chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
So Donald Trump, the billionaire version of the cranky old man who pontificates from his bar-stool, has announced that we shouldn't let any Muslims into America, apparently including US citizens. I wish I was surprised, but I'm not. It's exactly what that cranky old man who sits at the end of the bar would say.

It is, in short, stupid, at least partially un-Constitutional, wildly out of proportion to the threat, and cowardly. Oh, and since we've got plenty of home-grown non-Muslim nuts with guns, it does less than zero to "keep Americans safe." Less than zero, because it will undoubtedly piss of Americans in-country who can't get their loved ones brought over.

Other than that, it's a great idea, brought to you by a man who bankrupted four casinos.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
A few lighter thoughts for a snowy "spring" Friday:

A) From Gin and Tacos, the interesting story of Squanto.

B) When Lieutenant Colin Powell met Sergeant Elvis Presley.

C) Ever have somebody ask multiple polite questions in bad faith while demanding that you respond to them in detail? It's called sealioning.

D) In the "water is wet - pictures at 11" news department: police body cameras are only effective when police can't turn them off.

E) From the writer and friend Tim Akers: a bit of business.

F) For those of us who are our family's IT support department:
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
It's officially the 4th day of spring, but here in Chicago it's snowing to beat the band, so I'm not really feeling spring-like. Traffic is a bit slow, which confuses me since the snow is not sticking to any road more trafficked than a driveway, but then many things confuse me.

At any event, have a few links:

A) A reminder, my Rotary Club's fundraiser is tomorrow. You can attend or participate online. I'm offering a special prize - a steak and wine dinner cooked by me.

B) I've never been abused, but this abuser's hustle looks shockingly like what I see Internet trolls do.

C) So, while looking for something else, I came across "the box of truth." Two gun owners, both retired and with access to a range with a liberal policy, test various guns and gun myths. You'll see a couple more posts from them, but for today:

what really happens if you shoot rock salt from a shotgun

buckshot patterns from a shotgun (hint - get closer)

shooting off a padlock ain't like you see in the movies
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I got a lot of sleep yesterday, and my head started to dry out, so today I feel almost human. Go me.

In Which I Was A Bit of a Crank

I got a bit pissy on Torgersen's blog regarding free speech. Dave Freer, one of a group of people who consistently push my buttons, dropped on by and did his thing. I think what gets me cranked are in equal parts:
1) "I'm so much smarter than you" (not really)
2) "All you leftists are picking on us!" (no, we're disagreeing)
3) "This person read (or worse, failed to denounce) this obscure thinker, therefore they both stand 100% for the same things." (usually the connection exists only in the button-pusher's mind)
4) "You've been brainwashed, you sheeple!" (maybe, but apparently the washer did a really good job of it.)

More Hugo Thoughts

I was referred to this analysis of popularity and Hugo winning. Basically, the writer finds a reasonable correlation between "popular" books and "books that won a Hugo." Now, since he's working backwards from what won to what was popular, there's a significant risk of bias. There's also a problem in that determining what books are "popular" is hard - the data is not very good.

In any rate, Occam's Razor is your guide. If the simplest explanation is that your taste and that of the median Hugo voter for that year don't align, then your favorites probably won't win the shiny rocket.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
A Right Not To Be Mocked

John C. Wright is still ranting about Bristol Palin. Apparently, even if a woman starts a drunken fight, finding humor in that fact is unacceptable, and pointing out that she started said fight is a distraction. I suppose pointing out that she could have gotten her nose broken for her instead of just unceremoniously hauled out of the place is beyond the pale.

In any event, Wright seeks a right not to be mocked. He's not prepared to extend that right to anybody who disagrees with him.

Two Items of Good News

Item #1 - Last night, my Rotary club, working with various volunteers including the local Girl Scouts, packed over 750 meals for our backpack program. This program sends Darien school-kids home with food on the weekend - food they otherwise wouldn't have. It's a shame that's needed in Darien, but we're doing something about it.

Item #2 - two of my dinner companions last night.

IMG_0265

Pro Tip

Sep. 18th, 2014 10:14 am
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Apropos to yesterday's entry on Gamergate, showing up anonymously and saying, "Yeah, what is the world coming to when a girl can't just exchange sex for favorable gaming reviews with five guys and not be outed by her boyfriend for cheating on him?" is not a particularly persuasive message.

To expand in order to make a full post, this fails because:

1) the allegations are coming from an ex-boyfriend. People recently out of a relationship have been known to lie, exaggerate or otherwise say untruthful things about the other party(ies) to the relationship.

2) The poster, by being completely anonymous, has the inherent credibility of the guy who writes "for a good time, call..." on the bathroom wall.

3) So what? These are video games, and even if the allegation is true, nothing about the whole kerfuffle merits even half the vitriol spilled on it. Absolutely none of the death threats are merited.

To my anonymous reader: Please, sir, get a life.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Random Thought #1

I am amazed at the lengths certain Professional Cranks on the Internet will go to argue that John Scalzi is not as successful a writer as Larry Correia. I'm especially amazed that they make this argument with zero data in support of it.

Random Thought #2

A libertarian once told me, "next time you go to the barbershop, ask them if the reason they don't slice your ear off is that they are afraid of losing their license." Well, actually the reason they don't slice me is they know I would immediately react and implicate them. This is unlike say a meat packer who knows that I would have a hard time tracing my food poisoning to their operations.

Links

1) Liz Burke visited England for Loncon. Like me, she was struck by how tiny the shower was in her hotel room.

2) An interesting article on common writing mistakes that break reader immersion.

3) Related to writing, 10 lessons from real-life revolutions that fictional revolutions rarely use.
chris_gerrib: (Rotary)
Relax, Mom - last day of work before a vacation. A few thoughts:

1) Today is the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation. I have an (minor) personal link to this event. When I was seven, my family and I went to Washington DC on vacation. We were supposed to get a tour of the White House, but when we got there, we were told the tours had been cancelled. In those pre-cell phone and -Internet days, it wasn't until we got to our hotel that night that we learned Nixon had resigned, and that was why there were no tours.

2) I see that Obama has authorized airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and airlifts to aid refugees. I'm frankly not thrilled that we're involved in this mess, but I would be even less thrilled if a genocide occurred. Sometimes the choice isn't between "good" and "bad," it's between "bad" and "worse."

3) Related to this post by my favorite PCotI (Professional Crank on the Internet) - if art is subjective, then my opinion is no better or worse than yours. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then everybody can have an equally-valid definition of "beauty."

"Debates"

Jul. 30th, 2014 12:43 pm
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Imagine you're off doing whatever it is you do and somebody comes up to you. They say, "the Earth is flat and I challenge you to a debate right now!" The following things would (I suspect) go through your mind:

  • This guy's got a few screws loose, bats in his belfry, and isn't playing with a full deck. The idea the the Earth is round is pretty basic and well-accepted.

  • Darn!  I know I learned all of the evidence for a round Earth, but that was a long time ago.  I'd have to start digging some of that up to refresh my memory.

  • Okay, suppose I toss a few facts at this guy.  Will it matter?  I mean, he's got a few screws loose, bats in his belfry and isn't playing with a full deck.

  • Will it end, or will he be like a dog once you start throwing a ball, insisting we keep at it until he gets tired?

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine what this post is related to.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So yesterday (or actually over the weekend, but it got promoted to a lead post) I asked my favorite Professional Crank on the Internet (PCotI) "why shouldn't every free adult human be able to vote in the country they are a citizen of?" (The PCotI thinks that women shouldn't be allowed to vote.) Hilarity ensued.

Well, maybe not hilarity. I was told that:
1) Fascists and communists wanted women to vote. (Good think fascists and communists weren't in favor of dental hygiene, I guess.)

2) Women and illegal immigrants won't vote in the long-term interests of the state. (When I suggested that sounded better in the original Italian as delivered from Mussolini's balcony, well that was not well-received.)

3) Since the Founding Fathers only allowed male land-owners to vote, well that was the gold standard of voting. (The reason we got universal male suffrage is that men demanded it and threatened to take the vote by force.)

4) Women are akin to children in that they can't think long-term. (Do I need to comment on that?)

5) Only ex-soldiers should vote, or people not getting a check from the government. This ran downhill into whether or not public schools were good or bad. (PCotI's commenters are against public education. Again, no particular comment.)

6) Tom Kratman showed up, and accused me of "intellectual dishonesty" for refusing to admit that Hitler was freely voted into office. (Hitler came in second in an election marked with considerable physical violence and coercion. In any event, I never claimed voting was perfect.)

7) The evils of the War of Northern Aggression were discussed. (The South Carolina Declaration of Secession was, I was told, not relevant. In any event, the fact that white men voted to fight in defense of enslaving non-voting black men somehow proves that voting is bad. Yet we should let men vote but not women. If you can figure that one out, please let me know.)

8) There were a few commenters who stated the obvious - PCotI wanted to restrict the franchise so that his preferred political views would win at election time. These comments, despite being as obvious as farts in a bathtub, were ignored.

So, maybe not hilarity, but an "interesting" time was had.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
There are several people being Wrong On The Internet today, but I find that I'm just not interested in having a massive discussion on the subject. So I'll take a few potshots and call it a day.

Wrong #1 - The Naive Idiocy of Teaching Rapists Not To Rape

This one is brought to you by Larry Correia. His argument is that women should learn self-defense skills to avoid being raped. Now, I personally am all for women (and men, and children) learning appropriate self-defense skills. What Larry misses is that, in a perfect world, people wouldn't need these skills. Trying to prevent violent crime, including by teaching criminals not to be criminals, is always a good idea.

Wrong #2 - Pink SF

Brought to you by my favorite Professional Crank on the Internet (PCotI), this is a ten-point list of what he doesn't like in modern SF. The parts of his list I care to comment on in bold, my translation normal.

It is written in conscious reaction to, and rejection of, the classic genre canon. - Translation: It doesn't slavishly imitate something written for a 1950s pulp magazine.
It consciously elevates current progressive ideology above story, plot, and characterization. The personal is the political and the propaganda is the plot. Translation: I don't actually read any of this stuff, so I have no idea if they have a plot or not.
It subscribes to the anti-scientific myth of human equality. Translation: I'm a racist.
It celebrates and normalizes sexual deviancy. Translation: even though we've had gays since forever, they shouldn't appear in stories unless they are explicitly evil.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
John C. Wright asked: If Vox Day were racist, why would he deny it? Fear of your opinion?

My reply:

You invite me to speculate, so I will. First, I note that by denying he's a racist you, Larry Correia and a number of other people are defending him. I suspect if he were a self-proclaimed Grand Poo-bah of the KKK, none of the above would give him the time of day, let alone support.

Second, having watched Vox "reward" John Scalzi's gift of a Big Idea piece with a protracted campaign of slander against Scalzi, I suspect that Vox is playing the role of "professional crank on the Internet." He is, in short, saying outrageous things outrageously in order to drum up web traffic and presumably sell books. Radio "shock jocks" have been doing the same for years. (I think his run for SFWA President was part of this shtick - how he expected to win while alienating over half the members is beyond me.)

Third, thanks to him saying "but I'm not a racist" Larry Correia helped get a very second-rate novelette nominated for a Hugo. From now until the end of time, Vox will be calling himself a "Hugo-nominated author."

In short, there's money to be made and a reputation to be built by acting like a racist and denying it. (It's not a reputation I'd want, but then look at the yahoos on "reality" TV.) The perhaps obvious corollary to that is I think you (in particular) and most of his supporters (in general) are being played for fools.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
The problem with a certain subset of Professional Cranks on the Internet is that they are crankish at great length. Well, yesterday one of them decided to be crankish and brief, on two of his favorite subjects, gay marriage and climate change. His remarks are in bold, mine in regular.

If you have the right to demand that I bake you a cake, then I have the right to force you to attend church, mosque, or synagogue.

Well, besides the fact that the 1st Amendment disagrees, the argument is that if one enters into the business of baking cakes and selling them for profit, one should have to sell said cakes to anybody with the cash to purchase one. I should also point out that arguing baking cakes is somehow an "exercise in religion" probably won't fly. Even if baking is an exercise in religion, there are plenty of exercises of religion we ban. Try marrying more than one woman at a time, for example, or smoking peyote.

If you have the right to fire me because you don't like my political position on the legality of homogamy, I have the right to fire you because I don't like your political position on the legality of homosexuality.

Legally, under "at will" employment, yes you can fire for whatever reason. Here, the real case is outsiders demanding somebody be fired for their political views. Well, under law and libertarian thought, yes, I (or anybody) can "demand" of a company to fire whomever for whatever reason. The company can decide to accede to my demand or ignore me or anything in-between.

If you have the right to deny me access to the news media because I don't believe in climate change, I have the right to deny you access to the media because you don't believe in God.

Nobody has the right to access the news media. Everybody has the right to say unto the news media "cover this" or "don't cover that." As in the point above, the decision-makers at said news media have the right to accede to the request or not.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
SFWA member David Truesdale is circulating a petition against the appointment of an advisory board for the SFWA Bulletin. Theodore Beale, Professional Crank At Large, has taken up the cause with his usual tact and courtesy. My questions to Beale are posted below:

So every time the board of a newspaper overrides the editor of that newspaper it's a violation of the First Amendment? Every editor of every publication should have sole discretion as to what they publish?

Isn't, in this case, the Board the duly-appointed representatives of the membership that owns the publication? What recourse, if any, do the members have if their publication prints something they collectively disagree with?

What if the editor of a publication decides not to include something in their publication they have violated the author's First Amendment rights? There's no particular reason to expect say, Jerry Pournelle getting the gig.

More to the point, since when does the First Amendment apply to private organizations? SFWA is not Congress nor otherwise affiliated with government.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Income inequality

So, the Pope says some mild statements about income inequality being unjust and not all problems being amenable to a market solution, and The Usual Suspects get all pissy. I'm sorry - nothing in the Gospels supports free markets or the making of money.

There's a quote attributed to a Brazilian bishop. "When I give food to the poor, they call me a good man. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Marxist."

The Case of the Chihuahua and The Doberman

In John Scalzi's ongoing crank infestation, I am reminded of a dispute between a chihuahua and doberman. The smaller dog runs around, barks a lot, and generally makes an ass of himself. The larger dog, not threatened and thus not really caring very much, does very little and only when extremely provoked.

This of course is the nature of small dogs. They don't have the gravitas of the big dog, and so to gain attention (and web hits) they must make a lot of noise. In this crank infestation, one will note that the small dog talks about his current web ranking, obtained after a year of barking, not his web rating when he started barking.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Cranks and Arguing With Same

So John Scalzi is having an argument with some crank on the Internet. I suspect I know which crank, and said crank has his crank dial turned up to 12, or maybe even 13. Having said that, arguing with cranks is like mud-wrestling with a pig - you'll get dirty and the pig kind of likes it. Personally, I try (and don't always succeed) to restrict my crank-wrestling to cases where the crank is obviously and factually wrong.

Guns in the (US) Military

When I was in the US Navy (1985-1994) when a ship was in port in the US, there was exactly one (1) gun not locked up in the armory or a ready locker. This was a 45-caliber pistol (M-1911, WWII-vintage) carried by the Petty Officer of the Watch (POOW). He (and it was always a he back then) stood on the brow or ramp leading up to the ship from the pier. The pistol was kept unloaded, and the POOW had two magazines with 5 rounds each. He would only load a magazine when told by the Officer of the Deck (OOD), and only chamber a round on an additional order from the OOD.

Then one day we pulled into port and the POOW had a nightstick instead of a gun. I asked our ship's weapons officer why, and was told words to the effect of "the only time that gun gets used is when a POOW decides to shoot himself." So no guns for the POOW.

Militaries operate in response to their threat levels. In the US, the threat is accidental or unauthorized discharge, so the solution is keep the guns locked up. In Israel, the threat is terrorist attack, so the solution is to carry your gun everywhere.

This phenomenon carries over to other military activities. In the US, Pearl Harbor was a devastating attack, so we spent most of the Cold War with units on a hair-trigger alert. The Soviets also suffered a surprise attack, but that wasn't nearly as devastating. Also, they couldn't trust their officers like we could. As a result, most Soviet ICBMs were never armed with warheads.

History drives current conduct.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
WTF Moment #1

I put an offer on a house. No counter for a week, because "the owner is traveling in China." My realtor sends a note - "counter or accept by Friday (today) or we move on."

I am shocked, shocked I tell you to get an immediate counter-offer. I am baffled to see that the counter-offer is higher than the list price for another identical unit in the same complex! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

We put in a "best and final" offer for him to stew over. Quickly.

WTF Moment #2

So, in regards to yesterday's "don't call me a racist, you inferior being you!" post, there have been a number of calls to kick the offending party out of SFWA. To which the offending party, a self-described libertarian, is threatening to sue. He doesn't feel he can be kicked out for "thoughtcrimes."

Hello, McFly - SFWA is a private organization! Under libertarian theory and current law, they can kick out anybody they want to! The First Amendment does not apply to private organizations, only governments. And even if McFly could find a judge who could keep a straight face long enough to hear the case, the remedy won't be a large cash settlement. The remedy offered would be for SFWA to reinstate him.

WTF Moment #3

Via Dave O'Neill [livejournal.com profile] daveon, I read that McFly above is, like many libertarians, a goldbug. I suppose gold makes a better commodity to use for money than, say pork bellies, since the later can spoil, but gold is just a commodity. Like any other commodity, its price fluctuates up and down for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to people finding new ore deposits.

In fact, part of the reason we had long-term deflation in the 1880s and 1890s is that the gold supply kept increasing as new deposits and new extraction technologies came online. But then libertarians like all true believers seem to have an amazing ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Just, spitballing here (said in my best Jack Nicholson voice) but saying "don't call me a racist" in the same post as you say "it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not" is perhaps, a less-than-optimal argument strategy.

(Context here. Be warned - not for the weak of stomach, and you may need to take a shower after reading.)
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So, as I predicted - the crank Theodore Beale AKA Vox Day did not win the election as President of SFWA. Per his site, he got 44 out of 493 votes = 8.9% of ballots cast.

SFWA dodged another bullet.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I live in a townhouse, and the association which runs the place has an annual election of board members. Usually, these are Soviet-style affairs - one candidate per open seat. This isn't a conspiracy, rather, it's a reflection of the fact that finding people to fill the slots is hard. Being on the board of a homeowners association is a lot of work for no pay, little thanks and a lot of grief from people.

A few years ago, we had a contested election. At the time, I was confused as to why. Our association had solid finances, was keeping up on maintenance, and things were generally running smoothly. There seemed no reason to change leadership. Then I heard the opposing candidate's "platforms." One guy seemed to want the board to "work with" people who couldn't pay assessments. Another guy wanted separate swimming hours at the pool for boys and girls. The third guy (I think) wanted the association to ban pit bulls. (They already had a rule about aggressive dogs, so I didn't see the point.)

At any rate, after much hoopla, the insurgent platform lost the election. Badly. I mean like, they got 20% of the vote. After the results were announced at the annual meeting, the insurgents held a rump meeting and announced that they would be "keeping their eyes on the board." This idea may have survived until they got to the parking lot, but it didn't live to the next board meeting - I was one of only three non-board-members in attendance. (I was looking for some cheap entertainment which didn't happen.)

I am reminded of this story when I see that Theodore Beale AKA Vox Day is running for SFWA president. Again, SFWA seems to be in good shape, financially and otherwise, and there appears no reason to change leadership, other than Scalzi wants to quit. The one legitimate issue on Beale's platform, self-published authors, is on everybody else's too. So why is Beale running?

I suspect the people who ran for the board of my townhouse didn't really want to run the association. This is why they were nowhere to be found after their loss. No, they were cranks, seeking to impose their crankitude on whomever they could. Ditto, I suspect, Beale. He seems to be making a career at being a crank on the Internet. But that career requires getting people to pay attention to him first. So, stunts like running for President of SFWA. He's by no means the only such crank - see [livejournal.com profile] jimhines latest frolic with The Write Agenda for another exhibit.

Alas, the world is full of cranks, and not all of them content themselves with sitting at the corner of the bar.

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