Politics are Coming and they are Going to be Awful

Already I have relatives with their “I’m ready for Hillary” shirts and totes–relatives who blithely hated her during the Clinton years, because that’s what you were supposed to do during the Clinton years. On the other side, FB acquaintances (sadly, people I friended in the hopes of finding someone sane,) who have never breathed a word about opposing anything in particular about what Hillary’s been up to during her many years in gov’t are already posting vitriolically about her “history of lies” and deceptions. Pleez.

Look, if you’re voting for the Dems, you’re probably open to voting for Hillary. If you’re not voting for the Dems, you’re probably not voting for Hillary. No one is going against their tribal preferences anyway, so can’t we just leave it at that, and get back to saying dumb things about Climate Change or evolution or whatever?


Why do economists fail at basic math?

In “Open Borders and the Hive Mind Hypothesis,” economist Nathan Smith writes:

Open borders, in the sense of the abolition of policies restricting migration, would cause billions of people to migrate, and result in almost a doubling of world GDP. Based on a model that stresses human capital as a determinant of the wealth and poverty of nations… two openborders scenarios are constructed. In the first, “pure market clearing” scenario, world GDP rises 91% as 82% of the world’s population migrates, mostly to the West … In the second scenario, with several adjustments made to favor greater realism at the expense of some arbitrariness, world GDP rises 85% as 58% of the world’s population migrates…”

Jesus effin’ Christ. According to Google, there are 7.3 billion people on the planet. About 1 billion of them live in the West/1st world nations. About 6.3 billion of them live in “developing countries.” I’d calculate average population density of the West, but places like Australia (90+% desert) and Russia (Siberia) have big chunks of very difficult to live on land that would render the calculation meaningless. However, it is pretty easy to grok that the population density of Europe and Japan, especially relative to its arable land, is already pretty darn high:

They actually hire people to shove passengers into the trains to make them fit.
Rush hour on the Tokyo Subway


Seriously, where would you even put more people?
Shibuya Station, Japan


There goes the Oxygen
Somewhere near NYC, I believe


Paris has one of the highest poulation densities in Europe.
Parisian apartment complex

So forgive me if I think the idea of cramming 5.17 billion people into the first world actually sounds horrific. Where would you put everyone? How would you feed them? Surely not with crops grown by people on newly freed-up land back in Africa–folks with a TFR of 7 or 8 aren’t going to stop having babies just because they suddenly got the resources to feed more of them. Africa’s population will stay the same.

Even the more modest scenario implies the immigration of 3.65 billion people, resulting in a quadrupling of the West’s current population.

I don’t care what your model shows. This is a recipe for destroying the planet.

Of course, there are factors other than GDP to consider. Like total arable land, crime rates, or having a pleasant community full of people you like and trust–but these are not factors that economists consider valid. We must sacrifice all to the mighty GDP.


Later in the article, he admits that all of his models are based on total assumptions about the way wealth is generated (having dealt with humans, I suspect that assumption is “magic,” but I could be wrong,) and that other models actually show a 25% reduction in global GDP under open borders. This is fine, of course, because someone else might benefit. I mean, not you. You’ll probably starve to death in a smog-ridden hellscape.

For that matter, if you really want to alleviate poverty, you can just give 25% of your income directly to the third world, and then no one has to go through the expense and trauma of moving. I seem to remember a post on Slate Star Codex arguing that it was more effective to just build houses for people in Africa than to ship people to Sweden and then build houses for them there, but now I can’t find it. Maybe it was a different blog? Either way, the point stands: there are probably better ways to raise up the bottom end of society than crashing the whole system.


Democracy Fails Because Conservatives Suck at Opposing Liberals

Democracy is supposed to work like some sort of capitalistic free market of ideas where the best ones get the most dollars and thus float to the top and become law. Since we have this coupled with a two-party system, you’re voting for which of two candidates sounds like they have the best ideas.

Unfortunately, conservatives tend not to bother with tough intellectual shit like “ideas,” preferring instead to throw rocks at their heads. Voters, being at least a little rational, tend to back away from this in vague horror and default-vote for whoever the other guy is, at least until the other guy realizes the only constraint on him is “don’t throw rocks at head” and starts doing something equally dumb. Eventually you get Congress.

“Gay marriage” is a prime example of how conservatives have completely shirked their duty to contribute anything worthwhile to American discourse in decades.

For the past two decades–maybe longer–conservatives have not managed to muster a single coherent argument against gay marriage, and yet they have dedicated substantial resources to making sure that everyone knows they don’t like it.

Yes, standing up on a podium and yelling, “I hate people for totally irrational reasons and do not understand how the Constitution works,” actually makes people think you’re dumb, hateful, and have no idea how to run the gov’t.

One of the results of this is that young people, near as I can tell, pretty much universally despise conservatives. It’s hard not to, when conservatives keep throwing rocks at their heads.

With a few hours of research and writing, I managed to cobble together a better argument against gay marriage/homosexuality than anything conservatives have come up with in the past two decades, and I wasn’t even trying. I was just reading about California. This stuff is not secret; you don’t need to fund any fancy studies or have any technical background to find a ton of information that would make the average voter much more amenable to the conservative position, but people who are actually paid to do this and claim to actually, deeply believe this have not even bothered.

Instead, we get dumb arguments like, “Homosexuality is immoral,” (what does that even mean?) or “God says it’s a sin.” (Great, your argument depends both on a swiftly diminishing belief in god and a willingness to violate the Establishment Clause?)

If one side can’t do their job and generate at least something close to rational thought, then there is no pressure on the other side to generate rational thought, either. And that means the entire political system goes down the shitter.

And that’s why we can’t have nice things, like winter.

Now that gay marriage is the law of the land, everyone wants to pretend they were in favor of it from the start

We have always been at war with Eurasia--I mean, supported gay marriage

Thus proving that we have always been at war with Eurasia, pretty much every company you can think of–including the President Himself (who I guess is technically not a company)–has jumped on the Yay Gay Marriage bandwagon.

For the record, I was pro-gay marriage before it was cool; I’m so hip and indie, my best friend was trans back in middle school.

Now a bunch of companies that never gave a shit about gay people are proclaiming how happy they are about the SCOTUS decision.

Of course, companies just want to make money. But there was a time when companies endeavored not to take political stances, not wishing to alienate potential customers. Suddenly seeing all the companies simultaneously adopt the same logo is, well, creepy. Even if I want to bomb the shit out of Eurasia and am happy to see the troops head out, doesn’t mean I want everyone to suddenly start pretending like we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

Part of what’s going on is that gay marriage has been recast by the left as “not a political issue.” These companies don’t see themselves as taking a political stance, but a moral stance, or a just plain celebratory stance. Of course, it is a political issue.

To be honest, conformity bugs me. When I hear people agreeing with each other, I start trying to figure out why they’re wrong. (It’s probably a bad habit.) I hate being expected to act a certain way just because everyone else is or perform certain emotions just because it’s a holiday or something. (This probably contributes to my dislike of holidays.) Groupthink annoys me; the “tyranny of the status quo” makes me rage against my keyboard.

This level of unanimity in just about anything post V-Day is further evidence of the radical speed of horizontal meme-transmission due to modern mass media like the internet.

It was not so many years ago, you may recall, that states were busy passing anti-gay marriage bills or amendments en mass. Not in the bad old days of the 1950s or 80s, but in 2004-2008.

I remember a friend freaking out about the bans somewhere around 2005. I tried to reassure them that the bans were good news: no one ever put that much effort into trying to ban something that people had no interest in doing. That much effort could only mean the conservatives were terrified of gay marriage triumphing–after all, back in 1950, when gay marriage wasn’t even a thing people were talking about, no one was bothering to try to pass amendments on the subject. “You’ve already won,” I told my friend. They did not believe me, but here’s the win.

Unfortunately, there are dozens–perhaps thousands–of issues I consider higher priority than gay marriage, which directly affects only a small % of the population. I’d rather we stopped Global Warming or cured cancer or helped the homeless, reformed the tax code or balanced the budget or got jobs and wages up for ordinary Americans, streamlined the legal and criminal justice system or even just increased Americans’ understanding of basic science. But most of these are boring things; it’s way more fun to argue about gay marriage or tabloid stars’ sex changes than to try to figure out the best way to run the country.


Anonymous Sex with Strangers still Spreads Disease…

surprising no one but the idiots having anonymous sex with strangers.

Grindr and Tinder creating health epidemics:

“Casual and anonymous sex arranged via social media sites, such a Tinder and Grindr, has led to an increase in STDs across the US state of Rhode Island, health officials have announced.

The Rhode Island Department of Health announced that between 2013 and 2014, there was a 79% increase in syphilis, a 30% increase in gonorrhoea and a 33% increase in HIV. …

A statement from the department said: “The recent uptick in STDs in Rhode Island follows a national trend. The increase has been attributed to better testing by providers and to high-risk behaviours that have become more common in recent years.”

Between my upbringing by Christian conservatives and college days surrounded by bi-poly-pagans and BDSM fetishists (you laugh, but it’s true,) I’ve had to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell morality is. And since a lot of people are shit at actually explaining anything, I have generally defaulted to a holistic approach of whether or not a particular approach leads to human suffering, or whether the person claiming a certain morality is generally a decent human or not.

Since then, I’ve developed better ways of understanding morality, but these rules of thumb still apply: if you are hurting other people for purely self-centered reasons, like giving them diseases just so you can have sex, or creating a system that spreads diseases so you can get rich, then you are a terrible human.

AIDS and California

If reading about CVTs (canine venereal tumors) makes you want to wash (even though as a non-dog you are very unlikely to catch a dog-specific cancer/STD,) reading a lot about AIDS will basically make you want to wash with bleach, then wash again.

‘Patient Zero’ and the early days of HIV/AIDS This is the main source for the quotes in this post; quotes from other sources will be noted as they come up.

I know nothing about this particular source/forum, but they have compiled a bunch of excerpts from doctors and the like about the early days of AIDS (70s and 80s), and it’s pretty freaky.

1. The past is a freaky place. I mean, it is just plain weird.
2. CA past is especially freaky.
“I’ve been spending some time researching some history in respect to California during the 1960s and 1970s and it has taken me through events like the Counterculture, Occultism, cults like the Manson Family and Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple, the proliferation of serial killers during that time, and the exploding population of homosexuals in San Francisco and the role they played in spreading HIV.”

Right, that stuff. WTF, California?
I get the impression that liberalism in the 60s and 70s included far more drug use and far more sex with children than it does today, in ways that are difficult for those of us who didn’t live through it to imagine, particularly since the latter is now totally taboo. Today it is perfectly normal to be a liberal and have no interest at all in drugs; in the 60s and 70s, I suspect such a person would have been largely out of place. Eventually the War on Drugs and public education campaigns probably had some effect, but I suspect the crack epidemic of the inner cities transformed “drugs” in people’s minds from something rich, white college kids did to something poor blacks did, which made them way less cool.

Likewise, I get the impression that norms for sexual behavior were totally in flux; the “radical feminism” of the later seventies and eighties that was (is) so vehemently concerned with rape and child rape (causing at least some substantial legal changes on the subject) seems to have been an actual reaction to what we would now call “rape” and “child rape” but which was not particularly regarded as such during the earlier period. So now we have the problem of notable figures from the period like SF/F superstar Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband raped and abused small children, including her own daughter:

” The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was twelve, and able to walk away.

I put Walter [MZB’s husband/the speaker’s father or stepfather] in jail for molesting one boy. I had tried to intervene when I was 13 by telling Mother and Lisa, and they just moved him into his own apartment.

I had been living partially on couches since I was ten years old because of the out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out of our family “home.”

None of this should be news. Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops) but Marion was far, far worse. She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls.”

From what I have read, MZB and her husband operated completely out in the open, sometimes molesting other people’s children right in front of them, and no one cared, no one did anything about it. “Those were just the times.” You may find that attitude unbelievable, but there it is.

This is rather problematic because, aside from having been a popular and prolific writer, MZB was a lesbian and feminist writers whose works have been credited with literally saving their readers’ lives, and now her fans have to go wash themselves with bleach.

Shit changes. The past is not the present. The past is often highly alien.

3. Social trends were not invented yesterday.
We often act like they were, like we’re the first people to ever hop onto a particular bandwagon and begin advocating for Issue X, even when people have been protesting about X for decades. I first noticed this habit back when I was young enough to not hate college students.

In this case, we have a tendency to imagine that “the past” (anytime prior to last Tuesday, more or less, was a terrible time for gays. Truth is, though, that huge numbers of gay people moved to NY and SF, where they lived as they wanted without interference. Yes, it sucked to spend 4 years of one’s life stuck in a highschool in rural Texas, but you could then spend the rest of your life elsewhere, which isn’t so bad when you remember that virtually no one wants to stay in rural Texas.

“Well, number one was the baths, because we knew that was the main source of AIDS transmission. A gay man could pick up one or two partners in a bar, and they’d go off someplace to have their fun. There were back rooms in the bars, in the baths, too. They were called orgy rooms, where ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty men were dancing around with almost no light, and of course, anything happened there. That explained to us why a gay man would say, “I don’t know who I got it from. I never saw his face.” That sort of thing.

The bars were not the best places to be, but at least, they would limit the amount of contact a man could have. In a bookshop, in a small sex club, out in the park–these places limited the contact. But in the baths… At a four-story bathhouse, Club Baths south of Market I think it was, 350 men would gather on a Saturday night at $10 a crack, and they got their $10 worth. And more. Including drugs in addition to poppers.”

“Now, there were gay men who were aggressively out, the S&M, sadomasochist, men, the leather boys we called them, who walked up and down Market Street dressed in leathers with leather caps like the old Nazi men, and chains, and leather boots.”

“Of the little over 300,000 voters in the city, about 120,000–100,000 let us say–were gay voters.”

From AIDS and Immune Systems: “For me, gay life in New york City before the dawn of AIDS was like living in the Promised Land. I went dancing almost every night. There were always exciting places in Manhattan to see and be seen, night-and-day sex at the piers off West Street, backroom bars and sex clubs that were packed till dawn. Whatever fantasy you had, you always knew you could satisfy it any time, night or day, at one of the many sexual playgrounds …

Urban gay male life had evolved over a decade from personal salvation into a communal identity and now, as the Saint [a famous disco] became our weekly Mecca, into a quasi-religion. Several thousand muscled, shirtless gay men in black 501 jeans … Upstairs was a huge darkened balcony converted into carpeted bleachers where hundreds of stoned men fucked all night and into the day.

To lose oneself so completely in the wall-to-wall men moaning in the dark … soaring on a hit of ethyl chloride … was like being transported to some heavenly other planet somewhere beyond the stars.”

“For those unfamiliar with the name: Christopher Street is in Manhattan’s West Village. During the pre-AIDS gay-party days, it was Ground Zero for homosexual cruising and partying.

If Fire Island was acres of beef on the hoof, Christopher Street was Mardi Gras in New Orleans, only with fewer inhibitions and without a female to be seen. One club or bar after another … Each establishment, and the street itself, filled with exuberant gayguys in freaky costumes … Music, drugs, and booze everywhere … Carousing of a pitch that would put beer-drinking Spring Break jocks to shame …”

On trying to fight AIDS:
“Well, the battle to close the bathhouses began to simmer then, but we were aware of the problem and trying to do something at least sub rosa to diminish it long before that in fighting the STD diarrheal diseases there. In ’82, we were aware of Gaetan Dugas [“AIDS patient zero”] and the connections between him and so many people that he met here in San Francisco at the baths, and his open announcement that, “Well, I’m off to the baths tonight, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” He came to my office and said, “It’s my right to go where I want to.”

We were becoming reasonably sure that this was a disease caused by a transmissible agent. It seemed to be concentrated in gay men who were very sexually active. (I’m leaving out the question of the hemophiliacs.) The place where they could be most sexually active, most traumatically active, was in the baths.

Well, Silverman met with the bath owners–fifteen or twenty men. I was there. It was a hot meeting. Silverman tried to be politic, calm. He was a very, very good administrator and a good public health man. But these people came primed for battle. He tried to explain the difficulties and that if they could at least tone down the opportunities for infection, raise the level of lighting in the “orgy room” where 100 men could have indiscriminate contact without even knowing who they were being in contact with, if they could take the doors off the cubicles, cut down the privacy a little tiny bit– They wouldn’t have it.”

“The pervasive argument that turned around even the strongest gay backers I had for closing the bathhouses was, if government closes the bathhouses in San Francisco, which is seen as this bastion of gay liberation, what message does that send to less liberal states and communities? And then the next step is, well, obviously people get picked up in gay bars, so you close the gay bars. And then the sodomy laws would either be enforced or reinstated, depending on what the status was in any given state.

I remember having one very important person in the gay community who had been supporting me for bathhouse closure, who had been active in politics and still is, call me up and say, “Merv, I can’t support you any more.” I said, “Why?” And he gave me the above argument.”

More on Gaetan Dugas, the guy who proved AIDS was infectious by giving it to everybody:
“I knew that Gaetan Dugas was still in town. I couldn’t get to him, but I put word out, “If you see Gaetan Dugas, let him know I want to see him.” He came up. I told him, “Look, we’ve got proof now.” I didn’t tell him how scientifically accurate the information was. It wasn’t inaccurate, but it wasn’t actually scientifically proven. I said, “We’ve got proof that you’ve been infecting these other people. You’ve got AIDS, you know. We know it’s transmissible now, because you’re transmitting it.” He was the active partner in all this gay business, anal-genital sex. “You’ve just got to cut it out.”

“Don’t be silly, I won’t cut it out. It’s my life. I’ll do what I want.” I said, “Yes, but you’re infecting other people.” “I got it. Let them get it.” I said, “You’ve got to cut it out!” “Screw you.” He walked out. I never saw him again. It was a pity, because he was apparently an intelligent man, except on this one point. And he was very, very sexually active. He was a presumptive proof that AIDS was something transmissible from an infected person directly to the uninfected person.”

“It was at this time that rumors began on Castro Street in San Francisco about a strange guy at the Eighth and Howard bathhouse, a blond with a French accent. [Gaetan Dugas] He would have sex with you, then turn up the lights in the cubicle, and point out his Kaposi`s sarcoma legions.

“I`ve got gay cancer,“ he`d say. “I`m going to die, and so are you.“”

Amazingly, no one seems to have thought of hauling him out into the desert and shooting him.

“In ’78, there were already 4 percent infected. When we went back retroactively and tested the bloods of the hepatitis B vaccine trials, 4 percent of them were already HIV positive. We didn’t even know there was such a thing as AIDS then. By ’84, 60 percent to 70 percent of a gay population was infected. Now, the general population of males in the city, by the time I retired [1984], was less than 1 percent infected.”

These are not people whose activities were being curtailed by social norms.

“Craigslist’s entry into a market results in a 15.9 percent increase in reported HIV cases, according to research. When mapped at the national level, more than 6,000 HIV cases annually and treatment costs estimated between $62 million and $65.3 million can be linked to the popular website, the authors state.”

“”It was like living through a war,” remembers longtime congregant Sharyn Saslafsky. “Our world went upside down and inside out. So many of our friends died young.”

“I remember the devastation of hearing the names on the Kaddish list of young people,”… “During the service, everyone stands, links arms and sings ‘Hinei Mah Tov.’ I remember the utter sadness when there were people we couldn’t put our arms around anymore.”

“You were on call 24/7,” he says. “There was no easing up. Every day there were more casualties and, as things progressed, more fatalities. Until things started to taper off, I and an awful lot of my friends were losing, on average, a friend or acquaintance once a week for probably five years.”

At High Holy Days, he found himself unable to utter out loud the U’netaneh Tokef prayer, which reads in part, “On Yom Kippur it is sealed … who shall live and who shall die … who by earthquake and who by plague.””

4. Unfortunate confluence of “liberation” and “identity”
Gay people catch diseases when they have sex with a bunch of unprotected partners. So do heterosexuals, eg, prostitutes in Kinsasha in the 20s. Gay and straight people who don’t engage in such behaviors don’t catch a ton of diseases. The solution to AIDS is actually trivially simple: don’t have sex with thousands of people.

Unfortunately, “have unprotected anonymous ex with thousands of people” was a core part of the gay scene, and people protected it as part of the expression of their identities:

“I estimate I’ve had approximately 3,000 men up my butt … I estimate that I went to the baths at least once a week, sometimes twice, and that each time I went I had a minimum of four patners … I also racked up about three men a week for five years at the Christopher Steet bookstore …Then of course there was the MineShaft; the orgies; the 55th Street Playhouse; the International Stud backroom …
Let me present my own history of STDs. From 1973, when I came out, to 1975, I only got mononucloeosis and non-specific urethritis, or NSU. In 1975, I got my first case of gonorrhea. Not bad, I thought. I’d had maybe 200 different partners, and I’d only gotten the clap twice. But then, moving from Boston to New York City, it all began to snowball.​

First came hepatitis A in ’76 and more gonorrhea and NSU. In 1977, I was diagnosed with amebiasis, an intestinal parasite, hepatitis B, more gonorrhea, and NSU. In 1978, more amebiasis and my first case of shigella, and of course, more gonorrhea. Then in 1979, hepatitis yet a third time, this time non-A, non-B, more intestinal parasites, adding giardia this time, and an anal fissure as well as my first case of syphilis … By 1981, I got some combination of STDs each and every time I had sex …​

At age twenty-seven I’ve had: gonorrhea, syphillis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis non-A, non-B; intestinal parasites including amebiasis, e. historicia, shigella, giardia; herpes simplex types one and two; venereal warts, mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, and now cryptosporodiosis, for which there is no known cure.​”

Again, if getting sick “built up the immune system,” these guys would have had the immune systems of doom and AIDS would not exist.

“I can recall about that same time seeing a patient who was a young Ph.D. scientist from the Peninsula [south of San Francisco], a very good-looking man with Kaposi’s sarcoma who I was caring for. He had AIDS. He was sitting in my clinic on Parnassus. He was kind of impatient. I said, “I’m sorry I’m running late; I can tell you’re impatient. What’s wrong?” He said, “I wish you’d hurry up; I’m going to the bathhouses.” My reaction was, “Wait a minute.”

But being the typical doctor, it just never occurred to me that he was still out there having sex. He had Kaposi’s sarcoma–AIDS, this horrible new, fatal disease. My line to him was, “Somebody must think you’re smart, because they gave you a Ph.D. How come you’re still going to the bathhouses?” He said, “There’s nothing wrong with that. I probably caught it there, and so my view is, it’s there and I’m going to have sex.” I said, “Are you telling the people that you’re having sex with that you’re HIV-positive”–it wasn’t even called HIV then–“that you have AIDS?” He said, “No. I figure that they ought to be smart enough to understand that there’s AIDS out here, and that they can catch it. It’s their responsibility as much as mine.” I think that that, more than any other single event, called into focus for me the notion that someone needs to speak out.”

Haiti got AIDS from Americans, not Africans:

“there had been in 1977 a conference of gays in Haiti, and a lot of gay people had come down from New York for this conference. After all, Haiti was a great spot for gay vacations. The poverty there had lots of young boys acting as prostitutes.”

5. over-trust in medicine/technology
” From what I’ve seen already, these guys had a shitload of venereal diseases already swimming through their systems and were on all sorts of illegal drugs, plus a lot of penicillin. There is no way that these weren’t co-factors in what later became AIDS. In NYC, there were gay doctors that were going to Fire Island and stocked up with penicillin and were shooting it into themselves and their friends before they went out to parties and got high.”

Remember, we had only recently–within a few decades–gone from a society where many people still used outhouses, had no running water or electricity, no cars, etc., to winning WWII, exploding atomic bombs, the Polio vaccine, rural electrification and running water for everyone, cars and highways, contraceptives, microwaves and men on the moon. It’s not unreasonable that people thought they lived in a time of truly unlimited scientific progress and that science could cure all problems and all of the old social norms could be discarded. Then AIDS hit like a terrifying brick to the face. We can’t even cure the common cold, you know.

6. disease as a badge of honor (still ongoing):
2blowhards source:
“Even so, the health of this crowd pre-AIDS was surprisingly awful. I recall — and Berkowitz confirms — that gay scenesters in the late ’70s often considered sexually-transmitted-diseases to be honorable battle scars: proud signs of their sexual prowess, defiant medals that they’d earned fighting for “liberation.” Just as The Pill was assumed to have ended all worries about pregnancy for straights, medicine was assumed to be capable of dealing with no matter what infection. Scene-making gayguys often had doctors specifically to deal with their STDs — they called them their “clap doctors.”…

“I was really getting into being fucked at the baths on Ecstasy,” he writes. “The drug just obliterated all my inhibitions. But I got gonorrhea after every single trip.” …
When I went on my Christopher Street tour, everyone seemed to be high. Poppers especially were everywhere; you crunched little glass vials beneath your feet as you walked along the sidewalk. Berkowitz: “I did a quick mental inventory of my poppers usage. But the question that came to mind wasn’t how much I’d done, but rather, if I could remember the last time I had an orgasm without them.”

He also recalls a German film from the era: “Taxi Zum Klo,” or “Taxi to the Toilet.” The film — a gay arthouse hit –was about a swashbuckling gayguy… whose sex drive can’t be stopped. The film was meant to be charming and naughty, and it was taken that way by the NY Film Festival audience I saw the film with…

In the film’s comic setpiece, the hero, hospitalized with hepatitis, is feeling horny. He knows he shouldn’t … But he can’t help himself … He breaks out of the hospital, finds a sex partner at a public toilet, and gets himself blown. I watched the scene thinking, “Lordy, this guy is public health enemy #1.” The audience around me, though, cracked up and applauded.”

From the main source:
“In spite of extraordinary research breakthroughs and new effective treatment and prevention, the HIV epidemic continues to chug along. There are 50,000 new HIV infections a year in the United States – a steady flow unchanged since 2007 (the peak was 130,000 a year in the mid-1980s). And the reasons are not so much medical as they are behavioural, psychological and cultural.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that if HIV infections continue to rise at current rates, half of young gay men will have HIV by the age of 50. Infections have been increasing among young men who have sex with men, especially young, black men. Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, reports that a black gay or bisexual man in Atlanta who becomes sexually active at age 18 now has a 60 per cent chance of becoming HIV-positive by the time he turns 30. Nationwide, condom use is steadily dropping and unprotected anal sex is increasing. New HIV infections have proved similarly resistant in Europe and Asia. There are still 6,300 new HIV infections a day worldwide.”

If you really want to bleach yourself forever, go read about “bug chasing”.

Corporations are Meta-Organisms and so Should not be Allowed in Politics

Corporations should not have the same rights as people because corporations are meta-organisms and I don’t want to get out-competed by them.

The meta-organism is still an organism. The same laws of evolution apply to meta-organisms as to since-celled organisms. You are a meta-organism; you are composed of billions of cells, some of them h Sapiens cells, the majority of them not h Sapiens. Yes, numerically speaking, most of your cells are gut bacteria.

Your individual interests are not the same as your cells’. Your cells are just as well-off taking the CTV route and transforming into sexually-transmitted-cancers and infecting everyone they can as they are hanging out in your big toe, worried about getting sloughed off the next time you walk around barefoot. In a pinch, you’ll sacrifice your whole leg to save the rest of you–sucks for your leg, but good for you.

A beehive is a more obvious meta-organism. You probably already know all about bees, so I will attempt not to bore you by over-explaining. The queen bee lays the only eggs; worker bees, all female, spend their days flying miles back and forth to fetch nectar for the hive until their wings literally fall apart and they die.

The colony survives even if the majority of the workers die, say, in destroying an intruder.

The bee does what it has evolved to do, but I do not find such a fate personally attractive (despite my obvious affection for bees.) I do not want to be a bee; I want to be a person.

Corporations, like bee colonies, are meta-organisms. They are created, they live, they die. They attempt to get legislation passed in their favor. They will, if not controlled by some outside source, literally work their employees to death. Corporations do what is best for the corporation, or else what is best for the Queen Bee (management, CEOs.)

A world where corporations are given the same rights as people is a world where corporations change the political, social, and economic landscape to favor the continued existence of corporations, rather than the human beings who are supposed to benefit from them.

Why do Patriotic Americans like the Confederate Flag?

or, in-group cohesion and the Stars and Bars

Oh, look, fieldwork.

In my further attempts to understand different segments of American society, I’ve been trying to listen to what folks in the army are talking about.

Observation one: They like boobs.

Observation two: a higher than average (at least, compared to the people I normally encounter) percentage of them like or do not hate the Confederate flag.

To the lay observer, this seems like a contradiction. After all, isn’t the Confederate flag symbolic of a traitorous, break-away nation that opened fire on the US military installment at Fort Sumter? Wouldn’t everyone in the US army, under such circumstances, be compelled to open fire on those rebels?

Something more than superficial logic must be going on.


Possibility one: Freedom of Speech.

Maybe people who sign up to defend American values at home and abroad are just really strong supporters of Freedom of Speech.

While certainly some army folks do cite this line of reasoning, they seem no more inclined to it than anyone else. The general sentiment towards flag-burning, another case of protected but offensive speech, appears much less positive. They might vaguely tolerate flag burning, if they have to, but virtually none of them would actually burn the US flag. By contrast, some of them (sorry I have no hard stats,) actively *like* the Confederate flag.

Possibility two:

Out-migration of liberals leaves a remnant population in which conservatives come to represent what “America” “stands for,” and this remnant, increasingly conservative population uses the Confederate flag to symbolize its conservativeness.

Eh… Certainly there is a physical overlap between the part of the country that produces most army grunts, hard-core patriots, and people who like the Confederate flag, and people may not actually think through their cultural symbols but just kinda like stuff they grew up with.

This line of thought feels inelegant.

Possibility 3: Signaling In-Group Preference.

If there’s anything that differentiates conservatives from liberals, preferring one’s in-group over the out-group ranks pretty high. Liberals are so fond of the out-group, they’ve literally taken to calling themselves “allies.”

If there’s anything that probably inspires people to join the army, it’s preference for one’s in-group (country, state, city, etc.,) over folks in one’s out-group. After all, the entire purpose of the army is to defend one’s in-group by killing or threatening to kill one’s out-group. This is about as literal as it gets.

Obviously the Confederate flag only has any kind of significance to people from the American South–I wouldn’t expect in-group oriented folks from Saudi Arabia to start flying it, for example. Symbols probably can’t be totally random. But we already know that the US army draws more from the US South than from Saudi Arabia.

A lot of people claim that the Confederate flag symbolizes racism. That’s probably true, but almost no one thinks of themselves as “racist.” No one thinks of themselves as “dumb,” either, even though 50% of people are, by definition, below average. Most mentally healthy people resist applying insults to themselves, and “racist” is an insult.

As such, I think it more functional to claim that the Stars and Bars represents in-group preference/cohesion to those who fly it, and “fuck you” to those not in the group. As people may have multiple layers of group identity, I suspect people in the army may simultaneously identify with the US, their specific sub-region of the US (the South), their state, home city, local sports teams, their friends/family/religious group, the army, etc.

Many people claim the Confederate flag has less to do with anti-black sentiment as with anti-Yankee sentiment. To be frank, it’s not like an army of black people ever invaded the South and burned a large swath of it to the sea.

I wouldn’t really know, because I’ve never hung out with Confederate flag fans long enough to do a comparative study of how they react to different groups of outsiders.

Regardless, the flag’s offensive reputation may not matter so much as the fact that it has an offensive reputation: your in-group signalling may be more effective if it imposes some cost on signalers. This makes it harder for non-group members to trick you into extending the benefits of group membership. For example, you can’t just call yourself a Jew and get a free ticket to Israel; you have to do things like keep kosher, which is an enormous pain in the ass for people who aren’t used to it. There are legal ramifications to having one’s conversion declared invalid due to inadequate adherence to kosher laws and other Orthodox Jewish legal standards. This may come across as anal-retentive, but in the long-run, it keeps the privileges of in-group membership for people who are actually devoted to the in-group.

Likewise, the offensiveness of the Confederate flag keeps the benefits of southern in-group membership for those willing to deal with the social stigma attached to flag, or at least willing to say “fuck you” to everyone outside their social group.

No, you don’t “build up your immunity” by getting sick

BTW, you do not “build up your immunity” by getting sick. Neither do your kids; getting sick a lot in daycare as a kid will not make you get sick less often as an adult. You can develop immunity to specific diseases, but there are too many diseases out there and they mutate too rapidly to develop immunity to enough diseases to end up generally less prone to disease.

Getting sick actually makes you more likely to get sick, not less. Take measles:

“A new epidemiological study suggests that [people who’ve had the measles] remain susceptible to other infections for more than 2 years, much longer than researchers anticipated. The results bolster a hypothesis that the measles virus undermines the immune system’s memory—and indicate that the measles vaccine protects against other deadly diseases as well.

Researchers have long known that measles inhibits the immune system, but they generally thought this effect wore off after a few months at the most. However, studies of children in developing countries, where most cases occur, found that measles vaccination reduces the overall death rate from infections for up to 5 years, suggesting that preventing the disease somehow provides protection against other illnesses.” —Mitch Leslie, Science/AAAS News

Not so marvelous now, are they?

Honestly, if getting sick made you less likely to get sick afterwards, everyone who got Smallpox would have had the immune system of doom and never died of anything; malaria would have rendered sub-Saharan Africa a disease-free zone.

Long term, populations get less prone to getting specific diseases just because the most susceptible people have died and people with mutations or behaviors that make them more resistant have survived.


I have been reading a lot about AIDS.

The Marxist Meme-Plex as Cargo Cult of the Industrial Revolution

So I was thinking about Marxism, and how strange it is that it only ever really caught on in precisely the countries where it itself proclaimed it shouldn’t, and never became very domestically important in the countries where it was supposed to go.

It’s kind of like if there were a bunch of people going around proclaiming “This is what Mexican culture is like,” only none of them were Mexican, and actual Mexicans wanted very little to do with it–you might suspect that the stuff being called “Mexican culture” wasn’t all that Mexican.

Only we’re talking about overthrowing the state and killing a bunch of people, rather than tacos and Cinco de Mayo.

Marx proclaimed that Communism, (by which I mean Marxist-style communism inspired by Marx and written about by Marx in his many works on the subject, which became the intellectual basis for the international communist movement that eventually triumphed in the USSR, China, Vietnam, Cuba, N. Korea, etc.) was supposed to be the natural outgrowth of capitalism itself in industrialized nations, but the list I just gave contains only barely-industrialized or practically feudal nations.

Marx was, of course, a mere mortal; one cannot expect anyone to write thousands of pages and come out correct in all of them. Still, this is a pretty big oversight. A great deal of Marx’s theory rests on the belief that the form of the economic system dictates the culture and political system: that is, that capitalism forces people to act and organize in certain ways in order to feed the capitalist machine; feudalism forces people to act and organize in certain other ways, in order to feed the feudal machine.

So for the capitalist, industrialized countries to not go Communist, while a bunch of non-capitalist, non-industrialized do, seems like a pretty big blow to the basics of the theory.

Kind of like if I had a theory that all noble gases were naturally magnetic, and all metals weren’t, and yet metal things kept sticking to my magnets and noble gases seemed relatively uninterested. I might eventually start thinking that maybe I was wrong.

Of course you can pick and chose your Marxism; you might like the idea of the “commodity fetish” while throwing out the rest of the bathwater. Have at it. But we are speaking here of believing both broadly and deeply enough in Marx’s theories to actually advocate overthrowing the state and murdering all the Kulaks.

My own theory is that Marxism appealed to the wrong group of people precisely because they were the wrong group of people.

Actual scientists tend to have little interest in pseudo science. Actual members of a culture don’t get excited by fake versions of their culture. And people with actual experience with industrial capitalism have little interest in Marxism.

In short, Marxism became a kind of myth among unindustrialized or barely-industrialized people about what would happen when the factories came, and so believing the myth, they made it happen.

Marx had intended to create a “science;” describing patterns in his data and thereby making predictions about the future. When that future didn’t happen, the first reaction of his followers was to double down–the theory must not have worked because evil bad people were sabotaging it.

(If it happens naturally, why would it have saboteurs?)

Many people have accused Communism of being a religion–an atheistic religion, but a religion nonetheless. SSC wisely asks Is Everything a Religion?–since practically everything does get described as a religion. EvenCargo Cult Programming.)

Every worldview–every meme-plex, as I like to call them–involves certain beliefs about the world that help people make sense of the vast quantities of data we absorb every day and make predictions about the future. My observation of the sun rising leads me to believe there is a consistent pattern of “sun rises in morning” and that, therefore, the sun will rise tomorrow. “Science” itself contains many such beliefs.

Religions, like all other world views and meme-plexes, provide a way of organizing and understanding one’s observations about the world, generally through appeal to supernatural agents. (It rains because Zeus is peeing through a sieve; suffering exists because sin.)

The obvious reason belief systems get called religions is to insult them and suggest that they are irrational.

Of course, none of us is entirely rational; the idea that bags of rice that suddenly fell from the sky were the gift of the sky gods makes as much sense as any other if you have no other information on the subject. Scientists believe wrong and irrational things, too.

The critical difference is that science attempts to falsify itself–a theory cannot even be described as “scientific” if it cannot be falsified. All meme-plexes resist change, both because of human biases and because it’s probably a bad idea to try to re-formulate your beliefs about everything every time you happen across a single discordant datum, but science does attempt to disprove and discard bad theories over time–this is fundamentally what science is, and this is why I love science.

A faith, by contrast, is something one just believes, even despite evidence to the contrary, or without any ability to disprove it. For the deeply faithful, the reaction to evidence that contradicts one’s theory is generally not, “Hrm, maybe the theory is wrong,” but, “We aren’t following the the theory hard enough!”

The former leads to penicillin and airplanes; the later leads to dead people.

Note: I feel compelled to add that not all faith leads to dead people. Faith in Communism certainly did, however.

Marxists failed to admit information that contradicted their theories; they just killed people who contradicted their theories for being counter-revolutionaries.