Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Foreign Land: Amanda Marcotte Describes The Lion

When I threw some daggers at the self-absorbed and vile Laurie Penny Monday, I did not really think it was possible to descend much lower at the time, but somehow Amanda Marcotte has sunk to the occasion. Riffing on the original Penny piece, she adopts as her essay's axis a feminist trope that bears broader examination, that of male sexual entitlement.
Penny is incredibly gracious to Aaronson in her response, so much so that I thought that his lengthy diatribe must be nuanced and humane on some level. Much to my surprise, however, it was just a yalp of entitlement combined with an aggressive unwillingness to accept that women are human beings just like men. So, unlike Penny, I feel no need to be gracious about it. On the contrary, I think it’s time for a good, old-fashioned blog fisking.
Perhaps so, but it's Marcotte, who is one of the most reliably inhumane and willfully blind feminist authors out there today, who needs a proctoscope applied to her typings.
You write about tech conferences in which the men engage in “old-fashioned ass-grabbery.” You add: “some of the gropiest, most misogynistic guys I’ve met have been of the shy and nerdy persuasion … In fact I think a shy/nerdy-normed world would be a significantly worse world for women.”
If that’s been your experience, then I understand how it could reasonably have led you to your views. Of course, other women may have had different experiences.
Translation: I think  you’re lying, because my desire to believe that nerds are balls of pure goodness oppressed by 80s-style cartoonish jock villains cannot countenance the idea that nerd men could ever do anything wrong, ever. Never mind that the movie epitomizing the nerd/jock dichotomy I lean heavily on features a nerd raping a woman in an act of revenge, which is treated like a triumph instead of an act of violence.
Seriously! We're not two paragraphs into this and she's already relying on thirty-year-old movie stereotypes and accusing him of being a rapist or somehow siding with rapists? He never warranted that nerds are "balls of pure goodness", never only that he had different experiences than commenter Amy, and neither did he call her a liar (bringing Marcotte's reading comprehension skills into question). He did, however, remark that he would be "scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison" for entirely natural male sexual desire. Professor Aaronson goes on:
... to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.
 Well, um, yeah, and duh, of course. One gets the very real sense that all male desire is so thoroughly alien to Marcotte that the line between rapist and nebbish is simply not possible for her to draw, so it's better to preemptively declare Aaronson — for whom she has literally no basis for this charge — a rapist, or a potential rapist, or a supporter of rapists. This, of course, is the point of employing the specious charge of sexual entitlement. Back to Marcotte:
Despite saying he’s steeped in feminist discourse, you will find that the only feminist whose name he appears to remember is Andrea Dworkin’s, i.e. a woman modern day feminists reference rarely (if ever) but misogynists tend to obsess over because they want her to be the spokeswoman for feminism.
It would be funnier if peculiarly anti-male views weren't so clearly on display in the writings of Marcotte, Laurie Penny, and a slate of others more modern and not-quite-dead. The misandrist Dworkin may never have outright claimed that, as frequently summarized by critics, "all heterosexual intercourse is rape", but she certainly opened herself to the charge.
Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison.
This is a critical passage, because it really lays out his thesis: That fear of rejection is a male-only experience, and one that is so awful that any suffering women have endured through history is a mere pittance compared to it. The possibility that women want love and attention and worry about being humiliated and denied simply has never occurred to him. I have some theories as to why.
This, of course, again, is Marcotte injecting words into Aaronson's mouth, building up straw men by the hay field; male difficulties with their own bodies, lives, and emotional states must be not only minimized but scorned, because, well, entitlement. Or something. The real entitlement here is Marcotte's insistence on orthdox feminism, which bears no deviance, and an abject refusal to even try to understand her subject. More straw men, this in reference to Aaronson's graf about sexual-assault lecturing:
Translation: I was too busy JAQ-ing off, throwing tantrums, and making sure the chip on my shoulder was felt by everyone in the room to be bothered to do something like listen.
And she knows this, how? She is, after all, criticizing events at considerable remove from the present day, to which she brings neither witnesses nor evidence. This brings something else up, too: the demand that men "listen" to endless harangue is one of modern feminism's principle features. No matter how baseless, scattershot, or irrational the charges, one must "listen", which seems to mean "quietly accepting your perpetual guilt, regardless of actual merit, and don't you dare defend yourself", something we saw frequently during the idiotic and reductive #NotAllMen/#YesAllWomen hashtag wars in the wake of the Elliot Rodger spree killing that quickly devolved into a solipsistic "let's talk about meeeee" madhouse. Rodger, of course, was fascinating for the exact reason that feminists were more upset about his misogynistic ravings than his homicide victims, four of whom turned out to be male. "Entitlement" again caught the blame, and maybe so, but not the kind they're thinking of.

I could go on; Marcotte does, for paragraphs and paragraphs. I suspect Aaronson, who deserves none of this slander, got this sort of vituperation is because he is a professor of engineering and computer science at MIT. In Marcotte's feminist Wonderland, he qualifies as a member of the largely mythical "brogrammer" species, supposedly the reason so few girls go into that field, rather than, say, a lack of interest in or aptitude for the subject.

The opposite sex lives in a foreign country to which Marcotte denies herself a visa; in that, she is like the medieval Europeans describing exotic Asiatic animals strictly on hearsay.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Profound Unseriousness Of American Governance

At the suggestion of Conor Friedersdorf, I started reading James Fallows' Atlantic article about the weird and diffident relationship the US has with its military. It's well-written, as Fallows' pieces frequently are, but I wanted to pause along the way to remark on one graf (emboldening mine):
Outsiders treat [the military] both too reverently and too cavalierly, as if regarding its members as heroes makes up for committing them to unending, unwinnable missions and denying them anything like the political mindshare we give to other major public undertakings, from medical care to public education to environmental rules. The tone and level of public debate on those issues is hardly encouraging. But for democracies, messy debates are less damaging in the long run than letting important functions run on autopilot, as our military essentially does now. A chickenhawk nation is more likely to keep going to war, and to keep losing, than one that wrestles with long-term questions of effectiveness.
 Fallows is, largely, wrong here. This is, I would remind him, a government that has not passed a budget in years (since 2009, in fact), which rammed Obamacare through Congress using procedural trickery and deception, under the fantasy it would eventually become popular. Paying attention to the consequences of legislation is scarcely something Americans do, let alone actually thinking about life-and-death matters of shipping soldiers off to kill in wars of dubious or even negative merit.

My Butthurt's Better Than Yours

I've generally tried to make a rule that I don't skewer the wee little targets of the feminist left. Bloggers with a couple dozen followers might have some amusing crazy to dissect (and sometimes, as with this Shakesville rant, give us insight into the pathologies behind radical feminism), but generally they aren't in a position of power to inflict their peculiarly disturbed plans on society at large. To that end, it's worth remembering that the worthy targets have shown some ability to navigate both law and bureaucracy, e.g. Russlyn Ali, or Zerlina Maxwell, or have achieved the highest goal possible for a feminist pundit, i.e. a sinecure in which she (and they are virtually always she's) gets paid for holding the right opinions.

By that measure, Laurie Penny succeeds. She first came to my attention thanks to a horrible column in New Statesman which laid out a case for a sort of original sin among men: even if an individual man is not sexist, because he is male, he actively benefits from the sexism of other men, and so conspires in the thefts of patriarchy, quod erat demonstrandum. Like a great deal of feminist dogma and all discussions of first principles, i.e. theology, it is unanswerable by any empirical means; one accepts it or not, and if not, risks being branded a heretic, i.e. sexist, the worst conceivable epithet.

So, to Penny's latest, which I first came into contact with via this tweet:
This amounts to skipping ahead, but her jumping-off point is a post by MIT professor Scott Aaronson, blogging on the sad case of colleague Walter Lewin, who made an untoward remark to a young woman, and summarily was made into a non-person by MIT in an egregious overreaction. Aaronson wrote in a comment (emboldening mine, yadda yadda):
Much as I try to understand other people’s perspectives, the first reference to my 'male privilege' — my privilege! — is approximately where I get off the train, because it’s so alien to my actual lived experience . . . I suspect the thought that being a nerdy male might not make me 'privileged' — that it might even have put me into one of society’s least privileged classes — is completely alien to your way of seeing things. I spent my formative years — basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s — feeling not 'entitled', not 'privileged', but terrified.
This, of course, amounts to fighting words to Penny, who can't stand to have her own victim status challenged. In the I'm-No-Communist-But sweepstakes, she opens a graf with the words, "I do not intend for a moment to minimise Aaronson's suffering" and then proceeds to this:
Having been a lonely, anxious, horny young person who hated herself and was bullied I can categorically say that it is an awful place to be. I have seen responses to nerd anti-feminism along the lines of "being bullied at school doesn't make you oppressed". Maybe it's not a vector of oppression in the same way, but it’s not nothing. It burns. It takes a long time to heal. Feminism, however, is not to blame for making life hell for "shy, nerdy men". Patriarchy is to blame for that.
Which is to say, she has a convenient theological answer for Aaronson's problems. Responsibility for actual bullying, if there was any, and for his own feelings of inadequacy, particularly interaction with the opposite sex, lie with an unseen conspiracy whose shadowy agents she need not name. In fact, she entirely does mean to minimize Aaronson's suffering, because his "powerfully honest, but also flawed" writing expressly rejects the absurd ghost story of feminism. Potential biological explanations, e.g. a person somewhere on the Asperger's spectrum and thus wholly clueless about social cues, as many individuals in STEM fields are, bear neither raising nor examination. But wait! There's more!
Women generally don't get to think of men as less than human, not because we're inherently better people, not because our magical feminine energy makes us more empathetic, but because patriarchy doesn't let us. We're really not allowed to just not consider men's feelings, or to suppose for an instant that a man's main or only relevance to us might be his prospects as a sexual partner. That's just not the way this culture expects us to think about men. Men get to be whole people at all times. Women get to be objects, or symbols, or alluring aliens whose responses you have to game to "get" what you want.
So someone is standing over you at all times telling you how inhuman men are? Who is this controlling freak? And why are you listening? (And of course, we won't get into the evolutionary and biological implications of why men might find many sexual partners desirable; that would certainly be too frightening.) In this telling, women utterly lack agency, volition, and even sense, and simply do as they're told by, well, whoever. It's not possible, as @facerealitynow demands, that Penny provide a scientific basis for her beliefs, for the simple reason that they aren't subject to even the weakest carbolic acid of skeptical analysis; it is enough to believe they are true. Science is for meanies, and the underrated virtue of resilience amounts to a sin.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Harvard Professors Rebel Against Sexual Assault Rules

Cathy Young has a new post at The Daily Beast about a group of Harvard professors signing a protest against the new Title IX sexual assault rules (emboldening mine):
The increasingly contentious debate about the proper response to sexual assault on college campuses took a new turn on Oct. 15, when The Boston Globe ran an op-ed signed by twenty-eight current and retired Harvard Law School professors expressing “strong objections” to the school’s new Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures. The sharply worded statement not only slammed the university administration for forcing the policy on all of Harvard’s schools without adequate discussion but also charged that the new procedures for handling complaints of sexual misconduct “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process [and] are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.” It even went so far as to urge Harvard to defy federal guidelines on addressing such complaints and “stand up for principle in the face of funding threats.” This is the latest, and biggest, volley in a mounting revolt against the overreach of government-led initiatives to curb campus rape—coming from unusual suspects.

Thus, the Harvard signatories include not only noted criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has long been viewed as right of center in the culture wars, but preeminent African-American law professor and Barack Obama’s mentor Charles Ogletree and several renowned female jurists such as veteran civil rights attorney Nancy Gertner, constitutional scholar Martha Field, and feminist legal theorist Janet Halley. This protest is not easy to dismiss as a right-wing anti-woman backlash.
 I do not believe that universities will drop this regulation without a battle royal; the sheer number (over 800 colleges) makes that an impossibility. But impressive and famous names have joined the fight, and with "a spike in lawsuits against colleges by male defendants in sexual misconduct cases claiming they were denied due process", the obvious injustice of the rules becomes increasingly difficult to defend.

Postscript: I didn't initially want to write about this Feministing piece by Alexandra Brodsky, which I treated a week ago. Some additional thoughts in light of this event:

Brodsky glibly moves the goalposts from "due process" to "fair process", a shabby misuse of the words. She smirks about opponents who decry "student-survivors" (her loaded term) that "obviously [want] rigged disciplinary hearings that don’t give respondents a chance to stand up for themselves." How can Yale Law student Brodsky really not know, as the "Harvard 28" observed, that the system she lauds lacks adequate representation, discovery, and the creation of a parallel adjudication system that is investigator, judge, and jury? "It’s an easy, seductive political narrative, but it’s not true", she intones, as though we should simply ignore the realities increasingly uncovered by those who would be affected by these parallel and unfair traps.

If anyone — anyone — should be familiar with due process, it ought to be a law student, and yet this piece finds all manner of excuses to avoid such discussions. I do not know but suspect that Russlyn Ali's "Dear Colleague" letter was largely concocted in a policy echo chamber, wherein dissenting voices simply did not exist. As Brodsky is about to discover, it is one thing to propose among political friends, and quite another to get something past a legislature or the courts. She might have previously gotten away with shadow boxing straw men in moot court, but she cannot escape answering their arguments in broader forums.

Battling Top-Down Health Care: The Mercatus Plan

I have yet to fully read the overall study, but what I've seen in the executive summary of the Mercatus Center's health care reform proposal appears entirely sound, and long overdue. Noting that the current model has turned medicine into a legal "fortress", with gatekeepers at every turn (and thus, payment), author Robert F. Graboyes suggests that (formatting below is mine, though the text is a direct quote):
  • From Fortress to Frontier. To replicate the kinds of revolutionary innovation seen in other fields, health care policymakers need to discard the constraints of their Fortress mentality and adopt a Frontier attitude, which tolerates calculated risks and welcomes competition from diverse practitioners and disciplines.
  • Address supply as well as demand. America’s health care debate has focused almost exclusively on demand: how many people have health coverage, and how providers are paid for which currently offered services. Successful reforms must ease limitations on both demand and supply, promoting innovations that can alter the nature of health care delivery and lower costs.
  • Step-by-step reform. This does not require wholesale, politically unrealistic changes in the health care sector. Indeed, reformers should instead advance through many small, incremental, and simultaneous steps, seizing opportunities to break down barriers to reform, possibly achieving quick victories.
  • Breaking down barriers. A vast range of such opportunities are at hand. The Fortress mentality has erected numerous obstacles to health care innovation. These obstacles are readily identifiable and can be overcome with targeted reforms that do not require a sweeping overhaul of the health care sector. The idea is to identify every potential limit on the supply of health care services, and then eliminate it. If the United States doesn’t do this, other countries will, and America will lose its leadership position in medical innovation.
The recognition that incremental reform is necessary is also dangerous, in that it is these sorts of windows into which corporatism can creep.  Political gamesmanship, the ad hoc-ery stemming from it, and a failure to reckon with market forces are exactly the problems that got us into this mess; the way out is less government intervention in medicine, not more, and less corporate intervention, too. At least I'm not the only one talking about it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The "Serious" Zombie Returns

Glenn Greenwald —fairly early in his career — criticized the "serious" pundits then supporting the Iraq war, whose sole rhetorical arrow in their quiver was the ad hominem. On the eve of a potential Iraq war, Jim Webb mentioned the very specific problems associated with that war: "wars often have unintended consequences", and "occupation of Iraq... is the key element". After the invasion,
Each and every one of the dangers about which Webb warned has come to fruition. But thoughtful, sophisticated, rational and -- as it turns out -- prescient analysis like this was haughtily dismissed away by the tough-guy political and pundit classes as unserious and wimpy, even when coming from combat heroes. Instead, those who were deemed to be the serious, responsible, and strong national security leaders -- and who still are deemed as such -- were the ones shrilly warning about Iraqi mushroom clouds over our cities; handing out playing cards -- playing cards -- with pictures of the Bad People underneath their comic book nicknames; and making predictions about Iraq which the most basic working knowledge of that country should have precluded.
As with the Obamacare disaster, I get the same sense reading a series of columns from the frequently reasonable Freddie deBoer that I did with Greenwald's then-current criticisms of the likes of Marty Peretz, Mark Steyn, and George Allen (not to mention Tom "Suck. On. This." Friedman). That is, "serious" is basically a synonym for "agrees with me", and is not to be taken, well, seriously, as in, an actual argument. The first such I want to treat is his commentary about a Darren Orf Gizmodo post discussing how shutting down the website The Pirate Bay has done nothing to stop actual piracy. This, I think, is really the nucleus of his post:
Gizmodo specializes in a kind of aggressive moral childishness, but the tech culture is full of this stuff: I’m going to take what I want whenever I want it because I want it and I won’t ask or care what the costs of that behavior are.
Yet, deBoer frees himself of this very same restriction. He spends not one sentence considering the consequences of an Internet that could constrain writing, audio, or video to a centralized authorization scheme. That such a world would be amenable to all sorts of studios and tyrants both (and would be of dubious real utility, as the original Gizmodo piece makes plain) should be trivially obvious. Yet he sees only future (and likely, present) paychecks vanishing. I have heard from others in the film/TV business who tell me that they consider their "right" to make a living an absolute, not to be interfered with at any cost. Yet I wonder if they would be willing to trade 100% of their right to free speech for a centralized copyright system that could suppress any speech the operator thought noxious, or infringing, or illegal, for whatever reason. To label these real and significant arguments "childishness" only reveals the author's own superficiality, at least in this matter. He does a better job discerning the differences between North Korean pressure on Sony Pictures and Chinese soft censorship, but it's hard not to notice how there, he has no commercial interest.

 The second post I want to shine a light on is deBoer's commentary about the status of public employee unions, the public schools, and police. It's worth pausing early on for this, because it's illustrative of the progressive tribalism that all too frequently infects deBoer's writing:
Now, looking at the tendency of the state to murder its most economically and socially disadvantaged people and declaring “you know what the problem is? Unions” is inherently self-parodic for libertarian types, to the point that I’m almost content to let Wilkinson’s post undermine itself.
In other words, I don't have to actually answer any of the arguments Will Wilkerson employs about the adverse consequences of the public employee unions upon poor people, I can just smirk at those silly libertarians. But let's take a look at the soft-pedal job he does do in rebutting Wilkerson's essay. He doesn't apply a word toward the smear job done to a Costa Mesa city councilman by that city's police union after he threatened to reduce police pensions, nor Miami's recalcitrance toward police cameras by their police union, not to mention the real sense of entitlement from the NYPD Patrolmen's Benevolent Association on the subject of killing subjects citizens; apparently, these things simply don't exist, and all one needs do is ignore them, along with FDR's reasoning for rejecting public employee unions. Even in his linked New Yorker backgrounder on Corey Booker and Newark's horrid schools,
There was no question that the Newark school district needed reform. For generations, it had been a source of patronage jobs and sweetheart deals for the connected and the lucky. As Ross Danis, of the nonprofit Newark Trust for Education, put it, in 2010, “The Newark schools are like a candy store that’s a front for a gambling operation. When a threat materializes, everyone takes his position and sells candy. When it recedes, they go back to gambling.”

The ratio of administrators to students—one to six—was almost twice the state average. Clerks made up thirty per cent of the central bureaucracy—about four times the ratio in comparable cities. Even some clerks had clerks, yet payroll checks and student data were habitually late and inaccurate. Most school buildings were more than eighty years old, and some were falling to pieces. Two nights before First Lady Michelle Obama came to Maple Avenue School, in November, 2010, to publicize her Let’s Move! campaign against obesity—appearing alongside Booker, a national co-chair—a massive brick lintel fell onto the front walkway. Because the state fixed only a fraction of what was needed, the school district spent ten to fifteen million dollars a year on structural repairs—money that was supposed to be used to educate children.
How did this happen? deBoer doesn't say, and apparently doesn't care. Teachers' unions, it seems, weren't on the scene, and had nothing to do with and didn't benefit from it if they were. Never mind that compelling contrary evidence about the deleterious effects of public school unions isn't too hard to find, and supported by government data, too. If there's an argument to be made here, deBoer again shirks it.

I don't want to lay out deBoer generally, because he frequently enters the orbit of planets where actions have consequences, and not always the ones you want, as witness his analysis of the Rolling Stone rape story, or his clear-headed observation that stripping due process protections from individuals accused of rape will eventually be used on the most powerless in society, i.e. young black men. I just wish he would do it more often.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. The blog will be silent on the 25th (ha ha!).

Four Things That Almost Nobody Is Talking About That Need Fixing In Medicine

Obamacare is a farce, but its proponents frequently pull out the fact that it was, in large strokes, derived from a 1993 Heritage Foundation proposal. Significant in that Politifact piece is the following graf:
"The Chafee plan did not spell out how increased coverage would be financed," [Clinton adviser Paul] Starr said. "It was more of a symbolic bill than an actual piece of legislation."
This confirms a sense I've had of the Heritage plan: it always seemed like a half-baked idea that was intended more as a negotiating counter to Hillarycare, i.e. a delaying tactic, rather than a serious proposal. The Heritage plan was always a thing-on-a-thing, scaffolding erecting the next story on an already ungainly building. And of course, therein lay the trouble; its flaws were the flaws of ad hoc tax law manipulations that originated in World War II as a consequence of wartime pay restrictions.

All of which is to say, of course, that the solution for such problems has nothing to do with adding more mandates or subtracting restrictions on insurance, as Avik Roy sadly did, or more recently, John C. Goodman's proposal. Both retain the deep ties to the insurance industry that have done so much to degrade health care in this country, a reality limned by David Goldhill in The Atlantic, an article he later expanded into a book, Catastrophic Care. As I mentioned the other day, the most frequently mentioned repair for Obamacare from the Democratic side is single-payer, which for the reasons Megan McArdle recently outlined, is an economic non-starter (and with the Vermont failure, politically dead). Instead, I want to focus on four things that few people are currently discussing that need repair in medicine that could materially reduce costs. They all have in common the market, the one way we know best that works to reduce actual costs, not apparent costs.
  1. End low-deductible insuranceGoldhill outlines the problems with low-deductible insurance: by shielding prices from consumers, it saps power from and accountability to the patient, and eliminates meaningful cost comparison. This has all kinds of bad consequences, from steady cost inflation, deteriorating service, and adverse outcomes (even including death). The solution is to remove insurers from most transactions, and let people purchase directly their own medical care. The first step should be extending the medical income tax credit as a first-dollar deduction for individuals, rather than making the deduction so high that few ever qualify. The next would be to limit insurance to those things it truly does well: management of extraordinary expenses, i.e. risk.
  2. Break the American Medical Association's cartel. It's a rare day when you'll see me agree with anything appearing on the pages of Mother Jones, but their analysis of why US physicians have such high compensation is both simple and spot on: because the US is in roughly the bottom third of OECD countries by physicians per 10,000 population. Their non-solution to this problem is to say, suck it, docs, which won't work; the real answer is that the AMA's ability to limit medical school slots and internships must end. Similarly, the AMA has succeeded in gaining a monopoly on the prescription pad and otherwise limiting practice options by registered nurses (who must attach themselves to a physician or practice for various legal reasons). California came very close to nurse practitioner liberalization just last year, only to have the AMA kill the idea.
  3. Limit patents to 17 years, period. As it stands now, devices patented in the 1970's are still getting repatented for various uses that have the net effect of creating long-running monopolies counter to the interests of patients and consumers. An excellent example is the Epi-pen; created by the military for field use, it should have had no patent issued, ever. Instead, its 1977 patent continues to be renewed by various kinds of chicanery; this has the result of making the product in the US cost more than three times that in Canada, and that doesn't include the cost of getting the doctor's prescription.
  4. Remove anticompetitive Certificate of Need state laws. Remember the Texas car dealers who bought a law in Austin to keep Tesla out of their state thanks to a business model that dispenses with independent car dealers? Something very like that is in play with Certificate of Need laws, which amount to a "government permission slip" for new competition. By creating a moat around existing hospitals and other medical facilities, governments retard actual competition and thus raise prices:
  5. Studies of the COPN system around the country have confirmed what seems intuitively obvious. A joint examination by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission found that COPN regulations hurt competition, fail to contain costs, and “can actually lead to price increases.” Restricting supply raises prices? Imagine that.
I do not claim this list is complete or even exhaustive. It does seem to me, however, that all are obvious flaws of the current system. Some will require cage-match fights to the death — patent reform particularly is unlikely without it — but all address actual, underlying costs, unlike Obamacare or even the Republican repair proposals.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Correlation != Causality: Porn And Marriage

I've already had several people post this Washington Post Wonkblog piece about porn and marriage which asserts that young men aren't getting married because they are consuming more porn, and thus no longer need women, or something:
Broadly, higher Internet usage was associated with lower marriage rates. But pornography use in particular was more closely linked to those participants who were not married than any other form of Internet use, including regular use of financial websites, news websites, sports websites, and several others. The opposite, for comparison, was true for religious website use, which was positively correlated with marriage.
"The natural reaction might be to dismiss the findings as confirmations of an obviousness", they continue, "that men who are married tend to look at porn less frequently precisely because they are married." Well, duh, but maybe we could lift a finger to see, perhaps, why young men might be unmarried? That, of course, is a question the Wonkblog probably doesn't want answered truthfully, because of their political biases.

Asking young women what they want in a potential mate, a poll by the Pew Research Center in September revealed that 78% want a man with a stable job; no single answer by men was even close to that high. That is to say, young women — despite years of feminist action — overwhelmingly value men for their economic contributions. So why might young men, particularly young and poor men, not be getting married? The answer is obvious if you look at youth labor participation, with some observers speculating that structural youth unemployment may well be permanent. While it's been hotly debated whether Obamacare and a recent minimum wage step increase have contributed toward this, it is incontestable that youth unemployment remains stubbornly high. If young men, especially young men without college degrees, are to marry, their job prospects must improve, and dramatically.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Cult Of Ada Lovelace

Somehow I managed to avoid talking about "The Problem With “We Need More Women In —”", which is really surprising considering it addresses a longstanding bĂȘte noir of mine, the endless, and thus far, largely fruitless quest to get more women into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (STEM, commonly). Her solution is to acknowledge the reality, but declare it a non-problem:
I do not believe women should be sought out for jobs that are publicly posted if there are already qualified candidates interested. If you believe this should be the case, then you are promoting bias and discrimination on the basis of nothing but gender. You are more interested in the demographic breakdown of an industry/company/area of research than the quality of work, or employee, involved in said area. I believe that, by actively seeking out women to fill a certain percentage of a specific field, you are not only turning women into tokens, you are promoting a very troubling belief that they should expect special treatment and consideration for just being women. In addition, you are teaching girls and young women that, no matter what, they will be viewed by their gender first, and all else will be secondary. A troubling and heartbreaking side effect of this is that the same will happen with boys and young men, although the outcome will be much less pleasant for them.
This situation —which has existed my entire adult life — has been fought with a number of tools over time, the most prominent being the finding of suitable female role models. Ada Lovelace (arguably the first programmer) and Adm. Grace Hopper (creator of the despicable but important COBOL language, and originator of the locution "bug" in the sense of "unintended flaw") are two of the most commonly cited, with Lovelace even getting a (terrible) language named after her. Largely, all this effort hasn't helped, and over time, computer science in particular has suffered a significant decline in female graduates:

From shortly after I entered college in 1981, the trend line in female CS grads has gone nowhere but down as a percentage of overall graduates. And this despite no small amount of foment trying to get girls interested in the topic. What is utterly puzzling about this: if, as the author notes, some 90% of registered nurses are female, why aren't feminists agitating to equalize that field, or veterinarians, which produced 78% female graduates in the most recent year reported (2012), according to the AVMA (PDF)? And while this is pure speculation, my suspicion lies in the direction that
  1. Women must do important things in society.
  2. Science is important.
  3. Therefore, women must be scientists.
Of course, the problem with this observation is that all too frequently, the observer is a journalist or some other person with few or no credentials in the STEM fields. This puts such writers in the dubious position of telling others, "you go first", with bonus points for women advocates. This particularly terrible TechCrunch piece by Jon Evans is fairly representative. After banging away at some various, typical sexism-is-keeping-our-young-girls-outta-coding news stories, he pulls this:

Too anecdotal? OK: here’s a 2008 Harvard Business Review research report (PDF) on women in science, engineering, and technology, which found:
Between ages 25 and 30, 41% of the young talent with credentials in those subject matters are female … [but] 52% of this talent drops out … The most important antigen is the machismo that continues to permeate these work environments … 63% of women in science, engineering and technology have experienced sexual harassment.
I haven’t found any comparable studies from the last five years, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks things have gotten much better since 2008 — until, maybe, just this last year, when more people seem to have become willing to at least discuss the issue. As long as you don’t suggest it’s anything more than a pipeline problem.
But guess what? If you create an environment wherein a whole class of entrepreneurs and employees goes unnoticed by deeply flawed industry-wide “pattern recognition” heuristics, and/or one where they have to be perpetually on their guard, and must pretend not to notice all the myriad microaggressions that make them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable and out-of-place…
If you actually drill down to the Harvard Business Review study, you'll realize quickly that it's nothing more than airy assertions piled on feminist cant, multiplied by mewling that women shouldn't have to work as hard as men to get the same recognition. Example:
In some industries, this hard hat culture is known as a “firefighter” culture, where the most admired individual at the plant is the larger-than-life male who runs around dealing with various emergencies—putting out actual and proverbial fires.
How terrible — having to actually be competent under stress. Another:
Tech women talked about the “diving catch” behavior that is center stage at technology companies. Alpha male techies come to the rescue—zooming in at the eleventh hour like Superman or the Lone Ranger to save a system that is threatening to crash. Women find it extremely difficult to take the kinds of risks involved in making these saves—their buddy system just isn’t strong enough to save them if they were to fail. They resent the fact that making a diving catch is often the only way to get promoted at a tech company.
Demonstrating that you can get the job done under pressure — well, we can't have that now, can we? Feminists demanding more women in STEM fields are all too eager employ the kind of infantilization that women must be treated with kid gloves vs. men in the same area.

One of the great counterarguments to the nonsensical trope that women make 70% of the wages of men is that if it were true, why aren't employers flocking to female employees in order to extract that 30% discount labor? And the answers, while complex, all come back to
  1. Employees are not all the same.
  2. The ones who get the job done despite long hours are more valuable.
And those people will get rewarded. This is why, when the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis looked at the matter very closely and included preferences for jobs with good benefits and flexible time off, the wage gap all but vanished (emboldening mine):
Economists Eric Solberg and Teresa Laughlin applied an index of total compensation, which accounts for both wages and benefits, to analyze how these benefits would affect the gender gap. They found a gender gap in wages of approximately 13 percent. But when they considered total compensation, the gender gap dropped to 3.6 percent.
 And here you might say, well, this is a tangent. No, no it's not, because this is really about recognizing women's choices have consequences. The advocates for "we must get more women in STEM careers" refuse to acknowledge those choices. Feminism, apparently, only gives women as much autonomy as aligns with the party goals for them; other choices, raising children, maintaining a household, spending time with their families, are simply Not Allowed.

Title IX Nonsense, Jessica Valenti's First-World Problems, And A Tonic In Feels And Reals

First, the horrible Feministing, added to my sidebar in the last few days. This first: "Let's Talk About Title IX And Fair Process". The bait and switch between "fair" and "due" is not coincidental. The "backlash" Alexandra Brodsky raves about, of course, is based on utterly nothing, in her opinion.
As schools reconsider their disciplinary procedures, these critics position their camp as the sole defenders of procedural protections (like the opportunity to be informed of the details of the complaint and present counter-evidence to a neutral investigator) for students accused of gender-based violence. The way they write, you’d think anyone who cares about justice for student-survivors obviously wants rigged disciplinary hearings that don’t give respondents a chance to stand up for themselves.
It’s an easy, seductive political narrative, but it’s not true. Most feminists — motivated by principles of equality and justice and invested in the legitimacy of our responses to violence misogyny — deeply care about fair decision-making when it comes to punishing gender-based violence. Many of us resist violence in all its forms, from rape to incarceration, and building respected campus responses to gendered harms creates space to imagine other alternatives to the criminal justice system.
This is risible, of course, because this sort of intellectual dishonesty – one which stems directly from a refusal to actually engage with arguments from specific authors and employing specific cases – is a particularly noxious approach to the issue. For instance, Patrick Witt, whose case achieved considerable notoriety thanks to his playing on the Princeton football team, but who nonetheless has a lingering stain on his reputation. The author glibly assures us that opponents of having universities act as a separate, easier criminal adjudication system "ignore the meaningful differences between the stakes of a disciplinary hearing (expulsion at worst) and of a criminal trial (incarceration)", so presumably it just doesn't matter whether charges are actually false. Likewise, the damage done by false charges simply doesn't matter (and she doesn't even acknowledge this). What matters is, her twisted sense of fairness and permanent victimhood. It is as delusional as it is dangerous. Coming from someone who is an attorney is really quite astonishing. It will be a mighty chore to chase such thinking out of the academy.

Moving on to happier tasks, I introduce Feels And Reals, opening with a post criticizing articles by Jessica Valenti, the founder of Feministing, and another on FeministCurrent, entitled "Feminism…. It Sounds…. Familiar….." Valenti apparently thinks tampons should be free, because, she's a woman? I'm not sure how this works, but the upshot:
I feel fully confident in saying Modern Radical Feminism is the sociological manifestation of Munchausen [Syndrome]. By constantly painting yourself as an oppressed person, as a victim in need of special protection or consideration, and by driving this point with an “ends justify the means” mentality, you are exhibiting the same symptoms as a Munchausen patient, especially in a world where true oppression exists – Malala, for example.
 The whole thing is worth a read, especially for the paper-thin skins of some of the Twitterers, whose number includes the perennially risible Anita Sarkeesian.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

On Civility And "Safety"

My friend Linda Kaim recently posted a link to a Caitlin Dewey essay at the Washington Post about harassment on Twitter, and in particular, harassment of women in that venue. "Per an October study by the Pew Research Center, 4 in 10 Internet users have experienced online harassment" (link my own, not provided in the article). I wanted to reprint my comments, and possibly expand on them somewhat.

Having been in the online wars, am familiar with many of the arguments here. Some while back, my sister posted an article criticizing Richard Dawkins for some sexist things he had said in the past, and Sam Harris as well. I don't agree with all of what Dawkins has to say there, but what I see in that is a conflation of two entirely unrelated things:
There’s no denying that Dawkins played a formative role in the atheist movement, but it’s grown beyond just him. Remarks like these make him a liability at best, a punchline at worst. He may have convinced himself that he’s the Most Rational Man Alive, but if his goal is to persuade everyone else that atheism is a welcoming and attractive option, Richard Dawkins is doing a terrible job. Blogger and author Greta Christina told me, “I can’t tell you how many women, people of color, other marginalized people I’ve talked with who’ve told me, ‘I’m an atheist, but I don’t want anything to do with organized atheism if these guys are the leaders.’”
I found this passage in one of the linked stories discussing this matter:
...worst of all, just a few days ago, was this remark he retweeted. It implies – no, not implies, asserts – that feminists assume all men are misogynists (a detestable lie), and that women who receive sexist abuse bring it on themselves by doing so. There’s no reasonable way to read Dawkins’ retweet as anything but an endorsement of this sentiment. (I’m aware the original author was a woman, which just goes to show, as I’ve said in the past, that the rift in the atheist community isn’t between men and women; it’s between people who want every atheist to feel welcome and safe among us, and people who don’t care about doing that.)
The problem here is the author conflates civility and safety. Civility — the ability to discuss ideas and make arguments without making personal attacks — should always be the standard. "Safety", however, is really a demand for the right to never be offended. It is a wish that the world were other than it is. In the headline article, that wish is accompanied by the soft-pedal euphemisms that frequently walk down the aisle with calls for censorship. For instance, let us take this passage:
I am not naive on these issues: I understand that Twitter’s toeing a very difficult line, trying to provide a constructive, useful service to its users while also upholding the all-important virtues of free speech. Since both those things are critical to Twitter’s success, and since they often appear to act in opposition to each other, Twitter’s basically damned either way: Whatever it does, whoever it privileges, somebody will be unhappy.
Did you notice that? "Privileges". In this reading, Twitter "privileges" people to speech, even when that is offensive. This reflects a deep misunderstanding of what free speech is about.
I get that Twitter can be a madhouse, and it does seem that women magnetize abuse therein — or at least, some of them. Anita Sarkeesian particularly seems to draw that out, although one might argue she has a symbiotic and even commercial relationship with such abuse. But the prominent the women I follow on Twitter — Christina Hoff Sommers, Elizabeth N. Brown, Wendy McElroy, Megan McArdle — seem generally less perturbed by this (and I have to imagine most of them get considerable abuse on a regular basis, writing as they do on political subjects for commercial outlets).

Happy Dogs

And now, for a change of pace: here's Sun Dog

Sun Dog: The Happiest Dog on Earth by OutsideTelevision

Which reminds me of this unembeddable video of Lily at Trailside, only with snow, and in Patagonia. Gorgeous.

Dogs are meant to be with us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Vermont Learns Why Single-Payer Won't Work

Vermont's Gov. Peter Shumlin today bailed out of a statewide single-payer plan because of "the big tax increases that would be required to pay for it". This should come as utterly no surprise, save to the people for whom single-payer constitutes a panacea. (Extra bonus points in that article to Jonathan Gruber for helping grease along that inevitability.) Megan McArdle back in April wrote a piece giving a lot more reasons than I have, but at its core, the argument is this: if you start from a high basis, and you don't do a good job of controlling cost growth, and your peers applying single-payer (or outright socialized medicine) aren't doing a good job of that, you will not restrain costs.
Once we pulled away from the other countries, even an average growth rate meant that the gap between our spending as a percentage of GDP, and theirs, would continue to widen -- especially if their GDP grew faster than ours for any length of time.
That is why we cannot count on financing single-payer with the fabulous cost savings to be gained by making our system more like Europe's. Europe didn’t gain fabulous cost savings by making their systems more like Europe's: Its nations started from a lower base, and held down cost growth, but they did not actually use single-payer systems to cut what they were spending.
"Once spending is in the system," she continues, "it’s hard to get rid of." Yes. Just ask anyone who's followed the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate fiasco, which has had no fewer than eight votes post-Obamacare-passage to keep higher rates in place than the required statutory cuts. Vermont was never going to get there from here, and they found out in a big hurry that just papering over the costs with somebody else's money was going to require some very hard choices.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Journalistic Malpractice, Rolling Stone's UVa Gang Rape Story, And Lena Dunham

It's been one of the busiest weeks I can recall for peddlers of the notion that college campuses are rape factories, and not in a good way. First, the Washington Post came out with a second fact-check of the now nearly month-old Rolling Stone story outlining a horrific gang rape at the University of Virginia. This, of course, was in addition to an earlier WaPo story that the friends "Jackie" (the victim of the story) spoke with that night recalled details that differed significantly from her account. (Emboldening below is all mine.)
...photographs that were texted to one of the friends showing her date that night were actually pictures depicting one of Jackie’s high school classmates in Northern Virginia. That man, now a junior at a university in another state, confirmed that the photographs were of him and said he barely knew Jackie and hasn’t been to Charlottesville for at least six years.
The friends said they were never contacted or interviewed by the pop culture magazine’s reporters or editors. Although vilified in the article as coldly indifferent to Jackie’s ordeal, the students said they cared deeply about their friend’s well-being and safety. Randall said that they made every effort to help Jackie that night.
“She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before, and I really hope I never have to again. . . . If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”
The texting of a photograph of someone who hadn't actually been in the area for years (and was out of state at the time) and misrepresenting him as a date is the most important single piece of this article, because it indicates "Jackie" is a serial fabulist, and more, appears to have been at the time of the event. More in that vein came from the presumably less reliable and more partisan Washington Times, which noted that
The friends say among their concerns is the fact that the woman, named only as “Jackie” in the article, gave them a cellphone number so they could text a man she said she was seeing about three weeks before she alleged she was gang-raped at a fraternity house.
Eventually, the friends ended up with three numbers for the man. All are registered to Internet services that enable people to text without cellphone numbers but also can be used to redirect calls to different numbers or engage in spoofing, according to multiple research databases checked by The Washington Times.
While we can't say with any certainty, this particular detail speaks to a rather elaborate hoax, albeit one not terribly well-constructed. But what is consistent in all of this is that author Sabrina Rubin Erdely did no research on the key parts of the story — something she apparently is "re-investigating" — by failing to speak to any of the friends "Jackie" encountered that night, i.e. she engaged in journalistic malpractice.
Rubin Erdely is deeply compromised by her original shoddy reporting, and she is now part of this story; it makes no sense for her to be a part of “re-reporting” it. What if she subsequently writes that Jackie made the whole thing up? That would obviously be to her benefit—and we couldn’t possibly believe it.
The imagination balks at what Erdely might report next. One hopes the recently re-hired Matt Taibbi's defense of the magazine's fact-checking turns out to be accurate. I presume that verification will be turned on for this bout of journalism, though whether her revised story gets past that gauntlet is a different matter.

If Erdely fell down on her job in its most important part, i.e. actual journalism, she still has her followers in the world of doctrinaire feminism where actual facts have no bearing on the veracity of charges*. And yet, some of these media outlets have, to their credit, changed their tunes in a remarkably short time. Jezebel, who to my mind probably forms the centerline of modern feminism, went on December 1 from running a headline of "'Is the UVA Rape Story a Gigantic Hoax?' Asks Idiot" to a deeply conciliatory "Alleged UVA Rape Vic's Friends: Rolling Stone Didn't Even Talk To Us" on December 11, after the latest WaPo piece eviscerated the original story.

So there is hope of sanity in Virginia, which may be spreading to other outlying areas. These provinces include the world of Lena Dunham's late autobiography, Not That Kind Of Girl. It's not clear exactly why or how a 28-year-old might get greenlit to write such a tome; but as we might surmise, it's full of salacious details, including a purported rape at the hands of one "Barry", another student at Oberlin while she was enrolled there. The Breitbart media empire, via reporter John Nolte, deconstructed the charges and discovered a "Barry" at Oberlin who vaguely (but neither conclusively nor compellingly) matched an actual Barry at that school. This later became such a mess that the individual felt it necessary to crowdfund a legal defense, which ultimately resulted in Dunham making changes to future versions of her book. In that, we hear echoes of "Jackie", to the extent that a competent editor would have performed background checks on the source material prior to publication.

The importance of rape as an animating factor for third-wave feminism cannot be overstated. From Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will to the present day, the belief in rape as a political force forms a core tenet of that branch of feminism that insists western civilization is as benighted, and frankly violent, as the outer reaches of Iran or Pakistan or Somalia. It renders men vulnerable to false charges, openly asserting they all benefit from this brutality. That this is obviously and trivially rebutted is immaterial, especially given the considerable redoubts this religion has in academe, particularly in the Department of Education's shift to a "preponderance of evidence" standard for "proving" what was hitherto a criminal charge. The secrecy that the alternative forums for adjudicating sexual grievances amount to a star chamber. We are, supposedly, to "automatically believe" all such charges, or so says Zerlina Maxwell, herself an attorney. Yet, if such charges cannot be defended against, if they cannot even be rebutted by high-profile individuals (i.e. quarterbacks on football teams), imagine how much worse a road ordinary men might have to travel.

I have long said feminism, at least the kind in general public display these days, is a self-limiting disease in that it must ultimately enlist men in its defense. Men and women are stuck with each other, and whether or not we like it, must separately come to terms with the consequences of sexual reproduction and its disparate effects on each gender. That means we all need to employ intelligence and empathy. Scattershot accusations and slander simply aren't beneficial, to anyone.

* I have not returned the favor to of using the ref=_nofollow modifier, as it has the side effect of making their nonsense less visible. We should encourage such monomanias with full-throated abandon, so as to allow the general public to see them and deliver the ridicule they so obviously and richly deserve.

Monday, December 15, 2014

From 2009: Ezra Klein And Jonathan Chait Contract The Thomas Freidman Disease


I originally wrote this as a Facebook note on March 24, 2009, and have referred to it multiple times since then. There are a couple of issues that need discussion, not least the fact that the Chait piece does, in fact, link to Rep. Paul Ryan's CBO scoring (though that makes his contemporaneous belief that savings were going to occur due to Obamacare even less tenable). As well, there have been no fewer than eight votes on the Medicare Fee-For-Service "Sustainable Growth Rate" and its successor calculations – all of which have subsequently failed. I will write a followup on this topic eventually.

One of the most irritating things I remember about the buildup to the war in Iraq was how thoroughly predictable, and thoroughly mendacious, the whole affair was; there was never any compelling evidence in support of the idea that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. Sure, they trotted Colin Powell in front of the dais, but for me it was perfectly plain that there was no there there, Powell reading from a script a dozen or so Q.E.D.'s away from reality the whole time. It was a speech written by an alcoholic, delivered by a team player who clearly disbelieved every word but was duty-bound to give it his best shot.

In the days leading up to the war, you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger cheerleader for it than the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. Glenn Greenwald, long after that war got started and became a disaster, noticed Friedman's role in the buildup, aided by an unreality field that Friedman himself was all too happy to build:

Just ponder that: Tom Friedman supported the invasion of Iraq even though, by his own reasoning, that war was being done the "wrong way" and would thus -- also by his own reasoning -- create nothing but untold damage on every level. And he did so all because there was some imaginary, hypothetical, fantasy way of doing the war that Friedman thought was good, but that he knew isn't what we would get.

I get the same sense of unreality these days about the health care debate. My friend Steve Timberlake recently mentioned Jonathan Chait's alleged debunking of the complaints that the so-called "doc fix" (about which, more presently) would undo all the savings from the health care bill. It basically mirrors a Washington Post blog piece Ezra Klein wrote back on March 1.

Chait gets his snark on with the claim that Congressman Paul Ryan is being "disingenuous" when the latter says that the bill is "double-counting" savings. I'm not sure about how he gets to "double", but there certainly is a shell game going on, and the various sniff tests say that this time, it's the health care bill's proponents who are being shifty.

Here's Chait (emboldening is all mine) regarding this "double-counting":

This is categorically false. Democrats did not instruct the CBO to credit savings from reducing physician pay toward the health care bill. Every dollar of new health care spending is offset by different savings. The purported cut in physician pay is not part of those savings. There are parts of the CBO score you can legitimately suggest underestimate the cost of health care reform -- most prominently, the slowdown in value of the tax credits over the second ten years. (I'd argue that there are places where CBO is underestimating cost savings, as well.) But the doc fix is simply not a legitimate complaint.

Except that, if you look at the latest CBO report on the health care bill (PDF), it specifically calls out, in Table 2 on page 8, a line item labeled "Reductions in Annual Medicare FFS [Fee for Service] Payment Rates".

If Chait — or Klein, who makes exactly the same argument — wants to explain why that line item is in there, I'm all ears. But the twin facts that (a) neither article provides a link to the CBO summary, and (b) the AMA and AARP aren't bitching about "reform" are both strong indicators that this is utter fabrication.

That Medicare physician reimbursement looks awfully similar to the doc fix that Nancy Pelosi has indicated is going to get passed. The "savings" are 100% illusory, and always were. But maybe that's the plan. Nobody's fired Tom Friedman yet, have they?

Update 3/25/2009: One of the links I wanted to present here but forgot last night was the CBO analysis of HR 3961 (PDF), the so-called "doc fix" bill. What's especially interesting about this is that it shows a line item called "Medicare Physician Fee Schedule" with totals running to $194.6 billion. The claimed savings for Medicare price cuts in the health care bill just passed (FKA HR 3590) is only $186 billion. That means they're $8.6 billion more over that period than if Congress did nothing.

First Post: Introductions

I have been using my baseball blog, the mostly defunct 6-4-2, as a dumping ground for things that should really go elsewhere. Having been burned by such activities previously, I am keeping my political commentary here. I had been using Facebook's Notes feature, but it has a number of disadvantages compared to Blogger, mainly that formatting appears to be very haphazardly maintained, and is extremely buggy (hyperlinks in particular seem to be susceptible to breakage if a post ever gets edited).

About what I plan on posting here: lately, I've been thinking a lot about feminism, and in particular, what is called "third-wave" feminism, or what Christina Hoff Sommers labeled "gender feminism" in her 1995 book, Who Stole Feminism? Also, thoughts on Obamacare, libertarian politics, and occasional dog stuff. The links on the sidebar are incomplete at the moment, and will probably get expanded over time. Comments will be moderated, as I have had problems with this at my other blog(s).