Stupid things

On flame wars

Just a short post here, but I was recently reading about a little controversy that’s going on in the sci-fi blogging world. I won’t go into the specifics, because it’s not really that interesting, but there are all these flame wars appearing on a bunch of blogs about it. (And of course, I don’t want my blog to be one of them!)

I just have to say: If you’re offended by something you read on the Internet, you’re an idiot. Don’t engage in flame wars. I know I never would, that’s for sure.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Philosophy

It’s so hard to be us

A famous man says, “There are very few African-American men in this country [the USA] who have not had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. That includes me. There are probably very few African-American men who have not had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who have not had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had the chance to get off. That happens often.”

What’s his point? What is he trying to say?

There are different experiences between all sorts of people. Men and women, rich men and poor men, black men and white men, old men and young men, men of this religion and that religion, men of this ancestry and that ancestry, men of this country and that country, men with medical conditions and men without, men who had this sort of childhood and that sort, etc.

But of what value is it to define yourself by those differences? Of what value is it to set yourself apart from others? Of what value is it to say only certain people can relate to your experiences or your suffering? Do you think they entitle you to something special?

We cannot end racism, sexism, classism, ageism, whatever, by looking for the differences we experience and clinging to them as if they define us and set us apart from others. This will only divide us and perpetuate the problems. (This is the problem with things like affirmative action and feminism and dedicating months to celebrating the history of some special group. They perpetuate the divisions they claim to want to close by putting differences on a pedestal as if they’re something to be celebrated for their own sake.)

This isn’t to say that differences don’t exist, that we don’t experience difference sorts of hardships. Of course we do. But these differences are completely meaningless. (For that matter, it is self-righteous snobbery, and self-torture, to believe it’s any easier to be someone else.)

We all love, we all laugh, we all cry, blah blah blah, cue heartfelt piano music. When you truly care about your neighbor, you don’t look for your differences.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Fake news

Boycott The Hobbit films!

The second Hobbit film will be coming out soon, but you can count me out! Why? Well, it’s come to my attention that Mr. Tolkien, author of the book on which the film is based, is an evil bigot! Why? Well, just read what he wrote about sex!

This is a fallen world. The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall. The world has been ‘going to the bad’ all down the ages. The various social forms shift, and each new mode has its special dangers: but the ‘hard spirit of concupiscence’ has walked down every street, and sat leering in every house, since Adam fell. We will leave aside the ‘immoral’ results. These you desire not to be dragged into.

Clearly any person who still holds this ancient and unpopular view is a hateful bigot who just doesn’t want certain people to be happy by doing whatever they sexually please. So intolerant! These people must be punished with boycotting. We all know that it has recently been discovered that the only way to happiness for the human race is if we all embrace and celebrate sexual indulgence in all its beautiful forms. If you see The Hobbit film, you’re giving money to the estate of Tolkien, which might go to some people who believe what he believed! How awful is that?!

What you can do instead:

* Start a pledge and sign it and keep your hard earned dollars away from Tolkien’s estate and people who believe in certain sexual morals.

* Tell all your friends what Tolkien really believed. The ultimate plan is that people who believe in these sexual morals will run out of money and starve or will switch their opinion to celebrate our sexual choices.

* On whatever day the movie comes out, instead of going to the theater, attend a Skip Hobbit event with your wise and tolerant friends. We’ll be hosting events all over the place, because nothing says “tolerance!” like pre-organized events dedicated to keeping money away from one specific person who is famous and thinks we’re doing something that’s not good for us, like acting on our sexual desires, whatever they may be.

* Donate money or volunteer your time to organizations that support the celebration of sexual indulgence!

* If you have any control in the media, report this boycott! Pretend you’re being unbiased, of course, and are just reporting the news.

By doing this, we’ll send an ominous message to all those who do not bow to our sexual indulgences that they will be publically singled out, shamed, and financially punished for being honest about their evil beliefs.

We’re going to nobly and heroically change the world by singling out one oppressive bigot at a time! If sexual indulgence itself was enough to make us happy, we wouldn’t need everyone’s approval. But of course everyone’s approval is actually a big factor to our happiness, so we really need to fight for it! Equality!

———-

In the interest of letting all sides of this controversial issue express their views, here’s a letter from a reader:

Dear New Blather,

I agree that Tolkien is an evil bigot, but I sure don’t think a boycott is the way to go! Think of all the other people who worked on the movie! I mean, art and artists are two separate things. But, I must be clear, I agree with you about all the sexual indulgence stuff. I mean, Tolkien is just so bigoted in that area. I can’t argue with that. I want everyone to like me, so I really want to be clear about that. But, yeah, a boycott is going a little too far. I really want to see the movie, after all. So I think my opinion is a bit more mainstream than yours. But, again, I do agree that Tolkien sure is evil what with his religious views and all. I mean, we should be able to have some sexual indulgence without other people saying it’s wrong. To say it’s wrong is just evil. And to have what we think is wrong reflected in law is evil because separation of church and state and stuff and imposing religion is wrong. But a boycott? No.

———-

Finally, the movie studio has released a statement:

We here at the Hobbit movie studio just want to make it clear that Tolkien is dead and we really don’t care about his beliefs. We just want your money, so whatever your beliefs are, we think they’re OK. If you feel like you’re part of some sort of community, we just want you to know that we support you. We only made the movie based on Tolkien’s work because his book was popular, not because we agree with any of his old stupid sexual beliefs. Sex for everyone, that’s what we say!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Got my twitter back

Looks like a got my twitter back! Didn’t get an email or anything from twitter support, but suspended notices aren’t popping up anymore and everything looks back to normal. It looks like my account had been compromised somehow. I’ll be searching around for how that could have happened. But the link to my website had been changed to something spammy, which I’m betting is why my account was suspended. Glad I got it back, but it looks like I lost all my followers and everyone I was following, so that will take some time to rebuild. Hope it won’t happen again.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Twitter suspended me

I just tried tweeting something, and couldn’t. My twitter account has been suspended! (Don’t have schadenfreude!) I’m guessing they have some automated algorithmic process for suspending accounts and mine came up as a false-positive. (Too many links, maybe? I do post links a bit, but they’re never misleading or repetitive or spammy.) Either that or this is the work of my arch-nemesis, Finneas Blinn, who is envious of my intellect and success and seeks to ruin me in every way.

Fortunately, Twitter allows you to submit a ticket asking them to review and restore your account, which I of course immediately did.

We’ll see how long it takes. Googling around, seems false-positives are not uncommon, and restoration can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks. So it’s like querying agents!

Anyway, I’m not too worried. I only follow around 40 people and only have around 240 followers. I don’t have a business that relies on tweeting people or something, so waiting won’t bother me. Besides, there’s always you, WordPress, my ever faithful friend and ally.

Oh, and here’s the tweet I was trying to tweet when my account suddenly became suspended: “almost done plotting my next novel… have a summary of all the scenes, but still need to work out the specifics of connecting some of them”

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Professor turns test into a game, blogger remains unimpressed

Here’s an interesting article a friend shared on Facebook. The article has gotten a lot of likes and tweets, and commentators on the article congratulate the author, a professor of Behavioral Ecology at UCLA, for his wonderful brilliant idea.

His idea? He let his students “cheat” on an exam by letting them work with each other and with any other resource they wanted. The “meta” idea is that they’d learn something about behavior by how they take the test.

What would they learn?

I don’t know. The article is rather vague on the specifics, save for an idea any idiot should know, “If we all work together, we can do more.” That doesn’t mean working together is automatically a good thing, obviously; it depends on what people are trying to achieve. If two or more people are trying to achieve the same thing and lose nothing by another person achieving it, then, of course, work together. I think the human species would’ve died out long ago if humans didn’t innately understand this, so I fail to see anything very amazing or brilliant by exemplifying this in allowing such cooperative behavior to emerge in a set of unconventional exam rules.

The professor writes:

In the end, the students learned what social insects like ants and termites have known for hundreds of millions of years. To win at some games, cooperation is better than competition. Unity that arises through a diversity of opinion is stronger than any solitary competitor.

But did the students themselves realize this?

Is that supposed to be profound?

What really bugs me more than anything, however, is when the professor writes:

Is the take-home message, then, that cheating is good? Well…no. Although by conventional test-taking rules, the students were cheating, they actually weren’t in this case. Instead, they were changing their goal in the Education Game from “Get a higher grade than my classmates” to “Get to the best answer.” This also required them to make new rules for test taking.

What student’s goal is merely to “get a higher grade than my classmate”? Is the value of a D worth more if everyone else got an F? I think the goal for most students is to “get the best grade I can based on how much I value it.” Because, in the end, for the purposes of the student, the true worth of a grade is decided by himself, not a professor or an institution’s arbitrary rating system.

You see, you silly professor, your test was never a “game.” At least, not in the sense you thought it was. You do not get to decide what the students are playing for, so you never had control of the rules in the first place. The students have always been in control of the rules, because they’re in control of their own goals. The rules any educator establishes for his students are part of the educator’s goals, what the educators are playing for, what the educators want to do with their student’s grades and what they want those grades to reflect.

So I fail to see how the professor accomplished anything worthwhile.

If you want to accomplish something worthwhile, follow my education philosophies!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Saving is objectifying?

I couldn’t watch this whole video because the host’s arguments are just too completely insane. It’s probably too insane to even be worth commenting on, but I’m going to anyway. (I like how ratings and comments are conveniently not allowed on the video.)

The argument is that the “damsel in distress” trope in video games objectifies women by portraying them as objects to be won. If this were truly the case, any game involving a damsel in distress could replace the damsel with a bag of virtual money as the ultimate prize, and the story should still work. It doesn’t, because the bag of money can’t love the main character in return. The prize is not the woman’s body, it’s the woman’s love, the return of the mutual love between the two characters. These stories are founded on relationships.

Claiming that wanting to save a woman is objectifying her is like claiming that giving a gift to someone is a form a objectification, because someone is being acted upon. “Honey, I got you a new necklace!” “How dare you act upon me!” We might as well never do anything for anyone else, less we objectify them.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

An annoying argument tactic

There’s an issue going on in the writing / publishing world involving Random House’s e-book imprint Hydra, as mentioned in this recent post from the Writer Beware Blog.

I have no comment on the issue itself, but on something mentioned in Random House’s open response letter.  They write:

While we respect your position, you’ll not be surprised to learn that we strongly disagree with it, and wish you had contacted us before you published your posts.

I’ve seen this sort of defense before in the blogosphere.  “You should’ve talked to me before you said something negative about me!”  No.  Obviously you have every right to defend your opinions, but it is no breach of etiquette for someone else to publish his dissenting opinions without running them by you first.  Your original deeds and writings are what he is publishing an opinion about.  If his opinions seem to be based on a misunderstanding, you can correct him, but it is not his job to run his opinions by you first.

I doubt whoever wrote this letter meant much by this sentence, but this way of thinking bothers me.

By S P Hannifin, ago