About the author

Matt is the author, co-author, secondary-author, ghost-author, and non-author of articles, speeches, book chapters, and even entire books! The most recent is his blockbuster The Accidental Activist, which Amazon claims is by his wife Anne Green. So it goes. Currently, he is President of One Step for Animals; previously, he was shitcanned from so many nonprofits that we can’t list them all here. Before Matt’s unfortunate encounter with activism, he was an aerospace engineer who wanted to work for NASA (to impress Carl Sagan). His hobbies include photography, almost dying, and {REDACTED}. He lives in Tucson with Anne, along with no dogs, no cats, no guinea pigs, and only the occasional snake or scorpion.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

OK, just one

From Allow Me To Retort:

A theory of constitutional interpretation and justice, supported by originalists, that requires them to look to and value the intents and purposes of the unabashed, unrepentant white supremacists is obviously, irreparably racist. Originalists try to dress up their theories with a bunch of fancy words and legal jargon, because what they actually believe in plain terms is provably stupid. "Racial equality only means what white people, and white people only, some of whom actually owned slaves, thought it could mean a century and a half ago." Get the fuck out of my face with that nonsense.

 


Friday, September 30, 2022

Allow Me to Retort

In Losing My Religions, I list (and link to) a bunch of books you should be reading instead of Losing

Elie Mystal's great Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution is one of the books I feature. 

It is fantastic. And it is literally Laugh Out Loud funny!

I would generally choose an excerpt or two, but pretty much every page is worth quoting. Please be sure to read it.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

“A tour de force! It’s really unlike anything I’ve read before.” +Buddhism

From a full-time professional writer:

I’ve been reading your book -- it’s a tour de force! The narrative and visuals (everything from Death Valley to chocolate crinkle cookies) are so lively. It’s really unlike anything I’ve read before. ...
“I can’t end this email without acknowledging so, so much pain. I don’t even know what to say about what you’ve endured. But I’m hearing it through your words.”


Commentary: This is the first review from someone I wouldn't consider a pretty good friend (I've never met them in person, and only exchanged ~10 emails with them) and the first one from a professional writer. After their comments came in, I realized how much I had been yearning for such an affirmation. (Not that the other feedback hasn't mattered! It truly has.) (And, of course, 50 literary agents turned me down.)

Losing
is, in several different ways, my life's work. I didn't write it for praise, but after pouring so much into it, I did want it to be good.

Of course, Buddhism notes that desire (and attachment) are what lead to suffering. (Along with Crohn's and lung collapses.)

So it goes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Nukes Nukes Nukes!

I understand that being anti-nuke is a religion. People are acting under this fantasy that solar and wind can take over all the necessary energy demands, now and in the future. Meanwhile, more and more coal plants are built, killing millions in the short-term and long.

I mentioned Ezra Klein's excellent recent podcast that exposed the futility of counting on wind and solar. 

This new Freakonomics podcast goes into more detail, even talking with the creator of the ultimately-harmful mini-series Chernobyl. Very well done!

Also, this post by Matt Yglesias is a wonderfully honest exploration of how much we need to do to really address climate change.

PS: I'm going to try to include more pictures and links to music I think you'll like. Here is Neko Case's Night Still Comes.



Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Book Update and Poll, September 27

With the self-imposed deadline of October 1 fast approaching, I have the following files ready for you to download and read as of today:

Big pdf version 1.1 (updated 9/27, better graphics/pictures 21M) 

Small pdf v1.0 (5M) file. 

These versions should look as intended, with the chosen fonts, page breaks, and picture sizes.

Version 1.1 mobi (51M) file for Kindles and the Kindle app. 

Beta 0.9 epub (24M) for Apple devices and other e-reading applications. 

These epub and Kindle editions will not look as intended (except in Apple's Books) but should be readable.

The ebook version on Amazon is now ready for pre-order. The paperback, B&N, and Apple Books versions still working.

POLL! Having the book printed in color (e.g., all the pictures) would lead to a minimum price of $35. Having it printed in black & white allows me to price it at $13. What should we do? Please email or comment. info (at) losingmyreligions.net

The latest version of all the current files can be found here.

If you have any feedback and/or note any problems, please email info@losingmyreligions.net Thanks!

We will update the files on an ongoing basis.

Since many people voted for this one,
we're using it on some of the versions.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Equality (repost)

Seeing Bryan Caplan's strawman attacks on feminism (isn't he so "brave") and reading one of his misogynist followers reminded me of this post:

tl;dr: if you are spending your time looking for differences, you are part of the problem.

There has always been an attitude of "Kids these days!" Looking through history, crotchety adults have always complained about the spoiled, lazy, disrespectful kids with their music and crazy clothes and obscene dances and "fancy new technology" (radios, telephones, etc.).

So it is easy to dismiss the book The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt as yet another in the long series of adults whining about kids these days. Yet I found a lot of interesting and useful insights in the book.

Perhaps the most relevant for me is their discussion of "safetyism," the idea that kids need to be protected from everything. This resonated with me. When EK was four years old, my mom asked what values they had learned - EK answered "kindness and safety." I still have flashbacks of three times something really bad almost happened to EK.

Lukianoff and Haidt make the point that humans are antifragile - that we need to experience stress and be tested to get stronger. Not that everything that doesn't kill us makes us stronger, but that facing (reasonable) challenges is the only way we can grow and develop. "Luckily" for EK, they've had plenty of challenges (despite my best efforts). (We were just talking about how something that happened in 2007 had a very specific influence from then on.)

Where Lukianoff and Haidt lose me is their argument against looking at outcomes when working for social justice. The example they use to make their case is that under Title IX, the University of Virginia made women's rowing a varsity sport to help offset the huge (men's) football program. Lukianoff and Haidt's argument is that if more males are interested in sports than females, why shouldn't there be more (school-sponsored) athletic opportunities for the boys?

But how can we know that there is an inherent difference in interest? Who makes those determinations? For as long as adults have complained about kids, white males have said that girls don't like math and are more concerned with "nurturing" than having a career. (And blacks don't care about school or are "natural athletes," etc. And you don't just get that from ignorant rednecks - Nobel laureates, too, like James Watson.)

I'm not a "blank-slater" - I don't think that every human is conceived and born with equal potential in all areas. It is theoretically possible that Larry Summers is factually correct that boys have a greater standard deviation in math ability (see this for more discussion; see this for a counterpoint). But my question is: how can we know? People treat a baby - a baby - differently if that baby is dressed in pink vs blue. The same baby!

Can we really think that being treated a certain way from day one doesn't have an impact on a child's interests and subsequent "strengths"? Can we really claim that anyone who is not a straight white male is not influenced by society's stereotypes of them? It just boggles my mind that anyone would think they can measure the "natural and inherent" inclinations and skills of anyone.

This, of course, brings up Sam Harris' egomania. He paints himself and his center-right straight male friends as the only ones willing to "speak the truth." One of his "only I'm brave enough to say" claims (in addition to his bewildering ongoing insistence to talk about race and IQ) is that James Damore was "right" in his Google memo that "women just don't like working with computers, so tech firms should stop trying to hire women."

I think the actual evidence does not support Damore and Harris - listen to this for an explanation (video version). Also, see this for proof that it doesn't have to be this way.

But regardless, can he really say that no non-male could ever have an interest in coding? Here's my question to Sam: would you really want your daughters to have to work with someone with Damore's attitude? [I pity Sam's daughters. In his most recent book, he doesn't have even one woman. In general, the only time a woman is on his podcast, it is with a man or men.]

It continues to amaze me when straight white "liberal" males spend their time defending Charles Murray or complaining that male rowers at the University of Virginia aren't varsity athletes. Do they really think these are the main injustices that need to be addressed?

More importantly, can they not see that promoting the idea of "natural" and "inherent" differences between genders or races actively supports real-world discrimination? This is an honest question I wish they would answer. You don't have to watch many videos of Nazis and white supremacists before you hear one of them pointing to Charles Murray's book The Bell Curve as "scientific proof" of racist views.

Do you want to spend your limited time being against Nazis or defending Charles Murray?

Saturday, September 24, 2022

In better news: Parenting and inequality

As someone who was the stay-at-home parent so Anne could advance as a professor at Carnegie Mellon, I was happy to see this story at Full Stack Economics (especially in contrast to the anti-feminist stuff I've been seeing):

If we want an equal society, we need to get more comfortable with unequal marriages.



Friday, September 23, 2022

Most Recommended Overview re: Climate Change

This Ezra Klein podcast is by far the best overview I've come across about what will need to be done to change the United State's energy system:

Jesse Jenkins is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University and leads the Princeton ZERO Lab. He was a lead author of the Net Zero America report, the most comprehensive attempt to map out the different pathways to decarbonization I’ve seen. He also leads the REPEAT Project, which has done some of the most in-depth modeling of how the Inflation Reduction Act and other climate policies could affect emissions.

And I'm not just saying that because Professor Jenkins is an aerospace engineer. 

Pay close attention to how much land is needed for wind and solar, and then consider your opinion on nuclear energy. (Which I talk about in Losing My Religions.)

Santa Fe, NM.
A good state for solar power.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

OK, I'll stop. (Carl Sagan)

In Losing My Religions, I have a chapter, “Greta Thunberg’s misery is the result of child abuse.” 

Yesterday, I came across this Carl Sagan quote in the center-right newsletter Faster, Please:

“The visions we offer our children shape the future. It matters what those visions are. Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Dreams are maps.” 

My first thought was to add that to the book. But I have to stop adding -- before I published the pdf last week, I was editing and adding every day.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Environmentalists Kill and Men are Whiney Little Bitches

OK, both of those claims in the headline should be modified with "Many."

From Open Philanthropy's Alexander Berger (emphasis added):

People died of heat in Japan because of energy conservation measures after their nuclear plans were shut down

So instead of using carbon-free electricity, they killed people. But that is small potatoes compared to who nuclear power has saved:

Climatologists James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha calculated that the use of nuclear power between 1971 and 2009 avoided the premature deaths of 1.84 million people by preventing air pollution from burning coal.


Also, one whiney white dude came out of the woodwork to complain about my takedown of Bryan Caplan's attack on his "feminism" strawman. (And didn't put his name on his rant.) Not to be ad hominem, but doesn't he read like someone who couldn't get a date in high school and resents that anyone other than straight white dudes has any say in anything?

His argument is basically that no woman can have earned her position. My reply:

See, this is the kind of "I'm a poor whiney white man who can't even put my name to my complaints" bullshit that just drives me crazy. Just like "we had a (half) black president, so racism isn't a thing. Except for whites being discriminated against."

Of course you doubt my wife's qualifications. THAT IS FUCKING SEXISM! Can't you fucking see that? You see my wife as inherently less than. Unworthy. 

Of course I can give you her fucking qualifications (won the college's top teaching award, president of the two national organizations, full teaching professor first year eligible) but it doesn't matter. All you see is an unworthy woman. Just like every other woman is unworthy because a school that had been nearly all male enacted policies to get past our inherent biases for others like us. Just because a few men in a world completely controlled by men decided that maybe things should be different. 

Poor you. 

Of all the discriminatory measures listed, you pick on health insurance. As though women get pregnant all on their own. In your world, women have to pay with their bodies and their careers to continue the species. And they should also pay more for insurance to have that privilege. And to have you tell them when they can have a child.

And all the rest of societies structural prejudices are "solved." Dream on. 

This country was made by men for men and men enacted laws to protect men's power. But a few decades ago, a few of those laws were undone. So everything is now "solved." Except for discrimination against whiney little bitches like yourself.

Your lack of empathy, your self-absorption, it is just astounding. You make me embarrassed to be a man. Except that I'll put my name on my comments.

Of course, there are daily examples of what women face; e.g., Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women? 

(More from Tyler Cowen.)

But yeah, keep telling yourself that you're the one oppressed.



Tuesday, September 20, 2022

“Sun comes up, it's Tuesday Morning...”

If you share more than 22% of your genes with me, please read no further. Thanks.

Ever since late April 2022, when I first started sketching out the ideas for the book, I got up very early (between 3 and 5 a.m.) every morning. First to write (May) then to edit (ever since). 

But at the end of last week -- specifically Friday, September 16 2020 -- we produced and published a pdf of v.1 of Losing My Religions. These pdf versions should look as intended, with the intended fonts, page breaks, and picture sizes. 

As of this Tuesday morning (Sept 20), we have an un-optimized beta (0.8) of the epub version. Epub (and future Kindle) editions will not look as intended, but should be readable. This beta renders OK in Apple's Books on my Mac but terrible in Moon+ on my Kindle Fire. So it goes.

Now I get up in the mornings and am not sure what to do.

Yes, I have tons of work to meet the "official" October 1 2022 publishing goal. I have to learn a new piece of software to optimize the .epub and .mobi files. Both of those will be highly sub-optimal, given the inability to control layout (and fonts). But it is what it is. 

You can download the book, learn more, and see the early reviews at LosingMyReligions.net

Post title reference. I don't like the video, but I do like the song very much.


Monday, September 19, 2022

Sunday, September 18, 2022

New Book Review (from Down Under)

"It's only just after 7am now and I read the first 70 pages. It's very unusual writing and I have found it efficient in that I couldn't put it down - even though I repeatedly thought I'd only just read one more page."



Friday, September 16, 2022

Sentence / Tennis

From 2006's Roger Federer as Religious Experience by the late great David Foster Wallace:

There’s a medium-long exchange of groundstrokes, one with the distinctive butterfly shape of today’s power-baseline game, Federer and Agassi yanking each other from side to side, each trying to set up the baseline winner...until suddenly Agassi hits a hard heavy cross-court backhand that pulls Federer way out wide to his ad (=left) side, and Federer gets to it but slices the stretch backhand short, a couple feet past the service line, which of course is the sort of thing Agassi dines out on, and as Federer’s scrambling to reverse and get back to center, Agassi’s moving in to take the short ball on the rise, and he smacks it hard right back into the same ad corner, trying to wrong-foot Federer, which in fact he does — Federer’s still near the corner but running toward the centerline, and the ball’s heading to a point behind him now, where he just was, and there’s no time to turn his body around, and Agassi’s following the shot in to the net at an angle from the backhand side...and what Federer now does is somehow instantly reverse thrust and sort of skip backward three or four steps, impossibly fast, to hit a forehand out of his backhand corner, all his weight moving backward, and the forehand is a topspin screamer down the line past Agassi at net, who lunges for it but the ball’s past him, and it flies straight down the sideline and lands exactly in the deuce corner of Agassi’s side, a winner — Federer’s still dancing backward as it lands. 


That is all one sentence. I'm not kidding, you can check it yourself.

I've played just enough tennis to begin to understand how good Federer was. Here's one collection of highlights. And: