A Word on Subject Matter
Apr 27, 201307:08PM
California has a ban on 30 round standard capacity magazines (which they dishonestly call "high capacity").
But, if you have a an AR15 in .50 Beowulf caliber, then that same magazine holds 10 rounds, and is a 10 round magazine. Even if you could put 30 rounds into it in 5.56mm. So, call it a ".50 Beowulf magazine," and it's legal. Call it an "AR15 magazine" and it's not. Even if it's the same magazine.
If you are not a professional in this field, and pass a law, we who are professionals will find a way around it, and will.
Because fuck you, that's why.
The Fail, It Burns
Apr 22, 201311:22AM
From an exchange with Vox Day (Who lists me as a writer of interest), when I criticized his fetish for Creationism.
"Mr. Williamson, with all due respect, you don't appear to realize that you are not only dealing with a number of people here who are smarter than you are, but are also better educated in science than you are. It may help to keep in mind that at Vox Popoli, those who live by the rhetoric tend to die quickly and brutally by the dialectic."
That's the funniest thing I've read this week. Thanks.
I was at first interested in your site. I thought I had found the anti-Scalzi. And in fact, I have.
that is not a compliment.
So, first, by what metric does he assume, after one email exchange and a couple of comments that there are a "number of people" there who are smarter than me?
It's certainly not impossible, but per standardized testing, the odds are 99.8% in my favor. That is a mathematical extraction based on my tested IQ. So unless his blog is a haven for pure geniuses, it seems unlikely. Nor have I seen much demonstration of any hard scientific knowledge among his supporters. Though to be fair, I haven't read much of his blog and don't plan to.
Given that most of the interest there is in unquantifiable local social issues, devoid of cites or analysis, it's untestable, but my perception is his belief is incorrect. There's a lot of opinion there--some little of which I concur with--but a lot of BS, including the obsession with myth (Creationism) over science. It even repeats the "Evolution is losing support among scientists!" bleat that's been around since...Darwin. Yet every year we have better information, better ability to define what we're looking at, and better ability to predict what we don't see. That's called "Science." He even cutely entitles his response to me, "rhetoric is not science." Indeed. His rhetoric is not science.
Second, he seems unaware that for Darwin to be challenged is a POSITIVE thing for science. It means we've refined the theory and have improved precision. Much like the Earth went from spherical to oblate to precisely delineated, and we are now working on equations to explain orogenous upthrust (which isn't as sexy as it sounds).
Third, it doesn't matter how smart or educated either of us is. Facts are facts. Extrapolations are extrapolations. And mythic fantasy is mythic fantasy, even when called "religion." It is untestable, unprovable, and not scientific. There's also an implied assumption that the scientists working in genetics aren't as smart as...a blogger. Which again, is not impossible, but is irrelevant.
He knows nothing about me other than our two emails and a couple of comments. But he knows I'm not as smart as he because I "believe" different things. In point of fact, I believe very little. I observe. If there is no conclusion to be reached, I delay judgment until there is.
Fourth, it's entirely possible to disagree with the modern American left, while being just as idiotic, prejudiced and intellectually dishonest as its worst practitioners...which he ably demonstrates (forex, constantly calling Scalzi "McRapey," apparently completely missing the point of one of John's blogs that I do agree with), despite his ability to solve the softball pre-algebra question I tossed at him. During the Spanish Civil War, the Fascists and the Communists were diametrically opposed, yet largely indistinguishable. Or in a non-Godwin sense, pick European peasants forced to choose between Viking raiders or the Franks.
And Darwin's (or any) ideas are only "dangerous" to bleating ideologues. Information falls across a spectrum from factual to opinion, from useful to not. A truly smart person analyzes the content and comes to a conclusion, adapting the conclusions as needed as new facts are presented. That, we call "Science."
As I have predicted for years that they would, biologists are beginning to turn away from Darwin's dangerous idea of evolution by natural selection. Even self-styled champions of evolution such as PZ Myers have reached the point of giving up on their erstwhile secular saint:
We aren’t using Darwin’s model anymore; he had no accurate notion of how inheritance worked, for instance — genes and alleles, the stuff of most modern theory, are not present anywhere in his works. “Darwinian” is also problematic. It does have a specific, technical meaning, but it’s often applied thoughtlessly to every process in evolution.
Besides, everyone knows Coyote and the Great Spirit created the universe.
I have been asked for an opinion on the above poll, showing "90% of Americans support background checks," and how I would respond to people who cite it. It also asks what people think of armed guards in school, and how effective they think it would be.
The question shown is simplistic and without context, and is a straw man.
Would it matter? 90% of Americans used to support slavery. 90% used to support bans on "pornography" that included the Kama Sutra. It's nice that they have a poll. I have a Constitution.
And what untrained amateurs think of security protocols is uninteresting to me.
As far as "guns sold on the internet," they either must go through an FFL, or be sold face to face, if private, much like they were when such ads were placed in newspapers. So the question here is: Why do you hate the internet? Why do you hate modern communication?
Can someone make a sale to someone illicit anyway? Yes. You know what we call those people? Criminals. And guess what? THEY DID THAT ANYWAY, and will do it anyway. That's what it means to be a criminal.
But when they drag your ass away for selling or possessing unlicensed milk that wasn't properly pasteurized, etc, "for the children," don't expect any sympathy. When they jail you for tax evasion over the "Garage sale loophole," no sympathy. It's what you voted for and wanted.
Nor can you ever complain about TSA, who checks travelers to "keep us safe" and "protect the children." If it prevents just one bomb, won't it be worth it?
And next time, try having a clue what you're talking about before engaging in debate.
Against My Better Judgment
Apr 17, 201312:16PM
I'm going to show I can create a better conspiracy then the conspiritards.
"Hey, we need you to help us crash airliners into the WTC and kill several thousand people to further our agenda."
"WTF? Dude...is this a joke? Go @#$^ yourself."
"Hey, we want you to help us orchestrate shooting some kindergartners to get control in place."
"What kind of #@$ing monster are you? Seriously."
"Hey, we want to set off a couple of bombs at the Boston Marathon, so we can get the drone program and RFID in place. If we do it right, it shouldn't hurt many people, though of course, collaterals are possible. Just some nice loud distractions at the end. That way, any large gathering will be a just target for drones, scans and otherwise. Overall, this will mean less real attacks. The cost benefit is positive."
"Makes sense. Okay, I'll help."
"Dude! WTF? That actually killed and maimed a lot of people! You said that wasn't going to happen."
"Well, it had to be big enough to get people's attention."
"That's not what I signed on for. I'll tell..."
"Who, exactly? Even if you managed to tie us in, you're complicit and the mob would kill you. And you carried the bombs, so you're the logical suspect. We're all high-ranking officials with excellent cover. Best keep your mouth shut if you know what's good for you."
"Yeah, whatever. Remember, we need drones, RFID and better monitoring of the internet. Even if you blame this on the Muslims."
I don't believe it, but this one would at least be feasible.
In reality, this is going to come down to:
RIFs who have learned to scale their attacks and keep quiet about them, lest the US military show up and sodomize them with JDAMs, or some native crazy who hates something or other. If the latter, given the target, I expect it's some anti-capitalist lefty.
Privilege - Not Just A Word
Apr 10, 201302:13PM
I like to interact with people, and I find I learn more about them, and about myself, by interacting with people I may not agree with. Either one of us persuades the other, or we learn more about ourselves, or we find new insights into our positions.
This apparently isn't common.
I've occasionally interacted on Facebook with one [name redacted by request], as she styles herself. She's big on gender issues, race and social issues. I probably agree with her stances about 40% overall, which is better than average.
I was looking at some links on her page, and the tone there was strident. I do that myself. No harm, no foul. However, if one is fighting stereotypes, one should avoid using them oneself. I made a polite comment that a message aimed at people in general agreement, with the intent of bringing them closer, should be worded amiably, not accusatorily. She seemed to miss the thrust, replied with something else, and I posted my infamous summary of worldwide historical repression, because a lot of Americans (apparently including her) miss that there's a lot more to it than black/white and the former Confederate slavery.
Her response was "Oh, wow, a middle class white male has an opinion on race. I don't think I'll waste time reading that." And it ended with, "Why don't you actually try talking to some black people?"
My first thought, was "Wait, this teenager is white, middle classed, middle American. This is not just the pot calling the kettle black, given my background, it's the pot calling the fine china black."
Then I thought, "That can't be what I just read. Did I just walk into The Simpsons or Monty Python?"
Then it was, "Wait, this person is supposed to be passingly aware of my background, WTF led to this outburst? Did her brain just shut down and she revert to tribal shouting?"
I bowed out of the conversation, because obviously, no rational discourse was going to be possible. We'd gone from generalizations to epithets, and by "we" I mean "she."
After that, I decided I needed to finish edits on my story collection coming out in August, and then come back to it.
So, let's go back to, "Why don't you actually try talking to some black people?"
I was in high school in the early 80s, peak of the break dancing craze, and I was a pretty damned good dancer. That means I hung out with a lot of black guys—at clubs, at school, at home. They came to my place to practice, I went to theirs. Sometimes our parents invited us or them to stay for dinner. I remember one who had a vivid sense of humor, including self-deprecating jokes when he found out we had watermelon. And yes, occasionally, one of them was a punk, but there were a lot more white punks who wanted to emulate what they thought black people were like.
Most of them lived in a slightly poorer area near the school, with numerous material goods--cars, projection TVs, which I'm led to believe was because their traditional areas were cheaper, so status was shown materially. (And for the record, we spent a couple of years receiving food stamps and other assistance after my parents divorced.)
My mother sold real estate, and occasionally (and let me stress occasionally) someone would ask about racial makeup of a neighborhood, or ask her to limit showings to whites only, and she would tell them it was illegal for her to discuss such things, or to attempt to limit purchases. Interestingly, it was generally poorer whites who were concerned about this, not middle or upper class, and it happened only a handful of times over several years.
Of course, that small element of racism does affect things, as does the natural tendency of people to form into tribes of like-minded individuals.
I had black teachers in school, and they were generally the funnest, most informative and down to earth.
The observant respondent would remember that I served in the US military. They may also be aware that the military is no longer segregated. Guess what? I was trained, and trained with, people of every race and color, some of whom barely spoke English, being either recent immigrants like myself, or from the Philippines, where we have a treaty agreement allowing them to join our military directly.
And, when I got to my permanent duty station, my roommate was…BLACK! Kersey was an odd duck from Cleveland, and we didn't talk much, until the time he threatened to kill me with his bare hands and an iron pipe, and shortly got some mental health treatment and processed out. It seems other people had had issues too.
My next roommate was a white kid from Oregon, an alcoholic, didn't last long, and moved into an abandoned mobile home with no power because he couldn't keep even a minimum wage job.
So, the last three years of my service I roomed with Wendell, who'd trained in an overlapping timeframe with me in Texas, so we already knew each other slightly. Wendell was not your typical black, I guess, since he was an immigrant from Antigua, thereby being British.
Let me elucidate for the civilians: we spent three years serving in the same unit, and sharing a 15' square barracks room. I knew him pretty damned well. We drank together, cruised bars together, did road trips to conventions together, and did a bunch of field exercises together.
Now, I had to sit down and think about all this, because my roommate was not "That black guy, Wendell." My roommate was "Wendell, the sergeant from the Power Section I spent three years of my life with." I've said it before, I will say it again—race is only important if you insist on making it important. If anyone asked, "Who do you room with?" I replied, "Wendell, Power Shop." And no one ever said, "Oh, right, the black guy." Largely because we had a LOT of "black guys" including the First Sergeant, our Section Superintendent and one of the engineers. So, yes, I took orders from black people, Hispanics, Asians, women, and never kept a tally because it never fucking mattered to me. Were they competent? By and large. Did they have the authority to define my tasks? Yes.
Were there racists in the unit? Yes, a few.
Now, for reasons not relevant here, engineering tends to congregate immigrants. My shop had me, a Mexican, and a Filipino and five native born Americans (one of them black). In the unit of 120, there were a couple of other Mexicans (And I mean men with Mexican passports, working on their citizenship, as I was), several Filipinos, another Brit, a German. We hung out in groups of our own nationality, and groups of immigrants vs native borns, and Engineers vs other units, and cadre vs transients, and AF vs other branches, and military vs civilian, because that's what people do. I rarely saw color itself be a defining matter, except among a handful (both white and black).
I do recall one asshole in my shop liked to refer to us as the "Fuzzy little foreigners." Though he generally didn't deliver it in a derogatory fashion, and we wore the sobriquet proudly. And note: I was included in that definition, despite being "White."
It wasn't the only bigotry I encountered from him, and that first roommate, Kersey, repeatedly mocked my birth nation to my face. Words were had over that. Occasionally, other people made comments about "Damned foreigners taking our jobs" and expressed that we shouldn't be allowed to own property or businesses.
Now, at least I was able to honestly identify the assholes, since I don't "look" like an immigrant, though I did still have a bit of an accent. They'd usually trot it out right in front of me, against regulations and common sense. But, bigotry works in all directions, and if you assume because I look like a certain imagined stereotype, I must think and act like said stereotype, congratulations, you just did it yourself.
So, moving on, I was Reserve and Guard for 20 years after that, and again, served with many people of many races and cultures. In fact, my last deployment was a 4-way split between Utah Air Guard (mostly Mormons), New Jersey Air Guard (mixed bag), Guam Air Guard (Mostly Chamorro people, and Catholic) and Puerto Rico Air Guard (very Hispanic and very Catholic) in a desert full of Arabs, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Filipinos (all Muslim), Indians (from India, and mostly Hindu, with some Muslims), Georgians (Muslims and Christians), Japanese, Koreans, Aussies and Brits. And being the military—you don't get a choice. You go fix, move or fight with whomever you're told to, and you have to manage to get along. And I enjoyed the hell out of it. We took turns doing Saturday night cultural dinners.
But that was Reserve, meaning I had a real job and a real home otherwise. And in college, I was a stripper. That meant I hung out with other strippers, mostly female, including a Thai and a very astute, striking black woman working her way through law school.
Oh, yes—it was a mostly Asian neighborhood we lived in.
Now, as far as Indianapolis, for anyone familiar with it, go take a look at East 52nd Street. I'll wait. What color are most of the people in that area? Oh, right—THEY'RE BLACK! Didn't matter to me. Most of them were good neighbors, though it was amusing watching the "photographer" next door, who never had models or materials or any camera gear, get busted by 17 cop cars and a SWAT van. That is, until he went to jail for dealing drugs and his ex and her friends burgled my house. But yup, several years in a black neighborhood as one of the few white people, and it didn't bother me at all. My daughter at age 3 insisted on stopping at several local revivals, because she's always loved to dance, and a bunch of people dancing and singing was definitely her thing, even if we're not Christian. (And before that we lived in the Irvington neighborhood, which might have a few blacks, too. I honestly never bothered to keep a tally, as hard as that is for some people to believe.)
A former girlfriend and I had a several month long affair with a full blooded Sauk woman who was a very strong LGBT and feminist activist. We didn't agree on everything, but I certainly learned a lot.
Quite a few of these people—such as the last lady—would have a strong level of agreement with many of your positions. Some would agree in part (and I do myself). Some would not agree at all. In the subjective world of human interaction, there are solution sets of right and wrong, that intersect in various ways. If you're stuck looking for one point solution, you clearly didn't manage calculus, and might need to go back and look at basic algebra again.
But let's move back to my childhood for a bit—I grew up quite poor near Liverpool, originally in a small flat with no central heat and no TV. My father is Scottish, my mother is English, and if you bother to read a little history, you might find that the two cultures had a few issues over the last few centuries.
My maternal grandfather was an RAF officer, and my mother spent several years as a child in Rhodesia, when it was Rhodesia, with all the household and base staff being local Africans. If I recall correctly, India, Cyprus and Kenya were in there, too.
Now, Britain, or rather, England, has its own history, but most of its colonial repressions were overseas, and for different motivations. And that's key. When I meet someone of a different color, my first thought isn't, and can't be, "OMG! This person's ancestors were slaves and my family profited from that!" Nope. The Brits pretty much didn’t keep slaves, my working class family certainly didn't, though several likely served on a few slave-busting ships.
No, when I meet someone of exotic looks for the area I'm in, my default thought is, "Oh, this person must be of or descended from one of our colonies." And even if some of the colonials were lower class, lower class is INFINITELY above "slave." There is simply no way possible for me to look at a black person and feel what a native born American of any color feels. Add to that, I moved here in 1978, so nothing that happened before that can possibly involve me.
If you look at my FB wall, you'll find blacks, Hispanics, whites, Asians (actually in Asia, as well as Asian Americans), transsexuals, gays, bisexuals, white people married to blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and people with backgrounds that include multiple races, cultures and ethnicities.
My friends include agents, authors, editors and technical people of (a variety of) color. We often disagree, and I've noticed that color is an issue for a lot of Americans. It's inescapable. Given the segregation issues shortly before I was born, the war a century before that, and the slavery before that, I accept it's a valid concern. But here's the important part: I don't share that concern, and assuming I do, can or must is trying to stereotype me based on my skin color.
So, you tell me, does that count as "actually talking to black people"? I'm adding up somewhere around a couple of decades or more of my experience, though as I said, I don't really keep a tally for score. I talk to PEOPLE.
See, the problem with a lot of self-claimed "liberals" is they're not. They're only tolerant if you agree with them. This seems to include you. You like it when I agree on certain gender issues. You go childishly apeshit when I just might have an informed opinion that differs slightly from yours, based on my own subjective experiences, broader world view, longer life and different background.
But even if I am "Wrong" on an entirely subjective subject, then any persuasion aimed at me must be diplomatic and with cited sources, otherwise it's simply an opinion, and available evidence suggests my opinion is more informed than yours…which does not mean it is necessarily objectively correct.
You don' t want actual debate, because it might shake you out of your comfortable worldview. What you want is tribal association.
If you look at me and assume based on my skin color I think like some stereotype of a middle class American white guy—you're a racist. If you assume that all black people agree with the position you've assigned them in your worldview—you're a racist. If you insist that people can't tell the same jokes about this President that they told about previous presidents because he's partly black and that somehow makes things different—you're a racist (especially as you insist simultaneously they can't treat him differently).
Much like the most virulent anti-gays are often hiding a secret part of their orientation that scares them, the most vocal users of the race epithet frequently demonstrate the most stereotyping and racism.
After all, let's look at your screen name again: "[radacted] Protagonist (her FB recognition tag) [redacted]." Ah, yes, the "PROTAGONIST!" The white, middle class, middle American woman flying in to right wrongs and correct perceptions, and tell people how they must think and feel, on behalf of those poor minorities who aren't capable of doing so themselves. And if you have a different perception than she? Well, then maybe you need to talk to people on her approved list, to learn the right things. No right-thinking person could disagree.
(ETA, missed an important item from my notes: It's possible you're not as "white" as you look either, using the contemporary American definition. If so, you should know better. If not, then don't try playing the smug superior card.)
You're not a protagonist. You're not even an antagonist. You're an annoying little nit. And until you can accept and believe there are people with different worldviews, who may cross paths with you, share the path for some of the journey before taking another route, or walk alongside without joining you, you will continue to be only a minor irritant, accomplishing nothing.
In short, you need to learn how to be liberal and tolerant.
You might start by actually looking up the Wikipedia article on the word "privilege" and consider the many definitions and meanings it can have.
And then maybe go talk to some black people…who don't entirely agree with you.
Observations on Being Liberal
Apr 04, 201302:02PM
Based on several recent conversations with friends:
Rule 1: Don't assume you know the background of the person you're talking to. Judging someone by their appearance isn't fair, nor liberal. Disabilities don't always show. Culture, religion, background rarely show, nor does gender orientation. Pigeonholing people is not very tolerant, nor liberal.
Rule 2: Anyone can discuss an issue. They may not be correct, or they may not agree with you, or some of each or both. Telling people they don't get to discuss an issue is not going to convince them you're right. It's only going to convince them you're conceited.
Rule 3: If it's a technical subject, such as firearms, reproductive biology or even a religious faith, the technical knowledge is a necessary part of the debate. Don't claim to be "informed" if you can't answer basic technical questions on the subject. In such cases, it would behoove you to acquire some technical knowledge, or to consult with someone who does. Here's the tough part: You have to assume they know what they're talking about, and believe their statements, much as you would a professional in any field. If the facts make your position uncomfortable, then perhaps your position needs to change. You are entitled to your own informed opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts. And if your opinion is not informed, you're still entitled to it, but no one is obligated to take you seriously.
3A: If you don't trust a person's technical opinion, why did you ask for it? Getting a second opinion is fine. Asking other people who are ignorant of a subject to fact check the expert is not only insulting, it indicates you need to re-read this rule. If most of the subject matter experts tell you you're wrong, maybe you are. This doesn't mean you have to like the conclusion. You only have to accept it.
Rule 4: Once you've demonstrated bias through ignorance, your credibility on any other matter drops fast. See Rules 1 and 3.
Rule 5: It's entirely possible for someone to have the same or different sources, be informed, and come to a different conclusion. This does not mean either you or they are wrong. Few issues are binary in nature. This offers an opportunity to debate, share information, and improve your position, even if you never fully agree with the other party. And that's okay, because liberals are tolerant of dissent.
5A: Don't assume that someone disagreeing with you must be ignorant of the subject. Ask questions. Learn why they have their position.
Rule 6: If you are absolutely sure the other party is wrong by your interpretation, remember that you also don't know everything, and even matters of common knowledge change with time. This person may be comfortable in a previous or foreign culture, or they may be ahead of the curve and ready for a future society. More likely, the answer lies somewhere between.
Rule 7: Activists don't have to compromise. They're expected to be extreme. If this applies to you, remember it also applies to others. They're entitled to the same focus and drive you are.
Rule 8: Skin color only matters to people who care about skin color. A person with dark skin may be from somewhere Africa, the Caribbean, or the US or anywhere else. Each of these people will have a different background. Their skin color only affects how you treat them, and how you treat them affects how they respond as a person. If you make assumptions about them based on their skin color, you're being presumptuous. Likewise, a white skinned person may be from the US, from Europe, from Australia. They're not going to all be the same, either. In fact, even American geography matters. However, it's likely that two Americans (or Canadians, Aussies, Greeks, Chinese), even of differing appearance, will have more in common with each other than with two people who look the same from different nations. If this is a revelation to you, you may not be as unbiased as you like to think you are.
8A: If you're a middle class white American, lecturing people on how middle class white Americans shouldn't lecture people on race/color/culture, you may have run into a recursive logic failure. Also, if you're assuming from visual cues that the person you're debating with is a middle class white American just like you...see Rule 1.
Rule 9: Telling someone else how they think or feel is conceited, derogatory, and wrong. Please don't do it.
Rule 10: You know how the popular press always gets your subject wrong when they discuss it? You know how the opposing press leaves out key facts through error or deceit and presents you in a bad light? It's a good idea to assume the same thing happens with other subjects and to other groups. See Rule 3.
Rule 11: Epithets like "right winger" and "wingnut" and even "troll" don't encourage the other parties to continue discussion. They're also neither liberal nor tolerant. Unless you plan on exterminating or outbreeding the dissenters, you need to patiently try to persuade them. Some won't be persuaded. This is not your fault. It may not be their fault, either. All you can do is try.
Rule 12: Selection bias doesn't help. Seek out opposing viewpoints. You may change your own. You may strengthen yours. You may change or strengthen theirs. Worst case, you'll know how the opposition thinks and feels, and so will your allies. Holding carefully monitored discussions with your friends isn't a bad thing and has its place. But it's not an open discussion. Keep private matters private, and allow public discourse to be open. And echo chamber is not very useful.
Rule 13: If you're thinking of deleting, blocking, shutting down a dissenter or a thread because you don't like how the discussion is turning, you may not be as tolerant as you like to think you are. Certainly there are absolute trolls who contribute nothing. But a dissenter is useful under Rule 12.
Rule 14: Shocking fact: These same rules apply to conservatives. You may in fact find fora where you're tolerated and treated with respect. You also may find some where you're insulted and called a troll. You can complain about this...if you haven't committed the same act yourself.
Rule 15: Nothing is binary. There are pro-gun gays and feminists. There are anti-abortion atheists. There are black racial separatists. There are pro-gay Muslims and Pentecostal Christians. There are polyamorous Republicans. See Rule 1.
Rule 16: Even among people of the same general background, individuals have different experiences and perspectives. What's wrong for you may be right for them. Or it may simply be they're a product of their experiences.
Rule 17: If everyone agrees with you, you need to widen your circle. If you're not angry at something at least once a day, you're probably not learning anything.
Rule 18: Yes, it gets frustrating re-hashing the same material. If you've adopted the mantle, you have to try to be patient. Unfortunately, it's the only way. See Rules 11 and 13.
Rule 19: Some of your opponents will love you even though you're wrong. Try to extend them the same courtesy.
Rule 20: There is nothing morally wrong with apologizing. If you were perceived as offensive, or lost your temper, or even just misunderstood, apologize and try again. Often, that will make more progress than any number of graphs and charts.
Williamson's Fourth Law
Apr 03, 201311:59PM
If you look for racism, you will probably find it.
Let's consider science fiction:
If your black characters act like white characters, they're tokens, and you're a racist.
If your black characters act like black characters, they're stereotypes, and you're a racist.
If your black characters are in the forefront, you don't consider them capable of command, and you're a racist.
If your black characters are in command (Nick Fury, forex), then you don't have them in the forefront, and you're a racist.
If your black characters are good, they're shallow, and you're a racist.
If your black characters are villains, they're caricatures, and you're a racist.
If your black characters sacrifice themselves for the white characters (Phantom Menace, even though they weren't actually black, and Revenge of the Sith), they're throwaways and you're a racist.
If your black characters are saved by white characters, they're incompetent, and you're a racist.
If your black characters are kept safe, we're back to them being tokens, and you're racist.
If you decide not to mention race and let people draw their own conclusions about the characters, you're passive-aggressive on the subject, and a racist.
If you have a future where people have given up racial issues and interbred all genetic lines, then you've destroyed black race and culture, and you're a racist.
If you don't have Africa ascendant at some point in the future, because you believe environmental and political issues won't support that in your given timeframe, you're a racist.
If Africa is ascendant in your work, but contemporary mores would find your culture offensive, you're fabricating false perceptions and you're a racist.
If your future Africans choose a development that makes them too western, you're provincial and a racist.
If your black characters are conservative and successful, they had to sell out to have a place in your universe, and it's a racist culture. You're also a racist.
If you observe that Americans are predominantly white, the SF readership are predominantly white, and white writers don't get much reader attention from the black community, you're a racist.
If you decide all this is too complicated and don't use any black characters, you're definitely a racist.
The above only applies to a white writer. A black writer can use their characters any way they wish. If you complain about them overdeveloping black characters over their white characters, you're a racist.
A non-white, non-black writer writing about black characters gets a partial pass, if the liberal establishment likes their political position. It's entirely possible for an other minority writer to be racist.
If you try to analyze perceptions in order to make a better presentation of black characters, and discuss those issues online, you're a racist.
Stone Age Chicken (A recipe)
Apr 02, 201310:13PM
Based on research I'm doing for a story. I have no idea if this ever existed, and I don't think anyone else does. It works with materials that would have been easily available, however.
This is flexible, so it's easy to do wherever you are.
Slice your chicken into thin strips. This also works for goat.
Hot pan, hot rock, hot oven stone.
Sprinkle with rock or sea salt. Add some chopped scallion/wild onion/chive. Add rosemary or similar evergreen herb. The greens will likely pop and jump on the hot surface.
Lay the chicken down on the bed of salt and herbs. Once the edges are white, flip over. Cook until lightly brown.
In a pan, you can also pour in some brine in small drops, to sizzle under the meat.
For cooking on a grill, dredge in the salt mix before laying over the grill.
you can add vegetables if you wish.
My kids insist I cook this regularly.
Gay Marriage--This Discussion Is A Waste Of Time
Mar 27, 201309:47PM
Observed fact: Gays were not able to marry in the US for the duration of its existence, nor in the colonies before, until the last decade. No harm came to the US from this standard (Which was pretty much the world standard). So, if SCOTUS rules against this issue, the safety and existence of the United States is not in jeopardy.
In the last 15 years or so, several nations and several states have legalized gay unions and marriages. There are no observable direct or indirect repercussions causing damage to the political existence of these jurisdictions. So, if SCOTUS rules in favor, the safety and existence of the United States does not appear to be in jeopardy.
Every opposition to the matter I've heard comes down to either "Our religion doesn't like it," or "We've never done it that way."
Setting aside the religious question as not admissible in court, we come down to, "At the time the nation was founded, marriage was between one man and one woman."
And for the last two months, the Left (including a large number of gays) has been bleating that, "At the time the Constitution was written, 'arms' referred to muskets'" as an argument against any firearm designed after the 1870s.
So, logically, there are no arguments for, and the Left's own logic against.
Argument in favor of gay marriage fails for lack of support, and lack of logical consistency.
Unless, of course, the Left would like to compromise and concede that as time progresses, society and technology do, too. Then, they must apply that argument fairly to groups they don't agree with.
A Response To Someone's Comments On Gun Control
Mar 12, 201301:59PM
Okay, Tad, there are several problems with your post.
First, your comment about "weapons of easy mass murder (like machine guns and rocket launchers) ".
The statement is nonsensical, and doesn't apply to common household guns. I could respond with "no one is talking about legalizing rocket launchers, this is an argument you're only having with yourself." Except that I AM trying to reduce the restrictions on rocket launchers and machine guns. I'll be honest. However, your statement shows you really don't know much about machine guns. In fact, I'd venture to guess TV provides most of your information about them.
Point of fact, I have a Browning 1919A4 conversion. It weighs 33 lbs. It's tripod mounted. I can fire 400 rounds in a minute, but it will cost me $200 in ammo to do so. No one is using these for crime, nor will they ever.
A friend of mine brought his full auto Uzi to our last shoot. Under current law, that gun cost $6000, a $200 tax stamp, requires written permission of the federal government to be taken out of state, and a 32 round magazine ($12) lasts about 3 seconds. Unless you're a trained professional, the best hit rate is likely to be THREE of those 32 rounds, at 15 yards. You won't find any records of anyone committing "mass murder" with these because anyone with the training to do so would find a better way to do it. Automatic weapons serve specific niches. "Mass murder" and "robbing banks" aren't two of those.
Also, the weapons Mme Feinstein is trying to ban are common, everyday rifles. That you don't like their looks (it's because they're black, isn't it?/sarc) isn't relevant. They're common, everyday rifles. Calling them "Assault weapons," a completely made-up term (I might as well call a Hummer a "military style assault vehicle") doesn't change their mechanics, nor define them.
Now, this is a legal and constitutional matter, so you will have to be precise about what you mean, using proper terminology and nomenclature. I understand guns aren't your thing, and you're not comfortable with them. The problem is: That doesn't matter.
Here's a comparison on rhetoric for you to consider:
From Obama's PR people:
"The President believes firmly in protecting our Second Amendment rights.
But common-sense changes can go a long way in keeping our streets and our schools safer -- and there's too much at stake to stand by and wait for action.
The President will not wait. Yesterday, he signed 23 executive actions to start moving our country in the right direction. And he's calling on Congress to act on four legislative measures -- closing background check loopholes, banning military-style assault weapons, "
Then he DOES NOT believe in protecting our Second Amendment rights.
"He believes in protecting a woman's right to choose. He has called on Congress to require waiting periods and ultrasound before abortion..."
"He believes in protecting our First Amendment rights. He has called on Congress to regulate bloggers to prevent hate speech..."
"He believes in protecting the rights of gays. He has called on Congress to strengthen the Defense of Marriage Act..."
"He believes in protecting our right to worship freely. He has called on Congress to pass laws challenging the tax exempt status of churches who argue against science..."
You cannot "protect" a right while calling for limitations on it.
I have a constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms. SCOTUS says so. I'm sorry it makes you feel uncomfortable. At this point, your options are education on the subject, or therapy. Otherwise, you're trying to negotiate away my rights in exchange for…what? A "compromise" requires each side to give something. So what are you going to give me in exchange?
I've never heard anyone from your side (well-intended or not) offer a "compromise." What they want is for me to give up something I have, in exchange for…nothing.
No. Happy now?
No? Oh, I'm sorry. How about "No"?
You're not getting what you want. End of discussion. You have nothing to offer, and it wouldn’t matter if you did.
Consider: What can the hardcore fundamentalists offer as a compromise for ending abortion? What can they offer in exchange for outlawing recognition for gay partners? What can they offer in exchange for outlawing pornography?
See the problem? You want 100% of what you have, and 50% of what I have. When you talk about "weapons of easy mass murder," you're conflating the concept with guns that I own, and guns that my teenage kids have owned since they were seven years old http://olegvolk.livejournal.com/551736.html
http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/images/linked/EricBee2.jpg. Perfectly normal, common, guns, of the kind that shoot bullets, like every other gun. You do want to take those away from me, or make it more complicated for me to own them, and in exchange, you're offering me nothing.
So, it's not a compromise, so there is nothing to discuss.
And, SCOTUS says it's a constitutional right on my part. So again…nothing to discuss.
What we need to discuss is that you're afraid of something you can't effectively define in words, and you are a published author. If it's that hard for you, how hard is it for others? And why should we pass laws based on ignorance?
Now, here are a couple of links, that demonstrate what happens when people ignorant of a subject pass laws:
Let's look at that last part again:
"Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding."."
Constitutional right. I keep repeating it because a lot of well-meaning people are not getting it: It doesn't matter if you're unhappy. It wouldn't matter even if there WERE a connection between particular guns and murder. Much like there is a connection between homosexuality and AIDS. Provably. We live in a free society. We accept that certain actions of the individual aren't always positive for the body politic. But you can't argue against one without logically arguing against others. You can say "porn causes rape" or "gays cause AIDS" or "guns cause death" and the answer is, "So what?" even if you could make a valid case for them.
And as you can see from the posts above—the laws don't work. No effect whatsoever. Rifles are involved in less than 400 killings a year, out of a third of a billion people. Statistically irrelevant, and no cost benefit analysis would support such laws—the police and legal effort is better used elsewhere. Cases in point: The rifle at Sandy Hook was in compliance with CT's so-called "assault weapon" ban. It wasn't an "assault weapon." At Va Tech, the shooter used reduced capacity 10 round magazines. Banning standard capacity magazines (Definitions again: you don't get to redefine them as "high capacity" or call them "clips" based on your phobia and ignorance) had no effect. So, now New York is asking for 7 round limits…from no limit to 30 to 20 to 15 to 10 to 7 in some jurisdictions. You CANNOT tell me, with that information, that "no one is trying to take away your guns." Yes, they are.
Let's look at New York's law again: We've already effectively eliminated ownership of machine guns. We've had bans on "assault weapons" that prohibit designs from the 1930s. New York's law, now under court injunction, prohibits designs from the 1890s. So tell me, at what year of design do we stop? When is your non-compromise enough? You personally are willing to sacrifice my rights back to the 1930s. That's the equivalent of me limiting you to a manual typewriter, film camera and dial phone, and telling you no one is taking away your right to free speech…but maybe some of those typists have put out some hateful ideas, and need to be stopped. What can't you express with a fountain pen?
So, I'm sorry you're not happy with one of my rights. I'm afraid there is no legal, moral or practical reason for me to compromise. You'll need to come to terms with this, and move on with life.
And regarding Constitutional amendments, which you will never get past 38 states: Remember how Prohibition turned out. If you really want a multibillion dollar black market and a bigger police state, there are much easier ways to do it. Please don't. Because I can build an AK47 in my garage: http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/politics-The%20Steampunk%20AK47.html which means anyone with some 1900s machine tools can make thousands of them for a black market. Remember bathtub gin? Garage AKs, coming your way under a ban. Guns are a 1250s technology. Rifling is a 1570s technology. Self-loading weapons are an 1880s technology. You can't stop it.
That, and a whole bunch of us gun owners have decided liberals are not useful allies to us, http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/the-post-in-which-i-piss-off-everybody (about 250K, last time I checked the page count) and are looking out for ourselves. That means we're voting for "right wing" candidates, who will also oppose your positions on gays, porn, religion, speech and race issues. But those aren't my problems, and I have to put mine first. If you're willing to "compromise" my rights away, there is no reason for me not to compromise yours away in return, to save what matters to me. See how that works?
It doesn't matter whether you agree, or like it. It matters that it's what IS.
Now, let's look at other comments:
You said: "And, no, I don't think taking anyone's gun away is the same as inserting a probe into someone's body, nor is mandated anger management class."
And in your universe, you get to decide. In our society, SCOTUS has said you're wrong. It doesn't matter what you think. And that is the end of the discussion. Because if it's not, then your opponents' opinions on those other matters have to be given the same weight as yours. Also, you're admitting you think there are civil rights that can be restricted without it being "unreasonable." That means you have no moral standing to argue against restrictions on abortion, speech, etc. As you note, the question is where is reasonable. If Americans vote for it, using your logic, it's reasonable. Do you really want to go there?
Now, back to this:
"weapons of easy mass murder (like machine guns and rocket launchers) privately, except in certain collector-related circumstances."
"Collecting." So you're okay owning them as toys, but not for their intended use. Doesn't that seem a bit contradictory? "It's okay to own this horrible weapon I hate, for fun. Just don't use it." How would you enforce that? Again, you're using emotion over logic. If they were really that dangerous, and not a protected right, why would anyone be allowed to have them for any reason? "It's okay to have a canister of nerve gas, as a collectible." Really?
You said: "any more than you can drive a nitro-burning funny car down the streets of your neighborhood, unless you live on a drag strip."
But that's the point. Just as I take my funny car to the dragstrip, I take my .50 BMG to a range 80 miles from here that has a mountain as a backstop. It also is 4' long and weighs 28 lbs, and ammo is five bucks a round, so I'm not exactly going to rob a bank with it. What you're saying is, "You can't own a nitro-burning funny car because you MIGHT drive it on the street." BTW, the nitro burning funny car, as long as the chassis predates emission control, would be perfectly legal, as long as I complied with the driving laws. So it's unreasonable to race on streets or shoot guns on streets except in dire emergency? We agree. What's the problem?
You said: "Just like everything, it's a question of where the lines are drawn."
Correct. And SCOTUS says we're right. Even on the NFA registry, existing decisions on other matters make it pretty clear we're going to win when the discussion gets there, much like the First Amendment people overturned the ban on the Kama Sutra in the 1950s. The line has been drawn. You don't like it. I'm sorry you don't like it. I guess that's a problem for you. Some people don't like gays. Some don't like alcohol. Some don't like meat.
Final note: Based on a tiny handful of incidents over several years, you are, unintentionally, wishing to affect the lifestyles of 94 million families. Consider if someone were to do the same over Penn State and Bradley Manning. Would it be fair or reasonable?