Linkdump for May 26th through July 11th

Sometime between May 26th and July 11th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Staying out of politics is privilege

Hey, I’ll be honest. I’m one of those for whom it would be very easy to just “stay out of politics”. To post snide remarks about how all of you can argue about politics, but I’m just not going to waste my time with the bother. To shrug it all off. After all, I’m a well-educated, 45-year-old straight white cisgender man, in a heterosexual marriage, in good health, within accepted norms of physical attractiveness, employed, and (even with the move back to the Seattle area and going back to apartment living) fairly comfortably middle-class with a healthy financial cushion in the bank. I have so, so much privilege, and could so easily use it to just “stay out of politics”.

But on very real, personal, ethical and moral grounds, I cannot and will not do that. I know far too many people, many of whom are very close to me, who do not have the privileges I do, and who stand to be — or already are — in very real, present danger because of where our country stands right now. They have no option to “stay out of politics”. For them, “politics” isn’t some esoteric theoretical concept to be debated in classrooms or over coffee (or booze) and cigarettes in the wee hours of the morning, but a very real, very present, life-or-death situation.

Women, minorities, the non-Christian religious or non-religious, poor people, people with medical issues, people whose sexuality or gender identities and expressions fall somewhere other than cisgender and straight, and various combinations of those identities and more. I have many friends and loved ones that fall into those groups, who do not have the option to choose to “stay out of politics”, and for me to do so would be callous, uncaring, and cruel.

So, yes. I’m going to continue to post the links, articles, and occasional profane rants. Because it is far, far better for me to use the privilege I have to call attention to the concerns and plights of those who do not have the advantages that I do. As I do that, I have been and will continue to make an effort to quiet my own voice in favor of amplifying the voices of those who are oppressed. Of linking to those who speak from a place of personal knowledge about experiences I have never and in many cases can never experience. Of recognizing when I need to listen, rather than speaking out about things I can never truly understand. Of doing my best to call out my fellow straight/white/male/privileged people when they overstep their bounds, and listening and learning when I’m called out for overstepping mine.

Because this is what needs to be done. Not just to ease my conscience, but to do what I can to let those people in my life who are struggling know that they’re not alone, that we haven’t abandoned them entirely, even if it so often seems like it. Because I believe that we can be better than we seem to be right now. Because I grew up on Star Trek and its vision of an optimistic future, and that’s the future I want to live in, and to do that, we have to work towards it.

And we can’t do that and “stay out of politics”.

(Originally prompted by the embedded photo when seen on Facebook, posted to Facebook, and then re-posted here. Very minor apologies to those who are seeing this twice.)

More Shaming

Faced with the unceasing cruelty and degradation of the Trump presidency, liberals have not taken to marching around in public with assault weapons and threatening civil war. I know of no left-wing publication that has followed the example of the right-wing Federalist and run quasi-pornographic fantasies about murdering political enemies. (“Close your eyes and imagine holding someone’s scalp in your hands,” began a recent Federalist article.) Unlike Trump, no Democratic politician I’m aware of has urged his or her followers to beat up opposing demonstrators.

Instead, some progressive celebrities have said some bad words, and some people have treated administration officials with the sort of public opprobrium due members of any other white nationalist organization. Liberals are using their cultural power against the right because it’s the only power they have left, and people have a desperate need to say, and to hear others say, that what is happening in this country is intolerable.

— Michelle Goldberg,  We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners 

Shame

There are only so many official channels for enforcing moral standards in American public life. One is elections, which happen pretty rarely, and, thanks to gerrymanders and the electoral college, frequently reward popular vote losers. Another is the law, where courts are increasingly stacked against the majority. Under those circumstances, shame is a potent weapon, and it’s little surprise that people invested in the status quo want those who can wield it to unilaterally disarm.

— Brian Beutler, Shame the Trumpers

I absolutely stand behind those who shame and shun Trump’s supporters (whether that be his inner circle or the public). We as a people should be — and, I hope, can be, though I’m getting more and more cynical about that every day — so much better than we are right now, and shaming is a simple and effective way to deal with those who continue to work to bring us down.

Fuck Trump.

Fuck Trump.

And if that upsets you, especially because I used such uncouth language, and we on the left must not stoop to such levels if we want to avoid alienating people, read this Twitter thread and re-think your outrage. (And if it didn’t upset you, read it anyway, because it’s a good thread.)

I haven’t been posting quite as much lately because I’ve been a little overwhelmed by all the absolute shit our country is in the middle of, much of which is deeply, sincerely morally reprehensible to me, and I haven’t known what to say about it.

So, right now, this is what I can say.

Fuck Trump (and everyone who supported him then, and supports him now).

The Coup Has Already Happened

Sad to say, this sounds about right to me: The Coup Has Already Happened.

A lot of people are waiting for something dramatic to happen, some line to be crossed, an epic event like the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller III that will allow them to say that now we have had a coup and now we are ready to do something about it.

We already had the coup.

It happened on November 8, 2016, when an unqualified candidate won a minority victory in a corrupted election thanks in part to foreign intervention. Any time is the right time to pour into the streets and demand that it all grinds to a halt and the country change direction. The evidence that the candidate and his goons were aided by and enthusiastically collaborating with a foreign power was pretty clear before that election, and at this point, they are so entangled there isn’t really a reason to regard the born-again alt-right Republican Party and the Putin Regime as separate entities.

Linkdump for May 3rd through May 7th

Sometime between May 3rd and May 7th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Connecticut OKs Bill Pledging Electoral Votes To National Popular-Vote Winner: “The bill adopts an interstate compact that's officially called ‘The Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.’ The agreement won't kick in unless it's backed by enough states and other voting areas to claim a majority of Electoral College votes. In addition to Connecticut, the other jurisdictions in the pact are California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state, along with Washington, D.C.”
  • The original iMac: 20 years since Apple changed its fate: “Sitting in the Flint Center in 1998, it would have been impossible to imagine the Apple of 2018. But without that day, and the product that Steve Jobs unveiled on that stage, it’s hard to imagine that Apple would have ever had the chance to become what it is today.”
  • One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong.: Bah! Science did no such thing! It’s one study with a small sample size, screwball parameters (Courier? Seriously?), and a barely measurable result that only really affected those participants already predisposed to two-spacing. Sentences get one space, and one space only. (My favorite part: “Note: An earlier version of this story published incorrectly because, seriously, putting two spaces in the headline broke the web code.”)
  • ‘Who Gets to Be Sexy?’: Interesting look at how the porn industry is changing. “Amateurs are flooding the internet; piracy has addled the once-dominant studios; production has atomized and scattered. But along the way, something interesting has started to happen: Women are rising up.”
  • Swedish Meatballs Are Turkish? ‘My Whole Life Has Been a Lie’: “The country’s national Twitter account made the announcement in a tweet this week. ‘Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century,’ the tweet said. ‘Let’s stick to the facts!’”

Linkdump for April 19th through April 30th

Sometime between April 19th and April 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • John Scalzi: Thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War (and Yes, There are Spoilers): "As impressively well put together as it is, and as enjoyable and exciting as the film is in the moment, the film suffers and for me is ultimately unsatisfying. Not for anything the film itself does or doesn’t do; it suffers not because of what it does, but because of what I know."
  • Avengers: Infinity War ending: Incredibly bold — and a little cheap: SPOILERS: “…as I talked over the ending with friends, the less it sat well with me. I certainly admired the gutsiness of it, the big swing it took, but I also struggled to feel as emotionally invested in it as I was supposed to. For lack of a better word, none of it felt real.” I might not go quite so far as this analysis does, but I don’t argue with its core idea, and was having similar thoughts.
  • “When people say ‘spinster’, they are trying to conjure up an image of a little old lady who is lonely and bitter.”: “What I HEAR are the smiles and laughter of a million women as they earned their own money in their own homes and controlled their own fortunes and lived life on their own terms, and damn what society expected of them.”
  • When Toronto Suspect Said ‘Kill Me,’ an Officer Put Away His Gun: Look, I know that there are going to be situations where the use of deadly force is a necessary step. But it should be a last step, not a first step — something that seems all too mysterious to far too many people, not least many police here in the United States. De-escalation should be the default approach, rather than the "shoot first, ask questions later" approach seemingly favored by far too many people (both law enforcement officers and armchair analysts).
  • What Does Invoking The 25th Amendment Actually Look Like?: "Let’s take a deeper look at the 25th Amendment and think about what each section of it has meant in the past — and what it might mean for Trump-era politics." I'm rather fascinated (and disappointed) that we're in a situation where this is even being seriously discussed. But it is, admittedly, and interesting discussion.

Linkdump for February 26th from 08:00 to 08:06

Sometime between 08:00 and 08:06 on February 26th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Second Amendment was ratified to preserve slavery: "The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says 'State' instead of 'Country' (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote.  Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too."
  • Gun Rights, ‘Positive Good’ and the Evolution of Mutually Assured Massacre: "In the abstract, where no humans actually exist, there’s actually a compelling logic to this. If I know you’re armed, I’ll be on my best behavior. You will too because you know I’m armed. Of course, in practice, almost everything is wrong with this logic."
  • The AR-15 Is Different: What I Learned Treating Parkland Victims: "With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky. If a victim takes a direct hit to the liver from an AR-15, the damage is far graver than that of a simple handgun-shot injury. Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver. An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to the trauma center to receive our care."
  • Inside The Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns: "There's no telling how many guns we have in America—and when one gets used in a crime, no way for the cops to connect it to its owner. The only place the police can turn for help is a Kafkaesque agency in West Virginia, where, thanks to the gun lobby, computers are illegal and detective work is absurdly antiquated. On purpose."
  • Why the Second Amendment does not stymie gun control: "Nearly every gun regulation under discussion today—from expanded background checks to bans on military-style weapons—would seem to pass constitutional muster."
  • Slavery, the Second Amendment, and the Origins of Public-Carry Jurisprudence: "The idea that citizens have an unfettered constitutional right to carry weapons in public originates in the antebellum South, and its culture of violence and honor."

Linkdump for January 17th through February 26th

Sometime between January 17th and February 26th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!