Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Stupid! It Burns! (pedophile edition)

the stupid! it burns! A Plea to Atheists: Pedophilia Is Next On the Slippery Slope; Let Us Turn Back Before It Is Too Late
It is axiomatic that in the world of the atheist there is neither morality nor immorality, only amorality.

The lack of morality is not axiomatic among atheists unless one accepts the premise that morality somehow necessarily entails a God. Only then would the lack of morality be axiomatically denied by atheism. But Averick's argument implicitly assumes that even someone who does not believe in God must somehow believe that sexually molesting children really is wrong. If someone did not already believe that child sexual morality was wrong, Averick's argument would be irrelevant. Suppose, for example, that Averick did not trade on a commonly accepted belief; suppose he said that without God, atheists could "rationalize" the eating of pork. Or suppose he said that without God, atheists could "rationalize" the equality of women. We would of course say that yes, that's kind of the point. Fundamentally, therefore, Averick is implicitly contradicting himself: we should believe in a god if we don't need a god to come to moral conclusions.

There is nothing that atheistic societies are incapable of rationalizing and accepting – including the sexual molestation of children.

Let's assume by "atheism", Rabbi Averick means "a rational and evidence-based approach to morality." In this case, it's true but meaningless that an "atheist" society is capable of "rationalizing" and accepting any moral premise. In other words, an atheist society does not have any a priori morality; we have to determine what is moral on the basis of evidence and observation.

Singer went on to explain that he is a “consequentialist.” For the benefit of the philosophically challenged let me explain “consequentialism” in a nutshell: If you like the consequences it’s ethical, if you don’t like the consequences it’s unethical.

Averick's dig at the "philosophically challenged" is ironic: Averick makes an elementary error, confusing consequentialism with a particular brand of subjectivism. Consequentialism just means that we somehow evaluate the consequences of an act, rather than the "intrinsic" morality of an act without regard to the consequences; consequentialism does not entail any particular method of evaluating the consequences.

(We should also note that Peter Singer does not represent all atheists; being an atheist does not entail that one is either a consequentialist or a subjectivist. In a moral context, atheism entails a rejection of only god-predicated morality.)

Thus, if you enjoy child pornography and having sex with children it’s ethical, if you dislike child pornography and having sex with children it’s unethical.

No. To a consequentialist, the ethics of child pornography and sex with children would have to do with the consequences of these actions, whatever they might be. If, for example, one somehow held that harm was a bad consequence, or that the violation of consent was a bad consequence, then sex with children would be bad if it caused children harm or violated their consent. Consequentialism denies only that sex with children could be inherently good or bad, without regard to the consequences of the act.

Averick goes on to (dishonestly) cite some mental health professionals who claim that sex with children might be beneficial to children. I'm extremely skeptical of these claims, but they might be true; science properly has no respect for prejudice, even my own. If so, if childhood sexuality really was beneficial, then Averick must be telling us that we should actually harm children to preserve his superstitions. Who is really the monster here?

This conclusion is not a straw man. Averick places his own work in a larger moral context, saying,
In my own lifetime I have witnessed radical societal swings in moral behavior and attitudes regarding marriage and sexuality, homosexuality, the killing of unborn children, euthanasia, and the use of illicit drugs.
But all of these moral beliefs are precisely about a conflict between humanistic consequentialism and religion: there is no reason people who are not happy living together should stay married; there is no reason people should not enjoy consensual, mutually enjoyable sex; women should not be coerced into having unwanted children; people should not be coerced into living with incurable and untreatable suffering; and smoking pot or drinking alcohol in moderation is pleasurable and relatively harmless.

Averick notably positions atheism as anti-authoritarian:
It would be absurd then for the atheist to suggest that any particular individual or society has the authority to dictate to all human beings what their values should or should not be; it would be even more absurd to suggest that the pronouncements of any individual or society obligates others to behave accordingly.
Since Averick is strongly anti-atheism, we must read him as saying that some particular individual or society does have the authority to dictate values to all human beings and obligate them to behave accordingly. Society does not actually exist separately from individuals, so that leaves individuals to dictate the values for all human beings, and as a self-appointed spokesman for God, who better than Rabbi Averick himself to tell us all what to do.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Experienced only

Sign Spinner / Human Directional (Placentia)

Date: 2011-08-25, 10:56AM PDT
Reply to: [redacted]

Want to get a workout while getting paid? This is the position for you!

$12 Per Hour STARTING PAY!


- Monday through Saturday (5 of 6 days), Saturday m,ust be one of the 5 days
- 32.5 hours per week 11am to 6pm with 30 minute lunch break
- Must have Sign Spinning experience.
- Must show Sign Spinning demonstration for ability.
- Please include most recent Sign Spinning employment (When and Where.)

Email your resume or experience to [redacted]

Interviews start immediately!

  • Location: Placentia
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
PostingID: 2565545012

Originally here on Orange CO Craigslist; via Work Fails and Job LOLs

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On organizing

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

Read the rest

What's wrong with catcalling women?

What's Wrong with Catcalling Women?
Recently a young woman asked me, “How do you explain to guys how frustrating it is to be hit on all day long? Whenever I tell them to imagine what it would be like, not to be hit on just once in a while, but every day everywhere you go, they always say, 'That would be great! I'd have sex with every woman who propositioned me!' They just can't imagine why women would find this oppressive.”

Here is my response.

Men: imagine if every time you opened your mouth no one heard what you had to say. Imagine, instead, you were being humored – or ignored – based primarily on whether the listener thought they could get you to have sex with them. Imagine if half your professors or teachers never solicited your thinking in earnest. Imagine if you knew that despite your talents in any particular field – acting, writing, science, singing, or anything else – you would be evaluated on your looks and your perceived sexual availability. Imagine thinking you met someone who took you seriously and found your ideas and talents compelling, only to discover that really they were just “playing you” to get you in bed.

Read the rest

Let me add this...

There's a difference between being attracted to a woman and hitting on her, in the sense of "hitting on" that Sunsara uses. I can't help how my brain is wired: I find certain women visually appealing, without knowing anything about their personalities or characters. But I keep this appeal to myself: that I find a woman appealing does not give me the right even to merely intrude upon her attention. I get to know many people, men and women, in the course of my daily life. I have legitimate, socially acceptable reasons for interacting with them as full human beings. I can evaluate their personality and character; more importantly, I give them an opportunity to evaluate my personality or character. I don't "hit on" women; I get to know people; if the whole package works, and works both ways, we can proceed. We can proceed. There are well-established, legitimate and socially acceptable methods of communicating mutual interest, and if the interest is not mutual, these methods allow either party to disengage gracefully, with a minimum of awkwardness and hurt feelings. I don't count myself a red-hot feminist for this attitude; I consider it nothing but obvious common sense.

I used to be in sales. The guiding principle in sales is to always make it socially awkward for the customer to say "no". It doesn't matter at first what you ask; you just ask questions so that it's easier for the customer to say "yes" from social convention (or you ask questions where the customer gets to "choose" between different ways of saying "yes" to preserve the illusion of choice). If you're approaching a woman like you're a salesman approaching a customer, you're doing it wrong; you're being a creep. Before you ask any woman anything, ask yourself: "Would it be even a little bit awkward for her to say 'no'?" If it would be, shut the fuck up.

There are, I suppose, venues where it might be acceptable to take the sales approach towards women. When you walk into a used car dealership, you want to be sold on a car, n'est pas? (And if you don't want to buy a car, why are you wasting the salesperson's time?) But women have to consciously, explicitly and knowingly choose to enter those venues, they have to be able to leave at any time, and participation cannot be a precondition for any other social task or status, especially a task or status available to men without participation. And the sidewalk, the bus stop, the coffee shop, the convention, and especially the workplace are most emphatically not this kind of venue.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Money doesn't matter

Disclaimer: I'm fairly intelligent, I'm used to delving into the philosophical foundations of various modes of thought, and I've read a fair bit beyond my coursework. I am, however, still a very junior economics student, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Part I: The National Economy
Part II: Money Doesn't Matter

In Part I, I showed that conceptually, we can treat a national economy as a "whole", existing more-or-less in isolation. One important consequence of looking at something as a whole is that concepts that identify relations between parts of the whole do not apply to the whole itself. The most important concept that identifies relations between parts of an economy — households and businesses — is money.

In ordinary circumstances, money is a debt held by an individual household or business and payable by society. If I hold a \$100 bill, then society "owes" me some amount of goods and services: I can go into any store, present my debt, and have it satisfied in goods and services. Money is debt both in a "fiat" currency as well as in a "hard" currency such as gold. Gold is money only if most everyone in society sees it denoting a debt they have a duty and interest in monitoring; without this social agreement, gold would be valuable only to people who had some actual use for it, such as jewelers or electronics manufacturers. The only difference between a fiat currency and a hard currency is how these representations of debt are authenticated. Money, therefore, is a relation between one part of the economy, the household or business holding the money, and the rest of the economy. Looked at as a whole, however, every debt has a net value of zero. The individual that holds the \$100 is +100; the rest of society, who owes the goods and services, is -100. As a whole, +100 + -100 = 0. The net value of all the money in an economy is zero.

There are a few other ways of looking at money in a macroeconomic sense. Suppose, for example, in one day we were to multiply everything about money by a billion (10^9). Thus, if yesterday you had \$10,000 in your bank, today you have \$10,000,000,000,000. When you go to the grocery store, a loaf of bread that cost \$5 yesterday today costs \$5,000,000,000. If you paid \$1,000 for your mortgage or rent payment last month, this month you'll pay \$1,000,000,000,000. It seems pretty clear that nothing much would change, even increasing the amount of money by many orders of magnitude. Or suppose that one day all the money in the economy were to simply disappear. We would still have all our farms, factories, oil wells and refineries, cars, houses, cell phones and computers. We could still physically produce the same amount of stuff we produced yesterday*. Money does of course matter even in a macroeconomic sense, and I'll talk about how it matters in a later installment. But money doesn't matter in the way that it matters to ordinary people acting as a part of the economy.

*As best I recall, I first heard about this idea from Buckminster Fuller.

Every ordinary capitalist macroeconomics textbook will show the "long run aggregate supply" — how much goods and services the economy as a whole can produce — plotted on a graph with real (i.e. physical) output on the x axis and "price level" (the value of money) on the y axis. It's plotted vertically, meaning that in the long run the total amount of stuff we can produce does not vary by the price level. Increase or decrease the total amount of money in the economy by 1%, 10%, 10 times or 10^9 times; the total amount of physical goods and services we can produce in the long run stays the same.

The Stupid! It Burns! (hate crime edition)

the stupid! it burns! Who knew atheists could be so dishonest?
An atheist on twitter by the name of @Inrideo thought it would be funny to create a foundation collecting money for a LGBT Scholarship in my name. The only reason he created this foundation was because he hates me and hates my religious beliefs—this is a prime example of a hate crime.

At this point I feel like I am being harassed, bullied and stalked. It has gotten to the point where I am beginning to fear for my safety.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A good time

I am always pleased when moviegoers have a good time; perhaps they will return to a theater and someday see a good movie by accident, and it will start them thinking.

Roger Ebert

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The philosophy of macroeconomics

Disclaimer: I'm fairly intelligent, I'm used to delving into the philosophical foundations of various modes of thought, and I've read a fair bit beyond my coursework. I am, however, still a very junior economics student, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Part I: The National Economy

The textbook definition of macroeconomics is the study of the economy as a whole (in the aggregate), as opposed to microeconomics, the study of economics one actor (individual, family or business) at a time. But what does it mean to study the economy "as a whole"?

We could simply talk about the global economy, but there are several reasons why that definition of "the whole" isn't really convenient or illuminating. Instead, macroeconomics usually focuses on the national economy, the economics of an individual country. International (global) economics might dominate the economic activity of a smaller nation, but for a larger nation, such as the United States, China, Russia, Australia, or England*, the majority of economic activity (about 70%) is entirely internal. In macroeconomics, we ignore international economics at the fundamental level. Macroeconomics takes international trade only as a relatively small (in a large economy) correct factor, net exports, to Gross Domestic Product. Overt, active international coercion is usually not plausible, especially for larger nations; countries rarely go to war for the payment of debts**. Most importantly, by definition, the government of a national economy defines its own currency, and some or all of its government debt is denominated in its national currency. The control of currency — control that individual actors do not have in microeconomics — is the decisive factor that makes macroeconomics substantively different from microeconomics.

*The eurozone, the 17 countries of the European Union that use a single currency, the euro, poses interesting and unique macroeconomic issues, but that's a topic for another day.

**I am, of course, ignoring covert, subtle coercion (e.g. assassination or coups), which does happen.

The view that international economic concerns should dominate our national economic policy is almost completely mistaken. Unlike an individual within a national economy, no nation can forcibly collect real, physical assets to satisfy a monetary debt. If a person or a business default on a debt to a bank, the bank can and will send armed men to satisfy that debt. If, however, the United States were to default on its debt to China, the Chinese will not send the People's Army to seize our assets. There would be negative consequences to such a default, but they would not be as catastrophic as losing our national wealth or, if we were to resist, imprisonment or death. If it were more beneficial to default on our international debt than to honor it, we could, practically speaking, choose to do so. Our creditors (those that are large enough) know they cannot forcibly collect, so it is incumbent on them to always ensure that our rational consideration of the benefits coincides with their own. Essentially, international economics between large nations is a good exemplar of pure voluntary cooperation.

Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment* makes an outright default difficult and unlikely. However, because the United States government** controls the value of money, any foreign debt could, if we so chose, be arbitrarily reduced inflating the currency. Inflation has real effects in the short term — it's not a panacea — but it is an viable option.

*"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

**Taking the Federal Reserve Bank as part of the government. The United States Treasury, by only executive order without additional legislation, could also create new money.

Because of effective national sovereignty, therefore, we are justified in treating (with the correction of net exports) a national economy essentially as a whole.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Stupid! It Burns! (misandrous edition)

the stupid! it burns! Return of the Pink Poseur
I’m sure you’ll agree. I would rightly be called a misogynist for talking to my general audience as if they were all prostitutes. ... But why is it different for Rebecca when she talks to males as if they were date-rapists?

Sadly, it's true: men are pigs. Sorry.