Sunday, 24 April 2016

"Avoiding negative stereotyping" is usually a lie

Plenty have noticed the very politically correct casting choices of The Force Awakens.  There is a long very dishonourable history of this sort of thing, carried out very prominently by the BBC.

The thought police who influence such things always make very sure that there are a preponderance of female characters in "action" roles. Women and ethnic minority characters tend to be honourable, decent people. White make characters, on the other hand are free to be as nasty as possible, and are frequently pathetic, lacking in confidence.

This piece documents just a few examples of the depiction of white men. Here's another.

Diane Ravitch tells this story from her days working on the National Assessment Governing Board

"I reviewed one- and two-page passages that had been prepared by the testing consortium ... Most of these passages had been previously published in children's magazines or in recent anthologies. After I had read about a dozen such passages ... I realized that the readings themselves had a cumulative subtext: the hero was never a white boy. Instead, the leading character -- the one who was most competent, successful, and sympathetic -- was invariably either a girl (of any race) or a nonwhite boy. Almost without exception, white boys were portrayed as weak and dependent. In one story, a white boy in a difficult situation weeps and says plaintively, 'If only my big sister were here, I would know what to do.'"

The obvious hypocrisy

Now never mind what it does to creative effort, to have these political rules shackling the outcome. There's a very obvious, very logical corollary here. If the content of drama and literature is policed so much that there are no "negative" stereotypes of women or non-whites, then you have 2 choices left:

  • either your story has no characters with negative traits at all, or
  • surprise! White men have to fill all the negative roles
Now anyone worried about how stereotyping affects people ought to be worried about the effect these anti-role-models will have on young white boys (who incidentally seem to be slipping down the rankings in academic achievements). But of course our betters see nothing wrong with negative stereotyping of white men. They don't care. You'll be insulted for suggesting there is a problem.

If people were serious about avoiding negative stereotyping of groups, television drama would be impossible. There would be no characters, no interest. If you choose to protect all groups except one from negative roles, then you are ensuring that this one group will get all the negative roles. You can't escape logic.

Thus the whole exercise of fighting stereotypes is worse than flawed, it does exactly what it claims to be fighting against

Saturday, 26 March 2016

What we call creativity

"A creator fools around. He does not know what is the right way to do a thing so he goes on seeking and searching again and again in different directions. Many times he moves in a wrong direction - but wherever he moves, he learns; he becomes more and more rich. He does something that nobody has ever done before. If he had followed the right way to do things he would not have been able to do it."
— OSHOCreativity: Unleashing the Forces Within
We’ve overused the word “creativity” - so it’s worth asking what do we mean by the word. I think it means fashioning something out of things old and new. 
The thing might not in the end be something that no one has done before. But it’s new to the person making it - it’s like a discovery to him or her. Thus the magic of creating something is like the magic of discovery.
Trying to put different ideas together to see what happens is a form of play, a kind of fun. Sometimes it’s pure fun, sometimes it’s hard work, searching and hoping that there is a good thing to be discovered at the end of the journey.
The process of finding the new thing is therefore not logical, but striking out in the dark.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The madness of the WomenInSTEM brigade

In UK universities, there are more women studying overall. That is what is known as an inequality. Specifically, more women study languages, biological sciences, subjects relating to medicine, history, and social sciences (psychology, sociology etc). The imbalance is striking*

Feminists - our scrupulously honest defenders of equality, remember - always stay strangely silent about these facts. But, it's ok, they magically regain their voice again when you mention that more men study STEM sciences than women: engineering, maths (only just), physics & computer sciences have more men sudying.

Then our feminist betters are suddenly saying something cogent like "Inequality! Sexism! Discrimination! Patriarchy!"

OK, that's irritating, it's stupid & it's intellectually dishonest. But they're not done yet. NO way. Because if you put this fact to them, that inequalities run both ways, and they only care about those affecting women, then they often DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM. I've said this and had someone say "well yes, feminism is about equality for women"

At which point you realise they're just trying to annoy you. Right?

Here's some basic logic: equality doesn't work just one way, or it ain't equality any more, it's then greater than or equal to. This is denoted by >= in maths notation and is different from =. You can't have equality for women and not for men. That's silly. So stop talking about equality, s'il vous plait.

And if some lunatic wants to reply "feminism isn't maths", then I would even more say "stop talking about equality" because maths is where equality lives, outside of maths, the word is meaningless.

Here endeth the maths lesson.

* the hard data for this is readily available. If you don't believe me, go down the long and boring road of checking it - even the Guardian reports the facts straight on this one.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Many cyclists are aggressive nutcases

Off the top of my head, I've seen:

- a female cyclist going down a hill with her hands in her pockets,
- male teenage cyclists boasting about cycling all the way home from school hands-in-pockets
- cyclists screaming incoherently at pedestrians trying to cross the road.
- cyclists going blind round corners at 20mph where pedestrians are trying to cross
- a male cyclist (with daughter) setting a great example by telling a ped to F... off when remonstrated with over dangerous cycling
- countless examples of cyclists nearly colliding with people who were getting off a bus
- several seriously injured cyclists, one died in front of me, I think
- cyclists going through red lights on ped crossings, over and over and over again
- cyclists wandering off cycle paths onto ped section, nearly hitting pushchairs (several times), on one occasion, the cyclist made a sarcastic remark to the parent who mildly objected to his baby's safety being compromised just so a cyclist could get home quicker
- cyclists trying to collide with pedestrians who they feel shouldn't be on the road
- a lycra-clad cyclist kicking an old man for some reason in London
- a cyclist not stopping at the end of a cycle-path, and nearly hitting my pregnant partner who was getting off a bus
- cyclist after cyclist after cyclist disobeying the law in the city centre forbidding cycling in day-time. Every day I see multiple examples.
- cyclists riding on pavement (including downhill) when they had no right to do so.

Yet how they indignantly moan if you point any of this out!

Cyclists in the UK think they are above the law, they are often aggressive if told how badly they are cycling. They are completely unreasonable. I'm amazed at how readily they blame motorists for accidents, when cyclists so casually take risks with their own lives (and those of anyone around them). They disregard the law, and blame everyone else.

Just as motorbikes (and to some extent cars) do, cycles seem to bring out the low-IQ caveman warrior in people.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

12 Varieties of modern British Bullshit - #4 - "Raising awareness"

I thought this series would be an easy way to open fire again. Turns out the origins of this one aren't British and are, in fact, yet another example of crap feminism - a subject I was very eager to avoid for now. Ho hum, we shall plough on..

"Raising awareness" .. how does that sound to you? How do you imagine the person saying it? To me this evokes Shirley Williams in her prime, leaning forward earnestly in your direction.

The subtext of the phrase "raising awareness" is of course, that the person speaking thinks they know what's what...

..AND THAT YOU DON'T.  You need to be told, by someone who knows better than you, you ignorant barbarian.

Remember these are invariably the people who railed against the class system, showing, as ever, that they think they are intellectually and morally more sophisticated than the bewilderingly huge mass of probably-Daily-Mail-readers they are patiently talking down to.

It's bullshit, and we employ it with style. Well done us

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Guardian readers' comments on UK divorce settlements

After a recent story on the Guardian website involving divorce settlements where wives were granted tens of millions of pounds, I thought it might be time to talk about CiF again.

In the story, 2 wives gained the right to re-open already HUGE divorce agreements (£10 and 30 million, If my memory serves) because husbands were ruled to have misled the court about how much they were worth.

The details are interesting, in one case the husband had stated that he was "considering floating his company". In fact he had more concrete plans than the word considering might imply. Even so, it seems remarkable that lawyers said they would have waited until they had a "clearer view" of his worth.

It almost sounds - perish the thought - that the wives & lawyers saw in retrospect that the flotation made millions, and then pounced. But to the CiF comments..

Aside from the many comments removed by moderators as usual (and some disappearing altogether), a few (men mostly) expressed angry disgust at the size of the settlement (some using terms like gold-diggers).

Interestingly, several of those responding to them basically changed the subject, saying "the issue is that these men lied in court".

It is important to note that this is a logical sleight of-hand. One issue is that the men lied, which, true or not, nobody is disputing..or even interested in. Another unrelated - but very important - issue is the rule which sees ex-wives able to divorce rich husbands for a fortune - none of which they have earned.

To say that "the issue is the lie" is simply to display temporary blindness to any other issue. All of a sudden the only thing these self-righteous CiF-readers care about is lying in court. One wonders why.

What else?

One exchange of note was apparently between an ex-husband who had been through divorce proceedings, and a character called jakboot who unfailingly took the women's side on every issue. I must say, jakboot's compassion was evident in the exchange:

I don't know about you, but there seems to be an element of glee in that question.

This being the Guardian, there was also the inevitable whiff of "it's happening to rich males, so who cares". If women in large numbers were being fleeced by similar settlements, you might reasonably expect journalists and readers who fret about women serving food at the table to be concerned about it. They might even wax lyrical about women who by their wit and hard work had deservedly made money, being "robbed".

But it's rich men, so no one on CiF really minds what happens to them.... Instead we saw a lot of huffing and puffing about how the men supposedly lied in court, some interesting discussion of the legal technicalities, and a baffling disinclination to discuss the amounts of money in question.

A family lawyer was most helpful in the comments, explaining many points. At one point (s)he was forced to admit, as an aside, that:

In terms of whether the wives "need" more, no, not by any stretch (perhaps in Gosil, not Sharland), and it's an issue that with the types of cases that get to this level, the sums in question are so high that it's difficult to care on an individual level whether they get more money. Or, on the flipside, whether the husbands pay more money.

To conclude...

It's understandable that the ex-husbands commenting on CiF are angry, but I also see that their anger is going to be represented as "hate" somewhere down the line, especially if their language is intemperate.

But a subtle point is how willing many posters were to avoid the issue of the colossal sums which ex-wives were paid - and they still wanted more.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Rules of feminism

So I hear Jessica Valenti doesn't like the (heavily moderated*) comments under her pieces in the Guardian website. So I'm inspired to posit the 4 rules of feminism

1) It's got to be for, by and about, women
2) Men? Who cares?
3) Oh and shout "equality!" every now and then. Equality is our hurrah-word
4) "That's different"

* if you are sharp enough - and take a snapshot of the screen before the moderators get there -  you can see how frequently quite innocuous comments are removed.