Monday, November 12, 2018

On the Tallahassee Killings


The murders of two women, Nancy van Vessem and Maura Binkley,  and the wounding of five other individuals at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, was hardly a blip in the news cycle, buried in the larger numbers of hate crimes during the week preceding the midterm elections.

But this hate crime also deserves closer scrutiny.  The killer chose a yoga studio, because yoga practitioners are more likely to be female than male, and he was looking for women to kill.  The police is still searching for some other connection between the butcher and that yoga studio, but I doubt such a connection exists.  The place was picked because it offered accessible prey for a misogynistic hunter.

And a misogynist the killer was.  He had posted YouTube videos about his grudge against women in general and against certain women in particular:

Beierle’s YouTube and SoundCloud history is rife with violent sexism. In one video, he says of a woman who canceled dates with him, “I could have ripped her head off,” according to BuzzFeed. In a song called “Locked in My Basement,” he describes holding a woman prisoner and raping her.

He mentions Rodger in a video called “Plight of the Adolescent Male,” saying, “I’d like to send a message now to the adolescent males ... that are in the position, the situation, the disposition of Elliot Rodger, of not getting any, no love, no nothing. This endless wasteland that breeds this longing and this frustration. That was me, certainly, as an adolescent.”

Beierle had also been arrested in 2012 and 2016 for grabbing women’s buttocks without their consent, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The Vox article which gave me that quote asks us to take online hate seriously.

Thinking about that made me search for any evidence that the Tallahassee butcher might have frequented manosphere sites such as the incel sites, where the hatred of women, as a class,  is validated and strengthened (1), but if the police have any evidence against or for that possibility they have not yet shared it.

Thinking about those hatred-of-women-is-the-correct-response sites, in turn,  made me think of something else, and that else is the way the misogynistic sites create an alternative world theory (2) for some men in great pain:

That "theory" explains that women, indeed, are all callow, shallow gold-diggers and lookists who will voluntarily only fuck a small number of rich and handsome alpha males on top of social hierarchies and who won't even consider any other man until Father Time gives the women themselves wrinkles and layers of belly fat.

Then those poor beta men will be accepted, but only as hard-working slaves to be exploited while the perfidious women scheme and plot to take their devout beta husbands to the cleaners in some future divorce.  Should any richer and more handsome man come along, that is.

If that (slightly exaggerated) summary sounds familiar to you, well, it might be because you have read my criticisms of some of the wackier evolutionary psychology musings, the kinds which initially argued that women mate for money and power, men for youth and beauty, and all that is hardwired in human beings.

That, my friends, is where the pseudo-scientific underpinnings of the incel Theory Of The World can be found: in the cocktail-party type musings about genetic determinism.

And that, my friends, is, perhaps,  the real reason why I have written so many criticisms of those weird evo-psycho musings. (3)  Just look at the kinds of places where essentialist theories about men and women and about sex are eagerly adopted and adapted, and you see the damage they cause.

Once I focused on that particular connection, I began seeing it in many anti-woman places.  Jordan Peterson, for one example,  mines evolutionary psychology for his arguments that it's natural for mostly men to be found on top of social hierarchies and so on.

Whether the Tallahassee killer visited misogyny sites or not, he certainly thought that his anger deserved a public hearing on YouTube, and  at least some on one incel site regarded his "solution" to his dilemma as not an invalid one: 

One commentator on a new incel site argues that

" you will NEVER EVER stop sexually frustrated men from seeing blackpill content online, learning the truth about human sexuality and life, and, finally (for some of them) getting pushed over the edge and going ER." (4)

Note that this commentator (why not commenter?) believes he knows the truth about human sexuality and life, on the basis of reading online and, in particular, on the incel sites.  This "truth" is what I mean by the world theory incel sites offer their readers.  And that theory is a toxic one.


------

(1)  As I have written before, those sites remind me of the anorexia sites I once visited where the anorexics support and congratulate each other for not eating.  They are not sites which make the visitors well.

(2) This is in a manner similar to the theory anti-Semitists have about Jews as running the whole world and also similar to the way the nutty race science is used to support racism.  People visiting the misogyny sites are given a seemingly science-smelling explanation for why women are awful:  They are "hard-wired" that way by evolution, and cannot change themselves.

That "explanation" is derived from the earliest and crudest versions of the worst kinds of speculations in evolutionary psychology, and the specific form of it varies between, say, pickup artist and incel sites.  But once it's accepted as a worldview, any real-world solutions to, say,  the problems of loneliness and the desire to find a female mate on the incel sites are excluded by the warped essentialist logic.

(3)  There are even articles which propose that increasing the odds of getting raped might be an evolutionary adaptation in women who are not deemed sufficiently attractive otherwise.  After all, they can get progeny by having someone rape them, so the adaptation is to act in ways which would increase the probability of rape.  Just imagine what some of the incel sites could make out of that!

(4) The black pill refers to the argument that hopelessness is the correct emotion to feel if you are a man who cannot have the heterosexual sex he wants, because the fault lies in his genes and women's hardwired shallowness.  Going ER means mass murdering people along the lines of Elliot Rodger



 




Friday, November 09, 2018

Trump's Presser, Translated


I watched Trump's recent press conference in its entirety, because I was bored and felt a little masochistic.  Then I took notes, to filter everything out of what Our Dear Leader said, except the emotional contents.  And this is what remained:

 +++

Trump reads from prepared notes. 
Mumblemumblemumble. 
Reads more, haltingly, sounding bored. 
Gives a few ex tempore quips and explains them to six-year olds.  Mumblemumblemumble.

Trump praises Pelosi but warns the Democrats not to investigate him because he will investigate back and he is better at that game.

Trump reads that "now is the time to set partisanship aside (!)" and continue working for the great economy and how all the visiting foreign dignitaries compliment him on his economy and look how well steel industry is doing, how well the military is doing, how well law enforcement and how well mining is doing.*

After the monologue, Trump asks for questions from the journalists (roughly 37 or so get to talk).  The fifth questioner (Jim Acosta of CNN) causes him to erupt:

Acosta's first question is about the migrant caravan and the way Trump called it an invasion.  Trump answers that fairly calmly, but then there's chatter and then he says, angrily, "That is enough" several times.

Acosta's second question is about the Russian investigation, and Trump explodes:  CNN should be ashamed to employ you, he says to Acosta, you are a rude, terrible person**, the way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible.  And so on.

We all know the consequences of that little spat. Acosta lost his White House access.***

And Trump did not regain his calm for a while.  Around the seventh questioner he tells one journalist "sit down I didn't call you" and says that the CNN polls are voter suppression and calls the media hostile, so sad,  and tells one woman that she rudely interrupted some other journalist.

Later he was asked what lessons he learned from the midterm election results. His lessons were that people like him and the job he has done, and those he campaigned for won but those he didn't campaign for didn't win.  Lots more about how wonderful he is and how Bill Nelson lost because Trump campaigned for his opponent even though celebrities campaigned for Nelson in Florida.

When asked about forced-birth policies he is pursuing he says that he has a secret solution to the division in the country around that, a solution nobody else has.

He calls this White House the hot White House and says that everyone wants to work there.

On North Korea he says that he has made more progress in five months than his predecessors managed to make in seventy years.  And nobody could have done what he has done.

When he is asked about the increase in antisemitism and other type of hate movements he turns the answer to Israel and says that no prior president has done as much for Israel as he has done.  He moved the US embassy to Jerusalem and built it with very little money.  Nobody has done more for Israel than Donald Trump.

When again asked about the divide in this country he goes on about China, saying that China has come down tremendously and would have superseded the US in two years (if Obama's policies had continued) but now they are not even close.

Trump says he is a great moral leader and loves this country.

A question about working together with Democrats even if they investigate him   causes another eruption:

He says he comes here (to the press conference) a nice person wanting to answer questions and look at journalists jumping out of their seats with not nice questions.

A question about Trump's nationalism and if that means white nationalism caused him to call the question a racist one, several times.   When another journalist continued on the topic of Trump's alleged racist statements, he stated that it's people like that  (journalist) who create division in this country.

In later questions he tells us that he has lowered the price of oil in the last three months because he doesn't like OPEC.

Finally, when asked about the flight of suburban women from Trump, he responds by telling that he was very well received by this country, that the US military will now be the strongest ever, that the vets are doing great now, and that people are very happy with the job he has done.  People want security at home and at the border and women of this country (great people!) want physical security and financial security and ICE is wonderful, because it has taken out thousands of criminal gang members.****

He believes peace and unity must start with the media. It isn't good what the media is doing and he has the right to fight back and he is not doing it for himself but for the American people.

+++ 


 That was ninety minutes I will never get back.  Still, it's clear that we have a narcissist steering the country and that he is very thin-skinned.  He kept mentioning Obama's administration and its policies whenever he wanted to promote his own policies.  This even included asserting that Obama allowed the Ukraine to be taken by Putin, and when the journalist asking the question noted that it was Putin who invaded, Trump stated that it happened during Obama's watch, nothing to do with himself.

Clearly, Obama is the festering splinter in his finger.
-----

*  All overwhelmingly male-dominated industries.  This was common in Trump's pre-election rallies, too, and probably is equally common in his post-election rallies.  It's a way of signaling which groups he aims to help first.

**  Hilarious, coming from a very rude person.  For example, he told several journalists to shut up.  A polite person would have said something like "please, wait for your turn."

*** This article argues that the video of the events was altered to exaggerate Acosta's reactions, so that his suspension would seem fairer.


**** Who, presumably, would have preyed on suburban women?
Note how he cannot even quite figure out what women might want, so he talks about the military instead. 








Thursday, November 08, 2018

Fourteen Years. Or the Blog Anniversary.



You write fourteen years
and what do you get?
A whole lot older
and deeper in debt.
St. Peter don't you call me
coz I can't go
I owe my soul
to the online show.

With apologies to the original.

In other words, this blog is fourteen years old.  It has teenage hormones and acne and weird, wild dreams.  Or would, if it were human.  In reality it's very very tired and wonders about the meaning of life, eternity and the number 42.

Thank you all.  Have some chocolate orgasm cake to celebrate.  The nice thing about cyber-cake is that it has no calories.  Sadly, much of the online writing is the same.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

All I Wanted For Christmas Was The House. My Election Reactions.



All I wanted for Christmas was the House.  That's all.  And I believe that parcel is under the tree.

I didn't write about the elections much because a) I have been very depressed and b) because of the "surprise, surprise!" element in 2016 (imagine a monster with bleeding eyeballs popping out of the gift box) which left me with PTSD,  but the overall results today are quite good.  Had the Republicans maintained control on both the House and the Senate the extra damage they would have caused might not have been repairable until three or four generations down the line.

Women ran in record numbers this year and women also did quite well:

Female candidates performed particularly well in an election cycle that had been billed as the Year of the Woman.
Two 29-year-old Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer - are due to be the youngest women ever to win House seats.
Ilhan OImar and Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women and Sharice Davids and Debra Haaland the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. All are Democrats.
The total number of women in the House will increase, but it will not be anywhere near the half it should be on the basis of demography.

All in all, the results are satisfactory, though to achieve those results required enormous amounts of labor.  Thanks to all who worked to get people to vote.

Also keep in mind that most of the open Senate seats were in very Republican areas, that a good economy (inherited from Obama, though) usually makes the voters stick with the incumbents and that Republican gerrymandering has made many districts almost unwinnable for Democrats.  Because of all this, I am happy with the outcome.

And so is Our Dear Leader, who manages to turn it into praise for Himself:







Now that will learn you my friends.  But first let's roll on the floor laughing our heads off.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Recent News About Women's Issues. Or From Google Via Nobels To Ethiopia And Back



1.  Thousands of Google employees walked out on Thursday, to protest sexual harassment which the protesters said the leadership has not taken seriously.

The impetus for the protests was this:

Protestors were galvanized by a recent New York Times report that chronicled three top company executives who have received massive payouts over the past decade despite being credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

Google denies the claim that one of those executives received $90 million as an exit package.

The protesters' demands include an end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination.  Microsoft ended forced arbitration in 2017, but most tech firms use it.  Why is it bad? Because of this:

Arbitration is a private, quasi-legal procedure originally designed to expedite disputes between corporations. But over time, it has evolved into a system where individuals are compelled for a variety of reasons to agree to arbitration decisions versus seeking a court decision. The net result is that disputes that normally would have been adjudicated via the public court process are often processed via private arbitration, which generally favors corporations over individuals.
Worse still, in the world of arbitration, there is no possibility of class-action claims. Arbitration proceedings are additionally often shrouded from public view, meaning it is traditionally difficult to find out about sexual harassment or misconduct claims at corporations.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Republican Political Tricks 101. Hind-Brain Politics.


The midterms are coming and the Democrats, despite their wishy-washiness and milquetoast demeanor might actually gain a few seats in the House.  So what's a Republican cunning strategist to do  to fix that problem?

The great tax cuts for the super-rich didn't go down quite as well as the Republicans hoped, perhaps because the goodies went to a small already goodies-loaded minority.

But fret not!  There's always those hind-brain emotions: fear and anger.  Angry and frightened people are easy to lead by the nose to the voting booths.  And angry and frightened people find logical counterarguments impossible to absorb.

So what could the cunning strategist do to cause panic and anger among the potential Republican voters so that they would claw their way to the voting booths to save their lives and destinies?

I know!  Pretend that this country of 326 million citizens, boasting the largest military force on this planet,  is going to be invaded by a massive military force consisting of a few thousand unarmed Central American migrants!  

Pretend that those few thousands hide among them frightening criminals (more frightening than homegrown American criminals) and deadly Middle Eastern terrorists.

Pretend that those few thousand harbor horrible diseases which they are going to spread all over this glorious country in the first few hours of their arrival at the border.  Leprosy, for example*.  Or the plague, perhaps.  Or foot-and-mouth disease (not to be confused with the Republican foot-in-the-mouth disease).  Or rabies.  Or any of the many diseases which already exist in the United States.

Clearly, this invading giant civilian ragtag force is nothing but a walking talking bomb, ready to explode and destroy this great and powerful country.

The above plans take care of the fear.  Fox News and other similar sites will forecast these messages over and over, because repetition is the mother of all learning and because brainwashing requires repetition, too.

If a few of the more rational conservatives are still not convinced that there is any real threat, have Our Supreme Leader send military troops to the southern border.  This demonstrates to even the most skeptical conservatives that the threat is "real" and that the time now is to panic.

When  all that fear is nicely simmering inside the ideological pot, add a few shakes of anger:

Hint that it's the Democrats who have organized this giant invading force.

Don't dwell into their supposed reasons, but simply say that the caravan is going to occupy this great country with its powerful military, because the Democrats want this country to be taken over by a few thousand South American migrants.  And real Murkans must stop them before it's too late!  Vote Republican or die of leprosy, rabies and demonic possession.

Now isn't that a clever package of voting incentives?

Of course it's very sad, our Republican strategist might admit,  that fanning the flames of baseless fear and anger and pointing accusing fingers at the other party and at specific individuals (such as George Soros) can cause some collateral damage.   But to the Republicans domestic politics is nothing but civil war by other means.



------

*  Armadillos are a more likely source of infection than people for this, though the overall risk is minimal.  Besides, the disease has a very long incubation period and is treatable.

I added the foot-and-mouth disease, thinking it was funny because I thought it's a cattle disease only.  But humans seem to get a mild version of it or of some viral infection with the same name.




Sunday, October 28, 2018

This Dismal Week in American Politics. Or Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre.



William Butler Yeats:

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

On Wednesday this past week,  two people were butchered at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky:

A gunman who killed two people at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., on Wednesday tried to enter a predominantly black church minutes before the attack, the police said on Thursday.
The man, Gregory Bush, 51, of Louisville, was arraigned Thursday on two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment. He was ordered held with bail set at $5 million. The victims, Vickie Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice E. Stallard, 69, were both black, while Mr. Bush is white.

...

The police said there was no indication that Mr. Bush knew either of the victims, nor did he have any known connection to the grocery store. Mr. Bush has a history of mental illness, Chief Sam Rogers of the Jeffersontown Police Department said at a news conference on Thursday. Court records show that he also had a long history of domestic violence charges, and had previously been barred from possessing a firearm.
The attack is investigated as a possible hate crime.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

All through the past week most of the leadership of the Democratic Party, the CNN, and several other individuals who might to him look like they had disrespected Donald Trump, Our Savior received pipe bombs in the mail:

Targets have included Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, former CIA director John Brennan, former attorney general Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Robert De Niro and billionaire donor George Soros.

The suspect, a registered Republican man from Florida,  has a lengthy criminal record, including 

in 2002, a “threat to throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device.”

These acts of political domestic terrorism aimed at many of the leaders of one of the two major parties met with an oddly non-serious response.  Some on the right openly speculated that the bombs were a false flag operation.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

On Saturday, to cap this week,  an anti-Semitist man opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing at least eleven people in a clear hate crime.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

At least the last two killers appear to have been radicalized by watching right-wing news in the United States.

The biggest recent news item there has been the extremely frightening caravan of a few thousand Central American migrants approaching the southern border of this wealthy country with its several hundred million inhabitants, some presumably cowering under their beds. 

But in the right-wing news this, my friends, is an invasion, something to be very scared of, something, which requires the military at the border, and something which might, just might be a way for a few Middle Eastern terrorists to get into the US. 

An earlier president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, told worried Americans in a different context that "the only thing we have to fear...is fear itself,"  but our current president loves to fan the flames of fear.  Here is Trump on the migrant caravan:

 



Trump later admitted that he has no proof of his assertion that the caravan contained Middle Easterners.






The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.


*****


This is the story of the last week.  It's not a story of incivility from both sides of the political aisle, and it's not a story of the horrible violence of the Antifa movement.  Both sides can be and have been violent, but attempts at some sort of false equality are truly misplaced here.

We are not turning and turning in a widening gyre because we have all somehow forgotten how to treat others with respect, but first and foremost because of decades of right-wing talk radio, Fox News, Breitbart.com and many online hate sites which declare the hatred of women, minorities and Democrats to be justified and patriotic.*

Still, Donald Trump has repeatedly "jokingly" signaled that he is comfortable with political violence and that he admires a good brawler.  He also explicitly refuses to bear any responsibility for the influence his own statements may have, and he is simply incapable of acting presidentially in any context for more than thirty seconds or so.

Then his inner demons take over and he starts preaching hatred to his red hat acolytes.  This is what he tweeted shortly after CNN received a pipe bomb:




But we all knew this on that fateful election day in 2016.  Here are two of my posts written around that time.  They are still worth reading, if only as a reminder that a sufficient minority of American voters preferred this man to that crooked woman, and quite possibly to any woman.

The falcon (the forces Trump has loosed) cannot hear the falconer (Trump in his role as the inciter of hate) if the falconer suddenly tells the falcon not to tear and rend the flesh of the prey.  And this is what we now see at Trump's never-ending victory rallies where his bottomless need of assurance is momentarily sated by the adulation of his followers.

But the crowds are restless, now.  They don't want to hear a more presidential Trump.  They have tasted blood and they need more.  Lock Her Up (any her will do)!

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity...**

------

*  In other words, the right began this trend and magnified it over the last few decades. Donald Trump is simply the natural outgrowth from all the propaganda conservatives have swallowed every day for years.  This does not absolve those on the left who have joined the same trend.  But the fault is not in our stars. 

**  At this point in my writing I found out that Charlie Pierce had used parts of the same poem on the same topic.  Great minds and all that.

I could have added stuff about the centre not holding, except there isn't a political center anymore, what with the conservatives having slipped to the right of Attila the Hun.