Thursday, December 31, 2015

Three boys shot because of toy guns: Tamir Rice, Andy Lopez, Nicholas King - #DemilitarizeThePolice

Age: 12
Shots fired: 2
Hit: 1
Replica gun: Airsoft without orange tab that resembled a Colt 1911 pistol
Andy Lopez
Age: 13
Shots fired: 8
Hit: 7
Replica gun: Airsoft without orange tab that resembled an AK-47 rifle
Age: 14
Shots fired: 1
Hit: 1
Replica gun: Airsoft painted black that resembled a Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol
(Note for anyone who thinks King was treated differently because he survived: the police are trained to shoot to kill when they shoot.)

Video of the shooting of Rice:



Video of the shooting of King, who is just off camera at the beginning, then is shot, drops gun and runs, and collapses off camera.



Related: Shootings involving replica firearms | www.daytondailynews.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Beulah McFee page 23


For people who think Henry Louis Gates' arrest was about racism

Study on Henry Gates arrest says Cambridge police don't use racial profiling: "Of the 392 adults arrested for disorderly conduct, 57 percent were white and 34 percent were black. That racial breakdown almost exactly mirrored the racial composition of the population that Cambridge police investigated for disorderly conduct, the center's analysis shows."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Beulah McFee page 20


On virtue signalling, new words, and Newspeak

I was thinking about a recent useful term, "virtue signalling", so I googled it and found I invented ‘virtue signalling’. Now it’s taking over the world » The Spectator. James Bartholomew defines it as
the way in which many people say or write things to indicate that they are virtuous. Sometimes it is quite subtle. By saying that they hate the Daily Mail or Ukip, they are really telling you that they are admirably non-racist, left-wing or open-minded. One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous. It does not involve delivering lunches to elderly neighbours or staying together with a spouse for the sake of the children. It takes no effort or sacrifice at all.
Talking about the phrase's popularity, he says, "New phrases and words are the opposite of Newspeak. They make expression and argument easier."

He cannot be more mistaken. New phrases and words are the heart of Newspeak. They frame expression and argument. To use my favorite example, people got along without the pseudo-scientific concept of "race" for thousands of years: when it first appears in English in the 17th century, writers had to explain it because they knew it was a strange new idea.

Once a meme's accepted, most people who use it see the whole world in its terms. Memes are both useful and limiting: while "virtue signalling" explains a great deal of the facile political thought online, the term makes it easy to dismiss honest attempts to share information as mere virtue signalling.

When we buy a new idea, we never notice the price we pay. People throw themselves into cults because the cult's language seems to explain everything important. Only the wisest and luckiest cultists wake some time later to see that all those beautiful words were like a stage magician's gestures, making the audience see the manifestations and miss the mechanics.

I suspect I'll use "virtue signalling", a least for a while. But I'll try to use it as a scalpel, not a club.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beulah McFee page 19


Hillary Clinton's Trickle-Down Feminism

A Clinton supporter was recently trying to gloss over the fact that her neoliberal policies would be much harder on working women (and men, of course) than Sanders' democratic socialism by claiming Clinton had made advances for women while she served on the board at Wal-Mart. The supporter linked to As a Director, Clinton Moved Wal-Mart Board, but Only So Far - The New York Times, which, being the Times, puts the best possible spin on the facts, but the truth is there for people who read critically:
Fellow board members and company executives, who have not spoken publicly about her role at Wal-Mart, say Mrs. Clinton used her position to champion personal causes, like the need for more women in management and a comprehensive environmental program, despite being Wal-Mart’s only female director, the youngest and arguably the least experienced in business. On other topics, like Wal-Mart’s vehement anti-unionism, for example, she was largely silent, they said.
I quit thinking more women in a system would improve it when Maggie Thatcher became Prime Minister of Great Britain. Systems don't care who runs them; they only need to run.

What's significant about Clinton's six Wal-Mart years is that on the issue that would've most helped working women, unionism, she stayed silent. Wal-Mart has more women in management and a showcase environmental program now, and she deserves some credit for that. But is Wal-Mart today the model for America that Democrats want?

I had been thinking neoliberal feminists should be called Marie Antoinette feminists because they're mostly nice people who want a nice hierarchy in which the peasants are content being peasants. But because neoliberalism is profoundly corporatist, I think I'll just speak of trickle-down feminists from now on.

ETA: Here's Ms. C. being proud of Wal-Mart:


ETA 2:

I never noticed that the intro to the 1950s Superman TV show promises a very different show

I know I saw the original show in reruns when I was a boy. I could come close to quoting the intro for most of my life. But today, I noticed for the first time what this suggests: "Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way."

It's not promising a show about a superhero. It's promising a show about an alien who disguises himself as a reporter. I think I would like that show.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How I would spackle midichlorians if I was in charge of Star Wars

The basic rule of sequels is you're stuck with what went before, no matter how much you hate it, but you can explain how things were not as they seemed, which some writers call spackling.

If I was in charge of the StarWarsVerse, I would reveal that to consolidate power, the Empire and the Jedi colluded in a hoax: they taught that only people with midichlorians could be strong in the Force to hide the fact that everyone could be—what really matters is training and commitment. Why, you ask, would they do that? To have an effective monopoly on the Force. Why would the Republic continue the old lie? Because its rulers, like all rulers, want people to be content rather than free.

Monday, December 21, 2015

How Star Wars VII invalidates the idea that Storm Troopers can't hit what they aim at

Minor spoiler, obviously:

At the beginning of the movie, Finn doesn't shoot during a massacre. My first thought was this was a mistake on the part of the writers—it would be more discreet if he shot over the heads of the targets. But then I realized that would mean Finn was being cunning rather than viscerally unable to slaughter defenseless people.

And then I remembered that in actual combat, a percentage of soldiers never shoot and others shoot to miss. They may be the majority. The exact numbers are fiercely debated; if you're curious, you could start researching here:

True or false: "Soldiers tend to intentionally fire over the enemy's head, or not to fire at all." - Straight Dope Message Board

Economist's View: Manufactured Contempt and Its Consequences

In any case, all those storm troopers who shoot and never hit the movies' heroes? They may just be good people who believe all lives matter.

How Magical Negroes and Mary Sues reveal the shortcomings of identitarian criticism

Identitarians will complain about a Mary Sue or a Magical Negro and fail to see how the terms obscure the underlying truths:

A Mary Sue is a female wish fulfillment character. For people who think primarily in terms of gender, her male counterpart is the Marty Stu or Gary Stu. The original Mary Sue was a character from Star Trek fanfic who got to do everything a heterosexual female Star Trek fan might want to do if she became part of Star Trek. A smart feminist critique would point out that Mary Sue was fundamentally a feminist response to the sexist casting on the '60s. Instead, a Mary Sue became shorthand for a badly done female wish fulfillment character, and now the term's used to suggest any wish fulfillment character is bad.

But adventure stories rely on wish fulfillment characters. If, as some argue, the lead of the new Star Wars movie is a Mary Sue, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo are also Mary Sues. My favorite Mary Sues are Captain America and Robin Hood.

A Magical Negro is a black supporting character, and often one who dies. Which is to say, the Magical Negro is simply a supporting character. The real complaint with the Magical Negro is not that there are black supporting characters like John Coffey in The Green Mile (who falls under another archetype, the savior figure). The real complaint is that there are few lead roles for black actors.

The list of white supporting characters whose role is to help the main character and often to die is very, very long. My favorite Magical Negroes in film are Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday in Tombstone and Chow Yun Fat's Mark in A Better Tomorrow.

ETA: Please Stop Spreading This Nonsense that Rey From Star Wars Is a “Mary Sue”

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Adolph Reed explains how race politics is a class politics

In From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much, Reed says:
...race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature. An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people. It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Adolph Reed on Jenner, Dolezal, and identitarianism

I failed to blog this when it came out, for which I apologize. As usual with Reed, the whole thing is worth reading, but I'll just give you this bit of From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much:
But the more serious charge is the moral one, that, as Michelle Garcia puts it, "It’s pretty clear: Dolezal has lied." But here too, it’s not clear what’s so clear. Is the point supposed to be that Dolezal is lying when she says she identifies as black? Or is it that being black has nothing to do with how you identify? The problem with the first claim is obvious – how do they know? And on what grounds does Jenner get to be telling the truth and Dolezal not? But the problem with the second claim is even more obvious since if you think there’s some biological fact of the matter about what race people actually belong to utterly independent of what race they think they belong to, you’re committed to a view of racial difference as biologically definitive in a way that’s even deeper than sexual difference.
Reed's piece is mentioned in Should we choose our racial identities?, which is also worth a look.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My experiences with Obamacare and Universal Health Care

One of the stupider things I've done in my life was failing to get Canadian citizenship when I was young. For a couple of years, I had landed immigrant status through my family, who moved to Canada when I was seventeen. I went to college in the US and decided to stay there because I really liked Emma and Minneapolis. During my time in Canada, I had some experience with its health care system, which always consisted of going to the nearest provider, getting what I needed, and walking out in a minute or two.

Though I chose to stay in the US, I kept hearing stories from my family about their health care. All of which were good.

Now, I could tell you about the hell we went through when Emma broke both of her arms, but that was before Obamacare, so let me leap forward to this October. I had a bad bicycle accident and went to the emergency room, where I was told I wasn't covered.

Here's how coverage for low-income folks works locally: You qualify for coverage through Hennepin County, which gives you a choice of insurance providers, if I remember correctly—we're with Medica. The insurance companies have deals with different medical groups—because we're with Medica, we go to Allina clinics. Which meant that on that Sunday, I had to go to the nearest Allina clinic that was open rather than to the nearest clinic. Which meant I found out I wasn't covered after taking an hour-long bus ride with an arm that might've been broken. (Yes, I could've gotten friends to give me a ride, but I am damned independent by nature, and there was nothing wrong with my legs, so I didn't want to bother anyone on a Sunday morning.)

Now, the Minnesota system is not heartless because few humans are. We figured out that Hennepin County was slow to get the paperwork done for October because they're understaffed, but I was supposed to be covered, so the paperwork could be straightened out later. I got to see a doctor and went home.

And started getting billed.

So I contacted Allina, explained that Hennepin said I was covered, and forgot about it for a few weeks.

And got more bills. So today I spent several hours, half on hold and half talking to Allina, Medica, and Hennepin county. The upshot is Hennepin County will send me paperwork saying I really was covered, which I will then send to Medica, who will then tell Allina it's all okay.

If everything goes right.

I'll add that everyone I spoke to was very nice and sympathetic—it's not their fault they're in a system designed for profit rather than people.

But, capitalists, do not tell me anything about socialist bureaucracies today, okay?

ETA:


Related :Thank you, bicycle helmet!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Beulah McFee page 18


Martin Luther King on the creation of Jim Crow

"Racial segregation as a way of life did not come about as a natural result of hatred between the races immediately after the Civil War. There were no laws segregating the races then. And as the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward, in his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, clearly points out, the segregation of the races was really a political stratagem employed by the emerging Bourbon interests in the South to keep the southern masses divided and southern labor the cheapest in the land. You see, it was a simple thing to keep the poor white masses working for near-starvation wages in the years that followed the Civil War. Why, if the poor white plantation or mill worker became dissatisfied with his low wages, the plantation or mill owner would merely threaten to fire him and hire former Negro slaves and pay him even less. Thus, the southern wage level was kept almost unbearably low." —Martin Luther King

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Yes, Timothy McVeigh and Anders Breivik were Christian terrorists

From Is Anders Breivik a 'Christian' terrorist?:

Anders Breivik: "I consider myself to be 100 percent Christian."

From An Accurate Look at Timothy McVeigh's Beliefs:
McVeigh: I was raised Catholic. I was confirmed Catholic (received the sacrament of confirmation). Through my military years, I sort of lost touch with the religion. I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs. 
Time: Do you believe in God? 
McVeigh: I do believe in a God, yes. But that's as far as I want to discuss. If I get too detailed on some things that are personal like that, it gives people an easier way [to] alienate themselves from me and that's all they are looking for now.
What were the personal things he thought would alienate people from him? The big clue: "Timothy McVeigh had photocopies of a portion of "The Turner Diaries" with him when he was arrested. McVeigh also sold copies of the book at gun shows around the country." What are The Turner Diaries? "The chief guidebook for Christian Identity eschatology."

Bonus:

Breivik's Christianity by Martin E. Marty: "Q: What do the following have in common? Anders Behring Breivik, killer of scores of innocents in Norway; assassins Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK) and Sirhan Sirhan (RFK); serial killers: Dennis Rader (Kansas, murdered 10); Charles Starkweather (Nebraska, 11); Jeffrey Dahmer (Wisconsin, 17); and Dylan Kiebold (Columbine, CO, 13).

Answer: they were all Lutheran Christians."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Beulah McFee page 15


Nazis supported "no platform" tactics—where Hitler and XKCD agree

I just came across Nazi Propaganda and Censorship, which mentions this incident from three years before the Nazis took power, when they were acting purely as private citizens who, in XKCD's terms, simply didn't want to hear "bullshit" from "assholes" and therefore "showed them the door":
DECEMBER 5, 1930
JOSEPH GOEBBELS DISRUPTS PREMIERE OF FILM
 In Berlin, Joseph Goebbels, one of Adolf Hitler’s top deputies, and Storm Troopers (SA) disrupt the premiere of "All Quiet on the Western Front," a film based on the novel of the same title by Erich Maria Remarque. Nazi protestors throw smoke bombs and sneezing powder to halt the film. Members of the audience who protest the disruption are beaten. The novel had always been unpopular with the Nazis, who believed that its depiction of the cruelty and absurdity of war was "un-German." Ultimately, the film will be banned. Remarque will emigrate to Switzerland in 1931, and the Nazis, after coming to power, will revoke his German citizenship in 1938.
For years, I thought "feminazis" was a stupid term that indicated the speaker knew little about feminists or Nazis. But the subset of contemporary feminists who use Nazi tactics and mock "freezepeach" deserve the name. A few examples:

Bomb threat over bikini billboard ad

DC GamerGate meetup disrupted by 'feminist bomb threat'

Bomb Threat Targets GamerGate Meetup (Hear From Somebody Who Was There)

Bomb threat shuts down SPJ event discussing GamerGate (Update)

Related: XKCD doesn't understand free speech—or the difference between legal and moral rights

ETA:

Campus speaker touting men’s rights has fire alarm pulled on her

A men's rights advocate spoke at the University of Toronto: "The fire alarm went off, but free speech prevailed"

ETA 2: Examples of Zionist censorship in the US: The Palestine Exception