Language Liberalism Freethought Birds
Verbing Weirds Language only if you're expecting it to work in a simple way. This is a special case of the more general truth that Language Weirds.
Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.
The church says Earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence in a shadow than the church.
If we can't find Heaven, there are always bluejays.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Sunday, June 26, 2016
The Week in Entertainment
DVD: Finished Grantchester season 2. I have decided that I really, really dislike Geordie. Really. Wallander season 4, the last one. They really did a fine job transferring those novels to film. Sad ending but oddly pleasing as well. Hail Caesar, which I wanted to see in the theater but never quite managed to. I liked it a lot. A whole lot.
Read: A Study in Charlotte, an excellent YA novel. Boar Island, the latest Anna Pigeon novel, pretty good. Began Lud-in-the-Mist, which I never read before though I'm not sure how I missed it.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
"The best we can do"
"The best we can [do is] to pray for the father and husband so he can work through this."
That’s what the sheriff said about a woman who shot and killed her daughters during a family argument.
She was apparently nice and cheerful and all the neighbors are shocked. However, deputies had been dispatched to the house on several occasions before this. But the gun stayed.
And now three women are dead and a man is hospitalized (though not shot).
But prayers are the best the sheriff has.
Monday, June 20, 2016
No, Miss Manners, that's not it
In a recent Miss Manners column, the reader says
When given devastating news, such as learning that a friend has Stage 4 cancer, my first thought is to say, “You will be in my prayers.’’I'm a little bit curious about that "this" that she wants others to know. I presume she means that she cares about them, but I can't really tell from the letter, where it sounds like she wants "another way" to let them know her first thought, which is to pray for them. However, I'm really writing this because Miss Manners manages to say that atheists ought be to be okay with that. Specifically, she says
But if a friend is not of the same religious beliefs or is an atheist, this is not always appreciated. Is there another way of letting them know this?
"Miss Manners would think that a nonreligious person could appreciate a religious person’s seeking the solace in which he or she believes."O fer... Sure. I'm happy if someone praying gets solace from it. The thing is, it's supposed to make me feel better that they're praying for me. That's why they tell me. That's what they're doing "for me" in my time of Stage 4 cancer. They're praying. They're not offering to bring food, or drive me to my chemo treatment, or take my dog for a walk, or cut my grass, or do my shopping, or look after my kids for an afternoon, or do my laundry.* They're praying.
And that's useless to me. And it's selfish of them. And yet I'm supposed to thank them for it.
I don't generally snark at it, but it doesn't do anything to give me solace.
*When I had cancer, it wasn't Stage 4, and I had neither kids nor a dog. But trust me: there was a big difference between the (very religious, by the way) coworker who showed up to drive me to chemo every three weeks and the ones who sent me cards praying for me.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
The Week in Entertainment
Somehow I scheduled this for the wrong day, so it's two weeks in one...
Live: Love Letters, which was a lovely, touching play.
Film: The Man Who Knew Infinity - a wonderful, brilliant movie. Terrific performances by Dev Patel (what a gifted actor he is!) and Jeremy Irons both. Lovely script. Highly recommended. Finding Dory, very enjoyable plus there was one moment where I actually teared up.
DVD: More Columbo. Some of Father Brown's third season. Some of Grantchester's second - does anyone actually like Geordie?
Read: The Man Who Knew Infinity, a very engaging biography. Dipped into Neil Gaiman's View from the Cheap Seats, which is collected nonfiction. One of them was a little intro essay for Diana Wynne Jones's Dogsbody, which led me to reread that and then move on the Eight Days of Luke, Fire and Hemlock, and Aunt Maria and then to two I had somehow missed before, Enchanted Glass and The Time of the Ghost.
Friday, June 17, 2016
Reposted without comment
The New Yorker reached into its archives and resurrected this February 1996 piece from Henry Louis Gates: “Hating Hillary.” It is dismayingly timely.
Since 2008, I’ve dreaded that the 2016 campaign would see all this noxious stew resurrected and recirculated by those credulous or ignorant enough to think that Whitewater was a political scandal rather than a journalistic one. Remembering all the sleaze that Scaife et. al. were capable of fabricating pre-Citizens United, I wasn’t looking forward to what they could do with unlimited dark money at their disposal. The surprising — and deeply disappointing — thing turned out to be seeing so much of that sleaze recirculated by self-proclaimed “progressives” only a few years older themselves than that essay by Skip Gates. Rule-of-thumb: If you’re parroting 20-year-old lies from the Scaife Foundation, you’re probably not being “revolutionary.”
I know, but still
I know that companies don't want to/can't afford to hire enough people to answer their phones and deal with the things a phone menu can deal with.
I know that they don't want an upfront option for getting to a person - that defeats having the phone menu in the first place.
But if the "key code" is not on my bill, I don't care now many times the robot lady tells me to look for it and type it in. I can't do that. I need a human.
And I hate how long it takes to get that message through.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
The banality of evil, slightly reformulated
Thoughts and Prayers ... and nothing else
All Are People
I've seen a number of posts, comments, and even articles saying that it shouldn't matter that the people at Pulse were gay. We shouldn't divide ourselves up. It was, in the words of Mark Longhurst on Sky TV, a crime against “human beings” who were “ trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality."
This sentiment may be a wonderful one. BUT. This is not the time to trot it out (and that goes a hundredfold for people who have nothing but hate for LBGT people in their daily lives and politics).
When Marc Lépine walked into the École Polytechnique in Montreal and killed fourteen women, twelve of whom were engineering students, he wasn't killing "people" or even "people who were studying engineering". He was deliberately killing women.
When Dylan Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and killed nine black church-goers, he wasn't killing "people" or even "people who were Christians". He was deliberately killing blacks.
And when Omar Mateen walked into Pulse in Orlando, he wasn't killing "people" or even "people who go to clubs." He was killing LGBTs.
As soon as we say that the victims of a crime shouldn't be described as what they are that made them the target, we are begging off from confronting what it is that our society does to make people into misogynists, racists, or homophobes. Also, we remove our ability to understand what just happened. Julia Hartley-Brewer, another panelist on the Sky show, said that the killer probably hated her, “a gobby woman”, as much as he did gays. Maybe. Maybe he did; he seems to have also hated Jews and blacks. But dammit, he didn't walk into a Curves and start shooting, just like he didn't walk into a bar in his own town of Port St Lucie, or a black club or a synagogue. He walked into Pulse. Maybe he did it because he knew Pulse and knew who would be there; maybe he did it because he might not be noticed for a while (Port St Lucie has gay bars). The point is: of all the groups he hated, it was gays he decided to kill.
And pretending that he didn't target gays, or that Lépine didn't target women, or that Elliot Rodger didn't hate women and the men who "got lucky with them", means we're just saying that oh, gosh, crazy people kill people and what are we going to do about it.
Omar Mateen didn't kill "people". Omar Mateen killed gay people. It's important to acknowledge that.
ps - people's reactions to Owen Jones's argument and actions on that video are illuminating, I think.