Month: May 2017

Why do circumcised men defend the practice?

I can by no means answer this question scientifically. There are probably many reasons why circumcised men defend the practice of male genital mutilation, and it would require an extensive survey to determine the answer. However, even such a survey would be suspect, particularly if the following hypothesis is correct. I base the following hypothesis on my own experience.

I think there is, among most circumcised men, a (possibly subconscious) desire to believe circumcision is harmless. This is because we do not like the idea that there is an aspect of sexual pleasure from which we have quite literally been cut off, not to mention the idea that circumcision is detrimental to the pleasure of our partners. So when introduced to the idea that circumcision is bad for both the victim’s and his partners’ sexual pleasure, a circumcision victim’s natural reaction is to want to deny this, not out of any rational consideration, but because he so desperately wants it to be untrue. This was certainly my own first reaction, as I now realize.

This drive leads to outright denial of facts and evidence, as well as to confirmation bias, and all the other irrational aspects of analysis to which the human mind is subject. Trying to argue with anyone who has a need to believe something is very difficult; this need to believe will trump evidence, and they often do not even realize that it is this need which is driving them to reject the evidence. Therefore, if surveyed, they would likely not report on this true cause, or even be aware of it.

(On a side note, this is a good reason to disregard personal narratives, which are considered so important in postmodernist ‘studies:’ the fact is, we often misunderstand ourselves.)

The DNC is a threat to democracy

The DNC has literally stated, in a court of law, that they believe they are under no obligation to respect the will of the registered democrat voters who vote in their primaries, let alone the will of the American people.

Let’s back up for a minute and talk about how Debbie Wasserman-Schultz talked about the DNC, back during the primaries, before there was a lawsuit. She said, ‘[Super] delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.’

Um, what? I couldn’t hear you over the deafening fascism that came out of your mouth!

So, one DNC chair admitted the DNC has superdelegates to prevent grassroots populist movements (also known as democracy) from taking root in the party, and. But she got fired surely, the DNC will at least follow its own charter, and be otherwise impartial? I mean, maybe the superdelegates aren’t impartial and democratic, but the DNC itself will be?

Sorry, if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. And the DNC’s lawyer has affirmed, in a court of law, that the DNC feels that it is under no obligation to uphold the impartiality clause in its own charter!

I am not sure I can state this strongly enough. So let me try to rephrase it, to make sure this sinks in:

The DNC has stated in a court of law that it can choose its nominations without ANY concern for what voters want, period, full stop, and can give an advantage to one primary candidate over another, _even though this totally contradicts its own charter_.

In fact, the lawyer claimed that ‘We [the DNC] could have voluntarily decided that, “Look, we’re going to go into like they used [to] and smoke cigars [why?] and pick the candidate that way.”‘

I want to hammer this point home, because it’s something that is easy to downplay. The DNC charter states that the DNC must be a fair and even-handed (that is, impartial) organization, when it comes to the various people in democratic primaries. But they have now claimed in federal court that they are under ZERO obligation to be fair or impartial, and that they could just ignore their charter and do whatever the hell the want, and voters have no recourse, legally, because their charter is meaningless.

You think that’s bad? The DNC went on to claim that defining fairness and evenhandedness is not something which a federal court has the authority to do. They actually said that even if their charter were somehow legally enforceable, that the United States judiciary has no right to interpret what their charter means.

If you think I’m joking, read what their lawyer told a federal judge:

‘That’s for the party to decide. We’re not going to get into that. Here, you have something inchoate, your Honor, which is this purported, this claim that the party acted without evenhandedness and impartiality. That – even to define what constitutes evenhandedness and impartiality really would already drag the Court well into a political question and a question of how the party runs its own affairs.

The party could have favored a candidate…. Even if it were true, that’s the business of the party, and it’s not justiciable [emphasis mine].’

How does one even respond to this blatant disregard for:

  1. Democracy. Because fuck the will of the voters, amiright?
  2. Contracts. Because a charter is a meaningless statement and if you believe that the DNC is somehow bound by its charter, you’re clearly an idiot.
  3. The United States judicial system. Because even if the DNC contract is somehow supposed to mean something, that meaning is clearly not something that can be interpreted by our federal courts!

We’ve known for a long time that Democratic elites such as the Clintons have viewed themselves as above the law. When Comey chose to avoid prosecuting Clinton for her handling of classified information (which would have landed anyone else in jail without any question, but which Comey deflected by saying she might have been too stupid to have intended to mishandle classified information), we knew that the United States does not, in practice, apply its laws equally to all citizens. But now, the DNC has openly stated that the DNC believes itself to be above the law, and even above any moral obligation to follow its own promises to its members.

This is an organization which would make the Corleone family look stellar by comparison. Even they understood loyalty and honoring a code. But the DNC has now stated it has no code except self-interest.

Imagine if you will an analogous situation. Say that I sign a contract with a school, that I will build a football field in the next three months, in exchange for $20,000. Say that after three months, there is no field. Can you imagine what would happen if I argued in a court of law that

  1. I am under no obligation to fulfill the contract, because it was just a piece of paper, and screw that dumb school, right?
  2. Even if I am under obligation to fulfill the contract, the United States judicial system has no authority to decide whether a football field has actually been built, because hey, screw the guv’mint!

I’d be ruled against in approximately two seconds flat, and also hit with contempt of court, and rightfully so! But the DNC is actually making this as a serious argument.

The DNC may be the greatest threat, not only to American democracy, but to American government (except perhaps the Deep State). They have expressed contempt for democracy, for contracts, and for our judicial system. Trump may be bad, but the DNC is an existential threat to us all.

A brief thought on Comey

I wrote a few days ago about why I don’t trust Sally Yates or the Dems. I don’t trust Comey either; he is a former banker/promoter and was hired largely to protect high-level Democrats from prosecution.

But, hypothesis: Let us suppose for a moment that Trump is not guilty of any wrongdoing with Russia. Let us suppose this narrative is solely manufactured by the Democrats (as is suggested in the book Shattered). Would it not be a move of sheer brilliance to fire Comey now? First, it would help ‘drain the swamp,’ since Comey is definitely a part of the Deep State. Second, it tempts the Democrats to push even harder for an independent prosecutor, who would find… nothing, and make Democrats look absolutely ridiculous as a result. And, as Dr. Amir Amini (@AmirAminiMD) pointed out, it would distract everyone from him doing whatever he wants, since the special prosecutor (or the demands for one) would occupy the MSM.

Regardless, when we consider everything that Comey has done, I cannot at all lament that he is gone regardless of Trump’s guilt (which Comey’s successor is free to unearth), and I see it as a blow to the Deep State. Especially as we remember how he protected Hillary, refusing to push for indictment even while he publicly stated that she broke the law with her server (claiming that he would not push for indictment because she might not have intended to break the law; I recommend every criminal use this excuse in court, and see how it goes!).

I also see it as quite ironic that recently (especially around election time, but also even earlier this week), Democrats were criticizing Comey and talking about how he was unsuitable for his job – but the moment Trump fired him, suddenly Comey became their hero! It’s hard to criticize a firing when you have said the employee in question is incompetent, a traitor, deserves to go to prison, etc.

Statistics and BLM

A study has come out analyzing police shootings in America. The prevalence of fatal police shootings by U.S. police, 2015–2016: Patterns and answers from a new data set. The article was written by Jon M. Shane, Brian Lawton, and Zoë Swenson .

Some pertinent details:

BLM stats.png

In other words, whites are just as likely to be killed when dealing with the police, and are more likely to killed than blacks when not attacking the officer. These statistics of course run counter to the BLM narrative of pervasive racism that causes blacks to be endangered when dealing with police. This is a good example of why we need to look at statistics, rather than relying on emotional anecdotes. Seeing a black teenager murdered makes us emotionally want to agree with BLM, and it makes other people look askance at us if we do not. However, BLM’s narrative is now not merely unsupported by evidence,  but contradicted by evidence.

Of course, there may be some cities where there is an anti-black disparity. More study would be needed. But the idea that there is a nation-wide problem is certainly shown to be incorrect by this study.

Why would whites be more likely to be killed when not attacking the officer? Perhaps it is because white officers are more careful when dealing with black suspects, because they do not want to be accused of racism if anything goes wrong (were I an officer, I think that would be a motivating factor in determining how I dealt with a situation).

EDIT:

There is one point in the research which does show support for some claims by BLM. Namely, although blacks are not more likely than whites to be killed during a stop, they are more likely to be stopped. See http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-cops-race-injury-20160725-snap-story.html for details about this aspect of the research.

Whether the frequency of stops is itself the result of race, or whether it simply correlates with race due to unrelated causes, is not clear to me.

Faith: atheists should stop misunderstanding this

So, let me reiterate: I am an atheist. In brief, I spent the first part of my life as a christian apologist, studying christian theology not as an academic pursuit, but because I believed it was crucial to do so. And eventually, I became an atheist.

But I want to help my fellow atheists to improve their arguments. And as such, I want to talk about an argument that atheists often make: the idea that ‘faith,’ in the christian sense, is about ‘belief without evidence.’

First, we should recognize that the bible was not written in English (unless you are a ‘KJV was a re-inspired version of the bible’ person). The new testament in particular was written in Greek and Aramaic (there is some debate over which books were originally written in which language). But regardless of those language issues, the word, whether it be ‘faith’ in English, or ‘pistes’ in Greek, can have different meanings in different contexts.

The thing is, yes, ‘faith’ can mean ‘believing without evidence.’ However, it has another meaning, trust, including trust based upon evidence. And it is also a matter of being faithful, which can mean, in essence, keeping your side of the bargain.

After all, ‘keeping faith’ means keeping your side of a promise. A spouse ‘keeps faith’ with their partner by being faithful to them, i.e. keeping their marital vows. A politician ‘keeps faith’ with their supporters by fulfilling their promises.

The term ‘faith’ in every day language also often has a basis in experience. We tell someone ‘I have faith in you!’ to encourage them that, for example, based on our knowledge of their abilities, we think they can accomplish the task at hand.

And another part of ‘faith’ is to trust. A spouse trusts that their partner will keep faith by avoiding cheating on them, but they do this based, in part, on evidence that their partner loves them and cares about them. A politician’s supporters have faith that they will keep their political promises, though in this case, they tend to do this despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Trust can manifest itself in other ways, as well, by influencing actions. So, a soldier who has faith in their commanding officer will obey that officer, even when they are sometimes unsure of whether that officer is correct or not. They obey because they think the commander has good ideas about tactics – a notion for which they often have evidence.

The point is, ‘faith’ does not mean ‘believing in the existence of god without evidence.’ Many christians think there is evidence for god (see Romans chapter 1, for example, or the many who attempt to argue for intelligent design; in my own case, it was mystical experiences which seemed persuasive, until I understood the scientific explanation for them), and that ‘faith’ refers to trusting said god as a lover trusts their partner or a soldier obeys their CO. The book of James discusses this at length.

Of course, there are, and always have been, christians who do see faith as blind belief. Church father Tertullian, for example, declared that ‘I believe it because it is absurd.’ However, if we want to effectively counter the apologists, we atheists must recognize that for most christian theology, that is not what faith is. They believe that their beliefs are founded upon evidence, and it is a straw man fallacy to attack them because you want to use a different definition of the word ‘faith.’

Why I don’t trust Sally Yates or Democrats

The recent testimony by Sally Yates to congress has made a number of democrat-leaning individuals rejoice. However, much as I dislike Trump, the testimony of Yates, and the reaction of ‘the Resistance,’ are quite troubling to me.

For some discussion on the situation, I recommend Robert Parry’s excellent article, Turning Gen. Flynn Into Roadkill. In short, Yates made numerous innuendo-style insinuations, and cited zero evidence. In this, she paralleled the entire Democrat approach to the ‘Russia’ investigation: make a lot of loud claims, never present evidence (claim it exists, but that it’s not for ‘you little people’ to know). However, this article fails to address a couple of important things about Yates and the Democrats in general.

First, Yates is not really trustworthy. Parry does acknowledge this, but he only used half the reasoning, namely:

Yates’s own motives might also deserve examination. Her behavior has the look of a partisan prosecutor who likely would have been in line for a top job under President Hillary Clinton. Would that influence her eagerness to twist facts to destroy Flynn and hurt Flynn’s boss?

But even before this, Yates was known as a partisan ally for the Democrat elites, who would not hesitate to obstruct justice. From wikileaks:

clinton indict.png

In other words, Yates was considered a safeguard against Clinton being indicted. It is worth noting that the FBI director has testified that Clinton broke the law with her private server. However, he argued that she may not have intentionally broke the law.

Of course, whether you intended to break the law doesn’t matter – unless you are Hillary, in which case the FBI director makes a special exception for you, and your ‘loyal women’ are held in position to ensure that you will not be indicted!

Given that Yates was trusted by Hillary’s allies to obstruct justice and block the indictment of a known criminal, why should we trust anything that Yates now has to say?

I really cannot emphasize this enough: Hillary’s campaign trusted Yates to subvert the law to protect Clinton. There is really no reason at all to think Yates has suddenly become a fair and even-handed dispenser of truth and justice, just because you happen to like what she has to say.

The second point the article does not mention is how troubling this is as a statement about the Democratic Party in general. They knew Hillary broke the law, and supported her anyway. They put loyalty to their party above the law. They install ‘trusted people’ in key places to ensure that their elites remain above the law. Does anyone truly believe the Democrats care about the law when it comes to Trump (although nobody has even said what law might have been broken; social media abounds with claims of ‘treason,’ but no concrete, ‘This is the specific statute that we accuse Trump or his administration of breaking,’ statements have been made)? Even if Trump did break the law, the Democrats do not care that Trump broke the law, but that he broke the law with an R next to his name instead of a D.

I cannot trust Yates or the Democrats as long as they continue to provide evidence that they put their party above the law.

Cultural appropriation explained with alcohol

This Cinco de Mayo, I discovered something: silver tequila is delicious! I am not sure why I hadn’t tried silver tequila before. I think I tried another kind of tequila at one point, and it was not very good. I also think people told me that tequilas caused horrific hangovers. Anyway, tequila (at least silver) is good, and does not cause an horrific hangover, at least to me, when I drink plenty of liquids along with copious amounts of tequila.

But to the ‘cultural appropriation’ crowd, the mere fact that I, an European-American, drank tequila, could be ‘problematic.’ I mean, tequila is a Mexican drink! How dare an European-American, appropriate their drink?!

Suppose I went to a bar and ordered a gin and tonic, or, as in the above example, a tequila. Imagine if the bartender said ‘Hang on, you can’t have that, you’re Irish/Swedish-American! You can have Guinness, whisky, or aquavit, nothing else!’ (Nevermind that I don’t know half my ethnic background, so I can’t even say which drinks belong to my ethnic ancestors).

That is, in essence, what those who push the ‘cultural appropriation’ concept are trying to do – but not just in bars, rather in the entire world. Think how ridiculous it would be if Jamaicans were only allowed to drink rum, if Mexicans were the only people who could have tequila, and if the Irish could not share their wonderful whisky with the world. If, at a bar or liquor shop, instead of asking for your order, the tender asked for your ethnicity, and gave you a drink to match.

It sounds ridiculous when described this way. And yet, how is this any different from what those who attack ‘cultural appropriation’ are attacking in other areas?

To be fair, there is a kind of cultural appropriation which is bad. It is when people from one group make a thing and inspire people from another group who become successful at the expense of the first group. So for example, as someone (I think it was Baraka, Stein’s running mate from 2016) said, it is problematic when, say, the Beatles are inspired by a group of black musicians, and they make it big while the black musicians remain in poverty. But that is the result of racism, not because it is inherently bad to share cultures! As that same person said, ‘We all dig one another.’ In other words, we all share our discoveries. We all move forward together, benefiting from the good things from every culture that we encounter. We all take the good accomplishments of others and try to use them to make more accomplishments (and if you think this isn’t true: did you personally invent writing? Because you’re ‘appropriating’ the Latin alphabet from other people, you monster! Not only that, writing was developed by Sumerians, or some other culture, and Europeans like the Greeks and Romans appropriated it!).

The upshot is, with ‘cultural appropriation,’ you get a fully stocked bar. Without it, you get a couple of ethnic drinks, while everyone’s drinks are divided based on their ancestry rather than based on their personal preferences. I know which one I prefer.

CA