Linkspam: April 10th, 2016

I don’t typically post linkspams, but maybe I should do it more often, particularly if I want to connect more with FreethoughtBlogs and The Orbit.  Here are a few links, with my brief commentary:

“Self-entitled ungrateful fuckoff”

Niki of Seriously?!? explains how pathetic welfare is in the US, and how people feel the need to micromanage the things people on welfare buy.  Speaking for myself, the one thing that made me strongly pro-redistribution was reading about the current programs, SNAP and TANF.  To qualify for SNAP (food stamps), you need to find work within three months, which sounds like a recipe to trap people in terrible jobs.

The danger of legislating on what ifs

Thoughts of Crys is on of my favorite new blogs on FTB.  This post counters what-if arguments made by pro-lifers.  The problem with these kinds of arguments is that they prove too much.  For example, you should never refuse sex with a partner, because what if that sex would have led to a child, it’s like you’re murdering that child!  This is a general issue in consequentialist ethics: how far in the future are the consequences still relevant?

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Please disagree with me

I started out as a skeptical blogger many years ago, and when I started identifying as ace I moved into ace blogging. Thus, I’ve had many occasions to notice cultural differences in the respective blogging communities. One observation is that atheists/skeptics tend to give voice only to disagreement, while aces give voice only to agreement.

This does not mean that atheists/skeptics only ever disagree with each other, while aces only ever agree with each other. Rather, both agreement and disagreement are present, but the two groups have different ideas about what is worth expressing.
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Paper: Sexual racism among gay men

“Sexual racism” is racial discrimination against potential sexual or romantic partners. Sexual racism is very common among gay & bi men. The hookup app Grindr is notorious for the many profiles that say upfront, “no femmes, no blacks, no asians.” I’ve also heard several terms for gay & bi men who prefer partners of a particular race–“rice queen” being particularly frequent in my area.

Normally, when I talk about gay & bi men, I avoid contrasting straight people, because sometimes straight people complain they have it just as bad, and what do I know? But when it comes to sexual racism, research backs me up in saying it really is worse for gay & bi men.

Many defend sexual racism by saying it is a personal preference. Some say that it is a preference determined by biology, similar to gender preferences. Others say that even if racial preferences are culturally determined, they aren’t amenable to moral condemnation because preferences too difficult to change.

I’m skeptical of these defenses, but I’ve never personally used any dating or hookup services. So today, instead of relying on my personal experiences, I’ll rely on social science. Today I’ll briefly discuss the paper, “Is Sexual Racism Really Racism? Distinguishing Attitudes Toward Sexual Racism and Generic Racism Among Gay and Bisexual Men“.
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Everything is my football

This was originally posted on The Asexual Agenda last week, and is thus written explicitly for ace audiences.  If you want to see ace responses, you might find the comment thread over there enlightening.

Sometimes in college, I would persuade people to play a game. Name a movie. I probably didn’t see it. If I saw it, I probably didn’t like it. It would usually take over a dozen tries before anyone could name a movie I cared for.

It’s not just movies. I don’t like most television shows, books, or music. Or at least, I probably won’t like any particular example. I’m not snobby about it, and I am not embarrassed about the things I like. I’m just not a fan of pop culture. Or most other culture for that matter, but pop culture tends to be most relevant.

Put it this way: every year, geeks have a competition to see who can be most loudly uninterested in football. I don’t participate, because everything is my football. If you like most of pop culture except for a few things, you can afford to be a jerk about it. I cannot afford to be a jerk about absolutely everything, so I try not to be a jerk about any of it.

There is no identity label for this experience (I don’t consider myself “indie”), but I still feel there are thematic resonances with asexuality, outlined below. After all, asexuality is also about not liking something that is popular.
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Origami: 108 degrees

This is a monthly feature wherein I show off my origami skills, mourn my photography skills, and talk about math.  I primarily do modular origami.

IMG_0785 (small)

A dodecahedron made of 108 degree modules, apparently invented independently by Robert Neale and Lewis Simon.

I think this is a fairly simple model, since it comes from Beginner’s Book of Modular Origami Polyhedra. But once I tried to teach it to kids, and it’s not a great model to teach to kids, trust me.

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Student groups and volume

Fellow blogger Crys has a good series on cultural differences, particularly between Italy and other countries. Something I like to think about are cultural differences between atheist groups and queer groups.

Back when I was an undergraduate, I joined both atheist and queer student groups. The most obvious difference between the two was that the queer groups were very quiet, and the atheist group was very loud. Queer groups would often have awkward moments of silence, where everyone was hoping someone else will choose to speak. The atheist group was full of interruptions, even when we’d try to impose moderation.

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Villainous intentions

It’s said that intentions don’t matter, but I think they do. When someone says something wrong, it can in fact be excused by the right intentions. For example:

I intended to say something different, but autocorrect failed me!

Here’s a thought: It’s not that intentions don’t matter.  It’s just that the most commonly declared intentions are bad intentions.

We have difficulty admitting that people have bad intentions, partly because we want to see the good in all people, but also because we have absurdly high standards for what counts as evil.  When we imagine evil, we imagine some supervillain who wants to destroy everything just because.  Hardly anyone in the real world has evil intentions quite like that.  Or at least, it never seems that way. [Read more…]