Thursday, July 27, 2017

Scaramucci Is Gonna Fit Right Into This Shitshow

And our national embarrassment just keeps getting more and more embarrassing.

Mattis and the 6-Month Moratorium On Transgender "Accession" vs. The Trump Twitter Thing: There Went Our Last Opportunity For Rational Discussion

I'm having trouble figuring out what's going on.
This six month delay seems perfectly reasonable to me.
I was confusing this with Trump's Twitter it really possible that Trump just made up a policy and announced it via Twitter without consulting the Joint Chiefs et al.?

   I've long said that Trump is just going to fan the flames of political correctness. The GOP is going to get crushed in '18 and '20 (says me), and the fury of the progressive left will know no bounds. Mattis might have succeeded in gaining elbow room for something vaguely resembling rational discussion, at least in the military. Now, I'm afraid there's no hope for that.
   By seemingly making up policy on the spur of the moment and infuriating the left, I expect that Trump has now made rational discussion of this policy even less possible than it was before. Before, there was some small chance; now I fear there's none.
   Perhaps the only route now is to fall back to a general position encouraging that massive policy and social changes not be made without at least some small bit of rational discussion...though I expect that progressives will reject even that rather minimal proposition out of hand. (Of course what they'll say is: we have discussed it.)
   We now seem to have moved to a social phase in which, if you can successfully represent yourself as a sexual minority of some kind, none of your demands can be denied or even discussed critically.
   And, again, I say all this as someone who thinks that a more reasonable society would be much less hung up on appearance and modes of dress.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump Calls For Ban On Transgender People In The Military: I May Be OK With That

   My initial inclination was to be against this decision, but about one minute after reading the story, I started thinking it might be more complicated than I initially thought.
   I tend to think that everybody pretty much ought to be able to look however they want. I don't see how we can legitimately demand that men can't wear dresses. Apparently there was a time at which, at least among the upper classes, women weren't to wear pants...and that was eventually recognized to be dumb.
   My only beefs with the PC theory of transgenderism are that (a) it's false, (b) it's deeply philosophically confused, (c) it's scientifically unproven (I's false, for one thing...), and (d) it's being forced onto society by extremist/activist hectoring and deception. The theory is bad, and must be rejected. That doesn't mean that men should be punished for adopting a feminine appearance, nor that women should be punished for adopting a masculine one.
   People must be left free to live their lives as they see fit--consistent with similar freedoms for others, of course. I'm even willing to consider desegregation of public restrooms, locker rooms, and sports...though I'm skeptical.
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Liberals vs. Conservatives on Russiagate

My summary would be: liberals are outraged and think that there's obviously a large amount of dirty-dealing afoot--a cover-up is likely and collusion with the Russians is not unlikely. Conservatives are outraged because they think there is collusion between the Dems and the MSM to blow this all out of proportion and illegitimately bring down Trump.
   If we were to make these positions more fine-grained, we ought to be able to make some predictions from them. Then, when the facts are in in a year or ten, draw a conclusion about which side was less crazy and which side more so.

New Study On Sexual Harassment Of Graduate Students

Via Leiter, this is interesting.
   As I've said before, I know for a fact that some jaw-droppingly blatant and egregious instances of sexual harassment happen to graduate students in philosophy. (Though, come to think of it, I also know of some cases of female students being pretty aggressive in their pursuit of male professors and grad students...) I also know for a fact that there are repeat offenders, and other faculty are in a position to know who they are, but fail to do anything about it. It really is just about the god-damndest thing you every saw in your life, and I can barely write about it without getting extremely angry.
   However, I also know for a fact that there are patently false--and often politically-motivated--accusations of sexual harassment in philosophy, in particular of the "hostile environment" kind. I've seen hostile environment claims used against people simply for criticizing philosophical feminism in the ordinary, philosophical ways (and I've seen such claims taken to university offices, and promulgated nationally). I've also seen utterly frivolous hostile environment claims made about individuals (not me, incidentally). It's just about the second god-damndest thing you ever saw.
   Here's the situation, in philosophy, anyway: sexual harassment is real, and real problem. However, PC/feminist ideology is also rampant, and it has the effect of promoting exaggeration of the problem and false accusations.
   In the middle are a lot of people of good will who aim to do the right thing. Good luck with that, everybody!
   Finally: I'm on a hair-trigger with respect to such things, but the IHE story seems a little slanted to me--not that I'm so objective about such things these days. The comment about Kipnis seems like a dig--my guess would be that she likely said something more like: I can't comment on a 90-page report that just came out; I haven't had time to read and digest it yet. Also, finding that 53% of the claims involve serial harassers doesn't show that there's little truth to the idea that single, false, career-ending accusations aren't a significant threat. A left lean with respect to this issue is common in academia, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's one here. But I also wouldn't be surprised if I were imagining things.

Cathy Young Is Right: Betsy DeVos Is Right: Sexual Assault Policy Is Broken

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trump / Youngstown

Somehow, impossibly, even cringier than the bizarre speech in front of the Boy Scouts.
What the hell is wrong with that guy?
He's off his rocker.

Trump / Boy Scouts

Gamergate: The Creation Of An Alternate Reality Proceeth Apace

So, as you may recall, Sargon of Akad attended a panel discussion at VidCon; Anita Sarkeesian was a member of the panel. He said nothing. She freaked the f*ck out. He is one of her critics--in best PC fashion, she characterizes criticism as harassment. (Afterward, apparently she pulled Boogie2988 into a room and freaked out at him--why, I do not know.) Since then, Sarkeesian and the PC/SJs have been saying that Sargon harassed her (Sarkeesian). Here's just one more brick in that wall, at the rather creepily-named "UN Women: The UN Entity For Gender Equality."
   Every single thing that Wilson says in that clip is 100% false--and the entire event was captured on video. It is demonstrably false. And yet the PCs know that if they just keep saying it over and over, they can do what they did with Gamergate: create a myth that is taken up and repeated by their comrades, and by the MSM, until it becomes the orthodox story, tantamount, in its effects, to a Trumpian alternative fact. Even the fact that the entire event is on video does not seem to deter them. I really think that's worth thinking about: the proof they are lying is about three clicks away from everyone with an internet connection...and yet they are not afraid to repeatedly spout bald-faced lies. IMO this should tell you something about their M.O. and their confidence in its power.
   One can't help but wonder whether their fondness for this tactic might not be the source of their fondness for the idea of "the social construction of reality"...

More Consequences Of The Tuvel/Hypatia Dust-Up

Still Not Getting All My Comment Notifications

Sorry.  Just published some of the backlog. Will do better.

Coddling Your Interlocutor

I don't have many opportunities to have discussions with conservatives anymore--I think I only know approximately two IRL. And, obviously, I'm particularly down on the left now that political correctness is back, crazier than ever...and, as in the '80s and '90s, more mainstream liberals seem to be backing the PCs up / refusing to criticize them. (And what are "progressives," anyway? I tend to think of them as roughly an intermediate case between liberals and PCs/SJs...but God knows.) Anyway, I'm sure that what I'm about to say goes for conservatives as well, I just tend not to encounter them anymore.
   It seems to me that it's very difficult to make any headway with liberals unless you start off with some epistemic coddling. And what I mean by this is saying things roughly like: I'm on your side...I share your basic ideas...I'm mostly a liberal myself...and so on.
   Obviously, if you want to persuade people, that's a good tactic. I don't think it's much of a mystery why that is. 
   Jesus, I hope nobody is actually reading this dreck.
   Look, I'm not unsympathetic. But I have two reasons for--often, at least--crankily refusing to preface my ranting and raving with epistemic coddling:
   First: I'm not concerned to persuade. I'm just yelling at the television and articulating arguments. I tend to think that it's none of my business what other people do with them. If I state arguments for a position, and do it straight, then I'm inclined to think they're roughly sound. But I think of it more like telling you there's beer in the fridge than like trying to entice you into taking one. I make them available--you do as you will. I don't have all that much interest in persuasion...usually, anyway. Trying to persuade seduces us into bullshitting. State the arguments and leave it to your interlocutor what to do with them, I say.
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We Already Have An Arsenal Plane

It's da BUFF

Monday, July 24, 2017

When Liberals Use Military Force For Humanitarian Reasons, They're Utopian World Police; When Republicans Do It, They're Defending Civilization And Humanity

This particular aspect of the conservative double-standard sends me through the damn roof.

Trump Re-Ups "Worst Deal Ever" With Iran

One of the many things that drives me crazy about politics is when candidates ridicule policy without regard for what the real, actual options are, as if they could simply snap their fingers and implement a policy with all the advantages they can imagine and no down-sides. Funny how the worst of all possible deals suddenly looks pretty damn good when you've got to deal with the real world of actual facts.

Senator (Kid) Rock?

Promise you'll shoot me if this happens.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

Two raptor claws down.
   And my standards for giant-apes-fighting-giant-skull-monsters-from-the-center-of-the-Earth movies are pret-ty low, lemme tell ya.

Wikipedia Is Astonishingly Biased With Respect To Race

Holy God. I was looking at that stuff again today, and, if anything, it's gotten worse. I don't have time to write anything fascinating about it now, but I'm just blown away by how distorted / biased basically all the major entries on race are. They basically all absolutely bend over backwards to shamelessly promote PC social constructionist theories of race. Really, they barely rise above the level of propaganda. There is just no way that it's merely a massive complex of honest mistakes. There is clearly a political / cultural / philosophical agenda in play.
   Do people understand that Wikipedia absolutely cannot be trusted on any matter than intersects with American politics, the culture war, and so on?

Should Community Colleges Abolish Algebra Requirements?

I'm not going dignify that question with a response.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Berkeley Radio Station Cancels Dawkins Interview Because Of "Hurtful" Tweets About Islam

Sooo...unsurprisingly, you can ridicule the shit out of Christianity, and the left is totally fine with that. In fact, psyched about it. But say something unflattering about Islam...not ok, shitlord...not ok...

Did Sessions Discuss Trump-Campaign-Related Matters With Russian Ambassador And Then Make False Statements About It?

But, of course, Kislyak could be lying.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A 747 Full Of Cruise Missiles


Say what you will about the email-stealin', election-tamperin', Trump-electin' Rooskies...they make some sexy-ass airplanes.

If You Want To Understand Gamergate, Look No Further Than The McEnroe-Serena Williams Dust-Up

Gamergate is basically the McEnroe-Williams dust-up. Behold the lefties and lefty journalists madly spinning McEnroe's comments into sexism (or "misogyny"...'sexism' is passe because there's anti-male sexism too.) McEnroe was 100% right. His critics are 100% wrong. And yet they are undaunted. They are convinced that his entirely true comments--comments he made only because prompted to by Lulu Garcia-Navarro's ridiculous prompting--have to be sexist. And they're willing to just flat-out make shit up in order to prove it.
   Now... Imagine that the issues were more complex, and not easily mastered in 30 seconds. And imagine that a chorus of drooling jackass McEnroe supporters decided to start harassing Williams because of the incident. (Actually to make the cases really parallel, you'd have to also assume that Williams was a terrible person and kiiiinda deserved it...). And imagine that Williams herself were unscrupulous, and exaggerated the harassment as a means to career advancement. And imagine that a few other vaguely Williams-like female tennis pros were similarly unscrupulous, and they got into the act as well...
   And what you'd have then is basically Gamergate. It was not a "campaign of harassment" against women in gaming--though there was, undoubtedly, harassment involved. It was, first and foremost, a backlash by gamers against shitty, incestuous, politically correct games journalism. But, as we know, one shouldn't quarrel with those who buy ink by the barrel... Shitty games journalism struck back by painting Gamergate as inherently and primarily misogynistic. Since nobody outside that world knows nor cares what's going on, and the kinds of guys who categorize themselves as gamers don't matter, socially speaking...well, the lie stuck.
   For the record, I wouldn't characterize myself as a gamer. I play video games sometimes--but it's not a community I identify with. So I have no independent reason for defending them on this.
   Gamergate is one of the reasons I've come to fear bias in journalism.  Another reason is the bullshit promulgated about the UNC academic AFAM scandal...which, as it turns out, sells way, way, way more papers if you tell people that it was about cheating and athletics... But I'm not going to get into that one right now.

[God, Vox is dreck.]

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New White House Press Secretary [No: Communications Director]

I can't listen to that guy for more than about five seconds at a time.

Is It Time To Start A New American Philosophical Association That Is Not The American Philosophical Association?

Reading the APA's "Good Practices Guide" makes me wonder whether it is--time for a new organization, I mean. The APA now seems to be primarily interested in promoting "progressive" political and social ideas rather than promoting...y'know...philosophy. The thing really is a mess, but I'm not going to get into it in detail now. Given its strong commitment to ideas that are clustered on the left end of the intellectual / political / social spectrum, the committee had to realize that a large percentage of the membership of the APA would disagree with a whole lot of it. I'm not sure why anyone would produce something so committed to such a particular, partisan set of ideas, knowing their unpopularity, if they didn't intend to try to ram the thing through and impose those ideas on those who disagree. Such an effort would likely be successful since a pall has fallen over discussions of such things, and many people are hesitant to disagree with ideas on the left for fear of being viewed as or called some version/complex of *-ist or *-phobic.
   The thing--which someone on the Metaforum has called The Miss Manners Guide To The Profession--actually contains the following paragraphs, which I just grabbed as the first laughable passage(s) I could find quickly:
Departments should discuss the value of promoting drinking in moderation at departmental social events. Steps that could be taken include limiting the number of drinks per person through the distribution of drink tickets; limiting the length of the event; and limiting the amount of alcohol served. 
Some institutions have taken the step of requiring that, at events where alcohol is served, a member of the department with training in good practices with regard to alcohol must be present. Such individuals can also be designated as persons to whom any concerns about alcohol-related behavior at the event could be communicated.
Obviously it's not that I have anything...much...against drinking in moderation. What seems laughable to me is the idea that the damned APA has any business taking a position on such things or telling people what it would allegedly be good for them to do in this respect. And "trained in good practices with regard to alcohol"????? Jesus Christ. It's really a bit difficult to believe that this isn't a joke. Then there are the bits about safe spaces at conferences... (Not making that up.) Not to mention that an entire section/chapter of the thing (of eight) is devoted to the quasipseudoscience of implicit bias. No objective person could seriously suggest that given the state of the discussion. If there were any doubt that it's a partisan document, the inclusion of that chapter alone would answer them. 
   The thing is seventy-seven pages long--seventy-seven pages of micromanagement of everything from what one should discuss in class to how much one should drink at departmental events. It includes quite a bit of material that seems to be intended to turn philosophy instructors into psychological counselors for their students. It deems innumerable things to be "good practice" that are very not good--e.g. choosing material for class on the basis of the biological characteristics of the authors. The thing would better be called something like An Attempt to Impose Early Twenty-First Century Obsessions Of The Left On The Formerly Noble (Or At Least Not-Completely-Shitty) Profession of Philosophy. 
   At any rate, the whole thing has made me wonder whether it might not be best for philosophy to go its own way, leaving politicized quasi-philosophy / social criticism / political activism to do as it will with the A"P"A. But I've got actual work to do now, so more on that later.