Monday, August 31, 2015

MM Kalburgi Murdered at his Residence

I have posted regarding the brutal slayings of freethinking bloggers in Bangladesh, but it was not until reading about the slaying of MM Kalburgi that I understood that something very similar was happening in India. India has also had the loss of  Dr. Narendra Dabholkar  and Govind Pansare. (Contrary to Bhuvinth Shetty, UR Ananthamurthy seems to have died from illness and old age, not anything some would-be terrorist planned for him. ) 

It doesn't matter to me whether the war on free speech, free thought, scholarship, and democracy, comes from Muslims, Hindus, Christians, or any other creed. It is always wrong, and a sign of people who grasp at faith ignorantly and without any concern for truth or morality. There seem to be Hindu extremists who have a list, like the Muslims in Bangladesh have a list.

I have a list of people I might like to light up, myself, but I would not ever use anything more dangerous than my blog to do it (I think). And since these extremists think so much of the danger of bloggers and scholars, maybe that is enough for me. Since words alone drive them to barbarism and murder. Maybe words alone can drive them into the daylight, and out of a society that protects them.

Denali's Not Just a Mountain in Alaska...

What's in a name? Would a mountain by any other name be quite as high?
The name "Denali" actually means "high" or "tall"--it's about as phonetically close as we get to what the peak has been called for centuries by the indigenous populations in Alaska, and it's the name the locals most commonly use. It's a name that is descriptive of the highest mountain in the US, as well as the name that the National Park in which it rests now goes by.
For some reason, President Obama agreeing with Alaskans that the mountain should go by the local name grates with those who feel that calling it "Mount McKinley" is somehow more seemly because it's a tribute to a former US President.
We can seriously name other stuff after President McKinley if you want, you guys. If Ohio has something that is already going by a dumb name, for heaven's sake, just change it to "McKinley" if it makes you feel better. But for crying out loud, this seems to me like this is more of an issue for Alaska, and Ohio, you put chili on spaghetti. So I can't even with you guys.
Alaska has been calling it "Denali" since before there even was a state of Alaska or a President McKinley. But I kind of notice so many of the people having little fits over this are GOP, so I'll just say Obama did it on purpose.
U mad? What's good?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Climate Sunday Bobby Jindal Edition

The Governor of Louisiana, a state which experienced a devastating hurricane ten years ago, rather prefers that climate change not be a feature of how President Barack Obama commemorates the recovery from this event.

I don't invest a lot in whether I'm doing anything Bobby Jindal finds appropriate, so I am going to not only talk about climate change, but name this post in his honor. I'm funny that way. Because, among other wild things, the state of Louisiana is kind of disappearing because of sea level rise.  The state loses as much as 50 square miles a year.

That's something former FEMA Director Michael Brown certainly doesn't think is necessarily real science.  Or rather he prefers not to believe that human activity is exacerbating the effect. But real science finds that sea levels are definitely rising. As for the folks who think global warming isn't happening or that human activity isn't causing it, it turns out they are sciencing badly, and real scientists can't reproduce their stupid data. (Reproducibility is totally a real science metric about whether results of a test are valid. This demonstrates that climate denialism isn't appropriately "skepticism" as much as it is "total fail". )

Just this Friday, Bill Maher hosted Rick Santorum on his HBO show, Real Time.  There was a "he said/he said" moment regarding whether 97% of scientists really did support climate change. Well, some would call it more than 97%.

Climate change is real. We need to ensure our infrastructure can support the worst case scenario (in 2005, for a minute, some observers thought New Orleans dodged a bullet, until the levees burst). We need to mitigate our carbon output. And we need to think about how climate change impacts especially the poor and less-mobile among us. We are foolish not to see this as a problem.

This One Weird Fedex Trick...

Sometimes, political rhetoric can get a little bit out of hand, and maybe needs to be pulled back from the ledge--that's what I think might be part of the problem with the immigration debate. I've noted in the past that some of the ideas about what to do with actual human beings who want to be in this country without all the legal hassle are either a futuristic civil liberties nightmare--like implanting RFID chips, or seem like the fantasies of a comic book villain, like an electric fence with a moat and alligators. I'm a silly old stick-in-the-mud. I want policies that are effective and actually can happen in the real world where the people are.

GOP presidential candidate and NJ Governor, Chris Christie made a bit of a stir by suggesting that people on a US visa be tracked in the way that FedEx tracks packages. I have to admit--I've very recently noted that something like 40% of illegal immigration stems from folks overstaying their visas, and I recommended they be tracked in some way. But I think this is probably better done by a voluntary self-reporting scheme of checking in with one's current address, and not the way packages are kept track of, because barcodes are actually used for package tracking. There's a lot of people who feel some kind of way about putting barcodes on people, and I would guess that the problems with a barcode scheme would go about as awkwardly as the RFID idea.

I have the feeling that there's a "political will" issue regarding immigration--politicians understand this is something citizens feel strongly about, but they also are very nervous about introducing a serious, comprehensive plan because of the emotional, amped-up rhetoric that goes into play. The immigration issue is more of a matter in the red-state stronghold south specifically because this is where Latin@ immigration and the low-wage agricultural/factory jobs come up and might be why Democrats don't really reference it in the same way. Donald Trump has managed to magnify the issue--but it results in WI Gov. Scott Walker talking about a Canadian border fence. Seriously? That's one long border, and one long fence.

If there's a wrong way to be talking about immigration, I have a feeling following the lead of Trump and getting more extreme is the wrong way. This is, essentially, the problem with an outsider candidate--they might have bold ideas, but no concept of process. And when they come up in the polls like Trump has, people who ought to know better, start acting like they don't. And that isn't good for the debate.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dr. Ben Carson Is OK With the War on our Internal Organs?

My reproductive organs are all actually on my inside. I am not really ok with a war on my inside-parts. I don't like where Dr. Carson is going regarding my inside-y parts. He is really unguarded though--am I right? Not a business-as-usual politician?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison--Thinking it Out

The gawking over the continued comeuppance of the Duggar clan by way of the revelations that the way in which these many children of the Quiverfull faithful aren't necessarily guaranteed to be exceptionally sexually continent, in the person of one Josh Duggar, is a little bit petty, I think.

Not because I think that the hypocrisy of the Christian Right isn't in and of itself shameful--it is.

But because I think, being a rationalist, I am not sure that we have any reason to expect someone raised in his worldview to behave better--we don't. He was raised to believe that sex outside of marriage--outside of straight, missionary, and vanilla, was a kind of damnable sin. Experiencing urges or temptations to act outside of the prescribed sexual roles, Josh Duggar figured he was damned enough and decided to roll with it. In a black and white view of morality, if you aren't simon-pure--what are you?

You're a perv. So that's the fitting role for old middle-aged before his time Josh Duggar. The first son--so if I understand the many pictures taken with so many of the GOP 2016 primary contestants, I would have to assume, the one the Duggar clan kind of thought might go into politics to spread the various odd ideas about family, homeschooling, and sexual continence...

And it turns out is exactly the example we've got for how traditional values go wrong. Because we learn a bit about how the fundamentalists find that incest is awfully common. And that for an aggrieved spouse, however humiliating the situation, leaving isn't socially permissible. So it kind of seems like an adulterous or incestuous individual can just do a smidgen of physical labor, get absolved by the powerful people in the same cult, and even hurt their family, ask for forgiveness, and be kind of okay, learning exactly nothing--especially how to regard their spouse as a human being and sexual partner who needs to be respected, consulted, and considered in all one's doings.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Violence Claims the Lives of Two Journalists

Lately, it feels like commenting on the news means never being removed from images of violence. The deaths of the young local reporter, Alison Parker, and cameraman Adam Ward, were caught on video twice--first by Ward's own camera, and then by the "selfie" video taken by the killer, Vester Lee Flanagan II, which was posted to social media, who went on to fatally shoot himself.

These people were so young and promising, and the newsroom they worked from seemed like such a tight-knit working family, that I am certain their loss is keenly felt. As for the shooter, his history and 23-page long suicide note definitely straddle some areas of concern regarding his mental health, and how in the hell he had more access to a weapon than to psychiatric counseling (he basically seems to me to have become paranoid--every setback was personal, his ideas about what to do in response became more grandiose). And yet, for a person who has developed an idea that people were out to get him, the idea of getting counseling was probably especially appalling  to him. To a person with paranoid ideas, one's self-image is invested in the idea that "I'm alright, it's the bastards who have it in for me who are the problem!"  This kind of resentful outlook is the basis of a lot of workplace-related slayings.