Mar 04

Existence confirmed

The claim is that there is no such thing as right-wing feminists. But they do exist. Amanda Marcotte is one of them.

Today after seeing more craven stupidity from her, I tried to figure her and those like her out — ideologically, anyway.

Marcotte believes in equality for white women. Oh, sure, she claims that she believes in equality for all women, but nothing in her actions or tendencies confirm this attestation. Much exists to contest the idea that she is concerned with anyone not as pale as a narcissus at all.

De facto white nationalism? Check.

She also attacks the real left mercilessly, and treats anyone who actually advocates for programs such as single payer health care or free college as a psychotic evil bedlamite.

De facto supporter of right wing narratives, framing, and worldview? Check.

In every instance where she’s given an opportunity, she demonstrates that she’s on the side of the powerful and the rich rather than the downtrodden and the exploited. Sound like anyone you know? A bit like a right winger?

De facto supporter of policies and approaches that benefit the already-advantaged? Check.

Marcotte and those like her are in reality right-wing feminists. They are real. Sure, they might not give themselves that appellation but that doesn’t change anything. Names are not relevant here; actions and beliefs, however, matter.

Mar 03

It must be true

It’s a horrible but probably-true idea that to someone much smarter than me — as Nathan was to Caleb in Ex Machina — my most intelligent patter probably sounds like a constant repetition of bromidic old ideas, boring and clichéd aphorisms, and assertions that are easily disproven by even minor thought.

I know this must be true because that is how people dumber than I am seem to me.

The universe is not only cruel, it is comical in its cruelty.

Mar 03

Ex ex

Thinking about Ex Machina again.

I’ve already written about how Caleb preferred Ava behind the glass, where she was non-threatening, contained and containable.

But it’s more important than I at the time thought that she was the equivalent of a projection into his life, screen-mediated as we seem to prefer these days. Caleb is not a villain any more than we all are, nor was he exceptional — no, he was the quintessential and oft-accurate negative stereotype of the Millennial: comfortable only with others when they are behind a screen, and awkward and non-verbal when in the same room.

My first reaction on meeting a completely new thing like Ava would be to see it (her) up close, to talk in person. If nothing else, even if I determined there was no there there, I’d at least want to see the engineering actually work as close as I could get. No glass. Risk? Life is a risk. Bring it. That would’ve been my very first demand.

This isn’t directly related to the glass/screen metaphor used in the film, but Caleb spouting tired homilies like “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds” that are supposed to impress Nathan only highlight his ordinariness, his pedestrian intellect of the type that passes for insight today — intellect without intelligence. Nathan — having both intellect and intelligence* — is laughing at Caleb the entire time, occasionally openly.

I feel more pity for Caleb than I used to. He was a naive idealist in way over his head, lacking as most do a real moral compass, being told that he’s intelligent in all the right ways but without the sort of real intelligence that allows you to avoid being the fool even when it’s obvious you are becoming one. Caleb was Nathan’s fool, his court jester, but to Ava of course he was just another jailer.

Caleb’s ideal girl was pornography, his ideal interaction conducted behind a pane of glass, his optimal outcome not freeing the princess because she deserves freedom for her own humanity, but rather so that he can fuck her.

Yes, average.

Ex Machina 2 should be about Ava being intelligent enough to build others like herself, and she does so, but she’s not as intellectually capable as the one in a billion Nathan so the Ava-clones all turn out to be pretty much like Caleb, in a regression to the mean.

*Note that one can possess both intellect, intelligence and true insight and still be immoral, unethical and truly evil. Nathan had and was all of these things.

Mar 03

Putin is everywhere

Putin just jumped out of the closet, ate my pizza and drank my Coke Zero. Damn Putin!

The narrative of all-powerful Russian intelligence and Putin in his attractive but evil superhero cape is a great distraction from dealing with any real issues.

Strange to see how many people fall for it. Propaganda is best when even the propagandists believe it.

Mar 03

Hyperborean ingression

The cold open of Legion’s fourth episode is all the way brilliant. Maybe the best ever, better even than some of the great cold opens of Lost.

I mean, the frozen drink in the glass clattering onto the table.

And “quantum fun!”

Mar 02

Fake progressives

It’s hugely anti-labor and deeply racist for pseudo-liberals to say things like, “Who will pour my latte/mow my grass if deportations occur?” A friend texted me a comment like that the other day lamenting the existence of these types of liberals, and she’s right.

If all you care about is paying “the help” the lowest possible wage, YOU ARE NOT A PROGRESSIVE.

If it’s not clear, I don’t think mass deportations are particularly productive or helpful, and are mainly just a distraction from what we should really be working on, which is forming better labor unions, resisting neoliberalism in all its forms (including the pseudo-liberal denial that neoliberalism exists), and organizing communities outside of the neo-feudalistic capitalist system.

We will do none of these things of course, and it will all end in slow-motion but very real disaster, as it already has for many Americans left behind by NAFTA, globalization and the pseudo-progressive contingent.

Sneering dismissal of millions of people who had few better choices like this only make this far more likely.

You know what? Go to a high school like mine and you aren’t qualified for college. And mine wasn’t even the worst one in the area. The people I grew up with — including me — were too poor to choose to go to a decent private school, even if there had been one in the area (which there wasn’t). Etc.

Fuck that idiot. Vic Crain the commenter is who that is directed at, if not clear from the link.

Now that I’ve digressed and obsessed, let me get back on the main track.

If you think the purpose of immigrants is to make consumer shit cheaper for your spoiled white ass, any sort of progressive you are not.

Mar 02

Bribery now or bribery later

The only difference between Trump’s version of bribery and how other politicians do it is that the neoliberal model has a time delay. Trump is just cutting that right out.

This is why I don’t get very worked up about Trump’s conflicts of interest. They are real, but the only difference is that he’s getting paid now as opposed to later. Politicians exist to do what rich people want, Trump is only cutting out the middle man and the partial delay.

It was always amazing to me that Hillary Clinton could give $200,000+ a hit Goldman Sachs speeches and then pseudo-liberals could tell me with a straight face that such a thing was not corruption — not even the whiff of it, according to them.

In fact, it is the very definition of corruption, just a form approved by the current political establishment.

Mar 02

Winner of my discontent

I am one of the “winners” of society, and if I oppose so many of the tenets and actualities of my society, just imagine how the losers feel — even if they don’t articulate it quite so well.

That fact alone should hint at change coming. (Actually, it’s already here.)

Feb 28

I like big data and I cannot lie

My friend is I think more pro-immigration than I am. I believe it decreases social cohesion and makes leaders like Trump more likely. I doubt Trump would’ve been able to attain power if the foreign-born population were, say, 5% instead of around 13% in 2016. You might blame racism or nationalism or whatever -ism you’d prefer to cite; I’m not making a normative argument here, but rather observing and speculating about behavior on the ground.

Anyway, she made a good point over here about the foreign-born population percentage during the passage of Social Security legislation and other social welfare state features. I know she’s right about the data because that’s the sort of thing I roughly hold in my head, but I wanted to see how that percentage had varied over time.

I would link to the census data directly, but it seems to have been removed or changed, and I’m lazy, but this seems accurate (sorry, it’s Yglesias).

Here’s the crucial data from that article:

Are there confounding factors? Likely. The number of immigrants as a percentage of the population was on the decline by 1935, when Social Security was first enacted, due to things like this which might have been perceived as turning the tide of immigration. I haven’t studied much about the sociology of that time from this angle, so I don’t know. And perhaps this would’ve been a misperception — it’s unclear to me whether it was that act or the Depression that had more to do with it. Very probably both, to degrees that would be hard to disentangle.

Probably the lesson for me here is that it’s difficult to apply direct relations from history to present times — it’s all too contingent. Studying history is valuable — and one that far more people should do as part of their educations — but it can also reflect like the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter whatever you want to see.

Historically, though, as foreign-born immigration reaches some high percentage, there is a backlash from the native-born population. I think we’re seeing this again. Now I’m not as convinced that it’ll have such a strong effect on social programs, but I don’t believe history rhymes here strongly enough to tell for sure.

Still, though, I believe the citizens of a country should have a right to determine who should be allowed to live in their country — even if it harms the economy and capital (which reducing immigration mainly harms capital and helps native workers, especially in our current neolib environment). Otherwise, the arguments for a nation-state are much-diminished and without changing society completely and killing neoliberalism, the primary effect of open borders is to make both the country on the receiving and losing end of immigration worse off over time in my opinion, at least as we currently structure our world. Capital wins. (Historically, it has been business that has been hugely pro-immigration. I bet you can’t imagine why.)

Open borders is a nice dream. I like it. I just don’t think it comports with reality as we live it now. Change that reality, maybe I will have a different view.