Sunday, May 31, 2015

George F. Will: A Summer Break From Campus Muzzling

   As I've said before, in my youth I thought of GFW as the loyal opposition--I seldom agreed with him, but I usually thought he deserved a hearing. In his old age, however, I think he's become a hard-right crank. So my current view is that he's typically only right if liberals screw up bad and give him a big opening. Which they have. In this piece, Will is basically right. And he's right because liberals--especially academic and web-liberals--have tolerated the growth of far-left nuttiness.
   I haven't noticed an expansion of far-left crackpottery on my own campus...but our students are a pretty mainstream lot. If we have a campus left at all, I've never noticed it... So,how widespread is the problem? I have no idea. But that's a question we can separate off. The views are nuts--we can agree about that and resolve to push back against them without knowing how big a threat they are.
   Oh, god, and the comments on that Will piece...what an embarrassment...  My favorite I think was roughly: Will is full of it because he doesn't mention right-wing threats to free speech, e.g. climate-change gag orders. So much facepalm... D'ya think these folks object to stories about laws discouraging discussion of climate change because they don't mention SJW / neo-PC thought police on campuses? What a lame criticism...
   Anyway: GFW is right about this one. And if liberals are going to keep giving him slow pitches down the middle, they'd better get used to him hitting it out of the park...

Bomb Threat Against GamerGate Meetup

   Gamergate is unfairly being represented as some kind of misogynist movement supporting the harassment of women online. I agree with Cathy Young, that it was certainly insufficiently against such harassment in its early days--the general attitude was: everybody has to put up with online harassment, and online threats are almost uniformly bogus. My own view is that this doesn't mean that online harassment isn't a problem, especially for women. Oh and: that they'd never win the support of the general public with that attitude. (I typically refuse to make such prudential arguments, but I bent that rule this time. Not that my view matters.)
   But the SJW-led anti-GG forces are strong, and they don't want to hear any pesky facts--e.g. that GamerGaters tracked down and exposed one of Anita Sarkeesian's most prominent harassers. Hoo should have seen the convoluted sophistries offered up to defuse that evidence...
   But anyway...: one of the main sophistries of the anti-GG crowd basically goes like this:
   Anita Sarkeesian et al. have been threatened...therefore GamerGate is misogynistic. Patent nonsense, of course...but that's just a specific instance of a generic type of argument often deployed on the left: someone who believes that p was mistreated, therefore p is true. I'm sorry that Ms. Sarkeesian has been threatened...but that doesn't mean that her views are true. Her analyses of video games are, in fact, almost uniformly very weak, ideologically motivated, and often downright dishonest. The fact that she's been harassed doesn't change that.
   But...see...if that (often tacit) argument form were to be accepted, then GamerGaters can now use it: we were the targets of a bomb threat, yo. Ergo our position is correct...
   Obviously silly...but what's sauce for the goose and so forth...
   I'm not so interested in GG's main issue: integrity in gaming journalism. What I'm interested in is the related problem of SJW propaganda in gaming journalism. What you have is a bunch of not-very-smart people who have picked up some bad left-wing quasi-philosophy third-hand or so, and who have far-left political and social agendas. They then spout that nonsense as if ex cathedra when they're supposed to be writing about, y'know, video games. Dissent is, of course, not welcome and not tolerated. If you do dissent, you see, you are a misogynist and ally of harassers. And so gaming journalism goes spiraling down the nutty rabbit hole of SJW / neo-PC fantasy.
   Yes, we need to do something about online harassment, especially of women. But that neither entails nor suggests that we need to accept loony far-left theories about it all--"rape culture," "microaggressions," the method of unrestricted, politically-motivated literary interpretation, identity politics and the rest of that whole mess... We already have policies for dealing with actual threats and genuine harassment, of course. We might need to think harder about how to apply such policies to the internet...but there's no need to go flying off the handle, grabbing whatever lunatic theory happens to condemn such harassment most strongly. Liberalism as the resources to handle this. There's no need to abandon it in favor of illiberal, radical-left theories. That would be an over-reaction of biblical proportions. It's a problem...but it's not even close to being a big enough problem for us to sell our souls to the thought police just because they offer one way to fix it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Marcotte, Housework, and "Gender Essentialism"

   One last thing about that characteristically crappy Marcotte piece about housework...
   Marcotte accuses advocates of a Chait-style different standards explanation of "gender essentialism" (a term that's frequently used in a disastrously confused way on the left). She writes:
Eventually a man pops in and says that it’s women’s fault for having too-high standards, an argument that starts with the gender essentialist assumption that all women’s standards are high and all men’s are low.
   But that's bullshit, of course. Chait doesn't ever say nor suggest that all women have higher standards of cleanliness than any man. That would be stupid. And it's a straw man. What he suggests is that men typically have lower standards than women. I mean...since it isn't true that all men do more housework than their gfs/wives, there's no reason to even consider postulating that all men have lower standards than any woman... Essentialism just doesn't enter into this discussion in any way.
   Jeez, Marcotte is just really bad... 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Do Men Do Less Housework Because They Have A Different Standard Of Cleanliness? Chait v. Marcotte

   I've often wondered whether that might be part of the explanation...though speaking for myself, it's pretty clear that it's not the whole explanation...
   Anyway, Jonathan Chait suggests that it is at least part of the explanation.
   Guess what Amanda Marcotte thinks? Is it, even in part, a difference in preferences? Or is it...teh menz = eeeevil?  No...go on...guess!

President of Connecticut College Should Apologize to Andrew Pessin For False Accusation of Racism/Hate Speech

   Bergeron has an excuse of sorts--she seems to have accepted the accusers' version of things without checking them out herself... One way or another, there is no doubt that she owes Pessin an apology.  

Krugman: Errors And Lies

  As I've put it myself many times, we were lied into the Iraq war.
  Because the GOP is still committed to denying this, we need to continue to speak the truth about the matter. It's not a close call. It's a very straightforward matter. It used 9/11 as a pretext to carry out an unrelated war that it wanted to conduct. It, in effect, inflicted a second 9/11 on the United States.
   I still can't write about this without becoming furious.


   Just another opportunity for some jabbering about rape crisis feminism.
   Feminism needn't be stupid, you know...though political movements often are, and identity politics more so than other I suppose it's par for the course...
   Was the feminism of my youth this ridiculous? Was I just too callow to see it?

RIP Coach Gut

   I've been busy, and largely without web access, so I'm just getting a chance to post about this.
   I really liked Bill Guthridge, and, of course, really loved watching some of those teams.
   Dang, this has really been a tough year for the Carolina family...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Michael Walzer: Islamism And The Left

   You should read this at Dissent.
   I didn't realize this was Walzer until I'd finished it. I think it's just great and mostly right on the money. It's my impression that there is still some uncertainty about whether terrorism is driven by e.g. poverty, but the evidence I've seen is against that claim. Walzer does miss the opportunity to comment on the fact that the far left errs repeatedly by denying that ideas are powerful, and trying, in good Marxist fashion, to attribute all political action to socio-economic forces. He's also wrong to basically identify leftism with unmitigated political good. The far left is nuts--as irredeemably insane as the far right. Better to think in terms of liberals and/or centrists as opposed to extremists.
   It's instructive to note how much space Walzer has to take up genuflecting to shibboleths... He burns paragraph after paragraph trying to establish his progressive cred in a no-doubt futile effort to avoid being charged with islamophobia by the very leftists to whom he is speaking.
   Anyway, I say read it. It's good.

Jeb Bush Would Invade Iraq Again, Even Knowing What We Know Today

   Here's Beinart on it.
   Sure, he reversed positions as soon as he found out that people remembered how that is completely insane... But at least we know what he really thinks, despite his retraction. And that alone makes him unfit to be President.
   And it's hard not to suspect that a lot of the GOP secretly agrees with Jeb. And that's a very good reason to keep them as far away from the Presidency as possible... Congress, too...but that's going to be a lot harder...
   The reason politics is such bullshit is that people rarely have to admit error. Unless, y'know, it's some tearful self-recrimination about sex or something...
   Iraq is a kind of litmus test. If, in 2015, you still think that it was a good idea, then you are an idiot. It's kind of hard to even defend thinking that it was a good idea in 2002...but it's impossible to defend it now. There are a lot of controversial issues and close calls in the world of policy...Iraq is not one of them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Classical Literature Too "Triggering" For Columbia Students

link, via Reason


   Ok look...  It's not that this is abject stupidity...  It's not that there are no thoughts here worth discussing... As I somtimes note, it's kind of hard to be wrong about everything...
   One might have an interesting discussion about these issues. I'd certainly be willing to do so. I used to not teach J. J. Thomson's "A Defense Of Abortion" in class because there are a couple of very abstract references to rape. I thought something like: well, why risk bringing that topic up when it might be very upsetting to some people, and there's a very large number of other things we might read in an intro class? At any rate, I don't think this is unmitigated idiocy... And pretending that it is simply weakens the case that really ought to be made against all this...
   But anyway: I'm not going to discuss the real issues. No time. Got too much to do. Haven't thought about them enough.
   What I'm going to gesture at is this: what's really insane about all this stuff is the bizarre, dogmatic, cultishness of it all. This stuff is plagued by absolute obsession with a rather narrow range of issues (the Holy Trinity: race, sex, class, and some peripherals). The bizarre pronouncements about what we must and must not do (for whatever is not mandatory is forbidden...) are handed down as if ex cathedra from true believers. And the guiding ideas seem to be that no one must ever feel uncomfortable about anything... No, wait: certain kinds of people must never feel uncomfortable about certain kinds of things...but everyone else is supposed to be ceaselessly wracked with guilt about other things--being white, being male, being straight, being Western, etc...  We must never miss an opportunity to rend our garments about our horrible, horrible Western heritage. No topic is too tangential, no connection too tenuous... I'm all for a dispassionate look at our history...but obsessive self-flagellation is something else entirely.
   And then, of course, there's the point that Brown makes in the Reason piece: the truly mind-boggling hyperbole... The SJW's trump card is: I was afraid. The student wasn't merely upset by the discussion--she felt "unsafe." In a classroom at Columbia. These, the safest people living more-or-less the safest lives of any people who have ever lived lives on this Earth are--allegedly--terrified. Of everything. It might be a pose...on the other hand, they may actually have talked themselves into something like real fear... Who knows? But the old PC's "I was offended" isn't good enough anymore. "I was afraid" is the move in the game to which there is supposed to be no response...  If I assert that I was afraid, then you must stop doing whatever I claim has frightened me. I am--if I am a member of certain groups--entitled to live a life entirely unperturbed by thoughts, words and deeds that I find upsetting...I any way.
   So, anyway. We can discuss the issues. I'm ok with that--though I am actually strongly inclined to think that this stuff is all overblown and confused. But, of course, I could be wrong. What I'm really concerned about, though, is that the bizarre SJW cult is increasing in power--largely, I think, because liberals tend to fall on their knees before such claims, almost no matter how unreasonable. And so the cult gains more and more influence, especially in academia--a salient that's particularly vulnerable to attacks from the left, and from which the cult can exercise disproportionate influence. this cult knows the shibboleths. The mere mention of them often breaks liberal resistance.
   And critical thought about such claims is itself one of the things alleged to be oppressive. "The student claims she was essentially dismissed, her concerns were ignored." "Essentially" dismissed? Or dismissed? Does "her concerns were ignored" really mean: her concerns were considered? I suspect that what's really meant here is that the professor had the temerity to fail to automatically comply... But here I speculate...
   Anyway. Discus the issues? Sure, ok. They're certainly not the most important issues confronting us... But sure. Let's discuss them. My guess is that a rational discussion of this stuff might help break the power of the SJW cult. And that would be a good thing. (And it would still be a good thing even if they turn out to be right about some things.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dems Introduce Bill To End Gerrymandering

Unlikely to succeed, of course. But IMO gerrymandering is at least as big a problem as our campaign finance problems.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Will Obama Murder Glenn Beck In The Night?

Yeah probably.

Why Physics Needs Philosophy

If We're Not Going To Tax Carbon Emissions... about maybe we at least quit subsidizing them?

Will The Clintons Murder The Authors Of The New Book About Them?

Well probably...duh

Friday, May 08, 2015

Scientific Disciplines: Not So Sexist After All?

Krauthammer: "Come Back To Me In Five Months" If We Haven't Found Any WMDs...

   That was, like, a whole lot of five monthses ago...
   If you're not held to account for your errors, you just get to say whatever you want.

Right-Wing Lysenkoism: GOP Slashes NASA's Earth Science Budget

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Reason: The Real Problem With Rolling Stone's Campus Rape Fiasco

I think this is exactly right.


I try to remain dispassionate and to acknowledge my ignorance about these issues...but it's hard for me to deny that I am deeply concerned about these programs.

Bad Astronomy And SJWs

   I think it was Aa who directed my attention to this post at Slate/Bad Astronomy. I guess I disagree with it, though...
   FWIW, my view is that this post (a) is pretty bad, and (b) illustrates pretty well what's wrong with the SJW / neo-PC stuff, and (c) also shows how the stuff is infecting the mainstream.
   Apparently the author had his face superimposed over Botticelli's Venus and noted how funny that would look. He was subsequently (of course) accused of being a retrograde this case, of having offended people who are transexual/transgendered. He subsequently prostrated himself about it. He notes that some might think this (ahem) transgression to be minor/imaginary (I think that, incidentally). He, however, asserts that "nobody gets to tell someone else what offends them."
   That's the current madness in a nutshell: A does something innocuous. B notes that it can be interpreted as "offensive" to some group (got to be a group, of course!). B then accuses A of something-ism. A then prostrates A's self and begs for forgiveness...
   Is it true that you have no right to tell me what I find offensive? Well, only technically. You have no control over what I find "offensive"...but you have every right to point it out if I find something offensive that a reasonable person would not object to. And if my assertion comes along with a demand that you apologize or cease and desist, then of course you get to tell me if you think I'm being unreasonable. Liberalism has always had to find a way through such disputes by applying a reasonable person standard, prone though that is to error. The illiberal left, however, decrees that certain (but not all) groups get carte blanche to declare such things wrong. Their judgments are not to be questioned. And that's just stupid.
   (Note: none of this means that I might not be wrong about the particular case in question. Of course I might. And so might Plait and company... People sometimes get things wrong. That's what views that are more-or-less built on relativistic foundations always fail to understand...)
   Plait goes on to write:
And for the other bit, people derisively calling us “social justice warriors”? They may use it as a derogatory term, thinking of SJWs as shrill and overbearing, but to me it’s a term that refers to people willing to go to bat for others who don’t have as big a soapbox. I might prefer the term “ally,” but SJW fits fine, too. This world could use a lot more social justice. I’ll be happy to fight for it when I can.
   Yeah, well, "to me" it's the other thing. The shrill thing...
   Thing is, the 'J' in 'SJW' has about as much to do with justice as the 'D' in 'DPRK' has to do with democracy. Contrary to what such folk believe, declaring yourself to be something does not make you that thing. And declaring yourself a champion of justice doesn't make you one.
   And questions of offensiveness are not questions about justice anyway...  Questions about hurt fee-fees are of a much lower order of seriousness than questions of justice.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Beinart: Don't Underestimate Bernie Sanders

   I don't want America to look like Scandanavia... But I don't want it to be a goddamn plutocracy either... Maybe people like Sanders and Warren can shake up the Dems and energize the Democratic wing of the Democratic party...


"When Discussing Humanity's Move To Space, The Language We Use Matters." it doesn't.
   First of all: Jebus, this nonsense is just everywhere. I'd have thought SciAm might be immune...
   Second: these people are massively obsessed with language. Probably because they are more-or-less ideologically committed to the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis (or Sapir-Whorf as it's become known...dunno why the inverted order...). The lefty-left wants to control our thoughts, and it's also largely committed to the claim that basically everything is (warning: nonsense term afoot) "socially constructed"...and they tend to cash that out in terms of some kind of nominalist antirealism that makes reality (magically) dependent on're obsessed with language...
   It does, of course, matter how we think about these things...because if we think false and/or confused things, then we'll be wrong. Or worse, as Pauli put it, not even wrong... And language does matter a bit, as it can help to structure and guide our thinking. But it does not create the world. And it does not determine thought (that is: the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is false.)
   Well, the real story here is probably more genetic/historical: the bad theories that spawned the quasi-philosophy of the contemporary left was largely spawned out of literature departments and other disciplines that think about language rather than things...rather, even, than actual thoughts or properties. The chattering class--and that's where neo-PC has metastasized--is largely made up of people who, well, talk...and think about talking. And people tend to think that what they tend to think about is more important than it actually is...
   Anyway...  What really matters is that we get our thinking straight about space exploration--like, well, everything else... For example, one thing we'd want to do is not mindlessly apply the mindless lefty political orthodoxy of the moment to space exploration...especially when it obviously fails to apply. The left and the left fringe of liberalism have been obsessed with colonialism for twenty or thirty years or so. They don't do a lot of clear nor original thinking over there, so what they basically do is apply their pet political categories willy-nilly. You'd think that the fact that there are no people on Mars to oppress might make even them realize that they're being dumb. But...apparently not... Next I expect articles on exporting "rape culture" to Mars or some such nonsense...
   Bad theories and bad categories make even smart people stupid. Believing a bad theory is like running a stupidity emulator. No matter how fast your processor, you're turning yourself into a Commodore 64 by buying into this idiocy.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Is Obama Giving Iran Nuclear Weapons In Order To Start A Nuclear War To Fight Global Warming?

   Is Obama giving Iran nuclear weapons so that they will use those nuclear weapons and start a war using nuclear weapons in order to fight overpopulation and global warming so that the far lefties of the future will see him as a hero?
   Yeah, probably.

Jade Helm: Obama Uses Special Forces To Confiscate Texas!!!!!!!!!!!111

Or, y'know, something like that.

SJWs Drive Joss Whedon Off Of Twitter?

   Here's a kind of summary of some of the the current lefty-left (and increasingly just: liberal) insanity.
   It's like a giant, roiling mass of hair-trigger accusations of racism and sexism. A bunch of not-terribly-bright people (except for Whedon, who I think is pretty damn sharp, even though he's been sucking up to the neo-PCs...) immersed in terrible political theories and half-assed pseudo-philosophy exploding out of their echo-chamber/hugbox to shriek at a former hero who wrote something in which somebody does something that some other people who are basically crazy thought was inconsistent with something in their crazy theory.
   Twitter slap-fight ensues...

Monday, May 04, 2015

Liberalism: The Reality-Based Community?

   Perhaps it never really was all that much...but there's no doubt that it's less so now than it used to be...
   One of the most dangerous aspects of the PC / SJW madness that's spreading among American (and, apparently, British) liberals: it subordinates facts to ideology. What ought to be relatively straightforward (though to some degree philosophical) biological questions like "is race real?" and "what is the sex of person p?" get (allegedly...though not, y'know, actually) transformed into moral/political questions. Discussion and debate are verboten.  Choosing the wrong answer is double secret verboten...though...well...not really secret, I guess... And that's Lysenkoism. And that's very, very bad...
   Liberalism struck back against this insanity in the '90's...will it work up the gumption to do so again? 
   Honestly, I'm not sure.
   I used to think that liberals tended to be more reasonable than conservatives...  Then during the PC madness of the '90's I came to think that liberals were basically about as irrational as conservatives...I just happen to agree with their conclusions more often... Then after PC was mostly squashed--and American conservatism totally flipped its shit during Clinton-Bush-Obama--I sort of allowed myself to tacitly slip back into believing that liberals were more reasonable... But now I doubt that again. 
   Liberalism seems only too ready to embrace far-left nuttiness and patently absurd metaphysical views so long as doing so seems...I don't know...what?...nicer or something? God knows... Sometimes I worry that many liberals would accept almost anything so long as it allowed them to feel more progressive or open-minded about something... 
   I do continue to think that the center will rise up and laugh the fringe away again...but I'm in no way sure that it will...

Megan Garber: An Optimist's Guide To Political Correctness

   It's just empathy, you see!
   Funny how we didn't get "An Optimist's Guide To The Tea Party," telling us that the TP is really just about the wholesome, welcome, rational recognition that government can't solve all our problems...
   The handiest thing you can have is a rheostat on your critical faculties...

University of Michigan RA Fired For Asking What 'BBW' Stands For And Laughing At A Joke About It

   In case you don't believe that SJW madness has infected colleges, I refer you here.
   This is, in fact, one of my main worries--this sort of mindless PC screwiness infects not only faculty and students, but low-grade administrative organizations like residence life. In fact, faculty generally have no idea what goes on there, the people who run the show tend not to be exactly the sharpest tools in the shed, and it's exactly the kind of place that an insane political orthodoxy can metastasize.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

PC/Twitter Follies: Referencing Horse Euthanasia is TEH VERRY UN-PEESEE!!!!111

ALSO RAPEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111111111ONEONEONEONEONE!!!!!111
American public discourse is getting stupider by the day.

Members of Free Speech Organization Protest Giving Free Speech Award To Charlie Hebdo


Friday, May 01, 2015

Estate Tax Follies: The GOP Wants To Give The 25 Richest Americans A $334 Billion Tax Break

Dino-Watch: Yi Qi, Bat-Winged Freak

So cool

Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe

This has caused a shitstorm.

Bernie Sanders Would Dismantle NSA Domestic Spying

I uh...might just throw my vote away on Bernie, just for the record...

SpeechCrime In The UK

Holy thoughtcrime, Batman:
A Christian preacher who was held by police for 15 hours without water or food has won £13,000 in compensation for wrongful imprisonment.
John Craven was held by Greater Manchester police after two teenage boys claimed they were offended by his views of homosexuality after the preacher told them: "God hates sin, but he loves the sinner".
The Christian Institute, which funded the legal claim against Manchester police, said Mr Craven was approached by the boys and deliberately asked about his thoughts on same-sex relations.
The boys then kissed in front of him, acted out "obscene" sexual gestures and reported him to a police officer, according to the preacher. He was arrested under section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986, for using insulting words with the intention of causing "harassment, alarm or distress".
The 57-year-old was held for 19 hours at a city centre police station and, according to the pastor, denied food, water and his medication for rheumatoid arthritis for 15 hours. The preacher said he was eventually given a bowl of cereal and microwave meal.

Freddie Gray's Death Ruled Homicide

The Microaggression Farce

   A more likely effect of all this nonsense: the dumbification of liberalism and mass exodus of younger people to conservatism. Even if liberals don't care about the former, perhaps they'll care about the latter...

Galaxy Quest TV Series?

FightSmart /

I like this site.
Some good training videos on here, and Trav is a funny dude.