Harry Potter and the problem with genre deconstructions

So, Eliezer Yudkowsky’s long-running Harry Potter fanfic, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, is now complete. I’ve been holding off until now to post some thoughts on it I’ve had since the climax was posted ~2 weeks ago. Readers of TVTropes will be familiar with the concept of deconstruction–not in the pretentious post-modern sense, but [Read More…]

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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [Read More…]