Sunday, November 30, 2014

Aime Stepanovich: Obama Must Act Now On Promise To Reform NSA

I am inclined to agree with this.  

[via Reddit]

Friday, November 28, 2014

Bad Population News

   World Population to hit 11 billion by 2100.
   They'd been saying a peak of 9 billion in 2070, then some decline. Almost all the unanticipated growth is expected in Africa. That continent simply can't catch a break.
Too bad nobody takes this extremely important problem seriously anymore.

[Incidentally, behold the following inane comment from "openeyes999" on the SciAm site:
While it will be a challenge to feed this many people, I think we will be able to handle it. First, if we were forced to go vegetarian we could almost feed that many people right now. Plus, in the current system there's a lot of waste which could be reduced by current technology and better practices.
Also, in the future our technology will more advanced. I know people are afraid of GM crops but half the world would starve without them and they have a good safety record. Organic crops will increasingly only be possible for the rich. In any case, it's just another reason to invest more $ in biotech than we already do.
Additionally, there are many good food sources people don't use. (Ex: kelp, insects)
Interesting question...would people's reactions be different if the population increase was coming from Europe instead of Africa?
   Overpopulation brings out the same idiocy every time. Instead of admitting the the problem is a problem and needs to be addressed, we get the suggestion that any concerns about the problem are racist ("would people's reactions be different if the population increase was coming from Europe instead of Africa?"), blithe suggestions of forced vegetarianism, suggestions that we eat bugs, etc. Then there's the blind faith that we'll find some technological solution, and the moronic presupposition that the only problem with overpopulation is that we won't be able to feed everyone. A different comment complains that this will make it harder to solve AGW.
   But overpopulation is a problem, and it has nothing to do with racism, despite the neo-PC insistence on trying to find racism under every rock. It's a problem because it threatens to destroy the environment and produce a world that's not worth living in, not merely because we won't be able to feed everyone. And it's a threat to the environment not merely because of AGW, despite the liberal desire to see everything through that lens.
   Jesus, when did everybody get so damn stupid about this?]

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

UVA "Pledges Zero Tolerance Policy In Rape Cases"

   This, uh, highlights the question: what degree of tolerance did they think was ok before? And how can anyone think that a less-than-zero tolerance policy toward rape is a reasonable thing?
   I'm torn when I hear this sort of thing. Of course, I think we ought to have a "zero tolerance" policy toward rape and sexual assault. I think we ought to have a "zero tolerance" policy toward all assault, for that matter. (Though I do agree that sexual assault is a particularly heinous category of assault.) However, I also think we're in the grip of a kind of rape crisis hysteria (hardly an original thought). And some institutions seem to have begun listening to extremist feminists, SJW/neo-PCs and the like, and, consequently, begun defining rape downward--e.g. characterizing ordinary drunken sex is rape. (And not mutual rape, incidentally...only males seem to be classified as perpetrators...)
   As often seems to be the case, people are justifiably incensed by a terrible crime, but they can't catch the actual criminals, so they settle for catching catchable people and characterizing them as criminals. Liberals are totally against this...except in the case of which case they seem to be...rather more open to the strategy...
   So...promising as it sounds, I can't emit three robust cheers for UVA just yet. I do hope that they've seen the light...but that means that I hope that they're planning to crack down on actual perpetrators, rather than doing the other thing.

Carolina 66, Butler 74

   Congrats to Butler, who played hard, and played good D much of the game.
   Unfortunately, that was one of the worst games I've ever seen a Carolina team play. Couldn't shoot, couldn't hit free throws, couldn't hold onto the ball, and, worst of all, got absolutely killed on the boards by a much smaller, much less athletic team. It can be good to get your ass totally kicked early in the maybe this will be one of those watchacallit?...learning experiences... OTOH, it really did have that it's just not your day feel to maybe it's just best to shrug and move on.
   Anyway, more Carolina hoops tomorrow, so it's hard to complain...
   Go Tar Heels!

Timeline/Graphic Of Wilson/Brown Shooting in Ferguson

   I've been looking for something like this...and here it is.
   I'm ignorant of the law, but it's rather difficult for me to believe that there's not enough doubt about what happened to warrant a trial.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jonathan Cohn at TNR on Ferguson

  Worth a read, it seems to me.   (via Lawyers, Guns, and Money)
   My poorly-informed view from afar is that Wilson's account sounds more consistent with the physical evidence than alternate accounts that make Wilson a murderer...but I've wondered whether there might be enough contrary evidence that the grand jury should have indicted and let a trial jury sort it out.
   Sadly, I'm too ignorant of the law to deserve an opinion on this. If anybody can point me to anything helpful, I'd appreciate it.

Nobody Cares That Benghazigate Was GOP Propaganda

The false allegations seemed to get a whole lot more air time than the refutation

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson: Reddit Live Feed

   Reddit live thread
   Doesn't look too good.
   McCulloch's summary of the evidence was fairly persuasive, but it shouldn't take long for lots of careful analyses to appear on the web, and then we'll know better what to think about all this.

No One Has Ever Been Expelled From UVA For Sexual Assault

   If we temporarily set aside questions about "Jackie"s rape allegations in Rolling Stone, this was the most striking revelation to me. Since 1998, 183 expulsions for honor code violations like cheating on exams, but 0 expulsions ever for sexual assault.
   I have some inclination to think that sexual assault should always be a police matter, so I could imagine a situation in which this made sense...but it doesn't sound like that's the kind of thing actually going on over in Hooville...
   I couldn't really understand Associate Dean Eramo's attempt to justify the policy of not expelling students who admit to sexual assault.
   This whole mess has caused me to spend rather a lot of time starting uncomprehendingly at my computer screen with a stupid look on my face. I've spent the vast majority of my life in academia, but I'm really just baffled by much of what's going on and being revealed in this case.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rolling Stone: A Rape On Campus: A Brutal Assault And Struggle For Justice At UVA

   This hit the internet like a bomb.
   I was prepared to be outraged... If true, of course, it is horrific almost beyond belief. However, honestly, the account does not sound very plausible to me. That counts for very little, of course, and I don't make much of such initial judgments of plausibility--even my own. There's little doubt in my mind that a UVA frat is the kind of place that has more than the average number of assholes and psychopaths. But the story of seven guys attacking the alleged victim without preamble for hours on end with a party going on downstairs, referring to her as 'it' and so does strain credulity a bit. My credulity, at any rate. That may, of course, be wishful thinking. As terrible as a false accusation of rape is, that's the best-case scenario here. Then there is the strange account of her friends, immediately after the alleged gang rape, attempting to talk her out of calling the police on the grounds that it would harm her social standing. She also claims that she was attacked on the Corner for having spoken out about the incident, and that her alleged assailant threw a bottle at her, breaking it on her face and leaving her bruised and cut. At least these other parts of the story should be verifiable or falsifiable--the friends who came to get her should be able to testify, and one would think that there would be a police report about the bottle incident, or at least some witnesses.
   A fairly quick Googling reveals virtually no skepticism about the account, so perhaps I'm some kind of lunatic outlier.
   Of course innocent until proven guilty is a legal standard, not a moral one, but it seems notable to me that there seems to be a rush to judgment here. Of course it's difficult to hear an account like this without becoming outraged, and it's difficult to believe that someone would make up such a story. I suppose all there is for it is to hope that the truth comes out in some very clear way, and that justice is done, whatever that might come to.

Friday, November 21, 2014

38 Closed Guard BJJ Combinations In 4 Minutes

Some of these are really sneaky.


Sooo....will they just keep screeching about Benghazi anyway? Or maybe revert back to Fast and Furious or Solyndra...or Whitewater or Troopergate or...whatever...?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse

Well that's just great.

Harvard, Carolina Sued Over Race-Based Admissions

This issue makes me want to go cower in the corner.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Anti-Authoritarian Calisthenics

   aka "anarchist calisthenics."
   Along similar lines, I sometimes tell my students: you need to be prepared to tell people to go to hell when necessary...

   (h/t Armenius Apoplexis)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nixon Declares State of Emergency, Readies National Guard Ahead of Grand Jury Announcement

After Solyndra Loss, U.S. Energy Loan Program Turning a Profit

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Queering Knowledge"

Behold, the kind of stuff that gives bullshit a bad name:
Feminist Critical Analysis
Queering Knowledge: Intimacies, Spaces, Affects
Following Jack Halberstam’s notion of queer, not as a particular body-centered identity position, but as a relational positionality, this year’s course in Feminist Critical Analysis seeks interdisciplinary approaches that examine the possibility of queer concepts of knowledge and queer paradigms of knowledge production and circulation. In particular, we are interested in discussing the ways in which different normative orders are reflected in the power/knowledge paradigms that produce “queer subjects” with “strange temporalities, imaginative life schedules, and eccentric economics”. We will consider alternative modes of intimacy, alliances, forms of embodiment, and representation and how these can contribute to a new understanding of knowledge production and transmission, with very concrete ethical implications and, more importantly, political potential. Is there such a thing as “queer knowledge” at all? Following Lacan, one of the questions we intend to pose would be - is the true desire for knowledge always paranoid, i.e. a desire not to know, as it necessarily confronts the Real? Can there be power in ignorance, as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick notes in Epistemology of the Closet?
In 2015, the annual course Feminist Critical Analysis will examine these recent theoretical moves and consider their consequences for feminist scholarship and activism. We encourage active participation and debates that will bring together disciplines from across the humanities, social sciences, art, political theory, cultural studies, philosophy, etc.
(From an e-mail on PHILOS-L)

Monday, November 10, 2014

The N-Word At The Washington Post

   I'm not going to be doing much blogging for awhile for IRL reasons, but I thought this, at the Washington Post, was pretty good. Some interesting stuff has been written on this topic, but this piece is a pretty good, short take on the thing.
   I grew up with an extremely racist father--not, y'know nouveau "racist," like, he used slightly unfashionable terms or said something ambiguous on Twitter once...I mean racist. Like, hated black people (also Asians...but they seemed to be a kind of afterthought...) racist. And my consciousness was formed when the civil rights movement was not exactly ancient history. Anyway, that's a word that's always going to send me into an anger subroutine. I do suspect that the "reclamation" strategy is the best strategy, though it took me a long time to get used to it. I don't think a policing-and-condemnation strategy is going to work, whereas I think a reclamation strategy is likely to. It's kinda hard for me to understand why non-blacks think it's ok to use the term, but that's a conversation I don't really feel a need to be a big part of. Seems to me that it's (a) a desire to use a word perceived to be fashionable vs. (b) flirting with racism. It's hard for me to see how anybody would think that (a) is weighty enough to stack up against (b). But the very fact that it's become a question at all might be an indicator of progress.
   I don't really see that the word in question is a completely special case, actually. My own view is that it's analogous to e.g. 'asshole' and similar insults. When you apply such words to your friends, they're terms of endearment. When you you apply them to non-friends, they're insults. The former fact is basically parasitic on the latter fact. You apply the term 'asshole' to your friends ironically. You apply the term 'asshole' to non-friends straight.