In which I agree with Nate

Every once in awhile Nate and I will agree on something. Most often that something is beer, but sometimes that something is more political/social in nature:

I saw this on Facebook recently:

Aside from being completely devoid anything even like cleverness, I have a few issues…

First, I’m not interested in what any woman wants to do with her vagina. I may feel that abortion is wrong, I may feel that birth control is wrong, I might feel that abortion should be mandatory, or I may feel that birth control should be, but really I feel like the state should keep it’s nose out of it and you can do whatever you want. Lets be clear on one thing though, I have just as much of a right to have an opinion and express it as you, whether or not either of us have a vagina or not. If you think otherwise you are either an asshole or an idiot.

If you truly think that the chart has it right, lets apply this to a few other things and see what we get:

Do you own a gun? No? Shut up about guns.
Do you own a car? No? Shut up about cars (texting, etc).
Do you have a kid in school? No? Shut up about education.
Do you live in (whatever state is restricting abortion this week)? No? Shut your mouth about their abortion laws.

Nate then makes his point more about when the government is involved with spending money on abortion and other services rather than about what a women should and should not be allowed to do under the law. I’m less concerned about that and more concerned about the idiocy of telling half the population that any opinions any of its members may hold are invalid on reproductive rights because they have a member. Let’s work this out.

Presumably the picture isn’t trying to imply that women’s opinions are inherently more valuable than the opinions of men. That would be horribly sexist and wrong. So what is it saying? (This is the point where I accurately describe what it is necessarily saying, only to have some random person on the Internet incorrectly nitpick.) It is saying that the reproductive rights of women are only the concern of women because we’re talking about their bodies; it is taking the libertarian position that one’s body is sovereign and should not be subject to the whims of others. That raises the interesting issue of whether or not a woman is allowed, under the rules of the picture, to have an opinion about other women’s reproductive rights, but I’ll skip that here because the point that interests me is, Are women who cannot reproduce entitled to have an opinion on women’s reproductive rights?

Let’s review real quick: Presumably, the picture is not implying that women’s opinions are inherently more valuable than the opinions of men. And why is that important? It’s important because it means having a vagina isn’t the real crux of ‘How to Have an Opinion on Women’s Reproductive Rights’. The real crux is that, following along with the position I described earlier, what matters is a woman’s ability to reproduce. It is her body, a sovereign place. Not only should no one else be able to tell her what to do with it, but she’s the only one who knows best. And why? Because, aside from it being her own body, she’s the one who will be doing the reproduction. It isn’t, per se, that she is a woman. It’s that she’ll be reproducing.

So where are we now in this argument? Simple: Women who cannot reproduce should “shut up”. It isn’t about being a woman – if it was, that would mean that the opinions of men are inherently less valuable, a surely sexist and idiotic position. No, it’s about the ability to reproduce. If you can’t do it, you aren’t allowed an opinion on that matter. Got it?

I wish I could say this was simple reductio ad absurdum, but I’ve barely gone anywhere with what the picture has presented us. All I’ve done is summarize what it said and taken a single step to what it concludes: The ability to reproduce entitles one to an opinion on women’s reproductive rights, so women past menopause or who are otherwise infertile do not enjoy such an entitlement.

Now, back to where people think things through before writing them down, the reality is that anyone who gathers their facts together, thinks about said facts, and then forms a reasoned opinion is doing it right. The person’s sex isn’t relevant in the least. And if you think it is, well, I’ll let Nate say it:

Don’t have a blog? Shut up about what I put on mine.

That goes double for those of you who don’t have my blog.


YH&C is off the blogroll

I’ve allowed a few conservative blogs to be featured on my blogroll. They get put under a special section, however, so as to distance myself from them. For instance, there are things The Right Atheist will say that don’t jibe with my views, so he gets put under that section, even if I do thoroughly enjoy his posts about language. Nate’s blog is under the same constrictions here. I’m not much for anecdotal sexism, but he does say a few things that make sense. The same has long been my view on Michael Hartwell’s blog, Young, Hip & Conservative. He has very anti-labor views that serve to help the rich at the expense of the poor, but he manages to put forth an intelligent argument from time to time. Unfortunately, YH&C no longer represents anything with which I wish to be associated.

I’ve been able to excuse Hartwell’s tendency to construct his sentences poorly. He’s a journalist, after all (even if he lies and says he’s somehow in the industry of science). There isn’t anything wrong with that profession, and I actually really hate it when people disparage those in the related major of English – to understand literature well is to understand the world well – but let’s be honest: 21st century journalism is written at a junior high level. It isn’t supposed to be quality prose. So while Hartwell’s writing ability is a little less than what I expect, I still don’t really expect much. However, I do think it is reasonable for me to expect a certain level of professionalism. Specifically, any good journalist ought to do his homework. You know, delve into the details of an issue, get his facts straight, etc. Hartwell has a history of not doing this. Just take a look at this:

I sometimes stop myself from accidentally calling people stupid when they express stupid ideas. This isn’t just out of respect – it’s entirely self-serving. In 2006 I wrote an editorial in my college newspaper defending Intelligent Design as an alternative explanation to evolution, and calling on biologists to give it a fair shot instead of dismissing it out of hand.

I got a few replies from the biology department which said that yes, these claims have indeed been addressed – back in the 19th century. By 2007 I was no longer an Intelligent Design proponent and rejoined the evolution camp.

Did my complete reversal on that subject mean I went from being stupid to smart within a year? I certainly hope not. Most of my other positions went unchanged, and I retained a lot of knowledge in other subjects.

Hartwell uses a personal example of a mistake he made which, of course, does not in and of itself make him stupid. He’s almost proud of the learning experience, in fact. It was certainly needed, but I’m not so sure touting one’s former ignorance is the way to go – at least not for a journalist. He may not have been stupid in 2006 by virtue of his awful editorial, but he was a bad journalist for not doing his homework.

Fast forward 6 years and it seems little has changed. I’m not going to go about quoting excerpts from that link for the simple reason that there is too much to quote, but the gist is this: Michael Hartwell continuously makes claims which are erroneous and/or not fact-checked; he consistently loses track of discussions; he refuses to address the primary points being made by others in response to the issues he raises; he is a tone troll; he refuses to make any novel arguments, instead relying on red herrings and irrelevant quotes. In short, he fails at everything that is necessary to being a good journalist with an opinion-based blog. Had I known he was this wildly irresponsible with how he approaches his career, I never would have asked him to write for my publication. It is here that I am disavowing anything and everything I have ever cited by Michael Hartwell which has relied on outside sources for factual information. (Things which are quintessentially opinion remain acknowledged if and where cited.)

Young, Hip, & Conservative is off the blogroll at For the Sake of Science.

Adding two blogs

I’ve added two blogs to the widgets on the right side. The first is Nate’s Congress Shall Make No Law… The second is Michael’s Young, Hip and Conservative. Both are commenters here. I’ve placed them under “Teh Conservatives” just because they don’t fit the general theme I have going on under “Blogroll” right now.

I added Nate because he shows a degree of pragmatism that I generally find refreshing. We disagree on a lot of things, but he makes some good posts. Plus he likes The Liberal Cup. I added Michael because he makes a lot of intelligent posts. We actually do agree that there is no God and that gays shouldn’t be persecuted, but we diverge significantly on economics. “Conservative” for him doesn’t carry with it all the things it does when we refer to, say, any given FOX News employee.

But don’t worry. FTSOS is still the grand liberal bastion it has always been.

I’m a man of my word

After co-hosting trivia, I came to find that my beer had gone missing. So I did the most natural thing and start drinking someone else’s. I promised I would thank that person in a blog post, and I’m a man of my word, so:

Thank you, Nate.

Also, here are all the questions. One or two are different here because of last minute changes, but most are the same. Also, I’ve excluded number 30 because it was an audio question. The answers will be in the comment section.

1. Maine question: According to the Maine Geological Survey, how tall is Mount Katahdin in feet? Plus or minus 200 feet, 1 point. Right on gets bonus half point.

2. What does the E, m, and c squared stand for in the famous equation e=mc2?

3. What president authorized the construction of the U.S. Interstate System? Bonus half point, in what year?

4. What TV show had the characters Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo?

5. Plus or minus two years, when was Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo released? Right on gets one point. Half point for margin.

6. How many U.S. aircraft carries were destroyed at the attack on Pearl Harbor?

7. Who wrote the poem “The Chimney Sweeper”?

8. What is a group of turkeys called?

9. What is the largest living species of fish?

10. What Major League Baseball pitcher has the most losses ever? Bonus half, how many?

11. The last Civil War soldier to die of his wounds was a native Mainer. Name him.

12. Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. How old was he when he died?

13. According to Guinness company, about how many times does a person lift their pint glass before the beer is gone?

14. Who was our 21st President?

15. 12. In what year was Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species published?

16. This line is from what movie?

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”

17. 69 years after the explosion that destroyed Arizona, oil still leaks from the hull still and rises to the surface of the water. How much oil still leaks per day?

18. What is the name of Nirvana’s breakthrough album?

19. This former Prime Minister of the U.K. made headlines yesterday by predicting the decline of the West. What is his name? For an extra half point, who is the current Prime Minister of Great Britain?

20. Which T.V. show included characters named Patti Mayonnaise, Skeeter Valentine, Bebee Bluff?

21. What does the “L.L.” stand for in L.L. Bean? Half point for each initial.

22. One of my favorite movies from when I was a child was Labyrinth starring David Bowie. Who Directed it? Extra Half point: What year did the film debut?

23. According to the billboard 100, who has the number one song in America?

24. In 1964, congress recognized what alcoholic beverage as the “distinctive spirit” of the U.S.?

25. I am going to read a famous quote from a very popular novel. You tell me the name of the Book for a point and the name of the author for another half point: “Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.”

26. Who was the first U.S. President to ride in a train?

27. Which New England Patriot was honored at yesterday’s game against the Jets?

28. According to a survey taken by AT&T, the average American changes residence how many times during a lifetime? Plus or minus one.

29. Chanukah celebrates the Hebrew reclamation of what famous city in 165 BCE?