Author: Andrew

I'm an officially minted writer and a new father, an amateur essayist, and a fairly dapper nerd.

Man goes into Barren Desert, Declares Himself King

He’s not entirely wrong yet.

Although one of the main reasons Heaton claimed the area is that he hoped to fulfill his daughter’s wish to become a princess, his family also has wanted to transform the land into a needed agricultural resource.

Once he finalizes his vision for the desert, he intends to meet with Sudanese and Egyptian officials, thinking they will agree that his plans will benefit the region.

“There is no way they can’t see it in a positive light,” Heaton said.

Even so, Heaton recognized that it would be best to formalize his plans before approaching government officials.

We’re talking about an 800-square mile patch of desert disputed between Egypt and Sudan. He’s marched in and (literally) planted his flag. Then he left. Now he’s trying to bring the land to bloom, and then hoping the governments will rather have a small kingdom in that spot than their rival regional power.

I wish him well, but he needs to bring in people. Specifically, people who owe their loyalty to him directly, and will view him as a sovereign. Then he’d have a chance. But this seems like a sardonic exercise in do-goodery. Lame.

ironically

The Shaky Evidence of Gender Theory

Stacy McCain could be a accused of being a “feminism bore”, as often he seems to write about little else. But feminism, especially of the radical variety, merits the response. Today McCain takes a long look at Kate Millet, author of the 1970 radfem tome Sexual Politics. His main point, about Millet’s mental health and unhappiness, is of a piece with things he’s written before, but I’m more interested in the bad evidence for Gender Theory that Millet used.

The crux of gender feminism  is that there are no men and women, only “men” and “women” – social constructs that can and should be done away with in the interests of true equality. But upon what evidence does that claim rest? According to McCain, precious little, at least insofar as Sexual Politics is concerned:

Scientific advances have been quite unfortunate for Millett’s claim that “there is no differentiation between the sexes at birth,” in part because her citation for that claim is dependent on one of the greatest frauds in scientific history. On pages 30-31, she excerpts a quotation from a 1965 article “Psychosexual Differentation,” from a book entitled Sex Research, New Developments; in her bibliography, Millett references a 1957 book, The Psychologic Study of Man. The author of both of these works? Johns Hopkins University psychologist Dr. John Money, whose botched attempt to turn a boy into a girl (the notorious “John/Joan” experiment) failed spectacularly, ultimately resulting in the suicide of Dr. Money’s pathetic human guinea pig, David Reimer.

Dr. Money’s unethical (and perhaps criminal) methods of attempting to psychologically “condition” Reimer to be a girl were never successful; “Brenda” Reimer aggressively rejected the female identity that Dr. Money tried to impose. Yet Dr. Money, having trumpeted the “John/Joan” case as proof of his theories in the 1970s, misrepresented the case in his academic publications and in popular media. It took many years before another scientist, curious to know how Dr. Money’s patient had adjusted to adult womanhood, discovered the shocking truth behind Dr. Money’s fraudulent “research.” As a teenager, “Brenda” Reimer had decisively rejected “her” female identity, and sought treatment to become the man “she” had been born to be. David Reimer married a woman and, despite the loss of functional genitalia — castrated in infancy as part of Dr. Money’s “treatment” — he was by the 1990s an otherwise normal (that is, masculine) young man, albeit suffering from depression that finally resulted in his 2004 suicide.

This is startling, and not just because you find yourself wondering “Who the hell authorized the castration of an infant boy?” But because you would like to assume that basic ethics would prevented someone from making use of such experiments. But apparently one would be wrong.

Concurrently, Millet dismisses contrary evidence without having done the reading:

Millett, whose claim to expertise was . . . well, what? She got her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota and got a postgraduate degree in literature at Oxford University, then went to Japan where she taught English and married an avant-garde sculptor.
Here she was in 1970, however, presuming to accuse Dr. Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology, of misrepresenting the research of zoologist Konrad Lorenz, who won the Nobel Prize in 1973. If Tiger was guilty of misrepresenting Lorenz’s work, you might think that Lorenz himself would have made the accusation, which he never did. Anyone interested in the subject may consult Konrad Lorenz’s 1966 book On Aggression and Lionel Tiger’s 1968 book Men in Groups and decide for themselves whether the two authors were in accord.

Of course the answer to this is that science is a patriarchal construct. Which is a rhetorically effective device, as all the devices employed by conspiracy theorists and totalitarians tend to be.

Now, I’m betting that evidence for gender-theory – the nurture side of the equation, as it were – is more pronounced today than it was in 1970. But so is the counter-evidence. There’s more than enough scientific data on how boys and girls behave differently from birth to at least seriously question the notion that gender is a social construct. That there are divergences in gender behavior among men and women, no one denies. That there are social aspects to gender, no one denies. But the assumption that the cart is pushing the horse has never made sense to me.

I Just Figured Out How To Tumblr. Possibly How to Blog.

So I mentioned that I was re-vamping my Tumblr from having a no real purpose to having a purpose. In the past 2 days I’ve gained nearly 500 followers.

Granted, it’s Tumblr, so following is easy and doesn’t necessarily lead to connection or interaction with contact. It’s like Twitter that way. Of all those followers, there are only a handful of likes, and I think one reblog. But I only have 654 Twitter followers, and I’ve been tweeting for years.

To what do I owe this success, such as it is? I think the following:

  1. People get what my Tumblr’s about, and are interested. People like talking about music, and my posts are short and to the point.
  2. Bro, Do You Even Tag? In doing music reviews, it always helps to tag the band name, the song name, the album name. Then people who check the tags see the content, and decide to follow if they like what they see.
  3. YouTube is the New MTV. After (which is to say, above) every review, I do a separate video post which has either a favored deep track or a live version or something else that I think noteworthy. YouTube is great at giving you options, and people like to hear music when they’re done reading about music.

So, Focus, Reach Out, and Consistent Content. Hopefully this continues.

Check out the noise at Every. Damn. CD.

William Gibson’s Source Code: An Interesting Mini-Memoir

He covers all the basics in a short period of time.

This struck me:

Brian Aldiss believes that if you look at the life of any novelist, you’ll find an early traumatic break, and mine seems no exception.

Because I think everyone can examine their childhood and find moments of sublime clarity, when reality takes its mask off and murders the idyll in front of you. So I don’t know that such is restricted only to novelists. Perhaps novelists access it fastest.

This amused me:

Google me and you can learn that I do it all on a manual typewriter, something that hasn’t been true since 1985, but which makes such an easy hook for a lazy journalist that I expect to be reading it for the rest of my life.

Journalists are the laziest bastards on the planet. They find a hook, and then stuff everything else through that hook like it was a funnel. A plague on their houses.

Read the whole thing, if you’re a Gibson fan and you’ve never hit up his web site before. It has an archaic, Geocities-ish design that’s almost charming.

David Lynch’s Dune is So Bad it’s Hypnotic

The “Disasterpiece Theater” series at The Decider begins with a good choice.

In a lot of ways, Dune has a lot of the same problems as Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Hear me out… Both were made for a rabid science fiction audience. Both films boast beautiful production design and talented casts. However, the biggest problem with both films is that they spend more time providing exposition about tedious political plots and religious superstitions than they do establishing characters and relationships. Dune spends almost a half hour telling you about houses and treaties and spice and navigators before getting to the tense gom jabbar scene (which Herbert begins on, like, page 5). Lynch just drops you into Paul’s world and you go with it because he doesn’t quite know what’s going on, either. You’ve got a relatable protagonist to latch onto, use him!

Lynch’s Dune is visually stunning but a narrative mess. And I’m a big fan of the series. I even like God Emperor of Dune (But not any book after that. The last two novels that Herbert wrote feel tired and meandering, and all the works written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson just feel wrong). But even I find almost every line and acting choice weird and off (plus Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck? What?).

Yes, it should be watched. Actually, it should be watched several times:

  1. What? Who’s that? What’s going on? Why is this so BORING? Ugh, Never again!
  2. Actually, there’s some neat things to see here. It’s got a cool look. I might watch this again; it might grow on me.
  3. No, this is a bad movie. I’m done. Wierding modules? What were they thinking?

Virgina Madsen is gorgeous, however…

Giving My Tumblr a Purpose

loureed

Lou Reed in 1977, for no good reason.

I have a Tumblr for reasons that I never understood. It was just a thing to get, and a direct violation of my actual purpose in having a single blog with my name on it. But there’s a problem that’s never quite been satisfied.

I had, at one of my old dead blogs, a music writing project that I tried to import here and never fully did. I never fully did because my life got twist-turned upside down when I became a dad, and summoning the eloquence to write about R.E.M. and the Rolling Stones felt like work. And when you’re a blogger, work doesn’t feel right.

So I’m going to re-charge the project. I’m going to rate and review all of my CD’s. In the following order:

  1. By Genre
  2. Within Genre, alphabetically by Artist Name
  3. Within Artist, chronologically by release date.

It’s called Every.Damn. CD. and what’s going to make it change is I’m not going to try for eloquence or knock myself out for insight. Every disc gets a paragraph, a grade, and a youtube link if I happen to feel like it. I’ll go for knocking them out once or twice a week or so.

I’ve got a diverse music collection and I used to care about it. Let’s see if anything interesting falls therefrom.

 

Everything is Rape Culture

Roofies are rape culture, obviously.

Nail polish that detects roofies? Also Rape Culture. Because women shouldn’t have to “prevent rape”. Men should just not rape.

Because rape denies women agency over their own bodies, anything which gives women a means of protecting or ensuring that agency is also part of rape culture. Like, duh.

Also rape culture: women carrying weapons, mace, or rape whistles to protect themselves from assault. I mean, they’re even called “rape whistles.” How Rape-Culture can you get?

Also rape culture: women fighting back from being raped at all. She should not have to do that. Do you get it, male pigs of the Patriarchy? SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THAT. Better to close her eyes, think of England, and then call the cops.

Except she shouldn’t call the cops, because cops are totally Rape Culture. Cops arrest men for rape, which is too damn late. The rape has already happened. MEN SHOULD JUST NOT RAPE.

Rape is very bad and should not happen. Until all men know not to rape, all men are guilty of rape. That’s completely logical and not at all reminiscent of the reasoning of racists, right?

It is not the job of women to prevent rape. It is the job of men. The job of women is to talk about rape and demand that men do something about it. Women must forego their patriarchally-imbued sense of self-preservation and responsibility for their own lives and depend upon men to make things safe for them.

Because Feminism.