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May 12, 2006

Gay Left-Coast Kookiness


California_cuckoo I'm sure there are more such reports to be found in California alone, but a casual perusal of blogs this afternoon helps underscore the dogged determination of some gay liberals to alienate the rest of us who might otherwise support them on issues that concern us all.

BoiFromTroy writes about a trip to his local gay bookstore, during which he had hoped to find a copy of gay American Mary Cheney's new tome.  But the shop was good enough to carry plenty of copies of straight American, and frothy socialist, Noam Chomsky's new book.

Perhaps these are wise business decisions for someone with a West Hollywood clientele.  But why, then, call yourself a "gay" bookstore?  Answer: Because a disturbing number of gay Americans naïvely consider ultra-leftist politics part and parcel of the homosexual experience.  For millions of the rest of us, this just doesn't compute.

In a somewhat related story, Queerty reports that the California State Senate has passed a bill "that would require textbooks in public schools to instruct students on contributions by gays and lesbians in the state's development."

Normally I would decry the balkanization of education by officious politicians.  But the bill already reads like a laundry list of aggrieved groups — "men and women, Black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and other ethnic groups, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender" — so gays might as well join the hit parade.  (It's similar to my thoughts on hate-crimes laws: They're stupid and pointless, but as long as we have them, gays should be protected by them.)

But why can't they just teach students about Californians' contributions to the state, regardless of whatever preferred group to which they belong?

May 04, 2006

Junk Science


What is it with some people's almost pornographic obsession with Fox News Channel?  (Disclosure: I almost never get my news from television.  I don't much care for it.)

The Washington Post reports today on a "study" that purports to show that George Bush might "owe" his 2000 election victory to FNC:

"Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its audience to shift its voting behavior towards the Republican Party, a sizable media persuasion effect," said Stefano DellaVigna of the University of California at Berkely [sic] and Ethan Kaplan of Stockholm University.

In Florida alone, they estimate, the Fox effect may have produced more than 10,000 additional votes for Bush -- clearly a decisive factor in a state he carried by fewer than 600 votes.

My, what a modest claim to make!  But it sounds to me like a textbook case of a "Post Hoc Fallacy."  Event B occurs after Event A; therefore, Event A must be the cause of Event B.

What kind of bullshit science is this, anyway?  Actually, it is a 51-page piece of bullshit science called "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting."

Admittedly, I have not yet read the whole paper.  And maybe the authors think I am supposed to be impressed and/or intimidated by things like this:


Or perhaps they want to lull me into submission with stultifying passages like: "The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for voters subject to non-rational persuasion."

But the fact remains that, nowhere in the "study" (to my reading) or in the related media reports have they established cause, only contemporaneousness.

The argument is that Fox News was the reason that people voted more conservatively.  But couldn't the opposite be just as true?  That is, couldn't Fox owe its existence to a rightward political trend that was already in progress?

Because FNC was created in 1996, why should I not claim that the "Republican Revolution" of 1994 was the "cause" of Fox News?  Only two years separated those two events.  What explains the electoral bath the Republicans took in 1998, only two years after the creation of Fox?

And how would the authors explain the countering effect of the measured left-leaning bias of almost every other media outlet, whose combined reach is infinitely greater than Fox?  The answer is, they don't, and their failure to do so makes their agenda all the more transparent.

Admittedly, it was a great way for DellaVigna and Kaplan to get publicity, especially among the vast numbers of reporters who loathe Fox.  But if a guy like me with only one college-level statistics course under his belt can see through them, why can't the WaPo?

April 27, 2006

Gimme My Special Rights!

Malbug_13Gay Americans are quite rightly engaged in a historic battle for our rights.  It is unconscionable that we should be denied legal status for our families in most places, or the ability in some states to adopt children – or, as of July 2004 in Virginia, to enter into private contracts that are even remotely reminiscent of the appurtenances of marriage.

But even as we demand these rights, we consistently slip on a banana peel that we ourselves have tossed carelessly onto the kitchen floor.  We play into the hands of those who fear that we want not equitable treatment, but "special" rights.  In fact, we often give our foes more than ample reason to conflate our desire for equality with homo-favoritism.

Case in point.  Two, actually.

A 17-year-old student from Trumansburg, N.Y., was kicked out of school for wearing a T-shirt protesting yesterday's Day of Silence, which is meant to draw attention to the bullying and harassment of gay students.  (He was followed out the door by several others.)  And what was this hateful, intolerable message on his chest, this unforgivable offense that the superintendent said was making other students feel "threatened"?

"It's Great To Be Straight."

Continue reading "Gimme My Special Rights!" »

April 11, 2006

Dead Presidents' Society

Yankee_doodleMalbug_13UPDATE: Robbie has informed me that I don't read my own blog.  Somehow I missed his post about this within the silly "South Park" and "American Idol" stuff.  Oh, well.  Now you know how we both feel about it.

Back in college, my first U.S. history course was taught by one of those pointy-headed academics who seemed unable to see any redeeming features whatsoever in America.

And it was a stretch to call the class "U.S. History," really.  The only books on his syllabus that were even tangentially related to our nation's past dealt with "CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade," and a boring story about a loser that was turned into a movie starring someone much better looking than the real guy.

But oh, how I wish that Robert Wuhl had been my professor.  Why would I want a B-list comedian teaching me history?  Because it is probably the closest thing to Robin Williams in "Dead Poets' Society" that most people will ever come.

Wuhl's new special on HBO – "Assume the Position" – is a sharp, witty romp through history, "the stories that made up America and the stories that America made up."  A combination between a comedy monologue and a college lecture, Wuhl's rapid-fire delivery and Powerpoints will entertain students and cable viewers alike.  And they might learn something along the way, such as how they "did it" during Colonial times, or how Freddie Mercury embodies the effete continuation of a bellicose heritage that dates back centuries.

Can you imagine such a thing on network television?  The suits probably would have made him set the whole thing on a beach full of scantily clad co-eds.  (Some of the language might make the clip NSFW.)

O Arliss, my Arliss!

[Watch video – 10:07, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 10:07, WMV format, low bandwidth]