Sunday, April 15, 2018

If a double standard for you is a double standard for me....

So I'm watching TV and start seeing commercials for some new injustice called the pink tax.

Sure.  Make it sound like it's some institutionalized/systemic/patriarchal policy that the ever-male-dominated Congress has signed into law under Trump or some such rot.

As it goes, the notion is that women spend $1351 a year, typically, more than men do on personal stuff like bath products and underwear.

They complain that it's not fair, insulting.  Sounds unjust, doesn't it?

Funny.  A few months ago, I was hearing all about how the fragile male ego forced me to buy deodorant that didn't have pink teddy bears on them.  Now I'm hearing that, while we're all buying the exact same thing, the stuff with pink teddy bears is more expensive.

Maybe we're just being frugal.

I've seen women's bathrooms and you've seen men's bathrooms, so we both know "we buy the same stuff" is a lie.  I see cream rinse in some showers, none used solely by men, and I have no idea what it's for because I choose not to buy it and don't need to.

Are the pink teddy bears exactly the same as the blue ones?  Then buy the blue ones.  You can choose to.  No one is putting a gun to your head, or threatening jail time as if this were a real tax.

I mean, how do you think you're going to "repeal" it when it's not actually a tax on just the stuff you want?  It's just you buying more, and more expensive, stuff. How do you think you can fix that without destroying everything else? You’re talking changing prices by force of law, interfering with buying patterns, controlling what bathroom products are made and sold.

That’s going to cost society more than $1351 a head.  And I don't mean just in the pocketbook.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Was browsing Pinterest and found something vaguely political I thought I might agree with partly but seemed nuanced enough to make me willing to consider some contrary opinions. Something that I thought showcased well the inherent problems of a large and intrusive government, even if you thought such a government was a good idea in general. Usually these opportunities are in the face of half baked arguments I could have countered in high school (even considering that was decades before the current situations developed) and I hope these people pushing them also do.

So I click through to the site and discover that it was icing on a shit cake, written by someone who apparently without any sense of irony thought those particular problems were in fact the desired outcomes: the rest of it was what I was used to and what I try to avoid just to keep the anger and frustration in my life at tolerable levels.

Then I saw the caveat: no conservative opinions allowed, go to some anti communist site to bitch about us instead; liberalism is an inherently inclusive philosophy.

Oooh....yeah, swing and a miss, buddy. Maybe you got burned by some rude or angry conservatives, but this wasn’t even pretending to honor your principles.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Another case of dishonest eisegesis

Saw a video on YouTube recently about pirate trivia. A lot of it was interesting, including an item about how pirates practiced gay marriage. This surprised me a little bit because I didn't think "practicing marriage" was on the list of typical pirate activities at all. So they went on for a minute about how two pirates might decide to throw in together: they might pool their share of the spoils, if one died the other would get something for it and was responsible for making final arrangements...and they, I kid you not, would occasionally share a prostitute when they were in port. They'd share a prostitute? Kinks aside, that doesn't sound like anything that should be described as a marriage, gay or otherwise. What it sounds like is a mutual power of attorney compact between two close friends. It wasn't long ago that two men could be friends without being presumed to be lovers, and even something as seedy as splitting a prostitute wouldn't have cast doubt on that. But, anything to muddy the waters, eh? Keep this in mind next time someone makes a similar claim.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

On the value and limits of emotional argumentation

This isn't supposed to be about guns so much as something I saw on social media regarding last week's shooting inspired me to write this.  I will use some relevant examples, but this is not going to be a rant against people who do nothing but pull on others' heartstrings in order to achieve some goal that makes them feel safe or righteous or wealthy and powerful.

As I said in my last post, logic and facts aren't the only vehicles to truth; you just haven't arrived at it if right reason contradicts whatever your epiphany is (setting aside cases where maybe you just don't have enough data or brainpower to navigate some conundrums; I mean no insult or condescension as this world is big and complicated enough that even our brightest sometimes disagree and even get shown up by more humble minds), then maybe the revelation you had wasn't so fully true after all.

On the other hand, it can cut through a lot of the sophistry we use to lie to ourselves to make life a little easier to bear or our sins a little easier to ignore.

That's what people are feeling when they they experience a sort of mental "waking up" after some major life or society changing event.

The only problem is, it's often misdirected or just wrong.

Actually that's not the only problem.  In a phenomenon related to confirmation bias, if one relies too strongly on emotional revelations to take shortcuts around empirical analysis and logic, one will be inclined to take shortcuts around everything, and any effort or meme that resonates with the original emotional experience will be used to attempt to further whatever the goal is.  Thus we have widely circulated "statistics" like "there have been 18 school shootings already in 2018," but you only get that number if you include shootings in the same neighborhood and shootings between people who are neither faculty nor students at times that are not during school hours but happen to be in the parking lot (how such an altercation is supposed to meaningfully contribute to students' collective sense of fear is based entirely on empty, forced association, like if I say "Ivanka Trump" and "Founders Brewery" a lot people will start connecting the two in their minds just because I did it so many times first).  The real number of school shootings in 2018 so far is 7, and 5 have resulted in casualties (not all fatalities).  That's still horrible, but it's not the epidemic people want us to think it is.  Three thousand people died on 9/11, but you don't hear anything about an epidemic of religion-motivated terror attacks, even though those still hit the news, do you?

But I digress.  I was talking about how these epiphanies people have when they're smacked in the face with a tragedy often motivate people to espouse or do something unhelpful or counterproductive or useless.  Well, I was about to make that point, anyway.

The morsel on social media that stirred me to post yet again this month went something like this:
"When I have to wonder as I put my kids on the school bus if I'll ever see them again, it's time for things to change."

So, what's your plan?  To drive the kids yourself?  Gun homicides are competitive with vehicular homicides.  Homicides in general are the cause of death for school aged children roughly one fifth as often as accidents.

Ah, but that's not really what you meant, I know.  Like I said Thursday, gun deaths are offensive, but children's deaths by other means, in any quantity, lie somewhere between acceptable and unremarkable.

When I point something like this out, the only I answer I get is something in the shape of "it's easier to ban unnecessary and dangerous things like guns than stop everyone from using the cars they need because some people can't bear the responsibility."  There's some irony there I won't unpack today, but what they're doing is describing the problem and its solution as very simple things, and then hoping you'll confuse "easy" for "simple."

So, sure, there haven't been school shootings in the UK since guns were banned.  But knifing deaths (and survived injuries) are up.  And the homicide rate is lower...wait, no it's not:  the UK reports murder rates for these things, not homicide rates.  Murder is a homicide that a court of law has conclusively determined was unlawful, and thus is a significantly smaller number even if the total death rate is comparable or potentially higher.

So, like I would ask a slacktivist who puts a Hillary 2018 sticker on his car and goes to an election party to celebrate the historical inevitability instead of participating in it at the poll:

How do you think, if someone put you in charge or asked for your suggestion like I'm doing now, we could get as a country from where we are now to a place where people prone to mass murder are unable to get this one type of tool for scratching whatever crazy itch they have that makes them do this?
Do you want the police to be armed so they can use decisive force to protect you from someone attacking you with a bat or a knife or a jar of battery acid or their brute strength and gang members?
Do you think they will be available to help you any more than they are now?  What would you do to make that happen?
If you want the whole country a gun-free zone, what are you going to do to prevent something like when Prohibition fomented a lively black market for liquor and organized crime?  Why do you think any efforts you made now for this would be more successful than what turned out to be the only Constitutional amendment to be repealed?  Sure, gunsmithing is harder than brewing beer or distilling, but there are lots of other necessary things to society that require machining equipment, and if you've got that and the raw material you'd be using anyway and a little expertise, you're a week away from arming a small militia.

Sometimes they have answers to a few of these questions, but they're all solutions that are worse than the problems.  It's someone else's job to do the hard work.  But usually that doesn't get done either; we get something slipshod hypothetically run through Congress and then everyone clutches their pearls when unrefined details turn out to be show stoppers.  Then we're buying pre-owned AKs from Mexico and pulling contraband of various calibers out from the floorboards, because we knew the bad guys were already doing that.

But that's another problem they're hoping will just go away in the sweep.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

No, it actually isn't about guns.

I know they keep saying it is, and telling people who weren't there hiding or wringing their hands that they're not sympathetic enough to have a valid (let alone voiced) opinion.  But that's because describing the experience of fear is easier than being rational.

Sure, logic and facts aren't the only way to apprehend some truths, but truth and right reason cannot contradict, so if you are struggling with a contradiction, check your facts, check your logic, and check your gut; at least one and possibly all three are wrong.

I normally avoid hot political issues--okay, not abortion, but that's an old controversy and everyone is used to it from a political perspective--because it's an opportunity for social media to go crazy that am no longer young enough to find anything but tiresome and annoying and wrong, but I will make a rare exception and hopefully have the self discipline not to violate my policy...well...a third time.

I'll expand on my next point in the relative future, but without demeaning their horrific experience this week, as long as everyone is being political instead of remember our own and each other's humanity, these kids today, I tell ya...are just as dumb as we were at that age.

"A gun killed 17 students.  A gun caused all this fear."  Bullshit.  A disturbed teenager--I'll restrict my opinion about his mental health versus his snowflake status to watercooler chat at work--killed 17 students.  Or would it really have been okay to you if he just burned the school down?  Probably would have achieved a significantly higher body count; is that a fair trade in your eyes?  And fear?  Okay, the prospect of a shooter is more alarming than that of someone with a machete, Florida schools largely not resembling slasher flicks, but one generally doesn't see honest and well-adjusted people going around crying at the sight of a pistol on a cop's hip or unable to sleep because speculation about how many neighbors might have guns--even field stripped, unloaded, and locked away--in their own houses!

No.  They trot out the fear and hard cases to make hay while the sun's shining, but when the dust settles it's back to normal.  And in the end, no one cares that it was a sick young man who killed 17 children.  No one cares that Congress does not actually have the power to stop a distraught youth from coming unhinged.  But people will keep thinking it does, because they keep listening to people who keep saying it does, because they don't care about murdered teenagers or teenage murderers, they only care about what what they're going to get out of trying to corral public sentiment.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Just so we're clear...

...if someone points out that health care should be non-profit, it would behoove them to be reminded that:
  1. Actual hospitals in the United States already are
  2. "Non-profit" does not mean "government-run," except in the case of VA hospitals, which (alas, tragically, for our vets) are something nobody should be striving for.

Friday, February 02, 2018

A metaphor for abortion

“After my folks died," one apologist for abortion once said, "they left me their house, but I liked living in my townhome downtown; it was close to work and the grocery store so I didn’t need to drive much, and it was cozy.  I knew I would never want to live there—at least, not at that point in my life.  But I still had to go through the neighborhood a lot where the house was, and I didn’t want to be reminded every time I saw it that my parents were dead.  So I burned the house down.”

Okay, she didn't exactly say this, but this argument was identical in shape and logic to the argument she used.

Setting most other considerations to the side for a moment--such as the problem itself--does this not sound at least like one of the less responsible solutions, not more responsible, to her problem?