Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mizzou Prof Melissa "I Need Some Muscle Over Here" Click Sentenced To 20 Hours Of Community Service

I dunno what a fair sentence would be.
At least it's something.

Hillary's E-Mails: Maybe Not So Bad?

At take it with a grain of salt, I suppose...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hillary's E-Mails: My Epistemic Strategy

   I haven't had sufficient time nor interest to dig into the issue of HRC's emails. Acquiring even a passable understanding of every political and policy issue would be a full-time job. And I just can't make myself dig into this one yet. I felt bad about that, and have been fretting about it... Also, JQ likes to watch Fox News for amusement...and last night they were in rare form. From the apocalyptic tone and frenetic pace of the wall-to-wall coverage of the e-mail fiasco, I can only infer that Hillary is being dragged out of her house on one of those HannibalLecteresque hand trucks by Delta Force even as we speak. I mean FNC was on fire...
   It made me realize that my general attitude about this goes a little something like this:
 Whitewatergate: nothing. Troopergate: completely fake. Cocainegate: faker than fake. ClintonBodyCountGate: feverish, delusional right-wing fantasy. VinceFosterGate/WatermelonGate: batshit crazy fake. WatergateGate/HRC fired for being a liar: fake. LewinskyGate: politically-motivated prosecution of a private sexual affair. BENGHAZIBENGHAZIBENGHAZI!11: witch hunt.
   In brief: even someone dedicated to remaining non-partisan and open-minded can't justify taking the GOP seriously about the Clintons. They've cried wolf over and and over over again. They're crazy under the best of circumstances. And their Clinton Derangement Syndrome is, if anything, even more acute than their ODS...
   So...honestly, I don't see much reason to waste my time on this unless a consensus evolves among sane people that there's some semblance of a there there. The GOP screeching about the newest biggest Clinton scandal ever carries about as much weight with me as the Church of Scientology warning that Cthulhu-tron is about to return from the nth dimension to eat our engrams.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

American Society for the Protection of Philosophers

This is not a joke.
   Well...not a joke in the sense of: something intentionally humorous.
   The Daily Nous, when I do foolishly look at it, makes me worry--rather a lot--about the profession... I used to complain about Leiter...but he has become a comparative voice of reason on the philosoweb. I try to ignore the personalities and politics of the pop-profession...but it's getting harder to ignore the signs that PC craziness has infected it. The comments are often largely sane. So that's a source of some comfort.
   I'm sorry that Yancy is getting harassed. That sucks. He seems like a well-meaning fellow. What he wrote for the Times wasn't good and wasn't right...but that's not really relevant. Obviously he shouldn't be hassled for it. But the idea that we need some kind of committee like this strikes me as ludicrous. Almost as ludicrous as this bit:
(I’m suggesting that this be an umbrella committee and then depending on need, it can divide later to specifically address other magnets for hate, besides race, e.g., gender.)
Sooo...we wouldn't want to just start out--even if we did want to do this--with a body that would help out any philosopher hassled for expressing any unpopular philosophical view? Rather, we'd start right off focusing on the race and "gender" of the philosopher?  
   Yeah...that makes exactly no sense at all.
   But that's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

GOP Shitshow / Trumpo's Clown Show

   Democracy is really starting to frighten me.
   Though without Trumpo--and now that the universal Republican loathing of Cruz is no longer even thinly disguised--the main debate seems less crazy. Also no Fiorina going on about rebuilding the 7th Cavalry or whatever. Rand Paul is pretty sane about a lot of things. Jeb...God help me, I'd make a deal with the GOP right now that I'd vote for Jeb if they'd nominate him. I'll take Dubya's brother if it means a guarantee that neither Trump nor Cruz gets anywhere near the White House... Rubio sounds nutty, but I'm hoping that he's just trying to sound crazy because he looks like he's twelve and he know that Republicans won't take anybody seriously if they're not crazy...
   And speaking of Fiorina and the the hell is Jim Gilmore still in this? He's terrible at it.
   Johnny Quest turned on like five minutes of the clown show, but when that guy is on a roll, I just can't listen to him. He makes no sense in the most obnoxious possible way.
   Well...once again I find myself in the terrifying position of realizing that--God help us--the Democrats are our only hope...

Goodbye, Reality-Based Community: Episode #256.4: Menstruation

Is your period-positivity trans-inclusive? (archived; no clicks for loonies)
Well it better be, bub.

(Direct link, as I've suddenly wondered whether all the archived links might disappear some day...not that I have any clue how it all works...)

(h/t J. Carthensis)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Women In Philosophy: Problems With The Discrimination Hypothesis

   This paper showed up briefly quite some time ago, then disappeared for revisions, and is now back.
   Like any good liberal, I used to unthinkingly accept the discrimination hypothesis as an explanation for the relatively small percentage of women in philosophy. After many years in the discipline, however, the hypothesis simply became less and less plausible to me.
   At any rate, I only got a chance to read this once, and quickly, the first time around, but it was definitely worth a read. Haven't read the new version, but I can't imagine it being not worth a read.

Carolina Moves To #1 In Coaches Poll

link.  But at #2 in the AP poll.
That's pretty crazy given the Heels' super-duper shooting slump over the last four games.
Boston College on Saturday.

Privilege-Con '16

   Do yourself a favor and don't look at that link.
   It's about an undergraduate conference on "white privilege." Some universities are subsidizing...wait...should I say "subsidizing student travel"? "Subsidizing student travel expenses"? "Subsidizing students"? How the hell do you use that word...?
   Anyway...just don't look at it.
   It's not going to make you a happier person.
   Maybe we can look forward to undergrad conferences on "rape culture," "microaggressions," Bigfoot and ESP in the near future.

RIP Marvin Minsky

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CSULA Prof Calls Conservative Students "White Supremacists," Challenges Them to a (Wimpy) Fight

This guy needs an ass-kicking.
   But that aside: imagine, if you will, what would happen to a conservative professor who called a liberal students group...oh...I dunno...there's really no equivalent...but...Stalinists?  And then challenged them to a sort-of-a fight...  He'd be out the door before he knew what happened to him. What will happen to this asshat? My guess is: nothing.  
   Note also that he's...what? Challenging them to a wrestling match? Yeah, I'll bet those 19-year-old political science majors are pretty tough...
   One is reminded of Melissa Click's call for "muscle" to remove that pesky reporter... Just imagine what these people would be like if they ever really did seize full-blown political power. They seem barely able to restrain their violent totalitarian inclinations as it is.

Melissa Click, Mizzou "Mass Media" Prof Who Incited The Use Of Force Against Student Reporter, Charged With Assault

   MO is is charging Click with third-degree assault, which carries a maximum fine of $300 and 15 days in the hoosgow.
   This seems, on the face of it, like a reasonable charge to me. Here's the relevant statute.
   I'm pretty psyched to say the least that she might not get away scot-free.
(h/t Lewis Carroll)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Our Place In The Universe...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Whiteness Awareness Month" at Central Washington University

   Wanna see lots of the major confusions and prejudices about race on the left in one package? Here ya go!
   We get race as a "social construct"...and once you've gone down that incoherent road, you can basically say whatever you want, as it takes you into the realm of very, very bad philosophy rather than very, very bad social science, so there are no appreciable empirical constraints on theorizing.
   With all options on the table, the PCs then unsurprisingly go for the essence of whiteness is oppression, which is really one of their quasi-esoteric doctrines--if/when it become exoteric, it won't be received very well, I predict...  But mostly that will be because it's insulting. It should be ridiculed because it's idiotic...but you know how that goes...  Then, of course, there's the pretense that this is some analog of Black History Month...though BHM is (justifiably) laudatory, whereas, of course, "Whiteness Awareness Month" is about how white people are all literally Hitler...or Satan...or Cthulhu maybe...and need to be aware of their "privilege" and so forth and so on.
   So much little desire on my part to shred it...
   Seriously. One tactic of irrationalism and illiberalism is to just throw so much bullshit on the table that it can't all be shoveled neatly away in a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of effort...
   But: if I were going to hit one source of confusion in all that, I'd go for "social constructionism" as the root of much of this nonsense. Whiteness is not a social role, ergo its essence is not oppression (it probably doesn't have an essence, since its a natural kind, a biological category. (For folks who shriek incessantly about the evils of "essentialism"--a view they don't understand at all--they click back into it readily enough when it suits them...) When the Japanese have periodically oppressed their neighbors, they did not thereby become white. I've never oppressed anyone to the best of my knowledge, but I'm white nevertheless.
   Conclusion: very stupid theory is very stupid.
   The defenders of that theory might push things up to the collective level and mumble something about it not applying at the individual level. That ad hoc defense can be rejected out of hand as inconsistent with the fact that individuals have races. But even if we focus on the aggregate/social level, the same arguments defeat the position at that level.
   The real problem is that social construction is (roughly) an incoherent idea. I've gone on about this a zillion times, so won't do so again. The idea is used too indiscriminately, in too many different mutually inconsistent ways. It's an equivocation machine. Which suits the political correctness / "social justice" movement just fine.
   This incoherent far-left nonsense has no business being pushed by a public university, anymore than incoherent, far-right nonsense does. It's indoctrination. Sadly, I am more and more concerned that universities are being used by the illiberal left to a non-trivial extent as tools for brainwashing students. Political correctness simultaneously attempts to prevent ideas to the right of PC from even being aired by visiting speakers, while using the authority of the institution to present far left ideas as unquestioned orthodoxy, spoken ex cathedra in the voice of the institution--undoubtedly with little or no chance for objections to be aired.
   Liberalism is opposed to such a thing. Whether liberals will be remains to be seen.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

"White Privilege" Isn't Really A Thing

   Insisting you're right doesn't make you right. Case in point, insisting that white privilege is totally a thing doesn't make it one.
   I've gone through these arguments before. Thing is, as with most ideas, there's not absolutely nothing to it. There's an idea buried in there somewhere...but its mired in conceptual confusion like almost everything that comes from the illiberal left. "White privilege" is largely a figment of far-left imagination, much like "rape culture," "cultural appropriation," and "microaggressions." That's not to say that whites don't *on average* have a comparative advantage as against (and I take it that this is the comparison the lefties actually have in mind) blacks in the U.S. in many circumstances. Rightly or wrongly, I thought we'd all been convinced long ago that this was true. It is, rather, to say that it isn't accurately described as "privilege." The illiberal left lives in a philosophical fantasy world packed full of concepts that almost make sense...but not quite. 
   "Social construction" is a good example. There are, of course, social influences on belief...but it is not accurate to say that this means that "reality is socially constructed." It's radically inaccurate and misleading terminology--and it's calculated to mislead in a direction that the left finds tactically advantageous and emotionally pleasing. There are rapes, and culture no doubt plays some role, but American culture cannot reasonably be called a "rape culture." The culture's more-or-less official position on rape is: it's basically the most heinous crime there is, with the possible exception of child molestation...which is a kind of rape.  
   People face many small annoyances...they're *micro-* alright...but their not "aggressions." If I ask you where you're from, it may be annoying because it's the third time you've been asked this week. But there is no intent to harm, ergo it's not "aggression." One can adopt practices from other cultures, but this need not be "appropriation", since the term suggests that's wrong when, in fact, it isn't. There might be some circumstances in which it's wrong...though I have a difficult time thinking of any. Usually the real cause of concern is disrespect for the culture. Some cultures deserve to be disrespected in certain ways, of course...but it's prima facie plausible to think that at least some acts of disrespect aimed at at least some cultures is worthy of criticism... But, again, the problem there would be disrespect, not "appropriation."
   Disenfranchisement of blacks is not "white privilege," it's discrimination against blacks. Voting isn't a "privilege," it's a right. Emba notes that black kids are suspended more from school, but some studies indicate that this is because they have more behavioral problems--something that wouldn't be surprising given that more black families are impoverished. If people who are black are followed around in stores, but whites and Asians are not, then this cannot reasonably be called "white privilege." Again, it is a kind of discrimination against blacks.
   And "privilege" isn't merely the mirror-image of 'discrimination.' "Privilege theory" typically entails that whites benefit from discrimination against non-whites. Sometimes this is true, but not usually. I gain nothing when others are e.g. disenfranchised--especially since my political preferences tend to track with those of the majority of black Americans. "Privilege theory" is a mess, as is the term. There are good reasons to reject it, like the rest of the conceptual disaster of the post-post-modern regressive left. We can't be forced to accept bad concepts and false theories just because the left insists that we must. 
   The general problem here is that what are sometimes called "cultural elites" are in the grip of a political correctness fad. They are insisting that the rest of us adopt the fad, too. Some people can be bamboozled by quasi-academic jargon...but I'm gratified to see that, so far, at least, there's significant resistance to this nonsense.
   I shouldn't have to add this, but you know what times are like...: none of this is to say a word about how bad discrimination against blacks in the U.S. is, nor how much of a comparative advantage it is to be white and/or Jewish (however you want to divide things up there), Asian, etc.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Snowpocalypse 2016!

Wow. Started about 10:30, roads now covered, coupla inches all over everything.

Fortunately, we are prepared:

But first, a wee excursion downtown to do some snow day drinking there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A (The?) Really Weird Thing About Political Correctness, Academic Liberal/Left-ism, and Efforts To Create Instant Orthodoxies

   I'm not sure I have a coherent thought here, but I wanted to get it out in some version, if only to see what the flaws are. I'm just going to state the concern in a really sketchy form, and then come back to it asap. The concern goes like this:
   Political correctness / illiberal leftism--which seem as if it's mostly limited to the internet and college students--is strongly linked to the intellectual leftism that is so powerful among university professors (especially in the humanities and social sciences). (For a related point see: Heterodox Academy) These forces are working together to push certain theories that are largely un- or pseudo-scientific / irrational--or, to say the very least, unproven and supported by weak reasons. These theories seem to have their origins in activism or activist-oriented academia (women's/gender studies, racial studies, sectors of sociology, etc.) They are poorly-supported in terms of actual evidence and argument, but motivated by the powerful emotional and political commitments of their advocates. And liberals tend to be very hesitant to disagree with the left and left-academia, and often do not even recognize that illiberals on the left are illiberal.
   One such theory is the view that human race is not physically/biologically real. This theory comes in two forms: (a) the concept race captures no natural kinds, no biologically real groupings, therefore race is not real and (b) race is not a natural kind, but it is real in some sense in that it is "socially constructed." These views are a train wreck of confusions and fallacious reasoning--though the former is at least coherent whereas the latter probably is not. This overall generic view is such a disaster that one can quickly become frustrated and start looking around for psychological or social explanations for its prevalence--why do so many at least reasonably intelligent and well-educated people believe it?
   I mean--look: we can always be wrong, and I might be missing something... And perhaps the view will even turn out to be true in the fullness of time... But: the arguments and evidence commonly proclaimed to be (basically conclusive) proof of these trendy theories about race are terrible. Perhaps there are good arguments I haven't run across, or extremely technical arguments that I've misunderstood, or good arguments that haven't been disseminated yet... But that would still leave this puzzle: if the arguments being loudly and indignantly represented as conclusive are not only not conclusive but positively terrible...what's motivating the theory?
   In this case, the explanation is fairly clear: what is motivating anti-realism/eliminativism/"social constructionism" about race is politics. The view basically depends on a moral/political argument that is never articulated, but goes something like this:

Believing in the (biological) reality of race is racist (or at least makes racism possible)
If race is unreal then racism makes no sense (?)
Race is (biologically) unreal

   The goal of anti-racism is unimpeachable...but this sort of mixing of the political and the philosophical/scientific is Lysenkoism and must be unequivocally rejected. The question of the reality of race has to be addressed on its own merits, and cannot rationally be supported by political arguments for the political (or even moral) desirability of one of the outcomes. Furthermore, race eliminativism/anti-realism is in no way necessary for moral and political anti-racism. In fact, the view that anti-racism is impossible without eliminativism/anti-realism itself betrays a loss of faith in the liberal project, which is built on the view that e.g. skin color should be morally and politically irrelevant.
   The weakness of eliminativism/anti-realism about raice is one relevant fact. But the fact I'm most concerned about is that this unsupported/unsupportable position has been made into virtually unquestioned/unquestionable orthodoxy in certain sectors. If you question the position, then you're almost guaranteed to be accused of racism--which is what one would predict if the position were motivated by anti-racism rather than philosophical/scientific considerations.
   The fact that any strange theory can be made into the orthodoxy--eve unquestionable orthodoxy!--so quickly should concern everyone. Even if the theory were true, it should concern us all that its acceptance on the left is motivated by politics. In fact, it should concern us that there exists unquestionable political orthodoxy with respect to a largely scientific question.
   And race isn't the only topic with respect to which this is happening. Obviously an unquestionable orthodoxy about "transgenderism" was instituted at about the same time. This theory has it, for example, that a man who thinks of himself as a woman is a woman. It's even been said of Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner that that (a) Jenner is a woman, period, in as full a sense as any biologically female person, and (b) Jenner has always been a woman, even when fathering children. Again, the arguments for these views are extraordinary weak to say the least, and outright fallacious to say the most. And, again, they are politically motivated. And, again, even if they were true, the (in social terms) instantaneous institution of a new and unquestionable orthodoxy should worry everyone--especially liberals...
   One common feature of the two cases is that both typically make appeal to "social construction," a term used in so many incompatible ways that it is basically an equivocation machine--which means: a machine for pulling rabbits out of hats, logically speaking... Allow someone to equivocate at crucial points in an argument, and he can "prove" any number of outlandish things...  "Social constructionism" has become a kind of unofficial philosophical cornerstone of the illiberal left, and that's not helping anything...but it's a different topic for a different time.
   My main point here is: whatever the details of the particular arguments and positions in play, one important, general, worrisome aspect of the problem is that unquestionable orthodoxies in science and social science are being produced on the basis of bad reasons and political arguments. Since the positions are in some sense moral and not descriptive/scientific, questioning them brings moral condemnation.
   This is a very worrisome state of affairs.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Larry Summers on "Creeping Totalitarianism" on College Campuses

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Donald Trump Is A Mediocre Businessman

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Peter Wehner: Why I Will Never Vote For Donald Trump

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Is Rape Motivated By A Desire for Sex or Power?

This is pretty good.
   Also the source, Quillette, seems dedicated to standing up to prevailing middle-brow groupthink.
   To my mind, the really important thing here is that the feminist maxim that rape is about power, not sex, is implausible and completely unproven. But, like so many decrees of feminism in my lifetime, it became orthodoxy simply because a vocal minority insisted that it was true and treated dissent as bigotry. I first learned about this strange doctrine when I said something (in high school? as an undergraduate?) that suggested that I was ignorant of it. I was promptly "educated" by a nearby feminist. At that time, I was still under the misapprehension that something was likely to be true if it was feminist orthodoxy, so I spent a couple of years believing and repeating that dubious theory. It didn't take all that long, however, for me to realize that it didn't really make a lot of sense, and probably wasn't true.
   But the really clear and important point is: the rape/power hypothesis is unproven, and there are clear reasons to doubt it. Sex itself is often mixed up with desires to dominate, so it may very well be that there are multiple motives in play.
   The closer feminism sticks to its core mission--to work for equality, the better, more reasonable and more reliable it is. The farther it ventures from that core, the less. It's pretty bad at empirical hypotheses largely because it's a political movement, and that's largely inconsistent with being scientific. And its doctrines tend to be held as articles of faith, not as hypotheses. Like so many odd feminist doctrines, the rape/power doctrine is based mostly on a kind of interpretive, speculative method, when what's needed is empirical investigation. It could turn out to be true, but it's not currently the most likely guess.

Bernie Says Campus Sexual Assault Should Be Left To The Cops; Activists Are Unhappy

At Reason.
   I've also been of the opinion that assault of all kinds should be a legal matter...but I'm currently not sure that it should only be a legal matter. Do companies treat assaults (of all/any kind) as personnel matters? Universities aren't businesses--I don't want to fuel that line of nonsense. But they might look to them as a touchstone. I mean, if a boss harasses (sexual or otherwise) a subordinate on company property, during business activities, it seems like--whatever legal action might be taken--the company might have a right to deal with the matter insofar as it's a personnel matter. Similarly, if a teacher harasses a student--or is accused of doing so--that's possibly a legal matter, but clearly a personnel matter. OTOH, if Smith is accused of murder (but the accusation is unproven) and Brown has reason to fear that he might be next...should a company at which they both work have anything to do with this?
   I don't know enough of the relevant facts to have a right to an opinion here, really.
   None of this is to defend the strange "Dear Colleague" letter from the Department of Education's OCR, which seems to mandate a "preponderance of evidence" standard in university proceedings on sexual assault. Even though I think that the standard might be defensible, I see no way to defend mandating that standard.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Transgender Policies in Alberta Schools: Alberta Goes All-In On The Very Trendiest Pseudo-Scholarly Fad

   This is painfully stupid and alarming as hell. The recipe seems to be:
   Take some incoherent theories produced by the least-intellectually-rigorous parts of the university (the most-leftist and least-practical institution in society)--the parts that are made up almost entirely as far-left activists pretending to be scholars. Pass these ideas--which have never genuinely been challenged...because they are sacrosanct among the activist "scholars" in the relevant fields--on to graduates of ed of the other least-scholarly, least-rigorous parts of the university. (God bless teachers...but seriously, this is no secret...) Spend almost exactly no time whatsoever actually reflecting on this nonsense. In the space of a few months or years, decide to completely restructure an aspect of society that directly affects children--who are not only required by the state to attend the relevant madhouse, but are, needless to say, impressionable and vulnerable.
   Yeah...that is an absolutely fantastic idea.
   This is exactly the kind of lunatic, half-baked social engineering that Burkean conservatives object to. And in this case, they are absolutely right. This is radical social re-engineering based on crackpot theories generated by kooks.
   It's not that I don't favor a certain amount of social evolution in some of these areas... I do, and long have. It's just that I don't favor instantaneous change on the basis of the worst available thinking...
   Look, these are people who, if the article is to be believed, do not even understand the sex/gender distinction, which is basically the cornerstone of the non-crazy bits of all of this. Furthermore, " 'boys' " and " 'girls' " are not "gender-specific roles." A boy is a juvenile male human. A girl is a juvenile female human. There are some few social roles loosely associated with being a boy and being a girl...but boy and girl are not social roles. My really couldn't come up with anything more confused than this if you tried...
   Then there's this:
When it comes to sports teams, in particular, the guidelines say students should be "given the opportunity to participate on the team that reflects their gender identity and expression."
Such nonsense...such utter, utter nonsense...  Look, there are only two even vaguely coherent options here: (a) divide sports teams up by sex (note: not gender); (b) don't divide them up at all. The genders are masculine and feminine (and we can also count androgynous). It makes no sense whatsoever to divide sports teams up according to whether the players are masculine or feminine. (Especially when you're talking about really young kids, who may not be either yet...) We divide teams up by sex so that more than a small percentage of females can play with some reasonable chance of having fun and standing out. You can stop that if you want--and there are some arguments for doing so. But if you stop it, just stop it. Divide people up in order to evenly distribute skill and strength...or whatever. Or divide them up into the A league and the B league. But it makes no sense to divide by "gender." Oh and: it's females who will suffer if we ditch the usual system... No other reasons seem to affect these people...perhaps the only way to reach them is to play dueling oppression points...
   One of the many striking aspects of this lunacy is that it does exactly the opposite of what even a rational leftist with respect to these matters should want to do. The only reasonable view in the vicinity of all this is that gender is not important. Stop making a big deal about it. Forget about it.  Instead, this current crop of incoherent lefty fads turns gender into one of the defining, ineliminable  aspects of human life. Of course, since they confuse sex and gender, they're really not sure what they want to do...
   And all this for about 0.01% of the population...  The rational way to deal with this problem is--for the few schools that would be affected--for the principal to get on the intercom ( they use those anymore? Or do they just text everybody?) and say: Hey. One of the boys has decided that he likes to wear dresses. If any of you little barbarians hassles him, you're outta here. Don't be an asshole. That is all...
   This is like a funhouse-mirror image of even vaguely serious thinking about these topics. Of course it's also probably a move in a far-left academic/activist social re-engineering experiment masquerading as a response to a large, pressing, pre-existing problem. The liberal response would simply to encourage people (and require them in certain cases) to slightly widen the circle of actions and ways of being they tolerate. But that's not enough for the far left social engineers. Their goal is to push policies that presuppose crackpot theories, and to actually encourage certain actions and ways of being by representing them as being extremely common...just another option that everyone faces when growing up...
   Seriously...this is pretty worrisome stuff...

Reddit Megapost on Organized Mass Sexual Assaults in Europe

   I'm not sure what to say about all this.
   Obviously the affected countries must come down on the perpetrators/assailants/rapists like the very fist of God... But it's also, obviously, important to remember that even this extremely large number of violent criminals represents only a small fraction of the immigrant population. On the other hand, it also seems important to note that this isn't merely a matter of isolated, individual criminals. Rather, these attacks are obviously organized/coordinated, and are the result of some kind of social practice, and so it will have at least some tendency to be self-perpetuating. That is to say: it's not just a problem with a few individuals; it's something akin to a cultural/sub-cultural problem.
   Very much not good.

Kevin Drum Is Sick Of Conservatives Being Babies

Harsh, but fair.
   Furthermore, we minimize the odds of another Iraq-type debacle if we tell the truth about what happened. It may be difficult for people who fought there to hear, but better that than that another 4 1/2 thousand should die (and 30,000 be wounded) in another moronic war in the future. (And that's just U.S. deaths, of course.) Furthermore, if we go into a disastrous war stupidly, blame the people who took us there; don't blame those who point out that it was disastrous and stupid.
   This whiny rhetorical BS from (some!! Not all!!) conservatives really is infuriating. They really do need to snap out of it...and those who aren't deluded in this way need to call BS on those who are.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Occasional Movie Quasi-Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

All I really have to say right now is:  wow.
I. Freaking. Loved. It.
As with most movies of its general type, it's better at setting up the (more-or-less) denouement than it is actually pulling it off... But the first part is, IMO, so bloody great that, by the time the criticize-able bits roll around, you've already fallen for the flick hook, line and sinker...or at least I had...
I've got gripes...but they're for another time. I can't remember the last time a movie made me say "holy shit" under my breath twice. I might change my mind on subsequent viewings of course...but damn, I surely did love it the first time through.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

The Rolling Stone / UVA Rape Hoax One Year Later

Here's something in the Washington Post.
It's referred to as a 'debacle' in the the title, but the more accurate term is 'hoax.'

   Several morals might reasonably be drawn from this case and the reaction to it. It goes without saying that the following is not one of them: there is no sexual assault problem on campuses. It's absurd that we'd need to say that. It's also absurd that some freak out if it isn't said...
   Some of the most important morals have to do with rape crisis feminism and rape crisis hysteria. Rape is a terrible crime. But that doesn't mean that it is impossible to exaggerate its frequency. And that is exactly what a certain sector of the PC left / feminism is dedicated to doing. So far as I know, just as an example, Amanda Marcotte has never explicitly admitted that "Jackie" was lying--and has dissembled several times. (For that matter, she has never explicitly admitted that the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case was lying...and she's suggested at least that she doesn't believe that she was.) Somebody at Shakesville claimed, basically, that even though Jackie is lying, anyone who didn't initially believe her is a "rape denialist"... Perhaps most significantly, Jackie's story was represented by many feminists as conclusive evidence of "rape culture" and so forth when they thought it was true...but when it was shown to be false, they refused to count it as evidence that their claims are overblown. This is almost definitive of pseudoscience--evidence is only evidence when it proves what we want it to prove; otherwise, it's irrelevant...
   One thing many feminist writers on the web have gotten right, though, is that this case doesn't tell us a lot about false accusations of rape. "Jackie" didn't accuse a real person--she made up a guy and accused him. The writers in question are probably wrong that the case tells us nothing about false accusations...but if it tells us anything about false accusations against real people, it doesn't tell us a lot.
   Anyway. There's that.

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Ted Cruz, Birther, Hoisted By His Own Petard

Poetic justice in the making?

Friday, January 08, 2016

PC Denialism: Toles Falls For It

   I like Tom Toles, but here he falls for the obvious falsehood that political correctness is the same thing as anti-racism and anti-sexism.
   Here's the thing: if you have to distort a position in order to defend it, then what you really need to do is abandon it.

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mass Sexual Assaults In Germany On NYE; Groups of Arab and N. African Immigrants Implicated

This is horrible, and instructive.
   The story, as I can piece it together thus far: large groups of men sexually assaulted scores of women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve. The gangs seem to have been composed primarily of Arab and North African men likely to be relatively recent immigrants. Sometimes the sexual assaults were at least in part distractions to facilitate muggings/pocket-pickings. There seems to have been at least one rape. The German media then seems to have suppressed the story, apparently because of the race of the perpetrators. This may have been motivated by political correctness, or out of fear of fanning flames on the far right, or both. The mayor of Cologne then made some peculiar claims about a "code of conduct" for women, e.g. staying out of reach of unknown males. This may have just been prudential advice, but it sounded a bit like something more...something on a trajectory at the end of which lies put on a burka...  Now, the latter is, of course, insane...but even the former runs afoul of the PC fad of the last 2+ years according to which any advice whatsoever about how to avoid sexual victimization is "victim-blaming." (The PCs have even said that women taking self-defense classes is immoral, because they are allegedly then just basically passing victimization along to someone else. The only permissible response to rape is social engineering, of course...) As kind of footnote, several threads on the topic were then apparently deleted from Reddit (/r/worldnews), allegedly by lefty mods, for transparently fallacious reasons.
   The sexual assaults themselves are one problem, and one that chatterers on the web can't do much about. What we might be able to do, though, is fight back against efforts by the illiberal left to control thought by controlling information. Liberals--and I'd say that still includes me, despite my exasperation with liberals of late--tend to be too forgiving of extremism on the left. That really has to stop. PCs are not liberals. In fact PC is, in its pure forms, at least as opposed to liberalism as is conservatism. It's time for actual liberals to stop making excuses for that madness. The rational response to racism is not turning it on its head and making special excuses on the basis of race--if, indeed, that is even what happened. At this point, it's too soon to tell exactly what was going on.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Obama's Executive Action On Guns: "Modest"?

   David Bernstein says so.
   Contra Bernstein, Josh Blackman seems to disagree, and seems to think that this is stage-setting for further actions by blue states that can then easily be generalized to the national level.
I don't know what to think. The suggested measures don't seem prima facie unreasonable to me, though some of them don't actually seem aimed at curtailing mass shootings. E.g. microstamping isn't going to help against an insane person who plans to die in the act. And, of course, there's the perennial problem that it's tough to formulate legislation that will make a dent in crimes committed with illegal weapons.
   Anyway, as is so often the case, I don't know what to think. In general I'm concerned about ever-expanding executive power, but I don't know enough to know whether we should be concerned about this particular use of executive power.
   And, of course, Obama's an almost preternaturally reasonable I tend to give him a (defeasible) benefit of doubt.

The Oregon Anti-Government Extremists Are Not Terrorists. And That Has Nothing To Do With Race.


   Ok, here's the deal. Well, here's part of the deal: there's not that much difference between certain sectors of academia and certain types of activists. This is pretty clear in places like "women's studies" and "gender studies." But it's also clear in more respectable parts of the academy like sociology and literary criticism. Many academicians see their ultimate goal as effecting social change--where 'change,' of course, means movement to the left. And these activist academicians long ago adopted a kind of semi-coherent cant, and a set of intellectual tactics. These tactics include a set of corrupt, semi-literary "interpretive" approaches that seem to permit all manner of interpretive long as the whole process ultimately issues in conclusions that are politically correct. And the effort to "discover" that just about any given thing is racial/racist is perhaps their most favored and familiar trope. (Ugh. I don't even like to use 'trope' anymore since it's become part of the cant... But 'meme' is probably even worse...)
   Mark Kleiman erroneously called the...whatever they are...terrorists, but had corrected himself by the time I noticed he'd done it. (Way to go, Mark!) Kevin Drum also incidentally noted that they aren't terrorists. Foolishness like Ross's just muddies the waters. There are real issues here--most prominently: what to do and how to think about the Oregon...whatever-they-ares. Then there's the pervasive tic of the left--trying to make everything about race. That needs to be combated, of course, but all it does is distract and confuse in the case of the occupiers-of-the-wildlife-refuge. It goes without saying that some things about about race, and some things are racist. And some things are unobviously racial/racist. And it's important to think about those things and react to them accordingly. But that's not made any easier by the habitual tendency of certain sectors of the left--including the academic left--to pronounce everything racial/racist, often on the flimsiest pretext. And then there's the quasi-terminological question are these guys terrorists? which the answer is: no. The Ross piece just gratuitously creates confusion. I don't know--but I predict--that the usual suspects (e.g. Salon) will be full of similar, though less-well executed, essays.
   Finally, Ross's thought-experiments just aren't much good. It matters that these guys are taking over the headquarters of a wildlife refuge in BFE. That's very different than taking over a federal building in a city. It also matters that they're not rampaging through a city destroying property, etc. It doesn't matter that some people on "social media" are calling them terrorists. "Social media" is/are full of idiots.
   There's nothing wrong with raising the kinds of questions that Ross raises...though they ought to be dismissed pretty readily, and I'm not sure they're important/plausible enough to be featured in the Post.