Friday, May 25, 2018

ANGELS IN AMERICA - hidden meanings in the Ramble

This is the Bethesda Fountain that is featured so prominently at the end of "Angels in America." The last scene in the play is set in front of this statue and one of the main characters has a monologue about the trees across the Lake.

What is not explicitly stated, but I'm sure Tony Kushner was very well aware of it when he wrote the monologue, is that the trees across the Lake are in The Ramble, a section of the park that was notorious for being a place where gay men went to have sex, as this article in the July 24, 1978 edition of New York Magazine explains:
Just south of the famous tupelo is an intimate, secluded maze defined by other unusual trees—the ginkgo, the ailanthus, the rare cork—grown tall now with age, their intermingled branches shielding those who wander there from the view of even the highest buildings along Central Park West. Around these sheltering trees, around the asphalt walkways that wind through the Ramble, are man-tall thickets of bushes. And leading into those verdurous tangles are man-made trails—cleared not by the Parks Department but by the feet of decades of men, seeking to meet other men in a gay cloister away from the city's disdainful eyes. There have always been parts of our city that have served as gay cruising areas: Washington Square Park in the 1940s, Third Avenue near the Queensboro Bridge in the 1950s, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at 89th Street and Riverside Drive in the sixties, piers at the end of Christopher Street in Greenwich Village in the seventies. But Central Park West, and particularly the Ramble, has retained its popularity for 50 years.
I was in the Ramble in the early evening recently, but not for the gay sex. More about that soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gavin McInnes and his obsession with ovaries

Gavin McInnes, alt-right leader who was, last year, a co-contributor to Rebel Media along with alt-right Claire Lehmann, has a wife, and a mother, and they are both over 40. And yet Gavin McInnes is a hateful misogynist who despises women over 40.

This isn't just about feminism. Of course McInnes, like Claire Lehmann, does hate feminism and feminists. But you don't have to be a feminist for Gavin McInnes (or for that matter, Claire Lehmann) to despise you as a lower order of humanity, you only have to be a woman.

As when McInnes said this in 2013:
In an eight-minute discussion about the meaning of masculinity, McInnes (whose other credits include founding the website and burping out a memoir called How to Piss in Public) echoed the entirely unfounded and unoriginal view that feminism had made women "deeply unhappy" because it went against nature's order. 
When pressed by co-panelists to back up his spurious claims, he responded by citing studies that had originated solely from his gut and declared that women over 40 are " sad".
And the irony of all of this, of course, with feminism, is that we've convinced you that this horrible situation where we use you and then wait til' your ovaries dry up and then toss you in the trash and go for a younger model? We've convinced you that that's empowering. And all of these writers, like Amanda Marcotte and all of these, Nellie Bowles, and the woman [Taylor Lorenz] who exposed Pamela Geller's kids, all these spinsters, they think they're living this too cool, empowered Watergate-journalist life. But you're not. You're just a colostomy bag for various strangers' semen. 
McInnes is obsessed with ovaries, especially dry ovaries, and mentions them often to express his contempt for women's bodies. Although McInnes seems to hate male bodies almost as much, comparing semen to shit.

But he's most obsessed with ovaries.

And of course this infamous tweet - with my response.

He's been that way since at least 2005. Here he is in Vice.

So in fact, judging from some of these statements, he doesn't think women are worthless, with dried up old ovaries at 40 - he thinks women are dried up at 35.

Why would any woman, even his mother, have anything to do with this toxic hate-filled monster?

I wanted to see if he had anything hateful to say about Brigitte Macron, the wife of the president of France, who is almost 25 years older than her husband and who recently turned 65. To my surprise he isn't on record attacking her, or Macron - at least not for having a wife over 35. He naturally preferred far-right Marine LePen in the 2017 French presidential election, and that led to his immortal Twitter self-own:

Nine out of 10 times, contacting an estranged ex-partner is an action better left unexecuted. That ratio bumps up to 10 out of 10 times when the content of that email, text, or Twitter direct message includes the phrase, “What the hell have you idiots done?” 
A bad idea, absolutely. But it sure as hell makes for great Twitter entertainment.
Following the French landslide election of independent centrist Emmanuel Macron over right-wing populist Marine Le Pen for president, Gavin McInnes, Vice co-founder and far-right personality of the Gavin McInnes Show on Compound Media, slung that very message to his Parisian ex in an attempt to air his grievances for the loss of the far-right.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Twitter is administered by insane people or algorithms

I was arguing on Twitter with fans of Gavin McInnes, the hateful racist & misogynist who says things like this about women:

Twitter is absolutely fine with vicious hate speech like this. 

So one of McInnes' fans said something dumb, so I responded by saying "derp." And that's when Twitter sprang into action. They demanded I delete my tweet and then they would let me have access to my Twitter account hours later.

Who are the insane people - or algorithms - running Twitter?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Never noticed this before...

It should be noted - Helter Skelter was released in 1968 - Whole Lotta Love in 1969.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Reasons I'm so glad the royal wedding is over

Justin Trudeau makes any wedding more interesting.
  1. It's a wedding. I barely find a wedding interesting if it's the wedding of someone I know.
  2. I don't know anything about the couple except the groom is a son of Princess Di. I think the bride was famous before hooking up with the groom but I'm not sure.
  3. The groom isn't hot. Most men look good in formal wear but there's only so much a fancy costume can do. I would watch the wedding of Justin Trudeau though.
  4. It a royal wedding. There shouldn't be any royals in the 21st century. Royalty doesn't do anything except leech off the populace. And the ceremonial leeching is dialed up to eleven with a royal wedding.
  5. It's a British royal wedding. As I recall, British royalty were the bad guys in the Revolutionary War. Why are Americans celebrating anything related to British royalty? I mean, I am an admitted Anglophile, but not because of hereditary monarchy. 
  6. I can't believe how many people, British and non-British, care about the royal wedding. It really gets on my nerves.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Hard to believe Jonathan Kay used to be a real journalist

Trudeau did nothing of the kind. If Kay was an actual journalist he would have bothered to make an effort to find out what Trudeau said.

Here is my premier ministre d'amour in all his glory.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The elms of Central Park

The Central Park Mall with elm trees
I've lived a block away from Central Park for two years now and I had no idea there was a "Chess and Checkers House" near the Zoo and the Dairy (they have no milk at the Dairy) some of the favorite sights in the Park. You hang out in the Chess and Checkers House and play those games with the sets provided. Not that I'm a huge fan of either game but it's nice to know.

Of course now I am required to know it since I signed up to be a volunteer. It takes hours of classes, tours etc. to become a Central Park volunteer if you want to do something beyond clean-up work. They take their Central Park volunteers seriously. So I took one of the Central Park tours today ("Iconic Views of Central Park") and learned some fun facts.

I've learned lots of interesting new facts about the Park since beginning the volunteer training. The most interesting so far is that the Mall, the straight shot in the south of the Park that leads to the Bethesda Fountain, is one of the largest stand of elm trees in North America, thanks to Dutch elm disease. According to the Wiki:
The disease was first reported in the United States in 1928, with the beetles believed to have arrived in a shipment of logs from The Netherlands destined for use as veneer in the Ohio furniture industry. Quarantine and sanitation procedures held most cases within 150 miles of metropolitan New York City until 1941 when war demands began to curtail them.[29] The disease spread from New England westward and southward, almost completely destroying the famous elms in the "Elm City" of New Haven, Connecticut, reaching the Detroit area in 1950,[30] the Chicago area by 1960, and Minneapolis by 1970. Of the estimated 77 million elms in North America in 1930, over 75% had been lost by 1989.[31]
The most interesting aspect of the Central Park elms is that not only does the Park try to plant the most resistant strains of elm, but also the Park constantly monitors the trees for signs of disease, and immediately treats them if the disease appears.

The entire Park depends on constant maintenance, but the elms require even more maintenance than the rest of the Park. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mes deux bon profs de français

Logo of the official
French presidential web site
J'ai deux bon profs de français dans ma vie a ce moment: le Premier Ministre du Canada (le premier ministre d'amour) lequel j'ai deja mentionne souvent, et aussi le President de la France. 

Les deux m'aider apprendre la belle langue a cause du manier qu'ils parlent: lentement, clairement et tellment longtemps.

Si je socialize exclusivement avec les politiciens eloquent, quand je vais au Montreal ou Paris, tout ira bien.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Angels in America baby

I see part II tonight. I'm not sure how I feel about this production, the HBO version is so strong in my mind and I can't help comparing. I'm not wild about the multiple revolving tables on stage and the guy playing Prior Walter sounds like Crispin Glover.

From the last row. I expect to see actual angels at this altitude

Wednesday, May 09, 2018


Taking a break for a minute from the alt-right dark web... I don't think I've ever seen this video before. The best part is at the end when Lennon lip-synchs to the backwards lyrics.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Is alt-right Claire Lehmann ghostwriting for Bari Weiss?

Sam Harris: "look at what a bad-ass I am!"
I was blissfully ignorant of the existence of Bari Weiss until a few months ago. Now she's shilling for alt-right Quillette in the NYTimes:
“I’ve had to update Quillette’s servers three times now because it’s caved under the weight of the traffic,” Ms. Lehmann said about the publication most associated with this movement.
So basically the "renegade" "Dark Web" is attempting to repackage alt-right beliefs as "centrist" - just like alt-right Quillette.

And Weiss lies, in the "Renegade" tradition about the Southern Poverty Law Center:
What’s more, this frog-kissing plays perfectly into the hands of those who want to discredit the individuals in this network. In recent days, for example, Mr. Harris has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a bridge to the alt-right: “Under the guise of scientific objectivity, Harris has presented deeply flawed data to perpetuate fear of Muslims and to argue that black people are genetically inferior to whites.”
The SPLC didn't simply "label" Harris as a bridge - they demonstrated the empirical reality of that fact. Did Weiss even read the article?

Of course Steven Pinker approves.

I did enjoy many of the responses to Weiss:

Jamelle Bouie


Pseudonymous Twitterer - this might be the best.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

The Koch brothers own the American Right

The Koch brothers have devoted themselves to making the United States a tax-free haven for the wealthy and a pit of despair for the non-wealthy. And they are not afraid to use stealth to get their way.

The group, Transparent GMU, had sued the university and its fund-raising foundation last year after it was denied requests for documents that it suspected showed how deep-pocket donors were given undue influence over academic affairs. After a recent court hearing in the case, the university released those documents, some of which appeared to affirm the group’s suspicions.
So it turns out that what the Kochs and other right-wing zanies were doing was this:
As early as 1990, entities controlled by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch were given a seat on a committee to pick candidates for a professorship that they funded, the records show. Similar arrangements that continued through 2009 gave donors decision-making roles in selecting candidates for key economics appointments at the Mercatus Center, a Koch-funded think tank on campus that studies markets and regulation. The appointments, which also created faculty lines at George Mason, were steered to professors who, like the Kochs, embraced unconstrained free markets.
It is stealth moves like this that makes me suspect media outlets like Quillette get money from the Koch brothers too. Quillette already has a mutual-admiration society with one of the Koch's biggest hacks, Christina Hoff Sommers. And then there is Quillette's far-right leaning content. Here's someone named Nicholas Phillips attacking Krugman. He also defended Kevin "let's make abortion a hanging offense" Williamson.

So who is Nicholas Phillips? According to his Quillette bio:
Nicholas Phillips is a research associate at Heterodox Academy and president of the NYU School of Law Federalist Society.
Yep. It seems that all right-wing and libertarian public intellectuals in the US are connected, one way or another, to the Koch brothers. Phillips is the president of the NYU School of Law Federalist Society and on its web site is a link to The Federalist Society as one of its "partners." The Federalist Society, according to its Wiki is supported by:
Donors to the Federalist Society include Google, Chevron, Charles G. and David H. Koch; the family foundation of Richard Mellon Scaife; and the Mercer family.[12]
Wow, the three top right-wing politicos - the Kochs, the Mercers and Richard Mellon Scaife. 

Meanwhile, Trump's Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin A. Hassett is also attacking Krugman. So what was Hassett up to before he joined the Trump administration? He was working for the Kochs at the American Enterprise Institute

David H. Koch is on the American Enterprise Institute's National Council, whose members "serve as ambassadors for AEI, providing AEI with advice, insight, and guidance as [it] looks to reach out to new friends across the country."[17] Between 2002 and 2013, the American Enterprise Institute received a total of $867,289 in funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation.[18]
No surprise, given that he's working for the Trump administration, that Hassett is an oafish asshole. Per Krugman:
I’m still thinking about Kevin Hassett’s appearance at the Tax Policy Center, where he repaid his hosts’ graciousness by gratuitously impugning their integrity. But insults aside, he offered a new analysis of corporate tax incidence – an approach that is novel, innovative, and completely boneheaded. Oh, and it just happens to say what his political masters want to hear.
But back to the Federalist Society - they're part of the George Mason corruption as mentioned in the NYTimes article:
More recently, in 2016, executives of the Federalist Society, a conservative national organization of lawyers, served as agents for a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor, and were given the right to terminate installments of the gift at their discretion. Emails disclosed by the university show that Federalist Society officials were also involved in hiring discussions and had suggested a student for admission. In turn, a professor at the law school wrote the society asking for help securing recommendations for prestigious federal judicial clerkships for students active in the society.
 If you're working for a right-leaning media outlet or a right-leaning university, chances are you're working for the Koch brothers.

Thursday, May 03, 2018


Here is MLK saying exactly what I said throughout my evo-psycho bros series. Of course he said it long before I did, but I hadn't heard of him saying these things. Not that my observations about the state of African Americans being the descendants of people who had nothing and were given nothing were especially hard to come by, anybody looking at the historical record could see what I saw. King adds the point that many white immigrants were given land out West, while the recent descendants of the enslaved were not.

When the evolutionary psychologists and human biodiversity proponents and socio-biologists and biosocial criminologists claim that black people are innately inferior they often use African Americans' crime rates to make their case. But the only way they can maintain their belief that the AA crime rate is a genetic inheritance is DELIBERATE IGNORANCE. 

And those are the people whom Steven Pinker has supported for well over ten years now.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Right-winger doesn't like what I have to say about Steven Pinker & friends

My blog post Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections seems to have really gotten right-winger Kaiter Enless's knickers in a twist: Heavens to Mergatroyd’s “Hereditarian” Chart of Doom.

Kaiser Enless,  "a graduate from the Art Insitute of Pittsburgh with an Associate degree in Graphic Design" is writing for a right-wing/libertarian blog called New Media Central which appears to get just as much Internet traffic as this, my personal blog.

There is some hard-core right wing-nuttery at New Media Central based on the About page:

  • Ian Erickson "...has contributed to The John Birch Society and various other websites. He had a book of poetry titled Broken published while majoring in Biblical Studies at Pillar College in NJ."
  • Jack Smith " a supporter of the UK Independence Party and campaigned for ‘Brexit’, his particular interests being British politics and political campaign analysis. A keen poet, Jack has performed frequently in his home town in-front of small audiences of left-wing creative writers, who he is disappointed not to have offended yet."
  • Orwell & Goode (a pun for “all well and good”) is a Youtuber, blogger, and an economics masters degree student. He personally identifies as a paleolibertarian, but extends his support to nationalist movements throughout the Western world.
  • R.C. Maxwell is the American Voice Political Action Committee’s National Coordinator. He is a Republican strategist known for using new media, online solutions, and grassroots organizing as tactics to turn districts red.
  • Isaiah Minter " an outspoken critic of Egalitarianism, Feminism, Liberalism, Progressivism, Black Lives Matter, and Democracy."
  • Christopher Logan is hard-hitting street reporter and the founder of Logan’s Warning. Also the president of North American Infidels – an anti-Islam political activism organization.
No surprise that Steven Pinker has fans among right-wing extremists. After all, Pinker cultivates right-wing extremists as allies, as my chart illustrates.

What's most amusing about Enless is that even though he claims I'm a paranoid crazy, he still thought it worthwhile to write about my chart.
In the television series, Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the character Charlie discovers a disturbing conspiracy at his office revolving around a mysterious man named Pepe Silvia, the only problem is that there is no Pepe Silvia; the secondary problem is that there actually is a Pepe Silvia and Charlie had simply lost his mind. 
Roll the two aforementioned fictional scenarios (with something from "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button') together and you’d end up with something akin to the absurd and paranoia-riddled article by the self-avowed “anti-racist” blog, Heavens to Mergatroyd (henceforth HTM) entitled, Steven Pinker’s rightwing, alt-right and hereditarian connections.
It stands to reason that people who admire Steven Pinker aren't the brightest bunch and many of them seem to have reading comprehension problems. Enless writes:
 The basic premise is that Charles Murray is a bad person and that he has essentially transmitted his badness to Pinker via Sam Harris and somehow this leads people to… David Duke, or something. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense so let us read from the text.
Enless then argues with the text from the New Yorker review I quoted as if I wrote it. It seems as though he can't tell the difference between what I wrote and what I quoted - although it could be that he's such a bad writer he lacks the skill to convey what he really thinks. 

This made me laugh though:
The article then goes on to list and smear a whole number of disparate people including political comedian Gavin McInnes (best known for his stint on The Rebel), science writer Claire Lehmann (best known for Quillette), evolutionary biologist and writer, Richard Dawkins (who has praised Quillette), IQ researcher Richard Lynn (best known for his seminal work, IQ and the Wealth of Nations, written with Tatu Vanhannen), white-activist Richard Spencer (best known for coining the term alt-right), American Renaissance founder, statistician, writer and activist for ethnic determination, Jared Taylor, as well as that ever-present boogeyman of the Democratic party, Dr. David Duke.
If you actually read the article you will see that for all the people he claims I "smeared" I simply quoted from either their personal web sites or from legitimate sources which describe facts about them. Apparently to quote facts about them is to "smear" them.

You get a sense of where Enless's sympathies lie by his descriptions of Jared Taylor and David Duke.

He calls Duke "that ever-present boogeyman of the Democratic party, Dr. David Duke."

Duke's Wikipedia page:
an American white supremacist and white nationalist politician, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, Holocaust denier, convicted felon, and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Enless describes Jared Taylor as "a mild-manner statistician and dedicated proponent of freedom of association."

According to Taylor's wiki:
Samuel Jared Taylor (born September 15, 1951) is an American white supremacist.[2] He is the founder and editor of American Renaissance, a white supremacist online magazine. Taylor is also an author and the president of American Renaissance's parent organization, New Century Foundation, through which many of his books have been published. He is a former member of the advisory board of The Occidental Quarterly and a former director of the National Policy Institute, a Virginia-based white nationalist think tank.[3] He is also a board member and spokesperson of the Council of Conservative Citizens.[4][5]
Taylor, like many of the organizations he is associated with, is often described as promoting racist ideologies by, among others, civil rights groups, news media, and academics studying racism in the U.S.[6][7][8][9]

It's odd that Enless accuses me of smearing Pinker through guilt-by-association since Enless himself seems to believe that either people like Duke and Taylor aren't actual racists, in spite of all the evidence, or that it's perfectly fine that they are racists.

At least we agree on one thing: Steven Pinker is most likely lying about his opinion about The Bell Curve and black intelligence:
I would posit that the reason Steven Pinker has not explained why he disagrees with claims made concerning black intelligence being hereditary is that it is politically and socially disadvantageous to do so; he is both intelligent enough and well-read on the literature enough, to know that the claims made are not fanciful and are well backed by evidence. 
So based on Enless's own views I have not unfairly tainted Pinker through guilt-by-association: Enless thinks the racists in my chart are fine people and he believes Steven Pinker is a racist too, but just too chickenshit politically saavy to admit it.

This is a fan of Steven Pinker and even he thinks Pinker is a liar. And Enless isn't the only Pinker fan who thinks so.

If anybody is tainting Steven Pinker it's Kaiser Enless.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

I stepped up on the platform, the man gave me the news.

He said you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?

The title of this blog post and italic line above are from the title track of Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic."

In honor of the fact that the cover of the album was taken across the park from me, as this page lovingly details. But I already suspected this was taken by Central Park.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Alt-right Claire Lehmann says the darnedest things

Claire Lehmann blocked me long ago on Twitter because she's such a fan of free speech, but every now and then somebody else on Twitter will share a screen cap of her latest idiocy. Lucky me.

Here is Claire Lehmann supporting a nutty academic, Robin Hanson  who works at George Mason University, one of the major beneficiaries of the Koch brothers' largess

Hanson argues on his blog that there should be "policies" to "redistribute" sex. Not only is it completely bonkers but it's funny when Libertarians, who are opposed to the redistribution of wealth are on-board with the redistribution of women.

In the post I mentioned cash compensation; more cash can make people more attractive and better able to afford legalized prostitution. Others have mentioned promoting monogamy and discouraging promiscuity. Surely there are dozens of other possibilities; sex choices are influenced by a great many factors and each such factor offers a possible lever for influencing sex inequality. Rape and slavery are far from the only possible levers!
Many people are also under the impression that we redistribute income mainly because recipients would die without such redistribution. In rich nations this can account for only a tiny fraction of redistribution. Others say it is obvious that redistribution is only appropriate for commodities, and sex isn’t a commodity. But we take from the rich even when their wealth is in the form of far-from-commodity unique art works, buildings, etc.
Also, it should be obvious that “sex” here refers to a complex package that is desired, which in individual cases may or may not be satisfied by sexbots or prostitutes. But whatever it is the package that people want, we can and should ask how we might get more of it to them.
Of course a dumbass like Claire Lehmann would support this creep. He literally wants to legislate making some people (hot women) love other people (incel men). What these freaks really want is a return to women being forced to marry and stay married out of economic desperation. 

The Taliban's solution to women having too much social power and sexual agency was by making it illegal for women to work outside the home

Steven Pinker's buddies, evolutionary psychologists Helene Cronin and Oliver Curry proposed a two-tier wage system to ensure men earned more money than women.

Robin Hanson first suggests legalizing prostitution and then admitting that even that isn't enough because sex "refers to a complex package" - presumably meaning not just sex but love or at least a domestic arrangement. 

There's nothing that I could say that could top this commenter on Hanson's blog:
You have flown so far up your own ass that you have lost all contact with the planet Earth. Everyone has equal access to sex, and most people do have it, provided they are willing to consider a wide enough range of potential partners. If you troubled yourself to learn more about these groups, you’d know that their real complaint is not that they have no access to sex at all, but that they don’t get to have sex with Playboy models and other women they consider sufficiently hot. That cannot be framed as a “right” by anyone. 
Furthermore, in the cloud cuckooland you hypothesize, what makes you think that there would be a sufficient number of sex workers to service these guys? Presumably it would be a world where poverty and lack of opportunity would not compel women into the profession? While there are definitely prostitutes who consider their work a vocation or just fulfilling, they are probably not the majority, and nothing guarantees they will be “hot” enough for the incel crowd. Your notion of some vague population of women who would for some reason be willing to have sex with men who feel such obvious contempt and resentment toward women, and who would do so without a significant amount of economic pressure being put on them is insane... well, really just inhuman, which seems to be the defining characteristic of this entire post.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Volunteering for Central Park

I use Central Park so much I decided to join the Central Park Conservancy and also volunteer to help out - lawn work or the info booth, I don't know for sure yet what I'm going to do. Maybe both.

Before you can be a regular volunteer you have to go to an orientation meeting, which I did. They show you photos of how crappy Central Park was in the 1960s and 1970s, before the Conservancy got started in 1980. Here are some examples of the crappy photos.

It's a good move because it really makes the Conservancy look good, with the radical improvements they've wrought on the Park.

On my way to the meeting I passed the pedestal where the statue of J. Marion Sims used to stand. 

Sims died over a hundred years ago, and it's just a statue, and I really don't care if people take their anger over slavery in the United States out on a statue. But I don't think that Sims was the monster that he's been made out to be. As this article in the Journal of Medical Ethics notes:
 Sims's modern critics have discounted the enormous suffering experienced by fistula victims, have ignored the controversies that surrounded the introduction of anaesthesia into surgical practice in the middle of the 19th century, and have consistently misrepresented the historical record in their attacks on Sims. Although enslaved African American women certainly represented a “vulnerable population” in the 19th century American South, the evidence suggests that Sims's original patients were willing participants in his surgical attempts to cure their affliction—a condition for which no other viable therapy existed at that time.
I don't care if the statue has been moved to Brooklyn, but I nevertheless disagree with people misreading history for political ends.

Now statues glorifying the racist traitors of the Civil War - I am all in favor of taking those down. I'm a supporter of Take Em Down NOLA.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Steven Pinker, Quillette, and the Trump supporter dark triad

Some of Steven Pinker's fanboys took offense over my connecting Pinker to various alt-right types.

But if anything Pinker continues to confirm his connection to the alt-right, such as his most-recent promotion of alt-right Quillette. But then, Quillette, fellow promoters of "race realism" are big fans of Pinker too.

Less than a year ago, Quillette's founder Claire Lehmann appeared in a video together with alt-right extremist Gavin McInnes in support of the alt-right's favorite victim James Damore. 

Of course Steven Pinker is also a defender of Damore, but he'd have to be since Damore's memo is simply a regurgitation of Pinker's own evolutionary psychology theories, much like Larry Summers' speech informing women of their STEM inferiority - at a conference on women in STEM careers - was.

What Pinker and his crowd represent is the resentment of white men, most clearly demonstrated by Trump voters, whom, a study in the news today indicates, are not worried about money but instead are worried about status:
Trump support was linked to a belief that high-status groups, such as whites, Christians or men, faced more discrimination than low-status groups, like minorities, Muslims or women...

But meanwhile Claire Lehmann's buddy Gavin McInnes is trying to push the idea that the real enemy is Islam.

The Trump-supporter dark triad in a nutshell.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Presidential candidates at Cooper Union

I was at Cooper Union - the location of one of Lincoln's most famous speeches to see Hillary Clinton deliver the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture for Pen America.

Both the PEN official who introduced Clinton and Clinton herself referenced Lincoln's speech, which was a good idea. It was apparently an amazing speech and is given credit for Lincoln's successful presidential campaign. 

An eyewitness that evening said, "When Lincoln rose to speak, I was greatly disappointed. He was tall, tall, -- oh, how tall! and so angular and awkward that I had, for an instant, a feeling of pity for so ungainly a man." However, once Lincoln warmed up, "his face lighted up as with an inward fire; the whole man was transfigured. I forgot his clothes, his personal appearance, and his individual peculiarities. Presently, forgetting myself, I was on my feet like the rest, yelling like a wild Indian, cheering this wonderful man."
The text of Lincoln's speech is available online of course, and well worth the read as I discussed on this blog some years ago. I would really love to find a video deliver this speech with the barn-burning delivery I think it deserves. I found Sam Waterson giving the speech, but I don't think he does it justice. If only I could hire Daniel Day Lewis.

I doubt anybody could top Lincoln, but Clinton's speech is very good and she got off quite a few zingers against Trump. You can watch it here.

Everybody in the room of course would have preferred that Clinton joined the presidential brotherhood instead of Trump, but there is a sort-of connection between Clinton and Lincoln - she gave the Arthur Miller Lecture. Miller's daughter is married to Daniel Day Lewis. I love him, so much in Lincoln.

Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay and this first scene from the movie strikes me as the most Kushneresque of them all.

Lincoln (2012) – Opening Scene from LYNN MADSEN'S VIDEOS on Vimeo.

More on SPLC's article about the Right

In my excitement over the Southern Poverty Law Center's mention of Sam Harris I neglected to mention the Steven Pinker connection.

The article that mentions Harris is focused on pathways into the alt-right, based on evidence provided in an alt-right discussion group:
The two threads, titled “WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE MOVEMENT?” and “Path here beginning from Gavin (McInnes),” asked posters to reflect on their own “red pill” narratives and provide tips for converting others. “Here’s the challenge,” a user identified as The Somalisher wrote. “Create a list of succession from the Alt-Light to us. I have friends who like Gavin…But I can’t exactly throw [Andrew] Anglin at them.” 
The user continued, “It sometimes requires softer steps to ‘radical’ perspectives.”
The number of times each individual or platform was mentioned as an influence was tallied, and those mentioned by three or more posters are listed in the chart below. Disconnected as they might seem, the most cited influences — the “politically incorrect” 4chan board /pol/ and the American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor — hint at two common paths to the alt-right: either through participation in the rampantly racist and misogynistic online trolling culture of 4chan and its offshoots, or through exposure to Taylor’s variety of pseudo-academic “race realism” that couches timeworn racist tropes in the language of science.
Within alt-right spaces like TRS, these two fibers of the movement are woven together — resulting in an ironic, meme-ified version of old-school race science — and embellished with antisemitism.
Here is the chart provided by SPLC below. It doesn't surprise me at all that many of the names who influenced those joining the alt-right also appear in my diagram Steven Pinker's rightwing, alt-right and hereditarian connections: Jared Taylor, Stefan Molyneux, Gavin McInnes, VDARE, Taki's Magazine, Richard Spencer, Steve Sailer and with my updated chart, Sam Harris. I find it especially interesting that Harris and Sailer have the same number of citations.

The SPLC is only reporting the data collected at this right-wing group, but Sam Harris considers reporting the data a sign of the "stupidity" of SPLC.

And of course science racism promoting ninnies like alt-right Claire Lehmann (also on my Pinker chart) are going to support Harris.

Harris's tweet refers to Maajid Nawaz who sued the SPLC for calling him an anti-Muslim extremist, but I doubt he believed he could win - the SPLC calling Nawaz an anti-Muslim extremist was an opinion. And they have plenty of reporting about Nawaz to back them up. But even if they didn't, the fact remains that opinion is protected by the First Amendment in the United States. 

I think Nawaz's real goal was to hurt SPLC financially. Certainly his fans at InfoWars would love that. Back in 2015 Nawaz had no problem with InfoWars as Glenn Greenwald discovered.

Abbey Road cover photo outtakes

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Steven Pinker's rightwing, alt-right and hereditarian connections, version 2

I have added Sam Harris to the chart in honor of his shout-out at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The PDF version is available here.

Click the image to see a larger version.

The series on "evo-psycho bros."


    What are hereditarians?

    Although right-wing and alt-right are fairly well-known terms, "hereditarian" is not and requires an explanation.

    "Hereditarian" - an advocate of the theory that individual differences in human beings can be accounted for primarily on the basis of genetics.

    Although in practice the term most often refers to racial differences, as discussed by Linda Gottfredson:
    Rushton and Jensen’s (2005) hereditarian hypothesis is that Black–White differences in general intelligence (IQ, or the general mental ability factor, g) are “substantially” genetic in origin...

    Other terms which are similar are "evolutionary psychology," "human biodiversity" and "racial realism." Related to these terms is "biosocial criminology."

    Steven Pinker

    Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications. His tenth book, to be published in February 2018, is called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

    The Blank Slate

    Written by Pinker, published in 2002, this is the New Testament to The Bell Curve's Old Testament for hereditarians.
    Although Steven Pinker claims in The Blank Slate that he doesn't agree with the conclusions about black intelligence made in The Bell Curve, he has never to my knowledge explained why, although he agrees with almost every other hereditarian claim, the Bell Curve is wrong about that.

    ...Intellectuals deny biology, according to Pinker, because it interferes with their pet theories of mind and behavior. These are the Blank Slate (the belief that the mind is wholly shaped by the environment), the Noble Savage (the notion that people are born good but are corrupted by society), and the Ghost in the Machine (the idea that there is a nonbiological agent in our heads with the power to change our nature at will). The "intellectuals" in Pinker's book are social scientists, progressive educators, radical feminists, academic Marxists, liberal columnists, avant-garde arts types, government planners, and postmodernist relativists. The good guys are the cognitive scientists and ordinary folks, whose common sense, except when it has been damaged by listening to intellectuals, generally correlates with what cognitive science has discovered. I wish I could say that Pinker's view of the world of ideas is more nuanced than this...

Even newer at Quilbert - alt-right Claire "free speech" Lehmann wants SPLC sued

Alt-right Claire Lehmann likes to shamelessly proclaim that Quilbert is a beacon of free speech in the world.

In other alt-right Claire Lehmann news, Lehmann thinks that women are too stupid to handle engineering.

Here is what the Southern Poverty Law Center said about Harris:
The “skeptics” movement — whose adherents claim to challenge beliefs both scientific and spiritual by questioning the evidence and reasoning that underpin them — has also helped channel people into the alt-right by way of “human biodiversity.” Sam Harris has been one of the movement’s most public faces, and four posters on the TRS thread note his influence. 
Under the guise of scientific objectivity, Harris has presented deeply flawed data to perpetuate fear of Muslims and to argue that black people are genetically inferior to whites. In a 2017 podcast, for instance, he argued that opposition to Muslim immigrants in European nations was “perfectly rational” because “you are importing, by definition, some percentage, however small, of radicalized people.” He assured viewers, “This is not an expression of xenophobia; this is the implication of statistics.” More recently, he invited Charles Murray on his podcast. Their conversation centered on an idea that lies far outside of scientific consensus: that racial differences in IQ scores are genetically based. Though mainstream behavioral scientists have demonstrated that intelligence is less significantly affected by genetics than environment (demonstrated by research that shows the IQ gap between black and white Americans is closing, and that the average American IQ has risen dramatically since the mid-twentieth century), Harris still dismissed any criticism of Murray’s work as “politically correct moral panic.” 
For posters on TRS, Harris’ work blended easily into that of more overtly racist writers like Paul Kersey, whose popular blog, “Stuff Black People Don’t Like,” is reposted on American Renaissance. The site “really gets the noggin joggin and encourages you to search for answers,” one user wrote. Their “biggest stepping stone” was from Harris’ work to Kersey’s blog: “It was there I learned about race realism, IQ, genetics, bell curves, and the economic/political drivers behind the pushing of ‘diversity.’”
Presumably Claire Lehmann is just too ignorant to know how libel laws work in the United States, and too lazy to make an effort to find out. But in fact the United States actually does stand for free speech, and so there's no way the SPLC could be sued for any of this. Any more than I can be sued for documenting Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections.

Speaking of which, now that Sam Harris has gotten a shout-out from the SPLC I am now duty-bound to update my Pinker chart and add Sam Harris. Pinker is a firm supporter of Harris, which makes sense since they are at about the same intellectual level and support scientific racists.

Friday, April 20, 2018

So what's new at Quilbert?

Somebody on Twitter referred to the alt-right rag Quillette as "Quilbert" recently - I'm not sure if it was deliberate or the result of a rogue spell-checker, but I thought it was funny.

The news at Quilbert is that there is little new at Quilbert. In spite of professional author Jonathan Kay having become the Canadian editor several weeks ago, nothing much seems to have changed. Which makes sense since Kay apparently thought Quilbert was just dandy as it was.

I was surprised to see criticism of Kevin Williamson, but that's probably more due to his position being so extreme (he wants abortion made a hanging offense) even the Quilbert crew has issues with him. Well, not everybody in the Quilbert crew

But for the most part it's still the same old alt-right/libertarian Quilbert:
  • there is still an extreme gender ratio favoring men. Of the 24 items currently listed under "recent" only two are written by women. 
  • All references to feminism are anti-feminism. 
  • Many of the authors are grad students or amateurs, as when admitted conservative Steven Messenger reviews "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt. The review is a rambling tiresome slog. It's as though the review was written by someone with no expertise in psychology but rather might have spent his entire career as a mechanical engineer. Which is in fact what Steven Messenger has done.
Quillbert's James Damore and Jordan Peterson fevers seem to have broken, but don't worry, Quilbert still provides masculinity-panic content.

So much winning, Jonathan Kay.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I may have to go see this puppet show

Puppet Ayn Rand
It's been quite a while since I blogged much about Ayn Rand. I was on an Ayn Rand binge three years ago when I was reading "Atlas Shrugged" as homework for an as-yet unproduced play I wrote about Rand and her influence on Alan Greenspan. But once Trump came along the idea of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve being a former acolyte of Ayn Rand no longer seemed wacky and improbable.

But then I read about this puppet show which also features Noam Chomsky and Karl Marx and I am intrigued:
About halfway through the play, Musk puts a copy of “Atlas Shrugged” into the Print-a-Friend, and out pops Ayn Rand, wearing the signature dollar-sign pin she favored in real life.
Mr. Reyes read Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead” as a teenager, but unsurprisingly is not a fan, though he said he appreciates her theatrical qualities.
“She’s a great character for comedy because she’s a sociopath,” he said. “There are so many very crazy things she said.”
I believe she was more likely on the autism spectrum than a sociopath.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Jesse Singal demonstrates once again he's a terrible journalist

Well that didn't take long for Jesse Singal to keep this going. I'm beginning to think that Singal is not only a really bad excuse for a journalist but a raging narcissist. Which would explain why so many hits on his name are people writing about him, rather than the other way around.

Anybody with a basic comprehension of the English language would understand that the reason I posted the link to the petition had nothing to do with any claims about Singal being alt-right. I never even used the term alt-right in the blog post.

Right before the list which included the link to the petition I wrote:
Because it's possible that one of these days his editors will get tired of his habit of turning himself into the story:
How is it possible that Jesse Singal can be a journalist while having a reading comprehension issue?

Singal initially came to my attention because of his carelessness with facts - a trait you would think would disqualify someone from earning a living as a journalist. As PZ Myers noted about Singal's defense of Pinker:
Even when they vaguely puzzle out this point, Pinker supporters don’t understand it. What does Jesse Singal say in the New York Times? 
(Myers quoting Singal) 
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.  
(end quote)
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.

I said this at the time and today's exchange has only confirmed it: Jesse Singal is a lazy sloppy journalist and that trait is just as apparent in his tweets. 

Jesse Singal is still a lazy half-wit "journalist"

No surprise to see that one of the fans of lazy half-wit "journalist" Jesse Singal is right-wing Koch brothers hack Cathy Young.

I was amused to read the comments in this thread, although not because the commenters were deliberately funny. Much like Singal himself, his Twitter followers are, try as they might, wit-less.

Almost none of them seems capable of actually reading what I've written about Pinker and his evo-psycho bro followers, or understanding it. But then, you really can't expect intellectual rigor from people who are impressed by Steven Pinker.

It actually has been a super year for Jesse Singal - he's under-qualified to be a journalist and yet he gets paid to write. He should count his blessings. 

But maybe that's why he cultivates hacks like Cathy Young - maybe someday Singal will give up journalism, which he really isn't suited for, and get Cathy Young to help him get a career that does suit him - wingnut welfare. 

Because it's possible that one of these days his editors will get tired of his habit of turning himself into the story:
With any luck Singal will screen cap this too and post it on Twitter and we can keep it going - I'm happy to keep adding to the "stories about Jesse Singal" collection.