Discussing software, the web, politics, sexuality and the unending supply of human stupidity.

I am shocked that a Bitcoin meetup might be less than welcoming to women. Who could have predicted that a crypto currency might attract the most horrific specimens of socially clueless neckbeard?

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
attraction in Bay Lake

This is Disney’s Aerosmith themed coaster.

I am disappointed the roller coaster doesn’t finish with the car emerging from Steven Tyler’s enormous mouth.

Had to buy a needle and thread today in an American supermarket. It was located right next to the feminine hygiene products rather than in the homeware aisle. Go go, stereotypical gender roles!

Tinker Bell II: Francis appoints an anti-gay bigot edition

Cardinal Fernando Sebastián has lots of nice things to say about gay people, like: “Homosexuality is a defective manner of expressing sexuality, because [sex] has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation. A homosexual who can’t achieve this is failing. Our bodies have many defects. I have high blood pressure.” Sebastián also said it is “possible to recover and become normal with the right treatment”.

The idea that homosexuality is treatable is a view that every mainstream psychological organisation rejects as being both scientifically inaccurate and harmful.

The Cardinal has been appointed by Pope Francis, a man who—if you believe his press—is a hippy-dippy queer-loving atheist-respecting reformer. As I’ve said before: Tinker Bell only exists if you continue to believe in her. Idiots seem willing to continue believing that Francis is a progressive in spite of the ghastly things he seems to be doing.

I will shortly watch a rocket blast off from Cape Canaveral. Making giant rockets take off is something that needs science and a fuck-ton of engineering rather than vague hunches and religious nonsense.

Every time a rocket launches into space, it is science and human rationality scoring a goal against bullshit and stupidity, and against the potent forces in the world that capitalise on unreason and self-deception.

Science: it builds fucking great big rockets. And propels them into the stratosphere. Call me when the Pope or Sarah Palin does that.

He was annoying in an irritating, Malcolm Gladwell way

I haven’t read this article in detail and it looks quite interesting but it does have that certain trope that has become boringly familiar in non-fiction writing: the Gladwellian personal description.

Tall and broad with a warm charm, unguarded in that Canadian way

This is how Oppenheimer, the writer of the piece, introduces a scientist. It is complete clutter.

If Putin had any balls, he’d ban “heterosexual propaganda to children”. Like, say, every Hollywood romantic movie ever produced.

If you think that’s absurd, that’s just how absurd Putin is. And our politicians are too weak to actually stand up to this silly man.

I saw an ambulance “working in partnership with DHL”. If you have ever tried to get an Amazon parcel delivered you know what this means: sick people are well and truly fucked.

Those web filers that the government wants to protect the kiddy-winks? Yeah, they don’t work. A fact known already by everyone whose name doesn’t start with “the Right Honourable Member for”.

Jimmy LaSalvia, the founder of GOProud, the Republican gay group, has left the Republican Party. Because—schocking news—they are filled with hate-mongering bigots and demagogues in thrall to an ever-shrinking extremist base rather than any serious political leaders. Which everyone knew already.

How gay adoption caused the Catholic Church to lose their shit completely and become utilitarians

I’ve noticed an interesting inconsistency recently over public moral reasoning over anti-discrimination laws. Every so often, religious groups will flare up over the requirement to not discriminate against gay and lesbian people. Under the previous government, Catholic adoption agencies decided to shut after they were not exempted from laws forbidding discrimination by adoption services towards same-sex couples seeking to adopt.

There have been incidents since with hoteliers and cake manufacturers and dating websites and so on, but let’s stick with the adoption agency for now.

When faced with a law that would require adoption services to not discriminate against same-sex couples, the Catholic Church seeked exemption on the basis that greater good would be provided to society by Catholic adoption services continuing even if they engaged in discrimination against same-sex couples. That is, the harm of discrimination against the same-sex couples is outweighed by the benefit of helping opposite-sex couples adopt.

What’s interesting about this is the moral theory behind it is purely utilitarian. If the government were to have granted an exception to the Church, the happiness of society would have increased: the closure of the adoption services would have reduced the societal good done by ensuring that children are adopted (albeit only by heterosexuals) and this is not outweighed by the good of reducing discrimination in society.

Despite my antipathy to religion and to the Catholic Church, as a good utilitarian, I ought to give that argument some consideration. (Of course, I wonder whether we would give similar credence to the Mormons before 1978 wishing to have an exemption from laws forbidding racial discrimination. Because, lest we forget, the Mormons only started believing black people were actually people in 1978.)

What I think about the merits of the utilitarian case that the Church made is irrelevant though. The astounding thing about it is that the Church—in order to protect their desire to discriminate against gay people—were willing to advance such a utilitarian argument.

The Church and utilitarianism do not go together. On topics like embryonic stem cell research, abortion and euthanasia, the Church loudly objects to utilitarian moral arguments. Indeed, utilitarianism is frequently decried by Catholics as one of the causes of a ghastly society like ours where the unborn are routinely aborted and the elderly forcibly euthanised etc. etc.1

Another point here: the Church is dedicated to the doctrine of double effect. The doctrine of double effect is used as a justification when some harm is done but with a noble end in mind. The theory goes that the harm is not intended even though it is perceived as an inevitable consequence of the action. Double effect reasoning is used most notably in end-of-life care. When you have someone at the end of their life, a doctor cannot euthanise that person, but they can prescribe them very strong pain reduction drugs that have as an inevitable side effect the shortening of their life. The doctrine of double effect says that so long as the intention is to reduce pain, the secondary consequence is acceptable.

But the Church seems unable to accept that governments might also avail themselves of the double effect principle. In passing equality legislation, the government’s action is morally good: it intends to reduce discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation etc.—which even the Catholic Church deems to be morally good (§2358 of the Catetchism says that with regards to gay people “Every sign of unjust discrimination should be avoided”). The secondary effect of passing the legislation is that organisations that do good work but which engage in discrimination (like Catholic adoption agencies that do not serve clients that are in a same-sex relationship)—that is foreseen but not intended. It seems strange that the Church would prefer to apply a utilitarian rule to the affairs of their adoption agencies than accept that their closure is an unfortunate secondary effect of an intended moral good.

When the Church—indeed the current Pope—says that they “love the sinner, hate the sin” when it comes to homosexuality, and point to §2358 of the Catechism and its call to accept gay peple with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity”,2 consider the case of the adoption services. The Church was willing to throw a fundamental piece of their moral theology—their non-utilitarianism—under the metaphorical bus to continue discriminating against gay people. As we saw with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, when one is in a war, one is sometimes willing to throw away one’s stated—even sacred, axiomatic or foundational—moral principles. Despite the Catechism and the Pope’s call to the contrary, this is what we saw: the Catholic Church in Britain was so enraged by the demand that they obey the same anti-discrimination laws as the rest of society that they were willing to throw away one of their moral principles in the fight.

The horrifying spectre of Heather having two mummies managed to turn the Church into utilitarians. This should tell you how much stock the Church places in the Catechism’s call to avoiding unjust discrimination against gay people. Remember that next time Pope Francis mouths some widely-reported, pious PR horseshit about how the Church really loves gay people.

  1. This, of course, ignores that these days raw Benthamite utilitarianism has been tempered into a preference utilitarianism of someone like Peter Singer, where the forcible euthanasia of an unwilling patient would go directly against their stated preferences and thus be immoral and rightly criminal. Of course, dealing with this kind of modified utilitarianism would require application of both the Principle of Charity and some understanding of the complexities and varieties of utilitarian thought.

  2. Although how much “compassion” is shown in saying when they describe gay sex as “intrinsically disordered” is an exercise left for the reader.

Stuebenville rapist's comments: a translation from bullshit into English

One of the two teenagers convicted for the drugging, kidnapping and gang rape of a girl in Steubenville, Ohio, has been released from custody. And his representative has given a statement. Oh boy.

For your convenience, I’ve translated it from bullshit.

Ma’Lik Richmond recently completed his designated time at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Detention Facility. The past sixteen months have been extremely challenging for Ma’Lik and his extended family.

…getting convicted for raping someone is indeed challenging.

At sixteen years old, Ma’Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagination for any adult yet alone child.

He endured particular hardness as he… well, you get the picture.

He has persevered the hardness and made the most of yet another unfortunate set of circumstances in his life.

These are just an “unfortunate set of circumstances”, like forgetting the combination on your bicycle lock or getting a C rather than an A on an end-of-term test.

As with each other obstacle, Ma’Lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin, and set his shoulders; he is braced for the balance of his life. While away, Ma’Lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways.

He is no longer keen on raping anybody.

He has reflected seriously on his character and behaviour and that change can be seen in this not-at-all-bullshitty press release.

He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family.

He has even had the strength to publicly and open-heartedly apologise for drugging and gang-raping someone… oh, wait, no.

At this point, Ma’Lik wants most to be a high school teenager.

Where he will be welcomed back into a toxic culture that promotes and enables bullying and tolerates rape so long as it’s done by football players. No meaningful attempt will be made to fix said culture because society cares more about football players having a good time than getting too worried when they end up gang raping people.

In conjunction with his release, Ma’Lik, his family, and guardians ask that the media respect their privacy in this matter, as we all need to heal and move on with our lives.

Please respect Richmond’s privacy, just as he and his friends didn’t respect the privacy of his victim by uploading imagery of her being gang-raped to social media sites.

We will have you know that Ma’Lik will be taking all the time necessary to focus on his academic and personal goals. We ask for your support and prayers as we move forward, Thank you.

As the Gospel of Corporate Mission Statements makes clear, God helps those who move forward.