Link Roundup: February 2019

This month, I helped launch a blogging carnival about the aromantic spectrum–perhaps not of interest if you’re not into aro/ace community stuff.  But I think it’s rather momentous how communities centered on aromanticism rather than asexuality are now getting recognized by activist organizations.

The story so far of “New” Atheism from Kerala – I was recently talking postmortems of the western atheist movement, but here is a fascinating parallel history of the atheist movement in Kerala, India.  Not only did they have a feminist/anti-feminist split, but they also had a split regarding caste–with one side trying to fight the caste system, and the other side arguing that atheists should not talk about caste at all.

Why blackface persists in Asia and what Western media gets wrong – An old article–I was searching for articles about blackface in Asia, and this one was rather thoughtful.  It makes good points about how western media criticism is often unhelpful, because it just plays into the Chinese government’s narratives about how westerners are trying to sow discord.  On the other hand, it embarrassed the Chinese government and they’ll try to avoid it in the future, so wasn’t that mission accomplished?

Where I disagree with the article, is when it describes blackface in Asia as arising from tone-deafness rather than malice–this is not a way of dismissing criticism, but a way of arguing that blackface in China is different from blackface in western culture.  That… does not sound different.  I suspect that most instances of blackface in the US also arise from tone-deafness rather than malice; that’s what racism looks like.

Wittgenstein and religion (via Mano Singham) – This article considers Wittgensteinian defenses of (Christian) religion, and finds them wanting.  For example, one could argue that “God exists” is not a factual claim, but an emotional expression, and therefore cannot be contradicted.  But this doesn’t work because it is an implausible account of how religious people understand the statement “God exists”.

An alternate hypothesis is that religion contains factual claims, but also has non-factual dimensions of meaning.  I think this is reasonable, but it is not a defense of religion.  The article uses an analogy where Tom says “Otto is a Kraut”, which has a factual dimension (Otto is German) and non-factual dimension (“Kraut” is derogatory).  Even if we missed the non-factual dimension, it is possible to contradict Tom by pointing out that Otto is not in fact German. What I find interesting about this argument is that it affirms the ability to contradict religion, while also admitting that atheists may misunderstand certain aspects of it.  I do think we critics of religion can do better by understanding the non-factual aspects of religious belief–and likewise, religious believers can do better by understanding when we are or aren’t criticizing those non-factual aspects.

Are Traps Gay? (video, contains sexually explicit discussion) – I debate linking to ContraPoints, since surely most readers are already aware… But this video is highly entertaining and educational.  It’s very much “meeting cis people where they’re at”, including explanations of stuff that may be obvious to most trans people.  And towards the end, it goes into detail about the sexual experiences of trans women and their partners–a topic that most trans women understandably prefer to avoid, so we should be appreciative that Natalie was willing to include it for our enlightenment.

Market Economics in Star Trek (also see parts 2, 3, and 4)- It’s not about Star Trek at all.  Rather, there’s another article that tries to determine the economics of Star Trek, and I’m linking to Larry’s criticism of that article.  Larry points out a number of misconceptions about political economy, and I find it interesting even though I don’t care about Star Trek.  For instance, there is the misconception that individual freedom choice is necessarily inconsistent with a centrally planned economy.


  1. mynax says

    Thanks! I guess I’m the rare “not aware of ContraPoints” reader. I watched the whole thing; she’s delightful. (And what a lot of work it must have been to record and edit that all!)

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