October 15th, 2004

beartato phd

(no subject)

Gah. My previous entry is late-night nonsense. Unintentionally nonsense this time, unlike the previous foray into actually having opinions about political matters.

Causality is a fishy thing. Even if we know that A and B are the only causal influences on C, what does it mean for A to account for X% of C? What argumentative weight does it carry to just say that you believe in your guts that some property about your identity is chosen, or biologically innate, or baked-into-you-by-upbringing? What weight does it carry to blithely assert of other people's identities that you surmise they might be chosen, innate, culturally constructed?

I realize every time I think about this stuff that it's a far darker, deeper hole than I imagined last time I tried. Is it okay to say "oh, well, it's just my opinion that behavior X is chosen/innate/conditioned, and that's that"? I feel terrible saying that myself (and essentially that's I'll I've got going for me in the last entry) and I wince when other people say things like that: more generally when people call opinions what I think are factual issues.

the core of my confusion, though, simplified nearly to the point of caricature, is the following set of propositions:
(A) Exposure to magazines affects womens' self-image by making them feel ugly unless they are unhealthily underweight
(B) Exposure to magazines affects mens' perception of women by only preferring those that are unhealthily underweight
(C) Exposure to something can affect men and womens' sexual perceptions to that ceteris paribus, raised from birth somewhere else with different parents, they would have been straight whereas actually they are gay, or bisexual, or vice versa, or whatever.

To the extent that you deny A, then... I don't know what to say. I thought that (A) was a common opinion, but susan of all people questioning it in her comment makes me full of doubt.

To the extent that you affirm A and not B, the problem is that women are just misinformed about men. I guess this is a consistent belief, that media affects strongly only self-perception and is weak in infludencing sexual preference. Does anyone reading feel this way?

To the extent that you affirm A and B and not C, though, which, again, is kind of what I thought was the prevailing belief in my peer-group, there's this dangling question of why weight (over such a range! from Rubenesque couch-lumps to twiggy waifs over just a few centuries, hardly any time at all relative to genetics) and not gender? And I'm not even talking about consistent societal changes in gender preferences, just believing that noise could have a noticeable effect. Otherwise, should we believe that we are born to like the goth look, the preppie look, the indie look, the hippie look, born to like nose rings and artificially aged T-shirts and gold watches and orange eye-shadow and green hair and khaki pants and mohawks and loafers?
beartato phd

(no subject)

My head keeps spinning around in circles about all these political things. Now is a fine time, I think, to remind myself that all of my opinions are wrong. I'm going to feel better after this election is over. Or, well, depending on how it comes out, maybe much worse.

Anyway. The important thing is that my advisor emailed me to postponed my weekly research meeting which was supposed to be today, saving me from having to email him to postpone my meeting because I don't have much to show for it, because of the gargantuan Machine Learning homework and 312 responsibilities. I derive some small taunting-fate satisfaction from knowing that I make statements like that in a public place that happens to be linked from my CS-side homepage.
beartato phd

(no subject)

Oh, wow, I just accidentally found the voicing for the nice little turnaround Asus4/F chord from "classical gas". It's like x03230 or maybe I'm getting things backwards again. Not that I can play the rest "classical gas". I'm still working on good ol' "Menuet in G" at the moment, and so is someone upstairs, on a keyboard, from the sound of it.
beartato phd

(no subject)

I'm a bit surprised that John Stewart is getting so warmly praised for appearing on Crossfire and insulting the hosts. I watched the segment and I didn't think he did so particularly forcefully or eloquently or anything. Maybe I'd have to have seen a lot of Crossfire, which I haven't, to know what they're supposed to be doing wrong. Stewart didn't seem to have time to say what it was that was bad --- he called it "theater" and "partisan hackery" and compared it to professional wrestling, but I don't understand what that's supposed to mean concretely. I didn't like his defense against the crossfire-host's accusation that the Daily Show wasn't any better as a news show: Stewart basically rebutted, no shit, it's not a news show, it's a comedy show, as if that deflected all criticism of anything he said. I mean, yes, it is a comedy show, but it got where it is by being smart, and about current events, and good. I think he's in the arena enough that if he's going to talk about what's right for Crossfire, he should be willing to discuss what's right for the Daily Show, even if they aren't exactly the same kind of show.