Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ten Points on the Alt-Right


1. The Alt-Right I think has the potential to be a powerful political movement and do some good. The one area where I strongly agree with them is on the issue of sovereignty and immigration. A nation without control of its borders is not a nation. Demographics are destiny. If a society is to become thoroughly multi-ethnic, or seek to preserve a single ethnic identity, it should do so intentionally and in a principled fashion. There are other parts of the Alt-Right platform (to the extent that that is even a thing) where I have strong disagreements, however this is true of just about any ideology or movement. The goal is to have a robust political conversation with a wide spectrum of views instead of just two flavors of corporatist globalism.

2. Now, as a matter of strategy, The Alt-Right needs to take the advice of the Dead Kennedys and tell the Nazi punks to fuck off. They should do the same to the KKK supporters, skinheads, and even the confederate soldier cosplayers. They are a new movement and this is their Sister Souljah moment.

3. The legitimacy of National Socialism and the actions of Hitler during WW2 are an interesting academic debate worthy of investigation. However the question for the Alt-Right is whether or not openly associating with Nazism is a path to political relevance. This should not be a hard question.

4. Consider the movement for gay rights. From the early days, NAMBLA and other pro-pedophile organizations have tried to piggyback on the success of the homosexual rights movement. Conservatives have continually smeared people who believed in gay rights as secretly endorsing sex with children. Thus gay rights activists for decades went out of their way to disassociate the two movements. As a result, gay marriage is legal throughout much of the western world. Pedophilia is still universally reviled, just as Nazism is. Neither the Nazis nor the pedophiles have had much success normalizing their views over the last 70 years. Thus any political movement that associates with them will likely fail.

5. Personally I think the Alt-Right should focus on a more positive message. Instead of arguing about IQ or the “JQ,” focus on rebuilding America's lost civic virtues. Charles Murray's book Coming Apart does a good job explaining the declining rates of marriage, civic engagement, employment, and social trust among white Americans. In the book Murray presents a wealth of data arguing that Americans are no longer as good at working hard, creating healthy families, supporting their communities, and acting honestly. It has led to a society with greater inequality, a perpetual underclass, the normalization of children growing up without a father, greater crime, more ethnic conflict, reduced birthrates, and less overall self-reported contentment.

6. Politically the Alt-Right can still focus on immigration, sure. However as a social movement it would be great to see them work toward rebuilding America's traditional civic virtues – industriousness, family formation, civic engagement (religious or secular, either is fine) and social trust. This could be a grass roots movement – family by family, block by block, town by town, state by state. Teach people how to be productive, manage a household, homeschool, invest, hunt, farm, eat healthy, find a good spouse, etc. etc. That is something regular Americans can get behind. In this regard I was happy to see Tara McCarthy spread the hashtag “AltRightMentorship.”

7. The Left won the culture wars in large part because it was seen as a positive movement. People feel good about supporting equality, social services for the less fortunate, and more political rights. They don't feel good about discriminating against minorities, leaving refugees to starve, or treating women as inferior to men. If you want to promote nationalism, you have to present it in a positive way that makes people feel good about endorsing it. If you want to promote traditionalism or anti-feminism, you have to present gender roles in a positive way. Cheesy as it sounds, people (the young in particular) want to be inspired.

8. Actions speak louder than words. Stefan Molyneux did an interesting video where he talked about the importance of demonstrating commitment. I think there is some truth in this. Traditionalist and Alt-Right folks need to walk the walk. As toxic as western culture might be, nothing is stopping them from building homogeneous communities and having big families. The Amish, the Hasidic Jews, and the Mormons all seem to be doing just fine. Nothing is stopping white people from reliving their 1950's Norman Rockwell glory days if they really want to do so. If they are so scared of dumb and evil brown people ruining their culture then why not focus on fortifying their own communities instead of some pipe dream about exiling nonwhites? If the government gets in the way with forced busing / housing / migrant policies, fight back. They've got a sympathetic administration and Supreme Court at least in the United States.

9. Why am I bothering with trying to aid a movement filled with people that likely despise me because of my skin color? Because I think nationalism is important. World government I think is a terrible evil. Humans are a tribal species. We need a diversity of civilizations to bring out the best in us. We need competition among political philosophies and the ability to vote with our feet by moving to different countries. Given the potential reach of the modern technological surveillance state, a true world government would be inescapable. It would represent the end of history. Unfortunately too many modern liberal and conservative political movements are unquestioningly moving in the direction of global government whether they realize it or not.

10. Nationalism is often bound up with questions of ethnicity. I don't think that is going away because race does matter. So long as we seek to live as homo sapiens, we have to work with the hardware and software nature gave us. We should not be surprised that ethnic groups have different cultures, different outcomes, and often seek to band together. Similarly we should not be surprised that men and women differ in their proclivities and outcomes. If and when technology evolves to a point where all racial and sex differences are easily erased by human augmentation, then we will no longer be dealing with homo sapiens. We will have a whole new slew of tough questions to face at that point. However I am pessimistic about the likelihood of us reaching such a future.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ten Points on Trump and Charlottesville


This will be sort of free form. I have another set of thoughts on the alt-right generally that I will put in another post.

1. I followed the rally in Charlottesville closely on both cable news and Twitter. It was interesting seeing the contrasting presentations. My impression is that the rally was made up primarily of traditional conservatives and white identitarians (white nationalists). The Nazi / KKK / Confederate component seemed to be a clear minority. The rally appeared to only become violent when the right-wing protesters were attacked. This is a relevant detail.

2. In light of point 1 it is telling that the media characterized the event as a “Nazi Rally.” There is a significant difference between white nationalists and Nazis. There is also a significant difference between white nationalists and white supremacists. One can be an ethnic nationalist without hating all other races. Indeed I think most Japanese people are like this.

3. Trump's response was a blunder. He made a weak initial statement, then (foolishly) tried to appease the media with a second statement, then did a third press conference where he just spoke off the cuff. This set him up to look like he was sympathetic to white nationalists even though he didn't really say anything wrong. He condemned racism. He condemned white supremacy and Nazism. He also pointed out that AntiFa was also violent and partly responsible, which is of course true.

4. The media is attacking Trump for not buying their narrative – that violent Nazis were solely responsible for injuries and loss of life at the rally. This has been a common trope since the election. Even when Trump supporters were attacked and beaten at rallies the media characterized them as violent and gave AntiFa a pass.

5. Trump should have made a passionate defense of free speech in his first and only statement. He should have condemned the Nazis and also AntiFa. He should have then said that both sides have a right to free speech so long as they are not violent.  He should have pointed out that people who supported feminism and civil rights for black people were once deemed offensive and were similarly disenfranchised and deplatformed.

6. On a personal note, this is why I am so dismayed to see big tech companies like Google try to ban white nationalists from using their services. No one who believes in free speech can cheer on a huge corporation censoring a political minority. I too am a minority. It was not too long ago that people felt justified in persecuting people with my skin color. They made the same arguments about private companies having the right to do whatever they want. It is amazing how leftists, who have never met a government regulation they didn't like, quickly become absolutists about private property when they see their political enemies being victimized. It speaks again to the fact that we live in an age where there are no principles, only gangs – only “good guys and bad guys” all seeking power.

7. People forget how quickly moral fashions change. A few decades ago people didn't think twice about a gay person getting beat up for being too “out,” about his sexuality. Decades before that it was totally cool to harass interracial couples and women who tried to enter male career fields. 30 years from now, be it from ecological disaster or political instability, the pendulum could swing back and the moral fashions could be totally different. And then today's leftists could be the ones being disenfranchised and silenced. It will be funny to see them scream and protest in favor of free speech again, as they did in the 1960's before they became the establishment. The only problem is that to anyone with a memory they will have zero credibility.

8. Trump also should have pointed out the evil of the Orwellian idea of removing historical monuments on the grounds that they conflict with today's values. Utopians always do this, be it ISIS, the Taliban, or the Chinese under Mao Zedong. They try to cleanse society of past “mistakes,” to create an eternal purified present. But historical monuments are not blanket endorsements of their subjects. If anything, today more than ever, we need monuments of controversial historical figures that we might learn from them.

9. The random acts of destruction of monuments across the country constitute yet another "trial balloon" on the part of the far left. The naked censorship being practiced by big tech companies is another "shot across the bow." They want to see how much they can get away with. Conservatives predictably have been mealy-mouthed in their response. Republicans were quick to turn on Trump and seek the media's favor. I heard Mark Levin on the radio say essentially that he had no problem with monuments being removed, but that leftists should do it "the right way," and respect municipal process. This will not inspire anyone to change their view. Similar arguments were made against every major revolution and civil rights movement. If something is believed to be morally wrong, passionate people will take matters into their own hands. You have to attack the core moral belief.

10. Ultimately I think those right-wingers at the rally who were protesting the removal of monuments had a legitimate grievance. I think the torches were bad PR, and the fact that they let Nazis and Klan members march along side them spoke volumes about their political savvy. Though the alt-right has become more relevant in the age of Trump, the movement is destined for irrelevance if they keep making it easy for the media to label it a Nazi organization. I have watched interviews with Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the alt-right. He is not a Nazi, yet he has on multiple occasions been at public events with people doing Nazi salutes and wearing swastikas. So to the extent that he is the face of the movement, he and other alt-right people cannot really be surprised at the media coverage they get.

I have a separate post I will publish soon about the alt-right.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Response to Millenial Woes



I happened to catch a bit of a recent Tara McCarthy livestream. Since my discussion with her a few months ago she seems to have grown in popularity and become one of the faces of the alt-right movement. In the above livestream she spoke with Millennial Woes, another white nationalist from Great Britain. The two spoke at length about the idea of establishing white ethnostates in Europe and in the United States. It was an interesting look at the ideology of unapologetic racism.

I joined the chat at the end of the livestream right when they were talking about what would be done to minorities and interracial couples in their ideal all white ethnostate. Woes advocated for exiling nonwhites with the goal of getting to a 90 to 100% white United States and / or Europe. What struck me about this portion of the discussion was the level of anguish he expressed. He kept saying how it wouldn't be "nice" having to tear apart families and forcibly deport dark-skinned people. He seemed legitimately upset about the prospect.

In the comments I cheekily asked, "What about high IQ blacks???" and Tara noticed the comment and actually asked him. He said I should go to Africa. I appreciated his integrity in being comfortable saying that directly to me.

But here's why that's dumb:

First of all, telling someone like me to "Go back to Africa," doesn't make sense because I have never been to Africa. Neither have my parents, or their parents. My family, like millions of American blacks, is generations removed from that continent. We know nothing of the culture. Our skin is lighter in color. We would be treated as foreigners, ostracized, and generally made to struggle to make a decent life. Telling me to "Go back to Africa," makes as much sense as telling me to "Go back to Vietnam." I have never been there and cannot call it my homeland.

But let's be charitable and say Woes understands this. Let's remove the "back" in "Go back to Africa." Perhaps he is advocating that all people should go reside in their ancestral racial homelands.

This is even more insane.

First of all, it is completely unworkable given our species' thousands of years of mixing and migrating across continents. Attempting to calculate precisely what percentage of which racial DNA requires a person to move to exactly which country, would be an exercise in futility. Rational nation states simply must tolerate some degree of miscegenation and immigration if they are to function. Seeking to attain absolute purity leads to becoming like North Korea.

Yet there is an even greater irony. If millions of American blacks were to move to African countries, they would inevitably destroy the native African cultures. They would supplant and Americanize it. This is a funny thing for a supposed nationalist to advocate. I think Woes and Tara really really want to believe that a person's culture and values are solely a product of their race. But anyone who has met an American born Chinese kid and a Chinese kid raised in China, would know this isn't true. Race matters, sure, but not that much.

There are an estimated 9.5 million Americans with Polish ancestry. The population of Poland is just under 40 million. Imagine if all Polish Americans were to move to their ancestral ethnic homeland. They could demographically dominate the country. Their Polish blood would not magically make them adopt the Polish value system. Most likely they would end up Americanizing the country. They could spread socially liberal ideas, enact gay marriage, and support open borders. The historic Polish culture and heritage would likely not survive. At best, it would be dramatically transformed. Irish Americans could do the same to Ireland, as there are more Irish Americans today than there are Irish people in Ireland.

I have said before that living in Japan has made me understand why some people believe in the importance of ethnostates. If Americans and Europeans want to make their countries more white, that is their right. Sovereignty is important because diversity is important. Unfortunately, many alt-right people want to obsess over IQ, terrorism, and crime, with the explicit belief that nonwhites just make their countries worse. And here on a livestream we hear them talk about how the way to get to a 99% white society is to banish all the darkies and force mixed families to send their nonwhite members to some racial "homeland" they have never even seen.

Arguing for nationalism on the premise of white supremacy with the stated goal of breaking up multiracial families and exiling native born citizens of a darker complexion - this is a sure fire way to make certain your movement stays on the political fringe. This is a unique moment in history. Donald Trump is president. Nationalism is on the rise, and populists like Bernie Sanders are growing in power. People are becoming tired of political correctness and SJW's. Now is the chance for alternative voices to challenge the decadent incumbents in politics and media. Those voices need to come up with visions that unite people. They should also try to make arguments that don't suck.

More than a third of Americans are nonwhite, most of them citizens too. There is no ethical way to force them to leave. It is their country too. If white Americans wanted racial purity, they wouldn't have done silly things like enslaving millions of Africans, importing thousands of Asians to build their railroads, and generally leaving their borders open for decades. If they now want those nonwhites to leave, their only moral option is bribing them, and they likely don't have nearly enough money. The only other alternative is forced exile via the military, or concentration camps like Nazi Germany. However the country that employs those sorts of methods would not be America anymore.

America will likely never be a 90 or 99% white country if only because of the simple fact that most white Americans don't want it to be. It may have 99% white regions. In fact it already does. Forced integration I think is wrong. If Americans choose to partition and self-segregate, that is their right. But realistically, those concerned with long-term national demographics, be it in America, Europe, or anywhere, should focus more on immigration, border control, and birthrates, and less on forced exile and DNA tests. Securing the border, deporting illegal immigrants, revising legal immigration rules, and incentivizing more marriage and fertility, are all peaceful and politically feasible. By the time the political climate has shifted to a point where people are worrying about who to deport based on ancestry, the ethno-nationalists will have already won.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What I Like About Twitter

Twitter has been around for a while now but I only started using it over the last couple of months. It seemed really pointless to me until I created my own startup as a side project and had a need to promote the site on social media. The business account became a useful way to spread information about the site. I also began using my personal account more as well, mostly just to talk politics and science with random people online.

I discovered that Twitter could actually serve as a really powerful curated stream of news and opinion. I use the term 'curated' because you do have to be careful about who you follow. It is very easy to have it become an echo chamber much like Facebook. You start by following a few people you like. Then Twitter recommends people similar to them. You follow those people and before you know it, you have one hundred different news sites and writers all telling you the same thing. For many people, this is precisely the value they seek from Twitter; the reassurance of dozens of people all affirming their opinions in subtly different ways.

I took a different approach. I went out of my way to carefully follow a diverse range of sources. I have conservative sources and liberal ones. I follow libertarians, socialists, moderates, alt-right white nationalists, progressives, anarchists, and everything in between. I follow Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, President Trump, and Rand Paul.

Whenever a major story breaks - the sort where everyone feels a need to comment on it - I get to hear a million different spins. Trump makes a speech, and in one place I can see the opinions of Richard Dawkins, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Julian Assange. That to me is the really simple and cool thing about Twitter. Sure, I could hack together something similar with other content feed systems. But thanks to its user base, Twitter has done a pretty neat job of aggregating things for me.

I don't claim that this more broad set of viewpoints makes me automatically better informed. Reality is partisan after all. On a science topic often the opinion of one good expert is worth far more than a that of a hundred different pundits. The useful thing about have a wide range of views in your stream is that it helps you to avoid ideological gang membership. It undermines the tendency to premise all of your political views with an us-vs-them filter that inevitably leads to a complete inability to empathize with people who disagree with you. I might disagree with conservatives on a lot of issues, but I would never say that I just cannot understand how any of them believe what they believe.

Twitter has been a pleasant discovery also for following news about science, movies, gaming, and various other odd interests of mine. Suffice to say I have done a complete 180 on the app. Yet still I have my frustrations with it. I sort of understand why they have struggled with monetization. The app has a number of flaws.

There are lots of things they could do to improve the UI. I wish it were easier to follow conversations. I would love to be able to pin or tag people I follow. Also, I would like a way to group the people I follow. I would love to be able to just create a 'Liberal' group, and add all applicable accounts to it. Then in the UI I could just click 'groups' and then 'Liberal' and instantly dive into that world. Does not need to just be political either. I would love to make groups for 'Gaming' and 'Table Top' as well.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

An Honest Conversation about Race

I write about rhetoric. I sometimes call out bad arguments. I did that recently for Tami Lahren and her remarks on abortion. I intended to do that again for RageAfterStorm, a popular German alt-right youtuber.

 

Rage is part of a recent influx of young females into the alt-right youtube scene. I have seen a few cropping up since my chat with Tara "Reality Calls" McCarthy. Overall I think this is a good thing, as the Social Justice Warrior crowd has been due for some competition in the social media world. It is also a good sign for the alt-right movement, as all marketers know that nothing is better for advertising than attractive young women. Most of them aren't terribly original or insightful, but at least they are easier on the eyes than Pat Buchanan. Here's a collage from our friends on /pol/ (Some, like Coulter and Malkin, are not so recent and some do not self-identify as alt-right):


Rage recently did a video about race and IQ. Unfortunately her video got pulled from YouTube. Basically she made the argument that the high rate of criminality in the black community is caused by their lower than average IQ. This is a common belief among alt-right commenters such as Tara McCarthy and Jared Taylor.

I had planned to write a long post debunking this claim but instead I'll just offer a few sentences before continuing with my main point. While there is a general correlation between lower IQ and higher rates of criminality, it is inaccurate to suggest that a group's average lower IQ is the primary cause of its rate of criminality. Evidencing this is the fact that black Americans had far lower rates of crime before the Civil Rights act. Black Americans also had far lower rates of divorce and illegitimacy in the earlier half of the 20th century. There is little evidence that a sudden change in IQ led to the dysfunction we started seeing in the black community in the 1960's. It is instead more probable that cultural change led to the spike in criminality.

One of the things I find most distasteful about the alt-right is their proclivity for abusing research about IQ and human biology. Low IQ == crime is an alt-right sacred cow that one can easily debunk with a bit of research. There are actually numerous examples of relatively low IQ communities that also have lower rates of crime than higher IQ groups. Crime is a consequence of social and cultural systems. Low IQ societies with strong social systems (such as religion) can often enjoy low rates of crime.

Now I understand why many alt-right people fall into this type of thinking about IQ. After decades of brow beating from the Left, the pendulum is simply swinging back. Having been forbidden from even talking about IQ for so long it is understandable that right wingers are making a kind of idol of it. Positioning themselves as edgy truth-tellers, alt-right commenters are twisting research about IQ to push an emotionally satisfying simplistic narrative.

That isn't to say they get it entirely wrong. Race does matter. We should speak honestly about crime and race. Black crime in America is a huge problem. However we need to be really careful before we start blaming things on genetics or IQ. While there is decent evidence showing differences in IQ between races, the link between genetics and crime is far more tenuous. If the alt-right is essentially a white nationalist movement, it should seriously consider whether the best way to win people over is with the argument that nonwhites are genetically inferior (more prone to commit crime). In an earlier era of history this might have been effective. In the current year, I doubt it.

My time living in Japan has made me more open-minded on the idea of ethnic nationalism. I believe the alt-right can be an important part of the political conversation in western nations. I really don’t have a problem with white people wanting to preserve their historical homelands. It seems that the alt-right is applying two contradictory arguments though: 1. We should limit the number of brown people coming into our countries because brown people are idiots and criminals who will make our nations worse 2. We should limit the number of brown people coming into our countries because this is our homeland and those people already have their own.

To me argument #2 is much stronger. Argument #1 I don't think has much mass appeal in modern western nations. For one it immediately turns off 99% of nonwhites. To that some alt-right people would say, "who cares what nonwhites think?" and I would respond, "the politicians whose votes they use to keep the borders open." Furthermore, Virtually all white people have nonwhite friends, a nonwhite bartender, a nonwhite coworker, a nonwhite brother-in-law, etc. They don't feel comfortable associating with a movement that brands people they care about as inferior. Argument #2 is much more defensible. Few people criticize the Japanese, the Chinese, the Kenyans, or the Chileans for preserving their homelands. It is intuitive for both whites and nonwhites living in western nations.

Even though I think the alt-right gets a lot wrong about race, I am still glad to see them at least talking about it openly. If we really want to have an honest conversation about race, we need to be willing to hear controversial points of view, and we need to be civil when people get it wrong. We need the freedom to make mistakes, to bounce ideas off of one another without fear of being lynched by some internet hate mob. I give Rage props for being part of the conversation and putting herself out there. That takes more guts than many of her critics will ever show.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Random Thoughts V

A Good Quote

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

~ Bertrand Russell

Review of Logan


This was a good film. It wasn’t quite great because of some of the narrative choices in the third act. Yet it was still very good. Patrick Stewart is wonderful as a vulgar, senile Professor X. Hugh Jackman is in top form with his weathered, beaten down swan song performance as Wolverine. Few comic book movies have achieved this level of pathos. The scene where Wolverine buries the Professor was genuinely moving. I loved how unapoligetically bleak it all was. The X-Men are dead. The mutants are all gone – killed off by the machinations of human scientists. They’ve perfected mutant clones capable of easily besting the originals.

It’s over. The good guys lost. All that is left for these larger than life characters – Wolverine and the Professor, men who have saved the world countless times across the years – is to scratch out a meager living for the few days left to them and ultimately sacrifice it all for one last bout of heroism. It is indeed quite similar to The Last of Us in that way. The first two thirds of the film are almost perfect. I loved that they got their money’s worth with the ‘R’ rating as the action and language are a treat. For me the movie slipped in its final act with the children. That section felt like it belonged in another movie. I think Wolverine’s clone Laura should have remained mute. I would have preferred the ending focused on just the two of them instead of the formulaic big action set piece against a contrived final boss. These weaknesses aside, it’s still a great sendoff for the character.

The Conundrum of Miserable Women in Saudi Arabia


Frequently people will talk about women in Saudi Arabia to condemn Islam. They will point out that Saudi Arabian women suffer all manner of unfair treatment such as the fact that they are not even allowed to drive. This begs a very basic question: Are women in Saudi Arabia happy? The implications are interesting whether the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

If women in Saudi Arabia are generally happy, then it means that women can be happy living under the subjugation of men. It is not a universal truth that women must attain equality with men to be content. If women in Saudi Arabia are not happy, then it begs a follow up question: why don’t they do something about it? If they are really so oppressed and miserable, why do they not riot, or protest, or go on a sex strike, or fight back somehow? The logical conclusion is that they can’t. They are under the thumb of men, which leads to the uncomfortable conclusion that women’s rights only exist if men choose to let them.

Some might argue that Saudi Arabian women could successfully resist if they chose to, but the women are too indoctrinated and brainwashed to do this. Yet this does not change the conclusion, as now this implies men are so powerful that they can successfully collude to control the thoughts and desires of all women in a society.

So which is it? Are women in Saudi Arabia happy? Or are they unhappy? Which uncomfortable reality must we accept? That women may choose to live as the chattel of men? Or that women’s rights are conditional upon men’s preferences? Or perhaps both?

Body Positivity is Bullshit


I am overweight for my height. Through a combination of exercise and low calorie diets, over the last year and a half I lost about 40 pounds. I need to lose at least another 20. It has been a struggle. Some weeks I float up a few pounds. Some weeks I go back. It has focused my mind a lot and strengthened me. I feel overall much healthier than I did when I was severely overweight. I can run around a bit more with my friends and I enjoy long walks in the city. It is a delight to discover gradually what my body is capable of as it sheds excess fat and builds muscle.

So as you can imagine I don't have much patience for any social movement that would come along and try to say that I should have just accepted my unsightly overweight body and been "proud of my curves." In general this is only suggested to women I find. It seems to be part of a larger campaign to undermine beauty standards out of some misguided notion of egalitarianism and tolerance. This is a fool's errand. My parents are doctors. I have a very thorough understanding of the health risks of being fat. I understand well the burden obese people put on the healthcare system, on their friends, their family, their fellow travelers on an airplane, and in many other areas of society. Furthermore, obesity correlates with low IQ, thus it is unbecoming of a Mensan.

Body positivity should be about encouraging everyone to live healthy and discover the best version of their bodies.

Review of Injustice 2


This is a very fun fighting game if you do two things: 1. Ignore the story and 2. Do not take it seriously or try to play it competitively.

It plays fine for casual fighting game fans. I like the roster a lot. I love being able to play as Black Canary, Doctor Fate, Poison Ivy, and a host of other lesser appreciated DC characters. I don't love all of the designs and costumes, but with the massive character gear and enhancement system, you at least have a lot of room to customize. There is a massive roster of DLC characters and "premium skins" (different character but identical move set to someone on the roster) as well, though they aren't free of course. Still, my friends and I have had a lot of fun with the game. The supermoves are really cool and I love the unique character dialogues at the start of each fight.

The game has a number of balance issues that make it not suitable for competitive play, at least not until it gets a few patches. The super meter system gives zoning characters a significant advantage. Furthermore, the story is pretty awful. It's yet another Batman love letter with Superman again made the villain. It's honestly getting tired. We've been over this in The Dark Knight Returns, Batman vs. Superman, and even the first Injustice game. It isn't really that interesting anymore - this humanistic conceit that if a person is just really clever, he can defeat a nearly omnipotent Alien.

It doesn't bear any scrutiny and in the end it creates a world where super powers don't matter. In every interaction Batman can turn on and off Superman's powers like a light switch with his infinite supply of red sun grenades and gold kryptonite. The plot even has him solo fight Wonder Woman and Black Adam with no special tricks, and win. Who cares that Wonder Woman is a goddess or that Black Adam can destroy cities with his lightning. This dude in a rubber batsuit can beat both of them hand to hand. The inconsistency is just jarring in a plot that takes itself so seriously.

Some Cool Songs

Here are some links to some cool songs I like:

(Old school hip hop) Camp Lo - Luchini: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXyFYNiV-9I
(Pop rock) Marvelous Things - Eisley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lci0pnWk7nM
(60's alt rock) Fire - Arthur Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en1uwIzI3SE
(old rock folk) Wimoweh - Karl Denver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09SXTH699xE
(classic rock) Apeman - The Kinks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEep67akIn4
(videogame music) Kuzunoha Detective Agency - Shoji Meguro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_kQqQvIsRQ

Separating Rhetoric from Reason

I read a blogpost a while ago about logical fallacies. It was framed as a reference to help people avoid making bad arguments. I found this interesting because I do not think it is accurate to describe logical fallacies as "bad" arguments. The quality of an argument is dependent on its ability to persuade people of something. The vast majority of people are readily convinced by logical fallacies. Even very intelligent people are easily swayed by emotional appeals, bandwagon arguments, and ad hominem tactics.

We need to make a distinction between rhetoric and reason. Logical fallacies are important to avoid when exercising pure reason. When engaging in scientific or philosophical investigation, one needs to rigorously apply reason to ensure that the conclusions they reach are logical. This is not the case when it comes to rhetoric. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. It is about making statements that cause people to adopt your point of view.

Most people are not convinced by pure reason. They like to think that they are, but they aren't. Humans greatly overestimate their own rationality. In general they put far more energy into after-the-fact rationalization than into actual decision making. If you wish to change someone's opinion about something, pure logic, evidence, and reason are not likely to work. Any salesman will tell you that the real trick is to get the other person to feel good about adopting a specific opinion. You have to make them feel like changing their mind makes them a better, smarter, more compassionate human being.

Most people make important decisions with their emotions. This is why memes are so powerful and part of why Trump won. People did not support Trump out of logic. They supported him because it felt good. The memes made them feel like they were fighting an evil establishment. The slogans appealed to their sense of shared outrage and frustration.

If ever you want to change someone's mind, figure out how to make them feel good about changing. Better still; make them feel as though they are changing on their own terms - as if they are deciding everything on their own and not being manipulated by some other person.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Black Panther the Alt-Right Superhero



I recently saw the trailer for the new Black Panther movie. It looks fun as any other MCU movie. I have not actually read any of his comics (I don’t read a lot of Marvel actually) so I just did some research on his background. I was surprised to discover that he is an alt-right character.
 

Some things I discovered:
 

- He is an ardent nationalist who unapologetically puts his kingdom and his people first

- Wakanda, the nation he rules, is a hereditary monarchy. They do not believe in democracy.


- Wakanda is racially homogeneous and intentionally remains that way


- Black Panther goes out of his way to protect his nation from outsiders. Immigration is not only restricted; it is impossible.


- Black Panther refuses to help poorer African nations and even turns a blind eye to struggling refugees and migrants throughout the continent, believing it is not in his people’s interest to help them.



- Wakanda is an anti-globalist society with little interest in sharing its wealth and resources. In the trailer Klaw explains how the nation's supposed poverty is all a front.


- Wakanda is anti-multiculturalism and a traditionalist society. They have proudly retained numerous religious, ethnic, and gender-based traditions for centuries.


T’Challa, the Black Panther, would not have much interest in Black Lives Matter or contemporary progressive politics. Sure, he would support black nationalists and fight white racists (he fought the Ku Klux Klan in one comic). However he showed more interest in empowering his own people than in trying to win handouts from whites. In the Doomwar story arc he even went so far as to destroy all of the vibranium upon which his nation relied, forcing his people to become prosperous and independent without it.


I am certain there are some turbonerds out there that could contest my characterization by finding some comic panels where Black Panther demonstrates liberal beliefs and opinions. Much of the tension of his character arc is the struggle between tradition and modernity. Still I think my basic point stands.

There are other examples of very nationalist / traditionalist royal characters in comics. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are both very protective of their people and often cultural chauvinists. However since neither of them are even human, it is hard to apply contemporary political labels. Black Panther is human and he leads a nation on a real continent – Africa.


Alt-right people should support the Black Panther movie. They should meme it all over social media and attend screenings en masse. Proudly show solidarity with him. It would mess with a lot of people's heads.