April 30, 2005
Here's mine (Song title - Artist):
1) I Got A Right Ta - Common
2)War Within A Breath - Rage Against The Machine
3)The Bachelor and the Bride - The Decemberists
4)Piano Solo - Dream Theater
5)I Don't Rap in Bumper Stickers - Sole
6)Aisle of Plenty - Genesis
7)Mic Check - Rage Against The Machine
8)Narcissist, 1999 (Live on WRIU) - Sage Francis
9)Long, Lonesome Highway Blues - Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band
10)Give Me - Atmosphere
Not a bad mix. Don't forget to post your own Random 10 in the comments.
April 29, 2005
Good Lord, is 2 Days To Vegas be in the next generation of games? The seasoned and cynical gamer in me says this can't be right, but I suppose we'll see soon...
Hiroshi Yamauchi is retiring from Nintendo. During his 52 years (count 'em!) as Nintendo's President he's seen the company move from more traditional games (I think they were in cards before) to video games and ushered the company through the gaming systems that we grew up on. And to top it all of he turned down his retirement package because he wants it to be spent on game development. What a guy.
Thanks to VE for this link...
Microsoft big wig J. Allard still thinks Rare (makers of Battle Toads and Donkey Kong Country among many others) was worth the $375 million they paid Nintendo a few years back to get the company. There have been and remain many doubters, but as the article says, I think buying Rare was a much more long term investment than most gamers thought originally. I'm betting there will be at least a few Rare games pretty early in the Xbox 360's life.
And these come from a variety of places!
'Nother Photoshop Phriday, and this pretty decent!
Here's a nice recap of the President's press conference from last night. Live blogging always reminds me of reading someone's notes from class. And here's a nice comparison of things Bush said last night to things he's said in the past.
Here's a not so nice review of Serenity. I think there are some spoilers there depending on how much of the show you saw of filled in yourself. I don't know though, with so many of these test screenings I get the feeling that the people that write the reviews are either the hardcore fans or people that have no interest in the specific type of film they saw. It's just little comments like, "And there you have your typical sci-fi channel psychobabble." Now maybe the movie's different, but there was actually rather minimal psycho or techno babble in Firefly, as I remember it, so I can't help but think this person just doesn't like sci-fi much. I don't know, maybe I'm just rationalizing. Still, based on the show and what I've seen from the movie, I think this is gonna be a winner.
Another interesting note about those Marvel movies I mentioned yesterday is that I forgot to mention that Marvel is going to be making these movies themselves at their own brand new studio rather than farming the work out to studios that don't know the material. Also, supposedly they're including "The Avengers" as, I gather, one or more of the characters, so it's unclear how much that's going to effect my list.
A company called DSP Design has made a computer that draws its power not from a power cord, but through ethernet. Of course, it's a crappy weak ass computer that most of us probably don't want, but it's still cool. Imagine being able to have a truly wireless computer. I'm not talking a computer than can work sans wires, but one for which there aren't any wires.
Back to work!
April 28, 2005
Looks like the Loony Tunes won't be going psychotic after all! Of course, the truth is that an online petition, no matter how big, has never really changed the goings on of a company that didn't already have their minds changed.
Here's the final Batman Begins trailer. I think the kids would call this "kick ass."
Here's a video for Grandia 3. I played the crap out of the second one back on the Dreamcast. Perhaps there's some way I can afford to get a PS2 and play this one sometime.
Here's yet another video, this one for Black & White 2. The first one was much better than you could have told from the whining, but it did have problems which seem to have been heard by the designers. If only I had a PC powerful enough to run it.
Here's a site that has some screens from the resurected first person shooter Prey, which was much vaunted by 3D Realms (makers of Duke Nukem) in the late nineties only to drift into obscurity. Looking at the pictures, perhaps it should have stayed there. Monsters with gun hands?
Here's a link to Bryan Singer's video journal for the production of Superman Returns. I haven't watched all of them, but it's a very cool thing to do. The one all of you *must* watch, however, is Journal #7 "The Call". Trust me, it's surreal.
Ain't It Cool News is reporting that Marvel has made a deal with Paramount to make movies of 10, count 'em, 10 characters and two of the movies will be about Captain America and Nick Fury; not together I'd assume. Supposedly we'll hear about the other characters soon, but here's my list: Silver Surfer, Thor, Cable, Doc Strange, Havok, Luke Cage, Namor, and Venom. Yeah, I know, not the strongest list, but it did say characters and not teams, so I had to look for people that have worked alone. Any thoughts?
Super Hero Hype let me in on a little secret. Let me share it with you: They're filming two sequels to Sin City and filming them back to back starting next February with an expected release date of summr 2007.
The Next four links I got from /.
Some one has discovered Darth Vader's blog from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.
Another person found the original Google web site.
Kevin Smith has reviewed Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and likes it.
And just for Czar, here's a review of the new silly Mac OS, Tiger.
Dr. Laniac's Articles:
What fundamentalists overlook, of course, is which side of the social spectrum Jesus associated with. It was not the powerful, the wealthy, the established order. It was fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the poor, the outcasts of society. Who did Jesus reserve his harshest words for? The Pharisees. The Pharisees were the religious fundamentalists of his day and they were powerful, wealthy, and the arbiters of who and what was appropriately pious. They were also notable hypocrites. Is this starting to sound familiar?
Article also contains a more detailed references from an online Catholic encyclopedia. Via Rox Populi, via feminist blogs.
April 27, 2005
I recommend Ann Crittenden's The Price of Motherhood. She demonstrates quite convincingly, using both social science data and vivid anecdotes, how care, particularly the care of children, is devalued in our society, and how caregivers, particularly mothers of young children, are systematically discriminated against. Depressing, but still an excellent, thoughtful read.
I cannot recommend Stephen Ducat's The Wimp Factor. The book's description makes it sound like a thoughtful psycho-sociological study of men's ideas about gender, and the way these ideas are expressed politically and theologically. Unfortunately, the writing is of extremely poor quality and the 'arguments' are mostly little more than psychoanalytic speculation. While I am inclined to think the author's thesis -- that ideological misogyny is closed tied to a personal gender identity he calls `anxious masculinity' -- is correct, he does a poor job of defending it.
April 26, 2005
What the right has 'appropriated' has nothing to do with God as most of us believers experience God. Their pronouncements about God are based on the great palace lie that this is a Christian country, that they were chosen by God to be his ethical consultants, and that therefore they alone know God's will for us. The opposite of faith is not doubt: It is certainty. It is madness. You can tell you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people you do. The first holy truth in God 101 is that men and women of true faith have always had to accept the mystery of God's identity and love and ways. I hate that, but it's the truth.
I just think Bush and his people have gotten it so wrong.
I believe you'll have to click through an ad if you don't have a subscription to Salon. I think it's really worth the hassle.
April 25, 2005
(Note: Not all of these are feminist blogs. Just, like, most of them.)
- Eschaton (Atrios)
- Daily Kos
- The Panda which has left (featuring Amanda! she's cool!) (NB down for the next few days in some kind of update)
- Echidne of the Snakes
- Bitch Ph.D
- Playing School (Profgrrrl)
- Trish Wilson's blog
- Caught in the Rain (Manda) (updated infrequently; get with it, mi amiga!)
- This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) (updated irregularly)
- Anne's Anti-Quackery and Science Blog
- Well-Timed Period (reproductive health blog; a top google hit for how to use the pill to avoid having periods entirely, apparently)
- Learning Curves (it's about math!!!! math is cool!!!!)
- feminist blogs (metablog, includes some of those I've covered above along with others)
April 23, 2005
In a procedure very similar to an amniocentesis, Thomas’s heart was stopped with a simple injection. In that moment, as I held my husband’s hand, I met God and handed him my precious boy to care for, for all eternity.
Over the next 17 hours I labored to deliver Thomas’s body. It was a painful experience, but the only option given to a woman at 24 weeks gestation.
And here's a Wiki entry on intact D&E. It includes descriptions of the procedure from both PP and National Right to Life, an anti-choice organization.
Meanwhile, in the writings of insane radical feminists who nobody listens to or has even heard of and are clearly hysterical and completely out of touch with reality and who don’t ever write about politics anyway:
"The state is male in the feminist sense: the law sees and treats women the way men see and treat women."
—Catharine MacKinnon (1989), Toward a Feminist Theory of the State
"There is not a feminist alive who could possibly look to the male legal system for real protection from the systemized sadism of men. Women fight to reform male law, in the areas of rape and battery for instance, because something is better than nothing. In general, we fight to force the law to recognize us as the victims of the crimes committed against us, but the results so far have been paltry and pathetic."
—Andrea Dworkin (1979), For Men, Freedom of Speech; For Women, Silence Please
- Bill O'Reilly is going on a cruise. Watch out ladies.
- Japan spends less money on healthcare than we do by a mile and still has a better system.
- The retiring Henry Hyde is finally honest about the Clinton impeachment and what we knew all along is therein confirmed. Evidently the original version of the story was a little too spicy for ABC, but I found ya the real deal.
- Even though E3 is still a little ways off we have some hot pics of the successor to the Xbox, the Xbox 360. We'll know soon enough how final these designs are. Also in Xbox 360 news, we have the patent for the X360's graphics chip.
- And last but not least we have the first photo of the new Superman in costume.
- Bravo's going to have a series of specials on Superherodom starting in late May. Sounds interesting to me, but I think we can establish from this list that I'm a bit weird.
April 20, 2005
"Absolutely. We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That's just outrageous," DeLay told Fox News Radio. "And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."
Now let's just ignore all the things he's saying about international law that are just factually wrong. Kennedy using the internet is incredibly outrageous? I mean, does DeLay know something we don't about Kennedy's surfing habits? Really, I'm just baffled, he's gotten to the point where he's not even making sense.
April 19, 2005
He says nothing about the scenarios people hold about values in general. I can think of at least three: Some (including old Ratz) believe that there is one single framework of values, given to everyone by some superhuman being (not Echidne, though). Others believe that every society has its own value frameworks and that those outside that society cannot evaluate them meaningfully. This would be the relativist viewpoint. Yet another theory argues that there are certain almost universally held values but their actual manifestations differ in different societies because of historical reasons and reasons of weighing the basic values differently. This one Ratzinger ignores in his homily, perhaps, because it requires thought to understand and apply. Obviously, it is the one I follow!
None of these three lines up exactly with what I think, but I am rather inclined towards something like #3 these days.
Ratz is a fundamentalist. The problem with religious fundamentalism for me is twofold: First, I don't believe that divinities wrote the holy books in the first place. I believe that they were written by religious people of their time and place and that they largely reflect the values of those societies. So what Ratz tells me is to live my life according to the values that nomadic shepherds had two thousand years ago.
Second, fundamentalists have a lot of trouble ranking the messages in their holy books, and ranked they must be if they are to make sense in actual decision-making. Is the condemnation of usury more important than, say, the ban on wearing wool and linen at the same time? What about all the pro-poor statements in the Bible? Should they take precedence over the few statements which advocate killing the witches or subjugating the women or murdering the gays? Questions, questions...
In reality, all fundamentalists take the bits they like and magnify them while ignoring the other bits. This is value relativism, of course.
These are the two points I have with fundamentalism, too. Some of you may know I have a particular lady friend who I'm rather partial to, yet is also an evangelical Christian with some conservative leanings. We've had some very angry and upsetting conversations about religion in this vein. Usually I was angry, and she got upset; sometimes I'm not so nice.
April 18, 2005
At least Dworkin put some important hidden bits of reality out there on the table. There is a lot of coercion embedded in normal, legal, everyday sexuality: Sometimes the seducer is a rapist with a bottle of wine. A whole world of sexist assumptions lay behind my parents' attitude back in 1968: This is what happens to women who take chances, male brutality is a fact of life, talking about sexual violence is shameful, 'Bennington girls' should count their blessings. Polite, liberal, reasonable feminists could never have exploded that belief system.
Andrea Dworkin was a living visual stereotype--the feminist as fat, hairy, makeup-scorning, unkempt lesbian. Perhaps that was one reason she was such a media icon--she 'proved' that feminism was for women who couldn't get a man. Women have wrestled with that charge for decades, at considerable psychic cost. These days, feminism is all sexy uplift, a cross between a workout and a makeover. Go for it, girls--breast implants, botox, face-lifts, corsets, knitting, boxing, prostitution. Whatever floats your self-esteem! Meanwhile, the public face of organizational feminism is perched atop a power suit and frozen in a deferential smile. Perhaps some childcare? Insurance coverage for contraception? Legal abortion, tragic though it surely is? Or maybe not so much legal abortion--when I ran into Naomi Wolf the other day, she had just finished an article calling for the banning of abortion after the first trimester. Cream and sugar with that abortion ban, sir?
I never thought I would miss unfair, infuriating, over-the-top Andrea Dworkin. But I do. And even more I miss the movement that had room for her."
April 17, 2005
I don't know that it's that people don't trust women in this case, it's that they don't trust *anyone* to make certain decisions relating to abortion and it's merely the fact of biology that limits the distrust to women. Were men capable of pregnancy, I think there might be some difference in thinking, but I think the people whose beliefs on the issue are grounded in religious dogmas are going to distrust men as much as women.
I also have a problem with the way Dr. Bitch characterizes the issue as moot merely because the fetus is inside the uterus. I don't exactly know when we should call a life a human, with all the attendant rights that requires, but it really bothers me that she simply disregards it as unworthy of any real consideration.
On of the posters really hit on an important, and equally ignored in the subsequent discussion, point; fetus' are quasi-human. No one thinks of them as a lump of coal in the uterus which suddenly because a legal person upon passing through the mother's genitals. As Dr. Bitch herself admits, the decision to have an abortion is a serious one which demands serious thought and reflection. On the other side, no one argues that babies deserve formal due process proceedings or some other such thing that a legal person would be entitled to. Fetus' are unique entities and I think it's consistent with this that the morality surrounding them is more complex than with simple matter or human beings. At the beginning of the pregnancy I think it's easy to characterize the "thing" in the womb as akin to a parasite and I think it's fair to characterize a birthed newborn as a person, but between those points I think it's unfair to dismiss the moral ambiguity so easily.
It's precisely this unique moral quandary that makes this not exclusively a woman's issue, as many of the posters tried to characterize it, to the point that some questioned men's right to even participate in the debate. This isn't a women's issue in the way that breast cancer is or that prostate cancer is for men. I'm not argueing, however, that men should have a say in the ifs and whens of a particular abortion, just questioning the statement that men have no place in the discussion.
I had more thoughts banging around in my head, but they're gone now so maybe I'll do another post if I feel the need. Hopefully, however, the lurkers that end up here (I know there are at least a few of you) will put down thoughts of your own and I'll just be able to post in the comments. Unlike Dr. Bitch, we're open to other opinions here and won't get all caustic if you dare to think differently.
Edit: After all that I think it's important to say that I'm sort of thinking outloud here, so don't take anything I'm saying as a settled belief, merely an argument that I want to think about and debate.
I'll try to summarize the issue with some cut-and-paste.
The bottom line about abortion is this. Do you trust women to make their own moral judgments? If you are anti-abortion, then no. You do not. You have an absolute moral position that you don't trust anyone to question, and therefore you think that abortion should be illegal. But the second you start making exceptions for rape or incest, you are indicating that your moral position is not absolute. That moral judgment is involved. And that right there is where I start to get angry and frustrated, because unless you have an absolute position that all human life ... [is] equally valuable ... , then there is no ground whatsoever for saying that there should be laws or limitations on abortion other than that you do not trust women. ...
If you're pro-choice, you have to give up the right to have a "say" in someone else's choice. If you're pro-feminist, you have to give up the right to expect your personal feelings to be more important than women's public rights--including the right to be unpleasant, if, in her judgement, unpleasantness is called for.
Translated into more practical terms: there can be no qualifications on a pro-choice position along the lines of 'I'm pro-choice, but restrictions on third trimester abortions are okay' or 'I'm pro-choice, but parental consent laws for minor women are okay' or 'I'm pro-choice, but outlawing dilation and extraction ("partial-birth abortion") is okay'. If you make these kinds of qualifications, this argument goes, you are not, in fact, pro-choice; and in particular, you do not respect the rights of women to make their own decisions about their bodies. It's a line of thought I recently came to on my own, reflecting on Kantian pro-choice arguments; and I defend this point of view in the comments.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
On the Xbox, it's a beautiful game, the boys(girls) at UbiSoft certainly know how to push the Xbox to the max in the graphics department. While I have only played a little, single player is the same, high-quality stealth action it has always been with a little more reliance on the player to figure out exactly how they want to approach a certain situation, because there are multiple, perfectly capable ways of dealing with any situation in the game.
Multiplayer is enjoyable, the versus is an updated version from Splinter Cell: Pandora tomorrow. It's the best cat & mouse game available, and a refreshing break from Halo 2 Team Deathmatch. The co-op has to be played to be believed. Watching your teammate slink out of the shadows to grab a terrorist from behind is an experience like no other.
Now all I need is LameAim to actually respond to me when he's online, and for MosBen to actually buy the game.
April 15, 2005
Before deregulation, airlines competed mostly on the freshness of their cocktail nuts because the Civil Aeronautics Board dictated their routes and ticket prices. This seemed a little strange, so economists and policy wonks proposed 'marketizing' air travel -- that is, allowing airlines to compete head-on. They thought this would give consumers lower prices, more direct flights, more airlines to choose from, and simpler ticketing and flying requirements. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
But contrary to predictions, deregulation has actually led to fewer direct flights, fewer airlines, less predictable prices, costly restrictions -- and, not incidentally, the financial ruin of nearly every major carrier. Analysts estimate that the airlines have collectively lost more than $50 billion since deregulation began. True, consumers have gotten lower prices on some flights, but only at the cost of astronomical prices on others and a rash of new restrictions and conditions.
Edit: Forgot to thank Atrios for the tip off.
Oh, and this isn't about trying to discourage rape by providing a disincentive, like death penalty advocates say. Nor, obviously, is this about rehabilitation. This, plain and simple, is the state taking revenge on a rapist in exact parallel with the violation of the victim.
April 14, 2005
The way things are going, I expect we'll see a circuit court (federal) ruling within the next two years, and a supreme court ruling within ten.
Here's an amusing quote from the wingnut lawyer for the 'Defense of Marriage Coalition':
'Two West Coast liberal states now, both California and Oregon, have both said that local governments don't have authority to take the law into their own hands,'' said Kelly Clark, the attorney for the Defense of Marriage Coalition. ''It certainly sends a signal to the rest of the country.'
Because everyone knows governments don't have the authority to enforce the law!
Question for the pre-lawyers who hang out here: Multnohma County issued marriage licenses to gay couples before the amendment was passed, and the ban was only a law. It sounds like the county executive government determined that the ban was unconstitional and therefore unenforceable, and this ruling says only that they did not have the authority to make that determination. It really has nothing to do with the amendment at all; if, for example, there had been no law on the books at all, the court could not revoke those licenses issued prior to the amendment, right? But then if the ban was unconstitutional before the amendment, wouldn't Multnomah County have the authority to issue those licenses, and they could be reinstated?
When does he start up this stupid little network? August? Yip yip yip yahoo. You know what Gore said about this? It's going to be liberal. It's going to reflect the point of view of young people.
What the hell is that, Al? What the hell is the point of view of young people? Blow jobs, that's what they're doing out there. They're out there getting oral sex all day long, that's what they're talking about.
Firstly, I'll be using the phrase "yip yip yip yahoo" as often as I can until I forget/realize it's actually stupid, but for now it's hilarious. The sad part about this quote is that it made me feel terribly old, because I'm getting nowhere near the level of action that I'm evidently supposed to be.
April 13, 2005
I know that I'm not going to be a very good Lefty by saying this, but as gamer that's growing up (ever so slowly) I have become concerned about the content of a lot of games. I do *not* think we should concede the many and various points on censorship of products or give any ground on how available such products should be. I do, however, think we need to recognize that games have gotten to the level of realism and interactivity that we need to restrict their availability to minors if not now, then soon. We no longer live in a world where the worst a kid could come in contact with is Double Dragon. The recently released God of War features grotesque (and awesome) acts of violence and a ménage à trois minigame. Grand Theft Auto, as many know, allows the player to have sex with a prostitute to recharge health, and then follow this with murdering the prostitute to take back the player's money. Mortal Kombat made the shredding of one's foes, for no purpose other than to see the gore, famous. I love all of these games. They're great adult escapist fun. And that is really my point; these games are made by adults for adults and the ratings they receive mark them as such.
Because of this I think the Democrats should support some kind of legislation making it a fine-able offense to sell M-rated games to children below the age of 17 (I believe that's the age the rating states). Several state legislatures have attempted to pass similar laws but all have been struck down for being too vague. Simply tying the law into the already established and well articulated ESRB ratings should get around this I think. I'm not suggesting that we take M-rated games off the shelves and put them in a back room or behind the counter like we do with porn, all I'm saying is that we should require store clerks to check IDs when selling M-rated games. This isn't a very onerous thing to expect clerks to do because it won't be needed for every customer and it will only take a few seconds when needed. Personally, as an adult gamer I think this is a reasonable compromise for us to make which would let us then take a hard line stance against censorship attempts.
If we can't agree that we need something like this now, what about the future? What happens if someone releases a rap simulator game? What about virtual reality games that give the player the sensations of whatever they're doing? At what point to we simply say that we don't want kids to be able to buy these games unless there is a parent directly involved in the purchase? Sure, this isn't going to completely solve the problem and kids will get ahold of some of this stuff the same way they get ahold of booze or porn, but that doesn't mean it's not something we should do.
I think it's perfectly fair to say, as many parents do that there are some things kids shouldn't have free and easy access to. As with many things in this life the objectionability of a particular piece rests on a spectrum and that different parts of the spectrum should have different levels of control applied even if the demarcations between levels is arbitrary. We absolutely protect the ability of adults who want the material and parents that want their kids to have to be able to get ahold of such material, but we should also recognize that in some cases, like with video game sales, it's extremely easy to give parents who want to control what their kids play a little bit of help without hurting the rights of adult consumers.
April 12, 2005
April 11, 2005
Here's where I got a good deal on it with free shipping too. $45 for the Limited Edition and $39 for the regular. It actually was cheaper than that a couple of hours ago when I ordered mine, but I guess they got a lot more orders than they thought they would.
Dworkin's work has been grossly misrepresented in the public imagination (what feminist hasn't?), as many folks have pointed out; even so, agree or disagree, her work was very important, and it's important to note her passing.
I haven't studied Dworkin enough to really have a strong opinion on her one way or the other, but what work of hers I've read has made me think long and hard about my own sexuality.
And just when is this parade of death going to let up a little? Chiza.
April 10, 2005
The Vatican's deeper power is in its personal authority over 1.3 billion worshippers, which is strongest over the poorest, most helpless devotees. With its ban on condoms the church has caused the death of millions of Catholics and others in areas dominated by Catholic missionaries, in Africa and right across the world. In countries where 50% are infected, millions of very young Aids orphans are today's immediate victims of the curia. Refusing support to all who offer condoms, spreading the lie that the Aids virus passes easily through microscopic holes in condoms - this irresponsibility is beyond all comprehension.
And Amanda goes further:
On top of that, his complete refusal to expand the church's view of women as anything more than helpmates and breeders certainly damaged the status of women in this world and may have damaged the overall well-being, as it's a well-known fact that in order to best improve a society, you improve the lot of the women in it. And, as Steve Gilliard has been pointing out, the pope and the entire Catholic church infrastructure bears responsibility for the molestation of children by priests--not because it happened so much, but because they tried to hide it and avoided dealing with it. And now, because people involved in the cover-up are getting rewarded instead of getting thrown in jail where they belong.
You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.
The shorter version: You are human, with all the idealism, self-criticism, and desire to be both authentic and socially involved that implies.
Via Echidne, here's a short speech Bill Moyers gave, accepting Harvard Medical's Global Environment Citizen award last December. Moyers, himself an ordained minister (Methodist, I believe, but don't quote me), challenges the anti-environmentalism of Rapture-fixated Christianity, and the silent complicity of the media in this anti-environmentalism:
The news can be the truth that sets us free—not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk [of his grandchildren]. What we need to match the science of human health is what the ancient Israelites called 'hocma' —the science of the heart.....the capacity to see....to feel....and then to act...as if the future depended on you. Believe me, it does. [his elipses]
Moyers is faithful to his God, but he is also faithful to himself, his family, his community, and his world. He finds value in all of it, not because he believes God has created it and it can glorify God, but because all of it is valuable in itself.
Similarly, Immanuel Kant understands what it means to glorify God and do His will not as slavishly following orders from above, but as holding all rational beings in equal respect (ourselves *and* others; what else could 'love your neighbor as yourself' mean?), and pursuing the moral duties we discover through reason (which Kant finds to be stated most eloquently in the Gospels). Soren Kierkegaard, the other Christian philosophy I brought up, argues that Christian devotion to God involves transcending morality, but this level of devotion to the transcendent involves, paradoxically, a deliberate, continuous choice in which the individual becomes completely isolated: Kierkegaard's Christian, striving to follow God's will, can still only find her worth only in herself.
Why would God give us free will, only to have us abandon that will in blind deference to Him? That's not love; that's empty, mindless devotion. I cannot accept the idea of a loving God who values me *only* because I stroke his ego with Hallelujiahs.
April 09, 2005
Perhaps it is time for the Democrats simply to embrace their destiny as the party of grown-ups. No members of congress threatening judges. No gonzo federal legislation cooked up in the middle of the night to game a family struggle in Florida. Borrowing money and saving money are not the same thing. A reasonable respect for the rules under which the country has long been governed. Congressional staffers will neither steal work material from members of the opposition party nor stand on principle when caught. Bribes tendered on the floor of Congress will be frowned upon ...
The organizers of the conference and Congressional staff members who spoke there called for several specific steps: impeaching judges deemed to have ignored the will of Congress or to have followed foreign laws; passing bills to remove court jurisdiction from certain social issues or the place of God in public life; changing Senate rules that allow the Democratic minority to filibuster Mr. Bush's appeals court nominees; and using Congress's authority over court budgets to punish judges whom it considers to have overstepped their authority.
Wow. Just wow. First, as even William Rehnquist says in a quote ealier in the article, "a judge's judicial acts may not serve as a basis for impeachment." It's simply not something Congress can do. The Founders made the judiciary independent specifically because they might be improperly influenced by the political branches of government. This same argument applies to budgetary issues. Article III of the Constitution specifically fixes the pay of federal judges so that their salary isn't a Sword of Damocles hanging above their head whenever they make a decision. Congress can play politics with the budgets of all kinds of areas of government, the military for instance, but separation of powers demands that the judiciary be left alone. And again, I can't stress this enough, the decision a judge makes in a case is *not* sufficient for impeachment. The Constitution states that judges "shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour" which basically means that unless the judge does something pretty seriously illegal they can't be removed. "Good Behavior" does not mean, "Decides cases in step with the ideology of the majority" and there are a million reasons why the judiciary is independent and apolitical.
Secondly, looking to modern standards throughout the world is never the only basis for a decision, but when it is used it is entirely proper to look to prevailing ideas throughout the world for help in fleshing out an argument. Again, it's not the only basis for an opinion, but when you're saying that it's cruel and unusual punishment to execute kids, it can be useful to notice that before we recently stopped we were among Somolia, and Iran as one of the extremely few countries to continue to do so.
As pertains to the filibuster, it's been a political tactic for 200 years in this country and it's only now, when the Republicans have both houses of Congress and the White House and aren't able to get literally *everything* they want that people are seriously calling for an end to it. It is important to remind ourselves that we live in a republic, not a democracy. We are not ruled by the majority, but rather we try to honor the wishes of the majority while protecting the minority. People complain about how slow things happen in Congress, but there's a perfectly good reason for it; we don't want one party or group to take over the government and then radically change the system overnight. We're a huge country and we need to make sure that when big changes are made it's something that is not only wanted by a majority but is something that also jibes with some basic concepts inherited from our history as well as is something that will hopefully last beyond one election cycle. And this isn't even to mention that Republicans had absolutely no compunction about using the filibuster and other tactics to stop appointments when they were out of power.
In an interview, Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the panel was likely in some way to take up the issue of how the federal judges handled Ms. Schiavo's case.
But Mr. Lungren said Mr. DeLay had not requested a hearing and the committee had not decided on a course of action. "There does seem to be this misunderstanding out there that our system was created with a completely independent judiciary," he said.
It's nice of Jeff to cover for Tom DeLay on this, though it's pretty apparant from the full article that DeLay is right in step with this type of action. This quote just proves exactly what I'm talking about. Congress overstepped it's powers by getting involved in the Schiavo case and the Judiciary let them know about it. Instead of meekly crawling back to their own sphere of power, Republicans in Congress are trying to siphon off judges' ability to make decisions independent of the will of the political majority. Why they would choose this issue, which poll after poll shows something like 70% of Americans want Congress uninvolved in, is beyond me. Then again, DeLay is a dying lion and they always go down fighting a hopeless fight.
April 08, 2005
So Scott Kurtz seems pissed about Sesame Street introducing a healthy aspect to the show, specifically through our beloved Cookie Monster. To me the bottom line is that things change. Sometimes things we grew up with don't work for the modern era and you've got to make appropriate changes.
The gist is that Sesame Street looked at the alarming rates of childhood obesity and decided that having a character that mindlessly shoves his face with cookies couldn’t be helping. This isn’t to say that they’re getting rid of Cookie Monster or turning him into some whole-grain-only vegan. What they are introducing is the concepts of “anytime food” and “sometimes food.” Though I cringe to quote Bill Frist, he put it pretty well, “Even Cookie Monster is learning to control his cookie cravings. His sage advice opened our eyes to the simple joys of a tasty cookie and now reminds us that moderation is the key to healthy living."
To sum it up :
“The furry one also plans to try different kinds of cookies (read: healthier cookies) rather than his just staple, chocolate chip.
But will he still scarf his food? Yes, plus the occasional object, Truglio said.But isn't that unhealthy? Her reply: He's still Cookie Monster.”
He's the Cookie Monster for the 21st Century Scott, what's wrong with that?
Update: Kurtz has a new strip up dealing with this "problem". As is common on the internet, Kurtz seems to think that the only issue of importance is parenting. What he fails to realize is that parents can do the best job in the world and kids will still be influenced by outside factors including their teachers, friends, and yes entertainment. Parents should absolutely be involved in teaching their kids good habbits, but that doesn't mean that educational programs shouldn't think twice about telling kids to scarf down plateful after plateful of sweets. Responsibility isn't just for parents.
And really does Kurtz honestly want us to believe there should be no difference between characters on an educational program on PBS and the corporate cartoon mascots of sugar cereals?
April 06, 2005
April 05, 2005
Thanks Kos and Drew.
The theory is that liberals must create their own version of the conservative pyramid.
Brooks admits that conservatives have created an efficient machine for creating and disseminating the party message, and that liberals are leagues behind in this regard, but dismisses the importance of this without so much as a single argument. I may not be a fancy pants conservative philosopher, but when faced with a really compelling argument about why liberals have been getting kicked around, especially in the media, I would think I'd at least get a sentence about why that's not true. But then again, Brooks has spent a lot of time thinking about philosophy, so deigning to address such sophomoric concerns might be beneath him.
Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. As these factions have multiplied, more people have come to call themselves conservatives because they've found one faction to agree with.
This reasoning seems a bit circular to me. Conservativism has grown because it represents a wide variety of wildly differing political beliefs and people with wildly different political beliefs end up starting to call themselves conservative because the party is so diverse. Look, taking political power will always involve coalition making. The truth is that personal politics will always be a continuum and not a series of discrete political ideological sets. Parties draw in special interest groups to the fold which themselves have segregated the personal political continuum into discrete groups and this is largely accomplished through framing the Party's message.
The major conservative magazines - The Weekly Standard, National Review, Reason, The American Conservative, The National Interest, Commentary - agree on almost nothing.
The same could be said of many liberal publications from various points on the left side of the continuum. I'm sure that these conservative publications do have a lot of differing ideas about how things should be, but they also probably have a lot more in common with each other than they do with a lot of liberal publications. Rush may not agree with someone at the Cato Institute on a lot of stuff, but they're far more to agree with each other than they would with Al Franken.
This feuding has meant that the meaning of conservatism is always shifting. Once, Republicans were isolationists. Now most Republicans, according to a New York Times poll, believe the U.S. should try to change dictatorships into democracies when it can. Meanwhile, 78 percent of Democrats believe the U.S. should not try to democratize authoritarian regimes.
Well, that's a fine statistic Mr. Brooks! And what a startling revelation that, gasp, the party line changes over time! I wonder why he didn't choose to talk about how the party used to be pro-segregation, but that now they just support policies which effectively, if not officially, segregate the population. And can anybody seriously look at the reletively recent dominance of the DNC Democrats within the party and still insinuate that the party is without change and introspection. Not that I think this change has been a good one for the party, but to insinuate that the right is this big tent party that has led to dynamism while the left is completely homogenous and therefore ideologically stagnant is either purposfully blind or dishonest.
Conservatives fell into the habit of being acutely conscious of their intellectual forebears and had big debates about public philosophy. That turned out to be important: nobody joins a movement because of admiration for its entitlement reform plan. People join up because they think that movement's views about human nature and society are true.
Liberals have not had a comparable public philosophy debate. A year ago I called the head of a prominent liberal think tank to ask him who his favorite philosopher was. If I'd asked about health care, he could have given me four hours of brilliant conversation, but on this subject he stumbled and said he'd call me back. He never did.
Brooks once again makes assertions that he either doesn't support at all or simply uses crappy anecdotal evidence. A) If philosophy and knowledge of intellectual forebears is so important, where is that in the Republican platform. When I see Republicans on the Sunday shows, they're not talking about Thomas Aquinas, they're talking about their reform plan. If all this philosophizing is done behind the scenes, then, isn't this an issue of message? That is, isn't what he's saying the Republicans did that the Democrats haven't done is to craft a cohesive message platform; a single marketable ideology that they can apply to nearly any political scenario. While I think philosophy is great (and I'd happily say that my favorite philosophers are Hume, Kant, Marx, and Mill), I'm not sure there's quite the functional difference that Brooks would like us to believe. Let's say we took two groups, one from the right and the other from the left and put them in separate rooms. The Republicans, ever the scholars, talk about their favorite philosophers for a few hours and hammer out a cohesive message platform based on the writings of those philosophers. The Democrats, on the other hand, spend their time building their message based on principles of social fairness and equity but with no reference to specific intellectual forebears. When we put them on Hardball is there really going to be a difference? Are the Republicans going to support their arguments with quotes from "A Philosophical Inquiry Into The Origin Of Our Ideas Of The Sublime And Beautiful" or are going to be talking policy? In terms of gaining political successes, which we should keep in mind is the basis for this article, is the philosophy that Brooks thinks is so important really getting to the people that the right is courting or is it the cohesive policy platform?
In addition, liberal theorists are more influenced by post-modernism, multiculturalism, relativism, value pluralism and all the other influences that dissuade one from relying heavily on dead white guys.
This is my favorite part of the article. Want to know why? Brooks here *admits* that in the conservative view the only philosophers worth studying are dead, white, and male. Yeah, that's a big tent party you got there Dave-o.
If I were a liberal, which I used to be, I wouldn't want message discipline. I'd take this opportunity to have a big debate about the things Thomas Paine, Herbert Croly, Isaiah Berlin, R. H. Tawney and John Dewey were writing about. I'd argue about human nature and the American character.
Firstly, let's all agree that just because Brooks may have changed his mind about some areas of politics it doesn't mean his current ideas are any more valuable. In fact, as we can see, I think his horrible inability to see an issue *explains* why he might have changed his mind, especially to the party that values good tag lines over good arguments. Secondly, sure, I'd love to debate philosophy with my liberal friends. In fact, we do, all the time. Politics, however, must always be grounded in the policies that you are advocating. Government is about people and making their lives better with your policies, not ethereal ideas concocted by some "dead white guys". What Brooks seems to be saying is that Democrats should just give the reigns over to the Republicans for a while so we can go back to our cave and talk a bunch, but you don't win by retreating. Republicans didn't start beating Clinton around by talking a good philosophical game; they got their hands dirty making policy. I may not agree with their policies, but they were talking about concrete concepts, not the music of the spheres.
And all we have to do is look to the beginning of this article to prove Brooks wrong. Republicans have message disipline, Democrats don't. While this philosophical debate may also be beneficial, writing off something the opposition has that we don't is just plain stupid. Even if we decide we need both I don't see any arguments why we can't *do* both.
In disunity there is strength.
It's interesting that Brooks managed to avoid saying the word "diversity" here, choosing "disunity" instead. Firstly, it means he doesn't have to implicate evolution, which is good because, you know, having disunity on an issue is good, but not THAT much disunity. I just know that if he didn't actually type it out, diversity was the word that popped in his head first, which just goes to prove my point; by changing what has to be the most obvious word in order to better conform to the party line Brooks is feeding the unity of the party message. This type message workis exactly what Republicans have gotten so good at and why they are so good at politics.
And next time a part of the party that is cutting funding for kids to get through college tries to tell me I need to get more philosophical I think I might throw up.
April 02, 2005
As a member of the "Culture of Death" however, I should say that the Pope represents 15 points on my Death Pool. Mmmmmm, savory death....
Thanks to Pandagon for that linkeroo.
Update: The Pope has now *actually* passed away.