Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On the Power of Giving

For the Tsunami in Japan there was noise on the Internet by what me might call the "no gooders" who said, essentially, "Why should we give money to help Japan?" Which quickly devolved into all sorts of "Blah blah blah World War II this and World War II that, when have they ever helped us?"
Of course, Japanese have provided donations and relief after Hurricane Katrina. Heck, the Japanese have donated heavily for our latest storm tragedies in the South.
But more rationally, and less mean-spiritedly I suppose one might ask: Why do 1st-world countries need to donate to one another? I mean, we're all powerful economies that can do most anything we put our minds to.
And I think the answer is as simple as it sounds like a platitude. We give to help people on the other side of the world because we can and because they're people we must.
Perhaps we could go even further: if we don't see "Japanese" or "American", we just see people in need and we reach out to help then our world becomes a closer one. A world further from war, a world further from hate.
Growing up, my mother would have said that's the "Christian" thing to do. I don't know how many Christians are in Japan, and I'm sure they have another way of thinking about it. But whatever gives Japanese schoolchildren to donate to a drive for New Orleans must be some of that same stuff that gives us to give to their Red Cross.
And that's good.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Malarkey For You

Oops... might have to rethink that one. Well, maybe think that one...
Hey, did you see the one where black women were objectively rated as less attractive than white women or Asians? It's totally true! I mean, except for the whole part of it where it's not. Psychology Today for the win!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Come and Gone

So I'm riding under one of those "The world will end May 21st" posters on the subway. It makes me kind of sad to think of the former MTA employee spending his pension on the posters. But of course some people will go on believing in any malarkey that comes their way.
It occurred to me though that this end-of-the-world prediction might be a one-trick pony. Never before has so much attention been focussed on a biblical prophecy of a specific end of the world date. Humans do have the ability to learn, or at least evolve (see: Seventh Day Adventists). So maybe the worst that will happen is we'll get a bunch of vegetarians out of it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If we're gonna have racism, let's try to make it even stupider

I'm starting to think that arbitrary stereotypes, to the point of blatant absurdity, is the way to go. I mean the whole "You know how x loves to y" when race = x and y = some dumb thing everyone does anyway is indeed blatantly absurd, yes, but I say we do it to a higher degree of arbitrariness.

  • Have you noticed how black people, when they're doing more than one load of laundry, take the clothes out of the dryer and put the clothes from the washer into the dryer and the dirty clothes in the washer only to realize that they only brought 7 quarters and have to go back to their apartment to get another quarter to run the wash? That's just so like black people.
  • Have you noticed how Asians always find out they don't have any milk at 2am? Like, they could have looked in the refrigerator at 11:59pm and had time to go to the store to get more but, like all Asians, they wait until the middle of the night to run out of milk.
  • White people always hang plastic grocery bags from the handles of drawers in their kitchens when they're cooking. Kooky white people.
  • Jews always put the caps back on plastic bottles before they go to recycling. Typical Jewish behavior. 
  • You ever try to get a Puerto Rican to hang a picture without using a bubble level? You tell 'em to just "eye it" but they won't do it. Those Puerto Ricans and their bubble levels!
  • Have you ever seen a Laplander who didn't have at least two coffee cups filled with half-working pens and pencils? That's just so typically Laplander. Just ask anyone "Hey, you got a pencil with an old, hard, eraser in a cup?" If they say "yes", Laplander for sure.
  • South Africans won't use tabs in browsers. Those South Africans! They just hate tabs. Nobody knows why! It must be a South African thing.
Feel free to make up your own new and arbitrary stereotype. Good luck to the Flemish (who will clearly need it.)

UPDATE: clearly none of this is working. Except for the tabs thing these are just stupid things I do. At one time or another I have done every one of them. How could they actually be racial stereotypes? But all I'm hearing is "Oh yeah, white people totally do that with bags..."

Ya just can't win...

UPDATE UPDATE: Yeah, I'm getting some people who actually agree with these stereotypes. Or, they're arguing that I put the right stereotype with the wrong ethnic group. No, no, no. These are just stupid stereotypes arbitrarily assigned. Who hasn't brought enough quarters to the laundry? Gimme a break.
That, and arguments about whether you should put the tops back on plastic bottles before they go to recycling. Hmm... but those arguments were made by Sri Lankans...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Flattening

This 6-year-old review of Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat" is hysterical.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Racism Is So Confusing It Doesn't Even Make Sense To Itself

So yesterday I had the stressful time of unloading the last of the stuff from my childhood home. I took Tom Rowen with me to hold my hand. It wasn't too bad, actually, as the house looks so dang different now. The new owners (who haven't actually closed yet) have been redoing the floors and have a lot of furniture moved in (which irked my dad to no end).
I saw this bumper sticker on the back of a pickup truck.
And, apparently like the vast majority of the Internet, it confuses me to no end. I figured, it's racist. But I don't know why. And I'm in the North. Maybe they guy really hates the fact that so much cotton imported into the north was the result of the slave trade and if he'd only realized that he would have picked his own. Yeah, right.
I'm sure it doesn't mean what it says -- "If I had known the Civil War would have happened I would have picked my own cotton."
The Internet seems confused too. Scoot down this blog post. He has no idea either.
I expect it's something more like "If I'd know we'd have a black President(?)/unspecified problems which I arbitrarily blame on black people/something else I would have picked my own cotton."
I... I simply can't figure it out.
UPDATE: oh, apparently the original,from which this is minced, read (more clearly and racist): "if I'd known they were going to be this much of a problem, I'd of picked my own cotton."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Osama's Assassination

So Osama bin Laden's kids are accusing the US of breaking international law? Boy, that's the pot calling the kettle black, ain't it?
Well, not really. Omar's argument is sound. And he has repeatedly and vehemently repudiated the use of violence in the past -- specifically repudiating his father's use of religious violence -- so his position isn't self-serving and seems consistent with his beliefs.
He has a decent point that his dad should have been tried in an international court. I'm buying it.
I think he's right -- I would have much preferred it if Osama had his butt thrown in the Hague and a real trial taken place.
There are a lot of good arguments for the existence of an International Court to try war criminals. And I do wish that the US would buy into it. As for right now, we have no decent way to try war criminals in the US because of the stupid way the Bush administration treated terrorists -- and non-terrorists -- at Guantanamo and torture facilities around the world.
Tyrants tremble at the thought that one day they might be brought before a true international court of justice. We should support one.

Monday, May 9, 2011

So Wait a Minute

So I'm thinkin' there's another reason why this strike on Bin Laden's compound could only have happened under the Obama Administration.
It goes like this:
Donald Rumsfeld was in a constant fight with the State Department. Because of this he mistrusted the CIA and arguably allowed Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora early in the war because although the CIA was on the ground in Afghanistan in what, 12 hours(?), from the 9/11 attack, Rumsfeld wanted the DOD to be running things and refused to let CIA (read: State Department) leadership over "his" armed forces.
And who went in on the successful raid against bin Laden? Navy SEALS led by... you guessed it... the CIA.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Say Anything

So the thing I'm waiting for is when Rush Limbaugh says that we didn't even kill bin Laden.
Right on schedule, though, is all the other malarky you could ever want to hear:
"Obama waited 16 hours"
"Obama didn't even give the order"
"It's was a cover-up about the Gitmo Wikileaks"
And blah blah blah...

White Privilege: I Ain't Buyin' It

The notion of "white privilege" is a relatively new one. And I think it's a mistake. Now, I could trace the history of the idea of "white privilege" but instead I'll go backwards and say what's true.

When a white guy runs around saying "I got everything on my own, nobody helped me, my success if the fruit of my labor alone, blah blah blah" you have permission to smack him. Because of course there are advantages to being white. Heck, there's an advantage that my dad had the GI Bill because of his (brief) service in WWII, the advantage that he never suffered under racial or gender discrimination, and neither have I (because I'm a "white" male).

But that's not the point. The point is that these things aren't privileges. "Not suffering under racial discrimination" is not a privilege, it's a right.

The fact that there are those who are disenfranchised does not make voting a right.

Heck, the fact that someone made you a freakin' Capo in a concentration camp doesn't make you privileged.

I think that using the world "privileged" sets the bar way too low. White men (especially) get to walk around not feeling the burdens of a lot of things that other people might not get to walk around burden-less. But walking around burden-less should be the baseline, not the outlier.

So anyway, there are clearly things what straight, white, men, can do that other people are denied -- many of them subtle yet important, but these things are rights, not privileges. Everyone should have those rights. That's why I ain't buying "white privilege". Here's a kitten.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And He's Dead

Let's do a countdown to when the Republicans start to blame President Obama for bin Laden's death. Because you know that's coming.

And the timeline for all the back-room work before they conducted the assault? Right as the Republicans were conducting their picayune BS about closing down the Federal Government.

So yeah, it's nuts.

And it's not like I'm happy anybody's dead. Usama bin Laden was an ass of the first degree. I'd have preferred that his sorry butt be brought to the Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity. But you know me, soft-hearted liberal that I am.

Of course, I'm not that sad he's dead either. I kind of have the same feelings about Hitler, Stalin, Pol-Pot, and Mao. Wish they'd all gone to jail*.


*Yes, I know, but I mean jailed for life, not just jailed to write Mein Kampf.

Did you hear that pop?

That's the sounds of Republican heads' exploding.

Barack Hussein Obama got, and killed, Usama BinLaden?

Hoo boy. The insanity is going to be of the insane variety.

And it's not actually good for the Republican party -- the insane people will pat one another on the backs for how insane they are but it won't get them many votes.

Moreso, I do not jump for joy at anyone getting killed. Not that ass-monkey's victims, but not even him. I am a big fan of due process. I'm not sad that binLaden is dead, I just refuse to celebrate death -- even Hitler, Pol Pot's, Mao's, or Stalin's.
Throwing they bitch asses in jail for the rest of their mortal lives, though, I'm all up in that.

But the sole result of this will be that we'll have to watch the Republicans melt down like a 3-year-old who hasn't had her afternoon nap and nobody can find her binky.

It's going to be a long and noisy couple weeks coming up.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Correspond to Me

God bless 'im, but Barack Obama cannot tell a joke to save his life. On the other hand, George W. Bush, who jokes about not being able to find WMD's couldn't have finished his White House Correspondents Dinner address like BHO did: