The Tin-pot Crucible

Republicans and Democrat(s?) [are] announcing their presidential campaigns, so we must revert into pre-adolescence and spend a year and a half enduring black-hat/white-hat baby talk. Keep this in mind: Every time you hear a politician or activist explain that the world is the way it is because villainous so-and-so is the tool of unsympathetic thus-and-such while heroic so-and-so really cares about sympathetic thus-and-such, what you are hearing is about as meaningful as the croaking of poorly educated frogs or explanations based on the four humors, hepatomancy, astrology, or the keen insights of John Oliver, each of which is about as intellectually defensible as the next.

Satan, Snidely Whiplash, or Lloyd Blankfein: It is a comforting myth that the world’s worst problems can be explained by the presence of individual malefactors, because then the solution becomes simple: Burn the witches.

(source: Black Hats and White Hats)

And there you have it, folks!

You Say You Want A Revolution

“The Chinese officers beat us. Then we were made to stand at the wall with our hands up and were beaten again,” 25-year-old Ngawang Wangdon [said. S]he was detained in a solitary cell for a month.

“Every five days, I was taken to questioning and was beaten,” Wangdon said. “Some Tibetan prisoners were beaten for not being able to speak Chinese,” she said.

At Trisam prison, “every morning, the officers made us face the sun and stand for 45 minutes. Anyone who moved was beaten,” the [Tibetan Buddhist] nun said.
[…]
“We were beaten from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. with our hands cuffed and tied with ropes. The officers shocked us with electric prods,” she recalled. There were also other occasions when she was made to kneel on the ground, was beaten and shocked with a prod on the back of her neck and in her mouth. […] Wangdon says she still suffers from kidney problems caused by the torture during her years of detention and imprisonment.
[…]
“I believe basic human rights are universal. I want people to recognize and support the universal human rights, including those of Tibetans,” she said.

(source: Tibetan nun speaks of torture by China – www.phayul.com)

So, which of these, say you, is the sort of thing no regime that claims to uphold “human rights” or to subserve any understanding of humans as each possessed of an innate and inviolable dignity could countenance?  The sort of thing that no society of decent people could possibly tolerate?  Above?  or below: Continue reading

Holy Reflexivity, Batman!

“Chinks in special ops’ digital and physical armor poses challenges, experts say,” the tweet read, followed by a link to a news release about how terrorists’ using social media has left a hole — dare I say, a chink in  — our country’s defenses.

Originally, the release had a headline similar to the tweet, according to the Washington Post. It has since been changed, however, because apparently calling someone racist is an irrefutable argument even when the accusation is based on not knowing what words mean.

(source: Army Deletes Tweet About Chinks In Armor After People Cry Racism)

Specifically, as is so often the case, it’s all about which way the etymological arrow points.

More Like This, Oklahoma! HB 1721 becomes law

I’m proud to be an adopted son of Oklahoma, today.  Glad to be invited among those who pray, those who keep reality firmly in view, those who admit no exceptions to the dignity of humanity, those who take costly stands in difficult times; to live in a place where steps can be taken, and improved on, to right the wrongs that blight our society.  To make us a little less like the evils we alternately reprehend and patronize in “others” kept safely at bay by TV screens, book covers, and oceans.  

To free ourselves from “subtle conspiracies of worldliness” a little at a time.  Even if the steps are small.

Happy, that is, to read this story:

Oklahoma has become the second state to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed the legislation Monday after it was overwhelmingly approved by the House and Senate. The abortion measure prohibits doctors from using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a live fetus to remove it from the womb in pieces. Such instruments are used in dilation and evacuation procedures performed in the second trimester.

The bill would ban the procedure except when necessary to save a woman’s life. Critics say the procedure is often the safest to terminate pregnancies during the second trimester.

(source: Oklahoma governor signs measure banning abortion procedure | News OK)

Sure, neither AP nor News OK can quite handle the amount of torque required to treat such an obvious and wholesome (and still wholly inadequate) limitation on the brutal and gruesome slaughter of innocents–note that “critics” are cited twice, with opposite valences, without clear referents, and yet in both cases the drift of the sentence is that actually dismembering babies old enough to have members to be torn apart and crushed is somehow less serious and more justifiable than one would think, given untutored access to reality.  Reality, however, shines through; Continue reading

Beside the Point

I’m really not going to have much negative to say about this.  Nothing wrong with trying to see how little you can get by on:

Gwyneth Paltrow is trying out a new kind of diet.

The actress and lifestyle guru [OK, I’m chortling a bit at that–PGE], who regularly champions high-end healthy eating, wellness tips and luxury items on her Goop website and in her cookbooks, will spend the next week living, and cooking, on a food stamp budget.

Paltrow accepted celebrity chef Mario Batali’s call to participate in the Food Bank NYC Challenge, and will spend the next week making meals from just $29 worth of groceries, or $1.38 per meal.

(source: Gwyneth Paltrow is living on food stamps for a week – CBS News)

And it looks like the selections are pretty good (incidentally, Paltrow obviously has access to a better produce section than most food stamps recipients–but let’s don’t be spoilsports):

 

But here’s the thing:  I’ve gotten by on less than that, Continue reading