RWCG


#GamerGate, explained
October 18, 2014, 5:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I figure I’m good enough at explaining things by this point (check this out for example) that there’s an outside chance a career at Vox is in my future. I mean, I can dream. So I thought I’d write another Sonicsplainer, if you will, to add to my portfolio of work for when I muster up the courage to reach out to Vox’s HR department.

Today’s topic is #GamerGate.

What is #GamerGate?

#GamerGate is a word/hashtag thing that people use on the internet a lot lately, which apparently has some meaning to them, to the point that they are able to write blog posts and articles about (or regarding, or concerning) it, whatever it is.

How long has this been going on?

Although it feels like about nine years, I guess it’s been a week and a half or something.

What’s it all about?

Well here’s what we know so far:

  • A dude slept with a chick, like in Hong Kong or somewhere, we think.
  • Or they were going out or whatever.
  • But then they weren’t. Like, one or both of them stopped like-liking the other.
  • And got mad about it.

Well one thing led to another and suddenly before you know it everyone on the internet was talking about the dude who slept with the chick and how they were mad at each other and calling the whole thing #GamerGate.

What? That doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t it have something to do with videogames?

OH! Right. Forgot that part, my bad. So anyway, the first thing you need to realize is that apparently there are still those videogame magazines. Remember those? Like the one you’d leaf through at Fry’s Electronics to learn about up up down down left right left right B A start, or how to time Mario’s jump on the turtle just right that you’d get infinite lives.

Oh yeah! I remember those.

Right. So, it turns out they still exist. And a big part of #GamerGate is that a bunch of people are pissed off they they aren’t ethical.

LOL what?

Not ethical. They are corrupt and rotten to the core.

Wait hold up can we go back a bit I’m lost. What’s all this got to do with the dude who slept with the chick?

Um I think they were gamers or something. She made a videogame or whatever. So you see that’s all part of it. It’s all two sides to the same coin.

What sides?

Being mad that the dude slept with the chick and that Nintendo Power isn’t ethical.

I’m gonna need you to go through this a little more carefully. Why do they say the magazine isn’t ethical?

I think they think the industry has bought their silence/reviews. Something like the payola scandal in 20th century radio.

That doesn’t sound right at all. I keep hearing something about feminism, or anti-feminism, or anti-anti-maleism, or something.

Oh yeah. I think there’s also a thing about how political correctness has overwhelmed their objectivity, or something.

But, whose objectivity?

Some 22 year olds who review videogames for an online magazine or whatever. They wrote bad reviews of games some folks really like, and stuff like that.

LOL ok so this whole #GamerGate thing, it’s something only 13-14 year olds care about right?

Apparently not. You see a certain contingent of people who are grownups yet who are writing apparently sincere/serious things about it, indicating that they actually care.

Huh.

I know right?

Ok what else?

Well, there’s #NotYourShield. See, a big part of #GamerGate is telling people that you are not their shield.

Their what?

Shield.

Why would you be someone’s shield?

I’m not! That’s the whole point.

But I didn’t think you were.

Well good, because I’m not #NotYourShield

And this traces back to the dude who slept with the chick?

Right. Exactly.

And feminism?

Sure.

And hating guys and/or girls? Or hating people who hate guys and/or girls?

Now you’re getting it!

I think so. Just a couple more questions.

Shoot.

Why are people still writing things about #GamerGate and using the hashtag/term #GamerGate on the internet, instead of, you know, just NOT DOING THAT in the first place, and doing/writing other things instead?

Beats me. But my theory is that it’s a brain-parasite, akin to the toxoplasmosis you can get from cat poop.

Explain.

Well, there are many instances found in the animal kingdom of a parasite hijacking a creature’s brain and altering their personality and behavior to its own ends. This can cause the infected creature to act in strange ways that are on the surface inexplicable. Maybe writing things and blog posts about #GamerGate, as if those things and blog posts make rational sense to others and are interesting/important, completely oblivious to the fact that they’re not, is just such an example.

And then there are passive carriers, such as myself, who perpetuate the infection by also writing “#GamerGate”, thereby passing on the meme #GamerGate to others without even themselves really knowing what the hell it is.

That actually kinda makes sense.

It does. It sure does. It’s the only explanation, really.

#GamerGate!

#NotYourShield!



Lamenting the ‘politicization’ of inherently political issues
October 17, 2014, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m normally a sucker for I’m-above-it-all lamenting of tribalism, but there’s something wrong with this piece. I can’t shake the feeling that it holds humanity up to an impossibly high standard: we’re all supposed to form opinions on various external, world things (Ebola, Rotherdam, climate change, etc.) with no reference whatsoever to the political realities and contexts in which all these debates occur. This seems purist but also, rather contrary to the spirit of things like democracy and political engagement.

I mean, if you reject the political context for some of these things, there is simply no reason whatsoever for 99.999% of humanity to even talk about them at all. But that can’t be right. People like to talk about stuff, and one of the things they like to talk about is other people and what they are doing, and yes they have reasons for doing so and for being interested in such things that aren’t always quite #science. Such an observation strikes me as both (a) true but also (b) unobjectionable, in itself.

Yes, debates happen and polarities are formed in a tribal way. I’ve said so too, in a similar above-it-all, yet-I-do-admit-my-faults tone (although in my case I really am above it all of course), but let’s not go overboard.



Political correctness makes people retarded
October 17, 2014, 7:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A even-partially-competent government in the face of an infectious disease breakout in some region would take steps to ban, limit, or regulate travel from that region. The purpose of a government (of the type that the US nominally has, anyway) is theoretically to protect the life, liberty, and property of the people inside the place that it is the government of.

It is retarded that this has to be said.

Political correctness makes people retarded. Our Smart People betters with multiple degrees in sitting in their high important appointed positions are apparently acting on some retarded no-we-can’t-possibly-limit-travel-from-there instinct, and they can’t even explain why. They can’t even explain why because the position they’re taking is not rational, it is prerational, it is arational, it boils down to some sort of primordial knee-jerk ‘Africa is a place with people we darker skin, we can’t do that, darker skin, that’s racist’ analysis that doesn’t even rise to the level of a rational thought. And that’s retarded.

People are noticing. It’s not only rightwing wackos like myself. It’s impossible to view these explanations and excuses for not doing the obvious, simple thing that any even-partially-competent government would, almost by definition, be expected to do with anything but puzzlement and bafflement. They can’t limit travel because why? That makes no sense. Let me click over to Vox to ‘explain’ it to me…

People who don’t want to believe these things about our Smart People betters in government need to mainline an increasing amount of Vox-style propaganda to even function daily. This is what the Vox-style outlets of the internet are really good at, supplying the Believers with propaganda talking-points that they can cling to like a blanket and use to shield their brain from obvious facts and reasoning that threatens their world view. That Voxian infrastructure is needed by a goodly 40% of the population just to function, like a network of ideological methadone clinics.

This is what happens when ideology makes people retarded.

This isn’t a college dorm room argument about Race & The Other. It’s a highly contagious disease, people. (Smart People). The name of the thing is the Center For Disease Contro…I mean for pete’s sake it’s in the freakin name of the thing. You’re supposed to be reality-based. This is reality. This is what it looks like, and our supposedly ‘technocrat’ (remember ‘technocrat’?) Smart People betters are paralyzed in the face of it.



Borrowing math
October 8, 2014, 7:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Say you know you’ll need to borrow $600/year for each of the next 10 years. You have a lender who will regularly lend to you, as long as you always repay (even if only by taking another loan), in either of two ways:

a) Four-week loan, available weekly
b) Ten-year loan, available monthly

Should you do a) or b)?

Ignore interest. Using a): you borrow $150 every week in year 1, raising $600 in 4 weeks, but the loans week 5 onward are just paying old loans. Then you have to borrow $300 every week in year 2, and so on. By year 10 you’re borrowing $1500 every week. Most of these loans are just going to pay back the loans you took out four weeks earlier, of course. By year 11 you always have four $1500 loans outstanding, one of which you have to pay back each week.

Using b): you borrow $50 each month, throughout the ten years. Only by year 10 + 1 month do you start having to repay anything (the $50 from the very first loan).

Either way your borrowing needs are met. But one of these ways is much different, more disruptive, more risky, and in fact just less practical than the other, thus less likely to arise as a realistic option. Can you tell which?

If so, please go tell Larry Summers.



Tribes
October 5, 2014, 8:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of the best blog posts that I have ever read: I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup. Just RTWT (if you haven’t already).



Judge actually judges
October 1, 2014, 7:34 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

An Oklahoma judge ruled against the IRS handing some people of their choosing a bunch of money with no basis or authority in law anywhere for doing so. Some passages from his opinion are jarring and shocking to read:

The issue of consequences has been touched upon in the previous decisions discussed. [...] Of course, a proper legal decision is not a matter of the court “helping” one side or the other.
[...]
This is a case of statutory interpretation. “The text is what it is, no matter which side benefits.” Such a case (even if affirmed on the inevitable appeal) does not “gut” or “destroy” anything. On the contrary, the court is upholding the Act as written.
[...]
As the Act presently stands, “vague notions of a statute’s ‘basic purpose’ are nonetheless inadequate to overcome the words of its text regarding the specific issue under consideration.”

It is a “core administrative-law principle that an agency may not rewrite clear statutory terms to suit its own sense of how the statute should operate.” “But in the last analysis, these always-fascinating policy discussions are beside the point. The role of this Court is to apply the statute as it is written – even if we think some other approach might ‘accor[d] with good policy.’

Now that’s what I can an ass-whooping of all the other judges who ruled Smartly and Correctly on this issue. Why, it’s almost as if this particular judge believes in the rule of law or something. How on earth did he slip through the cracks? Well, whatever the explanation, he clearly must be kicked off the bench at earliest opportunity. We just can’t have judges who believe that the rule of law can trump Smart policy.



Thots
September 29, 2014, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Slate Star Codex reviews Red Plenty. Got a chuckle out of the ‘what-if’ idea that had things played out differently – like, had well-meaning Smart People been heeded and empowered more, and killed less – the Soviets with their advanced invention of ‘linear programming’ might have solved the allocation problem and passed the West after all. I mean yeah, linear programming works ok in highly controlled, circumscribed situations. You know what’s even better at solving this type of problem when it gets bigger and messier (and less linear) though? The mathematical technique which, when implemented among humans, involves those things we refer to as ‘free markets’ and ‘prices’! Oh but sure, with linear programming you can figure out how many widgets vs. doohickeys your two-item factory should make each reporting period. (IF YOU KNOW THEIR PRICES.)

This pedestrian article asking why Wall Streeters get paid so much (in which we learn, for example, that ‘rents’ means ‘basically profits above and beyond what you’d expect’) got some discussion somewhere, I forget where. Not that I dispute the overall point, but the methodology seems suspect: they followed people (‘longitudinal data’) who worked at the ‘same job’ in finance and in not-finance, ‘controlling for job title, age, gender, and region’. Hmm. 1. A person’s career arc matters (independently of age). Working in finance is – probably – correlated with being in peak career mode, whatever the age. If one does job X in finance and then later does the ‘same job’ in not-finance it’s likely their career is on a downward arc or they chose to, say, prioritize family (otherwise they wouldn’t have left finance!), so they’d make less money for ‘natural’ reasons. If one does job X in not-finance and the does the ‘same job’ in finance, it’s likely that he is moving up in his career (hence getting paid more money for ‘natural’ reasons). You can’t notice either dynamic controlling only for ‘job title’ and ‘age’ is at best a proxy for it. 2. I question this notion of ‘same job’ in the first place. Is a Whatever Job in finance the ‘same job’ as Whatever Job in not-finance? Says who? Because it has the same job title? Nah. Again, these are nit-picks. I gather from this methodology that he would’ve had to exclude, say, job titles like ‘Trader’ and ‘Portfolio Manager’, so, yeah. Wall Streeters do get paid a lot, don’t get me wrong.

I got in a heated twitter battle with one of the myriad Internet Self-Anointed Econo Dudes who assume they are experts on climate modeling for some reason.

This piece (HT Kling) by two authors, one of whom (Jason Richwine) I knew I recognized, explains the insanity of FCRA accounting when it comes to how the federal government values the student loans that it, in its infinite wisdom, decided to start making a few years ago. This is a very important point few seem to talk about, which is why we get the Elizabeth Warrens of the world (dumbly) claiming the government makes ‘obscene profits’ on it.

I admire Nate Silver’s 538 for trying to figure out whether QE3 was a success, but it seems kind of hopeless. What does ‘success’ even mean? Compared to what? They observe that it didn’t seem to bring long-term rates down. But what about ‘term premiums’? Maybe rates would’ve been higher otherwise? (Lisa Simpson’s rock did keep tigers away, after all.) Also, maybe it wasn’t supposed to bring rates down then, just later. Or earlier. Or ‘expectations’ of rates. Or something. See, the Fed can move the goalposts all they want, they’re the ones who made them up in the first place.




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