Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Idiot Hunting the royal baby trans activists

If you haven't seen it yet, some (not all) social justice warriors on Twitter were offended about the royal baby announcement.

If it wasn't obvious, this is an example of idiot hunting, where someone found stupid people to mock. This doesn't mean all social justice warriors are this deranged, but it does highlight the absurdity of people who insisted that birth sex and gender identity are unrelated.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Phil Fish is a fussy child

If anyone has seen the documentary Indie Game: The Movie they have had to endure weak-willed hipster Phil Fish. Fish was fortunate enough to receive $74,000 from the Canadian government for his two-man studio to finish the video game Fez but the generous gift wasn't enough to curb his caustic personality and the movie shows him in the throws of several meltdowns.

His latest tantrum wasn't the least bit surprising. After an obnoxious video game reporter pressed him to reveal his opinion on Microsoft's policies on the upcoming Xbox One console Fish posted some angry messages on Twitter then declared he was canceling the Fez sequel and leaving the industry.

There's a subplot in Indie Game: The Movie where Fish is trying to get his ex partner to agree to release the Fez game to the public. The two had a falling out and the partner quit. I assumed that his partner, who never appears on camera or shares his side of the story, quit because Fish is an intolerable child. Now I am sure of it.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Robin Young, Zimmerman and Tsarnaev

I wish Robin Young, host of Here & Now on NPR of Boston station WBUR, would treat George Zimmerman with the same courtesy, compassion and tolerance she gave Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Here & Now pounced on Zimmerman last March when the video of him at the police station surfaced because it called into question his side of the story. When that angle was refuted  few days later she lost interest. I searched the program's web archive in vein and can't find any follow-up coverage. Please inform me if I am wrong.

Zimmerman famously followed Trayvon, hoping to spot him for police, when he was attacked and killed Trayvon in what appears to be self defense. Tsarnaev, on the other hand, committed premeditated murder on strangers and Young wanted to find the external factors that lead him to his crime. She was kind to him, but not to Zimmerman.

Once the Zimmerman trial picked up her program was happy to cover it, and when he was found "not guilty" the program started a parade of losers and hustlers who "do not accept" the verdict. Perhaps those calls for a new trial could have been tempered with some legal analysis about the double jeopardy concerns of a new trial, or the myth that Trayvon's family can appeal the verdict.

Today's program had a segment on a Zimmerman juror who is getting death threats and wanted people to know she thought he killed Trayvon but couldn't convicted him because of those pesky evidence standards.Slate's William Saletan showed that selective editing and leading questions put words in her mouth to get her to say that Zimmerman got away with murder. NPR has done no better than cable news.

Robin Young is using the program to express her outrage against Zimmerman's refusal to let someone beat him to death. She's not the only one who works there and the decisions aren't just hers, but it's her voice and her words. The contrast in treatment between Zimmerman and Tsarnaev is striking.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I don't trust Anthony Weiner

Now that Anthony Wiener has been caught in a nearly identical scandal to the one from two years ago, I am no longer conflicted about dropping all support and respect I o had for him.

Last time I wrote that he had taken a few principled stances I admired but his incompetence in dealing with the scandal revealed himself to be unfit for service. Since then I have read last month's New York Times piece that made him look like a useless, glory-hogging showboat who couldn't be bothered to pass actual legislation. Seeing him engage in more infidelity at the same time he was supposedly making amends for the betrayal of his marriage sealed it for me.

Democrats are so forgiving of their politicians who betray their spouses that it's almost a positive thing to be caught. Bill Clinton, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer have no shortage of supporters who say their affairs are irrelevant to their performance as a politician.

Like many conservatives, I see infidelity as a warning sign for political corruption. It's not always true, but it's disturbing to expect strangers to put their faith in someone when their own wife can't trust them. This is far from a revolutionary idea, but I want to contrast it with what I see as a parallel.

But, like many progressives, I also see the denial of evolutionary science as a signal that the candidate does not belong in office. Like the infidelity marker, creationism may not directly affect many policy decisions (save for public school scientific standards) but it implies the candidate's thought process is fundamentally flawed and they should not be trusted with power.

Neither of these issues prove any candidate would perform poorly in office, but both of them reveal troubling issues that need to be addressed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cosmos is coming back

A few years ago when I wrote about the similarities between Carl Sagan and Milton Friedman I noted how they each created a PBS miniseries in 1980 that's still relevant today.

Last year PBS dusted off Friedman's Free to Choose series with a three-part update about how his ideas look today titled Testing Milton Friedman.

Well, now this has been revealed:

I remember about five years ago before I had heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson that Bill Nye would be perfect for a Cosmos reboot. While I'm sure he'd do a great job, NdGT is clearly the best person alive to host this. He captures the joy of science better than anyone else, and he's an astronomer to boot.

I love me some economics, but man, astronomy has such better visuals. I'll take a super nova over Brad Delong's face any day.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Marty Klein on consent

I've putting off writing about my experience at The Amazing Meeting 2013 skepticism conference because some major news events required a timely response last week, but now I have the time.

As always, I had the most fun talking to people between events and presentations. Sanal Edamaruku, the Indian secularist who challenged a holy man to kill him with a death ritual on live television, gave a great talk on the horrible grip mysticism has over modern India. Australian skeptic Richard Saunders casually used the phrase "not this little black duck" to my amusement. Keynote speaker Susan Jacoby spent a little too much time reciting off-topic left wing politics for my taste, but she was far from alone.

My absolute favorite speaker was sex therapist Marty Klein. I had seen him on Reason.com and Penn and Tellers skepticism show before and was looking forward to his talk. I learned that "sex addiction" is a phony concept invented by an addiction specialist with no background in sex therapy and no evidence to support it.

The biggest takeaway from his talk was the idea of false catergories, such as "pornography and child pornography" which are two very different things that shouldn't be lumped together. Other ones included "birth control and abortion" and "human trafficking and prostitution." Readers can look forward to future posts on this topic.

What I want to write about today are what I learned from him after his talk. I went up to him after his presentation and had the chance to talk to him about consent laws and rape. This was off the top of his head and if for any reason my words are held against him I ask the reader to contact him directly to make sure I'm representing him fairly before flying off the handle.

I did my best to present "consent" neutrally and quickly. I said it's the idea that all sexual acts should be preceded by verbal permission or else they are considered rape.

While we were walking and talking Klein took my by the arm and paused the conversation. We walked a few steps and he asked me if I felt violated, as he had taken my arm without asking permission. I said no.

That, he said, was the point. Treating sex differently then any other form of human interaction is a step in the wrong direction, he said. He told me what the consent crusaders are advocating "shackles human interaction."

As I said before this was off the top of his head so please direct any angry mobs at me, your humble blogger, not him. I feel enlightened by the way Klein viewed this topic and I really hope more people are willing to speak out against this well-intentioned abomination.

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Calm down about a magazine neither of us read

In the past I've criticized Rolling Stone magazine's far-left journalism. I won't be doing that today. Instead, honor forces me to defend a publication I dislike.

It seems that absolutely everyone is freaking out that the next cover will show a flattering image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing "suspect" who looks an awful lot like Jon Snow.

The popular narrative is that this glamorizes Tsarnaev and makes him look like a celebrity. A popular comparison is to one of the issue's featuring Jim Morrison:

As you can see, both men have faces, hair, and the Rolling Stone logo. Case closed.

This whole freak-out is ridiculous. The article in question is about the Tsarnaev's corruption and downfall, from a popular, kind young man into a murderous terrorist. The article is summed up on the cover as "How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster."

I know people like to think of society's enemies as ugly cartoon villains, but like it or not Tsarnaev has an attractive face. This only adds to the contrast between the person he was and the person he became when he surrendered his morality to radical Islam.

The sad truth is, people who commit acts of evil often think what they are doing is not only morally permissible, but morally required. People could benefit from a well-written article explaining how a normal kid became a violent brute.

Compare that to the on-air conversation between NPR host Robin Young and her nephew Zolan, a former friend of Tsarnaev, who can't seem to fathom how someone who went to a diverse high school could become a monster. They go out of their way to remind listeners several times that the student body was extremely diverse at that school. My interpretation is that they think a non-diverse school can't teach student to respect other people and will be plagued by anti-immigrant bullies who drive their victims to murder, as if only victims of oppression become terrorists. Otherwise, what was the point of bringing up the high school diversity level multiple times?

No one batted an eye over that, but when an entertainment magazine that branches out into news puts his photo on the cover, suddenly it's an outrage. It doesn't seem to matter that the photo corresponds to a news story.

The picture doesn't look much different from the other pre-arrest photos of Tsarnaev that have been printed on magazine and newspaper covers since the attack happened in March. In fact, this same picture was used on the cover of the New York Times on May 5. Would people still object if the words "Rolling Stone" were replaced with "TIME"?

Now if Rolling Stone had set up a modeling shoot with Tsarnaev and given him a makeover, that would be something to scream about. Short of that, when you write about a handsome terrorist why should you dredge the archives to find a photo that looks ugly


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Not guilty" is not a MacArthur Fellowship award

It looks like I have to write about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman again, even thought I don't want to. That's why I'll be tagging in Ken White, Scott H. Greenfield and William Saletan for the finishing moves.

I remember last year when the activists were saying that they just wanted Zimmerman investigated for the fatal shooting. Well that happened, and we even had a trial despite a lack of evidence and now that the case was decided the activists want more.

It's obvious they never wanted an investigation or a trial; they wanted a lynching.

Since they can't have George Zimmerman's blood the wailing and the whining have started again. We're seeing the return of idiotic "armed with iced tea and skittles" remarks, the return of the assumption that only armed combatants can kill people, the return of error-filled summaries of the shooting and the return of stupid pro-hoodie protests and pictures.

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's hoodie photo wasn't invited to that party, of course. Neither was Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Despite endless dredging for proof that George Zimmerman is a racist and was motivated by racism, the only racism discovered came from Trayvon himself.

The truth is that George Zimmerman wrongly thought Trayvon was scouting homes for a robbery and followed him so police could find him and Trayvon wrongly saw Zimmerman as a threat and attacked him, and possibly tried to kill him.

As promised, here's Ken White:

I've been a criminal defense attorney for 13 years now, and it's changed the way I view trials. They aren't (or at least should not be) a vehicle for society's judgment. That's the view the prosecution often hopes to promote, in order to convince jurors to vote their fears and anxieties about crime, which they are told relentlessly (and falsely) is out of control. No: a trial is an attempt by the state to exercise power over an individual, limited by the requirements of the Constitution and the rules of evidence and criminal procedure... 
The verdict didn't surprise me, because based on what I know as a trial lawyer (as opposed to an occasional consumer of CNN), the prosecution wasn't proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt, given the law that applied (as opposed to the law people felt ought to apply). I don't see a basis to conclude that a jury of six women of varying backgrounds voted out of racism, rather than voting because they took the government's burden of proof seriously.

Here's Scott H. Greenfield:

As it turns out, much of what was told about the death of Trayvon Martin is either false or mired in mystery. When left with the proposition that we will never know what "really" happened, the significance is that the prosecution then lacks evidence to prove its case. But Trayvon is dead, so it's unfair since he can't tell his side of the story? True, but that doesn't change the requirement that a defendant be proven guilty. The rule is not proof if its available, assumption if it's not. Except in the court of public opinion.

And finally, here's William Saletan:

Martin, meanwhile, was profiling Zimmerman. On his phone, he told a friend he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker.” The friend—who later testified that this phrase meant pervert—advised Martin, “You better run.” She reported, as Zimmerman did, that Martin challenged Zimmerman, demanding to know why he was being hassled. If Zimmerman’s phobic misreading of Martin was the first wrong turn that led to their fatal struggle, Martin’s phobic misreading of Zimmerman may have been the second.

The anti-Zimmerman activists speak as if they are unaware a trial ever occurred. Too many of them couldn't be bothered to see if it disproved any of their pet theories.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The wisdom of Roseanne Barr

I'm a little late to this party but I just discovered that former sitcom actress Roseanne Barr has become a leader in the anti-GMO movement.

Was Balki from Perfect Strangers too articulate?

Just in case you're not convinced that the anti-GMO movement was full of maniacs, here's an interview where Roseanne spread her wisdom on GMO's, Monsanto and chemtrails.

And then there's this page where Roseanne joins forces with illiterate clown Cynthia McKinney.

Best of all, look at this gem from Occupy Monsanto's page on an anti-Monsanto protest:

The cause even drew a high-profile speaker in Roseanne Barr’s vice presidential candidate, Cindy Sheehan, representing the Peace and Freedom Party, who said “evil” companies like Monsanto must be stopped.

Roseanne for president? She ran for president? Yes, it's true, and her campaign page had even more pictures of the deranged Cynthia McKinney.

How desperate can a group be when it has to turn to Roseanne Barr for guidance?

Friday, July 12, 2013

The thousand dollar consoles you forgot

Here's a great chart to compare the cost of video game consoles at launch over time:

 The source is here.

The Neo Geo and 3D0 are barely remembered today. Interestingly enough, they are more expensive then the upcoming generation in nominal figures as well as inflation-adjusted figures.

As I said last time, console games have gotten cheaper, and the world is filled with even cheaper substitute goods like smartphone and tablet games. Some of those $1 console-free games are future classics. We even have a developing trend of a console game being ported to the touchscreen devices people already own.

From the consumer perspective, this is the golden age of video games.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

Locavores, hipsters and foodies are learning that raising backyard chickens isn't as fun as they thought it would be, and many chickens only lay eggs for a few years but stay alive for a decade. This is leading to flocks of chickens being abandoned at animal shelters.

It’s the same scenario at the Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis, Minn., where owner Mary Britton Clouse has tracked a steady climb in surrendered birds from fewer than 50 in 2001 to nearly 500 in 2012. 
She traces that rise to the so-called “locavore” movement, which spiked in popularity in 2008 as advocates urged people to eat more food grown and processed close to home.  
 “It’s the stupid foodies,” said Britton Clouse, 60, who admits she speaks frankly. “We’re just sick to death of it.”  
 People entranced by a “misplaced rural nostalgia” are buying chickens from the same hatcheries that supply the nation's largest poultry producers and rearing them without proper space, food or veterinary care, she said.

Sorry kids, farming is hard work. Be careful what you wish for.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Prediction on George Zimmerman

Having viewed a lot of the George Zimmerman trial at work it's obvious that the prosecution has a weak case.

I predict several big-name left wing commentators will justify the riots following the dismissal of the case or Zimmerman's acquittal.

Perhaps it will be some of the people claiming that when Trayvon Martin called Zimmerman a cracker he meant it as a term of endearment.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How dare they!

I've heard plenty of people say that if President George W. Bush was doing the things president Barack Obama is doing liberals would be outraged.

Of course, I've responded that plenty of liberals are outraged at the O-man. Now that Edward Snowden has revealed the National Security Agency is accessing private information on who private citizens are calling on the phone and President Obama wants him arrested his approval rating has fall to around 45 percent. It's clear that plenty of liberals are outraged at the president.

So what I want to know is, why are so many liberals racists now?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What we mean when we say we're against feminism

I'm writing this from my own perspective, but the views I share here are commonly held by Westerners who reject feminism. Too often I hear feminists dismiss their critics as misogynists and woman-haters and I wanted to show where we're really coming from.

Three years ago I wrote about a concept I have dubbed the feminist shell game:

There's a popular bumper sticker that reads "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." And that was certainly true - a century ago. It's been several generations since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in America. Laws designed to give women less rights - such as restrictions on property - are gone.

When someone criticizes modern feminists, such as their activism promoting the mythical gender wage gap, petty diversity micromanaging, embrace of speech codes and overzealous sexual harassment rules or hypersensitivity to reasonable stances, that critic is dismissed as opposing feminists from past generations, along with women's right to vote. That's wrong. Just because I am against campus feminists who oppose freedom of speech doesn't mean I oppose laws that allow women to own property.

A bisexist society

Someone did a decent jobcof laying out their stance on the Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog. Here's an important point they made:

One of the reasons why feminists are said to be sexist towards men is because we focus on, and privilege, the female point of view... No one is saying that discussions on men and masculinities shouldn’t go on. It is absolutely important to have dialogue on men’s issues, including discussions on violence done towards men. But, the thing is, men, not women, need to be the ones creating the spaces to discuss men’s issues.

Yet, whenever anyone tries to address issues like male victims of domestic violence, false rape accusations, male disposability, male suicide rates or slanted divorce courts it is the feminists who shout them down. They justify this by saying that the totality of problems women face in the world are worse than those faced by men.

Well so what? By that logic feminists should stop focusing on American issues because ending female genital mutilation in poor countries is clearly more important than how women are portrayed in video games. Yet, they don't take this stance for reasons that the feminism 101 blog convincingly spelled out.

The false idea that men's problems don't count because women are brutalized by men assumes that believing in men's and women's issues is mutually exclusive. This is sloppy reasoning. Men's rights leader Warren Farrell sidestepped this useless debate by declaring that human society is "bisexist," where society unfairly treats both genders in different ways simultaneously.

Don't judge a group by the crazies

Unfortunately, mainstream feminists have taken a stance against men's rights advocates and dismiss anyone who advocates for men's rights as a misogynist. Helping this argument is a project from the Southern Poverty Law Center to dismiss the entire men's rights movement as the work of sexists. They "proved" this point by highlighting some genuinely repulsive, bitter, people who are online advocates for men's rights.

But what does this prove? Finding ignorant people online is like finding diabetes at a house of pancakes. It's dead simple to find examples of crazy feminists who say outrageous things, such as last months demand from a Swedish left-wing political party that men be required to urinate while sitting down. Online feminism is no shining star of rationality and calm reason. Every group has crazies and it shouldn't be used to disprove the mainstream members.

But what's troubling is the amount of radical feminists who get in positions of power and influence, most notably as academics. This allows some bogus ideas to perpetuate among mainstream feminists. While it is a complete lie to say that feminists believe all intercourse is rape, the popular concept of "rape culture" isn't any better. This is the idea that contemporary modern society tolerates, excuses and even encourages rape. Someone has to live in a dark fantasy world to think that. A similar idea is that most men would commit a rape if they knew they could get away with it.

There is also the idea of "the patriarchy" which can best be explained as the status quo that benefits men over women. This is invoked as a bottomless well where feminists can pull explanations for any disparity, difference or inequality between genders, even ones where men are made worse off such as military drafts.

I'm going to clarify that all of the problems men face do not come from feminism. Men are afraid to reveal themselves as domestic violence victims to other men because of universal norms that predate feminism. Women may get child custody in a divorce more often because they are the ones who get to spend more time with the children and men often agree to let them have sole custody. While it's disturbing that Lorena Bobbitt was treated as a folk hero for castrating her sleeping husband, that came from the culture at large and not just feminists.

Perhaps if feminists tempered their patriarchy theory with elements that acknowledged bisexism we would end up with a reasonable position. But then we couldn't call it "patriarchy."

Bad advice

There's a trend right now that the problem of rape needs to be combated by teaching men "Don't Rape" and hoping and praying that rapists will all retire. This same movement finds it offensive to empower women by sharing self-defense strategies.

I've already written about this before so instead of rehashing that argument I'm going to add a new one.

What is being labeled as "date rape" often involves a miscommunication where the man thinks they had consensual sex and the woman thinks she was raped. Here's the scenario. The couple fools around to the enjoyment of both partners. The man steers this encounter into sexual intercourse. The woman would rather not, but she says nothing and goes along with it because she feels intimidated. She later recalls the incident as being raped.

It's good to alert men of this scenario and request that they communicate clearly with their partner to ensure eagerness. I stop short of saying that it is automatically rape unless he gets verbal permission, which is the "consent" rule advocated by feminists. That assumes that all sex is rape until proven otherwise. We don't have to put men on the defensive when we inform them of this scenario, but if it's as common as feminists claim it is then by all means make men aware.

However, we also need to bookend this by alerting women of the same scenario and telling them that they need to communicate that they do not wish to proceed. Let her tell her partner that not stopping would be rape. If he doesn't understand, make it clear and attempt to leave. This would prevent rape, but it is feminist dogma that makes it off-limits.

Fluid language

Modern feminism is adapt at redefining words, such as rape and sexism, to exaggerate. My favorite example was a speech class in college where my professor told us not to use "sexist language" like "waitress" because it denotes the workers gender.

Terms like "sexist" and "misogynist" are flung freely and often because if they stick they destroy their target's credibility. I can't support a movement that tolerates such lackadaisical and petty bomb-throwing the way feminism does.

My point with this piece is not to disprove feminism, produce an exhaustive list convert feminists or try to take away the important gains feminists have made. Instead, I wanted to provide a response to people who assume that the opponents of modern feminism hate women or oppose gender equality. You may disagree with us, but you should try to understand what we really believe.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

There they go again

The headline reveled exactly what angle WGME was taking with it's article "NYC Marketing Firm Gets Maine's Business"

There's a major decision and a big change in Maine's $7.5 billion per year tourism industry. Each year, the state spends millions of dollars marketing the state but after 20 years doing that job, a Maine-based company is out, and a New York City marketing firm is in. 
After promoting Maine's tourism industry 20 years straight, Augusta-based Nancy Marshall Communications is out. The state has instead retained the Dilenschneider Group, a New York City marketing agency. 
Economics commissioner George Gervais says a formal, competitive process, one dictated by state law, decided the winning proposal. "I did talk to the review team afterwards and they did indicate that this was a clear winner."

OK, so far so good. Everything is positive so far, but we know what has to come next. After a sad reflection from a representative of the out going firm the reporter decides to bring in a silly elected state official to show off his guess-based economic theories:

Senator Seth Goodall (D) adds, "It's just disappointing that we will be exporting some of Maine's dollars to New York. We should be promoting our own. We have very talented marketing and advertising agencies here in the state."

What Goodall is saying is that this is Maine, not a meritocracy. We don't need to use fair bidding processes and a cost-benefit analysis when we dish out taxpayer money for the state's largest and most important industry. Instead, we need cronyism and favoritism because Maine firms are too weak for fair competition.

But don't worry folks, with the very next paragraph the writer turns everything around. A Maine firm will get a piece of the action:

In fact, one of those Maine agencies, Burgess Advertising and Marketing, will work with the Dilenshneider Group. 
Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Marketing and Advertising says, "I'm a huge fan of keeping my business as local as you possibly can. And I think at the same time, they have an opportunity now to work with an international and national public relations firm who daily operates in a very different sphere."

If you were worried that the writer has a fair understanding of basic macroeconomics the final paragraph was wedged in with no transition just to calm that fear.

Burgess Advertising and Marketing does not know yet if there will be any new marketing positions opening up at its firm as a result of this new contract.

Remember dear readers, when you do business in the state of Maine the rules of economics go out the window. Certain people in power want you to believe that businesses exist for the purpose of providing jobs, not to accomplish tasks, provide services or create products.