Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ERA Today!

When I see things like this, I'm reminded of just how far there is to go in the struggle for equality, and how important it is for all people of good will to identify as feminists. Some of my older family members practically spit the word "feminist" out as if it tastes bad. There is a big image problem with feminism apparently. Our culture portrays feminists as pushy and demanding, as if it's wrong to demand equal treatment with the other half of the human race.

Dan Gilbert on Happiness

This is a fascinating talk on the psychology of happiness and choice.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rick Perry

This video about potential Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry is fascinating. His ties to racist homophobic bigots, and his stances on secession and abortion seems like it would make him an ideal candidate on the right (a la Sarah Palin), but in the national stage, I think it might make him almost unelectable.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Florida's New Drug Test Law

Florida Passes Controversial Drug Test Law

Tuesday, May 31st: Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed into law a bill that requires mandatory drug testing for all library card applicants and owners. The testing would be paid for by the applicant, with reimbusement by the state if no drug use is found.

“While there are certainly legitimate needs for public literacy, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addicts,” Scott said. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”

The ACLU opposes this new law. According to a spokesman, they say it violates the fourth amendment of the US Constitution, which protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

“Once again, this governor has demonstrated his dismissal of both the law and the right of Floridians to personal privacy by signing into law a bill that treats those who borrow books like suspected criminals,” stated Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida's head. “The wasteful program created by this law subjects Floridians who are interested in literacy, to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse.”


For those that didn't click through to the article, there is no such law. But now there is a law requiring mandatory drug testing for applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The key comparison is that these are both state programs paid for by tax dollars, but no one is ready to jump on the bandwagon for library card drug screening.

People like government programs that help them. Libraries, public roads, etc. are all paid for by tax dollars and promote the public good. And though some may not realize it, welfare programs promote the public good. It is good when single mothers and their children are not thrown out on the streets to starve.

Similarly, it is possible that any person reading this could find themselves in need of state or federal aid at some point. You could lose everything in a hurricane, become a paraplegic in an automobile accident, and end up broke and destitute.

Which society do you want to live in: the one that treats its poor and homeless as suspected criminals and drug addicts, or the one that helps them get out of their poverty?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feminism and Evangelical Christianity

This may be a Poe, but let's assume it's real. I publicly repudiate the positions this site espouses. But I can do that easily, because I'm not an Evangelical Christian. Shouldn't it be more difficult for a Baptist (for example) who believes in a literal reading of the bible? How difficult it must be to be a female Evangelical in the 21st Century.

Sarah Palin 4 Pres!

Is it even news anymore when Sarah Palin says something that is both demonstrably false and that contradicts what any schoolchild should know?

In response to the question: "What have you seen today in Boston and what will you take away from your visit?"

"He who warned, uh, the … the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and, um, by makin’ sure that as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warnin’ shots and bells that, uh, we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free … and we were gonna be armed."

Since then, Wikipedia's Paul Revere page has become the battleground of an edit war waged by those who would make Sarah right.

Climate Change is Real; In Other News, Water is Wet

I stumbled on this summation of the Global Warming debate. It's pretty informative for the lay-person. If you are interested in hearing what the scientific community (specifically the vast majority of climatologists) has found about Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect, this article is for you.

If you don't think scientists know what they say they do, I'm glad to hear it. The fact that you will be refudiating (SP) modern science (medicine, computers, cell phones, transportation) means that you won't be bothering me much. I guess I should wonder how a neo-Luddite found my blog.

If you believe the scientific community is lying as part of some conspiracy, then nothing I or anyone else says will probably convince you. After all, the talking penguin and I probably work for the scientists. This is all part of our evil plan to rule the world by freezing the planet with our Freeze-inator. Please see yourself out.


At some point in America, it became the new in-vogue thing to disbelieve experts. I don't know where I was on the day that people who were informed and educated on a topic became the new lunatic fringe, but I'd really like things to go back now. Some people say that all of society's ills can be blamed on poor moral values (biblical ones) or on the crumbling family. I blame the low esteem we've given to our smart people (not everything, but quite a bit). Scientists study something their whole lives, finding the sort of evidence that most criminal trials can't match and then the general public says "We know better than you silly scientists. And also you're a nerd. Go back to the lab pointdexter."


I just wanted to put this link to NASA's Global Climate Change page. I realized that there might be another group of people listening: those that are interested in hearing the evidence, but don't trust the penguin (or the author). There might be a subset of this group that can't google NASA's evidence page, so I've included the link for you all.

Megyn Kelly on John Stewart

I'm on a new anti-Fox News kick (my stepdaughter is being brainwashed by Fox lately; Hi Ami!) and I ran across this one from last year. As mentioned previously, I love Rachel Maddow's takedown of Fox, but John Stewart has his moments too. Also, he's usually funnier.

It's pretty clear that Megyn Kelly was not chosen for this job based on her journalistic integrity, but for her Republican ideology (her model good looks can't have hurt).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Obama's Wrong Button "Controversy"

Here's more on that wrong button controversy.

According to the LA Times article that discusses the issue, "The rules allow state lawmakers to clear up a mishap if they suffered from a momentary case of stumbly fingers or a lapse in attention. Correcting the record is common practice (emphasis mine) in the Illinois Legislature, where lawmakers routinely cast numerous votes in a hurry.",0,1306515.story

Apparently most of the controversy on this issue came as a result of a show on MSNBC called "Morning Joe" with former Congressman Joe Scarsborough (R). According to Mr. Scarsborough
""I voted tens of thousands of times, and you know -- there is a green button that says 'Yea' .. and there is a red button that says 'Nay' ... and then there's a yellow button that ... says 'Abstain.' "
However, according to the Congressional Record for March 30, 2000, as a member of the House of Representatives, following a roll call vote in which Scarborough was recorded as voting "aye," Scarborough stated on the floor of the House: "I inadvertently voted 'yes.' I meant to vote 'no.' ""

To be clear, no one is denying this happened. I'm saying that this isn't as big an issue as people are making it. Humans make mistakes. This is a common thing in state and federal legislatures. This is just people trying to dig up dirt where there isn't anything unusual going on.


Wow, you never realize what's missing until someone points it out (at least I wouldn't have). For those of you that don't like to watch youtube videos, the Bechdel test is simple. A movie, TV show, etc. passes the test if it meets the following three conditions (which are technically one condition):

* Does it have two women in it with names...
* Having a conversation...
* That is not about a man (doesn't matter if the man is a boyfriend, relative, acquaintance, plumber)?

These conditions are not onerous. The reverse-Bechdel test (two men/conversation/not about a woman) generally gets passed with flying colors.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We'll get over it as soon as it's fixed

I stumbled on this letter a couple times in the last month, and thought it was worth sharing. When I read things like this, I am moved to revulsion at the wrongs that have been commited in our history. Even as a young evangelical, I could never get behind the idea that people should just "get over it". Empathy--which should be the foundation of Evangelical Christianity, but isn't anymore in America--has always been a strong motivator for me.

The response from the Right is often some variant of "But that was a long time ago", "I never enslaved anyone, why should I pay", or "The people hurt by slavery are dead, their descendents don't deserve special treatment". Of course many of these are the same people fighting for easement of the Estate Tax, so that the heirs of millionaires and billionaires can keep more of Uncle Milton's fortune. Go figure.

Slavery was intolerable. While I don't think people need to be punished for the sins of their fathers, I do believe that we are complicit if we don't do everything in our power to balance the scales now. A subculture has been warped by enslavement, discrimination, poverty, and lack of education. If we do nothing, we are condemning the next generation to the same.

And to you Evangelicals. The imaginary person you worship would be very disappointed. "Love your neighbor", "Give everything you own to the poor", "It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven." If you can't listen to arguments on the basis of reason and empathy, that's too bad. But you still lose this one. Your own religion condemns you.