Thursday, January 29, 2015

Write your own opinion piece for the LGBT media with the new Write-o-Matic!

Haven't you always wanted to say something to the world in The Advocate, The Washington Blade, or some other LGBT publication? Of course you have. Now, with the new Write-o-Matic and a standard six-sided die, you'll be able to write an opinion piece in no time.

I. Choose a subject.

Throw the die and choose one of the following six subjects:
  1. "Not Everyone Is Physically Attracted to Me, and That's Unfair."
  2. "Democratic Politicians Are God's Angels on the Earth."
  3. "My Identity Group Is the Most Virtuous, yet Most Persecuted in the History of Ever."
  4. "Lesbians Can Do No Wrong; Gay Men Can Do No Right."
  5. "Bigger Government Is a Panacea."
  6. "My Freedom Matters; Yours Is Stupid and Pointless."
II. Choose an information source.

Throw the die again and choose one of the following six information sources:
  1. A data set taken under such questionable circumstances that it is worthless
  2. A data set cherry-picked to support your desired conclusion
  3. One anecdotal example
  4. Unfounded speculation
  5. Your own amazing powers of clairvoyance and mind-reading
  6. Something that's been reverberating in the echo chamber for so long that it just has to be true
III. Choose someone to quote.

A good journalist provides quotes, so throw the die again and choose the person whom you'll quote:
  1. Someone who has no special expertise in the subject but who can be counted on to agree with you
  2. Someone who has no special expertise in the subject but to whom you owe a favor
  3. Someone who fancies her/himself to have special expertise in the subject but who gets it wrong
  4. A politician who cannot do anything about the issue
  5. A politician who is now taking a position directly contrary to her or his record
  6. A random person on Twitter
IV. Choose a product placement.

That politically correct happy talk about anti-capitalism is all very nice, but the bills won't pay themselves, so throw the die again and choose a product or service to plug engage in serious journalism about:
  1. A bar, restaurant, or other nightlife spot
  2. A counseling service
  3. An item of popular culture
  4. An item of geek culture
  5. A car
  6. A wedding service
V. Write.

Now write that opinion piece and become famous. Caveat: Under no circumstances should you express an original thought.

See also:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Someone actually wrote this: Unbiased samples, how do they work?

This article about chubby chasers provides a perfect example of how not to research one's topic, although I suppose that the author is ahead of the game by actually researching, when so many others in the LGBT media are content simply to speculate. He describes his data set and the conclusion that he draws:
I have to admit, it’s rare to find a gay guy who happens to be a Chubby Chaser. But trust me when I say they exist. During my research, I perused Craigslist, Grindr and other social apps, and believe me, Chubby Chasers are alive and well, but what saddens me most about the whole thing is that they feel a need to hide. They’d rather have casual sex so they can satisfy a part of their fantasy, while ridding themselves an opportunity to start a relationship (which is what they really want) out of fear of being judged.
So he "perused Craigslist, Grindr and other social apps," and the guys he finds would "rather have casual sex"? Gosh oh golly, I wonder what those two things could possibly have to do with each other.

See also:

What are gay men up to? How not to find out

What are gay men up to? How not to find out (2)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Someone actually wrote this: Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana

In response to the movement to legalize marijuana, Dr. Samuel Wilkinson writes,
We should not overlook ... valuable lessons from our experience with another legal drug: tobacco.

[parade of horribles about tobacco]

The formula for success in profiting from a legal drug is simple and has been clearly outlined by Big Tobacco: Identify a product with addictive potential, aggressively market it to as large an audience as possible, develop technical innovations to allow for and promote increased consumption, and deny or minimize potential costs to human health. The marijuana industry is poised to copy this formula, with dire consequences.

He offers the following solution:
If we are intent on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, lessons from the tobacco industry and the Dutch marijuana experiment suggest that we do so in a way that does not pit corporate incentives against the interests of public health. Similar to efforts in Uruguay, production and distribution should be done solely by the government so as to ensure that there is no corporate incentive to entice more people to consume marijuana in larger quantities.
In doing so, Dr. Wilkinson commits the nirvana fallacy by comparing the private sector in practice to government as it works only on paper. Anyone who thinks that corporations have incentives to do undesirable things, but that government does not, has to assume away not only the examples of state ABC stores, state lotteries, and state dependence on tobacco revenue, but also just about all of human history. As an aside, people have accused me of attacking a straw man for mocking exactly the argument that Dr. Wilkinson actually makes.

Dr. Wilkinson closes:

While the health effects of marijuana are generally not as severe as those of cigarette smoking, the consequences — including addiction, psychosis and impaired cognitive abilities — are nonetheless real. Notably, these effects are most pronounced in children and adolescents. Claims that marijuana legalization will make it easier to prevent use by minors are not backed by scientific or historical evidence. The most prevalent drugs consumed by teenagers are those that are legal: alcohol and tobacco. This should give us pause to consider the optimal way to legalize marijuana — and indeed whether other states should consider legalization at all.
The concern over "whether other states should consider legalization at all" is the perfect-solution fallacy, as the author's own example of teenage consumption of alcohol and tobacco shows.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Free markets in action (yes, another Barilla post)

The right-thinking people routinely tell me that free markets are powerless against bigotry and that only government can protect us. Yet The Washington Post, citing the Human Rights Campaign (and the latter is not exactly known for its libertarian bias), reports,
Not long ago, pasta-maker Barilla was just one more major company that had run afoul of the gay rights movement, a distinction it earned last year when its chairman said he would never feature a same-sex couple in an ad. If gays didn’t like it, he added, they could eat something else.

But in a sign of how toxic it has become for a company to be viewed as unfriendly toward gays, Barilla has made a dramatic turnaround in the space of one year, expanding health benefits for transgender workers and their families, contributing money to gay rights causes, and featuring a lesbian couple on a promotional Web site.

* * *

The remarks grabbed headlines around the world and prompted boycotts in the United States, where the firm has 30 percent of the pasta market with $430 million in sales in 2013, and elsewhere. Harvard University dumped Barilla from its cafeterias, gay rights groups promoted names of other brands of pasta, and Barilla’s competitors seized on the opportunity to present themselves as more forward-thinking, with Bertolli Germany posting a comment on its Facebook page promoting “pasta and love for all!”

So no law was needed to enforce goodthink. Instead, private parties, acting freely in the marketplace, convinced Barilla to change course.

Social conservatives have left some amusing comments. It seems that they are so outraged that Barilla has caved in to a boycott that they will punish it by boycotting it. Um, okay.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Washington, D.C., and cutting-edge art

In discussing Melissa Chiu's new role as director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The New York Times stays true to form and characterizes Washington, D.C., as "staid"; "focused on the traditional, sometimes staid, vocabulary of civic monuments [and unwilling] to embrace a more risk-taking approach"; and "a tough place to introduce unconventional ideas," as opposed to New York, which it calls "a well of contemporary creativity worth tracking." Yet a city's aesthetic tastes are necessarily a macroscopic averaging of those of the people in it, and a city known chiefly as a seat of government tends to attract a different sort of person from one of the world's leading centers of commerce. This point seems lost on the government-worshipers at New York Times.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Someone actually said this (twofer): Gay libertarian gun nuts

Under the completely objective and not at all inflammatory headline "Meet the Gay Libertarian Gun Nuts," Cecilia D'Anastasio writes,
If you find the “gay libertarian gun enthusiast” identity perplexing, you’re not alone.
Gosh oh golly, yes, that is perplexing. What could individual liberty have to do with itself? The author then gives Shelby Chestnut of the Anti-Violence Project the last word:
"We need to look at the systemic inequalities that are causing people to be victims of violence,” she said. “The solution to that is definitely not creating violence to end violence."
Ms. Chestnut is welcome to ride her "systemic inequalities" unicorn, but some of us think that in the real world, intervening in violence to prevent violence from coming to fruition is enough of a solution.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This week's eternal verity about majority rule

All right-thinking people know that since people are too stupid and lazy to run their own lives, a government elected by those same people should run our lives for us. Apparently, the voting booth is like the Great Teacher from Star Trek. Also, a progressive recently told me that while markets are not self-regulating, government is because of voting.

Now, however, the plot thickens:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says his state's voters were "reckless" for voting to become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The Democrat's statement came during a debate Monday with his Republican opponent, Bob Beauprez, just four weeks before voters head to the polls for the state's hotly contested gubernatorial election.

In 2012, more than 55 percent of voters in Colorado supported Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use. The amendment aimed to regulate marijuana in roughly the same way alcohol is regulated.

Since the new law took effect in 2014, the state is on track to raise more than $40 million in new annual revenues for education and other priorities from marijuana-related taxes. There has been little evidence that crime rates or driving fatalities have increased since the law took effect. In fact, the opposite appears to be true: Violent crime rates in Denver were lower in the first half of 2014, and traffic fatalities in the state are near a record low.

So those brilliant voters are stupid after all, at least when they disagree with those politicians whom they had the sheer genius to elect. I guess we should just go back to the days of kings by Divine right. For one thing, rulers who enjoy the Mandate of Heaven never have conflicts of interest:
Hickenlooper said he is concerned that teenagers using the drug may experience long-term-memory loss. The governor, who made his fortune as a beer brewer, did not express similar criticisms or concerns about alcohol, which many scientists consider far more toxic than marijuana.