Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Drum: If The Left Wants Scapegoats, Just Look In The Mirror

I basically agree with everything in this post.

Except for bits about moving the country to the left...  I'm not sure I have any desire to do that anymore.

Oh, sure...we need campaign finance reform. And sane banking restrictions. Legalized weed would be a step in the direction of sanity, but it's hardly a major cause... Reign in domestic surveillance...if, indeed, we have the straight dope on it at this point...

But, really, I just don't long for a more liberal country anymore. Not right now anyway. Now that we've got the ACA--that was a truly desperate need--I'm happy to stop and maintain and assess. Job 1 is keeping the GOP crazies out of power until something resembling sanity returns to the party.

But that's all basically about an almost-afterthought in the Drum piece.

I think he's exactly right about the main points.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Centennial Peirce Congress

I'm off at the Centennial Peirce Congress.

Activity here will be light until Monday

Highlights thus far:

1. Stomped on Susan Haack's foot as I tried to beat a hasty/stealthy retreat out of a session before the next paper started. (Prompting my friend Jeff to say "oh, nice job" as I passed where he was sitting. Friends don't let something like that pass unremarked-on...) I mean I really stomped on that sucker. It wasn't a little tweak of the toes...

2. Shared an elevator with Murray Murphy, prompting the following exchange.

Me: "Murray Murphy! No kidding!"
Murray Murphy: (elevator doors open) "I'm afraid so" (shuffles off)

3. Sun-Joo Shin asked me to watch her purse while she went off to get coffee.


So, as you can see, it's been a very successful conference for me thus far.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Worst President Of My Lifetime Calls Obama Worst President Of His Lifetime

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Oh man...

I mean...

wipes tears from eyes

seriously

You really just cannot make this shit up...

Obama isn't even the worst president of the last two presidents.

In fact, if you count Cheney, Obama is far and away the third-worst president of the last two presidents.

The real question is, though: to what extent is Cheney delusional enough to believe this, and to what extent is he just such a piece of shit that he can't help saying it though he knows it isn't true?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Camille Paglia: My Kind Of Feminist

This is worth reading.

I dismissed Paglia years ago on the basis of some silly things she wrote quite awhile ago. I thought she was just another lightweight literary bullshitter.

But this interview is great.

She comes across as sober, thoughtful, reasonable, and staunchly opposed to the illiberal excesses of current web and academic feminism.

If that were feminism, I'd still be one. I agree with just about everything she says. She still considers herself a feminist, albeit a dissident one. I tend to not consider myself one anymore, since I think that 'feminism' now mostly means the nutty academic neo-po-mo radicalism of the feminist vanguard. Old-style egalitarian feminism has, I'd say, just been absorbed into liberalism, and feminists per se have moved on to more radical pastures in an effort to have something distinctive to say. But this is largely a merely semantic dispute.

Anyway, some highlights:
I remain an equal opportunity feminist. That is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women’s advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women (such as differential treatment of the names of accuser and accused in rape cases), and I condemn speech codes of any kind, above all on university campuses. ... We need a more flexible psychology, as well as an end to the bitter feminist war on men. ...
As for playing “devil’s advocate”, I can’t imagine a committed feminist engaging in that kind of silly game. The real problem is the cliquish, tunnel-vision intolerance that afflicts too many feminists, who seem unprepared to recognise and analyse ideas. In both the U.S. and Britain, there has been far too much addiction to “theory” in post-structuralist and post-modernist gender studies. With its opaque jargon and elitist poses, theory is no way to build a real-world movement. My system of pro-sex feminism has been constructed by a combination of scholarly research and every-day social observation
and:
It is difficult to understand how a generation raised on the slapdash jumpiness of Twitter and texting will ever develop a logical, coherent, distinctive voice in writing and argumentation. And without strong books and essays as a permanent repository for new ideas, modern movements eventually sputter out for lack of continuity and rationale. Hasty, blathering blogging (without taking time for reflection and revision) is also degrading the general quality of prose writing. 
As for feminists being hounded off Twitter by other feminists, how trivial and adolescent that sounds! Both sides should get offline and read more—history, sociology, psychology, and the big neglected subject, biology. How can the greater world, much less men, ever take feminism seriously if its most ardent proponents behave like catty sorority girls throwing hissy fits at the high-school cafeteria?
and:
Transgenderism has taken off like a freight train and has become nearly impossible to discuss with the analytic neutrality that honest and ethical scholarship requires. First of all, let me say that I consider myself a transgender being, neither man nor woman, and I would welcome the introduction of “OTHER” as a gender category in passports and other government documents. ... 
As a libertarian, I believe that every individual has the right to modify his or her body at will. But I am concerned about the current climate, inflamed by half-baked post-modernist gender theory, which convinces young people who may have other unresolved personal or family issues that sex-reassignment surgery is a golden road to happiness and true identity. 
How has it happened that so many of today’s most daring and radical young people now define themselves by sexual identity alone? There has been a collapse of perspective here that will surely have mixed consequences for our art and culture and that may perhaps undermine the ability of Western societies to understand or react to the vehemently contrary beliefs of others who do not wish us well...
I say the whole thing is worth a read.

(h/t J. Carthensis)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Zizek Plagiarism Incident

more

Actually, dude should probably plagiarize more.

Can't be any worse than what he writes himself.

Roy vs. McCants: Who You Gonna Trust?

Seems like an open-and-shut case...

The ABCers are pushing this hard, but we'll all be surprised if the new investigation finds anything different than the previous investigations. On the one side, you've got Roy and basically everyone else ever associated with Carolina basketball. On the other side you've got Willingham, Jay Smith and Rashad McCants...an incompetent, a nutty publicity-seeker who hates Carolina athletics and is trying to sell a book, and a guy who everyone knows is neither stable nor credible.

I'm happy for the investigation...except that I expect it won't change much, really. The accusations have been big news; the inevitable retractions after they've been discredited have been buried. So it's a lose-lose proposition for Carolina...

Still, regardless of what happens in the media shit show, the truth matters to Carolina fans, and we want it to out.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Insanity Metastasizes On The Internet Left

Some of you guys have asked me why I'm so interested (ok...I think the word used may have been "obsessed"...) with the rise of crazy on the internet left.

I mean...the crazies are running the GOP, actively fighting efforts to solve the health care crisis, pushing Lysenkoist positions on evolution and climate change, rabidly attacking Obama at every turn...given the craziness driving the conservative half of our two-party system right now, craziness that runs the House, and may soon run the Senate...why worry about the relatively trivial moonbattery of the internet left?

It's a reasonable question.

My answer:

(1) I don't have to have a good reason for the things I'm interested in
but:
(2) Crazy on the left wing of American liberalism tends to work its way into mainstream liberalism, since liberalism has all its guns pointed rightward. It's not quite defenseless against the left...as its eventual uprising against the PC movement of the '90's showed...but it's very, very weak on that flank.
And:
(3) The crazy on the left is very, very, very crazy indeed. We're talking this crazy goes to 11. We're talking full-on barking moonbats from stupideth dimension. We're talking slap-fighting, circle-jerking absolutely totally wacko, unhinged, non compos mentis, bugshit crazy craziness.

This is a great piece by Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex. He asks people not to link to it, but his reason for that request is bad, and what he writes is very good, and almost nobody reads this backwater blog anyway...there it is.

It tells the story of one Charles Clymer, who used to be a hero of the barking moonbats of the leftosphere, largely for two reasons: (a) he's a jerk, and they really like that, and (b) he was the origin of some massively incorrect information about false rape accusations that made its rounds in the leftosphere--e.g. he claimed that a man is more likely to be hit by a meteor than to be falsely accused of rape. Clymer's nonsense was off by about four orders of magnitude, as Alexander also showed.

[Sorry: that is actually just a big part of the post; there's also a bit about an insane twitter witch-burning campaign that you really have to read. The infographic is here.]

Anyway, Alexander documents how the lunatics on the web left (including Arthur Chu, recent Jeopardy champ) turned on Clymer for basically no reason. He went from he's-our-hero to we-hate-him to (the ultimate endpoint of most such public hatings on the web left) he's-a-rapist on the basis of no evidence. It's not the the guy doesn't deserve it, because he himself is a nut and a jerk.

But that's not the point of the story.

The point of the story is that the web left is very, very, very, very crazy.

And, since they are completely and totally irrational, and not completely without influence, I think people should be noticing.

You don't have to wallow in their nonsense like I tend to do...but you should at least know about them.

My Heroes: Stanislaw Jerzy Lec Edition

I didn't know about him before today, but he is immediately catapulted into the pantheon:
After Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union he was imprisoned in a German work camp in Ternopol, from which he made several attempts to escape. He received a death sentence for his second attempt to escape, but managed to escape again after killing his guard with a shovel when taken to dig his own grave. This became the subject of his most famous poem.
Then he went on to fight the Nazis as a partisan.

Would that I were 1/100th as awesome as that guy...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lysenkoism

RIP Tommy Ramone

Florida Gerrymandering: "Cunning, Unprincipled, and Ambitious Men Who Subvert The Power Of The People"

If we were choosing a slogan from contemporary American party politics, I might well choose:

Both parties do it; the Republicans are worse

Redistricting is like campaign finance; if we don't fix it, little else we do matters much. (Well...perhaps that's an exaggeration...but it really, really matters.)

Even as much as I fear the contemporary GOP, I'd be more than willing to throw redistricting up to some reasonable algorithm for producing sane districts, and live with the results.