White supremacists are getting a facelift?

At least, that’s what this guy Richard Spencer is claiming that he’s doing, trying to add a little intellectual respectability to a small gang of bigots. From this account of a conference the racists recently had, though, it sounds like the same old crap.

“If you cannot be for your own people, who can you be for?” one young man who gave his name as Helmut Schmidt said as a reason for attending the conference. “The reality is when white people are the minority in this country, it is going to be real bad.”

But really the conference was open to any number of overlapping topics that might attract disaffected white youngsters. Jack Donovan, an anti-feminist writer and “advocate for the resurgence of tribalism and manly virtue,” served up his shtick.

Donovan has argued that feminists are trying to create  “gender-neutral utopias” that will make men into “doughy bonobos and chunky Chaz Bonos playing out their endless manic-depressive melodramas in a big bean-flicking circle of sterility, sickness and desperation.”

“Do black people as a group care what happens to white people as a group? Does a Mexican dad with three babies care about whether some white kid from the burbs gets a summer landscaping job? Of course not,” Donovan said during his presentation, adding later, “You cannot play fair with people who don’t care if you get wiped off the map.”

Turn that last sentence around. Why should anyone play fair with white chauvinists who only care about brown people as nannies and gardners?

One message I got, though, was that the facelift seems to involve adding resentment against independent women to the stew of racial hatred that they usually tap into. It’s always been there, but in this story it’s pretty overt: white women must support the race by bearing lots of white babies.

You can find much more about the unsavory Richard Spencer at the SPLC. He’s currently head of the National Policy Institute, a racist think-tank founded by William Regnery, the far right wing publisher who also publishes a great many books by the Discovery Institute authors like Wells, Wiker, Richards, Gonzalez, Weikart, etc. It’s rather ironic that they love to publish books accusing evolution of being a Nazi plot fomenting Hitlerian ideas of eugenics, while at the same time promoting racial ideas that would have been right at home in Hitler’s government.

I hope a boggle eats them for Halloween

Answers in Genesis tries to explain the history of Halloween — and of course, the only way they can do that is to make shit up. I don’t know why, but I found their article particularly infuriating. Maybe it’s because they’re so shameless about inventing fictitious histories, and they exhibit no shame at all about it.

So we get to hear that Archbishop Ussher claimed that Halloween was the day that Adam and Eve sinned; that maybe it was to honor Noah’s wife, who died on a date not mentioned in the Bible; that it was a commemoration of all the people who died in a worldwide flood; that the devil did it. They build this entire speculative mythology based on people who didn’t exist and events that didn’t occur, and they pretend it’s history, just like they pretend creationism is science. It’s lies all the way through.

But then, I guess that isn’t hard for people who take pictures of an empty field and call it Noah’s Ark. It wasn’t a Great Deluge, it was a Great Delusion.

Also, this.

And next year, consider ordering Halloween booklets to hand out to those who come to your door. Candy and other treats are good, but there’s nothing that compares with the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Oh, man, I still remember those houses that handed out Bible tracts rather than candy when I went trick-or-treating as a kid. Yes, do that, because I learned to despise those smug jerks when they shafted little kids that way.

Delusional pseudoscientist thinks with his testicles

So this morning I got tweeted a belly laugh.

Frost @FreedomTwenty5
Excellent atheist/rationalist critique of evolutionary denialist @pzmyers – http://www.thumotic.com/2013/10/28/spot-price-forward-contracts-and-maturity-transformation-in-the-sexual-marketplace/ … #science

“Evolutionary denialist”? What, me? So I followed the link.

I can only assume that Myers, with whom I am otherwise unfamiliar, is some sort of evolution-denying Young Earth Creationist, or perhaps a Scientologist. The concept of human sexual choice has been well-established by David Buss and more recently, Geoffrey Miller. To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised, in this day and age, that we still have people such as Myers, who deny the evolutionary origins of human behaviour.

It would be crass to mock Mr. Myers’ religious beliefs, even while they prohibit him from acknowledging the role that evolution and biomechanics play in human behaviour. I will just say, Mr. Myers, that there are many Christians groups which have done a far better job than the YECs, or whatever sky-fairy-worshiping sect you belong to, of reconciling The Bible and the observable empirical fact of human evolution. I encourage you to broaden your horizons good sir, and I recommend the excellent community over at r/atheism as a good place to start.

Heh. He doesn’t know me at all well, I guess.

We’re already primed for some awesome stupidity with that introduction. Predictably, this tripe is from one of those MRAs — specifically, one of those manly men wallowing in an overdose of masculine machismo.

The typical 21st century western male is not a man. He is a limp-wristed mangina, a coward, a collaborator and a fool. He is an embarrassment to the thousands of generations of his ancestors who lived lives of struggle and sacrifice, just so that he can sit on his arse and wait out death in a perpetual state of quiet desperation.

The modern man lives a life that his ancestors would consider sad, pathetic, and deeply unnatural. The excuses he offers would make them laugh. His fatalistic, self-pitiful posturing would make them cringe.

Thumotic is a place for men who reject this path. our society’s flight from traditional manly virtue. It is a home for men who are unashamed of their masculinity, their pride in themselves, and their lust for excellence in all facets of their lives.

Reminds me of Kronar (NSFW!).

What’s caused all this outrage, and an unpleasant ugly bolus in my email traffic, is my criticism of that ridiculous sexual market value graph, the one with no data behind it, but that tried to cloak its sexist bigotry behind a false veneer of quantitative, empirical assessment. It was all just a lie, of course, propped up by rigged surveys and purely subjective curve fitting.

Here’s how the manly man rebuts my complaints about the evidence: by ignoring my central issues, and vomiting up a cloud of self-referential assertions about the truth of the graph, despite the absence of any data for it. Every sentence, practically every clause, is garbage — not because I’m ideologically committed to equality, but because the premises are bogus and the evidence that they airily claim is backing it isn’t there.

One can easily dismiss the arguments of PZ Myers, Demand Curve Denialist, because the graph at which he ignorantly scoffs is not meant to represent [Wrong. It’s supposed to represent something. What?] a perfectly defined quantitative [That’s a good part of my complaint. It’s intended to give the illusion of quantitative measurement, but no measurements were made. It is a lie.] relationship between price [And that’s another complaint! You can’t relate human relationships to “price”. That’s not how they work.] and demand [Again, the chart is a failure. You’re trying to make an argument for what people look for in a partner, are stupidly equating that to demand for sexual satisfaction, and further, are reducing it to a single parameter, age. It’s pure nonsense.]. Rather, it is an analytical [With no legitimate analysis!] and pedagogical [I’ll agree with that part. It taught me that MRAs are ignorant assholes] tool which we use to convey a basic truth: People buy more of a good when the price goes down [Stop digging a hole. You are pretending that relationships are bought and sold. Except maybe in the kinds of superficial, transient exchanges MRAs engage in, that simply isn’t true.]. If the Manosphere were to start building complex mathematical labyrinths [Grr. You can’t, because you don’t have the data. You certainly can’t make more complex models when even your simplistic model is built on air.] purporting to explain every intricacy of the sexual marketplace, and hold faith in those models despite a long history of predictive failure… well then, we would be frauds and fools and worse [Yep. You’re already there.]. Fortunately we are all Austrian sexual marketplace economists, here at Thumotic.

The SMV graph is a visualization of the fundamental truth that a woman’s desirability tends to peak in her teens and early twenties, while a man’s peaks in his thirties. This will be true, on average, whichever scale we use, whatever quibbles we might have about the precise shape of the curve, and whatever exceptions might exist to the broad trends. [How do you know this is true? Because you invented a graph that fits your preconceptions. That’s it.]

How do these people fail to recognize that they have no legitimate objective evidence backing up their claims…that they can’t even imagine how to test their arguments? It’s hopeless when this is their big argument:

95% of modern American women will angrily reject the wisdom in this post. Even a majority of men will feel that it is somehow wrong to acknowledge the reality of rapidly declining female sexual value with age. And yet, nothing I’ve written would be controversial in any traditional society that has ever existed, or currently exists. Take this article to the Middle East, Russia, China, Japan, or any European or American city before 1960, and you will find few who disagree with this analysis. Either they are all deluded, dear twenty-first century American liberals, or you are.

So if you go to a sufficiently sexist, patriarchal society, and take a vote of the guys in charge, they’ll all agree that they like nubile young women to service them sexually. Well, la-de-da, who knew that this is a matter settled by popular vote among the characters portrayed on Mad Men?

Badly done political plagiarism

Rand Paul gave a terrible political speech for his buddy Ken Cuccinelli, in which he used a dystopian science fiction movie, GATTACA, as an illustration of what liberals aspire to. I would tell him that the operative word there is “fiction” — it’s not real. “Dystopian” is kind of important, too, because it was portraying a nightmarish authoritarian future that we liberal types would oppose. It was not the Democratic Party Platform, quite the opposite.

But the truly hilarious part is that he cribbed the speech from the Wikipedia entry on the movie. He just outright stole whole lines from it.

I’m sorry, Rand, but I’m tearing up your whole speech and giving you an “F” in the course. You know, I tell my students outright that you can’t trust Wikipedia as a source — go ahead, use it to get a quick overview, but everything you say about a subject has to be backed up by a better source, preferably a peer-reviewed primary paper — so Paul was plagiarizing a poor resource. Come on, guy, at least steal from quality!

Now I’m wondering if he’s even seen the movie.

Right on schedule

In a typical year around here, we get our first snow some time around Halloween, which will melt away, and then round about Thanksgiving we enter the deep freeze after which nothing thaws until March or April. It looks like a typical start of winter around here this morning.


Teaching is so easy, anyone can do it!

This guy, Anthony Seldon, works at a teaching school, and he has just politely dissed teachers everywhere on the pages of the Guardian.

Schoolteaching is a profession, but it’s not like becoming a doctor or a vet. No one would want to be operated on by an amateur who hadn’t had years of experience. The prospect of going to the dentist and being confronted by somebody with a lifelong passion for teeth but no university background or training would alarm all but the most steely. For that reason, there is no Teeth First, though we do have Teach First, albeit with intensive training.

Nick Clegg and others who argue that teachers must first be qualified are fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of the profession. The teacher’s role is much more akin to that of a parent. It is a great loss that governments worldwide have made teaching much less like being a parent than an impersonal civil servant. No job is more important than parenting, yet no one is suggesting parents go off for a university course to qualify as a parent. Parents pick it up as they go along, and that’s exactly the way great teachers are forged.

May I be the first to suggest, then, that maybe parents would be better for it if they actually had to prepare for the responsibilities? There are an awful lot of terrible, horrible parents out there who end up abusing children by neglect or intent.

But no, I’m a teacher, and it’s nothing like being a parent. (I’m one of those, too, so I do have rather solid grounds for a comparison.) Maybe preschoolers need a more parental nurturer, but everything beyond that…teachers are bearers of knowledge that they must communicate to their students — their diverse students who may be hostile, apathetic, or enthusiastic, who may be coming into the class unprepared or thoroughly ready, who may be disciplined or disorganized. And they damn well better understand their material.

One of the first things you learn when you start teaching is that you have to know the content inside and out — it’s simply not enough to know the bare minimum that you expect the students to master, because as a teacher, you need to push just a bit farther to get them up there. You need to be able to lead them to knowledge, and you need to be able to point off in the distance to all the cool stuff they can learn if they continue. How can you inspire if you’re not drinking deeply from the Pierian Spring yourself?

And teaching itself is a skill. It requires constant work and adjustment. In my introductory classes, I’m comfortable with the content and it requires only a little attention to keep up to date on the science, but I’m constantly fretting over how to communicate concepts better this time around. There actually is a teaching literature, you know, perhaps Mr Seldon is unaware of it. There are always new and better ways to instruct coming out and being tested, and there is academic knowledge behind it.

One of the terrible secrets of college teaching is that it fits Seldon’s ideal: most of us get almost no instruction in education as grad students, and then we’re thrown into being in charge of a class for the first time when we’re hired as faculty. And let me tell you, it sucks for both the teacher and the students. My first year was terrible. I had no idea what I was doing, I was frantically struggling to all hours of the night to figure out what the heck I’d be doing the next day, and I pity my poor students from that time.

I could dig up my evaluations from back then if I wanted a reminder of my misery. My student evaluations were bottoming out my first year; I had colleagues coming in and giving me pages and pages of advice. Those evaluations steadily rose until I had people praising me as one of the best teachers in my department…but it took five years of hard work on the job.

So Seldon compares teaching to surgeons and says, “No one would want to be operated on by an amateur who hadn’t had years of experience.” No one in their right mind would want to be taught by someone who hadn’t had years of teaching experience, either. I’d go further and say you ought to demand that your teachers be well-qualified, because you’re trusting your children to them, and they are usually only going to get one shot at learning and growing.

But Seldon thinks there is no expertise to teaching, only passion and enthusiasm.

And then there’s this.

Those who care more about themselves, are time-watchers, and place pay and conditions above caring for the young will never make it. Teaching is a vocation as well as a profession.

Do not diminish the importance of a profession standing up for self-interest. It’s true that people go into teaching because they love it, but it is entirely in the interest of the paymasters to scorn the self-respect of teachers and tell them they shouldn’t care about pay and conditions. Teaching is one of the most important professions in our society, deserving of the greatest respect, but somehow, the bureaucrats and administrators have decided that it’s not worth paying for, and that teachers who demand appropriate acknowledgment of their contributions are compromising “caring for the young.”

Nice racket. I know who’s side Seldon is on, and it isn’t the teachers’.

SkepTech 2

It’s coming: 11-13 April 2014 in Minneapolis. Of course that means that the eager students who put on this free conference are deep in fundraising mode right now.

Their latest get-rich-quick-scheme is to enslave Zach Weinersmith and force him to draw for free so they can auction off a personal portrait. That’s right, be the winning bidder and you can look like you’ve just stepped off the pages of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

I hope they invested in good strong iron shackles down in the basement. It’s not going to be pretty if your imprisoned webcartoonist breaks free — there’ll probably be rampaging.

Double take

Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) goes for a drive with Ru Paul.

I found this on Joe. My. God., where I saw this commentary:

It’s very hard to believe that Elvira is 62.

My first thought was, yes, she looks amazing, and I was surprised that she’s that old. But immediately after I saw her birthday — 17 September 1951 — my second thought, my shocked realization, was…she’s only a few years older than I am.

Goddamn. When did that happen?