Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pinker - The Blank Slate, Preface

I just picked up Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature and I wonder how I managed to avoid this book for so long.  I'm sure that I've read it quoted many a time at various blogs but even the preface reads as if Pinker read my thoughts and articulated them better than I ever could (I really should have studied more in school).

My goal in this book is not to argue that genes are everything and culture is nothing - no one believes that - but to explore why the extreme position (that culture is everything) is often seen as moderate, and the moderate position is seen as extreme.
Nor does acknowledging human nature have the political implications so many fear.  It does not, for example, require one to abandon feminism, or to accept the current levels of inequality or violence, or to treat morality as a fiction.  For the most part I will try not to advocate particular policies or to advance the agenda of the political left or right. I believe that controversies about policy almost always involve tradeoffs between competing values, and that science is equipped to identify the tradeoffs but not to resolve them. Many of these tradeoffs, I will show, arise from features of human nature, and by clarifying them I hope to make our collective choices, whatever they are, better informed.
It is so sweet to read words like these.  It's like the first time I read Bertrand Russel only without the glassy eyed idealism that always left me shaking my head.  He continues.

The refusal to acknowledge human nature is like the Victorians' embarrassment about sex, only worse: it distorts our science and scholarship, our public discourse, and our day-to-day lives. 
Trying to talk to most intelligent, well-educated people about child-rearing, food or politics is always frustrating for me because someone always tries to point out that we're only conditioned to think and act the way we do... and if "we could only get past our preconceptions we can become anything we want."  [Eye-roll-to-face-palm-to-double-fist-clench-gaze-to-the-heavens-to-double-handed-forehead-slap-pull-hair-to-primal-scream].  How many times did I meet a girl who seemed reasonably intelligent and we got along so well until we hit this wall.

I blame the Bobo Experiment.  Everyone in my university took Psych 101.  One of the most prominent and easiest to remember sections was on Albert Bandura's experiment that seemed to suggest that children could be taught not to behave aggressively by being shown positive role models - and only positive role models.  I wondered, while I read about the text book, why there wasn't already a formula for world peace over 30 years after this remarkable discovery.  Whenever this came up and someone tried to argue that this proved violence/rape/theft/etc. were learned behaviours, I tried to point out that human nature has a role in such negative behaviour too.  I believe that my inability to keep my mouth shut on this subject was the main reason I didn't have many dates in University.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Man Up? When Did Men Supposedly Man Up?

Jack Donovan revisits Kay Hymowitz's Where Have All The Good Men Gone and gets me to wondering when men supposedly "Manned Up" as she asks.

I think about how my father "manned-up".  Sure he got married and worked a rather tedious job to put four kids through university - earning the reputation as a stand-up, hard-working guy.  But, he had hunting trips that were non-negotiable at certain times and hunted and fished on a whim at other times as seasons, time and conditions permitted.  He laughed the year I told him I was missing our annual bass fishing trip because my wife was due within two weeks (the high-alert zone).  When he wanted to go, he "just went" he told me. He played sports year round taking much of his week-nights.  I think that these activities were as much his entertainment as today's young generations play X-box or Playstation.

If Kay and the others expect young men to put their game controllers away in the closet once they enter a serious relationship, she's going to have to re-think things.  That's like asking a woman to give up shopping, decorating, romance novels/movies, baking, pedicures, facials or any other of the typically womanly hobbies or activities that she loves.  Our activities define us.  By paroting the feminist shaming and denegration of male activities as purile and juvenile, she's justifying the notion common among women that men who partake in them are not worthy of their attention and if they do, they must drop these activities entirely and focus on their new "serious" relationship.  Meanwhile, woman's pursuits are somehow vaunted, intellectual and meaningful?  I'm at a loss seeing why perfecting red velvet cupcakes is somehow more meaningful than playing a video game with someone on the other side of the world.

Kay is completely oblivious to the motivations that drive men to their pursuits.  She tries to argue that hunting and fishing were just hobbies created because "They balked at the stuffy propriety of the bourgeois parlor, as they did later at the banal activities of the suburban living room."  I'm sorry, but that is just silly.  My father learned to hunt during the depression when a gun cost $15 and a box of shells cost 50 cents and a bad weekend of hunting meant a week with very little meat on the table.  He doesn't hunt to get out of the house, he hunts because it is a part of who he is.

With the current state of Marriage 2.0, there is very little incentive for a young male to sacrifice even a portion of their pursuits until they are good and ready and their mate is understanding.  Kay says that single men "continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers."  This fact simple says that The higher earning men find women willing to let them golf, fish, hunt and play video games while the middle of the pack simple bide their time until the right deal comes along.  Why should they compromise themselves because some self-absorbed woman feels that his pursuits are disgusting and purile.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Parents Hiding Gender of Child

I guess it was only a matter of time before someone took the step of putting the absurdity of non-gender ideology to the test at the expense of their child's future mental health.  What do they hope to achieve?  What is the "more progressive place" where they think we are heading behind their lead?  Why do some see the erradication of gender identities as a worthwhile goal? 


Monday, May 23, 2011

SWPLS Hate Nature

I am borrowing the term SWPL because I don't have a better term for PC Liberals - the so-called right-thinking people, the enlightened ones.  Basically, anyone who thinks that we're all trying to find "a better way to live" and one day we can eliminate violence from the world - our nature be damned.

Why do I think that they hate nature despite all their granola munching, organic-food buying, North Face hiking boot wearing and Subaru Forester driving?  I had a conversation with one the other day - a very nice woman I know.

CDH:  I saw a crow swoop down and take a baby robin right from the nest on my neighbours house.
Very Nice Woman:  Oh my gosh. That's just awful.
CDH:  I thought it was so cool to see that part of nature.
VNW:  I don't think so.
CDH:  So you don't like nature?
VNW:  I love nature, just not when it's... like...
CDH:  That is nature.  It's the essence of nature.  Don't you like crows?
VNW:  I like them, just not...
CDH:  What about hawks?
VNW:  I like hawks too, but..
[change the subject to avoid uncomfortable moment]

Another example was posted on facebook profile of an old high-school friend about the coyote's affect on the population of her barn cats.  She said that she hated it when wild animals kill one another.

How can people live with this one-sided, rosy view of nature.  Marketers constantly pander to our inherent "Love of nature" with cute animals and flowers and trees.  I think it speaks to the cognitive dissonance in the minds (and the entire mindset) of the Left-wing picture of nature.

Note:  Now when I refer to Animal Rights Activists and their supporters, I shall call them Bunny Huggers or Animal-loving Left-Wing Nutjobs. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blogging is Hard

The Cul-De-Sac Hero has been applying his heroism to other pursuits, namely T-Ball coach.  While the time demands are considerable, I feel that coaching a group of boys in the pursuit of a good swing, straight throws and consistent catching does far more good for the future of society than blogging ever could.  I think that OneSTDV would agree.

However, I swear that I won't pull a ONE and burnout and quit.  I will continue to be a Stalwart Moderate, sporadically posting meandering essays with varying levels of quality to my blog.  I'm just going to have to find new places to troll.  It shouldn't be difficult.  As a moderate, I can disagree with just about anyone.

Another pursuit I've taken up, rather by accident, is educating the youth.  A younger friend of mine was shopping for an engagement ring.  Always interested when a younger man decides to join the ranks of married men, I decided to see how he was doing on instant message:
Older Gent [9:13 AM]: Did you get engaged yet?

Young Buck [9:13 AM]: do i look stupid?

Older Gent [9:14 AM]: I thought you were shopping for a ring.

Older Gent [9:14 AM]: Hey, I was "stupid" enough to do it. [get married]

Young Buck [9:15 AM]: no, you crazy? no way i'm going to drop $10k

Older Gent [9:15 AM]: $10K for a ring???? F - that!

Young Buck [9:15 AM]: ya man, its the new standard

Older Gent [9:15 AM]: Don't believe it.

Older Gent [9:16 AM]: If your woman believes it, just think what you'll have to drop for a house.

Young Buck [9:20 AM]: told you, you're and old man, times are different
Young Buck [9:20 AM]: 1 cart is the min

Older Gent [9:22 AM]: I'd run away. I'm telling you, women have fallen for a sales pitch hook line and sinker.
Older Gent [9:22 AM]: There'll never be enough money to satisfy that desire
Older Gent [9:23 AM]: I don't mean to say anything bad about your girlfriend.

Young Buck [9:23 AM]: haha / you're not with the times

Older Gent [9:24 AM]: But I know guys who married really nice women who turned out to leave them because they "wanted more"
Older Gent [9:24 AM]: and more
Older Gent [9:24 AM]: and more
Older Gent [9:24 AM]: It's the consumer disease
Older Gent [9:25 AM]: women are the most aflicted.
Older Gent [9:26 AM]: house, trips, furniture, appliances, cars.... it adds up
Older Gent [9:26 AM]: and it starts with 10K rings
Older Gent [9:27 AM]: don't mean to scare you, kid. but think about it.

Young Buck [9:34 AM]: thanks for the advice

So, if anyone is reading this, do you think I was too harsh?  Or was I way off because he appears smart enough not to spend $10,000 on a piece of gold with a shiny rock that someone says is the standard (aka minimum) purchase.  Where did this standard come from?  Why do groups of people accept such arbitrary requirements?

I only reacted because it reminded me so much of a friend of mine who's wife suddenly left (frivolous divorce) because she wasn't satisfied and they were always fighting over money they didn't have which she still to wanted to spend.  At the time, I called it the consumer disease and told him that women feel the need (more than men) to obtain material things right away.  They are the target of a larger portion of advertising because, I think, their feelings of entitlement are easier for advertisers to exploit than any of the weakness men have.  Men have better resistance to marketing than women, but not perfect.

The theme of consumerism is one which I'd like to explore more deeply, but I doubt I will due to the usual constraints of time and energy.  I do find our willingness to accept truths that are marketed to us and willful blindness to the affects of the forces of marketing on our psyche disturbing.  I think it is the single worst threat to society and capitalism and the most important gap in our education system.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Canucks Fan Sexually Harrasses Sharks Player

Suppose the roles were reversed in this scene.

Of course, nothing would happen because men can go topless at sporting events and do so all the time.  Fembot-Liberal-nutcases commenting on the page seem to think that there is no difference between a man's chest and a woman's breasts.
Proactive Indifference writes:
Human Rights Violation?
If a man had bared his chest, nothing would have happened. It is common at sporting events for bare chested men, often with painted letters, to be shown off on camera. So why not a woman? This game was in Vancouver, and since 2008, women have had a right to legally bear their breasts. The arena authorities had no right to remove the woman. Since they would not even have asked a man to leave, this constitutes as a sexual harassment/human rights violation based on gender.
Right, because men have had the constitutional right to bare their breasts since confederation?  What breasts?  Also, the last time I checked, the arena (and all private venues) reserved the right to remove anyone.  I wonder how many men are removed compared to women?  If more men are removed, is that discrimination based on gender?

Bubbles4PM writes
Gotta love North American culture...

It's OK to knock the head off a player, bare knuckle scrap (all crimes in society) yet a woman hurts no one with a part of her body that is legal to be in public with (in most provinces) and she is treated like a criminal? Give me a break, is sexuality worse than violence?
Because I forgot that consensual physical contests should be curbed but involuntary exposure to sexual body parts, as long as it's a woman exposing herself to a man is ok in all but the most repressed societies.

Although most people would not put baring breasts on the same level as a man exposing his genitals, it is still in the same category since they are both sexual body parts. So what would happen if a man exposed his genitals?  He'd be put in jail and called a pervert.  But this wanton, intoxicated woman is somehow revered?  I don't think that she should be in jail, but I'd describe her behaviour to be worse (more offensive) than a green-man handstand which is also banned in the Rogers Arena.  Yes, men in tights are disgusting when viewed at the wrong angle.

Offense is not the right word to describe my reaction to this behaviour.  One would be hard-pressed to find a warm-blooded hetero-sexual, non-theist man who would be offended by the display of breasts.  I'm sure I would feel differently if my sons were watching at the time, but since West-Coast games are broadcast at 9pm so the little kiddies are away in bed, but I'm sure there are a few mothers and fathers who have feelings stronger than mine about this incident.

However, I am a concerned by the trend and the comical attitudes everyone takes.  Everyone knows that nobody is allowed to criticize a woman today [full stop].  A woman is free to do whatever she wants [full stop].  At least that is the prevailing opinion. 

If left up to young men, they'd be happy to have women bare breasts as much as possible.  I was when I was younger - heck, I'm more than happy to see an unexpected free show and probably will until the day I die.  But, to say that a woman's bare breasts are no different than a man's is ridiculous and it is time to let this idea die.  It was used in Ontario to successfully challenge the law outlawing bare breasts in public.  To the "surprise" of everyone and disappointment of some, breasts are not routinely bared in public here.  Apart from outdoor concert events, (having not been to one in over a decade, I can't say whether phone cameras have reduced the behaviour, if anything it seems to increase it) social standards, decorum and personal sense of decency have kept breasts covered in public for the most part. 

To feminists who hilariously try to argue that breasts are not sexual, I would ask one question:  What kind of assault is it if a man grabs a woman's breast?  If you say sexual assault, then it means that breasts are inherently sexual.  When a woman bares her breasts, her body sends signals to any male pair of eyes (connected through neurons and chemical reactions to a pair external sex organs) in view.  I see no reason that, if such signals are unwanted or done in a way meant to tease or distract that it could not be considered sexual harassment.  The man in my flip-side comparison would be jailed and put on a sex offenders list.  Why is there such a disparity of reaction to the woman's "crime" which varies only in severity.

To be clear, I agree with the Ontario law in that it should not be automatically be crime for a female to display her breasts in any circumstances.  But, it is one thing to lay on a beach (which is the only place breasts are commonly bared in public in Europe) and another still for a woman to go walking through a children's park or live television.  Perhaps we're generally too uptight in North America, but it does not mean that anything goes. 

Where, as a supposedly tolerant society can we draw the line on personal behaviour.  Currently, men have as many social boundaries as people can think of...  but women ...