Sometime between September 3rd and September 23rd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

An open letter to those who don’t know me yet, or have just met me recently enough that my not-at-all-closeted political leanings have not yet become blindingly obvious:

I’m a liberal, and a pretty far left-leaning liberal at that. To many, that means I’m one of those bleeding heart commies who hates anyone who’s white, straight, or conservative, and who wants the government to dictate everything you do while taking your money and giving it to people who don’t work.

Well, not exactly, but close enough.

Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:

  1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.

  2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.

  3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.

  4. I have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. I’m not opposed to the idea of Universal Basic Income, even if that means my taxes go towards allowing some people to survive without having to work. I don’t believe that people deserve to die because they cannot work, for whatever reason that may be; I don’t even believe that people deserve to die because they choose not to work. If that brands me a communist, socialist, or whatever -ist is being used as a slur because I think it’s better that people be alive than dead, then so be it.

  5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. I’m neither rich nor poor, far more likely to end up being the latter than the former, but I still pay taxes. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.

  6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.

  7. I am not anti-Christian; I grew up in the Episcopal church, and what I learned there heavily influences who I am today, even if I rarely attend church. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; compulsory prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize my right to live according to my beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me.

  8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the same rights as you.

  9. I don’t believe undocumented immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT HAPPENS (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who have committed some types of crimes, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).

  10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.

  11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things here are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.

  12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society (along with many bigotries — xenophobia, homophobia, sizeism, transphobia, ageism, classism, etc. — that may be less overtly systemic but which are just as present) is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized. And yes, as a person with many privileges on my side (straight, white, male, middle-class, and many more), this includes me. I do my best to listen to and learn from those with less privilege when they try to tell me something. I have and will fail at times, and when I do, I’ll do what I can to do better.

  13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that just MIGHT save one person’s, perhaps a toddler’s, life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun.

  14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness — or, well, “not being an asshole”. If call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?

  15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.

  16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?

I think that about covers the basics, though I’m sure there are many more points that could be added. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.

So, I’m a liberal.

(I didn’t write the above from scratch but edited a similar post to reflect my personal beliefs. Please feel free to do the same with this post.)

Sometime between April 16th and April 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black: Dolezal is simply a white woman who cannot help but center herself in all that she does—including her fight for racial justice. And if racial justice doesn't center her, she will redefine race itself in order to make that happen.
  • Volunteers, Professionals, and Who Gets to Have Fun at Cons: If your fun is dependent using your status as a volunteer as an excuse to not act responsibly, if it requires victims to stay quiet about mistreatment: then it’s not really a fun time for “everyone” is it? It’s not the expectation of professionalism that’s killing the fun at cons, it’s the lack of it.
  • Time to Fix the Missing Stair: It’s time to stop pretending the missing stair doesn’t need to be fixed. Relying on word-of-mouth means that the people who are new, who are just entering, are the ones most at risk of trying to step on it.
  • seriously, the guy has a point: A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.
  • Westboro Wannabes Picket Norwescon: Thank you for proving, by your actions, the value that Norwescon (and all such fan-run conventions) have in this world. Thank you for proving that we can’t be bullied. You gave us all a teachable moment, and we learned something about ourselves.

So the Genesis story gets written as a justification for why women are they way they are, of how they’re the ones to blame, and of why it’s right for men to take charge, because when a woman decides for herself… well, isn’t that how everything ended up so terrible? But what the story really says, this story men made up to hold women down, is that women have the power to change the world. Women have the power to throw the world into chaos and they do it because the world as it is isn’t good enough. Adam is content and Eve is proactive. Women see God’s world and think, this could be better. Let’s make it better. And if that’s called sin than it’s the best sin there is because without change nothing would ever happen. Without women, the story doesn’t even begin.

— miccaeli miccaevelli

From On the Origin of Transformers:

The advocates of ID, who are arguing that their belief should be included in science classes in Texas, Tennessee and other states, say that if a living organism has a design that cannot be explained by the theory of natural selection, it is proof of an Intelligent Designer. If you consider a Camaro, for example, wouldn’t it obviously have had a Designer? Could its parts have been assembled by a hurricane (or a trillion hurricanes) blowing through a junkyard?

Certainly not. Therefore, this is proof that Autobots were not assembled on Cybertron by hurricanes or any other means envisioned by Darwin, and were Intelligently Designed. That makes the Transformers series a compelling parable for ID, and I expect several of this year’s Republican presidential candidates to recommend the movies on that basis alone.

Roger Ebert, making the case for Intelligent Design…at least within the universe of the Transformers.

Sometime between January 18th and January 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • H. G. Wells on ‘Metropolis’ (1927): "Never for a moment does one believe any of this foolish story; for a moment is there anything amusing or convincing in its dreary series of strained events. It is immensely and strangely dull. It is not even to be laughed at. There is not one good-looking nor sympathetic nor funny personality in the cast; there is, indeed, no scope at all for looking well or acting like a rational creature amid these mindless, imitative absurdities. The film's air of having something grave and wonderful to say is transparent pretence. It has nothing to do with any social or moral issue before the world or with any that can ever conceivably arise. It is bunkum and poor and thin even as bunkum. I am astonished at the toleration shown it by quite a number of film critics on both sides of the Atlantic. And it costs, says the London Times, six million marks! How they spent all that upon it I cannot imagine. Most of the effects could have been got with models at no great expense."
  • Offline Book "Lending" Costs U.S. Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion: From what we've been able to piece together, the book "lending" takes place in "libraries". On entering one of these dens, patrons may view a dazzling array of books, periodicals, even CDs and DVDs, all available to anyone willing to disclose valuable personal information in exchange for a "card". But there is an ominous silence pervading these ersatz sanctuaries, enforced by the stern demeanor of staff and the glares of other patrons. Although there's no admission charge and it doesn't cost anything to borrow a book, there's always the threat of an onerous overdue bill for the hapless borrower who forgets to continue the cycle of not paying for copyrighted material.
  • AirTran 297 – Anatomy of an Urban Legend: Since the flight and initial media reports, several blogs and Internet sites have recounted the incident as portrayed by a passenger originally scheduled for the flight. Below is that passenger’s account (unedited in any way including spelling and grammar), as reported on several blogs. Highlighted between the passenger’s account, are the factually accurate circumstances surrounding this incident. We bring this to your attention in order to dispel myths that are beginning to make the rounds in chat rooms, blogs and conspiracy theorists’ Web sites.
  • Dear God, please confirm what I already believe: God may have created man in his image, but it seems we return the favour. Believers subconsciously endow God with their own beliefs on controversial issues. "People may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions and making decisions based on what they presume God as the ultimate moral authority would believe or want," the team write. "The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing."
  • Insanely Vulgar ‘Better Off Ted’ Outtakes (NSFW Video): "ABC's 'Better Off Ted' recently had an episode where a mistyped inter-office memo encouraged employees to swear insults at each other, with PG-rated results for broadcast. Below are the ridiculously NSFW outtakes, scripted for Web-only release. If you are offended — not even 'easily' … but, like, even slightly, by graphic language, do not watch this video, which is like melding the Disney-owned TV network with 'The Aristocrats.' According to a network spokesperson, ABC did not post this."

Sometime between January 13th and January 17th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Petition-Signers’ Rights: "The Supreme Court on Friday added five new cases to its decision docket, including a significant test case on a plea for confidentiality for the identities of voters who sign petitions to get policy measures on election ballots. The Court expedited the briefing of all five cases, thus giving the Justices the option of scheduling all of them for oral argument in the April sitting. There is no commitment to April arguments at this time, however."
  • Dispersion of Sound Waves in Ice Sheets: "The most striking thing about these recordings is the synthetic-sounding descending tones caused by the phenomenon of the dispersion of sound waves. The high frequencies of the popping and cracking noises are transmitted faster by the ice than the deeper frequencies, which reach the listener with a time lag as glissandi sinking to almost bottomless depths."
  • Here’s to Planet Earth! Doomsday Clock Moved Back 1 Minute: "The Doomsday clock, a measurement of the threat posed by nuclear weapons, biotechnology, and climate change, has been moved back one minute, to six minutes before midnight, signaling a more 'hopeful state of world affairs.'"
  • Pat Robertson Cites Haiti’s Earthquake as What Happens When You ‘Swear a Pact to the Devil’: "Today on his 700 Club television show, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson highlighted the tragedy and said that his network will be there 'to help the people.' However, he then tried to offer an explanation for the earthquake, blaming Haiti's own people for once making a 'pact to the devil'"

Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher.

The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll.

You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best,

Satan

Written by Lily Coyle of Minneapolis, first printed as a Letter to the Editor in the Star Tribune.

I happen to be of the opinion that we should remove marriage from the secular system entirely — that is, courts would merely deal with civil unions, which would be identical and impart identical rights to any couple, straight or gay — and let the churches handle marriage ceremonies for people who want them. If God doesn’t want same-sex couples to marry, then fine, let the churches bar their doors. But there is absolutely no reason why same-sex couples shouldn’t get all the same legal rights and privileges that heterosexual couples do.

Barring that solution, however, this is a good step forward:

State lawmakers are getting ready to introduce a bill allowing same-sex couples all the rights and benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples.

[…]

The measure makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed.

The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to criminal law, to pensions and other public employee benefits.

Sometime between January 26th and January 27th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Gods and Monsters Is 99 Cents Jan. 27th, 2009 Thru Feb. 03rd, 2009 at iTunes US: For those of you with broadband connections and Apple's iTunes, Gods and Monsters is only a 99 cent rental this week. It's an excellent drama, with Sir Ian McKellan and Brendan Frasier (in one of his few non-action, actually acting roles), looking at the relationship between original Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein director James Whale and his gardener. Definitely worth the rent!
  • Obama Tells Arabic Network US Is ‘Not Your Enemy’: "President Barack Obama chose an Arabic satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, part of a concerted effort to repair relations with the Muslim world that were damaged under the previous administration. Obama cited his Muslim background and relatives, practically a taboo issue during the U.S. presidential campaign, and said in the interview, which aired Tuesday, that one of his main tasks was to communicate to Muslims 'that the Americans are not your enemy.' The interview on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel aired as Obama's new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. 'What I told [Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating,' Obama told the interviewer."
  • 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read: Science Fiction & Fantasy: "It is sometimes assumed that science fiction, fantasy and horror must mean spaceships, elves and vampires – and indeed, you'll find Iain M Banks, Tolkien and Bram Stoker on our list of mind-expanding reads. Yet these three genres have a tradition as venerable as the novel itself. Fiction works through metamorphosis: in every era authors explore the concerns of their times by mapping them on to invented worlds, whether they be political dystopias, fabulous kingdoms or supernatural dimensions. Every truly original writer must, by definition, create a new world. Here is a whole galaxy of worlds to explore."
  • Layers | Screen Forensics: "Capture your displays as a Photoshop layered image. Don't waste time capturing each window separately, importing them in your favorite PSD editor, naming the layers, positioning the images, etc. Do it with Layers in no time! Press the capture hotkey or customize your capture in the inspector. You'll obtain a full fledged PSD file with one layer per window, including menu and desktop icons, dock and menubar. " I've been quite happily using Snapz Pro X for my screenshots for years, but this looks like a very tempting competitor. Looking forward to giving it a try!
  • Pope Outrages Jews Over Holocaust Denier: "Jewish officials in Israel and abroad are outraged that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to lift the excommunication of a British bishop who denies that Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers. The church's decision to lift the excommunication comes a few days after a Swedish television aired an interview with Williamson in which the 68-year-old claimed the Nazis did not use gas chambers. 'I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against — is hugely against — 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,' he said in the interview, which appeared on various Web sites since its broadcast. 'I believe there were no gas chambers,' he added."