Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Hope Blogging

In recent weeks, "conservatives" have proposed that cops should not be able to arrest people (i.e., men) for domestic violence unless they witness it, that U.S. school textbooks should be purged of references to slavery, and that we must act now to keep aborted fetuses out of our soft drinks. For some reason, I'm reminded of this old Onion article.

Much like "trangressive" music acts in any number of genres, social conservatives have been tying to outdo each other in striking shocking, uncompromising poses. And like any other form of witless adolescent attention-seeking, this eventually gets boring...not just for outsiders who wonder why the fuck these socially maladroit oddballs can't lighten up, but also for the target audience, many of whom are less true believers than lazy consumers exploring a fantasy. To extend the musical metaphor, today's social conservatives are a bit like teenagers who've abandoned Scandinavian black metal in favor of white-supremacist power electronics. For people who are committed to plumbing the depths of their own inhumanity, it's a new thrill that'll temporarily excite a jaded palate. But for most other people, it's the point at which extremity starts paying diminishing returns and 1970s singer-songwriters start sounding comparatively good.

My point being, this competition for political capital is inherently self-defeating for the simple reason that most people aren't really ruthless sociopathic assholes, even if it sometimes pleases them to pretend otherwise. The more Teabaggers flex what they imagine are their muscles, the less they overawe people. That's "power" for you. And I can only hope that they hold on to what's left of it long enough to pull the GOP's temple down on their own heads.

Meanwhile. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has come up with the daring theory that discrimination for the sake of discrimination is unconstitutional:

Reinhardt, joined by Judge Michael Hawkins, invoked two past U.S. Supreme Court rulings. One was a 1973 decision overturning a federal law that barred households of unrelated people, such as "hippie communes," from qualifying for food stamps. The other, in 1996, struck down a Colorado initiative prohibiting local governments from enacting civil rights laws protecting gays and lesbians.

In both cases, the high court said the government violates equal protection when it withdraws rights in order to harm a politically unpopular group or express disapproval of a vulnerable minority.
So it's the hippies' fault? I knew it. Even when I thought it was the gays, I knew it was the hippies.

Here's my favorite part of the decision:
Schools teach about the world as it is; when the world changes, lessons change. A shift in the State's marriage law may therefore affect the content of classroom instruction just as would the election of a new governor, the discovery of a new chemical element, or the adoption of a new law permitting no-fault divorce: students learn about these as empirical facts of the world around them. But to protest the teaching of these facts is little different from protesting their very existence; it is like opposing the election of a particular governor on the ground that students would learn about his holding office.
Washington has passed a same-sex marriage bill:
Governor Christine Gregoire plans to sign newly passed legislation on Monday to legalize gay marriage in Washington state, making it the seventh with a law on the books to recognize same-sex nuptials, her office said on Thursday.
Here's what Republican state representative Maureen Walsh had to say on the matter. Read it and weep.

You know, I was married for 23 years to the love of my life and he died 6 years ago. I think of all the wonderful years we had and the wonderful fringe benefits of having 3 beautiful children. I don’t miss the sex, and to me that’s kind of what this boils down to. I don’t miss that… I mean I certainly miss it, but it’s certainly not the aspect of that relationship, that incredible bond I had with that human being, that I really really genuinely wish I still had. And so I just think to myself: how could I deny anyone the right to have that incredible bond with another individual in life. To me it seems almost cruel.

See, that's a person who has an actual, functioning conscience. By contrast, someone who demands taxpayer funding for discriminatory policies is simply a constitutionally illiterate grifter. I'd really like to spend my declining years in a country whose media can tell the difference.

Speaking of which, what if bigots threw a tantrum and no one cared?

On "CBS This Morning," Thursday, jcpenney chief executive officer Ron Johnson, said the company "shares the same values" as DeGeneres and that the decision to have her as a spokesperson was a "no-brainer."

"We don't look at it like a controversy. One of the great things about America is people can speak their mind. And you know, the organization that believes one thing has spoken and it was great to see Ellen share her views yesterday. And we stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson and that's a great thing. Because she shares the same values that we do in our company. Our company was founded 110 years ago on The Golden Rule, which is about treating people fair and square, just like you would like to be treated yourself. And we think Ellen represents the values of our company and the values that we share."

As part of its terrifying reign of environmental terror, the EPA is forbidding ships from dumping their waste in California coastal waters, just as France did when they removed the pillar of God-given rights and told you who you were and it became the guillotine!

A federal rule banning ships from flushing their sewage into the sea within 3 miles of the California coast was approved Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The prohibition, which will go into effect next month, means cruise and cargo ships will no longer be able to discharge treated or untreated effluent or gray water anywhere along the coast, a practice that regulators blame for spreading bacteria and disease in marine mammals, fish and people.

Five years after San Francisco transformed itself into a dystopian hellscape by restricting the use of plastic bags, its Board of Supervisors is preparing to pound a final eco-friendly nail into civilization's coffin:
Almost five years ago, San Francisco became the first American city to ban plastic shopping bags from supermarkets and chain pharmacies. Now the city is poised to expand that ban to all retail stores and restaurants within the city limits. Only certain products, like newspapers, fish, poultry, fresh flowers, and bulk goods are exempted from the ban. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to expand the ban, and it’s expected to be officially approved next week.
Soon, plastic bags will be illegal for everything but hi-def BDSM videos. What would the Founding Fathers say (Ben Franklin excepted)?

In related news, the Obama administration has just made it illegal to drink water while hiking in the desert Southwest:
As a Climate Friendly Park, Grand Canyon National Park's staff, partners and stakeholders have made a commitment to take a leadership roll in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and educating the public about what they can do to reduce their impacts on the park. In order to reduce plastics in the park's waste stream, litter along trails and walkways and green house gas emissions Grand Canyon National Park will soon be eliminating the sale of water packaged in individual disposable containers and encourages everyone to reduce, reuse, refill.
The inevitable next step? Restricting our intake of "unhealthy" foods in order to protect the coyotes who'll gnaw our bones after we die of thirst.

Toronto's tough-guy mayor Rob Ford has suffered a well-deserved humiliation:
In a stunning blow to Mayor Rob Ford -- who, on his first day in office in 2010 scrubbed the "Transit City" plan in favor of an ill-thought out and unfunded subway scheme -- the Toronto City Council has quashed his plans and resurrected the old one....

[Ford] ignored the host of transit experts who called his vision nonsense. He refused to take his plans to city council, bypassing the city’s supreme democratic body. He spurned the [Toronto Transit Commission] manager and TTC chair who dared to question him. But on Wednesday, council struck back, handing the mayor his worst defeat and rubbishing his transit blueprint.
Scott Walker and his cronies have some additional woes this week:
Nearly all of Wisconsin's Republican state lawmakers took the unusual step of signing a legal agreement in which they promised to not comment publicly about redistricting discussions while new GOP-friendly maps were being drafted, a newspaper reported.

The agreement was included in newly released documents in a federal lawsuit challenging the new district lines. Also included in the documents was a GOP memo outlining talking points that stressed anyone who discussed the maps could be called as a witness in the case. The memo also warned Republicans to ignore public comments about the maps and focus instead on what was being said in private strategy meetings.

As does Rupert Murdoch:

The editor of Rupert Murdoch's Times of London conceded today that the newspaper misled a British public inquiry in 2009 regarding an incident in which a Times reporter hacked into the email of an anonymous blogger who wrote about police activities....

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the FBI if focusing its investigation into allegations that British tabloid employees, working for the U.S.-based News Corp., may have violated American law by paying police officers in exchange for news stories.

Rice University is experimenting with nonprofit textbook publishing:

According to Inside Higher Education, OpenStax plans to compete with pricey $200 hardback texts from for-profit publishers by offering digital books for five common introductory classes for free, starting with sociology and physics texts this spring. OpenStax is beginning with introductory texts because the information in them is relatively basic and less likely to change year to year. Publishers are frequently accused of filling their coffers by updating textbook editions at random and then convincing professors to adopt the new version. If the OpenStax plan works, the multi-billion-dollar textbook industry could be in trouble.

Vehicles became 14-percent more fuel-efficient over the last four years:
After what seemed like an eternity of mostly stagnation, average fuel economy for new vehicles has been going up in the United States. Researchers at the University of Michigan have conducted a study showing that for current model year vehicles, fuel economy is 14% higher than just four years ago, which might not sound like much, but it's much better than what we've got in the recent past.
Spain now has a second solar tower:
Clean tech company AROA recently installed their second energy-generating Solar Tulip power tower in Spain, and the soaring flower-shaped power plant just went online this week. The beauty of the system stems beyond the elegant solar energy capturing tower - the system is designed to be modular, unlike any other concentrated solar power (CSP) electrical generator out there. The system also uses much less water than steam solar generators, enabling it to conserve precious resources on its hot desert site.
This is a fascinating idea:
The Oral Citations Project is a strategic research project funded by a Wikimedia Foundation grant to help overcome a lack of published material in emerging languages on Wikipedia. The idea behind the project is a simple one. Wikipedia privileges printed knowledge (books, journals, magazines, newspapers and more) as authentic sources of citable material. This is understandably so, for a lot of time and care goes into producing this kind of printed material, and restricting citation sources makes the enterprise workable. But books - and printed words generally - are closely correlated to rich economies: Europe, North America, and a small section of Asia.
Word on the street is, Obamacare is forcing small businesses to set up fascist lactation chambers, which will almost certainly be presided over by gay communist lactation panels:
Tom Stemberg, co-founder of the Staples office supply chain, complained in a recent interview that the Affordable Care Act (known by opponents as “Obamacare”) will cost jobs by mandating that employers set up “lactation chambers.”
You can set this clever fellow straight by clicking here.

Oh, and lest I forget...the GOP is attacking contraception. In an election year. And a recession. For the benefit of a small and wildly unpopular base. I'm looking forward to their late October campaign against female drivers, which will be based equally on scripture and 1970s "Lockhorns" cartoons.

Now, then. The Moist Towelette Museum. Portable signs of rural America. Dr. Seuss: pedantic literalist. Gay gay gay! Vintage Mexican ads. Photos by Arthur K. Syer. And photos by E.O. Hoppé.

Impossible cameras. The song of a Jurassic katydid. The wooden work boats of Indochina. Anatomical cross sections made with quilled paper. And a gorgeous survey of advertising and commercial photography:

Broken houses (via things). Jewish children's books. Our three-dimensional moon. Polaroids by Mikael Kennedy. A scrapbook from Tajikistan. And images of the frozen Black Sea:

(Painting at top: "Hidak Bridges" by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1921.)


Cereal said...

"...most people aren't really ruthless sociopathic assholes, even if it sometimes pleases them to pretend otherwise. "

True, but there are enough lazy, stupid people who either pretend to be sociopathic assholes, or are happy to either do the bare minimum to support (i.e. vote for, occasionally) or at best do nothing to stop more motivated sociopathic assholes.

These people are why the Republican Party exists and why the more motivated assholes therein can do so much damage. And there are a lot of them.

Phila said...

These people are why the Republican Party exists and why the more motivated assholes therein can do so much damage. And there are a lot of them.

Yes, all that's a given. However, the political stock and numbers of the Tea Party have both fallen drastically and conservative voter turnout is down significantly. At the same time, the nature of the conservative attention economy makes backing off from extreme positions virtually impossible. And so they've reached a point where rhetorical success and political success are basically incompatible. I don't see any reason to believe that situation won't worsen in the coming months.

peacay said...

That Maureen Walsh piece is sadly beautiful. I had seen it earlier but didn't know her party. Of course it makes no difference; it's simply a remarkable moment in sharing of self in the support of 'another group'. I believe they call it empathy.

selena gomez said...

true but there are enough lazy