Necromancy, kittehs, and a link dump

Necromancy:

    I’m reviving my blog. The ultimate goal will be 2-3 posts a week, of which one will be a regular post, one will be a link-dump, and the optional third will be either another regular post or one of the more extensive projects I’ve been putting together (currently still working on putting together a few essays on 19th Century women’s rights activism, for example; and I also hope to get to another such project either on Backlash or on Intersectionality). That goal won’t be reachable until after my Cthulhu campaign ends, since right now, instead of writing blogs, I’m inventing more and more ways to try to drive my Investigators insane and/or kill them off. And at the very latest, a regular schedule should become very easy in August, when I begin my 1-year-break from university.

Kittehs:three fluffy cats cuddling on the floor

Link dump:

    a favorite MRA talking point refuted: no such thing as “women and children first”

    an example of PHMT that would have been easily fixed if we had an Equal Rights Amendment: Man accused of fraud after taking on his wife’s name

    from the WTF department: gun buyback nets a missile launcher

25 comments on “Necromancy, kittehs, and a link dump

  1. David Marjanović says:

    Thx for teh kittehz! ^_^ ^_^ ^_^

    a favorite MRA talking point refuted: no such thing as “women and children first”

    The abstract is deeply… impressive. I giggled in unbelief. What a massive study! Awesome.

    an example of PHMT that would have been easily fixed if we had an Equal Rights Amendment:

    Or, more generally, if such things were regulated on a federal basis instead of being left to the states.

  2. Alex says:

    (On the subject of 19th-century women’s rights activism …)

    a favorite MRA talking point refuted: no such thing as “women and children first”

    Quite an old talking point actually. The Titanic Reader quotes a poem by one Clark McAdams published in 1912 in the St Louis Dispatch:

    ENOUGH SAID

    “Votes for women!”
    was the cry
    Reaching upward
    to the sky
    Crashing glass
    and flashing eye
    “Votes for women”
    was the cry.

    “Boats for women!”
    was the cry
    When the brave
    Were come to die.
    When the end was drawing nigh –
    “Boats for women”
    was the cry.

    Life has many
    Little jests
    Insignificant
    as tests.
    Doubt and bitterness assail
    But “Boats for women”
    tells the tale.

    So the research paper’s findings “show that behavior in life-and-death situation is best captured by the expression ‘Every man for himself’. How disillusioning. However the paper is surely correct in its initial assumption that if men try to save themselves, we expect women to have a relative survival disadvantage. On the other hand, if men comply with the norm of WCF [women and children first], we would expect women to have a survival advantage over men”.

    The paper also informs us that “It has been shown, both theoretically and experimentally, that people who would not otherwise do so, may comply with a social norm if violation is threatened with punishment [who’da thunk it?]. Unlike other types of catastrophes, e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorist attacks, a maritime disaster is characterized by the presence of a well-defined leader. On board a ship, the captain is the commanding officer with the supreme power to give and enforce orders. In the evacuation of the Titanic, the captain ordered ‘women and children first’ … and officers were reported to have shot at men who disobeyed the order.”

    In other words, one would expect the Sovereign Will of the Leader of Men to make a difference in terms of women & children’s survival chances. Sure enough: “We find some evidence that the survival rate of women is higher when the captain orders WCF, compared to when no such order has been given … [W]e find that it seems as if it is the policy of the captain, rather than the moral sentiments of men, that determines if women are given preferential treatment in shipwrecks. This suggests an important role for leaders in disasters [who’da thunk it?].”.

    However, if the Leader of Men does manage to impose his Will in these sorts of situation, he imperils himself: “the WCF order comes at a cost for the captain, because with the order he agrees to remain on board the ship until all women and children have been rescued”.

    So perhaps the most important question is not whether “women have a distinct survival disadvantage compared to men” in the normal course of events but whether the disadvantage ought to be lessened by cultural countermandments. Should the Leaders of Men be encouraged to imperil themselves by enforcing, as far as is possible, WCF?

  3. Jadehawk says:

    Should the Leaders of Men be encouraged to imperil themselves by enforcing, as far as is possible, WCF?

    no.
    simple answers to teal deer questions.

  4. Alex says:

    So you don’t think the strong should put themselves at risk to protect the weak?

    OK. Every man for himself it is.
    Good luck.

  5. Alex says:

    This is the abstract of an article that appeared recently in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly:

    Previous research suggests that benevolent sexism is an ideology that perpetuates gender inequality. But despite its negative consequences, benevolent sexism is a prevalent ideology that some even find attractive. To better understand why women and men alike might be motivated to adopt benevolent sexism, the current study tested system justification theory’s prediction that benevolent sexism might have a positive linkage to life satisfaction through increased diffuse system justification, or the sense that the status quo is fair. A structural equation model revealed that benevolent sexism was positively associated with diffuse system justification within a sample of 274 college women and 111 college men. Additionally, benevolent sexism was indirectly associated with life satisfaction for both women and men through diffuse system justification. In contrast, hostile sexism was not related to diffuse system justification or life satisfaction. The results imply that although benevolent sexism perpetuates inequality at the structural level, it might offer some benefits at the personal level. Thus, our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence.

    The beatings will continue until morale improves. That is all.

  6. David Marjanović says:

    So you don’t think the strong should put themselves at risk to protect the weak?

    I think there should be enough lifeboats for everyone. What a concept…

  7. Jadehawk says:

    So you don’t think the strong should put themselves at risk to protect the weak?

    no, i simply reject your assumptions about who is weak and who is strong. plus, I second what David said: there should be enough life-boats for everyone. I’d also add that the people who should be “:risking” things to save others should be either volunteers (i.e. not coerced by social pressure or command) or professionals trained for exactly that sort of thing.

    Also, the fuck did you just cite the abstract about benevolent sexism for? because I can’t figure out how it fits into your argument. (why oh why do I have the feeling I’ll regret having asked? *sigh*)

  8. Alex says:

    DJ:

    I think there should be enough lifeboats for everyone.

    JH:

    I second what David said: there should be enough life-boats for everyone.

    Assuming that’s a practical expedient for all types of vessel, there are still considerations of time as well as space. Everyone might not be able to get to a lifeboat before the ship goes down. And if they do, their survival might then depend on how quickly they can get safely away from the sinking ship. With this in mind, a WCF protocol — putting women and children at the front of the queue — remains relevant.

    JH:

    i simply reject your assumptions about who is weak and who is strong.

    No-one denies there are many types of strength and weakness and that these are not exclusively confined to either sex. All the same, sheer physical strength counts for something if you’re in sheer physical danger and men are, generally speaking, physically stronger than women.

    I’d also add that the people who should be “:risking” things to save others should be either volunteers (i.e. not coerced by social pressure or command) or professionals trained for exactly that sort of thing.

    Well we’d all like that, just as we’d all wish criminals would refrain from crime without the threat of legal sanctions. But even volunteers and trained professionals can succumb to the selfish gene under extreme pressure, so it’s useful to have the threat of punishment hovering in the background as an incentive of last resort like the headmaster’s cane lying unused but ready in his study.

    (E.M. Cioran: “The leftist’s despair is to do battle in the name of principles that forbid him cynicism.”)

    Also, the fuck did you just cite the abstract about benevolent sexism for? because I can’t figure out how it fits into your argument.

    Surely if anything counts as “benevolent sexism” it’s WCF? The authors of that paper furrow their brows, pull their chins, pore over the Data and eventually conclude that real live women welcome the tangible benefits of benevolent sexism in terms of “life satisfaction”. Who’da thunk it?

    Over on Butterflies & Wheels, Ophelia Benson quotes the following unpleasantness:

    One evening a couple of years ago, 82-year-old Barbara Robson was crammed in a rush-hour London tube train. Politely, she asked a young man near her, smart in his suit and tie, if he might move along a little. “He turned to me,” she says, “and told me that, as an old woman, I was a total waste of space. I felt so wounded I could hardly speak.”

    I don’t need to conduct a ‘scientific’ survey to suspect Barbara Robson would have appreciated a little of that old-time benevolent sexism on that train. Perhaps she remembers a time, before the revolution in morals and manners, when it was “the done thing” to actually give up one’s seat for a lady, elderly or not, instead of contemptuously insulting her. And if she was a passenger on a sinking ship, I’m confident in supposing she would appreciate the sexist offer of a seat on a lifeboat.

    Yet it’s just this benevolent sexism and its real benefits for women’s “life satisfaction” that our authors would extirpate (via ominously unspecified “interventions”) in the name of an abstract, unreal equalitarian ideology … just as you would deny women a privileged position in the queue for the lifeboat. A classic example of FHWT I should say.

  9. Jadehawk says:

    But even volunteers and trained professionals can succumb to the selfish gene under extreme pressure, so it’s useful to have the threat of punishment hovering in the background

    you have truly no ability to understand the concept of “voluntarily” do you.

    The authors of that paper furrow their brows, pull their chins, pore over the Data and eventually conclude that real live women welcome the tangible benefits of benevolent sexism in terms of “life satisfaction”. Who’da thunk it?

    in other words you don’t actually understand the article. EDIT: engaging in system justification eases cognitive dissonance. hence the improvements in “life satisfaction”. it doesn’t actually improve anyone’s lives, it just makes it easier to swallow the bullshit.

    I don’t need to conduct a ‘scientific’ survey to suspect Barbara Robson would have appreciated a little of that old-time benevolent sexism on that train.

    she probably would have benefited from a lack of sexism and ageism more.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    With this in mind, a WCF protocol — putting women and children at the front of the queue — remains relevant.

    Assuming it’s at all practical to form a queue on a fast-sinking ship.

    the selfish gene

    O hai! Would people please stop ripping that metaphor so brutally out of context? kthxbai

    I don’t need to conduct a ‘scientific’ survey to suspect Barbara Robson would have appreciated a little of that old-time benevolent sexism on that train.

    I was taught, by a fairly conservative mother who kept voting conservative for 20 more years, to stand up unasked for old people. The pictures in the buses of my hometown even show a bearded man among the people you’re supposed to give particular seats up for.

    Also, I can’t resist pointing out that the young man made himself sound like what Americans call a libertarian: to them, everyone who can’t make them money is “a total waste of space”. That’s on the right end of the spectrum, not the left one.

    you have truly no ability to understand the concept of “voluntarily” do you.

    Some people are so receptive to peer pressure that they really seem to have no such concept. I remember someone on Pharyngula who once wrote she had gone through such a phase – if people had asked her then if she was happy, she wouldn’t have understood the question, she wrote. It was scary to read.

  11. David Marjanović says:

    for old people

    And not out of Confucian respect either – it’s because they likely have trouble standing, so they need the seat more than I do.

  12. Alex says:

    Jadehawk:

    you have truly no ability to understand the concept of “voluntarily” do you.

    I think your definition of a volunteer as one “not coerced by social pressure or command” needs qualification. ‘Social pressure’ is so vague as to be meaningless. (Is anyone ever truly free of social pressure?) As for ‘command’, clearly if you are coerced into joining an organisation, you’re not a volunteer. On the other hand, once you have volunteered to be part of that organisation, you have voluntarily submitted to the discipline of that organisation.

    engaging in system justification eases cognitive dissonance. hence the improvements in “life satisfaction”. it doesn’t actually improve anyone’s lives, it just makes it easier to swallow the bullshit.

    Scene: On board an Edwardian tram. A SUFFRAGETTE observes a male passenger stand and offer his seat to an ELDERLY LADY.

    ELDERLY LADY: Why thank you, young man. You’re most kind.

    SUFFRAGETTE: You know, you really should learn to see through this benevolent sexism. It doesn’t actually benefit you.

    ELDERLY LADY: Whatever do you mean, dear? It has actually benefited me — I’m actually sitting down!

    SUFFRAGETTE: Scraps from the master’s table. You must learn to look beyond such trivial things.

    ELDERLY LADY: Trivial? My dear, when you get to my age you’ll learn there’s nothing “trivial” about being able to sit down.

    SUFFRAGETTE: What good is a seat if you don’t have a vote?

    ELDERLY LADY: (laughs) If it comes to that, what good is a vote if I don’t have a seat? I confess I’ve always found politics boring. If it keeps silly little men occupied, all well and good, but please don’t compel me to take an interest in it.

    SUFFRAGETTE: (exasperated) But don’t you see, decisions made on the political level directly affect all our lives, including how people behave on this tram.

    ELDERLY LADY: You might have a point there, dear.

    SUFFRAGETTE: And if we don’t get involved and demand our right to have a say at the ballot box, we can’t force the politicians to work to really improve matters for us by tackling the root issues of sexism and ageism.

    ELDERLY LADY: Politicians will promise the moon if they thought it would win them votes. But even if one of them was a sincere idealist — a woman even — how would she go about tackling these issues, as you put it? Would she get a law passed that says young men on trams must give up their seats to elderly ladies or face a fine? Who would want to be the beneficiary of the sullen and resentful charity that would result? Certainly not I.

    SUFFRAGETTE: How are we to destroy discrimination if not through legislation?

    ELDERLY LADY: I think your mistake is to assume that politics makes culture rather than the other way round. Culture is too localised for that. Imagine the absurdity of a ‘Minister for Culture’!

    SUFFRAGETTE: So what does make culture?

    ELDERLY LADY: Nothing makes it. A culture grows… and its root is cult.

    SUFFRAGETTE: I see you’re beyond reason. I’ll leave you to your mystifications — I’m off to chain myself to some railings or throw myself under a racehorse and really make a difference.

    ELDERLY LADY: Do be careful, dear…

    She settles comfortably back in her seat as the SUFFRAGETTE storms off the tram, glowering at the gentlemen who make way for her.

  13. Jadehawk says:

    interesting things happen in your fevered brain, but s it happens they have, as always, no relation to reality.

  14. Alex says:

    David Marjanovic:

    Assuming it’s at all practical to form a queue on a fast-sinking ship.

    Even in a confused melee, if you have armed officers present who are prepared to enforce the WCF protocol, you can increase women’s survival chances (as occurred in the Titanic disaster).

    Would people please stop ripping that metaphor so brutally out of context?

    Memes mutate. Language evolves. Live with it.

    I was taught, by a fairly conservative mother who kept voting conservative for 20 more years, to stand up unasked for old people.

    Benevolent ageism. In truth, women, children and the elderly are all subgroups of what our modern politicians call “the most vulnerable members of our society”, or as I prefer to call them, “the weak”. You give up your seat because you believe the strong should provide a measure of support for the weak. Of course a healthy young woman might be quite content to remain standing, but we should still offer our seats. It’s a public ritual which serves to remind everybody of how things are and how they should be — the strong are reminded of the responsibilities that come with strength, the weak are reminded of their ultimately dependent condition. An exercise in mutual humility.

    Also, I can’t resist pointing out that the young man made himself sound like what Americans call a libertarian: to them, everyone who can’t make them money is “a total waste of space”. That’s on the right end of the spectrum, not the left one.

    Depends where you place the centre. I’m beginning to think that, whatever their original use, the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ have become so hedged about with qualifications that they obscure rather than clarify. ‘Progressive’ and ‘reactionary’ are better but one should always be aware of the sneaky shifts of perspective brought about by history and expediency. Case in point: nationalism. Most left-liberals would probably instinctively put nationalist movements on the ‘right’ of the spectrum and regard them as evil incarnate … unless they’re Third World “national liberation” movements, of course, in which case they get a free pass. And yet even white European nationalism was seen as a progressive force back in the day, because it meant the dissolution of the Ancien Régime and the weakening of the Roman Church’s supra-national pre-eminence.

    Hence one notes that what was ‘progressive’ of 200, 100 or even 50 years ago would, if offered for serious consideration today, be regarded as outrageously and unacceptably ‘reactionary’. It might be formally venerated for its pioneering work in fighting the even more reactionary forces of its own time, but that time has passed and we must move on. The moment progressivism stops it abolishes itself, so it must keeping pushing forward to maintain itself in existence, can never come to rest.

    Anyway, the point is that from some perspectives, libertarianism, neoconservatism and capitalism itself are all on the left.

    (One commentator has recently suggested replacing ‘right’ and ‘left’ with ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ respectively. Verts believe in hierarchy and the primacy of the transcendent; Zonts (or Hors) believe in equality and the primacy of the immanent.)

    for old people

    And not out of Confucian respect either – it’s because they likely have trouble standing, so they need the seat more than I do.

    Scene: DR DAVID MARJANOVIC’s study. DAVID is at his desk examining the fossilised skull of a hominid. Suddenly the shade of KUNG FU-TSE appears.

    DAVID: I must be dreaming. Still, I suppose I should observe the correct formalities …

    He rises and politely offers his seat to KUNG.

    KUNG: Thank you. However I have no need of such support in my present condition. I commend you for your piety though.

    DAVID: Piety has nothing to do with it. Empirical observation is all that is necessary. I can see that old people find it harder to stand and so have more need of a seat.

    KUNG: An incontestable observation! Yet mere observation is no spur to right action. The unpleasing young man who refuses to yield his seat to a venerable greybeard or matron can see, as you do, that the venerable one is frail and infirm. Yet he does not care. Observation cannot overcome egoism; piety alone can. And the source of piety cannot be observed in this world. As the greatest of your sages puts it, “blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed”.

    DAVID: I am sceptical. If my eyes cannot see it, I see no reason to believe it exists.

    KUNG: Scepticism is commendable but it has limits. Let us be more precise: the limitation of scepticism is that it knows no limits. The young man who refuses to give up his seat is profoundly sceptical of his elders’ worth. He cannot see it, so he does not believe it. As one of your lesser sages says, we must learn to see through, not with, the eyes.

    DAVID: I see no reason to multiply hypotheses. Most people naturally feel empathy for their fellows and act appropriately on their observations.

    KUNG: You think the selfish young man is an isolated exception then?

    DAVID: Yes. Most people instinctively feel compassion. There is no need to inquire further. Observation does the rest.

    KUNG: My son, does not observation itself refute you? If we survey the annals of history we see entire civilisations based on nothing other than the subjugation and humiliation of their fellow men. We see nations spill oceans of blood in pursuit of their own selfish interests. If empathy, as you call it, is natural it is no more so than selfishness and aggression.

    DAVID: We can overcome that.

    KUNG: We can, but should we? Why should we?

    DAVID: (impatiently) We’re going round in circles. I’m a scientist, not a philosopher.

    KUNG: Then let us stick to what can be observed. How can we overcome our natural egoism?

    DAVID: That’s easy. Through government regulation. We put up posters informing people exactly who they must give up their seats to and we enforce these norms with legal sanctions.

    KUNG: (laughs) One of our governments tried that. They adhered to the teaching of a school of philosophers called Legalists. The results were unfortunate to say the least, as I could have told them had I still been alive. Once you have to put up posters to instruct the masses in such elementary rules of conduct, it’s already too late. From my privileged vantage point in eternity I see one of your Western governments is much troubled by aggressive young men who attack their own physicians and even female nurses in places of healing. How have the authorities attempted to restore peace and order? With posters depicting badly bruised female nurses to make the guilty ones realise the consequences of their actions. As though the guilty do not already know the consequences and glory in them!

    DAVID: But rational self-interest …

    KUNG: Forgive me if I quote yet another of your wise men: “Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and pride of man.”

    DAVID: (stubbornly) I have faith in reason. Now if you will excuse me, I really must wake up. I have important work to do.

    KUNG: (bows) It would be most improper to outstay my welcome. I pray your eventual awakening is not too rude.

    KUNG disappears. DAVID rubs his eyes and stares at the reassuringly tangible fossil skull on his desk. It returns his gaze inscrutably.

  15. Alex says:

    Jadehawk:

    interesting things happen in your fevered brain

    I do believe that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about me …

  16. Jadehawk says:

    ok, I’m officially bored with you. go away, and don’t come back.

  17. Alex says:

    As you wish, so shall it be. It’s been emotional.

    A x

  18. David Marjanović says:

    interesting things happen in your fevered brain

    He just loves putting words into people’s mouths, even if he has to make the people themselves up from whole cloth first.

    ok, I’m officially bored with you. go away, and don’t come back.

    …That answer I wanted to write on the “We are the 99%” thread… where should I put it once I get around to writing it?

    In truth, women, children and the elderly are all subgroups of what our modern politicians call “the most vulnerable members of our society”, or as I prefer to call them, “the weak”.

    Women don’t automatically belong there when it comes to needing a seat.

    And yes, I am specifically talking about needing a seat here. If you so desperately want to read a larger, society-scale, motive into this, it wouldn’t be the chivalric “let’s be polite to the weak”; it would be “to everyone according to their needs”.

    (Mwahah.)

    I have faith in reason.

    :-D If that were so, I’d be a philosopher, not a scientist.

    Now if you will excuse me, I really must wake up. I have important work to do.

    You really don’t now me… :-)

  19. David Marjanović says:

    (Oh, BTW, I’ve never worked on mammals. The closest I’ve come is this, and it’s really not very close; it’s at least as far as a turtle is from a bird.

    I didn’t read most of the rest of your theatre play.)

  20. David Marjanović says:

    …Wow. I wrote “now” instead of “know”. I guess spelling evolves, too.

  21. Jadehawk says:

    …That answer I wanted to write on the “We are the 99%” thread… where should I put it once I get around to writing it?

    preferably nowhere. don’t tempt him to come back and write more :-p

    more seriously: I stopped reading that thread ages ago, and you’ll never read a response from him, so… if SIWOTI Syndrome compels you, write a response; but the conversation there is officially over.

  22. David Marjanović says:

    Amusing. :-)

    (Réponse, quoi)

  23. David says:

    On the offchance that Alex is still reading, I just wanted to let him know that And Cabbages, and Kings is now defunct, and that, if he’s looking for me, I’ve moved to a new blog: http://shiningartifact.wordpress.com/ (Sorry for posting this here, I just don’t have any other way of contacting him.)

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