Jun 162015
 

Quinn Ivy KissHarley Quinn and Poison Ivy are an item! “Yes, they are Girlfriends without the jealousy of monogamy.”

A lot of culture is story-telling and myth-making. Tom Cruise movies and video games are story-telling, and they’re as much a part of culture as religion is. The Game That Let Me Mourn My Lost Faith

Chris Christie suggests “An investor could pay a portion of the student’s tuition to attend college in exchange for that student giving the investor a certain percentage of their income for so many years.” I read an SF book with this theme that tried to pass itself off as a dystopia, but it was one of the best societies ever and I have no idea why this is a bad thing? They actually had to lie in the headline (“CHRIS CHRISTIE SUGGESTS STUDENTS SELL THEMSELVES TO INVESTORS TO PAY FOR COLLEGE”) to make it sound bad.

Much like the Velveteen Rabbit, I, too, curse my flimsy meat body and hope for a less gross replacement some day.

Chris Hedges explains why an uprising is coming. “We have, to quote John Ralston Saul, “undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion” and it’s over. The normal mechanisms by which we carry out incremental and piecemeal reform through liberal institutions no longer function. They have been seized by corporate power”

Scott Alexander, of course. :) Against Tulip Subsidies:
“Americans take eight years to become doctors. Irishmen can do it in four, and achieve the same result. Each year of higher education at a good school – let’s say an Ivy, doctors don’t study at Podunk Community College – costs about $50,000. So American medical students are paying an extra $200,000 for…what?
… 20,000 doctors graduate in the United States each year; that means the total yearly cost of requiring doctors to have undergraduate degrees is $4 billion. That’s most of the amount of money you’d need to house every homeless person in the country
… If I were Sanders, I’d propose a different strategy. Make “college degree” a protected characteristic, like race and religion and sexuality. If you’re not allowed to ask a job candidate whether they’re gay, you’re not allowed to ask them whether they’re a college graduate or not. You can give them all sorts of examinations, you can ask them their high school grades and SAT scores, you can ask their work history, but if you ask them if they have a degree then that’s illegal class-based discrimination and you’re going to jail. I realize this is a blatant violation of my usual semi-libertarian principles, but at this point I don’t care.”

I’m not familiar with the scene, but how the can can you have a nudist movement if you’re scared of the occasional erection? Floppy-Dicked Haters Kick Erect Man Out of Naked Bike Ride

It’s like this…
You’re fourteen and you’re reading Larry Niven’s “The Protector” because it’s your father’s favorite book and you like your father and you think he has good taste and the creature on the cover of the book looks interesting and you want to know what it’s about. And in it the female character does something better than the male character – because she’s been doing it her whole life and he’s only just learned – and he gets mad that she’s better at it than him. And you don’t understand why he would be mad about that, because, logically, she’d be better at it than him. She’s done it more. And he’s got a picture of a woman painted on the inside of his spacesuit, like a pinup girl, and it bothers you.
But you’re fourteen and you don’t know how to put this into words.”
(more at link)

Godzilla CitizenshipI love the hell out of this picture. Japan finally recognizes Godzilla as a resident and tourism ambassador

Speed Reading: Facts And Fantasy. (Spoiler: anything jmuch over 400wpm means a drastic drop in comprehension, and can’t really be coutned as “reading) What kinda worries me is just how many people do “read” at 400+ wpm and thus lose a lot of comprehension. I’d rather read less and have it mean more.
However, I am a bit wary that this article may be falling into my “This is something I want to believe” zone.

Molly Tanzer (fellow Coloradan and amazing person, I love hanging with her at cons) has a new book out which is getting awesome reviews from IO9 to NPR! I’m not sure which one is awesomer, mad props to her!

per Jai – It’s not cheating, it’s technique:

How to stop Android’s fucking profanity policing bullshit

Official Statement on the Leadership of NRx. Looks like the Neo-Reactionaries are trying to get organized. They’re taking the first steps from “bunch of internet crazies” to “actual movement”. I know these things peter out most of the time, but this is the same track the Libertarians were on in the 70s, no? I think they could very well end up a legit movement. And they’re just so damn fascinating to watch!

Home-Brewed Morphine Is Around The Corner. While I hesitate to share these sorts of headlines before a other critical eye has been cast on it (because science reporting in America is THE WORST) I love the implications of this if it pans out. Can’t wait for the heroin cartels to lose business as drastically as the weed cartels did after Colorado fully legalized pot. And for the drug laws in the US to suffer further undermining.

Lot of awesome spoken-word poetry by this guy, just found him recently. In this we learn why pawns can only move forward. Fuck yes:

 

I’ve heard it say that the only correct answer to the Trolley Problem is “I refuse to answer your hypothetical, and fuck you for asking me that question.” Here’s another way of saying that, that I liked.
“The correct utilitarian rule about torture is “don’t torture people, even if it’s the right thing to do; it is more likely you are mistaken than that torture is morally right.” Being repelled by torture to the extent that you can’t even consider that it’s correct in a thought experiment seems to me like the way that your emotions and intuition internalize that rule. By developing your capacity to be okay with torture in thought experiments, you are practicing being okay with torture.”

I keep forgetting to try this, and I really want to at the next gathering I’m at. How to train empathy.

Remember the SNL Skit about how a Black Widow movie would be made into a terrible chick-flick? Then remember the Supergirl trailer that came out one week later? Teh lulz.
Supergirl vs Age of Me

Speaking of which, I just saw “The To-Do List“. I thought it would be a chick flick or some dumb teen comedy. Instead it was the most fun I’ve had with a movie in well over a year. :) It was fucking hilarious, but still touching, and smart! So much so, that I suspect the target demo isn’t teens at all, but rather people who grew up in the 90s (it’s a 90’s period piece). Anyway, if you’re looking for a comedy, totally recommended.

Your cyberpunk games are dangerous: How roleplaying games and fantasy fiction confounded the FBI, confronted the law, and led to a more open web. I kinda miss my cyberpunk future :/

Another story of legalized theft via “civil asset forfeiture.” Young black guy headed to LA to start a new career with $16k in cash he’d saved up is singled out for a search on a train by DEA. They decide (with zero evidence) he must be a drug dealer, seize the money, never charge him with anything. Now HE has to go to court to prove the cash WASN’T connected to narcotics.

Cosplayers Read Hate. It’s like Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweats”, but with cosplayers

I found this hilarious! :D Fictional Men I Believe Have Enjoyed Being Pegged.
“The way I see it, Cyclops is incredibly into it and Wolverine could probably take it or leave it alone except for the fact that Jean Grey ADORES it, so there’s a weirdly competitive vibe between the two of them over who loves getting pegged more.”

  12 Responses to “Link Archive 5/7/15 – 6/16/15”

  1. I think of this when I hear the words “chick flick”: http://padfootandprongs07.tumblr.com/post/117673750088/elizabitchtaylor-film-about-a-group-of-men

    I thought it would be a chick flick or some dumb teen comedy. Instead it was the most fun I’ve had with a movie in well over a year.

    Mentally I can’t help but transform that into “I thought it would be a film involving women or some dumb teen comedy. Instead it was …”

    • Ouch! Damn, I just got told. :( I’ve always seen it used to refer either to romance movies, or romantic comedies, which is what I meant. I would count Spanglish as a chick flick, even though it stars Adam Sandler.

  2. No one lied about what Christie said. Human capital contracts *are* selling yourself (partially). Either the investor has no control over the student, in which case only those who don’t need investment will be offered it, or they do, in which case you have literal part-time slavery, limited only by what is permissible to enforce as part of your equity stake in the person. And America has *such* a good record of restricting contract terms to things that are ethically reasonable, right?

    And that’s not even mentioning the effect they would have if widespread; we’d get a two-income-trap situation, only instead of terrible childcare, the effects would be an em-like race to the bottom of what things people were allowed to spend money on for their enjoyment. Because there is absolutely *no* reason to think that that kind of program would reduce the trend of college degrees being necessary for basic jobs. This would be Moloch’s favorite invention ever.

    • > Human capital contracts *are* selling yourself (partially)

      Any contract where I sell my labor is selling myself.

      > Either the investor has no control over the student, in which case only those who don’t need investment will be offered it,

      This is indeed the situation I was envisioning, but I don’t see why you think only rich people would be offered the investment. Rich people are the ones who are going to refuse such investments. Only those who need it will accept it, and only those that investors think have good potential will be offered it.

      > America has *such* a good record of restricting contract terms to things that are ethically reasonable, right?

      I think generally people are restricted from entering into reasonable contracts far more than the opposite. In 48 states you still can’t buy weed.

      > the effects would be an em-like race to the bottom of what things people were allowed to spend money on for their enjoyment

      I don’t see how this follows, can you elaborate?

      > there is absolutely *no* reason to think that that kind of program would reduce the trend of college degrees being necessary for basic jobs.

      Well we certainly agree there, but I don’t think that was the purpose of this proposal. That’s what the “Against Tulip Subsidies” post was addressing. I also kinda feel that if an educational bubble forms, I’d prefer it if the people who got burned on the investor side were private interests, rather than government programs. And, come to think of it, this might reduce the size of a potential education bubble as well, since in theory investor money is more limited than government funds are. I think.

      • >I think generally people are restricted from entering into reasonable contracts far more than the opposite. In 48 states you still can’t buy weed.

        Drug law is a totally different domain of unrelated quality; I’m talking about contract law. If you’ve signed an employment contract with a large firm or a standard contract any time in the last decade, you’ve almost certainly agreed to at least two things that are ethically unconscionable, one of which violates any sensible interpretation of the United States Constitution (wide-ranging non-compete clauses and mandatory consent to binding arbitration, which violates right to a fair trial from any angle once you look at the results of arbitration). And those are just the ones that I can see with my (fairly minimal) legal understanding. See also: the terms of service for virtually all websites, which are incredibly far-ranging in most cases.

        > I’d prefer it if the people who got burned on the investor side were private interests, rather than government programs.

        That’s not what would happen. The people taking out loans would bear the brunt of it, unless the government stepped in to bail them out (which is fairly likely).

        >This is indeed the situation I was envisioning, but I don’t see why you think only rich people would be offered the investment. Rich people are the ones who are going to refuse such investments. Only those who need it will accept it, and only those that investors think have good potential will be offered it.

        If the investor can’t impose controls on the person taking the loan, they will only invest in people who can be relied on to recoup the investment regardless of what happens. This set of people consists of those who will have a job regardless of extenuating circumstances, which would be 1) the extremely talented, who will be getting merit scholarships from colleges to compete for their attendance anyway, and thus don’t need the investment and 2) the very well-connected, who will have a job after college regardless of personal merit, and *also* don’t need the investment. In theory there might be some risky bets who would receive investments, but without the ability to restrict their behavior, the paired risks of the person dropping out or taking a low-paying job, or of gaming the terms, would make these investments really unattractive and either be at cripplingly high rates (such that having these investments be de rigeur is a bad thing) or not available at all.

        >Any contract where I sell my labor is selling myself.

        Sure, but that’s a noncentral example, and a contract where the investor can dictate your major life decisions – which is, again, necessary for this to be a viable investment plan with risk that banks would consider – is a much more central example.

        >> the effects would be an em-like race to the bottom of what things people were allowed to spend money on for their enjoyment
        > I don’t see how this follows, can you elaborate?

        So this is another consequence of the restrictions-allowed scenario. Driven by still-increasing tuition prices, the treadmill would move as follows:

        1) Personal equity investments become the standard, while college degrees remain necessary for virtually everything. Taking on a personal equity loan becomes mandatory.

        2) Everyone must take on one of these loans, so it is a loaner’s market. Some investments give slightly better terms in exchange for behavioral restrictions.

        3) These restrictions decrease the loan-offerers’ risk, so they become standard.

        4) Repeat from step 2, with a different set of restrictions added.

        Eventually this would bottom out where no more restrictions could be added (hopefully somewhere short of ‘also this contract binds your firstborn and theirs and so on into perpetuity’), and at that point the system will probably collapse. But up until that point, you have something very similar to the Hansonian em scenario, where everyone except the brilliant and the rich must participate into a Molochian race to the bottom in order to be employable and survive, and semi-permanently sacrifice their possibility of ever thriving to ever-greater degrees in order to do so.

        • Hm…. I see your point. I was coming at this from a very strong “Of course the lender wouldn’t be able to impose controls on the lendee! What sort of totalitarian dystopia would allow that?” But given your example of current employee contract law… yeah, ouch. Those things are absurd. I’d like to say that no one would sign such a document, and that if they did no court would enforce it, but reality is against me. :(

          The ability to refuse crap offers continues to be, IMHO, one of the most basic freedoms, and it’s sad that almost no one has that. I have this dream of employers having to treat people at least OKish once no one is required to work to live. I hope someday something in the vein of a basic income guarantee will allow this to happen, and shit like this just won’t fly anymore. :/

  3. Man, Okay, I know it’s the name of an actual greek goddess, but this is a really bad time for a group that hates degeneracy to be calling themselves the “Hestia society”: https://youtu.be/Fib4-S9ENpE?t=1m20s

    I mean, now I can literally never not associate NRx with the boob ribbon.

  4. Brief responses:
    From a student’s perspective, how is Chris Christie’s proposal different from a graduate tax? You’re paying an investor rather than the state, but so what? The devil’s in the terms and conditions, but that’s true for state financing as well, and the investor can’t unilaterally change them, and the state can.

    The answer: “I refuse to answer your hypothetical, and fuck you for asking me [about trolley problems]” assumes that the hypothetical has no real world relevance. This is false. Simple examples would be dropping the atomic bomb or changing which drugs are available on the NHS. Outside of government, perhaps you’re designing the logic for a self-driving car: should it be able to act to kill you, if it means saving five others? The response you’ve quoted implies a refusal to engage with the reality that there is no solutions, only trade-offs, and it implies a refusal to deal with the world as it really is. The response also venerates emotional instinct (“fuck you”) over rationality.

    Corporatism is a Phantom Menace (to get back on the topic of bad sci-fi ;)). If you’re having a “Corporate coup d’etat in slow motion”, why are there so many attacks on fundamental values such as free speech and due process in universities? (e.g. speech codes, the Duke Lacrosse case, Kipnis, Amherst) If corporatism were a problem, then the surely the universities should be one of the last bastions to fall, not the first? Linking back to my previous point, various university regulations encourage students to be irrational, to NOT engage with uncomfortable ideas and to strengthen their fantasy bubble by providing various tools to dismiss reality when it encroaches.

    • >From a student’s perspective, how is Chris Christie’s proposal different from a graduate tax?

      Exactly

      > The response you’ve quoted implies a refusal to engage with the reality that there is no solutions, only trade-offs, and it implies a refusal to deal with the world as it really is.

      I disagree, because the hypothetical is so completely cut-off from the real world that it no longer reflects anything that is relevant in reality. The hypothetical trolley problem has a correct answer, which is easily identifiable – you kill 1 person to save 5. Duh. The entire point of the experiment is to provoke an emotional response and see if the subject is “rational” enough to overcome it. The subject is screwed either way. I consider that abusing the subject without good reason, and thus I think refusal to answer, along with letting the abuser know what I think of his actions, is the least-bad solution.

      Actual engagement with reality is different, and I’m happy to do that.

      Re Universities – while I’m willing to say that from what I’ve heard it seems that Universities are going off the deep end (given the caveat that I don’t know much about that sphere and haven’t been in a University myself for well over a decade), I don’t see how that relates to encroaching corporatism. Why bring that up now?

  5. Chris Christie: We agree, great!

    Trolleys: I disagree that the answer is as clear-cut as you think it is. I’ve heard reasonable arguments for the idea that there’s a moral difference between action and inaction. Would you push the fat man or murder the hitch-hiker to provide organs for 5 patients?
    I would probably switch the trolley, but not do either of the others, and I have good reasons for both.
    Thought experiments are valuable because they provide simple, isolated cases where we can examine our consciously developed ethical codes and subconscious intuitions. They have an important role in understanding who we are and who we should be, and are not abusive.
    It’s interesting that you talk of strong emotional responses to these questions, because I don’t have such a reaction (I have a reaction, but not a strong one)

    Universities: I thought the topic was “threats to liberal institutions”. I believe that the events in universities are far more threatening that corporatism.

    • > Trolleys: I disagree that the answer is as clear-cut as you think it is.

      The thing is, I’ve been in situations where I did ask about knock-on effects and so forth. In most other cases (like the organ-donation one) they’re allowed, but in the Trolley problem there were generally more and more excuses made as to why there are no other effects in the wider world, the hypothetical kept becoming more and more isolated, until eventually it became clear that the Trolley problem was simply window dressing on top of the question “This problem is being defined as a situation where it is undoubtedly better for the one person to die than for the five to die, but you have to have some involvement.” At which point I want to throw my hands up and ask “Why are you asking me if it’s better for one person to die than for five to die in a situation where by definition it’s better for one person to die? Why am I even here?”

      But then again, maybe I just had a run-in with a particularly poor representative of the situation, and it wasn’t intended that way.

      Universities – Ah, I see. I don’t know much about what’s going on in universities, so I can’t comment on that. I suppose my underlying assumption is “If it starts to become a problem then people who are in the scene (professors, students, deans, etc) will start to make noise about it, and I haven’t heard much yet, so it’s probably not too bad.” But again, I’m so far removed from that sphere nowadays that there could be a clamour that just hasn’t made its way to me yet.

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