HBO does good

HBO’s new blockbuster series is Watchmen, a sequel to the original comic book, and they’re doing something bold and educational: the opening sequence is a recreation of the Tulsa race riots, in which a white community rose up and murdered and burned an entire black community. Even today, the city of Tulsa is searching (reluctantly) for the mass graves that were dug in 1921. I’d read about this before, and it’s unbelievably horrific — it was such an awful act of blatant racism I had trouble believing it when I first heard about it. It happened, though.

One concern is placing it in a work of fiction, and specifically a show about alternate history. I hope no one comes away dismissing it as a comic book story, because you can find real-life, historical accounts of the event fairly easily.

What I didn’t know until this morning was the extent of the open race war that went on in this country after the Civil War. It’s shocking that this wasn’t taught in any school I attended! Check out this eye-opening thread on Twitter:

I had never heard of the Kirk-Holden War before. This was a real war in North Carolina, in which the Ku Klux Klan declared war against the state, the army was called in, and the KKK won, dictating terms to the government…terms that included allowing no Northern intervention in how they “regulated” elections, where “regulation” included murdering black elected officials. One outcome of that kind of action was that the victors celebrated by erecting Confederate monuments all over the place. Our country supported the oppression of a democratic majority! It still is.

I’ve only seen the one episode of the series so far, and to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it as a story…but as a slap-in-the-face wakeup call to deplorable events in American history, it’s a five-star triumph. It promises to develop further as a story about American race relations, and all I can say there is that it’s about time we actually had a media confrontation over it.

Lack of access to health care does lifelong harm

Well, if this isn’t the most horrifying story to start my morning ever.

After three decades of progressive symptoms, a 43-year-old man from Panama was rushed into emergency surgery with a massively swollen scrotum that hung past the level of his knees and had begun to rot and ooze foul-smelling pus, a team of Texas doctors report.

I’m not so much hung up on the clinical symptoms as on the fact that this man suffered for 30 years, for most of his life, with a condition that would have crippled his social options and destroyed his opportunity to be a productive part of his community, and that would have been a painful, constant reminder of his state. It wouldn’t be something he could ever get away from.

And it was treatable, especially if it could have been caught early. This is precisely why health care ought to be a human right.

Atheism as a fandom

Oh god…I’m watching this video about how the alt-right infiltrates fandoms, and the tactics they use to radicalize members, and I’m suddenly realizing he could be talking about movement atheism, and that I watched this all play out in the last decade.

For instance, there’s the bit where they redefine the bits they don’t like, like feminism, as political, and we can’t have our group divided by politics…and at the same time conveniently redefine alt-right attitudes as apolitical. Then there’s the elevation of micro-celebrities as representatives, not because they’re particularly good people, but because they conform to the mores of the vocal minority. Or the fact that poor arguments are repeated over and over, precisely because they are bad arguments and aren’t going to win anyone over on their quality, so they have to reaffirm it to themselves and find solidarity as a chorus.

Have you ever heard an atheist declare that “all atheism is is a disbelief in god”? Think about it. That’s an argument that’s going to win no one over; it’s certainly not going to persuade anyone outside the core fandom that “Hmm, maybe I ought to give that a try”. Yet it’s the go-to claim of insular atheists to shut down any substantive discussion of goals and principles! This pseudo-apoliticism is exactly what’s allowed atheism to become a haven for the right. While on one hand feminism is declared to be a cancer that causes Deep Rifts, on the other, well, Libertarianism is just natural good sense.

Think about the takeover of the Atheist Community of Austin while watching the video. He’s not talking about atheism specifically at all, but it fits so well.

The good news is that it makes me feel better about having been mobbed out of the movement. The bad news is that atheism has been knocked out of the social conversation as a force for bettering humanity. It’s become just another toxic fandom.

Could everyone just stop about Tulsi Gabbard?

She was never a serious challenger, she’s got a bizarre homophobic/racist background, she only seems to be supported by right-wingers, and yes, recently she had a freaky meltdown about being indirectly accused of being a Russian agent. Don’t care. She’s done. She was never going to get the Democratic nomination. All the attention being paid to this irrelevant distraction is meaningless, except as a tool to get you to ignore the slimeball-in-chief.

In every election, there is always an assortment of fringe kooks who make noise for a while, get the backing of some other fringies with money, and then melt away as the campaigning gets serious. She’s one of them. Move on.

I swear, media coverage of the Democrats is like watching a dog with the zoomies spotting a squirrel.

That’s quite the hatchet job on Emily Grossman…she should be proud

It’s been a long time since I last glanced at VDARE, the racist website, and there’s a good reason for that — it’s a slimy sewer with a lot of incredibly bad articles, and, surprisingly, is used by racists as a justification for the scientific basis of their beliefs.

(Narrator: There is no scientific justification for their racism.)

Anyway, what caught my eye was this brazen hack job against Emily Grossman, the British science popularizer. I like her work, so it was strange to see an article titled Extinction Rebellion’s Emily Grossman Is A Type—As Nutty As You Would Expect. How “nutty” was I supposed to expect? I guess I’ll find out.

I did quickly discover that the author was a “nutty” science denialist who rejects the evidence for climate change and misrepresents the positions of those lobbying government to address climate concerns. OK, way to put your credibility worst foot forward, guy.

These “rebels”—motto: “Rebel for Life,” because, they claim, based on falsified climate science data, that a “mass extinction” will begin in twelve years—have vowed to continue their insurrection until their demands are met.

And then he launches into a long tirade against Grossman specifically with what he thinks are damning facts against her. It’s a strange assault because he keeps writing these things that are apparently supposed to make us hate her, but I’m just reading them and saying, “So?”

Grossman—who is 41, childless and has paid £10,000 to freeze her eggs because she can’t find a man she regards as quite good enough for her

Oh, well, what a horrible harridan, too good for us! Except…isn’t it true of everyone? We don’t just have children willy-nilly, but have some standards. It’s also possible that she’s had an awesomely busy career, and just doesn’t have time for kids. There’s nothing wrong with that.

She attended the prestigious, high fee-paying South Hampstead School, an all-girls school in North London

Yes, we’re about to get inundated with evidence that she had an incredibly privileged upbringing. I agree. It’s not a crime, nor does it incriminate her personally. We don’t get to choose our family.

Grossman went to Queen’s College, Cambridge, where she studied Natural Sciences

While privileged, she also made smart choices.

Emily’s father, Ashley Grossman, is professor of endocrinology at Oxford University and a Cambridge graduate and that her mother, Susan Grossman, is also an academic, lecturing in journalism

Children of academics have a leg up in pursuing academic careers, true. I guess she should have had different parents.

Emily Grossman went on to Manchester University to do a PhD in cancer research—and then decided she wanted to become an actress

She had the discipline and opportunity to complete a PhD in a complex technical field, and then made a change in her plans. This is all good. I advise students all the time to pursue what interests them, and not to feel trapped in a rut. It’s also the case that scientific careers are really tough to break into, are demanding and often not particularly rewarding, and if you ask any scientist about the cohort that they entered grad school with, they’ll tell you that the majority do not go on to strictly academic research careers. Those who pursue alternatives are not failures, they’re often happier and more successful than those who settle into the university rat-race.

Good for Grossman. Don’t be afraid to change your goals.

Dramatic career changes tend to correlate with such traits an anxiety and mental instability

(Narrator: No evidence is provided that Grossman was anxious or mentally unstable.)

Grossman’s parents had divorced when their then only child was four; being from a broken home…predicts mental instability

(Narrator: No evidence is provided that Grossman has mentally instability.)

How do all you children of divorced parents feel about being called “nutty” because of that?

she had a mental breakdown, so changed career yet again

(Narrator: No evidence of a mental breakdown is presented.)

Actually, what’s described is that she combined her background in science with her training in acting to become a science popularizer. Smart move.

In 2013, Emily Grossman got back into science, via a BBC scheme called “Expert Women” in which she effectively auditioned, as one of 2000 applicants, to be a female science presenter.

Does anyone else find it odd to express it as auditioning to be a female science presenter, as if she had to get in front of the BBC and demonstrate her skill at being a woman?

When in 2015, Nobel Prize-winning British biochemist Tim Hunt said that women in science were an increasing problem because “when you criticise them, they cry,”—this was joke, but reported out of context— Grossman went on the airwaves to declare: “We desperately need to encourage more girls into science careers, and the concern is this might put them off.”

Uh, what is wrong with her declaration? Hunt was a bit of a fool, and to say that we need to help girls get into science seems like an entirely appropriate comment. Unfortunately, then Milo Yiannopoulos started yapping at her and marshaling his mob of know-nothings to harass her, and…

But this simple criticism was so unacceptable to Grossman that, according to senior Labour Member of Parliament Yvette Cooper, Grossman “was forced to take a break from social media”

Sounds sensible. I know lots of women who take breaks from social media, because it is a terribly hostile environment for outspoken women especially. But that’s not a good enough twist for this author.

As with the dramatic career change, this inability to cope with adversity is a sign of high Neuroticism.

(Narrator: there is no sign that Grossman is unable to cope with adversity, or that she is Neurotic.)

But wait: there is one more sin that must be mentioned.

Emily Grossman…is ethnically Jewish.

<GASP> Shock. Horror. Jewish? No. How can this be?

The revelations aren’t over yet. Grossman’s partner is…a woman. She not only failed to find a male who could meet her high standards for fatherhood, but she doesn’t even have sex with men any more.

Thus it seems Emily Grossman exemplifies a trend observed by F. Roger Devlin in his Sexual Utopia in Power: highly educated women are unable to fulfil their evolved desire to find a higher status male, so they become lesbians, specifically “femme” lesbians.

I am trying to wrap my head around this logic. So women are evolved to find high-status males as mates, presumably with the assumption that “high-status” is a property of some subset of men. But attractive, wealthy, privileged, well-educated women can’t possibly find a higher-status partner who is male, so they settle for lesbianism? Is it because their chosen partner is higher status than any male? None of this makes any sense. Are they evolved to favor maleness, or status? So why do they abandon both?

I guess he hasn’t considered yet that many people choose their partners on the basis of love, and kindness, and mutual interests, rather than the grasping calculus of capitalism. But that wouldn’t fit with his thesis, that rich Jews are acting to destroy society.

Emily Grossman can be added to the list that’s been growing for a while now. Those who spearhead our destruction are a specific type: privately educated, extremely privileged—often with academic parents—ethnic minority (frequently Jewish) and usually evidencing mental instability. In case of Grossman and Ben Van der Merwe, one can add “broken home” and “homosexual.”

A question: what do extremely privileged people stand to gain by wrecking the source of their wealth? Why is gay and Jewish treated as a failing?

As usual, a VDARE article can be summarized as unabashed Naziism written by a spittle-flecked rabid racist. How dare gay, Jewish, and hypothetically mentally ill people exist?

Jarring discovery of the day

I just discovered that Eric Gill, creator of the reasonably popular typeface Gill Sans, was one weird dude.

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill ARA (/ɡɪl/;[1] 22 February 1882 – 17 November 1940) was an English sculptor, typeface designer, and printmaker, who was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. His religious views and subject matter are generally viewed as being at odds with his sexual behaviour, including his erotic art and alleged sexual abuse of his daughters, sisters, and dog.

I think we need a stronger word than “alleged” there. He wrote about it in his personal diaries, and further, his daughter discussed it frankly.

I don’t know that his behavior was at odds with his religious views, either. He was Catholic, but Catholicism covers a broad range, and he favored a socialist flavor of the faith, which has modern conservative Catholics angry, and his incestuous and bestial behavior are good reasons to flog him. Well, and also for good Catholics to “analyze” his erotic art.

Before pointing out a webpage with his works, I feel it necessary to give a prudent warning. Gill’s drawings are extremely indecent. I don’t recommend that anyone look at them. But since I was making a serious investigation into exactly who Eric Gill really was, I went to a site and analyzed some of his prints. I can assure you that the critics were not exaggerating. The prints contain many nudes, including pornographic and blasphemous ones. For instance, some depict male and female nude saints with their respective halos performing the sexual act; another entitled God Sending shows a naked and sexually aroused Christ descending to earth; yet another entitled Earth Receiving shows what appears to be the same Christ fornicating with a woman, possibly representing the earth.

All that sounds just lovely to me, while the bit about having sex with is close relatives creeps me out. Ick. What a mess of a man.

I haven’t been tangling with Catholics very much lately, but if I do, I guess I’ll have to quote them in Gill Sans from now on.

What happened to Indiana?

That state went from Eugene Debs to Mike Pence. What a downfall!

Another great quote from the great socialist, his statement after being sentence to prison for speaking out against war:

…years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

The zombie genre is dead, someone please shoot it in the head

I gave up on The Walking Dead. It was slow-paced, repetitive torture porn with a cast of unlikeable characters. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was a classic that reinvigorated the genre by attaching themes of infection and social collapse to an existing idea, but his stuff was getting formulaic in the sequels — it’s gotten calcified and uncreative. I liked Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, but it was more of a knowing, self-referential wink at all zombie films, with a cast that knew all of the zombie tropes and went through the expected motions. It ought to have punctured the whole genre and ended it, but I think the title was another self-aware joke. Dead movie ideas don’t die, they get endlessly recycled.

There’s another way we know zombie movies are creatively bankrupt: we’ve entered the “Abbot and Costello meets…” phase of their existence. The fear is gone, the plots are predictable, so let’s milk it for comedy now. Worse still, we’re getting sequels to mocking comedy takes on the zombie movies.

Yeah, I saw Zombieland: Double Tap last night. It shambled onto the screen like a microwaved platter of dried-out raw brains, and it strained to provide some manic flavor to old jokes and random plot shifts, tired and pointless cameos, and a feeble attempt to add some challenge by saying that zombies had “evolved” and there was a new type that was harder to kill…but that just meant they had to fire their big guns with infinite ammunition a dozen times to achieve the same effect, a dead splattered zombie. Dreary, unfunny, and I don’t care how often Woody Harrelson yells, throws a tantrum, and blows stuff up, totally lacking in tension.

I have a better title for it: Zombieland: Tapped Out.

If this gets out, our higher education system will be in trouble

What an insight! Why go to class when you can just listen to Joe Rogan?

Why spend my time sitting in two anthropology classes a week listening to some puppet talk about how the earliest advanced civilizations started around 7,000 years ago when one JRE episode with renowned egyptologist, Graham Hancock proves WITHOUT A DOUBT that highly advanced civilizations were around thousands of years before that? GOBEKLI TEPE, ANYONE? Has my anthropology professor ever talked to God through the use of Ayahuasca? I doubt it. Well Graham has, and he’s not charging me $20,000 a year to hear him talk.

How is anyone still paying for an education when a tool for personal development as effective and readily available as JRE exists?

At one episode a night, five days a week, that’s more than a full class load. Two semesters of that, summers off, for four years, and you’ve got one enlightened motherfucker on your hands. All courtesy of my personal spirit animal, Joe Rogan. And even at that pace there would be more than 200 more episodes left to digest.

I once listened to a Joe Rogan podcast, and it had the opposite effect on me — it was like that dumb meathead was reaching into my brain and shredding the information therein. I had to read a whole issue of Developmental Biology to recover. I think it’s really easy to teach people what they want to believe, not so easy to actually teach them things they don’t know.