Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FLG Is Just Confused

The whole Milo Yiannopoulos thing popped up on FLG's radar not long before the riots at Berkeley, back when there was a shooting in Seattle.   FLG watched some videos, read some writings.   Thought he was a definitely a troll, maybe a misogynist, but didn't see evidence of white supremacist statements and was uncomfortable with people using such labels so blithely.   And he certainly thought there were left-leaning reporters who were biased against Yiannopoulos, his supporters, and generally  those who came to listen to him.

Next thing FLG knows, the man is on Bill Maher.  And like five seconds later,  he's accused of supporting pedophilia, loses his book deal, and resigns from Breitbart.  Something about it didn't quite sit right with FLG.   Were Yiannopoulos' statements portrayed correctly?   Why did a year old interview all of a sudden get national attention?  Seemed weird.

As part of FLG's research into this issue this evening, he came across this video, which has that crazy series of connections that one has trouble following, which is so common of conspiracy theories, but nevertheless did make FLG want to learn more about GamerGate.  Because after a little more googling, FLG is actually a little bit concerned that there are a coordinating group of hardcore progressives in the media who were involved in GamerGate, who were burned and believe revenge is a dish best served cold.  (Because despite what the media portrays, FLG things the gamers actually won GamerGate.)  If if that's true, he'd like to at least be aware who they are.  At the same time, he's only slightly less worried he's getting into tinfoil hat zone and overlooking intentionally hateful speech, rather than just extremely provocative jokes. 

Anyway, FLG is very confused about the whole thing.   A large reason why is that he simply doesn't trust journalists to report fairly and accurately on this topic, which means no sources a credible, and the it takes way more time than he really cares to put into it to figure out the truth.   Milo seemed to have said that the legal age of consent was about right, but that his personal experience led him to believe it's an arbitrary age decided in law and that some individuals may be, in fact, be able to engage in sexual activity at a younger age without negative ramifications, perhaps even beneficially, but Yiannopoulos, as far as FLG can tell, didn't advocate changing the law, nor breaking the law. 

By the way, you might be asking....FLG, he was a troll who said a variety of mean things, some consider the things he said to be the various -ists (sexist, racist, etc),  now it appears he said something supportive of pedophilia, why are you even worried about it?     He's not a sympathetic character and it's not worth the effort to find out.    Agreed, he's not sympathetic, but FLG hates the outright mischaracterization and bias of reporting about Yianopoulos.   Troll?  Definitely.   Misogynist?   FLG thinks somethings he said could be considered misogynist.   White supremacist / Neo-Nazi?   Nope, didn't see that.  And it matters to FLG a great deal to see people called something when there isn't evidence of it.   (Though, in fairness, he did say some kinda nice things about some of the more white supremacist / Neo-Nazi wing of the Alt-Right, but FLG doesn't think that's the same thing.)  

Similarly, FLG is also concerned about the people on the Left's increasing accusations of so-called dogwhistles.  That's literally saying that the meaning of the word is different from the commonly understood meaning of the word, so they said one thing but mean another thing that is horrible, but they didn't actually say the horrible thing you have to take their political enemies word that they meant the horrible thing.   It's dangerous allow frivolous claims of this type to become normalized.

To close out a meandering post, FLG is similarly concerned about the post-Truth Trump stuff, but he thinks that's being analyzed to the hilt.   He doesn't need to add yet another post on how Trump's relationship with the truth is a threat to our republic. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quote of the day

Megan McArdle:
Countries with a big hammer will inevitably end up using it in ways that turn out to be stupid. (See: Iraq.) It also, inevitably means that the security umbrella of the world will be used in ways that the country that owns it likes. (See complaints by every country except the U.S., many of them justified.) But for all that, you can certainly imagine a country with an America-sized military advantage doing much worse things with it. Many worse things. In fact, when you think about alternative histories, we’re pretty far into the “happy” zone of the spectrum. Not all the way to utopia, mind you. But a lot better than you’d imagine, if you’d never heard of the United States of America and you were plotting out your science fiction novel with a dominant, heavily armed nation.

Science Is Probably Correct, But Even It Has Limits

FLG totally understands why many or even most scientists are atheists.   Make sense.  Not a problem.   But sometimes, like all of us, their belief system leads them astray.  For instance, the claim by Brian Cox that the Large Hadron Collider disproved the existence of what he called "ghosts," but from the quotes FLG would argue is more a soul, specifically the immoral part of us that exists after death.

I would say if there's some kind of substance that's driving our bodies, making my arms move and legs move, then it must interact with the particles out of which our bodies are made. And seeing as we've made high precision measurements of the ways that particles interact, then my assertion is there can be no such thing as an energy source that's driving our bodies.

Look, FLG understands why scientists question the existence of these types of supernatural things.   One can argue, very compellingly, about the complete and utter lack of scientific evidence for them.   Got it.  Point conceded.  But to say that we've seen no evidence of supernatural forces after smashing together protons at blistering speeds means that this DISPROVES anything about the afterlife is fallacious.

There's an argument that FLG has heard.   If you say there is an elephant in the courtyard, but we look and don't see one, then the existence of the elephant has been disproven.  But what if you are claiming that there is an elephant that is invisible, tasteless, odorless, silent, and massless.   Well, one, that's not an elephant by an definition FLG has ever heard of, and, yes, the burden of proof is most definitely upon you for making such an outlandish claim, and yes, a rational person would be justified in not believing such an elephant exists and living their life assuming you are delusional.   But, nobody has definitely disproven your claim.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

This Poll Makes FLG Feel Better

Boston Herald:
In a Politico/Morning Consult poll released yesterday, any unnamed Democrat beats President Trump in a 2020 presidential matchup. A dust mop with a “Democrat” sign on it beats Trump. But the Senate’s liberal darling doesn’t. Trump, despite his own series of stumbles, still beats Warren — one of the Democrats’ most prominent national faces — 42-36.

FLG finds Warren insufferable and was beginning to worry the American people didn't.   Here's hoping the Dems actually pick a good candidate.

Monday, February 13, 2017

So True

Saw The Matrix sequels on TV the other day and this is so, so spot on:

Andrew's Back

FLG is exicted to see Andrew Sullivan will be writing more regularly, and he begins thusly:
I want to start with Trump’s lies. It’s now a commonplace that Trump and his underlings tell whoppers. Fact-checkers have never had it so good. But all politicians lie. Bill Clinton could barely go a day without some shading or parsing of the truth. Richard Nixon was famously tricky. But all the traditional political fibbers nonetheless paid some deference to the truth — even as they were dodging it. They acknowledged a shared reality and bowed to it. They acknowledged the need for a common set of facts in order for a liberal democracy to function at all. Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission. That first press conference when Sean Spicer was sent out to lie and fulminate to the press about the inauguration crowd reminded me of some Soviet apparatchik having his loyalty tested to see if he could repeat in public what he knew to be false. It was comical, but also faintly chilling.

FWIW, FLG has been fascinated by Wilde's Platonic dialogue, The Decay of Lying, since he recently discovered it.    Along with Camille Paglia's contention that the emergence of transgenderism signifies the end of Western culture, it has sparked a keen interest by FLG in the mauve decade.  He's convinced there are lessons to be learned there.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Quote of the day


Jesse Eisenberg is a gifted actor, for sure, but all of the movies he’s in, he’s basically the same guy: quirky, dorky, bookish Jesse Eisenberg. 

 FLG would like to take the liberty of rephrasing that statement:  Jesse Eisenberg is a gifted actor, for sure, but he has zero range.   Upon rephrasing, the incoherent nonsense reveals itself.   So, FLG asks, what the fuck exactly is your criteria for good acting?

Look, there are a bunch of actors who FLG enjoys watching, but aren't particularly good actors.   John Travolta, for example, isn't a good actor.   His talent, and to be honest it's a huge talent, is looking like he is having the most fun of his life on screen.   That feeling is infectious, and the audience, or at least FLG, comes away from John Travolta movies happier than he went in.  This is true, even when he's a bad guy.  But he's not a good actor.

Perhaps, for some people, watching a quirky, dorky, bookish Jesse Eisenberg on screen there's a John Travolta effect.   Definitely not true for FLG, it's almost the opposite.   Eisenberg's screen time is like nails on a chalkboard, no more so then his fucking horrible Lex Luthor, the worst part of a bad movie.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sugary Sweetness of Climate Science

FLG really wishes Gary Taubes would take a look at climate change science.   Frankly, FLG doesn't know enough about climate change, guesses the climate is probably changing due to human activity mostly because that's what the experts are saying, but is very concerned about the politicization of the entire topic, in particular of those experts.  

As FLG says over and over, once a person goes from describing phenomena to prescribing an action, they've assigned values.  To return to his favorite example, if FLG says you are wet, that's a objective fact.   Once he hands you a towel, he is saying being dry is better than being wet.  

FLG feels the same way about climate change.  The people studying it are most definitely not disinterested observers.   Almost all of them say something needs to be done.   And it seems that a goodly portion think we need to do something IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID CERTAIN DEATH.   Not exactly the type of thing to create a milieu of disinterested observation.  (In fairness, FLG thinks this is largely unavoidable.  Individuals are very often motivated to become experts in some topic because they want to effect some change -- curing cancer, for example, or heart disease, which is what largely led nutrition and public health astray according to Taubes -- so this isn't just a climate change example.)  

In any case, if you replace "public health" with "climate science" in Gary's talk, 1:53 mark until around the 30 minute mark, the discussion describes what concerns FLG about climate science:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Quote of the day

A few days old, but still made FLG laugh:
China shall, immediately and without hesitation, send us their wall. Done. Boom.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Attitudes Like This Will Re-Elect Trump

FLG isn't very religious at all, but when he reads stuff like this he gets why religious believers believe they are under attack:
Gorsuch, the son of perhaps the most corrupt head of the Environmental Protection Agency in its history, came down on the side of religious zealots in the notorious case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., in which the craft chain’s owners won the right to deny their employees contraception coverage despite the ACA’s mandate. In the 10th Circuit’s ruling, Gorsuch attributed to the company the capacity for spiritual reverie. The ACA forced Hobby Lobby to “violate their religious faith” by covering birth control, which “their religion teaches to be gravely wrong.” Gorsuch described birth control drugs and devices as having the effect of “destroying a fertilized human egg”—a claim that is demonstrably false, even in most cases of emergency contraceptive use.
Gorsuch also joined a dissenting opinion when Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, another challenge to the ACA’s contraceptive mandate, came before the 10th Circuit. The dissent called the mandate a burden to the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion. In a 1996 amicus brief in a case about physician-assisted suicide, Gorsuch wrote that requiring public hospitals to provide abortions was an instance of “the courts [feeling] free to override the conscience of health care providers.” In other words, Gorsuch believes that doctors, corporations, and individuals should be able to discriminate against women, preventing them from accessing necessary health care, on account of any personal whim they claim to the court.

FLG is in favor of the broad availability of contraception, even Plan B, but he has several objections to the above.   None more so than dismissing religious beliefs, by all accounts sincerely held (in one case we're talking about NUNS FOR FUCK'S SAKE) regarding what they literally consider a life and death issue as personal whims.

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