AI Sportsball: Release the Kraken!

One or both of my readers my remember my long time fondness for the work of Dr. Janelle Shane, an optical physicist who delights in exploring the capabilities and limitations of neural networks – computer systems that attempt to identify what certain words or images have in common and then generate novel members of the inferred set. While she has used neural networks for many delightful things, this week she has literally used it to release the Kraken!

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Fascist Policing: Crushing the homeless starts with crushing their wheelchairs

There are problems everywhere in the US relating to homelessness. The first and biggest problem is that so many people don’t have any fucking home. But of course there are subsidiary problems: if someone has no home, they also have no place to go to the bathroom for a good number of hours out of every 24. They don’t have their own garbage service, leading them to leave trash behind and/or to place their own trash in the dumpsters and cans which other people pay to have emptied (other people who then feel “robbed” by paying for the removal of garbage not their own).  Then there’s also the fact that sometimes people just need privacy, and without a place to take that privacy territorial fights can break out. After all, when we most need privacy is by definition when we can least resolve conflicts with others peacefully and well. Homelessness then leads to more conflict that can cost others enjoyment of their own neighborhoods as well as more actual assaults, which results in costs for policing, jailing, and prosecuting more people who simply would never have committed a crime if they just had a door they could close behind them so that they could be alone for a bit.

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The 28th Amendment

Amendment XXVIII (Amendment 28 – Clarification of the extent of the right to bear arms):

The careful control of dangerous weapons being necessary to the security of a free people, the right to bear arms shall not be guaranteed by this constitution further than is necessary for the defense of persons, hunting game for food, and participation in well-regulated sport that does not threaten life, health or property.

 


If you have a twitter account, TWEET THIS EVERYFUCKINGWHERE, but especially to your senators, your congressional rep, and anyone who campaigns for even half a second for POTUS.

 

 

The Moral Bankruptcy of Gender Critical Definitions of Man & Woman

This post will rely on a single individual as an example of so-called “gender critical” thought: Holms. Holms writes frequently on FtB, and has been engaging in a long back-and-forth with myself and many others over on Mano Singham’s blog recently. (This conversation is happening on the same blog post where Mano suggested the value of discussions of horizontal hostility.) I have been growing steadily more uncomfortable with the exchange because it long ago veered away from any discussion that might illuminate how and why horizontal and intra-community hostility develop within a particular group. While Mano has made no move to shut the conversation down or even to express any specific discomfort over the thread, I think it is respectful to a blog owner to have the conversations suggested by a post, and to start your own thread somewhere else if you want to have a different conversation. Thus this post.

The phenomenon I want to discuss begins with a discussion of Holms’ definitions of “man” and “woman”:

I have actually said that ‘man = adult male human’ and ‘woman = adult female human’ are the current meanings as determined by common use.

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Ed Brayton & I Created Overlapping Posts: “The real racists”, then and now.

I hadn’t read Ed Brayton yesterday when I created my discussion of the Trumpian defense of cissexism. However, as it turns out, he also posted something addressing the same phenomenon. He chose to emphasize the history of the argument, rather than how it comes about and what it says about popular understandings of practical ethics, meta ethics, and oppression. Nonetheless, it’s very relevant:

We hear a lot of racists claim that they aren’t racist, the real racists are the ones who accuse them of racism. One might thing this is a new argument, but George Wallace, who might as well have worn a white sheet and hood to the governor’s office in Alabama every day, made this exact same argument, word for word, in 1968.

[See Brayton’s post for a video of Wallace’s argument in Wallace’s own words.]

While the trans-hostile version of this isn’t that trans* people are the real anti-trans*ists, it’s quite close. The essence of the trans-hostile claim is that trans* people are killing gender liberation, and that anti-trans feminism is the only method of achieving gender liberation. Thus anti-trans feminists are the real pro-trans feminists, and pro-trans* activists (feminist or not) are actually anti-woman and anti-feminist.

But “the people who identify racism and racists are the real racists” argument has strong components of “Black people aren’t necessarily anti-Black, but they’re anti-white and their activism is also wrong in ways which make racial liberation impossible, while the the KKK and the CCCs and more generally the white anti-Black public figures who are commonly called racists have the only real solutions to racism. Thus George Wallace is the true hero of the anti-racism movement and the people who are given credit for fighting racism are actually retrenching it.”

Understood this way, the TERF statements and these statements made by George Wallace and his defenders in the 1960s are near-exact analogs. I’d like to think that we’d learned our lessons from past struggles, but not only have we not learned to recognize these cissexist arguments in the TERF context, too many of us still buy into the original racist form of the argument a hundred years after it was first made and more than 50 years after it was first widely criticized in mainstream media.


As an addition, I thought I would point out that George Wallace of the 1960s deserves all the scorn he gets, but not everyone remembers that after an attempted assassination that resulted in an irremediable spinal injury, Wallace became quite a different person. (It’s not clear how much of that would never have happened without the assassination attempt, but since it’s frequently mentioned by others I figure it’s worthy of mention here for context that is at least possibly explanatory.) While I don’t think he ever became anti-racist in the sense we would want to see from someone today, he did turn his back on his statement, “Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever.” As wikipedia reports:

In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian and apologized to black civil rights leaders for his past actions as a segregationist. He said that while he had once sought power and glory, he realized he needed to seek love and forgiveness. In 1979, Wallace said of his stand in the schoolhouse door: “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.” He publicly asked for forgiveness from black people.

During Wallace’s final term as governor (1983–1987) he made a record number of black appointments to state positions, including, for the first time, two black people as members in the same cabinet. [footnote numbering removed by me – cd]

I like noting this part of Wallace’s story where it’s possible to do without minimizing the harms of racism, because it illustrates a capacity for human growth and betterment that is fundamental to the choices we make to educate others about oppression. People really can and do get over prior prejudices. They can and do change policy stances. They can and do identify and fix faults in themselves. While some people may, empirically, be beyond hope, we can’t know which people those are until they have died. As long as folks are alive, and as long as you can do so while still caring for yourself, efforts to educate even the George Wallaces among us just might be worth it.

 

“Not as bad as Alabama” is hardly the same thing as “good.”

So, for amusement I will periodically go catch up with my reading on the US-centric but still wildly funny law blog, “Lowering the Bar”. Recently they have been covering the case of a Judge in Texas who, because of a rarely-remembered but still operant clause in the Texas state constitution, had the misfortune of accidentally resigning the judgeship he won in an election only three months before.

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The Immigrant, The Idiot, and The Judgement

Look, Donald Trump is an idiot. We all know that. It’s not so much that he’s ignorant, he is arrogantly ignorant. He personifies the worst-case Dunning-Kruger effect. Previously the most perfect example of this was uttered a mere 40 days or so into his presidency as he announced (again) his intention to repeal Obamacare:

Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.

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When You Let George Zimmerman Get Away With Murder …

Apparently two white supremacists shot bullets, at least two shots, at two bi-racial siblings (16 yo and 12 yo) who were walking on a footpath that is property of a local church and intended and maintained for public use. The evil white supremacists arrested for those shots are James Reidnauer and Brent van Besien. They don’t claim that the fired no shots, but they do insist that they fired the shots because the children were “meth heads”.

There’s little mystery about their future defense: they can claim erratic behavior on the part of the children that scared them, then invoke stand your ground. We know that Zimmerman claimed he thought Martin might have been high. We know that Zimmerman, despite being a violent, horrible jerkface ended up being found not guilty at trial. Why should the white supremacists neglect a winning strategy?

This. This is the evil that your government encourages when it passes a stand your ground law. Every single such law should be opposed in every single jurisdiction that has passed or considers passing such a provision. Do not retreat from this fight. Go on offense. The mere existence of stand your ground laws is a threat: treat it as such and never back down.