically advocate policies that generate a kind of arms race between civilians and the military.

And I think that's crazy.

Instead, if we throttled back on the military, reducing it's size and power to something like reasonable levels, then even those who think civilians should be well-armed enough to stand up to the government as a last resort could comfortably accept less civilian firepower floating around.

That's all I've got.