Link Roundup: September 2018

Let me start this link roundup with a couple of plugs.  First, I was interviewed by Asexual Artists, an awesome website that has lots of interviews of ace artists.  Second, in case you missed it, I published a two-part article talking about the history of asexuality in early radical feminism.

In Soviet Union, Optimization Problem Solves You – This is an old essay explaining how we might create a planned economy using math, and all the reasons why it would be so difficult.  This post was brought to my attention by Larry, who has a reply.  Larry says that to the extent this problem is intractable for socialism, it is also intractable for capitalism.  The difference between the two isn’t necessarily how the economy is computed, it’s the goal that they’re trying to achieve.

It seems like the best way to approach the problem is to break the economy down into more manageable pieces–each of which could be centrally planned–and have just a few inputs/outputs being passed between the different pieces.  This is basically what capitalism does, with individual firms being centrally planned, and inputs/outputs being passed between firms in the form of prices.  But in principle there could be other solutions, perhaps solutions that are computationally similar, but different in execution.  For example, Russian economists came up with the idea of “shadow prices” which help calculate resource allocation, but which don’t involve money actually being passed around–I have no idea if this particular idea works, but it’s a thought.

I think of myself as a socialist who lacks imagination, so I mostly complain about the current system while advocating for a familiar market-based economy with lots of redistribution.  YMMV on whether that counts as socialism.

Rasmussen’s New Argument for a Necessary Being – Alex Malpass discusses and rebuts a new argument for God that combines cosmological and modal ontological arguments.  I can’t say that this would interest most people, but it fascinates me, because I’m a total geek about modal ontological arguments.

Speaking of which, back in 2015, I wrote a long, 11-part series on ontological arguments on my other blog.  Would any readers be interested if I imported and adapted this series here?

Why TERFs are not feminists – This is HJ Hornbeck’s direct rebuttal to my argument that TERFs are (sadly) feminists.  Crip Dyke weighed in with another approach.  I welcome disagreement, because this is an issue where the journey is more important than the destination.  One reason why I make the argument I do, is because I’m interested in illustrating a larger point: feminist views are not good by virtue of being feminist, rather feminism is good by virtue of having good parts.  You can define TERFs out of feminism because they’re just that bad, but if you’re sufficiently critical and aware, you’re going to find other bad feminisms.  For example, there are plenty of trans-antagonistic or trans-suspicious views among non-radical feminists.

The Definition of Racism Doesn’t Really Matter – Tris Mamone weighs in on conversations about the definition of racism.  There’s the colloquial usage, which describes prejudice against people of certain races or ethnicities.  And there’s the more sociological definition, referring to social institutions that systematically disadvantage people of certain races.  I occasionally hear social justice activists advocating exclusively for the second definition, and I agree with Tris that this is not very helpful.  However, I think abandoning the discussion is also not very helpful, as white supremacists would be happy to fill the void.  I prefer instead to argue for a broader understanding of racism.  In other words, I think multiple definitions are valid.

It’s Not Easy To Write About Funny (But Creepy) Sex Games – Kate talks about how it’s easier to write about games in a light-hearted way, because she gets attacked less.  But sometimes she has a serious reaction, and that’s hard to talk about.  Reading about this makes me grateful that my blog is a space where I can just be endlessly serious, and nobody complains.

Incels | ContraPoints (video) – I’ve been slow to get on the ContraPoints bandwagon, primarily because I don’t care for fictional dialogues, but I watched this video and I think I’ve been missing out.  Natalie’s take on incels is thoroughly mocking, and yet empathetic at the same time.  I never thought we could derive such valuable life lessons from studying horrible people.

Fake Friends episode one: intro to parasocial relationships (video) – Also see episode 2.  This video explains the concept of parasocial relationships, which are one way relationships, such as the one between a creator and a fan.  These relationships are ubiquitous today, so I think it’s really important to have a word for it.  I don’t think it’s wrong to love people who won’t love you back, and who don’t even know who you are, but obviously parasocial relationships won’t fulfill all the same needs as symmetric relationships.  My main criticism of this video series (so far) is that it’s long on examples and short on insight.


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