Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tabclearing Day

Every now and then, the number of tabs accumulating in TOF's browser becomes burdensome and it grows clear that dedicated blog posts for them will never poof into existence. Hence, the periodic necessity of blowing them all off as briskly as possible. TOF has been remiss in maintaining this blog, even though it is as good an excuse as any for not writing.

1. Sugar and spice, and everything nice

CNN tells us about a young lad who is transitioning to a lass. Tommy has become Tammy, and this summer began taking hormone-blocking drugs to suppress puberty. Since age 3, Tommy had indicated by signing his desire to be a girl. In addition to his wearing skirts, we are told that "throughout his childhood, Thomas wanted to read Wonder Woman comics rather than Superman, wear rhinestone-studded hairbands instead of baseball caps and play with dolls rather than action figures." All of this indicates a rather anti-feminist notion of what it means to "feel like a girl,"but what the heck. Consistency has never been a hobgoblin to the little minds of the transgressive.

Complicating the issue is that the adoptive parents of Tommy/Tammy are a lesbian couple, which reinvigorates all the old stereotypes about "recruiting" adopted children. However, the news story tells us that Tommy/Tammy's two mommies have two older children, both of whom are male-male. It is only a coincidence that one of the 0.6% of Americans who identify as transgender wound up being adopted by them.

Or not. Kenneth Zucker, head of the Gender Identity Service in the Child, Youth, and Family Program and professor at the University of Toronto "conducted a study following 109 boys who had gender identity disorder between the ages of 3 and 12. Researchers followed up at the mean age of 20 and found 12% of these boys continued to want to change genders." Taking this at face value, it means that 88% of these lads changed their minds before it was too late. Tommy/Tammy will not have that option, since the hormone therapy has already begun.

We've been here before. What would One-Hand Jason say?

2. Quite a large majority, we would bet

"A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women."
--- British Medical Association, A Guide To Effective Communication: Inclusive Language In The Workplace.

Hayden Cross, in the Sun.
A big surprise, that.

The BMA insistence that doctors shun the phrase "expectant mother" in favor of "pregnant person" is that using the term "mother" may make transgendered folks feel uncomfortable.

The proximate cause of all this is Hayden Cross, who whilst transitioning from female to "male," suddenly and inexplicably found himself pregnant. Apparently, he had not transitioned all the way. Because he was already self-identifying as a man, this means talk about "expectant mothers" will make him feel sad.

We can't have that, can we?

Why can't we just say "tomboys" like we used to. 

3. Speaking of transgender

"A nation of children is growing up today under a toxic leader. They’re developing and learning how to be adults. They’re curious about how to find their way in this world. And they’re looking for examples of what it means to 'be a man.' We’re giving them Trump."
-- Jennifer Siebel Newsom, in Time magazine

Presumably, we are to believe that Ms Newsom is very concerned that children -- presumably cis-male -- learn to "be a man." This, after many decades of the Besserwissers trying to discourage leaning anything of the sort. She has evidently forgotten that we have had a horn dog, a frat boy, and a prissy metrosexual in that role recently. TOF hates to break the news, but he did not spend his boy scout years modeling himself after Dwight D. Eisenhower. For the most part, the TOFling did not give the President much thought.

D. Trump has been called our first transgender president as he slowly morphs into the neocon Hillary. Well, Fred can be a little over-the-top -- a little? But then there is Peggy Noonan, who has noted the same thing:
He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen. It was once said, sarcastically, of George H.W. Bush that he reminded everyone of her first husband. Trump must remind people of their first wife.
But to hear everyone howl you would think they wanted John Wayne or Gary Cooper in the role, and not someone so much in touch with his feelings as Mr. Trump. 

4. Going by the book

 Some while back, when Congresscritters went forth to their districts and held public meetings, TOF was struck by a curious sight. At these meetings, people would leap to their feet and shout in protest against changing Obamacare. The Media dutifully reported this as mass resistance to modifying the law and Republican congressfolk getting an earful from their constituents. But, to use a phrase now commonly employed in selected instances, it was "not independently verified" that the folks leaping to their feet were in fact constituents of that congressperson. TOF also noted that there were actually only a few such outcriers, but they were spaced around the meeting hall in such a way as to appear more numerous. Perhaps it was TOF's keen statistical eye, but their spatial distribution seemed curiously uniform. Well, apparently it was carefully planned and carried out.

5. Why did Trump Win?

None of the countless campaign reporters and commentators is on record as having noticed the car “affordability” statistics distributed in June 2016... Derived from very reliable Federal Reserve data, they depicted the awful predicament of almost half of all American households. Had journalists studied the numbers and pondered even briefly their implications, they could have determined a priori that only two candidates could win the Presidential election – Sanders and Trump – because none of the others even recognized that there was problem if median American households had been impoverished to the point that they could no longer afford a new car.

-- Edward N. Luttwak, "Why the Trump dynasty will last sixteen years,"
[London] Times Literary Supplement, 25 July 2017

Next, they should ask why cars have become relatively more expensive wrt incomes. Perhaps all the mandates and such that have been added to their costs?

6. The Fifth Way vs. Intelligent Design

"Once we understand what St. Thomas Aquinas meant by teleology, the greatest scandal he gives to the modern mind is in not being teleological enough, since he thought some outcomes were unpredictable, even in principle, from an awareness of the laws and initial states of the universe. His view of nature made it something much more ontologically loose and unruly, whereas ours makes nature much tighter, precise, and authoritarian down to the last detail. For him, there were real chance outcomes in nature that were not just an expression of our failure to know the true causal stories; but for us a 'chance outcome' means only that we are ignorant of the real causes in play."
-- James Chastek, "Fifth Way (pt. 1 intitial puzzles)" Just Thomism,
31 July 2017

 IOW, Thomist thinking is more aligned with quantum mechanics than with Enlightenment thinking.

7. Okay, just why the heck is slavery wrong?

Try to make your case without circular logic and without including as slaves baseball players prior to the free agency era or movie actors during the studio system, or the prisoners making license plates, or your child being told to clean his room. It's not that easy.Kidnapping Africans and bringing them to Brazil or other slaving countries? But kidnapping is already wrong. So are arbitrary beat-downs, rape, and all the other evils commonly spoken of wrt the Peculiar Institution. If we could institute a system of slavery without all these other things -- without separating families, etc. -- would slavery somehow become acceptable? If the answer is yes, then slavery was not your problem. If the answer is no, then you still haven't told us why it's wrong.

Recently, a statue of Francis Scott Key was defaced with the graffito "Racist Anthem," meaning The Defense of Ft. McHenry. The rationale is that the third verse -- you know it, of course -- contains the phrase.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Nellie, bar the door! An attack on slaves? A threat of extermination?
Or simply a commonly-used phrase -- hireling and slave -- for those who truckle under to tyrants and despots -- and which rhymes with "grave." Either the complainants are unaware of English usage (very likely) or they are being cynically manipulative (perhaps, even more likely). In any case, the songster was clearly referring to the retreat of the British troops and fleet from Ft. McHenry. The vauntingly swearing band was, naturally, not a four-man rock group, but Ross' expeditionary force and Cochrane's fleet. Key sarcastically asks "What happened to them?" And answers that a bunch were killed at North Point and the Middle Branch and, with some exaggeration, suggests that they "plied swift heels" (in Homer's phrase). The hirelings and slaves were the British soldiers and sailors, many of who were mercenaries or pressed into service unwillingly.

It is also worth noting that the National Anthem of Ireland, Amhrán na bhFiann


Faoi mhóid bheith saor
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.

(Sworn to be free,
no more our ancient sireland,
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.)
One supposes a hidden meaning here, too; but no one supposes the Irish kept slaves.

8. n-body orbits

Newton never did solve the orbit of the Earth's Moon. It's a three-body problem and there is no general analytical solution. (Not "no known" solution. There is a proof that there cannot be one. Any such problem must be worked out by numerical approximations.) There are, however, a plethora of special cases here

Example: 6 masses orbit each other in two intersecting (roughly Lagrange) orbits: Quicktime and GIF.

9. The General, not the Famous SF Writer

Sara A. Carter, "Did the FBI retaliate against Michael Flynn by launching a Russia probe?" Circa, 27 June 2017, notes the following intriguing time line:
  1. Decorated counterterrorism agent SSA Robyn Gritz accuses now-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and other top officials of sexual discrimination
  2. Flynn writes a letter on her behalf in 2014 on his official Pentagon stationary, gives a public interview in 2015 supporting Gritz’s case, and offers to testify on her behalf.
  3. The FBI seeks to block Flynn’s support for the agent, asking a federal administrative law judge in May 2014 to keep Flynn and others from becoming a witness in her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case
  4. Two years later, the FBI, at McCabe's direction, opens its inquiry of Flynn.
"The bureau employees," Carter writes, "who spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said they did not know the reason for McCabe’s displeasure with Flynn, but that it made them uncomfortable as the Russia probe began to unfold and pressure built to investigate Flynn."

10. Speaking of Russia

A friend of TOF in college was a member of SDS, and TOF would amuse himself in telephonic communications by speaking in Russian. Zdrasti, he would say, kak ty poshevayete? Since the friend was convinced his phones were tapped by J.Edgar, this would up his paranoia level a bit.

But we live now in the post-modern age, and now it is the pros, not the cons, who see Russians under every bed and behind every potted plant. In all the hoorah and hype, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that no credible evidence for Russia "hacking our election" has been presented. It is simply reported as an established fact.

10. How does a minority impose its will on the majority?

By being intransigant.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority (Chapter from Skin in the Game), Incerto (Aug 14, 2016)

11. Constitution? What Constitution?

The Manhattan Contrarian has noticed a constitutional crisis relating to Obamacare.

12. Gandersauce

TOF is the founding and so-far only member of the Gandersauce Society and found the following item intriguing.

Remember Rachel Dolezal? Neither did TOF, but she was the daughter of two Midwestern parents of impeccably white ancestry who spent years passing herself off as black and rose to leadership positions in the local NAACP. This violated the No True Black principle and she was shortly after divested. Then, a while back, Rebecca Tuvel published an article in Hypatia, titled "In Defense of Transracialism," in which she argued that the arguments in favor of transgenderism would by a simple change of variable compel us to favor transitions in racial identity. But whites who think they are black is bad, while men who believe they are women is good. One is to be encouraged and assisted; the other is to be shunned. Therefore, Controversy arose to resolve the cognitive dissonance.

A lynchmob of the Usual Suspects, unable to refute the reasoning in Tuvel's article -- she favored both transgenderism and transracialism -- threatened the journal that had published her article. The journal, with the usual staunch courage of academics, caved in to the bullying and issued an apology, throwing the good progressive Tuvel under the bus.

13. How Can You Tell a Fascist from an Antifa?


You can't. Not when folks purportedly resisting imaginary hordes of fascists -- the bar for qualifying has been set rather low these days -- employ all the techniques of the SA and Mussolini's blackshirts. Cognitive dissonance again.
On the Blog of the APA (American Philosophical Association) Shane McDonnell writes in defense of mob violence:
"When we criticize antifa violence we criticize violence that attempts to stop racism and racists. Similarly, when we criticize anarchist violence we criticize violence that attempts to stop intolerance; that attempts to disrupt the capitalist system; that is used in self-defence against police brutality; and that ultimately protects rights. By labeling each side as bad as the other we neglect the danger the Alt-Right and these spin-off groups pose."
The term 'fascist,' as George Orwell noted long ago, has become a mere insult. They've been shouting down speakers, mobbing platforms, and so on for a while now. More accustomed to bullying fellow progressives, who clutch their pearls at the mere thought of being called bad names (see Tuvel, previous item), they have been astonished to discover their latest targets more resistant. And so they resort to rioting and smaching the windows of third parties -- such as small shops owned by minorities in St. Louis -- because "this will get people's attention." 

If anyone has doubted that the Age of Reason is over and done, this should convince them.

14. There's More, but This is Enough for Now.

Later, dudes.


2 comments:

  1. I always want to know, if the US national anthem's mention of "hireling and slave" is racist, is the French one's mention of "impure blood" (which shall water the fields of France) anti-miscegenation?

    Hilaire Belloc, in The Servile State, actually argued that slavery as such ("forced labor by positive law") is not evil, though it arguably does always constitute a misfortune ("necessarily bad, not necessarily evil"), and thus not something you should inflict on others all willy-nilly. One could even say that, prudentially, the ease with which the slave-status as such can be abused should rule it out-of-bounds entirely; certainly that argument can be made with regard to convict-labor. (See the Early Modern West voting ever-more-minor crimes as punishable by being sent to the galleys, for economic reasons.)

    Treating people as objects, as in chattel slavery, is another matter, of course, since people are not objects; since that is the main form of slavery as practiced throughout history, it is convenient to say that "slavery" is intrinsically evil. Of course, there are plenty of other things, such as abortion and the many forms of "commodification of human life" attendant on artificial reproductive technologies, that involve treating people as objects, without directly being slavery. Though many if not most forms of artificial reproductive technology arguably do involve trafficking in human beings...

    ReplyDelete
  2. How does one become a member of the Gandersauce Society? I want in.

    ReplyDelete

Whoa, What's This?

adam amateur theology Aquinas argument from motion Aristotelianism art atheism autumn of the modern ages books brains breaking news captive dreams cartoon charts chieftain clannafhloinn comix commentary counterattack crusades culcha dogheads easton stuff economics eifelheim evolution factoids on parade fake news fallen angels Feeders fir trees in lungs firestar flicks floods flynncestry flynnstuff forecasts forest of time fun facts gandersauce gimlet eye global warming glvwg headlines henchmen high frontier history home front how to lie with statistics humor hush-hush hypatia in the house of submission irish Iron Shirts irrationalism january dancer jihad journeyman kabuki kool letter lion's mouth lunacon maps mayerling medieval metrology miscellany modern mythology moose zombies music new years nexus odds odds and ends paleofuture passing of the modern age philosophy philosophy math poetry politics psyched out! public service quality quiet sun quote of the day razor's edge redefinition of marriage religio reviews river of stars scandal science science marches on scientism scrivening shipwrecks of time shroud skiffy skiffy in the news skools slipping masks some people will believe anything stats stories stranger things the auld curmudgeon the madness continues the new fascism the spiral arm the writing life thomism thread o' years tofspot topology untergang des abendlandes untergang des morgenlandes up jim river video clips vignettes war on science we get letters we're all gonna die whimsy words at play xmas you can't make this stuff up