Saturday, January 13, 2018

On y va a Montréal


Ugh, too much Twitter drama this week. It's time to go to Montréal!

Passer en français...


Il y a 13 ans depuis j'avais aller la, and ce temps je parle un peu de français. J'ai été pratiquer mon français tous le dernier semaine, quand je n'étais pas tousse. Le tousse ce n'est pas douce!

(Un peu du rime français quoi quoi!)

Le voyage sera de 4 jours mais c'est une journée à faire et un autre retourner en train, donc je n'ai que deux jours pour rester sans voyager.

Il fera froid pendant les 4 jours! Bien sûr, c'est Montréal, mais il fait plus froid que d'habitude. Siri me l'a dit (à droite):

Ca fait un froid de canard!

J'aimerais tellement voir mon amour le Premier ministre pendant le voyage mais je n'ai aucune idée d'où mon petit ami sera les 4 jours. Probablement pas Montréal.

Voici JT lors d'une rencontre avec des Canadiens, et il doit endurer les méchants et les fous.

Il a la patience d'un saint. Je l'adore!



Friday, January 12, 2018

Jesse Singal, member of the evo-psycho club

I just assumed Jesse Singal who wrote a NYTimes piece defending Steven Pinker while white-washing Pinker's actual views was a disinterested writer on the subject of Steven Pinker and accidentally misstated what Pinker actually said in the infamous PC video.

Turns out Jesse Singal is a member of the evo-psycho club and so soft-pedaling Pinker's actual statements was most likely deliberate, not a matter of carelessness as I initially thought.

Here are some friendly exchanges he's had with Razib Khan on Twitter. No wonder it doesn't bother Jesse Singal that Steven Pinker works with Razib Khan.

October 2017



A year ago:


February 2016


Jesse Singal, Pinkerite, defends Pinker in the NYTimes

UPDATE: it turns out that Jesse Singal is a member of the evo-psycho club

The irony is that many of the people who admire Pinker consider themselves New Atheists and skeptics, yet it doesn't seem to bother them at all that not only does Pinker make extremist claims sans evidence, but also proclaims his opinions to be "the truth."

And if you point out that Pinker has a long history of making common cause with the right, and then the alt-right, they will push back on his behalf immediately. Yesterday's NYTimes published an op-ed by Jesse Singal, Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A.

I wrote an op-ed response and sent it into the NYTimes but I don't know if they will publish it or not. 

PZ Myers was mentioned by name in Singal's piece:
Steven Pinker has long been a darling of the white supremacist ‘alt-right,’” noted the lefty journalist Ben Norton. “And he returns the favor.” Others reacted to the rumor with simple exasperation: “Christ on a crutch,” said the liberal commentator and biologist PZ Myers, who also wrote a blog post denouncing Mr. Pinker for this supposed alliance.
Myers responded on his blog, Steven Pinker and the New York Times are making us dumber and makes one of the same points I did in my as-yet unpublished op-ed:
Even when they vaguely puzzle out this point, Pinker supporters don’t understand it. What does Jesse Singal say in the New York Times?
The clip was deeply misleading. If you watch the whole eight-minute video from which it was culled, it’s clear that Mr. Pinker’s entire point is that the alt-right’s beliefs are false and illogical — but that the left needs to do a better job fighting against them.
No. He clearly says that the alt-right’s beliefs are the fault of the “PC” Left, which says nothing about making better arguments to oppose them, and is a falsehood. His talk was about doling out the blame to the Left, not about fighting the alt-right. If you listen to the whole 8-minute video, what you hear is Pinker first saying that you can’t voice certain facts on campus, then stating those facts (self-refutation, anyone?), then explaining that his facts are more complex than he let on, which is what the college professors he’s blaming already do. But then this kind of disingenuous denial of reality, of focusing superficially on he said/she said note-taking, is exactly what the New York Times specializes in.
Jesse Singal is a lazy sloppy journalist and that trait is just as apparent in his tweets. Here he is uncritically repeating Pinker's claim that all he is saying is "the biological contribution to gender differences is greater than zero" along with the claim that there are "people" who react to that as if it was alt-right.

Naturally neither Singal nor Pinker provide any evidence there are people doing that. But even more importantly, "greater than zero" is hardly the extent of what Pinker believes. He believes that biological differences are the cause of a variety of social phenomenon. Which is why he defended Larry Summers.




Pinker lies on the anti-PC video about the source of the Larry Summers controversy, in the same way.

He portrays the Larry Summers controversy as though Summers was punished by simply stating that men and women are different. The actual controversy was that Summers, while the president of Harvard and thus having some power over hiring decisions, suggested at a conference on diversity in STEM that the foremost reason women had less successful careers in STEM than men was because their brains were by nature less capable of STEM subjects than the brains of men.

So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination.

So what exactly were the dire repercussions of Larry Summers proclaiming "the truth"? A few years later Summers went to work for the Obama administration. Apparently the university/media cabal dedicated to withholding the truth is not nearly as powerful as Steven Pinker would have you believe.

It's because of lazy, careless journalists like Singal that Pinker has been getting away with making common cause with professional rightwing racists all these years.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Steven Pinker has gone full right-wing paranoid conspiracy old man

Well it's like I've been saying for years, Steven Pinker is a right-winger. And you'll never guess what he blames for the alt-right - the mainstream media and "fake news."

Although he doesn't use those terms. The beginning of the video below begins like this:
...I wouldn’t want to say persuadable but certainly um, whose affiliation might be up for grabs, comes from the often highly-literate, highly-intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right, Internet-savvy, media-savvy, who um often are uh radicalized in that way, who swallow the red pill as the saying goes, the allusion from the Matrix, when they are exposed for the first time to true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses or the New York Times, in respectable media, ah that are almost like a bacillus to which they have no immunity and they are immediately infected with both the feeling of outrage that these truths are unsayable uh and no defense against taking them to what we might consider rather repellent conclusions. Let me give you some examples. So here is a fact that is going to sound ragingly controversial but is not and that is that “Capitalist societies are better than Communist ones.” OK? So if you doubt it, then just uh ask yourself the question: “would I rather live in South Korea or North Korea.” Would I rather live in West Germany in the 1970s or East Germany, or in the 1960s...
Pinker believes that the New York Times and "respectable media" are also suppressing the truth about gender and racial essentialism.

Now the thing is that Pinker is clearly either lying or insane. It's easy to prove that the New York Times et. al have plenty of voices speaking up for "the truth" according to Pinker. In fact it wasn't too long ago when there were no voices speaking out against evolutionary psychology as I complained about here.

Clearly another New Atheist, like Dawkins and Hitchens going the route of delusional paranoid old coot.



Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Pinker, Roiphe, Trump - I can't keep up with all the creeps

Holy crap, today is a big day as far as news about people I detest.

I just mentioned Katie Roiphe in my prior blog post - another "feminist" like her pal Daphne Merkin who makes a living attacking women. Now it appears that Roiphe, no longer content to try to make the lives of women generally more difficult is planning to dox the woman who came up with the "Shitty Media Men" list.



Looks like now is a good time to re-read Katha Pollitt's magnificent take-down of Roiphe "Not Just Bad Sex."

I mentioned that Daphne Merkin likes to justify the way things are via evolutionary psychology "theories" which is heavily promoted by Steven Pinker.

Well it turns out that people are finally waking up to the fact that Pinker is a right-winger. I've only been yelling about it for 12 years.

The reason I know people are paying attention is because my web analytics are telling me people are coming to this article I wrote over a year ago:  Steven Pinker's ongoing bromance with the alt-right.



But Roiphe and Pinker are relative nobodies compared to Trump, and Dianne Feinstein went ahead and released the transcript from the Fusion GPS interview, which focused on the issue of the Trump campaign and Russia.

I'm really looking forward to Rachel Maddow's show tonight.



Friday, January 05, 2018

When plutocrats write about the 99% - the dread Daphne Merkin returns

Oh dear god I really hoped I would never have to write about Daphne Merkin ever again and then the NYTimes asked her to share her opinion and the opinions of her friends and random anonymous strangers at the supermarket on the issues surrounding workplace sexual harassment.

I've disliked the work of Daphne Merkin for years, and when I first wrote about that subject twelve years ago, I heard about it from Merkin herself irately emailing me, insulting me and my feminism. This did not make me feel warmer towards her. And things have only gone downhill from there.

One issue that has remained consistent for me is why Merkin gets paid to write, since she's so mediocre on most topics. I never really thought much about how she managed to get published so often, figuring it was just random bad luck for the reading public. But I finally realize that it's because we have a class system in this country and Merkin is part of the .01% .  Thanks to the affirmative action program for the upper class, the editorial staff of the New York Times would rather hire a plutocrat to write about the lives of working women. Merkin displays her class-enabled victim blaming:


Merkin cannot imagine having to worry about paying the rent. Her response is something like: "these women reacted differently from the way my friends and I would surely have  reacted, therefore there is something wrong with them." Well nobody said plutocrats had excess empathy. Let them eat cake.

So how wealthy is Daphne Merkin? Well in the middle of her defense of Bernie Madoff, she drops:
I remember attending a small dinner party where George Soros was one of the guests; it made sense to me that he held the floor when he discussed matters he was expert on, but I couldn’t figure out why all of his opinions, on whatever subject — be it interior design or the value of single-sex schools — were treated as equally valid. And then it occurred to me: he was much wealthier than the other dinner guests, which meant that everything he said was ipso facto of sovereign interest.
Clearly wealth leading to ones opinions being excessively valued is not exclusive to Soros, but I doubt Merkin possesses enough self-awareness to see how it applies to her.

Her defense of Madoff was called out for its faulty ethics, by the way:
In the fifth paragraph, Merkin noted parenthetically, “I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him.” True as far as it goes, but about as forthcoming as saying that Milton Eisenhower had a sibling in the United States Army in World War II. Merkin’s unnamed sibling, her oldest brother, is J. Ezra Merkin, a prominent financier and philanthropist who fed more than $2 billion of clients’ money into Madoff’s scheme, collecting more than $470 million in fees, according to New York’s attorney general, who accused him of civil fraud and sued him last Monday.
Daphne Merkin’s mini-acknowledgment, worked out with her editors at The Times, raised the old question of how much disclosure a newspaper owes its readers so that they can assess a writer’s connections and motives. In this case, the answer seems obvious to me: a lot more.
Now the thing is, I don't hold it against Merkin for being born into wealth. I discussed this in my blog posts about my working class bona fides. But the fact is, not only is she not a good writer and so not deserving of being paid to write, she doesn't even need the money.

As I blogged about last week, I do think there's some gray area when it comes to harassment/assault accusations, as I argued with Rebecca Traister. But Merkin doesn't just say that, she has to go all the way into standard anti-feminist rhetoric used for decades by the likes of Camille Paglia and Katie Roiphe (a pal of Merkin.)

Or as Traister and a friend Tweeted in response to Merkin's NYTimes piece: Date Rape's Other Victim - in which Katie Roiphe suggests that the other victim is female sexual agency because feminists are such fun-hating prudes.




Thursday, January 04, 2018

The view from my bedroom window



I guess if you're going to have a nasty cold you might as well do it during a snowstorm when nobody else can go out either.

The view from my window is less arboreal since the downstairs neighbors cut down the evergreen and then a couple of months ago one third of the large elm tree was removed. And on top of that some of the vines growing on the wall - and which can be seen in the window here were killed and left to rot so the view out my living room window features black vines. 

I don't understand the desire to destroy so much the foliage that gives this row of apartment buildings such charm. The more greenery the better in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Carl Stormer, 1890s photographer

Norway c. 1893 - I used Photoshop to round the
corners of Stormer's photo, making it look
even more contemporary
The Internet changes everything. Fredrik Carl Mülertz Størmer was...

(3 September 1874 – 13 August 1957) a Norwegian mathematician and physicist, known both for his work in number theory and for studying the movement of charged particles in the magnetosphere and the formation of aurorae.[2][3]

But thanks to the Internet he's now best known as Norway's First Paparazzi. Because...
Long before the professional paparazzi began to make life miserable for celebrities, Størmer was a pioneer in the rather dubious hobby of secret photography.
In the 1890’s, he walked around in Oslo – often along main street Karl Johan – with a hidden camera and took pictures of famous men and women.
Størmer called Henrik Ibsen “an excellent object”, Ivar Aasen was “old and frail” and a number of professors and other prominent persons were “favored objects” caught on film, in addition to a lot of artsy high society women.
The photos really are amazing because virtually all other portrait photography of the time was done in studios where people stood like humorless manikins. They don't look real. Stormer's people look real, including Ibsen.


Monday, January 01, 2018

Il fait un froid de canard!

I commented to Siri that it was a little cold.
Siri responded that the weather is "cold of duck."
Apparently the French expression for very cold temperature is "il fait un froid de canard!" which means literally "it makes a cold of duck" and which means effectively "it's duck-cold" or as Google translate has it: "it's freezing cold."

The French language also has an odd relationship to cows. If you say: "La glace à la vanille est vachement bonne!" it translates into "The vanilla ice create is really good!" But what you actually said was "The ice cream vanilla is cow-ly good." Since "vache" is the word for cow and "ment" is used in place of "ly" in French to indicate adverbs.

I suspect vachement came into use because it's pretty close to "vraiment" which means "very" too. I'll even speculate further that vachement is a type of baby-talk, since probably French children have as much trouble with getting the hang of the throat-abusing R sound in the language as we English speakers do and thus vraiment comes out sounding like vachement. But that's just my theory. 

But I'm completely baffled as to how "duck cold" became a thing.