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Category: General

#ActuallyEthics: A Contest

[ 89 ] October 25, 2014 |

One of the best–ok, maybe the only–good thing to come out of #GamerGate has been the #ActuallyEthics meme. We all know that “ethixxx” has served as a cover for the worst kind of misogyny, but many GGer’s still it’s insist this is all about journalistic integrity. #ActuallyEthics takes aim at this stubborn insistence by taking screenshots of well-known movies/comics/television shows and adding the words “Actually, it’s about ethics in game journalism.” Most of these screenshots are funny, but some are sublime.

When folks create these, they tend to take one of two tacks:

1.) They create a banner that shows a man or threatening creature interacting with another person in some way. The message here is someone creepy/condescending popping up and mansplaining to another person that “it’s about ethics.”


2.) They create a banner that gives you some kind of twist ending. See you thought this story was about one thing…but–surprise!–it’s actually about ethics in journalism.


I don’t care what tack you take–come at this from a different angle if you wish…but I challenge you all to create your own #ActuallyEthics banner. And for your trouble, I will pick the best one and put it in my twitter timeline.

Ready, set, go!

Is Upstate New York Like Alabama? (SPOILER: No).

[ 190 ] October 25, 2014 |

Murc in comments [combining two]:

That’s the flip side, yes. I enjoy pointing out that without the city, upstate New York is basically Alabama…upstate New York is economically impoverished and composed a lot of strongly conservative white folk. In other words, the south.

Well, I happen to have another upstate resident right here — myself. And I can assure people unfamiliar with the area that this is abject nonsense, even allowing for some rhetorical license.

First of all, take a look at the most recent House elections. My district, NY-20, voted for an orthodox Democrat ~70-30. Democrats also hold the House seats in the North Country and in the districts containing Rochester and Syracuse. I’m not actually wild about defining “upstate” New York as “everything outside of New York City,” but since Murc’s assertion would have no chance at all without it we’ll go with that. Even in Western NY and the Southern Tier (as well as the upstate-by-any-definition Upper Hudson Valley), the House elections won by the GOP were coin flips. Only in NY-22 did a Republican (narrowly) get even 60% of the vote. That’s more conservative than NYC, but Alabama it really, really ain’t. Metro Birmingham votes GOP like the capital region votes Democratic, the Huntsville area is 65-35 GOP, Montgomery about the same…I don’t think I need to belabor this point further.

And, of course, even this is being too charitable to the argument, because it assumes that New York and Alabama Republicans are the same. While most readers of this blog know there’s no longer any functional moderates in the Republican conference, many voters don’t know that — Richard Hanna and Chris Gibson would not win Republican primaries in Alabama. If we look at the presidential level, a more useful metric in this context, we can see that upstate New York is overwhelmingly Democratic. In 2012, Obama lost three of New York’s 27 congressional districts: NY-22 [central New York] by .4%, NY-23 [Ithica and parts of the Finger Lakes] by 1.2%, and finally one solid Romney win in NY-27 [suburban Buffalo.] In Alabama, conversely, Romney’s percentages in the 6 of 7 districts he won were 62, 63, 62, 74, 64, and 74.

Admittedly, Murc did start to walk back his claim, conceding that “[u]pstate has the I-90 corridor, and the decaying urban cores strung out along it are pretty liberal.” But at this point the claim has been narrowed to an empty tautology. “If we exclude the majority of upstate that’s liberal or moderate, it’s conservative.” I mean..I can’t argue with this, exactly, but the assertion that upstate New York is like Alabama has now been rendered inoperative.  If you have to exclude metropolitan Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, the North Country, and much of the Hudson Valley from your definition of “upstate New York” for your characterization to hold water, it’s wrong.

Saying that upstate New York is like Alabama, therefore, is like the assertion that Obama is really a moderate Republican. It’s either meaningless to the point of constituting dissembling (“look — a powerless and unrepresentative nominal Republican who has positions indistinguishable from a mainstream liberal Democrat — he’s like Obama!”), or it’s false.

Jack Bruce

[ 43 ] October 25, 2014 |

R.I.P. For the two or three readers in the audience who might be interested in that kind of thing, I quite liked the Tony Williams tribute he put together with Vernon Reid and John Medeski.

On a related note, the recent documentary about Ginger Baker — which I think is still on Netflix streaming — is a pretty remarkable watch.

Plutocrats Hate Poor People Participating in Politics

[ 49 ] October 25, 2014 |

The plutocracy might say the quiet parts loud in China because it doesn’t matter. But the economic elites in the US agree–and always have–that the poor should not have the same rights in the political arena. They might spice it up with rhetoric about “responsibility” or something, but it’s really just that the poor have different interests and therefore must be crushed.

But these strategies for protecting plutocrats from the mob are indirect and imperfect. The obvious answer is Mr. Leung’s: Don’t let the bottom half, or maybe even the bottom 90 percent, vote.

And now you understand why there’s so much furor on the right over the alleged but actually almost nonexistent problem of voter fraud, and so much support for voter ID laws that make it hard for the poor and even the working class to cast ballots. American politicians don’t dare say outright that only the wealthy should have political rights — at least not yet. But if you follow the currents of thought now prevalent on the political right to their logical conclusion, that’s where you end up.

The truth is that a lot of what’s going on in American politics is, at root, a fight between democracy and plutocracy. And it’s by no means clear which side will win.

Democracy versus plutocracy was the fundamental battle of the Gilded Age as well. Democracy sort of won. Will it win in the New Gilded Age? Maybe. Maybe not.

Belated Creature Feature: Interview with the Esteemed Herr Doktor

[ 26 ] October 25, 2014 |

You may know LGM commenter herr doktor bimler as the the quick-witted smarty-pants who makes you look at weird stuff, but I know herr doktor bimler as a quick-witted smarty-pants who makes me look at weird stuff and also is a fancy-schmancy school doctor. I’ll let him take it from here:

I am a lowly Ph.D. Massey University pays me a pittance as a Research
Affiliate, i.e. to publish enough papers to burnish their reputation. The
Teutonic styling is so that if anyone in a comment thread complains about
my pompous pedantry, I can point to the “Herr Doktor” and tell them “What
the fuck do you expect??”

Lately most of those papers have been about perceptual psychology and
colour vision, but my research area is anything I want it to be. I am
happy to pretend to be knowledgeable about multiple topics.

Long story short, he is super-smart and knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things. So I decided to ask him about dinosaur things.

But first he demurs a bit…

 Bear in mind, [I] only [have] a layman’s knowledge of dinos. I read Tetrapod
Zoology and remember stuff (I never could work out why people *forget*
stuff; it only means that you have to learn it again in the future).

Now let’s get to the fun stuff.

> 1.) The Dreadnoughtus was recently discovered and is now thought to be the
> biggest dinosaur that existed. What are your thoughts? Do we know for sure
> it was bigger than Agentinosaurus? (I couldn’t find any charts comparing
> it to Argentinosaurus)

Here’s a chart for you:

(from Paleoking). The existing bones of Dreadnoughtus are *smaller* than
other known dinosaurs (including Agentinosaurus), but the individuals
weren’t fully grown, so the size of a full-grown Dreadnoughtus remains
fair game for speculation.Our Dark Lord (Darren Naish at Tetrapod Zoology) has not weighed in yet so
I dare not venture an opinion, for fear of the scorpion pits if I guess
> 2.) Paleontologist Jack Horner thinks that Dracorex, Stygimoloc and
> Pachycephalosaurus may have been the same dinosaur during different stages
> of its life. There have been similar theories regarding Triceratops and
> Torosaurus. Do you think there’s any validity to either theory?

> 3.) What is your favorite dinosaur and why?

I’m going to say the Azhdarchidae, (a) because think how many points that
would score in a Scrabble game, and (b) so you can complain that
pterosaurs aren’t dinosaurs.
> 4.) Do you think that Therizinosaurus used it claws to root out insects to
> eat? If he did, would he still be considered a plant-eater?
 Clearly Therizinosaurus used its scary reaver claws for doing jazz-hands.
Don’t you want to see a whole troupe of Therizinosauri in a dance revue?
One more thing: herr doktor would like me to point you to my last post, where I claimed that the Pentaceratops on display at the Sam Noble museum had the biggest skull ever found. It turns that, though it is labeled “Pentaceratops”, it is, in fact, a Titanoceratops.

Health News as Entertainment

[ 10 ] October 25, 2014 |

Hiltzik has another good piece, this time featuring maps of preventable diseases to show the impact of the anti-vaccination foolishness. The general outlines we know here since we have slammed on the anti-vaxxers many times. But I thought this was an important point we probably haven’t really covered:

The surge of measles and whooping cough cases underscore the irresponsibility of opinion leaders like Katie Couric in giving anti-vaxxers a popular platform. Too many figures in the entertainment business (Dr. Oz, I’m looking at you) don’t care about making sure their audiences get information tested by science, as long as they can rake in the big bucks. They have a lot to answer for.

Indeed. Much like climate change, the idea that news has to be entertaining and thus present “both sides,” as if there are two sides to the need to get your children vaccinated or the science behind climate change, is incredibly damaging to the world.

Throwing that Punk Party with the Right Level of Tasteful Decor

[ 30 ] October 25, 2014 |

If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s Martha Stewart’s website telling people how to host punk rock parties.

The comment section is really great here.

A couple of weeks old, but I figure most of you hadn’t seen it.

Andrew Sullivan: Team GamerGate

[ 266 ] October 24, 2014 |

Does this surprise anyone? It didn’t surprise me in the least.

When Misogyny and American Gun Culture Meet

[ 65 ] October 24, 2014 |

The results can be horrible:

Two students are dead after one of them opened fire Friday morning in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, according to law-enforcement sources.

Police said four other people were wounded  in the 10:45 a.m. shooting.

Austin Joyner, a student at the school, said on Twitter that he saw the shooter come into the cafeteria, walk over to a table, pull out a gun and shoot students who were sitting there.

Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry at a girl who would not date him, and that the girl was one of the people shot.  He said he believes one of the victims was his friend since kindergarten.


Bobo’s Comedy Classics

[ 58 ] October 24, 2014 |

Shorter Verbatim David Brooks:  “The federal government should borrow money at current interest rates to build infrastructure, including better bus networks so workers can get to distant jobs. The fact that the federal government has not passed major infrastructure legislation is mind-boggling, considering how much support there is from both parties.”

Yes, it’s a real puzzle. If both Republicans and Democrats support major infrastucture investments, why hasn’t Congress passed any since the ARRA?  Why, it’s almost enough to make me think that one of the premises is false!

The same problem infects people nostalgic for the 1970s Golden Age of the Democratic Party and The Last Liberal President Richard Nixon, when we would never have gotten a neoliberal health insurance industry bailout like the ACA.  Richard Nixon supported national health care!  Democrats supported real national health care!  The fact that a Democratic Congress did not pass and Richard Nixon did not sign any comprehensive health care reform might suggest that these assumptions are not in fact true.

Friday Links

[ 63 ] October 24, 2014 |

(Ed: How about a dark-skinned guy with a squeegie that looks like a scythe? Can you get me that?)

[ 78 ] October 24, 2014 |

My coworker, who is from East Africa, did not appreciate this image on the front page of USA Today.


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