Creative Destruction

June 30, 2006

My Sentiments Exactly

Filed under: Current Events — Off Colfax @ 3:05 am

John Cole puts it better than I could, even with a thousand parenthetical comments.

Put those aside, and there is still something even more offensive about this passage:

They will challenge the “judicial interference with national security” and challenge dissenting Congressmen and civil libertarians to either stand with the terrorists or the American people.

It never gets old, being told you are a traitor and in league with the terrorists because you disagree with current administration policy.

Let me be the first to tell Andrew Cochran, whoever that is, to go fuck himself. Twice.

Well, I’m doing it next. And if Cochran really is talking about what the Republican Party is going to do this year, they can all go impale themselves on a certain work of art I once heard about. Repeatedly.

I stand by American principles; the spirit of America itself is more important than any single human or building. Even should bin Laden himself be captured and brought to justice, we must maintain the standards that the American justice system is founded upon. And the enemy-combatants/prisoners-of-an-undeclared-war/poor-bastards- dumb-enough-to-get-caught down Guantanamo way should fall under the same category.

We should allow no enemy force us to break those principles, as bin Laden’s followers have goaded the current administration to do. For breaking our time-honored principles has caused us to continue losing the media war throughout the world.

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June 28, 2006

On The Firing of Ward Churchill

Filed under: Current Events,Free Speech — Ampersand @ 12:44 pm

This week, the Chancellor of the University of Colorado officially announced his intention to fire Ward Churchill. That doesn’t mean that Churchill has been fired, yet – there’s still an appeals process to go through, plus Churchill has announced that he’ll sue the University.

Joanne Belknap, a women’s studies professor at U of Colorado, summed up the Churchill case well:

…A seemingly white male, who’s benefited immeasurably through co-opting an American Indian identity, is providing rich fodder for the right and the racists (often one in the same) to damn, discredit and/or dismantle ethnic studies programs, not just at CU, but across the country.[…]

In this case, in daring the media and university to come after him, Churchill apparently didn’t care that when they revealed his co-opted identity and sloppy (even unethical) research methods, that it was ethnic studies programs that would take the real hit. Of course, Churchill may be taking a few hits as well, but he seems to enjoy his “I’m-a-bad-boy-leader-of-the-oppressed-world” identity. The real tragedy is that Ward Churchill has done an incalculable amount of harm to ethnic studies programs in order to promote himself.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Churchill is a dishonest scholar. Among his many academic dishonesties, what I somehow find particularly galling is his habit of citing claims to essays he wrote under different names, thus giving the false impression that his claims were supported by independent authority.

It’s true, of course, that Churchill only got in trouble for his academic dishonesty because of his unpopular political opinions. That’s disturbing to me, because it could create a chilling effect on unpopular speech. And it’s also true that few or none of the right-wingers calling for Churchill to be fired for his dishonest scholarship, called on the AEI to fire John Lott (Lott did finally leave AEI two months ago, but it’s unclear if he quit or was fired).

Yet despite all that, the kind of academic cons Churchill committed should be legitimate cause for firing, just as the AEI should have fired Lott years ago. Fighting to protect the job of a dishonest and lousy scholar is not the way to defend either leftism or free speech. Besides, Churchill does more to harm than to help progressive causes, as Professor Belknap argued. Facts and evidence, by and large, support left-wing views; dishonest scholars like Churchill don’t help the cause, they muddy the waters.

If we want to stand for the academic freedom of lefty professors, let’s start with some professors who deserve a defense, like David Graeber and Joseph Massad (see also here).

And while we’re at it, we should also object to the appalling case of adjunct professor Thomas Klocek, who was fired for his pro-Israel views.

June 27, 2006

Do white men really benefit from ‘privilege’?

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Race and Racism — Daran @ 12:47 am

I recently indicated that I wanted to criticise the concept of ‘privilege’ as articulated by feminists independent of the various framing devices used by them. The substantive portion of my recent comment over on Alas in response to Barry covers some of what I want to say, and, with a little minor editing, seems worth promoting to the status of a blog post.

Ampersand:

Thinking seriously about systematic racism means that Whites have to admit that even if they don’t personally hate black people, they have almost certainly benefited from racism in some manner.

I’ve asked before how I’ve benefited from my alledged gender/race privilege, etc. The answers usually fall into two categories:

Firstly, I don’t suffer as much (or at all) as women/PsOC from things like racial abuse, the risk of rape, etc. I would dispute the ‘not at all’ contention. Even if I am not directly harmed or at risk, anything which directly harms or threatens my non-white and female friends and family is an indirect threat or harm to me. Also many of the identified ‘privileges‘ describe lower levels of direct risk and harm to me which are not zero.

I don’t dispute the ‘as much’ part with regard to race – I can not think of a single systemic comparative advantage enjoyed by PsOC over whites (other than initiatives such as AA, which are intended to ameliorate their comparative disadvantage) – however there are many systemic comparative advantages enjoyed by women over men which are trivialised and excluded from the discourse by framing devices such as ‘disadvantage’ vs. ‘privilege’ used by Barry and other feminists.

However not suffering as much as another person can hardly be considered a “benefit”. It’s a smaller disbenefit.

The other category is one of alledged positive benefits, such as enhanced educational and career opportunities. The argument usually goes that systemic racism/sexism tends to exclude women and PsOC, whether directly (an equally capable and qualified woman etc., isn’t given the position because she’s discriminated against directly) or indirectly (she never becomes qualified, and/or she doesn’t apply for the job, etc). Therefore there are more places available for white men such as myself.

I accept the premise but not the conclusion. It seems to me that for this argument to be valid, there needs to be another premise – namely that the total available opportunity is fixed, or at least is not significantly diminished by the systemic racism/sexism. This I do not accept. I would argue that giving women and PsOC, greater access to the productive economy would create more educational and career opportunities for everybody.

The argument I make here also appears to be logical equivalent to a position taken by some (many?) feminists and liberals (I believe Barry is one of them) with respect to immigrants/migrant workers. In response to complaints from opponents that these people are “taking jobs from American citizens and sponging off welfare”, liberals respond that they make a net contribution to the productive economy and thus do not harm the prospects of American citizens.

If you agree that allowing immigrants etc., (mostly PsOC if you so class Hispanics), access to the US productive economy would improve it to the net benefit of American citizens, then it is incoherent to simultaneously argue that allowing women and PsOC., who are already citizens greater access to that economy would not benefit white men too. And if you allow that white men will benefit overall, then you abolish the second category of alledged benefit from systemic racism and sexism. These -isms do not give white men men greater educational and career prospects. They just give us a larger share of a much smaller cake.

Update: Dianne points out, that “not every immigrant is the classic immigrant from a poor/oppressive country looking for new opportunities.” My understanding is that it is just this class of (im)migrant which is at issue in the immigration debate, so my substantive point stands. Mia Culpa, however, for an egregiously classist and racist stereotype.

Update 2 Originally in the above I used “POCs” as the plural of “POC” – Person Of Colour. I mentally sounded it as “pee-oh-sees”. It honestly never occured to me that it might be read as “pocks”, or even worse, “pox”. “POC” appears to be fairly standard in these discourses and I shall continue to use it, but I have amended the plural to PsOC – Persons Of Colour. I apologise for any offense this may have given. Thanks to JR at Feministe for pointing this out.

Updated (27 September) to add this list of links to the entire ‘Privilege’ series of posts, which I shall keep updated from now on:

“Privilege” and “Disadvantage” as sexist framing devices
Do white men really benefit from privilege?
More on Privilege
Selective Service – Privilege part 4

June 25, 2006

It Hurts My Brain

Filed under: Content-lite,Popular Culture — Robert @ 11:55 pm

Ann Coulter: Deadhead

Why We Won’t Win

Filed under: Politics — Off Colfax @ 6:50 am

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. (Had to have been a lot of thinking. Sure as hell wasn't doing a lot of blogging, was I? For that, my parenthetical appy-polly-ologies for the lackblog.) And more and more, I've been coming to the realization that we Democrats simply won't win the day come this November. Regardless of what we do.

Let me explain.

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June 24, 2006

To err is…?

Filed under: Content-lite,Humor — Daran @ 7:46 am

Recently, while trying to post a comment to someone’s LiveJournal, I got the following odd error message, as a result of my failing to transcribe the wobbly letters intended to fool spambots:

Error: Please prove that you are human.

Um, didn’t I just do that by…?

June 23, 2006

Brussels Critics The Subject of State Harassment

Filed under: Current Events,Education,Human Rights,International Politics — Robert @ 2:57 am

If this self-report is true, a blogging family (outspoken critics of the EU) in Brussels is being repressed by their local governments.

(Via National Review Online)

June 21, 2006

The Search For The Perfect Anncronym

Filed under: Content-lite — Ampersand @ 11:45 am

(Normally I try to avoid blatantly partisan blogging, but I was in a mood when I wrote this, I guess.)

Barry's sketch of AnnSo What Does Ann Coulter Stand For? Does it stand for:

Another Noisy Neo-Con Offers Underhanded Lies & Tedious, Erroneous Rants.

Or perhaps:

Ann’s Neverending Nastiness, Cruelty, Offensive Utterances, & Lying Titillates Every Rightwinger.

Post your suggestions in this thread, but remember, no references to Ann’s body, supposed lack of femininity, etc. – let’s keep this a sexist-joke-free zone. Winner gets a color print of my sketch of Ann (that’s it to the right), with their own Anncronym used as the drawing’s caption. (Of course, if there aren’t any submissions I like better than my two suggestions, then I’m the winner.)

Oh, and a curtsy to Piny for the word Anncronym.

June 20, 2006

More Evidence that We, the People, May Be the Enemy

Filed under: Human Rights,Politics — Brutus @ 10:20 pm

Robert Hayes never responded to my comments in the entry on Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State. Nevertheless, I want to add a couple links to stories that caught my eye today.

Wired reports that the Sheriff's Dept. in Los Angeles will test using unmanned drones (isn't that redundant? — Wired's term, not mine) to provide surveillance for "scanning rooftops for break-ins and finding lost children or hikers." If tests are successful, the Sheriff's Dept. "could eventually put as many as 20 of the aircraft into service, expanding their use to searching for suspects on the run and monitoring hostage situations, among other things." Naturally, it's the "other things" that concern me. The story is balanced and gives both positive arguments and negative objections to potential for government intrusion into reasonable expectations of privacy.

Perhaps even more alarming is a report in Free Market News that the federal government, in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, is developing spy blimps equipped with high-resolution cameras able to surveil as much as 600 square miles at a time. That brief article notes no controversy.

Yet another story in IT Blogwatch found at Computer World sounds more alarmist, noting that we're trading freedom for security. The vaguely hysterical tone doesn't go over well, but it also doesn't undo the point that we've passed into an era when we are reasonable to expect that our e-mail, telephone calls and records, library borrowing, medical records, movement on public streets, etc. is being continuously monitored through a variety of means, most notably the hidden camera. That the cameras are in orbit (think Google Earth) gave many of us pause, but based on the news reports linked to above, in the near future, cameras will be much closer and better focused, and they'll be cheap enough to be deployed by those below the level of the federal government.

I also found a blog called Privacy and Security Law Blog run by law firm that appears to be a pretty authoritative round-up of, well, privacy and security issues.

My Blacklog

Filed under: Blog Status,Content-lite,Link Farms — Daran @ 3:31 am

As I recently hinted, I’ve been doing a lot more thinking than writing these past few days, so I thought I should try and organise my thoughts so as not to forget anything. This then is a list-cum-linkfarm of various things I intend (maybe) to blog about (or perhaps just comment), or for which I’ve previously indicated I such an intention.

Off-site posts to which I want to respond.:

  • My surreply to Cathy Young is nearly complete.
  • Hybrid Garbage HT. This is the hybrid-vigour theory applied to humans. Problem is, to the best of my knowledge of the relevent science, ‘race’ in humans, unlike breeds of animals, is a social construct rather than a biological reality. Biologically, there is only one human race.
  • Update: Brandon Berg has disputed the above characterisation of the state of scientific knowledge, and, having done a little research it now appears to me that there is no scientific consensuson this issue. I think it useful to distinguish between social race – which is a social construct – and anthropological race, which appears to be a valid, albeit disputed, scientific theory.
  • You might be a white supremacist if. There’s a very interesting discussion in the comments.
  • New: In this post on Alas, Barry gives two subtly different definitions of the term “rape culture”. The first is defensible, the second less so. Unfortunately it is his second definition which in practice is how feminists use the term. He compares the concept with a “culture of violence”, but that phrase’s typical usage is again different.
  • New: In a thread on Alas, starting with this comment, there has been some discussion over the legitimacy of certain (re)definitions. Update (4 July): One side-effect of this redefinition, unintended and no doubt unwelcome to its advocates, is that Zahid Mubarak’s murderer, Robert Stewart cannot be considered to be a racist under that definition. While there are many adjectives that can be used to describe him, “privileged” is not one of them.

Recent posts and comments here on CD:

Older Threads, here and on Alas, I want to revisit:

  • This comment by Barry “require[d] a longer response than I [could] give [then].“. I don’t appear to have ever made that response. I also seem to recall him criticising me specifically in that thread for ignoring the needs of children. I can’t find the specific criticism, so perhaps I’ve misremembered, but I’d like to respond to it anyway at some point.
  • I took Barry’s novel tool for analysing the stated vs. implied goals of the anti-choice lobby and applied it to the anti-C4M position. My analysis could be improved – I choose, for rhetorical effect to stay too close to Barry’s version of the implied goal, and I ignored what the third state goals of the anti-C4M lobby: protecting women’s health.
  • Imagine that future technology made it possible to safely remove a foetus from a pregnant woman, and incubate it in an artifial womb. Women would then be able to walk away from a living foetus like men can now. Would they then be willing to give up abortion? Not without rights equivalent to C4M!.

Other things I want to blog about:

  • Developing the idea I first articulated in this comment that legitimate safety advice and victim-blaming are often confused, I’d like to suggest some criteria to distinguish them.
  • Are you a “partisan hack” if you don’t condemn objectionable behaviour, ideas, etc., among those you identify with? Barry seems to think so. Mythago apparently does not.
  • In the penultimate substantive paragraph of my reply to Mythago, I suggested a criterion by which a person citing a member of a particular group as advocating a particular position could be regarded as cherry-picking. I’d like to develop this idea.
  • Privilege denial and Privilege Reversal – Two more sexist framing devices feminists use to minimise and avoid addressing the issue of female privilege.
  • I also want to make a general critique of the concept of privilege, independent of the specific framing devices used by feminists. Update: See this post.
  • New: I’d also like to critique the concept of ‘rape culture’
  • Here‘s one of my earliest comments on Alas. I wasn’t proud of it then and I’m not now. But what, apart from the factual error, was “so wrong in so many ways” about that specific remark?
  • New (4 July): “If [FOO] affected men instead of women, something would be done about it” is a common feminist maxim. How true is it?

Feel free to use the comments to discuss any of the matters here, or to suggest other issues you’d like me to address.

June 19, 2006

Would it have killed them to include a link?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ampersand @ 3:27 pm

From a piece by Linda Hirshman in Sunday’s Washington Post:

The reaction started within a day or two of my article appearing on the American Prospect Web site. “Everyone’s Talking about Linda Hirshman’s ‘Homeward Bound,’ ” said “Alas, a blog.” “I was thinking of writing something” about it, the blogger continued, “but first I thought I’d see what other bloggers were saying . . . and that turned out to take up all my available blogging time.”

Geez, I get quoted in the WaPo, and it’s such a lame quote. Oh, well.

(Here’s the post she’s quoting, in case you’re curious.)

Curtsy: Family Scholars, where Elizabeth is annoyed that Linda H. has called their site a fundimentalist Christian site. But in the WaPo article, it’s clear that Hirshman is reacting primarily to Brad Wilcox; and if Brad isn’t an evangelical Christian, he sure as heck writes like one. And as for the difference between evangelicals and fundamentalists, I think it’s like the difference between Marvel superheroes and DC superheroes; sure, it’s an important distinction to those immersed in the subculture, but to outsiders they all look pretty much alike.

The Ghetto of Edutainment

Filed under: Education,Philosophy — Brutus @ 1:41 pm

At the Chicago Public Library recently, I stumbled across a couple DVDs from a 16-title series called Physical Science in Action. See this container:

Gravity

My science background is woefully inadequate, so I thought perhaps I could get some succinct info on basics such as magnetism, gravity, properties of matter, characteristics of waves, etc. I neglected to notice that the DVD series is intended for Grades 5 to 8. All well and good, I suppose, but once I viewed the DVD on gravity, I got rather irritated.

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June 18, 2006

Chickenhawk Vs. The Dove

Filed under: Current Events,Debate,Politics,War — Robert @ 11:38 pm

My dear friend Alex of Sooner Thought engages in misguided cooing over the bizarrely incomprehensible blitherings of poor Sen. Murtha. (As Ann Althouse notes, Murtha sounds like he's (badly) going through talking points someone gave him before the show.)

But mocking decorated Marine veterans is wrong, even when they're wrong. So let me focus on something else: in the comments, Alex engages the tired meme: chickenhawks are BAD! (I love Alex but he got some bad Kool-Aid from the PBS minions he hangs around with.)

Which leads me to an inquiry. It's asserted, by many-most of those in the antiwar camp, that a person with no military background who is pro-war – us chickenhawks, in other words – ought to stand down. If we're the president, we ought to refrain from getting into wars. If we're advisers to the president, we ought to advise against war. If we're bloggers or media figures, we ought to shut up. The reason being – we don't know what we're talking about. We've never been in a war. We've never fought, bled, risked all, died.

I have come to the conclusion that this is exactly correct. Everybody with no military experience or background should stand down on the conduct of the war – questions concerning war should be handled solely and exclusively by those who have fought.

Which leaves my friend Alex silenced, and me as well. It tells our friends in the Congress to – mostly – sit down and shut up. It tells pretty much everybody in the mainstream media (with some honorable exceptions) to stop writing editorials, stop doing analysis, stop doing everything except transmitting raw footage and descriptions of events. Only military veterans get to opine; only military veterans get to decide.

Do anti-war people want to take that deal?

Or do they want to go the opposite route and acknowledge that in a civil society, even people without direct experience of things get a vote, and get a voice?

Because the middle ground – YOUR ignoramuses must be silent, so that OUR ignoramuses may speak – doesn't seem to hold water.

Neologisms

Filed under: Blog Status — Daran @ 10:48 am

Lackblog noun 1 a lack of time for blogging. 2 the lack of blog posts caused by this. I apologise for the lackblog, but I’m really busy at the moment. (lack+blog)

Blacklog noun 1 The state of having more ideas for blog posts than time to actually write them. 2 the accumulation of unfinished, and in some cases unstarted blog posts caused by this. My lackblog is causing a blacklog. (blog + backlog)

Edit: Looks like my logisms are not so neo after all.

June 17, 2006

“I don’t see why people care about patriotism.”

Filed under: Philosophy,Popular Culture,War — Robert @ 1:24 pm

""The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

– Dixie Chick Natalie Maine, as reported in the Telegraph.

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful."

C.S. Lewis

June 16, 2006

Oh, lemon

Filed under: Evolution — Adam Gurri @ 2:28 pm

Taking a look at this chart of the stages of development among different species' embryos has piqued my interest in embryology.

However, I'm having difficulty finding anything which discusses exactly what it is that I'm interested in.

It seems to me that the similarities in the different stages of gestation are less important, ultimately, than the differences. To rephrase: the similarities are fine evidence of an ancestral tie, but the question is, why do the deviations exist?

The real question I'd like to ask is this: is it possible that the only difference between one moment of development and the next was a mutation in the female, which caused a change in how the womb and fertilized egg interacted? Could the primary mutation have been passed down through the females in this manner, since both genders obviously pass through this period of incubation?

Of course, in the case of a bird or fish or reptile, it seems less likely–unless it was some property about the egg itself.

I'm not really sure where to look where these questions are concerned, however.

Cross Posted at: Sophistpundit 

June 15, 2006

Anger Management

Filed under: Blogosphere,Humor — Brutus @ 11:25 pm

Here's a brief (thus far) but interesting blog by a guy who thinks that we're all too complacent and could use some heartfelt anger about the way things are going in the culture. Never mind that anger is unhealthy, unwholesome, negative, and causes high blood pressure. He's got a big list of rants, some of which push him over the edge from angry to furious. Two of them in particular caught my attention.

The Missile Shield
It's really not a shield at all, is it? It's actually just a bunch of other missiles. If you thought someone was going to throw a dart at your head, would you defend yourself with intercept darts? Hitting a mid-flight dart with another dart or a missile with another missile is hard, and it pretty much never works in either case. I wouldn't declare my head dart-proof based on a system like that. And I sure as hell wouldn't spend billions of dollars trying to dart-proof my head in response to having a brick thrown at my crotch on September 11th.

This just makes so much sense to me I wish I'd thought of it first. It was true in Reagan's day and is no less true today now that Bush has resurrected the project. It's also so laughingly foolhardy it's tragic, considering the public funds spent chasing so elusive a chimera.

Standing Ovations
I shouldn't have to hate standing ovations. But good lord do I ever. Tony Blair, when addressing the US Congress received 19 standing ovations during his 32 minute speech. George Bush received 6 in the first six minutes of the last state of the union address. A standing ovation is meant to be reserved for the best of the best. This should automatically exclude the following from receiving them: 1) all school productions (I've seen your kids, they're not that cute) 2) speeches by presidents who say "nukular" 3) concerts from local musicians 4) amateur plays. Most performers and speakers aren't that good and you devalue those who are when you arbitrarily dish out standing o's. I propose that everybody get a lifetime quota of three ovations that they can bestow on performers. No more. It might make people think twice before they stand up and start clapping like idiots for a kid hitting a tambourine.

This one has been a peeve of mine for a long time. I think one underlying cause is that we're all out to maximize our enjoyment of things, and to do so, it becomes necessary to validate our experience with standing ovations at every turn. I once took part in a staged riot at a classical music concert, which was a very modest recreation of a real riot in 1913. The looks of utter horror on the faces of the audience before they realized what was happening — that someone might disapprove of a public performance and be disruptive — was remarkable. Were I to really boo a performer these days, I'd probably be sanctioned for expressing my judgment.

Nerd Sweatshops Banned

Filed under: Content-lite — Tuomas @ 3:26 pm

I'm glad I haven't hooked up on World Of Warcraft, 'cause it sounds pretty addictive.

Addictive enough that some wealthier first-world players had a habit of paying poorer third-world players real money for collecting them fictitious money in the game all day long, i.e. "Gold Mining" (yes, it has it's own term).

Blizzard entertainment felt it was cheating (and possibly wanted to avoid political debate), and banned the practice, suspending thousands of player accounts.

Nobody asked me, but if some first-worlder is dumb enough to pay real money to someone poorer for playing a frigging computer game, then I don't think the third-worlder is the loser there.

Please Tell Me This Is A Joke?

Filed under: Humor,Science — Tuomas @ 3:16 pm

According to Annalee Newitz, feminists should take over genetic engineering. (Here's a hint: Study genetic engineering… women's studies doesn't exactly make you an expert on everything).

The whole article is about the most unintentionally hilarious things I've read for a while, and I urge you to read it all, and check the comments.
Here is a teaser:

That's why any feminist worth her sodium chloride should be charging into the debate on genetic engineering with a list of demands. Hell, yes, we want to change the biology of reproduction — and we want to change it now.

The primary goal of a feminist genetic engineering project is to cut the reproductive process loose from patriarchy and male domination. One simple way to do that is to make sure feminist politics are front and center in any discussion about how we will use genetic engineering to eliminate harmful birth defects. I think we can all agree that it would be great to make sure babies aren't born with holes in their hearts, but what about girl babies born with small breasts? Can't you just see some clueless researcher claiming that women with small breasts are "harmed" psychologically, and that therefore we should engineer all women to have big ones? Feminists need to shut that shit down right away.

Damn those clueless genetic engineering patriarchs! They need some womanly wisdom to guide them, and Annalee sure is the best person for that. (Leaving aside the fact that plenty of researchers in the field of biology and medicine are, in fact, women, and besides, I must admit that I really don't see researchers focusing on genetically engineering women's breasts bigger.)

As an aside, she makes me think that John Howard may have had a point:

[ edited for correction]

First of all, we want genetic engineering to transform the way families work, perhaps by making it possible for two women to create a baby without male intervention — or for more than two parents to create a baby. (Researchers in Japan have already bred a healthy baby mouse out of genetic material from two females, and researchers in England are working on a human baby that will have genetic material from two women and one man.)

H/T: PunkAssBlog.

June 14, 2006

Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State

Filed under: Politics — Daran @ 10:19 pm

Link. (Hat tip.)

Secret Republican Strategy #274

Filed under: Current Events,Politics — Robert @ 7:57 pm

The war's unpopularity may well help Republicans in their bid to retain control of Congress, in at least some districts.

From early examples, the war's bad PR is driving moderate Republicans into Democratic primaries – which they win. After these defectors capture the moderate and conservative Democrats, Republicans will generally oppose them with a someone more conservative in the general election. The left will sit the election out; conservatives can be motivated to GOTV. There are more conservatives and right-centrists than there are left-centrists. (And even if the Republicans lose a close one or two, the guy who wins is still basically a Republican!)

I suspect we'll be seeing a fair number of elections skewed oddly by war politics.

June 13, 2006

How prejudiced are you really?

Filed under: Science — Daran @ 5:43 pm

Hat tip: The current edition of Scientific American.

Link

So far I’ve done three of their tests:

Race: Moderate automatic preference for Whites.

Gender-Science: Strong automatic association of male with science.

Microsoft vs. Open Source (Available via the ‘featured task link, top right): Moderate preference for Open Source.

Edit: Sexuality: Moderate automatic preference for heterosexuality.

Edit: Presidents: Moderate preference for Other Presidents over Bush.

It’s a shame that there’s no simple test for preference between men and women. Come to think of it, another good test would be of ones association between “alledged victim”, “accuser”, etc., on the one hand and “alledged rapist” “defendent” etc.,on the other against “innocent”, “truthful”, etc., on the one hand and “guilty”, “lying”, on the other.

If This Were My Cat, I Would Rename Him “Mr. Testicles”

Filed under: Humor — Robert @ 3:27 pm

I don't care much for cats, but this feline has got enormous clanking brass ones.

Rove Walks

Filed under: Current Events,Politics — Robert @ 10:57 am

White House advisor Karl Rove was informed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that no charges against him would be filed.

The left blogosphere is currently on suicide watch.

June 12, 2006

Dean Hubbard Is NOT BITTER

Filed under: Art,Economics,Humor — Robert @ 9:19 pm

Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard (who was recently passed over for the chairmanship of the Fed in favor of Ben Bernancke) has a pretty darn good sense of humor about the whole thing.

It might be a little bit too inside-baseball for some, but the video he made is freaking hilarious.

(H/T Mary Schweitzer of the Obielist for the link.)

(Also, God, the Police were great.) 

June 11, 2006

Another Brick In The Firewall

Filed under: Blogosphere,Politics — Off Colfax @ 7:19 am

With all the yammering and bleating these days about Net Neutrality, whether from the telco-neutral or regulation-neutral viewpoints, I find myself in a bit of a quandry. So pardon me for a moment while I explore (with my usual disjointed ramblings and parenthetical commentary) a few points of reasoning I find persuasive.

From both sides of the issue.

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June 10, 2006

How Much Do Smarts Really Matter?

Filed under: Blogosphere,Debate — Brutus @ 12:51 pm

On weblogs, both in posts and in comments, one of the most frequently cited characteristics of political operatives is their intelligence (or lack thereof). The same goes for those who post on blogs and in the comments sections. It’s a preoccupation in blogs to assess or otherwise comment on everyone’s smarts. Yet I don’t recall ever noticing journalists in the mainstream media bothering to comment much, at least out loud or in print, whether someone is smart, average, or downright stupid. Considering how very important smarts seem to be in the blogsphere, it’s a rather startling omission in mainstream journalism. Perhaps it’s the elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge.

So in politics, since that’s the dominant subject of public debate, do smarts really matter? I think they probably don’t but should. We’re just as suspicious and sceptical of those who are regarded as highly intelligent (e.g., Clinton) as those regarded as mere hat holders (e.g., Bush the younger). And since results speak louder than reputations, the meaningful part of any legacy is effectiveness rather than good intentions (e.g., Carter).

The only way to judge the intelligence of bloggers and commenters is to examine how well ideas are put across in print. In politics, there are many other avenues, and press offices seek to shape and frame impressions in the most advantageous ways, which aren’t always the most intelligent. We also discuss credentials such as education (degrees and alma maters) and stats (GPAs, SATs, and IQs), and intangibles such as charisma. Considering intelligence has been redefined in the past few decades as being more than simply raw information processing power (probably closest to an IQ measurement), multiple intelligences or overall intelligence can’t really be assessed well using any sole traditional measure. Combinations of criteria also introduce too many variables, which quickly become worthless apples-and-oranges comparisons.

Personally, I don’t care about anyone’s credentials all that much; I care about ideas, and I look to writing for effective, intelligent communication. Writing is mostly uninfluenced by personal charisma (exhibited in face-to-face or video contexts), and anonymous writing (as with many blogs) also diminishes the cult of personality surrounding many public figures. So an Ann Coulter type, on the basis of her reputation, might get a pass for (presumably) smart writing in a book published under her name, but the same writing offered anonymously would be given no extra credit because of the writer’s identity.

Still, why are blog writers and commenters so preoccupied with intelligence? I sense that many in the blogosphere have become serious adherents to public debate, and the worthiness of the opponent is an important consideration. It goes beyond idle entertainment or mere gamesmanship, though that’s part of it, too. Worthiness is correlated to intelligence and writing ability. Paradoxically, many high-profile bloggers and commenters don’t write very well. But they can often suss out the salacious topics and angles and inject excitement into the debate. Both of these characteristics go against the 18th-century notion of rational, informed public debate associated with Paine and Jefferson, which is ideally conducted dispassionately and disinterestedly but with a vivid, lucid writing style. That sensibility is difficult to achieve, but I daresay we would all say, Bring It!

How Commonly Are Men Beaten Up By Intimate Partners?

Filed under: Debate,Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 12:43 pm

In the comments of Chuck’s livejournal entry about the Male Privilege Checklist, Miss Fahrenheit wrote that “#42 just makes me angry because I know it’s wrong, but Google isn’t throwing up any helpful statistics I can scream about.”

Here’s what #42 says: “If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.”

I based #42 on the Centers for Disease Control’s report on intimate violence, which is (as far as I know) the largest and best-conducted study of intimate violence done in the US to date. According to this study, women are 14 times as likely to have been beaten up by an intimate partner at some point in their lives than men (8.5% versus 0.6%).

The study asked about many kinds of violence, ranging from being shoved to being attacked with a gun. In all categories, women were more likely to have been attacked by an intimate partner than men, and the discrepancies got larger as the violence became more serious. I focused on “beat up” because, unlike items like “threw something” or “pushed” (is a push a bone-jarring crash into a wall, or a painless, flirting push on the shoulder? What if someone pushed only in self-defense, or to escape?), “beat up” has little ambiguity, and implicitly contains a negative outcome.

They also found that men who had cohabited with a male partner were three times as likely to report having been assaulted by a partner as men who had only lived with opposite-sex partners.

Other studies have suggested that men and women are equal victims of intimate violence, but none of those studies are as large or well-conducted as the CDC’s study. Please see this past post for a much more in-depth discussion of “husband-battering” and intimate violence statistics.

(This is one of a number of posts responding to Chuck’s critique. You can use the category archive on “Alas” to see all posts related to the Male Privilege Checklist.)

Lazy White Male Nannies

Filed under: Debate,Feminist Issues — Tuomas @ 12:32 am

Since feminists have been telling for quite long now that childcare is devalued by society, one would expect that feminists would not mock men who become male nannies, or "mannies"?

Wrong, and wrong.

Some of the criticisms are very telling:

Try this one for size:

Perhaps b/c white men are ‘above’ doing the physical labor that these days falls to non-white men?

Now, pray tell me, what would happen if this was applied to women/men?

"Perhaps women are 'above' doing the physical labor that these days fall to men?"

1) Feminists would scream bloody murder that childcare is not considered physical labor (I agree somewhat. While there are jobs more physically intense, few require the near-constant vigilance of child-care, especially of small children).

2) Feminists would scream bloody murder at the suggestion that this is about women opting out of what is considered hard work instead of discrimination toward women who want the said jobs.

These pseudo-feminists are very clearly displaying what they really think of childcare when (white) men are doing it. And it's not a pretty sight.

[Actually, in fairness, the Pandagon article was not so bad.]
[Update 1: Piny has a response.

The first part of his response is pointing out that feminists criticized the fact that this article is treating male nannies as superior in childcare compared to women. Fair enough — this is a good point, as it is indeed sexist to claim this.

The second part seems to hinge more on intentionalism, that Em had used the comment I highlighted here to describe discrimination against nonwhite men and women. Which of course is common in lefty circles, complete denial ("no one meant that way!") and claim that the comment meant something other than it reads as. There also seem to be some odd double standards at play here, apparently the fact that female nannies are nonwhite proves that nonwhite women are discriminated against, but the fact that male nannies are white proves that nonwhite men are dicriminated against?]

[Update 2: The part about lefty circles is a generalization, and perhaps an unfair one at that.] 

June 9, 2006

Trick Question

Filed under: Feminist Issues,Human Rights,Humor — Tuomas @ 11:59 pm

What do you call a man who has sex with a ten-year old girl?

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