Thursday, February 28, 2013

quote of the day: Douglas Lathrop on niceness and assertiveness

"There's a difference between being nice and being a doormat. There's also a difference between being assertive and being a rage-filled, tantrum-throwing asshole. Most online forums are populated with people who don't get these differences." —Douglas Lathrop

even more about niceness—and a little about bell hooks

it's all one thing: a few thoughts about niceness, in general and in politics

The political part obviously applies to SJWs, but there's a little bit about Bell Hooks in the second section that applies to them, too.

No, I don't always lower-case her name. If they didn't love her, warriors would call her a special snowflake for her insistance that the conventions of nomenclature should not apply to her. It is nice to call people what they like to be called, but it's also nice to write sentences in a way that they'll be easily understood. So when capitalization enhances clarity, be nice and capitalize.

a few thoughts about niceness, in general and in politics

1. In politics.

There's a feminist claim that "“Being nice” is code for keeping your mouth shut." It's not—"playing nice" is not code for not playing. If you don't understand "Be nice", Malcolm X's advice may help: "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone." If you think he was some sort of milquetoast, he didn't think niceness solved all problems. He finished that advice with "but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery."

So really, if no one has put a hand on you, "being nice" is the best tactic.

Angry people who love their anger think "be nice" is about denying anger. It's about controlling it. Martin Luther King said something I wish I had always remembered in political debates, "No matter how emotional your opponents are, you must be calm." In the last year of his life, he said, "The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force."

I left this comment at Feminists can't be funny and angry? Are you having a laugh?:
Anger alienates people. Are feminists who rationalize anger really stooges for the patriarchy? If so, they're doing a great job at giving feminism a bad name: In the US, 84% of the population shares the goals of equity feminism, but according to a CBS poll, only 24% of women and 14% of men consider themselves feminist.
I googled "radical niceness" and found A Christian Feminist Journey: Radical Niceness: "Sometimes, the aggressive of left wing or feminist activists (I say sometimes and not all the time) can allienate those who may have been on our side, or who may have just had some sympathy with our cause. Courtisy, offers of friendship, and a willingness to explain or perspective can go a long way."

2. In general.

Yesterday, I tried to be nice on the internet. A little snarkiness crept in, but I'm hoping it was mostly nice snarkiness.

After some discussion on Twitter, I'm ready to propose a hierarchy of niceness:

1. Deeds alone. The nicest people never have to say a word; their actions speak for them.

2. Words and deeds. Some people insist that words are deeds, but words are only deeds when they have consequences—when speaking truth to power nicely is dangerous, it's a deed. Words may lie, but deeds never do. Some nice people's words are at odds with their deeds—those people, the world's curmudgeons with hearts of gold, tend to be hated by strangers and loved by friends.

3. Words alone. The first clue someone might be nice is not their words, but the absence of them: nice people never say anything mean about anyone. The second clue is the presence of words: nice people try to say something nice to make any situation better. But meeting both tests of niceness in words does not mean someone should be assumed to be nice—though it is nice to assume it. (Insert here any clever quote about liars, hypocrites, and con artists.)

Nice people love everyone, at least a little. "Schadenfreude"—pleasure in someone else's misfortune—is not in their vocabulary, because they suppress it quickly when they feel it, wish no one felt it, and would never accuse anyone of feeling it.

Nice people are not perfect people, but nice people are more perfect than they can know. Being nice does not eliminate vanity, but it reduces it.

Everyone is nice sometimes. Being nice sometimes does not make anyone nice. Niceness is not contextual. Most people are nice to the people they consider their peers or superiors. If you want to see whether someone's nice, try a test that people like Bell Hooks fail—how do they treat people in the service trades? Truly nice people treat everyone as a peer. They expect deference from no one.

That said, if you don't think you're nice, don't sweat it. Your suspicion may be proof that you're nice. Or it may be that niceness just isn't your virtue. I love a great many people who're the opposite of nice sometimes. Not being nice does not preclude being wonderful.

But all nice people are wonderful.

PS. After a bit of discussion on Twitter, I have this to add: "Tactics that make your opponents question your sanity rather than their assumptions are bad tactics."

ETA: Respect everyone

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

niceness, deference, and respect

Social justice warriors sometimes say they only want everyone to be nice, but their definition of "nice" is deference, not niceness. Nice people treat each other as equals. Where everyone respects everyone, no one defers to anyone, except in the most general way of taking turns.

But concepts like "derailment" exist to enforce deference; equals are willing to test each other's ideas. Concepts like "white women's tears" and "the tone argument" can only be called nice in the bizarroverse of SJ Warriordom; in the rest of the world, the kindest way to describe them is rationalizations of rudeness.

Malcolm X understood that speaking truth forcefully does not preclude consideration for others. He said, "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone." He understood that for the truth to be heard, it must be spoken with respect. I don't know if he would go this far, but I like to think he would: To speak truth without respect doesn't just disrespect the listener—it disrespects truth itself.

Ally Tip of the Day

Tips For Allies: "Ally Tip #78 People like Lena “Basically Hitler” Dunham don’t deserve colorful insults. All you have to do is copy and paste the typical “why is she famous, she’s a fat ugly whore” zingers from any comment section or dudebro-oriented message board. Just remember to replace “fat” with “white” — you wouldn’t want to come off as bigoted or something."

Oh, the title doesn't mean I'll share their stuff any more than I share anyone else's. They made me laugh, so check 'em out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Matt Bruenig on identitarian deference

What does identitarian deference require?

L'Hôte on white liberal agonizing

L'Hôte: getting epistolary:
It should almost go without saying, but: at the heart of most of the white liberal agonizing from the last several days is absolute terror in the face of blackness. Often, at the core of those who demand materially useless rituals such as privilege checking is pure racial panic. They work to position themselves as obsequious reflections of black agency not out of respect but out of the opposite of respect; to grant that they might have a racialized conscience that must by duty interact with the racialized conscience of the nonwhite, they would risk being interpreted by same. They arrange their opinions not to work to the benefit of the essential category of blackness they've created but to be protected themselves from that blackness, from the potential of its judgment. To see nonwhite people as fully-realized actors with whom one might disagree on topics of race would be to risk being regarded as racist by any one of them, and for many or most of the white people who write about race, avoiding that accusation is a higher priority than working against racism as such. They therefore create a mental world in which the act of ceding all personal responsibility for issues of race to the nonwhite is an act of charity, when in fact it operates on the assumption that the nonwhite are inhuman. They are in bad faith.

Fact of the Day

How Much Do You Pay for College? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Addressing class inequality is more expensive than addressing racial and gender inequities because low-income students need financial aid, which may mean smaller budgets for libraries or faculty salaries.

understanding SJWs: being offended

#101 Being Offended « Stuff White People Like:
It is also valuable to know that white people spend a significant portion of their time preparing for the moment when they will be offended. They read magazines, books, and watch documentaries all in hopes that one day they will encounter a person who will say something offensive. When this happens, they can leap into action with quotes, statistics, and historical examples. Once they have finished lecturing another white person about how it’s wrong to use the term “black” instead of “African-American,” they can sit back and relax in the knowledge that they have made a difference. 
White people also get excited at the opportunity to be offended at things that are sexist and/or homophobic. Both cases offering ample opportunities for lectures, complaints, graduate classes, lengthy discussions and workshops. All of which do an excellent job of raising awareness among white people who hope to change their status from “not racist” to “super not racist.”
With Stuff White People Like, remember that "white" is usually code for "middle class"—this behavior applies to bourgie black and Asian folks, too.

Monday, February 25, 2013

And L'Hote on Jay Smooth, Radley Balko, and bullshit social climber faux-antiracism

L'Hôte: "When I saw, in this Atlantic Wire piece, that Internet personality "Jay Smooth" was lecturing Radley Balko on his attitude towards people of color, I laughed out loud. It's like God decided, "I'm going to create the perfect possible example of cultural liberalism's preference for feelings over material conditions." Jay Smooth makes videos on the Internet. So he's got that going for him. Radley Balko, meanwhile, has gotten actual black people out of actual jail."

today's greatest hit from Matt Breunig

Purity leftism | MattBruenig:
One of the most frustrating things about being on the left is the profound number of clowns who situate themselves beside me. We’ve got generational warfare clowns. We’ve got New Age gibberish clowns. We’ve got conspiracy theory clowns. We’ve got clowns that smash storefronts in costumes, terrifying and alienating the public. And of course, we’ve got hippie drum circle clowns.

I call these, and others, clowns because they’re behavior seems primarily aimed at personal performance and tends to be accompanied by self-marginalizing lifestyles and costumes. While they seem to retain a broad thematic interest in left goals and can even occasionally explain them to you, their actions are more about personal lifestyles than about any principled interest in success.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What is "derailment"?


A social justice warrior once called me The Derailment Machine, which I loved so much that I used it as the name of my now deleted LiveJournal.
The definition of Derailment at Geek Feminism Wiki:
Derailment occurs when discussion of one issue is diverted into discussion of another issue, often by the group who were being called out about their bad behaviour in the first place.
As a parttime student of language, I love the way that definition works: people who shut up and accept what they're told are good; people who reject the speaker's analysis are bad.

Here's a more objective definition:
Derail (v): (1) to offer information that does not fit the agenda of a person who wants to control a conversation; (2) to reject the framing of an issue.

today's helpful concept for understanding SJWs

Conformity. Perhaps the most useful bit:
Harvard psychologist Herbert Kelman identified three major types of conformity.[10]
  • Compliance is public conformity, while possibly keeping one's own original beliefs for yourself. Compliance is motivated by the need for approval and the fear of being rejected.
  • Identification is conforming to someone who is liked and respected, such as a celebrity or a favorite uncle. This can be motivated by the attractiveness of the source,[10] and this is a deeper type of conformism than compliance.
  • Internalization is accepting the belief or behavior and conforming both publicly and privately, if the source is credible. It is the deepest influence on people and it will affect them for a long time.
Although Kelman's distinction has been influential, research in social psychology has focused primarily on two varieties of conformity. These are informational conformity, or informational social influence, andnormative conformity, also called normative social influence. In Kelman's terminology, these correspond to internalization and compliance, respectively. There are naturally more than two or three variables in society influential on human psychology and conformity; the notion of "varieties" of conformity based upon "social influence" is ambiguous and indefinable in this context. 
For Deutsch and Gérard (1955), conformity results from a motivational conflict (between the fear of being socially rejected and the wish to say what we think is correct) that leads to the normative influence, and a cognitive conflict (others create doubts in what we think) which leads to the informational influence.[11]

the latest that applies to SJWs

it's all one thing: cultists love the either-or fallacy

cultists love the either-or fallacy

When someone says there are only two choices, the fools are sincere and the liars have hidden the third.  The quickest way to identify a fanatic is to see if they think those who are not for them are against them, or those who are not against them are for them. Both versions appear in the gospels, but they represent opposing worldviews. In the first, the world is filled with enemies, in the second, allies.

I bump into binarians most often when I talk about Tibet: supporters of the Dalai Lama think you're either for them or China. This is like saying that in World War II, either you were for Hitler or Stalin—the two biggest players are rarely the only choices.

The hard part of rejecting binarianism is binarians may unite against you. When Protestants and Catholics were happily massacring each other, they both hunted the unitarian, Michael Servetus, to burn him for heresy. (The Protestants won that one.)

The price of free thought is the hatred of people who do not want anyone to be free.

For more about the either-or fallacy: False dilemma - Wikipedia.

* If this was a post from Brother Will, he would say that the Gospel of Matthew's "Those who are not for us are against us" might've been a mistranslation, or it might've been an early stage in Jesus's thought, or it might've been what persecuted Christians believed Jesus said. The mature sage's teaching is in the Gospels of Mark and Luke: "Those who are not against us are for us."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tibet, the Dalai Lama, feudalism, slavery, and the Great Game

If you're interested in Tibet and the Dalai Lama—or wonder if you ought to be—here's what seems essential knowledge, mostly edited from blog posts written around 2008, the year of the Tibetan Olympics.

• Why do I care?

I have a ludicrous obsession with truth. I don't mind when my friends joke about it: I know that being nice is more important than knowing the truth, and I’m much fonder of ignorant people who care for others than I am of knowledgeable people who care only about their cleverness. Many people of many faiths manage to be great people while believing things that are contradicted by facts, so when people's beliefs harm no one else, I respect them. For most of my life, I took that approach to Tibetan Buddhism.

I became interested in Buddhism as a child, thanks to Dr. Strange and Green Lama comic books, the Kung Fu TV show, and Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. When I was seventeen in Washington, D.C., I spent a few months visiting a Theravada monastery once or twice a week. I liked meditation and the monk who taught us, but I was more interested in girls and art, so I drifted away. For decades, my impression of the Dalai Lama was the common one: I thought he was a pacifist vegetarian who had been driven from a land of herders and farmers by war-loving invaders.

Then I met two lovely people who are followers of the Dalai Lama, so I decided to learn more. But what I found contradicted everything I thought I knew. When I first shared what I was learning about Tibet, one of those friends commented:
Your article is the first one I’ve read where any claim has been made that Tibetans kept slaves, by the way. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about the Tibetan aristocratic class, but this is the first I’ve heard of this particular complaint. You don’t read about it in Alexandra David-Neel’s accounts of Tibet, and she didn’t pull any punches at all in criticizing things she saw that she didn’t like. You don’t read it in Heinrich Harrer’s accounts either. 
He had been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for years. I was surprised by his ignorance, so I kept researching.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Identitarianism’s class problem, part two | MattBruenig | Politics

Identitarianism’s class problem, part two | MattBruenig | Politics: "Unlike many other identities, an individual’s class is is not easily figured out through visual inspection alone. In practice, the identitarian discourse norms favor identities that are more visually apparent — race and gender for instance — over identities that are less so. To be blunt: I’ve seen more than my fair share of situations where a rich (usually white) woman tells a white man whose class background she has no knowledge of to shut up and listen on account of his having a privileged gender or race."

Bruenig's brilliant. This post is short. Read it.

ETA: He deleted it. I think I'll leave this quote up, because this is very true of identitarians: they object to making assumptions based on visual cues, but their entire understanding of privilege is based on visual cues.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Harry Hopkins of the W.P.A. on poverty in 1936

Harry Hopkins, the first director of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Civil Works Administration, and then the Works Progress Administration, said in 1936:
I have never liked poverty. I have never believed that with our capitalistic system people have to be poor. I think it is an outrage that we should permit hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people to be ill clad, to live in miserable homes, not to have enough to eat; not to be able to send their children to school for the only treason that they are poor. I don't believe ever again in America are we going to permit the things to happen that have happened in the past to people. We are never going back again, in my opinion, to the days of putting the old people in the alms houses, when a decent dignified pension at home will keep them there. We are coming to the day when we are going to have decent houses for the poor, when there is genuine and real security for everybody. I have gone all over the moral hurdles that people are poor because they are bad. I don't believe it. A system of government on that basis is fallacious. I think further than that, that this economic system of ours is an ideal instrument to increase this national income of ours, not back to 80 billion where it was, but up to 100 billion or 120 billion. The capitalistic system lends itself to providing a national incomes that will give real security for all.

useful term for discussing SJW "fail" events

"In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake." By way of corollary, it adds: "That is why academic politics are so bitter."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Skinny Girls Don't Have OOMPH!

It takes those extra lbs. of solid flesh to "bring out" your natural curves.


From ADVENTURES INTO WEIRD WORLDS #25


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

a cowgirl, circa 1900


from The Pictorial Arts: Cowgirls. It's obviously a studio shot, so it's not significantly more authentic than any fake historical shot, but I love it anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2013

and this applies to SJWs

it's all one thing: on choosing your beliefs and choosing your tactics.

The "warrior" part of SJW is the tip-off to their tactics. The part about choosing beliefs is something they can't grasp: like any cult, they think that if you reject the fundamental assumptions of their faith, you're choosing to do Satan's work, and therefore your "choice" entitles them to attack you with any weapons that are available.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

on choosing your beliefs and choosing your tactics


In the discussion at Orson Scott Card, DC Comics, and Censorship | The Dream Café, I said this about socialism, homosexuality, and choice:
I don’t think anyone can choose to be a socialist. You can be taught to be a socialist, either by people or circumstances, but no one wakes up and says, “Why, today, I think I’ll be a socialist.” Or gay. Or racist. Or anything that’s at odds with their past. If you’ve been a certain type of person, something has to change to make you a different person, whether that different person is one who reveals what they’ve been hiding from the world or discovers what they hadn’t known was in themselves. Often, it’s the example of others: when someone speaks up, others often speak up. Where no one speaks up first, the censors win.
This may be why I have a lot of sympathy for the people I oppose. None of them chose to believe different things than I do. You can’t choose your beliefs.
But you can choose your tactics. You can choose war or diplomacy, tolerance or intolerance, so that’s what I’ll focus on as I’m trying to promote what I believe.
Now, I do realize that many people have been taught to be intolerant, to seek victory at all costs, and trying to change that is not much easier than trying to change their underlying belief. But it’s possible. Gandhi did not inspire many people to become Hindus or vegetarians, but he inspired many people to adopt nonviolent resistance.
So I’m totally not saying being gay is a choice. What’s nature and what’s nurture, I haven’t a clue, but I know there’ve always been two-spirited people in human cultures, and that’s enough for me to say it’s natural, regardless of its source.
As for socialism, yes, it’s a concept that could be dated from the utopians, but the communitarian instinct has existed throughout history. I think feudalists and capitalists are the ones who’ve been taught to deny their true nature, while socialists have found it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ty Templeton on Orson Scott Card writing Superman

I Can Read It By Myself Bun Toons! YAY! | Ty Templeton's ART LAND!!: "Right wing people well bend faster if we don’t alienate, demonize and and try to silence them so much.  If we actually have the better path to a better society with equality for all, then we should educate the other side to this idea, enlighten the confused, and lift up people instead of shouting at them.   You actually win some over that way. "

Click the link to read more, plus a cartoon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Yes, this applies 100% to Social Justice Warriors

it's all one thing: the politics of enlightenment vs repression

the politics of enlightenment vs repression

I realized yesterday that my commitment to free speech comes from my belief that it's morally and tactically better to enlighten people than repress them.

But too many people on the right and left love repression. McCarthyists and Maoists march in perfect step to its tune.

I believe enlightenment works best in the long run—revolutions with the best goals have failed when their leaders turned to repression. Good ideas are strong enough to bear critical buffeting. They grow stronger when they're tested. I've said before that I prefer to think of the agora or the commons of ideas rather than the marketplace of ideas, because ideas should not be for sale, but right now, I'm thinking of the realm of free speech as the crucible of ideas—lesser notions burn in the flames as stronger ones unite to make something beautiful and true.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

my best Valentine's Day advice

No matter how sure you are of your sweetheart's love, never stop trying to win it.

This has kept Emma and me together for more three decades.

Which is to say, yeah, Valentine's Day has been commercialized unbearably, but that's no reason not to do something a little special today for someone you care about.

Which applies to all the days that have not been commercialized, too.

Hmm. That reminds me of something wise atheists and theists have said: all days are holy days. For lovers, all days are Valentine's Day.

And if you're not in a romantic relationship? Do something nice for a friend, or with one, or for a stranger, or with one. There are many kinds of love, and Valentine's Day is for all of them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Drink! —for once dead you shall never return


via The Pictorial Arts: Drink!

yes, free speech includes the right to oppose other people's speech, but.... (on Orson Scott Card and Superman)

Orson Scott Card's getting attention again for his opposition to gay marriage, and one manifestation of that is a petition to get him fired from writing Superman.

I've supported gay marriage for decades. I heard this song when I was in my teens and recognized my philosophy about the rights of adults:



I've also supported free speech since I was a boy in the '60s, when rightwingers were busily trying to silence their opponents, just as too many leftwingers do today.

In Orson Scott Card, Homophobia, and Superman | Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, a point is made that's loved by censors:
...private boycotts and petitions are in fact an expression of free speech, not a violation of it.
Ignore the word "private" there, because there's nothing private about trying to get people to join in a boycott. The rest of the statement is 100% true.

And 100% irrelevant.

Where democracy does not protect the rights of the minority, there's no democracy; there's only mob rule. Where people are not free to say things I despise, I am not free to speak—where someone can be silenced, anyone can be silenced. Remember the centuries of people who suffered because they were gay, and reject the tactics of their oppressors.

In this case, I agree with Dale Lazarov: "I've known Orson Scott Card is a raging homophobe since the early 90s. I refuse to buy or read his work. But asking that he be denied work because he is a raging homophobe is taking it too far. Asking for workplace discrimination for any reason is counterproductive for those who want to end discrimination on their own behalf."

ETA: Here's Taj Mahal's take on the same subject:



ETA: I was tiny bit amused that I just got email from the ACLU about other people who believe in silencing others: Stand With Bayli As She Stands Up To Bullies | American Civil Liberties Union: "Bayli Silberstein, an 8th grade student in Florida, has been trying for a year to create a Gay-Straight Alliance, a student-led club to combat the name-calling and bullying she and her friends face at school. But in an underhanded attempt to stop Bayli from forming the Gay-Straight Alliance, the school board is considering banning ALL extracurricular clubs."

ETA: Steve Brust blogged about this at Orson Scott Card, DC Comics, and Censorship | The Dream Café, and I joined in the discussion there.

ETA: A fine version recommended in the comments:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

when intersectionality is anti-intersectional: feminism and "nigger"

Something I failed to notice when some bourgie feminists were upset by the old slogan, "woman is the nigger of the world": They claim to be interested in the intersections of oppressions—a flawed notion that I'll write more about soon—but in this case, when people try to connect the oppression of women with the oppression of black folk, the social justice warriors reject the notion. In their literal-minded world, there are no metaphors, and nothing is connected.

Inspired by Tiger Beatdown › MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT!. (The correct answer is #2.)

PS. This case may be the clearest example of the difference between intersectionality and interconnectedness. And it suggests that another of their concepts, "kyriarchy" is not, as I had thought, a synonym for "hierarchy". People who see hierarchy are seeing related forms of oppression, while people who see kyriarchy are only seeing "bad" forms of hierarchy—people who talk of kyriarchy love telling other people what to do.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero

If the title of Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero interests you, buy it. Fair warning: Jason Dittmer wrote me while he was writing it and asked some smart questions about Captain Confederacy, so I'm undoubtedly a bit biased, but so what?

I found a curious review of the book at Captain Nowhere - Reason.com. Noah Berlatsky says:

It's hard to square that thesis with the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger, where American identity ends up meaning something rather different than truth or justice or the nation-state. Specifically, it means nostalgia. Though it is set in World War II, the enemy in the movie is not the Nazis, who Cap never fights. The villain is the international organization known as Hydra. Its leader, the Red Skull, rants about a future with "no flags"—a future that the film strongly suggests is our own world. In the closing scene Cap, who has slept in suspended animation and awoken in the present, stands lost in Times Square bathed in the light of flickering neon signs promoting, as Jason Michelitch puts it, "the multinational corporate network that has birthed this very movie." Here the nationalist superhero is not a validation of the nation-state. He's a hopeless relic, half-heartedly reprising his patriotic schtick at the command of the very forces he would like to believe that he's fighting.
I don't know what movie Berlatsky was watching. The Red Skull and Hydra were clearly Hitler's heirs who had to be stopped by the literal embodiment of American ideals. Their technology was not for sale to the highest bidder as it would've been in a story that was anticipating our corporate world; The Red Skull was simply seeking good old fashioned world domination. I love the movie, but it's as jingoistic at its heart as the first issue of Captain America that appeared in 1941—it's simply much more sophisticated jingoism.

Berlatsky also has an odd notion of story structure: Captain America: The First Avenger is the first part of a story that continues in The Avengers; no more meaning should be put on its last scenes than one would put on the conclusion of The Fellowship of the Ring. The potency of the name, "Captain America", was recognized by Hollywood: in countries where US imperialism is still a sensitive subject, the movie was simply called The First Avenger.


Recommended: Jason Dittmer responds to Captain Nowhere at The Hooded Utilitarian.

ETA: Relevant in my head, though it may not be in yours: Bufus comments on During the Cold War, did the Soviets have their own James Bond character in the media? A hero who fought the capitalist pigs of the West for the good of Mother Russia.

Requires Hate: A Video Diary

This made me laugh several times. but I should warn you that if you don't know anything about scifi fandom, it may just seem bizarre. Or it might be even funnier.

Requires Hate: A Video Diary - YouTube: "These angry vitriolic SF bloggers; who are they? Where do they come from? This video diary explains..."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

how to convince someone to support gay marriage

The title of this post was a popular search string for this blog yesterday. Since I like to try to make people happy, here's my attempt:

1. If the person is politically conservative, point out that if they believe in small government, either every adult or no adult should be allowed to legally marry. Any other option just creates more bureaucracy.

2. If the person is fiscally conservative, point out that more people marrying provides income for the government from marriage licenses and boosts the economy with increased spending on the marriage industry: gifts, parties, honeymoons, etc.

3. If the person is religiously conservative, point out that a civil service is not a religious service. The First Amendment protects the rights of churches to provide marriages for whoever they please. A couple of years ago, a Kentucky church banned interracial marriages, and there was no legal challenge, because they have the right to define religious marriage as they wish.

The best argument I know is an old joke. I'm sorry I don't remember the comic or the original version, but I tend to tell it like this: "Gay marriage is not a threat to my marriage. Salma Hayek is a threat to my marriage."

Good luck!

ETA: While it probably wouldn't change their minds, you could also mention this fact: Divorce Rates Higher in States with Gay Marriage Bans.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Does good fiction give us empathy?

Neil Gaiman says good fiction gives us empathy, but if so, why does the gap between rich and poor continue to grow? Is it that we simply don't have enough good fiction about the need to share? In Road to Wigan Pier, written in the 1930s, George Orwell argues that there haven't been any truly great socialist writers. I look at the success of Webber's Les Miserables and laugh bitterly—millions for its producers, but life in the trickle-up economy doesn't change.

Similarly, I doubt bad art makes anyone indifferent to suffering. Either you have a gut reaction against writers like Ayn Rand, or you love them because they validate your solipsism.

Bookstores are filled with secret religions. All powerful stories are sacred texts that tell their readers how to think about the world. But the question remains: does a religion change you, or do you find a religion that resonates with you? In bookstores, we learn how to seek the stories we will want to know.

My only conclusion for now is that even if good fiction only preaches to the choir, sometimes, the choir needs preaching in order to keep singing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

fork theory

Some days, I just don't have enough forks to stab everyone who needs stabbing.

Amelia E. Barr on the importance of enemies


"Our enemies often help us more than our friends. Besides, a head-wind is better than no wind. Who ever got anywhere in a dead calm?" —Amelia E. Barr

via 9 Rules for Success by British Novelist Amelia E. Barr, 1901 | Brain Pickings

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Acting White" is just another snobbish theory of bourgie blacks

Acting White Theory: Black Academic Achievement Based on Other Factors: "The Acting White Theory seems to have particular cachet among flatulent (in the sense of being pompously and portentously overblown) black people who feel a certain disdain toward the less refined (pejoratively "ghetto") aspects of the black community. Many of them have been called "sellouts," which reinforces a key tenet of the Acting White Theory. Other scholars, such as Edward Rhymes and Michael Eric Dyson, push back against the theory. In his book Acting White? Rhymes states: "Somehow many African Americans (usually the affluent, disconnected ones) have swallowed this misconception about African-American youth being anti-intellectual and anti-education. This ideology concerning nerds and geeks did not originate in the African-American community, but in predominantly white, middle-class, suburban communities.""