Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's National Blasphemy Day...

link Jesus can eat my shorts.

(via Inside Carolina)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Flying Hellfish Were Onto Something; Or, The Return of the Tontine?

Benghazi BENGHAZI BBEENNGGHHAAZZII!!!!!!!: Now WORSE THAN WATERGATE!!!!!!11 (But Not Worse Than Whitewatergate)

[rubs temples in ostentatious indication of disgust]
[provides link without comment]
[moves on and tries to think happy thoughts]

Birthers Blame HRC For Birtherism

Ah, birthers... sigh 
   I really don't think the U.S. gets nearly enough credit for running a credible democracy despite the fact that so many of us are flat-out batshit crazy. I actually consider it quite an accomplishment.

   Anyhoo...  Turns out that the birthers are now claiming that Hillary kicked off birtherism... Which is funny given that this would make her kind of a hero by birther lights... Personally, I would have gone for Adam Weishaupt...but that's just me...
  Anyway: no.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Warwick University Student Union Blocks Speech By "Inflammatory" Anti-Sharia Activist

link (via Leiter reports)
Decision reversed.

Is The Latest Big Sexual Assault Survey More Hype Than Science?

Stuart Taylor at the Washington Post.
This is pretty damning:
Then, to resolve any doubt that the respondents were far from representative of the nation’s college students, consider the facts buried in Tables 3-2 and 6-1 of the AAU survey.
These tables indicate that about 2.2 percent of female respondents said they had reported to their schools that they had been penetrated without consent (including rape) since entering college. If extrapolated to the roughly 10 million female college student population nationwide, this would come to about 220,000 student reports to universities alleging forced sex over (to be conservative) five years, or about 44,000 reports per year. But this would be almost nine times the total number of students (just over 5,000) who reported sexual assaults of any kind to their universities in 2013, the most recent data available, according to the reports that universities must submit to the federal government under the Clery Act.
[Feminist Philosophers, of course, is not happy with Taylor's piece, though I don't see that the criticisms are very good. Quibbling about Clery Act reporting is not going to explain away the problem described above.]

Flowing Water On Mars


Friday, September 25, 2015

David Harsanyi: Liberals Are Done Debating

There's just no denying that there's a fair bit of truth in there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Blind Expert" Test Indicates That There Has Been No Global Warming "Hiatus"

   Interesting method.
   It's downright bizarre how quickly my students jump for the conclusion that objectivity is completely unattainable.. Even the crappiest, most patently invalid arguments will convince them almost instantaneously--and they're often loathe to give up that conclusion (if it is in fact, a conclusion...) once it's in place... But, of course, we have all sorts of methods for injecting objectivity into our inquires. Blinding ourselves to certain information is one of the most effective types of methods we've developed for increasing our degree of objectivity. Pretty interesting method discussed in that article. I'm kind of surprised no one's tried that sort of thing before. (Or maybe they have?)

(h/t S. rex)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ThinkProgress Almost Makes Me Sympathetic Toward Trumpo

At a Trump campaign rally in Rochester, New Hampshire a man in a “Trump” shirt took the microphone and said, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.”
“We know our current President is one,” he added. “You know he’s not even an American.”
“We need this question,” Trump replied, smiling.
Then things turned even darker, as the man discussed his beliefs that Muslims were in training camps plotting to kill.
“That’s my question. When can we get rid of ‘em?” the man said.
Trump was unfazed at the casual suggestion of cultural genocide. “We are going to be looking at a lot of different things. A lot of people saying that,” Trump said.
   Right. That's not actually what happened. To be more precise: that's a lot of spin right here. The whole thing was so amazing that I insisted to JQ that it had to be a clever set-up by anti-Trump folks...buuuuut...apparently not. Apparently that dude was for real. So much for my powers of whatever.
   Anyway, take this bit:
“We need this question,” Trump replied, smiling.
Doesn't that make it sound like Trump thinks it's a great/important question, and it makes him happy? Yeah that's not what was going on. Rather, Trump was saying something like "Dammit. So I get this question first thing? I really don't need this shit." But he kinda got stuck between gears. He's a fundamentally unserious person, and an extreme asshole. This goes without saying. And yet I say it. Behold. He knew it was going to be trouble for him, but didn't have the minimal degree of intellectual honesty/seriousness, nor the integrity, nor the moral fortitude to admit--especially out loud and in a way that would alienate the lackwits that are attracted to him--that it was disgusting nonsense. Several people behind him were visibly shocked at the question. Not nearly enough...but several. Yes, he smiled. He smiles a lot. (See: fundamentally unserious person (above)). But he wasn't gleeful. Read the TP piece above and you'd think he'd spun around in a big chair, petting a white cat and cackling about his laser base on the Moon...
   And..."cultural genocide"? What the hell is "cultural genocide"? That sounds bad alright...but it doesn't sound like, y'know, genocide...  Also, it's bullshit. Trump was clearly talking about looking into the imaginary "Muslim training camps." (Which are...camps in which you train to be Muslim? Or what?) So really: looking into these local al Qaeda bases in...Delaware or something. I don't know. (Are strip mall Tae Kwon Do academies? Or what?)
   Trump is a moron, and his failure to make it clear that the questioner was also a moron makes him even more of a moron. But TP is blatantly bullshitting in an effort to make this grotesque incident worse--much worse--than it actually was. The question "When can we get rid of 'em?" was ambiguous enough for Trump to interpret the referent of ''em' as being the strip mall terrorist camps rather than Muslims. TP is trying to pretend that Trump was saying something that he rather clearly wasn't saying.
   There's no need for that. Trumpo the Clown is repulsive enough without embellishment. 

President Obama Encouraging Legal Immigrants To Become Citizens

Is this ok?
   I get as weepy as any other red-blooded 'Murkan when I think about people becoming citizens...but this does seem a bit like harvesting Democrats... um...  Doesn't it?
   OTOH, the think that really shocked me in that article was that the fee is nerely $700! I'm all for civics tests and whatnot...but really? 700 bucks? That seems kind of uncool.
   I suppose my unreflective attitude to naturalization is rather like my unreflective attitude toward voting: take down unreasonable barriers, but don't push the unwilling to do it. E.g lowering the cost seems like a good idea if we can afford it...  OTOH, there may be social costs to having high numbers of non-citizen residents that I don't know about, and in that case it might be good to encourage people to move toward citizenship. Though I'm just speculating.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Joe Rogan Has a Killer Spinning Side Kick

A vastly under-rated technique IMO. And much more effective for actual self-defense than it is for MMA because: shoes.

So Long, Union-Buster: Walker Is Out

Saletan on the Radical Pope


   Saletan is often interesting, but I'm not sure what to make of this piece yet.
I'm not wild about Popes having any influence beyond their own organization, be they conservative or liberal. This pope seems reasonably cool--and much more overtly Christian than most, given his actual interest in the poor and suchlike. But I agree with Saletan that liberals might ought to be a bit wary of the guy.
   Anyway, there's the link. More on this later.

Some Fast-Food Restaurants Phasing Out Eggs From Caged Hens

   McDonald's joins Burger King. The former alone accounts for 4% of eggs used in the U.S. (!)
   It's probably ok to eat animals. It's not ok to torture them.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nate Silver: Trump Has About A 5% Chance Of Getting The Nomination

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Elinor Burkett: What Makes A Woman

Apparently the NYT is a bit more sober than most of the places I visit on the web. Here's a case against classifying e.g. Caitlyn Jenner as a woman--though the arguments are rather a mixed bag:

The good:
I have fought for many of my 68 years against efforts to put women — our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods — into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes. Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.
That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries. But the desire to support people like Ms. Jenner and their journey toward their truest selves has strangely and unwittingly brought it back.
The meh:
People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.
The bad:
Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists. 
For me and many women, feminist and otherwise, one of the difficult parts of witnessing and wanting to rally behind the movement for transgender rights is the language that a growing number of trans individuals insist on, the notions of femininity that they’re articulating, and their disregard for the fact that being a woman means having accrued certain experiences, endured certain indignities and relished certain courtesies in a culture that reacted to you as one.
A woman is not someone who has accrued certain experiences. A woman is someone with a certain type of biology. A woman who grows up in an isolated, egalitarian community is not not a woman. A woman is an adult human female; and Caitlyn Jenner is not female. Ergo Caitlyn Jenner is not a woman. The reasoning is simple and conclusive.
Some other good stuff in the piece:
In January 2014, the actress Martha Plimpton, an abortion-rights advocate, sent out a tweet about a benefit for Texas abortion funding called “A Night of a Thousand Vaginas.” Suddenly, she was swamped by criticism for using the word “vagina.” “Given the constant genital policing, you can’t expect trans folks to feel included by an event title focused on a policed, binary genital,” responded @DrJaneChi. 
WHEN Ms. Plimpton explained that she would continue to say “vagina” — and why shouldn’t she, given that without a vagina, there is no pregnancy or abortion? — her feed overflowed anew with indignation, Michelle Goldberg reported in The Nation. “So you’re really committed to doubling down on using a term that you’ve been told many times is exclusionary & harmful?” asked one blogger. Ms. Plimpton became, to use the new trans insult, a terf, which stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.” 
In January, Project: Theater at Mount Holyoke College, a self-described liberal arts college for women, canceled a performance of Eve Ensler’s iconic feminist play “The Vagina Monologues” because it offered an “extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” explained Erin Murphy, the student group’s chairwoman.
Let me get this right: The word “vagina” is exclusionary and offers an extremely narrow perspective on womanhood, so the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas, along with the trans people who want them, should describe ours with the politically correct terminology trans activists are pushing on us: “front hole” or “internal genitalia”?
Um..."front hole"? No. They can stick that suggestion right up hole... The PCs are known for frothily insisting on stupid, inaccurate terminology...but that one's perhaps the worst of a very, very bad lot. 
   Anyway, at least there's discussion of this stuff going on. Even places like Reddit--usually pretty raucous and chaotic--the PC orthodoxy has taken over. It's downright bizarre watching so many people who are so independent with respect to so many issues not only falling in line on this one, but shaming those who don't. When the NYT is edgier than Reddit, you know something weird is going on.

South Park: Stunning and Brave

A brief discussion at Reason, along with a link to the full episode.

   IMO they pulled some punches in this episode, but it was still pretty great, as usual. It's crazy how thoroughly the bizarre PC orthodoxy about this stuff seems to have taken over, at least in the media, social and otherwise. Given a perfect opportunity to point out that 'she' is not obviously the correct pronoun to use to refer to Caitlyn Jenner, SP largely caves and, in a 2-second bit of business, Stan gets Kyle to grudgingly change his off-handed 'he' to a 'she.' I don't have any interest in PC-esque pronoun-policing...but, linguistically speaking, 'he' is clearly correct and 'she' is incorrect in the case of Jenner. Jenner is male, and 'he' is the pronoun to refer to males in English. PCs are trying to obfuscate this point in various ways, but those are the facts. I don't see why anyone would want to insist on that point for most ordinary purposes...but nobody's doing so. The people who are being insistent are the people who are insisting that people use the incorrect pronoun 'she.' And an overarching principle of my position on this stuff is: do what you want and say what you want, but don't insist that false things are true, and absolutely don't try to force others to say and believe things that are at least controversial and probably false. You want to believe that Jenner is a woman? Ok. Not true...but people believe all sorts of false things. And of course you're also free to express your (false) view. But you're not free to harangue others in an effort to browbeat them into mouthing falsehoods. It's like believing in Jesus. Do what you want, man. But don't expect to drag me to epistemic perdition too...
   More substantively, South Park didn't take on the Big Lie in play here, i.e. that Jenner is a woman. Reflect on that. Here's a falsehood that has, in about a year, become so entrenched as orthodoxy that even South Park is (apparently) afraid to take it on. That, IMO, should give everyone pause.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Shut-DOWN, shut-DOWN, shut-DOWN!

Here we go again

Kenyan Muslim Nazi Socialist AntiChrist-In-Chief Wages War On Christians

Even the Business Insider is disgusted.

Bernie Goes After For-Profit Prisons

I'm not for Bernie. I'm not against Bernie--but I'm not for him.
But I'll be damned if he doesn't have a lot of good ideas.
Y'know...for a commie or whatever.

Trump Barely Bats An Eye At Birtherism (Etc.) From A Supporter

   Jeez, how much crazy is there over there? Birtherism?? Still??? And OBAMA IS TEH MOOSLUM!!!111? How do people with such scrambled plausibility metrics manage to get through life? It's the functional equivalent of insanity. But I suppose its domain is restricted--specifically to politicians they don't like.
   And that wasn't even the worst part of the comment. You see Muslims are our big problem, we need to get rid of them, and THEY HAVE TEH SECRET TRAINING CAMPS! RIGHT HERE!! TO KILL US!!!
   Then there's Trumpo the Clown, of course, who just keeps making verbal balloon animals without missing a beat... John McCain slid over toward the Dark Side back in 2008...but at least he was willing to correct people at his rallies who started spewing that frothy wingnuttery. 
   Trump didn't exactly eat up the comment--he made some slightly dismissive meta-comment. But only slightly. It was better than nothing, but just barely.
   In the face of this crackpottery, it's probably kinda dumb to mention some minor nonsense on the other side... But apparently Debbie Wasserman-Schultz responded by saying that "Donald Trump's racism knows no bounds." Um. Really? That counts as racism that "knows no bounds"? We've known very different racists, Ms. Wasserman-Schultz and I...  (Have I mentioned that I don't care for her very much?)
   I hate glimpsing the seedy intellectual underbelly of the U.S.  Never fails to depress the crap out of me.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Coming Out As Trans-Everything

Reasonably funny...except for the desperate attempts to pretend that transgenderism is immune to the joke.

Some Hollywood Dude Notes that Caitlyn Jenner Is A Man; This Is Not Allowed

   Speaking the truth on this issue is verboten.
   As I've noted many times: there's no call to be mean to Jenner. But it is permissible for people to speak their minds on this issue--especially if what they say is true. It is certainly not "transphobic" to do so. 
   It's really crazy how quickly and viciously this nutty orthodoxy has metastasized through social media.

Carly Fiorina vs. The Facts

Jared Polis (D-CO) Thinks Colleges Should Expel Accused Students If Only 20% Sure There Was Actually A Rape

To borrow a template from the relevant sector: this is what hysteria looks like.

"Bush Kept Us Safe", or: Bush Did Not Keep Us Safe

This again?
Or still?
JQ knows to duck and cover whenever anyone on the teevee says this crap, because objects may begin flying around the room... Jeb, of course, said the words last night. I was actually retrospect, I'm astonished that I was astonished...

   What really angers me about this BS is not that it's obviously false. After all, as you might recall, 9/11 occurred well into the Bush presidency. It's not even that the GOP is adept at fudging temporal boundaries for the purpose of dodging and shifting blame (remember how Obama was responsible for the stock market crash of 2008 because the prospect of an Obama presidency was so horrific that the market elected to get a jump on things and crash before he was even elected?)
   What really angers me about this is how clearly, uncontroversially false it is technically speaking. Even if you want to grant absolutely everything to the GOP: shift the blame onto Clinton, ignore the fact that the Bush team ignored the threat from al Qaeda out of spite, dogmatism and contempt for the Clinton team that tried to warn them about it, ignore the infamous PDB, ignore their ideological fixation on Russia...absolve them of all responsibility for the attack...  It is still not true that they kept us safe.
   To keep x safe is to prevent harm to x. Even if you are not responsible for harming x, if x comes to harm while in your care, then you have not kept x safe. If you leave your laptop in my care, and someone comes along and steals it, then I cannot claim to have kept it safe. Period. And I certainly can't claim to have kept it safe on the grounds that I myself am not responsible for whatever lapses allowed it to come to harm. Perhaps my roommate is the one who left the door unlocked. Fine. Then it's not my fault. But I did not keep your damn laptop safe. In fact, ex hypothesi, I failed to keep it safe. Even if we grant that I don't deserve the blame that attaches to the responsibility for harm, it's at least equally obvious that I don't deserve the praise that attaches to preventing harm. Because I did not prevent the harm. The harm happened. I failed to stop it. I did not keep the thing in question safe.
   Bush simply did not keep us safe, and to assert that he did is to assert a patent falsehood.

[Matthew Yglesias makes the same point]

Fred Kaplan: The GOP's Make-Believe Foreign Policy World

   When we get serious about the substance of the debate, I think this was the scariest part. The GOP largely still seems to live in a fantasy world of their own creation with respect to foreign policy. They used to be thought of as the foreign policy party in my youth, but that idea seems long gone--and for good reason.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

GOP Varsity Debate

Big winner: Carly Fiorina.
Big loser: Trumpo the Clown
Craziest: Ted Cruz
Least Crazy: Tie: Rand Paul, John Kaisich

   Like the Fox debate, this almost seemed structured to take out Trump. He was everybody's target for the first part of the spectacle. Then Fiorina started slapping him around. I thought she flat-out shredded him, and IMO he never recovered. Seemed to me that he couldn't buy applause after that. She gave a plausible-sounding answer about HP--probably largely BS, but I don't know enough to know. A couple of months back she swung by my department when she was on campus and, honestly, she handled questions tonight a lot better than she handled them in the department...  Anyway, I was actually really impressed with her tonight. Her understated responses to Trumpo's insult about her looks was pretty devastating, as was her answer to the question about him having his finger on the button. But then she started in with BenghaziBenghaziBenghazi, and the "small naby" nonsense, and the bit about inflating the military...and that was that. Still, I'd give her the win by far--and largely at the expense of Trump, who I think really got his ass handed to him. I won't be terribly surprised if his numbers decline significantly after this. 
   Ted Cruz is a scary crazy lunatic. Nothing new there.
   Rand Paul really had his moments...but, then libertarians are always going to appeal to me. Kaisich seems downright acceptable, President-wise.

   There's my $0.02.

GOP JV Debate

   Well that was disappointing from an entertainment perspective. I expected a lot more craziness. Actually, it wasn't really that bad in the main. Pataki, Graham, and even Santorum called bullshit on several Republican shibboleths...and got applause for it! I actually yelled out "Lindsey Graham is on fire!" at one point--and I heard after the debate that Michael Reagan had said the same thing. How about that, eh?
   Either the GOP is getting less crazy...or...the JV debate is where the less crazy Republicans end up... We did get some Benghazi action, and a fair bit of Obama Derangement Syndrome, some twisted history of the Middle East train wreck...lots of the normal stuff. But I really didn't expect to hear people say to a GOP audience (as Graham did), in effect: look you morons, you can't just shut down the government every time you don't get your way.
   Oop--varsity debate's on. Gotta run!

OK Calls Off Richard Glossip Execution

R U Ready for the GOP Debate?????? It's TRUMPTASTIC! Or: Wait...Jim Gilmore is Running?

   Molly Ball at The Atlantic says Gilmore is kinda running...who knew? We didn't even know that here in the OD! You'd think we'd know... And also: Perry dropped out!  Is that true? I thought he was just going to...but I didn't know that he did... Cain't keep track of them daggum 'Pubs without like a diagram or somethin'...
   Johnny Quest is psyched! I am psyched! I am going to get like super high and WATCH THIS THING!!!!  I thought I was watching it like three days ago but it turned out to be Pacific Rim... Like...totally different thing! But not, y'know, totally...
   Which gives me an idea to rate the GOP candidates on the Pacific Rim category is a Category 1 GOP candidate... The country could probably survive him with minor damage. Fiorina is like Category 2...she probably wouldn't do irreparable damage. But the Trumpnado CATEGORY FIVE GOP Destruction. Of . The. Country. Including the very idea of America...which may already be destroyed by the very fact that a Trump Presidency has a non-zero probability of occurring...
   Speaking of Pacific Rim...that's one of the few relatively recent flicks I say in the theater...and I wasn't impressed. It actually pretty much sucks. Like so many summer blockbusters, it's got an eleventy-billion-dollar special effects budget and a two-dollar-and-fifty-cent script. I think they're going for an overwrought Japanese feel there... But it's got great colors and pretty damn good monster fights, and I've recently found myself watching it a couple of times when I've run across it on t.v... It's kinda like The Mummy in that respect: not that good, but with serious t.v. staying power...
   Anyway...the Republicans. Um. Yeah, man...I'm totally going to watch that shitshow. 
   Saints preserve us...

Three Cheers For Physical Freakin' Therapy

If you're a physical therapist, I am your fan.
You know how some stuff just works and some doesn't? Well that physical therapy stuff works--at least for my current boo-boos it works.
No drugs, no big bills, no ambiguous results.
Nice work, Western medicine.

The Much-Derided 1-in-5 Statistic: Is It Holding Up?

   If we're talking about sexual assault generally, and not rape specifically, and we characterize sexual assault fairly broadly, then at least some studies seem to be confirming it. Under those conditions, I don't think we should find this very surprising. I've never thought it was implausible, at any rate.
   The broad characterization is a problem, of course. It includes "unwanted kissing." Of course some unwanted kissing is sexual assault and some isn't. If A is trying to force A's self on B by kissing B: assault. If A reasonably but erroneously believes that B wants to be kissed, and so kisses B: not assault. Mistake. Not assault. I've heard people deride counting any unwanted kissing as sexual assault, but that's dumb. Likewise counting all of it. But you've got to chunk things up somehow on questionnaires, and this doesn't seem to be a completely crazy way to do so.
   Is this a crisis? Well, it ain't good... But by the definition in question, come to think of it, it sounds like I've both been sexually assaulted, and been a sexual assailant. Girls who I didn't want to kiss me have kissed me. Likewise, one dude. (No harm no foul, man. It's all good.) And I've misread the signs myself before. None of those cases was sexual assault. In fact, it would be insanity to say any of them were. Utter, total, batshit insanity. So, come to think of it, it'll depend on what percentage of cases are like [the genuine assault case], and what percent are like the normal I-Saw-The-Signs-...All-Way-Wrong variety. And has anyone who ever lived not thought, at one time or other, mid-sex: Huh. This was probably a sub-optimal decision on my part...? Does that count? Because if it does, then everyone's been both rape victim and rapist...
   Hmm. Well...  I suppose I'm thinking now that that broad conception is a bigger problem than I initially thought...depending on the specifics...  But it should be improvable, no? I mean...the questions could be refined so as to rule out such cases...
   Ok. Now I'm not sure.
   Forget I said anything.

Oklahoma Prepares To Execute An Innocent Man

Jesus Christ.
Utter madness.

A Campus Rape Ruling Reversed

   You may remember the case of Drew Sterrett, falsely accused of rape by a fellow Michigan student. After 4 years, he's finally gotten the university to declare the charges null and void. Given that the charges were absurd, and that we can say with certainty that they were patently false and, in fact, vindictive, this doesn't strike me as being nearly adequate... But it's something.
   It is extremely important to fight back against rape crisis hysteria. And it's important to fight back because it is insane and unjust, not just because it has bad consequences for the problem of actual rape. It does, of course, and that's a second problem with it. But it's important to realize that this insanity would need to be fought even if it didn't have such consequences.
   Sadly, the Obama administration seems to have come down on the wrong side of this mess.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Trumpo The Clown On The U.S.S. Iowa

   I believe that was the most embarrassing election-related event I have ever seen.
   He barely made any sense at all. Aside from the thing about the VA, he basically said that we'd build an army sooooooo ginormous that no one would ever think about attacking us!!!111 I'm guessing that he meant there'd be genetically engineered dinosaurs with laser-beam eyes, though I'm not completely sure he said that explicitly. Also we'll build a wall! And, of course, Mexico will pay for it! Because negotiation! And he has the smartest people in the world! Working for him! Did he hire the Oxford mathematics department? I guess he must have!
   RIP GOP. You had a good run there for awhile, but now your days are done. If Trumpo stays your favorite for, like, three more weeks, I think the rule is that you are no longer an actual political party...
   Does anybody else kinda miss the sober seriousness and intellectual acuity of Bush '43?

Kieth Humphreys: Older White Profs Should Retire To Make Way For "Exciting, Diverse Young People"

   I wonder why this doesn't go for anyone else? Like...shouldn't people who snagged cushy R1 jobs retire even earlier so that people who didn't can move up the totem pole before they retire? How about that?
   And if we're really going to get serious about mixing things up, spreading the wealth, and correcting for so-called "privilege," we should first get rid of everyone, regardless of sex or race, who grew up wealthy, had academic or professional parents, went to elite colleges... I mean, those are the real advantages. Why not tell them to get out of the way for people who pulled themselves up from lower down the socio-economic-cultural ladder? Why not say that the genuinely privileged should all teach for a couple of years and then get out of the way. Maybe willingly take less prestigious positions. If you think white dudes who go to low-tier state schools have more advantages than wealthy women who go to Ivy League schools, then you are completely out of touch with reality. 
   Among the many things that piss me off about such stuff is that people apparently sit around thinking of every possible baroque reason why white guys should be vilified, and seem to give not two seconds thought to generalizing any of these moronic suggestions beyond race and sex. 
   Look...I think it's plausible to say that, in times of academic scarcity, there are reasons to retire earlier rather than later. I'm just sick of the fashionably enthusiastic anti-white-dude nonsense. My generation of white dude academicians simultaneously (a) took flack for the sins of our forebears, (b) were shoved to the back of the dossier stack by affirmative action, and now (c) we're being told that, when that fateful time rolls around, we need to go away as soon as possible because people with more politically correct genitals and skin tones want our jobs. And for many of us that really means: get out of the way so that rich kids who have, comparatively speaking, had many things handed to them would also like to be handed our jobs. 
   I'd like to be more dispassionate about this...I really would... But I'm getting a little tired of everyone else taking as much as they can get while instructing me on how I need to take as little as I can possibly get by on. I'm actually a person naturally inclined toward avoiding advantages for myself and ceding any close call to others. But even I'm getting tired of this bullshit.

Chait: Obama vs. Political Correctness

   Chait's on target here as usual.
   He probably spends a little too much space talking about similar problems on the right, but that may just be him flashing his liberal credentials so that liberals don't automatically tune him out. In my experience, if you're going to criticize liberalism to liberals you have to expend a lot of effort assuring them that you're one of them and not a nasty old c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-v-e.
   Anyway, good for the POTUS. That guy's just flat-out reasonable. I figured it wouldn't be long before he sent a shot across the bow of the S.S. PC. I've wondered whether he might have his own dramatic Sister Souljah moment... But there hasn't really been a clear occasion for it. Ms. Souljah, as you might recall, suggested something that sounded like a call to kill white people. You see that stuff all the time in the Tumblrverse...but white eliminationism seems more-or-less isolated to that particular (juvenile, powerless) branch of the moonbatosphere. So there hasn't really been any need for such a thing.
   Anyway. As you can probably tell, I'm psyched--though in no way surprised--that Obama's come down on the side of the angels in this respect.

Third Redistricting Lawsuit in the OD

I suppose everyone expects the GOP to kill this effort too.
But hope springs eternal.

Obama On Liberal College Students Who Want To Be Coddled: "That's Not The Way We Learn"

   The POTUS pushes back against the PC-ification of education.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Many Republicans Still Crazy Re: Obama's Birthplace, Religion

   Jebus is this still a thing?
   The relevant group is either nutty or misinformed about even very simple facts about the current American political scene. I kind of wish they'd ask some other questions in an effort to determine whether there are correlations between confusions/willful ignorance about this stuff and ignorance/nuttiness about other simple, demonstrable facts.
   When you're getting stuff this simple this wrong, you've got a big problem.

Jim Webb On The Issues

Just FYI

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Huck Ain't So Up On Them 'Mendaments 'n' Setchlike

   So uh...Huckabee thought that Scott v. Sanford was still the law of the land...up until last Thursday at least...

(h/t S. rex)

Chomsky on Zizek et al.

I'm not a Chomsky fan. But I think he gets this right.  [via Reddit]
Chomsky, as he himself notes, is a guy who thinks that Angela Davis has interesting ideas...but he thinks Zizek, Derrida, Lacan, and that crew are right out. So...that's saying something...

Incidentally, in case you didn't realize...Davis's position was in the so-called "History of Consciousness" department at UCSC. Here's a list of current courses. Jebus. The words "academic fraud" come to mind... If you're not concerned about leftist bias in the academy, you ought to poke around on that web page for a bit.

AGW Denial = Hitler

Godwin's law in action at the NYT.
   I deny neither climate change (nee global warming) nor our partial responsibility for it. But I do worry about hyperbole escalation. By which I mean: climatologists say some stuff, conservatives dogmatically deny it, climatologists and liberals push back with greater expressions of certainty and direr predictions, etc. (Something like this seemed to me to happen between evolutionary biologists and creationists for awhile...though without any dire predictions in play. My sympathy's all with biology there...but damn I've heard biologists make some amazingly dogmatic claims about even the fine details of evolutionary theory...) Me, I just tag along with the scientific consensus without really believing it nor disbelieving it. I doubt that 90% of climate scientists are wrong...but the closer science gets to passionate politics, the more it's like to be influenced by it. Put a gun to my head and force me to bet, and I bet that AGW is real, but less terrible than predicted. I don't believe that, but I suspect it. But, then, I've always been an environmentalist, and many of the changes that follow from acceptance of AGW are the kinds of changes I'm inclined costs of trying to mitigate warming don't bother me as much as they'd bother non-environmentalists.

   Then there's this Times piece... AGW wouldn't just be a disaster, it'd be genocide... That is: not just homicide, but murder... How's that for upping the moral and rhetorical ante?

   I'll say as a footnote that I'm unhappy about liberals'* double standard with respect to AGW and overpopulation--related problems. The mantra I see over and over again from liberals and the illiberal left is: overpopulation is a pseudoproblem. It's going to fix itself. And if it doesn't, we'll come up with a technological solution. After all, "we always have." Over the past five or so years, added to this has been: and concern about overpopulation is racist, ergo if you are concerned about it, you are a racist. (This because, apparently, most population growth is expected outside the white West. Ergo only racism could possible motivate such concerns. A patently insane argument, yet in keeping with the neo- PC principle that anyone who disagrees with them about anything is racist.) With respect to AGW, though, action is needed now and if you deny that, you you're a Nazi, it looks like.  So with respect to one disastrous possibility, being concerned about it at all is impermissible/politically incorrect/racist. With respect to the other, maximum concern, even unto the point of panic is morally/politically obligatory/the only way to avoid being the worst kind of racist in all of history. I'm not saying that the two problems are necessarily on par in all important ways--e.g. it looks like global population is likely to peak and start to decline sooner than we used to think--but they are insufficiently different to warrant such disparate treatment.
   OTOH, conservatives seem to think that any degree of concern about either is least they're consistent?

* By which I mean: a bunch of liberals and lefties I run into on the internet...

Matt Welch: My 9/11 Anniversary Slogan: I Don't Know

Aside from one gratuitous elbow obliquely thrown at Obama toward the end, I think this is pretty decent.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Iranian Cartoonist Serving 12 Years In Prison For Criticizing Govt Could Get Another 12 Years For Shaking Her Lawyer's Hand

Hell is the absence of reason...
I'm hardly a blame-America-first type...and Iran itself bears much of the responsibility for what it's become...but damn we screwed Iran bad when we helped overthrow Mosaddegh. We're paying a price for it...but nothing like the Iranian people have and are paying.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Valorization of Victimhood

   This is kind of interesting, though hardly earth-shaking. I tend to not be blown away by this kind of social-psychological account, but this hews pretty closely to common sense at crucial points. At any rate, I say it's worth a glance.
   The SJW / neo- PCs remind me of a tactic from childhood an old gf of mine would use. Like a lot of couples, we had a tendency to mess with each other, especially in public--tripping and poking each other, stopping dead unexpectedly if the other one is following so that the other person crashes into you, all that kind of stupid stuff. Her trump card, when in public, would be to loudly exclaim "Ow!" or "Quit it!" unprovoked. She and her siblings would do this as kids in an attempt to get their parents to conclude that one of the other kids was the assailant, ideally getting the other sibling in trouble. I explained that this seemed like a good way to get me put in jail. This failed to dissuade her. She was as hard case, man. A formidable opponent.  Anyway, the PC crowd uses a similar tactic: cry foul as a general policy. It's power through (perceived/alleged) weakness. This is why individuals and groups on the left spend so much time jockeying for position at the bottom of the social/political totem pole.  Pole position--maximal disadvantage--is a crucial advantage in these battles for strength through weakness, where what's wanted is to convince others that you are at the back of the pack. Imagine how happy, strong and successful you would be if not for these damnable and crippling disadvantages! Ressentiment, man. Slave morality. Nietzsche had these people's number before they even existed.
   Something something conclusion something something.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Cheney Tries To Shift Blame For Iranian Enrichment Program Onto Obama; Even Fox News Calls BS


That guy lives in his own--exceptionally evil--reality

Monday, September 07, 2015

The POTUS on Labor on Labor Day

The Dems' forgotten issue
(Oh yeah--unions largely suck. But they beat the available alternatives.)

Sunday, September 06, 2015

"I'm No Anchor Baby, I'm...A Future Doctor"

   tl:dr: I'm an anchor baby who is a future doctor.
   This neo- PC nonsense about terminology just has to stop. 'Anchor baby' is not insulting qua terminology. It's an apt descriptive term. Pretending that it's an insulting term in an attempt to force people to stop talking about the phenomenon is a particularly low form of sophistry. Actually having a baby in the U.S. for the purpose of establishing a toehold is, I'm told, not that common. See...that (if true) is the relevant point. So that's what should be said. Not every battle is a terminological battle.

What Relativism Isn't: Columbia Journalism Review Edition

   The terms 'relative' and 'relativism' are thrown around so indiscriminately that one might sensibly argue that they mean very little. Here's an example of one common, fairly clear misuse of the term. (Here the polysemy problem for 'relative' and 'relativism' probably intersects with a very different kind of problem: people who write articles often don't write their own headlines.)
   At any rate, there's nothing like a problem of relative truth at issue in this story. Rather, we have very ordinary, not-terribly-philosophical problems about (a) differences of opinion among individuals and (b) the epistemic problem we face when we have conflicting evidence--in this case, conflicting testimony about the facts.
   But--as with most casual uses of the relevant terms--there's really nothing in the vicinity of "relative truth" afoot. It's just some very ordinary phenomena described in a sexy way. The same can be said for almost all references to relativism, especially in popular discussions.
   In fact, it might be worth noting that the problem as described in the piece wouldn't be a problem if alethic relativism were correct--at least in its individualist version. Each conflicting story would simply (simply!) be true "for" each individual. We'd be stuck trying to make sense of relativism at the theoretical level...but we'd no longer have the problem about trying to figure out which version were true--they'd all be true (each "for" the individual in question), and there'd be no need nor hope of trying to fit them all into a unified account. (Or, to use the trendy terminology in the story: "narrative" [shudder])
   None of this is an argument against "relativism," of course. (Scare quotes because it's defective terminology.) I'm just commenting in passing on the general type of mistake you'll find central to most uses of the term. And it's certainly not a criticism of the actual content of the story, about which I've got nothing worth saying.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Dreadnought 2050

The Cartoon Chinese Military Seems Unstoppable

Kinda a ludicrous way

Kentucky County Clerk, Davis, Who Defied Court Order On Same-Sex Marriage Licenses, Jailed

   Well, this isn't great, as it could galvanize the anti-SSM folk. Though maybe they're already galvanized...
   It's difficult for me to sympathize with people like Davis, because it's natural for me to think about SSM by analogy to interracial marriage. However, I do think there's a case to be made that we've got to give people time to adjust. And we should accommodate their moral conscience to the extent that that doesn't interfere with the rights of others. From here on out, it should be made clear that, if you agree with Davis, you simply shouldn't seek election to the office of county clerk...  But, of course, some people like Davis are already in office. I was hoping that we might be able to find some compromise whereby someone else issued the licenses...and it looks like her deputies could have done so. But she refused to let them. At that point she should have resigned. But she didn't.
   My sympathy wears kind of thin at that point... Too bad the court or her superiors couldn't just go over her head and grant permission to her deputies. But you can't always optimize these things. Davis has pretty obviously decided that this isn't about keeping herself out of the loop, but, rather, about blocking licenses for same-sex marriages. So that, I think, is where it's time to draw the damn line in no uncertain terms.
   Or so it seems to me.
   I really do wish we'd have tried civil unions first... It would be notably crazier to deny people access to those. But I suppose it's a fairly safe bet that Davis and others like her would have tried to do so anyway.

Foreign Policy Is Easy For Republicans When Democrats Are In Office

   Don't click on this. It's dreck from Michael Gerson. Dreck is his specialty.
   It's not that I think that Obama'd Middle East policy has been fantastic. It's rather that I think that it's been reasonable. He's pretty much always picked an option that was in the ballpark, with respect to a region in which there are often no good options. That makes his decisions downright Soloman-like compared to those of his predecessor.
   It's easy, with respect to such topics, to just list all the weakenesses of a given decision without listing their strengths. If you act like a lawyer and pretend that the truth is all on your side, and relentlessly seek to spin the reasons on the other side as bad or trivial...well, that's a way to make a persuasive case, but not a rational one. Which is, of course, what Gerson's all about. Except for the persuasive part. It's actually not even that, really, unless you just haven't been keeping up with actual, y'know, events...
  So he's not worth paying attention to.
  So I shouldn't be paying attention to him.
  And neither, IMO, should you.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Mystic / Bitwiseoperator: Transexuality and Transgenderism

   This is good, and the discussion is really, really good.
   If there's a prominent place I disagree, it's that I'm not quite so convinced that we have to be so relentlessly honest and truth-seeking about such things. I'm inclined to think that it's ok for people to have their little fictions...we've certainly all got them. But they aren't allowed to insist that others share them. If Smith is a man and wants to act, dress, etc. like women have traditionally acted and dressed, I don't care. It's the tradition that's kooky, not Smith so much. If Smith even wants to tell himself that he's really a woman--still no big problem. But currently the lefty-left is demanding more than that--it's insisting that (a) Smith actually is a woman, and (b) everyone must say (and believe) that it is so. And that's not ok. In fact that's right out. You don't get to insist that people assert--much less that they believe--falsehoods. It might be polite to do so--and that's a discussion worth having. But it's going to be a long row to hoe.
   Don't forget:
   Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Since Everybody's A Racist, Everybody Should Just Go Ahead And Admit It

   I mean...all white people are racists of course! Ha ha! As we know! As we also know, it is impossible for non-whites to be racist!  Because racism is something something institutional something sociology, and has nothing to do with personal characteristics like disliking other races and/or thinking them inferior! Even blacks who passionately hate whites on racial grounds are not racists! They are mere bigots! It is conceptually impossible for them to be racist! But whiteness itself by its very nature is oppressive regardless of the actual beliefs and actions of the individual! The neo- PCs / SJWs have taught us this! it does seem to have to do with personal stuff again because...apparently this is what people are flagellating themselves about... So...basically people on the cutting edge of the post-post-modern mish-mash have not figured out exactly how to optimize all these factors to maximize derision for white people... But they're working on the problem non-stop.  
   I mean seriously. Racist bullshit is bad enough in this country without making up a whole new load of equal and opposite racist bullshit that does absolutely not one bloody damn thing to decrease the amount of the old racist bullshit. MLK is rolling over in his grave.
   Here's one reason why some people won't "admit" they're racists: because they aren't. Bogus accusations of racism are currently the height of fashion...and it's hardly surprising that people deny false accusations. So with lots of false, morally serious, and extremely angrifying charges flying around, you really ought to expect a lot of denials, too.
   To my mind, an irresponsible charge of racism is fighting words. 
   And I'm inclined to think that anyone who thinks differently doesn't fully appreciate how repugnant racism is. 
   But...the left does love Freud...and if Freud taught us anything, it's that if you say you're not something that means you really totally super-duper are that thing...

   In general, it would be good if people were better about taking criticism, and better at admitting ignorance and error. But racism is not a special case. There's no reason to single it out. The lefty-left's m.o. is to try to turn every miscue and slip of the tongue into Z0MG RACISM!!!!111  And the flagellant white lefties love nothing better than publicly debasing themselves for their crimes. It really is pathetic and grotesque.
   By all means, try to be honest about your errors. We all make them. We all make pretty bad errors sometimes. But my God the race crisis hysteria is getting to be a bit much. I'm somebody who's been given to fretting about this country's problems with race and racism most of my life...but even I'm repulsed by the current quasi-religious fervor about it. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Washington State University Announces It Will Not Allow Professors To Ban Words They Don't Like

link (via Reddit)
   It's a weird subject, of course, because there are all sorts of words that are basically bannable...e.g. words like 'n*gger,' 'faggot'...and, well, many others. I don't wanna list 'em, and you don't wanna hear 'em...
   Seems to me that the problems isn't so much insisting that students not use certain words and phrases in class. Rather, the problem is the lunatic collection of words and phrases that certain professors would ban if they were allowed to. I suppose that it goes without saying that we are talking about lefty professors here, right? I mean...I don't necessarily feel the need to keep harping on that...or...I wouldn't...if so many liberals didn't seem to be in denial about it....
Anyway: students not being allowed to refer to humans as 'male' and 'female'? I'd be downright tempted to fire someone who was so far gone as to suggest something that stupid--and so clearly indicative of far-left insanity. And, as I've written before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with 'illegal aliens.' It's a clear, accurate, descriptive phrase. You don't get to simply stomp your foot and insist that words are prejudiced or derogatory simply because you don't like them. I've got no problem, of course, with people saying "hey, I don't know why, but that phrase bugs me." That's totally cool. But if you're going to claim that a phrase is so patently offensive as to deserve to be banned from polite society, you've got to have stronger grounds than that. And, as I've written before,  all that nonsense about "people not being illegal" is, so far as I can tell, intentional sophistry. "Illegal x" in such a context does not and has never meant intrinsically illegal human being who does x, but, rather, person who does x illegally. 'Tranny' I don't have any opinion on. I guess it does have a kind of disrespectful ring to it, though I've read that the issue is controversial even among people who are "transgendered" or transexual.
   Anyway, the really outrageous bit is the 'male'/'female' thing.
   The real problem here is lefty overreach with respect to language policing. Nobody's going to fight for their right to say the notorious 'n' word in class. Frothy insistence that humans...what? Aren't male or female? God knows...anyway, that kind of lunacy simply will not fly at sane institutions. I can't just arbitrarily ban words because I have some crackpot theory according to which they are naughty. Imagine the reaction if religious professors were e.g. demanding that students not say or write 'God.' It would be quite different, you betcha...

Atlanta Cops Enter Wrong House, Shoot Homeowner, Dog, Each Other

(via Inside Carolina)

ISIS Destroys Temple of Bel in Palmyra

In case they weren't hateable enough already.

Beginners Guide to BJJ

These are good, and not just for beginners.