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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Janay Rice and the Domestic Violence Narrative

It didn’t take long ruminating on the Ray Rice story to realize that it provided not just one—not two—but three touches of the Third Rail. How could I resist?

Prepare to be offended...

I’ll start by acknowledging that not only do I have no knowledge or interest in the principals involved, but I have little interest in the sport itself. It usurped the name from the greatest sport on the planet—for a game, evolved from rugby, in which kicking the ball isn’t allowed in the normal course of play.

Part of the enjoyment of watching sports is the vicarious fantasy of imagining yourself in the athlete’s boots. I have no affinity for the typical football player.

So, I had never heard of Ray Rice. From what I’ve seen of the video, he’s one more argument for ignoring the sport.
What I find compelling about this story is that it rides on the intersection of two politically correct paradigms. The victim-feminist narrative meets the imperative to minimize and rationalize black violence.

Let’s begin with the video.

Once the video from the inside of the elevator emerged, it was obvious by the careful editing what had happened.  The video cut started almost immediately at Ray Rice throwing the knock-out blow. But even with the careful editing, it was evident that his wife was the aggressor. She wasn’t cowering with her back to the wall of the elevator, covering her face. She was moving towards him, arms swinging.

The only question then was how long it would take to see the rest of the video.

Now that it’s available, we learn that Janay spat in her husband’s face, and threw punches at him. That’s assault and battery, by the way. What I get from the video is two trashy human beings, and quite frankly, I don’t give a whit for either of them.

But we need to analyze this, regardless of the quality of the individuals, because this is being played out in the court of victim-feminist political correctness.

When a man is physically attacked by a woman—especially one with whom he is intimately acquainted such as a wife or girlfriend—he essentially has four options:

  1. He can defend himself by fighting back.
  2. He can attempt to defend himself by raising his arms to ward of the blows or otherwise constraining his attacker’s movements.
  3. He can flee to avoid the assault.
  4. He can stand by and let himself be beaten.

Most, if not all women know that if there is a physical altercation between a man and a woman, the man is toast once law enforcement and the judicial system get involved.

This is why women are empowered to assault men. They know they can get away with it, and they presume that their victim knows it.  And so they can strike with impunity.

Perhaps Janay was operating on this assumption. But what happens in a fight is not predictable. Adrenalin flows. Emotions flare. I don’t know if Ray Rice was in control of his emotions and he lashed out in cold, calculating fashion to put his wife in her place, or if he acted impulsively, under duress, and retaliated in rage. Whichever it was, I doubt Janay was expecting it.

So, for whatever reason, perhaps sheer stupidity, Ray chose the first option. Let’s examine the options he didn’t take.

Option 3 was not available to him. He was in a small enclosed area from which he couldn’t escape.

Most reasonable people would say that the only appropriate response was Option 2: try to thwart his wife’s blows in a purely defensive manner. The most obvious way would be to grab her wrists, disabling her arms. His wife would then likely kick him, and perhaps keep spitting. The struggle would likely continue as Ray would try to maneuver his much weaker wife into a position where she couldn’t kick him until the elevator arrived at their destination when he could exit and get away from her.

But here’s what people don’t understand about how domestic violence is handled thanks to the “feminist jurisprudence” that reigns in the legal system in domestic relations cases.

Option 2 is treated no different than Option 1. Regardless of who initiates violence, once a man lays hold of the woman—or even raises his arms to ward of blows—he is the aggressor, the guilty party. He is the criminal, and he will suffer the legal consequences, which can include jail, probation, and if the altercation occurs within a family breakup, loss of his children, as in the criminalization of any contact with his children and the legal stripping of all his parental custodial rights (except to provide financial support for them).

So, in a scenario such as the Rice’s, Ray really only had one choice: Option 4.

The only way that he might emerge legally blameless in this situation would be to put his arms down and his let his wife spit on him and repeatedly strike him. Or he could curl up, turn his back, and cower in a corner of the elevator.

That is the only option that the legal system allows for a man in this situation.

At this point, you might think that I am being sympathetic to a wife-beater. I’m not. I have no sympathy for Ray Rice. His response was despicable.  But I am attempting to tear away the utter bullcrap of how this incident is being presented. Janay Rice is no victim. She spit in her husband’s face and assaulted him. She is a violent woman. And she made the mistake of thinking her thug of a husband was smart enough to realize that he had no choice but to take his punishment.  

Enter Whoopi Goldberg, the only person I have seen to date who has actually stated that women should not be surprised to get hit back if they hit their husbands/boyfriends. Therefore, she says, don’t do it, gurrls.

As if this actually has to be said. But sure enough, Whoopi was met with quick condemnation for stating the obvious.

I was raised to never hit girls. It was considered un-manly. I passed that life-lesson on to my boys. All boys were raised this way. If they were raised by a mother and a father.

But that was a different time. A time when men aspired to be “gentlemen” and women to be “ladies.”  Feminism has since remedied that.  “Lady” is a term of patriarchal oppression.

And hence we get the present-day, post-feminism of Whoopi Goldberg, essentially erasing the code of chivalry that established men’s protective role of women—even if being assaulted by one.  Just deck the bitch... Women, if you don’t want to get clocked by your man, don’t hit him.

What a world we have carved out for our children thanks to feminism.

And now the third touch to the Third Rail: the violence of the African-American population.

We are now getting inundated with domestic violence propaganda, targeting its prevalence in the NFL.  I have no doubt that there is a large amount of domestic violence committed by football players. The overwhelming majority of football players are African-American. And they, as a population sub-group, are incredibly violent, in relation to whites, Asians, ... the rest of the population.

But we’re not supposed to notice this. Mentioning it is tantamount to professional suicide, depending on your career. I heard Jesse Jackson say on TV, in Ferguson, MO, addressing the ostensible violence systematically perpetrated by racist white cops against blacks, that “black-on-white crime is rare.”

He actually said this.

When counting violent crime (which includes things like robbery as well as assault and battery), black-on-white violent crime occurs at rate of 5 : 1 compared against white-on-black violence.

But that’s not the whole story. The population ratio of whites-to-blacks is also, coincidentally 5 : 1.

That means, on a population weighted normalizing of these statistics, the ratio of black-on-white to white-on-black violent crime is 25 : 1.

Furthermore, if we single out purely violent crime, that is, aggravated assault, the ratio jumps to an incredible 200 : 1.

When African-American youths make a game out of knocking out a random white person on the street with a single punch, and videoing it to broadcast on social media, the affirmative denial of black violence by white liberals reaches the diabolical.  “Flashmobs” are really groups of African-American youths ransacking and looting a place of business; occasionally pausing to join in a beat down of a shopper.

The incredible level of violence in the African-American population is directly a result of what I have coined the War on Fatherhood. Two-thirds of black children are raised without their father in the home. Without the male role model provided by the father, African-American youth look to successful black role models: pimps, rappers, and athletes. Like Ray Rice.

It’s not inferior schools. It’s not institutional racism. It’s not racial profiling. It’s not racist cops. It’s not white privilege. It’s fatherlessness. The destruction of the biological nuclear family; the ultimate failure of the African-American culture.

I offer a conjecture. It is my opinion that levels of fatherlessness of two-thirds cannot be attributed solely to inherent defects in the black culture.  Of course that is what feminism attributes it to: failures of men.  But single-maternal households are rising in the white population, too.  I assert that fatherlessness is attributed to public policies, laws and social engineering that are demanding it. Fatherless families are now part and parcel of our culture, promoted in our schools, the media and the entertainment industry.

I attribute it to one more “success” of feminism, the open-ended goal of which is female empowerment. Nothing may contradict it. After all, a woman needs a man like ...

But on the Rice case, the domestic violence narrative is trumps.  And there’s no need to downplay Ray’s violence because he’s African-American, because this can easily be masked under the ‘domestic violence in sports’ paradigm.

I still have yet to hear a whimper of even questioning Janay’s behavior in the elevator.  Victim-feminism is many things. Here, it serves as an instruction to stop thinking. Man knocks out wife. What’s to question?

When a woman assaults her husband, on those rare occasions when it breaks the news, the typical line of inquiry begins, “What did he do to her?” And the words “domestic violence” are assiduously avoided in any news coverage.

Victim-feminism is more than an ideology of hate, it’s quasi-religious. One of its fruits is the new definitions of family, specifically, the fatherless family. Hence, the growing toxicity in African-American communities like Ferguson, and people like Ray and Janay Rice.

The family civilizes the beast in man. And it provides the safe environment for a woman to procreate. Without it, especially in the African-American population, we see boys and girls brought up with no concept of civility, no apparent understanding and appreciation for the value of life, and young men committing violent crimes of senseless brutality.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book review: "Who Owns the Future?" by Jaron Lanier

Reviewed by Mark Charalambous

“Who Owns the Future?” attempts to answer the big question: where is this all going?

By “this” I mean the big picture from an economic perspective.

“Income disparity” is a popular meme.  The growing concentration of wealth, complemented by the shrinking of the middle class—or, more accurately, the lowering of the standard of living of the middle class.

Jaron Lanier does not promote the usual explanations that typically involve socio-political sloganeering of some sort. He explains the technological trend that is the real underlying cause, a change every bit as profound as the industrial revolution that transformed the world in the 19th and 20th centuries.

According to Lanier, the concentration of wealth in market economies is the norm.  Visualize a curve of exponential growth. The genius of democratic societies organically creates artificial barriers (Lanier calls them “levees”) to this inexorable movement of wealth from the many to the few. These are things like labor unions, the minimum wage, social security, Medicare, and tenure regimes for teachers. To Lanier, these are necessary adjustments to a system that otherwise would leave the mass of the population eventually impoverished.

But relax; Lanier is no socialist laying down a treatise on “social justice.”

After identifying the technological causes leading to the erosion of the middle class and an ever-increasing concentration of wealth, Lanier proposes a solution.

What we are presently undergoing is the equivalent of the industrial revolution: the inexorable growth of the digital world. The transferring of information into digital bits accessible to everyone with a computer or smartphone. The universal accessibility of information in the “cloud” via the internet is upending and outright destroying traditional business models and industries one by one, such as the music and travel industries.

Businesses and industries presently entering the process of slow disintegration because of simpler and cheaper online alternatives include real estate (Zillow and Trulia), taxi service (Uber), education (MOOCs), book publishing and brick-and-mortar retailing (Amazon), as well as newspapers and magazines.

What replaces these businesses is an online service. The service is centered at what Lanier refers to as a “siren server” —yes, the Sirens that lured sailors to their doom in Homer’s Odyssey. They lure the user with the promise of “free.”  But as Lanier painstakingly details, nothing is really free in the new digital economy. We pay—we just don’t realize it right away because the price we pay is subtle and diffuse. One price we are paying is, in effect, the loss of middle class jobs—jobs replaced by online transactions. Another price we are paying is privacy. Every transaction we make is tracked. A small step to every thought we make...

In the digital world, wealth becomes concentrated about a relatively small locus of points in the immediate vicinity of the siren server.  This aspect of the economic revolution we are undergoing has been noticed. It is present in the dire warnings constantly given about the need for better STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education.  The argument is that future jobs—those that supposedly will replace all the disappearing jobs in pre-digital world businesses that have been supplanted by free software apps on the Net—will require mathematical, science and (computer) engineering skills. That may be technically true; however—and it’s a big however—there will never be anywhere near the same quantity of jobs created in the digital world economies to balance those lost to the middle class. Furthermore, believing that we can train thousands of students who can’t add fractions to compete for jobs in hi-tech is, well, laughable.

Lanier views this new concentration of income wealth as a consequence of the natural laws of economics responding to a technological revolution.   Formerly middle class jobs will continue to be destroyed, and furthermore, what we have seen in the music industry, the newspaper industry, and brick-and-mortar book stores, is just the beginning. It’s going to get a lot worse.

Lanier provides several future scenarios to argue his case. What is the logical conclusion of 3D-printing?  Only the end of manufacturing as we know it, perhaps.  Consumer products, including electronics and clothes, will be manufactured individually in the home. Plumbers will ‘print out’ a necessary pipe fitting, obviating the need not only for factories, but also for both distributors and plumbing supply stores! Besides the printer itself, the new commodity will be the software designs for the items “printed.”  Once again, siren servers will emerge. A finite number of smart technicians, cranking out software designs. Lost: entire industries. Uncountable number of middle-class jobs.

We have already seen how some industries have attempted to cope with the digital revolution. The music industry fought tooth, claw and lobbyist against Napsta and the inevitable digitizing of “music product.”  Ultimately in vain. Ask your son/daughter how they get their music, if you don’t already know.

But other industries appear completely oblivious to the writing on the wall. In the case of education, teachers, the soon-to-be-displaced workers, have actually cooperated with the siren servers to destroy their own professions!

Do colleges and universities really believe that their monopoly on academic accreditation will insulate them from online education provided by MOOCs (massive open online courses)?  Newsflash: it will be the Googles and the Facebooks that will be the first to acknowledge academic competence of the skills that matter (to them) earned via MOOCs. Once hi-tech opens the floodgates... 

It is only a matter of time before private enterprise MOOCs muscle their way into the college accreditation business, and essentially nullify the value of a BA from PCU. It is only a matter of time before college students (and especially their parents) rebel at the notion of paying $50,000 to take online courses at a college, when the exact same value can be obtained with the same effort from a far cheaper alternative.

Jaron Lanier is not some dystopian futurist; he is a bona fide computer scientist with Silicon Valley pedigree. He is part of the industry. He presently works for a siren server: Microsoft. Some of his predictions for future technological advancements driven by digitizing the world will surprise and shock you.  But no matter how wild, they are all eminently plausible, and no doubt several startups will have as their genesis an idea first read in this book.

If the book did no more than this, it would be a must-read for anyone curious about where “this” is all going. But Lanier does more—he offers a way out, a solution.

Whenever Lanier explores the mechanism of a particular siren server, he exposes the free informational input necessary for its success.  This is the information that we users give to the servers, sometimes unknowingly through cookies but just as often consciously by volunteering information. If you have ever written an online review of a product, a book or concert video, you have given away monetary value to a siren server. A good review generates Likes. And Likes generate sales. Text might be lifted directly out of a review for use by another review or the siren server itself.

Credit scoring provides another example.  A lender relies on a credit score. The credit score is derived from a scorecard that is only possible because of strategic credit information culled, without knowledge or consent, from thousands of people. The lender profits from the information in the credit score by using it to determine credit risk. The tens of thousands of consumers who contributed to that algorithm receive no remuneration for their contribution that made the scorecard possible.

A dating site similarly relies on an algorithm. The algorithm in turn is constructed by analyzing data points. A particular couple who used the site and ended up marrying are considered a success. The parameters for the ‘perfect match’ algorithms are based in some part on this particular couple. They receive no remuneration.

What we are talking about here is the source of the data. The data’s historical record. Lanier’s solution to the growing economic dislocations we are experiencing is to establish the provenance of all data, and then a payment (“nano-payments”) system of, in effect, royalties for any and all originators of data.

So, in this scenario, any clever post in a FB timeline that gets Shared can earn a royalty. What Lanier is proposing, keeping the history of all data with the data itself, requires new internet protocols. But he insists it is not only doable, but actually was a choice in the original inception of the internet, one that could have been made but wasn’t.  He also offers several fanciful schemes for how the payment scheme would actually work.

Lanier’s analysis of the digital revolution and its impact on the middle class is compelling. He offers one solution. I have yet to hear others that make as much sense. I think his suggestions are worth considering.