Friday, August 15, 2014

in light of recent events, the internet suffers, reflects, becomes human

The internet's huddled in a corner, head on knees,
rocking back and forth to some AlGoreRhythm,
decades taking a ruler
to the units, of the pleasure
synching with neurons, 
A kind of dance, perhaps, where one goes limp while the other measures.

But I swear now it's wailing.

A godawful sound, the sound of God,
pools of human misery turning to lakes, to seas,

Fuck me, says the monster, in robotese,
look at me, this collection of travesties,
look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, 
look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

like a death machine on steroids

The same people who think PED users defile sports have no problem sending F-16s to knife fights. Or fights with wedding parties. Or fights with sleeping kids. The difference, if I understand their thinking, is that PEDs give the user a slight but significant X% edge, which spoils the sublimated death match by removing its sacred (by the pure, righteous hand of God!) arbitration of true winners, i.e., successful killers in the divine scheme of things; whereas F-16s offer such a huge edge they make the whole thing a non-competition, so anything goes! But I kid -- they haven't thought about it at all.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

dawkins -- not just a dick, also stupid (warning: pedantic discussion of rape)

 Richard Dawkins' infamous tweets:
X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of X, go away and don’t come back until you’ve learned how to think logically.

Mild pedophilia [sic] is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think.

Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think. 
I see a lot of people accepting the "logic" part and focusing on the "he's such a dickhead" part. But without the word "necessarily" in each of the above tweets before "endorsement," these aren't even reasonable statements.

Better or worse are two sides of the same coin. If X is worse than Y, then Y is better than X. If Y is date rape and X is "stranger rape at knifepoint," the comparison, insofaras as it's a comparison (the comparison qua comparison as a philosopher would say), amounts to nothing more than the statement that date rape is better than "stranger rape at knifepoint" (and vice versa).

There are two separate comparisons in the above tweets and the one that's supposed to save him is both prior to the one he's making and unexplicated. The first, mostly hidden comparison which should, if he were being "logical," frame the second is between rape and not-rape where not being raped is considered better than being raped. So if someone offers to rape you, you should say "no." The second comparison is between types of rape, with one better, the other worse. So if you have to be raped and the only two choices are "date rape" and "rape by a stranger at knifepoint," you should choose "date rape." Uh-huh. (Let me put aside, for the sake of moving on, the fact that the ability to compare evolved in the context (information ecology) of choices between A and B that improved or hurt survival chances and that science takes advantage of a weird, exapted ability to suspend valuation and tack it back on post hoc. To be clear, he's not doing science here. To be clearer, the relevant questions, scientific or otherwise, are how to make rape not happen and how to deal with it when it does happen. As we'll see, Dawkins is not concerned with these issues.)
Since the comparison has a better and a worse, and since by convention and the rules of cognition, better is good and worse is bad, absent the prior distinction clarifying that both are bad, date rape would appear to be good. Though "both are bad" (compared to not-rape) is implied, it's not the comparison he's making. At best, it's the implied background to the comparison he wants to make, not the foundation. That comparison being that date rape is better than "stranger rape at knifepoint." Only the prior distinction, that "rape is bad" (thanks dick!) can save him here, as that's the main point for anyone who cares about preventing rape. And what has he said about that? Well, he's not known for caring about that. Find me a quote, please. He's known more for comments like these, comparing one woman's experience of patriarchy to another's. Shouting down his own supposedly foundational comparison (where he'd claim that where Y is bad, X, though not as bad, is, yes, bad):
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so…
The thing that's worse, by comparison, isn't actually bad. See where the background went? It wasn't the foundation after all, it was his cover for zooming in on a comparison that has the opposite effect of saying X is bad. His entire point is that "X is not-so-bad" (i.e., is relatively good). He's also shown that he doesn't actually know where the line is. He points at it from a distance with implications, but exposes himself with comments like these.

His history on the issue of pedophilia follows the same pattern. Mild pedophilia is bad, violent pedophilia is worse, where mild pedophilia isn't actually bad.

So let me put it this way: 

When the comparison is between different types of oppression, where the distinction between oppression and non-oppression is not accepted as prior, as the frame, as the point, you are in fact saying that one type of oppression is better than the other.

And if you don't agree with me, go away and learn how to agree with me.

what reggie jackson taught us about cartoonish right-wing supervillains

The right-wing notion of villainy is Reggie Jackson walking in from the outfield to kill the queen in Naked Gun. Making Reggie do it is an evildoer whose motives we can assume are essentially that he likes causing suffering and is aware that he's evil and enjoys being evil (end of explanation), via some kind of mind control (was it a computer chip?). At the height of the Cold War many Washington insiders, especially in the war-focused departments, worried the Soviets were mastering the science of brainwashing people, reorganizing brains to make them evil. Why were they doing this? Because they were evil. If pressed, they'd have said communist ideology is evil, inherently or something. Now it's Islam that's inherently evil. The Koran as the mastermind. It's all nonsense with no scientific support whatsoever, of course. Give me an effed up quote from the Koran and I'll give you one just as bad from the Bible. It's also the Nazis' portrait of the Jew. Mindless hordes and that. Zombies. If you're gonna try to justify genocide, this is your go-to villain. 

The only way to stop the cartoonish right-wing supervillain is to kill him. You can't change him or appease him because he doesn't have any motives that function according to natural laws. His mind is inaccessible, inhuman. And he has superpowers, even in the absence of actual relative power, like a terrifying cockroach, or like the Soviets (who were never half as powerful as the U.S.), or like Hamas (which isn't 1% as militarily capable as Israel). He's hellbent on destruction. Kill or be killed.