mckitterick: Thanks for the art, M'chelle! (robot joy)
( Feb. 13th, 2017 08:14 pm)
My response to the original poster's call for "radical kindness":

"ultimately i think kindness is the most radical thing you can do with your pain and your anger. it’s like, you take everything awful that’s ever been done to you, and you throw it back in the world’s teeth, and you say no, fuck you, i’m not going to take this. you say this is unacceptable. you say that shit stops with me.

"humans are fucking terrible and this awful world we live in will fucking kill you but if you are kind, if you are brave and clever and try really hard, you can defy it. you can impose on this bleak and monstrous structure something beautiful. even if it’s temporary. even if it doesn’t heal anything inside you that’s been hurt.

"i’m gonna sleep and i’m gonna wake up and i swear by everything in this deadly horrible universe i’m gonna make someone happy."


This is why I’ve dedicated so much of my life to doing what I can to help make the world a little better for at least some people.

Because fuck you, world. You don’t get to ruin us! You don’t get to decide who we are when that’s not who we are! If you try to beat us down, we come back stronger and smarter, better able to avoid your next attack. We teach one another how to fight, how to survive and thrive. We work together to make the future a better place, because you can’t divide us. Not as long as we love and care for one another! Not as long as we try our best to empathize with those who also try to do the same with us.

Radical kindness wins when enough choose it. Choose love. Choose life. Be kind. Spread the word. Teach others.

But never surrender. Wherever you encounter it, fight the forces of evil, so we can survive long enough to win this war. So far, humans have always lost to the worst in us in the end: Fallen cities lay in our wake, beauty burned to ashes, freedom crushed to rubble, greed consuming nations, languages lost, civilizations evaporated in the heat and erosion of time, hate devouring the minds and lives of countless generations.

Choose to succeed. Failure is not an option. Fight for a better future by using the forceful power of love, unity, education, and discovery. Together we’ll win. Isolated and alone, helpless and hopeless, we’ll lose.
Just watched the PBS Hamilton musical documentary, and it made me cry all over again to witness the genius that went into making this brilliant show. I got to relive in some small way that once-in-a-lifetime experience. And I realized - this right here is the parallel experience with those lucky few who got to see Shakespeare’s plays live, the first time, with him on stage if he actually did that, at least sometimes.
 
I can confidently say this show is one of the greatest works of art I have ever witnessed, perhaps the greatest work of art of our time, because it represents such a vast array of genius concentrated in a single work, which is accessible to every type of audience from first time fan to most educated scholar. On top of that, it’s so perfectly relevant for this moment in history, when it’s most needed.
 
AND I GOT TO SEE IT IN PERSON, in its Broadway premier run, with the original cast, from the perspective of the best seats in the house, right behind the most excited people in the world because they’d just won the lottery to see this historic event from the front row - and beside me was my partner who was so happy and excited to be here, too! OMG.
 
Perfect in every way.
 
Oh! How delightfully our popular media has changed! I love so much of today’s popular art. When I want to feel happy, I can put on Bob’s Burgers or Brooklyn Nine Nine, or Jupiter Ascending, or read something by John Scalzi or Iain M Banks, or go to so many others, and just like that I find joy and truth. There’s always a movie in the theater I look forward to seeing some time in the near future. There’s always a book I want to read, or graphic novel, or YouTube short, or Tumblr post, or song, or piece of art from other disciplines. There’s always some science or technology I want to learn more about. Photos of distant worlds or microscopic realms. Potential better futures abound - they’re all around us, if only we’re willing to partake of them. And every one of us is invited to be a part of it - not only in the consumption of it, but also the creation.
 
Now feels like the cusp of the most democratic moment in art and scientific pursuit and progressive justice and positive progress the human species has ever seen. Sure, we have a long way to go, but the zeitgeist is moving firmly away from the haters (which is why they’re getting so afraid and vocal) and toward the positive. Art always leads the way. It shows us who we are and guides us toward better possible futures (and warns us away from the bad ones).
 
We no longer need to trade our sense of justice, or fairness, or truth, or intellect, to fully enjoy today’s best art. We no longer need to only fear the changes that are coming ever faster. We can have it all!
 
When has this ever been true before? We’re living in the transition moment into a Golden Age! And it’s one where people are finally beginning to understand the interdisciplinary nature of creative and scientific work.
 
All this got me thinking… what’s so appealing about the idea of a new Magnificent 7? I mean, what’s the point of making a new cowboy movie now, or a remake of this story all over again, at all? And why all the other reboots we’re getting? 
 
And why is science fiction quickly becoming perhaps the most popular and relevant art-form of our time - and becoming more so every day?
 
Because, I would argue, for the same reasons that so many people love the new Star Wars movie, and Hamilton, and the new Mad Max, and the new Ghostbusters, and Agent Carter, and the idea of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, and so much more:
 
These narratives help us perceive essential truths about human nature that have long been ignored, or undiscovered, or rejected, or hidden away by the mainstream. Because we now understand you can’t separate science from art - or art from science - any longer without causing violence to both… as well as to the truth. These contemporary expressions show us how great humans can become - better than ever! - if we face our past and potential futures honestly, and understand ourselves and others better, so we can reenvision the past and ourselves honestly while being able to imagine better futures and help bring them about.
 
What a time to be alive right now! This is so important, and so incredibly inspiring, both as a creative person and teacher, and human being as well.
 
And I was in the room where it happened. THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED!
 
You who are striving to create a better, wiser future, or to overtly express it to others in whatever way you do best, I salute you. Thank you. I love you all! 
UN Women's Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson just gave a talk to the UN at a special event for the HeForShe campaign at the United Nations' Headquarters in New York on September 20, 2014. This is a brilliant speech. Here it is:



Some important callouts:

"Men: Gender equality is your issue, too."

"For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes."

"It's about freedom. I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice. But also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too, and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves."

"How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?"

"Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals."

"If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer."

"In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt, I told myself firmly: If not me, who? If not now, when? If you have doubts when the opportunity is presented to you, I hope those words will be helpful."

"I invite you to step forward, to be seen. And ask yourself: If not me, who? If not now, when?"

GO EMMA WATSON.
You might already knew about this, but Neil deGrasse Tyson is reprising Carl Sagan's most-awesome-ever program, Cosmos! It'll show on both the FOX network and National Geographic TV starting next spring.

More details:

"More than three decades after the debut of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Carl Sagan's stunning and iconic exploration of the universe as revealed by science, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey sets off on a new voyage for the stars. Seth MacFarlane and Sagan's original creative collaborators - writer/executive producer Ann Druyan and astronomer Steven Soter - have teamed to conceive a 13-part docu-series that will serve as a successor to the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original series."

Here's the original-series trailer:


"Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the series explores how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. It brings to life never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge and transport viewers to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest scale. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey invents new modes of scientific storytelling to reveal the grandeur of the universe and re-invent celebrated elements of the legendary original series, including the Cosmic Calendar and the Ship of the Imagination. The most profound scientific concepts are presented with stunning clarity, uniting skepticism and wonder, and weaving rigorous science with the emotional and spiritual into a transcendent experience."

And here's the brand-spankin'-new trailer for the new series, just released for DragonCon:


"Carl Sagan's original series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was first broadcast in 1980, and has been enjoyed by more than 750 million people worldwide." Including me, a few times now. I can hardly wait for this new one!

Chris
Now for some fun, especially for those who've watched HBO's "Game of Thrones" show.



And they've also posted Episode 2:



For some reason, this reminds me of the movie "Heathers," which [profile] chernobylred and I just watched for the first time last night. HOW DID I MISS THIS ONE? Check out this freaky trailer:



Last night, I kept asking aloud how I've never seen Heathers before. Here's what I came up with, which is both telling and ironic, considering what the movie is about:

I think it's because it came out in 1988, when I was in college and not dating anyone, and boys then saw it as a "girl's movie." That's right: Boys didn't allow themselves to see "girl's movies," and might still keep themselves from enjoying such. Not that Heathers is either a boy's or girl's movie, but it was perceived as such, partly because the lead is a girl (Winona Ryder). I never had that issue, but I've also never liked going to movies alone, so I missed out. BECAUSE OF THE DAMNED PATRIARCHY. I stopped myself from enjoying a film that would have blown me away at the time, because of cultural normativism. I'm a white guy in the US, yet I've been harmed by the retro-patriarchy. Just goes to show that we're ALL harmed by outmoded cultural norms.

Chris
The revolution will not be televised. The revolution is live.

This is fascinating. I've been wondering for a while now why Jabulani Leffall has not been the voice of KCUR's "Central Standard," the show he took over a couple years ago when its long-time host Walt Bodine lost his ability to think clearly (a useful trait for a talk-show host). But the show has been hosted by others lately, none of them stating, "Filling in for Jabulani Leffall." Surely people don't take two-month vacations, so what's up? So I asked The Google about the guy.

Turns out that his last show was on January 16, when he resigned in the last 30 seconds or so. The Pitch has a very interesting article about his resignation and the interviews they did with him: "Leffall steered the conversation into strange territory, referencing race, eavesdropping, space aliens and God's existence." Whoah, cool. Wish he'd talked more about his visions and paranoia than the just chatting through the tedious shows he usually hosted. Got me wondering if maybe this particular show makes people lose their minds.

The Kansas City Star's story has a flattering interview with him, including these insights:

"The objectivity we learn as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed journalism students, after a while you discover it's illusive. It's a lie. Journalism is changing. Questions need to be approved before asked; advertisers need to be placated. It's about ratings and Internet hits and business relationships ... Who wants to be a journalist in this environment? ... This is not what I signed up for, and it's certainly not what I should still be paying student loans for."

He's planning to pursue his creative interests, including music and writing. At the end of the Star's story, he sums up his feelings: "Your job is not your life, and what you do is not as important as who you are."


Click the image to see the Star article (this shot is from Lefall's spoken-word album).

Maybe the guy is crazy, maybe not. Then again, I've been toying with a hypothesis that we're all crazy: That is, every one of us has some issue that prevents us from being happy or being accepted by others or fitting in or whatever - something that makes us different, that others fear or loathe or can't understand. If everyone is crazy, then no one's crazy, right? I mean, if there's no standard for sane, the words become meaningless.

Quitting a job that makes you unhappy, that makes you feel like you're just a tool of a machine, seems the sane thing to do.

Interesting how it took his resigning in this way to get me to admire the man.

Chris
mckitterick: (1968 Chevelle SS396)
( Feb. 27th, 2013 01:08 pm)
This is one of the most-charming family car stories ever. My cheeks are damp.

From Hagerty, my classic-vehicle insurance company: Joe and Beverly Smith were the proud owners of a 1948 Plymouth Convertible until they had to sell it when Joe was drafted to serve in the Korean War. As a 60th wedding anniversary gift, their son, Joel, found a '48 Plymouth through Craigslist, fixed it up, and gave it to them as a surprise. The car will now forever stay in the family and be passed down through generations:



Okay, back to work, but I had to drop in to share this.

Chris
Fascinating. This is the oldest piece of music known to humankind, originally engraved in cuneiform on a tablet from 1400 BCE, excavated in the early 1950s in the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit. It is a hymn to the moon god's wife, Nikal. The tablets also contain detailed performance instructions for a singer accompanied by a harpist (this recording is harp-only) as well as instructions on how to tune the harp. From this evidence, Prof. Anne Kilmer and other musicologists have created this lovely piece of music:



Listening to this got me thinking: In the days when this was recorded in cuneiform on clay, mastery of anything was a form of magic. Only a genius could have created this piece or performed it, because they didn't have the same kind of rigorous science-based educational system. But since the advent of the scientific method and applying it to our educational system, we have learned how to partition masterpieces (art, music, stories, structures, and so on) into understandable components, analyze them, and reproduce the effect they create in the mind of the audience.


Click the image to see a page about the original cuneiform tablets.


Now anyone with sufficient interest and patience can learn the theory that once produced magic, and with practice and a lot of effort can perform such a piece and maybe even come up with one that has a similar effect. It's like Hogwart's for everyone. I suspect this is why creative genius today is so hard to pick out from a crowd of art - anyone can look like a genius. But it's also why we recognize true genius when we do encounter it.

Chris
mckitterick: From a US nuclear test in the 1960s. (mushroom cloud)
( Jan. 4th, 2013 11:35 am)
First up, new research suggests that 2.7% Of Drivers Are Stupid Jerks, Will Go Out of Their Way to Kill Turtles. This is a follow-up to another study, 2.7% of Drivers Are Stupid Jerks. Both studies find that about 2.7% of drivers intentionally swerve in an attempt to kill box turtles or other reptiles.

Click the image to see the article.

Let's say we have 300,000,000 people in the US. If 2.7% of them are animal-murderers (a short step from full-blown psychopaths), that suggests we have 8,100,000 psychos-in-waiting. Whoah. I wonder what keeps most of them from emerging like murderous butterflies from their cocoons?

How about some GOOD news? Here, have some hope for curing Alzheimer's.

Click the image to see the Kurzweil.com article.

Some more cool science: Quantum gas goes below absolute zero. This is fascinating. Things behave very strangely at the quantum level, so I'm strangely unsurprised! They also suggest this might be the explanation for dark energy....

Ever wondered how to pick a lock? This is a great graphic demonstration:

Click the image to see the Tumblr post.


My New Year's gift from the universe was a lovely cold. Thankfully, my fever broke last night (in a puddle in my bed - seriously, my sleeping-hat was DRIPPING), and the cough has become, ahem, productive. I've also become a snot factory. On the plus side, my brain is working again.

Hope you're doing well!

Best,
Chris
Conservatives in the US - especially of the evangelical-Christian variety - have been wailing about our nation's plight in this week since the election proved Romney is no kind of savior. An author whose blog I watch (largely out of "I want to understand the other side" motivation) recently linked to this post by a religious teacher trying to understand what it means that Obama was re-elected. I found reading the post and other people's responses immensely enlightening. I've always wondered why otherwise-seeming reasonable people go off the rails about President Obama. He is not a socialist (far from it), fascist (less so than other recent Presidents, anyway), Kenyan (really?), or Muslim (did they forget his controversy-stirring Christian pastor?). He is not the antichrist (one assumes). So I've wondered why they were so freaked out about him. I've also wondered why I've wondered why they're so filled with bile and venom about gays, secular government, even the new healthcare law - I mean, it does the kinds of things Jesus taught, like helping the poor. Heck, if it had lived up to what many wanted it to be - nonprofit healthcare for all Americans (what the US Right feared, and what the US Left wanted, and which no one got) - we would be living in a much more Christian nation.

Well, now I think I understand the fundamentalist, evangelical Right a lot more:

1) Fundamental religionists (particularly from the evangelical branches of Islam and Christianity) hope to establish religious states not only where they live but to spread their fundamentalism across the world.

2) Those who do not believe as they do are wrong in the eyes of their respective gods, lost, and therefore unworthy of respect. Those gods, I might add, are the same "one true God," only with different prophets reforming His message in slightly but significantly different ways.

3) When fundamentalists pray but do not get what they want, they do not see the opposite result as God's will. Instead, they twist the results to prove that this is God teaching them a lesson... say, to work harder on the thing that someone with clear vision would see as something God did not want. If God really did want, say, Romney as President of the US, and you believe in an omnipotent god, don't you think it would have happened? By simple deduction, Obama's winning re-election despite people praying otherwise proves that God wanted Obama to win. (This sort of reasoning is nonsense, of course, in either direction.)

4) The recent US healthcare law is the work of anti-religion because it includes women's health and family planning as part of "healthcare."

5) I knew this one: Favorite passages from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible are more important than the teachings of Jesus.

This brings me to two conclusions:

A) "Fundamentalist" is another word for "illogical" and "self-contradictory."

B) Most importantly: So-called "fundamentalist" religionists don't follow the fundamentals of their religion at all. They pick-and-choose their favorite messages of hate and exclusion from pre-prophet writings while ignoring their chosen prophet's messages. They use their religion and the strength of numbers it provides in order to get what they want, rather than following the teachings of their prophets.

Fundamentalist religion is just another display of human selfishness. The illogic and ignorance they display is a symptom of their selfishness. They feel they know their god better than God's chosen prophet, who came to Earth to teach us the truer message. I don't claim to be an Islamic scholar, but I was raised Christian in an evangelical, fundamentalist branch of Lutheranism, so I'll talk in terms of Jesus' message.

If Christian fundamentalists were truly "Christian," they would follow the reformations that Jesus taught:

They would love one another as themselves, not fear everyone who is different. They would feel sorrow, sympathy, and compassion for others, not hate the "other."

They would turn the other cheek when attacked and love their enemies, not identify everyone who isn't just like themselves as "enemy" and then seek to destroy them.

They would sell everything you have and give to the poor, not strive to accumulate wealth by sucking dry the middle class, placing corporate profits above human welfare, and exploiting the lower class.

Finally, they would follow Jesus' "greatest commandment," which was, "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," followed closely by, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." This precludes hating others, because that is hating God's work. It precludes hate at all, because if "God is love," then hating is turning one's back on God's love - giving in to Satan, to use Christian metaphor.

So this loony little post taught me a lot about American fundamentalist Christians: They are not Christians at all. Fundamentally, they are no different from the Taliban: Selfish hate-mongers who think they understand their gods better than their chosen prophets. If, in all practical ways, they oppose Jesus (or Mohammed), how can they claim to follow the reformed religion with which they associate?

If empathy is the highest goal a human can strive to achieve (in these and many other religions), what happened to make their fundamentalist adherents so blind to their prophets' teachings and spiritually sick?

I can only conclude that ethical humanism is closer to the fundamentalist teachings of these reformist prophets than the modern evangelical religions, and that - in their recent US election defeats, however they perceive them - the lesson their gods are trying to teach them is: You are wrong. Pay attention.

Full disclosure:
I abandoned organized Christianity decades ago. This dissociation started when my church tried to teach me that all unbaptized babies to go Hell. This did not sync with the teachings of Jesus, and when I tried to argue this point, I was told I could not be "confirmed" (accept Communion) without saying the words. This taught me fundamentalist evangelical Christianity is more concerned with human interpretation and the spread of their church than with understanding God's message from Jesus. My disillusion grew whenever I visited my stepfather's Catholic mass, which was less overtly hateful yet more smugly certain that everyone who went against the Pope's message was wrong. My search for spiritual fulfillment led me to study many other forms of religion, including the Christian mystics, Buddhism, Shinto, and countless less-favored forms. At the root of all these, I felt, we can identify God's or the gods' true message.

The mental readjustment for me arrived one day when I was camping in the Montana Badlands. This was the last day I lived in that state. I was the only human being for hundreds of miles around. A lone deer attended me as I hiked through dinosaur-bone-studded buttes. Layers of gray, brown, and black stone and dirt described in measurable form more than 100 million years of time piling upon the Earth. Occasionally the little deer came upon a flowering cactus - the only real color in that dusty place - and munched it, then resumed following me on my quest. At some point, in the quiet of my own thoughts punctuated only by breezes brushing loose mudstone pebbles, I realized that I was walking through a cathedral more holy than the greatest structure built by human hands.

As the sky darkened from cyan to cobalt to black, the endless universe around our little pebble of Earth began to appear in little pinpricks of light, extending the cathedral 12 billion light-years. Through telescopes I've glimpsed the miracle of star-birth amid vast clouds of gas and dust; I've seen stars gold and blue and yellow; I've watched distant galaxies pinwheel around their central supermassive black holes. By sweeping my telescope at random across the sky, I've explored the mysteries of the Milky Way, stumbled upon star-clusters ten thousand times the size of our Solar System, watched planets and their moons spin and orbit around the Sun, the hydrogen-powered ball of plasma and fusion from which all life on Earth depends.

Astronomy shows us the magic of the large-scale universe. It is silence and an infinity of stars overhead, an eyepiece to reveal the secrets hidden among them, Earth's rotation slowly sweeping new stars into view. For me, that's the best way to feel at one with the universe.

Biology and paleontology show us the magic of life, how living beings come to be, how they reshape over time and survive changing conditions, how they eat and mate and bear young and, yes, even love.

Geology and paleontology show us time, manifest. Each layer is an epoch, a million or ten million years of dust and death, compressed into stone. Buttes filled with relics of ancient days: Dinosaur bones literally poured out of those hillsides; you can feel the passage of time locked in rock.

Every science does this. They all seek to reveal the fundamental magic of the universe. Scientists openly share their results with others, and the practitioners who do it right praise the discoveries of others - even when new discoveries disprove part of what they believed until the moment when it was disproven. They then seek to fit this new discovery into their own world-view, or discard their prior belief if it cannot fit. And thus does science progress.

So that night in the Badlands, fatigued from hiking all day through rocks in my cowboy boots, I had to sit atop a dry-grass butte, for I could not stand beneath this beauty and glory that was the universal cathedral. The wondrous thing about the cathedral of science is that you do not avert your eyes from its mysteries; you stare into them to better understand! This is the moment I realized that religion is not the answer.

We will never find God at the core of any human-invented religion. The messages of religion are what's important, when they are appropriately examined, tested, and adapted to fit changing circumstances. By being secular humanists who strive to make the world a better place, who strive to feel empathy for all other creatures, who seek deeper understanding, we become closer to God than any fundamentalist evangelical follower of a human-manufactured organization could hope to approach.

We can only reach a fundamental understanding of our personal spirituality - become "at one with God," if you will - by seeking our individual connection with others and the universe around us. If there is any god, it resides in the energy of the stars, in the life-force of all living things, in sapient species' striving to understand the universe. All of this is God, as close as a secular universe allows. The stars and planets and galaxies form its body, nuclear fusion and other forces power its life, living beings comprise its spirit, and our self-awareness encompasses its mind. Our search for truth and understanding - the scientific process - is the universe coming to understand itself. So science, and sharing what we learn, and being open with one another, and active empathy - these are far better methods to be good followers of God than you could hope for by being part of any fundamentalist religion.

Chris
mckitterick: Yes, this is one of my actual scooter helmets. RESPECT THE EMPIRE. (Default)
( Nov. 7th, 2012 01:21 am)
My faith in Ameicans is (slightly) restored. Also, now my stress level has dropped sufficiently that I can sleep. I felt a knot in my stomach (which I didn't know was there until after Obama's speech was done) let go. *whew*

G'night, all, and here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

Chris
This post is for you science-lovers out there... that's everyone who likes heat in the winter, A/C in the summer, cell phones, food, modern roads... you get the idea. But especially for those who love contemplating the universe and our place in it, here are two things I must share. First, an event:

Did you know that the KU Natural History Museum hosts a series called, "Science on Tap"? Next Tuesday evening, October 16, the event is called "Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Expanding Universe." It's held at Free State Brewery from 7:30pm - 9:00pm. Description:

More than a decade after the Nobel-prize-winning discovery about the accelerating expansion of the universe, scientists are still trying to pin down exactly what dark energy is and solve one of the most profound questions in modern physics. This mysterious force repels gravity and is estimated to account for about 70 percent of the substance of the universe. For this Science on Tap, Bharat Ratra of Kansas State University will discuss dark matter, dark energy, and how scientists understand these components of the ever-expanding universe.

Sounds fantastic. I'll be there!

Speaking of things that fill me with joy, Neil deGrasse Tyson is my hero. Check it out:

Everyone should hear these wise words - especially our world leaders.

Chris
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just struck down Proposition 8, California's gay-marriage ban, ruling that it is "unconstitutional" and says "it lessens human dignity of gay and lesbian people."

Let's just simplify that to Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and lessens human dignity. From yesterday's ruling:

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

"Although the constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted."

If you want to defend marriage, you need to make it an option for everyone, or else your "defense" is only lip service. If you believe in freedom and individual rights, you need to allow everyone - even those whose loving relationships make you do not share - to enjoy the same rights as you do. If you believe in America, you believe that everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities - even to try and fail, or maybe especially that.

Today is a good day for freedom in the USA.

Chris
"What's the Occupy movement all about? They have no agenda except to beat drums and bitch and stink up our parks with dirty hippies."

You hear this a lot, especially from those who think that the banking system or Corporate Persons will save us; in other words, from peopel who forgot that those very institutions are the reason we're in the mess we're in today.

What the Occupy movement means to me:

1) Rein in the banks.
2) Restore power to the human beings of our country.
3) Re-establish representational equity.
And a bunch of other stuff, too, but those are the top three as I understand 'em, and what matter most to me.

Watch this great vid that clarifies the Occupy movement the best I've seen so far. Afterward, you can respond to those who question what we're all about without any hedging. Great stuff:

I wrote an essay decrying the rise of dangerous corporate power back in 2002, and I think it's even more relevant today.

Don't fear The Terminator, folks; non-human entities are already our masters. The Occupy movement seeks to dethrone them and restore humans to power. Think Londo Mollari's Drakh Keeper in Babylon 5: We all serve our masters even as they drain us of life and destroy our freedom.

No more. Occupy! Change the system!

Chris
On Sept. 20, 2011 - today! - the appalling "Don't ask, don't tell" military policy was finally repealed. It's a good day. Moving video:



Today I feel prouder of our nation.

Chris
This is one of the most-moving things I've ever seen. This kind of brilliance and cooperation - and all of it on a volunteer basis by what seems to be most of the city of Grand Rapids - restores my faith in humankind. Plus, it's one of the most powerful songs of all time. If you were offline during Memorial Day weekend like me (at the lovely ConQuest SF party convention), you might have missed it.

Roger Ebert calls it "the greatest music video ever made." WATCH NOW!


I teared up almost immediately and had to wipe my eyes almost constantly at the beauty of what it took to make this happen, with hundreds (thousands?) of people spontaneously getting together to declare their unity and delight together.

*smiling*
Chris
This is not a rhetorical question.

I really want to understand what is going on inside the minds of American conservative Republicans. I could point to a billion examples of how people who call themselves "libertarians" or "Republicans" (the right wing of the party) are the first to try to legislate morality, legislate how we can spend our money, where we can go, what we can do, and so on. That is, they want to put the government into personal business. I won't even get into how they seem to support corporations over people lately, even though corporations look much more like governments than individual people do.

Libertarians and conservatives are both groups that I once understood to support the notions of "Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" and "Government out of my business," among other things. They complain about the "nanny state that liberals want to impose," and they fear "socialism," which - if you listen to their cries - they clearly don't understand.

They way they behave sounds less like their chosen political identifiers and much more like fascism. Here's the Wikipedia definition of fascism, which is pretty good:

Fascists advocate the creation of a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through indoctrination, physical education, and family policy including eugenics. Fascists seek to purge forces and ideas deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration and produce their nation's rebirth based on commitment to the national community based on organic unity where individuals are bound together by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and "blood." Fascists believe that a nation requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. Fascist governments forbid and suppress opposition to the state. Fascists promote violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality. Fascists exalt militarism as providing positive transformation in society, in providing spiritual renovation, education, instilling of a will to dominate in people's character, and creating national comradeship through military service.

Let's examine this point-by-point. First sentence:

Remember the "Permanent Majority" the Republicans desired and still believe they can attain? Check. Can't get more thorough indoctrination than creating a news empire dedicated to spreading your word, plus using the Church to glorify your views and vilify the enemy. Check. Family policy - goodness, name a Republican in office who believes in a woman's right to choose, who supports same-sex marriage, and who supports alternate family structures. Check. Mouth-frothing fears about decadence and degeneration? Check. Nationalistic fervor with exclusion of peoples from other cultures? Check. Every word in the next sentence - and here I include the war-hawk "liberals" (What's that term again? Can be from either party...), too - fits. Check. Next sentence: "Free Speech Zones," anyone? Check. Next sentence as the previous one: Check. Because I feel uncomfortable and un-American even saying that the last sentence is a check suggests that it's also true of our entire culture. Finally, USA PATRIOT Act, anyone?

Whatever happened to the dream that was the United States of America, home of liberty, land of the free, beacon of potential? Whatever happened to the dream of the USA as a symbol of the good that humans can build, the shape of the perfect society, the "melting pot," where ideas could grow and develop? Hell, whatever happened to our mantle as ethical leader of the world?

Please help me understand what's going on in this country, because I don't want to believe we're becoming a fascist state.

And if we are, what can we do to stop it?

Chris
...and with that an archaic, hateful law is off our books!

"Don't ask, don't tell" is repealed in historic vote.

Soldiers discharged due to the rule (18,000 since Clinton) can now re-join the military. Eight Republicans even voted for dropping it. The times, they are a-changin'.

Chris
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