Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Ammo Question In the IZA

So here's some advice about the IZA...

In my own zombie fiction, traps and trip lines do play a prominent of that I approve, oh yes I do...

Zombie beasts of burden and power plants...well, The Walking Dead did the first--but I hadn't thought of either, and probably never would have...

But what about the burning question of ammunition????

 Ariel Williams says that you definitely want 9mm...

Me, I'm not so sure...

I'm a long-time fan of the 9mm (aka the "europellet"...)...I'm not automatically opposed to the suggestion...  It's not my favorite round, but I have a very high opinion of it.

I also have a high opinion of the .45... Though I find the weird pro-.45 partisanship of so many in the firearms community...well...weird...

The .40 caliber and .38/.357 are also contenders in this arena, of course. And the fact that .357s have the ability to fire .38s as well is a non-trivial consideration...

My own preferred round is the 10mm, which is superior to both the .45 and the 9mm (and the .40...though not obviously superior to the .357...) It hits harder and shoots flatter than any of them (and more easily allows for higher capacity than the .45...). Unlike the .357, it's a round around which people build autoloaders, which I prefer. C'mon guys...15 rounds in a full-sized Glock vs. 6 in a revolver? Not to mention rate of fire? No contest...

Contra the findings of the FBI, I find full-power 10mm rounds eminently controllable in a full-sized platform like the Glock 20, and, well, just about controllable in a compact platform like the Glock 29. Though, admittedly, I'm more naturally adept at shooting than most people.

I'm not one of those shooters who always wants more power, and scoffs at concerns about recoil...  Heck, I find the .44 painful and hard to manage for most hot loads. (And I don't care much for wheel guns...) Anyway, I'm not exactly all about the ft-lbs on target...

So, anyway, ignoring the fact that what you really want for your front-line weapon is a shotgun...I just want to raise friendly objections to the claim that your sidearm ought to be 9mm...

[Sorry! all excited and didn't make the main point:

9mm is the most plentiful ammunition...but it's also the ammunition most in demand...

So those things might very well cancel each other out.

It may very well be that 9mm is the worst ammo, not the best, from an IZA perspective... That is, it may be that its very popularity makes it the most scarce handgun ammunition...]

Hairston Suspended

A few days after having been cleared of charges in the weed-and-gun incident, Hairston was stopped for driving 93 in a 65 mph zone.

Now he's suspended.

He's our most valuable player, and this is already going to be a really tough year...

And I know that college sports holds out many temptations for kids...

And I think that people deserve a second chance...

But what we seem to have here is a pattern.

The program is not primarily about winning, and no individual player is more important than the program overall.

Needless to say, I don't know what Roy knows, and I don't have his wisdom with respect to such issues...

But--though it pains me to say this--my view is: dump him.

It seems like it's been nothing but bad luck for the Heels since Creighton fouled Marshall exuberance...breaking his wrist and effectively ending our season in '12. In fact, even the pre-wrist-break '11-'12 season was plagued by some ridiculously bad luck...

Ah, well.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Confused Ideas From the Lefty-Left Creep Into the Mainstream: "White Privilege" Edition


As I've discussed before, "white privilege" (like "male privilege," and most other alleged versions of "privilege" that the lefty-left likes to natter on about) is a confused and inapt concept.

The problem isn't that whites have some type of "privilege." The problem is discrimination against (at least some) minorities. Take the case of Oscar Grant, the topic of the movie in question in the article. If illicit "privilege" were the problem, then the problem could be solved by eliminating that privilege. So we could solve this particular problem about race by making sure that whites were unjustifiably hassled and shot by the police as frequently as non-whites. Obviously, however, that does not solve the problem. So the problem is not "privilege." The problem (or, rather: a problem, a notable problem) is discrimination.

Ideas matter. The political correctness madness of the '90's eventually became a laughing stock (and, sadly, pushed many people to the right); but it did lasting damage when their favorite mantra "that's offensive" made it into the mainstream. Sadly, many otherwise liberal people came to unreflectively believe that offending people is a moral felony. But the fact that you are offended by my words does not always give me reason not to say them. Offense is a largely subjective phenomenon...and some people need to be offended. Smith might be offended by the idea of same-sex marriage. But that would be Smith's problem...

The "social justice warriors," gender studies crowd, and assorted internet lefties would now like to push their latest terminological fad--"privilege"--into the mainstream. But ideas matter, and this idea is confused from the get-go. With respect to race (and sex), at least, the problem is not that whites (or males) have "privilege"--the problem is that non-whites (and women) have rights that are not respected. Discrimination is the relevant concept here, not "privilege." As is so often the case, the center-left has a clearer view of the problems than the lefty-left.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mt. Bierstadt

Got up it today.

Easy as 14ers go, it's still a 14er...  I was in a hurry and hammered up the first half or so, and fried myself for the rest of the hike. It's no Longs, but it ain't all that easy, either. Harder than Grey's I thought...but maybe that's just because I fried myself at the beginning.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Extremely Evil George Zimmerman Strikes Again


[Apparently I need to add: that is sarcasm...]

Dubai Elects Not To Imprison Woman For Having Been Raped

Wow, Dubai, you guys are the greatest.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

World War Z: A Wee Movie Review


Friday, July 19, 2013

Obama Asks Americans to "Do Some Soul Searching" In Wake of Trayvon Martin Case

Back (to Denver, Anyway)

Back from four days of horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies.

Dang...that is hard to beat, let me say.

I have slowly become more-or-less acclimated to life in town, but it'll never seem really right to me. In fact, IMHO, living in town is bad for whatever the non-religious analog of your soul is. Even though there were other people around, getting out of the city, into the trees, walking around on grass and dirt rather than asphalt, getting away from the noise and the crowds, being able to get away from everybody with a one minute walk...  It's a much better way to be.

And, man, the Rockies kick everything up to a whole new level. I do miss the Ozarks in many ways, and I do love the Blue Ridge...but the Rockies may be the greatest place on Earth.

I've got to figure out how to transfer my life to Colorado...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Posting Light Until Friday

I'll be taking a vacation-within-a-vacation until Friday and, since JQ's laptop is having undiagnosable connectivity problems all of a sudden, and I'm not going to type posts on my iPad virtual keyboard, I'll be scarce.

I'm still unconvinced on the ongoing Zimmerman thing, and still think that it mostly comes down to a question of who initiated physical violence and what additional responsibilities someone takes on by arming himself.

When I get back I'll try to say what else I have to say about it, but I don't think there'll be anything you haven't already thought of. I don't see myself convincing anybody here--nor am I trying to. The only think I'm really convinced of is that a lot of people on both sides are making this out to be a lot more obvious than it is. I think that it's non-obvious how blame is to be apportioned here, but I also remain inclined to believe that liberals are largely deluding themselves, pretending that it is clearer than it actually is that Zimmerman deserves the vast majority of the blame. Conservatives are also largely insane about this, and in the opposite direction, but I normally consider them beyond redemption these days...

I also, by way almost of footnote, look forward (in some sense) to the civil case. That ought to give us an interesting data point, since the burden of proof is so much lighter. It won't surprise me if Zimmerman is found guilty in a civil case, and apportioned some significant degree of blame. If so, and if the decision isn't glaringly in error, then that'll be evidence about the degree of his responsibility.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Metafilter And The Zimmerman Verdict

Title of MeFi thread:

Zimmerman Acquitted of Murdering Treyvon Martin


We're also treated to links like "How White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman" (a title that doesn't even make any sense).

Reading MeFi is a good way to remind myself that liberals can be as irrational and dogmatic as conservatives.

Me, I'm still not sure, but I'm sure that a whole damn lot of people are a whole damn lot more sure about this than they have any damn right to be...

Zimmerman Verdict


Well, as you know, there it is.

I've been trying to go back and work my way through the facts just to try to get it all straight in my own head, and had kind of hoped to be able to do so before the verdict was returned...

This is, of course, significant. Six normal people who heard all the evidence clearly and forcefully stated, and who were given the actual responsibility of deciding the case (rather than just bullshitting about it on the internet) concluded that Zimmerman was not guilty. However this came out, I'd have taken the verdict very seriously in my own deliberations. The law doesn't always tell us about the moral situation, but in many cases it tells us something important. The verdict doesn't mean that Zimmerman isn't morally guilty, nor that he doesn't bear some measure of responsibility for the death--but, speaking for myself, I haven't figured how that all comes out. I reckon he might still face a civil suit, and that should also tell us something.

The two sets of facts that loom largest in my own thinking right now are:

Zimmerman was armed, and persons who are armed have special responsibilities (e.g. to avoid avoidable conflicts)


It seems most likely that Martin initiated the physical attack, and  the person who initiates such an attack typically bears the majority of the responsibility for the physical violence.

Conservatives seem to be ignoring the first one, or underestimating its importance here; liberals of my acquaintance are roundly ignoring the second--something they'd never do in most situations. In fact, I've never heard liberals be so eager to defend someone for initiating entirely optional physical violence.

Anyway, it's all just chatter now. Well, it's always been just chatter, I guess...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

David Edelstein on Pacific Rim

This is good.

Best line: if you can geek out to this movie, you're doing a lot of the movie's work for it...

I was kind of excited to see Edelstein make a suggestion that also occurred to me: that Pacific Rim is a sequel, and not much good without its prequel. I really want to see Pacific Rim 1, the Alien to Pacific Rim's Aliens. The fighting back is less satisfying without the initial running away in terror...

I disagree about Ron Pearlman's character. I thought that the movie would have been better without that whole nerds-n-capitalists subplot. But he's right about Idris Elba. Dude did amazing work with crappy lines. As Edelstein points out, you're-too-mavericky speeches are usually used to show how awesomely mavericky the mavericky maverick hero is. Elba's you're-too-mavericky speech makes you think that the recipient thereof ought to slink off and get his damn shit together...

Spoiler alert!

I also forgot to add before that I didn't like the the-monsters-are-sent-by-invaders bit. Not to mention the bit about it being the fault of global warming...  Fuuuu.... Can't we have one sci-fi movie without liberal preaching? And I ask this as a mostly-liberal...  They should have added: and if Obamacare is repealed, an even bigger rift will open!

CrimCourts: Zimmerman Defense Continues to do Well


Some good points toward the end of this post.

Since everybody here but me is convinced that Zimmerman is the bad guy, I'll include this link. I'm back to being unconvinced either way.

My only fairly solid view at this point is that--no offense--people are leaning pretty hard to try to make this Zimmerman's fault. It really seems to me that, at every questionable point, there is a hard anti-Zimmerman lean among the people I tend to respect and discuss such issues with. Which might, of course, mean that I'm just confused in the opposite direction... My own efforts to wipe out any spin in my own mind leave me undecided, but with a hunch that Zimmerman is less likely to be guilty that most of my political compatriots seem to think. Which may still make him (morally, and possibly legally) guilty--I just can't seem to get to a clear conclusion on that yet. He does seem to bear at least some fairly significant responsibility here, though I think that people are illicitly leaning hard on some unstated premises about moral luck... If Martin had turned out to be, say, a killer or a rapist, Zimmerman would be a heroic figure who watched over his neighborhood and refused to let the police dissuade him from... ( the leftosphere, he'd probably still be reviled/derided because he had a firearm...) That is to say, I think that many people are invoking external considerations selectively. The fact that Martin seems to have been an innocent kid is being used in anti-Zimmerman arguments, but we're not supposed to be able to use the fact that Zimmerman was an innocent guy trying to watch out for his community in assessing Martin's actions...  Now, questions about using evidence unknown by the agent to determine guilt are difficult ones...but we have to be consistent about them. And I think that many on the left are not being consistent.

That's just a quick, not-too-precise summary of a slice of my own current inclination, FWIW... Nothing I say here is worth giving much weight to, obviously.

Further Animadversions On Pacific Rim

Well, again, I predicted that it wasn't going to be good, and I regretfully conclude that it was a good guess...

But the fights and visuals were pretty damn cool... 

Jeez, I ought to be more grateful to people for making a giant-robot-vs.-Cthulhu-monsters movie...

But a few more complaints:

My primary complaint about the movie was that it skipped right over the best part of a giant monster movie, to wit: the reveal. IMHO, people tend to think that giant monster movies are intrinsically more like adventure movies than they are like horror movies. That is, they ignore the creepiness factor. I still remember (or seem to remember...) being a kid and first seeing the reveal in Godzilla, with Raymond Burr & co. watching Godzilla appear over the top of a mountain...  Man, that was great stuff... And IMHO Cloverfield is genius in that respect (and many others). Anyway, I do respect the attempt to make a different kind of movie...but when you've got huge, dark storms in the Pacific as a backdrop, and creepy Cthulhuesque monsters emerging from the depths of the ocean...wasting the awesomeness of the reveal is just pure loss.

And, since most of the first hour of the movie is just a bad soap opera, that time could have been devoted to a slow, scary build-up to the reveal.

And what's with the brain stuff? The load on the operator's brains is too heavy if there's just one we need two pilots, one controlling the right side of the 'bot with his right hemisphere and the other controlling the left side with his left hemisphere? So...isn't the load on the relevant hemispheres exactly the same as it was before?

In fact, the two-coordinated-operators system was what made me think that the movie was going to suck. The same cringey sappiness that made Hellboy 2 not good was, I feared, going to infect PR. Man, I hate being right all the time...  There's obviously no reason for the two pilot system other than kicking the emotometer up to 11... That's what I feared from the trailer, and that is, indeed, what happens...

I've already complained about felony commission of The Nuclear Reactor Sin... But it's worth another brief consider it mentioned...

Another sci-fi no-no involves the just-in-time revelation of previously unmentioned powers.

Spoiler Alert!  Spoiler Alert!

WTF is the deal with the sword? It like turns out to be their most awesome weapon, but they don't even deploy it until like halfway through the movie. And what happens to the rockets? I'd think you'd want to keep using your, y'know, rockets against the giant extra-dimensional monsters...  But they just kinda...stop...  Worst of all, though is the use of the bizarre jet nozzle thingy in the final fight. It burns right through like 100 tons of monster flesh in like two seconds...underwater...and without causing a gigantic explosion...  Dude, I'd be using that jet nozzle thing the whole damn time if it were me... That monster survived a humongous nuclear explosion, right at ground zero...but the nozzle thing cut through it like a a hot knife through...some kind of...of...I don't know...some kind of room-temperature, semi-solid, lipid dairy emulsion...I can't think of a good example right now...

Then there's the interminable whimpering of the Japanese co-pilot in her dream sequence... man, that really, really, really went on and on and on and on...

And what's with the "every one of these monsters is completely different from every other one" / "they're all clones of each other" business?


I kinda could go on, but I won't.

I still enjoyed the fight scenes anyway. I might see the thing again when it's out on Netflix just to see whether my current opinion survives a second viewing.

So don't make too much of my cranky assessment.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pacific Rim

When I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be awesome.

After I saw the trailer a time or two, I came to guess that it was going to suck.

Then I saw the other day that it was getting 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I let my hopes get all up.

Just saw it, and my initial reaction was: overall meh.

Not a single ounce of subtlety in the whole thing. Way, way, way overly sentimental/sappy (I guessed this from the trailer, actually, and it's what I most feared). After the initial fight, the thing drags on for like an hour of sap with no action. I was sighing, rolling my eyes, and feeling pretty guilty about dragging three other people to the thing. Then the next big fight finally came, and it was pretty awesome. There was a lot of good action from there on out, and that last portion of the movie (less than an hour, sadly, I'd guess) was actually pretty good.

For the record, though: tankers break apart way too easily to use them as clubs to beat on giant monsters with... And, much more importantly: nuclear reactors do not explode. That's a really goddang big sci-fi movie no-no...

Anyway... Pacific Rim gets one raptor claw down for the first half, and one claw about 75% up for the second half... 

Overall: it's ok.

11-Year Chilean Rape Victim Cannot Obtain Abortion


So much WTF in there...

No legal abortions in Chile since the evil f*cker Pinochet was in power...

The little girl thinks that having the baby will be like having  a doll...

The President of Chile calls her comments "mature"...

WTF man.

WT everlovin' F...

Third Thoughts on the Zimmerman Case: Background

So I swung back to an anti-Zimmerman position yesterday, though I won't go into all the reasons... (Largely on grounds that one has special obligations to avoid conflict if one is armed, conjoined with some reflection on suggestions made in the previous comment thread about possible scenarios immediately before the shooting...)

Then I decided: two big swings on an issue means you need to step back from it in a big way.

So what I did this morning before getting to work was to just go and read stuff on the background of the case. For example, the Wikipedia article.

There's conflicting information about some of this stuff, but I'll just go with what seems like the consensus.

If we do that, I think that we should conclude that there doesn't seem to be any reason to start off with strong suspicions about Zimmerman. His neighborhood, though gated, was a high-crime area that had experienced a lot of burglaries and thefts, a shooting and a home invasion. Zimmerman was chosen by his neighbors as the head of the neighborhood watch. He'd reported several persons in his neighborhood acting suspiciously, never reporting on their race until asked for the information by the police. In at least one case, one of the people he reported to the police did turn out to be a burglar. He was advised by authorities to get a gun after a pit bull that had been running loose in his neighborhood cornered his wife. (Jesus...I've gotta add...sounds like this guy is living on Pandora or something...)

On the basis of this stuff, attempts (largely by liberals) to paint Zimmerman as some kind of nut seem clearly preposterous.

On the other hand, Zimmerman did have his run-ins with the law. He was charged with assaulting a police officer after he (Zimmerman) shoved the officer while one of his friends was being questioned about under-age drinking. Zimmerman's ex-fiance obtained a restraining order against him alleging domestic abuse, and he, in response, obtained a reciprocal order against her. These incidents were described by a judge as "run-of-the-mill" and "somewhat mild." Which, I suppose, goes to show that I've lived a sheltered/boring life in some respects...

If we take the stuff in the last paragraph into account, we'd also have to take into account certain background information on Martin, who was, at the time of the shooting, suspended from school. Some of the stuff was mild--weed, tardiness, defacing school property with graffiti... Some not so mild: jewelry that he admitted was not his and a screwdriver were found in his backpack. School authorities described the screwdriver as a burglary tool; it was never shown that the jewelry had been stolen.

With respect to the information in the last two paragraphs...  Well, neither person seems to be a perfectly upstanding citizen...  Seems to me that the information about Zimmerman is more troubling because of the accusation of domestic abuse...though such situations are often complicated. Cops sometimes deserve to be I'm not sure what to say about that...  Martin was just a it's hard to compare the two profiles. The stuff about theft would be notable...but it's unproven... smoking gun in any of the background info, so far as I can tell... It's notable that Zimmerman was fairly zealous about protecting his neighborhood... If we lived there, we might be able to tell whether he was responsible as opposed to overzealous/kooky...but there's no way to tell from the information I can find. In the absence of any clear indication that he was kooky, it's not rational to treat him as if he was.

Time for me to get something productive done...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Zimmerman Trial

It currently seems to me that it is very likely that George Zimmerman is not guilty of second-degree murder.

I'm really embarrassed that I jumped to the opposite conclusion soon after the incident. In my defense, and in retrospect, it does seem that early coverage by the media was extremely biased against Zimmerman.

So far as I can tell, it seems likely that Martin attacked Zimmerman, and that Zimmerman shot him during the attack. The fact that Zimmerman may have followed Martin for awhile doesn't seem to change anything significantly, and the fact the the police dispatcher said that they didn't "need" him to do that doesn't either. Zimmerman does not seem to have been doing anything illegal, Martin assaulted him, Zimmerman shot in self-defense. There are complications, but none of them seem make much difference. It was a terrible tragedy, and Zimmerman may not have acted optimally. He may even be a racist. But he does not seem to be a murderer.

To deny that Martin attacked Zimmerman, we have to accept that Zimmerman called the police, then hunted down Martin and, basically, executed him. This seems so unlikely as to be absurd. It is certain that there is reasonable doubt about it. The more likely story, that Martin attacked Zimmerman in retaliation for being followed, is far more likely.

Then, of course, there are the injuries that Zimmerman suffered... We'd also, apparently, have to believe that those were self-inflicted or something...

I've encountered some conservatives who are going a bit loony about this trial, predicting acquittal and consequent riots...  Sadly, many liberal discussions I've encountered have been every bit as loony. It seems to be an article of faith among certain liberals that Zimmerman is guilty...but this position seems to be motivated largely by background positions about guns and race.

I have not been following the trial with great care, and, of course, IANAL...but that's the way it seems to me at this point.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Breeding Bacteria On Factory Farms


Another study supports the claim that factory farming practices--including keeping animals in dense populations and giving them antibiotics prophylactically--breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

On the list of things that makes  me want to tear my hair out, this nonsense comes just below run-away population growth. This is an entirely avoidable problem We are allowing factory farms to create a bomb that could kill us all so that they can make a few more bucks. And, of course, we are culpable because we won't cut back somewhat on meat consumption, and pay the extra money for free-range meat.

We are a stupid, greedy lot, and it'd serve us right to kill ourselves in this stupid, greedy way.

Oh and: as if we needed another refutation of economic libertarianism, here it is...

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Off to CO, MO

Off to Colorado and Missouri. I owe people responses--notably the Mystic on marriage and Jim on the illegal immigration bill--but have just been a slack-ass of late. Will try to rectify the situation asap...

Monday, July 08, 2013

Chomsky: "Theory", Zizek, Lacan Contentless


I tend to disagree with Chomsky politically, but no one denies his academic chops. And he's just right about Zizek, Lacan and "theory" (i.e. literary theory (aka pseudo-philosophy)) generally. There's no reason to make it any more complicated than it is: these folks are celebrities, but they are not serious thinkers.

Is Tiny Tina Racist?



Tiny Tina, as you may or may not know, is a character in Borderlands 2. She's an extremely amusing character, and she occasionally uses words like 'yo' and 'badonkadonk.'

Of course, some people amuse themselves by frantically trying to spin the innocuous up into felony racism or sexism. This is, of course, idiotic.

Tiny Tina isn't racist, Borderlands 2 isn't racist, and, in fact, such charges are total idiocy. Tina's white, but there's nothing wrong with white people using black slang. As it turns out, that's fairly common, unsurprising, and entirely permissible. In fact, the very notion of words being white are black is itself weird in the extreme. The whine in question is barely coherent, but it sometimes seems to have to do with Tina's use of "black" slang at all, and at other times it also includes premises about Tina's wacky nature. Her use of the slang in question is alleged to be racist because she's wacky so...if she occasionally uses black slang...then...uh...all black people are wacky?

That's such a flaming non sequitur that it's kind of hard to even type the end of the sentence...

Tina says a lot of nutty and amusing things. She uses a lot of colloquialisms. She's damn funny. And it's not like she's throwing "I have a dream" or "free at last, free at last" into the middle of her humorous comments. See, here's the thing, 'badonkadonk' is a funny word--and an intentionally funny word. The whole point of the word is being funny. It's a word that sounds funny and denotes a funny object. It's all about the funny.

Furthermore, words aren't colored, and subcultures are porous. To even make the charge in question, you've got to accept the myth that cultures--and sub-cultures too!--have sharp boundaries. 'Badonkadonk' is, I suppose, urban black slang on its narrowest construal...though for all I (or you) know, it's properly regional, too. But it's also part of urban culture, black culture generally, American culture generally, 21st-century pop culture generally, and human culture. An insignificant part, but a part. Were the charge in question cogent, a rural black person could be criticized for using words that only urban blacks should use. And blacks could be criticized for using "white" words...whatever those would be...

The charge in question really is ridiculous. My guess is that it's motivated by the current idiotic fad against "cultural appropriation." According to this fad, it's never permissible for anyone to adopt bits of any other culture. Er...except, of course, that non-Western cultures get to do whatever they want...because...oppression! As usual with the lefty-left, this is a sin that only the West can commit... Of course, until recently, failure to be sufficiently culturally eclectic was the crime. We all had some weird obligation to be more multicultural. Now the capricious hivemind of the left has decided that multiculturalism is, in fact, wrong in some incoherent way...

All of this is, really, just a way for moral fanatics to feel superior to those who are not as fanatical as they are. I mean, it's normally not good to switch from particulars of the issue to hypotheses about the motives of those who advocate the positions...but in some cases it's the only way to really understand what's going on, especially when the position is irrational. It's fashionable at the political extremes to obsess about the sins of others, and to display your purity by finding small ways in which others have deviated from alleged moral optimality. Fundamentalist religious types are well known for this, but it's an obsession of lefties and left-liberals as well. And sane liberals--and I'd classify myself as such--need to stand up to this nonsense.

The people slinging these charges around are wrong, and not just a little bit. The worse an offense, the worse false accusations of it are. Racism is a significantly bad thing, ergo irresponsible accusations of it are proportionally bad. Borderlands 2 is a very well-written game. Anthony Burch did a great job with it, IMO, and Ashly Burch does a great job of voice acting. There's nothing racist about Tiny Tina, and I certainly hope that Randy Pitchford and the crew at Gearbox won't back down. In fact, they should go on the offensive against such idiocy and fanaticism. BL and BL2 are actually unusually admirable with respect to race and sex. There's no doubt that the female PC was first among equals in BL in terms of power and centrality to the story line. Strong female characters abound, and the hero of the story arc is Roland, a character that happens to be black. (In fact, if we're going to play the stupid charges of racism game...Roland's speech is awfully...white, isn't it? If speech can be black or white...which is itself a weird notion...)) 

It's too bad that people can make such irrational and scurrilous charges and not pay a moral price for it. The mere accusation of racism, unfounded as it is, tarnishes Burch's reputation, but the person who makes the irrational charge pays no price. But if we genuinely care about racism, and about truth, then such false accusations should be treated very seriously, and people should be held morally responsible for them. They'd face condemnation, and they'd be expected to admit their error and apologize. Sadly, however, that doesn't seem to be the prevailing reaction to such transgressions.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Welcome To The Police State: Nevada Police Assault And Arrest Homeowner In Order To Use His House In A Stakeout


Not to sound all G. Gordon Liddy...but Mitchell would have been justified in shooting these psychopaths. He'll no doubt win at least a massive civil case against them, but they must be removed from law enforcement permanently and jailed. Whatever penalty would be leveled against private citizens who break into a house, assault the occupant, and kidnap him should be leveled against them, and there should be an additional penalty for misuse of the coercive power of the state.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Government Is Also Photographing Your Mail


The Post Office is photographing every piece of paper mail sent in the country.

I'm on the verge of being unable to believe this shit...

Must-Read: T. A. Frank: Why Liberals Should Oppose Immigration Reform


The most sensible thing I've ever read on the issue.

Despite Jim Bales's strong case to the contrary, I've never really been able to shake the hunch that some significant chunk of liberals are committed to beliefs that virtually entail that we should have open borders.

As Frank notes, the liberal case against "immigration reform"* is difficult to make. If you oppose the party line, you are assumed to be sympathetic with some pretty disreputable characters. I'll add: in fact, you are probably suspected of racism.

But the case against it is simple and strong. Read the whole thing, I say, but the two most important points, to my mind, are:

1. The bill provides quick amnesty, but a radically inadequate commitment to controlling illegal immigration in the future.

2. In Frank's words, "generous social benefits cannot coexist with an open border"

Liberals of my acquaintance typically have nothing good to say about border enforcement. They view the whole affair as vaguely distasteful. They definitely oppose a fence. But they typically endorse a quick path to legalization. A quick path to legalization + no significant improvements in border security = de facto open borders.

As Frank notes, it's the working class and the poor that really pay the price for such a policy...  But they don't have the political power to have a significant effect on the debate.

And none of this is to mention the fact that immigration in the biggest driver of population growth in the U.S.. And population growth is the most important of environmental issues.

Kevin Drum put it well once when he said, roughly: there is simply no alternative to the humane enforcement of just immigration laws. To argue for sanity here is not to be anti-immigrant, despite the propaganda. (Incidentally, the people I know who take the dimmest view of illegal immigrants are legal immigrants...) People have good reasons for trying to come here illegally; I don't blame them. If we want an extra 10 million immigrants per year, then we should raise immigration quotas, and bring them here legally. (I don't want to see that because of the population, but an additional 10 million legal immigrants per year is very much preferable to an addition illegal immigrants per year.)

But nobody is going to listen to Frank. I see no hope of changing the liberal orthodoxy on this point.

* Scare quotes mine. "Immigration reform" is a persuasive misnomer. The bill does not concern immigration, but illegal immigration. And, although it's a change, it's not obviously reform...

Today Is the 25th Anniversary of the U.S.S. Vincennes Incident

(Wikipedia link, via Reddit)

This is one of those things I can't think about very much. It makes me want to throw up every time it comes to mind.

It's worth remembering that Iran has very good reason for hating the United States... You don't have to be a blame-America-first-er to acknowledge that fact.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Is The NSA Recording All Phone Calls? (And Do They Have Real-Time Access To E-mail/Chat?


As I may have mentioned, I think very highly of Kevin Drum's blog. (The phrase "doing yeoman's work" comes to mind with respect to hist posts on the PRISM affair... That may be an annoying phrase, but it comes to mind...)

We can (I think), for now, remain basically agnostic about whether or not they actually can do or are doing the things in question, and consider the point in the abstract, as a thought-experiment. Like so:

Would it be permissible for a government agency to record all (cell) phone calls?

Seems to me that the obvious answer would be: no.

In fact, this is like something approaching a paradigm of something that the Government is not permitted to do...  (And I don't mean: legally.)

Doesn't it?

I mean, if they really are doing this, it's something that simply has to stop...isn't it? Doesn't this rather sound like something to which we would have to really put our collective foot down? 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Has the PRISM Story Been Distorted/Overblown?


At first I flew off the handle about the PRISM/NSA story... Then I couldn't tell what was going on...  Now I find the above, suggesting, though by no means proving, that Greenwald may have distorted the story.

Now, I don't like Greenwald, and I don't like him largely because I believe that one should not trust him...  So that gives me a bias here. I also trust Obama, and do not think that he is an insane despot trying to destroy America. And I find it significant that everybody involved in all three branches of government and in both parties seems to think that PRISM is a plausible program. OTOH, I'm also pretty touchy about privacy issues, to say the least...

I'm not sold. Just for the record. But I simply don't know what to think.

My general view was that the outrage was the "PATRIOT" act...  Once we've decided to get cozy with that, I suppose that the PRISM business didn't seem that surprising to me...which is not to say that it sounded ok...  But, at any rate, we need to get the facts straight. And it sounds like we may not have them that yet.