Reading George Fox

Such Disrespect!

I wrote this mostly as a parody of certain men raging at women making minor geek culture mistakes. There is a slight bit of actual annoyance at Ebony attributing a cinematographer’s contribution to a director.1 More importantly the episode is an incisive discussion of Blindspotting. Oh, oh, Ebony messed up big time today on Feminist Fequency Radio #37. She talks about film directors who know how to light brown skin. Talk about disrespecting cinematographers! Yes, some directors are involved with lighting, but even they collaborate with their cinematographers: the latter are the ones specifically trained in lighting and capturing light on film! As a theatrical lighting designer, I’m sorta sensitive to this, as I’m the one doing the equivalent in live performance. And, as a aside, POC are such a pleasure to light as there’s so much more color to bring out than in pasty white people. For those of you who haven’t seen it recently, check out Purple Rain again. The lighting throughout the film is so good. There’s one scene in the basement with acid yellow lighting making Prince’s father so much more threatening. And it would have turned a white person into a lemon. There is a…

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Kevin Drum Bets Hard On Genetics

A few days back, Kevin Drum wrote a post about the future influence of genetic engineering on social policy. I’m going to leave aside the moral argument that everyone deserves a decent standard of living and focus on two of his assumptions. How much does parental upbringing affect any of this? I’m going to put my money on “not much,” but it’s hardly worth making guesses anymore. In a decade or two we’ll know. How much effect does the entire environment outside the womb have starting with the day a baby is delivered? I’m going to put my money on “some,” but that’s as far as I’ll go. I strongly question his assertation that genetics and epigentics will be found to be overwhelming determinative of talent and skill.1 How will that square with studies that show children of wealthier and/or highly educated parents do better academically? Or that teachers grade girls’ math tests more harshly than boys’ when names are included, but the opposite when names are redacted?2 For a specific example3, Ta-Nehisi Coates attributes much of his success as a writer to his family having a ton of books around and his father’s philosophy that he should learn about…

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Dan Swings and Whiffs—Savage Lovecast #610

Dan may have not played the entire call and I’m personally biased, so it’s possible that I’m misinterpreting the details. Dan has a truly terrible response to his final caller in episode 610. A woman asks about her boyfriend: he can fly off the handle at himself for days because of simple mistakes. While she describes him as genuinely kind to others, he also has significant self-hatred1: thinking that he is a worthless person and being uncomfortable when he is happy because he doesn’t believe he deserves it. Dan’s verdict is the boyfriend is a manipulative asshole who just needs to grow the fuck up. It’s far more likely that this man suffers from severe mental illness and desperately needs treatment. For one, it sounds like the behavior precedes the relationship, that he’s tortured himself while single as well. The caller never mentions him getting angry at her or that his explosions have anything to do with her behavior (or reality in general). He doesn’t blow up when she goes out with friends, when she picks up the wrong food, when she’s not paying attention to him. Rather, he’s triggered by his own silly mistakes. While his behavior clearly affects…

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Response to San Hughes on Kink—Savage Lovecast #608

This post is safe for all but the most conservative workplaces. The most explicit aspects are naming a certain fetish and a specific performance art piece.1 There are no visuals. The only link is to the podcast page. I’m to lazy to search JSTOR for Sam’s research, but some of what he shares in the podcast doesn’t match up with my experience. Towards the beginning he suggests that people often eroticize the opposite of what causes them stress: the classic CEO goes to the dominatrix. One potential odditiy is that Hughes also talks about kink stages starting in childhood (well before anyone is a CEO). But on a personal level, his explanation doesn’t make much sense. One thing I love about being a dom is setting up scenes and telling degrading2 stories. Take the intercourse, degradation, and personal participation out and that basically describes my career as a lighting designer/theater-maker.3 Indeed going back to my childhood, a lot of my play with friends was running around outside, making up stories, and telling them their roles. Another through line from the rest of my life is the nature of my sadism: I like creating predicaments where there is no “right” answer.…

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Faith Not Reason

I left an extended version of this response as a comment on Keith Giles’s posted “Saved by Zero”. In 1936 Alfred Tarski proved that no formal system can prove its own truth, which is a pretty big impediment to using mathematics to justify God’s existence. Even if one could get around that, it’s probably impossible to prove the existence of God in any meaningful way. Trying to reason from fundamental physics (which we still don’t fully understand) or a logical system devised by humans isn’t going to get us there. In an extreme case, how would one tell the difference between a materialistic, deterministic universe and a universe set in motion by an omnipotent and omniscient watchmaker God? How can one be sure that a revelation is from God or from the natural workings of the human brain, which we still only rudimentarily understand? Or perhaps God determined that those workings would occur? There’s no there there. Belief in the divine/spiritual realm comes down to faith. As does disbelief in those things. And if understand correctly, Jesus said something along the lines of not relying on human reason but relying on him instead. Personally, I’m an atheistic Quaker with a…

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A Rigorous Response to A Sophomoric Argument

Berny Belvedere responds to Patrick S. Tomlinson’s Fertility Clinic Hypothetical: (1) The standard liberal position crucially involves the view that every individual has equal value. (2) In a scenario roughly comparable to Tomlinson’s, where a standard liberal had to choose between saving 100 random people, or their own spouse or child, someone who believed that every individual has equal value would easily and unproblematically choose to save the hundred random individuals. (3) But if a standard liberal were actually put in such a scenario, he would choose to save the family member. (4) Thus, standard liberals don’t really believe every individual has equal value. (5) The liberal position is a sham. This argument is unserious because Tomlinson is not arguing about what people would do, but what people believe they should do. The “standard liberal” (or at least a rigorous utilitarian) would admit saving family over strangers was the morally wrong choice and, if they had the courage of their convictions, they’d save the 100 people. We see this scenario played out in movies all the time. It happens three times in Infinity War: Quill and the Scarlet Witch make the choice to kill their romantic partner to stop Thanos.…

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A Response To Dave Winer’s Claim of Small Justification

Today Dave Winer linked to his earlier post claiming there was a small justification for the internment camps at the border. I’m going to leave aside the argument that there can be a moral justification for imprisoning these children. If a law is fundamentally unjust and immoral, the duty of the law-abiding is civil disobedience, not acquiescence. So, for sake of argument, it is moral1 to imprison refugee children, either by separating them from their parents or with their parents for an indefinite length of time. To justify such a law, for legal asylum seekers who have committed a misdemeanor2, the policy would have to be both by far the most effective and least punitive. Oddly enough, Winer himself has linked to the evidence that interning asylum seekers and their children does not meet these standards. ICE used to have two less punitive and restrictive methods: the Intensive Supervision Alternative Program (ISAP) and the Family Case Management Program (FCMP). In the former, electronic ankle bracelets were used to track asylum seekers and 99.6% showed up for their court dates.3 Regular phone check-ins and unannounced visits were also part of the program. This is hardly “catch-and-release”. In the FCMP, social workers…

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Don’t Let Those Bastards Own the Flag

Calling the atrocities un-American is important. We have dismally fail to live up to our ideals again and again. Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner and a rapist. But his words in the Declaration of Independence are America too. We have done terrible things. We have made a mockery of our rhetoric again and again. We have killed and tortured and raped and slaughtered. We must not let that happen again. We must rise to the challenge of our claim that all men are created equal. Those who are torturing children do not own the flag. The true patriots are those protesting at the gates.

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