14 September 2021

Brief observations

Ivermectin-addled Republicans are now, presumably, de-worming themselves.  Is there any way that we could de-Republican the worms instead?  Rather than Republicans without worms, the world would be better off having worms without Republicans, if that option is available.

o o o o o

It's important to know the difference between "I don't like it" and "it's wrong".

o o o o o

Time travel stories often focus on the need to avoid changing history if you traveled into the past, but if you went further back than just a few thousand years ago, you couldn't avoid it.  The moment you arrived you'd be breathing out bacteria and viruses which didn't belong in that era and to which nothing at the time had any natural resistance.  Just by doing that, you'd probably trigger ecological changes which would have discernible effects on all of subsequent history.

o o o o o

One of the most annoying types of asshole is the type who thinks of himself as a charming gadfly.

o o o o o

If somebody cannot get his point across without saying things like "epistemological" and "intersectionality", he's probably not the best person to be explaining that point in the first place.  It's the writer's job to make himself clear to the reader, not the reader's job to struggle and do extra work to understand bad writing.

o o o o o

The fact that an idea offends or upsets someone is not evidence that it is false.

o o o o o

We do not exist to serve the government.  The government exists to serve us.

o o o o o

The 9/11 anniversary produced a lot of nostalgia for how "unified" the US was right after the attack, in contrast to today's divisiveness and polarization.  That's not how I remember it.  Immediately after the attack we had Falwell and Robertson claiming gays, pagans, abortion supporters, and other groups they disapproved of had caused it by offending God.  There was a spike in assaults against innocent Muslims and against people like Sikhs who were mistaken for Muslims.  In one west-coast city -- it may even have been Portland -- the fire department put American flags on their fire trucks and local assholes immediately demanded they be removed because they might "offend" somebody.  There was plenty of shitty behavior back then.

o o o o o

Hating things that are popular doesn't make a person sophisticated.

o o o o o

A century from now people will look back on our time, which passively accepts aging and natural death as inevitable, with the same pity and horror with which we now look back on the medieval era that accepted its helplessness in the face of the Black Death as something normal.

o o o o o

I don't know what to call those loathsome people who insist that the world's population needs to be cut to a small fraction of its present size because -- well, for various reasons, but that doesn't matter.  You can't call them Nazis.  The Nazis eliminated millions, these people want to eliminate billions.  It's the next level of evil beyond Nazis.  We don't even have a word for that yet.

o o o o o

If you think beauty is trivial or unimportant, just try to imagine the world without it.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I just posted something called epistemic responsibility. So funny.
And I agree with the 'unity' after 9/11. Not one once.


14 September, 2021 03:53  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

I really like all of these observations/statements.

14 September, 2021 08:49  
Blogger Mike said...

I think the (temporary) unity we had on 9-12 was with most other countries, not with ourselves. And speaking of the Falwell and Robertson types, are they just relying on Faux News to get their talking points out these days? Or maybe even they know they can't compete with Faux for crazy.

14 September, 2021 10:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes we need words for concepts. Look at "positron." Natural science coins words for new ideas; why shouldn't the rest of the world be the same?

It is easy to include definitions or examples in communicating or writing. Then, once it's done, then keep using the word.

For example, intersectionality indicates that a Black woman will experience a combination of racism and sexism that cannot be separated into "just racism" and "just sexism."

"Pro-choice" and "reproductive justice" are usually thought of as letting women have abortions. For healthy, middle-class white women, this has been the case. The "Mississippi appendectomy," or forced sterilization, was practiced on women who were Black, disabled, poor, or some combination of the three. A person with a uterus has the right to choose whether or not to have children.

That is intersectionality. Sometimes it's just easier to use the word.

Legitimate question: how would you describe the concept without using the word "intersectionality"?

14 September, 2021 11:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: Oh, well, I'm sure you took responsibility for being epistemic.

People tend to idealize the past. Hard to believe that 9/11 was twenty years ago now, but that's long enough for people to be viewing the post-attack atmosphere through rose-colored glasses.

Ricko: Thanks! Glad to provide something of interest.

Mike: There was a lot of support from foreign governments, but beyond the governments, the situation was more complex there as well. Some anti-American types were nastier. I recall seeing a column at the time from the UK, describing a screed the writer had seen in some radical publication blaming the US itself for being attacked because of blah blah, you know the kind of thing people like that come up with. The writer of the column said she was stunned because she was a counselor who worked with rape victims, and the victim-blaming she saw aimed at the US sounded exactly like the victim-blaming sometimes aimed at rape victims.

14 September, 2021 12:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: The problem with words like "intersectionality" or "epistemological" isn't that they are necessarily meaningless, it's that they aren't clearly meaningful to most general readers, and therefore fail to communicate meaning effectively. Outside the small "woke" hothouse subculture, most people don't know the term "intersectionality". If it is really necessary to use it in a piece for a general audience, the writer should at least start out by explaining what it means. In almost all cases where I've seen it used, (a) the writer didn't do that, and (b) the use of the word contributed nothing of value to the discussion, being merely a signal of pomposity and membership in the "tribe" of people who use words like that. If I ever had to reference the fact that, say, black women are affected by both racism and sexism, I would probably just say that they are affected by both racism and sexism -- although it's hard to imagine a context where that even needed to be said. My point is, it's the writer's job to figure out how to make himself clear, not the reader's job to figure out obscure jargon, even if it actually means something.

As for "epistemological", I'm open to the possibility that it may mean something, but I've never seen any evidence that it does, beyond "look at me, I know a big word".

"Positron" is just a word for a specific type of subatomic particle, so it's a necessary term, unlike long words contrived to make simple concepts sound profound. Again, if I were writing about physics and I had to talk about positrons, I would start by explaining what a positron is, rather than assuming non-physicists knew. A physicist writing for other physicists wouldn't need to do that, but there too, the point is to write for the audience rather than expecting them to do extra work to understand you.

14 September, 2021 13:09  
Blogger Jack said...

You raise a good point about "intersectionality." I recall one particularly contentious meeting where a speaker who kept using the term was politely asked if she would mind providing a definition (this was several years ago when the term was even less likely to be encountered than it is today). She angrily responded that it was not her job to educate anyone and that anybody who didn't know what the term meant was "part of the problem." That was when I got up and left, and I wasn't the only one to do so.

14 September, 2021 16:47  
Blogger Jimmy T said...

Speaking of Ivermectin. Although I think she would look better with a ponytail...


14 September, 2021 17:56  
Anonymous Ben Dair said...

That's odd. I've heard "intersectionality" a lot, and it seems to be a conservative term meaning, "Someone disagreed with me, WAAAAHHHH!!"

According to the article Anon linked to, it's not that it's both racism and sexism; it's that it combines into new forms. Originally, it came about when a company was accused of violating the law by not hiring black women. The company said it wasn't racist because it hired black men, and it wasn't sexist because it hired white women. The company won the lawsuit.

In practice, intersectionality stresses considering other identities when looking at one type of bigotry. That is, if you're exploring bigotry against women, don't limit it to just white, middle-class and upper-class women. Anon's post shows what people miss by doing that - they can't even see the "Mississippi appendectomy" existing.

As for epistemological - it often appeared in my upper-level philosophy classes in college. It's just an adjective for describing methods we use for acquiring knowledge, and determining what knowledge itself is.

14 September, 2021 18:30  
Blogger Lady M said...

I don't remember feeling unified after 911. I did not like Bush and marched against the Iraq war. It was in the 2002 election that I stepped up to be an precinct leader/election judge for the Dems in Texas and did that for 10 years.

14 September, 2021 20:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Jack: Sounds typical. I've only ever heard "intersectionality" used by the comically-self-absorbed twenty-something PC types on Tumblr, who mostly sound like they'd react the same way.

Jimmy: Hah! It would serve them right. And she probably has a "pony tail", just not on the head.

Lady M: It was unforgivable that Bush used 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, which had no connection with the attack.

15 September, 2021 00:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ben: Intersectionality -- see my response to Jack. Epistemological -- if the meaning is that simple, it should be possible to talk about it in plain language. My basic point remains -- if you're writing for a general audience, it's your job to figure out how to express yourself in a way that's easy for the reader to understand, not the reader's job to figure out fancy words you use to show off.


15 September, 2021 00:21  
Anonymous Rosalyn said...

Would looking at this be a good brief observation or not?

15 September, 2021 10:36  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I agree with a lot of this.

15 September, 2021 14:08  
Blogger Richard said...

I still don't know what that word
"intersectionality " means. It carries a lot of baggage and crap, but what does it mean?

15 September, 2021 23:53  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Rosalyn: Heh.

Mary K: Very perceptive. :-)

Richard: It's basically an over-fancy way of referring to the interaction between different prejudices -- for example, that a black woman can be a target of both racism and sexism.

16 September, 2021 02:25  
Blogger RO said...

Man, these really got me thinking, and I love this post. Mary posted one of these over on Twitter and I totally adored it so much! Thanks a bunch and Happy Thursday to you! Hugs, RO

16 September, 2021 04:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What's the main sexual stereotype of women? Passive, not very interested. Main sexual stereotype of Asian men? Nerdish, not that sexual, or even masculine, at all. (Note that the picture usually includes East Asian descent).

So we would expect a stereotype of Asian women to be basically asexual? Hah. There's the dragon lady (insatiable, leading white men into destruction) and the submissive ("love you long time," needs to be rescued, insatiable). This isn't just addition.

In other words, the intersection of racism and sexism produces something different from either. Infidel is leaving out part two of the definition - that the prejudices will combine to form something new, rather than just add one to another.

16 September, 2021 08:12  
Blogger NickM said...

I personally regard "Epistemological" as plain speech. But then I have studied a lot of the history and philosophy of science so... "Intersectional" on the other hand... I didn't know quite what it was supposed to mean until now. That considering I have a lot of Anglo-Indian relations (a result of my Great Uncle Harry being posted to India during WWII - they bother me not because they are mixed race but because they settled in Birmingham and that is a Hell of an accent. And then my brother is in a long-term relationship with a Japanese woman. She's great and makes ships in bottles. She has acquired a bit of a Sunderland accent though. Which is quite dificult for a Geordie like me. Having said that I've picked up a bit of Manc in the last 15 years. Sorry to bother the post but England is truly one nation seperated by accents.

17 September, 2021 05:32  
Blogger Kay said...

It really is so very aggravating!

18 September, 2021 15:08  
Blogger Tommykey said...

America was united after 9/11 (mostly) in the need to take the gloves off and hurt people in an act of cathartic rage.

It was not popular after 9/11 to argue against establishing a military presence in Afghanistan that could get us bogged down in a long and costly occupation.

As we pause to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of that terrible day, how many among us pause to consider the fact that our air strikes in Afghanistan killed more Afghan civilians than the number of people we lost on 9/11 (as well as those who subsequently died due to their exposure to toxic fumes at the WTC site)? One could forgive an Afghan citizen for wondering how many Afghans the United States is allowed to kill by accident over something that happened on the other side of the world that they had nothing to do with.

19 September, 2021 10:47  
Anonymous Carol said...

Lol'd at your gadfly comment. Thank you for knocking the media's recent fond nostalgia for our country immediately after 9/11.

20 September, 2021 12:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RO: Thanks!

NickM: Understandable, but remember, my point is that a writer needs to use language which is easy for the likely reader to understand, regardless of whether he himself is familiar with more obscure terms.

Kay: Not sure which particular item you mean, but a lot of things are.

Tommykey: Any country on Earth would have retaliated massively after an attack like that. The Taliban were the de facto government of Afghanistan at the time and refused to hand over bin Laden and the rest of the al-Qâ'idah leadership. They're lucky we didn't escalate to nuclear weapons.

Carol: Self-imagined gadflies are pretty annoying, all right.

21 September, 2021 00:45  
Blogger Tommykey said...

I have been reading The Afghanistan Papers, and it has become quite clear that the Bush administration had no idea what it was doing when it went in there. They didn't understand the history, the culture, or the people. The early missteps made failure inevitable there.

It breaks my heart, because as an atheist, I don't want to see any people have to live under a brutal, religious theocracy. In hindsight, probably the only way to have prevented the fall of all of Afghanistan to the Taliban would have been the creation of well fortified and supplied "hope spots" like the Panjshir Valley could have been. Places where people for ethnic or other various reasons don't like the Taliban and would fight to defend. Instead so many lives and resources were wasted trying to impose Afghan government control throughout the country.

In taking the long, historical view, I think of the plight of African-Americans in the South after Reconstruction ended in 1877, and how the gains they made during Reconstruction were taken away from them. Just like the Taliban, the bad guys won in the South. But it was not a permanent loss, and decades later, the Civil Rights movement ended legal segregation and recovered voting rights for African-Americans. It is not inevitable that the Taliban will rule Afghanistan for 50 years.

21 September, 2021 10:42  

Post a Comment

<< Home