Sunday, March 31, 2013

Go Cards

And good luck to Kevin Ware.

Damn, that's some nasty bad luck for Louisville.

"The God-Shaped Hole" ; Can We Learn Anything From Religion?

At the New Statesman (via Metafilter)

Worth thinking about, IMHO.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

C'mon Spartans

Beat the d00quies!

Friday, March 29, 2013

"If I Admit That 'Hating Men' Is A Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?"



I have some inclination to say something about this, but I'll mostly just leave it here for now.


Just one thing...

There's a narrower and a broader point West might be making. She writes specifically of ment's rights advocates. I don't encounter those much, though when I do, I frequently think that what they say is wrong or overblown. The broader point that West might be making has to do with criticism of contemporary feminism by guys like myself. I used to consider myself a feminist. Now I don't. I have criticisms. As long as she isn't trying to make a broader point, and doesn't mean to be directing any of this fire at non-MRA (specifically male?) critics of feminism, then I don't have a ton of objections to what she says.

However, there is one rather serious problem that West (and many other feminists) should at least consider.

She argues that:

(1) Many men's right's advocates exaggerate the amount and effects of misandry.

In my opinion, that is true.

However, I also think that:

(2) Many feminists exaggerate the amount and effects of misogyny.

Now, misogyny or something like it is a real problem and it generates a lot more harm than misandry--I think everybody ought to agree about that. I don't see how even men's rights advocates could disagree. And this difference might have some implications for the comparative amounts of exaggeration that the two groups engage in. However, it seems unlikely that a tendency to exaggerate is limited to only one of these groups.

Exaggeration by feminists is not uncommon in my experience--and I say this as someone who thinks that women tend to face significantly more problems than do men. But consider how West's piece begins:
Okay, so maybe you are a man. Maybe you haven't had the easiest ride in life—maybe you grew up in poverty; you've experienced death, neglect, and despair; you hate your job, your car, your body. Maybe somebody (or multiple somebodies) pulverized your heart, or maybe you've never even been loved enough to know what a broken heart feels like. Maybe shit started out unfair and became irreparable and you never deserved any of this. Maybe everything looks fine on paper, but you're just unhappy and you don't know why. These are human problems and other human beings feel for you very deeply. It is hard to be a human. I am so sorry.
Though it is a seductive scapegoat (I understand why it attracts you), none of these terrible, painful problems in your life were caused by the spectre of "misandry."
Something similar could be said about feminists and misogyny. Though there's certainly more of that than there is misandry, the fact of the matter is that almost everybody accepts false explanations for their problems from time to time. And we have a natural tendency to seek explanations that are exculpatory when we're thinking about our own situations and actions. And playing the victim card is an incredibly powerful (rhetorical) strategy--more powerful currently than ever before, it seems. It seems like the go-to move of the early 21st century.

So look: if West thinks that feminists never do what she says men's rights advocates do constantly--in fact, exclusively--then she simply does not understand human beings. And she must not have met a lot of feminists.

Feminism is not an unusually virtuous political movement. It is subject to the same foibles as any other. And that means that its advocates go too far a lot of the time. Combine that with the fact that criticism of the movement is simply not tolerated in many quarters and, you an infallible blueprint for going too far...



If West is narrowly criticizing men's rights advocates and not all critics of contemporary feminism: ok. If she's implicitly criticizing all critics of contemporary feminism, then: not ok.

And: well...maybe I could put it this way: while you're going on, enthusiastically, about the beam in your brother's eye, you might give at least a little thought to the possibility that, just maybe, there might be at least a wee mote in your own.

Libertarians' "Freest State" 39th in Civil Liberties, Has Most Restrictive Abortion Laws

It's North Dakota, as we recently learned.

I do realize that many "libertarians" are merely crypto-conservatives. But many aren't. I've never understood how the movement overall became so obsessed with money and taxation, and ended up with what seems like so little actual regard for, y'know, actual liberty. Weird.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Transgender Bathroom Use

So, it seems that Arizona has made it illegal for males to use the bathroom for females, and vice-versa.

This has angered advocates for transgendered people.


Call me old-fashioned, but I suppose I'm rather a fan of the sex-segregated bathroom system. To be honest with y'all, I don't particularly like taking a whiz in front of other dudes, much less non-dudes. It's not, like, a major thing with me or anything. But I'm not exactly passionately opposed to the current system.

Does the system of sex-segregated public bathrooms make any sense sub specie aeternitatis?

Um, I don't think so.

But, then, neither do any number of handy and not-unreasonable human ways of getting along. There's probably no way to defend laws against public nudity, either, God bless 'em. Nor laws against having sex in public.

Anyway, if you're going to have a sex-segregated bathroom system, then I reckon you want it to split people up by, y'know, sex.

And that means: not by gender. The rule isn't: masculine people use one, feminine people use the other one. It doesn't split people up by, say, clothes. Or whatever.

So, though I don't think that Arizona should be going out of its way to be mean to people, I don't see the law as some kind of major affront to reason. I think you shouldn't be mean. But I'm having kind of a hard time working up outrage about this.

I don't particularly think we should give up the two-bathroom system. But I recognize that it's hard to defend without using a whole lot of highly contingent and conditional premises. Get rid of the system if you want...but, if it's in place, and if it's legitimately enforceable by law, then this seems like the right way to enforce it.

Maybe it doesn't make sense to segregate bathrooms by sex. But it makes even less sense to segregate them by clothes.

We could, of course, have a three-bathroom system: exclusively male, exclusively female, and open to everyone/anyone. But that's not going to happen. If we did have such a system, people with sex/ gender incongruities would have no grounds for objecting about being excluded from the bathroom for the other sex. (I wonder whether they would object, though? This isn't some kind of matter of principle in that respect, is it?) But we don't have such a system, and it'd be too expensive to retrofit everyplace.

I do have sympathy for people who have sex/gender mismatches. Life's got enough hassles without feeling like you're stuck in the wrong body. But there are limits to what "identifying" with a group can do. Identifying with males doesn't make you male. Identifying with Armenians doesn't make you Armenian. Identifying with astronauts doesn't make you an astronaut. Identifying with Holocaust survivors doesn't make you a Holocaust survivor.

Personally, I kinda think that we ought to just adopt a modus vivendi according to which, if you basically think of yourself as a dude, you use the dude's bog. There are enough exceptions, and the system is already incoherent enough that we probably ought to do whatever makes things go most smoothly. But I don't, in general, think "I identify with xes" is a terribly powerful reason for demanding that other people treat you like an x. Hell, if it is, I'm going to start identifying with excellent philosophers, or rich people, or super-hot people, or pro basketball players...

Finally: I do think that women have an interest in keeping guys out of women's rooms. But I'm bored with this topic already. Ergo I quit.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Cell-Phone Theft Epidemic

The Disability Disaster

Holy crap, this is a must-read.

The topic is the explosion of disability claims and the mechanisms that provide unreasonable incentives to move people onto the disability rolls.

[h/t S. rex]

[The Mystic sends us this response from Media Matters. I have only glanced at it, so I'm not vouching for it, just passing it along.]

Extended Whining About NPR's Best 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy List


I kinda don't like trying to list best sci-fi and fantasy at the same time, but it obviously tells you something that separate lists don't.

But look:  No Earthsea triology????????

Even if we could stand by and watch stuff like The Name of the Wind and American Gods (which I hated so much I didn't even finish it) rated above genuinely exceptional books like Watership Down and The Once and Future King--two books that, to my mind, at least flirt with genuine, transcendent greatness--I just can't take something like this seriously if it doesn't list the Earthsea trilogy anywhere.

I'm just not buying it.

Like so many such lists, recent, trendy stuff is simply overrepresented and overrated. LotR will still be at the top of this list in 100 years. Lots of these other books won't be there any more.

Like, IMHO, The Sword of Shannara, about which the less said the better.

Incidentally, I know f*ck all about literature, and I have found so little sci-fi/fantasy that I've even been able to finish for years that I'm not even up on the genre anymore.

So this is blowhardery at it's worst, to be honest about it...

All Your Uterus are Belong to Us: ND Enacts U.S.'s Most Restrictive Abortion Law

Abotions in North Dakota are no longer legal after a fetal heartbeat is detectable.

In theory, I believe that the states are the laboratories of democracy.

In practice, I think they're too often the petri dishes of authoritarianism.

Rush Limbaugh, Troll / Lesbians are Obese Drunks

Thing about this dude is that he is the perfect combination of stupid, evil, dishonest and greedy to make a fortune demagoguing.

He's a mean sonofabitch, so he's fairly adept at sitting around thinking up loathsome things to say about people, he's not very smart so he's not overwhelmed by the recognition of the preposterous consequences of what he says, he's dishonest, so he has no intellectual conscience to speak of, ergo he can turn a blind eye to the obvious idiocy of what he says, and he's driven by an unquenchable appetite for money and approval--the approval of other pigshits such as himself, that is.

He's really just a radio troll, spewing out sentences that might as well be randomly generated. He is immune to reason, and happy as a, well, pig in shit to be pecking away at the, shall we say, intellectually most vulnerable among us, making the country just a little bit worse every day. He's a bit like Tokyo Rose, though he's trying to attack the nation's rationality rather than it's morale. His nonsense is so idiotic that it just nauseates folks like you and me...but there are people out there with a marginal grip on reality who are gripped by his nonsense. You've got to have a mean streak (and/or a stupid streak) a mile wide to be drawn to Rush's delusional word salad...but in a country of 300 million people...well, there's apparently a lot of 'em...

Of course there have been more evil people in the history of the world...but it really is rather difficult to think of anybody who's a significantly bigger piece of shit than Limbaugh. What kind of guy is willing to build an entire career debasing himself? He might as well just sit there and say "I am an idiot" over and over, because that's all any of it really amounts to.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ender's Game: Has Everyone Gone Mad?

Look, no matter how you slice it, Ender's Game is not the third best sci-fi/fantasy book of all time...

It is not better than 1984. It is not better than I, Robot. It is not better than Starship Troopers. IT IS NOT BETTER THAN DUNE...

I don't think it belongs on that list at all...

WTF humans?????

[Edit: And The Name of the Wind????  Seriously? Not number 20. No. Nononononono. Not number 50. Nor 80. Nor 101... Come on!]

Zombie Novel Review: Mountain Man/Safari: Mountain Man Book 2

Until about three weeks ago, I thought it was pretty much safe to say:

All zombie novels other than World War Z suck.

Then I stumbled across D. J. Molles's The Remaining, which I thought perfectly readable. Ok, readable, anyway...

And then Keith C. Blackmore's Mountain Man and Safari: Mountain Man Book 2.

Look, let's be clear: this stuff isn't Faulkner. It isn't Tolkein. It isn't even Stephen King. But it's far from the unreadable, illiterate dreck that is most zombie novels. (Monster Island, I'm looking at you...) I read up book one and was happy to find that there was a second one. The second one's not as good as the first, but they'll both do the trick if what you want is an adventure story set in the IZA.

This all might sound like damning with faint praise, but I don't mean it to be. For what it is, this stuff's not bad. These two books gave me several nights of reasonably amusing reading, and I'm likely to read the third when it comes out.

Heck, you might even like 'em too...

And that's all I've got to say about that.

Am I The Only Sci-Fi Fan Who Hated Ender's Game?

I ask on the occasion of finding out that there's going to be a movie.

I didn't realize until pretty recently that it's a real phenomenon--apparently everybody but me loves it.

I know I read the short story, and I believe I might have read the book as well. Really hated it/them. Thought they were crap.

Recent experience makes me think I may be way, way in the minority here, though...

Read the stuff so long ago, though, that I can barely even remember why I hated it. Aren't they, like, little kids? Obnoxious little kids? And don't they, like, get some tactical training...and they're then basically given strategic command of, like, Star Fleet?'s starting to come back to me why I hated it...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Left-Wing Stranglehold On The Academy

Ok, ok...I know this is's like my third NRO or Weekly Standard post in like a week...but I've been dropping by Arts and Letters Daily rather a lot, and you know how it slants...

Anyway, here's this book, Forbidden City, by Neil Gross, himself a liberal apparently. He wants to know why academia slants left--a question I'm interested in as well.

I dunno why it is. Philosophy is a bit less loony lefty than, say, sociology (which Gross seems to focus on). Most philosophers I know are fairly level-headed liberals...but, then, my philosophy friends may not be a representative sample. In my experience, mainstream liberals are the most populous group in the academy, followed by loony lefties. Libertarians aren't uncommon. Conservatives seem to be there, but are pretty quiet about it. (It differs my discipline, too, of course...)

I went into academia because I was interested in philosophy, and because business seemed like a soul-crushing world of authoritarianism and mindless greed. Whether or not it really is, I have no idea. But that's what it seemed like young me. But mostly, I just wanted to study philosophy. I wasn't attracted to the academy because it was liberal...though I rather was repelled by business because it was conservative.So that's consistent with what Gross says.

Gross argues that young conservatives are repelled by the lefty lean of the academy. I can believe that. I myself, I must admit, get really, really tired of the stream of po-mo-y quasi-leftyspeak that seems to pour forth from the institution. Hardly a week goes by without some new multicultural somethingorother, or diversity whatsis. Hell, I'm generally for that stuff and I'm way tired of hearing about it...

Anyway. Frankly, I do worry about the left lean of academia...but since the right has so many weapons on its side, I don't worry as much as I probably should. I very much disapprove of the misological, radical lefty nuttiness one sometimes encounters...but, then, I very much disapprove of any misological nuttiness...

So, anyway, I haven't read the book, and I'm neither endorsing it nor knocking it. I merely offer this up in case its of interest to anybody.

Carolina 58-KU 70

On a down year, an undersized Carolina team with no inside game to speak of, playing in KU's back yard, ran rings around them for more than a half, running them into the ground and even outrebounding them for a good part of the first half.

If only they could have hit something--anything--they'd have won the game.

But they just couldn't.

I lost count of the missed layups in the first half. Kansas was on the ropes, and Carolina was playing loose, getting good shots...but they just wouldn't go in. Then the second half came around, and KU raised its game a notch while the Heels still just couldn't hit.

And that was it.

A maximally painful game, since I expected it to be no contest. Instead, the Heels put themselves up big, and then just could not hold onto it. PJ was just ice cold, and, given that, it's a freaking miracle that it wasn't a blow out.


A really unpleasant game to watch.

Go Duke, Beat Creighton

There, I said it.

I haven't had to root for d00que since '91 when they faced played the loathsome UNLV. That was hard. I was actually kinda rooting for the scoreboard.

To fall.

And crush both teams horribly.

Not really.

Ha ha!

Ees joke!

Not something I would ever actually wish for!

Anyway. Creighton played dirty last year, virtually assaulting Henson, and, ultimately, breaking Marshall's wrist (and, as it turns out, his elbow, too). I think we had a good chance of taking out Kentucky, but it all ended when Marshall was knocked to the floor by a hard foul on that layup. Even if that hadn't been the end of our season, I'd be anti-Creighton for, like, ever. The wink to the bench by that Gibbs kid sealed the deal.

And Duke's not that bad this year. Right? Right? Krzyzyzyzyzyzwvwvwski seems to be inching in a less-bad direction--I think he may have been bitten by a human or something. And that Rivers kid is gone. So... Well. Just go with me on this...

Ok, so: go Duke, beat Creighton.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sick Sad World: Dude Thinks He Married My Little Pony

...and he wants another dude, who draws My Little Pony porn, to stop drawing erotic pics of his "wife."

I guess I'm pretty normal after all...

In, y'know, comparative interweb terms...

Dropkick Murphys Rule

Nazis drool.
 I reckon there are free speech issues here, but I must admit that I'm having rather a difficult time caring about them...

Fans ought to get ready to rumble if these worthless shits actually do try anything. Which they won't, since they never do unless they are sure to be unopposed.

The Heels Playing Small, and Kansas

Well, I think we're doomed against KU.

I like KU, and if we've got to lose to someone--which we basically do this year--I'd just as soon it be them.

But still, it's not going to be pretty.

Roy's done a great job using what we've got, which means going to the small lineup and hoisting 3s. It's not a dignified way to win, nor the most exciting kind of game to watch, but I reckon it beats getting our butts handed to us every game.

Withey's going to eat our lunch for us on Sunday, I fear. JMM might be able to pull him away from the basket and drive past him--but dude is a threat to block the shot even then. I'm going to guess that Roy will try putting James on Withey pretty early on if things start getting ugly. Could work...

Go Heels.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Carolina 78-Villanova 71


Not pretty.

Survive and advance...

Go Tar Heels!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nature vs. Nurture vs. X: Psychology and Cognitive Variation By Culture

This (via ALD) is kind of interesting, though, I'd say, rather overblown.

So, you know the story: now Henrich et al. say that Americans are unrepresentative psychologically because we are "WEIRD"--Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic. A little too cutesy and self-consciously iconoclastic for my taste...but there's still interesting stuff in there.

The claims seem overblown to me on several fronts. First, they make a lot of the fact that Americans tend to have idiosyncratic reactions to the ultimatum game in which player A is given n dollars, and can share any part of it with player B. If B refuses, neither gets anything. Americans tend, when playing B, to refuse amounts that deviate from an even split of the money. Other people, e.g. the Machiguenga of the Amazon, tend to accept any amount. WHOA! THAT'S...not very interesting at all actually... There's nothing obviously rational nor natural about our reaction on that test. It's understandable...but, so far as I know, no one has ever thought that it was obligatory to react in that way. One would also predict that the more significant the amount of money being offered, and the more tenuous the circumstances of the players, the less likely they'd be to turn down less-than-equal shares. (As one commenter notes, if you are given a million dollars in the game, and offer me $50k, I'm unlikely to turn it down. My principles only go so far...I want the cash if it's over about a hundred bucks...)

Some hunter-gatherers are harder to trick with the Muller-Lyer illusion--and good for them. Such spatial tasks are probably more important to them in general, and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they are better at it than us. We'd also need to know whether they use arrows symbolically in the way that we do, as that might matter. We perform better on the Asch conformity experiments...though those typically don't actually test cognition nor judgment, since the subjects report their responses out loud; so they test what people say, not what they think. That is, they test the effects of peer pressure on overt behavior, not judgment. (Someone must have done some in which the reports are secret...right?)

But, anyway.

Here's the deal. Such discussions always seem confused to me because they--like so many other discussions--operate in light of a false dichotomy. The implicit question is: nature or nurture? But those aren't the only two forces acting on us. First and most obviously, there is personal experience. But, second, there's reason. We're each endowed with a brain; but the brain is largely (though not entirely, by any means) a generic computing device. It doesn't fully determine what we'll think any more than the architecture of a computer determines what functions it will compute. That generic device gets some inputs. Many are from experience, and many are from culture--though culture is really just one very important form of experience. Culture passes on to us what are, in effect, many tacit suggestions about how to do things, and we absorb many of them. We also reject many of them, improve many of them, and screw some of them up. But nature and nurture alone simply don't seem to account for all human cognition and action. We also seem to be autonomous beings capable of independent, creative thought. (If we're computers at all, we seem to be partially self-programming ones.) Not terribly independent, nor terribly creative in most cases--but at least somewhat so in a non-trivial number of cases and respects.

Now, of course, the contemporary middle-high-brow orthodoxy scoffs at such things, and asserts without proof that creativity and autonomy can be explained in terms of nature or nurture. But that is speculation based on faith in a theory, not a conclusion warranted by the available evidence. We might some day be warranted in concluding that we're squishy robots programmed by "culture"--doing the monkey-see-monkey-do thing with respect to the activity of other squishy robots. But we're not warranted in believing that now. When we think about things, reason sometimes leads us to conclusions that are not determined by our wetware, and not determined by anything cultural. Neither Godel's nature nor his nurture determined that he would conclude that the incompleteness result was provable. Reason led him there largely as a consequence of his diligent effort. Neither your nature nor your nurture forces you to see that Modus Tollens (if p then q, not-q, therefore not-p) is valid. In fact, many people don't see it. Anyone who has thought through complicated problems has had the experience of being led along by reason--by the force of reasons that, so far as we can tell, exert some real influence on the inquiring mind. It's foolish to try to generate a view of human cognition that ignores this most central rational phenomenon, or that simply assumes that it can be reduced to the brute, causal action of biology or culture. Psychology is great for exposing our cognitive quirks. But just because our quirky reactions to the ultimatum game differ from other people's quirky reactions to it...well, it's easy to leap to the conclusion that that tells us more than it really does.

Not that that's overtly done in the article at hand...  But the view always seems to me to be floating around in the background.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thomas Nagel, Heretic; or: Question Materialist Orthodoxy, Get Excommunicated

Let me say again: when you have to look to the NRO to make sense on something, you're in a bad way.

[Saints preserve us! It's''s...the Weekly Standard! The truth must have been too much for me, and my brain tried to preserve my sanity...  Well, their backgrounds are both pretty blue...]

The semester started and I misplaced my copy of Mind and Cosmos before finishing it. It's still on the reading list, and, no doubt, around here somewhere...

But this article will give you a big old insight into the state of contemporary academic philosophy in America.

I'm less interested in the specifics of Nagel's arguments than I am in his treatment by the kind of philosophical celebrities/opinion-makers mentioned in this piece. (Note: philosophical celebrity != good philosopher...)

The fact is that materialism and naturalism, on certain common/hard-core interpretations, are simply not innocuous doctrines, but, rather, views that seem to entail that many of our most important ideas are deeply confused. For some reason certain people don't bat an eye at giving up freedom or moral obligations. They seldom seem to reflect on the fact that we'd also apparently/possibly need to give up on ideas crucial to science and philosophy themselves, such as that of justified belief and rationality.

I am, of course, not making an argument here. I'm just gesturing quickly at the problem. One could go externalist/reliabilist, of course, and cobble together some successor notion to justified belief...though I don't think it works. At all. But my point isn't about the particulars of the philosophical arguments. Rather, I'm just pointing out that the sociological facts about contemporary academic philosophy are pretty scary. Even someone of Nagel's stature can become anathema by questioning the materialist/naturalist orthodoxy. And, note: that orthodoxy, though, well, orthodox, is entirely unproven. It's a position. There are things to be said for it. Its problems are fairly well-known.

Nagel isn't crazy, not by any stretch of the imagination. He might be wrong, of course. But the people here who are acting crazy--and not acting like philosophers--are his detractors. You can be skeptical of naturalism and materialism without being a kook, or religious (egad!) or a mystery-monger, or ignorant, or muddle-headed or retrograde or any such thing. I'm skeptical about both naturalism and materialism (on the apparently intended interpretations), and I got here because I used to think those doctrines were true, but, after thinking through them, I concluded that they were inconsistent with the proposition that I was thinking through them in a rational/reasonable/justified way. So I adopted the hypothesis that they might very well be false (on the intended interpretations), and I maintain that hypothesis to this day. I'm willing to give it up on the basis of arguments, and I might do so some day. But the kind of pogrom being conducted against Nagel isn't going to make me any more sympathetic to the orthodoxy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When People Consume Much ____ They Tend To Put On Weight

When people drink too many beverages containing added sugar, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy or sports beverages, they tend to put on weight.
When people eat too much of something they tend to put on weight???

This new learning amazes me...

Too Bad We Didn't Just Burn That $6,000,000,000,000

Well, I've said this before, but that was back when we thought it might cost a mere $3 trillion:

You know what we could have done that would have been a better use of that money?

Put it in a big pile and burn it.

At least then we'd have just lost the money and not used it to buy ourselves a world of hurt.

I wish somebody would attempt to figure in the opportunity costs with respect to the Afghanistan war, too.

What a f*cking world-historical blunder.

Though, of course, it's no Solyndra...

Daniel Larison vs. The Feaver Swamp

Larison, who is so reasonable it'll bring tears to your eyes, has a very nice refutation of a strange piece by Peter Feaver.

This is really important stuff to do. The strategies of the Iraq war apologists are evolving. If left unrefuted, in 20 years people who weren't alive at the time might no know what to think about what went down. It's very important to keep repeating the kinds of things Larison says here: e.g. that the problem wasn't so much outright lies as it was a concerted campaign of subtler deception that only occasionally descended into outright lies. Focus on the outright lies, and it's easy for the apologists to point out that those were relatively few and far between; and it's easy to end up on the wrong side of that exchange. It's crucial to be very clear about what the real problem was. The shorthand version is: Bush lied. The accurate version is more complicated than that.

Top Hoops Program of the last 50 Years

Guess who?

C'mon guess!

Marriage and Giving Up Your Name

I honestly had no idea that this was still an issue.

I can't think of any married couple I know such that the female gave up her last name and took the male's name. I know some people who made up a new name composed of both names... But other than that, everybody just keeps his or her own name.

I'm sure it's true that having one name makes a bunch of things easier. And to each his own, of course, in such a matter. But, other things being equal, it does seem like there are some reasons for women not to take their husband's name. As a free choice among all the different options, it's fine. When imposed heteronomously on everybody, it's way messed up. It also seems to suggest some kind of transfer of women from their fathers to their husbands, and/or to suggest that females are supposed to give up some part of their identity in marriage...or some such thing. These things are rather vaporous and hard to pin down with much precision. But, whatever the details, it seems obviously not good. Since it doesn't seem to have died out, it seems like there are at least some (perhaps weak) reasons to avoid it, lest we be seen as supporting a bad practice. Those reasons are legitimately overridden by any number of other reasons. Like, say, if your name is Maxine Sticklethorpenstein, but you're marrying John Power, so you can ditch your crappy last name and become Max Power. That would be a good reason.

I guess this same kind of question comes up when people have kids. One solution--very bad by my lights--is that girls get the mom's name, and boy's get the dad's. I don't see why names should be attached to sex in that way. Seems to reinforce bad views to me--though, again, such considerations are easily overridden by facts about particular cases. Sadly, there seems to be no good solution to this. We can't keep adding hyphens to people's names forever...

Is this bloody well going anywhere?

Apparently not...

Monday, March 18, 2013

6 Wal-Mart Heirs Own As Much As Poorest 41%


(via Reddit)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More Evidence For The "Screwed" Hypothesis

UNC Seeding Screwed?

Damn, I was trying to write my suspicions off to paranoia, but Tarheelblog points this out:
UPDATE: Here is the full seed list from 1-68. UNC is 29th which means they are the first #8 seed and as such should have been in the region with the weakest #1 which is Gonzaga. Pittsburgh was #31 overall which means they should have been in the regional with Kansas. For whatever reason, the committee flipped UNC and Pitt in the order.
Yeah...for whatever reason...

So we just miss a 7 seed--legitimately--but then get moved to a worse postion so that the network will make some more money.

This sucks!

Bad Seed

Damn. An 8 seed, playing Kansas in the second best.

That is a draw that I think one might legitimately complain about.

It's kinda hard to resist the hypothesis that they Gerrymandered things to get a UNC-KU matchup.

Tough draw.

OTOH, I kinda expected another 2010-style magic carpet ride for Duke...shows what I know. The Midwest is loaded.

Carolina 77-Miami 87

Good game, and not really a 10-point loss by any stretch of the imagination. Miami played an excellent game, simply could not miss, and surged at just the right time. Carolina had the game largely in hand until a 13-4 scoring drought. If PJ's 3 had fallen instead of going in-and-out, things might very well have gone differently...but there are lots of true counterfactuals...

Carolina played amazingly well compared to how they played for most of the year. I think this was their best game, so they may be peaking at the right time. But with no real inside game, there are obvious limits to what they can do.You can't rely on the 3 to save you ever time, no matter how well you shoot it.

Congratulations to Miami on their first ACC tournament championship.

Go Tar Heels!

ACC Tournament Championship Game Halftime: Heels 41-Canes 44


As Dean would say, this is a great game if you don't care who wins...

Carolina just played one of its best halves of the year and is down by 3. With the exception of a few short stretches, Miami just can't seem to miss, especially Larkin, and especially from 3. If the Heels weren't hitting unusually well from 3, this would be ugly. I don't see how this shooting can last, but one way or another, this is a good Miami team. I fear our shooting is more likely to give out than theirs...

I wish they'd call the game a bit closer, but it's within specs.

And God bless Joel James who is out there trying hard and giving us a big body on the floor.I like that kid.

Nixon Torpedoed Vietnam Peace?

If this is true, then he was even more of a psychopath than we thought. And a treasonous psychopath at that...

It'd be good for the country to have a long period of meditation on the horribleness of Richard Nixon. The very people who believe that American is anointed by God, and, except for its lamentable liberal tendencies, perfect, are the kind of people who supported Nixon. Though they probably wouldn't do so again, since he'd be too liberal for them... In my lifetime, the GOP has given us two horrible presidents; to add insult to injury, they have yet to admit that either one was at all bad. Though, actually, it's to add injury to injury, since the failure to acknowledge such errors make it more likely that they'll be repeated...

We are capable of electing disastrously bad presidents, including psychopathic ones. Tribal allegiances are anathema to democracy. This is not a game.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Carolina 79-Maryland 76

The game wasn't really close with the exception of about 3 minutes of it. Could have easily gone the other way if Maryland had figured out how to use their bigs more effectively against McAdoo. But they didn't, so yay.

Tough game against Miami tomorrow, a team that beat us, according to Roy, 88, 400, or "about 8 million" points earlier in the year, depending on how hyperbolic he's feeling. The number keeps getting bigger.

It'd have been nice to have another shot at d00que...but another shot at Miami will be good, too.

Why Feminism Crashed and Burned: Scolding, Private Decisions, and the Left

Wow, this is bad.

As I've made clear, I think feminism went into a death spiral when it (a) moved to the left of liberalism and (b) allied itself with incoherent postmodernist/poststructuralist/etc. pseudo-philosophy.

One of the problems with the left is it's moral fanaticism. The extreme left is very much like the extreme right in that both love, love, love micromanaging other people's lives. "The personal is the political" is the bumper-sticker slogan beloved of leftists who long to invade your private sphere and scold you about everything from your eating decisions it turns out...your reading decisions.

As it turns out, according to ladybusiness, you must weep and gnash your teeth and torture yourself over who has written the science fiction books you read. You must agonize over their life stories, the obstacles they have faced, whether or not you are reading equal numbers of books written by different types of people...or, well, men and women, anyway... There's no suggestion that you should consider, e.g., their economic background, nor any such thing...but, then, there never is...

And note: this is not even about the serious literature you read...  This is about the science fiction you read. (And I say that as somebody who likes sci-fi.)


Look, people say silly things in every political movement. I do realize that. Consequently, it doesn't make sense to let stuff like this drive you away from a position that you otherwise accept.

But I have to say, I really find this sort of thing intolerable. Moral fanaticism is what drove me away from the right when I was young, and the more of it there is in any given political position, the less likely I am to be able to tolerate it, much less identify myself with it.

There's a kind of issue here, of course--that is, in the linked post. It just isn't very important. We certainly haven't accomplished equality between the sexes, despite some pretty diligent effort, and despite having done a lot of the really obvious things for awhile now. I do think that there are a lot of things in this vicinity that could stand some serious attention. But IMO, feminism isn't going to be much help the more it slides in this bad direction, and the more it adopts a strident tone about with respect to minor issues it isn't even obviously right about.

If I were going to write up a post like the one linked to, I'd have proceeded more like this:

1. Whoa, here's a surprising fact: men tend to review more books by other men than they do by women, whereas women seem to be a little better about that. That seems surprising...

2. Well, what's the base rate? That is, what percentage of sci-fi books are published by males and what percentage are published by females? Because men might just--indeed, probably do--just write more sci-fi books...

That'd put an end on things until we got the relevant information...  But ladyparts does not, so far as I can tell, provide that information. The very information without which the rest is useless just isn't there.

What we seem to have, rather, is the fact that men review more books by men, and women review more books by women, with women's preference for women being somewhat less pronounced than men's preference for men. Absent the relevant background information, however, for all we know, both men and women are biased toward reviewing books by women.

Stridently advancing weak arguments for the claim that we need to flagellate ourselves about our private, largely inconsequential choices is the sign of a dangerously irrational political movement. Feminism need not move in that direction. If it does, it will become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. In fact, it's already become, largely, part of the problem. There's still a rational, liberal core of the movement, however. If that core doesn't speak up and put down this sort of thing, feminism is dead. Worse, it'll be alive, but on the wrong side of justice.

Go Tar Heels

Nice-looking win over FSU.

Hairston questionable--split the webbing (shudder) between two fingers on his non-shooting (i.e. left) hand.

Be nice to beat the Terps again before they leave for the Big Fourteen.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"A Dangerous Fixation"

One of the reasons to start building down the population.

"What Mary Can't Expect When She's Expecting"

Leiter (who I rarely read, just for the record) points us to this, by L. A. Paul at UNC:

"What Mary Can't Expect When She's Expecting"

Seems completely wrong to me, incidentally.

Paul asserts that having a baby is such a transformative experience that it isn't possible to know what it's like before you do it, and, so, not possible to do the kind of expected gain calculations that would make it possible to rationally predict whether you should do it or not.

We actually ought to be able to collect empirical evidence on this from parents. They should be able to tell us how similar having a kid was to their expectations of it. (What they'll say: yeah, I kinda knew what it would be like.) Me, I'm quite sure that I have a fairly good idea what it would be like to have a kid. I'm also quite sure that I don't know exactly what it would be like. New parents do tend to go a little crazy sometimes and mystify the that has to be taken into account as well.

Paul analogizes having a baby to seeing red, and thus piggybacks her argument on Frank Jackson's famous Mary case. But having a baby almost certainly isn't like seeing red in the relevant respects. That is: for a childless person who knows all about having kids to have a kid isn't like a person raised in a black-and-white environment seeing color. Perhaps it's more like...hmm....someone who can see all colors other than red finally seeing red. Or somesuch. Though that still may be an exaggeration.

I know what kids are like, I know what it's like to love someone deeply, I can easily imagine what it's like to have someone dependent upon you, and blah blah blah... I'm reasonably perceptive and imaginative... There's no question in my mind that I know approximately what it would be like to have a kid, and there is no question in my mind that I do not know exactly what it would be like to have a kid.

The touchstone, for Paul's purposes, is: do we have a good enough idea what it's like to have a kid to be able to make a rational decision about whether or not to have one? The answer seems to be: some of us do, and some of us don't. Ergo: there's no impossibility here.

Now, I didn't really make my decision about kids in the way Paul is discussing. That is, I didn't so much make it on the basis of questions about happiness and utility. I don't, generally, think that's a very good way to make such decisions. But predictions about future happiness certainly figured into the decision in a large-ish way. I actually agree with Paul in a kind of round-about way: I think that there are too many variables to make very precise decisions about the effects of kids on one's future happiness. It's not that one simply can't imagine what it's like to have kids--because one certainly can. Or I can, anyway. But, rather, there are just too many different ways that the future can go, and too many variables in play, for us to make very precise predictions. Prediction is possible, but it's going to be a dicey game (here as in many other types of cases).

Having a kid is probably more like going to law school than it is like seeing red. It's false to say that you simply have no idea what it's like to be a lawyer. In fact, you've got a pretty good, but imperfect, idea what it's like. However, there are so many things in your life that would change if you'd decided on that course--rather, say, than grad school--that it's just really damn hard to say whether you'd be happier had you done that. Maybe you'd just love it! Maybe you'd just hate it. Who knows? But this isn't because you simply have no idea what it's like to be a lawyer.

That's off the top of my head, of course.

Sokal-Style Hoax in Religious Studies

The thing about this stuff--postmodernism and poststructuralism and related forms of nonsense and basically all the people and movements influenced by them--is that it simply doesn't make any sense. It's gibberish more-or-less from start to finish, and the bits that manage not to be gibberish seems to be only accidentally so, and the practitioners of this stuff are incapable of telling gibberish from non-gibberish.

Wilkerson "Damn Sure" Administration "Cooked The Books" On Iraq

Of course they did.

That debate is over. There is absolutely no reasonable doubt that the administration "sold" us the war by spinning the evidence. They acted like an advertising firm, not like a team of scientists searching for the truth. Even though the outright, incontrovertible lies were relatively few, the available evidence was cherry-picked, nipped and tucked, spun, massaged and tortured until the dots were connected to do what they wanted to do in the first place: use 9/11 as a pretext to attack an unrelated country.

Lawrence Krauss Opposes Religious Kooks On Sex Segregation

Link (via Reddit)

Quote from one of the kooks:
iERA spokesman Saleem Chagtai insisted men and women ‘naturally’ separate in ‘normal Islamic events’. He said: ‘There were a number of ladies who used their free will and didn’t want to sit with the opposite sex.’
Yeah, here's the thing, sparky. Nobody's objecting to people sitting where they want. (Well...I am inclined to think that not wanting to sit next to somebody because of his/her sex is on par with not wanting to sit next to a person because of his/her race...but we can put that on the back burner for now...) What Krauss objected to was the enforcement of segregation by sex.

And this point really can't be made enough: if the natural tendency to separate into groups by sex were as strong as such people think it is, then they wouldn't need to enforce it. Rather, it's a weak tendency at best.

And a really happy ending: UCL kicked iERA off campus.

The New Pope: 'Pears To Be A Fool

So, apparently Mr. Bergoglio said the following:

"He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil. When we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, we proclaim the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon."


Wow. This is notably stupid even in the long, sad, storied history of stupid things said by humans.

Everybody says stupid things now and then. But you really don't want to come out of the gate with something like this bit of nonsense.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

One Of Those Things Left For Feminism To Do


Not that this is exactly an original thought, but: this shit must end.

Katherine Connell: "Benevolent Sexism"

Ye gads, it's a sad day when the NRO is talking sense about something...

Recent feminism began spinning off into never-never land when it moved radically to the left, politically and intellectually. Any movement that becomes allied with postmodernism, poststructuralism, and similarly disreputable positions is going to have a problem. Whereas old-style feminism was a robustly liberal movement that deployed concepts like equality, justice, autonomy, discrimination and respect in fairly straightforward arguments about the evils of prejudice and sexism, later feminism took a different turn. It's hard to go very far in contemporary feminist literature without encountering the silly terminology, confused concepts and contorted arguments of such thinkers (and I use the term rather loosely) as Lacan, Baudrillard, Foucault. But any arguments built on appeals to nonsense about "the male gaze," "objectification" and "social construction" are doomed to failure. It's not that there aren't interesting and important issues remaining about sex and gender--it's just that a feminism built upon the swampy foundation of literary "theory" etc. is less and less well-equipped to handle those questions. And a feminism that has spun off into intellectual oblivion by trying to construct "feminist epistemologies," "feminist metaphysics," and even "feminist logic" isn't addressing the real social and political questions that need addressing.

You may remember that there was big dust-up a few years back over the fact that fewer and fewer female undergraduates identified themselves as feminists. Many feminists spilled a lot of ink spinning out increasingly baroque and conspiratorial theories about the insidious forces that had saddled these people with "false consciousness" and suchlike. The true explanation was much simple and more straightforward: the feminism one encounters under that description in academia is largely radically to the left and intellectually indefensible. There's no real doubt that most female undergrads are feminists by the old standard--they're egalitarians with respect to sex. What they reject is radically leftist feminism and po-mo gobbledygook. As they should. The farther feminism moves back toward the sensible liberalism of, say, the Mills, the more people will identify themselves as feminists.

All that having been said, it seems to me that feminism outside the academy has moved in the right direction in the past ten years, abandoning its flirtation with people like Andrea Dworkin, and tracking back toward a more hard-headed--and clear-headed--liberalism. Every movement has its errors and excesses; feminism isn't unique in that respect. But, because it has been treated (as someone once said, but I can't remember who...) as a "protected species" in academia, it was subject to the evolutionary pressures that knock the nuttiest edges off of other positions.

Personally, I think that feminism was one of the most important social and political forces of the 20th century. I also think there's a fair bit left undone. But I think that the good feminist arguments are relatively straightforward liberal arguments about fairness, justice and equality. The farther feminist allows itself to be moved to the left, and the more closely it identifies itself with outre and muddle-headed literary quasi-philosophy, the farther it moves away from where it needs to be.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Intrade Shuts Down!

Temporarily, but completely.

(via Metafilter)

Carolina 53, Duke 69


You can't win 'em all, and we're just not very good this year. Add to that that d00que played its best and we...well...didn't.

You win some, you lose some.

The most annoying thing about it is that, last year, when we were the vastly superior team, the refs flat-out handed them a win with four abominably terrible calls in a row in the final minutes of the game in CH.  In a somewhat more just possible world, we might have gotten similar consideration... I'd have felt bad about a dirty win..but justice would, in some sense, have been done. And I can guarantee that nobody from the Carolina bench would have cursed at the crowd in celebration, as the d00kies did last year... Ah well. Didn't work out that way.

But it's not good to stew about such things. That first game from last year was a fluke from hell, and we'll never have it made up to us. Might as well forget it and move on. One hates to lose to Captain Ratface and the kids from Camp Mohawk... But it's bound to happen every now and then. Grumble.

On the bright side, at least this is a much, much less hateable d00que team than last year's. Swapping out the truly loathsome Rivers kid--who literally traveled every single bloody time he touched the ball, and yet was basically never called for it--and adding the seemingly perfectly decent Sulaimon, has made them significantly less...well...dookish.

Oh and: this was the first game Roy has dropped on Senior Night as head coach. That's especially impressive given that he owns Senior Night at Hanbrough Indoor Stadium.


Disappointing game. '

Tough year.

Go Heels.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Bad Arguments Against Saletan

via Sully, here is a terrible argument against listening to Saletan: he got things wrong once.

Look, supporting the Iraq war was dumb. But I myself was torn on the issue, because I was pushed toward that position by administration propaganda and a strong inclination against dogmatism. It never seemed to add up to me, but I kept thinking I must be missing something. At any rate, you'll note that the Saletan piece to which deBoer points is uncharacteristically bad. In fact, it's not even clear what Saletan is trying to argue for. He seems to be spinning out a kind of hypothetical about a possibly changing nature of war. He's wrong, and the piece isn't good. But it doesn't make any sense to say that he should never be listened to again. Sometimes similar ad hominems are reasonable--e.g. Bill Krystal is wrong so often that there's basically no reason to waste minutes reading him anymore. That's a sensible position. But someone like Saletan, who is usually reasonable, cannot rightly be classified as so wrong he needn't be read. In general, of course, one's conclusion stands or falls with the strength of one's arguments, unless one is giving testimony. Nobody thinks Saletan should be treated as if he were speaking ex cathedra...but his arguments generally deserve a hearing.

At any rate, de Boer's screed is in no way a substantive criticism of Saletan's recent drone piece, as it is apparently supposed to be.

Nothing in the Saletan piece settles legal questions about the targeted killing policy. Those questions are separate. Defenders of drones are generally merely defending them as a means. Such arguments typically have the form: if you're going to do x, then drones are better than methods a, b, c....

Saletan on Drones

Good, as usual.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Do Not F*ck With the Brits

...or the Scots...or WhoeverTF these guys are...

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing


Joss does Shakespeare

Here's a little window into my literary/theatrical sensibilities: this is basically the greatest thing I've ever heard of.

I mean, it might not pan out, of course. But I've seldom been this psyched about a movie.


The St. Germain soundtrack in the trailer isn't hurting anything, either.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Mashable: Wealth Inequality Animation