Monthly Archive: October 2016

Asshole xenophobia, British-style – Part 2

The Observer newspaper’s latest Op-Ed on Brexit:

The money line is this one:

These people know only what they do not like

That encapsulates the prevailing reasoning loops of a high percentage of electors in Europe and the USA. Voting choices for many people are not positive or constructive. They are voting for the lesser of two evils, or against another party. Imagine being asked by your spouse “why did you marry me” and replying “well, you were the person I disliked the least” and see what reaction you get.


“they do it too” and other political arguments for Trump

With the recent revelations of boorish, misogynistic behavior and speech by Donald Trump (if you are surprised at these revelations, by the way, you have work to do when it comes to noticing narcissistic behavior from your fellow humans), his supporters and GOP partisans are becoming desperate as they attempt to rationalize their consistent intent to vote for him.
As a result, I am laughing out loud when I read some of the attempted justifications.
Dear Trump supporters, you’re embarrassing yourselves.
The argument “sure, Trump may be an asshole, but Hillary is just as bad!” is not credible. You know damn well it’s not. If your child’s school informed you that your child had misbehaved, providing compelling evidence of same, and the child’s response was “but mom, they did it too!”, you might be vaguely sympathetic, but that would probably only extend to saying something like “yeah, but you were caught and they weren’t”. Most likely you would be reminding your child that bad behavior has consequences.
Effectively, you are an adult playing the game of “but they do it too!”. Not credible. It makes you sound like that whining little schoolkid. Juvenile and unserious.
You’re not! I can hear you saying that as you read this.
Well good. Then wise up and try, you know, a better argument.
Ah! So Donald Trump is magically better because he never killed anybody? Like at Benghazi? And he never lost $6bn of taxpayers money?
Look, you can believe anything you like. You want to believe in tooth fairies, aliens from Mars, that the Moon landings were faked, and that Jade Helm was an abortive attempt by the Federal Government to take over Texas? Sure, go ahead and believe. But please don’t kid yourself that any of those beliefs deserve to be taken seriously by anybody with a well-developed set of reasoning and critical thinking skills. There is no compelling evidence to support any of them, and without compelling evidence, arguing otherwise, in many circles, soon makes you look both gullible and deluded.
Arguing that Hillary murdered 4 people at Benghazi is not supportable by any compelling evidence. If it was, somebody would have tried to indict her by now. Now, you can believe that she is being protected all you like, but the GOP has run seven (count them) investigations, and has yet to provide any compelling evidence.
Hillary lost $6bn of taxpayers money? Not even close. As this article explains, what actually happened was that an investigation revealed that the State Department lacked full documentation support $6bn of spending. Yes, that is bad. Negligent even. But saying you have no paperwork to support expenditure is not the same as saying that the expenditure was wasteful. Those are two different things, and if you continue to insist otherwise what you are really telling me is one or both of two things, neither of them flattering (a) you don’t understand the English language, (b) you chose to ignore the facts in favor of signing on to yet another cockanamie partisan narrative. Plus, if you are going to argue about losing money, you are going to crash and burn pretty damn quick. Donald Trump, based on numerous documented and detailed accounts of his business activities, has pissed away billions of dollars of other people’s money. That fiscal probity argument in favor of voting for him is utterly lacking in credibility. Best to not go there.
Look, I know that it is kind of difficult to support Donald Trump right now. Now that the media is catching up on actually, you know, digging into his past to the same level of exhaustive detail that they have been applying to Hillary Clinton for 25 years, some of the information that is emerging about his behavior is deeply unflattering. But you really have to do a much better job of argument. These rationalizations are like a psychologist exam to detect Motivated Reasoning 101. They are also an argument for voting based on nihilism. No positive endorsement of anybody. Only an argument that so-and-so is the Least Bad Option. Come on folks. There are well over 100 confirmed candidates for POTUS, excluding the cats, dogs and other weirdos. You should be able to find somebody to your liking there.


Asshole xenophobia, British-style

There is an old joke that the readers of the Sun newspaper don’t give a sh1t who runs the country as long as she has big tits.
This headline however, is extremely revealing of their attitude. It is nativist yob culture, a defiant middle-finger celebration of working-class anger. Note the by-now-standard reference to “metropolitan elites” in one article. Nigel Farage described the Yes voters for Brexit as “real people”. All of this rhetoric is part of a fundamental process of creating In groups and Out groups in society. In this case the Real Brits (working people) are the In group, and the “metropolitan elites” are (by implication) an Out group, non-real people who should STFU and/or leave.
This is going to lead to a melt-down once the real bill for Brexit comes due. I am about to st up bank accounts elsewhere in the world and move most of my money out of the UK. This nativist horseshit is already driving down the value of the Pound.


Hot Seat Assessment – NFL at quarter season

Mike McCoy
The Chargers finished 4-12 last year and McCoy had to fire a bunch of assistants in order to survive. An interim option exists on the staff in the form of former Titans and Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, so if things do not improve McCoy might not even survive the bye week.

Gus Bradley
In year 4 of his head coaching tenure, the Jaguars are still mediocre, and Blake Bortles is still throwing interceptions. Unless the team improves rapidly, I can see Bradley being the first head coach to be canned after the season. Ownership cannot be accused of lacking patience.

John Fox
The Bears look mediocre again this year, and apparent mis-steps such as the replacement of Robbie Gould with Connor Barth are starting to piss off the fans. Jay Cutler looked good in Adam Gase’s offense last year, but once again he has a new offensive co-ordinator, which is never good for a quarterback.

Dirk Koetter
The Bucs have no ground game, which is forcing Jameis Winston to throw more than he should, and as a result the interceptions are piling up. Koetter does not seem to know when to keep quiet in public about his players’ performance. So far he has thrown his kicker and his quarterback under the bus in press conferences. That sort of blame game tends to get noticed in the locker room.

Mike Mularkey
The Titans were bad last season, and look like being mediocre this season also. Mularkey already fired special teams coach Bobby April, which is never a good sign. Marcus Mariota looks frustrated by the poor offense, and the history of franchise quarterbacks suggests that if they fall out with the head coach, the coach is usually the one who leaves.

Chuck Pagano
The Colts still have no durable O-line to protect Andrew Luck. Until this is fixed, the team will be mediocre, and owners generally do not like to see the cornerstone of the franchise being carted to the locker room.

Jim Caldwell
The Lions are in danger of lapsing into mediocrity. They have no deep replacement for Calvin Johnson.

Ron Rivera
The Panthers have started poorly this year, and Cam Newton is trying too hard to make things happen and suffering big hits as a result. The team needs to steady the ship and get back to winning.

Bruce Arians
The Cardinals have started poorly, and with several core team members on offense nearing the end of their careers (Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer), the Cardinals may struggle to get above .500 for the rest of the season. Arians has a short fuse, and if he picks on the wrong players, he could lose the team.

Rex Ryan
A recent pasting of the Patriots has probably taken some of the pressure off, but Rex Ryan is like a wild card collection all to himself. You never know what he is going to do or say next. That makes for great media copy, but not a sound basis for a winning team in the long term.

Todd Bowles
Bowles’ seat may be in danger if the Jets cannot fix their spluttering offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick can look good one week and horrible the next.

Sean Payton
The Saints are putting up big numbers on offense, but the defense is a leaky bucket.

Bill O’Brien
The Texans look to be almost there in terms of winning games.

Chip Kelly
It would be a shock if ownership dispensed with Kelly after one season, but then they also managed to run off Jim Harbaugh 2 years ago, and they are paying Jim Tomsula $14m to not coach anywhere, so logic and consistency are not their strong suits.

Adam Gase
Dolphins ownership will probably give Gase at least 2 years, but right now the Dolphins are just not a very good team.

Jay Gruden
The Redskins are inconsistent, and part of that is due to inconsistent quarterback play. Right now, the decision to not give Kirk Cousins a long term contract looks like a good one. What happens at the end of the season probably comes down to how much the owner wants to interfere again.

Jason Garrett
The Cowboys looked dead in the water before Week 1 when Tony Romo went on IR with a back injury, but Dak Prescott is looking like the quarterback steal of the draft, and the Cowboys being at 3-1 says a lot about the coaching staff.

Doug Pederson
The Eagles are riding high thanks partly to the decision to play Carson Wentz in his first year as a replacement for Sam Bradford. The trade to Minnesota looks like one of the rare win:win trades.

Bill Belichick
Belichick is coach at New England for as long as he wants the job.

Ben McAdoo

Year 1 for McAdoo and no change can or should be expected.

Pete Carroll
With two recent Superbowl trips, Carroll is in no danger whatsoever.

Mike Zimmer
At 4-0, Zimmer is already assured of hero status in Minnesota after the Vikings solved their QB problem in style by trading for Sam Bradford. Adrian Peterson may or may not be back and the running game is still weak, but the Vikings have a sound defense and defense wins Superbowls.

John Harbaugh
Ravens ownership does not pull the cord on coaches at all readily. The Ravens are struggling in the run game, and Joe Flacco may not be at 100% yet, but I do not see a change.

Jeff Fisher
after week 1 there was speculation that Fisher would not make it to week 2, so bad were the Rams in the opening game. Now at 3-1, things have changed completely.

Dan Quinn
The Falcons are now putting up big numbers on offense in the second year of Kyle Shanahan’s tenure as offensive co-ordinator. As long as the big numbers continue everybody will be quite happy.

Andy Reid
Ownership is patient, but the team may be in rebuild mode soon, with many of its best players nearer the end of their careers than the beginning.

Hue Jackson
The Browns are in the basement at 0-4, but everything Hue Jackson says and does shows that is in the job for the long haul. The Browns have a massive pile of draft picks already for next year, and intend to rebuild via the draft while letting disenchanted free agents move on. They may be secretly hoping for the #1 pick in the draft so they can find their franchise quarterback.

Mike Tomlin
Pittburgh ownership is interested in stability.

Mike McCarthy
See Pittsburgh. The Packers have a massive and loyal fan base and McCarthy is in no danger.

Marvin Lewis
Ownership likes Lewis because he is relatively affordable, keeps a low profile and keeps getting the Bengals into the playoffs.

Jack Del Rio
With a maturing franchise quarterback and something approaching the old smashmouth Raiders identity in the team thanks to Del Rio’s coaching, and with a possible move to Las Vegas on the cards, ownership needs stability.

Gary Kubiak
Kubiak and John Elway are joined at the hip.


Times newspaper headline

Here is a tweet showing the latest Times newspaper masthead in the UK.

The government appears to think that public shaming is just the ticket for corporations.
At the same time the pound is sinking to a new low.
Has anybody bothered to think about the possible link between these two pieces of news?
I am half expecting the government to re-instate the stocks and the ducking stool for people and corporations who are insufficiently British.


More views of the eliminationist mindset

1. From an Iowa farm fair float

2. This from a self-proclaimed Christian Trump supporter.
Although this is written like an old-fashioned telegram with the STOP words missing, the air of eliminationism is unmistakeable. (“left wing radicals as potential targets for becoming neutralized” is at best, slightly sinister).


The infamous “educate yourself” meme

From time to time, I find myself reading memes on Facebook or exhortations on Twitter to “educate yourself”.
There is a general similarity to those memes. They comprise SHOUTING (usually a mixture of capitalized words or sentences, often followed my multiple exclamation points). They are a form of clickbait, designed to get people’s attention.
Then, when you look at the actual text, overlooking the panic or anger-stricken shouting, it soon becomes clear that you are reading the rant of a fully-signed-up conspiracy theorist. I also tend to realize that not only have I already educated myself, I have educated myself to the point where I concluded that the ideas being promulgated in the meme are a large pile of caca.
The conspiracy theories being peddled usually are predictable. They will be one of more of:

– New World Order! Jewish cabal is in charge! Illuminati are screwing us over!
– Jade Helm was an attempt by the Federal Government to subjugate Texas!
– Agenda 21 is a New World Order plot to make the USA a colony of the United Nations!
– Obama is a Muslim coming for our guns!
– Hillary Clinton murders anybody and everybody!
– Christians are being persecuted on a daily basis in the USA by secularists and atheists!

It’s like playing Bingo. If somebody prevented me from reading a conspiracy theory meme but instead asked me to guess what was in it, I think I would stand a pretty good chance of guessing at least one correctly.

I usually ignore these postings, because I have really nothing to discuss with people who have departed from embracing reality. I learned a long time ago that there are three classes of people I cannot and will not hold discussions with on the internet; conspiracy theorists, Texas secessionists and “end of days” Christians. They are, compared to my value system of respect for argument and evidence, unpersuadeable and unreachable. Life is too short for us to waste each other’s time.
So…if you are going to start posting memes that base their meaning on one or more underlying conspiracy theories, you will get no reaction from me. I have no time to waste on intellectually risible, over-imaginative and paranoid dystopian fantasies.


A mental profile of a Donald Trump supporter

This article from the Washington Post is a look at the worldview and mind of a Donald Trump supporter.
The most important commentary is this one by JJ MacNabb, who writes about anti-government and Sovereign Citizen groups in the USA. As she points out, there is usually one defining event in the lives of many anti-government supporters that convinces them that The System in its broadest sense is stacked against them, that they are never going to be treated fairly, and therefore the only right thing to do is to work to smash The System. In this case, the overturning of the woman’s $450,000 damages award for harrassment seems to have been the trigger for her becoming a fully invested supporter of smashing The System. Everything after that event is an illustration of how resentful and angry people are vulnerable to all manner of wild ideas and conspiracy theories. They then tend to embrace any and all conspiracy theories that start from the premise that an evil cabal is in charge. Hence the resurgence of ideas that overreaching government programs are a tool to subjugate the citizens (Jade Helm and Agenda 21) and the resurgence in popularity of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. It is a recycling of the whole New World Order/Illuminati/Jewish bankers world control trope, which is older than the 20th century, but persistently popular when nativism and racism become acceptable in public discourse.
UPDATE – for an illustration of what happens when people become fully invested in all manner of New World Order-based conspiracy theories, this guy’s Facebook page is a good illustration. He is pretty representative of the sort of people who signed on to the idea that Jade Helm was a covert attempt by the Federal Government to invade Texas.

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