I don’t really want to talk about the election, but I don’t feel I could talk about anything else.

In my “optimistic” scenario, Donald Trump will merely be incredibly corrupt. And Republicans will also get their way on a bunch of things, like killing the ACA, eroding reproductive rights, blocking immigration, and getting their choice of supreme court justices.  And the market will do badly in the year I’m supposed to graduate.  But at least Donald Trump won’t destroy the Pax Americana, declare himself president for life, start a nuclear war, or recreate the Japanese internment camps.

I have talked to some people who are even more optimistic, believing that Trump will result in backlash and make way for a truly progressive party.  I don’t think that’s how it works.  Politics are more of a random walk than an oscillator.

More likely that this will lead to years of internal conflict among liberals, with some wanting a “truly progressive” candidate and others wanting anyone who will make the hurt stop.  It’s kind of like how people thought 9/11 would unite the country but it ended up doing precisely the opposite.

In more positive news, look at the California election results.  Not everything is going the way I voted, but the most important ones did.  Prop 53 (voter approval required for certain budgeting) is failing.  Prop 57 (makes parole easier to get) is passing.  Prop 60 (condoms required in porn) is failing.  Marijuana will be legalized.  However, it looks like the death penalty will remain.

I feel done with blogging about politics and current events.  For a little while, I’d like to write about things that are completely unrelated.

California election positions

In California elections, we always have such large ballots.  I took a few hours this weekend to look into all this stuff, and here are my choices.

President: Hillary Clinton

Yeah… not really a swing voter.

US Senator: Kamala Harris

Loretta Sanchez and Kamala Harris are nearly equivalent (other candidates were eliminated in the primaries), so it’s mainly a matter of looking at their priorities and seeing which grabs me more.  Harris seems to prioritize criminal justice reform more.

US Representative, 13th congressional district: Barbara Lee

For US Congress, party is the most important factor, so I’d go with the Democrat.

State Senator, 9th district: Nancy Skinner

Sandre Swanson emphasizes on healthcare and education, while Nancy Skinner emphasizes gun control and criminal justice reform.  Those both sound great.  Kind of a tossup for me. [Read more…]

Origami: Hydrangea cube


A cube made from six copies of Shuzo Fujimoto’s Hydrangea

The instructions for the Hydrangea are freely available online in diagram or video form.  It’s not too difficult, except for one step (8:32 in video, #23 in diagrams) that involves inverting a pyramid, which is the source of all the wrinkles in above photo.  In theory, you can recursively add smaller and smaller petals ad infinitum, but for some reason I chose not to.  These flowers only go 3 levels deep, which is quite shallow but people seem to be impressed by it anyways.

This model was inspired by Origami Inspirations, by Meenakshi Mukerji.  She included a single photo of a cube made of Hydrangeas, and it was fairly easy to reverse engineer.

Ace webcomics you should read

Today’s the last day of Asexual Awareness Week.  I don’t do many things for AAW, except this survey thing.  There’s a sample of AAW activities in this linkspam.

But today, I have a small bonus: webcomics with ace characters.  Although ace characters in fiction are in general quite sparse, webcomics have been an exception.  There are more webcomics with ace characters than I can keep track of!  This is great for me, because I am occasionally picky.

For a more complete list of webcomics with ace characters (including much more obscure examples), I recommend the LGBT webcomics list.  To avoid “archive binge”, I use Comic Rocket to bookmark pages and generate custom RSS feeds.

[Read more…]

Take my survey!

I volunteer for the Ace Community Census, an annual community survey.  The survey is open anyone over the age of 13, both asexual and non-asexual people.  The purpose of this survey is to measure various demographics of the asexual community in order to create an annually updated database of quantitative information which can be used for future asexual research.

The 2016 Ace Community Census is run by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) Survey Team. If you have any questions or concerns about the survey, you can contact the AVEN survey team at  You can also ask me directly, for a more informal response.

Click here to take the 2016 Ace Community Census!

For answers to common questions about the survey, please see the FAQ here.

You may share this, but I’m going to specifically ask that PZ Myers not share it.

Gerrymandering in the US

An intermission from the presidential horse race

For all the problems with US presidential elections, US congressional elections are arguably worse. The US president is at least usually in line with the popular vote; the US congress never is.

The two chambers of congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, suffer from opposite problems. The House of Representatives has one member elected by each district, but the district lines are redrawn every ten years by politicians. Thus politicians can control their own reelection by the process called gerrymandering.

The Senate, on the other hand, never redraws its district lines. Instead, each state elects two senators. The state lines are the result of gerrymandering from a long time ago, but at least aren’t under the power of current politicians. Unfortunately, that means that the Senate is never proportional to the population sizes of the states, and heavily favors rural regions.

Although the Senate is blatantly unrepresentative of the US, the House arguably has it worse. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you can tell by how Republican the House is. Although Hillary is winning the popular vote and Democrats are likely to win Senate majority, the House will comfortably remain under Republican control.
[Read more…]

Made in Criticalland

This is a repost of an article I wrote in 2014.  Relevant to my recent review of the Sokal paper.  Note that the blog Scientia Salon is now defunct.

Massimo Pigliucci started a new blog Scientia Salon, which is already bearing fruits.  I enjoyed this essay by Alan Sokal (yes, that Sokal) about academic postmodernists and extreme social constructivists.  In the 80s and 90s there were many such academics claiming that science was entirely based on prejudices.  Interestingly, Sokal claims that they have now backed off from the most extreme views, particularly because they were upset at the way the Bush regime used postmodernism to justify its anti-science policies.

Sokal’s primary citation for this is “Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern” by sociologist of science Bruno Latour in 2004.  I thought it was worth a read. [Read more…]