Can we just stop making stuff up?

The title of a recent article at The New Republic reads:

The Period Is Pissed
When did our plainest punctuation mark become so aggressive?

The author then goes on to assume that adding a period at the end of your texts indicates you’re angry.

This is one of the plainest cases of someone just making shit up. Ok, so he cites a professor of linguistics and the editor of something called the Awl (presumably short for “The Awful,” judging by the editor’s comments.) But this guy is definitely smoking something.

Look, a period at the end of sentences is not indicating aggressiveness. It is proper grammar. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, some people don’t do that and use line breaks because it’s more efficient to type that way on mobile phones. Not technically proper, but it’s a convenience to use such a wonderful device. I have no problem with that. But if you start assuming that using periods in a message indicates “anger,” well, then you’re going to have a lot of problems in your life. You’re probably going to end up hating a lot of people or feeling really bad about yourself. And then your life is going to get worse.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t assume. It makes an ass out of you and me.

EDIT: I am now very angry at my high school for making me think grammar is spelled with an “e”.

From @Superbus » Richie Incognito And The Male Disease

» Richie Incognito And The Male Disease The Superbus’s Thoughtpad.

I forget the guy’s name, but I’ll never forget the time my home town of Seymour effectively beat a kid to Florida.

The Seymour High School football team1, in my freshman year of 19952, got in a lot of trouble because the parent of one kid reported the hazing that her son – someone I knew, but wasn’t very good friends with – went through and wanted answers. What kind of hazing? How about softball-sized welts on his back from being whipped, while tied up, by weightlifting belts that reportedly were made wet to make them hurt more. Basically, imagine being hit by the leather part of a championship wrestling belt after it’s been sitting in water for an hour and you have an idea. That’s the kind of thing a plantation owner would do to a belligerent slave.

However, this woman and her family made one key mistake: they didn’t get anyone else on board. Other people who took that barbaric abuse didn’t back him up, and other players, upper classmen, called him out. Things only got worse from there, as the entire school, and eventually the entire town of Seymour turned against him and his family. I don’t remember specifics, but he got abused far more, and far worse, as time went on. Eventually, the family moved to Florida, and though I don’t know them personally, it’s patently obvious that they moved because their son was being abused to the point of cruelty, not just by the jocks who turned on him, but by a town that abandoned the snitch, the heretic, and the one who could have hurt the season of a team two years off a conference championship. I mean, God Damnit, we have to beat Torrington! We have to beat Torrington!!!

When I think of the barbarity of what Richie Incognito is guilty of, I think back to that 15 year old kid who was abandoned by adults because he was deemed soft by the kangaroo court of a small town who takes its football way too seriously.

Such are the opening words to an amazing, utterly amazing blog post on the recent brouhaha with the Miami Dolphins, and more general issues regarding the contemporary man.

There are a lot of things floating out there; one of them is that we are engaging in a “wussification” of men across the board. I think that’s happening in public schools, especially at the elementary and junior high levels, but in general I think there’s also a lot of macho man BS going on. I see it all the time, where men are expected not to be thoughtful and kind but just turn to violence or other forms of barbarity in order to get ahead.

I see it in society all the time. There’s a dark layer of barbarism lying underneath modern culture, undergirding it in some respects, and it bothers me. We’re above this stuff, or at least we should be. I was done with bullying in the sixth grade, but I see it all the time as an adult–at work, at my house, on the street, in politics, in the media, in churches, in schools. It’s ridiculous.

Anyways, I encourage you to read the entire blog post and leave Chris a comment. It’s an extremely well-written piece and he deserves a few more blog hits than he normally gets.

.@pzmyers smears Michael Shermer, and I have a hunch why

It appears that PZ Myers, long a bomb-throwing, shit-stirring sort of atheist, has decided to just smear Michael Shermer with allegations that Mr. Shermer is a rapist. As the above video explains quite well (and within the first three minutes) the entire story just smacks of falsehood. And even if it is true, why is Myers publishing it on his blog and not going to the police?

The video implies that the reason is for more pagehits, which I cannot deny is some motivation. PZ has been losing credibility and steam in the world, and like any attention whore he needs new marks. But I don’t think that’s all of it.

Michael Shermer is one of the leading atheists in the world, Founding Publisher of Skeptics Magazine and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society. But Michael Shermer is also a libertarian. I don’t agree with him on everything–he took a decidedly leftist view on guns after the Newtown tragedy–but overall the man is libertarian.

PZ Myers, on the other hand, is most decidedly not libertarian. He is a progressive at best, a socialist at worse. (He calls himself a “godless liberal biologist” on his Twitter bio, but that’s because he doesn’t really know the meaning of liberal.) As I’ve noted before, PZ is behind the creation of “Atheismplus,” or “Atheism+,” which is sadly not some sort of atheist social networking site but is rather a sociopolitical movement designed to sneakily convert all of atheism over to left-wing progressives. Under PZ’s view, unless you take his positions on politics, society, and just about everything else, you can’t be an atheist. It was a handy way of trying to become the spokesman for atheism, however, that move backfired horrendously. As far as I am aware–which is actually limited, because unlike many atheists I do not spend a whole hell of a lot of time focusing on atheist bitchfests–Atheism+ sort of fizzled. Well, actually, it tore the atheist movement apart, created a lot of needless melodrama, and a whole lot of arguments, then fizzled. A lot of it had to do with McCarthy-esque witch hunts hunting down supposed misogynists, but it was really another attempt at using left-wing style politics to silence political opponents, this time in the (supposedly homogenous) atheist community.

I have no doubt that Myers’ baseless accusations, backed up by no evidence whatsoever, are caused by politics. Sure, he may be wanting to get more attention after A+ severely damaged his reputation, but this will not help him. It only makes him look more like a scumbag.

What I find most interesting about all of this is that there is a lot of disgust towards PZ Myers, the Atheism+ movement, and stuff like this happening. Reading about what happened to A+ makes me feel better about atheism in general. For a long time I thought atheism was overrun with socialists, progressives, and “statheists,” but apparently I was wrong. Thank goodness.

In more immediate details, Shermer has filed a cease and desist order against Myers. The post is still up, and PZ has sought legal assistance from Ken White at Popehat. That makes me a bit worried; I like Ken, and he offers pro bono legal help to bloggers facing libel and defamation suits. That’s a good thing, but he should steer clear of this one. This is just straight up, well, defamation, really, without any facts or evidence, calculated to cause reputational damage to someone, likely because of political differences. That’s not really something you can defend in court, but Ken is the lawyer, not me. Still, I would hate to see someone like Ken tarnished by being associated with this.

In short: PZ Myers is a turd. He will defame people, destroy them, if he disagrees with them, and wants to label any atheist he disagrees with him as “not-atheist.” He’s pretty low (and apparently also a misogynist himself.)

This is what happens when you go down that road of “progressivism.”

My Friend Suffered Because Police Are Out Of Control

I really need to pay attention to my Facebook feed more often.

A friend of mine, Crissy Brown, who I worked with last year, was arrested, thrown in jail, strip-searched, and detained for hours back in July–all because she didn’t pay a ticket for an expired license plate in a timely manner.

That is just messed up.

Crissy writes about her experience on Thoughts on Liberty. In her words:

While driving to work on Independence Day, I was pulled over by a Tuscaloosa cop for having expired tags. I had gotten a ticket for my expired license plate previously – and hadn’t taken care of it for the same reason my tags were expired: I’m a student waitress who barely gets by as it is.

The cop informed me there is a warrant out for my arrest (…”what?”), and without asking a single question, he handcuffed me and rummaged through my car.

I was three weeks late paying my prior ticket, and that is all it took to be given the total criminal treatment. He “helps” me into the back of the cop car, and this is when time stopped existing – stopped mattering at all.

I was taken to the police station, printed and photographed, then taken to jail to repeat the process. I asked so many questions, inquired (relatively) politely as to why some of the steps being taken were necessary, and I was told to “shut up” or just completely ignored at every turn.

As soon as I arrived at the police station, before I could make it through the metal detectors, I was pushed against a wall and made to stand there until a female officer could take the time to inappropriately touch – I mean frisk – me. As the woman ran her hands down my body and between my legs, three male officers stood behind me, watching the show.

From there, I was processed, which included stripping down in front of a female officer. While I stood before her naked, I asked the cop why it was necessary for me to be strip searched; she responded by calling me an asshole and deciding I needed to take a shower to, I suppose, wash the filth out of my mouth. I didn’t even get a towel to dry off with. She handed me a large, burlap-like orange set of scrubs, bedding, and a mattress. I was escorted down to population, made to walk along gray tape on the ground (it really pissed them off if you deviated from the “inmate line”), and then put in a holding cell that had more women than beds, two metal picnic tables, and an old fuzzy TV set.

I was in jail for a little over eight hours. For the last three, my family sat waiting for them to release me, wondering why it takes so long to process a bond. When they finally freed me, I thought to myself, “thank god this is over.”

Not even close.

That is beyond messed up.

Humans generally understand the concept of “proportionality,” and not going overboard with things. We understand that you don’t physically beat someone up if they just happen to bump into you when walking down the street, nor do you give the death penalty to someone who has stolen your bike. There are limits to punishment and response.

At least, everyone understands this aside from local police. Not just in Alabama, but everywhere.

We are inundated with horrific stories of police abuse all the time, from the police evicting a family from a house so they could plot out a raid on their neighbors in Nevada, shoot unarmed passengers minding their own business, and leading to all the incidents that make up journalist Radley Balko’s new book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

While we’re trying to roll back the National Security Agency’s unreasonable domestic spying programs, try to end the droning of innocent people, and cut back spending, let’s not forget the plight of my friends like Crissy Brown. This is a real situation that everyone needs to get outraged about–because this time it was Crissy.

Next time, it will be you.

The Brazen Arrogance of Conservatives

Earlier this month, I wrote an essay for Cato Unbound regarding the topic of fusionism, which is a theory of sorts that libertarianism works best when slaved to conservatism. A blogger, by the name of Neal Dewing, took umbrage at this and wrote a response. Now, normally I am perfectly fine with this. But, in this case, Mr. Dewing wrote a very, very uninformed, poorly written blog post that made it clear he had no idea what he was talking about. It was so lousy, in fact, that Cato Unbound didn’t even want to post a response to it. Why bother recognizing such rubbish with a response? Best to ignore it and let it slip into obscure ignominy.

I, however, am of a different mind. While I concur that Mr. Dewing’s blog post is the epitome of stupidity, it is precisely because it is so full of errors that I must respond. Such garbage needs to be addressed, lest people think that, somehow, it is true. Rumors and lies must be quashed. And here I shall do the quashing. It is right. It is proper. It is necessary.

Without more further ado, here is what I wrote in response to Mr. Dewing:

Continue reading The Brazen Arrogance of Conservatives

Quick Tyranny Summary

So let’s sum up the Obama Administration’s scandals so far:

Of course, there are a number of liberals who are trying to defend the president and his administration (such as Jeffrey Toobin from the New Yorker), but for once it seems that the cloak has come off and the emperor has no clothes. Everywhere people are outraged over this.

What will happen? I don’t know. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is a fairly tyrannical administration. I wasn’t alive during Nixon so I can’t compare. But it seems awful. And it’s about the same as George W. Bush.

I hope this finally leads to some improvement. The dark times we’re facing now may be a forge through which we will tempered into something much greater. I can hope, at any rate. Even if all it does is make the American public more skeptical of the government, more distrustful of it, that will be a fantastic first step.

Why mainstream news is dying–and good riddance

I don’t normally go on rants about the liberal media bias we’re always told about, but he’s a great example of why so many Americans think it exists:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/332173661018660865″]

That’s just wrong, and WaPo knows it. Saying that only “Rich, middle-aged men” and people who eat at Chick-Fil-A care about four dead foreign service officers is just disgraceful. There are tons of Americans out there who care that the government let four diplomats die for what seem to be purely political reasons…and instead of honing in on that, the Washington Post is disgracefully putting up flak.

That’s not to say there isn’t BS on both sides of the aisle:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/MJayRosenberg/status/332188328847876096″]

But holy crap, WaPo, was that a BS tweet.

And folks wonder why the Washington Post Company is losing money hand over fist. Gee, it couldn’t be that you’re a bunch of morons giving cover to government evil, could it?

Sorority Girl Email: How We Laud & Coddle Bullies And Forget The Bullied

Last week, an email from a sorority girl in Maryland went viral, thanks to Gawker, and–to use the vocabulary of its author–it’s fucking horrible. I was going to write about this last week, but I didn’t; however, the issue has recently “concluded.” Let’s go over the letter itself, then focus on the reactions, which I find to be more important.

It is 882 words long. 41 of those words are the F-bomb. (According to one comment, that is. I’m not going to waste my time counting the figures myself.) It is full of ENTIRELY CAPITALIZED SENTENCES. It is a brazen, unmitigated attack at sorority members, an attack that has no decency and even threatens violence in the form of “cunt punts” against other members.

What shocks me more than this, though, are the comments from the Gawker article. Here are a few:

“This girl will be the president of a company some day. We are kidding ourselves if we think this letter didn’t bring RESULTS.”

“Me too–she’s a great writer.”

“Mistake? That email is going to launch her career.”

Really? If she is seriously going to become the CEO of a major corporation because of this email, then I don’t want to be on this planet anymore.

I do not–repeat, DO NOT–understand people who think that being an asshole to others is somehow worthy of praise, emulation, or promotion. To me, anyone who thinks that way is a psychopath or a politician–but I repeat myself. And maybe that’s where the problem is with our current culture: we have psychopaths running both our major corporations and the federal/state government.

But I digress. The thing is, if you would “laugh” at this, I think really think you need your head examined. Being downright mean to other people like this is acceptable in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence and no one can be coddled, but not otherwise. You can make your point without entirely relying upon vulgarity, attacks, and threats of violence. And I would like to think that such writing would be utterly unacceptable in a business situation, as it would be completely and totally unprofessional.

Not sure about that, though. Some places might do that. They might even find it fine. In which case, those places are hellholes.

I also wonder why this comment is buried so low. Maybe the truth stings?

Nice they are talking about my old shitty frat. Honestly after reading it I can’t blame those girls, in all seriousness they should want to hang out with other better frats. Sigma Nu sucks. I remember the social would always plan evens with the worst sororities because nobody else wanted to. DG, Zeta, and sig kap…. it was like a rotation. most people dropped out after they could get into the bars. It was mostly full of rapists, dealers, or social ackward vigins. I was neither just a frisbee playing hippie:) I dropped out after the exec bored wouldn’t investigate the rape of an unconcius girl in the house, even tho it was video taped. It makes that stubenville ohio rape case look not so bad. There is literally or atleast was a rape room set up in the basement of that frat house. I know of 3 or 4 rapes that were swept under the rug. I really can’t fault those girls for not wanted to talk to that frat definately safer to hang out with other frats. Anyhow man I love social media

 

And when you read the email, especially about the part about the other sorority girls being “FUCKING boring,” it seems to me the whole thing is a complaint about sorority girls not putting out for a bunch of guys. And to me, that is just gross and even barbaric.

Fortunately, the sorority took the right action and recently accepted the young woman’s resignation. That was the smart, professional thing to do. Already, though, some are wondering “I hope this woman’s life isn’t ruined because of this email.”

Oh, FFS, this woman got kicked out of a sorority. As @stressnstrain noted, “Have some perspective.” It is hardly the end of the world. Many productive people are not members of a fraternity or a sorority, and you know what? That’s a good thing. Everything I saw from my college career was that frats & sororities were nothing more than extended exercises in binge drinking, sex, and following utterly ridiculous rules meant to destroy your life and your individuality. In fact, leaving the sorority may be a good thing.

Another commenter on the FB page says:

I understand that this young lady made a mistake and did not uphold the ideals that we all expect as a Delta Gamma. But I also feel compassion for her and would have hoped that Delta Gamma could have reached out to her with some sort of guidance and counseling rather than just accepting her resignation. I’m sure she feels alone and humiliated at this moment. I hope that she has others to turn to because it appears Delta Gamma has abandoned her and I don’t believe that was the correct course of action.

Sorority girl feels alone & humiliated? GOOD
PLEASE. She “feels alone and humiliated”? That’s the point. She should feel humiliated over this. Boohoo–this sort of whining is the same sort of thing as when adults start “feeling bad” for the bully on the playground when he’s told off for being a bully. It’s sick and makes me want to throw up all over my shoes. That commenter should be utterly ashamed of herself.

The basic thing to take away from this is that all these people are horribly, horribly sick. They’re messed up. And while I previously laid the blame for most of our problems on the baby boomer generation, I think it might just be all these folks who somehow want to coddle bullies and jerks. Maybe they’re the problem. I don’t know. But what they’re saying goes against all norms of behavior and is completely unnatural.

I will say one thing, though, and that is I kind of agree with this PolicyMic article posted by Laura Donovan. Donovan writes:

I’m the first to admit the email was horrendous, not to mention further confirmation that I made the right move to opt out of Greek life in college despite the fact that practically everyone in my immediate family was in a frat or sorority, but it’s my hope that Martinson’s whole life isn’t destroyed by this single email.

For those of you who are out of college, think about this: did you ever do anything stupid during your undergrad days? Something shameful that you’re not proud of? At the beginning of my junior year, I found myself in a grouchy mood and wrote an article for my college publication that offended so many people, some called for my resignation. I received email threats and was harassed and publicly shamed even by fellow staff members. It was tough, worst of all because I didn’t feel everything I said I felt in my column. I remember thinking I was going to be punished forever for an article I wasn’t particularly proud of, and that no one wanted to see me other than the girl who’d upset some folks with my 600-word article. None of the good work or highly lauded columns I’d produced mattered to anyone. A single article made them want to demonize me forever and be their punching bag anytime they needed someone to direct their anger at.

That was almost five years ago, but earlier this month, a colleague brought up the article I spent my final years of college trying to forget, as he’d heard about it from a mutual friend who’d been joking that I’ve been a huge firebrand since college. My demeanor immediately changed. I reacted with hostility and began to cry. Why did this single thing I did as a 20-year-old continue to follow me? I’d worked so hard to put it behind me, and others were still mocking me for it.

Part of that is, unfortunately, the price for writing stupid stuff in the Internet age. To deal with it, you grow a thick skin and get over it. You may also say, “Yes, what I wrote back then was wrong, and I know it.” Admitting it is the first step to fixing your problem, and I think once you do that, it should be like a reputational bankruptcy case–you lose a lot of credibility for the original stupidity, but you wipe your slate clean and start over again. It should not be allowed to dog her life forever. A year or two, maybe, but people do need to recognize that people change and must drop the subject sooner or later–preferably sooner. If I was hiring her 10-15 years from now, we might joke about it, but I wouldn’t let it guide my actions. Nobody is defined by a single moment, no matter how hard authors and politicians try to make it so. That isn’t fair or just.

However, Donovan also writes (emphasis added):

What I wrote was nothing like Martinson’s email, which is most certainly unacceptable to send to anyone, let alone sorority sisters you supposedly love like family. Martinson should have known better than to talk like that and use slurs, but I don’t think it was right of the internet to shame her in the way that it did, and I don’t want her to think the rest of her life has to be defined by this single email. If anything, she knows to be more careful with the way she presents herself on social media and online, and hopefully she realizes there’s more to life than a poorly executed Greek event.

She left the sorority, and she’s doing the right thing by going dark. Once the dust settles, she should release a statement of apology, and hopefully she will be able to rebuild from there. You may not like her (she doesn’t sound like someone I’d want to hang out with, and I’m certain I’m too “f-cking AWKWARD and boring” for her), but I don’t think she should be punished forever for this, at least if she shows some remorse once the interwebs is finished chucking stones at her.

Au contraire.

It is absolutely right for the Internet to mock her and shame her for what she did. And contra commenter Michelle Adams, we should condemn her for her actions. Again, how else does one learn what is right and what is wrong? It’s a corrective mechanism, and it works pretty damn well. Sure, not all mocking and shaming and condemnation is right–I mean, if a Nazi guy tried to “mock” me for being friends with Jews, for example–but for the most part, when someone goes really out of line, it is absolutely correct for other individuals to mock them for it. Would you not punish your children if they did something wrong? (If you genuinely say “I wouldn’t” to that question, then tell me how are they going to become good, upstanding adults instead of degenerate assholes who use everyone else as tools to meet their own inner desires?)

This lauding and coddling of bullies makes me want to vomit, as I’ve said before. And as I’ve said before, this is unnatural. This is not how things are supposed to work. Or at least, not in the past. I guess the new standard now is for people who are mean assholes who use others will be praised and supported, while those who are nice, hard-working people will be denigrated and left in the cold.

If that’s the vision of the world these people want, then I want no part of it.

In Which I Blame Everything On The Baby Boomers

When you look around today, you see mountains after mountains of problems. We have the US government debt, whose numbers have left the realm of sane discourse long ago and trended into the land of absurdity, at $16.7 trillion dollars. We have the incredible unfunded liabilities gap for our entitlement programs, which blew past the land of absurdity on an express train to Lovecraftian insanity like Spaceball One going at ludicrous speed with a total shortfall of $119.5 trillion dollars. We’re embroiled in wars across the globe, so fearful of attacks from Islamic terrorists we’re willing to let government employees molest us in airports, or allow our president to kill us with robot death kites without any restraint or oversight whatsoever. We’re still fighting a pointless “War on Drugs” that the government lost decades ago, but they still wage in order to kill more innocents every year. We’re panicking over guns in schools, pastries that look like guns, and all the myriad ways teenagers get drunk. We have an unemployment rate that is still chilling out at almost 8% (and that’s just the bland figure; the real unemployment rate is closer to 15%) and a labor participation rate that has dropped three points since 2007–which equals hundreds of thousands of Americans who have just given up looking for work. And just this past week, we had an epic meltdown over a $44 billion cut to the federal budget, a federal budget that’s over $3.6 trillion and suffers a $1.3 trillion deficit.

We can’t seem to get anywhere with our many modern crises. Everywhere we turn there is fear, danger, and financial ruin. Many have stepped up to lay the blame of these catastrophes on the feet of many different things. Some blame capitalism. Others blame government intervention and crony socialism. Still more blame the media for distorting the facts of incidents. Others blame foreigners, particularly the Chinese and the Russians (and Mexicans, and Middle Easterners, and Greeks, and Europeans, and the Japanese, and the Koreans, and the Indians….) In the spirit of blaming and finger-pointing, I would like to offer my idea of who is to blame for all of our problems today.

I blame the Baby Boomers.

Continue reading In Which I Blame Everything On The Baby Boomers

Boston

I’m an igtheist, or an ignostic atheist. I can’t pray. I just can’t. For once, I envy the religious for their prayer. Because there is nothing else I can do. I can’t pray for the victims. They are definitely in my thoughts, but what will that do?

All I can do is say the following: we don’t really know what happened, so be careful what you see and retweet. Be very skeptical of what you hear or read.

Secondly, no politics. Do not politicize this. Not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Third, if you even THINK about declaring this a “false flag” operation, you should be ashamed of yourself. As terrible as our government is, as bad as Obama and his administration are, they would not bomb American citizens. Nobody in our government is that depraved. While things have been getting worse, we are nowhere near the Middle East or third world countries.

So stop. Just effing STOP.

That’s all I got for today.