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Everything posted by msazad

  1. Evil is a social construct. But yeah, you can't reason with them. Their whole ecosystem is a hateful parasite.
  2. When faced with a multiple-choice form, saying what you're doing often isn't an even option. And when it is, it often is a waste of time. Gender questions asked by non-academics from North America are usually best interpreted as being also about sex unless otherwise specified.
  3. When filling forms in which you're simply asked about about your nationality, you're not supposed to provide the country your folks came from as an answer. So far as I can tell, the people who actually talk about nationality in terms of identity rather tend to be right-wing bigots than immigrants. It's not a given that it's internal debates which should determine who counts as a member. People don't even agree about what is or isn't a religion. If you're going to poll people, you'll have to rely on self-reporting anyway. The issue is whether people will answer based on whatever (if anything) they identify with or based on what they're inferring about social expectations.
  4. On a practical level, I answer a different question because I think there's less risk of being misunderstood that way. I don't think the topics are inherently complicated but I do think that that the way you talk about identity complicates them. Asking the question is not a problem as long as you allow people not to answer or to answer something along the lines of "other". The problem is in my mind more about what you think you're going to be able to conclude from the answers. This is of course not unique to issues of gender and sex. I don't think you should do anything but getting rid of this identity stuff or relegating it to a separate question that is specifically about the way people identify would be an improvement, along the lines of the "what you identify as vs. what some other person identifies you as" dichotomy you proposed upthread. Not conflating gender and sex might also be an improvement. But I guess that depends on your audience. Observation isn't assignment. And the actual gender assignment happens long after the birth. Arguing that different things are the same because of a strong correlation is basically essentialism.
  5. My hypothesis is of course that the these issues have something to do with each other. The first line of Vespucci's post is about orientation translating into identification. I guess I could have been more explicit. How about "the problem is manifest in the following definition" instead of "the problem is the following definition"? FWIW, most people aren't assigned a gender at birth. They're identified as male or female (which is different from gender) based on traits which are in most cases not ambiguous. And how do I tell which gender I identify with, assuming I have to pick one? So yeah, "unanticipated problems".
  6. The problem is the following definition: I know how I present and so I know how to answer such questions (cis man) just like I know how to write down my nationality in a form. But I don't identify as a man any more than I identify with the entity which issues my travel papers. In fact, I loathe that entity as well as masculinity. That doesn't make me genderqueer for any practical purpose. Sure, I've occasionally been called "miss" or been the target of homophobia though I'm not gay but people who aren't being assholes have no issue identifying me as a man. Nobody defines nationality in terms of identity so why do you do so when it comes to gender and stuff? Identity issues are subjective, not demographic data. I don't understand what's going on with identity in your culture but it sure seems toxic.
  7. I don't really do social media. But now that I think about it, some of the people I've unexpectedly set off or who've randomly wished me a violent death these past few years were social media users. When I've been able to get an explanation, it was along the lines of "THEY say that as an insult".
  8. @Yell Wallpaper: But it ain't a matter of nuance or imperfection. Assuming so isn't respectful. You can't possibly articulate who you are by ticking a box anyway. What's at issue instead is what can be inferred about people from box ticks. And that depends on the question's quality and the assumptions underlying it. What you are arguing for is optimizing the answers you're getting from a group you understand and the cost of excluding others. Which is of course your priviledge.
  9. Thanks for the apology sylae. I'm not clear how you think I might have suggested things on a web forum other than through the words I posted. And the words I posted are unrelated to the gist you got. I assume there's a reason you're defensive about this particular topic but if you were to examine the other responses in this thread I think you'd see that's not the only topic people are being defensive about. US-centric language isn't a big deal. And if I may restate my what I said in my first post, the problem isn't the gender/sexuality questions either. It's the answers to the following questions: What are your political views when it comes to social issues? What are your political views when it comes to economic issues? I'm perplexed about the hand-wringing about cultural barriers considering there's an easy fix: make the questions optional. Then no one will be required to commit to a statement along the lines of "the government this, the market that" in order to finish filling the survey.
  10. Since you're curious, I thought pretty much everything that could have been US-centric, was. The politics stuff was totally US-centric (I've never known someone from any other country to think in those terms). But also to some extent the gender/sexuality stuff, the religious stuff and so forth. I did however notice an attempt at internationalizing US educational categories. But I guess if you're for instance Canadian you might not see it that way. I've never been to Canada but I suppose it's not all that different from the US. Sorry for lumping similar countries with their more globally influential relative! And I obviously realize no one intented to insult anyone else! It's just that I would have felt like I was insulting myself had I chosen one of these answers.
  11. I tried to fill the survey in spite of the sometimes intrusive or US-centric questions. I got as far as the following questions: What are your political views when it comes to social issues? What are your political views when it comes to economic issues? Answers were required but all the options were downright insulting. Oh, well. I'll check out the results of past surveys anyway. Sounds like a fun project.
  12. And the way it "just allows" (lovely!) the government to track down assets (whether they're income-generating or not by the way) is by taxing assets. Except people can get out of the tax by reporting information to the US government. It's unethical and strong-arming foreign governments into making this legal has been hugely unpopular but it works. No, people are already taxed irrespective of income under FATCA.
  13. Right, acronym dyslexia. It is nominally in service of an income tax but it does tax (certain uses of) assets by default. As in, "voluntarily" meet the reporting requirements or get taxed heavily, regardless of the constitutional provisions regarding direct taxation. My point is that the very same approach could just as well be used to tax compliant assets at a much lower rate. In any case the fact that the US government finds it useful to go after people's assets as a way to curtail income tax evasion gives the lie to the notion that: No other country carries out financial surveillance like the US does, even the ones which have wealth taxes. I think that many of those around the world who are routinely required to provide information to the US government even though they are not US persons and have no income coming from the USA would be surprised to learn that the US government is only supposed to tax income.
  14. FACTA effectively taxes assets (which is what the Constitution forbids and not a wealth tax as such) under the guise of taxing their use. It's not terribly difficult to work around that Constitution of yours with bipartisan support. That wouldn't work as there would be a strong initiative for smaller states to become tax heavens. But see FACTA for an approach that works. There's an easy solution: tax assets at the maximum rate by default and let the owners report on their own wealth if they want their assets to be exempted or taxed at a lower rate. That would double as a tax on money laundering. Again, see FACTA.
  15. Good thing money doesn't cost the US government anything then. If you're going to talk about "the real world", how about you show your work? How did you estimate how much the assets of the 1% are worth? Seizing all the assets of the 1% would of course not be an advisable policy but stating obvious falsehoods doesn't help your case. Meanwhile in rest of "the real world", some countries have had free or very cheap basic college for everybody for decades.
  16. The lease-related advice seems reasonable, as is looking for other housing elsewhere. I'm a foreigner so I guess it's to be expected that I don't understand either the situation or some people's reactions to it but regardless: someone ought to be responsible. Unless perhaps this "non-profit company" thing is some legal trickery designed to allow the state to divest itself of its responsibilities without transferring it to someone else. But even if that's the case, there must be at least one senior official who's signing off on this, perhaps at this "DMH" thing. Here, most non-profits must hold governance meetings, some of which are open to the public. If that's not the case, you should still be able to contact whoever is in charge at the top of that "non-profit company", both informally and in writing so that you'll have a paper trail. Then if that doesn't help you should be able to go first to whichever organization is paying for this ("DMH"?) and finally to the relevant politician(s). Going lawyerly or public seems premature until the people responsible (not "team leaders", "case managers" or other underlings) have been contacted in a constructive, non-hostile and reasonable manner. Then again, I'm a foreigner so I have no idea how accountability works in your country... Also, if nothing else is on offer, social services such as temporary housing and advice are in many places around the world offered by some large churches to whoever is being let down.
  17. Hello Tevildo, I do consider you "an appropriate target for violence". As do many millions of foreigners. As did millions of people in the USSR which was a rather more serious issue seeing that they had a thermonuclear arsenal specifically designed to murder millions among the civilian population of the USA. Remember that? Welcome to the wonderful world that imperialism made! My point? What you're concernerned about is nothing unusual and certainly not particular to radical politics. Now there are some specific issues with the lines of reasoning you've laid out: -punishment: as was pointed out earlier, the punishment thing is not a feature of radical politics and is anyhow irrelevant to the issue seeing that violence is usually a reaction to a perceived threat (even when the perpetrators talk about punishment, it's often transparent enough that they're actually only interested in "punishing" those who they perceive as threatening) -"If you're not wholly with us, you're against us" is again largely irrelevant to the issue seeing that the calculus that typically underpins political violence is about consequences (will it work? can we get away with it? and so on) rather than about determining who is or isn't "against us" (that is ususally obvious enough!) What you may be missing is the fact that governments enclined to engage in wars of aggression or who have developed a military geared for such are objectively a threat to the lives of a great many foreigners. There is no place for considerations about "punishment" or being "against us". If one is able to destroy or deter that threat, that's simply the reasonable thing to do. It works the same way inside the borders of a nation if a government has a history of using military or paramilitary forces (that would include a militarized police force) against civilians. Maybe your lines of reasoning might relevant to hypothetical bloody-mindeed priviledged radicals in your country. But do these people even exist? As suggested above, excluding nutcases, you might have to go back to the Civil War to find good examples. And the Civil War itself was obviously not started to abolish slavery but by escalating reactions to perceived threats. edit: missing a key"not"
  18. msazad

    Osama is gone.

    First it was an imaginary war. Now it's imaginary existential threats constituted by nukes in the hands of imaginary organizations. So far as we know, the closest nukes ever got to nonstate actors is the Pakistani military whose rogue elements have been protected by OBL's summary execution.
  19. msazad

    Osama is gone.

    And what war would that be? People who talk about the "war on drugs" are using an analogy. Such analogies are not admissible in a legal argument. Even if you grant the US government the authority to decree arbitrary states of war (which would in effect abolish international law, the bill of rights and so on), OBL was not a soldier and he was not involved in a military operation. It's not even clear he had any military role whatsoever. In real wars, civilian and military leaders get arrested and tried. There were tribunals set up for that purpose in Germany and Japan after WWII.
  20. Slarty, I checked the Wiki for Merkel. She's described as a conservative free-marketeer and the article says she's been compared to Margaret Thatcher by the English speaking press (which is news to me). Her US Presidential Medal of Freedom is mentionned but I think it's notable. Forbes calling her the most powerful woman in the world is notable as well so I don't think the article mentions it out of US-centric bias. There's a picture of her alongside the Obamas but there's also a picture of her with another prime minister. The article also mentions her meeting Ehud Barak and the Dalai Lama. If anything, there's a Jewish/Israeli bias on her Wiki page but it's not surprising this stuff is given special attention considering the history involving not only her country but also the forerunner of her political party and European Jews.
  21. Dear Al, Outside of your country, the names of political parties tend to be more relevant (there are many exceptions of course). I was talking about a recently-formed parliamentary group in a place where people can usually choose between more than two parties and names get updated frequently. If that's not relevant, what is? newspaper articles? hip-hop lyrics? Around the world, the definition of "liberal" you're not aware of is very common so it's easy to find examples. You say Europe is center-left or perhaps even left... as compared to the current dysfunctional US political spectrum I guess. You're probably not using a political spectrum which would include the communist party of China or the Brazilian workers' party. The EU parliament has 2 left groups (the reds and the greens) and one group which could be called center-left even though it includes parties with dubious left-wing credentials like New Labour. Let's throw in 4 non-aligned MEPs which might conceivably be considered somewhat left of center (the rest are ultra-nationalists or outright fascists) and you get 282 MEPs which are likely to be slightly to strongly to the left in the European political spectrum... that's only 38% of the parliament. So I'm curious about this: which of the politicians or parties generally considered to be right-wing in Europe are actually left-wing in your opinion? To move Europe from the right to the left you're going to need a bunch of them. Counting nominally center-right politicians from unusally liberal countries such as Sweden as left-wingers will barely move the dial because these are small countries. So who's a secret leftist? Merkel, Berlusconi or perhaps Sarkozy? The only way I get a political spectrum in which the USA is merely center-right is by taking seriously the views of US "true right" which you say decries US social programs as socialist (seriously?). You're entitled to use whatever political spectrum you like of course but, at the end of the day, most countries do not have ubiquitous extreme right-wing propaganda or a significant amount of people willing to vote for people such as Palin. And so I would expect sophomores to behave more decently in many countries around the world.
  22. Err... outrage about China "stealing" US jobs and buying Treasuries? the Iraq thing?
  23. Dear Al, I'm not sure what you mean when you say the US is center-right... relative to what? As Slarty pointed out, it makes a difference. Compared to the rest of the world or US politics before Nixon, there's little that's centrist about US politics nowadays. When I said US politics are anti-liberal, I meant in comparison with traditional liberal ideas and policies (see Eleanor Roosevelt, J.K. Galbraith and so on). I'm afraid the Democratic party has been taken over by rightists (the DLC) as well. You may be right about US schools. But I would expect sophomores to influenced more by the general political environment (the news media, the movies and so on) than by the faculty. The kind of behaviour described by Nicothodes would have been unthinkable in one of my sophomore classes. The local feminist brigade was fierce for one thing. But even on other topics, the teachers themselves would be heckled if they said something grossly politically incorrect (and when the professor had a microphone, her class would be leafletted). This caused some trouble because of the lack of political correctness of the curriculum. :-) So the average student wouldn't have been courageous enough to behave so offensively (women all want babies? for real?) in public. You should get acquainted with the strange notions people have in the rest of the world. It's interesting. The "liberal" group in the EU parliament is clearly right-wing for example. They chose that name because, in much of Europe, the mainstream secular right-wing parties (as opposed to the nominally christian right-wing parties) are called "liberal this" or "liberal that". As to "libertarians", I hear people often learn Spanish or French in the US. Assuming you can more or less decipher at least one of these languages, check out "El Libertario" or "le Monde libertaire". You might be surprised by the content. Dinti, Right but there's another type of liberal ideology, often called neoliberalism. In many countries, that's what people tend to refer to when they say "liberal".
  24. Originally Posted By: Nicothodes Actually, the fact that people *here* are stating opinions like this is what shocks me. My school is known(when people have heard of it, that is) for being extremely liberal. My best guess is that people everywhere pretty much suck and that my tendency to hermit has protected me from this fact. I apologize for being on topic but I wanted to reassure the OP. Cynicism is cool but really, no: people don't suck in that way everywhere. You can always find more reasons to despise people but that one isn't going to work for you. If a school is indeed "extremely liberal", you should see the effect on its graduates, not on sophomores. I would be surprised if any school in the US was very liberal. I'm not knowledgable about US schools and I understand the US of A is a fairly diverse country but it's violently anti-liberal as a whole. I consider myself a liberal but I often get called a Marxist and whatnot by gringos. Needless to say, my views aren't very popular with actual Marxists. note: in case anyone's wondering, I've used the peculiar US political lingo above. In many places, libertarians are very far to the left while liberals cover a spectrum from mildly to strongly to the right. I understand definitions are different in the US.
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