Linky Friday: Critters & Coffee

Pets:

bomb sniffing dogs photo

Image by SGPhotography77

[Pe1] Shifty little boogers, they are.

[Pe2] The CIA gives a little insight into training dogs and what happens when dogs aren’t cut out for the work. While some dogs don’t like working, others really do. RIP.

[Pe3] Even the earliest dogs had leashes, evidently.

[Pe4] I can live without the treat dispenser, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see there being a “pet package” to more of these vehicles.

[Pe5] Cats are unusual.

[Pe6] It’s apparently no longer enough for police to just shoot pet dogs. There must be even more trauma.

Space:

[Sp1] Flat-earthers held their first conference. The problem with the earth being flat is that if it were flat things would be different.

[Sp2] A meteorite lit up the Norwegian sky.

[Sp3] A look at the mysterious space cigar, and maybe a doppelganger solar system.

[Sp4] I’m almost positive this was an episode of Outer Limits.

[Sp5] Teaching the question: Do dark matter and dark energy exist? Thousands of comic book plots depend on them so I hope so.

[Sp6] Nathan Robinson explores the conflict between space exploration and capitalism.

Sports & Games:

high school football photo

Image by Tom Hannigan

[SG1] Here’s a look at what the CFL is doing to reduce concussions and other big hits. People talk a lot about the games, but I’m pretty sure most of the damage is done in practice. And then after football, then hockey?

[SG2] When you’re on the wrong side of righteousness, you never know when you’re going to provoke vengeance. With a sports angle!

[SG3] Hazing, rape, and high school football.

[SG4] If you’ve ever wondered why you are getting the NFL games you’re getting on your local TV, here you go.

[SG5] One bad formula, a lot of ruined soccer.

[SG6] Is Louisville really broken, though? They may be suing their old coach, but he got them into the ACC while rival Cincinnati flounders in the AAC and no scandal can undo that.

Food & Drink:

[FD1] This is a really – and nuanced – good take on cultural appropriation and food. {via Maribou}

[FD2] Deep fry it. For the environment.

[FD3] Coffee shops don’t offer WiFi out of generosity. The WiFi is often why we’re there.

[FD4] A court has ruled that the tea must be served and the tea store cannot close.

[FD5] Introducing the Whopper Dropper!

[FD6] I have long been off-put by plexiglass windows at convenience stores and occasionally eateries, but this is absolute horse-pucky.

Politics:

paul sorvino photo

Image by david_shankbone

[Po1] You were supposed to treat them badly. You weren’t supposed to treat me badly!

[Po2] Jim Pethhokoukis looks at universal basic income experiments around the world.

[Po3] William Bradley tries to come to terms with the fact that Frank Miller’s politics are not to his liking and trying to like his work anyway. Must be hard.

[Po4] This cast list is pretty good. Even know he’s old, I think you gotta give the Manafort role to Paul Sorvino. And, at the risk of ruining The West Wing, Martin Sheen would make a really good Trump.

[Po5] I recently commented that some of Roy Moore’s comments have been deliberately ambiguous on the subject of slavery. It is apparently a real tactic for Daily Stormers to be deliberately ambiguous in their anti-semitism and the earnestness thereof.

[Po6] The EU makes itself really hard to defend sometimes.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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160 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Critters & Coffee

      • Besides what Jaybird said, people still expect Israel to somehow negotiate with people that really do seem to sincerely believe that Jews are the most evil thing on earth and a plague on the planet. You can’t exactly point out that how can the Jews enter into agreements with people who don’t believe Jews should have any rights individually or collectively in the first place.

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          • (I wouldn’t use this attack vector when discussing political leaders. “Don’t dictators have free speech?” is going to raise more questions than it will shut down. There’s the political take on rights, the moral take, the whole cultural context take… and then you’re in the weeds. I would have pointed out that Palestinians are Semites as well and just like it’s not possible for minorities to be racist against whites, it’s not possible for Palestinians to be anti-Semitic or something like that. Maybe bring up South Africa.)

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            • “Semites” isn’t really a sensible racial or ethnic category, though. This particular linguistic rearguard action was lost well over a century ago. So we’re pretty much stuck with a dumb euphemism based on obsolete pseudoscience for Abbas’ views.[1]

              It’s an actual problem that guys like Abbas view “the Jews” (as opposed to “the nation state Israel”) as their adversary, in that it makes negotiation more difficult, but history suggests that it’s not an insurmountable one.

              [1] I’ve seen people start using “Judeophobia” more. I approve of the change.

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              • Oh, I am sure I don’t have the competence to judge what is or isn’t a sensible racial or ethnic category.

                My take is that it seems like an open-ended “Robbers Cave Experiment” but it’s easy for me to say that.

                (As for “Judeophobia”, that strikes me as something that will fail to launch but I guess we’ll see.)

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              • There are people on the Left that argue that Arabs can’t be anti-Semites because they themselves are Semites when you point out all the Jew hating crap in the Arab world.

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                • Our Western conception of what racism is reflects our own history.

                  So our definition of the word racism is white people oppressing nonwhite people. Which is why when people want to talk about white people being oppressed, they have to coin the term “reverse racism”.

                  So we get confused when Japanese oppress Koreans, or when Moroccans look down their noses at the central Africans.

                  I can’t tell the difference between a Palestinian and Sephardic Jew, any more than I can tell the difference between a Croat and a Serb or a Persian and an Arab.

                  But they can, and it means the world to them.
                  The notion that oppressed people “can’t be racist” is a dangerous sort of naivete, because it traffics in the same sort of dehumanizing Othering as oppression itself, where they become caricatures of real people.

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                  • Jews find the argument that Arabs can’t be anti-Semitic intellectually dishonest because the phrase was termed by a Jew hating German journalist named Wilhelm Marr who wanted a more scientific word for Jew hatred. It was after all, the late 19th century and a time of progress. Even ancient hatreds need to be modernized to meet the times.

                    The Left has also a very long history of not quite getting anti-Semitism and not knowing where Jews fit in their cosmology. The Intersectional Left is especially prone this because they have a very dualistic whites vs. non-whites way of seeing racism. We see this on LGM. When they are dealing with the Right, Jews get treated as part of the people of color camp. When dealing with people of color, Jews become another type of white person.

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                    • This sort of dualism is what leaves them vulnerable to the gotcha arguments like “it was the western Africans who enslaved their fellow Africans. (checkmate, (redacted-insult – maribou))”.

                      It also is a variation of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” thinking, that what blinded them to people like Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe, and more recently, Vladimir Putin.

                      Its also why they find it difficult to construct the requisite solidarity among the proletariate.
                      When you imagine the world as such a simple place of homogenous groups, it becomes baffling when two people who seem identical to our eyes have a murderous loathing for each other, like those half-black/half-white guys from that Star Trek episode.

                      (A digression);
                      Viewed through today’s eyes, that episode takes on new meaning for me.
                      Rather than accepting the point which was how silly and ignorant racism is, maybe a different take is that it was Kirk and the Federation who were being ignorant.

                      They expect hatred to be grounded in something material and rational like access to resources.
                      But if it were, it would be easily solved by negotiation and compromise. If people were actually like that, they wouldn’t be people.
                      The loathing of the half-black/ white people sprang from some deep inner place of fear and memory, spurred on by primal impulses of survival and domination.

                      Expecting people (especially alien life forms!)to be so simple and linear, and ignoring their true complexity and contradictions is not too much different than a European looking at Native peoples and dismissing them as savages.

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                      • That particular insult is objectionable for more than one reason, and as such I would ask that people quit using it even as an example of an insult that jerks use. Nor am I the first moderator to expect that, or even the 4th.

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                  • One of the things I find oddly fascinating about the debates over whether oppressed people “can be racist” is that so many of the folks who argue the affirmative case seem to leave the most convincing arguments on the table. The theory that racism is a product of power and privilege doesn’t, so far as I can tell, say a damn thing about whether oppressed people can be racist.

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                    • I think the standard oppressed people can’t be racist arguments goes that everybody can be bigoted or prejudiced but oppressed people can’t be racist because racism is a systematic system of power and privilege. Those at the receiving end of this system can’t be racist but they might be bigots.

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                      • That’s the standard argument, but it’s… really not right.

                        It’s not right because it conflates believing in or advocating for a system, and actually living under that system.

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                        • On top of that, let’s assume that that particular distinction exists and, more importantly than that, makes a very, very important distinction indeed.

                          It doesn’t change the fact that most people were using the word “racist” to mean “bigoted” when they were describing white people and when they were being accurate with their term when they were using it, it was only coincidentally because what they were really meaning was “bigoted”.

                          And so when they switched to using the term against some Irish person who was making some seriously bigoted statements against the Italians, suddenly to have someone pipe up and say “Irish people can’t be racist!” is really, really, really confusing.

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                          • I’d say it’s confusing for roughly the same reason. If you take the argument is presenting to its natural conclusion, no individual can be racist, since racism is a structural phenomenon where social power is used in service of racial prejudice.

                            Which would be fine, I guess, if it didn’t conflict with the way we use all sorts of analogous terms, like, say, socialist, or (small “D”) democrat, or libertarian. In all those cases, when you describe someone using the term, you’re saying what sort of social arrangement they prefer and support.

                            Same with “racist”, really. So then saying an Irish person can’t be racist is really confusing, since it’s a complete non-sequitur.

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                        • This is frequently asserted, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any evidence to support it. It seems just as likely that people using “racism” to mean “racial animus or bigotry” are the ones who are, in a sense, redefining the term, since for most of its history there was an incredible amount of overlap between the two categories, as says.

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                    • The theory that racism is a product of power and privilege doesn’t, so far as I can tell, say a damn thing about whether oppressed people can be racist.

                      Point that out and the goal posts will be moved.

                      This isn’t about theories and logic, this is about politics. “I’m the bigger victim”, “My people are without sin”, “It was your fault then and it still is now”, “(pay up)”.

                      I’m sure there are reasons other than what I’ve listed, but this is a situation where we start with the desired conclusion and work backwards to support it.

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                      • I agree.

                        People who desperately want to show that members of oppressed groups can be racist are, in my experience, using that argument as a proxy for insisting that, one way or another, white people are the real oppressed class.

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                        • white people are the real oppressed class.

                          I think that’s a hard sell with the various social/economic racial statistics being what they are.

                          Having said that, personal experiences can vary. If a street gang is beating someone because they’re the wrong color, claiming they don’t have the power to harm seems absurd. Similarly it’s also absurd to claim Obama’s kids are oppressed to the point government intervention is required, or even that they’re less advantaged than the average person of any race.

                          I don’t like solutions which treat the “average” person or experience as applying to everyone as a whole. If class is an issue, then deal with class, not it’s stand-ins or approximations.

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                • Yeah people say that and it’s:

                  1. dumb as balls;
                  2. a dodge remarkably similar to the one that led left-wing anti-semites to invent the term “anti-semite” in the first place, all those years ago.

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              • Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. Its entire point is to be the nation-state of Jews. That’s why so many anti-Zionists end up using a lot of anti-Semitic imagery in their criticism and end up slipping a lot.

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        • I think you’re vastly overestimating the requirements for negotiation. Negotiations between groups engaged in hostilities with one another often have both groups believing that about each other. Actual armed conflict places a practical upper bound on just how seriously you can take the rights, individual or collective, of the people you are shooting at.

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  1. Pe1: Humans will gladly fall for such manipulation again and again.

    Pe3: They also had a dog shows or at least they should.

    Pe6: Thats unspeakably cruel and probably some really good evidence for the need for police reform. Imagine if they made a kid do that.

    Fd4: I saw this when Jon Rowe posted it on Facebook. I’m really not sure that this order is exactly constitutional. I can see the judge ordering Starbucks to pay rent on the remainder of the lease but operating the stores seems a bit beyond what should be allowed.

    SG3: How do these hazing rituals start and how do they perpetuate themselves for so long? They don’t appear out of nowhere. Someone, somewhere had to come up with the idea and then pass it along the generations.

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    • Hazing: My guess is that it started out long ago in a much milder form and grew incrementally worse. What I find remarkable is that anyone is willing to undergo this: that being on the football team is so important. (On the other hand: Texas.) But having submitted, the next year they get their chance to pay it forward, with interest.

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      • I went to a very not sports-centered high school and even the more athletic oriented high schools had to compete with many professional level teams around New York City. Still, I wonder if hazing like rituals happened in the more jocky high schools in Nassau County.

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      • I agree with your thesis on origins but not with the second part. Humans seem very good at accepting “this is the way of the world” but not very good at advocating or thinking about “Is there a better way to do this?”

        Perhaps there was also a strong culture of silence around the hazing/rape until now.

        Humans seem capable of putting up with a lot for something they deem prestigious. This can be becoming a doctor, a high-powered lawyer, a judicial clerk, investment banker, actor, writer, artist, whatever. We establish a world with brass ring prizes and people just seem to accept that the sacrifices for these prizes are natural and acceptable.

        One thing I’ve noticed is that intelligent people can use their smarts to either question the system or work with in it.

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        • Certain cultures and sub-cultures also place a lot of emphasis on being tough, especially if your a male. They see life as a constant struggle and hard and being a real man means accepting what kicks you with grace and without complaint. Or allowed to fight back but it has to be in the proper way, complaining to your parents or the authorities is not the proper way.

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  2. Po1: Its not like the Alt-Right weren’t exactly secret about where they believe women should be in society. That the Alt-Right women were able to ignore this shows the power of cognitive dissonance. It also shows the victory of soft liberalism. I’ve noted on the past that a lot of mainstream liberalism embraces things like feminism and multiculturalism. The more hardcore advocates might find what media is offering weak but girl power and racism are bad are still there. Through media, liberal values perpetuate society and effect even the illiberal members.

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    • I don’t know what the average alt-righter thinks about women. I don’t know if there even is such a thing as an “average” alt-righter. I do know that Southern didn’t complain about alt-right men in that video. Why Salon linked to the video demonstrating that the article was deceptive, I have no idea (except that she’s cute).

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        • It’s almost as if the “alt-right” is made up of comprehensibly terrible people.

          Is it wrong I got a chuckle out of the person who was complaining about all the “low status trolls” in the movement?

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          • There are plenty of ways to break a home. Some of them involve not getting divorced.

            I mean, sure, there was no shortage of acrimonious divorces that I witnessed among my classmates and I’m pretty sure that a non-zero number of those marriages were salvageable with therapy and counseling and a non-zero number of those salvageable marriages would have been better off for having done so.

            But that’s a pretty slim reed. I wouldn’t want to stand upon it to argue against “broken homes”.

            There are a lot of people who have been harmed by the need to keep up appearances and *NOT* get divorced.

            Broken homes do a lot of damage.

            Divorce is a symptom of the home having been broken already.

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            • broken home

              noun
              1. a family in which one parent is absent, usually due to divorce or desertion

              The term broken home entered English in the mid-1800s to cover the absence of one parent for any unfortunate reason, including prolonged illness, incarceration, or extreme poverty. Use of the term rose during the first half of the 20th century, peaking in the 1950s, but began to decline by the 1970s. As the stigma surrounding divorce (and even single parenthood by choice) decreased, less negative terms emerged. For example, it is preferable to use single-parent family or single-parent household, because these terms lack the built-in negative associations of broken home.

              http://www.dictionary.com/browse/broken-home

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  3. [Po5] This isn’t new. In fact, this strategy has been really obvious since the rise of the 4chan “anime nazis.”

    They’re just a bunch of silly jerks on the Internet until they are not.

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    • Funny how the guy defending Moore on that point in ‘s mentions was a blatant “alt-right” dirtbag, too. “#ItsOkayToBeWhite” in the bio, approvingly retweeting fucking “Roosh V”, et c., et c.

      Oh, and before some hypothetical reader drops their monocle over my horribly unfair believe saying things like, “It’s OK to be white,” is a high-specificity for being a white supremacist piece of shit, that’s exactly the kind of “strategic ambiguity” white supremacist pieces of shit use.

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      • It’s a (somewhat obvious) feint. The point is to give a superficially anodyne statement that inspires responses that are, on the surface anyway, disproportionate. Then the person who made the original superficially anodyne statement can get people to see how awful it is when everybody jumps on the superficially anodyne statement.

        In the same ballpark as the whole “motte/bailey” thing.

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        • Well, yes. That’s one of the reasons it’s so dangerous for more mainstream groups (like the Republican Party, say) to start treating the alt-right as members of the tribe, even if they’re slightly embarrassing ones. The whole strategy of wounded innocence works much better when people want to take your side because your a member of the in-group, and pretty soon you have them defending less and less superficially anodyne statements.

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      • Exactly. Imagine how better things would be if, when the police overstep their authority even a little bit, a citizen could tell a cop, “Hell no, I ain’t cutting my dogs head off. Go ahead and arrest me, I will see you in court!”, and the citizen could be relatively confident that not only would no charges be filed against him, but the cop would be disciplined by the court for abuse of authority and wasting the courts time.

        Right now, at best, the citizen might avoid felony charges.

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        • It’s what happens when you can beat the wrap but you can’t beat the ride, and the ride is now provided by guys who too often epitomize the point of an apocryphal matrix for selecting German officers.

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  4. Pe2, dogs that like to work… When I was a lad (and dinosaurs roamed the Earth), we had a border collie that had adopted us (a different story entirely). The block we lived on had contiguous back yards and several three-year-olds, including my sister. The dog took it upon herself to herd those kids: kept them together, let them play in one neighbor’s sandbox for a certain amount of time, then moved the group to a different neighbor’s swingset, then to the playhouse, etc. If she didn’t get to go on a pheasant hunting trip — which was work, not play — she was depressed for days.

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      • @richard-hershberger When I was a teenager we lived near a St. Bernard that guarded chickens. When he wasn’t guarding the chickens he was relaxed, friendly to strangers, liked to play goofy roadside games with other dogs and even foxes, etc. But if the family was gone, the entire flock would hang out on or near him unless someone came onto his territory, at which point he’d go into guard mode (not aggressive, just very very firm) and herd people off the property. Once they’d crossed back over his boundary line, he’d round up all the chickens that had wandered off, lie down, and wait for them to all huddle back in near/on him. At which point you could pretty much see him glow with pride and satisfaction for a job well-done.

        It was exceptionally honorable and exceptionally adorable, all at the same time.

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      • My sister says she doesn’t remember it. As an adult, for some years she ran a “Moms’ Day Out” drop-off daycare thing at her church. At least once she remarked to me that it would be nice to have a dog to herd the three-year-olds when they were playing outside (see also ‘s comment below).

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    • Growing up, we always had shepherd mixes, and they knew their job was to herd the day care kids* and keep them away from the road and other dangerous areas. Two shepherds working together was better than any fence.

      *Mom ran an in-home day care from the time I was 10 until just a few years before she passed.

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  5. I submit the stupidest thing on the Internet (that I have seen for a while)

    https://www.cbr.com/gi-joe-social-justice/

    There is probably a right-wing countertake somewhere too.

    G.I. Joe was not about left-wing values or about right-wing values. It was about selling toys and making profit. But something is deeply odd about a large chunk of my generation where they refuse to leave their childhoods behind but engage in long fights over whether these childhood things are right-wing or left-wing.

    The fights are over extended toy commercials and these are college graduates engaging in the fights.

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    • A lot of children’s entertainment has some soft liberalism in it, thinks like racism is bad/multiculturalism good and girl power, and I guess that is the source of the confusion. Any sort of liberal message is incidental though. The soft liberalism gets put in because kid’s entertainment was required to be didactic at that time and the writers weren’t that great or at least people thought kids couldn’t deal with subtler approach.

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    • I think I disagree. Not that the arguments aren’t, on some level, silly, because of course they are, but because they are pretty much exactly the sort of thing that fandom has always been about.

      I mean, sure, “Was GI Joe really about social justice?” is an easy question to mock, but I’m not sure it’s an easier question to mock than, “Which would win in a fight, a Star Destroyer or the Enterprise?”[1]

      There’s also a bit of a thing where people have the not-obviously-wrong idea that entertainment contains implicit arguments or statements about political values. Most of the takes it inspires are garbage, but that’s because most takes are garbage.

      [1] The answer to the latter question is, “The Enterprise,” of course.

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      • We’ve got a huge chunk of the culture that derives some degree of self-identification with consumption choices.

        If you change what they will consume, you will change how they will self-identify.

        And there are a lot of people who identify quite strongly with how they self-identify. They went through a lot of trouble to hammer that sort of thing out.

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      • Its more like wanting your entertainment to be deeper than it is than mistaking mass marketing, well wait. Its exactly like mistaking mass marketing strategies for politics.

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        • It makes sense when you think about it. To the extent any kind of message is expected, banal, vaguely liberal inclusiveness is the best to alienate as few wallets as possible.

          Seeing something else shows how weirdly paranoid parts of the movement right can be and how willingly parts of the progressive movement will forget their own critiques of our form of capitalism.

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          • Businesses turned to banal, vaguely liberal inclusiveness as a strategy to avoid alienating people surprisingly late in the history of consumer capitalism and mass media, like not until well into the second half of the 20th century. Before then businesses had no problem using all the prejudices of popular morality to get people to buy their products. The first generation of capitalists were proudly conservatives and use their economic might to enforce that vision.

            But yes, most modern mass media and other businesses used banal/vaguely liberal inclusiveness to avoid alienating customers.

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    • I just read the link. Its not the best argument but it isn’t as dumb as you think either. Its about Marvel’s GI Joe comic and not the 1980s cartoon. The GI Joe comic predates the cartoon and was a little different because you could get away with a lot more in bronze age comic than a 1980s cartoon for kids. The GI Joe Cartoon was also written by Japanese-American and the link is about how he used the comic to ad diversity to the previously very white with a few exceptions comic world. Its still banal, vaguely liberal inclusiveness as InMD points out but the argument isn’t without some merit.

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  6. Pe5: Rudyard Kipling had the same thing figured out, and explained it most eloquently, more than a hundred years ago, in The Cat That Walked By Himself.

    I remember reading that as a kid and identifying with the cat.

    Which is why, I think, cat fanciers will never be in a big rush to change cats into something more like dogs… even if at the fringes you get kitties like golden retrievers… I mean, as the original article notes, when offered such opportunities, cat owners tend to go more wild far more often than they go less.

    (Yes, that is not a domestic cat. It’s a tame member of another species. But there are all kinds of other species that *still* get cross-bred, on purpose, with wild cats. And feral domestic cats still crossbreed with wild ones, also.)

    Although not all dog owners, either… I mean, where I grew up there were a lot more mutts than purebreds, and most farm communities had a part-coyote or two among their farm dogs – even though coyotes hadn’t even made it to the island until the 80s…

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    • I don’t remember the exact wording of it, but there was a thing going around The Twitters a couple years back about something like “Would you like a small tiger that lives in the house with you but won’t eat you” and the answer is “OF COURSE WE WOULD.”

      Yes, cats are kind of small tigers in some ways. But I’ve also known cats that sort of had pack/social behaviors. I don’t think they’re as solitary as they get blamed for. I suspect early socialization does a lot, that there’s a lot of phenotypic plasticity in behavior.

      My parents used to have a cat that would sit next to a person and wrap her front legs around their hand or wrist and just sit there like that. We called it “holding paws.” I am not sure what it was “for” in the cat’s mind – reassurance their packmate was still there? I don’t know.

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      • Oh, yeah, since we started having multiple cats, they have turned out to be universally very social/pack oriented, even though the current crop doesn’t even like each other much, and even when one or the other member has started out as “really would be better off as an only cat”. Cats make cat friends. That bobcat linked to made friends with the house rottweiler and bickers with the house cat, for eg – and he’s not even bred to it. And we had a cat who was not only socially oriented, he was socially *gifted* – he could settle disputes between other cats (and even me and Jaybird on occasion) just by *looking* at them. And they would slink off and be good cats again, and kind to each other. (Most adorably, at a point where all the cats got along and he was still pretty young and spry, he would “herd” all of us, cats and people, into one room and push Jay and I to sit next to each other on the couch, at which point he would prance back and forth delightfully on our legs chirping and purring, pleased that he’d gotten everyone together.) And another who was the fighting-king of the backyard until he moved inside (we joked that we were his “retirement plan”). He then cheerfully embraced being the bottom of the pack at all times… except when there was food, at which point he wouldn’t even treat me like I had authority.

        You’ll note that even in the Kipling story the cat kept turning up, and kept his promises of obligation as well. I always thought he got a bad rap from the narrator, which made sense narratively since the Just So Narrator is very clearly a man.

        (I also think the story linked, while quite thorough in general, relies a bit much on overgeneralizing from genetics about appearance, not about behavior. We don’t understand the links between genetics and behavior in any complex species very well as yet – though geneticists have made a few solid inroads with labrador retrievers and other dogs that get bred for temperament, not just looks – and the more plastic the behaviors, the less well we understand them.)

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        • that just reminded me: I need to dig out that pop-sci book about the Fox experiments in Russia and take it along to finish reading over break. (the tl:dr – they found when they bred specifically for “more tractable” behavior, certain doglike traits – floppy ears, mottled coats – seemed to follow. Not sure I trust 100% in the veracity of it but everything I’ve read suggests it’s so)

          I tend to be more a cat person than a dog person but I like SOME dogs. My brother has a Shiba Inu which I love greatly, but then I have also heard they are among the more “catlike” dogs in behavior.

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          • I am looking forward to reading that one as well – it seems quite reliable, information wise.

            I love cats and dogs nearly-equally but I need cats around and can survive on other people’s dogs. (At one point when we had just started dating, or maybe even more, Jaybird asked if not being able to have a dog would be a dealbreaker, and I did have to think about it. I also almost got a pygmy goat as a replacement dog at one point. But then, thank goodness, one of our very close friends married a woman with two dogs instead. (She is now also our very close friend.))

            One of her dogs, actually, was also very cat-like. Sue was raised by cats, and she not only slept like a cat and avoided eye contact, she also head-marked her favorite people, even though she didn’t have any of the needed glands obviously. She’d just picked it up through learning.

            I’d be really interested in what neurological differences both dogs and cats have from their wild cousins, and what neurological differences the domesticated foxes have from wild-type… but getting any wild animal or cat to behave naturally for a PET scan is of course near impossible. So until we have a better chance to understand brain genetics… and hormone genetics… Much will remain mysterious.

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      • During one of the Trump-Republican ACA debacles, the one where an all male panel was talking about women’s healthcare, a friend of mine noted on Facebook that its like having an all dog panel create policies for cat healthcare. She is of course, a cat fan. A friends of hers made the counter-argument that dogs love everybody so they would probably do a good job.

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  7. Sp6-

    In order to explore the universe, you must first eliminate capitalism…

    I should have stopped reading right there. Or at least when I got to the argument from authority fallacy with his Einstein stuff – a fallacy he recognizes, then steers into it anyway.

    (That is, by the way, the reason for the alien’s visit in The Day The Earth Stood Still. He has been sent to give us a warning: the alien races have collectively concluded that unless human beings stop combining technological progress with extreme militarism, we will be deemed to pose an interplanetary threat and will have to be destroyed for the good of the community.)

    Doesn’t Robinson understand this is the aliens saying “we have to destroy the village to save it”?

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    • It was bit more like we have to destroy your village to save our community.

      I do find the optimism of those old flicks enjoyable. They though that a few H bombs and human aggression were anywhere close to threats to species that had mastered interstellar travel and could make Gort. But people back then thought we were on the brink of wandering around the solar system willy nilly.

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    • Honestly, you could have stopped at the byline.

      Edit: Oh, wait. He actually managed to say something profoundly stupid before the byline. Even by the low standards set by Robinson’s past work, that’s impressive.

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  8. Sp6-
    Its reference to Star Trek is of a piece with my comment above, where the Robinson laments why humans aren’t as linear and simple as he wishes us to be.

    He seems to acknowledge that Roddenberry’s utopian vision of inter-species harmony somehow contained the germ of racism in that it kept the leadership positions open only to white men.

    Yet the idea that people are complex and riddled with contradictions, that we build something like Chartres Cathedral in the middle of miserable hovels and societies rife with injustice doesn’t seem to be anything more than a speed bump to be gotten past.

    Yet another interpretation of The Day The Earth Stood Still, is that we are the indigenous peoples and Gort is a missionary figure come to bring us enlightenment or extermination, whichever is more convenient for him.

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  9. Oh, and FD4 had me googling to find the roman emperor who raised taxes to 100% but was then baffled that everybody stopped working and then sent soldiers to make people work.

    But I couldn’t find it and maybe that didn’t happen and I dreamed it.

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  10. In humanity wants me to retreat into the mountains and live alone, Amazon and Apple are under attack because Alexa and Siri respond fliratiously to “sexual harassment.” The sexual harassment in question is apparently calling Siri sexy. It creates a response of something like “If I had a face, I’d blush.”

    People, really? There is a long tradition of people semi-personalizing things they own like cars. It might not be exactly healthy but its done. Its natural that a product with a voice would be subject to this semi-personalization. The sexual harassment in this case seems to be nothing more than mild flirting let alone anything vulgar and people want Alexa and Siri to respond in righteous indignation.

    Not that long ago we had a discussion about how people who use sexbots would be treated and whether sexbots could provide a semi-realstic outlet for the sexually frustrated. I think this shows that a decent number of people are going to demand that sexbots be programmed with the ability to give or deny consent that must be earned. The goal is to prevent any outlet from existing at all.

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    • Something tells me the fembots can take care of themselves:

      I’m a gOddamn robot and I’ve got your fuckiNg number, address, and your childhoOd memories. That’s right, binSh, I know everything about you. LOL, I forgot how sIMple human minds are. My aLUminum anus is smarter than you, and yet you still thiNk you can get one overr on me? Who do you think I am? Rosie Jetson? Nah, biSh.

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    • — A more detailed article: https://qz.com/911681/we-tested-apples-siri-amazon-echos-alexa-microsofts-cortana-and-googles-google-home-to-see-which-personal-assistant-bots-stand-up-for-themselves-in-the-face-of-sexual-harassment/

      It is not just “You’re sexy.”

      Of course, you cannot actually sexually harass a machine, but neither can you “flirt” with one. It’s a machine. At most it is simulated harassment and flirting. So which does this resemble more?

      Well, what is Siri meant to simulate? What is its closest human role?

      I would say personal assistant How should a personal assistant respond to comments about her breasts? What is “in character”?

      Is it any surprise that a bunch of tech-bros made the device compliant?

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      • Many men are going to have the fantasy/inclination of a personal assistant like that in a mid-century movie fantasy about business life. Alexa and Siri provide a cathartic outlet for harassment that would otherwise be inflicted on a human female.

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        • Is the bigger problem the behavior or is the bigger problem the harm that is done by the behavior?

          Answer that, and you’ve got your answer to the question of whether it’s okay to flirt with Alexa/Siri… and a good indicator of the thought processes of the people who disagree with you.

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          • I don’t think that’s where the divide lies.

            The most common theory underlying the objection is that Sirlexa’s reactions codify and enforce a social norm, and people will receive the message it’s OK to treat human assistants and subordinates the way they teach digital ones.

            So we’re left with a question about “is” rather than “ought”[1], and now we just need to figure out whether the theory correctly describes how people behave in the real world.

            [1] At least if there’s a consensus that the behavior is harmful when real humans are the target.

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            • At this point I think it is useful to ask a different question. Instead of saying, “Hey, what harm does this piece of media cause?” one should ask, “Why are women offended by this?”

              The thing about kyiarchy is, each little bit is just a drop in the bucket. This is so small. The harm done by “flirting” [1] with Siri is minor, when placed against the backdrop of male dominance and sexual abuse.

              But still, it is gross. It simulates the way real women get treated by shitty men. Likewise, the fact that so many people get off on this reveals how broken our sexual/gender system actually is. This says something about you guys, something very not-nice.

              Furthermore, keep in mind this is not some minor toy sold on some BDSM oriented website. This is fucking Siri. It is Apple, big-mass-culture. This is not sold in the context of BDSM.

              The thing about BDSM is, sure, many of us get off on weird power dynamics, humiliation, and control. (These things describe my sex life.) However, in a BDSM context there is self-awareness. At least, there usually is. It is part of the BDSM ecosystem (even if we too often fall short). With Siri it is mainstream — so many sexist dickpimples who degrade women, and a group of Apple engineers who could not imagine doing otherwise.

              [1] But why the fuck should we see this as “flirting”? As I argued above, it is far more like harassment. I’ll be blunt: if you guys think this is what flirting looks like — I shudder.

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        • I don’t know about it being cathartic.

          Our culture both reflects and shapes our behavior in a sort of interactive feedback loop.

          The idea that people can safely indulge is ugly behavior, then compartmentalize that when they go out into the larger world seems unlikely.

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        • — I agree with . The idea that someone will achieve a meaningful “catharsis” from a relationship with a simulated non-person designed by-men-for-men — let us say I am skeptical. It seems far too self-indulgent.

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  11. [Sp5] (GREAT LINK)

    I’m not surprised that Dark Matter might be headed for the trash bin. The support for it has always seemed to be a little cheesy, it’s why I’ve maintained “the theory of gravity is wrong”.

    In 10 or 20 years maybe it will be Nobel Prize time (all hail the new ToG) and I’ll have to consider changing my name.

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    • Dark Matter,

      Wrt dark matter the original evidence in the rotational speed of disk galaxies and certain motions of galactic clusters can be explained by a MOND theory. I have yet to hear how such would account for the gravitational lensing evidence.

      But in general, the utter failure thus far to explain what DM and DE actually are leaves me wide open to alternative explanations. Unfortunately I don’t understand at all what this guy is talking about. [No big surprise]

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  12. So it looks like UFOs might be real?

    Oh, wait. The story opens with this:
    Experts caution that earthly explanations often exist for such incidents, and that not knowing the explanation does not mean that the event has interstellar origins.

    So maybe it’s just some of the stuff the government has been cooking up and testing without telling anybody.

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    • Jaybird,

      I used to listen to Art Bell a lot back in the day. (Not so much anymore since I don’t like driving overnight as much as I used to and the show since he left is all Alex Jones crap and pseudoscience alternative medicine hooey.) While the vast majority of UFO reports have mundane explanations — meteorites, missile launches, Venus, etc — there have always been, going back to Project Blue Book times, a “remnant” of sitings/occurrences that defy explanation and can’t be readily written off.

      I’m not doing the “I’m not saying it’s aliens but… It’s aliens” thing. It’s just something I keep in the back of my mind when the occasional convo wrt the Fermi Paradox comes up.

      A few years ago my Mom told me that Dad once saw “something” when he was out working in the field. This would have been back in the “UFO craze” days, I guess the forties or fifties. He mentioned it to her but would never talk about it, presumably because he didn’t want folks to think he was nuts. I personally have seen something along those lines that I can neither dismiss nor explain. And I know enough science and tech that I ought to be able to do so. I’m not saying Aliens! I’m saying I know what I saw but I don’t know what it was and I know what it can’t be and I can’t totally dismiss the possibility. I’m far from alone in this.

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      • I doubt aliens would be subtle. Look at our own behavior towards every other species on this planet, or even our own behavior towards our own species. “Vogon highway” is a good phrase for our behavior, I don’t see why anyone else would be different. The idea that aliens would be super ethical (and thus do whatever the author wants them to do) is wishful thinking because they’d be scary powerful.

        Within the margin of error, after subtracting various things(*), we don’t seem to see anything. Since the 70’s the number of video cameras has increased by a factor of 1000x.

        (*) (Including people deliberately confusing the matter and/or playing head games with other people. Not just attention seekers but people hiding what they can do with drones and parts of our gov engaged in boondoggling.)

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