Phoenix Less Wrong Meetup- Saturday, 5-7-11, 5pm

by Danny_Hintze1 min read30th Apr 201155 comments

5

Personal Blog

We're excited to have a second Phoenix meetup. As always, absolutely anyone is welcome. This time we'd like to change the location to the Barrett Honors College Dining Hall at ASU (It's extremely nice and has excellent food). I'll be there from 5 to 7 on Saturday and have a copy of Godel, Escher, Bach on the table. 

The address is 698-798 Apache Blvd E, Tempe, AZ, and here it is on a map. The parking garage on Lemon is probably ideal, Barrett is south of that. 

My phone number is 602-501-9420, feel free to call or text me.

55 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 12:54 PM
New Comment

When I saw the title, I thought this post would be about rationalist Phoenix Wright fanfiction. Quite possibly that would lead to Phoenix leading a campaign for legal reform due to their stupid "Three day trial, guilty until another is proven guilty, no chain of custody laws" legal system, or at least having that incompetent judge fired.

Hard to say if those rules apply to all courts in the Phoenix Wright universe, though. Whenever you lose a case, you're told that it will be consigned to "a higher court", though there's no real explanation of what that means. Maybe the lower courts that Wright defends his clients in are just a kind of filter to prevent the best courts from getting bogged down in huge case loads.

That would explain why Wright has to deal with the silliest judge in the universe, and prosecutors who can throw coffee cups at the defense and literally whip witnesses without any consequences: all the judges with real intelligence and authority have positions in "real" courts.

Also: Phoenix Wright rationalist fanfic? Want. Want want want. Want!

I'll try and make it up; It's the weekend before finals start, but that likely wont be a problem.

Sorry I didn't make it. There were some last minute surprise Mother's day obligations.

Where would you be coming from?

I'm in Tucson, at the U of A.

I get into the area a week late; please have extra fun for me. I'll try to recruit from the ASU students I know, but they may be planning to be celebrating the end of the semester in normal ways. Because they're lame.

Hopefully they can spare a few hours! (unless they really are lame. haha). I look forward to meeting you over the summer!

Plans changed; I'll see you there. I'll be the one generously keeping some student's guest pass or M&G from going to waste.

Awesome! See you tomorrow.

lame

lame

:\

I don't want to start drama, but that's a rather offensively ableist term and I'd really rather not see it used here.

A PM discussion with Risto_Saarelma revealed that the parent message doesn't make it clear whether the term is merely one that I personally find offensive, or whether it's considered generally offensive by the disability community. The latter is the case, and relevant because the use of the term here makes it risky for me to share LW articles with friends who are members of that group or to recommend the blog as a whole to them.

I know that sense of the word didn't even cross my mind. In fact, I even had to google "ableist". Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

So you're looking for an offensive term that's not offensive. You want a term X such that you can offend a person by classifying him as X, but you don't want the term X to be a term that offends a certain class of people.

The general idea is - don't use [(non-value-judgment) terms that describe certain types of people] as value judgments. Trivial examples are: "bad" is okay, if somewhat anemic (!!! Wait, is that offensive? I'll leave it in in case anyone wants to address that question), because it's not identifying any particular group as "bad" except... "bad people". "Gay" should be discouraged, because it's basically saying "people who are gay are bad, so I am calling you gay to indicate that you are bad".

I have anemia, which I control with iron pills. It was in no way a part of my identity and I have a hard time imagining why it would be. I don't mind it being used in this way.

I'm glad! I don't like losing vocabulary (I was sad when I lost "ply", and am still conflicted over the word's correct meaning).

Also: that's a brilliant entry you've linked to there, and I'll have to toss it around in my brain a bit. Thanks!

Why did you lose ply?

I was under the impression it had a meaning like "coerce [by means of gifts]", but apparently it's closer to "supply". As such, I 'lost' the word that I thought it was.

I have an inkling that the meaning I thought it had is a connotation, but I'm not certain. How have you seen it used?

I think there is a connotation that one is supplying the person for ulterior/underhanded motives. I would ply a politician with hookers to get a law changed, or ply a source with alcohol so that I can ask him questions with less resistance... but plying customers with apples in exchange for fair market value just sounds weird.

Okay, good, I'm glad you sense a similar connotation! Thanks :)

While this doesn't fully justify the use of words like "lame", "blindly," or "retarded" to refer to actions, they are in a different class than using words like "gay" or "N-----". People are ableist, and that's not about to change on account of language. No matter what verbal habits you get into, you're going to prefer to be able to walk rather than hobble, to see rather than to not see, etc.

In contrast, sexual orientation and skin pigmentation are not inherently sources of value. Considering gay an equally good situation to straight, or dark skin pigmentation an equally good situation to light skin pigmentation is very reasonable. If we avoid calling bad events "gay", we can more easily achieve equality there.

I agree it's a complicated issue (I am resistant to the notion of considering "anemic" as 'offensive', but...?). I simply wanted to point out that Constant's criticism was insufficient.

[-][anonymous]10y 1

So far the only offensive term you've been able to come up with that does not violate your general idea is "bad" - i.e., a pure, non-descriptive value judgment. In short, what you have argued - interpreting your somewhat ambiguous statement in the light of your examples - is that value judgment terms are okay only so long as they carry not a shred of description. Once they gain a descriptive dimension, then they are ruled out. What you wrote is somewhat ambiguous but your example supports this interpretation. The only acceptable word is "bad". You resist ruling out "anemic" but your own criterion forces you to rule it out.

And here's the problem: non-descriptive words are not very offensive, because to offend someone you need to explain what it is about them that is the cause of your low opinion of them. "I have a low opinion of you" just doesn't cut it.

The word "anemic" actually begins to offer a description of the badness, if a metaphorical one. This supports the value judgment by explaining what it is about the target that deserves the value judgment. But the problem is - it's descriptive. And so it classifies. Because any description classifies.

There are words you can use to describe someone as bad (even in particular ways!) that do not refer to actual groups of people who are not (intrinsically, by virtue of that identification) bad in those ways. Some might be metaphorically offensive to non-human things.

Off the top of my head, you could call someone a snake, a lump, a yoctogram, vile, snippy, vomit-inducing, insipid, pathetic, unfashionable, or not groovy. See?

[-][anonymous]10y 2

Off the top of my head, you could call someone a snake, a lump, a yoctogram, vile, snippy, vomit-inducing, insipid, pathetic, unfashionable, or not groovy. See?

So someone who does not wear what's in fashion is intrinsically bad?

What I "see" you saying is that certain groups, such as those wearing last year's clothes, are okay to put down because those groups are intrinsically bad by virtue of being considered intrinsically bad to the point that the very word for them is a put-down, while others are not.

For example, if I understand you, calling someone vomit-inducingly ugly is okay because the very terms "vomit-inducingly" and "ugly" are intrinsically bad, "ugly" being an evaluative term which therefore does not offend anyone who does not deserve to be offended. The class of people whose facial features are unattractive is a real, if fuzzy, group, but since membership in the group is defined by aesthetic evaluation, it's perfectly okay to put them down. And if we were to coin a term which does not mean "obese" but rather means "obese to the point of vomit-inducingness", them this new term, being by definition evaluative, would be okay to use.

Do you still want to hold on to your criterion, or do you begin to share my view that it was not well thought out?

Hey, I'm not saying it'd be nice to use these terms. "Bad" is meant from the perspective of the person using the term. I guess you could even include "gay" in that category if the intent is to deride someone for being a homosexual? The problem there isn't transmuting the identity into a separate bad thing, but being a homophobe.

So there are two related things you can do with such insults that we have identified so far - one is indicating that you disapprove of a particular trait that may be shared by others, the other is using a particular trait or group as though it meant (some particular kind of) bad, which might be because of an actual bias, insensitivity, or whatever. (This is of course leaving off the more proximate effect of hurting the feelings of the person you're calling "not groovy".)

So I still think there is an important distinction you're missing - you can insult a single person without using an unrelated trait to stand in for 'badness'. D'you see what I mean?

[-][anonymous]10y 0

you can insult a single person without using an unrelated trait to stand in for 'badness'. D'you see what I mean?

You can also insult a person without using the letter "e". You came up with an ad hoc rule which the original complaint happens to fit but which, I argued, does not really divide the allowed from the disallowed put-downs. You are trying to argue that the original complaint makes sense by trying to inject a neutral and fair-seeming criterion into it.

As I have pointed out, there are plenty of disallowed put-downs which do not fit your criterion. Conversely, as was shown with the example of "anemic", there are allowed put-downs which fit your criterion. So your criterion does not fit the facts about what is and is not allowable. It does not explain or justify the complaint.

you can insult a single person without using an unrelated trait to stand in for 'badness'. D'you see what I mean?

You can also insult a person without using the letter "e".

The distinction being that the former is relevant to a societal norm which often constitutes a useful distinction: if you insult someone by saying they have a particular trait, you are probably not too concerned that this will hurt the feelings of people with that trait - you think it's bad! But if you use this other sort of insult, you might be unaware that you are additionally insulting some other group, and might change your behavior if someone indicates that people could take offense to it.

My key point is: you said "So you're looking for an offensive term that's not offensive." This was an inaccurate description of the desire expressed! There are plenty of ways to offend someone that are more targeted.

The distinction being that the former is relevant to a societal norm which often constitutes a useful distinction: if you insult someone by saying they have a particular trait, you are probably not too concerned that this will hurt the feelings of people with that trait - you think it's bad!

You think it's bad for that person specifically to have the trait. You can convey that someone does not have traits suitable for their desired identity while not necessarily deprecating the traits in general. You could, for example, mock a guy for having boobs while wholeheartedly approving of boobs. Something similar applies to mustaches - even though there may well be racist connotations when that one is used.

The distinction being that the former is relevant to a societal norm which often constitutes a useful distinction: if you insult someone by saying they have a particular trait, you are probably not too concerned that this will hurt the feelings of people with that trait - you think it's bad!

You think it's bad for that person specifically to have the trait. You can convey that someone does not have traits suitable for their desired identity while not necessarily deprecating the traits in general. You could, for example, mock a guy for having boobs while wholeheartedly approving of boobs. Something similar applies to mustaches - even though there may well be racist connotations when that one is used.

True enough. Though I'd probably treat that context ("guy with boobs", "bad mustache") as part of the "trait" - at least in the sense that you're not likely to offend someone who doesn't fit in the precise group you're mocking your target due to their membership in (er... that sentence was sorta cumbersome, but you get what I'm saying, right?).

"bad mustache")

I was going for "woman with mustache" or "guy whose mother has a mustache".

but you get what I'm saying, right?

Yes.

I was going for "woman with mustache" or "guy whose mother has a mustache".

Ah! I haven't really encountered this one in the wild much (vastly more familiar with "that guy has a bad hipster mustache", luckily), but I see what you're saying.

Ah! I haven't really encountered this one in the wild much (vastly more familiar with "that guy has a bad hipster mustache", luckily), but I see what you're saying.

It becomes a bit more common if you are in an environment with certain kinds of ethnic makeups. It becomes an interesting case in as much as it is offensive at the expense of people who do not even have the trait. Ofttimes part of the conveyed insult is not just 'you/your mother have a mustache' but 'you are of X racial background'. This means that people of race X who (or whose mothers) do not have mustaches are being insulted (as well as those who do).

The same principle, just with an extra layer of indirection.

Huh. Our cladistics of insults could get pretty elaborate!

No matter what verbal habits you get into, you're going to prefer to be able to walk rather than hobble, to see rather than to not see, etc.

Those are common preferences, but not universal. Deaf people as a group/culture have a bit of a reputation in this area, for one, and then there's transabled people...

Not that that's really the point of avoiding the language. The point of avoiding the language is more along the lines of avoiding reinforcing the meme that people with those traits are less valuable and can be ignored when making plans. (Example, though a weak one. For a more concrete one: How accessible is your area? Try to go a day without using any stairs except the ones in your home, including e.g. stepping down off a sidewalk.)

Its true that there are no universal preferences, but ability is about as universal as you can get. The deaf community doesn't prefer deafness to hearing, they just like having a community. If they genuinely preferred deafness to hearing they'd advocate destroying their hearing infants' eardrums... but in fact they find that idea abhorrent. The existence of transabled has nothing to do with preferences, only with identity. The only major groups that prefer disability to ability are the practitioners of female genital mutilation... and their attitudes toward sexuality are pretty disordered.

I certainly agree that its important to avoid treating the disabled as having lower value as people but I don't see how calling situations lame makes me devalue lame people and see them as a disability rather than as a person. I also don't know what that has to do with sidewalk ramps. Surely that has more to do with efficient resourse allocation vs a desire to increase inclusivity... I don't think the proper balance is obvious at all.

Now I certainly agree its important to value disabled people just like abled

Do you have a recommended substitute? I've seen "lamentable" suggested but it's got the wrong formality and "pathetic" is close but often too strong.

Tempting (not my dialect, but otherwise appropriate) but does that derive from "wacko" or something else related to disparaging words for mental illness? That sort of thing is considered ableist too. (For this reason I have taken to calling stupid people "fools" and "dolts" instead of "idiots" or "morons" when I remember the difference, and I'm trying with less success to remember "loon" for describing people who behave in extreme or erratic ways; I'm not sure if that's technically the bird or a shortening of "lunatic", but it's probably better than "crazy".)

I'm neutral on "lame", but not using "idiot" or "moron" is very silly. First of all, the terms were insults before they were technical terms - a sketchy psychologist trying to create a hierarchy of mental retardation just borrowed a few Greek words meaning "fool" which had been adopted into English with their current non-technical meaning long before. Second, practically no one uses them as technical terms anymore and they're severely discouraged in medical settings, partly because they were never that useful to begin with and partly because they're insulting (the currently accepted terms for the same concept are things like "mental retardation" to "profound mental retardation"). Third, idiots in the technical sense (which, I repeat, is never used) would be incapable of being insulted by the term since they cannot understand language.

"Lunatic" is also never used nowadays, and I'm curious whether you also avoid the terms "crazy" and "insane".

I'm mostly working by accepting what amounts to received wisdom from bloggers, who say that "idiot" and "moron" (and for that matter "retarded") are not okay. I don't desperately want any of these words, and the above alternatives exist without (as far as I can tell) offending the bloggers or the people they speak for, so I invest a minor effort in the vocab shift. I'm less willing to do this sort of thing when there is no viable alternative word with the right features.

I use "crazy" and "insane" sometimes, but I have been encouraging the preexisting shift in their meanings towards a not-necessarily-negative meaning of "extreme" (e.g. "this ice cream is insanely yummy!")

If I remember correctly, the bird name and the ableist term have pretty similar etymology (both are related to 'luna'; the latter is related to the old belief that full moon causes aggressive/unpredictable behavior - see also werewolf myths). It might not be possible to disentangle them sufficiently to figure out where 'loony' came from, but I've never seen it considered offensive so I suspect you're okay.

to figure out where 'loony' came from, but I've never seen it considered offensive so I suspect you're okay.

Loony? As in "loony bin"? How could that possibly be considered less offensive than 'lame'? It is a huge deprecation of those with mental health problems. Of course mental health problems are lower status than physical ones - and for something to be 'offensive' the insulted group has to have social power.

Social consequences of an intense version of concern about insults. More

It's not the same at LW-- we've got civility rules which forbid personal attacks-- but this might be of interest.

It's not the same at LW-- we've got civility rules which forbid personal attacks

At least, we have civility rules which puts bounds on the nature and style of the personal attacks. As well as in which contexts personal attacks are acceptable, who is permitted to make them and who it is acceptable to attack.

That is, we're kind of like any other human social group.

It's plausible that I was being too abstract. Still, some of the ideas which have apparently plagued feminist blogs are in play here, without such extreme ill effects, and it might be worth looking for an explanation.

LW is more consequentialist than most places, and that might help.

Still, some of the ideas which have apparently plagued feminist blogs are in play here, without such extreme ill effects, and it might be worth looking for an explanation.

To be frank I think people have brought their issues from feminist blogs here more than enough and then some.

"Heterosexual."

No. Just... no. (I am not heterosexual, in case that colors your opinion of this reply.)

[-][anonymous]10y 0

I'm curious whether the use of the term gives you genuine, visceral offense or if you are responding mostly out of some principle here.