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What does “extremist” mean?

by admin on 25 April 2015

I was watching a video this morning of an interview with a popular but controversial blogger. I believe the word “extremist” was tossed around a couple times in the interview, but whether or not it was used in the interview, I know the word is frequently used about this fellow.

“Extremist” is one of those five cent words that gets used without much thought. What does it really mean to be an extremist?

A statistician might graph all opinions on a certain subject and call the views on both ends “extremist” views. But I don’t think that’s what people mean by the term.

One problem with the statistical approach is that “extremist” is a hate word. If you were to graph all opinions on the production of broccoli, certain views might be statistical outliers, but nobody would call them extremist views. They might be odd, or out of the mainstream, or something like that, but not “extremist.” Because “extremist” implies not only odd and out of the mainstream, but vile. And while some people believe that broccoli is vile, I don’t know if they think the same about the methods of production.

So one condition of an “extremism” view seems to be that some section of the population is really bothered by it.

Some seem to think that is the only criterion. For example, some pro-choice people would call most pro-life people “extremists” — despite the fact that lots and lots of people are pro-life. Partisans on all sides are regularly labeling as “extremist” a view that 30% or more of the population holds. That doesn’t seem fair.

Clearly the word is mostly used as a cuss word. It has little content beyond “I hate you.” But … if we were to try to be fair about it, how would we use the word?

I think it would have to combine two elements, on somewhat of a sliding scale.

First, the view would have to be held by a small minority. Second, it would have to be the kind of view that really bothers a not insignificant group of people.

If we tried to apply that sort of rule to “extremist,” I think the label would be tossed around a lot less frequently. Of course I don’t expect any such thing, because as I said before, “extremist” is really just a cuss word.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-25  ::  admin

Hillary calls for change

by Greg Krehbiel on 25 April 2015

I get a daily email from The Week called “10 things you need to know today.” It’s a pretty good service.

Today’s email has this headline: “Hillary Clinton calls for change in ‘deep-seated’ abortion beliefs”

Sure she does. IOW, all the conservatives need to change their minds to agree with her.

The arrogance of these people is astonishing.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-25  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Is a head transplant immoral?

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 April 2015

You may have heard that some crazy doctor is about to transplant a head. Or — at least that’s the story.

Some poor fellow with a serious degenerative disease wants to get his head put on the body of some more unfortunate fellow who will serve as a donor. I’m assuming the donor will be some young person who died by head trauma.

Assuming this is medically possible, is it right?

On the plus side …

  • Why is a head transplant different in principle from a liver transplant, or even getting a donor ACL from a cadaver (as I have)?
  • Nobody is being harmed to make this happen. We’re dealing with two very unfortunate people and trying to make life better for one of them at no cost to the other.

On the minus side …

  • Some scientists and philosophers believe we have too much of a brain-centric sense of self, and that the body has a lot more to do with a person’s identity than we like to think. If they’re right, is this meddling with things that shouldn’t be meddled with?
  • Does such a procedure create too much moral hazard — i.e., rich people could pay to get their hands on the recently (and conveniently) dead bodies of healthy young people.

On balance I think I’m on the plus side of this. I’m not saying I believe the current story about the Italian doctor, but I’m not against it in principle. I do think it raises some interesting questions.

We have to remember that just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.

-- 5 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

You know, it was an Adam Sandler film

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 April 2015

You may have heard that some Native Americans walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s upcoming comedy/western The Ridiculous Six because it was offensive to women and Native Americans.

Well, yeah. It’s Adam Sandler. What did they expect?

When you lie down with dogs, you get fleas, and actors who make their fortune by being rude, juvenile idiots make films like that.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Are fainting couches next?

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 April 2015

Perhaps you’ve heard about the rise of trigger warnings. The basic idea is that people (mostly women) are so delicate and fragile that if they are confronted with an idea they don’t like, they might not feel safe. So they have to be warned ahead of time.

When there are potential triggers — say, in a presentation by someone who doesn’t believe in the campus rape hysteria — people organize special “safe rooms.” Sometimes they have teddy bears and such.

I wish I had come up with this for a story, but no one would have believed it.

-- 10 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

If feminists truly cared about women …

by Greg Krehbiel on 22 April 2015

Sandra Steingraber from New Yorkers Against Fracking says losing fracking jobs is okay because …

Fracking as an industry serves men. Ninety-five percent of the people employed in the gas fields are men. When we talk about jobs, we’re talking about jobs for men, and we need to say that …. The jobs for women are ‘hotel maid’ and ‘prostitute’ ….

No. Here’s what we “need to say.” Feminists are crazy.

Yes, men do most of the jobs in this country that involve work — e.g., electricians, plumbers, construction workers, utility workers, fire fighters, miners, farmers, fishermen, etc. Most of the industries that make a modern society function — so that the lights turn on and there are roads to drive on and cars to drive on them and food on the table and that sort of trivial thing — employ mostly men.

But in the minds of crazy feminists it would be better to shut down everything that makes society function because we want women to get jobs.

Feminism is a menace. It is, quite literally, the enemy of human civilization.

A person who was actually interested in promoting real women’s issues — as opposed to the lunacy of feminism — would be telling women who are fortunate enough to live in a place where men are working good jobs in the fracking industry to strive to be the kind of woman such men would want to marry.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-22  ::  Greg Krehbiel

What if there is no extraterrestrial life?

by Greg Krehbiel on 21 April 2015

I often read things that assume that the discovery of life on other planets would mess with people’s ideas about humanity — especially religious ideas. For instance, many people probably think that human life is unique, so the idea that there would be other intelligent beings out there (i.e., other than angels and such) might disturb them.

That certainly could be. The existence of other intelligent life would certainly challenge many religious beliefs, but not fatally, IMO.

On a smaller scale, the discovery of humans in the Americas was a challenge to European Christian ideas, but it wasn’t a fatal challenge. Similarly, I don’t think the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligent life would necessarily be a serious challenge to religious beliefs, although it might be — if, for example, none of them had any conception of God. That would create problems, I think.

However, the question rarely gets asked the other way around. What if, two hundred years from now, we’ve combed the galaxy, found lots of planets that could sustain life, and either (1) found no life, or (2) found no intelligent life?

That would be a challenge for unbelievers. Not a fatal challenge, but it would be a challenge.

So far, we’ve found nothing.

Alien Supercivilizations Absent from 100,000 Nearby Galaxies

Even if brimming with life, to us, the galaxy seems to be a very quiet, rather lonely place.

Now, new results suggest this loneliness may extend out into the universe far beyond our galaxy or, instead, that some of our preconceptions about the behaviors of alien civilizations are deeply flawed. After examining some 100,000 nearby large galaxies a team of researchers lead by The Pennsylvania State University astronomer Jason Wright has concluded that none of them contain any obvious signs of highly advanced technological civilizations.

There’s still a lot to be explored, but the alleged inevitability of finding intelligent life in the universe — and the childish math people do to prove it — is looking less and less convincing.

-- 13 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-21  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Marriage? Who are you kidding?

by Greg Krehbiel on 20 April 2015

The Daily Mail has noticed the “marriage strike.” See Why men won’t get married anymore: Women complain chaps today won’t settle down. Sorry, ladies, but it’s all your fault, argues a wickedly provocative new book.

… the rewards are far less than they used to be, while the cost and dangers [marriage] presents are far greater.
‘Ultimately, men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family,’ says Dr Helen Smith, author of Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood And The American Dream.

We’ve sown the wind. The whirlwind is on the way.

(Of course I cover similar stuff in Eggs are Expensive, Sperm is Cheap: 50 Politically Incorrect Thoughts for Men.)

Thanks to Pigweed for the link.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-20  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“You’re ruining our Utopia!”

by Greg Krehbiel on 20 April 2015

A few things I’ve seen lately have hinted that to understand the modern left you have to see it as a rather strange form of Utopianism.

James Lileks said this

The Boomers were handed a Utopian ideal — practical, technocratic, rational, with silver wheels in the sky tended over by engineers and scientists — and they abandoned it for a Dionysian version based on wrecking and remaking the world they’d inherited.

I don’t think blacks in the south would say the 50s were Utopian, but we were certainly on a very strong upward trajectory. Life was getting better at a frantic pace.

But the Boomers didn’t want the practical, technocratic, (working) world they inherited. What did they want?

Lileks says they had daddy issues.

… they got sour; if you believe a Utopia is possible if we just retinker human behavior to eliminate greed and dress codes and football and anything else that reminds us of Dad, … then the failure of this world makes it a dystopia ….

That might explain some of it for some people, but chew on this idea and let me know what you think. The Boomers took the practical, technological “can do” attitude of their fathers and turned it on culture, and even on human nature. This helps explain why the left is so angry all the time.

From Why is the Angry Left So Angry?:

For the secular leftist, the end state is social and necessarily political. It is all about getting everybody else on board and herding them into his imagined utopia. There are so many “problematic” aspects of life that need to be reengineered, so many vast social systems that need to be overthrown and replaced. But the rest of us are all screwing it up, all the time, through our greed, our denial, our apathy, our refusal to listen to him banging on about his tired socialist ideology.

I.e., you’re either with the program or you’re messing it all up for everybody else.

This is why caring is so important to the left. Attitude is everything. It doesn’t matter that you fly around the world in a private jet, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, so long as you do it because you care. Once you get everyone to care about the right things then all you have to do is hand the problem over the engineers (economists, scientists, etc.) to work out the details.

All problems are solvable — provided you think nice thoughts.

For the left it’s not about a workable compromise. It’s not about a messy “leave well enough alone.” It’s about a drive for Utopia that starts with having the right attitudes.

If you don’t think those thoughts or have those attitudes, then the only possible explanation is that you’re a filthy, greedy bastard.

I recently asked some Facebook friends what they would eliminate from the world if they could get rid of one thing. It would be interesting to see how conservatives and liberals would answer that question (in a statistically valid survey). I suspect that the liberals would be more inclined to want to eliminate wrong thinking (greed, hatred, etc.) while the conservatives would be more inclined to want to eliminate something more tangible (disease, hunger, etc.). But of course I don’t know.

-- 5 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-20  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Making bourbon at home, legally

by Greg Krehbiel on 19 April 2015

A while ago I tried to make bourbon at home. Legally.

As you know, it’s legal to ferment stuff (beer, wine, cider, mead), but it’s illegal to distill that fermented beverage into a liquor. There are some people who don’t care and just do it anyway, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk. (Besides, I’m not that much of a fan of spirits.)

Then one day I had an idea. The distillation process isn’t the most important part anyway. The liquor comes out of the still clear, and while there are some differences based on the mash that’s used and so on, most of the flavor of the liquor comes from how it’s treated after distillation. I.e., what sort of a barrel it’s aged in, etc.

So I made an experimental batch of bourbon. You can read about the process if you’re interested, but very simply it’s a matter of soaking a bunch of toasted oak chips in grain alcohol.

It looks like other people are pursuing similar ideas.

“We knew the increased surface area of the elements would have the effects of barreling, but we were surprised that within 24 hours we were getting dramatic results,” says Peniche.

IOW, soaking the liquor on chips takes advantage of the greater surface area and speeds up the “aging” process.

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2015-04-19  ::  Greg Krehbiel

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