Friday, August 26, 2016

Drum On Chicago and "Safe Spaces"

Reasonable, as usual.

PC Doublethink, Chicago, and the Ugly Death of The New Republic

   Sad and stupid all the way around.
   RIP TNR...we miss ya. Doubly sad that this lefty braindead zombie simulacrum of you is shuffling around with your name on it fighting for the Dark Side.
   Ok, calming down a bit. As I've argued, I think "trigger warnings"--preferably stripped of the PC terminology--aren't necessarily bad if used and thought of correctly. As with some other PC stuff, the core idea wouldn't be so bad if it were represented as a permission or suggestion rather than an obligation. It's largely a matter of degree--or so I currently think. The more upsetting and outlandish the material is, the more reasonable it is to give people a heads-up that they're going to be exposed to it. The problem with the PC / SJ nonsense is that, as is so often the case, they take that basically sane idea and say a bunch of crazy things about it.
   If Smith is in my class, and I know that Smith's whole family was horrifically eaten by bears right in front of him at the age of five...then it's a good idea to tell Smith that we'll be watching The Edge in class.  (I really like that movie, incidentally, despite it's mamettishness. Also, I kind of don't approve of showing movies in class. That's butt-ass lazy right there. Anyway.) But the PCs demand "trigger warnings" about any topic about which they can make up a story about how someone somewhere might be in some way upset That sentence is not even close to being grammatical.  Is there any quality control around this shithole blog at all? Jesus.
   Similarly with "safe spaces." The terminology is tainted irrevocably by PC nuttiness--e.g. their insistence that universities must have rooms showing puppy videos if someone, anyone, on campus is saying something, anything that might upset PC-approved sensibilities... But there are distant cousins of the idea that aren't insane. They're too distant to constitute defenses of the idea itself...but critics of "safe spaces" shouldn't make the mistake of trying to reject all versions of the idea in toto. That's a tactical error.
   Anyway, what about what's-his-name's claim that Chicago's anti-"trigger-warning" stance is an attack on academic freedom? I call bullshit. It's not a ban--it's not a decree about what professors can or can't or must do. It's a statement of principle, in effect saying that the institution will not mandate such things. Things might become complicated when it comes to "safe spaces" if some professors want to ban certain types of discussion in their classes...but I suppose we'll have to see how that plays out. Anyway, I'm not currently feeling very charitable, so I'm going to say that what's-his-name is basically arguing that it's a violation of academic freedom for a university to stand up for the idea of the university. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, what's-yer-name. To paraphrase the immortal Mark Twain: what's-his-name has some responses he could make here, but never mind what he might say--I'm not arguing his case.

The University of Chicago Stands Up For The Idea Of the University

   In a letter to incoming freshmen, Chicago expresses its commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression, and explicitly rejects "safe spaces," "trigger warnings," and "deplatforming."
   I had to make hard decisions about where to go to grad school. One of the schools I turned down was Chicago--not something a kid from a farm in the Ozarks who went to a (basically) open-admission land-grant college with two directions in its name does lightly. Though I've always been happy with my decision about where to go, I also think fondly about the places that were willing to give me a chance, even though I couldn't accept the offers.  Anyway, there's no point to this. I'm weirdly fond of all sorts of universities for weird reasons. I just like universities, basically. But I'm feeling particularly warm and fuzzy about Chicago right now, as they seem to be taking point in this battle.
   So good on, Chicago. I think I'm gonna send 'em some money.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What Is The Alt-Right?

   The left throws around the 'racist' epithet so indiscriminately that I tend to ignore it anymore. But Michelle Goldberg is reasonable, and basically nothing here sounds good. I've not read Milo saying such things, and he's the only guy I know of who I think would be categorized as "alt-right"...but anyway...not good.
   OTOH, I suspect a certain amount of liberal hyperbole and misrepresentation. I think it should be expected that people will react against irrational liberal pieties...that's what always happens with irrational pieties... When everything is racist and racism is the worst possible sin, a sin of inestimable magnitude...people are going to start pushing back. Or poking back, anyway. And that's usually going to take the form of humor and insolence. Hell, I think leftier liberals and the PC left are hilarious / disgusting, and that their attitudes about racism are commonly over the top and, consequently, ripe for ridicule. That's not constitutive of racism. The fault for such ridicule lies with those who have elevated racism to the status of Super Sin. It's worse than murder! Worse than genocide! Worse than...everything! My evil father is a racist POS. I grew up hating racism with every fiber of my being. But the contemporary clown show is too much even for me. Between the desperate virtue signalling and the actually sincere beliefs that even the tiniest infelicities with respect to race are moral crimes of incaculable's just not possible to resist the urge to farble the lefties. And I'm sure that's the sort of thing that's up with many on the "alt-right."
   But, as Goldberg shows, that's not all that's up with them, unfortunately.

Coulter contra Trump

   So apparently Anne Coulter has just published a book titled In Trump We Trust, if you can believe that. And like two days later he changed his tune on illegal immigration (or "immigration" as its known on the left). Much bitterness ensued.
   It's petty to comment on nonsense like this.
   Definitely petty.

"Stop White People" RA Training At SUNY-Binghamton

   It's not completely clear what's up with this...but it's the kind of thing that pisses me--and a lot of other people--off. 
   Needless to say, this is an inconsequential bit of racism compared to what a lot of people of other races have had to put up with. But it's not the real effects of this that anger me. Rather, it's the fact that such racism is officially sanctioned. Racism against a lot of non-white groups is, apparently, still a significant problem. But the weight of our official theories and institutions is against it. Basically, it's pretty common now to think that--other than a rapist or a child-abuser--the worst thing you can be is a racist. Except, of course, if you're racist against whites. Then--at least at universities--that's ok. (In fact, of course, the PC / SJ crew has tried to do a bit of their usual terminological futzing around, trying to argue that it is a conceptual impossibility for non-whites to be racist... Of course that's patently false.)
   It's especially galling that at universities--where you can be classified as evil if even one person can find even one interpretation of even one thing you said even once that is "racist"--outright anti-white racism is not only tolerated, but officially promoted. I'm not for being a whiner about such things.
   I'm not for being a whiner about such things...but it's the fact that the shit is officially sanctioned by professors and administrators that I think we can reasonably get ticked off about.
   I have so say, I also worry that this sort of thing might have real effects that are bad. Ideas matter. IMO American blacks are heroes in many ways, and one of those ways is: they've never seemed to generally be as angry at whites as one might expect them to be. The PC / SJ left seems to be intent on changing that. Not in the service of actual justice, and not in the service of improving the lot of blacks in America. But, rather, merely for the goal of fanning the flames of racism and anger against a group that they despise.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

de Boer: The Contradiction Between Progressive Attitudes To (a) Sex Crimes and (b) All Other Crimes

   Insomnia's bad, so brain no worky...but this seems really, really good on a first read. I'm amazed and annoyed that I didn't think of this. Especially since it's very clear to me that (a) the left is too soft on violent crime in general and (b) it is too hard--hard to the point of insanity--on accusations of sexual assault and domestic abuse. They're obviously wrong about both things...but it's hard to even make the case that they're wrong about something without an outright inconsistency. "Progressives", it seems to me, generally won't admit to any error other than not being progressive enough... But what de Boer's argument shows is that they've gone too far to the left on at least one of the two issues. In fact, of course, they've gone too far to the left on both.
   I've noted before from time to time that "progressives"* are largely delusional about "the carceral state." There's no way to get the prison population down to levels that will make progressives happy without releasing a whole lot of violent criminals. Just releasing non-violent drug offenders will not do the trick. Progressives speak as if having a lot of people in prison is clearly, all things considered, an evil thing. It isn't. It depends on how many violent criminals you have in your society. It's bad to have a lot of violent criminals, of course...but given that you have  lot of violent criminals, it's better to have them locked up than not. Having lots of people in prison may show that you should be doing things differently--doing them in a way that helps bring down rates of violent crime (to the extent that that can be done with public policy). But it may be basically a good thing given your real and relevant current options.
   And, of course, the left is utterly crazy about sexual assault right now, as the way its being treated on campuses makes clear. The "listen and believe" madness really is off the loony scale. And this can't be blamed merely on the fringiest fringe of the academic left--the DoJ is enforcing something akin to that view as law on all public universities.
   How the contradiction escaped me is beyond me.
   At any rate, I just want to point out: since both views are crazy, we can't resolve the contradiction by adopting one of them and adjusting the other accordingly. Neither will work. The view that it's better to have violent criminals victimizing the innocent than it is to have high incarcerations rates is daft. And so is the trendy view of sexual assault according to which all accusations should be believed, burdens of proof on accusations should be radically lightened, and "victims" can decide months or hears after the fact that sex was non-consensual.
   Both views have to go.

* I've just decided to go ahead and use "progressive" to mean, roughly, bad liberal. Or rather, to mean something like: bad very lefty liberal or member of the rightward edge of the PC/identity politics left or liberal too weenieish to defend the term 'liberal' after it became a term of abuse.

Jessim, "Truth In Stereotypes"

"Report Debunks 'Born That Way' Narrative And 'Transgender' Label For Kids

   I haven't read the full paper yet, but the summary at The Federalist sounds pretty reasonable to me.
   Of course I'm merely a reasonably-well-informed layperson with respect to the medical stuff. But on the philosophical side, there's really no doubt that the left's theory of transgenderism simply doesn't work.
   The report mentions something I've noticed before, which is that institutions have begun, in effect, encouraging children to believe that they're transgendered. That will be denied. The response will be: we've merely made it easy for kids to report what they actually are. But this isn't so. For one thing (and it sounds like this is one of McHugh and Mayer's points), kids really aren't one way or another with respect to sex, gender and so-called "gender identity" (I'm a broken record, but: that's a largely incoherent quasi-concept) at very young ages. Kids are simply indeterminate in many respects. (We're all indeterminate in some respects...but kids are much more so, and especially in these respects.) And there's a blurry line between mere acceptance and encouragement. In effect, the left is putting institutions and subcultures in place that say to kids:  "Are you transgendered? Are you? It's ok. It makes you special. There's nothing wrong with it. It could explain some of the uncertainty and anxiety you feel about these adult things you don't understand (sex and gender). Do you think you might be this special kind of person?"
   First, note that the official line on the left is that all of this is "socially constructed." That quasi-concept is a disaster of confusions...but, ignoring that fact and just aiming to cut the knot: if that's right, then social encouragement is tantamount to making children transgendered. Add to that another component of the left's theory: that being transgendered is a living hell...and you've got institutions that should be expected to have the effect of destroying kids' lives.
   Second, imagine that the far right were doing this with...I dunno...demonic possession or something. Or the ability to speak in tongues. No one would stand for that. Yet here we have the left taking an incoherent, barely-understood, entirely outlandish, unscientific, unproven theory...and building it in to schools and government.
   Third, at the borderline of illness, society can basically create such conditions. Somebody (Ian Hacking? Nicholas Rescher? Somebody?) used to write about this "disease" that suddenly gripped Europe in, like, the 19th century, where people would spontaneously walk extremely long distances--to other towns, to other countries. Just out of the blue, and with no explanation, with the trappings of illness (I don't know what happened...I never intended to do that...etc.) It was, in effect, a psychological illness fad. That's very probably what transgenderism is. There's little doubt that the trendiness of the thing is influencing some teenagers to claim transgenderism--"transtrenders" is the online term for them. And if we establish institutions that encourage it, we'll get more of it. That's not a complicated point.
   One important thing that undergirds all this is the real point that all this nonsense is ignoring: the old-school feminist point that the link between sex and gender is a lot more arbitrary than we used to think. It should be no surprise that there are feminine men and masculine women. And there really is nothing wrong with either of those things. What the left's theory of transgenderism gets wrong is: it gets the point almost exactly backwards. Instead of preaching acceptance for feminine men and masculine women, it preaches, in effect, that a feminine man is a woman and a masculine woman is a man. And that's batshit crazy. That would have been considered the bigoted view five years ago. In fact it is a bigoted view. And that's probably why the left's theory adds in the "gender identity" stuff--the relativistic/subjectivistic heart of the theory, inconsistent with all other parts, that says that you are whatever you think you are. That component allows it to avoid the uncomfortable and bigoted implication that all effeminate men are women. The theory leaves it all up to the individual...but then reifies the individual's subjective preferences and impressions, blowing them radically out of proportion and attributing to them consequences that they cannot have.
   This report will be rejected by the left because its conclusions are politically incorrect, and because it's by McHugh, who the left demonizes. And, hell, I haven't read it and don't know the medical and psychological stuff. So it might be bad. But--and here's the part that should worry everyone--there is no doubt that it will be attacked and rejected because there is a strong bias in favor of the left's theory of transgenderism that will lead to the rejection of any politically incorrect conclusion on this subject. Politics really does strongly infect psychology, especially its less-scientific quarters. And everybody should be worried about that.
   But, anyway, this, together with Rebecca Riley-Cooper's recent "Gender Is Not A Spectrum" gives me hope that maybe--just maybe--the resistance might manage to defeat the PC effort to suppress discussion of these issues. That's the big meta-problem here, as I keep repeating: serious discussion is verboten. To question any facet of the left's theory of transgenderism is to be "transphobic," which is a new kind of bigotry and the new worst thing you can be. It's kind of the left's version of Christianity's you are evil and will suffer eternal damnation if you don't believe. But that's been turbocharged to you are evil if you have any doubts at all. The former is a particularly fallacious ad baculum. We don't even have a name for the newer fallacy...but we really do need one...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Missouri: Clinton, Trump Virtually Tied?


Did Welfare Reform Work?

Either yes or no.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Texas Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama's Transgender Bathroom Directive

This is probably the right decision.  The position makes no sense, the arguments of the DoJ are a disaster, and this is exactly the kind of important social change that needs to be thought about carefully over a relatively long period of time rather than being rammed through.

Eli Stokols: What If Trump Won't Accept Defeat?

   One thing I disagree with in here is the claim that no candidate or party has ever questioned the legitimacy of the outcome of a national election. I'd say that's exactly what the GOP was doing in 2000. The Democrats' central argument was: We should count every vote and cheerfully abide by the outcome because such an attitude is central to the very idea of American democracy. The Republicans' central argument was: Give us the Presidency. Now.
   The GOP made it very clear that there were not going to give up, and that they did not give a rat's ass who had actually won, nor who had the most reasonable case. They got their supporters fired, up, they put together astroturf riots, they intimidate ballot-counters, they intimated that worse violence might be in the offing. Turns out they mostly won anyway...but what's really telling is what they were gearing up to do before that became clear. After Florida 2000, the GOP should not be considered a serious party with an actual commitment to democracy. And yet here we are...
   At any rate: it's basically happened before.
   I've dismissed worries about Trump "refusing to accept defeat" (as if he's going to have a choice...) up until now. But I started reflecting on Florida 2000 this morning, and now I'm all agitated and concerned. Not that I think they can do anything about the outcome...but because I think they can yet again weak our political institutions by casting doubt on them. In the past they've been perfectly willing to undermine American democracy and the faith and good will that sustains it in order to achieve narrow political goals. That's what Rush Limbaugh's career is built on. They'll be willing to do it again this time. They're tantrum could be epic...but it won't be contentless; it'll aim to convince people that our democracy is rotten.
   And that's the heart and soul of irrationality: giving up on the general because it doesn't yield a result you like in the particular. In this case: we won't get the (maniacal, idiot) president we fuck the whole institution of American democracy. This is one way you know you're dealing with extremist lunatics: they refuse to be bound by universalization principles. They want to think what they want and do what they want in each particular case...and consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds... Any attempt to bring order to the chaos of their thoughts is just another sign that You Don't Get It.
   Well, now I'm all pissed off about something that hasn't happened and may not do so.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Anti-Trump Violence In Minnesota

Website Issues Apology After "Triggering" Readers With Positive *Sausage Party* Review

At Heat Street
Make sure to skim through the tearful apology itself. (Archived, so no hits)
It's actually somewhat difficult to believe that these people are being serious...but they certainly seem to be. One of the things they are apologizing for seems to be that a white person wrote the review, but one of the characters in the movie is an animated "Latinx" lesbian taco. you can see...there's...I dunno...all sorts of privilege or...uh...I'm going to go with...uh...rape culture? Or...something?
Anyway, though they're apparently serious, they also seem to be unaware that they are parodies of themselves. Reading stuff written by these people is like reading something written by Scientologists. They're living in a fantasy world, obsessed with the details about the interactions of non-existent things and categories.

Big in Japan

Ahhh...ignoring politics currently.
This is better.

New Political Science Initiative Calls For Evaluating Research Before Knowing The Results

This is very, very exciting.
(h/t Statisticasaurus rex)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Is Trump's Charlotte Speech Trouble?

   There were several parts of that speech that would have grabbed me pretty hard if given by a sane candidate. I'm concerned that there may be an actual "pivot,", and that it could be trouble. There were also the standard crazy parts, though. Maybe instead of gaining saner people he'll just lose crazier ones. But his support seems pretty inelastic...
   At any rate, I'm less sanguine about this race than I was a day ago.

Not Ransom

   My guess is that the cash sent to Iran isn't ransom. Apparently there were two different streams of negotiation that didn't cross--which is even less like ransom than I'd guessed. I'd guessed that there was one big negotiation with lots of parts, and no 1-to-1 correspondence between any two parts on different sides. My not-very-well-thought-out view was that the best question to ask was: is this an established, accepted way to negotiate? Have such deals historically been categorized as ransom payments? This is the kind of case Republicans love to scream about. They're well-known for holding Obama to a different standard, and complaining about things he does even though they happily tolerate them in Republican administrations.
   But if the two different streams of negotiation story is true, then the cash is even less like ransom than I'd thought. In fact, if the streams of negotiation really were fully distinct, it simply isn't ransom at all.
   And withholding a payment negotiated for other reasons until hostages are released is not paying ransom.
   This is all pretty clear as far as I can tell. Of course I'm assuming that the administration's account is true--but that's a different issue.
   Republicans won't believe it, but their ODS is basically terminal at this point. I doubt most people will believe it, either. But that's a political/rhetorical matter that doesn't go to the truth of the administration's account, obviously. They're already more angry about this non-ransom payment than they've ever been about Reagan's actual ransom payments.