Use It Sparingly

Vox talked a bit this morning about how self-deprecation can properly be used and shouldn’t be misused.  It’s especially dangerous for Gammas, and here’s why.

The Gamma watches Roadhouse and sees Patrick Swayze acting all Zen, speaking in one-word sentences, shrugging off knife wounds, and tearing bad guys’ throats out.  Then Swayze shows some vulnerability and knocks himself a bit, and the hot chick melts and jumps on his dick a thousand times.  So the Gamma says, “Hey, I can do that!” and goes around slamming himself, waiting for girls to get hot and bothered over how vulnerable and sensitive he is.

But it only works as a counterpoint to the stone-cold visage and the throat-ripping.  It works because she thinks, “Thank goodness, this guy I’ve been fantasizing about is human after all and might cuddle with me afterwards.”  When self-deprecation is your first and last move, she just thinks you’re insecure and womanly, and she’s not looking for a hairy girlfriend with more self-doubt than she has.

So only use self-deprecation if you can tell she’s kind of intimidated by you and is trying to find your softer side. If that’s the case, she’ll tell you so: “So are you always this tough?” “Do you ever give people a break?” “You’re a hard guy to get close to.” If she hasn’t said anything like that, you’re not intimidating her. (And if you think she’s intimidated by your intelligence, you’re almost certainly wrong.)

Open Source Software, Now with 100% Less SJW

In a blog post by Vox a few months ago he talked about an open-source software project called Opal (something to do with Ruby) where SJWs were trying to take over. After the instigator (you’ll be shocked to hear he/she’s a she/he) failed to push his preferred Code of Conduct on the group, he (I honestly don’t know, so I’ll go with masculine pronouns) forked it so there would be a goodthink version, so I wanted to check back after a while to see how they’d fared. In honor of today’s kerfuffle about a minor contributor leaving the Linux kernel project because Linus is a big stupid meanie-head, I thought the time was ripe.

As of then, June 19 (one day after the fork)

original opal — 4886 commits
SJW opal — 4878 commits

So the fork was already falling behind.  As of today, Oct. 6, 3.5 months later:

original opal: 5257 commits
SJW opal: 404 Not Found error

Oops. Guess I can’t compare them after all, because the fork is entirely gone. I suppose there’s not much point in speculating why. I’d guess the Good People didn’t swarm to the new, SJW-approved fork like expected, so he lost interest; but GitHub doesn’t appear to have a way to look back at the logs of deleted projects. Seems kinda un-git-like, but okay.

Back on the original Opal side, it looks like the people who were contributing heavily before still are, and the project is rolling right along. Unfortunately, it still has a Code of Conduct, but it’s a basic one that tries to be fair, without any of the who/whom language SJWs like to insert. The last issue to mention it was back in July, so it appears the project weathered the storm pretty well. They’re just writing code. Imagine that.

It’s a good example of how easily SJWs can melt away if you stand up to them. Most of the opal contributors are probably fairly liberal (that’s the impression I get from reading the conversations there, and of the ruby community in general), but they also want to create cool stuff. If they keep getting distracted from their craft by people nattering about feelings to cover up their tyrannical impulses, they’re eventually going to get fed up — especially when the nattering is about how they want to drive out the project’s #2 contributor.

Many people’s first impulse would have been to offer a compromise — maybe make the offending party apologize (for a Tweet having nothing to do with the project, by the way) and give the aggressors what they want in the CoC, and hope they’ll be happy. But if they’d done that, there would have been no end to it. Since some people reacted bluntly, they might have been called names and accused of being mean, but they were able to stop it.

So now the project appears to be proceeding without drama, and as a bonus, the troublemaker has been committing code regularly to his own projects. Whaddya know, even SJWs can be productive when you don’t let them boss around others!

The First Kind of Programming

This blog entry is a bit different.  I recently added a page about the kind of work I do, so if you need a computer programmer or Unix system administrator, or anything in that ballpark, take a look at that page and see if I might be a fit.

A bit of background I didn’t include there:  I’ve been doing computer programming and sysadmin work for over 20 years, but a few years ago I thought I’d try my hand at retail with a small Catholic gift store that was for sale.  That didn’t go so well and I had to close it last year, so now I’m regrouping and building my computer business back up.  I kept my hand in a bit with my own systems and projects, but I’m polishing my skills back up and am looking for opportunities to show what I can do.

So if you have a web site idea or some other project you’d like to discuss, get in touch anytime.  I’m always glad to discuss projects free of charge to determine if I can be of help, and I’m especially interested in working with the kind of people who read here and who know me from other blogs where I comment as Cail.

The Other Kind of Programming

Sometimes I’m reminded just how differently other people think, and what’s behind that.

I don’t watch TV anymore except for sports and old movies on GRIT.  But I see promos, and there seem to be loads these days for shows where cops, soldiers, federal agents, and politicians — more often than not attractive women — fight terrorists, hunt for terrorists, are attacked by terrorists, foil terrorist plots….you get the idea.

So I can’t help wondering how it affects people to sit through these stories for hours every week, watching government badge-carriers save the day over and over.  I guess there has to be a reason why people who couldn’t find most Middle Eastern countries on a map think it’s critical to Americans what kind of weapons Iran has, or get incensed when Russia does something once that the US has been doing all over the place for years.  All these shows might explain that.

Love at First Kidnapping

Funny story:

The students I’m tutoring in Roman history, a boy and a girl, got to the part about the rape of the Sabine women. For those who, like me, were educated in American schools in the past 60 years, and thus don’t know the story, a summary:

The original settlers of what would become Rome were more-or-less castoffs from neighboring tribes; not necessarily outlaws, but not respected nobility either. So when they asked neighboring tribes for wives to ensure a second generation for their new city, they were rejected. Their solution was simple: invite everyone to a big festival, then grab the prettiest young women and keep them. So they did, grabbing a bunch of girls from the Sabine tribe. When the girls objected, Romulus, the king, basically told them they’d get used to it. He said they’d come to love their new husbands, who after all risked much to get them, and that they’d be bound to them by their children.

By the time the Sabines came to try to rescue their sisters and daughters, a year or more must have passed, because many of them had children already. A bunch of them ran out between the two parties, holding their babies, and begged the Sabine men not to fight, pointing out that they would be making widows and orphans of their own grandchildren. It worked: the Romans and Sabines made a truce there on the spot, and the Sabines ended up becoming part of Rome.

That’s not the funny story — though it is instructive, and a good example of why this stuff isn’t taught in schools anymore. But the funny story came as we discussed the part where Romulus told the women they’d get over being kidnapped. The girl student said, “I would have punched him in the nose!” I said, “Yeah, but would you get over it after a while?” She thought about it a second, then said, “That’d depend on the guy who grabbed me.”

Perfect. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you say; all that matters is whether she finds you attractive. If she does, you can kidnap her at a festival and she’ll get used to it. If she doesn’t, you can buy her a big house and bring her breakfast in bed every day, and she’ll decide you’re stifling her individuality and run off with a biker.

The Shell Game of Expectations

With Francis’s visit to the US starting, much has been made of Obama’s plan to have him greeted at the White House by several anti-Catholic activists: a gay Episcopalian bishop, a pro-abortion nun, a transsexual or two. Catholics of various sorts have reacted predictably, so I thought I’d explain what’s going on here (so I’ll look like a genius when it happens). Here’s how the shell game of expectations works:

The Setup:

Someone announces that the pope/Church is about to do something offensively non-Catholic. In this case, Obama announces that the pope will be meeting with outspoken heretics and sexual freaks when he visits the White House (as if he couldn’t find plenty of those in Europe). This sets the frame in two ways. First, it implies that he hasn’t already met with and approved of such people, which is false. Second, it gives him room to maneuver.

The Reaction:

Traditional Catholics predict that the pope will love it, completely consistent with his past words and actions.

Conservatives (by “conservative Catholics” I refer to those who are personally unhappy with the innovations of Vatican II and since, but accept them as valid and wish to be faithful Catholics) insist that the pope will draw a line here. He’s disappointed them in the past, but he couldn’t possibly go along with this! They blame Obama for trying to “exploit” the pope, as if the pope is a powerless rube rather than a sharp political operator in his own right who’s just as likely to be “exploiting” Obama.

Liberals (those who call themselves Catholic while openly denying Catholic dogma) call the traditionalists splitters for criticizing Francis (conservatives chime in there too), and praise Francis for his open-mindedness.

The Response:

The Vatican expresses “concerns” that this is going too far. No demands for a change, no threat that the pope will skip the meeting, no actual action. Just “concerns.”

The Reaction to the Response:

Traditionalists point out that this means nothing and will change nothing. Conservatives praise Francis for holding firm on Catholic teaching and bash traditionalists for having little faith. Liberals call for Francis’s canonization proceedings to commence.

The Action:

The meeting is rearranged in some meaningless way. He still meets with them, but not as a photo-op in the White House with the president. Or a couple of the most egregious ones bow out gracefully, being replaced by less (but still) objectionable freaks and heretics. But basically, it goes ahead as planned, and Francis participates enthusiastically.

The Reaction to the Action Jackson:

Traditionalists say “We told you so.” Conservatives shift again: hey, Francis was just being a good pastor, caring for the lost sheep. We never said he wouldn’t meet with them; you can’t prove we deleted those posts. Hate the sin, love the sinner, right? Not that he ever suggested they were lost or objected to their sins. But you can’t just call people sinners; what if they leave the Church?  Shut up and stop criticizing the pope!

Liberals proclaim Francis patron saint of the entire globe, giving him a feast day in every month.


That’s the pattern, and pretty much what we’ll see here, I reckon. You announce something particularly offensive and wait for everyone to react to that, which sets the baseline. Then when you back off, you get to look like the reasonable one and your opponents look like they were overreacting — even after you go ahead and prove them essentially right. The jockeying between liberals and conservatives makes it look like you ended up somewhere in the middle; but in the end, the goalposts have been moved, conservatives are now defending them at their location, and almost no one noticed a change.

We’ll see. When it’s all over, here’s the question that matters: did Francis meet with public heretics and sinners, and did he condemn their sin or did he excuse (or even endorse) it?

Troll Detection

After 20 years on the Internet, my troll detector has become pretty finely-tuned.  I can usually spot a troll (loosely defined as someone who engages in the discussion dishonestly in some manner, for the sole purpose of derailing it) within a few exchanges, and there have only been a couple times that I identified a troll and then discovered I was wrong.  I suppose I can attribute it to many years on Usenet, the original breeding ground of Internet trolls.

One of the most difficult trolls to spot is the concern troll — especially for nice guys, because the concern troll is always polite and acts like he’s trying to understand.  It’s a method of attack that strikes directly at the Nice Guy’s weak spot: wanting to be nice and help the needy.  So to help others in fine-tuning their own concern troll detectors, here’s how a conversation with one goes:

  • Concern Troll: I’m totally with you guys, but I’m not sure I feel right about this one little thing [which is really the entire premise/strategy under discussion].
  • Normal Human: You’re wrong or you misunderstand. Let me explain/clarify it for you….
  • CT: Ah, that helps a lot. Thanks so much, I get it now. You guys are really awesome. But I’m still not sure about [repeat previous objection in different wording].
  • NH: You’re still not getting it, but maybe I didn’t explain it well. Allow me to explain further.
  • CT: Ok, I really get it this time. I have so much respect for you guys. But [repeat objection, again with different wording].
  • NH: I’m starting to think you’re thick, but you’re being polite, so I can’t be mean to you. I’ll try again. Here’s what you’re still missing.
  • CT: Wow, that really helps. It seems like you’re saying [repeat objection in new words again which completely misstate what NH just said].
  • NH: Ok, I’m done. [Wishes this conversation were taking place in real life so he could punch CT in the face.]

The first question is free. Anyone can have an honest misunderstanding. After that, you get three strikes. I can usually spot a concern troll after 1 or 2 strikes and predict the third, but the third is always decisive.  Incidentally, if you blow up his game by pointing out what he’s doing, he won’t respond with umbrage as a normal person would.  He’ll claim to respect you even more, insist that he’s really trying to understand and beg for your help, and then if you fall for it he’ll go right back to the above script.

Note that this is not about disagreement. Honest men disagree all the time. If you disagree, just say so, and argue your case if you want.  Maybe we’ll go back and forth, maybe one of us will change the other’s mind or maybe he won’t, but we’ll walk away respecting each other at the end. The concern troll doesn’t openly disagree; he pretends to agree while picking away at the premise with his “concerns.”

So that’s the process and what to watch for. It’s at least 99% accurate for me. If that’s too complicated, here’s a simpler detector: imagine that the conversation is taking place in real life. If you would feel compelled to punch the guy in the face in less than 5 minutes, you’re probably talking to a troll.  If you’re not sure why, and you feel kinda bad about wanting to punch him because he seems nice, then you’re probably talking to a concern troll.