Archive for the ‘Bad Ideas’ Category

My Tribe, Right or Wrong

October 31, 2014 - 2:54 pm 46 Comments

So, after what feels like years and has actually been about two and a half months, I’m finally going to talk about Gamergate. I’ve been neck deep in this shit since the first Reddit post went up since it hits gaming, feminism, and has now somehow invaded my gunnie and libertarian circles as well, which means basically every fucking social circle I’m in either directly or tangentially save roller derby is freaking the fuck out about it and I can’t really go anywhere to get away from it without total social isolation. And I only get to skate twice a week right now. So I’m finally irritated enough to Say My Piece. And therefore jump in with both feet. Which means I’m going to be engaging in the Comment Wars for what I consider the stupidest cultural conflict since Chickfildammerung. Yes I am self-aware about this personal flaw.

First off- I agree with pretty much everything Ken said. Therefore I’m not necessarily going to address every point I actually agree with, nor exhaustively source everything as he’s already done most of it and I’m busy as fuck this weekend and can’t spend all day on this. I realize asking you to Read The Whole Thing is unreasonable, but before you launch a broadside at me about uncritically supporting “Social Justice Warriors” or accepting every claim made about threats and doxxing with automatic acceptance rather than sourcing, I’d appreciate it if you’d save us both the trouble of me calling you a lazy dumbass and check to see if the answer’s already there first. Hi Ken. I’m a fangirl.

So, going to go with the Arguments I Have Seen That Make Me Facepalm. If you haven’t made this argument? It ain’t about you. And frankly, most of my objections are political rather than feministy, given my biggest source of incredulity is seeing this from libertarian circles.

1. “Actually it’s about ethics in gaming journalism”

Sorry Cholly but no it ain’t, or at least “Gamergate” isn’t. The whole ridiculous mess started when Zoe Quinn’s angry ex made a post on Reddit about how she was crazy and cheated on him and, this is the important bit, slept with a Kotaku reviewer to get a good review for her indie game Depression Quest. Except this claim is trivially easy to verify as total fabrication, because no one at Kotaku ever reviewed the damn game. This takes about ten seconds on Google to figure out.

Gaming journalism is a fucking joke and could use some ethics. But you know what? This has been true for the entire history of its EXISTENCE. I’ve been seeing banner ads on sites with positive reviews of a game advertising the freaking game, with the ad ON THE REVIEW, for as long as there have been online gaming journalism and banner ads. Every gamer who hasn’t been living in an actual cave knows reviews from any “game journalist” who isn’t completely independent and getting paid nothing are bought and sold, mostly by major gaming companies.

So I think I’m pretty justified in regarding “it’s really about ethics” in a “scandal” that started with a completely bogus claim about a game developer whose game has been free to play since its inception who happens to be female, involves wide-scale doxxing, harassment, and rape/death threats, and not with any element of the actual long-standing problem, as raw steaming bullshit. Sure, some of the people making this claim may be totally sincere. But with respect, y’all have picked the wrong tag and moment in history to attach your outrage to. In theory this maybe shouldn’t matter because the validity of an argument shouldn’t be affected by those things; in practice yes it fucking does. None of us are impressed when an anti-gun advocate chooses the night of a mass shooting, done by a shooter with stolen or illegally possessed guns who was a known nutjob, to rant about legal CCW. And we aren’t wrong to level the blood-dancing charge then.

2. “I haven’t been following anything about this until just now, and I’m not a gamer and don’t play video games, but this is obviously just another case of SJWs picking something to manufacture outrage about”

Hey, thanks for admitting right up front that you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about, then. I’m glad you weighed in to register your literally ignorant opinion! “It must all be stupid bullshit because I think these people are whiny SJWs and some SJWs were mean to me/my friend once” is the definition of reflexive tribalism. Which I loathe.

3. “Women and gay people/minorities should expect this kind of reaction when they invade gaming”

Fuck you. We didn’t “invade”. I’ve got thick calluses on both thumbs, need to replace both of my PS3 controllers because I’ve worn them out and they’re starting to get flaky, spend a lot of time PC gaming too, and I’ve been playing video games since 1988. When I started games were aimed at kids, not young men specifically, and certainly not “straight white dudes”. Somewhere in the mid nineties the gaming industry made the decision that since they comprised their biggest market share so far as they could tell, it was a waste of time to develop and market for anyone else. (You can actually read about the specific market study that they latched onto for this if you Google for a bit.) We’re not newcomers; the gaming industry left us. But we didn’t leave; we just didn’t have much of a voice. Then since that entire generation that grew up gaming with the first home consoles is now old enough to have jobs in gaming and writing about games, we do. The guys that felt gaming was theirs just aren’t able to go through life thinking we don’t exist anymore.

Most gamers are in their 30s (coincidentally born around that early eighties time!) and nearly half are female. You can sputter all you want about female gamers not playing “real games” (which seem to be exclusively defined by these people as games targeted very narrowly at straight white young men), but we’re just as much the consumers of games as these guys are. We pays our money: we’re the market too. This is how markets WORK- or at least it’s how free markets do.

4. “Getting harassed is just what happens in games, guys do it to each other too, it’s happened to me, harden up”

“Women get disproportionately harassed” != “men never get harassed”. Most female gamers- and for that matter internet pundits- have experience with what happens when they go under an identifiably female identity and what happens when they go under a male or gender-neutral one. (Which, in gaming, is always assumed to be male.) When I’m playing online I don’t go around saying “I’M A WOMAN” or “I’M A DUDE” unless it becomes relevant to some discussion, but I do favor roles and classes that are always assumed to be male. (I play tanks and heavy-armor melee.) There IS a difference, a big one, in how I get treated when I don’t have that “must be a guy” assumption operating. I still get shit-talked and trolled (which I cheerfully hand right back), but it’s not nearly as intense, as personal, or as flat-out mean. All the female gamers I know have had pretty much the same experience, if their experience in gaming and internetting is at all extensive. Because you, the guy, at whom this stuff isn’t directed, have one experience, doesn’t mean yours is at all applicable to someone else, let alone overrides it. (And before it comes out, yes I am aware men have experiences women simply don’t too.)

Can we please acknowledge that though rape and death threats happen to everyone, it’s pretty disproportionately men to women and not the other way around? I’ve never actually seen an SJW do this to a gamergater, but I’ve seen LOTS the other way around. And please call me when there’s a mass shooting of men by a woman outraged about men rather than a man outraged about women and “feminists” shooting women. (Marc Lepine, George Sodini, Eliot Rodgers.)

5. “SJWs are trying to drive men out of the industry/out of gaming and must be opposed at every turn!”

Orly? Show me. I’m quite serious here. I’ve never seen an anti-gamergater suggest that straight white men, or all men, be driven out, let alone advocated for government force of law to step in and help them do it.

Oh, but they’ve called for boycotts, and said some really mean things about those gamers, and stereotyped, and attacked a lot of aspects of the gaming industry as it is? THIS IS HOW FREE SPEECH AND THE FREE MARKET FUCKING WORK! This is my huge political objection, right here. Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from criticism, it certainly doesn’t mean freedom from pointed criticism, it doesn’t mean freedom from mockery, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean protection from social consequences for speech, whether it’s deserved or not. Yes, this applies to the SJWs too.

What it DOESN’T apply to is threats, of organized harassment explicitly aimed at driving devs out of the industry altogether (which as Ken points out has happened repeatedly), and while still well within the bounds of that free speech, pressuring advertisers into pulling out of anyplace that criticizes you kinda skeezy too as a response to criticism. (AGAIN: this applies to the SJWs too.)

And when the people running under your flag are doing this repeatedly, claiming victimhood while they do EXACTLY what they’re (falsely) accusing their opponents of doing in the name of pre-emptive self-defense, and you’re standing by going “well it’s unfair to paint a movement by its extremists” while they’re getting real-world traction enough to drive people out of their jobs or out of their homes and get the FBI involved, twice- sorry but I’m not going to take you seriously. Is this the hill you’re really going to die on? There are no other trenches in your culture war to set up in that don’t contain people fighting a war against women in general in what they think is their domain? When Islamists do this shit we call it terrorism, not trolling.

When female game developers and programmers aren’t a single-digit percentage of the industry anymore, maybe then I might begin taking seriously the notion that they’re “taking over”. Or better yet? Over 50%. You know, reflective of our actual population. (Before I hear about it: NO I am not fucking advocating any sort of intervention to make this happen, I’m just horselaughing at the notion that there’s an actual takeover or persecution campaign against men of any sort.)

I point out: even 4chan has banned gamergate discussions. Why? Because those threads have extensive doxxing and coordinated harassment planning in them. Which is one of those few things 4chan doesn’t permit. When fucking 4chan has disavowed you because of your shitty tactics, it’s time to re-evaluate your life choices and choice of allies in particular.

6. “SJWs have attacked us on x front so we must fight them here too regardless of how it started”

Combined with the above especially, I’m not necessarily going to call you a misogynist unless you otherwise show me that you are, but I am going to call you a hypocrite. As well as point out that this is the “Billy hit me first” school of argument that really we all should have outgrown in middle school.

And as my last salvo: before you pull out “judging by a few extremists”, please direct me to the gamergaters who are taking all of the above seriously and speaking strongly against them. And I really don’t mean Bendilin Spurr, the guy who claimed gamergate was against harassment and also produced the “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian” interactive web game.

To recap: it’s a movement with a completely incoherent argument started by an obvious lie, infested by doxxers and people doing something we normally define as terrorism when it’s people we don’t identify with in some way, championed by libertarians who apparently don’t see a problem with the fact that the actual “fight” is against people using speech and the free market to advance their interests. For the crime of disrespecting a self-described identity group, whose reaction is incidentally proving that much of what they say about misogyny in the gaming culture is completely correct.

Beautiful. I’ll even hand you a flag to plant on that hill. Defend it to your last breath.

KTKC Beer Update

September 19, 2014 - 6:53 pm 1 Comment

The Emergency Medical Bock for the Kilted to Kick Cancer prize package went into the secondary fermenter today. Sneaked a little out while it was siphoning over, and by sheer luck discovered that there was one (1) bottle of the original mix left in the very back of the fridge. Well conditioned by now, I’m sure.

I gotta say, even un-carbonated, and before the second ferment and bottling, I think the new stuff is slightly better. Ironically I’m not really so much a fan of my own beers, but I’ll give the new stuff the nod here. LabRat says that if they carried this at the local brewpub, she would punch people if they ran out (I knew I married her for a reason).

So, if you missed that it’s entirely possible I’ll be doing a kilted greased pig chase, on video, along with courting frostbite, you’ve still got time to chip in to Kelly’s team.

And since, as MattG puts it, I have no brakes on my dare-car, y’all know what’s coming.

Get Kelly to an even thou, or KTKC overall to 15 kilobucks, and I’ll do the kilted greased pig chase while channeling one of my spirit animals. I mean, that almost looks like a kilt, right?

Click the link, pick team Ambulance Driver, and donate.
Get kilted. Get checked.

New Marvel Title: Dat Ass

August 21, 2014 - 12:04 pm 19 Comments

Cross-posted, because anything that inspires me to spit out six hundred words before I’ve finished my coffee probably shouldn’t be wasted at an away game, as Tam says.

“Female Comic Fans Upset Over Spider-Woman’s Ass”

Ufffff.

Erotic comic art, cheesecake, and beefcake (please!) has a right to exist, joyously. I’ve got two not-cheap books of it myself by two of my favorites, Bruce Timm and Frank Cho. I do love a gorgeous drawing, and I’m a fan of a good appreciation of anatomy, clothed or unclothed, erotically inviting or not.

But this isn’t a cheesecake portfolio. It’s the front cover of a mass-market book. I wouldn’t feel entirely scornful if a religious group were protesting this as wholly inappropriate for a such a cover, which while much more aimed at adult audiences these days are still also marketed to children, and superhero books always appear front and center on the racks. (I know I’ve spent a lot of time in comic shops, and there’s always kids there.)

1) That’s not a pose of a powerful character with spider-powers stalking the city. That is, as Bricken pointed out, most reminiscent of an animal in heat “presenting”.

2) To those admiring the anatomy, um, stop. Frank Cho draws beautiful women with beautiful anatomy. This guy drew a back and butt and damn near photoshopped some arms and a head on there. True that he’s a hell of a lot better than Liefeld, but the anatomy isn’t there so much as it is randomly assembled to make that ass display possible while still showing her face. At least he didn’t go full cubist to get her tits in there too.

3) It’s not about her being “too beautiful” or even an unrealistic body. Most superhero bodies are in fact unrealistic, and frankly no one looks good in spandex except professional dancers. It’s about the bit where the last time I saw something displayed like that, it was one of the roasts I was contemplating on my last trip to the butcher counter. Even a bitch in heat has more dignity. “Here’s your monthly Spider-Woman title, her own book about her adventures and hero career with full focus on her character! This month it’s about DAT ASS. I MEAN DAAAAAMN. We won’t mind if you go get some tissue and hand lotion before you read the rest.”

4) Milo Manara’s main focus as an artist is pinup and erotic art. He’s not so much a regular artist for ordinary comics and animation the way Timm and Cho are. Yes, he does some gorgeous work. Yes, he deserves his own art books. Was it appropriate to hire him as the guest artist for the front cover of, again, a mainstream monthly book? UM. I’m not actually criticizing Manara here, except for his grasp of anatomically correct poses- I’m criticizing Marvel and whoever the fuck at Marvel decided this was a great idea. And if you don’t think this sends a message about what Marvel thinks about its fans and its characters, you’re either legally blind or fucking high.

Marvel does in fact have a right to do this. It’s their book and their house, and while it certainly sashays right up to pornography, it’s not quite. Likewise the fans who drive Marvel’s industry, male, female, feminist, and not, have an equal right to be alienated and to voice that alienation. Loudly as they want. They just don’t have the right to demand any other entity censor Marvel. Do they have a right to imply or outright say, loudly, that Marvel should self-censor? Of course they fucking do. Self-censorship is something every one of us does every day. It’s called “trying not to be an asshole”. They don’t have a right to tell an artist what to art, but they’re *not*. Manara was a guest artist, and no one has suggested he shouldn’t draw whatever the fuck he wants in the already healthy career he’s in. They’re criticizing Marvel’s decision to have him do this in particular, and the comic industry in general’s attitude to their female fans. (Which in Marvel’s case is really, really schizophrenic- which actually beats hell out of “uniform contempt”.) Demanding enforcement of “political correctness” can be kind of assholish, but when they have several *really good points*- and are in fact consisting of a huge chunk of people who pay money for Marvel’s content- it’s really not.

< /rant>

Message Drift

June 9, 2014 - 4:49 pm 6 Comments

Discovered floating in the tubes:
The Naked Bike Ride In Portland Showed Everyone’s Vulnerabilities

More or less safe for work. I don’t really know where to start. Well, no. That’s not true. Let’s start with this: Pick a fucking message you goddamn hippies! By the time your point is this muddled, you’re not protesting, you’re just a bunch of streakers egging each other on.

Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with being a bunch of streakers egging each other on, but please don’t try to tart it up as some noble crusade. Ok, oil dependence? The bikes make sense. Body image? The naked makes sense. Naked for oil dependence? You lost me. Bikes for body image? Are you saying people should stop being fatties and exercise more? Nice, hypocrites. (Yes, that’s in sarcasm font.) Being naked to show vulnerability on a bike, to the cold mechanical predations of cars? Well, ok, but you all put yourself in that position voluntarily. And what does being squishier than a chevy have to do with oil dependency?

Seriously people, if you’ve got a thorn in your ass over something, be specific! Look at anti-abortion protests. Sure, they suck, but they’re specific and focused and you don’t have to guess what they’re on about. If you have to explain what you’re protesting, you’re not only doing it wrong, but nobody will remember or give a shit five minutes later.

After you get enough groups in the tent, you’re just having a good time with vaguely like-minded people. Again, nothing wrong with that, just don’t expect to be taken seriously.

Who Needs Clean Clothes?

May 22, 2014 - 4:34 pm 22 Comments

CEO of Levi’s: Don’t Wash Your Jeans.

The CEO of Levis Strauss, Chip Bergh, has some advice for you: Don’t wash your jeans.
As in don’t wash them … ever. Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference, Chip said he was sporting a pair that had “yet to see a washing machine” in over a year.

Worried about germs, you germaphobes? No problem, he says. Just stick your jeans in the freezer once a month next to the frozen waffles to kill off the bacteria. Apparently getting them icy will neutralize the sweat, coffee spills and other bodily fluids that might collect in the zipper or “seating” area. He also suggests spot cleaning with a sponge or a toothbrush.

While that could work for the stuff on the outside of your jeans, what about all the stuff your body cooked up that’s on the flip side? Once you get ‘em back up to body temperature, won’t you be warming up those germs again? Yuck.

The CNN reporter seems about as nonplussed as I am, noting that freezing and spot cleaning don’t actually kill bacteria. At best it might stave off the inevitable stench; over the long term, no, and that Chip must not be actually addressing the audience that actually buys the bulk of his jeans, but those who wear them as a fashion accessory and don’t actually wear them more than a handful of times.

Bless her for her incredulous deconstruction of the silly notion, but the part where she seems exclusively worried about the inevitable body odor miasma strikes me as rather telling of her own lifestyle.

If I stopped washing my jeans altogether- and yes they are Levi’s- here is what would happen:

They would smell, yes. But they’d also rapidly become caked with successive layers of mud, spit, dog fur that had bonded in the mud and spit and eventually into the cloth itself, and home to an increasingly treacherous collection of foxtails, goatheads, and the occasional splinter. They would not look “like new”. They’d look like something you’d find on a homeless person who’d been squatting in a barn by pretending to be one of the cows. And I’m not THAT rural, I just have pets and sometimes work outside. There’d be spilled coffee in there too, it’d just be the least of my worries.

Given the origin of Levi’s, I find it more than a little sad that the CEO seems to no longer have the faintest clue what his product was designed for. And is still used for by the majority of its customers.

Firehose Pressure Crazy

March 28, 2014 - 1:19 pm 10 Comments

Ok, you all know the drill. You have open comments, sooner or later you’re gonna get some Weird Shit(TM) in there. Tam has her ghost in the machine poetry, you get the jist (because I’m too lazy to grab other examples). Back when we were still writing more regularly, we got a doozy. I mean, wow. I’ve had this thing sitting in the pending folder for over a year because every time I go to look at it again, I boggle just as hard as the very first time.

It wasn’t even submitted to a post relevant to the crazy. It was on the one about burning more hot dog buns. I mean, dafuq.

With the original well over a year old at this point, I feel it’s safe to share without attracting the attention of yon batshit loon. I mean if he, she, or it does come back, more free entertainment, right? That said, enjoy one of the biggest blocks of crazy I’ve ever read on the internet.

Just as the gods used WWII to justify an influx of new technologies so will they use the impending pestilence which kills over half the world’s population to justify historical medical advances, including the “cure of aging”, initiating the “1000 years with Jesus on Earth”.
We’ve seen this tactic used recently with AIDS, targetted at homosexuals and blacks in Africa.
Then, as promised, The End will come with fire::::Global tectonic subduction.

Anyone the gods role play telepathically or use for positioning in this Situation extensively have a legacy of hurting others. The more they hurt the more eggregious in history their legacy. Considering they tell me my auidence at any one time is nearly half a billion it is not inconceivable Adolph Hitler was reincarnated into the Situation.
Due to the expansive accumulated audience in this Situation these individuals have now qualified for a legacy of hurting billions of people, and as a result own a very exclusive legacy which will qualify them to be used for the pestilence event which kills half the world’s population:::The monsters of tommarrow.

Don’t forget the lessons the ‘ole white preacher taught:::Dancing is a sin, spare the rod spoil the child.
The gods used the liberal tool to ridicule away so many taboos, paving the way for the decay of society and ultimately the End Times::::::
Black behavior was controlled by the KKK. Men’s behavior was controlled by marriage for thousands of years.
When married by 15 men never gained the taste of promiscuity. Once the gods used the budding liberalism tool the men set the tone for the deteriorating enviornment centered around their gross disfavor.
Women’s relinquishing control of pre-arranged marriage will be what costs mankind everything in The End. It’s all their fault. Men are pigs, essentially just primally responsive disfavored beings who if given the freedom will abuse based on the impulses the god’s push them into. Whereas under pre-arranged marriage this behavior was contained now the promiscuous fraternity house epitomizes the pinnicle of what a “real man” should be like. And sadly the women fall into line.

The gods behave monsterously in the course of managing Planet Earth, matching our decay, but they demand people be good if you are to have a chance to ascend as a child in a future life.
Not only is doing the right things important (praying, attoning for your sins, thinking the right way:::accepting humility, modesty, vulnerability), so is avoiding the wrong things important as well:::”Go and sin no more”.
You NEED active parents who share wisdom to have a real chance to ascend into heaven in a future life, and you MUST be a good parent as well to have that opportunity.

As with so many things in this life “less is more”. Sex is one of those things. They used the liberal age to promote casual “free” sex intentionally::Combined with “women’s lib” and their initiation into the “trenches” of the workplace as well as other issues like alcohol consumption the people experienced a mass masculinization of the females.
The gods use sex as temptation. This is why the most disfavored among us are preoccupied with it. While some may feel being well-endowed is a sign of favor the truth is just the opposite. And often the result is misogyny, a belittling of the favored gender, and stagnation of the people as a whole.
Less is more. When young women experience passing thoughts which say you’re doing something wrong instead of fighting or dismissing the thought you should heed the warning. Sadly in today’s world too many experience prolonged periods of promiscuity in their lives, whereas if married by 15 like throughout human history this disfavor was avoided.
Don’t forget:::It is children who ascend into heaven, and the absence of sexual activity is one reason. Their general innocence is another, which should help you see the destructive nature of adult life in today’s society.


…..
…….The Aristocrats!

Oh John Ringo… Honey… No.

October 17, 2013 - 3:03 pm 18 Comments

Via Tam, an essay by John Ringo (of modern-day pulp science fiction fame) on, apparently, the coming zombie apocalypse and how it’s apparently going to be precipitated by bitter geeky men with kitchen-table biochemistry kits engineering homemade viruses to turn women (specifically blonde women with big tits) into their sex slaves. If you wish to read for context you should probably read the whole thing. As Ringo tends to be, it’s pretty highly readable.

When I read it initially I was pretty sure this was a troll, and an entertaining one, but I am assured by others he is either serious or may as well be as the distinction is without meaningful difference. The basic premise is pretty sound- the idea that biochemistry and nanotechnology are advancing to the point where homemade and tailor-designed superbugs may well represent a serious threat, one that is more likely to come from the bored, antisocial, and too intelligent for everyone else’s good individual rather than from state-sponsored or radical religious or political entities.

The problem with the article is where he goes with it next. Excerpted, at some length:

The general trend will go like this. Professor Doktor Herr Apocalyptica will invent a virus that can do something to humans. (Well, in fact, it does it to rats. But humans just happen to have the same brain chemistry.) Not just kill them, do something to them. It may, for example, combining the fields of neurology, psychology and virology, cure depression. No more need for Aderol or NoDepressol or whatever. Your neurology is now reset to perfect normal. There will be others that can do other things. Make you smarter, more socially able, less nervous, shy, crowd phobic, what have you. Make you need almost no sleep. (I’d love that one.)

Then some grad student trying to get their masters or doctorate will create a new virus (as many will be created because when you have a breakthrough like that it creates all sorts of easy, for values of easy, graduate projects) that, just for a laugh, makes any girl who is infected fall in love (or at least lust although love is possible as well.) with him. If you DON’T think a biology geek won’t write that one, you don’t understand male bio geeks.

How does that work? you ask, sceptically.

One proven aspect of male/female sexual interaction, especially (at least so far) for women, is pheromones. All people emit them and they have various effects most of which researchers are still trying to sort out. The geek identifies his specific suite of ‘love’ (lust because they are alot more about reproduction than permanence) pheromones. Then writes a virus that does a series of actions. First it only affects women. (He can, of course, narrow this down if he’s good enough. Only ‘hot’ babes for values of ‘hot.’ And I’m assuming, possibly a bad assumption, that the grad student is a he.) Second it does a series of things. It rewrites them to ‘like’ his pheromones. When sensing his pheromones their libido is enhanced. If he’s smart, their capacity for long-term critical decisionmaking is degraded (as it is in males by sexual cues.) If he really wants to fuck with them (not just…) it triggers massive release of oxytocin and vassopressin (look them up.)

So when a woman gets a whiff of the guy, they can’t get enough. They act like twilight fans seeing a sparkly vampire. Sex must occur and they must have him FOR ALL TIME.

OK. There’s more explanation of how this scenario is meant to work, with a lot more background detail of genetics research*, but given that arguing with a science fiction author about the plausibility and accuracy of future technology is like arguing with an impressionist painter about color fidelity, it’s not really worth picking at. The big, glaring, plaid elephant in the living room here is pheromones, whose use in this piece really demand a Morbo.

DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY

The only aspect of human pheromone research that is “proven” is that they have been proven to affect the vomeronasal organ in humans (but not the olfactory tissues- we really are relatively smell-blind, at least to effects that subtle), and some of them have been proven to have gender-specific effects. (My personal favorite one is the male pheromone that gets other men, but not women who remain oblivious, to avoid particular restroom stalls.) There’s a pretty good, and pretty exhaustive, review of the literature on human pheromones and sexual attraction here; if you are interested in the subject I highly recommend it, as it’s a good primer on what’s been done so far and what the strengths and weaknesses of the obtained results are. The upshot is that some strong evidence of pheromone effect on menstrual regulation has been found, but the sexual attraction results are either negative, inconclusive, or positive but riddled with methodological issues. If one were to apply the same tactics to researching the arousal potential of Nora Ephron movies, one would likely find a similar or stronger correlation.

The thing of it is, though, that if human pheromones really worked like Ringo seems to think they do, it would not be an even slightly mysterious phenomenon or a recent discovery. This would be a gross, obvious effect that everyone had known about since the beginning of recorded history. The only animals that pheromones actually work this way on- provoking strong, reliable sexual attraction that produces an immediate behavioral effect- are, for the most part, insects. If humans worked like butterflies and flies do Ringo’s scenario would be tantalizingly plausible; but they simply don’t, and we know this not because of the research that’s been done on pheromones so far, but because no known humans actually act like this, nor have they ever that anyone’s ever reliably witnessed. Even mammals for whom definite and strong pheromonal signaling effects are known don’t work like this; for mammals, pheromones seem to play a strong role in estrous and menstrual cycles (and indeed, that’s the only effect in humans that convincing and reliably reproducible evidence seems to come for), but not so much in direct sexual attraction and mating.

Boringly, it just doesn’t make any evolutionary sense for a mammal to work like this, especially not a mammal like humans that lives with lots of other members of the same species and has a wide pool of mates to choose from at any given time, and whose true reproductive bottleneck isn’t mate availability or quality but the sheer amount of resources that must go into raising each and every offspring. When your reproductively mature life stage lasts only days or even hours, it makes sense for mating to be a powerful overriding drive that completely hijacks all of your behavior and is controlled primarily by chemical signaling; the life history of insects that work like this is driven by very brief periods of frantic activity with the nearest available mates that result in big population booms of which only a few will survive, by good luck, to reproduce themselves. If you invest years of your own life and massive amounts of energy and nutrition merely to raise a single offspring to reproductive maturity, it makes no sense at all to be chemically compelled to fling yourself at the nearest correctly-smelling mate- especially if you are surrounded at nearly all times with a wide variety of perfectly workable options. This isn’t a barrier that Moore’s law can overcome; in order for increasingly precise and powerful technology to be viable, the underlying structure that it works on has to exist in the first place. Ringo’s scenario is no more plausible than the idea that it’s possible to engineer lobsters into an army of coordinated stealth underwater computer hackers.

What’s worse, the only thing individual about pheromones that we’ve really found is the major histocompatibility complex; even if one were to target that in their “love virus”, the only thing it would actually accomplish is making the targets particularly interested OR particularly DISinterested in you depending on their current phase in menstrual cycle and whether or not they were on hormonal birth control at the time.

It’s a fun scenario. Given that Ringo tends to be infectiously readable, and he’s right enough about the nature of male biogeeks (which is why there’s two to three times as much research on the response of women to male pheromones as the other way round, even though the research on men that’s been done has shown as much measurable effect), I’d probably read it, though maybe not pay money for it. But as a “I’m totally not kidding, this is how the zombie apocalypse will happen” scenario… sorry John, blonde cheerleader sex zombies are no more plausible now than they were in seventies exploitation drive-ins.

*Although the one human genetics researcher of my actual “I can just ring you up and explain my latest wild hair” acquaintance ranted for several minutes on the subject of RACIAL GROUP GENETICS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! as well how pretty much everything Ringo’s describing as target traits are massively polygenic affairs that simply can’t be targeted that way or any other remotely plausible virus-engineering way. So, you know. Take with an entire pillar of salt.

I learned it from watching Lawdog!

June 25, 2013 - 11:33 pm 15 Comments

Ok, don’t get your hopes up that we’re coming back full time. I’m going to try to post more frequently, but those of you who still stop by have probably noticed that hasn’t been going so well. But tonight, tonight I wound up with a special snowflake I just had to share with everybody. As the title implies, I may have gained some inspiration from everybody’s favorite Texas cop LawDog (or he’s your second favorite and you prefer someone else, there’s room for differences of opinion).

Partway through this afternoon, my very own little close-enough-to-prepaid cell phone, FUT*, alerts me to an incoming text message.

Hola amor

Fine. It’s a wrong number, I will just ignore it. An hour or two later,

Amor I got a new number

Terrific, skippy. I guess you didn’t import your old phone’s settings. More ignoring. Finally, many hours later, as it grew late and I grew weary of a world of idiots,

Amor I got a new #

This was around 11pm. Thank you, but that’s enough. I engaged, and replied

Sorry, Mario. Your amor is at a different number.

Things did not improve from here.

Who is this

I’m the wrong number you keep calling amor. I know love is blind but this is pushing it.

But who r u

It’s a little early in the relationship to get that metaphysical.

What…I’m just asking who u r

At this point, it was late and I was bored. I popped the number into google, and came up with the president of a small tax business in Santa Fe. In the grand tradition of TV psychics, a theme that will come up again later, I ran with it.

I’m a thought experiment, Andrew. I’m the answer to the question “What if the wrong number is bored?”

What do u do
What r u doing

I have a very particular set of skills. Skills that make me a nightmare for people slow on the uptake. But I do my own taxes, so I’m good there if you’re looking for business.

What do u mean a nightmare for people slow on the uptake

I dug a little further on the info I’d found.

Well you’d think by 54 years old one would have learned a) what a wrong number is, and b) that Andres and Ray might appreciate a bit more technological savvy from a partner.

Andres and Ray were listed as the vice president and treasurer of the company.

Ooooo so what r u dedicated to

Wheeled performance analysis delivery. Everybody needs a hobby. Y’know, besides this.

What? I love derby reffing.

Besides what

See what I mean about “slow”? Crystal says good night. Take care, amor. I grow bored again.

I threw the net a little wider and found another probable hit on facebook, so I figured there’s nothing really for me to lose in this, let’s see if Crystal gets a hit.

Wait I don’t think we r done talking…What do u mean slow…and who’s crystal

Swing and a miss. Oh well.

You ever see those tv shows where psychics talk to people’s dead relatives, Andy? Do I really have to draw a map here?

Yea u do…I’m slow

Admitting it is the first step. You with me that we don’t know each other, that I’m not amor? Follow up, do you know what a “wrong number” is?

Nop

Those of you in NM hearing a sudden thunderclap with clear skies, that would have been the sound of my facepalm.

To which question? Specificity is the soul of good communication.

The second question

Jesus, really?

What is it?

Apparently an anachronism. It is a term which means you have (historically) dialed, or more currently, texted, a number that is not correct to contact the person you desire. It puts you in contact with an arbitrary stranger, who may just be bored enough to mess with you if “wrong number” is too complicated. Good night, Andrew, now go away.

At which point I put the number on ignore. Fifty bucks says this idiot votes, too.

*Fucking Useless Toy. It never works when I need it to, so functionally it is a toy.

Breaking Radio Silence

January 14, 2013 - 10:49 pm 15 Comments

Oh, this thing is still on? Hey, sorry about that*. So 2012 pretty well sucked crusty green donkey whangers, we’re all on the same page there, right? Well, a whopping two weeks in, ’13 is already a mixed bag but trending positively. LabRat has unfortunately spent the majority of the year thus far sick as a dog, hence a good chunk of the lack of content, but it has now been a whole couple hours since she attempted to hack a chunk of lung across the room, so we’ll take what we can get.

I know there have been some** requests for dog pictures as easy filler content. Good news! I have dog pictures! And you can just wait patiently for them because today’s story is about a pie.

See, during the Rama-mas-zwa-inox-ukah-years down time, longtime friend and part time dogsitter Indy was spending a good chunk of her grad student winter break here at Nerd Ranch. This meant that I had Help available in the kitchen. I know it’s odd, but LabRat and I mostly just get in each other’s way, despite many years of marriage, but Indy and I dance like Fred and Ginger*** in the kitchen for reasons unknown. So with little to do and help available, a recipe was floated before me leading to the phrase “Why not? It’s not like there’s anything else going on.”

If you ever hear me say that about a recipe again, just shoot a tranq dart in my neck right then and there and be done with it, mkay?

Now the actual recipe comes from the ambitious but excellent A Girl And Her Pig. The fact that the cover of the book pisses so many crybabies off is reason enough to buy it, but despite the aftermath of this particular misadventure there’s a bunch of stuff in there that still looks awesome and will be tried later. The culprit today, however, was “Beef and Bayley Hazen Pie,” a concoction of rib meat, blue cheese, and some other strong flavors.

Cutting to the chase, this is a multi-day cook project, involving a from-scratch crust and a couple hours of stove time and still a long bake. This is not a fire-from-the-hip recipe. Regardless, Indy and I set about it and made steady progress. Right up until the final step of putting the shell together. See, in the book the final product is supposed to look like this:

The sphincter was prophetic.

I’m sorry, no. I am not making a giant asshole pie. I don’t care that the woman uses the whole pig or if she gives to charity or what, I simply will not serve a giant sphincter. But you all know what a classy motherfucker I am. And it’s pie dough, not marble, so I’m pretty sure I can figure something out. And I did.
Slightly nsfw below the jump.
(more…)

Yes, we did. Now fuck off.

November 6, 2012 - 9:56 pm 13 Comments

I just voted and nothing you can say will make me feel any better, so just fuck off. I voted for assholes, and if you voted, so did you, and I’m so completely sick of the goddamn media orgasm over this non-decision over which way we get fucked for the next few years, I’m about up to spreading the mayo on my sandwich to take up in the clock tower for the afternoon, so here’s the deal:

We’ll find out tomorrow which asshole we’re stuck with. If you’ve been one of those poll-sniffing borderline gambling addicts, you are formally instructed to fuck right the fuck off. This goes for friends, too. If you’re naive enough to be wound up and excited for the outcome, I will flat out tell you to fuck off, and end the conversation right there. God help you if you’re some excitable dumb fuck working a phone bank calling to ask which asshole I voted for.

With regards to politics, for the next 48 hours you can either bring me whiskey, or fuck off.