An Issue With Agendas

Very well said.

Unprofessional Portfolio

Why do gamers seem to hate journalists with an agenda?

From the point of view of the journalist, their agenda is a positive thing. They are trying to get more female protagonists in games and making games, trying to get more LGBT representation in games, and trying to get more racial diversity in games.

So when readers say that their sendup of Final Fantasy for having no playable female characters and the op-ed about heterosexual white man being life’s “easiest difficulty setting” are bad because they are agenda-driven, they react with confusion and hostility. Its easy to assume the majority of gamers are just misogynist assholes when faced with this reaction, but in my opinion the truth is not so black and white.

Gamers aren’t against progress, they’re just against your approach to progress.

In simplest terms the gamers who oppose “agenda-driven” reporting are supporters of bottom-up progress; which in this case is providing…

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Commentary Comes With a Cost

Wow, this comment really opened my eyes.

One can only hope.

I mean, this is powerful stuff. I mean, we are all atheists towards Thor, right? Some people are just enlightened enough to take it one step further.

I’m sure you mean to be sarcastic, but ‘many a true word spoken in jest’ as the saying goes.

And we all know Darwin has already explained how the entire universe can function without any need for a creator.

Darwinism explains the development and diversification of life. For the rest of that you want physics, not biology. As to the universe, yes, it seems to carry on just fine with no need for – or evidence of – a creator.

Except, well…

This’ll be good.

the Kalaam Cosmological Argument,

The cosmological argument, as regular readers will know, is that every effect needs a cause. It argues that the cause of all it god. Obviously, this runs into issues as if you’re arguing everything needs a cause, then that also applies to god. If you make an exception for god, then it’s no longer a universal rule and you’re just engaging in special pleading. If god doesn’t need a creator, then why can’t the universe do without either? Kalaam doesn’t solve the paradox, it just makes explicit the special pleading for god.

teleological argument,

Is the ‘argument from design’. This was most strongly supported by life, but Darwin demolished that utterly. The universe is a chaotic place that is in a state of temporary, localised equilibrium. If ‘design’ is going to be your argument, you need evidence.

First Cause / Unmoved Mover, the impossibility of infinite causal regress, the necessity of at least one unconditioned reality,

These are the cosmological argument again.

the Argument from Reason,

Just flatly doesn’t make sense on its face. The brain is an evolved organ, correct answers and products of reason have survival utility. It’s false to describe neural activity as ‘random’, an attempt to dismiss it and to argue for an unevidenced ‘specialness’ to the quality of being able to think.

Fine Tuning of Universal Constants,

They’re not. There’s ‘wiggle room’ in the constants and if things were different, they’d be different. This is the ‘puddle argument’, as Douglas Adams put it.

irreducible biological complexity,

There are no examples.

the argument from morality,

Morality is subjective, any relative universality can be explained via evolutionary psychology.

Plantina’s modal ontological argument,

The ontological argument fails yet again, as becomes rapidly apparent if you just change what it’s talking about:

  • My perfect sandwich has maximal deliciousness in a given possible world W if and only if it is entirely delicious in W; and
  • My perfect sandwich has maximal deliciousness if it has maximal deliciousness in every possible world.
  • It is possible that there is a sandwich that has maximal deliciousness, to me. (Premise)
  • Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that entirely delicious sandwich, to me, exists.
  • Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an entirely delicious sandwich, to me exists.
  • Therefore, an entirely delicious perfectly good sandwich exists.

For it to be perfect, it would have to be here for me to eat it. It isn’t. It turns out that making spurious arguments about possibilities doesn’t make them true.

the free will defense to the problem of evil.

Leaves god evil via inaction and doesn’t solve the problem.

…Your entire world view lies shattered at your feet. If you truly honor the gods of reason and critical thinking half as much as you claim, you would plant your face firmly into your hand, step away from the device, find a quiet place, and rethink your life. Otherwise, thanks for this steaming nugget of regurgitated, pseudo-intellectual blather, you Hitchens-Dawkins parroting, basement dwelling, faux-analytical, GNU-Reditt obsessed asshat.

And ending on an ad hom.

You’ve got nothing, as usual.

Patriarchy – Definitions and Divisions

Screen shot 2010-12-10 at 12.11.40 PM

When the only tool you have is feminism, every problem looks like patriarchy.

Finally got a friend to talk all the way through their understanding of ‘patriarchy’ with me and worked out where the sharp divide is between my concept of what constitutes a patriarchy and theirs. It doesn’t change my position on the issue (we don’t live in a patriarchy) but it does pinpoint the divide. I regard patriarchy (like oligarchy, democracy, kleptocracy) etc in terms of being an institution, while others rate social factors over – and even above – political and structural ones.

Scruton’s ‘Dictionary of Political Thought’ (a pretty standard text) defines patriarchy thus:

Literally, the rule by fathers. Used to denote:

1. Forms of kinship relations in which the father is the bearer of authority, respect, property and hereditary privileges.
2. In political writings, especially those of a feminist persuasion, the dominance of social and political institutions by man, and the consolidation of male hegemony throughout public and private life by means of law, especially family law. Since not all men are fathers, the term ‘phallocracy’ has been coined to replace this usage, generating the added implication that the dominion of men is also a form of irrational worship of the phallus.
3. The doctrine that political authority is inherited in the male line (perhaps from Adam), used as a justification for a particular kind of monarchy (divine right).

Using the UK as an example with which I am most familiar:

1. No longer applies. Men do not get automatic authority, respect, property right or hereditary privileges any more. This is all equal (and as far as I know this even extends to the right of succession in the monarchy).

2. This gets a bit more complex. Men are no longer favoured in law and haven’t been for some time. Particular reference is made to family law, but here men are at a marked disadvantage and women are favoured. There is no position from the lowliest parish councillor, to MP, to Minister to Queen that is not available to both genders. There’s nothing mandated that it can only be a man, save, perhaps, some purely ceremonial positions (I’d have to look into that). In practical terms though, there’s nothing a man can do in politics that a woman can’t.

However, the first part of the definition is not related to laws and restrictions, but only ‘dominance’ of social and political institutions. That is, even if in law etc everyone is even, if the elected officials are chiefly male, they would consider that a patriarchy. By that rationale if the majority were female, it would be a matriarchy and in my opinion that erodes the meaning of the word and isn’t representative.

3. See one.

Provided the law is even, provided there’s nothing excluding women – by law – and nothing favouring men, similarly. I do not see the claim of patriarchy as having validity. Especially as it is currently used where anything bad for women is patriarchy and anything bad for men is also, somehow, patriarchy. Anything and everything is twisted to fit the definition in the same way 9/11 truthers will twist anything to match their pre-existing idea that it was a false flag operation.

It lacks any rigour or any useful definition when used in that way.

The system cannot properly be called patriarchy, even if men tend to get elected or chosen from the available pool, put themselves forward more or succeed more. If women aren’t choosing to go into these arenas and aren’t doing so well when they do there can be many reasons for this divide, not all of them good for men, not all of them bad for women. A full analysis is required – but it’s still not patriarchy.

Kyriarchy is, perhaps, a better term since it acknowledges that society is a heady brew of different arenas in which different people have different advantages and disadvantages – even white, middle class, middle aged men. We live in a complex, interwoven tapestry of advantages and disadvantages in different areas and the analysis of ‘patriarchy’ is shallow and facile.

At least I know where the comprehension gap is now though.

The Rape Question

Skewers many of the problems I see with modern feminist argumentation and its abuse of stats and moral panic.

The Honest Courtesan

I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire.   –  Robin Morgan

At one time it was a subject rarely spoken of in public; now it sometimes seems that some people talk of little else.  Since the 1970s rape has become one of the most politicized issues of our culture, despite sex being arguably the least appropriate topic for politics imaginable.  The politicization of what could be considered the most personal of crimes began in 1970 with the publication of Carol Hanisch’s second-wave feminist manifesto “The Personal is Political”; as I wrote in my essay “Politicizing the Personal”,

The only problem with [the essay] is, it’s a load of crap; usually, the personal is just personal, and declaring it to be political merely holds the door open…

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How Not to Kill Yourself – A Guide

dead_suicide_fingers_hanging_finger_desktop_1440x900_wallpaper-140926It’s national suicide prevention week in the US and, since we’re all connected by the internet, that tends to mean that ‘national’ for the US and other countries often becomes ‘international’. There’s tons of advice out there for people to talk to, signs to look out for and how to help people who may be feeling suicidal but not that much out there for the people who might actually be feeling that way. Medical resources are tight everywhere, even in nations with nationalised healthcare, so getting help – useful help – can be very difficult.

I suffer from moderate depression with bouts of severe and dangerous depression and suicidal ideation. I’ve been on the brink several times but have pulled back from it each time. While I think I’m qualified to offer insight because of this, what I offer here may not work for everyone. I’m just spelling out what’s helped me, in the past, to get through it.

1. Be Mindful

Learn to recognise the signs that you’re going off the deep end. If you’re anything like me you can – for a time – pretend to be OK, put up a façade, fool even professional therapists that you’re fine. The only person that really knows your inner world is you and nobody can save you from yourself except you. If you can feel yourself slipping and sliding or running out of the energy required to ‘seem normal’, it’s time to break down and find some help.

2. Stagger Your Coping Mechanisms

We all have them, some of them are very unhealthy (cutting, drinking, drugs etc) but they’re a damn sight better than killing yourself. When you can’t cope, try some of these things first rather than collapsing straight away. Muster what will you have left and do whatever it is that – sometimes – takes the edge off. Use the extra time that gives you to seek help.

3. Acquaint Yourself With the Suicide of Others

You may well know someone who killed themselves, odds are you know the family or friends of someone who did. Get to know the harm and upset that it caused, the devastation it left behind. Understand that suicide isn’t just self-harm but that it affects people who love you. Even if you can’t recognise that love in the moment. Examples from my life have helped me keep back from that brink and they’ve also kept me from serious self-harm and from drinking.

4. Get a Cat

Or another pet, even a dog I suppose. Unconditional affection from a little furry being that depends on you is a lifesaver. At my lowest ebb my cat forced his way into the bathroom and yowled at me – in a way he never has before or since – and reminded me that someone, at least, loved me and needed me.

***

Since this is still, ostensibly, an atheist blog, it’s worth mentioning a couple of things about this from the non-believers point of view.

A. Religious People Will Prey On You

Despair makes you weak and whether from the best intentions or not people will try to help you find Jesus (or whatever deity du jour is current in your location). If it’ll genuinely help I won’t begrudge you turning to Glob, but I don’t think it will help. Like any other displacing behaviour (drinking, self harm etc) getting that old time religion will only display the inevitable or cause it to emerge in new, twisted, nasty ways. If someone tells you this despair is because you don’t ‘know god’ you are fully justified in punching them in the nose.

B. You Have Less Support

This is more the case in America than elsewhere, but it is true that without a church you have less of a support group in your community. Build one. Go to evening classes. Join a band. Get to know people online. You don’t get a support group handed to you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one.

C. The Natural World is Wonderful

If that can’t give you hope, nothing will. Every day science produces more knowledge, more beauty and more hope than we can hope to absorb in a lifetime. Why would you want to miss out on the next Hubble Deep Field or the first man on Mars?

Patriarchy? What Patriarchy?

Guys

I recently stopped following Laurie Penny on Twitter because in the aftermath of Trollmageddon no amount of political agreement on broader topics was worth putting up with the disagreement on ‘feminist’ issues (scare quotes used with reason). Laurie is normally on the more reasonable side of things but in the context of the stupidity going on (which you can see me discuss in earlier posts) it was simply too much and not worth the anger and frustration.

Still, lots of people I follow have time for her and retweet a lot.

Today she’s asking:

Which on the face of it is a good question to ask, but betrays a certain bias in the use of the term ‘Patriarchy’.

In feminism, Patriarchy is defined as:

All forms of feminism define patriarchy as an unjust social system that is oppressive to women. As feminist and political theorist Carole Pateman writes, “The patriarchal construction of the difference between masculinity and femininity is the political difference between freedom and subjection.”In feminist theory the concept of patriarchy often includes all the social mechanisms that reproduce and exert male dominance over women. Feminist theory typically characterizes patriarchy as a social construction, which can be overcome by revealing and critically analyzing its manifestations.

To ask, then, how ‘Patriarchy’, a system that is supposed to exalt men and oppress women, hurts men, disarms its own point. ‘Patriarchy’ wouldn’t harm men, so if you’re claiming it does you’ve eliminated the idea of Patriarchy from the discussion from the get go. It is an inherently ridiculous question most often encountered as a statement instead: ‘Patriarchy hurts men too’ and if you change it slightly that inherent ridiculousness becomes even more apparent:

Plutocracy hurts rich people too.

Or…

White supremacism hurt Caucasians too.

The idea that there is some global conspiracy of men doing things purely to benefit men has about as much cachet as David Icke’s theories about the world being run by ‘invisible space lizards’.

The idea, the concept, the promulgation of this idea of ‘patriarchy’ is harmful in and of itself. It places blame on a gender, others men, justifies poor treatment of them that leaks back up into academia and judicial decisions. It puts a sort of ‘original sin’ upon men simply for their chromosomes and having a penis.

 

It’s all a matter of perspective anyway, anything you can characterise as a male advantage can be seen as an imposition. Military service is a great example with women seeing themselves as restricted from entering or performing certain duties and men seeing themselves as imposed upon to serve or be drafted. It’s all in how you see it.

Kyriarchy is a much better term for the interlocking set of roles and expectations that we find ourselves in. One that doesn’t damn or blame men. Unfortunately its not a particularly well known term. How about we stick to ‘How do gender roles hurt men?’ rather than placing the blame as is inherent in the term Patriarchy? That would be a great start.

There’s plenty to talk about it, but phrasing it as ‘How does Patriarchy hurt men?’ is like a Christian asking an atheist ‘Why do you hate Jesus?’. The questioner is assuming certain things about the person answering.

guys2

UK Sleepwalking into Fascism: Workhouses for Disabled, The #RacistVan, Racial Profiling

A must read.

Scriptonite Daily

NB1 

This week has seen a plethora of actions by the UK government, which if adopted by any other country, any compassionate person would consider fascist. Government sponsored vehicles are roaming the streets telling people to dob in suspected illegal immigrants, the UK Border Agency are stopping mostly non-white commuters on the transport networks and requesting they display credentials to prove their right to be here, and disabled people are being carted off to modern day workhouses. Yet in spite of all this, many are still reluctant to face the gut wrenching reality that all is not well in blighty.

Godwin’s Law? Oh Give it Up

 NB2

No doubt someone is already preparing a comment accusing me of Godwin’s Law for making this comparison.  So I’ll take a moment to set out why I am making it, and why it does not conform to the term.

Godwin’s Law was intended…

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