King of Anglers

Most animals, down to the single-celled level, are looking for an angle – an advantage on surviving and thriving. It works differently at different levels. A protozoan with a light sensing organelle uses some kind of chemical binary decision making to guide it to food or away from danger. A more complex animal gets more options – up down left right open or close your mouth. Nurturing animals angle to give their offspring advantages, laying those eggs in a caterpillar, whatever.

Why are humans so useless at doing the right thing on a mass level? At helping the flourishing of the entire species? It’s only natural to look for an angle, and we’re all doing it. But our behavior is so complex we might not even notice what we’re doing. There are those who convince themselves it’s cool to do obviously malevolent things. But the rest of us have our angles too.

In government and business, we diffuse responsibility so no one person can be blamed. Then we get that little leg up. We don’t have to be told by a mastermind or sinister cabal. We just have to want to do well for ourselves in our jobs. If that means harming someone to make your performance metrics look better, eh, it’s just one person, one time.

Just one little law bent or rewritten to help out your cousin’s business. It can be selfless – just do one person a favor and put two million at risk of lead poisoning. Maybe nothing will happen. You could get lucky. That contractor who was trying to do well for his business told you as much. The supposed high quality components are overpriced, the cheap stuff could last fifty years, you never know.

Animal instincts are killing us all. But we’ve never been able to stop. Maybe at an individual level, but en masse? It might not be possible. Ian Malcolm annoyed me as much as he annoyed John Hammond. “This level of control you’re attempting, it’s impossible.” I don’t like to believe that. Chaos seems like nonsense, like magic.

And yet. Global ecological collapse is out of the bottle, on a rampage. Nobody who was in a position to do anything about it could bring themselves to fight that instinct. They angled. Will they change their stripes now? Doesn’t seem like it. Even if they did, will it make a difference?

Humanity is the King of Anglers. But you can only steal so many advantages before you’re stealing them from yourself. Capitalism is a man eating his own legs and not noticing it until he’s almost dead. It’s a shame being a skin cell on this demented man, unable to affect the grisly scene. Being human is a real trip.

The Treacherous Center

Not talking about centrism today, not strictly speaking about what’s wrong with it or anything. I’m thinking about this situation with the Atheist Community of Austin, and in the larger sense the youtubers and organized atheists around that situation, and in a larger sense any situation where degrees of progressivism start sorting themselves out. (And disclaimer upfront – this is pretty stream-of-consciousness. I wrote the title at the beginning and not sure how relevant it’ll be by the end.)

At the beginning of the gnu atheist movement the big heads were all about equality and lgbt rights and so on. Any time the subjects were up, they were very quick to proclaim them as their own. As if simply not having codified rules of repression like the abrahamic faiths would guarantee you a less repressive society.

But then the rubber met the road. Some mild feminist sentiment was issued from a perspective other than that of an old white man, and our whole shit exploded. Oops. As of now, do people like Harris and DickDawk even consider themselves feminist, even in a vile CH Sommers version of the term? Are they done with that? What about other progressive issues? When the old man tweeted that he’d heard the term SJW for the first time, he was boosting a very nasty bunch indeed.

Slice, slice, those who posture that they have some degree of progressive beliefs define themselves and their positions in a way that backs genuine progressives into a smaller and smaller corner. Now we have Austin – the most politically progressive city in Texas. The Atheist Community of Austin. Equality for women, people of color, them LGBTs. All seemed in order, right?

But this debate about intersex and transgender athletes (that first started being covered on FtB at Reprobate Spreadsheet). The old boy network of Youtubers that included important figures in the ACA closed ranks in favor of the more trans-exclusive side. Given the complexity of the issue, I don’t want to claim any authority to speak to it. But smart people who’ve taken a closer look say the instigating youtube boy was being unreasonable and transphobic, and their arguments are airtight. So is youtube boy a transphobe? Should he be rejected as such?

No, there should be no reproach for the special rational boys of rationalism. SJWs gone too far rabble rabble. Initially the ACA had enough progressives on board to denounce youtube boy, but the oldboy network hedged them out. Slice, slice.

Once again the political center has expanded in a way that shoved an oppressed minority into a smaller slice. Once you’ve defined yourselves that way as an organization, once you’ve excluded those voices, how long before any other lip service you’ve paid to progressivism disappears? How long before you’re all thunderf00ting about the joint, licking lady legs and moaning about feminazis?

Maybe you do keep most of your equal rights cred in place. It was just one marginal little issue right? You can be a feminist and anti-racist and pro-trans (in most instances) while still thinking the bodies of athletes must be crammed into narrow little genderholes.

But in a way that’s worse for the people you’ve sliced away. Because if you’re eating up progressive bandwidth and you’ve shown yourself to be an unsafe group for trans people to be around, they’re stuck on an even smaller fringe than they were already. Progressive atheism is small enough to fit in a schoolbus. Fully trans-inclusive progressive atheism is gonna be stuck in a Prius.

The right wing in the USA is a fucking nightmare show of hardcore nazi-assed hate goblins. Any degree to which you inch toward them, any inch you step toward the center, is necessarily coming at the expense of some of your friends, families, lovers. It’s a treacherous move.

It Always Comes Back To Us, Doesn’t It?

I haven’t been following the debate with this transphobic chode on youtube, just catching one side of it in the form of HJ Hornbeck’s posts – which are quite useful and informative even outside of the original context. Because I didn’t follow the original context, I didn’t notice the chode in question is a member of the atheoskeptisphere, and has been backed by more prominent voices in our creepy little community.

I’m unsurprised, but it does hit me in that pit of despair, the place where I can see my people – the atheists, those who hold faith in reason – being both irrational and malicious, making the world a worse place. Just a week ago, murderous atheist islamophobe Craig Stephen Hicks was finally sentenced for his crimes. But there’s no true justice in the universe, and most of us won’t have to answer for spreading hate while robing ourselves in words like “reason” as if they’re magic armor.

Thanks for propping up this status quo, my bros. It’s important for people like me to stay humble. As long as it’s fucking impossible to be proud of being an atheist or skeptic, I’ll stay self-aware enough to avoid acting the fool, maybe do less harm in my blundering.

My Echo Chamber Too Quiet Tonight

So the mainstream media and rethuglican party are merrily drumming up support to invade Iran, it looks like it’s working, and aside from a few memes on tumblr, I’m not getting a lot of reassurance that there are voices of sense out there. Anybody in the know have some odds, some thoughts for me? How likely are we to fuck up that badly? What are we looking at presently?

Chelsea Manning Back in Jail

As predicted, they convened a new grand jury just to toss her back in the clink, along with an unprecedented from of punitive extortion.

Chelsea E. Manning, @xychelsea, May 16:
** Today, Chelsea was not only put back in jail, but Judge Anthony Trenga ordered her to be fined $500 every day she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day she is in custody after 60 days. This is unprecedented.
Linked article: https://www.sparrowmedia.net/2019/05/statement-from-chelsea-mannings-lawyers-regarding-chelsea-being-remanded-into-custody/

Like a champ she was streaming video games the night before the trial. I’d say the dirtbags doing this need a lesson in class, but they get one every time they’re in the room with her. Maybe that’s why they want her out of sight. Anyhow, storm every Bastille, smash the state, yadda yadda.

This Six Year Old Tweet

Content Warning: Apocalypse Despair

Via Alex Wild, entomologist, six years ago:

Alex Wild @Myrmecos
“Being a naturalist in the 21st century is like being an art enthusiast in a world where an art museum burns to the ground every year.”
-12:20 PM – 22 Dec 2013

It’s an appropriately depressing way to phrase the problem. To that I would only say it’s more accurate if every drawing would take hundreds of thousands of years to complete and every painting millions. I see the value that investment of time represents in every species and it creeps me the hell out when I see them being smoked like cigarettes, by the dozens, the hundreds. Entire populations of organisms lost forever, many every single year.

Some people also see that value and the destruction gives them an erection. Some people would pay big money to personally kill the last rhinoceros. The same kind of people who destroy art, who blow up thousand year old statues. What can I even say about people that evil? Nothing. Whatever I say they’d enjoy it, wallow naked in it. I’m done.

Work at CNN? Quit Your Job Now

CNN has been caught deep in bald-faced lies about the situation in Venezuela, supporting Trump’s oil lust with very old school yellow journalism. If you work at CNN and have any principles left at all, you should resign. Take a stand against warhawking, or against false journalism, against propaganda, against lies at the very least.

That’s how I’d react in your shoes, but then, I’m pretty naive. Maybe this is more offensive to me than it should be, and capering like little dogs for the Shitbag in Chief is just de rigeur in your industry. How do you feel about it?

Islamophobia – Still Real, Still Deadly

CW: Mass murder, islamophobia

Mass murder in New Zealand. I’m really glad there isn’t anyone on the blogroll here anymore in overt denial of the reality of islamophobia. I’d like to encourage any readers that still have any question about that in their head to really really interrogate themselves about it.

You don’t have to come as far as I have, to seeing the mainstream atheist movement as a major catalyst of it, but at least see. Look at the rhetoric about islam, the way people treat it as a unique and special force for violent extremism in the world. Look at the way that makes good old boys feel the need to weapon up and take it down to the mosque. Look at the body counts and the coordination of the newest attacks and just accept the evidence of your eyes.

Islamophobia is real and it’s really fucked up that a lot of people who think of themselves as progressives still don’t accept that. The government of New Zealand is far from perfect, but at least I think they might take this as the impetus to start tackling white terrorism, whereas that wouldn’t happen over a mountain of bodies here. But it’s still a fucking grim situation.

Also be careful what pictures and videos you’re exposed to on the internet for a while because one of these terrorist shitlords filmed and distributed video of his actions, and you know damn well channers and encyclopedia dramatica types are going to be planting that shit everywhere like rickrolls.


Chelsea Manning is in Jail Again

Chelsea Manning is back in jail and I can’t link to an article about it. Why? Tons of them, including the top google results, are including images of her pre-transition. You know damn well they’re doing it to try and make her look like a criminal too. Fuck the media for its transmisogyny, its bias, its willingness to support fascism without any prodding from the state at all.

Here’s a link to the fundraiser for her legal defense.