Pulling ladders up

This Samizdata post is a response to the type of “today’s students are dogmatic zealots with no logic skills” article being written – pointing out that if there are flaws in the younger generations’ reasoning abilities, the fault properly lies in their teachers’ failure.

This is indeed both an indictment of the educational establishment, especially middle and high school: a mind trained by indoctrination is not likely to be swayed by reason once it reaches college-age.

But isn’t that an interesting dynamic? The generation of protests, of “question authority,” who benefited from reason and logic and the study of the classics – once they became The Man, they burned the ladder behind them. Now students are taught, not to question authority (except where that “authority” is a caricature of traditionalism), but to mindlessly repeat the slogans of their upbringing, to chant sacred “truths” and to accuse anyone who questions of heresy.

The ability to reason is a measure of power. The Boomer generation destroyed a great deal of the world that raised them – it does not surprise me one whit that they have done as much as they can to keep the next generation from doing the same to them. 

Because the ability to reason, to observe reality and evidence and change one’s preconceptions based on evidence – that is the only way to break out of a cult’s indoctrination. Of course those who hold power in that cult don’t want the rising generation to be able to question their authority!

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And now for a fish nerd interlude. Those of you who aren’t fish nerds, you are dismissed to go eat more Thanksgiving leftovers. ;)

So I need to confess to making a big mistake. For the last six months or so, I’d added fish to my underwater garden tank without quarantining them, and nothing bad happened. (Experienced hobbyists now know exactly where this is going.) Some of those fish included some relatively expensive, pretty ones – neon dwarf rainbowfish.

My quarantine tank was in storage.

I decided to get some more livebearers.

I decided not to get the QT out of storage first.

I put the livebearers in the main tank without quarantine.

They were sick. Whatever they were sick with killed off all the rainbowfish and all the older guppies. (Oddly, the tetras and the rams were apparently immune.)

I failed to save any by setting up a QT bucket with heater and filter and dosing symptomatic fish with antibiotics: the symptoms were extremely vague (mostly just “distressed and dying” – google research failed to find anyone who’d successfully figured it out and fought it off) so it was hard to figure out what to do. And antibiotics for a 55 gallon tank are prohibitively expensive, so dosing the main tank when most of the fish weren’t even showing any distress or symptoms with antibiotics was right out. I did have a guppy showing some signs that could have been fin rot or some kind of fungal infection, and the medication for that was reasonable so I did dose the main tank with meds – just not the hardcore expensive antibiotics.

Lots of plant leaves melted in response. (Doncha just love that?) However, I don’t think I’ve lost any plants and there haven’t been any new fish falling ill for the last couple of days, so I think we’re out of the fish-smallpox crisis. It was strange how it only seemed to affect the rainbowfish and the livebearers! My new Finnex LED light is working out well so far and I’ve got new growth going on a lot of the plants – it was primarily the old growth that melted. The sacrificial anubias in the cichlid tank is even putting off another leaf so we’ll see if it gets eaten up the way the last four attempts did. There’s more plant matter in there now, though, and the autofeeder is all topped up, so hopefully they’ll let it put out a new leaf!

I was quite distressed for a few days while the worst of it was happening. It’s awful to be helpless when your pets are getting sick – especially when it’s your fault because you didn’t go through the QT procedures thinking everything would be fine like it was the last few times. I need to figure out how to keep the filter media for the quarantine tank active – I set it up again, but the media I used for the bucket had to be sterilized, of course. My bottle of Stability was past its useful-by date; I was not going to trust fish to an uncycled 10 gallon so I dosed some pure ammonia last week and got out the test kits. Unfortunately I recently cleaned the canisters and didn’t have used compatible media for the little filter (cue more beating myself up for being a moron all those months ago when I broke down the 10gal.) but I did swap out a prefilter sponge two days ago and I think that did help, because I’ve actually got signs of cycling happening now. I’ve never been so happy to see nitrite results before!

I don’t know how quickly the cycle will complete – it may be too soon to hope that the jumpstart from dumping all the leftover bottle of Stability in at once (several days of testing at recommended dosages showed that it was not, in fact, working – not surprising since it’s been kicking around in my supply bin for quite a while) and the slightly-used filter sponge (from a non-diseased tank) will clear the toxins by tomorrow so I can go shopping for replacement fish and have a proper habitat for them.

In other fish news, predictably the fish I don’t care all that much for are successfully breeding without my intervention while the fish I really want to breed are totally failing at producing a younger generation even with my help. Sigh. I need to put more pebbles in the tank even if it is kinda ugly to have them there. I mean, I’ve got baby rusties, and the three acei I’ve currently got are babies from the colony I sold AGES ago (and are probably getting big enough to start breeding themselves now) but none of my little golden babies have made it. I think one of the girls is holding again with a small clutch, though.

Also I kinda want to see if my ram pair will breed for me, but I hear having a pleco in the same tank means the eggs will get eaten. But I like my little spotted bristlenose and I’m not sure I can move him to a different tank safely, the others all have cichlids in them!

Ah well. Time to pull the pond gloves out again. Maybe after I finish washing the Thanksgiving dishes!

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"Why am I being forced to serve a bad pun? Whyyyy?"

On Ferguson: Why Ferguson?

Of course, black teenagers are shot to death on a daily basis in America, but because they are usually killed by other black teenagers, there is nothing in the death of a young hoodlum of interest to the Civil Rights cult unless the shooter is white (or at least half-white, as it turned out that George Zimmerman’s mother is Hispanic).  This cultural phenomenon is so obvious, one hesitates to state it so explicitly: “Civil Rights” has been re-defined to mean “whatever gives black people an excuse to hate white people more than they already do,” and the journalistic establishment is committed to inciting such hatred.

A white person has to be pretty goddamned privileged, if I may borrow that phrase from the social-justice theorists, to pander to professional grievance-mongers in such a blatantly irresponsible manner. You need a degree from an elite college, and a job in media or academia that pays you a handsome salary, in order to be the kind of white person who believes that stoking black anger is beneficial to society, and yet it is clear that many white liberals do believe this.

On shooting guns in the United States: The Legalities of Shooting People

You’ll hear ignorant people say “why didn’t you just shoot them in the arm/leg?” That is foolishness. Legally and tactically, they’re both still lethal force. Only if they bleed to death in a minute because you severed their femoral artery, they’re not any less dead, only they had one more minute to continue trying to murder you. Basically limb hits are difficult to pull off with the added bonus of being terribly unreliable stoppers.

And reflections on the last words in the video linked in this Dalrock post.

I wanted to tell you to watch it, but unfortunately it has been made private; perhaps it will pop back up on the internet later, since the internet never forgets. But in that video, in the last few seconds, one of the people behind the camera (a woman, as it happens) exclaims something to the effect of “She’s going to put her life in danger over a pizza shop?!

There are several very interesting things about that comment. The first is that the bystanders at least believe that the possibility exists for someone standing in the way of a pair of rioters to be killed for getting in their way. Now, in the video, the manager apparently harangues the two rioters, and one of them shoves her, though not hard enough to push her to the ground, so it seems that there was no actual threat of great bodily harm in this particular encounter.

But at least one witness believes that getting in the way of rioters is equivalent to putting oneself at risk of grievous bodily harm, if not death. If this belief is correct (and it likely is, when dealing with a crowd of rioters rather than just two) then that makes the heroism of those who defended private property during the last two days of violence in Ferguson even more admirable.

The second thing to note is that this woman is defending her livelihood – and defending it alone. Where are the other employees? Not there to defend their place of employment, that’s for sure. There are tales coming out of Ferguson that some people did choose to defend their neighborhoods from violence. Those people are to be commended.

Consider what would happen if that attitude were more widespread. If the people of Ferguson banded together to defend their homes and businesses from mob violence, how long could the riots last? Would the authorities even need to use heavy-duty equipment, or call out the National Guard? Would that the “community organizers” would organize the community to defend itself rather than stir up violence!

Because when the rubber meets the road, you can trust the authorities to do one thing: pull out to save their own skins. Firefighters in Ferguson pulled out due to gunfire in the area rather than risk getting shot while fighting the flames. (Not that I particularly blame them for that, mind. Firefighters don’t sign up to get shot at.) Police didn’t stop rioters from looting and burning businesses. It is evident that one cannot trust the government to protect one’s community from mob violence. Which means it’s time for people to get a little more interested in that old historical principle of the militia. Because that’s what the people who defended businesses were: the local militia.

I’ve said before, that law and order is like a vaccine. You have to have enough of it for it to start working and delivering herd immunity to crime and violence. Get enough people willing to stand up to rioters and looters, and the rioters and looters will find someplace else to be. And it has to be citizens, not the police. Nobody cares about your job or your community the way you do – certainly not the police, who are not actually obligated to protect anyone. They’re just there to do legal cleanup afterwards.

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The evidence is out there, and persuasive to a reasonable person (as well as the grand jury), that Brown was shot in self-defense. That in no way means he “deserved” to die – only that he made a very, very bad decision in choosing to attack an armed person. Given that he attacked a cop, he knew from the beginning that he was starting a fight with someone carrying at least one weapon.

“Unarmed” doesn’t mean a thing when you’re talking about a large 18-year-old male. Every military in the world recruits 18-year-old males for a damn good reason. The fists (and feet) of an able-bodied 18-year-old male are deadly weapons in their own right. And being beaten to death is a particularly ugly way to die. I would never blame anyone for shooting an “unarmed” able-bodied 18-year-old male who was attacking them (unless that person provoked the fight specifically to try to abuse the laws about self-defense to commit murder, of course).

That still doesn’t mean he “deserved” to die. “If only” are the saddest words in the English language; there are so many things that could have gone differently that would not have resulted in the death of even a not very upstanding member of the community.

However, each individual is responsible for making his own choices – and Brown chose the life path that ended so unexpectedly in the street, and it was in his power, completely, from start to finish, to avoid what happened. He didn’t.

But you know who I really blame for the damage done to our society by this sad incident? The media. Out of so many cases of legitimate police brutality, why Ferguson? Out of so many young black men killed by gun violence in the past year, why Ferguson? When the earlier rioting proved to have been mostly the work of outside agitators, why did the media continue to fan the flames and direct attention to Ferguson?

Because they’re corrupt, venal leeches, of course. The “white man shoots unarmed black teen” narrative was too sweet to give up, especially after those heady days of power during the Trayvon Martin fiasco. All the media had to do was keep attention on the case, keep fanning those embers, and they’d be guaranteed a good show for the rubbernecking audience. The media wanted the riots and the violence and the property destruction and the race-baiting.

Oh yes. It works because people love to watch a trainwreck from the safety of their own homes. Twitter was alive with commentary, but the one bright side was that some, at least, were watching live streams from ordinary people. (That citizen journalist’s phone was, predictably, stolen by a looter.) No single camera can capture all of what goes on, but better to be watching a live, unedited stream from an ordinary person than something the media is using to further their own agenda.

I hate how the agitators are all such raging hypocrites, pretending to care about the downtrodden. Never mind the fact that the violence that broke out last night destroyed places of business, robbing Ferguson residents of their jobs three days before Thanksgiving. Those who are excusing the violence because they want to “stick it to the man” don’t see the members of the community that they’re hurting. For example:

Still, Ferguson resident Malik Rhasaan, a community organizer with Hands Up United, said the carnage was nothing compared with the sight of Brown’s body lying in the street for several hours following his death. “They have insurance. They can rebuild,” said Rhasaan, 42. “The life of Mike Brown can’t be rebuilt. Our patience cannot be rebuilt.

The hourly employees at torched businesses aren’t going to be getting paychecks in December, because a violent mob decided that their outrage at the law functioning properly was more important than Ferguson residents’ jobs. Sure, the property owners have insurance. They can rebuild. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to rebuild in Ferguson. You know what these riots have done for Ferguson? Increased the insurance premiums by quite a bit, I’m sure. How many businesses that weren’t looted and burned are going to quietly close over the next year, because their profitability couldn’t keep up with increased insurance premiums? How many minimum-wage employees in Ferguson just lost their jobs because these agitators decided to give rhetorical cover to rioting and looting?

What does a Walgreens or a Little Ceasar’s have to do with police misconduct? What do retail stores have to do with the justice system? What do the owners of those properties have to do with what happened to Brown? NOTHING. I don’t approve of riots and property damage, but I would have at least a little bit of respect if the rioting had targeted, say, the Ferguson police department. I mean, a crowd gathered there, so it’s not like they didn’t know where it was. How about burning City Hall, just down the road and around the corner? I mean, that would actually be a genuine political statement, and I don’t really have a problem with putting government employees out of work, unlike retail minions who need all the pay they can get. Even if I still wouldn’t approve of the property damage, mind you.

No, there’s no virtue in the rioting in Ferguson, no bigger picture, no noble anger or righteous outrage. These aren’t civil rights protesters or freedom fighters or even political revolutionaries. They’re just thugs grabbing an excuse to engage in violence and robbery, ignoring the pleas of the Brown family, ignoring the welfare of the people of Ferguson, and using a tragedy as an excuse to spread misery and pain.

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Going into the holiday season, some have called for boycotting certain games or developers. I don’t think that this is a good idea, for a couple reasons: without media amplification, a call to boycott is probably not going to reach enough people to have a significant impact; we should use alternative means to get our message across that will be more effective – and we shouldn’t be doing anything that will hurt someone who is “undercover” in a hostile work environment but secretly supports Truth And Freedom in Gaming™ aka GamerGate.

I much prefer the “buy-cott” strategy – to spend social media bandwidth recommending certain games instead. This will have a secondary boycott effect anyway; limited budgets for entertainment mean that for every good game bought, there will be a little less cash available to flow towards the less deserving items. It will also send a clear and positive market signal: just think of how many times the book publishing industry will spawn what seems like THOUSANDS of copycats of the latest bestseller. (If you’re a gamer who doesn’t read much, be assured that this is what happens Every. Single. Time. It’s like how Hollywood keeps doing all these remakes and sequels. Only worse.) Boost the signal for what you want to see, and even Teh Evil media empires will jump on that bandwagon, because they really, really want the money.

Boycotting certain developers, on the other hand, is likely to hit people in the production crews who don’t deserve it. “Stealthing” in the entertainment media is not uncommon; I’ve overdrawn on my Internet Research Time Bank lately so I can’t send you to a specific link, but scifi/fantasy author Sarah Hoyt has talked several times on her blog about what it’s like to have to keep your beliefs closeted in order to avoid industry blacklists and shunning. The anti-GamerGate people are demonstrably in favor of blacklisting people for ideological reasons – so there may well be many allies behind that Iron Curtain of fear. We don’t want to hurt them; we want to give the indie sector enough economic power that those people can jump ship and be assured that they’ll still be able to buy food and cover rent at the end of the day. It’s one thing to say they should be brave enough to speak out, and another thing to realize that they’re probably afraid that their future careers will involve saying “do you want fries with that” if they rock their employers’ boat. Very few people have the courage to put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line like that. Let’s support the ones who’ve done so already – so we can encourage the others to do likewise!

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First, I have to preface this entry with a note that I’m thinking about another blog article I read somewhere else “many moons ago” – I thought I remembered where, but diligent Google searching failed to locate the entry in question.

However, it was an explanation that humor often involves making light of terrible situations, as an emotional coping mechanism. It’s the “laugh or cry” choice: and SJWs come firmly and absolutely down on the “cry” option.

This explains why SJWs have no sense of humor. Their entire raison d’être is to gain power by taking offense, and in order to take offense, you must take everything SUPER SERIOUSLY. An ability to laugh at absurdity compromises people’s get-angry-and-offended emotional circuitry. Therefore a great deal of SJW training consists of taking things normal people would laugh off (everyday rudeness, for example; and particularly stereotypical behaviors) and making them into Evidence of Oppression!!

That means that those of us who are pushing back against SJW incursion need to remember to not take everything SRSLY. The hypocrisy can be incredibly disgusting, but the SJWs complete inability to comprehend their own double standards is a resource rich with opportunity. Make it a joke! Because honestly, that’s what SJWs are. 

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Let’s Talk

Shamelessly ganked off twitter

Here’s a handy visual aid for levels of discussion.

The peak of the pyramid, unfortunately, does not seem to be useful. An end state, perhaps? In any case, whether or not your opponent’s point has been successfully refuted is likely to be a subjective judgement call on the basis of the audience. Very rarely, it seems, will anyone engage in a discussion with someone and actually convince them to “switch sides,” so to speak. Although it does happen!

Therefore, when engaging in serious discussion, the next two steps are the useful ones: refutation, and contradiction. Not every argument will have a mistake to refute, I suspect, so contradiction is the real heart of a proper serious discussion.

Not exactly something you can do on Twitter, what with the 140 character word lengths. Twitter really only gives you space for contradiction, unless whatever subject you’re discussing lends itself to image-as-evidence. (Useful, the image uploading. Especially for presenting evidence.)

The bottom three levels of the pyramid are not part of argumentation at all. Tone policing, as indicated in the graphic, does not address the argument at all.

Now, since tone policing is one of the primary weapons of the intellectually dishonest, I have a severe allergy to seeing it used. If you must address the tone in which something is written, either do so in a humorous (rather than moralizing) way, or take your concerns private rather than public. The only case in which I would consider it appropriate to publicly “tone police” is to disavow harassment, or if the person doing the “policing” has some legitimate authority to do so. Someone with a fanbase can certainly request specific behavior out of that fanbase. (In which case, I wouldn’t really consider it “tone policing” – the offensive part of tone policing is that the person doing it often abrogates to herself an authority that she does not legitimately possess.)

Ad hominem is one of the other primary weapons of the intellectually dishonest: DISQUALIFY. Most often you will see this combined with the last bit: insult. As GamerGate has found out, the opposition has only one card: disqualify with insults. Misogynists, harassers, trolls – nobody needs to address the arguments of such horrible people! After all, they don’t have any.

Which is one reason to investigate disqualification claims very carefully, especially when dealing with generalized accusations against entire groups.

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