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?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 47 and 48

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

47.

Postmodern and queer theorists share with transgender theorists the idea that ‘gender’ is a moveable feast that can be moved into and out of, swapped and so forth. Gender, used in this sense, disappears the fixedness of sex, the biological basis....

48.

The infinite malleability of the postmodern idea of “gender,” as opposed to the stubborn concreteness of sex, is precisely the reason the concept was invented. For all of the high-academic theory attached to the question, it is simply a mystical exercise in rearranging words to rearrange reality. * * * Sex is a biological reality, and it is not subordinate to subjective impressions, no matter how intense those impressions are, how sincerely they are held, or how painful they make facing the biological facts of life. No hormone injection or surgical mutilation is sufficient to change that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Someone in authority actually said this: Baltimore police commissioner on teen curfew

The Baltimore City Council plans to impose one of America's toughest teen curfews. Some people question how workable it is:
“If adopted, it would make Baltimore’s daytime and evening curfews one of the most extreme curfews in the country,” said Sonia Kumar, ACLU Maryland.

Kumar sent a letter to the council saying enforcement of the curfew expansion encourages unnecessary police stops for young people.

“I can’t look at you and say, `You’re over 14; you’re under 14; you’re 15.’ And moreover, I can’t look at you and know whether you are on your way home from school,” she said.

Not everyone agrees:
But Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says he believes it’s enforceable.

“I think it’s fairly easy to see the difference in a 14-year-old, 13-year-old, 12-year-old,” he said. “And if this keeps them safe, I think it’s a positive.”

Fairly easy, my ass. When I did my undergrad at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore had a curfew for high-school kids, and I was routinely stopped, so you can guess how I looked when I actually was in that age range. I don't think I'm such a rare outlying data point; it's just a fact that people physically mature at different rates. If I may put it another way, if it's so easy to tell a person's age just from looking, how old was the person in this picture when it was taken?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Would she be happier if the advertisements were in Newspeak?

In Richmond, British Columbia, this is happening:
A Richmond woman has renewed her call for a ban on Chinese-only signage after ads for Crest toothpaste appeared in several city bus shelters.

Kelly Starchuk says advertising only in a language other than English or French acts to isolate people rather than bring them together, which she believes is a threat to multiculturalism.

"If we can work together and be honest with one another and have this inclusive community which includes our official languages where we communicate with one another, that is the utmost important thing," she said.

Right, because nothing says "multiculturalism" and "inclusive" like trying to get a municipal government to dictate the linguistic content of advertisements. Whether Proctor and Gamble should put up Chinese-only advertisements is up to the market to decide, and here, the market is more multicultural and inclusive than at least one resident nanny-statist wants it to be.

Starchuk adds, "There doesn't seem to be a solution." Perhaps because there doesn't seem to be a problem? On this side of the 49th parallel, we have plenty of Spanish-only advertising, but Anglophone Americans somehow muddle through.

Finally, this comment deserves a shout-out:

All adverts should be in languages Indigenous to this land, not those imported from Europe or Asia.

Self-ownership for Michael Bloomberg, but not for you

Michael Bloomberg, regarding his failed war on soda, recently said (emphasis added),
“We have a responsibility as human beings to do something, to save each other, to save the lives of ourselves, our families, our friends, and all of the rest of the people that live on God’s planet,” he said. “And so while other people will wring their hands over the problem of sugary drinks, in New York City, we’re doing something about it.”

Bloomberg wanted the public to know that the decision overturning his big beverage ban “was not a setback for me.”

Rather, “this is a setback for the people who are dying.” He added, lest there be any misunderstanding about his paternalistic motives, “In case you hadn’t noticed, I watch my diet. This is not for me.

Bloomberg seems to think that while he can be trusted to watch his diet, the peasants cannot be, so that they need the supervision of the ruling class. I should prefer it if politicians watched their diets and left me free to watch mine as I see fit. Liberals and progressives who disagree should remember that the itch to restrict people's freedom for their own good has been used against LGBT people, among others.