Thursday, October 29, 2015

For people who see no significant difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

Perhaps the most damning complaint about him is that he voted in favor of four of the last ten war spending bills. The official explanation from Bernie Sanders on Iraq:
Why did Bernie vote in favor of those four bills?

First, it may help to explain why he had voted against the other six. The Bush administration, backed by a Republican-controlled Congress, made a habit of funding its occupation of Iraq on an emergency basis in order to minimize congressional scrutiny, circumvent legal limits on the federal government’s debt ceiling, and understate the true cost of the war.

The first time Bernie voted for an Iraq war spending bill was in 2006, when the bill included funding for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The second time, in 2007, he did so because he managed to insert an amendment into the bill giving a $1 million grant to the Vermont Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) to help returning veterans cope with their health care and mental health needs upon returning home. The third time was when the 2008 legislation incorporated a massive expansion of G.I. Bill benefits that Bernie co-sponsored — and which the Bush administration opposed — that guaranteed full scholarships to veterans, including activated National Guard troops and reservists, with three years of service attending any public, in-state university and expanded benefits for students at private colleges and for graduate schools. Finally, in 2011, he voted for another spending bill, with the understanding that it would fund the conclusion to the war in Iraq as President Obama removed U.S. troops from the country.
Equally important to many is his take on Muslims: Watch: Bernie Sanders Pledges to Muslim Student That He'll Fight Islamophobia | Alternet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Another casualty in the Social Justice Wars: zamii070

I don't have the heart to blog this, so here are some links if you want to follow the story. I just hope she continues to get the help she needs.

I heard about it from a friend who shared this: I know most of you guys are gamers, so this might have flown under your radar.…

Zamii's tumblr: Pizza time fun times

At least one of the creators of Steven Universe tweeted in support of her: Zamii070 Harassment Controversy | Know Your Meme:

Some examples of the harassment she got: I pulled together a bunch of posts that show what exactly led up to the suicide attempt of tumblr artist Zamii070. What's saddest for me is that like many people who are mobbed, she tried to conform, but her conformance was found wanting.

I am reminded that a Lord of the Flies update could be told with Tumblr instead of a desert island. And I'll note once again that nearly all of the worst things done by humans are done by people who are sure they're fighting the good fight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Two quotes about cults

From My life in the cult: How “serving God” unraveled into sex abuse, child neglect and a waking nightmare -

“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.” -Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

”Often it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act.” -Stanley Milgram

Monday, October 26, 2015

Our cat shits like a superhero

While Toby was dying, the catbox testified: his food flowed through him like sewage. Now Barnabas is the only user of the box, and his turds are tiny bullets. Barnabas lived in the wild before we took him in. Though he is fat now, his guts have kept a wild creature's efficiency: what can be used, will be used.  He shits like Superman. His waste is nothing but lead and kryptonite.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

About the "Captain Confederacy" who wants to #BoycottStarWarsVII

As noted at Strange Racist Hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII Exposes the Worst | Complex, twitter user @2partyhoax is using the cover of Captain Confederacy #1 to make rightwing rants about Star Wars, leftists, and social justice warriors. I left this comment at the article:
I'm amused to see one of them using the cover of an issue of Captain Confederacy as an icon. Obviously, they didn't read it—it's the story of a white man and a black woman who become lovers as they fight to overthrow a racist government in a world where the Confederacy won.
Then I sent this tweet to @2partyhoax:
Have you read the comic you use for an icon? It's about a white man & a black woman who become lovers & overthrow a racist CSA.
He (I assume for no reason at all, because I know very well that women can be loud rightwingers too) replied:
I've re-appropriated it back! Tit for tat! You SJWs got Star Wars but I took Captain Confederacy back!
That amused me, so I replied:
I grin. If it's any comfort, I prob'ly despise SJWs as much as you do, only I do it from the left.
He (again, assuming) said:
Well, the #AltRight has plenty who have come from the Left. You're welcome to join anytime!
And I left things there because I have no interest joining an #AltRight, a #NewRight, a #RebrandedRight, or any form of right-politics at all.

But I will be using the black female Captain Confederacy as a twitter icon until this particular kerfuffle quiets down. I don't know if #BoycottStarWarsVII is sincere or an elaborate goof because it just seems ridiculous to me, and I'm very aware that the only law on the internet is Poe's Law.

As for Star Wars, I wish Harrison Ford had gotten his wish and Han Solo had died at the end of Star Wars 2, leaving Lando Calrissian to become the guy who gets the princess in the next movie. I hope he makes an appearance in the new series, perhaps as the dad of the new black star, and if they're doing one-shot movies now, Lando deserves one too.

ETA: As the Class Guy, I'll note that any essay about class and race in Star Wars should include something about the working class Han competing with the ruling class Lando for the love of a princess.

ETA 2: Yep, looks like it was just trolling for lulz: #BoycottStarWarsVII and Why the Internet Is Trolling Itself to Death

Friday, October 16, 2015

My two favorite rice cooker oatmeal recipes

When cooking oatmeal in a rice cooker, use as much water as you would if you were cooking on the stove or in a microwave. I like a quick cooking steel cut oatmeal best, but go with what you prefer.

Version 1: With bananas and peanut butter.

1. Put water and oatmeal in a rice cooker.

2. Add half or a whole banana. Optional: add some raisins.

3. Waste time on the internet.

4. Remember that you made oatmeal. Verify that the rice cooker thinks it's done.

5. Scoop a dollop of peanut butter into the rice cooker. Stir it up and put it in a bowl.

6. If you're extra hungry, add dry roasted unsalted peanuts.

7. Add milk or yogurt and eat.

Version 2: With apples and apple juice.

1. Put water and oatmeal in a rice cooker.

2. Add half or a whole apple. I recommend a tart apple like a Haralson or a Greening, but go with your favorite. Optional: add some raisins.

3 and 4. Same as above.

5. Stir it up and put it in a bowl.

6. If you're extra hungry, add cashews or almonds.

7. Add milk or apple juice and eat.

Note: I suspect any fruit that you like would taste good cooked in oatmeal. Strawberries and oatmeal were surprisingly good. Mangos and oatmeal were every bit as good as I thought they would be.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How cultists read: gun nuts and the Constitution, SJWs and the Letter from a Birmingham Jail

For new readers: I often criticize extremists whose goals I share  for the same reason George Orwell, a democratic socialist, criticized authoritarian socialists and for the same reason governments insert provocateurs into protest movements: people who do bad things for good causes can be the greatest threat to those causes. In this case, I oppose banning guns, and I've actively opposed racism ever since I marched for integration as a child in the 1960s.

I'm writing about SJWs again because I recently learned I'm mentioned in Why ‘social justice warrior,’ a Gamergate insult, is now a dictionary entry and in the RationalWiki's Social justice warrior. The RationalWiki says I'm guilty of "tone policing" and links to their entry on Tone argument, which has a take on Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail that calls for ignoring both text and context.

Which reminded me of how gun extremists read the Constitution to conclude Americans have a right to keep guns to oppose domestic tyranny and, therefore, the government may not regulate gun ownership.

Here's the Second Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Gun nuts ignore the "well regulated Militia" in two ways. Some say it's only an explanation for the right to have guns. They fail to note that none of the other amendments waste words on explanations. Others say a "well regulated Milita" consists of gun owners who may gather to overthrow democratically elected officials if they don't like what those officials are doing.

The Constitution has two useful bits about militias. From Article I, Section 8:
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; 
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
From Article II, Section 2:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States...
Militias obey the President and suppress insurrections—George Washington made that clear when he used the militia to end the Whiskey Rebellion. To believe the Constitution has anything to do with opposing what you believe is domestic tyranny calls for being in thrall to a delusion that prevents you from understanding the words before you.

As for the "well regulated" phrase, any student of history knows militias have always had regulations about training and sometimes specified the kinds of weapons militia members should keep. Switzerland today may be the best example of a culture with a well-regulated militia: adults are expected to have guns, and strict laws regulate their use.

But cultists protect their belief systems by reading through warped lenses. A fine example: the RationalWiki's Tone argument insists, "Dr King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail[wp]" was fundamentally a response to white tone trolls and concern trolls" and quotes this part of his letter:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."
RationalWiki's interpretation illustrates two parts of the SJW worldview:

1. SJWs believe words are deeds, so when they rage on the internet, they think they're being "activists". They can't see that the white moderates King mentions were not complaining about his tone or suggesting that he should be more civil to be more effective. They were opposing the civil rights movement's "methods of direct action", the marches and demonstrations and all the things they did which were conducted peacefully and respectfully. Because the civil rights leaders believed in being civil, King's critics could not criticize his tone—he always strove to treat everyone with love and respect. In the Birmingham letter, he talks about being an "extremist for love" standing between the extremes of complacency and violence.

2. SJWs prioritize race over class, so they miss that fact that the letter is about "white moderates" who are "more devoted to "order" than to justice" and also about "middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security ... have become insensitive to the problems of the masses." King's use of "insensitive to the problems of the masses" is essential—it anticipates the current situation where black Americans are so divided by class that nearly 40% of them think it's wrong to speak of black Americans as a single race, and where privileged black graduates from expensive schools are far more concerned with issues of identity than economics.

King's letter has nothing to do with "tone trolls" or "concern trolls"—it's about privileged white and black people who do not act to end what he called in 1967 the "giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism."

I'll end with two King quotes, one that I've shared often and one that I haven't shared enough:

"This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept—so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force—has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life."

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

John Cleese defines extremists (and thereby explains social justice warriors and "tone policing")

The biggest advantage of extremism is that it makes you feel GOOD because it provides you with enemies.

Let me explain. The great thing about having enemies is that you can pretend that all the badness in the whole world is in your enemies, and all the goodness in the whole world is in YOU. Attractive, isn't it?

So, if you have a lot of anger and resentment in you anyway and you therefore enjoy abusing people, then you can pretend that you're only doing it because these enemies of yours are such very bad persons! And if it wasn't for them, you'd actually be good natured, and courteous, and rational all the time. So, if you want to FEEL GOOD, become an extremist

You can strut around, abusing people, and telling them you could eat them for breakfast and still think of yourself as a champion of the truth. A fighter for the greater good. And not the rather sad paranoid schizoid that you really are. 
—John Cleese
ETA: Just to spell this out:

1. Being an extremist says nothing about the validity of your cause. It only says something about the validity of your approach.

2. I was recently accused of "tone-policing", so I've been thinking about what makes people believe politeness and respect are not compatible with effective protest. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and all the Freedom Riders could've explained that to them.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thank you, bicycle helmet!

Was just in a bicycle accident, going over the handlebars braking fast for a car that turned left right in front of me and probably never even saw me. My right arm isn't happy, so I may go into the ER tomorrow. I'm pretty sure it's not broken, but it is, at the very least, suffering from tissue damage. Chipped a tooth and the front of my helmet is a bit crunched, which could've been my face. So I will always wear my bicycle helmet from now on and recommend you do the same.

Kind people gave Emma and me and our bicycles a ride home.

Napping now.

Friday, October 2, 2015

On idenitarians and people who kill strangers because of their identity

Welcome to America, where it seems like every week, a lonely, disturbed individual with a troubled childhood kills strangers and then everyone with a political agenda uses those killings to promote their cause.

The latest killer, who I will not name, was mixed-race and his main targets were either religious people generally or Christians specifically.  Had he been white, identitarians would use him to rant about racism. Had his targets been women, they would use him to rant about sexism. But the Orwell quote I shared yesterday applies: identitarians are oblivious to things that don't support them, so they ignore women who target men like Eileen Wuornos and black killers who target white people like John Muhammad and Lee Malvo.

It is likely that people will use the latest killings to call for more gun regulation. This ignores the fact that most mass murders are committed with guns that were bought legally.

As a socialist, I suppose I should use this as an excuse to rant about capitalism, but socialist countries also produce people who kill strangers. They say police in the USSR initially believed serial killing was a capitalist phenomenon, so they were slow to recognize the signs of serial killers in their society. In China, mass murderers who attack schools use knives, cleavers, or hammers instead of guns.

We know mass murderers appear rarely in our society, for all that they appear too often, and if you learn about their lives, you should have a little pity for what they endured, no matter how much you hate what they did when they broke. If we want to end violence, we need to stop focusing on the tools that broken people use and the ideologies that broken people claim and start building a society that breaks fewer people.

Now, given the number of killers whose history includes economic desperation, I could use this as an excuse to promote Basic Income, but I'll return to that on another day.

Related: A handy list of female mass murderers

ETA: There's scientific consensus on guns -- and the NRA won't like it - LA Times

How They Got Their Guns - The New York Times

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The greatest danger in talking about privilege instead of rights

I'm thinking again about privilege because I got into a discussion on Facebook that, no surprise, went nowhere. A friend said, "Every African American person I know doesn't ever use the term privilege in association with wealth." A black friend of hers agreed. I thought they had a limited set of friends, but then, most people do, so I didn't say that. I simply asked how they discussed economic privilege. They assured me they did, though they didn't say how. This is the usual way discussions go with identitarians—they assure you're they're also concerned about the things they then continue to ignore.

It made me want to write a post titled "Appropriating privilege." I was very pleased with my cleverness until I realized it would only be a recap of what I wrote in The Problem with Privilege Theory.

So I walked around a little bit, and in the kitchen, which is often where insights come, I realized this:

The difference between rights and privileges is that rights are assumed to be inalienable, while privileges only exist so long as they're tolerated. For most of my life, the argument against racism was that it denied people of their rights. But under privilege theory, there are no rights—there are only those who have privilege and those who do not. Marriage? A privilege for straight people, not a human right. Freedom from harassment by the police? A privilege for white people, not a human right. Equal pay? A privilege for men, not a human right. If I wanted to create the right-libertarian future in which the rich ruled absolutely, it would be essential to eliminate the idea of rights. Privilege theorists are doing that.