Jan 202018
 

“Let he who HASN’T raw dogged a porn star just after the birth of his fifth child with his third wife cast the first stone.”

Everyone is pro-feminism until they can score some cheap political points by throwing women under a bus.

In this week’s Trump scandal, it turns out he had an affair a decade ago. Not a big deal, except that the Other Woman was… <music ascends into a sharp pause> a porn star!! <DUN DUN DUN>

And I am seriously grossed out at this reporting. Every popular media source out there cannot stop trumpeting that the woman he was sleeping with was a porn star. It’s the most important thing you need to know about her, and it has to be the first thing you know about her! It makes the affair so much worse than any normal affair with a normal woman.

I expect it coming from the right, but it bothers me that even the left is leading with this sort of thing. That meme at the top? It was shared by a dedicated leftist colleague. I particularly love the lurid description of the sex itself, the same way gay people used to constantly have all references to their relationships reduced to descriptions of anal sex. The leftist colleague explained it away as not attacking sex workers–rather just pointing out the hypocrisy of the GOP and their railing that sex work is bad, porn is a sign of moral decay, and multiple marriages are because of a lack of godliness.

I consider this bullshit. All these headlines and memes are feeding off the derision of sex workers. Feeding off it, legitimizing it, popularizing it, and spreading it. You don’t get to call yourself pro-women while helping to degrade sex workers. You don’t get to use “but this is an attack on Trump, and anything we do to hurt him is good!” as an excuse. This sort of thing marks a group as an underclass who don’t deserve the same consideration and protections of everyone else. You can’t reform the social narrative about sex work while reblogging things that reinforce that narrative.

I spoke with a friend about this, and they gave me permission to post the following (paraphrased, and with some alterations for anonymity’s sake)

I was married to a sex worker. I was pro-sex-worker long before that… but there’s a difference between being theoretically for rights/respect, and living the reality yourself. I felt the impact of society’s casual disregard of sex-worker’s humanity much more viscerally when it was directed at a person I loved and shared a life with. I realized some things were a bigger deal than I had thought. And the casual contempt is part of that. It’s what makes it OK to mistreat “those people”

There’s groups you expect it from. The religious fuckheads, the GOP, and all the scum on the right. It still sucks, and it’s awful. But it was when it came from the left that it really hurt. Because I guess I bought into the whole “we’re on the side of women’s rights” thing. And then one’s supposed allies treat one as just as dirty as anyone else. A supposedly liberal comedy show like Archer uses “When they’re dead they’re just hookers” as a laugh line, and it makes you want to throw up.

My spouse learned this long before I did. She didn’t trust anyone, didn’t count any group as an ally. She was completely alone in a hostile world. I want the world to be better for her, and others like her.

I dislike the refrain of “Listen to [group]!” because it always comes with an implicit “…and shut up.” I don’t want anyone to shut up. Say what you want, but realize it comes at a cost that some of your allies will feel. I stopped considering the generic-left an ally a couple years back, and this was one of the reasons why (although, of course, not the only one).

For reference:

Yeah. Fuck that shit.

Dec 072017
 

The Daily Dot posted an article titled “We fact-checked FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s net neutrality ‘facts’—and they’re almost all bulls**t

The fact that they censored two letters of “bullshit” should tell you right off the bat that they may not quite have a grasp on what bullshit entails.

I read this article while doing some research on Net Neutrality, and I actually really appreciate it. They, perhaps unusually for a media outlet, didn’t seem to want to tell direct, bold-faced lies. As such it’s very easy to see that the media (or at least, the media I’m used to reading) doesn’t actually care about what they facts say or imply. The battle for Net Neutrality is now an idealogical battle.

To save everyone’s time, I’m going to boil down Ajit Pai’s point Daily Dot’s counterpoint to what bare assertions with all the Fnords removed. I have not looked into any claims directly, I simply take them at face value, because that’s all you need with this article. Direct quotes in italics, occasional commentary by me in italics. Anyone who put a few points into Reading Comprehension can play this game. Let’s rate the bullshit together!

1A – The Internet was fine before the 2015 Regulations. 1B – That’ll remain the case after they’re repealed.

Contra 1A – “It’s true.” Contra 1B – ISPs didn’t want those regulations, therefore they must be good regulations.

“It’s true” doesn’t sound like “this is bullshit” to me. Sounds like two different groups arguing over which regulations to impose, with ISPs on one side and content-delivery-networks like Netflix and Amazon (CDNs) on the other. Verdict: this is not what bullshit means.

2A – Entrepreneurs and start-ups did very well in the pre-2015 enviroment. 2B – That’ll remain the case after the 2015 Regulations are repealed.

Contra 2A – “Yes.” Contra 2B – We believe ISPs will stifle them in the future, though.

Verdict: Agreement on half the point, contrary speculation on the other half. Not bullshit.

3A – ISPs didn’t block websites before 2015. 3B – They probably won’t after, and will be required by transparency laws to state when they do.

Contra 3A – “This is technically true” 3B – Users will have to police the Internet instead of the police, and you can’t count on them to do that.

Verdict: This is technically not bullshit

4A – Broadband investment as fallen two years in a row since the 2015 Regulations were adopted.

Contra 4A – This is “entirely false.” Investment has increased, speeds have increased, here’s links.

Verdict: Hey, now we’r getting somewhere! Actual bullshit!

5A – ISPs didn’t charge a premium to reach certain content online before the 2015 Regulations. 5B – They won’t after repeal, either.

Contra 5A – This is true, but it’s inconvenient that you want to base you predictions about the future on how things worked a couple years ago. Contra 5B – They EXTRA won’t if we keep these regulations, though!

Verdict: It’s starting to sound like the Daily Dot is the one peddling the bullshit here. I can’t judge based on the merits, as I haven’t looked into any of these claims yet, but boy, you guys really should work on sounding less weasley.

6 – The 2015 Regulations burden small ISPs and new entrants who can best introduce competition into broadband market.s

Contra 6 – Totes. “This one likely has the most validity to it.” But we can just selectively not apply these regulations to small/new ISPs!

Verdict: Holy shit guys, I’m actually on Pai’s side now. Is this a black-flag operation?

7 – Yes, there will be Internet Fast Lanes. This isn’t bad.

Contra 7A – We are in agreement, except we think this is bad.

Verdict: No bullshit, just differing values.

8 – The 2015 Regulations already permit bundling services. Portual has “Net Neutrality” regulations, and also has bundling, because that’s allowed under these kinds of regulations.

Contra 8 – “This one is totally true.”

Verdit: Anti-bullshit

9 – The 2015 Regulations stifle innovation. Here’s an example.

Contra 9A – That example is true. But it’s just one example, and on net it’s hard to say what will or won’t stifle innovation. Also, NOT having the 2015 Regulations can also stifle innovation. “for now at least, we’ll have to rack this one up as a big ol’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

Verdict: ಠ_ಠ

10 – The 2015 Regulations stripped the FTC’s ability to protect user’s privacy. Repealing those regulations will return that power to the FTC.

Contra 10 – “This one is true.” BUT Net Neutrality would have stronger privacy regulations, if Congress hadn’t removed those privacy rules from the regulations.

So the 2015 Regulations would protect privacy, if they protected privacy? I suppose I cannot argue with that on logical grounds. Verdict: both?

11 – Repealing the 2015 Regulations will lead to better, faster, cheaper internet for rural folks, city folks, space folks… basically ALL the folks!

Contra 11A – “This is entirely speculative,” “it’s possible,” “this is a great unknown.”

Verdict: OK, so sorta bullshity.

12 – The FTC is better at protecting the internet and consumer interests than the FCC is. Here’s some examples of things they did pre-2015 to protect consumers.

Contra 12 – We prefer the FCC.

Verdict: Another legit difference of opinion. Not bullshit. Although the contra point by The Daily Dot did include the bizarre line “the FTC creates a reactive approach to regulation—ISPs have to break the law first, then fix what their wrongdoing later, after the FTC cracks down.” Does the FCC have a Pre-Crime branch? How the hell do they stop wrongdoing before it happens?

13A – Most of the comments supporting the 2015 Regulations were faked, coming from botnets. 13B – Also, it doesn’t matter, internet comments don’t decide policy.

Contra 13A & 13B – “It’s true”

Verdict: Anti-bullshit, again. Tempted to score a negative-1 for this, but they were nice enough to include it rather than just omit the embarrassing points, and I don’t want to be churlish.

14 – The courts say it’s OK to repeal the 2015 Regulations and return to pre-2015 rules.

Contra 14 – Oh you poor, naive, child. We’ll be taking this to the courts for years.

Verdict: :(

 

My final tally:

2 items were actual or sorta bullshit
4.5 items were differences in values or conflicting goals. This is not bullshit, it’s what’s under debate.
7.5 items were not bullshit, and in many cases the Daily Dot literally said so themselves.

Ahem. “We fact-checked FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s net neutrality ‘facts’—and they’re almost all bulls**t.” 2 out of 14 is NOT almost all. Maybe those ** were standing in for “tamentsAboutOurDifferentPreferencesInRegulatoryStructures,ManyBackedUpByFac”

Dec 072017
 


I am sad for Al Franken. Translation of relevant part at front of this video:

“The allegations are false, and/or wildly exaggerated. I am cooperating with the investigation, and the investigation will prove this to be the case. However, I see the political lynch mob forming, I have plenty of money, and I don’t need this shit. As a well-off white male, I will personally suffer much more from attacks from my side over the coming months than I would suffer over the rest of my life from nopeing-out and letting the Trumpers run wild. Peace out.”

The allegations against Franken as of this writing

The photos currently available  (Arianna’s comments)

A Survivor’s Defense of Al Franken

Nov 132017
 

There’s an odd line in Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” where he sings “The only questions I ever thought was hard–is do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?” It’s weird because there is no Trekkie I’ve ever met who thinks that’s a hard question. Everyone has a strong and clear opinion on exactly who is the better captain, and why. Sure, the half who say it’s Kirk are wrong, but there’s no waffling on the position.

I was recently in a discussion with an older geek and a younger geek, both of liberal persuasion. And the younger, more zealous geek stated that Captain Kirk is morally disgusting due to his regressive attitudes, and everyone should distance themselves from that abomination. To which the older geek got royally upset, and for good reason.

The young geek, watching TOS nowadays, sees only that a hero of SF nerdom is a womanizer, and feels disappointed that this is what people look up to. They either don’t know or don’t care that Star Trek was incredibly progressive for its time. It had perhaps the most diverse cast on television. It portrayed a socialist utopia in the thick of the cold war. It snuck in pro-feminist and anti-segregation lines. It showed the first interracial kiss on television during a time when that got them nearly kicked off the air in almost half the country.

And yeah, Kirk was a womanizer. This was also the decade of free love, where that wasn’t necessarily seen as a bad thing. Regardless, it is not acceptable behavior nowadays, and therefore Kirk must be disavowed and publicly excoriated.

In the progress of ethics, much like in the progress of science, we are where we are today only because we stand on the shoulders of giants. If we see farther, and know better what is good, than those below us, it is in large part because we stand on their progress. So while we don’t have to hold them up as moral exemplars in the current light, because they aren’t, neither should we call them moral monsters for being ahead of their time and pushing progress forward! Society progresses fast enough nowadays that the people who fought for the rights and morals we have now are still alive, and turning on them seems particularly cruel when their around to see it.

This sort of thing has impacts on the real world. It was brought to a head for me last weekend, when a con I was attending had a panel on a culture war topic. It got heated, as they tend to. A young liberal defended the SJW position in what I’ve heard was a particularly courageous manner. While I spoke to them later that day, an older white gentleman came up to praise them for their good work. This is a guy who is very obviously strongly on the side of the liberals, but the instant he came over, the circle of people I was in froze up. Tension weighed down the air. He was instantly unwelcome because he was old, and The Olds are always vile monsters from the barbaric past. He took a moment to praise the young liberal, complementing them on how well spoken they were. There was a murmur of anger, and my heart sank. This poor guy was just trying to praise her, but he didn’t know that you can’t tell a minority they are well spoken, because that’s something only a racist would say. He moved away after another minute, probably not knowing why he was getting so much hostility. He didn’t realize he never had a chance, he was judged an enemy before he’d opened his mouth.

I know it’s a cliché now, but this is just another example of how the Left eats its own. How does *anyone* feel safe in a movement that is THIS cannibalistic?

As for how things can be done better – I recently was linked to the concept of “Value Over Replacement.” If a person hadn’t existed, would the people who would have taken their place been better or worse than them? I don’t know much about the original Battlestar Galactica (the only real comparison I can think of on American TV, though I realize it was years later), but I haven’t heard anything about their progressive philosophical agenda.

This whole “destroying those who helped get us where we are” thing? Yeah, guys, let’s not do that.

Oct 262017
 

Apparently there was a Golden Age of New Atheism, wherein New Atheists were a respected ally of the Left, in good standing with the wider community. And then they managed to fail miserably, isolate all their natural allies, and now they’re hated by the Blue Tribe almost as much as the Red Tribe.

I don’t want to be a douchebag or anything, I love Scott Alexander’s work, but apparently I missed this Golden Age.

I first came out as an atheist in 1995, a good 6+ years before New Atheism became a thing. At the time there were no US Senators or Representatives that were openly atheists. The religious controlled all three branches of government, and it was understood that acknowledging one’s atheism would be a career death-sentence. Atheists were the most-despised minority in America, based on a wide variety of social metrics including “Would you consider voting for…” and “Would you allow your daughter to date…” and “Would you accept an X school teacher…” and “Would you have dinner with…”–scoring worse than every other demographic group in every region in the country. The media portrayed atheists primarily as soulless nihilists. Those on the right disliked atheist’s refusal to respect religion. Those on the left disliked atheists drawing attention to the impolite fact that God doesn’t exist, and rolled their eyes at how crass and boorish we were for not realizing we were basically farting in public.

Now there are still no open atheists in any position of power in the Federal government (one has the temerity to be “unaffiliated.” We briefly had an atheist Senator, who came out when he announced he was retiring.) Atheists only last year dropped to second-most-hated demographic, scoring above Muslims! The media portrays atheists primarily as asshole dude-bros. Those on the right dislike atheist’s refusal to respect religion. Those on the left disliked atheists drawing attention to the impolite fact that God doesn’t exist, and roll their eyes at how crass and boorish we were for not realizing we are basically farting in public, and tut about islamophobia.

Even die-hard atheists like Neil deGrass Tyson refuse to use the word “atheist” due to its long history of cultural baggage. The term “agnostic” is, for basically every practical purpose, simply an atheist who doesn’t wish to draw attention to or speak about their atheism. It is the fig-leaf that the Left has extended to non-believers that allows them to exist in polite company.

Things on the ground are better, of course. Young men have an easier time declaring their atheism nowadays–rather than working through whisper networks there is a decently thriving meme culture online where one can take solace, read about atheist thinking, and generally have a peer group. But outside of that enclave, nothing has really changed. As far as I can see, society never accepted atheists in any way. There was a bit of a fad which consisted of the learned and cultured opining on this intellectual scandal. That certainly doesn’t make the New Atheists a group that was ever in the wider Left’s good graces.

There may be other ways in which New Atheism has failed. But by the metric of Scott’s post “alienating a society that agreed with them about everything” it’s a non-question. The New Atheists were never accept. Atheists have never been welcomed, or even tolerated, by the Blue Tribe. There was no society to isolate, nothing to fumble.

The New Atheists did create a space for others to be able to say “Yeah, this is all BS, WTF?” and not feel like they are the only person in the world who sees this. I think there’s more to do, but at least they got that first step down.

Oct 192017
 

[cw: culture war crap]

Straight White Male was the default Awful Group for most of my adult life. It was the typical term of derision to describe the thoughtless bro-type we all can’t stand, and before I woke up I used it a lot too. Over the past year (maybe two?) I’ve seen it morph to Cis White Male.

I hypothesize there are three reasons for this.

I.

The first is that being Gay no longer is enough to firmly place one on the “oppressed” side of the Oppressor/Oppressed scale. It’s no longer the 50s. Everyone knows someone who’s gay. Dick Cheney supports gay rights, Donald Trump has held up the rainbow flag. The Log Cabin Republicans have been around for a long time. But, most dramatically, Milo Yiannopoulos exists.

Don’t get me wrong, Yiannopoulos is a complete douchebag. He picks on vulnerable people for audiences that love to cheer on a bully. More importantly though, he’s totally gay. He is the archetypal Straight White Male that all other Straight White Males are stereotypes of, and dammit, he isn’t straight. This decoupling of “Social Justice Virtue” from “Gay” has been building for a long time, but Yiannopoulus was the nail gun that sealed that coffin up tight.

II.

It turned out as more and more people came out that there’s a lot of ways to be gay. So many ways, in fact, that you can’t reliably tell if someone is gay or not just by observing them. Sure, there’s some stereotypical looks and behaviors. But you can’t really ever be SURE that someone is gay unless you ask them. It got to be that you couldn’t call ANYONE a Straight White Male if you didn’t know them personally (and fairly well), because that all-American quarter back or that manly oil rig worker could be completely gay. The darn genderqueer and non-binary people didn’t make things any easier–they might have high heels and nail polish and be totally straight! If you can’t quickly determine if someone is a Straight White Male or not, the term loses a lot of it’s attack power.

III.

Finally, homosexuality is no longer a good signal. A good signal is hard to fake, normally by being costly.

Homosexuality is super easy to fake. You don’t have to have sex with anyone, because it ain’t no one’s damn business who you sleep with. All those gay kids who are still in the closet and have never had sex with, or even kissed someone of the same gender–are you saying they aren’t gay? Very unwoke of you. All that one has to do to BE gay is to IDENTIFY as gay.

And identifying as gay is sooooo easy. Almost no one is on the extreme ends of the Kinsey scale. Have you (as a guy, since all Straight White Males must be Male) ever fantasized about a guy? Thought “man… I would totally sleep with Johnny Depp if given the opportunity” (or insert pretty celebrity of your choice, I’m obviously dating myself with the Depp reference)? That’s good enough to be slightly gay. Have you kissed a guy, just to try it, and didn’t retch in disgust? That’s enough to claim freedom from the yoke of “Straight White Male.” You are at least a little bit gay.

Heck, the person you’re attracted to doesn’t even have to be a male-presenting guy. There’s tons of really hot feminine guys. My first guy-crush was on Kenshin, I didn’t realize he was a guy until 5 episodes in (missed the first one where it was spelled out), and then realized I didn’t really care, cuz he’s feminine and it’s femininity I’m attracted to. So if you’re a guy, attracted to feminine people, but aren’t freaked the hell out by your feminine partner having a penis, well shit, you can claim the label of “gay” or “gayish” if you want to, and those who say otherwise are the real bigots.

People didn’t used to do this, because being openly gay was costly. It’s not anymore. Gayness is no longer a good signal because it’s broad enough of a term to encompass almost anyone who wants to claim it, and there’s no penalty for claiming it.

III.

So a replacement was needed for the “Straight” in “Straight White Male.” Fortunately, trans-visibility has become really big nowadays.

Which, first of all, thank goodness. I say this in complete seriousness. Trans rights are important, and they’ve been neglected for a long time.

But in terms of signaling and tribalism, replacing Straight with Cis was also the logical step. Being trans is much more definitive than being gay, and is pretty costly. It’s also hard to be “slightly” trans so that one can claim non-Cis status. Even being genderqueer or non-binary is fairly costly in many situations.

Also, Cis is easy to say and follows the asthetically-pleasing sound scheme of “Straight White Male.” “Cis White Male” has a similar mouth feel, possibly a better one, and can be said derogatorily very easily.

So, success. The group that is most deserving of hate is once again easily singled out, and any individual you meet can quickly and easily be placed into it (or out), with very little chance of escaping. I may not be a Straight White Male, but I’m definitely a Cis White Male, and good luck getting out of that pigeonhole. I guess it was nice to think I was out of Most Hated status for a while, even if it was illusory.

 

Yeah, yeah, I know. Change my circle of peers. I have, for the most part, but it’s still frustrating how many otherwise-good people I like that I have to keep at the margins because of this. /sigh

Oct 102017
 

[cw: death, suffering, mention of torture]

There’s an argument made by wild-animal welfare EAs that bothers me. It points to the fact that nearly all deaths in nature are horrible. Torn apart by predators, or eaten from inside by parasites, or starving to death. This near-100%-level of torturous death is supposed to be a reason to be against allowing wildlife to continue in its current (“natural”) state.

Immediately I think of the deliberate torture-deaths humans have inflicted on each other in history. And as disgusting and stomach-churning as they are, I always think “at least the victims will never remember or feel that pain, after the minutes/hours of horror are over.” It is a small mercy, but really… once someone is dead, the pain doesn’t matter to them anymore.

In fact, once any pain is passed, the pain itself doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve gone through two surgeries with very painful recovery periods. I distinctly remember thinking “This is horrific. I can’t take this pain. Please, someone make it stop.” But just a few days after it was over, the memory was fading. Today I literally can’t remember the pain at all. I only remember having hated it.

The real disutility of pain comes from the after-effects. The loss of physical ability, in the case of crippling injury. The humiliation and fear of additional pain, in case of attacks by others. The psychological trauma, that continues to haunt for years afterwards. But in cases where these don’t apply, the pain is basically valueless once it has passed. Ask someone who’s had a corrective surgery with good consequences. Ask someone who’s given birth.

The kind of pain that matters is the pain that lingers. The depression that hurts you every single day of your life and won’t get better. The lasting injury that causes you pain every time you put weight on your left ankle.

The pain that you feel at death is pain that cannot linger, because there is no one left to feel it. It’s still horrific while it’s happening, but once it’s over it doesn’t have any lasting effects.

And since the pain of death is the least lasting, and thus least important sort of pain, I find it to be basically valueless to determining if a life was worth living. I discount claims that deaths in nature are painful and horrific, so we should intervene. I would base any opinion on the necessity of intervention on how the pain/pleasure balance comes out through out an animal’s life *leading up to* the death itself. If the majority of a life is basically non-torturous, with food-finding games, and feasting when finding a major score, and the comfort of familiar animals/settings, punctuated with exciting flights from danger and occasional bouts of sickness or hunger… well, that’s not necessarily a bad life.

(Of note, none of these arguments apply to factory farming, which gives animals a life of torture in awful conditions.)

Maybe non-domesticated animals do, in general, have awful lives. But it probably varies by species and even by location, and would require actual metrics and research. Simply pointing out that their deaths are painful doesn’t sway me at all.

Sep 292017
 

This meme confused me greatly when I first saw it, but now that Russian involvement is confirmed, it finally makes sense! Allow me to explain.
I had a VERY hard time figuring out which side of the debate this meme is endorsing.

1. Captain America in the current MCU is definitely a liberal. At first I got the impression that it was pro-SJ, because Cap is awesome (and liberal) and everyone wants to be like him. Also, the top picture doesn’t really make any sense. Everyone sits while watching football. So I basically ignored it and read “You are supportive of football players sitting” from the bottom picture, as that’s a very reasonable parsing of that sentence, especially with a celebratory, awesome Cap America pic just above it!

2. But the top pic is obviously supposed to be important in some way. Upon further thought I got the impression that it was a sarcastic anti-SJ thing, saying “You think you’re Cap America, but really you’re just a social media wanker posting SJW stuff and not doing anything of substance. Sitting on your ass like every other slacktavist, instead of doing something.”

3. But THEN I had the “read as sarcasm” filter on, and the bottom pic came into different focus. Now I think it means “Oh, so it’s a sarcastic anti-Trumper thing, saying THEY think they’re an alt-universe Right Wing Cap America, even tho they don’t even stand up for the pledge at home?”

In terms of clarity, this meme is garbage (as per above). In terms of accuracy, it’s also garbage. It assumes people are supposed to stand for the anthem playing in a stadium when they’re watching from their living rooms? And that Captain America is Right Wing? And that the athletes are “sitting” rather than “kneeling”? None of that makes a bit of sense. UNLESS! You are a professional Russian Troll without any real-world access to American Culture, and who gets all your impressions of Americans via stereotypes, 3rd-hand news, and pirated movies.

It’s entirely possible that a Russian Troll might assume Americans stand for the pledge in their living room, based on the crazy shit they’ve seen in the news over the past week. They don’t know enough about the subtleties of the American political climate to realize that Cap America, as portrayed by Hollywood and Marvel, is Left Wing. They just think of him as an UberPatriot draped in The Flag, which pattern-matches very nicely to Right Wing in shallow political discourse. And they could easily swap sitting for kneeling if they weren’t paying attention and didn’t realize the emotional distinction.

Also, it is targeted at “You.” When I first saw it thought “Screw you buddy, I don’t even WATCH football.” But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? The Russians don’t care about accuracy, they don’t care about targeting their criticism at the people who actually deserve it. They want to enrage as many people as possible, so “you” works perfectly. And bringing in a symbol like Cap America that both sides like works to anger more people. And the sarcasm works to infuriate as many people as possible.

This is a pretty good meme if your only purpose is to anger the maximum amout of people as indiscriminately as possible. It is designed to be divisive. To splinter social groups, to drive wedges between friends, and to make everyone miserable and worse off. Don’t fall into Putin’s lap. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

(to summarize: I hope everyone starts seriously considering that all anti-X memes may be the work of hostile outside interests hoping to maximize internal strife, and thus thinking twice or thrice before sharing or responding.)

Aug 182017
 

In Durham, crowds stood in line to turn themselves in for the crime of tearing down a Confederate statue.

This is fantastic. This is an entire community coming out to show they are united and willing to accept whatever punishment the law has to hand down for an act they viewed as necessary. I admire the living hell out of everyone who did this. THIS is how to protest!

This is the kind of arrest warrant you proudly hang on your wall for your entire life. Maybe even put on your resume.

 

I haven’t posted much about this week before today, because I was at a loss of things to say. Neo-nazis and white supremacists follow a vile ideology. Anyone committing acts of terror is horrific and disgusting, and every person injured and every person killed is an inexcusable atrocity. There were no words.

But I was told not too long ago that its important to sometimes publicly denounce the evil, even when it is blindingly obvious as evil. People who only know me from my online presence may not know my actual political beliefs, and so if they only see posts defending freedom of speech they may think I’m a secret alt-righter or something. So, I endorse and throw my heart behind the words of Argumate, who succinctly said:

exactly how much of a dickhead would you have to be to decide that the best way to boost white ethnic pride in the public sphere is to tie it to Nazis, the one group that every non-dickhead agrees were total fuckups.

can there be anything more antithetical to the supposed virtues of western civilization than this ignorant mishmash of the worst traditionalist buffoonery combined with the stupidest excesses of modernity into a giant shit sandwich of tedious fuckery that shoots its own dick off every time as a warning to others?

the punishment for this vile mediocrity should involve being tied to a chair in front of a simulated Samuel L. Jackson screaming “you dense motherfucker!” on loop for 19 hours until you internalise it and rethink your life.

to be a Nazi in 2k17 is to be so far up your own arse that your internal topology begins to resemble a klein bottle.

it is to be a failure in every possible way: morally, intellectually, strategically, tactically, aesthetically, historically.

if life was a video game then you fucked up on the first level, the tutorial that no one ever fucks up on, because no one else is dumb enough to be a Nazi; you’re the speedrun of failures.

the shitheads and the fucksticks of the world can look at your stupid face and say hey at least I’m not a fuckin’ Nazi, like this stupid wanker, and they’ll be right.

This goes for traitors and slavers as well. Tear down every monument to Confederate generals, rename every street, rededicated every building. No worship of inhumanity.
(no vigilantism though. Seriously, use due process, its far more powerful)

 

A Southern friend said:

The civil war isn’t my heritage. The traitor flag isn’t a banner that represents me, nor should it.

It’s a mark of shame. We shouldn’t tear the monuments down, we should move them to a museum to remind us of our collective shame as a nation.

The south has many more amazing traditions than slavery.

The south has much more to offer than monuments to war criminals.

And this friend later pointed out that most of these monuments were not erected after the US Civil War. They were put up significantly later, often funded by the KKK and other white supremacist groups, in order to protest anti-segregation laws and the civil rights movement.

Argumate later says:

despite all the punching discourse, my preferred way to deal with Nazi rallies in public spaces is still to outnumber them ten to one by peaceful locals who keep chanting “Nazis go home” until the Nazis do indeed go home.

this forms a highly visible demonstration to everyone involved that they have no base of support, and are just a bunch of whackjobs who can’t claim to represent the interests of the broader community.

good policing keeps the Nazis separated from the much larger crowd, which prevents any violent clashes between hotheads and reinforces the impression of them as a coddled bunch of morons incapable of defending themselves either physically or rhetorically.

this is actually a really withering experience to go through! once surrounded by crowd and cops they have ceded the initiative and are essentially at the mercy of the community which despises them, a community made up of people of all ages and all walks of life, secure in their safety of numbers.

it plays beautifully live and on TV, it respects the rule of law while still conveying a very clear message, and it makes it impossible for any politicians to waffle about “both sides” of the dispute.

the absolute worst approach is to have two similarly sized groups of hotheads engaged in shoving matches that allows people to “condemn the violence” and visually suggests that 90% of the community doesn’t have a stake in the fight.

 

And by god, it’s working! Confederate Monuments Are Coming Down Across the US. Trump, after refusing to denounce the racists, has lost two of his business advisory committees, his arts & humanities committee, and a number of businesses are removing themselves from his hotels and properties. Basically every Republican lawmaker is distancing themselves from him, and even Steve Bannon has quit. It’s a backlash like I haven’t seen in decades.

Of course, someone had to die to accomplish this. I hate that. I hate that we never seem to get anything done unless there’s an altar of bodies laying the foundation. It’s a bug that really needs to be removed from our code. But it does demonstrate what I’ve been trying to say to the antifa and other violent extremists — The way to get the bulk of the US populace behind you is to act peacefully and then have your opponents violently attack you. By driving his car into a group of peaceful protesters, that evil, disgusting excuse for a human managed to set off a political firestorm that’s reducing what was seen as a pro-Trump surge after the election to ashes.

 

I’m sad someone died. I would never trade a life for statues. But I’m glad to see how the country has responded. I feel enlivened and rejuvenated by this outpouring of human decency. I’m glad the monuments to terror and atrocity are finally being torn down. Good riddance. Let the white supremacists skitter back to their hateful little holes and websites as the world moves on without them.

Aug 102017
 

One of the things I really like about the Rationalist community is that it doesn’t care about forcing anyone into any sort of roles. I’ve gotten so used to it, that I was recently shocked to encounter enforced binaries out in the wide world again. (I haven’t been forced to interact with anyone I don’t want to since my lay off).

In the midst of the Google Memo kerfuffle I participated in some interesting conversation that changed my mind about the memo itself. Which is what conversation is for, in my community.

However in some places it appears that much of conversation is to signal loyalty rather than refine knowledge. I guess in the wider world there are only two positions one can have on the memo: it is either a sexist screed, or a brave thesis. This breaks the world into the two political camps – Left and Right.

The interesting part is that one is not allowed to hold to the tenants of the Left – that gender equality is a good thing, that society still has some issues there, and that equal rights are a great thing to fight for – while simultaneously holding that the memo isn’t a clarion call for raging sexism. Even giving the writer the benefit of the doubt, and pointing out that some things being claimed in the media didn’t seem to have a basis in the text of the memo, immediately marks the person saying so as a Rightist by those who believe in the political binary.

The really shitty part of this is that those who believe in the political binary also believe that those on the Other Side are morally reprehensible, and therefore any signs that someone isn’t on Our Side are interpreted as proof of moral decrepitude. Which, nowadays, is license for hatred, blacklisting, and violence. Because apparently the wider world is too damn stupid to think that maybe one can hold that there are some differences between groups while also believing that all people are equally deserving of respect, all rights are universal and inalienable, and someone’s physical characteristics or emotional disposition or intellect has no bearing on their worth as a human.

Well you know what? Screw anyone trying to force me into a political binary like that. If someone’s position is that people deserve equality and respect only because they are indistinguishable in aptitude, they have a horrible fucking philosophy. If someone’s position can be reduced to “sexism is OK if the sexes are different,” than no wonder they have to silence any research into sex differences. It’s like the church tying their position of “Murder is bad” to “The sun revolves around the earth.” It’s only in their deranged minds that someone interested in heliocentricism will cause the collapse of social order and rampant murder in the populace. Any decent person is able to say “Maybe the sun circles the earth, or maybe it’s the other way around, but that is an empirical question and has NOTHING to do with whether it’s OK to murder people, WTF is wrong with you??”

I am politically non-binary. I can question whether the minimum wage is harmful on a empirical level without that implying that I think “the poors” deserve to starve and wealth is a sign of strength of character. They are unrelated. I can state that street violence without due process is a bad idea without believing that minorities should be ejected. They are unrelated. And I can believe God is a figment of the collective imagination without believing that murder and rape are fine if you can get away with them. Those are unrelated.

Stop trying to force me into your political binary.