Avoiding divorce doesn’t make you a traditionalist

I recently stumbled across an old post by Bryan Caplan on Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. The lesson Caplan draws from it is that the stereotypically liberal upper-middle class is a bunch of closet traditionalists: I learned a lot from Murray’s book.  But it’s a classic case of glass-half-empty thinking.  His results on the white working class didn’t surprise me.  I already knew that their marriage rates were way down, their divorce rates were way up, their kids growing up in broken homes…. Read more

Why I’ve decided to start deleting jerky comments more often

My main approach to comment moderation has long been what I hoped was benign neglect. Officially, I have a comment policy here, but mostly if you aren’t an obvious troll or spammer, I’ve been letting you say whatever you want in my blog comments. But I’ve decided to start tightening that policy up. Here’s why. My reasons for moderating comments lightly in the past have, I think, boiled down to two things: first, my early experience with the blogosphere was as a place… Read more

When passing a law is the easy route

Passing major legislation is really hard. Take, oh, say, healthcare reform in the United States. Efforts to establish universal health care in the US can be traced back to Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 presidential campaign. Roosevelt was defeated, but a couple decades later, his distant relative FDR drew up a plan to include universal health care in the New Deal… then scrapped the plan in the face of opposition. Another attempt was made under Truman, which also failed. Then Johnson got… Read more

Abolitionism vs. reformism

An post on NYT’s Opinionator asks: “Was Abolitionism a Failure?” It argues that secession was a blunder for southern slaveholders, without which slavery would have taken much longer to abolish. I had known about how Lincoln cared more about keeping the Union together than ending slavery, but there’s much I didn’t know: Even among Northerners who wanted to stop the spread of slavery, the idea of banning it altogether seemed fanatical. On the eve of the Civil War, America’s greatest sage,… Read more

Analogies for animal rights: civil rights vs. the antiwar movement

Last weekend, I praised an investigation by Direct Action Everywhere of a “certified humane” Whole Foods supplier.  If you haven’t watched the video yet, there’s a shorter version here that I recommend watching (though be warned that the video is disturbing). However, while I think DxE has done some very good things, there are major parts of their tactics whose effectiveness I’m skeptical of, and I want to talk about that in this post. DxE presents itself as taking the tactics responsible for the… Read more

The dangers of generalization: an apology

A few days ago on Tumblr I wrote–in reference to the #NotAllMen hastage–the following: In general, I think it’s very reasonable for people to be averse to generalizations about groups they belong to, unless the generalization is pretty carefully qualified. Especially when the generalizations are made by people from other groups. Like, when I write about religion, I try to avoid saying things like, “Christians think anyone who doesn’t share their religious beliefs deserves to suffer in Hell for eternity.”… Read more

Mark Millar is a David Icke fan, thinks belief in lizard people reasonable

Mark Millar is a comic book writer who many people have heard of though film adaptations of his work: Wanted, Kick-Ass, and most recently Kingsman (which is coming out in a few weeks). On the whole I’m a fan of his work, though it tends to be a bit weird. He likes to do “superheroes in the real world”-type stuff, but often takes it to the point where the original genre gets hard to recognize. Kick-Ass, for example, is a “superheroes without powers” story, but–moreso than the movies–ends… Read more

Investigation of “certified humane” Whole Foods supplier

The activist group Direct Action Everywhere has released a video of their investigation of a “humane certified” Whole Foods supplier: The video has gotten positive coverage in a number of media outlets, including the New York Times. It underlines a point I’ve made before–that labels like “human certified” are meaningless because farmers will always do the bare minimum necessary to qualify for the label. I don’t have much else to add, except that it’s a good video (if a bit long)… Read more

Real life is an enormous social justice-free bubble

If you’re not familiar with the toxic online subculture that calls itself “social justice,” this blog post has a pretty good summary. I touched on some of the issues my post on the Scott Aaronson thing: When people feel the need to specifically talk about how *nerds* are entitled or privileged or whatever, I often get the sense that they’re just looking for an excuse to pick on nerds. (I feel the same way about women who use feminist jargon to… Read more

On Laurie Penny on Scott Aaronson

So Scott Aaronson wrote a really good blog comment on what it’s like to be a nerdy guy, which has gotten a lot of attention online, ranging from positive to really vile. Among the responses was one by Laurie Penny, which my friend Kate Donovan shared on Facebook. I wrote a long comment on the Facebook thread, which a lot of people liked and one person even specifically referenced in a Tumblr post. So I’ve decided to repost my comment here: ~~~… Read more