Thursday, May 26, 2016

Donald Trump Is Not A Bully; Stop Calling Him One

   Donald Trump is a buffoon. Donald Trump is a moron. Donald Trump is a loudmouth, a bullshitter, an empty suit, a comb-over with nothing beneath it. He's an embarrassment to the country who has no right to be spoken of in the same breath as the office of the president. He's a goddamned piece of shit.
   But Donald Trump is not a bully.
   Or, at least, he hasn't bullied anyone that I've ever heard of. And currently he's not in a position to physically harm anyone, including any of his political opponents...and there's no reason to think that he would if he could.
   And, as for supporters, the vast majority of the violence thus far has been by anti-Trump protesters, not Trump supporters.
   Calling Trump a bully is inaccurate...but what concerns me is that it's making liberals look whiny and weak. And that's absolute death for liberals. Those are two of liberals' characteristic flaws. They're repulsive character flaws. And basically the worst thing liberalism can do is be those things. Because that will remind people what they hate about liberalism. Insults alone aren't bullying, and by erroneously characterizing them as such, liberals sound like they're so pusillanimous that a bit of rude language is all it takes to make them start whimpering.
   So...call him what he is. He's a rude, crude, idiotic clown with a big mouth. And he was born with a silver spoon in it to boot. But stop whinging about him being a "bully."

"Ecosexual" Students "Marry" The Pacific Ocean

Women Can Produce Godawful Clickbaity Pseudojournalism JUST As Well As Men

The Department of Justice Doesn't Know what Sex Is

Wow
Here's the most astonishing part:
An individual’s “sex” consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment. Among those factors are hormones, external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, chromosomes, and gender identity, which is an individual’s internal sense of being male or female. [my emphasis]
[I should have quoted this too:
For individuals who have aspects of their sex that are not in alignment, the person’s gender identity is the primary factor in terms of establishing that person’s sex. External genitalia are, therefore, but one component of sex and not always determinative of a person’s sex.]
   This, of course, is not true in any way, shape or form. It is nowhere in the vicinity of the truth. Not to harp on this again, but: sex is a biological matter. Male and female are the sexes. (And there are a few intermediate--intersex--cases, as, again, is common with natural kinds.) Sex has nothing whatsoever to do with "gender identity."
   This is a move to an even more radical, confused position than we've seen from the administration recently. Before we were getting: (a) "gender identity" is more important than sex; now we're getting (b) "gender identity" is part of sex.
   It's appalling to see the DoJ rocketing forward to force a position onto the country...and beyond appalling to see it appeal to confused concepts produced by activists and the kind of activists pretending to be scholars that one finds in the average gender studies / women's studies department. Honestly...these are not experts. They do not understand the issues better than the average intelligent person. They are not scholars seeking to understand the truth, they are activists seeking to push politically-determined conclusions.
   Furthermore, the DoJ seems on the verge of suggesting that, since the sexes are composed of clusters of properties, hell, you can just throw whatever property you want in there.
   This is all facilitated by the strategic obfuscation that has been promoted by gender studies activist/scholars. 'Gender' was introduced by old-school feminists to be a very clear term to do a very important job: distinguish between biology and behavior. It was introduced in order to make a simple and important point: your biology need not match your behavior. The genders are masculine and feminine (and you could also count androgynous as a third gender if you want. Doesn't really matter.) So: males need not be masculine, and females need not be feminine. There's nothing defective about you if your gender fails to match your sex in the statistically normal way. That's an important point, even if it's familiar to us now.
   But this point has been lost--or intentionally obscured--in the pursuit of ever more outlandish, radical, and philosophically ambitious points about the alleged "social construction"* of gender. Currently the term 'gender' is used so indiscriminately that it's basically invoked to obfuscate rather than clarify. The term that was specifically introduced to identify a characteristic that contrasts with sex is now being used to constitute part of sex. (Of course 'identity' is now often tacked onto gender to add yet another layer of confusion...but I'm not going to sort that out too.)
   Look: the DoJ is 100% wrong here. It's not a little wrong, it's completely wrong. There may be a different way to push the case, but this way is not right. The crucial paragraph above, though consistent with the kind of nonsense currently fashionable on the left, is just plain wrong. In fact, it's even worse than I've made it out to be here, but I'm going running, and I'm tired of this bullshit. What we've got here are arguments that are so bad, and misunderstandings so profound, and legislative overreach so...so...overreachy...that there is simply no explanation other than this one: the relevant parts of the DoJ, like the relevant parts of DoE OCR, have made up their minds, and they are cobbling together shitty arguments composed of largely incoherent concepts to rationalize a position they are committed to on non-rational grounds.
   If the DoJ were pushing a right-wing policy on the basis of such patent philosophical confusions, philosophers would be crawling out of the woodwork to shriek about it. But that obviously isn't going to happen here.)
   Of course, you can be right for the wrong reasons...though I doubt that they're right in this case. And it'd be an accident if they were. But everyone should be outraged that these decisions are being made as they are, and these policies are being pushed on the basis of patently confused and fallacious reasons. 


* "Socially constructed" is itself a term that's so ambiguous, vague, and otherwise unclear that it's almost guaranteed to destroy any conversation it's introduced into...  So that's not helping.

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Leiter on Pogge and the Presumption of Innocence

   The problem of sexual harassment in academic philosophy is exaggerated. This isn't surprising given that there are a lot of feminists and identity politics types who are passionately obsessed with the usual passionate obsessions of those groups. They're very vocal, and operating in a strongly left-leaning environment that's structured to give them rhetorical and other tactical advantages. And they relentlessly push the various agendas that such folks push. They're passionate advocates of the hypothesis that professional philosophy is unusually--perhaps uniquely--hostile to women, and they often accept the same kinds of confused theories, persuasive definitions, and bad arguments that are popular with the PC left for advancing such positions. In fact, in true philosophical fashion, they've thought of all sorts of new confused theories, persuasive definitions, and bad arguments...
   None of that, of course, alters the fact that sexual harassment is a problem, and academia is no exception, and philosophy in particular is no exception. And it doesn't alter the fact that it's an extremely important problem--even though there's little evidence that it's worse in philosophy than anywhere else. So we've actually got two problems: a sexual harassment problem and an exaggeration-of-the-problem-of-sexual-harassment problem. So that makes it particularly difficult to get a clear picture of what the hell's going on...
   As I've said before, I've got irrefutable knowledge of one clear and unequivocal case of sexual harassment. In that case, the department in question worked hard to avert its eyes so that it didn't have to deal with it. It was never even swept under the rug because it simply wasn't acknowledged. (Despite three separate credible accusations coming to light at more-or-less the same time.) The guilty party even confessed to the most crucial fact in the case to an uninvolved graduate student while drunk. It was an open and shut case...but it was simply never opened. It was an absolutely unbelievable instance of injustice, and an absolute paradigm of the type of case that we worry about when we worry about academic sexual harassment.
   However, I've also seen clearly bogus accusations of sexual harassment, and been directly involved in one case in which a largely puerile snarkfest between feminist and non-feminist (actually: radical feminist and ordinary, liberal feminist) graduate students was dishonestly represented by the former as as "hostile environment sexual harassment." It was an intellectually and morally inexcusable accusation driven by politically-induced irrationality. It, too was a paradigm--but a paradigm of what we worry about when we worry about such policies being used illegitimately to suppress discussion and disagreement in an attempt to win battles of ideas by other means.
   So all this shit goes on in philosophy.
   And--insert my standard expression of derision for counterproductivity arguments here--among the many other reasons that the latter crap is bad: it makes it harder to fix the former problem.
   Anyway...oh yeah...Leiter on the Pogge case.
   Is there a moral analog of the presumption of innocence? Seems plausible. Maybe it's a special instance of something about the burden of proof. If we suppose there's a burden of disproof, then if you merely assert p I've got to either accept it or refute it. (Come to think of it...I'm not even sure you have to assert it...but let that pass...) But I could refute it simply asserting that I have evidence against it...but operating in accordance with the BoD rather than the BoP, you have the burden of showing that I don't have such evidence. And then you can pull the same trick against me, and so on and so on. Anyway, it doesn't make much sense to say that you should be considered guilty of anything I accuse you of...especially since you could then simply accuse me of being an inveterate liar, thus neutralizing my accusation. And so on. Of course a third alternative is the no presumption option...    Which I don't feel like thinking about right now...
   Anyway, Leiter is at least right about the following: it is insane to accept a presumption of guilt (for the limited domain of accusations of sexual harassment). And I'll add: (see all that stuff above) it is especially insane in an environment in which there is a subpopulation passionately dedicated to exaggerating the problem of sexual harassment, and committed to a theory according to which many instances of non-harassment are harassment.
   Leiter's also right, however, that in the Pogge case, there's a history of harassment and multiple credible accusations. Enough, one might reasonably claim, to overcome any presumption of innocence. (That is: presumptions are needed before the evidence is in. But some evidence is already in...) So there's no need to (roughly) alter the logic of accusations in order to get the right outcome in this case. And I'd add: part of the problem with the PC left is that they are way, way, way too eager to do that sort of thing--that is, argue that big, important, well-established principles and theories are false because they don't accord with some relatively minor specific conclusion they prefer. (That's the same kind of mistake that we find in the discussion of race, in which they enjoin us to accept arguments that presuppose the truth of full-blown nominalism (one of the most consequential (and disastrous) metaphysical theories known to humans) in order to get the desired result that races are not natural kinds.)
   So anyway that's my take off the top of my head and FWIW.
   The line currently being pushed by the vanguard of feminism, that all accusations of rape and other sexual harassment should be regarded as true, is nuts. In fact, if it weren't nuts, what they'd probably say is: all accusations of rape and other sexual harassment are true. But that's false. If it were true, then it'd make sense to regard all such accusations as true. But it doesn't, because they aren't. It especially doesn't make sense given the fact that contemporary extremist feminism has undoubtedly increased the percentage of false accusations, at least on campuses, by promulgating false definitions of rape and sexual harassment, and by advancing positions that encourage women to make false accusations.
   But none of that really matters much in the Pogge case, because the guy is a known scumbag, and there's enough evidence that we don't have to rely on mere presumptions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump And The Anti-Trump Protesters Deserve Each Other

   Nauseating on all counts. At least the stupid adolescents have the excuse of being stupid adolescents... It's harder to find excuses on the other side.
   And HRC's got to get rid of that "bully pulpit" line...that's not gonna work. That's about a half-step up from we are out on the hustings...but that doesn't mean we should listen to the hot air gustings from Mr. Trump.! LOL amirite?

Violent Anti-Trump Protests in Albuquerque

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gary Johnson at 10%?

If it's a foregone conclusion, I can absolutely see myself voting for a generic libertarian. Nobody'd be able to dismantle the welfare state in two terms, and a healthy shot of libertarianism would, I think, be good for the country.

Artist Films Herself Having Consensual Sex With Stranger. Pretends It's Rape. Pretends It's Art.

Whelp, this just about pegs the ol' bullshittometer...
   In amidst all the nonsense about patriarchy and whatnot, there is a decent point that gets hinted at, though. And that point is: emphasizing/insisting on the awfulness of rape doesn't necessarily help all rape survivors. I've been told by at least one such person that the constant mantra that rape is the most horrible thing possible prevented her from getting over it and getting on with her life. I think that point is worth thinking about, though I'm obviously in no position to evaluate its veracity.
   I don't see any reason to dwell on the obvious, but I find it pretty goddamn angrifying that someone would pretend that something like this was rape. That seems pretty damned disrespectful of actual rape survivors if you ask me... Though, again, I'm not the best person to make the judgment.
   As the revered J. Carthensis was saying to me the other day while we were collectively in a drunken stupor: if modern art were any good, they wouldn't have to explain it all the time.

Sam Wang: May-ish Presidential Polls The Most Inaccurate

Whew.

Transgenderism Again; The Case of "Jake," And A Heart-Warming Story With A Bunch Of False Presuppositions

   So, stripped of the bad theory, delusion-mongering and cultural railroading, this would be a heart-warming story. I mean, look, let's put aside the political delusions for a second: Mr. Ralston's daughter did not become his son. (You could say that his daughter became his "son"--but there's all the difference in the world between being an x and being an "x.") Not a big deal, really...or it wouldn't be if it weren't, in effect, a bit of brainwashing. Keep saying this sort of thing over and over with a straight face, and eventually people will believe it I supposed.
   Look: Jake should live the life Jake wants to live. I'm happy that Jake's happy. (Though I'm skeptical that this sort of thing will bring happiness with the frequency that's being advertised by its enthusiasts.) None of that stuff is at issue, so far as I'm concerned.
   It is, however, too bad that this is yet another in the Post's popular new series Covertly Convince/Pressure Everyone To Accept The Postpostmodern Theory Of Transgenderism Without Thinking About It Much.
   Alright. I sincerely want to stop all this short of being a kook, so I'm just going to mention some points and then I'm out for now. Philosophy--inter alia--is supposed to fulfill a kind of hey, wait a minute...function. So I'm going to quickly fulfill my duty and then go do something productive.
   The most salient point here is the business about changing birth certificates.
   Look, make-believe has its costs. You can legally allow people to change their birth certificates in this way, of course. It's legal to add and subtract incorrectly, to think that the Earth is 6,000 years old, and to think that the Battle of Hastings was in 1055. Thank God or whatever that we don't try to ban such things. This is, of course, different, though. This is not just having a non-totalitarian state...this is the state intentionally falsifying official records on the basis of a bad and nutty theory pushed by activists and activist academicians. Jake is not male. If technology advances a lot in the next century-ish, Jake might possibly die male...but Jake was born female, and nothing can change the past. Here are our options:
(1)  We can maintain birth certificates as sincere efforts to record facts about births and, therefore, not allow people to change them because they wish those facts had been different.
or
(2)  We can allow people to change their birth certificates because they wish those facts had been different, and, therefore, not maintain birth certificates as documents constituting sincere efforts to record facts about births.
But it is impossible to do both (1) and (2).
(Those aren't formulated all that well, but I slept bad(ly?) and don't feel like fiddling with them.)
   By allowing Jake et al. to change their birth certificates, we're opting for (2), rather than (1). (This is similar, in a way, to the stuff about calling men women. Nothing much prevents us from doing so, since word-use is a matter of convention. However, such changes to usage necessarily change the meaning. Calling men women won't make men women--but doing so with great enough frequency will change the meaning of 'man', and it will come to mean (as we'd put it in actual current English): either a man or a woman who has undergone certain procedures to emulate maleness. Men can't become women by decree, and they can't do so with current technology. The attempt to force it to be so by fiat is doomed to fail, as the tension is just released somewhere else. The meaning of the words are changed, or the status and purpose of birth certificates changes. There's nothing that can be done to change this fact. Logical pressure must be relieved somehow.)
   One of the many weird things about all this is that logic and facts make it all into kabuki. Jake wants not just to look and act in certain ways, but wants others to think of her as male. That's ok too, so long as there's no substantial dishonesty involved--for example, Jake's going to have to fess up to any clueless sex partners before things get intimate. But everyone involved has to realize that erasing 'F' and writing in 'M' on the certificate changes nothing substantial about the world. Jake was born female and, even if technology might end up allowing Jake to die male, Jake will die having been born female.
   There's a bad theory of gender, and bad theory of sex, and bad theory of the relation between the two, and bad theory of how to make people feel comfortable in their skin, and a lot of other bad theories, too, running around in there. But worst of all, from a philosophical perspective, is that there is a strong link between all these bad theories and a more general, even worse, much more general theory that the facts are whatever we deem them to be. That's a disastrously shitty metaphysics, and it's the metaphysics that floats in the background of all this.
   Again, just focus on the obvious options. Either but not both of these could be true:
(A) We aren't talking about facts here at all. It's just very elaborate, state-sponsored play-acting.
or
(B) Thinking/saying that things are so makes them so
(A) is bad. (B) is false (which is worse). So which is it? Do we think we're making Jake a male at birth by erasing 'F' and writing 'M'? Or do we think this is all just for show, and for Jake's peace of mind? (There are a few other confusions we might have instead, but I'm tired of typing.)
   Me believing that I was born female doesn't make it so. The state asserting that I was born female doesn't make it so. So the only real option here is (A). And that's...well...not a great thing for the state to be engaged in. Is there any other domain in which we officially and intentionally declare falsehoods to be true in order to make individuals feel better? (Maybe annulment of marriage? Is that supposed to mean the marriage never actually happened? I'm not sure.)
   Jake's feelings aren't relevant to the question What sex was baby b when b was born? Not for any value of b; not even for b=Jake. Feelings do not affect sex, a purely physical/biological characteristic.
   Then there are the higher-level issues: the fact that none of this is being discussed, the fact that discussion has been declared verboten by the powers that be, the fact that the Post runs poignant story after poignant story with the goal of advancing a certain cultural/political view on this matter...  Those are more worrisome things to me, actually.
   Even though, yeah, I did find Jake's story poignant when I focused on just the emotional part of it.
   Ok, that's it. I'm probably wrong about some of this stuff--but I'm pretty sure I'm not wrong about all of it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Venn Diagrams Are Hard

Trump Didn't "Call Mexicans Rapists": Simon Moya-Smith Edition

link
   He also did not "call Mexicans...anchor babies."
   Asserting that some people from Mexico enter the country illegally in order to have "anchor babies" is completely different from "calling Mexicans anchor babies." This is a junior-high-level distinction. There's no excuse for this kind of dishonesty and/or crap writing.
   This bullshit just has to stop. Racism is bad. Ergo false accusations of racism are bad. Trump's a jackass...but the truth matters even when criticizing jackasses. The assertion that many illegal immigrants from Mexico are rapists seems, incidentally, to be false. So what Trump said was apparently false. But he didn't say--and he didn't come close to saying--that Mexicans are rapists.
   It's as if the left simply can't help itself anymore...flinging false accusations of racism has just become second nature. I continue to think that the closer one gets to the center, the lest of a problem this is... But even relatively centrist liberals seem to tolerate it from their more extremist fellows.

The National Organization for Women Is Still Defending Rolling Stone's Rape Hoaxer "Jackie"

   I think that Young is stretching with most of the other examples here. Some of them are old, the police have to remain circumspect, etc...  But there's no excuse for NOW continuing to pretend that "Jackie" isn't lying. And giving an award to Emma Sulkowicz (aka mattress girl)???  Appalling. It would be better if more feminists came out and unequivocally disavowed at least "Jackie"... But extremism means never having to admit you were wrong, and the contemporary vanguard of feminism is nothing if not extreme. They mostly seem to have dropped the case and moved on...not optimal, and indicative of how irrational the feminist vanguard has become...but not really surprising to anyone who's been paying attention.
   It's kinda too bad what happened to feminism, but at least it accomplished most of the important things before it went over the edge--and the average feminist in the street is probably still pretty reasonable.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Black Feminist Calculus

NYT: "Transgender Americans" See Their Personal Battle Become A National Showdown

link
   This is all really bad IMO.
   Standard disclaimer: it's impossible to be taken seriously the the cultural powers that be without anteing up with your liberal credentials... So: I'm mostly a liberal. I also think that the public restroom question raises genuine questions. My mind isn't make up about the practical question of public restroom sex-segregation...but I'm inclined to be against a precipitous change in public policy on this score (in either direction).
   I've just been reading Gallileo's Middle Finger, in which Alice Dreger--a historian and philosopher of science and activist for the intersexed--recounts the campaign of personal destruction led by transgender activists against a psychologist who formulated a theory they didn't like. The author describes the tactics she herself used as an activist for intersex causes, and the transgender activists used against Bailey. Bits of the NYT story hint at similar tactics, especially this part:
   The sweeping directive to public schools seemed to come out of nowhere. In fact, it was the product of years of study inside the government and a highly orchestrated campaign by advocates for gay and transgender people. Mindful of the role “Whites Only’’ bathrooms played in the civil rights battles of more than half a century ago, they have been maneuvering behind the scenes to press federal agencies, and ultimately Mr. Obama, to address a question that has roiled many school districts: Should those with differing anatomies share the same bathrooms?
   The lobbying came to a head, according to people who were involved, in a hastily called April 1 meeting between top White House officials — led by Valerie Jarrett, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser and one of his closest confidantes — and national leaders of the gay and transgender rights movement. North Carolina had just become the first state to explicitly bar transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice.
   “Transgender students are under attack in this country,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group that is active on the issue, summing up the message he sought to convey to Ms. Jarrett that day. “They need their federal government to stand up for them.”
Ms. Jarrett and her team, he said, listened politely, but “did not reveal much,” including the fact that a legal directive on transgender rights that had been in the works for months was about to be released.
   When — or precisely how — Mr. Obama personally weighed in is not clear; the White House would not provide specifics. But two days before that meeting, scores of advocacy groups sent Mr. Obama a private letter, appealing to his sense of history as he nears the end of his presidency, in which he has already advanced gay and transgender rights on multiple fronts.
   The picture here is one of prolonged behind-the-scenes maneuvering by one side in the dispute, and then an apparently sudden decision by the government. The idea wasn't floated ahead of time for public discussion, no time was allowed for national deliberation. Hell, even I wasn't aware that this issue was being pushed seriously by anyone until about two years ago.
   These are similar to the non-rational rhetorical tactics described by Dreger: blanket the internet with the arguments for your own position, push your arguments to liberal/sympathetic journalists, set the terms of the debate, etc. In this case, pushing "gender identity" and "social construction" as pivotal concepts has been crucial. And, as Dreger notes, relentlessly pushing the (questionable, ideologically-motivated) theory that the transgenderism is a matter of "males being trapped in female bodies" (or vice-versa), as opposed to Bailey's theory that a large percentage of men who categorize themselves as transgendered ("trans women") are actually motivated by a sexual fetish for thinking of themselves with female bodies. Incidentally, Dreger's points about tactics predict that Wikipedia would be a prime place to push the transgender activists' preferred theory--and it is. I can't find a single mention of Bailey in the article--which reads like something written by an activist, not a dispassionate observer/encyclopedist.
   This is all bad, bad, bad. There are reasonably important questions here, and we're being pushed toward a pre-ordained conclusion advocated by a small group of activists and others. We're being asked to overturn a long-standing and reasonable aspect of the culture without discussion, with the politically correct preference of the far left being imposed from on high. Perhaps they're pushing the right solution...but I certainly wouldn't bet any money on that. And even if the policy proposals--or, rather, diktats--accidentally happen to be right, this way of creating and implementing policy is contrary to fundamental principles of liberal democracy. Merely declaring the existence of obscure and implausible new rights does not change that.

(And a big fat facepalm at the phrase "transgender Americans")

Lots Of 5-4 Decisions By SCOTUS Are A Problem, In Part Because Ideologically-Motivated Decisions Are A Problem

   Here's a related something at the Atlantic.
   5-4 decisions are a problem because they are evidence that the answer to the relevant legal question is not clear. Consistently ruling on questions without clear answers would be bad by itself...but the justices tend to line up according to liberal/conservative preferences/presuppositions about the conclusion. And that is evidence that it is political orientation rather than legal reasoning that is driving the decisions.
   And that seems to mean that the branch of government that is supposed to be most isolated from and immune to mere majority preference is, in fact, largely just another expression of majority preference...if, (perhaps!) a slightly less direct one.
   On the face of it, this should concern everyone a lot...shouldn't it?
   And this should be an avoidable problem. It's very difficult to believe that over and over again an honest, rational, legal evaluation of the legal arguments somehow leads to four justices on each side consistently ruling in accordance with their personal political orientations. This sort of thing should be avoidable in part were justices to just abstain when they think that there's no clear legal conclusion to be drawn. Or is there some official "not clear" ruling? If the answer isn't clear, shouldn't that mean that the...what...complainant? Prosecution? Anyway...whoever has the burden of proof has failed to carry it?
   Anyway...all this is worrying me a lot.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Postpostmodern Pseudoscholarship: Spa Studies Edition

The utterest horseshit:
This study outlines the self-positioning of skin and spa therapy students. More specifically, it focuses how they position themselves as professionals in terms of knowledge, and how gender is at play throughout this process. Drawing on a poststructural approach, inspired by Foucault and feminist theory, regularities of description and self-description were analysed. This approach provides analytical tools for analysing how people engage with discourse in this micro-context of education and training, and feminist theory enables an understanding of how gender relations of power emerge. The material consists of interview transcripts derived from interviews with 20 skin and spa therapy students. The study shows how a scientific and caring professional emerges, producing gender relations as effects of power. Furthermore, a caring discourse is ultimately mobilised and a stereotyped image of the beauty industry is shown to govern students’ self-positioning, reproducing norms of gender and consumption.
   This sort of nonsense has metastasized way, way beyond its original home in literary theory. Of course lots of stuff sounds like bullshit but isn't...but this sort of thing sounds like bullshit and is. It's popular because you can write or say pretty much whatever you want, it has the trappings of intellectual and scholarly sophistication, and by using the right words and dropping the right names, you broadcast to readers, publishers and tenure committees that you're on the right side of things, politically and culturally.
   It's actually not going to surprise me a lot if spa studies departments start popping up. Can't be a lot worse than crap we've already got... Could start off as an "intersectional" area straddling hotel/restaurant management and gender studies...

Trump at the NRA (And: What Up With HRC on Guns?)

   Watched some of it...but had to turn it off.
   Trumpo is a dangerous moron. He emits chaotic stream-of-consciousness nonsense about half the time. This guy just can't come anywhere near the goddamn presidency of the United States.
   Jebus, he didn't even have any idea what he was talking about. Had a liberal said some of the stuff he was saying up there, the NRA folk would still be shrieking about it ten years from now.
   As for Hillary magically abolishing the Second Amendment...well...every four years, the NRA somehow manages to convince its members that if the Dems win, the UN is going to be invited in to the country to go house to house shooting our dogs and taking our guns.
   The NRA is a weird, delusional place.
   Um...that having been said, however...HRC's alleged opposition to DC v. Heller is probably pretty damn close to a desire to eviscerate the Second Amendment, and HRC needs to drop that nonsense right now. Perhaps she just opposes the ruling with respect to federal enclaves...I'm really not sure. But to deny that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to be armed (as four liberal justices did, to the shame of liberalism...) is more-or-less tantamount to opposing the Second Amendment itself.
   This is a case in which we've got an unqualified moron spouting random sentences on one side...and a reasonable, experienced candidate speaking mostly sensibly on the other...and yet the latter is on a trajectory that could end in much greater harm to the country than the former. HRC is smart and sensible...and yet some of the things she is saying would, on some reasonable interpretations, be likely to destroy one of the fundamental ideas on which the country is built.
   Sometimes HRC seems to just want additional, reasonable restrictions on firearms. Other times, as when she has spoken against Heller, and when she has spoken favorably about the Australian gun buy-back, she sounds very dangerous indeed.
   That doesn't mean Trump is better, of course. Just because ten percent of the random sentences he emits are better than the most unreasonable five percent of the things HRC says doesn't mean he's the less-dangerous candidate... I'm just saying that it's understandable that someone might think that, on this issue, the worst thing Trumpo might do is less-bad than the worst thing HRC might do.

"High-Impact Philosophy"

facepalm

Sometimes, you don't even know where to begin.
So I'm just not going to

Friday, May 20, 2016

I Hold It To Be The Inalienable Right Of Anybody To Go To Hell In His Own Way

-- Robert Frost

Camille Paglia On The NYT On Trump's Girlfriends

Well, Paglia is...Paglia...so there's some pretty incoherent stuff in here...but I think she's also making similar points to those I made. She does it with more verve and pizzazz, and even more real insight I think...but I do think we're in the same ballpark. She writes:
 The drums had been beating for weeks about a major New York Times expose in the works that would demolish Trump once and for all by revealing his sordid lifetime of misogyny. When it finally appeared as a splashy front-page story this past Sunday (originally titled “Crossing the Line: Trump’s Private Conduct with Women”)...[annoying self-aggrandizement by Paglia redacted]. On Monday, after seeing countless exultant references to this virtuoso takedown, I finally read the article—and laughed out loud throughout. Can there be any finer demonstration of the insularity and mediocrity of today’s Manhattan prestige media? Wow, millionaire workaholic Donald Trump chased young, beautiful, willing women and liked to boast about it. Jail him now! Meanwhile, the New York Times remains mute about Bill Clinton’s long record of crude groping and grosser assaults—not one example of which could be found to taint Trump. 
Blame for this fiasco falls squarely upon the New York Times editors who delegated to two far too young journalists, Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, the complex task of probing the glitzy, exhibitionistic world of late-twentieth-century beauty pageants, gambling casinos, strip clubs, and luxury resorts. Neither Barbaro, a 2002 graduate of Yale, nor Twohey, a 1998 graduate of Georgetown University, had any frame of reference for sexual analysis aside from the rote political correctness that has saturated elite American campuses for nearly 40 years. Their prim, priggish formulations in this awkwardly disconnected article demonstrate the embarrassing lack of sophistication that passes for theoretical expertise among their over-paid and under-educated professors.
 When I saw the reporters’ defensive interview on Monday with CNN anchors Kate Bolduan and John Berman, I felt sorry for the earnest, owlish Barbaro, who seems like a nice fellow who has simply wandered out of his depth. But Twohey, with her snippy, bright and shiny careerism, took a page from the slippery Hillary playbook in the way she blatheringly evaded any direct answer to a pointed question about how Rowanne Brewer Lane’s pleasantly flirtatious first meeting with Trump at a crowded 1990 pool party at Mar-a-Lago ended up being called “a debasing face-to-face encounter” in the Times. The hidden agenda of advocacy journalism has rarely been caught so red-handed.
I didn't have anything to say about the reporters themselves, of course, and don't have any opinion on Paglia's conclusions about them.

Rolling Stone UVa Gang Rape Hoax Is Hoax

   In case anyone anywhere still has any doubts about that.
   But nobody does...right?
   Wrong.
   Shakesville still does...  In fact, at one point, they declared that no matter what your reasons, if you doubted "Jackie" you were a misogynistic, rape-apologistic, rapey, rapey, rapist.
   Even Amanda Marcotte eventually, grudgingly gestured at a recognition that it was all lies, didn't she? Or am I misremembering?
   Lots of people got mad at me for pointing out early on that Jackie's story was false. So I'm just going to take another victory lap and point out one more time that I was right and they were wrong. In fact, the lesson of all of this is that rape crisis hysteria is a huge problem on campuses and in many sectors of the internet. Which is, for the love of God, in no way to deny that rape itself is also an enormous problem. It's not to mention rape nor say anything about it at all.