Monday, September 15, 2014

Faux News: Democrats, Republicans offer competing plans to replace Statue of Liberty.

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2015 (Faux News) — As the nation mourns the destruction of the Statue of Liberty in the Great Blowback of 2015, Republican and Democratic U.S. senators have offered competing plans to replace the iconic statue with images that they say are more in keeping with contemporary American values.

Senator Brianna Fischer proposes rebuilding the Statue of Liberty as the Statue of Equality. Explains the Northeastern Democrat, "Liberty is an outmoded concept, and the word is just a code word for racism. Since we now understand that equality is what actually matters, our nation's iconography should reflect that."

Meanwhile, Senator Cody Brennan proposes building the Statue of Security on the site of the destroyed statue. Explains the Deep-South Republican, "Liberty was fine in the past, but the Great Blowback of 2015 changed everything. Those who would give up liberty for security are simply making the common-sense recognition that the Constitution isn't a suicide pact."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More on freedom for me, but not for thee

I came across the following in the Twitter feed of an acquaintance: That is fine as far as it goes, but by what neutral principle is it okay only in the situations specified? In general, people in the mainstream LGBT movement regard freedom of association as a scourge upon the earth. We also have those activists who sound like anarcho-capitalists when they talk about their own lives but like nanny-statists as soon as the topic turns to anyone else's. It's okay to want freedom for yourself; it's not okay to engage in special pleading to want freedom only for yourself.

Someone actually wrote this: China, Mexico, and the soda tax

In The New York Times, Mark Bittman writes,
Say what you will about the Chinese, but they know how to make wholesale changes, and sometimes those changes are inarguably for the good. As noted in an editorial in The Lancet last week, the life span of the average person in China in 1950 was 40 years; by 2011 it was around 76. (The average life span in the United States in 2011 was 79.)

The causes of this near doubling of life span are no secret: China has developed public health programs that have reduced communicable diseases to a manageable level.

Yes, that must be it, since nothing else whatsoever has changed in China in that time period. By the way, his own source does not support his claim of causation. Also, another Lancet article paints a more complicated and less fawning picture of public health in China and includes the minor detail that "Mao killed many more people than his medicine saved."

Having given airtight proof of the success of Chinese public health, Bittman shifts to Mexico and draws the following lesson:

With a staggering 70 percent of our adult population overweight or obese, the United States was until recently the world’s leader in this unenviable race. Recently, Mexico (71.3 percent), took our place. (In China, the combined obesity-overweight rate is hovering at under 30 percent, still frightening.) Yet Mexico, which many Americans and Europeans haughtily consider primitive, was the first major nation in the world to institute significant soda and junk food taxes. That law went into effect early this year, and the results are already positive: Sales of soda are slipping.
I need a decoder ring to determine when tax disincentives work and when they are just a right-wing myth.
If we know how to diminish needless human suffering and mortality, why would we not? As Mexico has shown, it’s the responsibility of government to protect its population from hyper-processed food.
When government intervenes in people's choices over their own bodies, especially "to diminish needless human suffering and mortality," what can possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My comment got printed in Reason.

My comment on an article in Reason got printed in the August/September issue. It's at the bottom right corner of page 7, at least according to my Kindle, and it's in response to an article on progressive puritanism. Here's the pertinent part:
By circa 1990, when home HIV test kits became an issue, the LGBT rights movement cast aside its stated goals and joined forces with social conservatives for its revealed goal of reduced freedom as its own reward. But remember: It has always been those nasty Reaganites who want to deprive you of your the right to make choices over your own body.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In which a Washington Post writer states her conclusion and immediately demolishes it

Washington Post local reporter Julie Zauzmer presents her analysis of data on D.C. traffic accidents, including the following insight:
5. The numbers are in: Men are worse drivers than women.

This goes way beyond refusing to stop for directions. Men were the drivers in about 65 percent of all crashes in the study. There’s no way to tell, for the sake of comparison, exactly how many men and women are on the roads in Washington.

That is, she states her conclusion and then immediately explains why the data do not support it. Her conclusion would make sense if men and women drove the same amount — something that no one admits to believing. She is entitled to her own opinions about the relative driving skills of the sexes, but not to her own rules of statistics.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Someone actually wrote this: Julie Bindel on the Proud Whopper

Julie Bindel, ever eager to enlighten the rest of us on the one correct way to live, rails against business marketing to the LGBT market:
As lesbians and gay men all over the world fight to end oppression, corporations have been piggy backing on our struggles to sell us whatever they can dress up as "gay-friendly". The latest to offer us commercialism masquerading as campaigning is Burger King. It recently introduced the Proud Whopper, just in time for the San Francisco Pride march and festival, with rainbow-coloured wrapper and the inscription: "We are all the same inside".
Companies want to do business with us, and that's terrible.
The gay community used to be defined by politics,
I thought it used to be defined by something else — exactly what something else, I'm not quite sure, but there must be something.
but lesbians and gay men no longer share a political base – only, in some quarters, a social one.
In other words, the big problem with the LGBT community is that it has too little political groupthink.
This deradicalised version of gay life revolves around marriage, babies and mortgages. Many gays have kidded themselves that bigger and richer sponsors for our Pride events and charities means acceptance rather than acquiescence; that it is a sign we are reaching full equality.
You're only kidding yourself if you think that you get to have an opinion on what equality means to you. Only the anointed, like Julie Bindel, have that privilege, and they get to tell you what you should want.
But how can we be liberated when there are still daily attacks on gay people, and when the school playground remains, in many ways, hostile to gay pupils?
If we can't have everything we want, right this second, then nothing is worth pursuing at all.
When I came out in 1977, the GLF had fizzled out, but the gay men and lesbians I met celebrated the counter-culture over the status quo. Many of us lived collectively, raising children as a community or friendship group, rather than in traditional couples. We critiqued monogamy and the privileging of the nuclear family. We have now swapped laughing at marriage for lauding it.
Now? Did the last three decades of political correctness not happen in Ms. Bindel's world?
What would real gay liberation look like? Marriage would be abolished for all in favour of something based on equality and next of kin rights rather than ownership and tax avoidance.
If Ms. Bindel believes in privatizing marriage, I'm all for that, but the general tone of her article suggests that she doesn't.
We have been sold a dream of marriage, babies, and conventionality at a huge cost to our radical potential, and the profits will not go to our freedom and liberation.
Ms. Bindel loves us for our potential.
While lesbians and gay men fork out on marriage, an institution previously eschewed by feminists and anti-capitalists, our brothers and sisters in Russia, India, Uganda and elsewhere are suffering the most grotesque oppression by the state....
That's just it. Not all of us follow what anti-capitalists tell us because some of us know how the story ends.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Someone in authority actually said this: DC council member on expanded townhouses

On the subject of "pop-ups," townhouses that have been renovated to tower over their neighbors, The Washington Post quotes D.C. council member Jim Graham:
“Supporters of pop-ups — other­wise intelligent people — talk about the need for Washington to respond to the great housing demand. That’s patently absurd,” Graham said. “This is about profit. It’s about the historic streetscape in the city. And it’s about, when will it end?”
What's patently absurd is the apparent disconnect between profits and the need to respond to housing demand. Market economies, how do they work?