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

Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand

Mitt Romney has cemented his position as a Koch/Murdoch puppet. He wants power at any cost, up to and including picking Paul Ryan, a man known for Objectivist and severe budget plans, to suck up to Fox News and the Teabaggers. Aside from his complete lack of moral compass, obvious by one of the most dishonest campaigns in the history of television ads, Romney is sucking up to the people who were going to vote for him anyways. Hopefully this alienates him even further from the "moderates" in swing states.

The Republican Party has sold the same old trickle down bullshit for decades now, and the choice of Ryan only confirms their commitment to a known bad economic policy. Unfortunately they have been really good at convincing middle and working class people to vote against their own interests by either appealing to racist and sexist ideologies for the Christian Right or by lying about entitlement programs. America, as I have mentioned before, has bought into a nearly Objectivist philosophy of self reliance and selfishness, as can be seen by the blind backlash against Obama simply saying we build things within a community. A short three years since trickle down policies combined with war mongering collapsed our economy, and that of the world, the Republicans are trying to blame Obama for "socialist" programs and entitlement programs. They go on about the impending collapse of Social Security, which is actually where much of the debt has been borrowed from rather than for, and Ryan wanted to end medicare as it currently exists, something politifact actually got wrong for once. Ryan is even an admitted Objectivist, praising Ayn Rand almost religiously.

This new, openly elitist party, run by Fox rather than running Fox, is hilariously inept at economics. They are simply thinking short term, running the country into the ground to keep a bit more of their tax money and to pay off their friends in the military industrial complex, but at the cost of long term economic health. They fail to realize that consistent degradation of the middle class, the increased concentration of wealth is a good way to devalue their own holdings, and possibly even collapse the money they think they have. While many will survive, just as many will lose it all in the crisis, eventually. Ryan is one of the worst short term thinkers, working against the tide of social progress in his moral views while trying to implement the largest takedown of the New Deal in decades. He and his ilk demonize the working class, not just the imaginary welfare queens of Reagan's era, but the working and middle classes. They keep citing mangled statistics about less than half pay taxes, which is great when you only talk about federal income tax and ignore the unemployment problem caused by his type of policies. Ignoring social security, payroll, state and property taxes while blaming those hurt the worst by the recession for the recession and debt is not just immoral but stupid. These unemployed have plenty of time to vote, and while most American voters are easily led, enough will, this time at least, see through the charade when it is so thinly veiled.

I am glad Romney chose Paul Ryan. They are out in the open now, rich white men who only care about other rich white men. Millionaires bloated on shitty policy and corruption so openly pushing for more corruption that the most fearful of unaffiliated voters will realize the danger of voting for them. Ryan appeals only to the authoritarian Republican base that was going to vote for anybody opposing Obama no matter what. They hate Obama because he is on the other team. They believe any bullshit about the recession, even when the Republican commercials blatantly lie about the order of events and the causes. This season's blatant lies are beyond the normal mudslinging and truth massaging of the past , this election has gone into full blown insanity. Demonizing the voters you hope to win, appealing only to the ones who would always vote for you, lying so obviously even the mainstream media notices. This is going to be a painful and annoying season, but barring full scale economic collapse in the next few months, Obama will win and the Republicans will continue to blame him for everything that ever went wrong.

I really wish the voting public would learn how to separate cause and effect, as well as truth and fiction.  Until they do, until our education and culture push for rational thought and empirical analysis, we will continue to be lied to by politicians. Obama is nothing the Republicans say, but he is still in bed with corporations. He still caters to "intellectual property" owners over creators and consumers. He still expands the federal power to unreasonable levels with spying on US citizens and drug wars and assassinations, but he did not magically cause an economic collapse from before he was in office or start two massive wars that created our debt. If we could hold all politicians accountable for their actual ills, we wouldn't need to invent any. If we could watch and remember past policies, we could stop repeating failed ones. If people could actually pay attention to Romney's lies, even conservatives couldn't vote for him.

Logic Priest

Friday, August 10, 2012

A New Identity for Rational Empiricism

In my mind there seems only one basic, moral conclusion from skepticism and rational empiricism or even atheism. As a human, I should care about humanity's well being. The best way to do this, from the evidence and from the logic that there is no good reason not to, is to allow the best spread of privilege and equality possible at a given time.

This is not to say communism or some such, this is about rights and opportunities. One of the biggest holes in various "rational" movements, or even civil rights movements, is an inherent selfishness and blindness from privilege. The defensive nature of people like DJ Grothe when confronted with a sexual harassment issue, or when certain feminists are confronted by trans people, among others (many, many others), is a betrayal of rationalism. This isn't a No True Scotsman thing, either, but about the principles these people claim to hold and then immediately fail to live out.

A current, horrifying example is over at Freethought blogs where a short lived member invited from youtube, thunderfoot, is running amok. He was expelled after showing himself to be sexist, petty and abusive of his fellow bloggers, and has not gotten over it sense. Apparently he is now threatening to reveal personal emails and identities of bloggers over there, many of whom write under pseudonyms like me, but for their protection. People like Natalie Reed and Zinnia Jones and Taslima, who could be genuinely hurt if their identities or addresses were revealed. Thunderfoot is being a petty asshole, and he is part of an increasing number of awful people associated with the skeptical and atheist "communities." I am increasingly uneasy associating with those terms now, although I am an atheist and skeptic, I really don't want to be mixed up with a bunch of petty, selfish and defensive people in the same type of denial that theists always are.

These people only embrace skepticism as a way to feel smarter than theists, but they really have far more in common with the religious than they do with genuinely rationalist people. At its heart, rationalism is based around the idea that you can be wrong. Passionate defense of your ideas is great, and certain things are foregone conclusions (no god, etc) but if your only defense is accusations that your opponent is radical or playing victim, fuck you. No punches to be held back, if a woman says she felt unsafe and someone's response is to accuse them of being dramatic, fuck them. If a trans says they identify with being X gender and some self identified feminist claims they don't mean it because blah blah gender isn't real, fuck them. I don't care what movement someone claims to be in, if they are wrong, if they are supporting irrational beliefs and refuse to even think they could be wrong, they can fuck off and go hang out with the god botherers.

We need a new group, a new movement that is there to make humanity better. Atheism is a label merely saying you don't believe in god. Good for us, we don't believe an obvious fairy tale. Skepticism is vague, not really describing any sort of goal. Great for them, but why bother if you don't care about results? Feminism is a bit better, at least subscribing to some goal, but I know of too many who are transphobic and the same goes for many LGB rights people, ignoring the trans, gender fluid, and even the bisexuals sometimes. We need something new, something with these elements but a clearer goal. We need a movement whose goal is to accept being wrong, a movement that strives for the best results for humanity as a whole. It needs to expel cultural artifacts that cannot be defended with logic and evidence, it needs to finally unroot itself from a history of religious thinking and patriarchy. We need something for the new generation, with its sights set higher than merely getting slightly better for a specific group.

We need a movement where atheism is just a fact, not a purpose, and where rational thought is applied to all things, not just pet issues. The only real focus is on humanity, and making it better. Science makes it better, equality makes it better, knowing about the world makes it better, and admitting you are wrong makes it better. Anyone can be wrong, though as a side note this doesn't mean repeated arguments sans proof should be considered. Any good argument (by the definition of good in logic, not personal preference) must be considered.

We need this movement because it is too easy to identify and claim membership to broad labels with no meaning beyond a coincidental conclusion that obvious things are wrong, like god or magic tricks or alternative meds. One that Objectivists and libertarians would shy from, one that would make MRAs angry to think about, one that makes those whose rights are threatened feel welcome and one that is willing to be wrong and correct itself. One that argues passionately within itself and can then move on with the correct, or at least better conclusions. One where pettiness is a disqualified. One where a violation of trust is grounds for expulsion and one where we can rely on each other to have the same broad goals, not the same random conclusion about life.

We, not the atheists and skeptics but we, humanity need this group to help push us forward. Humanity won't last without these elements of thought being combined.

Logic Priest

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Violent Country

America is a violent country. So much that we only notice when someone kills a half dozen or more. In all the tens of thousands of "normal" murders each year we see nothing out of the ordinary. We as a country constantly resort to violent rhetoric in politics, we believe in a "right" to own weapons and we look the other way when people kill each other. The only time Americans seem to notice is when a brown person kills good, white, Christian Americans. Then they are terrorists, and we invade a country they may or may not have some relation to.

A Sikh temple was shot up, but still the news is cautious to call it terrorism. White supremacist shoots a group often confused with Muslims, our mortal enemies, and they wait on the FBI to call him a terrorist. It isn't just racism that is an issue here, it is the fact that Americans don't see it as an attack. Unless we can otherize the violence, it is just par for the course here.

Americans don't just kill each other, either. Our response to the deaths of three thousand was to invade an entire country, and then a second one on top of that. Hundreds of thousands dead in those countries, and no one bats an eyelash. People complain about the money it costs, which is an issue, or the soldiers on our side who die, which again IS a big deal, but they fail to mention or notice the thousands of civilians we murder in the name of patriotism. Americans don't see war as bad, they just hope for "just" war and cheap wars. Everyone looks to World War 2 as a "just" war because it is easy to otherize the Nazis, it is easy to play the good guys. They ignore the atrocities we as a nation committed and romanticize the war itself. In Europe, the world wars left a bitter taste that lasts to this day, making the vast majority of European nations hesitant to commit to any violent action, whether we call it a war or peacekeeping mission. They let go of their colonies for fear of military action, they dismantled their militaries, while the US immediately looked for more wars to fight. We are involved in major actions at least twice a generation now.

We kill each other with guns, we execute those people in retaliation. We kill nations of people who are different, and we glorify weaponry itself. We allowed, even encouraged a massive military industrial complex to be built up because we sat in anticipation of another world war, secretly hoping for it. American culture is very violent. We demonize war protestors as unamerican and unpatriotic, and dismiss them as radicals, hippies, and idealists. Talking about gun laws is tantamount to treason in our culture.

American culture may be consumed by our dark side, our lust for violence, or at least our acceptance of it. We are desensitized to death, showing temporary outrage at murder only to demand more murder to "fix" it. This may be in part from cultural manipulation by those with their profits on the line, namely the military industrial complex built by the second world war and the Cold War, but we are part of it too. We have bigger issues than "control" of guns. We need to find out how to fix our culture itself.

Logic Priest

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Being X Doesn't Make You Immune

Women can be misogynists. PoC can be racist and "reverse" racist. Atheists can be irrational, homosexuals can be transphobic, so on and so forth. Checking off one or more boxes in the minority checklist doesn't mean you are automatically understanding of all other minorities. Black preachers are some of the most outspoken homophobes, white cisgender homosexual men have been involved in transphobia and strangely biphobia (as in bisexuals). People claiming rationalism as their right by virtue of realizing there is no god make irrational judgements and racist and sexist and __ist remarks.

No one is immune to some level of stereotyping, it is part and parcel of our mental processes. But when it becomes an issue of actions, of social pressures, that is when you need to reevaluate. Never assume any group is immune. It may be one of my least favorite excuses of all time, when someone of a non privileged says something disparaging of another, or even their own grouping and then claims it is impossible for what they said to be ___ist. I hear women say "I'm a woman" as if to excuse their misogyny. I hear PoC claim to be immune to racism when they disparage another, separate race. It isn't even always about privilege, though it often is (white cisgender male homosexuals still have the first 3 going for them, so on). Institutional discrimination stays in place because the groups it hurts participate in it as much as the majority does. Rational evaluation is not just required of the privileged but by those hurt by privilege. Everyone should think clearly. Everyone should analyze and use logic and evidence to support their conclusions.

I usually just walk away from arguments that this comes up in. Relation to a topic is by no means a guarantee that you know anything about it.

Logic Priest

Rule of Attraction

There are a lot of accusations that feminism ruins dating and sex and whatever other thing insecure men  (and women) have trouble doing anyways. There was a big deal over at Freethoughtblogs when youtube vlogger Thunderfoot was invited, decided to declare feminism as anti sex, insulted the network itself, and was promptly kicked off for being an ass. There was a big deal when bloggers declared harassment was an issue at atheist and skeptic conferences, with people claiming no it wasn't or that these bloggers hated men/sex/etc. There was a big deal when Rebecca Watson declared that it was awkward to be hit on in an elevator in the middle of the night and once more accusations that she hated men and sex.

Now I am pretty sure none of the people involved hate sex, most are self declared sex positive feminists, not some "radical" type that mostly live in the minds of the apparently socially awkward men and women. They, and most feminists I am sure, have no issues with flirting and sex, in the right situation. They only demand that people not reduce their entire being to sex, with their value determined solely by you desire to fuck them. Really it comes down to timing and social awareness. If the person is sitting in a booth answering questions about philosophy, science or similar, they probably don't want to be propositioned for sex. If they are in a bar flirting with you, they probably wouldn't mind as much, as long as the flirting is both ways. If someone is standing in a crowd, they probably wouldn't care to be grabbed or touched by someone they don't know.

If these seem obvious, congratulations you aren't a sexist pig. If, however, they seem hard to grasp or they make you angry and confused, you should probably not go into public until you have reassessed your ability to socialize. I personally have a few simple guidelines for when it is appropriate to tell someone they are attractive. Firstly, when you and the person in questions seem to be working towards a sexual relationship. That is, mutual flirting at the minimum and all the way up to relationships. Second, when it is directly relevant to an ongoing conversation, with you, from someone you know at least by name. Even then, there are smaller social cues that should tell you if it is appropriate, and which words and phrases to use. That is it. Any other situation is probably not ok because it implies the person you are "complimenting" only has value through attractiveness. This is really all feminists mean when they talk about objectifications. They don't mean you can never compliment looks, but that it shouldn't really be the only thing you see in a woman, or man, or any person. It should not be the only thing a person is measured by, end of story.

Media itself is still very sexist, portraying women not as attractive or intelligent but as pieces of sexual organs. Faces are often excluded and portrayals of women as obedient sex slaves are common. If this seems ok to you, you are sexist. If you treat women like this in real life, you are probably sexually harassing them. There is no one saying you can't have sex or flirt or anything of the sort. The people who think so can fuck off and get over themselves.

Logic Priest

Monday, August 6, 2012


Well, we have a new one. http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/08/06/tn-legislator-sends-out-crazy-conspiracy-theory/ Crazy theory that Obama is going to become a dictator somehow. Now I hate that he has continued and expanded the Bush era erosion of civil rights, but that has been trending among presidents since before Reagan. As a nation grows, centralized powers grows more attached to stability. As such they do anything and everything to maintain the status quo.

This particular "theory" is another false flag accusation, where the evil government will fake an external attack to further centralize power. While the nation actually has done this, or attempted to do this in the past, it has been easier, historically to just use real crises like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor or whatever else. Politics is all about manipulation of the masses to gain more power. Aside from the fact that most of Homeland Security was Bush appointed and has deep ties to Republicans, most of the government would not be willing to play such an obvious hand. If it failed, the entire legitimacy would be shattered, making more subtle power grabs harder to hide.

The Republicans have been using the less entrenched members, often tea baggers, to spout these crazy stores for decades, but the frequency has increased drastically since 2010 and the formation of the astroturf tea parties. Crazy racial theories, accusations of socialism, fascism or whatever other ism they can think of, all used to radicalize the base and scare people into voting against Obama. The GOP has no good candidates, so they hope to demonize Obama enough that people, especially moderates, vote for a GOP president out of spite for Obama.

The worst part is that moderates eat these stories like hot cakes. Or something you eat fast. Self declared moderates are actually conservative, enjoying the status quo almost as much as the powerful people it supports. Moderates decide based on fear, more than any other emotion, and the side that scares them the best wins, even if that party was the one who caused the problem. Current Romney ads focus on some imaginary Obama threat to businesses and white people, because the GOP needs to foster as much fear as possible to make moderates forget that they and the policies they propose caused the recession to begin with. By lying about time lines, misquoting, and unofficially spreading conspiracy theories the GOP is demonizing Obama in any way they can. As long as Romney avoids talking about actual policy, this could work. The more personality he shows, the worse it is for him since the policies and detached attitudes are what people associate, correctly, with the recession. Fear controls the masses.

Logic Priest

Sunday, August 5, 2012

You Didn't Build That!

Holy fucking fuck. It is starting to make my stomach hurt to see these ads and hear these people with their subjective realities. Take vague, political talk about community, said by Romney AND Obama, but turn the one said by a Democrat and non white man into some sort of creeping socialism. Bam, campaign done. Even when you point out the blatant out of context snipping required to get the phrase about businesses not building themselves up, the conservatives declare that it is worse in context. Somehow pointing out that we live in a community and that communal, government run projects like roads and the internet allow entrepreneurs to make their money is akin to socialism. At least when a Democrat does it. Romney really gave a nearly identical speech at one point. It is meaningless political talk about community, although it does support Obama's claim that trickle down economics is a bad idea.

I have no deep analysis of this bullshit. It is, on its face, completely awful. Politics involves a lot of attack ads focusing on out of context statements and lies, but this one seems to be the pillar of Romney's campaign right now. He has based his entire campaign on sentence fragments from an unimportant Obama speech, and it works because conservatives (and most moderates) are really, really gullible. Authoritarian attitudes mean they believe what they are told, not just in spite of evidence but often because of it. Recent scientific studies have suggested that the conservative mindset, defined as well as possible, is only strengthened when proven wrong. Rationalization at its finest.

We live in a country where evidence only increases the passion of one side, and is forgotten by another. There are few progressives left, and tons of conservatives. Then there are the regressive, who not only believe what their leaders tell them but actively deny reality as "satanic." Ancient books and conn men are the source of information about the world for half of the US. Fact checking is seen as liberal bias, and when reality disagrees with opinion, reality is declared wrong. From laws in North Carolina declaring the sea level rise to be less than it actually is to poorly cut quotes to more than a hundred million people in the US who genuinely think a bearded man made the entire universe just for humans (white humans) six thousand years ago we live in a nation that values lies over truth.

Logic Priest

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bigotry is as Bigotry Does

The conservative movement in the US has become victims in their own minds. Somehow, while maintaining they are a majority, conservatives and Christians and the whole GOP claim they are being persecuted by some imaginary liberal media conspiracy and that criticism of their views constitutes a violation of their first amendment rights. It has even reached the point where they claim the people calling them bigots are bigots because they are "just standing behind firmly held religious beliefs" as if that makes a difference. Somehow, if you justify it with religion (well, Christianity) then it isn't bigotry and it is above reproach.

Ignoring the obvious misreading of the first amendment, which they somehow think means only they can say whatever they want, these bigots are just doing what conservatives do best: replacing reality with their own version. To them, reality really is opinion based. Their opinion, specifically. People like Mike Huckabee are trying to turn bigot into a dirty word, convincing otherwise moderate people to show up at packed fast food chicken joints to "show their support for free speech", which no one at any point violated. The CEO and owner of Chick fil'a said bigoted things and gives money to hate groups. As such, people called for boycotts of a bigot. Huckabee et al then claimed the REAL bigots are the ones who call people bigots, ignoring the insanity of such remarks. 

Well, they are correct that they can say bigoted things all day long. They are obviously just missing the point that the rest of us can call them bigots and assholes and stupid, under the exact same freedoms that allow them to be assholes. No one is stopping them. Unfortunately many people did show up for Huckabee's little chicken day, simply showing the world that they believe that a class of human beings are less than human and don't deserve happiness or civil rights. So, here below is a few groups of people who I hope learn the errors of their ways. They are on the wrong side of history, making the same arguments as the anti-interracial marriage group not so long ago. These people so hate gay people and getting called on their bullshit they sat outside a mediocre fast food restaurant for hours to eat a shitty chicken sandwich. 


Please do NOT harass employees. These are entry level fast food workers, to be judged on individual bases. Most are average people, and the same goes for the managers and corporate workers. While Cathy won't sell franchises to non conservative Christians, don't punish employees for an asshole boss. We have all had asshole bosses. Notice my pictures focus on the crowds of morons there to show pride in being bigots, not the random employees.

Logic Priest