Friday, November 29, 2013

Averting Genocide In The Central African Republic

link (Washington Post)

Right, so we can't seriously say "never again" anymore...  How about: "Sometime not"?

I suppose I'm not too optimistic about talking the GOP into supporting a humanitarian mission of this kind...though we could play up the Muslim/Christian angle, I suppose.

I'd like to see us make it easier for people from war-ravaged places like the C.A.R. to immigrate to the U.S....something akin to amnesty, but which didn't require refugees to get here before invoking it. (We would, in my opinion, need to make sure that such a policy didn't worsen the population problem...but we could implement such a policy without increasing the total number of annual immigrants.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Herring Wins AG Race In The OD By 165 Points


Getcher recount goggles on, boys and girls.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Iran Deal

Notably good news, unless I'm missing something.

Am I missing something?

As you've already seen, there are challenges...

I'm hardly part of the Blame America First crowd...and Iran's hands are far from clean... But it seems difficult to deny that the U.S. has inflicted more undeserved harm on Iran than Iran has inflicted on the U.S. The 1953 coup seems to me to be the root of all evil with respect to U.S.-Iran relations. We (and the Brits) did that. Without that, not only would the Iranian people subsequently have suffered much less, but Iran would have been far less anti-U.S.

At any rate, any thawing of relations is a good sign, isn't it?

And, though getting Netanyahu's panties in a bunch is not an infallible indicator of correctness, it's not evidentially valueless either, in my current book.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Goodbye Dan Perdue

Goodbye to my dear friend Daniel Perdue.

I've never known anyone else loved so deeply by so many people.

Dan deserves a proper eulogy here, but words fail me utterly. It's a bitter, bitter thing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Richard Cheese / Down With The Sickness

There's no turning back now...

(NSFW, obviously)

Oldest Known Big Cat Fossils Found

Big cats similar to today’s snow leopard have prowled the Himalayas for the last 6 million years, an analysis of newly described fossils reveals. The remains of Panthera blytheae extend the known lineage of pantherine cats by at least 2 million years and bolster the notion that this group of carnivores originated in Asia.

Male and Female Crazy, In a Nutshell

25 year old woman claims marriage to Charles Manson.

The most paradigmatic type of male crazy: dudes be killin'. The most paradigmatic type of female crazy: swooning over said dudes.

One important way to divide up the world: its us vs. the crazy violent dudes and the women who long to bear  their more-likely-than-average-to-be crazy violent offspring, thus perpetuating the cycle.

Needless to say, this theory might need a bit of fine-tuning...

The Population Problem: Time's China Cover Story Edition

CNN link/summary

I try not to think about the population problem too much. It's a huge problem, and discussions of it are almost invariably infuriating.

To mention just a few infuriating things about the discussion:
Although IT IS VERBOTEN TO SAY THAT OVERPOPULATION IS A PROBLEM BECAUSE IT IS RACIST TO SAY THAT AND ANYWAY THE REAL PROBLEM IS OVERCONSUMPTION!!!111 (false, of course, on both counts), as soon as there is any even vaguely plausible case to be made that there are any adverse consequences whatsoever of reducing population...bam...Time cover story...

Liberals now often refuse to discuss overpopulation because concerns about overpopulation conflicts with their view that illegal immigration is not a problem. Those on the far left cry "racism!"...well, about everything...but often, in this context, because population growth is a bigger problem in less-developed nations, and criticizing anyone but the U.S. is verboten. Also, they basically refuse to discuss anything but American overconsumption--ever--in this topical vicinity. Then there's the right, which thinks we can and must grow the economy forever, and that TEH MUZLIMZ WILL OUTBREED US!!!1111  Oh, yeah: and then there are the radical right racists, who do, in fact, decry overpopulation, and actually do so because it's an opportunity to criticize Africans and Asians, and to push an anti-immigration agenda. And of course that helps a lot...

So basically all the major regions of the political spectrum refuse to discuss overpopulation in a sensible, objective way.

So we now have what is, in effect, a one-way valve regulating any discussion about population: discussions in which it is argued that overpopulation is a problem are shut down, but any evidence that a reduced population might cause any problems in any way is catapulted to the forefront of the public consciousness. This prejudices the discussion in a way that serves not only to ignore the overpopulation problem, but to actually encourage overpopulation.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The Nuclear Option Debate In Two Charts


Somehow I wasn't actually aware that the Republicans had any case to make here. Seems like the total record with respect to accepted vs. rejected judicial nominees is one reasonable measure of what's been going on. But that doesn't mean that it's not important to look at the comparative number of filibusters of nominees across administrations. That is to say, I don't see how the case associated with Republican's chart does much to mitigate the case represented by the Democrats' chart.

Am I missing something here?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Are Liberals More Intelligent than Conservatives?

I doubt it, I really about to link to Psychology Today? Oh ferthelova....this blog really is going to shit...

Anyway: Analyses of large representative samples, from both the United States and the United Kingdom, confirm this prediction. In both countries, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to be liberals than less intelligent children. For example, among the American sample, those who identify themselves as “very liberal” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 106.4,whereas those who identify themselves as “very conservative” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 94.8. Even though past studies show that women are more liberal than men, and blacks are more liberal than whites, the effect of childhood IQ on adult political ideology is twice as large as the effect of either sex or race. So it appears that, as the Hypothesis predicts, more intelligent individuals are more likely to espouse the value of liberalism than less intelligent individuals, possibly because liberalism is evolutionarily novel and conservatism is evolutionarily familiar.

 Most of that is interesting...That last bit, however, seems to refer to "the savanna IQ interaction hypothesis"...and it is not at all clear that the hypothesis in question actually makes the alleged prediction. But the stuff about childhood IQ is interesting.

[via Reddit]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cambridge Feminists Freak Out Over Butt Contest

Well, since we've been on the topic of why I don't really think of myself as a feminist anymore (despite the fact that I am, of course, an egalitarian with respect to the sexes, and despite MK's best efforts and cogent arguments...)

Apparently the Cambridge Tab is having a "rear of the year" contest, in which readers are asked to vote on the best butt, from a selection of pictures of nekkid and partially clothed male and female butts:

NSFW, naughty butt pix (also: Daily Mail)

From the story:
However, not everyone is supportive of the competition, which is being run for the second time despite strong opposition from women's groups last year.
Lauren Steele, Women's Officer at Cambridge University Students' Union, has condemned the online poll as 'irresponsible'. 
In a joint statement with Anija Dokter, from Cambridge Feminist Society, she said: 'This is an example of immature, blind and irresponsible behaviour on the part of The Tab editors.
'I sincerely hope they will take responsibility for the harm caused, not only to the women depicted but also to the broader community, for reinforcing sexism and exclusion.
'The Tab should immediately remove the photos, publish an apology and mandate that all future publications cannot include the misuse and appropriation of women's and other minorities' bodies.'
Right then. So, to review: [submittingh] some pictures of butts--both male and female--voluntarily, by the possessors of said butts, is "irresponsible," "immature" (ok,well, they maybe have a point there...), "blind" (???), have somehow caused "harm to the women depicted [and] also to the broader community," reinforce "sexism and exclusion," and, apparently, involves the "misuse" and "appropriation" of "women's and other minorities'" [sic] bodies...

Honestly, this kind of abject nonsense has become more-or-less par for the course in academic feminism. We could go through this pointing out all the errors, but, well, why bother? There's basically no way to make them more obvious than they already are...

There is just no way that I can think of myself as allied with a movement that routinely tolerates this kind of idiotic cant. And it's not merely tolerated...these silly buzzwords and incoherent, boilerplate objections are like shibboleths of contemporary academic feminism. To try to have a discussion with such people is like stepping through the logical looking glass.

Oh, and don't forget the puritanism! I really love me some fear and loathing of sexuality...  That's a great way to win me over to your side.

Anyway, I haven't given up on the egalitarian project...but I just can't have anything to do with such people. If this were rare...or if sane, liberal feminists challenged this kind of thing more regularly, that'd be the kind of thing that would likely make me think of myself as a feminist again. But, as it stands, I feel as if I'm standing on the shore watching feminism sink in a whirlpool of incoherent, po-mo inspired gobbledygook and conceptual confusion.

IMO, either liberal feminists need to seize the helm again, or there needs to be some kind of successor movement that goes back to the enlightenment-inspired, egalitarian roots of old-style feminism. Otherwise, people like me are going to continue to abandon ship.

Monday, November 18, 2013

George Zimmerman Answers All The Questions

Well, at least this pretty much settles the debate about the Zimmerman-Treyvon Martin confrontation...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Coyne: No Faith In Science

I disagree with Jerry Coyne about this.

I'm not sure that faith in science is on par with the kind of faith that most people seem to have in mind when they assert that science and religion are on par--they seem to be talking about "blind" faith. (Of course, many religious folks treat faith as if it were magical--as if it conferred all the advantages of knowledge onto their preferred beliefs, without requiring any of that pesky proof...)

For some time now I've been pretty interested in Richard Smyth's interpretation of Peirce with respect to the justification of the logic of science. In short, that does involve a kind of appeal to Kantian rational faith. The argument begins with the recognition that we (currently) have no non-circular justification of the types of inference requried by science (and, since circular justifications don't work, we can just leave out the 'non-circular' in that sentence; it's superfluous...) Most notoriously, we don't  know how to justify induction. Coyne makes an appeal to Dawkins--always a mistake in these matters--who writes:
There is a very, very important difference between feeling strongly, even passionately, about something because we have thought about and examined the evidence for it on the one hand, and feeling strongly about something because it has been internally revealed to us, or internally revealed to somebody else in history and subsequently hallowed by tradition. There's all the difference in the world between a belief that one is prepared to defend by quoting evidence and logic and a belief that is supported by nothing more than tradition, authority, or revelation.
But this won't work. The problem at the end of this trail is that we don't know how to justify the principles we use in our inferences. Sure, we can look at the evidence, but if we don't know how to justify induction--for example, we don't know how to show that it's more rational to reason inductively than to reason counter-inductively (though you don't have to make the argument that way)--then we seem to have no rational grounds for doing what we do with that evidence instead of something else.

Coyne writes:
What about faith in reason? Wrong again. Reason—the habit of being critical, logical, and of learning from experience—is not an a priori assumption but a tool that’s been shown to work. It’s what produced antibiotics, computers, and our ability to sequence DNA. We don’t have faith in reason; we use reason because, unlike revelation, it produces results and understanding. Even discussing why we should use reason employs reason!
 This, however, doesn't seem to work either, for well-known reasons. Think again about induction. The claim that we are justified in reasoning inductively because it works is patently circular, even on the best reconstruction of it--all we know is that induction has worked well so far. To conclude that we should reason inductively tomorrow is (apparently) to reason inductively: induction has worked in the past, so it will work in the future. Circularity, again. (Note: I don't think the past-to-future characterization of induction is right...I'm just employing it here for brevity.)

Coyne also writes:
Finally, isn’t science at least based on the faith that it’s good to know the truth? Hardly. The notion that knowledge is better than ignorance is not a quasi-religious faith, but a preference: We prefer to know what’s right because what’s wrong usually doesn’t work. We don’t describe plumbing or auto mechanics as resting on the faith that it’s better to have your pipes and cars in working order, yet people in these professions also depend on finding truth.
But a mere preference does not constitute a justification. So, though it's right to say that this appeal can't prove the conclusion that science is based on faith, that's a hollow victory. This response says that science is based on something exactly as irrational as faith. But, of course, Coyne tries to slip in proof to bolster preference at the end of the argument: we just prefer it...but we prefer it because it works...circularity and other nastiness threaten again...

Honestly, I don't see why glib, unsound defenses of science are much better than glib, disingenuous attacks on science.

The Ramones: Spiderman Theme

So much awesome.

(via Reddit)

[Edit: From what looks like it could be the greatest album of all time: Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits.]

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CBS: No Transparency With Respect To Benghazi Story


Wow, this all really stinks...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

White Supremacist Gets Results of Genetic Analysis of His Ancestry

The short video

(via Metafilter)

Herring Takes The Lead in AG Race

Herring now up over Obenshain by 117 votes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Cuccinelli Actually Won Virginia"

You won't hear about this in the lamestream media...

(Via someplace or other on Reddit, I think.)

Virginia AG Count Down To 17 Votes


And the results are likely to continue shifting, with provisional ballots unreported in one large locality, Fairfax County, and possibly incomplete in another, Richmond. No matter what, the race — with a margin smaller than 0.001 percent of the vote — is almost certainly headed for a recount that won’t be decided before December.
Fairfax County and Richmond, as you may know, are dark blue.

Sounds promising.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Joss Whedon's Awful Speech on 'Feminism'


Wow. I love me some Joss Whedon...but that speech is really terrible. Just godawful.

I'm not going to waste time on it, I'm just going to point it out and move on.

But I will say: eventually, feminism is going to have to admit that not everyone who is hesitant to identify himself/herself as a feminist is a Neanderthal. A fairly large percentage of college females no longer do so. The radical vanguard of feminism makes up stories about false consciousness or whatever...but the fact is, feminism is no longer unequivocally a liberal, egalitarian movement.

It pains me--oh, God how it pains me--to paraphrase Ronald Reagan approvingly...but I didn't leave feminism, feminism left me. I'm still an egalitarian about the sexes, I still think women are significantly discriminated against in the U.S. and outright oppressed elsewhere...I still believe everything that the liberal, egalitarian feminists of my youth believed. But the academic vanguard of feminism no longer clearly believes those things. I can't whole-heartedly identify with a movement that has so significantly identified itself with the radical, illiberal left politically, and the irrationalist intellectual left,to boot. I wish that liberal feminists would stand up to the nutty wing of the movement... But, until they do, I'll continue to be an apostate, at least nominally.

But, anyway...don't quit your day job, Joss.

A History of Political Correctness: 20 Years After Penn's 'Water Buffalo' Incident


Sadly, this kind of madness seems to be on the rise again, though this time it's inaccurately called the "social justice" movement. 

I continue to hope that American liberals will some day come to understand that the extreme left is just as illiberal as the extreme right. The PC days were an embarrassing episode in the history of American universities. (Weirdly, the nuttiest stuff seemed to be strongest at more elite institutions..I still don't understand why that was...) It's a scandal that universities are susceptible to such insanity.

Man Set On Fire For Wearing a Skirt


Yeah, I really need to stop being surprised by how evil and stupid some people are...

So, 18-year-old Luke (aka Sasha) Fleischman was apparently set on fire by a 16-year-old male because he was wearing a skirt:

Fleischman was apparently asleep on the bus, heading home to East Oakland, when the suspect set fire to a skirt the victim was wearing, his mother said. The victim, a senior at Maybeck High School in Berkeley, does not identify as male or female but rather as nonbinary gender, an umbrella term covering any gender identity that does not fit within the gender binary.

"My son considers himself agender," Debbie Fleischman said. "He likes to wear a skirt. It's his statement. That's how he feels comfortable dressing."
So, basically, he didn't look like some 16-year-old jackass thought he should said jackass set him on fire.

Look, I do understand the power of tradition. It has a hard grip on people's minds. The natural, incidental behavioral differences between males and females have been exaggerated by the culture and turned into categories of dress and behavior so ubiquitous and in some respects involable that they almost seem natural. For all my contempt for this sort of thing, even I find it rather off-putting when males dress in the way normally associated with females.

However...imagine what your mental life has to be like to think that it's ok to basically try to burn someone to death for not looking like you expect them to look. That's just flat-out psychotic.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Hoops: Still No Decisions from NCAA on Hairston and LMac


Gosh, Carolina just seems to have been snake bit subsequent to the 2009 title. It just seems as if, at every fork in the road, things have gone down the less-good of the available paths for them...

This Hairston situation (weed, possibly a gun, possible impermissible benefits (driving a rented car paid for by an unapproved third party)) is unprecedented in the history of Carolina hoops. There's nothing wrong with weed, of course, but it looks likely that somebody in that car had a gun. Hairston may not have known about it, of course...  But you've got to draw the line somewhere, and that's a pretty good place to draw it...

McDonald had some association with a "designer mouth guard" company, but it doesn't seem to be clear whether he approved their use of his image.

Jesus, guys, this stuff simply doesn't happen in this program...

I don't understand the NCAA, the decisions of which seem largely arbitrary to me. The Carolina football scandal--and I'm not a football fan, so I don't have the ordinary dog in the fight--didn't seem to me like a football scandal at all. It was really an academic scandal--much, much worse IMHO--that the football team took the fall for.

Other teams, of course, get away with impermissible benefits all the time, with a slap on the wrist or less... Needless to say, part of me roots for Carolina to dodge any's going to be a mediocre enough year as it is. But I'd rather see college sports cleaned up. Of course I'd rather it be uniformly cleaned up...but waddaya gonna do?

Needless to say, the best outcome will be that both P.J. and LMac are innocent. That'd be great, and it's the verdict I'm hoping for. But if they aren't, then so be it.

Friday, November 08, 2013

UVa Business Professor Charged With Distributing Child Porn


(h/t The Mystic)

Obamacare: Were the Infamous Cancelled Policies "Junk Insurance"?

Granted, Obama said something false--and may very well have lied--about something important when he said You can keep your current policy. Period.

However, it seems that the now-unavailable policies may have all been junk. This seems to me to be a decent defense. It wouldn't fully exonerate Obama for his false statements, but it's a good reason for the policies to be eliminated.

Not to play Obama apologist here, but I do think that this mitigates the error.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

VA Attorney General Race: Brace for the Recount

VPAP has Obenshain up by fewer than 500 votes with 100% of precincts reporting.  

Tune in in December to see who our new AG is...

Post: Democratic Coalition Defeates Cuccinelli

Looks like the Obama coalition hung together for this one.

SBOE has Herring up by about 500 votes!


It ain't over yet!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

OD Update: McAuliffe, Northam Projected To Win; Herring Trails

According to VPAP.

Well, the two crazy people lost, but not by nearly as much as they should have...looks like we're on a trajectory to lose the AG race, and lose at least a seat in the HoD.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Dems Still Looking Strong in 2 of Top 3 VA races


When I heard that McAuliffe was the likely Democratic nominee for governor, I said I'd never vote for him, and furthermore, that he could never win... 

...then the VA GOP gave the Dems the gift of Ken Cuccinelli, and that was enough to make a liar out of me and lots of other semi-Dems... 

Fortunately, McAuliffe's lead remains comfortable, and Northam is going to trounce Jackson. Herring-Obenshain is close, with PPP putting Herring up by 2 (via Blue VA).

Keep your fingers crossed on that last one.

Friday, November 01, 2013

House Republicans Skip Obamacare Briefing They Themselves Demanded


Not such a big deal in the overall context of their crazy...but I find it amusing and telling, so there it is.