Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reparations and Politics   In which At-Nehisi Coates takes Bernie Sanders to task for not feeling guilty enough about white supremecy to insist on reparations.

You can't unscramble an omelet. Reparations like affirmative action polarize society and are therefore political suicide. I notice that Coates has no suggestions on how to make reparations work. Just that they are his wet dream of something or another. And where do you begin with the reparations? Native Americans? Black men? Black women? White women? American Veterans? There have been enough atrocities in the USofA let alone the rest of the planet, that choosing one group for reparations would merely turn all of the equally deserving victims into enemies of both the recipient and the granter of the reparations.  Add to that the white supremacists who think they earned their supremacy and are entitled to the spoils.  Any attempt to redistribute those spoils is politically impossible, particularly if any single group is singled out as more deserving than the rest.  What is Coates' plan to attack white supremacy?

At least Bernie Sanders has a plan to redistribute wealth that has a chance of helping all disadvantaged citizens. 
  • Single payer medicine treats all the same, the rich and the poor have equal rights to sleep under the hospital roof and receive the same care. While the comfortable may choose to pay a premium to heal in first class, they get to the same result at the same time.  
  • Higher education for all at any college one can be accepted into at no cost is at least theoretically egalitarian.  Different preparation and support from parents and mentors will tip the playing field so that those with less preparation will be at a disadvantage, but so will the  lazy and stupid denizens of the privileged.  
  • Rebuilding the infrastructure using local labor is ideally egalitarian although political reality is less so.  The best one can do politically is focusing your infrastructure on the disadvantaged areas and hire locally.
  • Breaking up banks and making the local subsidiaries responsible for fraudulent activities by making restitution to those damaged paid for by punitive fines to the National banksters would help all equally but since the disadvantaged were the primary victims they would be primary beneficiaries.  As an example if Banks were required to return fraudulent foreclosed homes to the original mortgagee repaired to code compliance where known or to homeless families where the original mortgagee is unavailable homelessness would be a minor problem.   There are more foreclosed homes unoccupied today than there are homeless.  
  • A living minimum wage is known to raise living standards for all as minimum wage earners spend essentially all of their earnings.  A living wage is a foundation that supports all wages as employers who require more than minimum skills will be forced to raise wages to attract the skills they need.  A living wage is also "fuck you" money against an exploitive employer as the employee is not a paycheck away from destitution.    

     Have you read "A Case for Reparations?" -  Coates

OK. I read it. I see a lot evidence that black people (Coates usage) have been treated badly and therefore deserve special consideration but I see no case for reparations as the only or even a desirable solution. In particular I see no case at all that reparations should be considered by Sanders or would be a better solution than Sanders' announced policies to mitigate the problems of all the disadvantaged. As black people are heavily over represented in the disadvantaged population, why commit political suicide by advocating reparations. Simply giving foreclosed housing back to the former owners and forcing the bank to pay for code compliance would overwhelmingly benefit the black population as Coates notes in the article.

I agree that the case for reparations for all I mentioned in my post is unassailable. So is the case for justice for unarmed blacks killed by police. And a thousand similar cases of injustice. But aside from "Look at what a good slactivist I am." what do the arguments accomplish.

     That's part of why affirmative action is still so essential.

Please compare for me affirmative action and "a truly blind admissions" policy on graduate success if the university is paid the same for all admissions. There will still be structural differences, but the stupid white guys wouldn't even get in the door. 
Most of the top tier private universities are "need blind" in admissions, but preferences are given to athletes, legacies, and rich kids. I suspect they consider ethnic balance and gender issues as well.  I know of one top University that first sorts applications on academic excellence, that is, those below these standards are not suitable for admission under any subcategory.  Once that threshold is passed department heads, coaches and development people are permitted to assign preferences: Superstar, preference, and desirable.  Once those preference tiers are considered, the admissions department applies demographic and gender preferences to the mix and admissions are issued. 

Many elite High Schools today have to discriminate against North and South Asian women to get a balanced student body. That is, give the white boys a chance.  Both Lowell and Lincoln HS are magnet schools in SF with a high Asian demographic. IIRC both tried to restrict Asian admissions by applying a higher academic standard for Asians. At least Lowell has resolved the issue by restricting academic admissions to 70% of the admissions.  The other 30% come from middle school recommendations based partly on academic excellence but considering other criteria including special preference for schools underrepresented in last year's admissions.   

Affirmative action like reparations in the absence of other indications of merit are simply causes for failure and resentment.  Lotteries are a good indication of rewards based on nothing but chance.  Most winners end up worse off eventually than they were before winning, victims of "advisors" and other scam artists that help them get rid of their windfall.  Perhaps I am simply lacking in imagination, but I can think of no way to administer reparations that would not cause resentment among those in the reparation class that missed out which inevitably would be a large majority if reparations are significant for any recipient.  

I assume this is why Coates refuses to spell out how reparations would work for black people.  Just that reparations are like motherhood and apple pie. They are all great concepts until somebody has to decide who gets the child subsidy or the apple pie. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sexist Dogs and Culture Change

It is a well known fact among dogs that men are generally abusers or at best working partners. Women are emotional partners (as are children) that dogs easily bond with and will fiercely defend against any intruder, especially a strange man or a dangerous man (which dogs can instinctively sense.)  According to Jon Franklin in A Wolf in the Parlor it was ice age women that domesticated follower wolves as baby sitters and care givers in the home which are both natural behaviors of pack wolves in the wild. The first dogs used by men were shepherds, which were encouraged to be aggressive to any intruders including the human shepherds who were tolerated as partners and food providers but not particularly liked.  One can assume that Cesar Millan's training methods were standard. 

For thousands of years men have taught dogs to fear them, and cooperate to avoid inflicted pain.  Even "Doggy" men properly do not give or expect trust from a dog. If a man knows dogs he can gain the trust of the most aggressive dogs, but it takes lots of patience. My dog of 7 years will snap at me rather than let me inspect an injury that the female vet can even treat without issue. Dogs are sexist and it is probably too late for men to change their image although it is possible even for men to gain trust and even love from a dog by patient training.

Maybe there is a lesson here about the rape culture as well. In cultures dominated by the Abrahamic religions, women are regarded a chattel, valuable chattel that needs to be protected from strangers to protect her function as the producer of male children as heirs, clergy, and cannon fodder.  The female children are eventual trading assets and useful to the women as assistant house slaves. They learn only women skills and are discouraged from reading or independent thinking.  

In a culture where women are encouraged early to learn to read and think independently, it should be recognized by all that men are not about to drop the privilege of chattel owners willingly or easily even if they intellectually agree that all humans are equal.  Culture change is a labor of love on both sides of the change.  Abusive methods must be recognized as perhaps getting tolerance and cooperation, but respect and love must be gained by other means. 

A major problem on both sides, feminism and the MRM, is that both consider the other side as an enemy trying to coerce changes in behavior often using abusive methods to achieve a desired change. Abusive methods may get behavioral change but the attitude change associated with the behavioral change is resentment rather than ownership and even pride in the change.  If the other is seen as another human with different values and needs, as well as a different body type, it is possible to use reward training to achieve not only behavioral change, but attitude change as well.  

Consider a typical scenario in a bar.  Both the players are presumably interested in a hook-up.  The man leers at the cleavage, it is there for a purpose, and instead of the usual fuck off glare of the feminist, the leer is acknowledged by a body movement, but she becomes intent on the game on the TV. Now the reward hook is set, and a human approach is suggested. If the man is at least aware and empathetic he will notice what she likes about the game and will comment on that.  If he is right a human conversation is started and a human relationship is being built. The reward for both is the desired hook-up, and respect is part of the deal. 

Or: a female career oriented college or grad student that nevertheless has not suppressed her maternal drive. Disclaimer: I married one. Forget the bar as a pickup it will be done at a library, a student bull session for a conference of mutual interest.  The effective pickup line will something on the order of what are your career goals in (your specialty.  You have figured that out already, haven't you stud?) The response soon will be what do you think of working mothers?  The proper response is what do you think of working dads?  Any man who hasn't done household chores, baby sat, changed a diaper and done his own wash, won't even be a player.  Trying to change one who hasn't is Sisyphean. This mating dance eliminates a whole lot of chaff on both sides, and a rare relationship of mutual respect has begun.  No harm done the chaff has all of the social opportunities at any level they wish to play at.  

Or: a single professional woman in business dress on Wall Street or equivalent that is interested in expanding her network of male professional friends.  The construction worker on the scaffold catcalls.  Instead of taking offense and frigidly stalking down the street she rewards the catcall with an attractive wiggle simultaneously mocking the catcaller and attracting the attention of the successful single men she is interested in finding.  The "Hi Babe, how about lunch" common with or without the wiggle is easily countered as is the equally common space invasion.  But a respectful approach will lead to friend based networking.  Everybody in business needs as many friends as they can get.  Most of the bonding experiences among men are not available safely to women but the male-female bond with or without benefits is much more powerful and useful in the business world. If she has put her bio clock on pause to get established the parenting mating dance above can be part of the game.  But in any event the place to meet successful men is in their natural habitat: on the street where they work.  


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Are Dogs Sexist?

I suspect distrust of men is genetic. Men are abusive trainers generally, and are much more inclined to abuse animals in general. Dogs are useful for women, protecting and amusing children, and are naturally protective and nurturing of the infirm.  The nurturing behavior is apparently inherited from wolves.  Big game hunting commonly results in disabling injury to a pack member who is nurtured back to functionality by the rest of the pack.  Jon Franklin thinks that it was the babysitting and nurturing of the ill that got the more docile follower wolves into the parlor.  By the women naturally, the men were too busy beating them into guard dogs for the domestic animals.  The men didn't care that sheep dogs hated everything including the shepherd as long as they protected the sheep.  Herding and hunting dogs needed to work with their handlers, but didn't have to like them.  Guard dogs are unreliable even for their handlers.  I was told by a Doberman breeder how you can tell that somebody breeds Dobermans:  He pointed at the scars on his face and said look for these.

I suspect this trait is why working dogs are generally considered hard to train without abusive methods.  I watched a dog show the other day and noticed that the working group had at least choke collars and one was shown with a prong collar.  These were dogs that were bred for conformation and acceptable docility for shows. 

I trained a purebred German Shepherd using the immediate verbal reinforcement delayed reward method, to acceptable levels of control on and off leash, but he never learned to like men he did not have time to get acquainted with at his own speed.  I had to advise new male visitors how to avoid confrontation.  And I never even tried to introduce strange men "in the wild." Strict control, sit-stay at my side, and told the men to keep their distance.  It was generally not a problem. He was a 75 pound whole dog, and was not friendly looking even in a sit-stay.

Peter was apparently abused by men while he was a stray. We have taught him to tolerate men (even me) but he still trusts only women and children.  He bonded immediately with Sue at the Shelter, through the holding pen door in the not for adoption aisle.   "We will look at Peter."  Sean and I were considering more socialized dogs as a first pet.  It was only my long experience with training puppies and dogs that convinced the placement staff that we should be allowed to adopt the relatively fresh stray. 

It was not easy, even as the source of treats it took him years to trust me enough to proffer a sore paw that he couldn't shake the burr out of.  He still tries that first.  The first time I tried to help he snapped at me even though he couldn't put weight on the leg.  Nonetheless, no adversive training was used.  Always verbal reinforcement delayed treats.  I don't even carry treats on walks or training sessions.  The HSSV noted that hot dogs were a favorite treat, and I found that turkey dogs are the best of the best. Any real meat works, he spits out commercial treats.   

Friday, January 15, 2016

Homewreckr News and Reviews

"Alex' brother Kevin"

Inspirational video:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Goat Rodeos and other things FUBAR

But of all these terms, the newest to my ears is also my favorite: a goat rodeo. Originally referring to the use of goats as lasso targets for children, the term has come to mean a profoundly messy, complicated situation which has few-to-no good outcomes. A fair example of the original use can be seen here.

Back in my days as a rocket scientist when even "Real Men" rarely swore and consequently even acronyms were Bowdlerized Fouled Up Beyond All Repair was a useful and satisfying description of  a Stage IV or V+ Goat Rodeo.  These days when Fucked-Up is almost praise, a new term was sorely needed.  Goat Rodeo even in its original Stage I iteration is intuitively easy to grasp and as intuitively generalizable to any situation.  What better description of a paleface militia action is there other than a Stage II Goat Rodeo.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

STEM vs General Education in College.

STEM as well as most other specialized training at the undergraduate university level is probably not a useful choice even for those that intend a career in STEM.  The student should supplement deficiencies from high school in one's chosen field, but take advantage of the smorgasboard of interesting and thought provoking offerings that are available at most modern universities.  If some odd topic is of enough interest to be the designated major with a minor in the desired STEM the results for the student will be exceptional, especially if the major is obscure enough that a high GPA in the major is relatively easy to achieve.  The student can be sure that competition for top grades in the STEM minor will be viscious, but the aim should be adequate grades, and understanding rather than excellence.  The technology will be obsolete on graduation in any event, and the ability to rapidly learn the current technology, that is flexible thinking and a good general knowledge will be more important either in the student's chosen graduate study, or work experience to help choose a field for graduate education, or even the need for it.

It is not unusual for STEM graduates to end up in careers far from the STEM field of choice.  Two of the more uncommon graduate degrees for STEM majors are MBAs and JDs.  If one includes Medicine as a non-STEM career it is clear that success for undergraduate STEM majors is as dependent on their general education background as their STEM skills.  This is not to say that STEM training is unimportant, indeed the intellectual challenge of mastering STEM skills at any level is a great background for mastering almost any skill.  

Some of the most successful people even in STEM applications were not STEM majors at the University, but did learn how to apply general intelligence and a strong knowledge background to anything they chose to do.  One of my favorite Q&A's "What the hell does one do with a Classics Major?"  "Anything hesh wants to do."  Manage a medical practice?  No problem.  Install an EMR system in a small office? No problem.  Evaluate and install a IDC-10 computer coding system? No problem.  Be a Rock Star? No Problem.  Support a Career mom in raising exceptional and talented children?  No problem.  Be a political change agent in herm community. A work in progress but seems to be no problem.