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David Thompson
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February 14, 2014

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Ed Snack

I was disappointed to find that I have seen none of those B movies, none. Not even Swamp Women.

Jimmy

I would have thought it more a of a Roger Dean lair than one belonging to a villan.

dicentra

The essay begins thus:

"I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories."

And then Larry Correia fisks it to within an inch of its life:

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/ending-binary-gender-in-fiction-or-how-to-murder-your-writing-career/

David

dicentra,

“I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.”

Heh. As Mr Correia says, “Focusing on message rather than story is a wonderful way for writers to continue working at Starbucks for the rest of their lives.” I’ve lost count of how many dramas and TV series episodes were scuppered by prioritising some ham-fisted social message over story-telling basics, like plot, tension and psychological plausibility. It reminds me of Bidisha’s self-refuting article on much the same subject. An article titled Planet Diversity and which bemoaned the fact that not every example of the genre conforms to her rather stern and quite extensive political preferences, which all science fiction should, apparently. For diversity’s sake.

And it’s odd just how often our tearful betters, the ones fretting about how terribly oppressive various norms are, want to “end” this and that, everywhere, forever - regardless of the consequences for everyone else. Regardless of reality, logic, and the actual meaning of words. There’s an absolutist tendency, at least rhetorically - an urge to purge. In order to be sufficiently inclusive, in order to be “free,” we must pretend that the world and the people in it are something other than they are. Because dogmatic pretension is apparently a sound footing for utopia and mental wellbeing.

lovegoats

PillCam - GoPro for the nether regions.

rjmadden

At last, a nocturnal toilet landing light.

That would actually be useful in our house. It would save me getting told off in the morning.

Steve

Apparently the BBC has a certain political bias. Who knew?

http://www.cps.org.uk/publications/reports/bias-at-the-beeb/

David

Steve,

Apparently the BBC has a certain political bias. Who knew?

Thanks for that. It’s a subject that’s cropped up here more than once. As I pointed out to Dr Dawg here, it’s sometimes difficult for readers overseas to appreciate just how widespread and reflexive the default leaning is, including as it does an enormous range of non-news programming and web content, and just how dominant our state broadcaster’s position is relative to its rivals. Thanks to its antiquated funding method. I mean, if you only look at, say, election coverage, when the Beeb is mindful of being scrutinised and on its best behaviour, the institutional preference can be quite subtle. But spend an afternoon listening to, say, Radio 4 and the effect – the cultural tone - is much more obvious. As the paper notes, the bias is often in little details like this:

[The research] finds that right-of-centre think-tanks are far more likely to receive ‘health warnings’ [i.e., an indication of possible partiality] than their left-of-centre counterparts (the former received health warnings between 23% and 61% of the time while the latter received them between 0% and 12% of the time). A higher proportion of left-of-centre think-tanks than right-of-centre think-tanks are referred to as “independent” by the BBC.

Of course it isn’t just the publicly-funded BBC, though the Beeb is something of a stronghold for statist assumptions and smug leftism. (And a vast publicly-funded media organisation will tend to favour the party that favours public subsidy for vast media organisations.) Media organisations as a whole will tend to be somewhere to the left of the general population, largely because the arts and media graduates they employ tend to be somewhere to the left of the general population. That so many BBC employees are hired via adverts in the Guardian merely compounds an existing tendency.

Steve

David,

Sometimes the bias slips out for all to see, but nothing is done. A few weeks ago one of the 'journalists' on the Radio 4 morning programme, I think it was Humphries but I can't really tell the difference between him and the other guy, (BTW I Hate it, my wife insists on having it on) was conducting an article about youth unhappiness or some such thing. Having allowed some leftie type to go on for several minutes unchallenged about how government policies are destroying opportunities for the young and making them all miserable, they switched to a teenager who was obviously supposed to re-enforce the point. The young lad didn't. He said he was happy & confident, studying hard and making a bit of money from a part-time job. Humphreys (if it was he) practically exploded with indignation. "What are you a Tor.. um supporter of the coalition government?" he blurted out, not quite correcting himself in time.

It really should be a sackable offence.

David

Steve,

Sometimes the bias slips out for all to see, but nothing is done.

Well, I suppose Humphries’ behaviour wouldn’t necessarily be regarded as jarring or unprofessional by a great many of his colleagues. My impression is that’s the default setting, the comfort zone, of the institution as a whole. God knows, I’ve listed enough examples of the same over the years. My chief objection to the BBC is its public funding and consequent dominance. If people want to watch news through a left-of-centre lens, then fine. Let those who wish to pay for it.

But while “Auntie” is arguably the worst offender, and certainly the most powerful, similar attitudes can be found elsewhere. Following the twitter feeds of high-profile journalists and news editors at, for instance, Channel 4 is an education, if not exactly surprising. Though it does give some background to behaviour like this. Note how Jon Snow smiles approvingly at one guest and suddenly becomes much more quarrelsome and prone to interruption when talking to the other. Again, it’s often about tone.

Animositas
TDK

Your readers might find this column of interest:

Since the 1980s, liberals have allowed conservative metaphors to take over their own metaphoric framework, so that all discussions or arguments about social policy are carried out on conservative terms. Liberals waste their time and effort in arguing from the evidence (conservatives, of course, can have no evidence); they should instead be working to get conservatives to accept a different metaphoric framework.

Apart from the tendentious nature of the claim, I think Gramsci has grounds to sue.

David

TDK,

This, from the full article, tickled me:

I am not a student of history, and am open to correction, but I cannot recall in all of the recorded history of which I am aware a single instance of a revolt in favour of higher taxes for the people who were in revolt.

And of course this:

Professor Lakoff seems to use the term ‘progressive’ as if those he calls progressives brought about progress ex officio, as it were, merely by virtue of their self-designation. This is a form of magical thinking.

A phenomenon with which regular readers will be quite familiar.

svh

(conservatives, of course, can have no evidence)

It's the modesty of these guys that I like most.

David

It’s the modesty of these guys that I like most.

It reminds me of a certain Mr George Monbiot. And many of his equally self-deprecating colleagues.

Henry

..we must pretend that the world and the people in it are something other than they are

Yes, the science does seem to suggest psychological differences between the sexes - it's not proof, but it's the best model we have at the moment.

But how quick the gender crowd are to undermine any science that would suggest such a thing, and how credulously they accept unscientific waffle from "theorists" in Gender Studies departments.

It's like trying to persuade a 4-year old that just you wanting it to be Tuesday isn't going to stop it being Friday.

"Don't have to believe it if I don't want to, so there!"

All very funny except until this nonsense finds it's way into supposedly bona fide scientific work - what people study, how they study it, intellectual bias. Then they'll have bad science to back up their theories, too.

David

“theorists” in Gender Studies departments.

Whose formal qualification is likely to be in literature rather than, say, biology or neuroscience.

AJ

Apparently the BBC has a certain political bias. Who knew?

I, for one, am shocked.

The Swedish media is currently soiling its collective pants over the fact that you can't host programs on the state radio in an election year if you're involed directly in politics.

Or rather, they are upset that people who hold The Correct Opinions also have abide by this rule. A comedian called Soran Ismail is involved a little too deeply in various "anti-racist" causes and therefore lost his show on the state radio. I can hardly sleep due to their incessant wailing. "But he's an anti-racist! It's those other people who are supposed to be prevented from airing their views in the media!"

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA
"I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories."

As always, it comes back to Star Trek: has this writer never heard of the J'naii?

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Oh, and that B-movie titles article gets it wrong. At the very least, The Last Gangster used a newspaper theme for the opening titles, five years before The Payoff.

I don't think those are moving printing presses behind the titles, but Hot News Margie from about 1931, is worthy of the Friday Ephemera anyhow for its use of sex and its surprising punchline at the end.

David

Ted,

If you want to let them know... info@artofthetitle.com

AC1

Hmmm, Can't decide about this artwork

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/10629830/150000-sculpture-of-The-Don-fails-to-make-the-grade-in-Cambridge.html

At least it's recognisable. Does look like a baddy b-movie robot.

P.S. Love periodic videos and all the Brady channels (especially Numberphile).

David

Hmmm, Can’t decide about this artwork

“Spectacular” isn’t the word.

Jimmy

Craptacular.

dicentra

has this writer never heard of the J'naii?

But the Enterprise crew is all binary and stuff, so the unisexed J'naii were introduced as Different instead of Default, and besides the whole story was just a metaphor for homophobia on earth, which assumes binary sexuality except when it doesn't…

…as we learn from Correia's fisking of the fisking of his fisk:

male and female are cultural norms in pretty much every human society EVER! Except Mesopotamia, India, Siberia, Illiniwek, Olmec, Aztec, Maya, Thailand, Lakota, Blackfoot, Indonesia, Swahili, Azande, and all of the other cultures that historically or currently acknowledge the existence of more than two genders. — ([ed.] Jim Hines, kindly white cismale who comes to the rescue of the Girl Alex, helping us understand what she REALLY meant)
My favorite part of the fisking of the fisking of the fisk:
Hines: Also, damn. Bitter, much?

Correia: BOOM! Internet Arguing Checklist FTW! #2 Disqualify That Opinion, subcategory: You Must Be Angry.

And later
Correia: Can’t you just feel the white guilt oozing through the page? Jim Hines is extremely sorry that human beings have been mean to each other in the past, and he is genetically responsible for all of your suffering. How dare you not have a rainbow of fruit flavor in every book! You are keeping your imaginary people down!

It is okay, Jim, we Warm Beige People forgive you. (for the record, that’s what these Home Depot paint chips say I am. I’m the same color as Cheech Marin). Though I’m pretty sure my badass conquistador ancestors would still think you’re a pussy.

The whole second fisking is actually more entertaining than the first, as it delivers a righteous smackdown as only a successful writer of Monster Hunter books can.

dicentra

I'm surprised that Dalrymple has never before encountered Lakoff (rhymes with), he being one of the more prevalent thought-leaders on the Left.

Ultimately Professor Lakoff’s view, if I have him aright, is deeply pessimistic. If it is true that it is pointless for liberals to argue from the evidence, it must also be pointless for conservatives to do likewise. Prejudice is all, reason nothing. There can be no resolution of dispute or disagreement except by dishonest manipulation at best and force at worst.
Because right there we have postmodernism in a nutshell. Because language is too slippery to ever "point to" an objective reality, there's nothing left but narrative, TRVTH being a false construct that White Cismales employ to oppress Teh Other.

AC1

PillCam - GoPro for the nether regions.

GoPoo?

Nik White

Hmmm, Can't decide about this artwork

    But Nadine Black, Cambridge city council’s public art officer, said it was “possibly the poorest quality work” ever submitted to the council.

Au contraire, Nadine, au contraire.

Why just two years ago £50,000 ($84,000 USD) got pumped into this useless bauble, which is not only hideous but also deteriorating after only a year on display.

David

this useless bauble

Yes, that’s pretty much a benchmark for hideousness.

Though I quite like Jeff Koons’ enormous floral puppy.

Nik White

Media organisations as a whole will tend to be somewhere to the left of the general population, largely because the arts and media graduates they employ tend to be somewhere to the left of the general population.

But while “Auntie” is arguably the worst offender, and certainly the most powerful, similar attitudes can be found elsewhere. Following the twitter feeds of high-profile journalists and news editors at, for instance, Channel 4 is an education, if not exactly surprising.

I'm glad you mentioned that this is not solely an issue at the BBC but the news media in general.

Just last night I was reading your comments with Channel 4 news on in the background when I heard this exchange between the main anchor, Jon Snow (JS), and journalist Michael Crick (MC) while both were reporting from a flood-hit region of England:

    JS: … well let me pick you up on one other thing because, er, until now, we've had climate change deniers, basically, or sceptics at least. Even Owen Paterson, the environment minister, secretary, is, is dubious. Now, is that changing? Is government starting to say: 'Hang on a minute!?'

    MC:Well that will be, that will be, will, it's difficult to tell at this stage. I've always felt that, probably a majority of Conservative MPs are skeptical about climate change. Will that remain the case? Er, and, er, the Green party today indeed were calling for Owen Patterson, er, to be sacked. But the other thing, the whole question about the role of the state. David Cameron has always been a man who's argued the role of the state should be reduced and yet, in places like this, Conservative constituencies, they're asking for the state to play a bigger role: the army, the local authorities, a-a-and of course, the, er, the environment agencies. It's going to have a-a quite a fascinating effect on politics for, er, a very long time.

    JS:Michael Crick making a very interesting prediction there.

It's not so much that there is a very clear and obvious bias in this segment but that the source of the bias – I think – comes ultimately from the universities.

Responsible journalists are bound to look for a 'neutral' arbiter in arguments between political positions and more often than not they will – in a way quite sensibly – consult experts in the field for their opinions.
But the experts are by and large working in the universities and university departments are, by and large, in turn overwhelmingly left or even far left in their outlook; and that includes not just liberal arts and social sciences where you might expect that to be the case but even STEM faculties.

It's no wonder, then, that centre-right think tanks are given 'health warnings' because by definition they will almost always come up with arguments that are not given support (or even any credence at all) by the academy. That, to me, is the real and most serious issue and why I think school and university education has a moral duty to represent a greater range of opinion and thought.

But anyway, …

David

Nik,

For me, the phenomenon is illustrated quite vividly by Matt Frei’s BBC ‘interview’ with Thomas Sowell, mentioned earlier. Frei sounded like a bewildered anthropologist, as if he were sitting opposite some incomprehensible alien life form. Instead of engaging with Sowell’s ideas and questions, Frei devoted his energies to glib caricature and issuing ‘health warnings’ – alerting listeners to the fact that Sowell is a ‘conservative’ and thus - by pointed implication - not to be taken seriously. In fact, Sowell strikes me as more of a classical liberal, but such details didn’t trouble the Beeb’s star journalist. Nor was Frei troubled by the actual content of Sowell’s books and articles, with which Frei claimed to be familiar, but which had apparently been erased from his memory as irrelevant or indigestible.

Given how clear and entertaining Sowell typically is, Frei’s content-free ‘interview’ was either the result of extraordinary incompetence or, perhaps more likely, determined effort.

AC1

Now I do like this "evolution door"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umfvm8I9_oU

Hal

Why just two years ago £50,000 ($84,000 USD) got pumped into this useless bauble . . .

Oh, My . . . .

Now I do that all the time with books on my couch . . . . but I just have that as an instance of books stacked on the couch, and I have to clear things off every now and then . . .

Nik White

Matt Frei’s BBC ‘interview’ with Thomas Sowell

On the whole, the interview didn't seem quite so bad as I think I was expecting it to be although having said that I felt embarrassed on Frei's behalf when he asked the question below – I felt it almost to the same degree that I enjoyed the sharpness in Sowell's reply:

    Matt Frei:So, policies apart, when Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president of this country, were you brimming with pride as an African American?

    Thomas Sowell: No … Because I can't put policies aside … He was not elected to be a representative, like, you know, choosing a homecoming queen at a college

While I can understand that the election of a black president in the US is a noteworthy and emotional event for some, it was incredibly silly and patronizing to ask someone of Sowell's background this question during a discussion of contemporary American politics (as opposed, say, to asking random people in the street how they felt about that aspect of the election).

The question which immediately follows this (And you started off life as a, as a Marxist, is that right? … [during] university life then?) is rather tiresome in what it insinuates about the kind of person Sowell is to the kind of UK audience Frei expects to be listening to the programme: he is clearly anticipating the listener to conclude something like: 'Oh, so when he was young he was a (left wing) progressive idealist but now he's a (right wing) sellout and so he's just another crusty old fart'. Such an insinuation is way, way off base.

And of course Frei is now a C4 regular presenter.

Nik White

Now I do that all the time with books on my couch

Ha! That's what my couch looks like half the time too!

David

Nik,

I think the disappointing nature of the interview may well be related to Mr Frei having exactly the kind of views that Sowell criticises.

Nik White

His bizarre schoolgirl gushing over Obama was hard to parody. His interview with Jimmy Carter was practically obsequious. Then there are the jokes about the “Tea Party Taliban” and Republican “Stepford wives.”

Ha ha ha.

Yes, there was more than a touch of a sneer in the beginning of the programme about 'deep fried butter' at the state fair at the beginning of that programme, wasn't there?

David

Yes, there was more than a touch of a sneer in the beginning of the programme about ‘deep fried butter’…

And the sneering at people he regards as parochial – practically anyone insufficiently left-of-centre - itself seems rather parochial. But that’s his signature. It’s very Guardian. Very BBC.

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