The Onion says everything there is to say.
“Our marriage is about love and faithfulness irrespective of gender and my gender transition. Our marriage reaffirms our ongoing, nearly lifelong commitment that strengthens our family and society.”
–JamieAnn Meyers, “Marriage: It’s About Love and Commitment (A Transgender Perspective)”
“If we did this right, people would come out of presidential elections exhilarated, maybe even stoked to get involved in their local races for county sheriff or D.A.”
–Matt Taibbi, “How the Hype Became Bigger Than the Presidential Election”
“Poor man! gone to meet the spirits of my poor, outraged and murdered people, in a world where Liberty and Justice are MASTERS.”
–Jarm Logue via Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Hyperlinked Ballad of Jarm Logue”
“I support this law because it doesn’t force any church to perform a same-sex marriage if it’s against their beliefs. And that’s what this is about—protecting religious freedom and all [citizens] equally under the law.”
–Rev. Donté Hickman, Southern Baptist pastor, endorsing Maryland’s Question 6 marriage equality bill
In the entire history of the United States of America, from George Washington’s election in 1789 on down, has there been a single candidate as unmoored from ideological principle or belief as Mitt Romney?
–Paul Waldman, “The Emptiest Candidate in Presidential Election History”
“Romney is ready to make the deep roll-backs in healthcare, education, social services, reproductive rights, — that will guarantee poverty, unemployment, overpopulation, disease, rioting, — all crucial elements in creating a nightmare zombie wasteland.”
–Joss Whedon’s endorsement of Mitt Romney
“The more you focus, the more that focus becomes a habit.”
–Charles Duhigg, “How Not to Spend Your Whole Day on Facebook”
“If they really cared about eradicating poverty, as good Jews, they knew what to do. Moses told them the strategy – regular debt cancellation and economic empowerment would end poverty. But if they weren’t up to radical restructuring then they better be up for a lifetime of generous giving to the poor.”
–Kelley Nikondeha, “The Poor You Will Always Have with You”
“What the author quickly realized was that the “biblical view on abortion” had dramatically shifted over the course of a mere 15 years, from clearly stating life begins at birth to just as clearly teaching it begins at conception.”
–Jonathan Dudley, “When Evangelicals Were Pro-Choice”
“The only way for a zombie to have his will and soul return is for him to eat salt.”
–Amy Wilentz, “A Zombie Is a Slave Forever“
Experimental Theology: On Blog Arguments and Dumbfounding
To be clear, I’m not saying that when people disagree with me they don’t have good reasons or solid arguments. It’s just that I don’t find those arguments persuasive. Largely, and this is key, for a host of emotional reasons. Consequently, until I feel differently about things, until my affections change, exchanging self-justifications in the comments section of a blog isn’t going to move the conversation forward. It’s a dumbfounding situation.
xkcd: Error Code
Ta-Nehisi Coates: On Making Yourself Right
It is natural to think of the damage [a liar and opportunist] did to people  by embracing lying as a weapon. But I found myself thinking of the great injury he must have ultimately done himself, for by the end , he was a man lying only to himself and other liars.
Kickstarter: A Show with Ze Frank
“The cause was greater than the facts themselves. Lawrence and Garner understood that they were being asked to keep the dirty secret that there was no dirty secret. That’s the punch line: the case that affirmed the right of gay couples to have consensual sex in private spaces seems to have involved two men who were neither a couple nor having sex.”
Thought I’d do a link-dump of things that have been on my mind lately.
Robin Cody - “Miss Ivory Brown” (pdf), from The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004, originally in Portland Magazine. A simply beautiful story.
Peter Watts - “The Island”, Hugo Award (sci fi) winner for the Best Novelette of 2010. It’s good.
Atul Gawande – Letting Go: What should medicine do when it can’t save your life? The New Yorker, August 2, 2010. A deeply moving essay about Hospice medical care for dying patients.
Bill Moyers – “Welcome to the Plutocracy”. Originally given as a speech at Boston University on October 29, 2010 as a part of the Howard Zinn Lecture Series, this is an unsettling account of the role of corporate money in U.S. politics.
Sean Wilentz – “Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party’s Cold War roots”. The New Yorker, October 18, 2010. An interesting historical look at the origins of Glenn Beck’s (and others’) view of American history. It’s all been done before.
David McRaney, “Procrastination”. You Are Not So Smart, October 27, 2010. A meta look at procrastination, explaining how it is “fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking”. Encourages long-term thinking and planning ahead of time to trick yourself into working better, through the lens of recent behavioral science, Netflix, and marshmallows.
Doctor Science, “You’ve never been to the moon But don’t you want to go”, Obsidian Wings, November 01, 2010. An overview of some undertakings by Galaxy Zoo, a collection of crowdsourced science projects.
I got a window seat at work this week. The plants are happy, as am I.
(BTW, I highly recommend Instapaper for marking articles and essays to read later. It can sync with your mobile device and all sorts of cool stuff.)
Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either) – Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow on the iPad and Apple’s stifling of creativity:
[C]learly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue.
The way you improve your iPad isn’t to figure out how it works and making it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps. Buying an iPad for your kids isn’t a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it’s a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.
Yeah, I won’t be getting one.
How the GOP Purged Me – Chris Currey with a historical look at the Republican party from a lifelong conservative. Well worth a read.
I grew up in an era where William F. Buckley fought the John Birch society and kicked them out of the Republican Party. I grew up with — in fact voted for the first time for — Eisenhower. In 1956, he ran a campaign of dignity. A campaign that acknowledged that there are certain projects better suited to be handled by the government. See, business thinks in the short term, as he said. That’s the imperative of the marketplace. I invest and I expect that in a few quarters, I garner the fruits of my investment. Government, on the other hand, has the luxury to wait a few years, maybe decades, for a return on a given investment. As a former businessman, I know that first hand. Am I a Marxist for thinking that?
I have long thought that a truth commission such as the post-apartheid Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa may be the only way to move forward, loath as I am to see the boastfully guilty pardoned.
How Should Obama Deal With Bush Era Torture? puts it succinctly, along with photographic and documentary evidence from torture regimes of the past: the Khmer Rouge, the Inquisition, the Gestapo.
Torture will remain an ugly stain on the U.S. until it is dealt with openly and transparently. The truth is, to me, more important than seeing punishment meted out on the offenders.
a.k.a. Links for the week.
I haven’t figured out a good workflow, a way to publish and comment on the things that I read and that are important to me. I’m still working out the kinks.
Here’s what I’ve been focused on lately:
The Proposition 8 Trial
As I wrote earlier, I’ve been very interested in the federal trial over the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8. It seems important and potentially ground-breaking. The courtroom provides an ideal environment for the societal and cultural stigmas surrounding homosexuality, the economic and social factors involved in the push for marriage equality, the role of religion in the democratic process, the nature of civil rights, the makeup of how a group of people is granted protected status, and other such issues to be discussed calmly, rationally, and with the input of experts.
But so anyway, here are some links, analyses, summaries, that have caught my attention lately, for what they’re worth.
- Prop. 8 Trial First Week Roundup – an AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights, one of the organizations bringing the court case against California’s Proposition 8 ) summary of the trial’s first week of arguments and witnesses.
- “Home Court Advantage” and Determining Scrutiny, both from Prop 8 Trial Tracker, are helpful explanations of the process by which the case will be decided, and which side will be deemed to have the burden of proof.
- An Explosive Afternoon: LDS Church – It’s fascinating the length, time, and manpower the Mormons put into the passage of Prop. 8.
- Chinese Christians Are the Focus of Same-Sex Marriage Case – NYT article on one of the official proponents (one of the five people who officially filed Prop. 8), Hak-Shing William Tam, and his testimony this week. His testimony went a long way toward illustrating the animus involved in the push to pass the measure. Mr. Tam was more than willing to propagate falsehoods (read: lies) linking gay people to all sorts of societal ills: pedophilia, incest, molestation, prostitution, and recruiting children.
- An Odd Couple Defends Couples That Some (Oddly) Find Odd – NYT op-ed about the “odd couple” of the two lawyers arguing the case. An interesting comment regarding President Obama’s reluctance to support marriage equality:
Obama sees himself as such a huge change that he can be cautious about other societal changes. But what he doesn’t realize is that legalizing gay marriage is like electing a black president. Before you do it, it seems inconceivable. Once it’s done, you can’t remember what all the fuss was about.
- Why I’m Joining the Fight for Marriage Equality – well-written Fox News (!) piece with another conservative perspective on marriage equality.
- How to live to be 100+ – TED talk covering research on “Blue Zones”, areas of the world where people frequently live active lives into their 90s and 100s.
- EVIL little cameras – from Metafilter, an interesting collection of articles about a new type of camera (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lenses) which has the quality of a dSLR in a compact size.
I’ve been making tasty concoctions.
- (faux-) Bailey’s Irish Cream – for the instant coffee, I used Starbucks Via. It turned out great.
- Hot pepper infused vodka – I used two green jalapeños, one red jalapeño, and a habanero, with a half-bottle of vodka. It smells delicious – I have tasted it but not yet made a drink with it. It’s going to be quite a kick in bloody marys!
This is getting to be too much for one post (and I’m running out of time for now). I’ll put the next installment in a post of its own.
Haiti | To Hell With Altruistic Capitalism – Kester Brewin on the deeper, systemic issues that allow the horror of what’s happened in Haiti, as well as some musings on a critique of capitalism in view of Jesus’ teachings.
And it is particularly pertinent in the aftermath of the horror of the earthquake in Haiti. We see the politicians on both sides of the atlantic with their bleeding-heart messages about the disaster…. when in reality the West has f*cked Haiti over time and time again – preventing proper development, forcing the poor into cities and sweatshops to create cheap clothing for the US, suffering coups supported by the CIA… and now told that they deserved this earthquake because they sold their souls to the devil when they bought themselves out of slavery from France.
Please, please give generously to help Haiti get back on its feet. But in a week or so when the story has gone from our screens, let’s not forget them, and let’s try to get the systemic issues sorted out. They need debt forgiven. They need minimum wage agreements. They need symmetric fair trade agreements. They need to be given a fair chance, especially by the US.
As I say in the post on what looks like being a great conference, Oscar Wilde had it right when he said that the worst slave owners were the ones who were kind to their slaves. Why? Because they prolonged the horrors of an abusive system. And yes, that, on the grand scale, is what altruistic capitalism looks like.
If you want to help in the short term, here’s some good advice for choosing how to maximize the impact of your dollars by choosing the best NGO. (We went with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.)