‘As a white male, how can I be sympathetic to movements that demonize my being?’

HUMAN 1
Just remain silent and understand you’re actually the empowered one.

HUMAN 0
I mean, maybe it’s actually this. To some extent, I understand that the underlying message is that “these people are angry” and that the use of “white male” as a scapegoat is just “the easiest tangible target for anger.”

However, when I feel specifically targeted, I can’t help but feel like it is in my personal self-interest to actively undermine movements that use this sort of rhetoric.

Assume for a moment reincarnation does exist and when you die, you’ll be reborn as a human again.

Without any guarantee of what your demographic characteristics would be, what sort of society would you want to live in?

Continue reading ‘As a white male, how can I be sympathetic to movements that demonize my being?’

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BOOK REVIEW: Lynda V. Mapes’ ‘Witness Tree’ gives you new eyes to look at the world around you

If humanity doesn’t immediately reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other climate-warming air pollutants, global temperatures could rise by as much as 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most pessimistic forecasts.

For some reason, this knowledge isn’t as frightening to us as the prospect of a Cold War-style apocalyptic thermonuclear exchange — in the same way that the inevitability of lung cancer from smoking tobacco isn’t as frightening as the idea that, hypothetically, electronic cigarettes might have a one in 100,000 chance of blowing off their vaper’s head. Our risk assessment faculties aren’t adapted to gradual but certain peril the way they ought to be. So here we are.

In that context comes Lynda V. Mapes’ book Witness Tree. The Seattle Times reporter spent a year studying a particular hundred-odd-year-old red oak in north-central Massachusetts while researching its surroundings, using it as a lens to view the effects of global warming and ecology in general.  Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: Lynda V. Mapes’ ‘Witness Tree’ gives you new eyes to look at the world around you

‘Why are people in the south Republican when they should be fiscally liberal?’

HUMAN 1
1. Lack of education means a lot of people can’t actually determine what economic policies are good for them or bad for them.

2. People who can’t discern the effects policy decisions will have on them latch onto any explanation that sounds adequate by people they trust and believe.

3. Politicians who wish to manipulate the uneducated and ignorant tell these people what they want to hear rather than present sound policy decisions because these people do not understand policies.

4. Once people have heard a politician tell them what they want to hear they will associate the policy decisions these politicians advocate for as being good for them.

5. When no one understands the effects certain policy decisions will have you can pretty much argue any policy decision as being good for anybody as long as you sound convincing. For example: “We should lower taxes to create jobs. With lower taxes more companies will have more money to create jobs.” People want to hear how they will get more jobs. Lowering taxes does mean companies will have more money so they could hire more people this ought to work.” Then people assume the job tbey get will be a good job so they don’t worry about social programs since they won’t need them once they have a job which lower taxes will get them.

If you’re saying education, you’re missing a step.

Southerners could have improved their school systems long ago.

White Southerners, and rural people in general, are voting for their interests. They’re just voting for their interests relatively instead of absolutely.

To feel like you’re doing better, you need to be doing better than someone else. It’s more important to put a floor under you and have people in a status you can never descend to—a status they can never climb from—because then you have security.

Continue reading ‘Why are people in the south Republican when they should be fiscally liberal?’

‘Greeks called people “barbarians”, so how can anyone act like Apartheid was a big deal?’

Walter Williams’ recent column on comparative slavery is intellectually dishonest in general, but his misquotation of abolitionist Frederick Douglass is either an especially egregious example of that, or he’s never bothered to even glance at it in context.

Williams accurately quotes from this sentence in a speech by Douglass examining whether the original U.S. Constitution was pro- or anti-slavery:

[The three-fifths compromise] is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.

But as Douglass continues, it becomes clear he in no way endorses such accounting and would have preferred enslaved people not be counted at all: Continue reading ‘Greeks called people “barbarians”, so how can anyone act like Apartheid was a big deal?’

‘Why do liberals hate facts?’

HUMAN 1
I am assuming that the computer program did not factor in race at all and instead focused on actual circumstances which black people just tend to be worse off in. Then ‘ProPublica’ got outraged when doing simple data mining because working to actually resolve and understand issues has been well outside of the American left’s wheelhouse for decades.

HUMAN 2
The algorithm is literally biased

Yeah, you can say you have a completely race-blind algorithm, but if it’s blind to racism impacting the data, it’s going to have a result that suffers from racism as well.

For example, asking, ‘Was one of your parents ever sent to jail or prison?’ is really closely akin to asking whether someone’s grandparent was a slave before forcing them to pay a poll tax or take a literacy test. The question may not be inherently racist, but the question it’s asking is addressing a reality that was racist and affected people disproportionately.

If you’re white, your parents are less likely to have been arrested by police for smoking weed in the 1970s. If you’re white, you’re more likely to have gotten off with a warning when you got in a fight in high school than prosecuted for a felony. If you’re white, you probably have a social network that can provide you with a job more easily because your family, friends, neighborhood, and classmates were allowed to inherit and increase their wealth.

An algorithm that perpetuates systemic biases probably is not a well-designed one. Continue reading ‘Why do liberals hate facts?’

‘What do you think of gentrification?’

Gentrification is a problem because it flows from historical discrimination, and the power dynamics tend to fall along those lines.

If everyone had equal wealth, or if wealth really were distributed according to merit, gentrification might just be some unpleasant but necessary feature of changing economies, labor markets, and urban life.

But instead what we have in the United States is a society where some groups have been robbed of wealth generation after generation, and others have been gifted that wealth and allowed to inherit it instead. So even if most de jure racism either is no longer on the books or can’t be openly enforced, we still have the equivalent of grandfather clauses operating all over the place.

Continue reading ‘What do you think of gentrification?’

‘Feminists: why are there so few stay at home dads?’

HUMAN 1
The simplest reason is when you consider the initial disruption, pay differences, and to an extent social expectations it becomes relatively more expensive. This accumulates with more children — even if you have a stay-at-home dad, the mother is still going to pay a substantial cost for each birth.

Whether that happens in aggregate, I don’t know, but it certainly explains some of the effect.

I’d bet that the number of women who can support a family solely on their income is fairly small. The average woman makes about $150 less per week than the average man. Continue reading ‘Feminists: why are there so few stay at home dads?’