Oh shit! My SO, much more concerned about animal rights than I am, may well be a better utilitarian than me. Ozy: We have seen the Utility Monster, and it is us.
An examination of the politics of the Harry Potter books.
“the whole Wizarding World in general, has been living under a continuous state of emergency for over three hundred years … Muggles are bound to find out in the end, unless the authorities and the population in general are allowed to react quickly and effectively without regard to constitutional niceties. … Since their society can’t have a proper rule of law (as we understand it) without risking its own existence, wizards have found another way of ensuring their safety and protection.
… the way power seems to work in the Wizarding World is the patron-client system, such as existed in Ancient Rome … Basically, the system works by otherwise unprotected wizards attaching themselves to a powerful “patron” and becoming his “clients.” The patron will smooth over any problems his client might have with the Ministry of Magic, and use his money and connections to help him out of his difficulties, and keep him out of Azkaban – as Dumbledore did with Mundungus Fletcher. In return, the client himself becomes a part of the patron’s entourage and connections. The patron ends up with a large body of wizards dependent on him whom he can rely on (a private army, in other words) which effectively puts him above the law ”
Killing the leaders of terrorist groups may make them more likely to attack civilian rather than military targets:
“Subsequent statistical studies have found that terrorism is not simply correlated with political failure; the attacks on civilians actually lower the odds of government concessions. This is because terrorism tends to shift electorates to the political right, strengthening hardliners most opposed to appeasement.
…It turns out that certain kinds of groups are significantly more likely to attack civilians than others – those suffering from leadership deficits in which lower level members are calling the shots. Leadership deficits promote terrorism by empowering lower level members of the organization, who have stronger incentives to harm civilians.
…In accordance with this new theory for terrorism, our study reveals that decapitation strikes with drones make militant groups more likely to attack civilians by weakening the leadership.”
First I thought this was an Onion article. Then I thought it was April 1st. Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover. What. The. Fuck.
Trolling for good. :) Satanic Temple: 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period is Against Our Religion “Turns out a core religious tenet of The Satanic Temple is control over one’s own body.”
The U.S. imprisons a much higher percentage of its citizens than any similar country and frequently fails to protect those prisoners from being raped or assaulted, even when they are kids. The FBI helped send multiple people to death row based partly on junk science that was also used to convict people for lesser crimes for two decades. DNA exonerations of longtime prisoners are legion. Asset forfeiture laws have police seizing the property of Americans who’ve never been convicted of anything. The War on Drugs has eroded the Fourth Amendment and undermined the sanctity of the home to an oppressive degree, such that it is no longer surprising to hear about no-knock raids where family pets are shot, flash bang grenades burn innocents, and people are killed. Black and Hispanic men are stopped and frisked dozens of times by police without having done anything wrong.
Many conservatives show no evidence of caring.
… If public school teachers or community organizers behaved as badly, the outrage on AM radio and Fox News would be constant. Yet police abuses as numerous and egregious as what the Baltimore Sun documented in this stellar investigation garnered orders of magnitude less coverage and outrage from conservatives than James O’Keefe stinging ACORN.
Why is America celebrating the beating of a black child?
“these beatings are the acts of a people so desperate and helpless, so terrorized and enraged, that heaping pain upon their children actually seems like a sane and viable act of parental protection.
The intensity of this fear is integral to the history of black Americans. Just as black parents have “the talk” with their children, listing survival tips for when they are confronted by white authority, black corporal punishment has been encouraged as the only way to make black children acceptable to society.”
A CEO explains why CEOs make so much money. Interesting perspective. In short: unintended consequence of regulation and public disclosure. No board wants to admit to having a cruddy CEO by paying him less than average, so below-average pay is increased to match the market rate, which brings the entire average up, rinse and repeat. We need to make this work for accountants! www.glassdoor.com here I come!
So much yes. Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.
“Non-violence is a type of political performance designed to raise awareness and win over sympathy of those with privilege. When those on the outside of struggle—the white, the wealthy, the straight, the able-bodied, the masculine—have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not care, are not invested, are not going to step in the line of fire to defend the oppressed, this is a futile political strategy.”
“Militance is about direct action which defends our communities from violence. […] it is how virtually all of our oppressed movements were sparked, and has arguably gained us the only real political victories we’ve had under the rule of empire.”
“Telling someone to be peaceful and shaming their militance not only lacks a nuanced and historical political understanding, it is literally a deadly and irresponsible demand.”
(relinking You Are Not The Target Audience again as well – “[peaceful] protest, even at its most acrimonious, still takes the form of an appeal to power–it assumes certain institutions can be reasoned with. As such it risks effectively bolstering the perceived legitimacy of those institutions.
In contrast, physical resistance challenges not only the state’s appearance of control but also the legitimacy of their monopoly on force. “)
Video – Obama brings in his Anger Translator during the White House Correspondents dinner. :) That’s gotta be a life-goal for any comedian!
More fun comedy, 5 min video –Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Last Fuckable Day
Obamacare’s projected cost falls due to lower premiums under health care law, CBO says
“Apparently, only 8% of the people are aware of this fact.
Obamacare is currently coming in at 11% below budget – mostly because:
(a) Health care premiums are rising less than expected. They are still rising – but much more slowly than they used to. Accusations that companies across the country are raising costs dramatically are simply not true (though there may be a few local exceptions).
(b) Fewer companies than expected are dropping health insurance coverage for employees. Again, the charge that companies across the country will be dropping health insurance coverage have turned out to be false. Some have done so, but not as many as the CBO had predicted.” (quoting Alonzo Fyfe)
On Utilitarian Ethics (or why Utilitarians aren’t as insufferable as more traditional liberals):
“Many people have remarked on the paradox of an academia made mostly of upper-class ethnic-majority Westerners trying so very hard to find reasons why lots of things are the fault of upper-class ethnic-majority Westerners …
what if people are really, fundamentally, good? … Deontology very clearly says that if you cause a problem, it’s your job to help fix it … Utilitarianism tells us that we are perfectly justified in seeing the relief of suffering as a pressing need. We don’t need to justify it by positing facts that may later be proven untrue…
This theory implies that utilitarian liberals will have all the features of liberalism except the interest in blaming their own group for major problems. The utilitarians I know are very interested in helping the poor and in various other liberal ideas, but are more likely than other liberals to roll their eyes at talk about colonialism and stereotype threat.”
Hope everyone had a great Cake & Cunnilingus day on April 14th! (NSFW)
Thank all the gods! EFF Busts Podcasting Patent, Invalidating Key Claims at Patent Office
A quick primer on the Christus Victor idea. Christus Victor was the dominant view of the atonement for the first thousand years of the church. This was a fun read. I want more SF utilizing these themes.
Scott Alexander has some strong doubts about Growth Mindset.
“telling kids that they’re failing because they just don’t have the right work ethic is a crappy thing to do.
… Imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever, saying “YOUR PROBLEM IS THAT YOU’RE JUST NOT TRYING NOT TO BE STAMPED ON HARD ENOUGH”.”
This is even more fun than the original song. :)
For a break from the current drama: ‘Bees are good,’ Obama says as children scream.
“now THAT is how you write a headline” – Blake