December 29th, 2010

me in front.

Parity reports

Parity, a UK organisation campaigning for social equality, reports the following on its website
there is also evidence to suggest that forced marraige is an issue affecting young men in the UK, as well as young women. an estimated 20% of cases involve young men from ethnic minority communities.

Parity is campaigning for equal rights for both genders in all relevant areas.

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"The Smug, Chinkless, Irresistible Power of Stupidity"

John Updike, from ‘The Dogwood Tree: A Boyhood,’ on a childhood neighbor he called ‘A’

He used to call me ‘Ostrich,’ after Disney's Ollie Ostrich. My neck was not very long; the name seemed horribly unfair; it was its injustice that made me cry. But nothing I could say, or scream would make him stop.… From A I received my first impression of the smug, chinkless, irresistible power of stupidity; it is the most powerful force on earth. It says ‘Ostrich’ often enough, and the universe crumbles.

From CNN, John King USA, 12/27/10:

Fran Townsend:He [Julian Assange] didn’t take any steps to understand the information, it was so vast, of what he was publishing, whether or not it would be useful or not. He made no distinctions about the harm he might be doing to foreign governments, the US government, to diplomats and soldiers around the world, he just wholesale threw this all out there, and so he took no steps to…

Glenn Greenwald: That’s totally false! That’s just a lie. He’s published less than 1% of the 50,000 diplomatic cables that he came into possession of, less than 2,000 of the 250,000, so for you to say that he just indiscriminately dumped these documents without assessing what they are and making decisions about what should be withheld and what should be redacted is just simply factually false. Why are you telling that to the viewers?

Townsend: He’s threatened to publish, he has threatened to publish much more than he has, and their isn’t any…the notion that we should be grateful that he didn’t commit a larger crime than he’s already committed is ridiculous!

Yellin: Glenn, let me ask you about the rape charges…

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Godzilla, default

One thing that bothers me:

One thing that I do not understand is ideas like Evolutionary Psychology that try to define certain traits or ideologies as biologically based. I will forego where everyone expects me to go with that one and ask why it is that people seem incapable of fathoming that someone could sincerely believe otherwise, and that said belief is entirely a choice. The concept of certain people appears to be that conservatives must be biologically fearful autocratic individuals where liberals embody a more laissez-faire mindset that's like herding cats. To me this kind of determinism helps nothing and hurts rather more than it does help.

While it is perfectly possible that an individual ideas or set thereof is entirely evil (I will not go into that because as I said I am not going where people would predict I would with it) it is a mistake to consider sincerity a mollifier for said evil ideas. People can very sincerely and earnestly believe falsehoods and lies. That does not make untruth truth, it simply means that the particular untruth is something that person X is quite prone to believe/accept. Just as Intent is not magical, so is sincerity in a belief not a panacea that makes a belief inherently valid in and of itself *because* said belief is sincerely held.

I could sincerely believe that if I lit a flashlight between two buildings that I could walk across the beam. In the real world if I tried the moment both feet are above the roof I'd fall down. The thing that bothers me about Evolutionary Psychology and other such explanations for how the individual beliefs of the observer are always the ones everyone else holds is that the real world does not work that way. It is to be expected people will disagree with each other civilly and that somehow, the harsh arbitrary cold and mechanistic Universe is not buggered beyond all recognition by that reality. While this is easily-stated I will be the first to state that it can be hard to remember and to act upon appropriately.

However at some level, there has to come a point where people can and will accept that sincere disagreement exists, and that if someone else interprets a statement or a political development differently than you or I do, that is simply the way that person sees it, not good or bad, it is what it is. There are enough real problems in the world that exist that creating fantastic conspiracies or assuming that people who hold extreme beliefs *must* be trolling as opposed to truly believing it (probably from the POV that sincerity = goodness as noted) simply makes life more complicated than it has to be. This is why it's a very bad idea to hold that modern beliefs/values must have evolutionary roots right at the start of the 150,000 years of human history. The beliefs are what they are, good or evil. Neither US progressivism nor conservatism have evolutionary roots in the age of machairodontines and woolly mammoths and we'd all be better off not to pretend that they do.

One more thing-it would also help if people remembered evolution is a random process based on sexual reproduction/selection, as opposed one guided directly to a specific means/end. We tend to see those only in hindsight WRT evolution as much as we do WRT everyday life. Species and cultures do not have predetermined ends or paths, all of it is rather more subject to individual development in some ways than we like to admit, much less so than in others. The real world is too complicated to fit into our personal boxes/grievances, and attempts to blame Ardipithecus ramidis for people we disagree with politically ignores that in the real world nothing ever develops as cleanly or consistently as we claim it does.

Conservatism and Progressivism both have precursors, both will have successors, and people who believe both do so with perfect sincerity on both. It's not a good idea for the two largest sides of the spectrum to have one side seeing the other as satanic and bent on destroying traditional values and the other seeing the other side as somehow transported across continents and decades wholesale.
turkey dance

Chewy, fear-filled center...

New Study Suggests Conservatives Have Larger Fear Centers in Their Brains
by Tommy Christopher

In a revelation that’s sure to make many liberals scratch their heads and say, “Wait, what? Conservatives have brains?”, a new study by Great Britain’s University College London has found that conservatives’ brains have larger fear centers, and smaller courage and optimism dealies. The study did not, however, address any correlation to cable news ratings.

Coming as it does, though, on the heels of the discovery of a liberal open-mindedness gene, it makes you wonder if this isn’t just science pettily trying to get back at conservatives for not believing in it. (h/t Crooks and Liars)

The study originates, interestingly enough, from the school that produced all of the members of the band Coldplay, and includes these findings:
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[Source] (Mediaite)

Just posting this for fun. I have to say, even with the scientific evidence, I think the fear factor runs in all political areas, but people are fearful of different things. This study makes sense with all the paranoia I've been seeing from (unfortunately) my fellow Republicans.

x-posted from ontd_political

Attack in Denmark Stopped

Five men have been arrested in Denmark for planning a bombing on the newspaper that printed those Muhammad cartoon a few years ago. 

Given what happened in Sweden recently do you think we're in for a spike in terrorism in Europe or is this all just a matter of chance? How do you think European authorities are doing on handling terrorism?
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me in front.

'Equity 'or 'Gender' Feminism?

You may think of Feminism as being , well, 'feminism' - the radical notion that women are equally human and should have equal pay, voting rights, etc.

There is lately, though, the idea that there are really two camps in Feminism.

For me, equity feminism sums up what ' first wave feminism was all about. equal rights, women simply having what men ahd already got for themselves; nothing more or less that that.
Feminists who identify themselves with equity feminism include Jean Bethke Elshtain, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Noretta Koertge, Donna Laframboise, Mary Lefkowitz, Wendy McElroy, Camille Paglia, Daphne Patai, Virginia Postrel, Alice Rossi, Nadine Strossen, Joan Kennedy Taylor, Cathy Young, and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker.

Now, I am not a Gender Feminist myself, so maybe my interpretation is somewhat biased.
However, let it also be said that people who disagree with equity feminism do not use the terms 'equity feminism' , or 'gender feminism' at all and some do not even regard Christina Hoff Sommers as a 'real Feminist' anyway.

From what I gather, 'Gender Feminism' may be summed up as an insistence that gender roles are totally rooted in culture and not biology at all.

Psychologist Steven Pinker[2] described three defining pillars of gender feminism:

Gender feminism is an empirical doctrine committed to three claims about human nature. The first is that the differences between men and women have nothing to do with biology but are socially constructed in their entirety. The second is that humans possess a single social motive -- power -- and that social life can be understood only in terms of how it is exercised. The third is that human interactions arise not from the motives of people dealing with each other as individuals but from the motives of groups dealing with other groups -- in this case, the male gender dominating the female gender.

Sommers argues that gender feminism characterizes most of the body of modern feminist theory, and is the prevailing ideology in academia. She argues that while the feminists she designates as gender feminists advocate preferential treatment and portraying "all women as victims", equity feminism provides a viable alternative form of feminism to those who object to elements of gender feminist ideology.

Similarly, Nathanson and Young[3] use the term "ideological feminism" to describe a dualist school of thought rooted in Marxist theory. Marxism's concept of perpetual conflict between working-class proletariat and capitalist Bourgeoisie has been replaced with feminist theory that posits perpetual exploitation of women by men, or by a patriarchal power structure. "In short, the names have been changed but not the ideology." Additionally, Nathanson and Young contend that ideological feminism is "profoundly anti-intellectual" and furthermore that:

Directly or indirectly, many ideological feminists have repeatedly argued that women are psychologically, morally, spiritually, intellectually and biologically superior to men. This was more explicitly expressed in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth than it was gain in the 1980s. That mentality is now pervasive -- not only in academic circles but in popular culture as well, where it will no doubt endure far longer.

Sommers claims Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Mills and the University of Minnesota are "extreme" examples of U.S. colleges where gender feminists exert a major influence on curricula.[4]

So, ok - I tend to side with the critics here, with Equity Feminists who say that women do not need quotas and preferenetial treatment, and who are not just passive victims, and are capable of being more than that.

But what is your take - is Sommers right or do you feel that she 'isn't a real Feminist'?