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A Swede in Germany

Archive for February 2023

Do utilitarian arguments have a place in society?

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My previous text included a quote with the sentence “Yet this is a calculating, utilitarian argument that has no place in a society that values both individual rights and human dignity.”. By and large, I am in agreement, as both calculating* and utilitarian arguments tend to lead to a bad place, especially through neglecting the rights of others and/or the rights of the individual. (Moreover, there is some ambiguity as to whether the author rejected this specific “calculating, utilitarian argument” or such arguments in general.)

*With some reservations for what is considered “calculating”. Also cf. below.

However, neither is automatically a bad thing. Consider a utilitarian example and ethical dilemma:

Have a train rush down a track, with no possibility to stop the train in time, no lever to pull to redirect the train (much unlike the dilemma of which this example is a modified version), and no other loopholes or clever solutions available. On the track, we have three persons tied down, two with the same rope, one with a separate rope. You have time enough to cut exactly one of the ropes and to help the newly freed of the tracks, while the other(s) will be run over.

There are now three choices:

  1. Free none of the three.
  2. Free the one.
  3. Free the two.

All other factors equal, the typical utilitarian conclusion, that the two should be freed, is perfectly compatible with even a strongly individualistic and anti-collectivistic take on ethics. Indeed, saving the two is likely what almost everyone would choose.

(When factors are not equal, other decisions can be more likely, e.g. when two archenemies resp. a single love interest of the chooser are at stake, or when the one is a child of ten and the two are both in their eighties.)

A “calculating example” is trickier, especially as there is likely to be more debate around what is or is not calculating behavior, a calculating argument, whatnot. However, consider a slight modification of the above, where there are just two persons on the track, each tied down with a separate rope, and otherwise the same setup. You have reason to believe that the one will give you a hefty reward for freeing him, while the other will give you a warm thanks and not one dime. It might well be that they are both, in some sense, equally deserving of rescue,* but who could fault you for choosing the one with the reward? The death toll would be the same in both cases, with the main difference that you would or would not have some extra money.

*Note that the absence of a reward does not automatically imply e.g. ingratitude, which could conceivably have justified a “less deserving”. Say, to keep all-other-factors as equal as possible, that the two are identical twins, only differing in details, one of these details being that the one remembers where they had jointly buried some money and that the other does not.

However, note that these examples are carefully chosen and that small changes to the conditions can lead to different conclusions about e.g. whether something “has [no/a] place in a society that values both individual rights and human dignity”. For instance, the original dilemma, involving switching or not switching a train down a new track, actively killing one who was set to live in order to save two who were set to die,* is much more likely to lead to differences in opinion.

*Or whatever numbers happen to be used. As an additional complication, many might choose differently depending on whether we have two-against-one or, say, twenty-against-one.

To return to a medical setting (as in my original text), note the similar difference between a physician performing triage after a collision between two trains and a physician deliberately murdering a patient in order to have organs to transplant into several other patients.


Written by michaeleriksson

February 27, 2023 at 4:22 pm

Life-and-death choices III

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In a text on life-and-death choices ([1]), I noted:

For instance, over the last few months, I have heard repeated claims of excessive pushing of “assisted suicide” (likely all relating to Canada). Assisted suicide might seem like an increase in one’s own self-determination. When done correctly, it might even be so.* However, when suicide becomes a “solution” actively offered by e.g. the government or a hospital (as opposed to something requested by the patient), maybe even one pushed as “the best option” (or similar), this fast ceases to be the case—especially, when the concerns of others are given priority.**


**Consider thinking like “if this patient dies, we have a free bed for someone else and maybe an organ or two to transplant”, “if this pensioner dies, there is more pension money to go around”, “if this prisoner dies, society is free from the costs of keeping him incarcerated and he is guaranteed not to commit further crimes” (also see excursion), and note the fate of Boxer in “Animal Farm” and many in “Soylent Green”. (Also note how often the dystopic works of old appear to be used as instruction manuals today—not as deterrents.)

Today, I encountered claims that Doctor endorses idea of suicide through organ donation ([2]). Some quotes:*

*Here and below with reservations for formatting, etc.

A recent bioethics paper raises some age-old arguments around an issue that strikes at the heart of ethical organ donation: organ donation euthanasia or ODE.

The Dead Donor Rule (DDR) is cornerstone to the public trust and ethics of organ donation. But for some, including Dr. Didde B Anderson, limiting the donation pool only to those actively dying or dead violates a principle of personal autonomy and is “paternalistic.”

As summarized in Psychology Today (PT), Anderson argues that healthy people who wish to donate an essential organ — a heart, for example — to save the lives of others should be allowed to do so, at the cost of their own lives.

Here something very similar to my original points apply, in that this might superficially seem like an increase in self-determination, but that the net-results could be very negative. This especially once the interest of others, utilitarian principles, and similar enter the equation. Apart from what is discussed in the remainder of [2], I note how easily this could move us towards exactly one of those Boxer or “Soylent Green” situations, especially when combined with coercion, economic incentives, reductions in medical services, etc.

One of Anderson’s main arguments is that allowing someone to choose to commit suicide for organ donation would lead to better organ viability. Yet this is a calculating, utilitarian argument that has no place in a society that values both individual rights and human dignity. […]

[Dr. Jonah Rubin of Harvard Medical School] says that creating a system that ignores the DDR — where an otherwise physically healthy person could request euthanasia for the purposes of organ donation — would inevitably create perverse incentives and unintended social consequences. If killing oneself for organ donation becomes a praiseworthy act, the mere mention of organ donation on a suicide-minded patient increases psychological pressure and starts to erode their autonomy.

Yet another issue in the same family, which could soon turn into guilting e.g. those in pain,* the elderly,* the poor, or the already suicidal into death, maybe in combination with claims that “You will no longer be a burden on your family!”, “You will no longer be a burden on society!”, “You have a civic duty to [whatnot]!”. (Note the difference that organ donations make to the situation: hospitals and the like now have incentives to push such a line in order to get organs for other patients and/or make more money.)

*In these cases, with reservations for organ viability, which can vary greatly depending on the cause of pain, how elderly, etc.

In a follow-up ([3]), I wrote:

[…] we have issues like where to draw the border between assistance and murder/manslaughter/whatnot, what level of encouragement (to go ahead) is tolerable in what setting,* when there should be an obligation to provide alternatives, when an offer to assist and/or a request for assistance should require a “cooling off” period, etc. […]

*That such encouragement can and often should be illegal is clear. Consider e.g. a deeply unhappy high-school student who is exposed to “encouraging” bullies. Even in a more medical setting, a case can often be made, as seen by how many who experience gender-dysphoria have been prematurely encouraged to take irrevocable steps. An analogous, “suicide affirmative”, approach could lead to a great many unnecessary deaths—maybe including that someone who engaged in a “call for attention” pseudo-attempt is encouraged to try again and with professional help to guarantee success.

Coincidentally, this matches up well with another recent article from the same source as [2]: Plan would let kids seek euthanasia … without telling parents! ([4]). This article discusses a potential horror, in light of the above, how easily manipulated today’s youths appear to be,* the gender-dysphoria epidemic, etc. Note, in particular, that youths who commit suicide and donate their organs would be a gold mine for an unscrupulous hospital.

*Whether the youths of yore or the adults of today were/are better, I leave unstated.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia have become rapidly accepted in Canada under the government’s Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) program, but there are still efforts to expand it even further. A new government report on MAiD was recently presented to Parliament, urging the inclusion of minors in the eligibility for physician-assisted death — without parental consent.

The committee then made the recommendation that Canada should begin, within five years, funding research and consulting “with minors on the topic of MAID, including minors with terminal illnesses, minors with disabilities, minors in the child welfare system and Indigenous minors.”

Here an interesting potential drift is present: while the current first effort seems to be focused on the terminally ill (cf. other parts of [4]), this continuation points to the mid- or long-term inclusion of those with disabilities, on welfare (burden to society!), and, for some reason, the “Indigenous”*.

*How they plan to get away with that one is unclear… I suspect that it is a case of a horrifyingly unfortunate formulation, e.g. with the intent to give the “Indigenous” preferential treatment in consultation, as a quasi-DIE measure and as opposed to a go-die measure. (Note a recent similar blunder where pushers of that absurd and linguistically nonsensical “people first” language made a claim along the lines that “the poor”, “the disabled”, and … “the French” would be insulting labels.)

Additionally, the report recommended that minors be able to be euthanized, even if their parent doesn’t approve […]:

That the Government of Canada establish a requirement that, where appropriate, the parents or guardians of a mature minor be consulted in the course of the assessment process for MAID, but that the will of a minor who is found to have the requisite decision-making capacity ultimately takes priority.

So, minors are supposed to be allowed to kill themselves, in addition to undergoing sex-change procedures, without parental consent—but they do not have the right to enter a binding contract on their own, to have sex, to get married, to drink, whatnot.* Indeed, such acts are often illegal even with parental consent…

*With reservations for what applies in any given jurisdiction for the age at hand. The laws can vary considerably.

Now, I am open to discuss what should and should not be allowed at what age, with or without parental consent, but any sane system must have a consistency of principle. Such a consistency would not be present here. (And tends to be absent, more generally, when politicians are present.)

Written by michaeleriksson

February 27, 2023 at 3:05 pm

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Follow-up on various hardware issues

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A few updates on earlier (mostly) hardware issues:

In [1], I write about connection problems between my computer and my smartphone (for the purpose of Internet access). These have spontaneously almost disappeared again after I returned to using the seemingly failing 3-Euro cable. There are intermittent issues, but they are rare. While this is good news, I cannot help being puzzled about these errors: no matter how the issue is turned and twisted, something on some side of the connection is doing something idiotic.

The Alpine issues mentioned in the same text naturally occurred only when the Internet connection was problematic, and have disappeared with the Internet/USB issue. However, I have moved from my previous setup of having a mail-filter fetch mail from a server to my local machine automatically,* and of manually deleting spam (and performing other steps) locally, to do so on the server, with a manual move to my local machine of whatever messages are legitimate. This has the added benefit of not having to download several spam messages of enormous size (some exceeding 100k!) every day.

*Unlike most others, I prefer to keep my emails locally, not on the server.

In [2], I discuss (rant about) various issues, including that:

  1. “Then the screen of my newish computer just dies…”: Some time after this, I bumped into the screen of this notebook, and the screen came alive again.*

    *With the various setup issues with the other notebooks, cf. below, I had kept it on in order to listen to music. Fortunately, my music/movie player is keyboard-driven, which made this possible, even if some occasional trial-and-error was needed.

    Since then, I have had some very rare occurrences when an accidental bump on the screen makes it go black and a deliberate bump turns it back on. The issue feels a little 1950-ish, but is not a real problem—a fear that the cure will eventually fail notwithstanding. Presumably there is some glitch somewhere, but not one that is truly problematic. (I have no recollection of bumping into the screen at the time of the original malfunction, but all the later have related to bumps, which makes a bump the most likely explanation.)

  2. There were some issues with the two replacement notebooks. The first was in perfect order soon after [2], except for the sound, which took longer. (Unfortunately, I do not remember the solution, but it involved the manual download of some driver and/or module.)

    I never truly got around to setting up the second, especially after the revival of the predecessor per the previous item. (Having three notebooks in parallel would be excessive and I keep it in reserve. I have basically only added a minimal Linux installation and then left it in a drawer.) However, the mentioned issue of the missing SSD* was largely a user error: the notebook uses NVM Express, which shows up under /dev/ as something other** than /dev/sda (sdb, sdc, …), a possibility that I was not aware of, having lost touch with the hardware side of computers over the years. An additional complication was that this one SSD had been arbitrarily divided into two partitions to form a RAID—which seems to make little sense to me*** and effectively cuts the available disk space in two. I suspect that this simply allows the marketing department to scream both “500 Gigabyte!!!” (or whatever the size of the drive was) and “RAID!!!”, with no regard for the now mere 250 Gigabyte (or whatever) at disposal.

    *I tend to use “hard drive” regardless of the exact type of storage, as I did in [2], but “SSD” is the better term in this case.

    **Specifically, /dev/nvme + some numbering scheme that I do not remember, having read up on this not too long after writing [2].

    ***Any additional speed gain would be of dubious value. Any additional protection against data loss would be limited, as it would only be beneficial when the one partition but not the other has a problem. (What RAID type was used, I do not remember, and I have long removed both the RAID and the artificial partioning.)

In [3] and [4], I discuss problems with printing on my then notebook (presumably the one with the odd screen). These problems seem to have spontaneously disappeared, but I have printed very little since then, and cannot give any guarantees for the future.

Some further printer issues, back in 2019, are discussed in [5] (same printer, different computer). Based on what I have seen since then, I suspect that my Canon runs a cleaning program in a blanket manner, every time that the printer has been turned off (as opposed to put on stand-by). This leads to a horrifying waste and explains the prematurely empty cartridges mentioned in that text. On the other hand, when the printer is kept on stand-by, even if left unused, no such cleaning takes place. This is an approach that does not make sense, barring the wish to waste ink for users who stick to common recommendations like “turn your devices completely off when not in use”. I also mention issues with misleading claims of out-of-paper. These have almost disappeared after the adjustments mentioned in [5].

Written by michaeleriksson

February 26, 2023 at 10:25 pm

On the attempts to cancel “Dilbert” and Scott Adams

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In recent news, the comic strip “Dilbert” appears to have been partially cancelled after author Scott Adams made statements condemned, typically without quotes, as e.g. a “racist rant”.

I made a brief search to find out what he actually had said and mostly came up empty. One of the few hits that actually contained quotes was at American Thinker*. Going by what is written there, neither “racist” nor “rant”** truly applies:***

*That a decidedly non-Leftist site is one of the few that actually gives specifics is telling: the typical Leftist approach is to shout “Racist!”, give no proof, and hope to be believed in a blanket manner.

**While the gross abuse of “racist” on the Left, and especially among the actually racist parts of the Left, is a known issue, it also seems to me that the word “rant” is quite overused, as another indirect attempt at discrediting someone, per se, rather than to discuss his actual claims, underlying reasoning, the facts of the matter, etc.

***In addition to the usual disclaimers about formatting, etc., note that the below contains considerable re-quoting and resulting quotes within quotes.

Adams became a nationwide trending topic after he said that black people are “a hate group and I don’t want to have anything to do with them.”

While a very generalizing statement, and one that does seem to be legitimately worthy of criticism at that level of generalization, it should be seen in the light of:

Adams was referring to a Rasmussen Survey that revealed that only 53 percent of Black Americans believe “it’s okay to be white.” Twenty-six percent think “it isn’t okay to be white,” while 21% remain undecided.

BLACK AMERICANS ONLY: “It’s okay to be white.” 53% agree, 26% disagree, 21% not sure

“Black people can be racist, too” 76% of agree, 27% disagree, 8% not sure.
https://t.co/5pYBvT00qn — Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) February 22, 2023

The first portion is something much more problematic, something that truly should be cause for alarm, and something that truly should be filling the news. Going by this survey, between 26 and 47 percent of Blacks are a hate* group—and this even restricted to Whites as the object of hate, without looking at e.g. the wide-spread anti-Asian and anti-Hispanic sentiments in the Black population.

*At least, by the standards of the Left, which invariably fails to make a difference between e.g. “hate” and “loathing”. Also see a discussion of “hate speech”.

As an aside, the Left and/or more specific Black hate-groups (e.g. BLM) have pushed hard to make statements like “ALL lives matter” and “It’s OK to be White” be, paradoxically and contrafactually, considered hate speech, which shows how far gone the debate is and what mindlessness and hateful distortions rule on the Left. The haters are given a free rein and those objecting to the haters are condemned as—haters.

He also said the following:

Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from black people.

Wherever you have to go, just get away. Because there’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed, right. This can’t be fixed. You just have to escape.

As far as I can tell, he is factually at least approximately correct in this regard. I have seen a great many sources (note e.g. [1]) give experiences and statistics on these matters that point to “get away” being sound advice. In the future, this might change, but it will be a long-term process and it will require a complete rethinking of U.S. policy* towards Blacks and a reversal of e.g. Anti-White hate propaganda as pushed by CRT, the history-distorting 1619 Project, and similar anti-scientific absurdities.

*Including over-lenient treatment of criminal acts, affirmative action, and the like. Cf. e.g. parts of [1] resp. the discussed book.

A potentially important point is that he said “This can’t be fixed.” (etc.), not e.g. “They can’t be fixed.”. The latter might, depending on details, have been genuine racism; the former is not.

He then cited CNN anchor Don Lemon to claim that there’s a “correlation” between a “mostly Black” neighborhood and “a bunch of problems he didn’t see” in majority-white areas.

Again a factually true claim. (To boot, with the complication that it is unclear whether Adams, as opposed to just Lemon, would have been worthy of criticism, had the claim been faulty.)

Adams also said that he was going to stop helping black America because it doesn’t seem to pay off.

It makes no sense to help black Americans if you’re white.

Again, he is factually correct: Firstly, at least the type of help and “help” so far given,* seems to make matters worse. Secondly, the help does not seem to result in gratitude but in calls for more help and gross entitlement issues. (And, no, just shouting “Slavery!” or “Jim Crow!” is not a justification for such help. See e.g. [2].)

*However, other types of help could conceivably be beneficial, e.g. that Blacks are directed away from ghetto/gangsta culture, taught to take responsibility for their own lives (ditto many of the younger Whites), etc.

He added that videos of black people beating white people had convinced him that whites should not help black people and whites should not live in communities with a large percentage of black people.

Here he makes an error, if not one different from those that the Left and mindless Leftists make on a very regular basis: Just looking at videos implies that the overall impression could be distorted by selection effects. Statistics are what counts in situations like these.

All in all, if* Adams deserves a cancellation, the same applies several times over to the likes of Xendi, Sharpton, and AOC. In fact, a very significant part of the Democrat top, including Biden and Pelosi, are more deserving of cancellation.

*An “if” that hinges both on whether Adams truly did something sufficiently wrong, and whether cancellations are a legitimate tool to begin with. I am highly sceptical to both.

I would certainly encourage any and all readers who has seen “Dilbert” disappear from e.g. their daily papers to write a letter of protest to the resp. paper/whatnot. Hell, throw in a threat of cancelling the subscriptions and show that “go woke, go broke” is a real thing!

Excursion on Dahl and increasing distortions of words:
In light of my recent text on Roald Dahl resp. the distortions of his works by Leftist BigBrother-ites, I cannot suppress the fear that we will soon see something worse, namely distortions of the words various persons have spoken/written as explicit own opinions (as opposed to opinions uttered by characters in works of fiction, opinions that might be speculated based on events in works of fiction, and similar). Adams is still alive and could put up a fight, but Dahl is dead and can as little put up a fight against such distortions as he could around his books. So, instead of e.g. cancelling Dahl for being an evil whatnot*, why not just take any statements made and twist them into another direction? If someone is otherwise tolerable, why not just add (fake) explicit statements to his history to create the impression that he was a staunch supporter of various Leftist causes? (Note e.g. how Feminists are very keen on slapping the label “Feminist” onto historical characters, long dead and predating the word “Feminist”, with no regard for how these characters might actually have reacted to such, often unfair and potentially defamatory, claims.)

*The “whatnot” possibly depending on the mood of the day.

As exaggerated examples of principle:

“Give me social security or give me death!”

“There is nothing to fear but White Supremacy!”

“One small step for man, a giant accomplishment for womyn engineers!”

Excursion on me and Adams:
Long ago, I wrote a text on the most important advice for company life—read Dilbert. This, I have to admit, is not an advice that I have followed over the last fifteen or more years. The reasons are simply that (a) I grew fed up with a particular brand of humor and a certain set of standing jokes (too much of anything…), and (b) the Dilbert strip is often quite depressing.

I cannot speak for how the strip has developed in the years gone by, but I must concur with that younger version of me to the point that having read (and thought about!) just one or two years’ worth of the strip-that-I-knew can make a major difference in developing the right understanding of stupidity in the office and the irrationality of various actors (e.g. HR and middle management), the right level of cynicism to have and level of caution to apply, etc. Moreover, an occasional re-exposure, in order to be reminded, does not hurt—it is so easy to forget how problematic some persons are until it is too late.

Of course, any such benefit from reading the strip, as any other benefit, e.g. of amusement, is entirely independent of what views Adams does or does not hold, what statements he has or has not uttered in an interview, etc. By reducing access to the works of a particular author, more might be done to harm his readers/viewers/whatnot than to harm him.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 26, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Word and unword

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I have repeatedly used both the German “Unwort” and the anglicised “unword” in my writings, including in at least two texts dealing with the German far-Left propaganda “Unwort des Jahres”*, which seems set on turning “Unwort” into an unword through abusing the idea for political purposes.

*First in 2020; then, having forgotten that text, in parts of a text from three days ago ([1]).

As I find myself using the word in yet another text, it is time to write something more suitable for linking:

In short, an “Unwort” is a word (“Wort”) of such a character that is best avoided for being too* ugly, nonsensical, illogical, linguistically unsound, or similar. In some cases, an otherwise legitimate word that is simply highly over-used, incorrectly used, or truly offensively used can be included.** Neologisms are particularly likely to be unwords, because they lack a prior history, are often incompetently or unnaturally formed, and are often introduced largely for destructive, euphemistic, political, and/or bureaucratic reasons; and the list of examples below contains several neologisms. (However, being a neologism, alone, does not make a word an unword. Ditto e.g. being a euphemism.)

*There is a natural subjective component. Even the aforementioned Leftist abuse aside, there is likely to be a variety of opinions on what is and is not an unword.

**Note that none of these criteria apply to the aforementioned Leftist abuse; however, it is conceivable that the jury is sufficiently intellectually limited to fail to understand the difference between e.g. “truly offensively used” and “does not fit our agenda”.

However, “best avoided” does not imply banned and under no circumstances does a classification as unword justify the redaction of uses in existing literature, a censoring of speech that discusses the word, or similar. This emphatically includes the likes of “nigger”. (See below for whether “nigger” should be considered an unword.)

To contrast “Unwort” with “Wort”: The German prefix “Un-” resp. “un-”* is a negation similar to (and cognate with) the English “un-” and the Latin “in-” prefixes,** and it is often used in the same manner, e.g to form “unwahr” (“untrue”) from “wahr” (“true”). However, it also has a common use as an augmentative/intensifier, to indicate a sense of general wrongness, to describe something that is not as it should be, or similar—and especially with nouns. We have e.g. “Tier”–“Untier” (“animal”–“monster”), “Mensch”–“Unmensch” (“human”–“bad human”),*** “Ding”–“Unding” (“thing”–“abomination”****), and “Summe”–“Unsumme” (“amount”–“very large amount”). In a twist, these senses can clash. A notable example is “Tiefe” (“depth”, as in e.g. “the depths of the ocean”) and “Untiefe”, where the latter can mean either a shallow (something deep to a very low degree) or an unusually deep depth/abyss (something deep to a very high degree).

*German nouns are capitalized but e.g adjectives are not. For instance, the above “unwahr” has a corresponding noun “Unwahrheit” (“untruth”).

**Of course, there are more than one such prefix in many languages. Notably, the Latin “in-” has been imported into both English and German, including some variations (e.g. the “im-” in “improper”).

***Proof-reading, I spot a potential English analogue in “human”–“inhuman”. The meanings of “inhuman” and “Unmensch” are not identical, but they are overlapping. Moreover, the Inhumans of Marvel could conceivably be an example of an augmentative relative humans, or a juxtaposition similar to “Tier”–“Untier”. (Similar-but-undiscovered analogues might exist elsewhere. Certainly, “in-” was sometimes used as an augmentative in Latin, if likely based on another etymological root.)

****With the reservation that “Unding” is usually less strongly loaded than “abomination” (as well as more common and colloquial).

Applying this “Un-” to “Wort”, we can then view “Unwort” as “a non-word”, “an abomination of a word”, (more metaphorically) “a word that should be taken out and shot”, or something similar.* For my part, I will continue my use of “unword”. (Also see an excursion for alternatives.) I might also use something like “unphrase”, but might equally gloss over the complication of compounds/expressions, which often result in multiple words where e.g. German would have one word.**

*The sense of a pure augmentative, e.g. “word to a particularly high degree”, is ruled out by actual use. I do suddenly find myself tempted to apply this interpretation to “Unwort des Jahres”, but it would certainly not reflect the intentions of the perpetrators…

**As an aside, this has the advantage that “too long” is less likely to be a criterion in English. Considering the likes of “Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän”, this would have been an explicit criterion, had I written this text in and about German.

However, a word does not become an unword merely for being a common slur or for being considered offensive by some group (especially not when this group presumes to make a unilateral decision about offensiveness for others). For instance, “bitch” is and remains a perfectly acceptable word in the context of dogs, while even the use as a slur should be viewed on an “if the shoe fits” basis. Moreover, there is a difference between a slur directed at someone for the purpose of denigrating a group (and/or denigrating that someone for group membership) and for the purpose of using a slur appropriate for the group at hand, and “bitch” almost invariably amounts to the latter. (Cf. a brief discussion in [2].) Then there is the issue of the allegedly denigrated group as users of the word—and most uses of “bitch” that I have encountered have been one woman insulting another, be it to her face or behind her back.

In the case of “nigger”, I cannot make up my mind whether I should consider it an unword. On the one hand, there are many similarities with “bitch”, including a long history and a likely origin* as a non-slur. On the other, there is, to my knowledge, no legitimate use comparable to “bitch” for “female dog”, and the common use by Blacks (somewhat comparable to “bro”) is of a different character than the typical use of “bitch” by women (deliberate insult/slight/whatnot). A more linguistic case might be made based on the severe distortion of spelling and pronunciation that has taken place (cf. footnote*); however, over the timespan involved, this argument becomes weak—applying it consistently would leave us with far more unwords than words in English (Swedish, German, whatnot; the likes of Esperanto and Klingon would fare better).

*The source is the Spanish word “negro” (also the source of the English “negro”), which simply means “black”, and there is no reason to believe that early use was intended as a slur. (Note the difference between using a slur to express disapproval/whatnot and merely using a word for someone, something, some group, of which one disapproves/whatnot; also note the related phenomenon of “euphemism treadmills”.)

To look at some examples of English unwords:*

*While the examples all have a political connection, this is a matter of my own exposure over the last few years—not of politics being the only source.

NGO/Non-Governmental Organisation: Apart from this word/expression being poorly or inconsistently defined, the default assumption of an organisation must be that it is not part of a government, and it is the governmental organisations that should be put apart—not the non-governmental ones. This especially as the use often seems to give “NGOs” an inherently lesser legitimacy than governmental organisations.* A particular problem is that many organisations that are non-governmental (and, therefore, should be included) often seem to be excluded, as with profit-oriented corporations. Kill off “NGO” and speak of “organisation” or something more specific (e.g. “non-profit organisation”; the best choice will vary from case to case).

*Implicitly, that there are proper and governmental organisations—and then there are those pointless NGOs, who at best are amateurs who get in the way of us professionals, at worst are thinly disguised agents for foreign governments.

They (and variations): Is a true abomination when abused and should be viewed as deeply offensive Newspeak. Cf. earlier texts, e.g. [3]. Use strictly for the third-person plural and stick to grammatically and stylistically better solutions for other cases. (Such solutions are offered in [3].)

Mansplaining: A sexist ad-hominem term, usually used by someone lacking in arguments, for the purpose of not having to admit that she is wrong or said something stupid. The “man” part does not make sense by language standards (but is inserted to push an anti-man agenda) and alters “explaining” so much that understandability is reduced. Moreover, portmanteaus are usually best avoided. See an earlier text for a deeper treatment.

Rape culture: Here the component “rape” is abused in an inexcusable manner, as what is called “rape culture” often has nothing to do with rape and, when it does, uses a severely distorted view of reality, especially men, women, and how men treat women. However, the claim of “rape culture”, pseudo-justified by that distortion of meaning and reality, is then used to push an impression of a culture which considers rape something acceptable and common (“all men are rapists” and so on). As the phrase is virtually only used to push a Feminist hate-agenda, it should be stricken without replacement. (As an aside, I have contemplated launching a counter-phrase like “castration culture”, which would certainly be more justified in the typical Western society of today.)

Climate denier: This term has no justification and should be avoided in favor of more factually correct descriptions.* To quote from [1]**

*Exactly what those are will depend on the circumstances. However, it is important not to fall into the trap of raising an accusation around climate, per se. For instance, there are neither “climate deniers” nor “climate sceptics”—some given person might, however, be a “climate-change sceptic”. (Here it is also important not to misrepresent the actual opinions of that someone, contrary to Leftist habits. For instance, it is possible to see climate change as anthropogenic-but-harmless, as present-but-not-anthropogenic, or as not present, and these three opinions will often be too far apart to be reasonably grouped together. Also note the case of Koonin below.)

**Footnote present in the original but “renumbered” in the quote.

[…] “climate denier” does check a relevant linguistic checkbox through being highly illogical (who denies that the climate exists?!?). It is also highly misleading, defamatory, and serves as a dishonest ad-hominem attack, which makes it all the more worthy of condemnation. […] “climate denier” is thrown around in a wild manner, including against those, like Koonin, who appear to be more-or-less believers in e.g. man-made climate change but object to misrepresentations of the underlying science by media, special interest groups, and the like.*

*I remain agnostic on the issue; however, I also have very strong objections to the methods that the fanatics use in the climate debate—methods that are intellectually dishonest, anti-scientific, and generally worthy of condemnation, regardless of what the facts on the climate are.

(Generally, the “denier” family contains many potential examples that are typically used in a similar manner and with a similar degree of intellectual dishonesty; however, “climate denier” is a particularly bad case through its lack of logic compared to e.g. “climate-change denier”.)

COVIDiot: Not only a pointless slur, but also an ad-hominem term. Moreover, the slur is usually directed at intelligent and well-informed individuals who think for themselves by stupid and conformant sheeple. As such the term would be better used in the other direction, if at all.* This is another portmanteau and one that requires inconsistent use of upper- and lower-case relative “COVID” and “idiot”. (While some write “Covid” to begin with, this word usually seems to be written “COVIDiot” or otherwise with an odd mixture of upper- and lower-case letters.)

*That time has proved the sheeple wrong, as opposed to right-for-a-bad-reason, on virtually every issue, does not help the word.

Excursion on development of meaning of “Un-”/“un-”:
While I have not investigated the historical development, it seems plausible that the sense of something wrong developed from the negation by a semi-analogy with constellations like “Wahrheit”–“Unwahrheit”. Here we do have a pure negation, but a negation that comes with a potentially strong change of character and strong negative connotations. It might even be argued that an untruth is an abomination in comparison to a truth in the same way that a monster is when compared to an animal. (That the sense of negation came first is almost certain, considering the popularity of cognate prefixes with the same effect in Indo-European languages.)

Similarly, “Summe”–“Unsumme” could give clues in that an Unsumme could have negative connotations in some contexts, e.g. when it refers to a debt owed or, from the point of view of someone jealous, an amount in the possession of someone else. However, how the type of intensifying effect seen in “Unsumme” original arose is then unclear, and it could be the other way around, that the likes of “Tier”–“Untier” came first and the usually greater size/strength/danger/whatnot associated with “Untier” caused the intensifying effect to develop and then to be applied to the likes of “Unsumme”.

On the other hand, if an intensifying effect was present sufficiently early, it is also conceivable that we had drifts in the other direction, e.g. that “Untier” began as a word for a particularly large/strong/dangerous/whatnot animal, and that the sense of monster developed from there.

Excursion on “unword” as a potential unword:
A case could conceivably be made that “unword”, in English, would be an unword, e.g. with an eye at the lack of precedence for similar formations or the (too?) strong influence of the German original. However, there is the English “unperson” (likely, by Orwell), which is at least somewhat similar and is in general use.

A more English replacement is tricky to find. For instance, “non-word” would be conceivable, but would a) miss the underlying sense of something abominable, b) risk confusion with non-words like “alkdfsdfg”. I might go with “anti-word”, but this seems like too much of a compromise and might cause confusion,* while e.g. “dis[-]word” would border on the silly. Of course, “non-”, “anti-”, and “dis-” are all still recognizable as borrowings, which makes their use in a “more English replacement” dubious. Fully replacing one set of foreign words with another (cf. footnote*) borders on the absurd, which rules out the likes of “antinomen” and “kakalogos” (or whatever the correct forms might be); although, something like “ignomen” might work as a joke.

*That too much of a distance can be a bad thing is seen with Freud and “Ich” (German for “I”) vs. the English borrowing of Latin “Ego” to fill the same role. Ditto “Es”/“Id” and “Über-Ich”/“Super-Ego”. It would have been better to just keep the German words (or to give an actual English translation).

An alternative would be to keep “Unwort”, but this, I suspect, would be more likely to cause confusion on a first encounter than “unword” and introduces the complication of whether to capitalize German nouns in English. (I usually do, but the typical recommendation seems to be to treat them like English nouns. Moreover, if the word is sufficiently popular for sufficiently long, it would gain the actual status of an English noun, like so many other borrowings, and likely be handled by English rules anyway.)

All in all, “unword” seems a reasonable solution.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 23, 2023 at 11:42 pm

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Democrats give Communism a pass / Dog bites man (Follow-up: Even Democrats condemn Socialism / Man bites dog)

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Recently, I noted that even the House Democrats had voted to condemn Socialism ([1])—a true man-bites-dog moment. While this resolution is still waiting for the Senate vote, I just saw a much more dog-bites-man action from the Democrats, as Virginia Senate Rejects Bill on Teaching the Dangers of Communism in Schools.

The motivation is ridiculous and seems like excuse making:*

*Here and elsewhere with reservation for changes to formatting, etc.

Legislation requiring all Virginia public schools to teach the history and dangers of communism was blocked by the state Senate’s Education and Health subcommittee after one of the largest school unions opposed the bill, saying it would discriminate against Asian people.

A representative from the Virginia Education Association (VEA) spoke in opposition to Del. John Avoli’s bill, HB 1816.

“Four out of the five current communist regimes are countries that are in Asia. We are concerned that this bill would subject Asian American students to anti-Asian sentiment and we think that we would oppose this bill,” said Emily Yen, a research coordinator for VEA.

Note in particular that the main reason seems to go back to a school union (!), and that school unions (in the U.S.) are notorious for having strong Leftist sympathies, including, disturbingly often, a Socialist, Communist, and/or (otherwise) Marxist streak. More thorough and more critical information about Communism (etc.) is needed in schools partially because of them.

In as far as the motivation is taken at face value, it shows at least three very dangerous issues: (a) The over-racialization pushed so hard by the U.S. Left. (b) How information is withheld from the masses through the fear that they will reach the wrong or, often, “wrong” conclusions. (c) How countermeasures against genuine issues can fail through a mere risk (and, often, a merely perceived risk) of a smaller damage. If this standard was applied consistently, it would not be allowed to e.g. seriously discuss the Nazis (might lead to negative consequences for German-Americans), Islamist violence (ditto for Muslims and/or Arabs), government failure (ditto for politicians), school failure (ditto for teachers), etc. Indeed, in some cases, including Black criminality (in general) and Black-on-Asian violence (topically relevant) such censorship/suppression of debate is already common.*

*Paralleled by criminality by immigrants in e.g. Sweden and Germany.

Moreover, the outcome makes me fear that the resolution discussed in [1] will suffer a similar fate, as even a clear House victory and (partially) bipartisan support gives no guarantee for a victory in the Senate:*

*Obviously, however, these are two different Houses resp. Senates. The victory margin for the federal resolution was also larger. Nevertheless…

While the Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill in a bipartisan vote of 64 to 34, Democrats in the state Senate prevented the bill from moving out of committee.

In contrast to the VEA and the Virgina Democrats, Avoli and other supporters has it right, as can be seen in the current world, including in the U.S. and in Germany, where even absurd Leftism is tolerated, evermore extreme Leftism is normalized, and even moderate non-Leftist positions are increasingly condemned as “extremist”:*

*See a great number of earlier texts, e.g. [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7].

Avoli said it’s important to codify the requirements that students learn about the dangers of communism so that history does not repeat itself.

Avoli clarified that the bill would require the teaching of communism in its entirety with no special focus on Asia.

Supporters of the bill say this measure is particularly needed because of the rise of socialist and Marxist ideologies in the education system, resulting in the fact that many young adults see communism as a superior system to capitalism, not realizing the true toll communism has taken on human life.

Hear, hear!

A particular treat (had the opportunity not been missed), especially in light of the many odd and often undeserved “Days” common in the U.S.:

The bill would also have required the governor to issue a proclamation to designate Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Day and require public schools in the Commonwealth to honor the approximately 100 million victims of various communist regimes.

As a contrast, I note the behavior of Wuppertal, the birthplace of Engels and my own city of residence, for the 200th anniversary of his birth. A sane Wuppertal would have gone with e.g. “Wuppertal setzt sich kritisch mit dem Marxistischen Gedankengut auseinander!”* or “Wuppertal gedenkt der Opfer des Marxismus!”**. In reality? “Wuppertal feiert den 200. Geburtstag von Friedrich Engels!”*** (Cf. [8].)

*“Wuppertal critically examines Marxist thought!” (The German version is more idiomatically natural.)

**“Wuppertal commemorates the victims of Marxism!” (Ditto.)

***“Wuppertal celebrates the 200th birthday of Friedrich Engels!”

Written by michaeleriksson

February 22, 2023 at 5:30 pm

Inflation again / Meals for frying

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For another inflation follow-up:

A little more than two weeks ago, I revisited some inflation items from last September ([1]), and noted that the “[m]eals for frying” that I (originally, often; increasingly, rarely) buy had not changed in price in the interim—unlike most others items.

Today, I bought another one, looked at my receipt, and found a horrible 2.99 Euro!

Compared to [1], this is another 11–15 (!) percent* in five (!) months, after the price had already risen by 40 percent or more during the COVID-countermeasure era. Going back to the original price (“1.80-something”), we now have an increase of some 60 percent…** From another perspective, if the same rate of increase continues, the price come next September might close in on twice the original.***

*2.99 vs. “2.60-something”: 2.99/2.60 = 1.15 and 2.99/2.69 > 1.11.

**2.99/1.80 > 1.66; 2.99/1.89 > 1.58.

***Good predictions are impossible, because (a) trends can change, (b) prices, as above, often increase in jerks rather than smaller gradual increases. (In particular, cf. an excursion in [1], there is some chance that breaking the 3-Euro barrier would be too painful for the store.) However, if we assume a reasonably smooth increase, a rate of 13 percent for the previous five months, and add another seven months, then the 2.99 Euro would be scaled by a factor of (1.13)^(7/5), which amounts to approximately 3.55 Euro, while the original price, again, was “1.80-something”.

Fucking politicians!

Written by michaeleriksson

February 22, 2023 at 10:43 am

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COVID and natural immunity / Follow-up: The paradoxical betrayal by those who should fight for truth

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In my previous text, I went hard on fact-checkers, proponents of Official Truths, and the like. Among other things, I noted:

With more facts in hand, it is horrifying how much the likes of Fauci [contextually juxtaposed with Trump] got wrong.

At around the same time, Brownstone published a text on distortions, including by Fauci, around natural immunity and COVID, which well illustrates some of the problems.* I strongly recommend reading the article as a whole, especially for examples and details. Still, a few quotes:**

*In addition to pointing to the benefits of natural immunity. This is off-topic relative my previous text, but is important in its own right, considering how many have not yet seen the point.

**With reservations for formatting, etc.

A new study in The Lancet has confirmed that natural immunity from COVID infection is at least as protective and durable against severe complications as vaccination.

Yet again, another COVID “conspiracy theory” has become today’s “The Science™.”

Natural immunity has long been a well known and accepted part of immunology, despite rabid, frenzied attempts to discredit it.

This fits a bigger picture of trying to discredit unwanted opinions with various slurs (e.g. “conspiracy theory”, “racism”, “White Supremacy”) instead of with arguments. Such attempts could, on a meta-level, be seen as a strong argument for the attacker being wrong and the attacked being right, as those who actually have arguments should* use those arguments instead of shouting “conspiracy theory”. I have reached the point where, unthinkable just a few years ago, “conspiracy theory” seems more like an endorsement than a condemnation. The issue with natural immunity is particularly puzzling, if we take a “we want to help” attitude at face value,** as the idea behind vaccines has historically been to get as much of the benefits from (post-infection) natural immunity without actually taking the risks associated with a (regular, non-manipulated) infection—immunity with less risk; not stronger immunity. The COVID vaccines use a somewhat different approach, but there is nothing that a priori (in my layman’s perspective) pointed to their being more effective than natural immunity and, for the young and healthy, even the “less risk” part seems*** highly dubious by now.

*Unfortunately, this is not foolproof, as some go for the easy manipulation of the broad masses over attempts to convince the thinkers; however, it does seem to hold up very well with the Left. (Cf. e.g. [1].)

**Whether we should is another matter. Much of what has happened can be parsimoniously explained by assuming a priority of e.g. selling vaccines or enforcing compliance over a wish to keep the people healthy.

***Unfortunately, the methods of the COVID fanatics, and the polarization of the debate that they have caused, have made it hard to gain a clear impression, at least without putting in much more leg-work than I have. There are definite risks, but how large they are and how they compare with the COVID risks is hard to tell.

Repeatedly, “fact-checkers” labeled posts as “misleading” for claiming that natural immunity was highly effective and could provide similar protection as vaccination.

Except they’ve all been proven wrong.

The Lancet study examined 65 studies from 19 different countries to determine the level of protection from infection against severe illness from COVID.

And they found that natural immunity was extremely protective against further complications, even for newer variants.

An excellent example for my own discussion of fact-checkers and how large the disconnect between claims about science (facts, whatnot) and the actual science (facts, whatnot) can be. (But note that I do not vouch for the correctness of details, here and elsewhere, e.g. whether “extremely protective” holds true or just “protective”. The point is, to me, that natural immunity was dismissed in a near blanket manner, while actually working well.)

Even more importantly, the study found that natural immunity was “at least” as protective as vaccination against all variants. And frequently more so.


Beyond being as least as protective, natural immunity was potentially longer lasting than protection from vaccination.

As really should have been expected. Moreover, something that the sceptics have been saying for a very long time based on earlier research. (A disadvantage with a meta-study is, of course, that it has to wait for individual studies to materialize—the truth has been out there for most of the COVID era.)

It’s almost impossible to be more wrong than Fauci, Birx, Mother Jones, dismissive “experts” and “fact-checkers” have been over the past few years.

With regards to masks, vaccine passports, school closures, lockdowns and natural immunity, for every single pandemic question the ‘experts’ formulated the wrong answer.

Hear, hear! The interesting question now is to what degree this is explained by e.g. incompetence and to what degree by some hidden agenda.

One of the most consistent features of the COVID era has been “experts” lying to the public, while steadfastly refusing to ever admit they were wrong.

Ditto. (Note that the word “lying” is justified, even should the issue ultimately be rooted in incompetence, as many stuck with the same line even after it must have been clear that the line was faulty.)

Written by michaeleriksson

February 21, 2023 at 12:54 pm

The paradoxical betrayal by those who should fight for truth

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As I noted in a recent text ([1]) (also see e.g. [2]), fact-checkers do more or less the opposite of what they should do: they should check facts in a neutral and objective manner, but actually check for compatibility with Leftist agendas or, very often overlapping, some Official Truth—and agendas/whatnot almost invariably supported by mis- and/or disinformation. Not only do they fail in their nominal task, they actually manage to make the situation worse than if they had not existed.

This is the more saddening to me as I had the idea of large scale* fact-checking before it manifested and had attached great hopes to the effects of a future implementation. Notably, there are a great many Leftist misconceptions, distortions, and outright lies that are ever and ever recurring, including that infamous 77 cents on the dollar bullshit, which is like a hydra—it grows** heads more quickly than the debunkers can keep up. It must have been debunked thousands of times over several decades and in a great many countries, yet it is still repeated with a mind-numbing stubbornness, and with not the slightest attempts at nuance or at countering the debunkings. (It is also an excellent example of how important it is to not just look at raw data but to actually understand the data in context, understand the reasons behind the data, understand the implications of the data, etc.—something very important to keep in mind when it comes to Leftist propaganda, which is often based on exactly data or claims removed from context, understanding, whatnot.)

*As opposed to e.g. a fact-checker hired by a newspaper to check the works of individual journalists or by a scientist to reduce some of his leg-work. Fact-checking, as such, has a history that goes back long before my idea and the modern “fact”-checking industry that came instead.

**But differs in that the growth is not caused by decapitation.

The result is a virtual sequence of:

“Women only earn 77 cents on the dollar!!! Sexism!!! Discrimination!!!”

“No, that is misleading because: [a discussion over several paragraphs]”

“Women only earn 77 cents on the dollar!!! Sexism!!! Discrimination!!!”

This, of course, only in those cases where someone actually is present to speak up, has the energy to do so, is not censored for disagreeing with the Feminists reality distortions, and whatnot. Most of the time, “Women only earn 77 cents on the dollar!!! Sexism!!! Discrimination!!!” sees no counter and is allowed to indoctrinate the weak thinkers and those ignorant of the underlying situation. Here, real fact-checkers might have worked miracles by simply pointing out the truth of the matter every time one of the hydra’s heads popped up.

There are many other examples where real fact-checkers would have been immensely valuable to counter recurring dis-/misinformation, e.g. defamation of IQ,* fear-mongering around nuclear power, the habit of blaming Capitalism for government failures,** and belief in the long discredited (among real scientists) “nurture only”/“tabula rasa” thinking, which is central to much of Leftist policies, e.g. with regard to the school system and transfer payments.

*Most commonly, maybe, the outrageously wrong claim that “IQ only determines how good you are at taking IQ tests” (cf. a text on IQ myths).

**See an upcoming text.

In [1], I also note that Wikipedia suffers from similar issues, thereby betraying its encyclopedic duties. Then there are scientific magazines, newspapers, schools, … Disturbingly often, it is exactly those institutions, persons, whatnot, that are supposed to be in the frontline against poor information, distortions of science, an anti-scientific/-intellectual attitude, poor attitudes towards language, postmodernism, and various Leftist bullshit, who have either put up no fight at all or, worse, joined the fight to push mis- and disinformation, distortions of science, etc.* (This often through the administrative route, that activists take control over an organisation, what policies the organisation supports, who is hired in “real”** positions within the organisation, etc., through gaining dominance among administrators.)

*Note that this is not limited to political issues. Consider e.g. non-political language issues (e.g. correctness of grammar, choice of good words): Journalists should have been setting a good example—but are often among the worst sinners. Teachers should instruct the students carefully, in order to reduce long-term damage to the language (cf. [3]), to ensure that A and B understand each other correctly, etc.—but often have a very shallow or incorrect own understanding, do not seem to care, and/or are Leftist activists who abuse their position to bend language in favor of some cause (e.g. by pushing “they” as a generic pronoun).

**For a college, contrast a professor, who is actually involved with the teaching and the research, with an administrator, bureaucrat, pencil pusher, DIE enforcer, whatnot. (Sadly, the professor is the one who has to take orders, which is the opposite of how a sane world/college would work.)

The case of the German Unwort des Jahres* is particular problematic and perfidious. Here we have a negative award that rightfully should be give to words that are ugly, illogical, overused, whatnot, and that are best avoided from a more linguistic or stylistic point of view. Instead? Looking at the list given in the above link (in German), the yearly** “winner” is usually chosen for being a word used by the non-Left to criticize (usually in a highly justified manner) various excesses or idiocies of the Left—the whole thing is turned into an illegitimate attempt to delegitimize legitimate criticism of the Left. It is nothing more and nothing less than a propaganda tool for the Left or far Left. In particular, it has no true connection to anything linguistic, stylistic, whatnot.

*The German “Un” prefix often has a strong negating and/or intensifying effect. Note, e.g., “Tier” (“animal”) vs. “Untier” (“monster”). Without the prefix, “Wort des Jahres” is simply “word of the year”, while “Unwort des Jahres” then (nominally, but not in reality) becomes the linguistic equivalent of the “Razzies”.

**See excursion for a discussion of the 2022 entry.

Excursion on the 2022 “Unwort des Jahres”:
The 2022 choice was announced a few days ago, and was the trigger for this text: “Klimaterroristen” (“climate terrorists”).

There are at least two angles that make this choice unjustifiable, even the absence of linguistic and stylistic issues aside: Firstly, 2022 saw a considerable amount of violence from climate fanatics, including attempts to ruin old works of art, that falls well within what has been considered terrorism when performed by other groups.* Indeed, if e.g. societal concerns were to trump linguistic concerns, it would have been less unreasonable to name it word of the year than un-word of the year. Secondly, the much more justifiable-as-a-winner “Klimaleugner” (“climate denier”) has never seen a similar “award”. However, “climate denier” does check a relevant linguistic checkbox through being highly illogical (who denies that the climate exists?!?). It is also highly misleading, defamatory, and serves as a dishonest ad-hominem attack, which makes it all the more worthy of condemnation. (Note the asymmetry: “climate terrorist” is applied to those who engage in terroristic acts, while “climate denier” is thrown around in a wild manner, including against those, like Koonin, who appear to be more-or-less believers in e.g. man-made climate change but object to misrepresentations of the underlying science by media, special interest groups, and the like.** (Generally, for every alleged non-Leftist “un-word”, there are a handful of Leftist words that are more or much more deserving of the label.)

*There is room to discuss the correctness of such use in general, and there might have been some considerably earlier year where a plain “[Tt]errorist” would have been a legitimate choice through the drift in use. However, the more specific “climate terrorist” has no such justification—and certainly not for 2022. Also note, beyond this general drift, a common abuse of the word “[Tt]errorist” by the Left against its opponents for far lesser reasons. (E.g. that parents protesting Leftist indoctrination in U.S. schools are equated with “domestic terrorists”.)

**I remain agnostic on the issue; however, I also have very strong objections to the methods that the fanatics use in the climate debate—methods that are intellectually dishonest, anti-scientific, and generally worthy of condemnation, regardless of what the facts on the climate are.

Excursion on methods:
The methods used by various entities who “fight the bad fight” can be very annoying in their own right, including unsupported claims that this-or-that would be “racist” or “sexist”, and other claims that involve a considerable speculation (or fantasizing) about the intentions of others. (In particular, it is a common malpractice to condemn claims as e.g. “racist” without stating what these claims were, which prevents the reader from fact-checking the condemnation.) Similarly, claims by non-Leftists are often prefixed with something like “unfounded” or “debunked” (e.g. “X’s debunked claim that […]”)–even when the claim actually has considerable support and is anything but debunked.* In the other direction, Leftist claims are often prefixed with “science says that […]” or similar—even when real scientists (i.e. those not doing gender studies and other quackery) say something very different.** Then we have issues like e.g. calls for more government intervention, despite many decades of empirical evidence that this is a negative, while those calling for less government and more market are dismissed as e.g. invoking “market hocus-pocus”, while the same decades of experience show that markets actually work—to give just one example of a complete disconnect between claims and reality.

*A critical point: I, too, use similar phrasings, e.g. the “unsupported claims” in the first sentence of this excursion—but I do so because it is justified, while the Left does so because the “wrong” person said it or because it does not fit the Agenda. At an extreme, note how some suggestions by Trump around COVID seem to have been condemned in a near blanket manner because he suggested them, regardless of what science actually said, what actually was plausible, what was within the range of the large uncertainties present at the time, etc. (With more facts in hand, it is horrifying how much the likes of Fauci got wrong.)

**I re-iterate my observation that the claim “science says that X” is no more credible than just the claim “X”, unless proof is actually given.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 20, 2023 at 7:22 pm

Distortion of literary works / Roald Dahl

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I have repeatedly* written about the distortion of various past works by reader- and author-despising editors and whatnots—especially, those abusing their positions to push a PC extremist (or otherwise Leftist extremist) agenda.

*E.g. concerning Enid Blyton ([1]). Also note the overlapping issue of overruled choice.

As I learn today, Roald Dahl has fallen victim to a particularly large and ill-advised set of distortions. Several articles have appeared alone in “The Telegraph”, including [2] and [3], the latter partially discussing Salman Rushdie’s condemnation of the distortions.

To look at some quotes from [2]:*

*The usual disclaimers about formatting, etc., apply.

The publisher, Puffin, has made hundreds of changes to the original text, removing many of Dahl’s colourful descriptions and making his characters less grotesque.

Utterly inexcusable.*

*I use this formulation repeatedly. There is a reason for this—that the shoe fits! If anything, I use it too little: what goes on here should by rights be illegal.

The word “fat” has been removed from every book –
Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may still look like a ball of dough, but can now only be described as “enormous”.

This is an example of a hysterical treatment of words and an obsession with words over meanings and implications. If he still looks like a ball of dough, why would it matter that the word “fat” is used? A word, I note, which was seen as perfectly harmless not long ago, and where only massive* pressure from deranged lobby-groups have brought on a very recent change—a change so recent that not even I had expected “fat” to be problematic in contexts like these. Then again, we have reached a state where pointing out that someone might live longer through eating better and exercising more is seen as fat shaming by such fanatics and where they consider well-trained models offensive.**

*Is “massive” still allowed?

**But then we have the opposite risk, should we dare suggest that someone is not fat enough, as seen in e.g. a discussion of bad-faith assumptions. (Search for “Gabriella2”.)

This also comes with the problem of what to do when fat-as-a-substance is intended. I have seen Feminists flip out over use of the word “bitch” in the context of dog breeding—might not any use of “fat” be targeted next? (Also note the discussion of “female” below.)

And what happens when someone decides that not just a description as “fat” is illicit, and that Augustus must now be made entirely generic and as skinny as Charlie? What then would the point of the character be? And why would being fat be worse than being a spoilt brat, an idiot, or whatever applied to Augustus and/or some of the other children?

Passages not written by Dahl have also been added. In The Witches, a paragraph explaining that witches are bald beneath their wigs ends with the new line: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

Not only an inexcusable act of vandalism*—but something entirely superfluous. Comparing this with some vandalism mentioned in [1], far greater future issues are to be expected in the future, unless the backlash is strong enough, say, turning Blyton’s “Famous Five” into social-justice warriors or removing direct or indirect criticism of the Left from other works (maybe, those by George Orwell).

*I stand by that word. This is not a matter of creating a new (if highly disputable) mustached version of the “Mona Lisa”—it is a matter of doing away with the original, so that only the mustached version is ever seen.

References to “female” characters have disappeared – Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, once a “most formidable female”, is now a “most formidable woman”.

Another example of hysterical treatment of words. I note, in particular, that some seem to have an obsessive and irrational hatred of the word “female” (but not “male”; I have e.g. seen texts contrasting “women” with “males”), despite this being a perfectly normal and highly useful noun,* both for variation and for flexibility—even when restricted to humans, “female” has a wider meaning in common use, as e.g. a girl of five is a female but not typically considered a woman. It might or might not be argued that some individual (noun) use would benefit from “woman”, in order to avoid misunderstandings when specifically an adult human female is intended, but this is not the choice that the author made—and these changes are driven by irrationality and a PC agenda, not a wish for disambiguation. (And this without opening the can of worms created by the theft of the word “woman” to refer to men-who-want-to-be women.)

*And the main or sole option as a modifier. For instance, “women physicians” are gynecologist and the like (and might or might not be women, themselves), while physicians-who-are-women are correctly referred to as “female physicians”. Also note the enormously misleading headline of “Women abusers on the rise” mentioned in [4].

“Boys and girls” has been turned into “children”. The Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach have become Cloud-People and Fantastic Mr Fox’s three sons have become daughters.

The first is a pointless modification, unless the editor is, utterly inexcusably, trying to enforce a “sex does not exist” agenda. My extremely vague recollections of “James and the Giant Peach” does not allow me to comment in detail, but if the change was along the lines of “prefer humankind over mankind” it is, at best, an illicit, if possibly well meant, distortion of the author’s language, while a change of a previously male group into a mixed group would be utterly inexcusable. The Fox daughters, finally, are a horrifying spread of screen distortions to the written word—bad on the screen; utterly inexcusable here, as the screen version is a mere adaption, while here the original is distorted.

Matilda reads Jane Austen rather than Rudyard Kipling, and a witch posing as “a cashier in a supermarket” now works as “a top scientist”.

Blatant, utterly inexcusable, agenda pushing.

To boot, one that makes Matilda looks worse, as Jane Austen appears to have far less to offer as an author, especially from an intellectual point of view, than Kipling did. Mathilda is reduced from reading literature to reading chick-lit. (Cf. an earlier discussion of “Pride and Prejudice”.) And, no, Kipling was by no means just a children’s author, no matter what the relative popularity of his works might lead the modern reader to believe. He wrote novels, short stories, and poetry for adults too, received a Nobel Prize, and is rumored to have been offered (but declined) the position as Poet Laureate. For that matter, I would not rule out that “The Jungle Book” and “Kim” are worthier reads even for an adult than “Pride and Prejudice”.*

*My own contacts with the two former are too far back to say for certain, but took place at an adult age and left a more positive memory.

To boot, one that could potentially* miss an important point, e.g. (!) that “evil might be found anywhere”, which can work as both a life lesson and as a means to increase the scare value of a certain book/scene/character. (Monsters under the bed are much worse than monsters in some faraway forest.)

*Here too, my own contacts are too far back to say for certain. (Not even at an adult age, this time.)

The words “black” and “white” have been removed: characters no longer turn “white with fear” and the Big Friendly Giant in The BFG cannot wear a black cloak.

Here we reach a point of such insanity that even my own nightmare scenarios cannot keep up: A little more than a month ago, I wrote that “[…] the words ‘black’ and ‘brown’ have so far not been under general attack (presumably, something still too absurd even for the modern Left) […]”. The simply truth appears to be that nothing is too absurd for the modern Left.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 19, 2023 at 11:55 pm