Friday, December 31, 2010

Strawberries are blue; therefore, the capital of Lithuania is Los Angeles.

As I've mentioned, I sometimes like to visit that vast repository of insane troll logic known as the reader comments on The Washington Post's Web site. Many posters follow the pattern of making up a "fact" and using a non sequitur to jump from that "fact" to whatever conclusion they want, thereby achieving twice the certainty. While I don't hope to reach such people, at least I can amuse myself and evidently a few other people by posting nonsense like the title of this post and explaining that it is every bit as logically sound and for the same reasons.

Quote of the week

"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)." — Ayn Rand

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The glorious success of gun control

One of the surest ways to start an argument with orthodox queer people is to question the sanctity of gun control. Now, in The Washington Post, which is not exactly well known for its libertarian bias, we read this:
Mexico has some of the toughest gun-control laws in the world, a matter of pride for the nation's citizens. Yet Mexico is awash in weapons.

President Felipe Calderon reported this month that Mexican forces have captured more than 93,000 weapons in four years. Mexican authorities insist that 90 percent of those weapons have been smuggled from the United States. The U.S. and Mexican governments have worked together to trace 73,000 seized weapons, but both refuse to release the results of the traces.
It just goes to show something that I've been saying for a while, namely, that when guns are outlawed, outlaws can still find ways to smuggle in guns.

What the externalities say about you, or: Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

I'll let you guess which of the following I have.

Trendy facial hair on a younger guy

What you think it says: "I am a man."

What it says: "I am barely out of puberty."

Trendy facial hair on an older man

What you think it says: "I am young at heart."

What it says: "I am having a midlife crisis and cannot afford a Porsche."

An iPhone

What you think it says: "I keep abreast of tech."

What it says: "Everything I know about tech, I learned from the general-interest media."

A BlackBerry

What you think it says: "I am so important that if I didn't keep in touch with the office 24/7, everything would fall apart."

What it says: "I am such a toadie that if I didn't keep in touch with the office 24/7, my self-definition would fall apart."

A mechanical watch

What you think it says: "I appreciate the watchmaking heritage."

What it says: "I am an Aspie."

An armband tattoo in a Celtic or barbed-wire design, plus enough piercings to form the constellation Cassiopeia

What you think it says: "I am an individualist."

What is says: "I am anything but."

A tattoo of a symbol from an Abrahamic religion

What you think it says: "I honor my religion."

What it says: "I just don't understand it very well."

A vast collection of leather and gear, immaculately maintained

What you think it says: "I take the scene seriously."

What it says: "I take the scene (and myself) entirely too seriously. Also, I have somehow come to believe that sex is a costume party."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bears and racism (2)

Some people seem desperate to believe that the bear community is racist. For example, here we find a tortured analysis "proving" as much.

The author provides the following explanation for "[t]he whiteness of Bear culture," which, given my experience with D.C.'s bear community, I find to be screamingly question-begging. The author draws a link from bears to the teddy bear to Teddy Roosevelt to the "raced cultural dynamic that equates the return to nature with whiteness" supposedly represented by Roosevelt. That connection is so attenuated that it has snapped in two. I could use the same sort of reasoning to "prove" the following: The author has written the article in the Roman alphabet, which was originally developed for a patriarchal, slave-owning, imperialist society; therefore, the article implicitly endorses patriarchy, slavery, and imperialism.

We then read the following:
While many gay white men revel in their identification with the bear (this extends to purchasing Bear T-shirts, caps, vanity license plates, and other items of "Bearaphernalia"), men of color may be much less eager to do so, in light of historically racist comparisons between animals and people of color (Becker 1973; Plous and Williams 1995).
I guess that we are not supposed to notice either the speculation as to people's internal lives or the history of homophobic comparisons between gay men and animals, which would render the argument self-contradictory.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quote of the week

"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." — George Carlin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A suggestion (2)

You there, with the bumper sticker or vanity license plate extolling the virtues of the old home town from which you took the trouble to move here — If it's so wonderful, move back there. I suspect that the local yokels whom you so love to hate won't miss you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The privilege card

If you want to argue but cannot be bothered to construct an actual argument, and the race and class cards don't quite seem to do the trick, you can play the privilege card. Certain groups (never individuals) have privilege, or don't, simply because you say so, and privilege-card privilege, unlike privilege in the real world, can be all or nothing, like the Heaviside step function. Also, your opponent's denial of certain privilege counts as conclusive evidence of that privilege.

But beware: People who play the privilege card hate having it played against themselves. The irony, it burns!

Help us, Big Government. You're our only hope. (2)

It's long been teaching necessary for salvation that the private sector thinks of nothing all day except new ways to discriminate against queer people and that only the government can rescue us. Yet this column in today's New York Times paints a different picture:
But in fact the exclusion of gays and lesbians from the military has been a crucial issue for the gay movement for 65 years — in part because, during the postwar decades, it served as a model for anti-homosexual discrimination throughout the government and private sector.

* * *

Eisenhower’s order also required private companies with government contracts to ferret out and discharge their homosexual employees. Numerous states took the federal government’s cue and prohibited bars and restaurants from serving homosexuals or even allowing them to gather.
Those who want to give the government power to do all good things need to consider how it has used that power.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My latest letter to the editor

... is the last one here. There is also one by William Donohue, whining about Catholic-bashing. Poor baby.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Those rotten segregated suburbs!

Everyone knows that suburbs are segregated, especially those in Virginia, while cities are bastions of racial harmony. That's just how it is, and "just how it is" never needs proof.

But look at this, from a source not generally known as biased toward saying such a thing:
William Frey of the Brookings Institution has started to mine the data, concluding that segregation is declining nationally and locally. In his analysis of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, 61 experienced declines in segregation between blacks and whites.

In Washington, Frey found that the average white person lives in a neighborhood that is 63 percent white, the average black person lives in a neighborhood that is 79 percent African American and the average Hispanic person lives in a neighborhood in which one out of four neighbors is Hispanic. That represents a small but noticeable improvement since 2000.

The District [of Columbia] exhibited the most segregation overall under a measurement called the Index of Dissimilarity or, more commonly, the segregation index. It estimates what percentage of people would have to move for races to be distributed in the same proportion in which they're represented overall in a region, with zero being the ideal and anything more than 60 considered high.

At 74 percent, the District had the fifth-highest segregation level in the nation, and Virginia had one of the lowest, 50 percent. Maryland was in between, with 65 percent.
(Emphasis added.)

I'll remember this the next time someone lectures me that people who move to suburbia must have done so to escape integration. Then again, perhaps I am being naïve in thinking that facts will matter.

Quote of the week

"Seas of blood have been shed at the frontier,
Yet still the Emperor seeks to swell his realm."

— Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #20: It's all his fault.

If you're having an affair, make him feel paranoid for thinking that you might possibly be doing what you are in fact doing. Once the truth comes out, say that he somehow drove you to it. For instance, if you have an affair while your partner is in university, then the fault obviously lies with his choice of university, since otherwise you would never have met your new honey, right? No, I am not making that up.

Your own personal Jesus (2)

Have you ever faced the problem of wanting very badly (for some reason) to self-identify with a religion well known for its homophobia, anti-feminism, or both? There's an easy way to have your cake and eat it too. Just redefine that religion so that it matches whatever you want to believe. Who cares about the obvious intellectual dishonesty, especially if the actual definition of the religion requires acknowledgment of that religion's magisterium and adherence to theological correctness as determined by that magisterium? Who cares that you've redefined your supposed faith beyond recognition? It's how you feel that counts.

For instance, if you want to be the sort of person who is a Catholic, but you cannot be bothered actually to be a Catholic, just declare your particular belief system to be True Catholicism™. All these centuries, the people appointed (supposedly by your God) to define what Catholicism is have been getting it wrong, and we've all been waiting for you, the one authoritative source, to set the record straight. Your trendy gnosticism, eighties new-age woo, or whatever you feel like believing is True Catholicism™ because you say it is.

When people try to explain to you how egregiously you're misrepresenting your religion, they will soon realize that arguing with you about it is like trying to nail oatmeal to the wall. Once they have given up trying to talk sense into you, you can declare victory.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 11

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.

It occurs to me that in the “beauty” industry, being a faggot is its own credential. A faggot with no schooling, training, or experience, can assume a role in that field just by virtue of his homosexuality. I’m sure we can all think of instances where this is the case.

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 14. The Logo channel

Yeah, 'cause what gay man wouldn't want to watch 48 hours straight of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I've heard people refer to Logo viewers by such terms as "all six of them," and I'm not sure I disagree.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When the guardians of moral purity outfox themselves (2)

In discussing two flaps over the work of David Wojnarowicz, in 1990 and regarding the National Portrait Gallery Today, New York Times art critic Holland Cotter writes:
One big change from 1990, however, is the nearly universal presence of the Internet. Word of the self-censorship instantly spread, and the video itself, titled “A Fire in My Belly,” went viral, turning up on a number of Web sites, including YouTube. Untold numbers of people could now see something that, without the publicity generated by the dispute, they never would have known existed.
Yes and no. It's undeniably true that the ubiquity of the Internet doesn't help the guardians of right-wing political correctness, and it's also undeniably true that they deserve the credit for making Mr. Wojnarowicz's name a household word. On the other hand, such epic self-pwnage didn't start in the Internet age; bishops railing against Sarah Bernhardt gave her invaluable publicity.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quote of the week

"The Apocalypse is truly on us when reality outruns the most outrageous satire." — Steve Dutch

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today's vocabulary word: traditional

traditional, adj. in accordance with the way things were done in America in the fifties, or at least the way television tells us things were done in America in the fifties: If we don't defend traditional marriage, then we're headed down the slippery slope to allowing polygamy and concubinage.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another bubble? Who'd ha' thunk it?

According to The New York Times, people are "beginning to wonder" whether Silicon Valley isn't experiencing another bubble. How can people only now be beginning to wonder that? I can understand (but consider it regrettable) that many people have never heard of Dutch tulip mania, but how can they not know about the late nineties?

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 13. The A-List: New York

As far as I can tell, gay men fall into three categories: (i) those who pretend never to have heard of this show, (ii) those who have genuinely never heard of it, and (iii) those who complain to high heaven about how dreadful it is. Still, I guess Logo needs some additional programming to prove that it doesn't show the same thing 24/7 (once 8 Femmes, then RuPaul's Drag Race, and now Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 10

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.

I’ve heard faggots and fag hags alike insinuate that a faggot’s asshole is just like a woman’s vagina (since they’re both being penetrated by penises of course...).

A picture that's worth a thousand political columns

This one perfectly sums up relations between Democrats and queer voters, as well as between Republicans and people who actually care about limited government:

Quote of the week

[What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?] "Remember it is not about you." — Bishop Rainey Cheeks

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

But it's not political correctness when I do it!

It's a good thing we have politically incorrect conservative stalwarts like Catholic League president William Donohue to protect us from the politically correct menace. Otherwise, the politically correct whiners, appointing themselves to be the thought police, would censor art that violates their supposed right not to be offended and would even call such art "hate speech." On second thought, given the recent flap over an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, maybe he isn't the best example.

Also, you'd think that the guardians of conservative political correctness (not that there's any such thing, of course) would have learned by now not to give free publicity to what they oppose. They have given huge boosts to the popularity of works by Robert Mapplethorpe and Chris Ofili, among others.

Finally, the Transformer Gallery has announced that it will show the offending piece. To me this indicates that preserving freedom of expression involves less government management of the arts, not more.