Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Power of Shamanism

It doesn’t do much for your faith in shamans, but it has a certain entertainment value.

A shaman in Indonesia jumped into a crocodile infested body of water to recover the body of a teemager who had been attacked there the day before.

As it happened, the shaman did not have the powers that he thought he had.

The Daily Mail reports:

This is the moment a man claiming to have supernatural control over crocodiles died after one of the reptiles appeared to drag the shaman under water.

The man, named Suprianto, died after the suspected crocodile attack in Kutai Kartanegara, Indonesia, despite his supposed powers.

In the shocking video, he is seen swimming into the waters to look for the body of a teenager, called Arjuna, who was attacked the previous day.

But Suprianto was dragged under mid-mantra as he was swimming and chanting while on a mission to find the boy.

I hope you caught it. He was attacked while “mid-mantra.” Now, if only he had been able to complete his mantra, his stunt might have had a happier ending. Or better, he should have remembered to tell the crocodiles of his powers.

The moral of the story is: What would we do without the Daily Mail?

Why Are Suicide Rates Among Female Veterans So High?

Here are some awful statistics. According to the Veterans Administration suicide rates among veterans is significantly higher than rates among non-veterans. Most of those who are committing suicide are veterans of the Vietnam War.

Suicide rates among all veterans is 22% higher than suicide rates among non-veterans. Yet, and here is the most disturbing point, suicide rates among female veterans is 250% higher than among female non-veterans. Obviously, this group does not include very many female Vietnam veterans.

Now, tell me why America’s experiment with a gender neutered military is such a good idea?

Not Free to Choose

One has refrained from commenting on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale. To comment fairly one would have to read it, and one does not have that much time to waste. One understands that the story has been widely praised by feminists. One knows that Hulu has produced a television show about it, starring culture heroine and noted Scientologist, Elizabeth Moss.

One has also resisted the lure of the handmaid’s tale because it feels like theatre of the absurd. Roughly equivalent to Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano, but lacking in artistry. After all, when you are offering mindless propaganda wrapped in paranoid thinking, you do not deserve to be read.

Given that I have not read the book or seen the television show, I rely on Rich Lowry’s summary:

Based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, the series depicts a misogynist dystopia. Christian fundamentalists have established a theocracy that — after an environmental debacle craters the birth rate — forces fertile women, called handmaids, into sexual slavery. 
Is this remotely plausible to any but the most fevered paranoid thinkers? Since the Anglo-American world has actually led the world on women’s issues, it makes no sense to say that American is going to become the dystopia that Atwood conjures in her book.

This is not to say that such a world cannot exist? It does exist, Lowry notes, but not in the Christian world:

Fair enough. The Handmaid’s Tale does have something to tell us about, say, Saudi Arabia. But, in an uncomfortable fact for Christian-fearing feminists, none of the world’s women-hating theocracies are Christian.

But, why are feminists thrilling to the Atwood message? Easy… they have equated the prospect of turning women into human incubators to… you guessed it… defunding Planned Parenthood and undoing the Obamacare contraception mandate:

What this means is that Republicans want to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and roll back Obamacare’s contraception mandate. If they succeed, this would mean less government intervention in matters of sexual morality, rather than more. The progressive mind is unable to process that it has won the culture war in a rout (except for abortion, where conservatives are trying to chip away at our extremely liberal laws at the margins). We live in a country where Christian bakers get harried by government for politely declining to bake cakes for gay weddings, yet progressives still believe we are a few steps away from enslaving women.

Lowry continues:

The progressive mind is unable to process that it has won the culture war in a rout (except for abortion, where conservatives are trying to chip away at our extremely liberal laws at the margins). We live in a country where Christian bakers get harried by government for politely declining to bake cakes for gay weddings, yet progressives still believe we are a few steps away from enslaving women.

Free to choose… free to choose… Great God almighty we’re free to choose.

But, don’t be so quick to draw a conclusion. There's method behind the delusion. Feminists love Atwood’s story because it allows them to ignore the damage that feminism itself has done to women’s reproductive choices.

In the  world that feminists created more and more women are not free to choose. Women who followed the feminist life plan have often found themselves unable to conceive. Because, biology is not a social construct. Obviously, feminism has been a boon for reproductive endocrinologists, but for many women, even modern medicine cannot undo the damage.

Since feminism instructs women to avoid pregnancy or childbearing until their careers are well established, a considerable number of women who would have wanted to have children have discovered that biology has taken away their freedom to choose to have a child. Is this not worth noting?

And let’s not forget that other great feminist accomplishment: the hookup culture. Somehow or other feminists convinced women that engaging in random sexual acts with semi-anonymous men was liberating. Anything, but not pregnancy....

Tufts professor Nancy Bauer pictured modern liberated women matching men shot for shot—the equal shot principle—and then dropping to their knees to service them. At the least, fellatio is foolproof contraception. 

As for the nation’s STD rates, we shall leave that for another day.

[Addendum: See also the reflections of Mallory (sister of Kate) Millett, in Frontpage Magazine.]

Is Physics a Pissing Contest?

Does identity politics make you stupid or does it make you into a blithering fool?

Researchers in Australia  seem to have given up on actual physics, so they have put their pee-brains to work trying to figure out why boys do better than girls at physics. (via John Ellis at Pajamas Media.)

The reason: boys pee standing up. No kidding. You can’t make this stuff up. And no, they assure us, they are not writing for The Onion.

Note well: if you have to disclaim the possibility that you are engaged in self-parody, you should keep your research to yourself.

Of course, by wasting their time on such questions the politically enlightened physicists are showing us that they, two out of three of whom are female, prefer the fever swamps of gender politics to doing actual physics. Might that be the hidden explanation for their foolishness. 

Here, they explain their theory:

Playful urination practices – from seeing how high you can pee to games such as Peeball (where men compete using their urine to destroy a ball placed in a urinal) – may give boys an advantage over girls when it comes to physics. And we believe there’s something we can do about it.

No doubt you have some questions, the first is probably: what could possibly lead us to believe this?

Well, for starters, our recent analysis of the kinds of physics questions females generally do worse at than males. Add to that strong evidence for the widespread nature of certain kinds of pee-based game-playing among young (and not-so-young) boys. Finally, throw in our observations on curriculum sequencing and the ways in which formal, mathematically codified physics is often introduced to children and young people.

In truth, no law in the universe says that girls should be just as good as boys at physics. Or that boys should be just as good as girls on verbal aptitude. Why don't these these hand wringers and teeth gnashers do a pseudo-scientific study to show that girls do better at verbal tasks because they pee sitting down. Have you?

The researchers have been observing this phenomenon-- watching boys pee-- for some time now. But, don’t they have anything better to do with their time? And, doesn’t this intrusion into a private space constitute some form of child abuse. Allow them to explain:

Like many parents of small (and not-so-small) boys, two of us (KW and DL) have observed the great delight young males take in urination, a process by which they produce and direct a visible projectile arc.

The fact that boys (and men) play with their ability to projectile pee is hardly contentious. Boys are trained to pee into toilet bowls with floating targets, a huge variety of which can be bought on Amazon; Amsterdam Airport Schiphol famously cleaned up its urinals by encouraging men to hit flies etched next to the drain; and Peeball is now a worldwide phenomenon.

Meanwhile, YouTube videos explain how to write your name in the snow with your pee; and the post-match celebration peeing antics of sportsmen are widely reported in the media. Indeed, the very notion of a pissing contest – furthest, highest, most precisely aimed – is a deeply embedded part of some cultures. Alexander Pope includes a pissing contest in his narrative poem, the Dunciad. Our own children describe a stepped wall behind their primary school that’s used by male pupils for competitive target practice. And a colleague who grew up in the Canadian arctic describes boys competing to see who could perfect the trajectory so that what ascended as liquid fell as ice crystals.

All this is experienced up to five times a day, so by 14, boys have had the opportunity to play with projectile motion around 10,000 times. And 14 is when many children meet formalised physics in the form of projectile motion and Newton’s equations of motion for the first time.

Guess what, this activity is “self-directed and hands on.” You would never have guessed:

This self-directed, hands-on, intrinsically (and sometimes extrinsically, and socially) rewarding activity must have a huge potential contribution to learning, resulting in a deep, embodied, material knowledge of projectile motion that’s simply not accessible to girls.

One is amused to see that the pseudoscientists declare that this activity “must have a huge potential contribution to learning.” According to whom? What about the characteristically male activities of throwing balls—activity at which few girls excel or even want to excel? And, what about brain structure, the difference between male and female brains? The researchers do not care and do not recognize it as a reality.

Happily, our intrepid researchers have a solution to the problem. They want physics courses to begin with something other than experiments in projectile motion… because such a topic puts girls at a disadvantage. They do not consider questions of verbal aptitude, especially as it applies to math. Is there a correlation between algebra and peeing standing up? And they do not consider why boys prefer to play with trucks while girls prefer to play with dolls. Is there something in the brain of male and female humans that directs them in one or another direction?

Had they been as resourceful as some other practitioners of gender politics they might have suggested—as has been reported in Sweden—that boys must be forced to pee sitting down. There, that will solve the problem.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Is Islamophobia?

As Pascal Bruckner explains, after the fall of Communism the radical European left was lost and bereft. It's god had not failed us. We had failed its god.

Good leftists needed to find a replacement proletarian to continue the struggle against capitalist hegemony. For this purpose it chose Muslims. To advance its agenda and to render Muslims a privileged oppressed class it invented Islamophobia and granted it the same status as racism and anti-Semitism.

Bruckner, like all of us, admires the raw hypocrisy of the left. Beyond the inability to admit that the reigning Marxist narrative has failed abysmally, leftist radicals have happily embraced a faith that murders apostates, practices honor killings, oppresses women, executes gays… and so on. Even the noted gay activist Michel Foucault happily embraced the Iranian ayatollahs while they were executing young men for being homosexual.

Islamists no longer present their religion as one among many. They present it as special, as exempt from the rules that determine the place of religion in a secular democratic world. How better to undermine the liberties that found Western democracies?

First, Bruckner explains, Islamist groups insisted that the freedom to blaspheme religious faith did not apply to Islam. No one was allowed to speak ill of Islam or of its prophet. Those how did would be punished through the criminal law:

In Istanbul, in October 2013, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, financed by dozens of Muslim countries that themselves shamelessly persecute Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus, demanded that Western countries put an end to freedom of expression where Islam was concerned, charging that the religion had been represented too negatively as a faith that oppresses women and that proselytizes aggressively. The signatories’ intention was to make criticism of the religion of the Koran an international crime.

Bruckner explains that Muslims have now become the new proletariat, the vanguard of the Revolution:

And here is where the strangest factor in the whole Islamophobia controversy emerges: the enlistment of a part of the American and European Left in the defense of the most radical form of Islam—what one might call the neo-Bolshevik bigotry of the lost believers of Marxism. Having lost everything—the working class, the Third World—the Left clings to this illusion: Islam, rebaptized as the religion of the poor, becomes the last utopia, replacing those of Communism and decolonization for disenchanted militants. The Muslim takes the place of the proletarian.

Of course, true leftists are now required to abandon all of their most sacred liberal principles:

Now, it was the believer in the Koran who embodied the global hope for justice, who refused to conform to the order of things, who transcended borders and created a new international order, under the aegis of the Prophet: a green Comintern. Too bad for feminism, women’s equality, salvific doubt, the critical spirit; in short, too bad for everything traditionally associated with a progressive position.

Supposed progressives now thrill to the symbols of Islamist misogyny:

This political attitude is manifest in progressives’ scrupulous idolatry of Muslim practices and rites, especially the Islamic veil: “modest fashion” is praised to the skies, so much so that, for certain leftist commentators, an unveiled Muslim woman who claims this right can only be a traitor, a turncoat, a woman for sale. The irony of this neocolonial solicitude for bearded men and veiled women—and for everything that suggests an oriental bazaar—is that Morocco itself, whose king is the “Commander of the Faithful,” recently forbade the wearing, sale, and manufacture of the burka in his country. Shall we call the Cherifian monarchy “Islamophobic”? Shall we be more royalist than the king?

And also:

Generations of leftists saw the working class as the messianic leaven of a radiant humanity; now, willing to flirt with the most obscurantist bigotry and to betray their own principles, they transferred their hopes to the Islamists.

To advance the narrative, Muslims have now become the new Jews. By the terms of leftist ideology, the Jews in Israel are now capitalist oppressors. Their victims are the world’s Muslims.  As Islamists take over Hitler’s project, they promote themselves as victims:

It is well known how much of the Nazi legacy has passed, since the creation of Israel, to the Arab Middle East, where a classic of anti-Jewish propaganda like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, forged by the czarist regime at the end of the nineteenth century, has been a best-seller for years. Was it not the late king of Morocco, Hassan II, who said: “Hatred of Israel is the most powerful aphrodisiac of the Arab world”?

Muslims have been oppressed by Judeo-Christian civilization. When radicals on American campuses attack Western civilization they are attacking Judaism and Christianity, now fashioned as Zionists and Crusaders:

Once the equivalence between Judeophobia and Islamophobia is established, the next step is to put in place the principle of elimination—a subtle but effective process of symbolic expropriation. It is our turn, say the Islamic fundamentalists. In this way, Islam is able to present itself as the creditor of humanity as a whole: we are in its debt because of the wrongs inflicted since the Crusades, the wound of colonization, and the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists—and finally because of the bad image from which the religion of the Prophet suffers.

As Muslims arrive in larger and larger numbers in Europe, they demand a special status, a status that sets them apart from other religions. Being victims Muslims do not have to work for a living. They do not have to follow the rules that define civil society. Europeans owe them a living… and owe them exemption from criminal laws. Strangely enough, in yet another instance of cognitive dissonance, these refugees are acting like conquerors:

Islam is part of the contemporary French and European landscape, yes, and thus has the right to our sympathy, to freedom of worship, to police protection, to appropriate places for prayer, and to respect. But it must in turn respect republican and secular rules, not claim an extraterritorial status with special rights, such as exemption from swimming and gymnastics for girls, prayer places within businesses, separate instruction, and various favors and privileges in hospitals. Believers must be protected, but so must unbelievers, apostates, and skeptics. I proposed as early as 2006 the creation of a vast support system for dissidents from Islam, just as we helped Soviet dissidents. We must advocate freedom of doctrinal criticism, too, just as we do for Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. The point is not to make Europe Islamic but to make Islam European, so that it is one religion among others and might, someday, help spread tolerance and a renewal of critical thought to the rest of the umma.

Apparently, Canada is leading the way in the fight against Islamphobia. It has enacted a law saying that no one is allowed to criticize Islam… while everyone can still criticize any other religion. Bruckner says that this is a poisoned gift, more likely to promote contempt for Islam:

The notion of Islamophobia is meant to give the religion of the Prophet a status of exemption denied to other spiritual systems. Thus, we have the reprehensible law enacted by the Canadian Parliament this March that prohibits criticism of Islam, while other confessions still can be denigrated without any problem. Such a law is a poisoned gift that risks producing the opposite of what it intends, since it can incite anger and resentment against the believers of the crescent. To regularize the presence of Islam in free societies means giving the faith exactly the same status as other confessions: neither moronic demonizing nor blind idealizing. Muslims in free societies must accept what Jews and Christians have accepted: that it is not a superior religion that should benefit from advantages refused to other confessions. We must beware when fanaticism borrows the language of human rights and dresses up as a victim in order better to impose its grip on power. There is an old saying: the devil also likes to quote scripture.

Obviously, this is not going to end well. Certainly not for the Western European nations who have happily embraced people who want to destroy their civilization.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Who Was in Charge of Equifax Security?

If Google is now being sued for gender discrimination, one suspects that other lawsuits will soon be raining down on other tech titans. Considering that these companies and their management swears eternal fealty to the dogmas of the Church of the Liberal Pieties, one is not exactly chagrined to see them, in a slight variation on the bard's words, hoist on their own petard.

Some unenlightened souls have suggested that the paucity of female computer science concentraters must have something to do with this problem. To which the credit rating giant, Equifax, responded by hiring a music major to head data security. Yes, indeed, folks. Equifax hired a humanities major to be head of data security. Diversity is great, isn’t it?

You know what happened. Your and just about everyone else’s most personal information has been hacked… it is now floating around the dark web, to be used and abused by whomever.

 The New York Post explains it clearly:

It’s being called one of the biggest data hacks in history, and now the Equifax breach is spreading around the world.

After the Atlanta-based credit-rating organization admitted that the Social Security, credit-card and driver’s license numbers of up to 143 million American consumers were hacked from its computer systems over a two-month period last summer, the company’s affiliates on two other continents have also seen their data compromised.

“This is now an international problem with untold exposure that could impact hundreds of jurisdictions,” said Isaac Boltansky, a Washington-based policy analyst and vice president of Compass Point Research and Trading.

Hackers had access to the names, dates of birth and e-mail addresses of nearly 400,000 people in the United Kingdom, said Equifax’s British subsidiary in a statement last week.

In Canada, sensitive data belonging to 10,000 consumers may have been hacked in the breach, said a statement from the Canadian Automobile Association.

In Argentina, one of the company’s portals was so easily accessible that it allowed quick exposure to the personal information of more than 14,000 people.

Brett Arends asks how Susan Mauldin was hired to be in charge of data security, and why, by the by, efforts are now being made to cover it up:

Equifax “Chief Security Officer” Susan Mauldin has a bachelor’s degree and a master of fine arts degree in music composition from the University of Georgia. Her LinkedIn professional profile lists no education related to technology or security.

This is the person who was in charge of keeping your personal and financial data safe — and whose apparent failings have put 143 million of us at risk from identity theft and fraud. It was revealed this week that the massive data breach came due to a software vulnerability that was known about, and should have been patched, months earlier.

The last sentence is the most salient. Equifax knew about the vulnerability months earlier. The company should have repaired it repaired months earlier. But, at least, the chief security officer was a "highly qualified" woman. 

When Size Matters

Sad to say, this story does not come to us from The Onion. It comes from the Daily Mail. The tabloid  reports on a human male who is as dumb as a dumbbell. In truth, I find it radically impossible to figure out what possessed said male to insert his male member in a dumbbell weight. I leave it to your imagination. 

At the least, this seems to have been the first time in written human history that a man underestimated the size of his member.

Anyway, here’s the story. It comes to us from the German city of Worms—more notable for its association with one Martin Luther.

We note how difficult it was for firefighters to release him:

A man who stuck his penis in a dumbbell weight spent three hours surrounded by firefighters who sliced him free with power tools.

Angle grinders, a saw and a hydraulic rescue tool usually used to prize crash victims from vehicle wreckage were used to smash the 2.5kg disc on Friday….

The agony was such that the man had to be sedated:

The victim had to be sedated as firefighters from the city of Worms smashed the weight to free his penis, according to Metro

Firefighters shared a picture of the smashed weight on social media with some helpful advice for anybody tempted to squeeze their manhood into tight spots, saying: ‘Please do not imitate such actions!’