Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Brave New World circa 1991

In 1991 two things happened. Well, several things but two really important things. Linus Torvalds created a kernel inspired by Minix and Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet. Sort of. Both did nothing more than build on the past, just like everyone else who creates something, but they each gave us something that would inadvertently remake the world.

I won't give you a history lesson here, you can go right over to Wikipedia and read the history of the Internet and Linux. My point here is the present. In response to the surge of information sharing unprecedented in history governments and private organizations struggled to cope, regulate and understand the new world emerging. At first only industrialized nations could access the web, but as hardware became cheaper and second hand hardware more prolific, and with the help of free and open source software like GNU/Linux the people in the world were meeting each other anew.

Content owners and middle men panicked at the ability of people to share and governments recoiled at the ability to learn. Misinformation and malware spread, too, but open software and the non governmental nature of the web countered this. Even while copyright laws became harsher and trade treaties more draconian, distribution outpaced the best of legal strategies. The web was open and there wasn't much that could be done about it. Authoritarian countries have had some success but the advent of software like TOR and proxies on top of satellite internet connections have hampered their regimes greatly.

But now the UN is taking steps to take over the web from private organizations. They think they can monitor and control it, as the US government has tried to do for years. Unfortunately they still misunderstand the creation that has been unleashed. Any computer running any operating system can now communicate with any other computer. All content is tradable and sendable. The UN and FBI have focused on DNS, the system that allows us to type in names to go to websites instead of numerical addresses, but DNS is just a convenience. Already most of the web is the "Dark Net," unconnected to DNS servers and completely unregulated. Many illicit activities take place on the dark net, but so do many activist activities. Whole scale shutdowns of internet nodes can temporarily keep a nation offline, such as in Syria or the Great Firewall of China. While extreme, this method does still work.

But not for long. Projects like are working on mesh networking. If there is power and working hardware in a region, people can communicate. They can move in and out of the web, the dark net, and the mesh. The more the governments of the world try to stop information now, the more layers will grow around it. Government sponsorship created the web but it has long since left their control. TOR protects activists and byzantium works on keeping them online. The greatest tool for information sharing is only now starting to grow into maturity and it will be the end of authoritarian regimes, corporate overreach and hidden politics. Wikileaks spies on governments and shares anything it finds, bitcoin offers secure and unmanipulated currency while linux has opened a world of tools that can be used to build as many webs as are needed to keep ahead of those who would suppress information.

If I were an authoritarian government, NGO or multinational corporation right now I would be trembling in fear.

Logic Priest

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guns, Penises and Revenge

American culture seems obsessed with revenge, guns and dicks. Masculinity is increasingly tied to packing a gun (substitute penis) and the bigger the better, of course. One of the most prolific and politically active arms of the military industry are gun manufacturers. Decades of lobbying and ads and cultural manipulation have led to more guns sold than ever, despite the decrease in the overall crime rate gun owners supposedly need protection from. Hell, everyone from Mother Jones to CNN has the ad from the Bushmaster rifle the shooter in Conecticut had:

Lovely, right? Aside from the sexism, this ad is a blatant promotion of the violent revenge fantasies played out in every action movie and television show. Americans want to be the vigilante, avenging perceived wrongs. Most won't act on them, but I don't think the ones who do are all that different from the ones who don't. Maybe they just got pushed a little too far, were a little to isolated or were a little on edge from life events. Think how many regular office employees with no history of violence get laid off and show up armed.

But we as a culture cannot face our own demons. When a white gunman kills 20 children in a school his mother worked at, we call him "crazy" and a "lone nut." We stigmatize mental illness and then blame it. Now the man in question may or may not have had some diagnosed disorder, but it is statistically irrelevant. The rate of violence among the "crazies" is the same as the "normal" people. It is just an excuse, a dodge from actually examining our gun laws and violence obsessed culture. We have spent too long building arms and worshipping war and revenge to simply fix it, but it would be nice to at least talk about it. A little introspection goes a long way.

Instead we have Fox claiming that it is too early to talk about gun control, then five seconds later saying guns couldn't be to blame because crazy people and because other ways to die exist. They bring up various bombers and such while ignoring the rarity of such incidents. We always fall back on absolutism. If something doesn't work 100% of the time then it may as well never work, right?

There has been a lot of examination on why blaming mental illness is a terrible thing, on why we call out white terrorists as "lone nuts" while simultaneously calling non white terrorists what they are. But at its heart, the problem really lies in our inability to talk about the problem itself. Any way to otherise the violence and defensively fall back to our culture of gun worship we will take. We have problems. And they are very closely tied together. The same military complex that gave us the cold war, the Iraq war, the missile buildup and gun culture gave us these shootings. It gave us our religiosity and fundamental fear of science and distaste for environmentalism and feminism and every other positive ism. It leads even self identified skeptics to be irrational and in the end, it prevents us from introspection. It all ties to that. We cannot look inwards.

Logic Priest

Edit: Read the hell outta this.

Shiny toys

So I ordered 3 Raspberry Pis last week, hopefully I will get them soon-ish. They seem to always be on back order. I already have a million projects in mind including a rack mounted micro server stack and robots of the quadrotor variety. So in this political free post I won't say anything about any shootings or centrists posing as liberals or Fox-splosions or even the War on Christmas™. Perhaps another post.

Logic Priest

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Debate Narrative

The media and democrats underestimate normal people. I don't think very highly of the average person but I do at least know that everyone has been in an argument. Everyone can see when one party is rude and obnoxious and patronizing. The media, however, doesn't believe this. They think the average person wouldn't see Romney's yelling and awkward style as losing so the headlines today will be "early victory for Romney" or "Obama slammed in first debate."

While Romney supporters will take loud and interrupting asshole as a win, they don't matter. They are authoritarian morons and count just being able to breathe a win. If moderates and undecided voters actually watched the debate they would see one calm, adult man debating a petulant, sneering asshole. People aren't that stupid. They are, however, stupid enough to not check the story behind the headlines. Most didn't see the actual debate so their only look is the headlines. Most won't even read the articles. Had they watched or if the media would report honestly as if their audience were adults then the whole narrative would change drastically.

Good headlines would read "Romney interrupts moderator, flip flops on key issues, avoids answering questions" and "Obama defends obamacare, tax plan, economy." Instead they will declare a winner based entirely on how little they think of Americans. They will declare victory because they don't realize that people can tell when someone is an asshole, when they are just being loud because they have no points. People aren't very good at fact checking or logical analysis, but they are good at socialization, they are familiar with arguments. The only ones who think Romney won are either blinded by being on his side or too arrogant to think other people notice the BS. Maybe if the media didn't treat the undecided voters as dib children they would show a greater interest in the campaign.

Not that it matters much anyway. Undecideds didn't watch and won't make a decision based on a debate or policy, but entirely on their feelings about a candidate. Had they watched their feelings might have been influenced, seeing Obama be calm and mature would boost confidence in him, but they will only see the patronizing headlines.

Logic Priest

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Antiquated Crime and Punishment

As time goes on we all like to imagine some progress or other, and one of the biggest segments of society we love to wave over the heads of "backwards" cultures like the Islamic theocracies popping up around the world is how we treat and define crime. Things which don't hurt other people are gradually decriminalized and punishments become less harsh. Supposedly we have moved from punishment towards rehabilitation, and we have tried to remove punishments for behaviors which hurt no one.

This is obviously all bullshit. We may not execute people for blasphemy but in the US we have used the prison system as an institutionalized club to keep separate black and latino populations from the working class. From the arrests to the courts to the harsher prison sentences, black and latino men and women are singled out by a system claiming to be built around justice.

We have criminalized free speech if it crosses a corporate copyright, or if it comes from someone with an islamic sounding name. We have criminalized drugs that non white communities tend to use and we send rich white kids to "rehabilitation" while we send poor black and latino kids to jail for the first offense. Three strike laws turn smoking pot in your own home three times equivalent to rape. Judges and juries and prosecutors overwhelmingly single out black men and women, regardless of actual guilt.

The prison system itself seems to still be built around dark ages ideals. We throw people into chaotic private prisons with abusive guards and slave labor. Pot heads and petty thieves are thrown in with hardened rapists, murderers and career criminals leaving them little choice but to become violent themselves to survive. When they do get out after long terms of isolation from society with no actual rehabilitating therapy or job training, they then must convince employers to hire them over white people with no criminal record. When this fails, they turn back to crime and end up back in the slave labor and abuse built privatizing penal system.

Most states in fact still have executions. State sanctioned murder still exists in the US, even as we mock the third world for barbarism. We have made distributing a copy of a work over a century old a crime that can land you in the same prisons as the violent criminals, let loose in the jungle of gangs and abusive guards. We execute mentally ill and damaged individuals for crimes they didn't even know they committed. We still electrocute people, a punishment which sometimes results in death after minutes of screaming agony. We as a people know the numbers, the facts about racial makeup and the criminalization of actions which hurt no one, but we ignore and allow it because it only affects "others," that is non whites. A rich lawyer in California can run over and kill a man and never be charged, while an inner city high school student can be sent to jail for a decade for being caught with marijuana.

The entire prison system shifts towards longer sentences for increasingly harmless "crimes" under the watch of for-profit corporations using the inmate populations as slaves while barely caring for them. Approaching two centuries out from the end of slaver in the US we have found a way to bring it back. Nothing is more important than the profits of the gentry.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mittens, Fox and the "Otherness" of the Moochers

My favorite part of Mitt Romney and Fox's 47-49% of so called moochers are predominantly white, Republican voters but when Fox and Mitt complain about the welfare queens and those on government assistance they imagine non white people, inner city people who don't work, yankees and west cost elites, rather than themselves. They can be mocked to their faces and not see it.

The break down of those receiving government money by population are mostly the elderly and those working 40+ hours at bad jobs. Broken down by amount of money, it is mostly agriculture related people and large corporations. And if you include the tax cuts inherent in the pro-investor tax code and
"incentives" given to highly profitable companies. Red states receive the most aid, republican voters do as well. The shear dissonance is painful yet hilarious, or it would be if it didn't affect the rest of us.

At least Romney finally realized how much he fucked up though. In his post video release press conference he looked more terrified than Nixon did when questioned about his tapes. He couldn't find words, he was sweating and not at all composed. His normal cocky rich asshole demeanor was gone and shear terror took its place. It was brilliant to see. Even moderates will notice the issues at hand, as shown by a nice margin between Mittens and Obama among likely voters. It is just sad that the hard core republicans, at least 40% of people, will vote for him anyways. They will believe whatever Fox and the GOP sell them.

Logic Priest

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt may just be stupid

So at first I thought he was amoral and out of touch but that he was banking on winning the conservatives and was merely overestimating their numbers. Then I thought he was appealing to the whole white "real" American thing, trying to sway the older vote. Then he started avoiding any and all social issues, then he picked Paul Ryan. It was then and their I started to doubt. He speaks as if he is smart, but that is probably little more than his high education and wealth talking. He looks smart, by dressing in ten thousand dollar suits, by getting three hundred dollar hair cuts. But more and more I doubt that he is as intelligent as he claims.

Supposedly Mittens had been a savvy businessman. Supposedly he was good with economic policy. Then he picked one of the stupidest people in congress to be his VP. Someone associated with one of the most damaging potential budgets living memory. A man associated with hyper conservative social causes, all while Mitt was trying to distance himself from such social issues to win the moderates. After running a campaign reinventing himself as "severely" conservative, Romney now was trying to stay away from that label, but he picked the worst running mate possible for that.

Now he has said pretty dumb things but I had marked it down to a disconnect, at first. Then this happened. It started to become clear. He wasn't saying stupid shit because he was slippery, though he is amoral as hell, but because he didn't understand cause and effect. He is rich, spoiled and genuinely unintelligent. Mitt does not understand that when you say something in an age of digital recordings everywhere, where everyone has a camera phone, everything goes online, that the things he says are actually listened to. We have tape of him supporting choice, then being against it four years later. We have tape of him and his self absorbed wife talking down to and about the 99% of Americans, claiming that the rest of us aren't real Americans, are moochers and lazy slackers. In the linked article they highlight him using the same language used by the damaged psychopath Ayn Rand, a hero of his and Ryan's. He seems to think in the internet age he can say anything and deny it later.

Fifty years ago I could understand this. TV was new for most of the country and recordings uncommon. Even if something did get recorded, one of 3 networks would have to air it for anyone to see it. But blogs have been big for a decade now. Online news is fast destroying traditional news. He cannot rely on Fox to spin this anymore. His conservative base, who are also stupid in the authoritarian-believe-anything they are told sense, will beleive he is talking about them, despite the fact that conservative leaning states are by far the greatest recipients of the federal aid Romney bashes and plans on cutting. They are by far the majority in the group Romney whines about who "don't pay income taxes." But they would vote for a literal mannequin if told to do so by Fox and Friends. The moderates, who may not be good at rational thinking, are at least smart enough to know when a candidate openly hates them. When someone as stupid as Mitt Romney says he hates them out loud. They may vote with their guts instead of brains, but even guts can see such blatant bile and dismissiveness from a robotic and out of touch candidate.

Mitt's only possible chance with moderates was claiming the economy could be fixed by his non intervention (ya doesn't makes sense to me either) but he really isn't smart enough to sell that. He can't avoid the social issues and his own problems with money and tax dodging, and he isn't charismatic or intelligent enough to fake it. So there it is, Mitt Romney isn't just amoral, out of touch, selfish and corrupt. He is a stupid, stupid man.

Logic Priest

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rights versus Stupidity

There seems to be a pretty major misunderstanding in the US about the definition of a "right." Especially when it comes to the ones outlined in the Bill of Rights. I'm sure it is some extension of privilege in general, but it still amazes me how fast some people come up with new ways to completely ignore the actual meaning of a given right.

Jezebel has an article about how yet another business owned by evangelicals mistakes their "right" to the free practice of religion to be the right to impose said religion on their employees. Employers around the country have jumped on this one, thinking that somehow being forced to pay for medical related fees such as birth control is infringing on their right to believe in magical sky fairies. The logical process is right out of your standard privileged dumbass handbook, like when white folks complain that PoCs can now like, get jobs and stuff they must be infringing on said white folks rights - to be better than the PoCs. I am against even blatantly church related jobs being exempt, like preachers and nuns, but the general consensus in law is that employers and schools and others cannot deny some right to their employees or students because they feel like they don't have to. The same way tax dodgers don't get off because they feel like they don't owe taxes, religious people and institutions can't discriminate because they want to. If we could ignore the law or other people's rights because we felt like it then no one would actually have rights.

Another favorite of mine is free speech. Poke around the internet for a bit and you can find comments sections and Facebook posts where someone says something stupid, offensive or just plain awful and someone else corrects or bans them. Cue complaints about free speech and violations thereof. It is as if they don't know the difference between a blog and a government. Or that they don't have some right to be free from critique. Not only is it the critics right to free speech being exercised when they blast a moron, it is a forum owner or blog writer's free speech to ban a commenter. No one has a right to be published in any arena they feel like and once again the right doesn't only apply to the whiniest people.

These privileged idiots love to blather about their first, and second, amendment rights all while ignoring other people's same claim to the rights. They love to pretend a right is absolute to the point of infringing on other's rights. They love their privilege and think getting their way is a right. I have gotten to the point where I just want to slap them with a dictionary, a big heavy one like the OED or something. I doubt it would do much, though, since they already live in their own little world.

Logic Priest

Saturday, September 15, 2012


So on this year's 9/11 there was a string of assaults on US embassies. Many missed the date based significance and odd coordination of efforts and took at face value the claim that the assaults were over some obscure, racist video on the internet. It feeds into our view of Muslims as violent, and while the number of violent acts in response to "offensive" religious imagery by Muslims is certainly far greater in recent years (see the Onion article) than the equivalents by other religions, it seems like an obvious misdirect in this case.

Perhaps there were some who showed up in those crowds because of the video, but the outrage was manufactured. Someone was deliberately making some point, using violence. It would be a massive coincidence if after a relatively calm period in the countries in question, many of which had their own far bigger problems to deal with like Libya and Egypt, for all of these attacks to happen on the same day. A day which happened to have its own significance as well. Even my gut reaction was one of anti Islamic sentiment, but looking again it seemed to be less a generalized Muslim cultural issue and more of a last ditch effort by a dying islamist group.

Not much else, just thoughts on not trusting your gut all the time.

Logic Priest

Thursday, September 13, 2012

STEM Fields and Mental Elasticity

One thing I have noticed by spending time in and around academia is a certain predisposition of personalities within broad sets of majors and fields. This isn't to say you can say all biology majors are going to be x or y, since that is a fallacy of composition, but in general I have noticed features shared in common among those in a given grouping of majors.

Stem includes a few major separations with large gray areas. Firstly I would say you have the theoreticians. These are those whose work differs from philosophy only in how rigorous the work actually is. They use the rules of logic to build complex sets of algorithms that can be used by other fields but are often sought for their own sake. People such as mathematicians and many computer scientists spend most of their time thinking abstractly, separated from the physical world's ills and limitations. They seek relationships and algorithms and create frameworks necessary for the rest of science to work.

These individuals, in my experience both in person and reading the things they write, seem to be intelligent and very good at abstract thinking. They can construct beautiful algorithms and see relationships between things that most would never think of, much less be able to describe. The downside to such abstract thought, however, seems to be a certain affinity for abstracting reality a bit too far. To these people the relationships can take on meaning of their own accord, regardless of any application or evidence. They buy into crank hypothesis with little to no real world backing, like mind uploading and the AI singularity. Mathematicians sometimes like to think their pet numerical relationship has meaning beyond the numbers, despite evidence to the contrary. Logicians and rationalists, this group sometimes likes to over simplify the world into an abstract algorithm, since most of what they do is abstract and give general cases for things. They end up thinking they can use logic with no premises to describe all of reality.

The opposite end of these rationalists are the pragmatists who strongly populate the fields of engineering. Studies have shown that those who have engineering degrees are more conservative than the general populace and far more so than those in the other STEM fields. It is now established that conservatism tends to bear a strong relationship to mental inelasticity and it is easy to see the attraction to a field where much of the work done is the application of established theories. The grunt level of engineering is the reapplication of the same formula over and over again, allowing problem solving without genuinely abstract thought or rational analysis. Conservatives shy from abstract thinking, having a sort of mental laziness or fear of over complex ideas. The natural inclination towards shying from analytical thought may may intelligent but conservative people go into engineering. This way they can avoid anything which could upset their world view or cause them to doubt the simplistic mental constructs they build but still be challenged with problem solving.

The third group could just be called the scientists. This includes, of course, physicists and biologists but it also includes applied mathematicians and computer scientists and research engineers. The main feature of this group is the ability to think abstractly and question everything, something strongly lacking in many engineers, and the grounding in reality necessary to reevaluate their algorithms and hypothesis. These scientists must be willing to experiment and observe, to include new evidence into old abstractions and to discard said abstractions when necessary. Scientists may not lay the groundwork for rational analysis but they are capable of it. This group makes all the discoveries in nature and tends to be the most progressive and self analytical, since having something you work on for years be discarded can give you a fairly flexible outlook on life.

The logicians and theoreticians make it possible to analyze. The scientists use those tools to discover the world. The engineers get shit done, making the tools for the scientists and creating the civilization around us. Many people are in two or even three of these groups, and they are the best balanced, mentally. Abstract thought is good for us all, but practical reason is a necessary temper to it. The ability to apply our discoveries is the basis of all we have built, but being able to think critically is just as urgent. Ideally scientists could learn from engineers and logicians from scientists, and engineers could apply the reason of scientists and logicians.

Logic Priest

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Problem of China, part something

China is a massive country with a growing industry and middle class, emulating almost perfectly the United States route to dominancy. It started with cheaper and faster industrialization backed by government protection and even funding, it has been fighting the growth of its own middle class while exploiting them as a market and it will, like the US at the end of the industrial age, have a massive banking and currency collapse. It won't, however, be as bad. China has one challenge that the US did not: a truly global market.

While Chinese companies and the government of China attempt to exploit smaller, weaker countries the way Europe and the US did, they are running out of places to go. The mercantilistic and imperialistic methods of past industrialized nations won't work out as well in an interconnected world. The highly protectionist policies that have enabled some Chinese companies to better exploit the growing consumer class in China won't hold up as long. For example, their first to file patent and copyright system allows local companies to file obviously false claims, like a company now claiming the iPhone 5 in preparation to sue Apple when they release it in China. Google's Android may lose out to a local phone OS because Google services are severely limited by an autocratic an paranoid government. A system built on bribes and business ownership of local governments, worse even than the US, has built a highly protected atmosphere, but the Chinese people won't have to put up with it. They have alternate markets, alternate sources of goods. Chinese goods are not necessarily the cheapest now, and brand identity, such as Apple's, makes the consumers there demand genuine iPhones, not knock offs built to abuse a terrible patent system.

On a side note, the US patent system is supposed to change to first to file as well, opening up the same mess as in China where patents favor the filer with money and local offices rather than the inventor.

China is emulating the western method of industrialization, and while it is working now the collapse will have a very different recovery. The military industrial complex that was built in the US, the arms race and world wars being absent, won't truly be able to build up. I consider this an excellent thing, allowing China in a few years, after the communist government collapses with the currency they have artificially propped up and deliberately used to slow their own middle class growth, will be able to show the west how to build a modern economy and infrastructure. They may, if we are lucky, pass on US and Japanese style patent systems and copyright enforcement, where jail time and outrageous lawsuits are the norm. They will have a chance to build a consumer class from the ground up, competing fairly with a world market.

Or they could try to copy our obviously broken system. Either way. In the long run the US system is doomed to fail. It increases wealth disparity, reducing the flow of currency and growth. We have built a patent and copyright system built to prevent competition and eliminate consumer rights. We have tried to all but destroy worker rights. While China slowly moves towards sanity, we move towards insanity. The system of imperialistic abuse is almost completely dead, and a truly global economy will allow no more hiding places for the wealthy, no more tax dodges, no more exploitable cheap labor. We can only hope China is a catalyst for the new system to be built, and we can only hope the collapse they suffer right before that isn't too harsh.

Logic Priest

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lazy People

Only lazy non whites take in welfare. Because when it is "hardworking" white people it isn't welfare, just government aid. When Exxon pays negative money in taxes after making record profits, it isn't welfare just "incentives." When the red states in the union receive far more in federal aid than the taxes they pay it isn't welfare it is... actually I am lost on that one. The only explanation is the "otherness" of the people conservatives imagine to be getting welfare.

Now intelligent and rational people know that the economic imbalance in the US doesn't stem from the lower classes working less or being lazy, but from a combination of luck and occasionally some ability. Mitt Romney, for example, was born into wealth and used it to make more. He now holds no job and makes millions a year. Millions of people work 40 or more hours per week and make at most $50,000 a year. Is this because they are lazy? Obviously not. The point of government aid was never to help the lazy but to provide a slightly better playing field and more importantly as a safety net. When the millionaires and billionaires inevitably crash the economy they lay off workers. Now hard working middle and working class families and individuals need a way to live, to feed themselves. Yes they don't have jobs but not due to laziness, rather a lack of opportunity. An ideal government would open as much opportunity to as many people as possible.

Yet somehow the myth persists with conservatives, especially those who receive aid, bitching about how welfare recipients need to stop being lazy. No one, liberal or not feels that we don't need to work. In fact the biggest issue most liberals have with the rich is the fact they receive what amounts to tax breaks and welfare by being rich. They work the least and make the most. Then these rich people use racially charged language to convince working and middle class white people to imagine lazy non whites taking all their money, causing the government debt. In reality the massive wars and too low tax rates on the wealthy cause the debt. I keep hearing about largest peace time expenditure while we are in the middle of two wars.

Rich corporations get welfare they don't deserve. Rich people get tax breaks they don't need. Liberals don't want to "punish success" they merely want conservatives to shut the fuck up about lazy poor people and look at the abuse they receive from lucky rich people. Hell, most of the wealthy who started poor and middle class are liberals. It seems to me the rich folks whining about persecution and hard work "earned" their wealth by being born to the right parents. Mitt Romney was born rich, he is a Republican. Bill Gates admits he got a lucky break, worked hard to build his wealth, and is a liberal.

The next time someone whines about poor people taking their hard earned cash, remind them the difference between a welfare check and the literally billions of dollars of "incentives" that oil companies, coal companies, and red states receive from the federal government. Remind them that most welfare recipients are either working part time jobs or can't find jobs because the rich people fired them all. Remind them that the mean income for the middle class hasn't gone up in decades while the top one percent has exponentially grown. Remind them they are fucking racist assholes.

Logic Priest

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oh, Poe

That's it, I have officially lost all ability to tell nutjobs from liars. The internet has become so full of poorly done satire (AKA trolling) and genuine crazies that I cannot tell them apart any more. The trolls, as they call themselves, range from people attempting satire and failing, either due to a lack of physical expressions or just a lack of talent, to people who mean what they said but try to cover for it when the negative reactions pour in. Trolls often want to either mock the crazies or elicit emotional reactions out of normal people. The ones attempting satire are ok, they just need to be very clear that is what they are doing. The others, the assholes, are no better and often identical to the crazies.

It is like the rape jokers. They make rape threats and jokes then claim they were mocking or just getting reactions out. These people are still misogynists. They just don't have the guts to stand by their craziness.

Then their are the actual crazies. One downside of the internet is the ability to only hang out with people who are equally crazy, thus making you feel validated. Where before you had to at least fake reason in polite company, now you can discuss insanity with other insane assholes. Fundamentalist Christians and conspiracy theorists are the worst of these. And at this point, I can't tell these people apart from the two types of trolls. The things being said are so outrageous that the trolls try to be even more outrageous, which only reinforces the outrageous ideals of the real fundies. As far as they know they are being supported, thus giving more force for their argumentum ad populem.

The isolation and reinforcement and groupthink of the nutjobs is only getting worse, while the trolls struggle to keep up. The Onion looks more and more like reality, although they are at least explicitly satirical. Even that isn't always enough, going by the constant pick up of satirical articles by mainstream media and bloggers and Facebook. We have come to expect crazy so a satire can easily be passed off as real, even accidentally.

I give up. I will pretend they all mean it unless they explicitly said otherwise up front.

Logic Priest

STABBY (On false neutrality)

It is really, really irritating to listen to Republicans. Not the heads of the party, but the little guys on the street. They buy anything said heads sell them, no questions asked. When told that repeating the policies that caused the recession will fix things, they buy it wholesale. When told Obama hates business because of one really out of context quote, they convince themselves that is what Obama said. When told the Obama didn't pass any budgets in his recent two years, they forget it was because of the GOP dominated house blocking everything. When their party breaks shit and blames Obama, no matter how obvious, they buy it.

What is interesting is that Democrats, the little guys, don't seem to buy their own party's bullshit as quickly. This isn't to go on about the supposed intellectual differences between the GOP and DNC, but it is interesting how self identified liberals question their own leaders while self identified conservatives refuse to ever admit one of theirs could be wrong. At this point the cognitive dissonance of pinning the blame for things that happened in 2008 must be painful. Any time a fact check points out a GOP inaccuracy (read: lie) they claim the media is biased and full of shit. When the same fact checkers point out a DNC lie they jump all over it as absolute truth, which is interesting because sometimes in the interest of appearing neutral people like politifact and CNN apply a higher standard of truth to the DNC claims than the GOP ones.

Politifact and CNN are the worst ones about that. They are so desperate to appear in the middle they forget the truth has nothing to do with the middle. The truth is independent of any ideology and as Stephen Colbert said, reality has a well known liberal bias. Both parties lie and misrepresent facts, but the GOP is far, far worse about it because their own base will believe anything they tell them. The Democratic party cannot lie as much because their own party members will call them on it and the media spends a lot more time on it.

Really there isn't much to be done about the deliberate ignorance of conservative voters, they spend their whole lives deluding themselves with gods and alternate pasts. But I really dislike the imaginary version of neutrality the media is attempting. If you hold the DNC responsible for misstatements or slight inaccuracies then hold the fucking GOP accountable to that level as well. Take the time to make it very clear to liberal and moderate voters that the GOP rarely, if ever, speaks the truth. Point out lies from both, but hold them to the same standards. Pointing out the higher volume of GOP lies doesn't make you biased, it just means the GOP lies more. This universal media attachment to the golden mean fallacy is bad for the system, bad for democracy in general. Media should focus on the truth, not the opinion of an unappeasable conservative base. No amount of pretend neutrality will ever make Fox News watchers admit they are wrong. They watch Fox News for fuck's sake, where anything to the left of fascism is a filthy communist.

Logic Priest

Monday, September 3, 2012

RNC Convention

So aside from the blatant lies by pretty much every speaker, aside from the hilarious Clint Eastwood rambling where he blamed invisible Obama for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there was a distinct lack of any information at all. Ryan, a supposed policy genius, failed to tell us how he and Romney planned on doing anything at all. He promised 12 million jobs using what I can only assume must be black magic, considering the insanity of such claims and the lack of any methods to do it. Romney's wife, Ann, told horrible, awkward rich white people jokes but gave us no reason to like her husband. Romney himself didn't even make the vague promises Ryan did, so much as attack Obama's imaginary sins (while ignoring the real ones) and promising his business experience would help him turn the country around.

The main issue, of course, is that they want us to forget that Romney/Ryan want to implement identical or worse policies to the ones that caused the recession. They claim the government can't fix things, that only the private sector can, and that they, in the government, will fix things. They want us to ignore Romney's business experience at Bain and the Olympics while he touts them as proof he can fix things. They want us to ignore his experience as a governor, while touting it as reason to believe he can be an executive.

DNC next week woot.

Logic Priest

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pop Bio Psychology

I call bull. With the exception of lower IQs tending towards conservatism from a simple fear of change, I really doubt there is much effect from your genetics. To quote the article against itself:
Some part of these differences is from rearing and culture, but massive variation exists even within the same household.
The same household implies family implies related genes. This is just another case of overreaching evolutionary psychology. While our basic actions and social personalities are from biology, specifics like individual political beliefs are not easily linked to anything so simple. To be fair to the researchers, though, it is probably (definitely) being misrepresented.

There are genetic components to some broad personality traits. As I mentioned with lower IQ trending towards conservatism, but party affiliation and individual issues are related far more to the area and family you were raised in. In fairness, I will read the article and update if I notice any convincing arguments.

Logic Priest

Interesting Hypothesis

And a gob of evidence supporting it right in the comments.

The link, via Rational Wiki. 

Logic Priest

A Little Research Goes a Long Way

My boss keeps recommending some book I hadn't heard of The Amateur, by Edward Klein. So before I pay money for some critical of Obama book I look up the author. He was once an editor at the NY Times magazine and had previously written Some Kennedy books and pseudo novels about Obama. A bit off already, but he had journalistic standing at some point. So I read the NY Times review of his book. They note a glaring vagueness and lack of evidence for his supposed over 200 interviews and the occasionally suspiciously similar to already existing quotes usage. If that previous sentence made sense.

Klein brought up a lot of unnamed sources claiming to be close to the president or his campaigns, but little evidence and even sometimes contradictions, as with his Bill Clinton quotes, lead me to believe he wrote what he wanted rather than found out. On top of trying to paint an incredibly centrist politician as some sort of radical anti-capitalist Israel hating self obsessed monster, Klein wants us to believe Obama is somehow less qualified than the alternatives.

As the title of the post says, a little research goes a long way. He wrote an article version for a known birther and UN conspiracy site, the American Thinker. He quotes unverifiable sources with no evidence. Klein is obviously just pushing his personal agenda over anything else, and this is pretty consistent with political books. I never buy or read them unless I see some reason to believe they actually back up their claims, that they aren't simply vague political points designed to be read and consumed by others who already agree. Most of these books claiming to be some great exposé tend to be little more than a Bill O'reilly or Rush Limbaugh rants about this or that liberal destroying the universe. Conspiracy theories do not journalism make.

I research authors and sources before I bother to read them. Unless they are open about being political treatises rather than pretending to espouse fact, they are worthless without good sources. Honest philosophical books are ok, they just need to be up front about having no proof. While a history of well researched and honest books is no guarantee a given author's next book will be the same, it is a good indicator. Each statement and source must be taken on its own merit, but it is not worth looking for a single good idea in the work of a political opportunist. It costs too much time and money otherwise.

Logic Priest

Monday, August 27, 2012

Letter to the Worst Generation

Dear baby boomers,

As you may guess from the title of this post, I kind of hate you. It isn't from some sense of rebelliousness or anger that you outnumber us and will force us to work twice as hard as you to keep you alive well into your 80s. It isn't because you constantly deride my generation as weak or selfish or shallow. I have a lot of complex reasons for hating you, and it is with much thought that I declare the baby boomers the worst generation of the last century. In order to illustrate as clearly and simply as possible, I will give you a list of reasons you have destroyed the world.

Regressive social values: Everyone loves to talk about how the hippies, a group of rich, entitled and self important baby boomers somehow affected the social change that brought things like the civil rights act and the end of segregation. Aside from the gross historical inaccuracy and offensive nature of claiming a bunch of upper middle class white kids high on every drug they could find somehow caused social and legal changes by showing up places and being high, it misses the generation who actually affected change. There was a lot of social inertia moving against desegregation and the sexual revolution, but the ones who actually began to change were the war generations. A general who had served in both world wars desegregated the military. A WWII veteran pushed the civil rights act. A man barely too young to have served in the same war was one of the most influential rights activists in history (MLK Jr, in case you were wondering). The Warren court expanded constitutional protections more than any court before or since, and every person on the Supreme Court then was around for both world wars. The generation that the hippies thought they were rebelling against was the one affecting social change and it is really annoying that the same stoner assholes who grew up to be neoconservative sociopathic business people can try to claim those battles.

In fact, in the era the baby boomers have had power, from the late 80s onwards, we have moved backwards with civil rights. We now have those former hippies pushing to overturn Roe V Wade, force religion down the throats of the people who had benefited from the previous era's secularization, and found a way to continue the red scare into a new racist version against brown people. The baby boomer's parents were awful in so many ways, with violent racism and nationalistic witch hunts, but they are the generation who had the guts to look inwards and change the rules. They didn't go far enough, but they took steps in the right direction. Steps that their children have spent 30 years trying to undo.

Selfish and shortsighted economic practices: Somehow the baby boomers made more money for the top percent or so than ever before while managing to not grow the middle class their parents worked so hard to build. As soon as the baby boomers took over the average wages for those under the top percent stagnated, having barely grown since the 1980s. Where the generation coming out of the wars had learned from the Great Depression and had developed a set of ethics for business, the baby boomers spent all their energy paying bonuses to the ones who cut wages and bankrupted smaller firms. The entire economic crisis is traceable to the deregulation and inevitable orgy of unethical business practices. Three decades of increasingly short sighted practices led to faster and harsher boom bust cycles, until it finally caught up with us in 2008. Developing countries offered a haven for their money and labor, but eventually international ethical regulations will crash their insane power run.

Self righteousness: On top of regressing the economic and social efforts of their parents, the baby boomers love to claim they did it all. Then they rub it in the X and Y generations faces. They call us lazy and aimless, they whine that we don't work as hard and they had it harder, they complain we don't finish college like they did. This one is the one that makes all the other failings so much worse. After promising us college and jobs, they increased school prices enough to force us to take out loans we will be paying off for 40 years. They gave us an economy with no growth or jobs. They complain about the fate of education and accuse us of being shallow all while killing our school systems their parents built and picking only the worst people to represent us. My generation is NOT the Jersey Shore. We are not Taylor Swift or Michael Bay or American Idol. These are shows and stars created by baby boomers, picking the worst of my generation and then shoving them down our throats. My generation has no way to escape the control of content, economy and culture you try to take from us. Don't break something and blame us for not having it. Don't get upset when we download songs or surf the web when you gave us no other choice. Don't accuse of of being unoriginal or uncreative when you lock the entirety of ideas into corporate hand. Don't get upset when we decide not to support you in your old age, when you abused us and the world around us. Don't whine when you force a Christian revival on us and we respond with hostile atheism. Just go. Let us try to run things before you destroy the world with industrialization and worker abuse. Let us try to fix your mess without accusing us of being ineffective. We are the most politically active group, the most discontent, the angriest. You think your crowds of teabaggers are angry, take a look at your kids. We have traitors in our own generation because you trapped them at home with nothing but ancient fairy tales. When you keep buying the bullshit you sell yourselves, don't complain when we ignore you and move away from you. In fact, baby boomers, either support us or shut the fuck up.

Logic Priest

Friday, August 24, 2012

Apple is, Apparently, an Island

Apple has won over a billion dollars in damages. Not one of their patents was anything but the shape and user interface features on their phones and tablets. After decades of corporate PR convincing us that these companies can own vague shapes and ideas, that elements of a product are property unto themselves has taken its toll. We have been convinced that Apple is a poor little soul and big mean Samsung ruthlessly stole from them. Things like rounded corners and flat faceplates and bouncy icons and user gestures allowed Apple to claim over a billion dollars from a legitimate competitor. No technological components were stolen, no unique ideas copied. There were no fake iPhones were sold, and no one on earth confused the Samsung phones for iPhones. At no point did Apple lose money to Samsung in any way other than by Samsung selling a competing phone.

But this is the same culture where you own every song and sentence you write for 70 years after you die. This is the culture where you can patent obvious features in software like search bars and object coding. This is the culture where millions of iPhone owners cry out in joy that a company they don't buy products from is being punished for selling competing products, where they fight in forums and with friends with claims that Apple invented touch screens and phones and computers and sex.

This is the culture where an entire political party refuses to admit cooperation helped them be successful. We are officially an Objectivist culture, having convinced ourselves all success, all ideas have no precedence and are by right one person's forever.

Logic Priest


Apparently I am not the only one suspicious of a jury getting through the pages of instructions and 700 questions and it appears my initial assessment that it was purely cultural was right. Lawyers over at Groklaw combined with strange interviews with the jurors have made it seem like the jury decided before and without the benefit of the instructions. They decided that because Samsung compared their products, was an Asian company and had not been "first" they must have copied and were deserving of punishment. Since patent law is not about punishment but compensation for theoretically lost business, this is already a break with the legal bindings on the jury. The fact that the foreman admits basically leading the jury around actually following instructions and another juror admits they had made up their minds on day one, despite evidence offered afterwards, the case looks weaker and weaker. Appeal is very likely now.

It just goes back to my claims above. Americans have become convinced by lobbyists and PR campaigns that you can own a vague idea and form. The jury ignored the Samsung patents and let this ridiculous idea of "stealing", combined with a healthy dose of racism taint their decision. They decided bouncy screens and jiggling icons are the property of the American company and that the Asian company just stole it and deserves to be punished for that. Copyright may be corrupt enough to allow such strange ideas of property and punitive damages, but patent law isn't, yet. As broken as patent law is, punitive damage and form are not part of it. Hopefully the appeals court will help cement the idea that you cannot patent basic functions, but only methods and inventions to do said functions.

Maybe, just maybe patent law can get the reforms it needs. Shorter terms, stricter requirements to start with.

It's Out in the Open Now

Take a look at this lovely quote from none other than Willard Mitt(end) Romney himself:
"I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born," Romney said on Friday. "Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."
There we go. He knows he can't win liberal voters, he knows he can't win intelligent voters, so he is left with mobilizing the insane, racist religious right. Next up? Muslim jokes I assume. He is going to do what McCain at least avoided in public, capitalize on the "otherness" of Obama. Make Obama out to be some foreign, scary black man to frighten the old moderates that he plans to screw over in social program cuts. Convince the poor, southern states who receive the most federal aid per capita to vote against federal aid so it doesn't go to "other" people. Dark people. Non "Anglo Saxon" people. It can't be accidental anymore. People were trying to excuse the Anglo- Saxon bullshit, and now they are running around trying to excuse the birther bullshit. But when Mittens keeps doing it it seems a bit deliberate. The GOP has finally stopped any attempt at subtlety.

Logic Priest

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gifted? Is that in the DSM IV?

For fuck's sake. I am torn between scorn for a woman touting her oh so special child and concern for said child who, from the mother's descriptions, seems to exhibit symptoms of real psychological issues. The inability to switch tasks is not generally a sign of a high IQ rather than a sign of high functioning autism. I make no claims of psychological expertise but I am good at research and there aren't a lot of scientific articles supporting the gifted community's views.

There are plenty of smart children who, especially with access to early education, are able to accelerate their studies well past the norm, and they often have diagnosable issues like ADHD and Aspergers and such. Even the pre-adolecense version of bipolar, which they rarely diagnose so young. That is no excuse for an anti social child. At those ages you really need to try and teach your child to be social, rather than isolating them into "special" classes. It is nice to help them in their accelerated studies, but don't let them get away with asshole behavior.

Psychology has a practical side. It isn't just about diagnosing developmental issues in children, but working with them to help the child exist in the real world. I don't know the real statistics, but it seems in popular media, at least, that more parents are coming out in favor of just "accepting" the issues rather than helping the child learn to cope with them. Yes, many wouldn't be issues in different societies, but telling them they are right and everyone else is wrong is a good way to set them up for failure and disappointment. Understanding is one thing, exacerbating is another. While I am not upset at having bipolar, for example, I do understand that I must work to exist within modern civilization. Perhaps in the past bipolar wouldn't have gotten in my way, but now it does and I shudder to think how I would be if I had grown up with parents who tell me it was ok to act out.

Intelligence and asynchronous thinking do deter certain types of social interaction, especially in children, but separating the poor child further endangers their social development. No matter how clever a child is they still have to go through developmental stages in speech and social interactions. Many disorders are not genetic but environmental, or a combination thereof, and allowing a child to develop poorly makes it really hard on them later in life.

Logic Priest

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The "Why" in Political Atheism

This is why. This is a surprisingly even handed and moving piece about a former evangelical preacher man from Louisiana who took one stop past liberalizing his faith.
I know people who went to a more liberal kind of Christianity and were happy with that. The problem is, for me, there was a process involved in moving from Pentecostalism to a more liberal theology, like Grace Church. What makes me different is that process didn’t stop, and it took me all the way. In the end, I couldn’t help feeling that all religion, even the most loving kind, is just a speed bump in the progress of the human race. (emphasis mine).
Many modern, liberal americans detach gradually from their beliefs until they hit a sort of ritualistic deism, but they recoil at the logical conclusion. For the modern mind deism is a feat of self deception, creating an answer where no question exists, a solution with no problem, a god with no creation. The worst part of this ritualistic deism is that these liberal Christians still take pride in faith over reason, at least in certain instances, and they excuse the "faithful" of their transgressions against civilization.

Which brings me to one of my favorite people, Neil Degrasse Tyson. I love him to death and I'm really excited about his upcoming Cosmos series, but he is idealistically scientific. One area he tries to stay clear of is politics, outside of his pro science and education work, and in that fails to fulfill Sagan's legacy. He says here that he dislikes the label atheist due to its political nature, but in this he is very naive. He pretends there is some way out. While true that atheism literally is just a conclusion, joking about how non golf players have no political name, he ignores the trouble caused by religion. If golf oppressed or actively worked against the science and education he pushes then it would be important to be known as agolfist.

Part of Sagan's legacy is his willingness to face politics head on. While Tyson is close, in that he has to some extent spoken against warmongering and anti-science in broad terms, we need the politics of the outspoken atheists and humanists. Tyson has the potential to jump in, to really speak for science and education by tackling the specific barriers in the way, rather than generalized pro education and science activism. He is a brilliant speaker and scientist, and will be great in the new Cosmos, but he is ignoring the reasons atheists are political. The former preacher above is part of that. Someone who lost his job, wife and friends because he came to the logical conclusion modern people should. Obviously Neil Degrasse Tyson is an atheist by definition, but he should grasp the label willingly. Instead of begin afraid to be labeled, to which he has valid criticisms, he should create a definition of the label.

All the world is politics, whether we want it to be or not. In a perfect world science and education should be obvious investments, faith would be an obvious weakness of character and war would exist only in history books, but we don't live there. Politics is a struggle, and part of that struggle is dealing with labels, with self defining those labels. If people listened to arguments well, we would not need politics, but people are weighed down by millions of years of evolutionary baggage making reason hard to achieve. Atheism is political because it has to be. Atheism is more than a rejection of god, it is a rejection of religion and the politics of faith based reasoning. Atheism is political because it helps those who stop believing in a world where logic is a sin. Political atheism is growing as a backlash to out of control religion and faith. Atheism isn't just a rejection of god and faith, it is a rejection of authoritarian ways of thinking, of clinging to the old ways. Atheism is political because every struggle is political, and there is no way out of it.

Who Let the Paulbots Off their Leashes?

Now this one tickles me in a way that if... anyways. This woman seems to genuinely believe Ron Paul can win not just the GOP nomination with almost no delegates, but that he could then win in a general election. Despite his continuous losses, despite a lack of delegates, despite the fact that outside of Paulbots and the people they harass (read: the atheist community for some reason) they have a negligible chance of winning votes. Most people don't even know who he is, people with money refuse to be associated with him, and aside from his unchanged but rabid base no one likes him. Libertarians don't like him because he is an evangelical Christian. Republicans don't like him because he claims to challenge the centralized power both the GOP and DNC support. Other evangelicals don't like him because he is anti-war. In fact, aside from a select group of privileged white people and the occasional confused stoner college kid, no one likes him.

Ron Paul has been connected to white supremacists, anarchists, libertarians, evangelical conservatives, pro marijuana protestors, anti war protestors and in general too many eclectic groups to present a solid face. His supporters of course go on about him being the best/only choice, they claim that using magic he will both eliminated debt AND taxes. He wants to slash social spending more than Ryan does, and is an open fan of Ayn Rand, despite his evangelism. College liberals occassionaly think they like him because he voted against the invasion of Iraq and thinks the federal government shouldn't illegalize drugs, but they either realize he is a social nutcase who does want the fed to control women's bodies or they grow up and support someone mainstream. Other young people support him because they see his anti federal stance as close to anarchy, failing to realize he wants the power to go into the hands of private corporations.

Ron Paul's actual policies, as a refresher, would eliminate all but social laws from the federal level. He would outlaw abortion and gay marriage federally, despite his claims of wanting a non invasive fed. The real point, however, is that he isn't against someone controlling your life, he just wants it to be private corporations. He espouses a belief that you are absolutely free in an absolute free market, ignoring the inevitable consequences like indentured servitude, corporate interference in your private life and a total police state controlled by said corporation. Just in case anyone was considering liking him. Ron Paul is the ultimate stopped clock. By virtue of his absolute freedom (for corporations) belief structure he is anti war and federal drug control so young people sometime flock to him. This of course ignores private wars and employee drug testing, which he is all for since you are an "at will" employee. The only people who can support his real policies are Objectivists, always heroes in their own minds. People born to privilege love him because he tell them they earned it via a free market and no one has any right to touch that. Except those with more privilege.

But my favorite thing is the rabid support Ron Paul receives from his Paulbots. They are gifted at lying to themselves. They already convinced themselves they are privileged due to their own labors, despite being universally white and middle class and above. It was only a small step past that to delude themselves, every time into thinking Ron Paul would somehow, with no financial or popular support, take the GOP nomination. Every time they claim the GOP fears him but will somehow support him. Every time they claim his technical but unimpressive wins early in the primaries means he will magically come out on top. It is objectivism at its finest. Convince yourself you earned everything as some sort of microcosm of awesome. Convince yourself that you are the hero, the winner, and that you would come out on top in an anarchy. Then convince yourself the rest of the world fears and needs you so that you must triumph. They must be the best mental gymnasts in the world to reconcile their confidence before the nomination each election with the reality afterwards.

Logic Priest

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Only Rape"

Rape is a serious subject. It is touchy by nature and even bringing it up upsets many people, but like any other violence it cannot be ignored. We cannot pretend it doesn't happen or won't happen to those we love, we cannot pretend our culture doesn't justify and accept it, and we cannot excuse it when someone "good" does it. Rape is a type of incredibly invasive assault. It is not "lesser" when someone you know or have slept with before does it, it is not lesser when a rich white man does it compared to a poor black "hoodlum" and it certainly isn't justifiable because the victim was drunk, acting "slutty" or scantily clad. We live in a culture that justifies and excuses rapists and pretends there is some wide ranging issue of false rape accusations. We live in a culture that imagines dark alleys as the only place you can be "legitimately" raped, to paraphrase GOPer Akin.

In the news now is Ryan and Romney distancing themselves from Akin's comment about legitimate rape, but not long ago Ryan co-sponsered a bill with Akin which would have redefined types of rape, such as "forceful" rape, whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean. Ryan doesn't believe differently than Akin, although who knows what Romney believes, he just needed to distance himself from an unpopular statement. The new GOP backed by the various tea parties wants to control women completely. They push medieval myths like Akins rape victims magically don't get pregnant and social norms like blaming the victim.

To be fair, though, opposing abortion even in cases of rape is more consistent, if still vile. If a fetus is a life, then why should some measure of the woman's inconvenience matter, even if that inconvenience is actually trauma. They have shown no care for trauma to begin with, why start now? But the point stands that if a fetus is a sacred life then why do they get to draw the arbitrary line for the level of inconvenience that is appropriate to abort? That merely shows the truth, that it is about social control of women rather than "life." If they can draw a line somewhere why not just allow the woman to decide their personal line of acceptable inconvenience and trauma.

By typing rape these politicians only seek to exacerbate rape culture, which already differentiates between how bad they perceive rapes to be, so that while most rapes are by people the victim knows, often involving prior consent or drugs and alcohol, somehow they are lesser by cultural definitions, even while the violation and trauma are equal if not worse than stranger rape, considering the violation of trust involved as well. The victims are shamed, the rapists excused, all while imaginary plagues of false rape accusations abound and politicians seek to moderate rape types. Even still, rape is only defined federally and in most states to involve penetration, even if by an object. Sexual assault is sexual assault, regardless of penetration, but this is still part of a violent rape culture. The rape culture in turn is connected to the generally violent nature of American culture, where we see men threaten rape to silence dissenting women, the GOP threatening violent rebellion if they lose fairly in the democratic process this november and gun deaths exploding all over the country.

Bottom line, stop excusing rape, any type. Stop trying to weasel out of what constitutes rape, or how much the victim is blamed. If someone beats a woman then she is a victim, if he violates her sexually she is suddenly either out for attention or a slut. They are both acts of violence, of assault, but it only counts if the bruises are visible?

Logic Priest

Monday, August 20, 2012


This will pretty much be the only, or one of very few posts on why I am an atheist. It is deeply personal and probably the first time I spelled it out clearly.

There was a point in my life where I was trapped somewhere, physically. Details aren't terribly important, the point was it involved the government and contracts signed thereof. At they time I was physically very ill, having pneumonia that went untreated until it went away on its own. I was also, at the time, undiagnosed with my bipolar disorder. I had no contact with the outside world aside from the incredibly slow postal service and had made a very sudden, impulsive life change. Now at first I did not regret the change, but due to my illness I would up isolated from my one friend who was with me and stuck in a 16 hour a day rut.

And each night, I prayed. For six weeks I prayed to personal and impersonal deities for comfort, for an end, for any grasp of reality. The whole time I was having vivid dreams that I was home, and when I woke up each morning it was to abject misery. I didn't necessarily want to go home, at least not all the time, but I certainly didn't want to be stuck where I was. I wanted some sort of action, but waiting on the government is like waiting on the continents to move. Some time in it wasn't just at night I became unhinged from reality. I would start to think my days were dreams and the other world, the one where I was home, was real. I even started having layered dreams, dreaming within my dream that I was one place or the other. During the days I barely interacted with the world aside from the required movements to and from place to place, to the restroom, through the cold showers and the rough, dry shaves.

I prayed each night, saying my good little Anglican Lord's Prayer, the English Pater Nostre, desperately searching for some clue, some sign of reality. At this point, during the day, I read the entire KJV bible and searched for something that made sense within it. I was very disappointed in the whole affair, feeling no relief, no connection to any higher power, and upon reading the bible I felt no connection to brutal gods and rapist heroes, to evil men glorified and vague myths. The notion of some benevolent being appealed to me, someone to "rescue" me, but I grew increasingly detached from such rescue.

There was nothing to do but wait. Prayer was useless, any action I took was useless. I had never before or ever since felt so powerless, but even powerless I had no god to turn to, no comfort from something that did not exist. As I grew increasingly detached from reality, less and less sure of which world was real, I began to despair. At the same time a sort of grim determination took hold of me. There was no god, no one but humans around me, and no action I could take to end my misery. There was nothing anyone or anything could do to anchor me to reality, or to end my situation. One day I hid in the showers and sliced open an arm, not to hurt or kill myself but just to feel the pain. I needed some sensation to try to show me what was real, but my senses were to dulled, to detached for it to help. I was sent to a mental health professional but too many years of passing meant that I hid any issues, ensuring them that I was merely upset or stressed, calling for some attention.

I spent the remaining weeks in near total silence. No more prayers, no turning to the various religious texts I had scrounged, just silence. Inaction was my only course of action, but still I dreamed. I dreamed I was in many places, no longer just home or trapped, but all over my life, in alternate lives, and I lost touch with which was real. I made sure I took no action in any reality that could upset the others, hedging my bets on faking sanity. Eventually I really did go home, my bodily illness proving too much for the ones holding me to handle. I spent days on buses, waiting for hours at stations with no phone, no money and one boxed lunch. I slept when I could, but then I would dream again.

In none of my dreams, now, did a deity exist. I had, in the period many turn to some god or another, rejected such imaginary comforts. Thought was all I had to myself at that time, and the thoughts of someone out of touch with reality rejected something above reality. I had determined to find out what was real and no omnipotent yet impotent deity, no beneficial or malevolent supernatural force would stop me. Before I had casually ignored god and religion, now I actively hated it. I did not hate god, but the mere notion that something like him could be worshipped. Every aspect of it disgusted me. Helpless prayer, beseeching for hope when there was none to be had. Rejection of reality by those who could see what was real. In my quest, my mission to determine reality I came down only to logic and evidence. If that was all that really was, why should I look "beyond" for vague and nebulous answers.

In time, months after returning home and trying to reestablish a life, I settled on reality. Months of nightmares made me doubt I was home, but no longer did I seek answers without evidence. No more prayers, no stories, only fact. Only evidence. I rejected the imaginary because I could not tell what was real otherwise. The bigger the fictional scaffolding I built up the worse my delusions became. Ever since that day, no matter what happens or has happened, I refuse to do anything but calmly asses a situation. I have not been stressed enough to go that manic since, but in part because I anchor myself to reality. We cannot know everything, but there is too much danger in declaring a reality that is out of step with our own. You do not need to be bipolar or schizophrenic to lose touch, to make bad decisions when you convince yourself of something dangerous.

I saw religion for what it was, a mass delusion. Not in a merely philosophical sense, but in a genuinely dangerous sense. The more who share the delusion the worse it is. Humanity needs to separate itself from delusions, especially since most do not have any excuse, any reason to fall for such falsities. I hate religion because it causes pain, suffering and the wrong actions in place of the obvious right actions. It is not harmless. It is not a right. Religion is a collective sickness of the mind, stretching across the centuries and among billions of people. It is not personal because our decisions, our actions affect others and when we base those actions on delusions, on the rejection of reality we are a danger to each other and humanity itself. For six weeks of my life I turned to delusion, and for several months I lived delusions. But only in those six weeks was I a danger. Only when I chose delusion over reality did I hurt myself. After I rejected an artificial delusion I was left to rediscover reality, and that is why I am an atheist. That is why I reject religion in others. That is why it hurts me so much to watch religious family and friends act on imaginary commands and stories.

Logic Priest

Honesty in the GOP?

To steal a quote from Firefly "I appreciate the honesty. Not, you know, a lot but..." With the Pennsylvania rep openly admitting the voting ID law was to "win Pennsylvania for Mitt Romney" and now this.

I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine...
Holy fuck. This man feels comfortable saying, out loud, that he doesn't feel like the disenfranchisement of a class of Americans is important. Ohio and Pennsylvania, along with Florida are some of a few Republican dominated states at the local level but swing states in federal elections. As such they are doing anything they can to ensure Romney wins. This is even worse than the 2000 Supreme Court fiasco where judges appointed by Bush Sr chose Bush Jr to win the election. The GOP has no qualms about cheating but the fact that they do it so blatantly makes me feel like I live in a single party dictatorship. The GOP has dropped all pretense of cooperating with the Democrats unless it is in the expansion of federal power to spy on and incarcerate US citizens. They demonize Dems not just as wrong, but as "anti-American" and unpatriotic and socialist/communist/Muslim/atheists. If they want to play this game the rest of us should be ready to tear the GOP down and stomp it into dust. The Democratic party betrays us constantly but occasionally gets things right, while the GOP openly wants an oligarchy run by rich and powerful men built on exploiting the middle and working classes. While this isn't sustainable in the long run and would hurt them too, eventually, I would like to skip the really miserable interim where the economy collapses and millions starve to death.

Logic Priest

A Step in the Right Direction

Jen's followup to the other post I linked to. Not a bad idea, although for me overly centered on the atheism. But rebranding to cause a nice self selected schism from the misogynists and assholes in the greater whole of atheism and skepticism is definitely the right beginning. Branding, however, is an easy change. The main purpose is to separate, to get away from the supposed allies with only one, tangential relation to those of us who wish to apply skeptical thought to ourselves as much as to deities and psychic healers.

For my part I think next wave atheism shouldn't just include feminism et al, but should rebrand to something where even the name is non negative in its definition. Atheism is literally just not-theism. A+ is better, but for me still not proactive enough. A new identity centered on reason, skeptical thought and science applied to all aspects of life, with a purpose of helping humanity as a whole would be fantastic, but everything takes steps in between.

Logic Priest

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Wave Atheism

Jen at Freethoughtblogs spells it out wonderfully:

I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift. I want Deep Rifts. I want to be able to truthfully say that I feel safe in this movement. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people. We throw up billboards claiming we’re Good Without God, but how are we proving that as a movement? Litter clean-ups and blood drives can only say so much when you’re simultaneously threatening your fellow activists with rape and death.
 I arrived at this conclusion, and so have many over at FTB, many among the atheistic feminists, many among atheists who happen to not be white males. It is inevitible, really. We started with philosophers, then strong but reactionary public faces like Dawkins and Hitchens, now we need to define a movement not as what it differs from, theism, but what it is. We need a movement that is defined by what it stands for, what it hopes to gain. Holding one correct belief, there is no god, is not enough to move us into the future. We need not just correct beliefs, but justifiable ones. We need a construction, similar to science, to correct and form beliefs and causes.

Logic Priest

Friday, August 17, 2012


There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves, but sometimes it goes too far. The Family Research Council was the target of a failed attack the other day, and now they are using this to claim the Southern Poverty Law Center, a relatively neutral group, of inciting terrorism. They are claiming this is evidence for their persecution complex, the so called war on christianity by some nebulous liberal conspiracy in a country that is mostly Christian and conservative. Most liberals, too are Christians.

And all this is right after the supposed assault on Chick Fil'As free speech by the grave crime of criticism. These people openly call for violence and armed insurrection, then cry the second anything happens to them. Their ideological allies in the violent extremist groups, like the KKK and various Neo Nazi groups, constantly attack abortion clinics and non white people of various religions, but somehow calling Dan Cathy is destroying free speech. Somehow one lone and mentally unhealthy individual is an all out war on the majority they claim to represent. The same people who talk about the death of the president as a good thing claim the incredibly rare violence from left associated people is representative of a liberal violence.

These persecution complex they foster, the fear they foster, the violence they encourage is beyond reasonable discourse and it is becoming clearer every day the only things they can say other than violent rhetoric are parroted from criticisms of them. Read the wording, they seem to copy exactly what people said about the Sikh temple attack, about Gabby Gifford's attack, about any given argument with these people. "I am rubber you are glue" seems to be their best argument these days. Accuse them of fostering a violent culture, they repeat it word for word the first chance they get. Critique them for bigotry, they claim calling them bigots is bigotry. Try to show them their logical fallacies, they accuse you of illogic, though they never back up their rebounded accusations. They claim to be a majority and a persecuted minority. The strange compartmentalized minds are beginning to confuse the hell out of me.

Logic Priest

Thursday, August 16, 2012


PZ Meyers has a post and link up that is frankly upsetting. Yet another way the US is falling behind due to privatization: higher education. We all hear the crap about public education failing, and that now includes public universities. Republicans have pushed for school vouchers to gut the primary and secondary education of our country, now they funnel funds to over priced and under qualified for-profit schools like Devry and Pheonix, where graduation rates are terrible, hiring rates are worse, and they cost as much as an ivy-league school.

The over political nature of faculty jobs, the remaining funds universities have going to coach salaries and non academic president's salaries have led to good scientists and educators leaving the system to make money elsewhere. Even as the states and the fed cut primary and secondary education funds, even as states and the fed funnel money out of them to tax breaks and for-profit schools, we have science funding under attack. There seems to be an all out war on education, on science, on intelligence in general. The US lead the world in science and technology for years but now we have an entire political party who cuts funds from and even demonizes education and research, the basis of such leadership. They think that private corporations will advance the world? Even while the private corporations suppress inventions that threaten their monopolies and sue each other over vague patents to keep innovation out? It seems like every card is stacked against an intelligent generation. From kindergarden to a PHD it costs more and more for less, with no prospect of a good job or even the ability to start a new company, since it will be sued out of business the second a tech giant sees it as a threat, the US is headed for a new stone age. The oligarchical nature of the Republican party isn't just about making as much money from bribes and insider trading and outsourcing as possible, it seems to be actively working towards making a new peasant class, blindly following the conservative march towards destruction.

Logic Priest

Depressing Statistics

Ok, so not exactly new but new to me, according to Gallop twice as many people self identify as conservative than liberal. That is depressing as hell. Some 40% of Americans openly claim they like the world how it once was, in some murky and ill defined past. They preferred more blatant discrimination,  less equality, more racial violence. They liked the world when we live in constant fear of global annihilation and we spent trillions of dollars building monuments to phallic pride designed to murder the population of earth. They openly admit, are even proud of the fact that they don't like change. I know most people are conservative, in the sense that they fear change, but I thought most would at least try to think ahead. I really didn't know that so many were so proud of being regressive assholes bent on making shit worse.

Fox news and its affiliate hyper conservative media love to equate liberalism with fascism and other blatant fear mongering,  so I didn't expect these people to call themselves liberals, but at least moderate or unsure or something less blatantly anti progress. Various psychological holes make people think the past was better, even to the point of thinking the past they didn't live in was, but fuck man, do they really think it was awesome for non white males in the 50s?

I guess I really shouldn't be so shocked. The average human fears change, and is easily manipulated by it. Without strong leaders, intelligent alpha personalities, they won't move or revolt in even the worst conditions. How else are there so many brutal dictatorships? It isn't even about that stupid poem everyone quotes against each other, with "they came for the jews" etc. People don't take action because they prefer to stay still, to hide, over doing things, over making decisions.

On the other hand, at least they take some position. Moderates are in some ways worse, being unwilling to even label themselves as having anything. They are almost universally conservative, but they build their identity over the golden mean fallacy. Both sides of an argument, if there only two, are not always or even likely to be equal.

Logic Priest

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Broken Patents, Google Saves the Day?

While Google is getting more and more involved in the patent wars that muddy up innovation in the tech industry these days, especially in defending Android and Android partners, they have helped by creating a patent search. For a few years now the Google patent search engine has given potential innovators and curious bystanders a way to effectively search the highly obfuscated patent system of the US, and now they offer a new feature: Prior Art search.

Assuming they don't start to muddy the results themselves, which they have avoided in ordinary searches for a decade now, this could be a way to navigate an over expansive patent system, at least until (if) it gets fixed. To make any technology or software these days seems likely to infringe on someone's broad and poorly defined patent, so this could be a way to work around it, as well as is possible with such a fucked up system. Hell, the US patent system let Apple patent a search bar and rounded edged rectangular phones. Patents are supposed to protect, for limited times innovative and non obvious inventions, not styles and features.

Logic Priest

Crybaby Romney

We as a voting public in the US have grown used to the majority of ads being negative, or attack ads against the other candidate. With the Citizens United decision allowing unchecked corporate money to pay for ads, it has only gotten worse. But at this point anyone involved in the campaign should expect such negativity, yet somehow Romney seems blind to his hypocritical moaning and crying over attack ads. Now he claims Obama is "running on hate," something I find more than a bit hilarious. Both Obama and Romney ads are mostly attack ads, and both stretch and bend the truth to some degree to shine a negative light on their opponent, but Romney has by far outspent on negative ads and his ads are less stretches of the truth and more pulled out of his ass lies. For example, the CBO (congressional budget office, a bipartisan committee) said that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (obamacare) would raise the cost of medicare some $700,000,000. Seven hundred billion dollars. Somehow, Romney claimed that this meant Obama had removed that much from medicare, using something I like to call conservative math, also known as bullshit. See below:
Knowing it would face attacks on Ryan's Medicare proposal, the Romney campaign counterpunched Tuesday with a new ad accusing Obama of cutting more than $700 billion from the popular entitlement program.
Romney continued that tone Wednesday, saying in a morning interview with CBS that the Obama campaign is "about division and attack and hatred," adding it is "designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealously and anger."
"The president seems to be running to hang on to power," the former Massachusetts governor said. "I think he'll do anything in his power to try and get re-elected."
A spokesman for the Obama campaign responded to similar comments by Romney on Tuesday by saying the Republican candidate also had gone negative in the campaign.
"Gov. Romney's comments tonight seemed unhinged, and particularly strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false," said Obama campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt.
After a blatant lie, Romney has the balls to say Obama is a big meanie. After implying Obama is un-American, after deliberately misquoting him and the CBO, after pulling lies from thin air, Romney dares say the Obama campaign is mean. LaBolt's quote, above, seems to sum it up perfectly. Romney has become unhinged. He is so absorbed by his own little GOP/Fox media machine that he cannot handle critique in an election season. And this is common to the whole Republican party, apparently. On CNN, of all places, a reporter did her job for once. She actually called out a GOP talking head for blatantly lying, and he freaked and called her an Obama drone.

It seems the conservatives in the US have gotten to cozy with owning an arm of the media and with no one being willing to call their bullshit. Finally we have a Democratic politician fighting mud with mud, not necessarily the best thing but better than lying back on the defensive. Besides, at least a good portion of the Obama ads are true, compared to the Romney ads I have seen which seem universally false. Obama has disappointed me on 4th amendment issues and copyright/patent laws, but when the choice is between an oligarch who sells out to corporate interests and a blatant corporate puppet, I suppose the one who is pro gay rights and pro regulation (somewhat) is better?

Logic Priest

Monday, August 13, 2012

Red States

It is becoming increasingly clear that the more someone rails against the "others" who take their money in some sort of welfare queen imaginary land, the more likely they were to receive such welfare. Paul Ryan received Social Security survivor benefits, using those to go to college. Ayn Rand, his hero, took her Social Security pension after decades of railing against it. Red states overwhelmingly receive the most federal aid per taxes paid.

There seems to be some innate hypocrisy in bitching about "others" getting off easy. The same voters Ryan and Romney are sucking up to imagine those others to be black welfare queens, lazy immigrants, so on and so forth, while it is they who need the most government help. The working class is obsessed with the idea they are paying for the rest of the working class, despite the inherent insanity in that belief. An imaginary lazy poor peasant class has been invented in their minds, and goddammit they want to keep it out of those lazy (insert racial slur here) hands. They never notice the bloated military budget or low upper class effective tax rates, they bitch about welfare and science taking all the funds.

Logic Priest

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pushing the Blame

Mitt Romney and the Republican party have recently taken to demonizing the half that "don't pay taxes" in the US. Besides ignoring payroll, Social Security, sales and property taxes, this doesn't mean much since that half doesn't make much. Income inequality is so bad right now that the top ten percent own nearly all the wealth earned, even more so when counting disposable (as in not debt based) income. Now we can see that they, in turn, pay far less. In an article on the New York Times website, the wealthiest Americans pay far lower than the rest of us. Partly due to capital gains maxing out at 15%, partly from tax shelters and deductions, even in bad years the wealthy make money. In 2009, for example, the richest 400 paid little to even zero in taxes, using quirks of the system obviously designed for them to exploit:
The data show that the ultrarich typically pay low tax rates every year, but 2009 was a special case. In 2008, people with large stock portfolios and other less liquid assets were disproportionately hit with large losses on paper. One of the oddities of the tax code is that capital gains taxes are discretionary, since they must be paid only when gains are realized. And they can be offset by losses. The silver lining in a bad year like 2008 for wealthy people is that they can “harvest” losses by selling assets, then use those losses to offset any gains. They can also carry forward the losses to offset gains in future years.
Apparently the ones who actually have money are the ones avoiding the taxes. Romney himself reportedly only paid 13.6% or so, under the rate that people considered in poverty by the US government pay, which is 15% or so. The ones who pay the highest percent are the middle class, and while true the wealthy pay the most in taxes by amount, they disproportionately make the most money to begin with. Demonizing these imaginary welfare queens and lazy poor people is beyond dishonest. The so called half who don't pay taxes work over 40 hours a week to afford housing and food, yet the Republicans dare to claim they don't pay their fare share? The exact people demonizing the poor pay less in taxes by amount earned than they do, and they will never even use that much money. When you live paycheck to paycheck, any amount paid is a big deal, but when you hold millions in secret accounts how much does it hurt you to pay some out for social programs?

The best, most ironic part is that a good portion of these bottom 50% people will go to the polls and vote for the people who rob them and blame them for it. They will show up and yell about Obama ruining the country with welfare and go collect their food stamps and Social Security checks. They will complain about the lazy poor (Read: black people/immigrants "others") while being poor. Tragic irony.

Logic Priest