Saturday, June 08, 2013
Friday, June 07, 2013
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Now, let’s set aside the bigoted way he uses Lana’s previous (male) name and then puts the pronoun “her” in scare quotes…I’ll set aside the usual bigotry of his slippery slope argumentation…And here Steve’s bigotry can be made even more apparent.
No, I think he’s repulsed by the idea that I’d find a transsexual woman cute because that implies to him sexual attraction and that’s supposed to be perverse.Anyway, what he really seems to be frightened of is not transgenderism as such but transsexuality in particular.
Maybe he wouldn’t go so far as to concede that men could dress and act like women if they want to (and women like men); that might still be too “gross” for him. But I’m speculating.
Steve, I think, can’t get past that. So he wants to declare her insane and me dishonest. Because that’s the only way he can sleep at night trapped inside his insular, hate-filled worldview.
About six months ago, a Christian blogger on the Triablogue network (a Calvinist creationist inerrantist by the name of Steve) reacted in horror that I would think noted transsexual Lana Wachowski was “super cute” (see Lana Wachowski Is Awesome).In fact, of course, I said she was “funny, smart, eloquent, and super cute,” but when you’re a repressed sex-obsessed Christian the only thing I guess you would notice me saying about her is that she’s physically attractive (even though those other three attributes I also find sexually attractive in women, and supercuteness is a property of personality as well as appearance, but maybe all that’s a little too advanced for a creationist, way beyond first unit in sexuality 101).
In a post Steve titled Species Dysphoria (in mockery of the condition called Gender Dysphoria…which used to be called Gender Identity Disorder, so I don’t know if Steve meant this title as a double insult, since the condition had just been renamed in diagnostic manuals earlier that year, downgrading its status from a mental disorder in need of cure to a natural condition in need of acceptance, in parallel to homosexuality in that same diagnostic manual decades ago: see APA Revises Manual: Being Transgender Is No Longer a Mental Disorder).
Now, I can excuse someone for not knowing the way the terminology is actually employed in different technical contexts, since words can be used in all kinds of ways and laymen often don’t know much about that. So I’ll just gently correct Steve for not knowing the difference between gender, sex, and sexuality when they are used in contexts of a person’s expression and identity.
Finally, on everything I’ve said above and all to follow there are still many disagreements in the trans* community, particularly as they are still trying to develop a culture and a vocabulary to describe their experience in the face of often intense hostility and bigotry. For example, the Trans* Awareness Project is reluctant to nail down a precise distinction in the meaning of transgender and transsexual because their community hasn’t reached agreement on that. So when I say that “transsexual” most commonly means someone who takes any physiological steps to alter their assigned sex (which can just be HRT, for example, producing a male or female biochemistry, or any degree of SRS) while “transgender” indicates a broader category encompassing anyone who identifies or expresses a gender different from their assigned sex (even if they take no physiological steps in that direction), it should be understood that “commonly” does not mean “always,” and debates about distinctions like this can still be had.For instance, at TAP, that distinction is avoided with the following argument:The argument has been made that the difference between transgender and transsexual lies in making a distinction between gender (culture/performance) and sex (bodies/biology). On the contrary, Transgender rights activist and lawyer Dylan Vade claims there is no “meaningful difference” between sex and gender and any definition “that pit biology against psychology or the body against the mind…denigrates transgender peoples self-identified genders.”
I’ll set aside the usual bigotry of his slippery slope argumentation (implying we’d give transsexuals a pass if they stalked and killed children, thus further implying transsexuals would do that…no, Steve, transsexuals aren’t pedophiles any more frequently than anyone else is, and no, we won’t let transsexuals rape or kill children any more than we let anyone else do).
We should be free to choose the lives we want. So even if gender was all just a happenstance choice, that shouldn’t make any difference. Who we like to have sex with, for example, should not be an issue any more than what our preference in desserts or sports happen to be.People should be free to choose their lives and not have to prove they were forced to make their choices just to get their choices to be respected. And honestly, that should be obvious. Most of what we now do in life is both unnatural and freely chosen (ever fly in an airplane?), and even the Christian widely accepts almost all of it as moral or okay.
For example, we are naturally born with violent tendencies. Yet we neither regard that as moral sanction to be violent nor as an excuse to “choose” to be violent, as if being born that way made it okay, simply because our propensity to have those urges was installed in our brain against our will. Most of human culture involves regulating, altering, advancing beyond or overcoming our natural tendencies. It does so by in turn drawing on other natural tendencies (such as make us social and empathic animals, for example)…
Of course, fundamentalist Christians perhaps tend to be insular and less frequently study foreign or historical cultures and just assume everything has always been the same. I don’t know. But how a Christian could not notice that gender expression is a cultural construct is a bit astonishing.
Well, I have some scary news for him. He might be shocked to know this isn’t so simple as creationism would have it. If God wanted everyone to be consistently a boy or girl, he wouldn’t have created hermaphrodites. But more commonly, a significant number of women are actually XY chromosomed (and thus genetically male but almost entirely physiologically female), the result of a condition called AIS, or Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, in which they genetically lack sufficient receptors for androgens and thus do not develop as men in the womb but as women (only lacking certain internal developments, like a uterus)…What on earth does a creationist do with that information? If by genetic accident you can be XY (and thus genetically a “man” by Steve’s standards) and yet still a woman (anatomically, biochemically, and legally), why can’t you be XY and a woman by personal preference? Why should it matter?
For example, people vary in “adventurousness” regardless of their sex, but put those people in a culture that strongly identifies “adventurousness” as feminine and you’ll see them call having a well-developed “adventurousness” center of the brain as having a “female” brain.
But the outcome in practice is that some men will feel more at home living and acting more like women and some women will feel more at home living and acting more like men, and some cross far enough in that direction to be uncomfortable living as women or men altogether, because what our culture has chosen to call “feminine” and “masculine” just happens to align better with the way their brains and personalities have developed. Since brains and personalities can develop differently than the cultural ruts we try to force them in, it makes no sense to keep trying to force them into those ruts. Because those ruts are human fabrications. They don’t track human biology at all, or do so only weakly (and a sensible Christian would listen to their own Jesus here: they ought to follow God’s ruts, not the ruts carved by the traditions of men: Mark 7:8-9). Whether your brain and personality “fit” being a woman or a man is all just a happenstance of what culture and time in history you happened to be born in. But your brain is not a happenstance of that; and your personality, not altogether.
Indeed, with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and sex reassignment surgery (SRS), a man can effectively resemble a woman with AIS in every relevant respect. And since AIS exists in different degrees, men who identify as women but don’t get surgery or take HRT can still resemble women with milder cases of AIS. Perhaps the creationist would insist AIS is a “disorder,” and no one should want to emulate a “disorder,” but in fact it’s not a disorder. It’s just a natural genetic outcome, which presents few to no problems. If people are happy being who they become, what business does the Christian have telling them they’re doing it wrong?
But let’s put that aside and focus on the real gist of Steve’s analogy, that a woman who claimed she belonged to a different species (and acted like it) is exactly the same as a man claiming he’s a woman (and acting like it). This silly analogy has already been refuted, in many incarnations, by Zinnia Jones in Being a Woman Also Isn’t Like Being Napoleon. All genuinely interested parties should read that. Because it’s short and to the point and illustrates the very crucial mistake the Steves of the world make, born largely of never actually talking to a transsexual (or listening to one) before declaring conclusions about what they think or why.Picture of Lana Wachowski smiling and sitting in her simple black belted dress and colored hair (in a spectrum of reds and blacks) at the Human Rights Campaign awards.I doubt Lana believes she is a woman by Steve’s narrow standards, as if she delusionally thought she has an XX chromosome if she doesn’t or that she has a womb if she doesn’t or anything else you want to cling to as your definition of “being a woman.” That’s simply not what’s going on here. Lana is not delusional about any real facts of the world. She well knows what her DNA, biochemistry, and body is really like.
But the major premise of this argument is also false: the notion that what nature has done to you is good and any deviation from nature is bad. Artificial hearts pretty much kill that premise outright. So do corrective lenses (contacts or glasses). So do artificial hips and legs. So do telescopes and microscopes and airplanes and helmets, all of which allow us to defy nature by seeing better than nature “intended” and flying contrary to nature’s “intention” and “fixing” nature by making our heads harder to break and our eyes less naturally defective. Indeed, we correct nature all the time: corrective surgery and prosthetics improve the lives of people born with missing or deformed body parts (or who suffer missing or deformed body parts through injury or illness); computers and books and pencil and paper correct for our “imperfectly designed” memories…
…logic and mathematics and the scientific method were invented to correct for the naturally slipshod “design” of our brain’s abilities to reason. Nature screwed up almost everything important to us. So we invented an advanced civilization to correct for all of her mistakes. (And the fact that we had to do that, entirely on our own, is pretty much argument number one against creationism.)
Likewise gender expression and identity. It is the Christian (or more broadly the whole Judeo-Christian-Islamic complex of religious thinking) that has singled out sex and gender as somehow special and thus different from preference in desserts or sports. For no objectively valid reason whatever. Only when people realize this will they be on the path to freeing themselves from the slavery of the real delusion that exists here, that of the religious believer (as I’ve explained in Are Christians Delusional?). The sad thing is that these delusions bleed over even to infect atheists who don’t even realize they have internalized purely religious notions about sexuality and gender (as I’ve noted in my article Sexy Sex Sex!! (for Cash on the Barrel!)).
Creationists, of course, obsess over what is natural, because they believe God made us, so if our bodies are born a certain way, for them that entails God’s endorsement, being the one who made us that way, and against our will to boot (ironically, considering how much Christians are usually obsessed with God’s need to give us free will…although Steve is a Calvinist, so maybe he doesn’t even believe in free will, much less that God would want us to have any). The problem, of course, is that things like AIS and chimerism put the kibosh on that kind of thinking. God clearly endorses some men being women and women being men.
Meanwhile, when it comes to the cultural expression and trappings of gender, the Christian cannot claim divine guidance at all. God (even the Christians’ own god, by their own account: again, Mark 7:8-9) could not plausibly have endorsed any one human tradition, and cannot honestly be imagined to have endorsed any concept of gender. Unless you are still living and dressing as the Old Testament God had commanded–in other words, as an Orthodox Jew–you’ve pretty much abandoned any notion of what could ever have been called “God-sanctioned culture.”Obviously this behavior is not delusional any more than preferring broccoli to carrots, or reading to sports, or cowboy culture and attire to goth or steampunk or yuppy. When women like Dita Von Teese and Paloma Faith make themselves up in 40s or 50s hairstyle and clothing, they are creating an identity for themselves, that’s who they want to be. That’s a preference, not a delusion. And forcing them to be someone they don’t want to be would almost universally be deemed wrong, indeed bizarre (why would you even care?), at least in free communities in modernized democracies.
Which leaves us with brain biology. Which leaves us with no objective reason to claim God did not want Lana Wachowski to live and identify as a woman.
But alas, since many Christians are obsessed with various forms of creationism and exaggerate the importance of free will, we can get more effect on them sometimes by using those irrational levers to convince them to finally treat their neighbors decently for a change.
But this shouldn’t have to be the case with atheists, who, not being creationists, don’t believe in this naturalist fallacy (that all that is natural, and only what is natural, is moral), and who, by and large not being indeterminists, regard free will as nothing more than the expression of human desires, desires that can be good or bad whether free or not.
Although fundamentalists do get their panties in a bunch over almost any conceivable cultural deviation anyway. The rest of us find it’s perfectly acceptable for someone to “choose” to be Goth or Cowboy or Steampunk or Yuppy or Preppy or Hippy or anything they like, conforming to any clothing, mannerisms, dialects, interests, that belongs to any sub-culture they prefer. No one challenges them by asking whether they were genetically predisposed to want to be that. No one condemns their choice because it was (gasp!) a choice, something they just preferred, something they were just happier living as. Well, except fundamentalist Christians maybe…who also think Goths and Hippies are abominations, but are arbitrarily okay with Cowboys or Preppies. As if the Bible laid out which sub-cultures were cool with God and which weren’t.
(Note to the wise: it doesn’t…except pages and pages of “You’d better adopt the immensely onerous and detailed culture of an ancient Orthodox Jew or else you are an abomination before God who deserves to die” rigamarole [see Leviticus and Deuteronomy], but no fundamentalist Christian obeys any of that, so they pretty much can’t appeal to the Bible here without getting themselves in super big trouble.
They generally don’t even follow the New Testament’s requirements that women always cover their hair and never wear pretty dresses or jewelry.)
This point becomes all the more clear when we notice the fact that we all of us often transgender ourselves when we have “safe” opportunities to do so. For example, when we play another gender in video games, role playing games, and even on blogs and social networks. Suddenly transgenderism in that environment is all okay and not insane.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor 11:26).
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,“This at last is bone of my bonesand flesh of my flesh;she shall be called Woman,because she was taken out of Man.”24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2:21-24).
As we have already observed, the language of the garden scene is found in the tabernacle description; the term sela, here rendered “ribs,” appears frequently in the construction setting of the tabernacle, there translated “side.” K. Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26 (Broadman 1996), 216.
|Nike is leading the way to the Internet of Things|
It’s being called the “Internet of Things”:
The Internet of Things is bigger than we may realize. We are experiencing a shift from a world of inanimate objects and reactive devices to a world where data, intelligence, and computing are distributed, ubiquitous, and networked. My fellow analysts and I at Altimeter Group refer to the Internet of Things (IoT) as the Sentient World. It’s the idea that inanimate objects gain the ability to perceive things, perform tasks, adapt, or help you adapt over time. And, it’s the future of the Internet and consumer electronics.
In 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on earth. By 2020, it’s expected that there will be 50 billion things connected.
A network of things creates an incredible information ecosystem that connects the online and physical world through a series of transactions. In a world where data becomes a natural b[y]-product of these exchanges, developers, businesses, and users alike are faced with the reality that data isn’t only big, its volume and benefits are also overwhelming…
Products such as Fitbit and also Nike’s FuelBand build upon the Human API by collecting the digital breadcrumbs of users and assembling them in a way that makes sense of daily activity and validates progress. Perhaps more importantly, these devices, the data they collect and present, and the social relationships linked by publishing this information in social channels drives the ongoing pursuit of goals, and brings people together to help one another live better. As these devices are connected socially, experiences become the epicenter of engagement and encouragement, inspiring people and networks of people through extended relationships along the way. Imagine if they could also talk to one another…across devices and also across the various contexts of usage, personal, professional, medical, etc.
That’s the point.
Now, in response to reports from actor Michael Douglas that his recent bout with cancer was caused by oral sex (“Experts say HPV is a growing cause of certain types of oral cancer”), it would seem that it’s time for a new product introduction: the oral condom.
Perhaps this should be the next big “liberal media” cause to espouse.
|John Bugay, an Author on Google+|
One of the things that I’ve found out about Twitter is that there are two kinds of people: those on Twitter, and those who find out later.
If you’re following enough people, the Twitter feed can be a torrent. Jump in, watch it for a few minutes, open 5000 tabs in your browser, then jump out and try to sort it all out.
I’ve met some fascinating people this way, one of whom is a business owner and a “social media” and “marketing technology” expert. She recently wrote an article “How Google Authorship Changes the Rules for your Search Results”.
As a marketer, I do see the value for what I’ve called “shameless self-promotion” on occasion. Jokingly, when people ask, I tell them “I’m a world-famous blogger”. (When Steve Hays first asked me to write for Triablogue, my response was, “it would be the dream of a lifetime”). Yes, I blog on topics that are somewhat arcane, but I’m also aware that I write about things that mean very much and hit close to home to people.
I’ve had a chance to check out “Google Authorship”. As the article recommends, I’ve gone in and updated my profile. You can find it here (and again, I’d like to invite Triablogue readers to connect with me – just please let me know who you are).
But notice that “Google Authorship” does what it’s advertised to do: I typed in “Pope Benedict” (and the Google-recommended top-searches also pop-down), and note whose photo comes up at the bottom of the graphic nearby. The link takes you to the Google+ page where the article appears in my profile.
(I’m not sure if Google just puts my article up for my own benefit, or if the rest of the world can see it. However, it was a pretty amazing thing to see my photo here).
Here is the original article. It’s not even an original article that I wrote; it’s a comment that I picked up from the Anglican Continuum blog.
In any event, I’ve had some encouraging interviews in the last couple of weeks. A job search is one of those things: “it ain’t over till it’s over”. Meanwhile, you just keep plugging away at it.
Follow Triablogue on Twitter: @triablogue.
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Pope Francis says “Speak the Truth in Love”. But will he be honest with the early history of the papacy?
In it, Bishop of Rome Bergoglio says:
Catholics should speak “the language of truth in love”, not the language of hypocrisy, the Pope said at Mass this morning.
In his homily in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican, he said: “Hypocrisy is the very language of corruption. And when Jesus speaks to his disciples, he says: ‘Let your language be ‘Yes, yes! No, no.’ Hypocrisy is not a language of truth, because the truth is never given alone. Never! It is always given with love! There is no truth without love. Love is the first truth.
I have the first comment:
I am wondering, will this pope speak the truth about the early papacy? Vatican I says that “a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the [L]ord” and that that primacy was “continual”, “permanent”, and “in every age”.
And yet, as historical research has better understood the early history of the church at Rome, it is clear that for the first 100 years of its existence, that church was fractionated, was led by a network of elders who frequently “fought among themselves as to who was greatest” -- that what we know now as the papacy “developed” from the ashes of those disputes, and didn’t take form until the fifth century.
What is held today as “the primacy of the successor of Peter” is not a historical reality; rather, it is a theological pre-commitment, that can be show to be seriously out of touch with the actual evolution of the church of the first three centuries.
Further, it should be noted, it is agreed that this “office” has led to more contention and division in the history of the church as a whole than any other theological disagreement. Its claims to authority have been rejected every time they have been made, whether Tertullian rejects the claims of Callistus, Cyprian and Firmilian reject the claims of Stephen, or Photius rejects the claims of Nicholas, or the Reformers who rejected the claims of the Medieval papacy.
This pope prefers the title “Bishop of Rome” and goes by his family name, Bergoglio. I wonder if he will remain true to his own calls for truth?
Monday, June 03, 2013
17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles (Mt 10:17-18).
22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue (Jn 9:22).
My statement refers to my inability to verify your claim with my five senses and/or logic, which are the instruments I normally use in my every day life to verify the reality of claims.I am assuming that Steve, you, and I agree that our five senses and/or logic can give reliable data.
I look towards the wintering trees
To hush my fretful soul
As they rise to face the icy sky
And hold fast beneath the snow
Their rings grow wide, their roots go deep
That they might hold their height
And stand like valiant soldiers
Through the watches of the night
No human shoulder ever bears
The weight of all the world
But hearts can sink beneath the ache
Of trouble's sudden surge
Yet far beyond full knowing
There's a strong unsleeping light
That reaches round to hold me
Through the watches of the night
I have cried upon the steps that seem
Too steep for me to climb
And I've prayed against a burden
I did not want to be mine
But here I am and this is where
You're calling me to fight
And you I will remember
Through the watches of the night
You I will remember
Through the watches of the night
Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I'll follow, though I'm worn.
May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With your likeness let me wake.
Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love you even more.
Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go -
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at your throne.
Sunday, June 02, 2013
Dr. Hector Avalos6/02/2013 3:05 AMYes, God can still be the source of your standards like invisible Martians can be the source of your standards or like Zeus can be the source of your standards. Or Krishna could be the source of your standards even if you thought Yahweh was the source.Merely listing or postulating possible supernatural sources tells us nothing about the source of your standards because they can be cancelled out by opposite propositions that are equally possible.
It is just as possible that YOU are the source of your standards without violating anything you are calling the ontology of ethics. Nothing about the ontology of ethics demands that a source be supernatural.
The point remains that, regardless of the source, once YOU MAKE A DECISION (presuming you believe in free will), then YOU do become the source of your standards for all practical purposes. And so you DO become a moral relativist just as is anyone else who chooses what the standard will be regardless of it origin.
And if you ever justify your standards because of the source, it is still YOU who is justifying that justification.
Actually, it is not that easy to distinguish what Ettore Maserati intended in any particular car from what his brothers or company engineers intended. Ettore may not have designed every item in a car that bears his surname. For example, he may have used a part that was designed by someone else.If you read about the famous Type V4 Maserati engine, you will see that The V4 (V stood for the cylinder formation and its 4 litre capacity) engine was projected by Alfieri Maserati and designed by Piero Visentini (http://www.maserati-alfieri.co.uk/menotti11.htm)More importantly, there is difference between entities whose existence can be empirically verified, and those whose existence cannot be empirically verified.
We can determine the purposes of human actors if we have enough information about how their plans matched the results. Presumably, we might have sketches of cars, for example, that then became reality. We can verify that human actors do have plans that are executed.
But, with God, you have a double problem. You are determining the intention of an entity whose existence cannot be verified in the same manner as that of Maserati.
People of different religions and philosophial orientations can verify the existence of Maserati using simple empirical tools that are not dependent on religious presuppositions.
In addition, Maserati is finite being with finite attributes that can be detected by human beings. But determining God’s purposes is not the same. He is said to have infinite attributes that I, as a finite being, cannot verify. I have no information about his purposes that I can verify.
So, no, I am afraid your analogy between determining the purposes of an infinite being, whose existence is questionable in the first place, is not the same as determining the purposes of a finite being whose existence and activities can be empirically verified.My statement refers to my inability to verify your claim with my five senses and/or logic, which are the instruments I normally use in my every day life to verify the reality of claims.
I am assuming that Steve, you, and I agree that our five senses and/or logic can give reliable data.
So, yes, any statement about your god (or whatever you call God) is unverifiable because I cannot verify it my five senses an/or logic and not because I simply say so.So, it is no more circular than saying that I cannot verify that undetectable Martians are playing chess right now.
If I am wrong, then simply show me a way to verify those claims about God with our fives senses and/or logic.
Dr. Hector Avalos6/02/2013 3:05 AMThank you for clearing up that confusion between the epistemology of ethics and the ontology of ethics. I must have missed that day in my philosophy courses, which I imagine are much better at RTS.
I nursed it in my bosom while it lived,
I hid it in my heart when it was dead;
In joy I sat alone, even so I grieved
Alone and nothing said.
I shut the door to face the naked truth,
I stood alone—I faced the truth alone,
Stripped bare of self-regard or forms or ruth
Till first and last were shown.
I took the perfect balances and weighed;
No shaking of my hand disturbed the poise;
Weighed, found it wanting: not a word I said,
But silent made my choice.
None know the choice I made; I make it still.
None know the choice I made and broke my heart,
Breaking mine idol: I have braced my will
Once, chosen for once my part.
I broke it at a blow, I laid it cold,
Crushed in my deep heart where it used to live.
My heart dies inch by inch; the time grows old,
Grows old in which I grieve.
I have a room whereinto no one enters
Save I myself alone:
There sits a blessed memory on a throne,
There my life centres.
While winter comes and goes—oh tedious comer! —
And while its nip-wind blows;
While bloom the bloodless lily and warm rose
Of lavish summer.
If any should force entrance he might see there
One buried yet not dead,
Before whose face I no more bow my head
Or bend my knee there;
But often in my worn life’s autumn weather
I watch there with clear eyes,
And think how it will be in Paradise
When we’re together.