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Get those men off those bikes!!

by Greg Krehbiel on 30 September 2014

Apparently men ride bikes more than women. To some people, anything other than a 50-50 distribution in any area of life means there must be sexism. It’s a problem that needs to be solved — maybe with a federal program, or subsidies.

Here’s a mostly sensible article about some of the other “gender gaps.” Not every gender gap needs to be closed.

-- 4 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-30  ::  Greg Krehbiel

When everybody wants to be a rock star …

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 September 2014

… sell band equipment.

I think about this often in the context of my writing.

Lots of people want to be a writer these days, and since the barriers to entry have fallen dramatically, the number of wannabe writers has skyrocketed.

The sensible thing to do is to provide services for these writers. Edit manuscripts. Design covers. Help with marketing and promotion. Provide technology for self publishers. Or write books about how to be a successful self-publisher.

So … why don’t I do these things? Because I don’t want to provide services to writers. I want to be a writer.

Fortunately it’s just a hobby with me. Sure, I’d like to make some money at it, but the mortgage payment is not on the line.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson’s lies matter

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 September 2014

You’ve heard of the dust-up over some Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes that he’s probably just making up. If not, see this: Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Just Trust Me On Those Things I Said, OK?

To some people, this is evidence of dishonesty while to others it’s no big deal. I think it’s illustrative of an on-going problem in the science fetish community.

To these folks, science is the only source of true statements. History isn’t really true or false. Neither are politics or economics. And don’t even mention religion.

They believe that science is the only source of reliable statements about the world, so the only things that matter are (1) good science, and (2) convincing other people that science is the only source of reliable statements about the world. If, in the service of goal #2, you say things that are “false” from the perspective of economics, history, politics, religion, etc., so what? Those things aren’t really true or false anyway. It doesn’t matter.

When I was in high school and college it always irked me that I had to study history and English and other stuff. I just wanted to study chemistry and physics and geology. Eventually I got over that and actually started to enjoy other disciplines.

Neil deGrasse Tyson illustrates why broad-based education is necessary. These “science is everything” people need to understand that there are other perspectives, other disciplines, and other ways of looking at problems and finding solutions.

But studying them is not enough. For all I know Dr. Tyson has studied such things. What’s needed is an end to this fetishizing about science.

Science is a great thing, but there are important things that can’t be known scientifically, and we have to have respect for truth and falsehood in those matters.

-- 7 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The mixed up world of the feminist brain

by Greg Krehbiel on 27 September 2014

Does anyone know what “gender equality” means?

I’m pretty certain it’s one of those words that is intentionally left undefined, because to define it would require thinking about it carefully and precisely, which is exactly not the point. The purpose of the phrase is to be a useful cudgel when someone says something that isn’t PC.

“What? You’re against gender equality! How could you?”

If it means that both men and women have a right to a trial by a jury of their peers, then fine. Or if it means they are innocent until proven guilty, then …. Oh, wait. That won’t work because of the campus rape scare, where the standard of a man’s guilt is the “preponderance of evidence.”

It’s often used to encourage government actions to “correct” bogus problems like the 77 cent on the dollar thing. Somehow “gender equality” doesn’t mean that women have to register for the draft — because “equality” only applies when it fits in with some other standard.

To start to unpack this, here’s a very good article about the mixed up, confusing, crazy world we live in. Frat Boys, Drunken Girls and Paternalism

Here’s the gist of the article. Let’s say a drunk, pretty, flirtatious young woman shows up at a frat party. That sounds like every frat boy’s dream, right? Let her in! Not so fast, says Bill Frezza. She can’t give legitimate consent. She’s basically jail bait, even if she’s of age. Consequently, Frezza says don’t even let her into the party.

Sound advice, that, for which Bill Frezza was fired from

Why? Because if anything you say has even the slightest whiff of “blaming the victim,” and if the victim is (or could be) a woman, then the harpies will come out in force and ruin your life.

Never mind that Frezza wasn’t blaming the victim. He was warning fraternities against the consequences they might face in such a situation.

From the article linked above …

Self-styled feminists hurt the cause of women when they identify so strongly with teenagers who won’t govern their drinking behavior — and when they treat even raising such concerns as beyond the pale.

That’s close, but it’s not quite the “higher standard” we’re looking for.

To get there you have to think of this in the context of slut walks and things like that. In the feminist brain — if we can postulate such a thing — if you tell a woman that she might get in trouble if she parades her half-naked self in front of horny young men in an area of town even the cops are afraid of, you’re “blaming the victim.” The appropriate response to this horrible sin is for all women to assert the right of any woman to dress like a slut any time she chooses, wherever she chooses. Hence slut walks.

The problem, you see (from the feminist perspective), is not that women are doing foolish things. There’s nothing “foolish” about dressing like a slut because a woman has a right to do whatever the heck she wants, and that right must be asserted with no conditions. The problem is that men think they’re entitled to misbehave because women do foolish things.

Which is to completely miss the point.

Telling people not to park their cars where they might get stolen is not blaming the victim, and it’s not telling thieves they’re entitled to steal. You can hold the thief guilty and still call the victim an imprudent fool.

It’s obvious what the feminist is trying to guard against. They’re worried about a rape case where comments like “she was dressed like a slut” are taken (in their mind) to exonerate the rapist. Which, if true, would be a very bad thing.

But I don’t think that’s what’s intended in such cases.

The problem with evaluating some rape cases is it’s matter if his word against hers. He says she gave consent, she says she didn’t. How do you figure that out? While we certainly have to agree that dressing like a slut is not some kind of blanket consent, it may have relevance when trying to retroactively figure out what happened.

IOW, when I’m trying to determine the truthfulness of the man’s testimony that the girl was eager, the fact that she showed up to a frat party drunk, dressed like a slut, acting flirtatiously, is certainly relevant. It’s not conclusive, but it’s relevant.

Feminists will have none of that.

To understand this, here’s a very helpful insight on feminism from Chateau Heartiste.

The goal of feminism is to remove all constraints on female sexuality while maximally restricting male sexuality.

After you think about that for a while, slut walks and campus rape epidemics and so on all make sense.

-- 8 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-27  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Some have never seen a Republican

by Greg Krehbiel on 26 September 2014

There’s an interesting little video of an interview with Rep. Paul Ryan here, where this exchange takes place.

Q: “What is the typical reaction of a guy in those [i.e., black urban] neighborhoods when a white Republican Congressman comes to see them?”

A: “They’re happy to see me. They’re excited. They haven’t seen a Republican in many years. Many of them haven’t known a Republican.”

Conservatives like to complain that blacks vote reliably Democrat. Maybe if there were more Paul Ryans in the world things would change.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-26  ::  Greg Krehbiel

No U.S. boots on the ground?

by Greg Krehbiel on 25 September 2014

I listen to CSPAN radio a lot, and they have some very interesting programs, often including analysis of current events and issues. A lot of time has been spent recently on Obama’s commitment not to put U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq or Syria.

Generally speaking, I think Obama’s foreign policy has been naive, but I also think he’s starting to grow out of it. Responsibility has a way of changing people.

For the first years of his presidency, Obama failed to realize the importance of military strength, but he has admitted that some people only understand the language of force. I hope he gets to the point of realizing that the world is a better place when the United States is strong, active and leading. You’d think that would be a prerequisite for a U.S. president, but apparently not.

The said truth is there has to be a bully on every block. It’s not a nice thing, it’s just the way it is.

He’s getting a lot of flack from several sides for his “no U.S. boots on the ground” standard, but I’m starting to think he is essentially right. (Not if “no boots on the ground” is treated as a hard, inflexible rule that affects necessary military operations, like rescue missions.)

We can’t be policing the Middle East forever. At some point the locals need to step up, and if they’re not willing to fight to save their own countries, then their countries aren’t worth saving and we’d be wasting our time trying.

The Saudis and the Jordanians and the Turks have to be willing to face ISIS. We can help, but we have to transition out of the role we had in the Iraq war.

That was the plan all along, of course. W wanted to set up a stable Iraq and transition out. Obama hurried that process too much, which allowed the bad guys to re-assert themselves. But — as in so many other things — he seems to be coming around to the Bush policy.

At this point, U.S. involvement has to be limited, but we can’t allow these nuts to create another safe haven for evil Islamic lunatics. Limiting our involvement to air support, logistics, training, etc., seems like a reasonable thing to do.

-- 3 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-25  ::  Greg Krehbiel

A new colonialism to save Africa?

by Greg Krehbiel on 25 September 2014

Large parts of Africa are a disaster. People are living in squalor. They don’t have access to clean water or basic health care. We can’t afford to let that continue — for our own sakes.

The Ebola outbreak may become an absolute tragedy in Africa, and it threatens to spread if infected people get on a plane. How will the developed world respond? What are our options?

We can give aid, but we’ve been doing that for decades and it doesn’t seem to help. Aid often gets sidetracked to serve some petty dictator’s interests, or to help one tribe commit genocide against another. And once the crisis is over and we leave, things fall apart again.

I suppose we could quarantine the worst countries, but that’s not likely to happen.

World health depends on increasing the standard of living of everyone on the planet. We can’t afford to have pockets of humanity living in squalor, where disease can fester and then spread.

So what do we do? A lot of these countries seem incapable of managing their own affairs. Should we start a new wave of colonialism, where developed nations go and impose civilization on these countries?

I hope not. I don’t believe there is one form of government that works best everywhere, and the idea of inflicting Africa with American “experts” — busybodies and social engineers and do-gooders — sounds like a horrible idea. George Bush was wrong to think that every heart longs for democracy, and I don’t think that any sort of imperialism (social or economic) is going to work.

But we do need to do something. We need these countries to get out of poverty.

-- 6 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-25  ::  Greg Krehbiel

This is well worth your time

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 September 2014

In brief, don’t be too quick to believe the modern studies allegedly showing that we are irrational creatures, guided by our biases and emotions.

Not so foolish: We are told that we are an irrational tangle of biases, to be nudged any which way. Does this claim stand to reason?

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Feeling sorry for Richard Dawkins

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 September 2014

He’s not my favorite guy, but when I see someone unjustly criticized, it irks.

Adam Lee takes Richard Dawkins to task for, among other things, calling feminists “shrill harridans who just want an excuse to take offense.”

So … what’s the problem, Adam?

-- 7 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Private cyber wars are coming

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 September 2014

As some of you know, I’ve made my living in the publishing industry. Since the only thing a publisher produces is information, the publishing business depends on copyright protection. Without it, somebody else can take a publisher’s intellectual property and sell it, without the publisher’s consent, and the publisher bears all the cost of creating the content but loses some of the revenue he should receive.

Remember that the next time you’re tempted to download a song or a movie from a file-sharing site, or make a photocopy of a book or article. It’s theft. (I’ll admit that it’s not precisely analogous to the theft of a tangible object, since when you steal an object the victim no longer has the object, but when you copy a file the victim still has the file. But it’s still theft. You’re robbing the creator of the content of the revenue from that content.)

There are lots of sites that allow and/or encourage such theft. They get PDFs of published works and make them available on the internet — for free, or in connection with some nefarious offer. These people are thieves, but there isn’t any good way for law enforcement to go after them, and it’s hardly worth their time and effort.

I have often recommended to other publishers that we hire a group of foreign hackers to do various denial-of-service attacks against these sites and bring their servers down. My recommendation is usually met with nervous laughter, but I’m completely serious. I think we should do it.

Who knows if publishers will ever get around to it, but other people certainly will.

I just read today that Time magazine intends to outsource some of its editorial work. A few hundred writers may be affected, and I imagine they will be pretty mad about this.

There’s nothing all that new about this. Lots of workers have lost their jobs to outsourcing. But imagine if these outsourced workers all decided to contribute to a fund to pay hackers to attack their former employers. The Time magazine website could go down, costing them far more than they’ll save by outsourcing their editorial work.

I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m just saying it’s a thing that could happen.

Yesterday I read that some private investors have decided to take all their money out of stocks related to fossil fuels. That’s a polite, civilized way to make a point, but other anti-fossil fuel people probably won’t be so polite. It’s well known that the environmentalist crowd can get pretty extravagant in their language about these things — saying the future of humanity is at stake, etc. What if they were to hire hackers to attack the fossil fuel companies?

Recently we heard that Home Depot’s servers were hacked and credit card information was compromised. I assumed — and most people probably also assumed — that this was regular old greed. What if it wasn’t? What if it was an attack by a rival, or by an interest group that dislikes Home Depot’s policies?

I’d be willing to bet that such things happen, and that they will happen more and more often.

If I was a criminal hacker genius, I’d find some island with a corrupt government, with no extradition treaty with the United States, and I’d set up shop, offering my services to the highest bidder.

If, on the other hand, I was a non-criminal computer genius, I would definitely go into cyber security. The market for such services is going to explode. We often hear about the threat of government-sponsored cyber attacks, and that is clearly a big threat. I think private cyber wars are also going to happen.

-- 3 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2014-09-21 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
When women rape
2014-09-20 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The left and global warming
2014-09-19 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The successful narcissist
2014-09-16 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
The so-called science of sex
2014-09-15 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
NPR embraces the hijab?
2014-09-11 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Marines in slippers