Monday, June 30, 2014

NCAA Reopening UNC AFAM Case


On the one hand: good. Get this thing settled once and for all.

OTOH, bad: let's hope nothing new has turned up.

Again, the only real worry is that something was done wrong during the Doherty years, and it took Roy & co. too long to figure it out and fix it when they got there. It's hard to believe that anything would have escaped the multiple investigations done thus far...but I doubt that the NCAA is reopening the case recreationally...  But, honestly, it really wouldn't surprise me all that much to find out that Doherty was playing fast and loose with the rules. Despite his ties to the program, it was widely acknowledged that he did not do things the Carolina way...and that's why he got the boot.

Anyway, let's hope that the truth outs, and that it's all cleared up before hoops season starts.

Juan Cole: "This Baghdadi 'Caliphate' Thing Is Doomed..."

What To Say To Bill Kristol & Co.

Basically this.

Points that have to be made better, however:

This is a conservative fantasy:

Sure Bush and Cheney screwed up Iraq, but then they made up for it with the wise and glorious surge. Iraq was then stable. But Obama screwed it up.

Totally false.

Iraq has never really been stable. It has fluctuated, mostly favoring instability, since the ill-fated invasion. What matters is the overall trend. You can't just pick a point and say "see? stable!". Or even "See! Unstable!"

And Bush did not "make up for" his stupendous error by ordering the surge. The surge was a not-clearly-very-smart hail Mary that gained some more temporary stability. We can do that, you see, by committing more men and resources. Which we can't keep doing.

The Bush/Cheney administration lead us off a cliff. Committing massive resources to effect a temporary reprieve does not get them off the hook for that.

Conservatives like Kristol need to be held accountable for their stupidity. Kristol gets beat up pretty good here, but all their little canned sophistries need to be answered every time.

Buckley v. Rand

Speaking of rifts in conservatism, here's Bill Buckley expressing disapproval of Ayn Rand.

I never liked Buckley...but, having now had to endure lunatics like Limbaugh and Beck...well, I just want to hug the guy.

The Vital Incoherent Center

A more fine-grained and informative way of dividing up Americans politically--more fine-grained than just liberal/conservative, that is.

Bottom line: there are more hard-core conservatives than hard-core liberals, but there are even more people in the center ("hard-pressed skeptics," "the faith-and-family left", etc.), and they lean Democratic. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

TDB: The Top Secret Files of Dick Cheney

Tom The Dancing Bug suggests an eerily plausible scenario...

(h/t Statisticasaurus rex)

Rate of U.S. Gun Violence Has Dropped Dramatically Since 1993

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"The Brilliant Misandry Of Orphan Black"

So, I saw a bunch of stuff about how awesome Orphan Black is.

So JQ and I watched a couple of episodes.


Absolutely not great.

Absolutely so not great that we didn't even do what we'd normally do, which is give a show like that another chance to prove itself.

In fact, it was so resoundingly not great that I was puzzled. I went back to see whether I could figure out what all the hubbub was about...  When I realized that it was Metafilter that I'd seen the most popular reviews on...and one of the characters in the show was flamboyantly gay. Exactly the kind of thing that would be sufficient to send MeFi into paroxysms of joy. Then I read that one character was "trans"...  Ah. Again, that would explain MeFi's love for the thing...

Now, more confirmation: Orphan Black is "brilliant misandry!"

It's something something the female gaze!!!!

(Note: if you see the phrase "male gaze" or any variation thereof used seriously (and approvingly), what you're reading is probably bullshit... Also: whatever it does, it probably does not "embody" the female gaze...but, when you're dealing with such a silly concept, it's hard to be too precise I guess...)

It's awesome because teh menz are dumb and teh secksy!:
Orphan Black’s straight men are among the stupidest and least riveting fictional creatures to populate the modern television landscape. After years of suffering through completely unrecognizable female characters on TV, it’s hard not to celebrate the show’s almost gleeful denigration of its straight male characters. Orphan Black’s creators are not interested in speaking to the straight guys’ justifications or needs, except to show how superficial they are. The straight men of are stupid, weak, simple, unethical, violent, buffoonish, and easily manipulated. They are purposefully one-dimensional sketches denied the layers and complex motivations given to the female characters.
Hey, great! Now I don't have to waste any more time sampling episodes to see whether the show really sucks or just seems to suck!

Also note: only the straight men... Jesus these people...

Look, as I've said many times, It's baffling to me that (especially) SFF doesn't have more and better female and minority characters. I just simply don't get it. SFF is largely about geeks and other underdogs having their day. And if you are interested in the triumph of the underdog...well...let me tell you about underdogs...

This is one of the reasons why Joss Whedon's stuff is so good, IMO. But, of course, Joss is now hated by the neo-racist, neo-sexist that are now making themselves heard on the web. So, that these folks would be ecstatic to see a show that (allegedly...but...again...not interesting enough to knows?) intentionally denigrates males isn't a surprise.

Look, I don't need equality in all my fiction. I love LoTR even though it does baffle me that a world full of elves and dwarves has so few notable females... But I have to draw the line at people who are intentionally being sexist d*cks.

I can certainly see an argument that says::

"Yo, look at the ten bazillion times the tables were turned...what's one that does it the other way?"

I think that's a reasonable point. Of course...there's not one show that does it that way...there are any number of shows that portray men as buffoons and their wives as sensible...I've never noticed nor cared much about those, and think that MRA types are silly for harping about them...but...if the above argument is going to seriously be made, the MRA point now has to be taken seriously itself.

More to the point: intentions matter.

I'm willing to let sexist portrayals slide if they're not too bad and they're not intentional. Call me crazy, I'm not so forgiving if it's intentional.

Also, I'm fed up with radical feminist bullshit, and the spittle-flecked misandry that has grown up on the web. I don't think it's a huge danger--it seems obviously incomparable to misogyny in terms of the actual harm it does. Still, it's ignorant prejudice, and I'm within my rights to tell ignorant bigots to go f*ck themselves.

If I just came across Orphan Black on its own, I'd just think it wasn't that good. (Again: I was so unimpressed that I didn't give it much of a chance... If I did, I might change my view about its quality.) If it were better, and I liked it, and the guys were all idiots, I probably wouldn't care much, honestly...unless I found out that was intentional.

But, now that the vapid left is crowing about its AWESOME BIGOTRY...well...I doubt I'm ever going to like it much...

Though, of course, one might say:
It's just trying to make a point. Whatever else it is, it's making a table-turning move. It's not doing it in a mean-spirited way, it's just trying to get people to see something.

That could very well be, and I actually think that would be a good thing to do. So, after the idiots now crowing about this are gone and forgotten, maybe I'll give it another chance. On its own, and without the penumbra of idiocy that seems to be growing up around it, I might like the thing...

Smearing Paul Ryan By Associating Him With The Previously-Smeared Charles Murray; or: Liberals Need To Stop Calling Everybody Racist

Sullivan, getting it right.

Liberals really have to stop doing and tolerating this kind of thing--cavalierly flinging around charges of racism. News freaking flash: not every conservative is a racist. And not everyone who refuses to genuflect at liberal shibboleths is a racist. And not everyone who rejects the claim that all groups are equal in all ways is a racist.

Accusing someone of being a racist on weak grounds is wrong. Though--speaking of things that piss me off about liberalism and the lefty-left--sometimes the only way to get people to throttle back on this stuff is to use the loathsome "harms the cause" argument: unjustified charges of racism undermine the cause of fighting actual racism by devaluing charges of racism. I myself rarely take charges of racism or sexism coming from the lefty-left seriously, since those charges are thrown around so indiscriminately over there. Most are false, so there's little reason to take any randomly-selected charge seriously. More centrist liberals are less bad about this stuff, but they're still too tolerant of it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Boehner's Attack On Obama's Executive Orders Ignores Presidential History"

Turns out, Obama has used fewer executive orders than any president since Grover Cleveland.
When it comes to executive orders, Obama has so far been a model of executive restraint. Consider that as the political theater of Boehner's lawsuit plays out over the coming days and weeks. As John Hudak writes, "claims that President Obama is issuing more than his predecessors is just flat wrong—and continues to be a talking point completely at odds with real data."
Ah, the simple double standard.

No fancy rhetorical tricks, no statistical shenanigans...

You kinda gotta admire the classics...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Misfits: Dig Up Her Bones

Asiatic Cheetah

The good news:  There is an Asiatic cheetah, genetically non-identical with the African Cheetah.  

The bad news: it's nearly extinct.

College majors by Sex Ratio and average IQ

Wow, this is fascinating

Although males and females have about the same IQ, there is a strong correlation between a field's being male-dominated and having a high average IQ.

Looks like this actually turns out to be a correlation between majors with high average IQs and majors that are heavily quantitative. (Philosophy is a notable outlier, a not-really-quantitative major with a high average IQ...but there's commonly a fair bit of formal logic, so that might explain some of it.)

Really interesting.

(via Reddit)

UNC AFAM Scandal: Vince, Too, Remembers It Differently Than McCants

Had to work hard on academics while at Carolina

The crazies and the non-crazies seem to be falling into two fairly distinct camps...  Like Barnes--and everybody else--Vince remembers it differently. 

The real worry, though, is that D'oh was up to no good, and Roy didn't catch it right away. 

We'll find out in the Fall.

Criticism And Defense Of George Will's Column on Campus Sexual Assault

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Popular Myth And The M4 Sherman Tank

This is beyond my ability to assess, so I can't vouch for it. But the bits I know about are right, and the rest is really interesting:

Popular Myth And the M4 Sherman Tank

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Greg Fallis: Lessons Learned

If you read only one blog post this year, make it this one:  link.

I think I'm pretty serious about that

Soccer and Duke Basketball

It just occurred to soccer, apparently every team is like Duke in hoops.

Welcome To The Nanny State: UK Doctors Seek To Make Tobacco Illegal For Anyone Born After 2000

I rather dislike tobacco...but this is f*cking idiotic.

Not to mention totalitarian.





(warning: "Accuracy" In Media: Not An Actual News Source)

Don't Put Philosophy And Religion Majors Together When Calculating Earnings

Look, I don't think money is the best reason to study philosophy... But I do think that the perception that philosophy majors will be delivering pizzas keeps some students from even considering the major. Often it convinces their parents to forbid them from majoring.

It's just an incidental feature of this chart, but here's the kind of thing that happens when you put philosophy and religion majors together for these purposes.

Separate them out, and get more majors in play, and philosophy actually does very, very well. It comes in in the midst of a bunch of majors that are purely vocational/non-academic. It beats a slew of purely vocational majors, some of the sciences, most of the social sciences, and all the rest of the humanities. 45th out of 129 is nothing to sneeze at. If you check out where religion, theology, and biblical studies rank, you'll see why they drag philosophy down.

Again, I don't think money should be the main motive for choosing a major. Some interesting majors don't pay well, and some crap majors do pay well.

But it's good to get the facts straight.

[Turns out this is already being discussed on the Leiter Report.]

Fever Swamp Gibbering Points: Obama The Lawless

Seems to me that the newest favorite word over in the fever swamps is 'lawless':

Will: "Stopping a Lawless President"

Gerson: "An Arrogant And Lawless IRS"

Cruz: 76 lawless Obama actions  (warning:! Do not click! You won't be able to get the stupid off of you for days...)

Jeffrey Dorfman "Obama Administration Lawlessness Finally Hits Home With Investors"

Danny Vinik at TNR noticed this before I did.

I don't know what the GOP abandoned the Obama Is The Antichrist strategy...  That was about as plausible as the lawlessness mantra, and way more interesting...

[Ruth Marcus again give the spittle-spewers what for]

The Conservative Alternate Reality: Jennifer Rubin/Iraq Edition

[Rand] "Paul observes that the Iraq war was harder than anticipated but ignores the success of the surge and the peaceful, stable state in which the George W. Bush administration left Iraq."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sean Carroll: Physicists Should Stop Saying Silly Things About Philosophy


I generally agree...though I think the third point includes a fairly unserious and derogatory explanation of the anti-philosophy physicists' position. There's a kind of a positivism/verificationism at work in much science. You can question it, but it's not a crazy view. That's more plausible than the proposed explanation, that their position is "the unfortunate consequence of a lifetime spent in an academic/educational system that is focused on taking ambitious dreams and crushing them into easily-quantified units of productive work"...

Terry Eagleton, God, Meaning

Via Sullivan, here is Jonathan Sacks, at the Jewish Review of Books, on Terry Eagleton's Culture and the Death of God.
Two quick points:
Sacks writes, apparently summarizing or riffing on Eagleton:
We are meaning-seeking animals. And if we can no longer believe in God we will find other things to worship. 
Theists like to think this. It's an old refrain.
It's also false. 
It is clearly and obviously false strictly speaking, because many atheists find no other thing to worship. I'm an atheist, and I don't worship anything. So, as an unexceptional universalization, the claim is false. Maybe some people do need something to worship, but those people are typically theists. Perhaps theists find it hard to believe that some of us don't need to worship anything...but we don't. Honest. Theists insisting that everybody has to worship something, so atheists must worship something is like atheists insisting that nobody would ever really worship anything, so theists must not actually worship God (or: intend to). But we don't say that about them. [Because we don't believe it.] They seem to be unable to resist saying it about us...
Maybe he really means: most people will find something else to worship. That could be, and I'm willing to listen to the arguments. But the claim should be stated more clearly, IMO.
But, more to the point: "meaning-seeking animals" or no, the important point is: God never helps.
Theists like to say things like "without God, there can be no meaning." But this is deeply confused. The deepest confusion is this: their presupposition is that with God, there can be meaning. 
In fact, God helps not a bit with respect to meaning.
God does exactly nothing to help solve problems about the meaningfulness of life. If life is meaningless without God, then adding him to the picture does not help. If life can be meaningful in a universe containing God, then it can be meaningful in a universe that does not contain him. If it can't be meaningful in a universe without him, then it can't be meaningful in a universe with him.
The arguments here are more complicated than I've got time for, but here are some short arguments that point in the right direction:
One thing theists rely on God for is immorality. And one thought people have about meaningfulness is: if my life is finite, then it can't be meaningful. 
But if your life is meaningless now, then you simply add more meaninglessness to it if you extend it. Extend it infinitely for infinite meaninglessness... Take a finite, meaningless life and make it infinite and you will not ipso facto make it meaningful.
Theists seem to think that God can just magically instill life with meaning. But how would he do that? Imagine whatever you want...anything logically possible... One problem about meaningfulness is that we seem to be unable to even imagine circumstances that would make our lives meaningful sub specie aeternitatis...  It's not that we know what we need in order for life to be meaningful, but we can't see how to get it without God... It's rather that we can't imagine anything that would make life indisputably meaningful. Therefore God won't help. Even if God can do anything imaginable, the problem of meaningfulness is: nothing imaginable will help. Nothing God can do will make our lives meaningful, so far as we can tell.
We might, of course, go all O Magnum Mysterium... Maybe there's some card God has up his sleeve that we can't imagine... But, then maybe he doesn't. And, furthermore, maybe the universe without God has such a card up its sleeve...
In short: God simply doesn't help with this problem.

[For the record, my own view is that it's plausible/permissible to hope that life is meaningful. And I may even believe that it is. I certainly don't believe that it isn't. And I don't think it's rationally obligatory to think that it isn't.]

Random Michelle K On The Sexual Harassment Du Jour


This shit makes me apoplectic with anger. I really just don't understand it, and don't know what to say about it.I very rarely see this stuff, and generally freak the f*ck out when I do.

I haven't the foggiest clue what guys who do this shit are thinking.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Fever Swamps and Obama's "Lawlessness"

I don't keep up with all  the crazy, and hadn't really been paying attention to the emerging fairy-tale on the right about Obama's "lawlessness"...but here's the now-reliably-nutty George F. Will on the topic.

Will seemed to blow a fuse during the Clinton administration, and has been doing little more than spewing spittle ever's hard to believe that his columns were often pretty interesting.

I try to remain objective about this stuff, and went poking around after reading the Will piece...  I know...I's fairly clear by now that conservative shrieking about Obama can be safely ignored...but down that road lies partisan perdition...

It didn't take long to find this by Ruth Marcus. It's non-shrieky and, at least as a first cut at the matter, seems to be much more reasonable than Will's column. (E.g.: Will appeals to kooky conservative lawyers who have cooked up a scheme for a lawsuit against Obama; Marcus cites Benjamin Ginsberg, a scholar critical of Presidential overreach, who puts Obama "on the mild end of such abuses.")

I'm generally opposed to increasing presidential power...  But I do have some sympathy with using every tool in the kit to get around our current nutty Congress. Problem is, of course, this sets a precedent.

At any rate, I'm interested in this topic, so somebody should let me know if there's more truth in Will's ravings than I'm giving them credit for.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Catherine Wheel--Crank

Damn I love these guys.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Old Daily Show On Cheney

This might seem like irrelevant retro-Cheney bashing at first...but wait 'til Corddry shows up...

We laugh so that..well, you know...

Dick Cheney and Ad Hominems

So everybody is ridiculing Cheney for that op-ed...


I think the current debate about a new intervention in Iraq (I can't believe I have occasion to write that sentence...) raises interesting questions about ad hominem arguments.

The orthodox philosophical position is, ignoring some details:

Except in cases like testimony, we should ignore the reasoner and attend only to the content/value of the reasoning.

In the case at hand, that seems to mean that we should ignore the fact that Cheney's arguments are coming from Cheney, and consider only their content.

That's sensible...  But I don't think people typically do that, even when they think they are doing it. To do that would be to treat the arguments as if one had simply found them written on a random piece of paper, perhaps in the midst of other random piece of paper with contrary arguments written on them.

The fact that we rarely succeed in treating arguments that way helps us see, I think, why ad hominems matter in cases like this:

When someone sincerely asserts reasons for something, they are, in my current view, basically simultaneously giving testimony. That is, they are not only stating an argument, they are saying: and I attest to the soundness of this argument--it's (general or generic) validity, and the probable truth of its premises.

Cheney is basically testifying on behalf of the reasoning he is offering.

In fact, one might wonder whether the reasoning is merely something that he is doing while he is testifying on behalf of a certain course of action (intervening again in Iraq). Especially given that the argument isn't especially good, one might think that he is really giving intervention his imprimatur, and, incidentally, offering some reasons, too, since he has to say something...

(What he really really seems to be doing is: shrieking about Obama... But whatever.)

At any rate, it's possible that all the ad hominems flying around aren't irrational. Perhaps the reality of the situation is that Cheney is--at least partially and perhaps even primarily--testifying on behalf of intervention. And those deriding him are saying, basically:

Remember: this guy's advice on such matters is valueless. Perhaps it is even worse than fact, he tends to be wrong about such matters... Do the opposite of what Dick Cheney says in such circumstances, and you might tend to do fairly well...

Ad hominems do tend to get out of hand, so they must be treated cautiously...but they may not be as patently fallacious as the orthodoxy would have it.

(And, for the record: this is not some ad hoc view I cooked up to defend ad hominems against Dick Cheney...I started wondering about this back in grad school.)

Not Our Fault: The Party Of Personal Responsibility Shifts The Blame For Iraq: Charles Krauthammer Edition


The really amazing part is that they actually believe their own bullshit.

Megyn Kelly Shreds Cheney / Right Wing Retakes Lead In Crazy!

Et tu, Fox?


Cheney is downright delusional. He seems even more concerned to shriek about Obama than to gerrymander some kind of defense of his own failures.

It's downright creepy to see how immune to facts these two are. I'd almost forgotten how nauseatingly awful these people are.

My favorite lines come from Liz:

First there's:
"There are a lot of people out there who want to say 'Well let's blame the Bush-Cheney administration for what happened [in Iraq]'."

Then there's this gem:

MK: "Do you think President Obama is dangerous."

LC: "I think there's no question. I think he's unique in terms of a president who is sitting in the Oval Office who has made very clear that his desire is to weaken the nation."

And just like that, the right-wing retakes the lead!!!

I've been complaining that the left has been kicking the right's ass in the contest to pump out pure, unadulterated crazy...but damn! The right calls in the big guns and is on the verge of a TKO!

Oh, sure, it's not as flashy as the almost free-associative barking moonbattery we are getting from the left...but damn, the right does not fool around with this stuff. Ten thousand high school bloggers making up a thousand new "genders" really can't compare to the greatest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam...

So kudos, Count've showed those upstarts who's boss.

I mean..."Bush kept us safe" was a bold exercise in doublethink....but "Iraq is Obama's fault"...damn, that might be even bolder...  Behold a master at work, you Tumblr amateurs!

The utter insanity of these two is just breath-taking. The failure to accept any responsibility for the world-historical fuck-ups of the Bush-Cheney administration...the maniacal hatred for Obama--who the Cheneys clearly hate and detest far more than they hate "the terrorists"...

Abject insanity.


American conservatism, I underestimated you. You really are the reigning king of crazy.

Dick (and Liz) Cheney: tl;dr: I Still Do Not Realize I Was Wrong About Everything


I have no words.


I must confine myself to a single quote for now:

"Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."


I can't even

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Dumbest Thing You Will Ever Read least you're unlikely to read anything dumber for a long, long time...:

[Warning: do not read this. I'm serious. What has been read cannot be unread. I'm really serious. Don't say I didn't warn you...]

Right-wing crazy has been boring me lately. Just the same old crap over and over again. Conform, conform, = evil (except heterosexual intercourse for procreative purposes with your Christian spouse)...nuke the poor...God, God, God... wave the flag... Same old same old, year in, year out...  (Except, of course, for the "we're for limited government" ploy (har har)...I guess that's new...ish...  Frothing-at-the mouth hatred for the president and weekly calls for impeachment are constant during Democratic that's periodic...)

But the left! Oh, man! Now there's vibrant, exciting crazy! You never know what those crackpots are going to come up with. Oh...I kinda'll usually have to do with the holy trinity (race, class, "gender") but seriously, whereas the far right is like a boring, static monolith, the far left is like...let a thousand crazy-ass motherf*cking flowers bloom!  Reality is socially constructed! White people are evil! You are whatever sex you think you are! All men are rapists! TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR EVERYBODY!!! Look at me, I'm a dragon! 

Vastly entertaining. 

Don't get me wrong, the left is way less dangerous. They're not, for example, passionately devoted to denying the central environmental catastrophe of our time... But for sheer, batshit, freakout, barking moonbat crazy...the lefty-left really just can't be beat.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Investigation Into What Fell Off The Nightstand Postponed Until Morning

God bless The Onion

(via Miss_Anthropyy, who will be sorely missed at TiA)

Far-Left Follies At The University Of Minnesota


I honestly don't know how to adequately express my contempt for this

(h/t J. Carthensis)

[The list of "demands"... Is it right to characterize something as a demand if it has a 0.00 probability of being enacted?]

Private Drones That Fire Paint Balls and Pepper Spray

What Would A Glenn Beck Presidency Be Like?

First, we tell the world:

"If you screw with us, we will pound you into glass."

Then we focus on "getting right with God."

Great presidency?

Or greatest presidency?

Unfair and Irrational Criticism of George F. Will on Rape Statistics


I almost never agree with George F. Will, and I haven't carefully thought about the column that got him in trouble...

But the criticism I'm seeing of him is dishonest and irrational.

In the original column, here's one thing he wrote:
The administration’s crucial and contradictory statistics are validated the usual way, by official repetition; Joe Biden has been heard from. The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college 12 percent of assaults are reported Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009 to 2012 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent — too high but nowhere near 20 percent.
Will's point is straightforward: On the assumption that the OSU numbers are correct and representative, one of the following has to be false:

(a) 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college

(b) 12 percent of sexual assaults are reported

Something's wrong somewhere.

Some liberals are freaking out about this--but largely because they are blatantly misrepresenting what Will wrote. Jen Gunter, for example:
George Will continues with his assertion that it is mathematically impossiblefor 1 in 5 women to have been sexually assaulted while in college.
But that is not what Will has asserted--or, rather: argued. It is clearly not what he has argued.

I normally don't have occasion to write such a sentence, but:

George F. Will is right here; his critics are completely wrong.

In fact, it's baffling that anyone could make such an obvious error. How on earth can someone mistake "A and B cannot both be true" with "A is false"?

Gunter's irrationality doesn't end there, however. In fact, her post is really painful to read. Consider:
To imply there is a false epidemic of sexual assault while purporting to be concerned about sexual assault is the height of double speak. If we confined the discussion to the 7.5 to 11.9 percent of women who are raped between the ages of 18 to 24 we still have a “scourge of sexual assault,” so I don’t get the point of challenging the experiences of women who got away with only the revolting sour taste of an unwanted kiss or furtive glances over their shoulders for weeks after a party unless of course you don’t think that those experiences should be counted as sexual assault.

I'm not going to spend a bunch of time on this, but, briefly:

(1) "To imply there is a false epidemic of sexual assault while purporting to be concerned about sexual assault is the height of double speak."

This is utterly, blatantly, ridiculously false. One can quite easily both (i) be concerned about sexual assault and (ii) think that the statistics are inflated.

I'm concerned about sexual assault, and I suspect that the figures are inflated. To assert that there is some kind of inconsistency here is ridiculous.

And this tactic is fairly common on the left. Question the numbers? Then you don't think rape is all that bad. Utter madness.

(2) "If we confined the discussion to the 7.5 to 11.9 percent of women who are raped between the ages of 18 to 24 we still have a “scourge of sexual assault,” "

Will says as much elsewhere in the column. Very clearly.

(3) " I don’t get the point of challenging the experiences of women..."

Ah, here we go. A favorite ploy on the left: unless you unquestioningly accept every claim about any injustice, you are an oppressor, Jack. Even pointing out that two (three, actually)  figures are mathematically inconsistent is "challenging the experiences of women."

What nonsense.

Will is not "challenging" anyone's experience. In fact, it's repulsive that Gunter would use this kind of sickening ploy. She's pretending that Will is telling some particular woman that her rape was not a rape--and she's pretending this in order to make Will stop thinking about problems with the statistics. Nonsense. In fact, it's Gunter who is using people's experiences of assault as a political stalking-horse here.

Furthermore, many women do not classify their experiences as sexual assault. In fact, if we simply look at their descriptions of their own experiences, we get a number that is far lower than 1 in 5. We get to that figure only by classifying some events as sexual assaults when the women in question do not classify them as such. So: "questioning women's experience" is verboten...unless, y'know, they don't say what activists think they ought to be saying... Reclassify experiences in a way that makes the number of rapes go down: not allowed. Reclassify experiences in a way that makes the number go up: allowed.

(4) ...who got away with only the revolting sour taste of an unwanted kiss or furtive glances over their shoulders for weeks after a party unless of course you don’t think that those experiences should be counted as sexual assault.

Again, completely unfair to Will. This seems to switch attention to Will's questions about expansive definitions of rape and sexual assault, but that's a different point. And, uh, look: if we take what Gunter writes seriously: no: "furtive glances over your shoulder for weeks after a party" is not sexual assault. Not even close. That can't be what Gunter means, but that's what she wrote. God knows what she could have meant...
And: Will certainly nowhere says nor suggests that a non-consensual kiss is not sexual assault. Again, it is unfair to suggest that he does.

Furthermore, Will is right to worry about expansive definitions. According to some of them, having sex while you are intoxicated (note: not blacked out...not even extremely intoxicated) constitutes having been sexually assaulted. Everyone ought to be concerned about those insane definitions. And concern with them in no way entails that you aren't concerned with actual sexual assault.

You should be concerned about this for these reasons:

Will's critics are wrong
Will is being treated unfairly, and accused of being callous about a terrible type of crime
The people doing this are, in some sense, representing liberalism

Then, of course, there's the bigger problem of the inconsistent statistics...  Something's wrong somewhere...

The good news is that rape may be much less widespread than we're being told.

And that would be really good news indeed.

But activists do not like to be told that the problem with which they are concerned is less serious than we thought. Activists have an incentive to make the problems they are concerned with seem more widespread and more serious. We don't know whether the problem of sexual assault is being exaggerated--but everyone needs to realize that that's a real possibility.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


lol Twitter

"The Agony Of the Liberal Gun-Lover"


More accurate title: The Modest Inconvenience Of the Liberal Gun-Enthusiast

Not really much of an article. Just some anecdotes about how, allegedly, liberal gun-owners are being ostracized after Sandy Hook.

(Via MetaFilter, where the predictable left-liberal circle-jerk is in full swing... Jebus, the lefties at MeFi have done more to push me rightward than...than...oh, hell, they've done a lot is what I'm saying...)

(Incidentally, I really am sympathetic to more regulations on firearms, and am more than willing to listen to even some fairly radical anti-firearm arguments...despite the fact that I'm a retrograde Neanderthal counter-revolutionary suppressive person...)

This Is Iraq On Kristol Meth

To whom will we turn for advice about what to do in Iraq?

How about someone with a proven track-record on the subject?

The Return of the Powerpuff Girls

Monday, June 16, 2014

McCain: "We Had It Won" to guess what the "it" is...?

And then that Kenyan Marxist mom-jeans wearing dictator lost it for us. Like, single-handedly

Impeachment Fever: Catch It! (Lou Barietta Edition)

Lou Barietta (R-Fever Swamps) claims that the House would "probably" pass a resolution to impeach Obama were it brought to a vote.

The Crazy is strong in this one

Use the Crazy, Lou!

[forgot the link: here it is]

Facepalm Of The Day: Can Language Influence Our Perception of Reality?


Jeez, I'm really sorry about being so cranky. I'm really not that cranky in real life. Well...I'm a little intellectually cranky I guess...



Can language influence our perception of reality?

Fortunately, that's a pretty easy question.

The answer is 'yes.'

Here's a wee experiment to prove it:

There's a glass of bourbon sitting in front of me right now.

See? I just influenced your perception of reality (in the sense of 'perception' that seems to be at issue in this Slate thing.). Before, your view of reality did not include the belief that there was a glass of bourbon in front of me. I influenced your "perception" (in a broad sense of 'perception') of reality by using language.

Case closed.

What language doesn't do is influence our perception of reality in the weird, crazy, inescapable ways that Worf-Sapir groupies think it can.

The general principle in play is something like:

The weirder a phenomenon is, the less likely it is to be real.

And, so:

The more mundane a phenomenon is, the more likely it is to be real.

And note: we're talking about averages and tendencies here. No sensible person would claim that nothing weird ever came to pass.

Slate saith:
Lera Boroditsky, associate professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego has spent years examining how different languages might encourage different cognitive abilities. A growing body of evidence suggests that a person’s mother tongue shapes the way they think about many aspects of the world, including space and time. The results, Boroditsky says, have broad implications in the spheres of politics and law. 
 In the case of the economy, the word “stalled” implies the need for a quick solution. “We know what it means to jumpstart a car—we know that a short-term infusion of energy will help get everything restored back to normal,” Boroditsky says. “When we use that analogy we’re implying that a short term financial stimulus will help us get the economy going again.”
The "stalled" point is completely mundane. This is not "language influencing perception" in any but the most mundane way. I can use language to influence your perception by telling you something--as I did above, bourbon-wise; I can also do so by suggesting something, as "stalled" does. There is simply nothing here in any way surprising. This is not the sort of thing people generally mean when they say that our language influences our views of reality. Something much weirder and more profound is clearly hinted at by such claims.

As for different languages having some influence on promoting different cognitive abilities: sure. Why not? It'd be a little weird if very different languages had no different effects on our development of such abilities. E.g. speaking German probably makes you a bit better at combining short ideas into longer ones. Or something. NBD.

Who knows? Boroditsky's research may very well be more interesting than it sounds here.

The reason I grouse about stuff like this is that is very common for people to make wacky, grandiose claims about stuff like this on the basis of very little evidence...and then for others to parrot that crap as if it were the gospel.

"Alberta Gives New Birth Certificate To 12-Year-Old Boy Who was Born A Girl"


Gosh, it's like a kind of madness sweeping the continent.

Here's the headline:

"Alberta Gives New Birth Certificate To 12-Year-Old Boy Who was Born A Girl"

Here's the fact:

Alberta gave a new birth certificate to a 12-year-old girl who wishes that she had been born a boy.

Look, I don't want to make this person's life any harder. But I think something really, really creepy and important is going on here.

We're being asked to believe that a bunch of patently false things about biological sex.

More accurately:
A bunch of patently false things about biological sex are suddenly being declared true, and we are all being told to go along with them, on pain of being (falsely) accused of bigotry.

Even more accurately, and even more creepily:
A bunch of patently false things about biological sex are being asserted and/or presupposed; we are not even being told that we must go along with them. Rather, without discussion, it is suddenly simply being presupposed that we all will go along with the falsehoods, on pain of being (falsely) accused of bigotry.

The falsehoods about sex are one thing. I mean, false things get said about all sorts of things all the time. So, in one sense, it's not like this is some astonishing thing.

The really, really creepy and alarming part, however, is the imposition of these falsehoods as a kind of orthodoxy. Worse: an orthodoxy that one is prohibited from questioning, and which is exempted from any requirement that it be supported by reasons.'s a view. It's almost certainly false, and the preponderance of reasons is against it. We're not going to discuss it, however, because to discuss it is to suggest that it can be rational to question it. But only a bigot could even think that it might be false. So obviously discussion would be out of bounds. You will simply accept it. Case closed...

To see people knuckling under to this kind of thing is alarming in the extreme.

I simply can't get over how damn creepy it is to see so many people falling all over themselves to accept and enforce this...whatever it is...instant orthodoxy or whatever...

I don't think your biological sex should have any implications for how you act and live your life. (I mean...other than the unavoidable ones. If you're a dude, you best not hope to be a mother... And so on...) Kaufman would rather live life as males have traditionally done? More power to you, my friend. Live as you like. It's no one's business but yours.

But that does not mean that you become male (or female) simply by feeling male (or female). "Feeling male" no more makes you a male than feeling Japanese makes you Japanese, nor feeling six feet tall makes you six feet tall.

Incidentally, it's apparently not entirely uncontroversial that we should even be allowed to say that Kaufman was born a girl. Piers Morgan, as you might recall, was declared "transphobic" for saying that Janet Mock was born a boy. The new orthodoxy decreed that even saying that was verboten...

Sooo....what am I missing here?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

McCain, Pre-Iraq: Very Wrong


Greeted as for Sunni/Shiite violence...quick and easy...etc. etc.  

Bonus dipshittery: Sean Hannity agrees, gleefully anticipates anti-war types eating crow when it's all over

Larison: What Does The U.S. Owe Iraq?

We broke it...but we don't know how to fix it.

Very reasonable, as usual.

OTOH...maybe a little drone action against these ISIS loons? Something?

Jesus...the butterfly ballot effect just keeps on ramifying...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Immortal

A great work of fiction? Or the great work of fiction?


This is stupid.

I don't care about mother's day or father's day one way or another. Mother's day didn't seem to matter much to mom, but I'd get her a present every year and give her a call. This last Mother's Day was the first one since she died, and it was an occasion for an extra little twinge, but, really, I've just never seen that it was a big deal. And Father's Day is the same deal. Perhaps I'd feel different if I were a dad, but I don't think so. Just seems like a manufactured holiday to me.

But the fact that it has specifically to do with fathers, i.e. male parents, is a very, very, very, very stupid reason for getting your panties in a bunch about it.

Honestly. The nuttiness on the right is more dangerous--global warming denialism and suchlike. But the nuttiness on the left just seems more nauseatingly idiotic and repulsive to me. It's like they've got a few little half-baked ideas, and they just apply them indiscriminately any time they think they can find some half-assed application for them. Sex discrimination is bad--true! Everyone knows this. But that doesn't mean that every single instance of anything that distinguishes among people on the basis of their sex is bad.

In this case, for example, the guy whining about father's day is homosexual, and so there are two fathers in his household. Right. This raises exactly zero problems. And the dude who wrote the piece above identifies exactly zero problems. After being careful to inform us that he and his husband are white and their daughter is black--wouldn't want that fact to go unnoticed!--he talks a bit about Mother's Day...which raises basically no problems either...

First, Mother's Day is a day to focus on your mother--if you have one. Lots of people don't have one. It's sad, but it's sad not because of anything to do with Mother's Day. Two dads? Ok, well, that's twice the Father's Day, none of the Mother's Day. No biggie.

Furthermore, dude points out that his daughter has grandmothers. Again, problem solved. Even though there wasn't a problem.

So: you buy zero cards for Mothers' Day (or: you buy two for your grandmas) and you buy two for Fathers' Day.

Serious question: why bend over backwards to frantically grasp for a very stupid point in an attempt to manufacture a problem that simply isn't there? Why, oh, why?

(One thought that suggests itself: the lefty-left can never be truly happy about anything unless they are being oppressed. Not, y'know, really oppressed...because that's no fun... But the kind of "oppressed" that gives you the feeling of martyrdom without the pesky actual hardship...)

Finally: Mother's Day and Father's Day are not "gendered." They have nothing to do with "gender." They have to do with sex. A father is a male parent; a mother is a female parent. 'Sex' marks the male/female distinction. Gender marks the masculine/feminine distinction.

Annoying that the people who are always lecturing the rest of us on this stuff can't get this very simple distinction right...

...and are just generally so bad at all this.

The fact that distinguishing among people on the basis of sex is sometimes bad does not mean that it is always bad. And there is absolutely nothing bad about the Mothers' Day/Fathers' Day thing.

The more general problem, however, is the moral fanaticism of the lefty-left. They really, really, really love telling everyone else what they should be doing. These people are the lefty analogs of the holier-than-thou hyper-Christians on the right. They're not happy if they're not trying to manifest their own special virtue by scolding you about some minor aspect of your life.

The even more general problem is just plain dumbassery. The flat-out lack of even minimal amounts of actual thought involved in this crap is...oh, hell, I don't even know what to say. It's not as if this is some dark pit of intense's more like...a dirt clod. There's just no thinking in it.

Then there's the whole twitification (twitrification?) of public discourse...but that's different damn thing.

In conclusion: why are people so damn stupid?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Michelle Goldberg: Why The Campus Rape Crisis Confounds Colleges

This seems pretty good to me.

Polarization in America

Drum highlights some points from the Pew survey.

Funny how hated atheists are, even by liberals... Almost everybody I know is an atheist/agnostic...I'm pretty detached from that stuff...

Also funny: many conservatives would be unhappy if a family-member married someone of a different race (well...actually that's not funny at all...), but even more liberals would be unhappy if a family-member married a gun-owner...

Also: Fox news may be responsible for at least some of the crazification of the American right.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Boogie Belgique, Stairway To The USSR

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Roy Williams-Rashad McCants Credibility Mismatch


So....Carolina has now run two investigations, neither of which found any reason to be concerned about the basketball program with respect to the African-American studies scandal. Basically everything Mary Willingham has said has turned out to be false, and it has become clear that she is incompetent as a researcher. Two independent investigators with much better credentials than hers concluded that her claims were unsupported by her data. UNC is now running a third investigation, spearheaded by a former DoJ investigator...'d think that everybody would just wait and see.  

But no...

ESPN (aka DSPN...) has been giving air time to Rashad McCants, who has suddenly begun claiming that the hoops program set him up with fake classes, and Roy knew about it.

Now...nobody who is even vaguely objective believes this. First, it's inconsistent with what's known about Roy. Second, Rashad is a nut, and everyone knows it. This is the guy who was recruited by Dougherty, and was disgruntled from the moment he stepped on campus. He famously compared his time at Carolina to being in prison...largely because Roy made him go to class, and forced him to run laps if he didn't. McCants's father hates Roy with a fiery passion, and both blame Roy for allegedly being fairly up-front with NBA managers about McCants's attitude problems. Since washing out of the league, Rashad has tried (a) rapping and (b) acting...with his only role being that of a flamboyant transexual in a straight-to-video movie... 

Oh and: his assertions have been denied in an open letter from his teammates--and, of course, by Roy.

Oh and: the semester he's now complaining about was not relevant to his standing. Oh and: despite his new complaints about his education, he has never finished his degree--something Roy, like Dean, has tried to get everyone to do.

So an actual news outlet would not exactly jump at the chance to hand McCants a megaphone...but ESPN did it last week, and apparently plans on doing it again this week.

Look, this business should be thoroughly investigated. I'm happy to have it looked into again. Carolina fans want to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. Dougherty was a rather sketchy character, and that's the main reason he didn't last long. It would not be the most surprising thing in the world to find out that rules were being stretched before Roy came back.

But it's tough to be objective and keep an open mind about all this when this kind of crap is going on. The pattern has been: outrageous accusations make big headlines...disproof of those accusations gets little or no air time. CNN has been absolutely awful about this, and now ESPN is going down the same hole.  

And, of course, some rabid fans of nearby teams are working hard to fan every spark into a wildfire. It's been really nauseating. They're dying to get some kind of revenge in the court of public opinion that they're unable to effect on the basketball court

Nevertheless, we hold ourselves to a higher standard--and now is not the time to get all tribal and circle the wagons.

The truth will out--in fact, it seems to already have done so...

So all rational observers can do is wait and see whether the next--and final--investigation turns up any actual transgressions. 

Pix of 787 Taken From an F-16


Gets ya right in the Y chromosome

Obamacare: The Worst Thing Ever?

Things that are comparable to Obamacare, according to the fever swamps:

Osama bin Laden / 9/11
The Fugitive Slave Act
Slavery in general
Plessy v. Ferguson / the separate but equal doctrine
Scott v. Sandford
The Holocaust
War. (Yes, every war. War in general)
Soviet Communism

Well, what do you expect from a program named after the Antichrist?

Eric Cantor, Overdog No More

So We've been in Massachusetts for the last five days, barely paying attention to the news. We even forgot the Republican primary was coming up. We stagger back home last night, exhausted from the trip, drink some Sierra Nevada, watch some Game of Thrones, immediately crash, oblivious to what's going on...and wake up to the happy news of Cantordammerung!

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. Hoisted, petard, blah blah blah.

Wow, I really can't stop grinning about this.

Sadly, though, since the GOP presidential primaries of 2000, I never say "...and this guy is obviously too lame to win in the general..." But I'll worry about that later.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Occidental Finds Student Guilty Of Rape For Having Intoxicated Sex

At Reason

1. There is extremely strong evidence that the sex was consensual

2. Both students were intoxicated

3. The absurd standard employed is so low that if one student was guilty of "rape," then both were.

4. Yet only one (the male) was accused and found guilty by the university

The principle here seems to be: if you can't catch actual rapists, catch the people you can catch and re-define them as rapists.

So we've got: irrationality, political correctness run amok, false accusations and false convictions, and, possibly, faculty egging all of it on.

My prediction: if liberals get up in arms about this, they won't lead with any of those things, but with "this hurts the cause of rape prevention"

Which it might.

But it might not.

We just don't know.

However, even if it does hurt the cause of rape prevention, that's not the reason for condemning it. The reason for condemning it is injustice and irrationality.

Hurting the cause of rape prevention is a bad thing. But it's not the only bad thing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Impeachment Fever--Catch it!: Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange/Faux News Edition

You didn't think that Fox "News" would miss a chance to fabricate grounds for impeachment...did you?

I mean, after all, SolyndraBenghaziFastAndFuriousIRSGate didn't work...'s on to the next laughably pathetic attempt, I guess.

I mean it's an axiom of the contemporary GOP that any Democratic president should be impeached--it's just a matter of coming up with some kind of hook to hang that conviction on...

Good thing Ted Cruz and company make the Keystone Cops look like Seal Team Six...  So this stuff is really just comic relief.

Two 12-Year-Olds Obsessed with The Slender Man, Stab Classmate 19 Times



People are crazy and kids are stupid

But...usually not this much

Is Laverne Cox A Woman?

Kevin D. Williamson at The National Review says no.

Obviously I generally find myself in disagreement with the crew at The National Review...  But, in this case, I have to say, I actually think that Williamson is right--and right on basically every point in this article.

And agreeing with NR always sends me to yellow alert...

But, at any rate:

I'm actually less interested in the specific answer to this question than I am in, roughly, meta-questions about the currently discussion of this issue, especially on the web.

The web is a big place, of course, and I'm not going to try to generalize much about it. The discussions I've seen have been mostly on Reddit--mostly /r/TumblrInAction--and on Metafilter. Metafilter (aka Tumblr for grownups) has a pronounced orthodoxy enforced by moderators, and that orthodoxy is very heavily slanted to the left. (The pretty kooky left, IMO...) Reddit tends to be composed of smart-assed, foul-mouthed, impious liberals. Plus some, like, Ron Paul cultists.  /r/TumblrInAction is smart-assed, foul-mouthed, impious liberals who can't stand the kind of kooky lefty Tumblrific nonsense one finds on, say, Metafilter.

At any the extended discussions of these matters I've paid attention to, there has been an orthodoxy that goes like this:

(A) If a male, Smith, has "MtF" sex-change surgery (often incorrectly called "gender reassignment surgery), then Smith becomes--unequivocally--female/a woman.


(B) If you do not behave toward Smith as you would toward a woman, including speaking of Smith as a woman, then you are "transphobic," i.e. a bigot


(C) In fact, overt behavior to the side, if you do not accept that Smith is female/a woman--i.e. believe Smith to be female/a woman, then you are transphobic, i.e. a bigot.


(D) (A)-(C) are not up for discussion.

(A) strikes me as false, though I'm rather embarrassed to say so given (B) and (C). Like any good liberal, I am inclined to burst into tears at any suggestion that I'm a bigot. But...given that I'm skeptical of (A), I'm even more skeptical of (B) and (C). I'm a fairly liberal, usually-not-overtly-unreasonable guy...or at least usually not irredeemably so, and I have doubts about (A)...  But if (A) isn't obviously true, then (B) and (C) are even less obviously true. For any proposition p, if it isn't clear whether or not p is true, you can't be a bigot for not believing p. Nor for believing it. Right?

And (D)...well...I think (D) is right out.

We've gone straight from:

These issues aren't even on the public radar


Here is the answer and, though the newly-minted orthodox answer is in no way obvious, you must accept it and not discuss it, on pain of bigotry.

This very, very, very, very, very bad.

The particular answer to the particular questions on the table here matter a lot less than does our general method of dealing with such questions.

The left is being irrational here--not because of (A), but, rather, because of (B), and especially (C), and especially especially (D).

Look, decreeing by fiat that everyone must suddenly and without discussion accept one position with respect to a complicated question is irrational and unjust. Ergo the left is, apparently, being irrational and unjust about this. And if relatively more centrist liberals go along with the relatively more extreme left, then we'll be irrational and unjust, too.

To be perfectly clear: like Williamson, I have no desire to tell people how to live their lives.

But that does not mean that it is true to say that Cox is a woman. In fact, that seems false to me. As Williamson notes, we aren't even sure whether Cox has had sex-change surgery--but we are told that we are bigots if we do not believe that Cox is a woman.

Incidentally, the claim that questions about surgery are out of bounds indicates that we are actually being forced toward a much more radical and implausible view: that anyone who represents himself or herself as a woman is a woman. Since we are being told to regard Cox as a woman whether or not the relevant surgery was performed, we are, in effect, being told that we must accept this more radical view. Cox is a woman because s/he says so.

At any rate: although I don't see anything that rules out the possibility of turning a male into a female (and vice-versa)--e.g. with some future technology--we don't currently have such technology. If what I'm given to understand about current technology is true, the most we can do is turn someone into something resembling a kind of borderline case between male and female.

I know that sounds harsh and rude...but we're asking here what is true, not what is polite. I'm certainly not saying that we need to say all this to Cox. Politeness is a different matter than truth.

Also: if you think it's harsh or rude to think of someone as a borderline case between male and female, it might be worth reflecting on the fact that the very people who are pushing us propositions (A)-(D) are also pushing us to acknowledge that some people--intersex people--are, in fact, borderline cases between male and female. In fact that is a good point. A very small percentage of people actually do have anatomies that are indeterminate as between the two common categories. And that really ought to be acknowledged.

Anyway...obviously I could be wrong about (A). Easily.

I'm wrong about a lot of things, and I have little confidence in my current, very tentative position.

I might even be wrong about (B) and (C)...

But I'm not wrong about (D).

The effort to force us to accept politically correct orthodoxy with respect to an issue like this before we've even had a chance to discuss it adequately--and long before we've had a chance to figure it out--is dangerous and unjust and must be resisted in a rational, democratic society.

I'm willing to be proven wrong--but that will require proof... Attempts to shame aren't going to do it.

I'm not willing to just be told what to think.

And you shouldn't, either--even if you're being told to think what you think already.

In fact, the reason I began identifying as a liberal as a youth was that I took it that liberals were the people who were least likely to accept being told what to think.

Unfortunately, I'm not completely sure that that's still true...

Welcome To Leith

This is a trailer for a documentary about a very small town in Wyoming that is being taken over by neo-Nazis.

Seriously, you should watch it.

(via Reddit)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Sexism and Hurricane Names: Nope

God, so much nope.

And for some pretty obvious reasons. Most obviously: using data from before hurricanes even had male names. (You could do that...but obviously it's sketchy.) And, of course: we had less-advanced meteorology and a less-sophisticated warning system. I hadn't thought, however, of another important point: sturdier buildings in later years. And, in fact, it does turn out that hurricanes have become, in general, less deadly over time for those reasons.

One related point: sexism does not infect everything.

The view that sexism infects everything is no more plausible than the view that it infects nothing.


What is it with the deluge of crappy social scientific studies we seem to be unceasingly subjected to? It's gotten so bad that I often just glance at the title of the news reports and think: nope.

I wonder whether this might invigorate skepticism about science.

I wonder whether it ought to...

Do Female-Named Hurricanes Kill More People...?


I'd bet no.

Apparently they looked at storms since 1950--but male names weren't used until 1978. From reports, I don't see any indication that they controlled for severity of the storm.

I mean, it's not the craziest conclusion I've ever heard. But it's exactly the kind of conclusion that people would love to prove, and exactly the kind that sends me to yellow alert.

My only point: I don't believe it, and you shouldn't either until more people get their eyes on the study, and we hear more analysis of it.

The Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange

Prima facie, I'm not wild about it.

Isn't this a bad precedent to set? Especially if the guy turns out to have been a deserter?

The GOP is spewing froth, but we can divide through by that; it means nothing. Other than: the Obama administration did something...

But even a stopped clock etc. etc.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Actual Shitty Attitudes About Women

Here's some, from a co-founder of Snapchat, while he was at Stanford.


1. Obviously extremely repulsive.

I don't know what to add to the guy's own words.

Unless maybe:

2. Is anybody really that surprised that a lot of fratboys think/talk like this?

I mean, I was surprised years ago when I found out that it was so...but it's fairly common knowledge now, isn't it? It's not significantly less shitty just because it's now familiar... But it's no longer that surprising.


3. Every reasonable person/student, male and female, is already contemptuous of the whole frat/sorority thing already, right? Largely for these kind of reasons?

That doesn't mean there's not reason to publicize newly-discovered, specific instances of shittiness... But, again, we already know that it's a shitty milieu, right? Maybe the deal is that we now know specifically of this particular guy that he's shitty.

Anyway, not to detract in any way from the extreme shittiness of this guy and his minions in any way:

4. Can we stop with the "All Men" crap? It's not all men. It's guys like this. I guarantee you, these guys repulse most guys as much as they repulse most women. Their repulsiveness is non-sex-specific.

Though it might also be worth just noting, almost as a footnote, and just by way of gesturing at something that might provide some kind of context/perspective:

5. It's not transparently obvious that sorority girls are different in kind, rather than merely in degree, from frat boys. (Recall the Duke "faux sex thesis" dust-up...)

And it should go without saying that:

6. None of this is to support any kind of puritanism/prudery about recreational sex per se. That's just not at issue here.

Dude says that he doesn't think like that about women anymore.

I find it a little hard to believe that you can think like that at the age of 20-ish and then get over it without remainder...  But one hates to completely rule out the possibility of redemption.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Update on MH370 Search


(via Metafilter)