May 062015



Oh shit! My SO, much more concerned about animal rights than I am, may well be a better utilitarian than me. Ozy: We have seen the Utility Monster, and it is us.

An examination of the politics of the Harry Potter books.
“the whole Wizarding World in general, has been living under a continuous state of emergency for over three hundred years … Muggles are bound to find out in the end, unless the authorities and the population in general are allowed to react quickly and effectively without regard to constitutional niceties. … Since their society can’t have a proper rule of law (as we understand it) without risking its own existence, wizards have found another way of ensuring their safety and protection.
… the way power seems to work in the Wizarding World is the patron-client system, such as existed in Ancient Rome … Basically, the system works by otherwise unprotected wizards attaching themselves to a powerful “patron” and becoming his “clients.” The patron will smooth over any problems his client might have with the Ministry of Magic, and use his money and connections to help him out of his difficulties, and keep him out of Azkaban – as Dumbledore did with Mundungus Fletcher. In return, the client himself becomes a part of the patron’s entourage and connections. The patron ends up with a large body of wizards dependent on him whom he can rely on (a private army, in other words) which effectively puts him above the law ”

Killing the leaders of terrorist groups may make them more likely to attack civilian rather than military targets:
“Subsequent statistical studies have found that terrorism is not simply correlated with political failure; the attacks on civilians actually lower the odds of government concessions. This is because terrorism tends to shift electorates to the political right, strengthening hardliners most opposed to appeasement.
…It turns out that certain kinds of groups are significantly more likely to attack civilians than others – those suffering from leadership deficits in which lower level members are calling the shots. Leadership deficits promote terrorism by empowering lower level members of the organization, who have stronger incentives to harm civilians.
…In accordance with this new theory for terrorism, our study reveals that decapitation strikes with drones make militant groups more likely to attack civilians by weakening the leadership.”

First I thought this was an Onion article. Then I thought it was April 1st. Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover. What. The. Fuck.

Trolling for good. :) Satanic Temple: 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period is Against Our Religion “Turns out a core religious tenet of The Satanic Temple is control over one’s own body.”

The U.S. imprisons a much higher percentage of its citizens than any similar country and frequently fails to protect those prisoners from being raped or assaulted, even when they are kids. The FBI helped send multiple people to death row based partly on junk science that was also used to convict people for lesser crimes for two decades. DNA exonerations of longtime prisoners are legion. Asset forfeiture laws have police seizing the property of Americans who’ve never been convicted of anything. The War on Drugs has eroded the Fourth Amendment and undermined the sanctity of the home to an oppressive degree, such that it is no longer surprising to hear about no-knock raids where family pets are shot, flash bang grenades burn innocents, and people are killed. Black and Hispanic men are stopped and frisked dozens of times by police without having done anything wrong.
Many conservatives show no evidence of caring.
… If public school teachers or community organizers behaved as badly, the outrage on AM radio and Fox News would be constant. Yet police abuses as numerous and egregious as what the Baltimore Sun documented in this stellar investigation garnered orders of magnitude less coverage and outrage from conservatives than James O’Keefe stinging ACORN.

New ACLU Cellphone App Automatically Preserves Video of Police Encounters

Why is America celebrating the beating of a black child?
“these beatings are the acts of a people so desperate and helpless, so terrorized and enraged, that heaping pain upon their children actually seems like a sane and viable act of parental protection.

The intensity of this fear is integral to the history of black Americans. Just as black parents have “the talk” with their children, listing survival tips for when they are confronted by white authority, black corporal punishment has been encouraged as the only way to make black children acceptable to society.”

A CEO explains why CEOs make so much money. Interesting perspective. In short: unintended consequence of regulation and public disclosure. No board wants to admit to having a cruddy CEO by paying him less than average, so below-average pay is increased to match the market rate, which brings the entire average up, rinse and repeat. We need to make this work for accountants! here I come!

So much yes. Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.
“Non-violence is a type of political performance designed to raise awareness and win over sympathy of those with privilege. When those on the outside of struggle—the white, the wealthy, the straight, the able-bodied, the masculine—have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not care, are not invested, are not going to step in the line of fire to defend the oppressed, this is a futile political strategy.”

“Militance is about direct action which defends our communities from violence. […] it is how virtually all of our oppressed movements were sparked, and has arguably gained us the only real political victories we’ve had under the rule of empire.”

“Telling someone to be peaceful and shaming their militance not only lacks a nuanced and historical political understanding, it is literally a deadly and irresponsible demand.”

(relinking You Are Not The Target Audience again as well – “[peaceful] protest, even at its most acrimonious, still takes the form of an appeal to power–it assumes certain institutions can be reasoned with. As such it risks effectively bolstering the perceived legitimacy of those institutions.
In contrast, physical resistance challenges not only the state’s appearance of control but also the legitimacy of their monopoly on force. “)

Video – Obama brings in his Anger Translator during the White House Correspondents dinner. :) That’s gotta be a life-goal for any comedian!

More fun comedy, 5 min video –Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Last Fuckable Day

Obamacare’s projected cost falls due to lower premiums under health care law, CBO says
“Apparently, only 8% of the people are aware of this fact.
Obamacare is currently coming in at 11% below budget – mostly because:
(a) Health care premiums are rising less than expected. They are still rising – but much more slowly than they used to. Accusations that companies across the country are raising costs dramatically are simply not true (though there may be a few local exceptions).
(b) Fewer companies than expected are dropping health insurance coverage for employees. Again, the charge that companies across the country will be dropping health insurance coverage have turned out to be false. Some have done so, but not as many as the CBO had predicted.” (quoting Alonzo Fyfe)

On Utilitarian Ethics (or why Utilitarians aren’t as insufferable as more traditional liberals):
“Many people have remarked on the paradox of an academia made mostly of upper-class ethnic-majority Westerners trying so very hard to find reasons why lots of things are the fault of upper-class ethnic-majority Westerners …
what if people are really, fundamentally, good? … Deontology very clearly says that if you cause a problem, it’s your job to help fix it … Utilitarianism tells us that we are perfectly justified in seeing the relief of suffering as a pressing need. We don’t need to justify it by positing facts that may later be proven untrue…
This theory implies that utilitarian liberals will have all the features of liberalism except the interest in blaming their own group for major problems. The utilitarians I know are very interested in helping the poor and in various other liberal ideas, but are more likely than other liberals to roll their eyes at talk about colonialism and stereotype threat.”

FBI admits it fudged forensic hair matches in nearly all criminal trials for decades

Hope everyone had a great Cake & Cunnilingus day on April 14th! (NSFW)

Thank all the gods! EFF Busts Podcasting Patent, Invalidating Key Claims at Patent Office

A quick primer on the Christus Victor idea. Christus Victor was the dominant view of the atonement for the first thousand years of the church. This was a fun read. I want more SF utilizing these themes.

Scott Alexander has some strong doubts about Growth Mindset.
“telling kids that they’re failing because they just don’t have the right work ethic is a crappy thing to do.
… Imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever, saying “YOUR PROBLEM IS THAT YOU’RE JUST NOT TRYING NOT TO BE STAMPED ON HARD ENOUGH”.”

This is even more fun than the original song. :)

For a break from the current drama: ‘Bees are good,’ Obama says as children scream.
“now THAT is how you write a headline” – Blake

  10 Responses to “Link Archive 4/1/15 – 5/6/15”

  1. “So much yes. Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.”

    I see your fundamentally retarded Salon article and I raise you: You think Pam Geller should go burn some cop cars now?

    And speaking of Baltimore and Big Government: FBI surveillance of the entire city… but not during the rioting part.

    • > You think Pam Geller should go burn some cop cars now?

      In her case, I don’t think it would be an effective tactic. She has the means to play the game on a much higher level, and in fact it looks like she’s using those skills to do so.

      • So what you’re saying is, if Pam Geller went down to Dearborn with a big mob of Jews, started a riot and burnt some cop cars, that would be a bad thing?

        Or are you saying that because she has money, she shouldn’t burn cars?

        Or is it more that all she has to do is open her mouth and somebody tries to kill her, so she has no need to burn cars because free advertising?

        Should the Sad Puppies riot and burn a bunch of cop cars at Sasquan in August? It would certainly attract a bunch of eyeballs to the cause, I’m sure you’ll agree.

        You see where I’m going?

        Just sayin’ if you’re going to say things like “So much yes. Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.” then you should be prepared for the rest of us to take you at your word. Just consider the outcome if your local Straight White Male population decided to down tools and go take out some cops. Hint, think Syria but turbo+nitrous version.

        • I’m actually am not sure where you are going. Violent resistance has always been a political strategy. I’m sure we’d agree that the Dutch and French anti-Nazi resistance fighters were using violence legitimately, and they specifically targeted people for murder. Same with any slave who killed his master in the antebellum South.

          Likewise, I assume we’d agree that the muslim terrorists who killed the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists did not use violence legitimately, as they murdered those who we believe were exercising their right to free speech.

          What makes the use of violence legitimate *in my eyes* is some combination of the level of violence, the target of the violence, the political aims of the actors, and whether they had any other recourse.

          In the case of Baltimore, it’s my estimation that the rioters A) had little-or-no other recourse (nothing else was working). B) Wanted to end a regime of violent oppression at the hands of a corrupt and capricious occupier (the police). C) Targeted the police (cop cars). and D) Restricted the violence to destruction of property.

          The destruction wasn’t just restricted to police property, but that’s a whole ‘nuther conversation.

          It also appears to have been well-used, because the police situation in Baltimore seems to finally be improving.

          In all the examples you gave I think the use of such violent action would make the actors *worse off*. They would be further from achieving their goals, and/or the costs of the violence will have been higher than the expected benefits.

          (This is also one of the reasons I think bringing in Vox Day as an equal partner was such a bad move by Brad and Larry. It looks like that alliance hurt their cause more than it helped.)

          So I think you’re reading me as saying that anytime anyone wants anything they should resort to violence. I suppose that’s an easy enough conclusion to reach if you aren’t familiar with me and this is one of your first brushes with anything I’ve said about violence and political action. Rest assured, that is not the case.

          >think Syria but turbo+nitrous version.

          /facepalm. Do we *really* need to bring Bragging About American Exceptionalism to the level of “we could even do lawless anarchy better” ? That’s just… tacky.

          • “Violent resistance has always been a political strategy.”

            Sometimes not so much:

            And then there is the case of the White Men Rioting:

            170 arrests, 9 fatalities on the scene, possibly more to follow as some of these goof succumb to their wounds, four of the already-dead most probably shot by police.

            No doubt the bikers had their political reasons for this rumble, but the point is to compare and contrast the response by police to the two situations. And of course the -media- response.

            Should I walk around with my “hands up, don’t shoot” shit going now?

            Violence is -never- an acceptable political strategy. Ever.

            “/facepalm. Do we *really* need to bring Bragging About American Exceptionalism to the level of “we could even do lawless anarchy better” ? That’s just… tacky.”

            Dude, you really have no clue who your neighbors are do you? The average American male has had some military service or has friends who did, he can read, he’s got a vehicle, he’s got tools, he’s got an internet connection and a cell phone, and he’s got at least one firearm. Camping and hiking are leisure activities enjoyed by most young people in the USA.

            Just imagine the kind of deestructive whatnot ten guys like that could come up with from what they’ve got lying around the place. In WWII the Japanese Empire decided not to invade America because “there would be a gun behind every blade of grass”.

            The average Syrian guy can’t read. No car. Maybe a phone. No tools. No gun unless he steals one off a cop. Can’t read a map. Gets lost as soon as the sun goes down. Zero military training, zero self control.

            Americans are the richest, best trained, most fantastically dangerous society ever in history. Except for Canadians. There’s fewer of us, what we lack in numbers we make up in mean.

            But aside from all that, Western culture is the Culture Of War. Everything we do is war, either getting ready for it or coming down off it, for the last 500 years.

            It would make Syria look like kindergarten. It would be an horrific catastrophe. And by the way, -your- Federal government is arming itself for exactly such a scenario.

            That’s why violence is never an acceptable political strategy in Western Civilization. Whatever wrongs were being redressed by the violent political action will be as nothing compared to the body count that will get stacked up in the reaction.

            • I’ll see your white men rioting, and raise you a white men rioting. :)
              I do find it amusing how very disparate the conclusions reached by the two sides are, from the same event.

              > Violence is -never- an acceptable political strategy. Ever.

              Sure, if you want to completely ignore the entire history of the world.

              > [a bunch of assertions of superiority]

              Yup, like I said – tacky.

            • Oh and here’s some more tacky for you:


              But its all cool because its only happening to pore Black people in the ‘hood, right? And please notice it is NOT THE COPS doing it to them.

              Y’all done stirred up a rebellion against the cops, and the cops are leaving you alone. You like it?

            • It is a great counter-move by the cops. I’m very interested to see where it’ll lead. These sorts of problems often crop up in the power-vacuums that come in the wakes of revolutions. If the community creates its own grassroots policing force, will the official powers allow it to stand? (I seriously doubt it… this sort of thing can go without comment in rural towns, but big cities are too important to the entrenched powers for them to let go) Also of interest – Is there anyone in a leadership position who is willing to do that? Or is everyone with enough pull to organize something like that too conservative, and would rather try to negotiate with the traditional police force instead? Lots of interesting dynamics right now.

            • “It is a great counter-move by the cops. I’m very interested to see where it’ll lead.”

              It will lead to people dying. Has already lead to people dying. More will die. Stupidly. Eventually the White People will get involved, and then a LOT of people will die.

              It will be an “interesting dynamic” until somebody close to you takes a random bullet fired by some random piece of shit who belongs in jail. Then it will become something else.

              I’m morbidly fascinated by your detachment and intellectualization of this issue. Do you not get that this violence will be coming to your town? It isn’t going to stay in de ghetto for long. Those ghetto people have cars, y’know. They can drive to your house.

            • > I’m morbidly fascinated by your detachment and intellectualization of this issue.

              Right now, someone would have to drive for over a day to get to my neighborhood from one of the current hotspots. In terms of miles, I’m closer to the drug-cartel violence of Mexico than I am to the Baltimore unrest. It is a sad fact that if I didn’t make it a priority to read political news, my life would be as affected by these riots as it is by the unrest in Ukraine (which is to say – not in any way I could notice.)

              Therefore, yes, I am detached. I look at it the same way I look at the violence in Ukraine, or the civil unrest of the 60s. A fascinating thing to study, but not something that alters my world. What action would you suggest that someone in my position take, anyway? Should everyone in the US drive to Baltimore and join one of the sides? Are you saying I should push for a change in my state/city laws in order to prevent something similar from happening here (in which case – what policy would you support for the Denver area, and why should I do so as well?) Or are you not actually recommending any real action, and just enjoying the outrage-high that the media drug-peddlers are pushing on us?

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