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