Sunday, May 4, 2014

Odds and Ends

No Comment Needed

The Limits of Tolerance

Salon, a lightweight "magazine" in which writers bravely face the applause of the echo chamber, features a vitriolic attack on Shi'a Islam.

Ha ha. Of course not. It is to laugh. That would be islamophobia and right-thinking people avoid that, um, religiously. No, it is a vicious attack on the one group the author knows will not fight back. How many instances of hate speech and logical and factual errors can you spot?

Sometimes the Mask Slips, a Little

Because the same arguments used to back X can also work for Y, why not be upfront about it?

Getting a Load On

Chastek gives us this tidbit:
Considered mechanically, loading and reloading [a semi-automatic rifle] are the same. The slide moves back in response to a force. In fact, we might just as well consider the slide as pushing the hand as the hand pushing the slide. It’s all one big machine, if machines are all you’re trying to explain.

Scientism in three steps: a.) give an account of, say, loading that applies to both loading and reloading – say, a mathematical law. (b.)  call the account a description of “the mechanism” (c.) proceed to be baffled and snicker at any appeal to “vital forces” or “free will”. The mechanism suffices to explain anything! Who needs to put some ghost inside of it!

But Need He Remain Faithful to Her?

Only a bigot would disparage his love. How is it different from this, or this, or this, or this, or this, or this?  Where is the understanding?  The tolerance?

Meanwhile, in an Unexpected Move...

China may become the largest Christian country.


  1. That would be islamophobia and right-thinking people avoid that, um, religiously. No, it is a vicious attack on the one group the author knows will not fight back.

    Then perhaps it's about time to fight back, eh?

    It's hate speech from a reason-hating bigot. Why pull punches? Call it what it is, and treat him accordingly.

  2. RE: the man marrying the pillow, there are anime fans in Japan—the fans other fans think are weird—who claim to be married to anime characters. There's a hilarious scene in the manga "The World God Only Knows" where it shows the protagonist's mother worrying about his unhealthy obsession with video games—not only does she imagine him introducing a cardboard cutout of a character as his wife, but then she imagines him divorcing that one for a younger one. ("Make it one step worse" is a staple of Japanese humor.)

    And I think it's funny the "Monogamy Is Outdated" writer describes herself as a romantic. "Romance" has always involved ideas of a lifelong bond, and when people said "lifelong", they meant "even if I get cursed to live forever"—the King in the Mountain is a romantic idea precisely because he is coming back to his people after centuries, because there is no end to the relationship. If Helen Croydon were familiar with cultures other than this one (and she's demonstrably familiar with only the last few decades even of ours), she'd know "till death do us part" is a pragmatic idea, an attempt to rationally define the limit of an obligation. The preference of mankind is to make every relationship last forever—slaves and soldiers serving their lord in death even as they did in life, lovers reincarnated to rekindle their loves eternally, "the everlasting fame of the honored dead". It comes back to "evil lies both in excess and in defect", come to think of it; Croydon does not value loyalty enough, and those who sacrificed servants to serve their lord in the afterlife valued it too much.

    Well, that, and also the fact "romance" does not actually have anything to do with feelings. A situation is romantic because of its actual characteristics, not because of how anyone feels about it (one who does not feel the romance of the romantic is simply being tone-deaf). Croydon's line, "I’m all for mushy love and rewarding relationships. I’m quite a romantic, in fact. But my recipe for self-fulfilment doesn’t feature a mystical 'soul mate,' a prince or even someone bearing the glitzier title of 'The One.'" is telling. Aside from proving my point about her chronological myopia—that's the vocabulary of love-fiction, mostly movies, primarily of the post-war or immediately pre-war years; her "outdated ideal" seems to be about as old as feature-length Disney movies and pop-psych self-help—she's also a Cargo Cultist, mistaking the signs of, and benefits from, a thing, for the thing itself. "Romance" is not about "rewarding relationships" or "self-fulfillment". Those relationships we romanticize are rewarding and "fulfilling", but they are valuable, and provide their rewards and fulfillment, due to their role in a broader scheme of life and value, just as the endorphins of the act of mating are not the reason organisms have that behavior. But then, that argument—that the jaw's proper object, the reason you even have a jaw, is not to chew gum—is ironically the subject of a very strong taboo, among the very people who claim evolutionary science is on their side.

  3. Oh, forgot to add (too many interesting things to comment on), my sister and I were saying, a few years back when Hu Jintao was Chinese premier, that it was too bad James Watt had retired from politics by that point. (Apparently Carson once did a "James What?" bit, according to Wikipedia.)

  4. There should really be a rule of thumb for editors that any article that comes across their desk which quotes FEMEN approvingly should really just be scrapped immediately.

  5. I've been wondering what the next step is going to be -- what's the new fundamental human right that everyone on the left will have to discover they totally supported all along and anyone who lags is a bigot. A few months ago I called it a toss-up between child sex and polygamy, but it looks as though polygamy is pulling ahead. If one were to go to the Whatever blog and advocate legalizing polygamy in the US, I doubt you'd get much vocal opposition as long as one called it "polyamory." (They're still keeping pedophilia in reserve in case they need to bash some more priests, but once that's no longer useful, expect them to start huffing about the positively medieval institution of "age of consent" laws.)

  6. "How many instances of hate speech and logical and factual errors can you spot?"

    After just a brief read, the answer is 'all of them'.

  7. I'll freely admit my own obtuseness here, but I don't get the baseball picture joke. --In fact I don't know if I am correct in assuming there's supposed to be one.

    1. Ah! Of course. And me the punmeister at work. Ah, well, I'll plead lack of leftover brainpower due to being a single-parent dad for a few days.

  8. ...Well. As to that Salon article, I must say I'm glad that two of the most popular comments there call out its foolishness and irrationality. That's heartening, at least. What's less heartening is the rest of the comment section - nothing for miles but "JPII was complicit in pedophilia! Anyone that calls him a saint must be evil!", and more than a few examples of what looks like back-patting. Seriously, "at least they apologised for using thumbscrews on Galileo, right?" ? This is just...can you think of any other institution that receives this kind of abuse? IIRC there was at least one person amazed that the Police were "protecting the evil people" from FEMEN! I

    At least I learned one thing - Salon is not a promising place for open and honest debate. And never to go back there again.

    1. I remember hearing Salon described as 'the fainting couch of the Left'.

    2. Oh, dear, I feel the vapors coming on.

      Heck, I remember when the Left was rational and ascribed this sort of mouth-foaming to the radical right. For decades, the Democratic Party was called "the secular wing of the Catholic Church" because it was trying to impose by law and regulation Catholic doctrines of justice.

    3. As to that Salon article, I must say I'm glad that two of the most popular comments there call out its foolishness and irrationality.

      That's common, from what I remember of the occasional read of Salon over the years. And, yes, I confess that I used to occasionally read Salon. But I stopped after this article.

      That's right. Your eyes aren't fooling you: the headline actually says what it says.

      As I've said before, "Sometimes the mask doesn't slip a little; it falls clean off."

      Although...scroll down and read the first comment, and once again, you find a heartening response.

  9. I have been trying to understand the free will as undetermined knowledge per
    your formulation. Here is a point Chastek made recently (4th May):

    "Socrates was right that one can’t tend to evil as undesirable, and therefore can’t tend to it knowingly. But the lack of knowledge is not ignorance but thoughtlessness."

    Could you say how it fits into your idea of free will and doing evil?

  10. It's amazing how conspicuously the Left leaves Islam alone. To the Left Islam only exists as "Islamophobia" on the Right. Otherwise it's like a mythical basilisk or something.

    That's because in theory Salon-man should be calling for the death of Islam. In reality, that would be calling for his own death. Once again wrong-way liberalism gives a back-handed compliment to Christianity - the religion that won't kill you.

  11. not as bad as huffington post!

    On the monogamy thing-- had a really funny "GLoP" podcast about that, which mostly stuck in my head as "if your wife submits this to your website, you're going to be asking if she is trying to break something to you, or groveling about how you're really sorry you didn't take the trash yesterday, how can you make it up to her....."


Wonder and Anticipation, the Likes of Which We Have Never Seen

  Hello family, friends and fans of Michael F. Flynn.   It is with sorrow and regret that I inform you that my father passed away yesterday,...