Friday, March 30, 2012

Quote of the week

"Just like the economist who predicted 10 of the last 4 recessions, commentators such as this have predicted the demise of the American dream every few years/decades on record. How has that turned out? Not too accurately, I propose. But, I guess only time will tell." — Jay V, commenting on this Financial Times article

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's not okay this time because it's your side that's doing it.

Judicial activism, the saying goes, is any court decision that you don't like. I've criticized conservatives for cherry-picking the judicial activism to which they object, so now it's liberals' turn.

In this column, E. J. Dionne excoriates the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court as “judicial activists” for wanting to strike down the individual mandate in health-care reform. Rather than deign to address their position on its Constitutional merits, he uses language that could have been copied and pasted from conservative screeds against liberal “judicial activists”:
[L]egislative power is supposed to rest in our government’s elected branches. * * * It was nice to be reminded that we’re a democracy, not a judicial dictatorship.
Regardless of your views of the individual mandate or of health-care reform in general, there is just no principled reason for defending Constitutional limitations on government power only when your team favors them.

Next Maryland poll result: Water is wet.

A poll on Marylanders' attitudes toward same-sex marriage includes the following geographic breakdown:
  • Baltimore city residents favor repeal of same-sex marriage with 49 percent opposing the law and 35 percent supporting it
  • Montgomery County is the most friendly in the state to same-sex marriage with 58 percent supporting the law
  • The Eastern Shore is the least supportive of same-sex marriage, with 72 percent wanting the law repealed
Given the strong correlation between level of education and support for marriage equality, the breakdown should surprise no one.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quote of the week

"It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept." — Bill Watterson

The story of so many people's lives

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How the profit motive advances LGBT equality

Politically correct leftists have told me that the free market offers no incentive not to discriminate against LGBT people and that only government has the answers. However, a study by the Center for American Progress reaches the following conclusion:
Employers who discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity put themselves at a competitive disadvantage to companies that treat their gay and transgender employees fairly and equally on the job.
Given that fact, you might think that businesses would recognize the incentive to treat us fairly even in the absence of government mandates, and you'd be right:
Unfortunately it remains perfectly legal in a majority of states to fire someone because they are gay or transgender. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and only 16 states and the District of Columbia have done so on the basis of gender identity.

* * *

In fact companies that don’t protect and support gay and transgender workers are increasingly out of step with most of corporate America. Fully 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 49 percent include gender identity. Higher up on the Fortune ladder, 96 percent of Fortune 50 companies have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 74 percent include gender identity.
That is, the Fortune 500 is well ahead of the states. Yet again, what "everyone knows" to be true and what is true differ radically.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Administrivia: New domain name

I've moved this blog to a new domain name (, although the old one ( should work indefinitely. The conversion process ate my blogroll, which I had to rebuild by hand from a cached copy of the blog. If you see any other glitches, please let me know.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Welcome to my echo chamber. You'll see it's just like your echo chamber.

Here's one thing that I've noticed about the extremes of the left and right, although I suppose that it applies to true believers of all sorts. They're so encysted in their own world views that not only do they not seem to see how any sane and decent person in possession of the facts could disagree with them, but they don't even recognize when someone is sending up their belief systems. I've found that in trolling contributing to sites as nominally diverse as Conservapedia and radfem blogs, I can say things that are the exact opposite of reality, as long as I phrase them to hit the right emotional notes, and the regulars, or sometimes even Andy himself, will accept and even defend what I say.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 35 and 36

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’s disgusting that they’ve made in-roads into social acceptance as far as they have (pandering) but still they complain that everyone rejects them? News flash, dudes: human beings who have mental illnesses should seek appropriate mental healthcare, not try to FORCE their delusions on innocent strangers.
America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences. Addiction to pornography is now common for adults and even for some children. The average age of first exposure to hard-core, Internet pornography is now 11. Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What's wrong with American political thought in one sentence

"It's a matter of what's in his heart," so who cares what the facts are, right? As I've noted previously here, whatever superficial differences the right and the left may have, they agree on the core principle that once the right people have expressed their feelings, mere reality is beside the point. "I feel it in my heart," they whine, and as the video shows, the analysis must go no further.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Today's vocabulary term: common sense

common sense, n. phr. whatever principle I just made up to prove my point; magic words to chant over inconvenient evidence to make it disappear

quote of the week

“You can never go wrong pandering to the prejudices of your editors.” — New York Times reporter Allen Myerson, quoted here

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to write about gay men

1. Set the right mood early on. In either the title or the opening paragraph, mention either "shades of gay" or some reference to night. The latter portrays gay men as like vampires, except not sparkly or appealing to teenage girls. You should make it clear early that gay men are mysteriously unique, uniquely mysterious, and not in any respect like people in general. To that end ....

2. Do not portray gay men looking or behaving normally. The gay men in your work should not do mundane things like going with their partners to an outlet mall in a suburb named after a prince to buy pleated chinos to fit their well upholstered midriffs. Definitely, do not state their occupation unless they are sex workers. Otherwise, people will start to think that you either don't know the Capital-T Truth about gay men or are sugarcoating it to advance the sodomite agenda of special privileges. As every right-thinking person knows, gay men do only mysterious gay male things, and they do them only in leather bars, bathhouses, or an inaccurately portrayed urban park. While not going into enough detail to challenge the "family-friendly" status of your publication, provide enough lurid details so that your readers can express indignation, fap to those details, or do some combination of the two. Speaking of which ....

3. Cover Pride Weekend correctly. When covering Pride Weekend, focus on the most flamboyant drag queens and the leather daddies. Ignore all of the gay men staffing the booths for professional or service organizations or the many booths and parade floats for religious organizations. Otherwise, people might start to think that gay men are almost like actual people, or even that they have lives outside of backroom bareback orgies, in which case you will have failed. For that matter, you need not go at all; since it is an indisputable fact that all pride parades are exactly like the Folsom Street Fair, there is not much point in actually going to the Lansing pride parade and seeing for yourself.

4. Paint with as broad a brush as possible. Don't treat gay men as individuals, and forget whatever you've been told about the dangers of outlying data points. Any gay man, or at least any gay man who does something of which you don't approve, instantly becomes all gay men, no matter how extreme his behavior may be in any objective sense. For example, if you can find a self-loathing meth head who has bareback sex with six strangers every day (ten on Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays), make him your star witness, and subtly imply that he represents all gay men. As a less extreme example, we read here:

Gay men are attracted to, essentially, themselves. No straight man wants to look like a woman (and certainly not the reverse) but gay men find what they are physically attracted to and often remake their bodies in the image of their ideal mate. Since society tells us to want muscle-bound athletes, that's what gays want, and that's what they make themselves look like in the pursuit of their ideal.
Don't worry about all of the counter-examples, such as gay men who like bears, twinks, or girly-boys in panties. In fact, counter-examples to whatever point you're trying to make just don't exist. Alternatively, you can hand-wave away counter-examples. For instance, in Paula Martinac's writing, gay men are "queer" or "LGBT" when they don't fit into her paradigm but, of course, are gay men the rest of the time.

5. It's all about special rights. Everything that any gay man could possibly want is a special right. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Special rights. Equal protection of the laws? A special right. The same freedoms that you zealously protect for yourself? Double-super-extra-special rights.

6. Be sure to bring up HIV. You usually don't have to use actual statistics about rates of HIV infection among either gay men or heterosexuals; your readers will get the point. If you feel that you must use statistics, just make them up; it's not as though anyone were about to fact-check you. Whatever you do, don't mention HIV and lesbians; in fact, Free Republic has wisely made it a bannable offense to mention HIV and lesbians in the same sentence.

7. For (a cherry-picked version of) the Bible tells you so. Be sure to bring up the Bible verses on homosexuality — just the ones on homosexuality, and definitely not the ones on such subjects as polygamy, rape, and slavery. Omit the minor detail that America is not a Jewish or Christian version of Iran, but is instead a secular republic with non-establishment of religion written into its Constitution.

8. You are the one to tell gay men's stories for them. IPU forbid they should get to do so themselves, especially since your readers will not understand (or, quite honestly, care) what (if anything) goes on in gay men's minds. If you absolutely have to let them speak for themselves, cherry-pick the most extreme example you can find (see #4 above).

9. Try not to express too much sympathy for your subject matter. Not appearing too pro-gay should be a much higher priority than responsible journalism. State that you disagree with all or part of the homosexual agenda. You need not bother explaining what the homosexual agenda is or what is wrong with it. For extra credit, point out what an ideologically pure liberal you are on every other subject. If you are a gay man, be sure to engage in stereotypical gay male self-flagellation. If you are a lesbian, assert that lesbians never exhibit the same bad behavior as gay men; when a gay man provides evidence to disprove your assertion, whine about how much gay men hate lesbians.

If, for some reason, you have to say something positive about gay men, pick some endearing but inconsequential pet homosexual, such as the queen who makes witty but superficial chatter with the ladies at the salon. You can thus show that gay men are just as amusing as a kitten chasing its own tail — and just as human and worthy of dignity and equal rights.

10. Rely on the fallacy of false balance. Portray every issue as being between two evenly balanced sides, no matter how far that portrayal is from the truth. Let an anti-gay spokesperson, no matter how much of a crackpot that person is, have the last word, and do not challenge anything that person says. Frame the argument such that the pro-gay side always has the burden of proof, preferably by an impossibly high standard.

Special note for Washington Blade columnists: In your case, writing about gay men is the easiest thing in the world. Just copy and paste from Conservapedia or some such source, and then use control-F to change "male homosexuals" to "gay men."

See also:

Shamelessly ripped off from How to write about Japan

Friday, March 9, 2012

Today's vocabulary word: absurd

absurd, adj. having the characteristics of other people's belief systems, as opposed to my own

Quote of the week

"In a secular nation, 'ARCHBISHOP SLAMS GAY MARRIAGE' should matter about as much as 'IMAM SLIGHTLY MIFFED ABOUT PET LICENCES.' " — Hugo Rifkind, The Times of London

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Quote of the week(ish)

"The basic problem is the collective ownership of rural land. The thing is that the collective doesn't exist. Actually it's just disguised government ownership, or ownership by officials." — Xiao Shu (emphasis added)