flewellyn: (Default)
2014-07-17 10:58 pm

Xenophobia? In MY right wing? It's more likely than you think.

So, here's something I don't get.

I've seen numerous news stories about various far-right groups and politicians decrying the entrance of refugee children into our country, screaming about how they are a threat to us, and how they're not our problem and should be sent back to the horrible poverty and violence that they're fleeing. I've seen commenters on various news sites and conservative blogs even cheering and crowing about the fact that many children have been drowning trying to cross the Rio Grande. I've seen video of protestors screaming "Not our kids, not our problem!" and "Go back where you came from!"

No doubt, most of the people saying these things would define themselves as good Christians.

Yet, if these children were unborn fetuses, these self-same "good Christians" would be all for doing whatever it took to prevent the women pregnant with them from having any access to abortion, no matter how dire the woman's circumstances of health or poverty, and insist upon using the power of the state to intervene to "protect" the fetuses. Because that's "pro-life".

But, apparently, there's nothing about cheering at the deaths of refugee children that is not "pro-life".

I mean, unless it comes down to the fact that what we have here are a group of people who are motivated only by loyalty to their own in-group, and virulent mistrust and hatred of anyone who is not like them or does not conform to their narrow and primitive view of how the world "should" work and how people "should" live. It would seem a large segment of the American public is basically living, mentally and culturally, in the early Iron Age, and has no rationally-based ethical or moral framework on which to judge reality.

...Nah. Couldn't be that, right? Right?
flewellyn: (Default)
2012-08-13 06:19 pm

A sudden realization

If, horror of horrors, Mitt Romney were to win the election, do you know what this means?

PAUL RYAN would be only a lack-of-heartbeat away from the Presidency!
flewellyn: (Default)
2011-11-10 11:25 pm

11/11/11: For their honor

Today, I want to say thank you to our nation's vets. All of you.

Because of your hard work and sacrifice, all of our cats, dogs, hamster, gerbils, mice, rats, birds, and farm animals are healthier, happier, and safer.

Yes, whether it be vaccinating my cats against rabies and other diseases, or performing surgery to fix a horse's broken leg, all of our domestic animals and the humans who love them owe our vets a debt of gratitude...hang on...

*mumble whisper*

...wait...VETERANS Day?!

Oh. That's very different.

flewellyn: (Default)
2011-11-08 05:59 pm

Moral hazard and the "rules are rules" crowd.

So, foreclosures. They're happening a lot, a lot more than they should, and for bad reasons. We all know this.

I came upon this story here, in which a group of Occupy Atlanta people set up camp on the lawn of a police officer whose home is being foreclosed upon, to try and block the eviction. I applaud this move and any like it. But, it seems, the commenters were not all of the same mind.

I noted a number of posters complaining about this as somehow immoral, allowing people to "live in homes they haven't paid for" or something like that. Two things I have to say in response.

First, we know that the banks have been engaging in widespread fraudulent foreclosures. We know that the banks have engaged in fraudulent mortgage lending, and fraudulent securitizing of known high-risk mortgages. Given this fact, ANY foreclosure in today's economic and regulatory circumstances is highly suspect. So, why do they want to blame the victims, instead of the perpetrators? I suspect the "just world" fallacy, but I can't entirely rule out less savory mindsets.

Second, it is in society's best interests to keep people in their homes. Foreclosure should be a last resort, not a routine action, and loan modification, restructuring, payment assistance, even forgiveness of debt in extreme hardship are all preferable and very supportable actions by the banks, or by the government. Kicking people out of their homes and disrupting their lives is bad for society at large, and constitutes a much greater moral hazard than "letting" people "get away with" not repaying the full mortgage, if they are truly unable.

So, in closing, I say that this moralizing about "rules are rules" and "how dare someone get away with this" is entirely misguided. Contracts are not the highest moral law, and in fact, it is often necessary to abrogate them, and to forgive debts, when the social and economic landscape has become too unbalanced. The mentality that those less fortunate who need help are "getting away with" anything is highly immoral.
flewellyn: (Default)
2011-11-05 04:45 pm

Gun-toting treason and plot?

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November...the day Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Paraliament and replace British democracy with a theocratic dictatorship.

Who in current American politics is like him, now? Hmm...who goes around brandishing guns and screaming about overthrowing the government because they don't like that their religious beliefs are the law of the land...?
flewellyn: (Default)
2011-09-23 03:30 pm

Stop me if you've heard this one before

"We don't allow faster than light neutrinos in here," said the bartender.

So, this neutrino walked into a bar.
flewellyn: (Default)
2011-08-18 10:50 am

"I fell in to the burning pants of fire..."

The wildfires spreading through Texas were apparently started by a dry piece of brush that caught when Rick Perry walked past.

He'd just given a press conference, and his pants were still on fire.
flewellyn: (Default)
2011-05-01 11:14 pm

Osama bin Laden is dead: now what?

So, apparently, Osama bin Laden is dead. That's interesting, and I suppose it marks some symbolic victory, but what have we gained?

Our hyped up state of fear of the rest of the world, particularly the Muslim world, is not going to vanish overnight. Our excessive and unnecessary curtailing of civil liberties, resurgence of paranoid right-wing reactionaries, and broadening of the "national security state" will not be stopped by this.

We have killed a terrorist leader, but only after being terrorized by his specter for ten years. And let's not pretend that the worst elements of our own society, which have cynically used the (overblown, post-9/11) threat of bin Laden to gain power and influence, will simply go back to the margins like they should. The overt racism and religious bigotry, the rampant resurgence of overt misogyny, all galvanized by "us or them" thinking on the part of our leaders and fed by an extreme right-wing that has been seeking an excuse for years if not decades, these things will not fade away.

Nor will the paranoid overbroadening of police powers disappear. We still have Gitmo, the use of torture against civilians, two wars, warantless wiretapping and surveillance, and the overall abandonment of our moral high ground on the subject of human and civil rights on our national conscience. We have, these past ten years, fought monsters so hard that we have become monsters.

In the final analysis, Osama bin Laden has won. So why are we celebrating?
flewellyn: (Default)
2011-03-14 12:21 am


So, I just spent some time explaining to Dubbug how nuclear reactors work, so she could understand what was happening in Japan.

Her reaction:

Dubbug: so basically they're just boiling water in there!?
Flewellyn: Yes, that's exactly what they're doing.
Flewellyn: It's like a big pressure cooker.
Flewellyn: But the heat's coming from the nuclear reactions in the uranium fuel.
Dubbug: would it be safe to cook my mushrooms in there?
Flewellyn: Uhh...if you like radioactive mushrooms.
Flewellyn: I don't think you would.
Dubbug: will it make me grow big?
Flewellyn: No, but it might make you have cancer.

I think she was hoping the mushrooms would be like in Super Mario Bros.
flewellyn: (Default)
2010-02-19 04:47 pm
Entry tags:

How "odd".

It's funny how, when Joe Stack flies a plane into an IRS building because he hates paying taxes and wants to strike a blow against the government, he's clearly a guy who just snapped.

But when Nidal Malik Hassan shoots up Fort Hood after enduring years of harrassment and intimidation by his fellow soldiers, he is immediately branded a terrorist and no talk of "just snapping" is tolerated by the media.
flewellyn: (Default)
2009-04-13 08:29 am

Reaping what they have sown.

As many of you already know, Amazon.com has decided to "show consideration" for their "entire customer base" by delisting the sales rankings of GLBT-friendly books. They have not seen fit to do the same with anti-GLBT books, however, and as a result, Searching for "homosexuality" links to a series of homophobic books by right-wing fundamentalists.

In light of this, I sent this letter to Amazon.com moments ago:

I wish my account closed, effective immediately, in protest of your policies against GLBT content. I object in the strongest possible terms to this discriminatory behavior, and refuse to do any further business with you until such time as you cease such promotion of bigotry.

[my name]

I would encourage all of you who read me, and have not already done so, to do the same.
flewellyn: (Default)
2009-04-10 07:10 pm
Entry tags:

I Am Jack's Complete Lack Of Surprise: Journalism Edition.

So, the Atlantic Monthly and National Journal, bastions of traditional media, conducted a survey of prominent members of the news media whether they thought the internet was helping or hurting journalism.

Three guesses which one they said. The first two don't count.

That's right: Media Insiders Say Internet Hurts Journalism was the Atlantic's headline.

Color me shocked.

I found this story on Shakesville, in a story Melissa McEwan had titled "Maybe You Should Try Not Sucking". Other suggested headlines from the comment thread: "Media Insiders Admit to Cluelessness About How to Make Money on the Internet", "Media Insiders Resent Being Caught And Called Out On Their Pathetic, Lazy, Biased Screed Masquerading As News. Details at 11.", and my own, "Media Insiders Hate Competition, Being Shown Up For Falling Down On Job".

To be fair, they are right in one sense: the internet IS hurting journalism, if you define "journalism" the way they do, namely "pronouncements of our opinions as The Truth From On High".

The internet has done a huge number on their monopoly on public discourse, and they're really mad about that. They're important people, dammit! They know this is true because they say so!

Put more generally, they've defined journalism as "what it is that we do, as Important Journalists". Since they have, over the past thirty years, stopped doing actual journalism (in the dictionary sense) and taken on the role of blathering opinion-spouters who speak in soundbites and often don't bother actually researching, that, in their mind, is journalism.

So when people on the internet start actually doing research, and presenting nuanced and detailed views of the world, it feels like an attack on their world of "journalism", and they react with hostility. Because, hey, if just any person can present opinions and soundbites, and amateurs on the internet can present real journalism better than they can, then that might mean that they really aren't as Important and Vital as they insist they are! Why, then the common people might start doing journalism, and we can't have that!
flewellyn: (Default)
2009-03-26 08:31 pm

Flood update.

Many of you are probably worried, so here's the scoop: the cities of Fargo and Moorhead have, for the past week, been mobilizing a record number of volunteers and resources to build dikes, dams, levees, and other protections against the oncoming flood of the Red River. The latest work completed built dikes sufficient to protect against the expected crest of 41 feet.

The latest update from the National Weather Service, however, raised the projected crest to 42 or even 43 feet. To give you an idea, the previous record level for a flood in the Fargo-Moorhead area is 40.1 feet, in 1897.

So, they're still out there. Where I live, next to the Clay County Courthouse, is high ground, and the courthouse will not be allowed to flood. They've turned an entire street into an emergency dike, and they're adding to the existing ones to protect against the new expected crest. But the crest is expected within 36 hours. Oh, and did I mention that it's also snowed 8 inches and is below freezing?

I am not expecting to have to leave. But, just in case, I have a bug-out bag ready, and my cat carrier is at hand for kitty evacuation. If I have to go, I will take my lappie with me and try to update you from my new location. Again, not expecting to need to do this, just covering all bases.

The volunteer efforts in the cities have been amazing: I have seen sandbaggers, food carriers, machines, National Guard troops, and police EVERYWHERE. Sandbags and dirt dikes have been going up all over the place, and almost all bridges are closed. Traffic is, as you might expect, quite snarled. But, the people are out and doing what needs to be done, in record numbers. Latest word is that they continue to have too many volunteers.

Just one thing comes to mind: what with all the building of dikes, placing of dikes, reinforcing of dikes, and other dependence on dikes to save this city...when it's all over, Minnesota and North Dakota had damn well better allow gay marriage.
flewellyn: (Default)
2009-03-13 03:13 am
Entry tags:

How were we supposed to know?

I keep seeing posts on the blagosphere, and hearing in the news, about people who are absolutely infuriated at the mere idea of using any bailout money to help people with failing mortgages directly. Give it to the wealthy corporations who leveraged those bad mortgages into oblivion and wrecked the economy? Sure, no problem. But give money to people who might otherwise lose their homes? Gasp, no! We can't have that! Those people were stupid and didn't do their homework! We can't be going around rewarding stupidity and failure! They should have KNOWN that this would happen!


Well, let's have a look at this clip from the Daily Show, which once again proves that the best news reporting in America is coming from comedians, of all places:

So, really...who was stupid? Who was a loser? Who failed?
flewellyn: (Default)
2009-01-12 06:45 pm
Entry tags:

Priming the pump?

From the I Swear I Could Not Make This Up Department, I bring you this news item: Porn Industry Seeks Federal Bailout.

That's right, Larry Flynt and other members of the pornography industry are asking Congress for $5 billion US to help...well, here's what he says:

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind. It's time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."

Well, several responses come to mind. First off, does anyone really want Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America? Of all the groups of people I might think to list as "go to" people for creative sexual expression, Congress is not near the top. Or the middle. Or, honestly, the bottom. (I could make a bad joke about certain members of Congress possibly being bottoms, themselves, but I will repress the urge.)

But, more to the point, why would the porn industry seriously think they need a bailout? Porno is a thriving business, and has never seen truly hard times. Even with the economic downturn, they're still making money hand over fist. It's one sector of the economy that I'm quite sure does not need additional stimulation. Larry Flynt is making out well enough without any additional money shot into his bank account, and I'm sure that his fellow producers' balance sheets are likewise firmly in the black.

Besides which, Ron Jeremy aside, the porno industry does not qualify as "too big to fail." A few producers may go down here and there, but on the whole, the market is an easy one to penetrate.
flewellyn: (Default)
2008-11-05 04:32 pm
Entry tags:

A possible Prop 8 solution?

I was just thinking about the apparent passage of Proposition 8 in California, which re-bans same-sex marriage by amending the state constitution.

Now, that same state constitution guarantees equality before the law to all citizens. This amendment clearly violates that principle.

Absent a successful legal challenge based on that conflict (several have already been filed), it seems to me that there is only one way to resolve it: while Prop 8 remains in effect, the state of California must refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone.

It's not likely that this would happen, especially considering that the legal challenges to Prop 8's passage have a good chance of succeeding...but wouldn't it be awesome, in an odd way, to see? It would certainly stick in the craws of the fundies who pushed so hard for this discriminatory measure to succeed.
flewellyn: (Default)
2008-11-05 02:16 pm
Entry tags:

So this is what he meant by "the audacity of hope".

It's November 5th. Election Day, the day I'd been anticipating and dreading for nearly a year, has finally come and gone. And by and large, the good guys won.

It's an odd feeling, honestly; I've gotten so used to that sense of impending electoral catastrophe, that having it over and done with, and mostly positive results at that, is hard to process. It's like having a leg I'd been sitting on coming back online after going to sleep.

Not all good news, though: Michele Bachmann, the neoMcCarthyist idiot fundie godbag representative from Minnesota's most conservative district, has apparently won reelection, and will continue to spew stupidity for some time. And the Franken-Coleman race is still uncalled, and will likely be recounted. And, worst of all, the anti-gay measures in California, Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida all passed (well, CA is still not 100% certain, but it looks likely). It wasn't an absolute victory by any means, and there's still much fighting to do.

Anyhoo...now comes the hard part. Obama may not have been my first choice, or my second choice for that matter, but he was, at the end, my choice. And he was America's choice. It still feels strange to hope...but I have the audacity to hope that he was the right choice.
flewellyn: (Default)
2008-10-21 10:41 pm

That's some primo batshittery, right there.

I got linked to this by [livejournal.com profile] neintales. It's from [livejournal.com profile] dark_christian: "Block African witchcraft curses against McCain and Palin NOW!"

According to this post, Muslim Kenyan relatives of Obama are using witchcraft to curse McCain and Palin, "weaving lazy 8's around McCain's mind to make him look confused and like an idiot".

My favorite comment in the community: "I'm a witch, and trust me, wasting effort casting spells to make water flow downhill and ice be cold is not what we do."

Never mind the fact that no self-respecting Muslim would EVER use anything akin to "witchcraft" or ritual magic. Hell, in some Muslim countries, they still execute people for it!
flewellyn: (Default)
2008-08-29 03:40 pm
Entry tags:

Strange game, professor. The only way to win is not to play.

So, McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has been governor for 18 months over a state with a smaller population than Chicago, as his Vice Presidential running mate. It's a transparently obvious attempt to garner the votes of women, under the assumption that women are stupid, interchangeable, and will vote for anyone with a vagina, issues and policies be damned. Yet, for all of that, McCain and Palin have been talking about "breaking the glass ceiling" and touting this as a feminist choice.

Such a strange campaign. The Democrats are busy trying to pretend to be Republicans, so the Republicans, in retaliation, try to pretend to be Democrats.
flewellyn: (Default)
2008-06-29 06:00 pm
Entry tags:

Political musing (feel free to skip)

Following the primaries, I'm still very much undecided whether I want to support Obama or not. Both my first choice (Edwards) and my second (Clinton) have come out in support of him, and that says a lot to me.

But then I hear about stuff like this, in which protestors and dissenters at an Obama rally were systematically excluded and dismissed by his campaign's operatives. And it makes me wonder...isn't this Bush stuff? If Obama means to unify the party, how come his campaign's actions seem geared toward unity through purge?

Very discomfitting. If Obama turns out to be Bush Lite, then my choices at the ballot box will be Bush Lite or Bush Redux. Not much of a choice, is it?