Rally To Restore Sanity…Redux

I know this isn’t exactly news since the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was in 2010, but as we close out 2012 in the wake of continued political ‘hyperbole’, fiscal cliff insanity, continued gun violence (and apparently learning nothing from it), and what seems like growing irrational discourse in the US, I thought that I would share my experience and a bunch of photos in the hopes that sarcasm to respond to lunacy mixed with small moments of sincere engagement dominate discourse instead of … well…  what we normally see.

The Rally to Restore Sanity

On September 16, 2010 my partner and I were watching the Daily Show when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced the Rally to Restore Sanity &/or March to Keep Fear Alive.

So, with a well-worded memo to our Dean requesting funds to travel (it was an educational opportunity… and my Dean was awesome about this kind of thing) and having to take  four well-behaved college students (i.e., the ‘educational’ experience :) ), and much enthusiasm we headed to DC.

Stewart encouraged everyone to make signs and so I tried to photograph as many as possible while the students interviewed people to find out why they were there, where they were from, and if they’d ever been to a rally before. The majority had not been to a rally before, they were from all over the US — many traveling just for the rally. And while some were only there for the spectacle, the majority also said they felt like it was something that … was more.

It was a funny day, a friendly day, and a day where a couple of hundred thousand people decided that being reasonable probably wasn’t so bad. These are my pictures of the day — the people, the signs, and the costumes that stuck out.

So, this was my day at the Rally to Restore Sanity — I also encourage you to check out the footage from the day, but especially Jon Stewart’s speech — it was a really good summary of what I think lots of people were thinking.

Enjoy the pictures!

The NRA — hurting the argument for gun rights in the US one news conference at a time.

And yet, are we surprised?

The NRA had an opportunity to be reasonable, focus on ‘responsible’ gun ownership, and address possible solutions to people getting their hands on guns who shouldn’t. And they didn’t. As an organization, the NRA just hurt ‘gun rights’ in one news conference because it’s pushing people further apart on the issue instead of looking for viable solutions.

Well done Wayne LaPierre — douche of the day!

Exhausted by the politics of the irrational — the fundamentalist? So am I.

Technically to simply have faith in the absence of empirical proof is irrational.

That isn’t necessarily bad if it produces positive social and cultural outcomes. For those with faith, it’s also very real — there are many things that are irrational that people experience (e.g., phobias of small places, belief in the ‘triumph of human spirit’ in the face of adversity, etc.). And, in many ways it’s been necessary for human evolution and the evolution of society.

However, it is not rational. Rationality, by definition, focuses on verifiable information and making decisions based on that information. And let’s not point to the Bible (insert book of faith of choice) as ‘proof’ concrete because any serious religious scholar (including those who are members of the clergy) say that it’s foolish to take the Bible as empirical proof — that without understanding the larger social and cultural contexts, we cannot truly understand its lessons.

So, I think that most of us without faith are exasperated in our often had conversations with many modern American “Christians”. It’s exhausting to live in a religious society (i.e., the US) when you’re not a person ‘of faith’ because we have to defend rational reasoning and empirical proof of many thing (e.g., those who don’t ‘believe’ in climate change also tend to be those who believe in God and GOP politics). The US has become not just a religious nation, but a nation of anti-intellectuals who use pseudo-intellectual arguments as logical fallacies or just outright dismiss anything that threatens their world view.

That is not to say that people of faith can’t also be 99% rational in their lives, their interests, and their pursuits. For example, the Jesuits seem to fall into that camp. They still have faith, but reconcile their beliefs with interests in the pursuit of science, philosophy, empirical truths, and education as being the work of God. The work of God bit I could personally do without because I don’t need that to feel fulfilled in my life. Others do, but most Jesuits that I’ve had the opportunity to talk to, don’t dismiss people simply because their beliefs differ. In fact, an active part of the Jesuit mission and education is for everyone to question religions of all kinds.

We’d frankly have a lot better conversations if “Christians” in the US modeled themselves after the Jesuits in their pursuit of faith, science, philosophy, and education. Unfortunately, they don’t — instead Fundmentalist beliefs disproportionately influence American politics and thus American “values”.

So, you’ll have to forgive us non-believers… we’re sick of politics and life being hijacked by a loud-mouthed minority of irrational people who functionally want a theocracy that serves the interests of the wealthy, that rejects analytic thinking, and a repressive social existence.

Audra:

Isn’t it time that we put human values over corporate values? I think our business schools need to revisit their fundamental philosophies, and people need to start making sensible decisions for the good of humanity, not profits.

Originally posted on Scholars and Rogues | Progressive Culture:

MODIS-generated ocean chlorophyll-a map.

MODIS-generated ocean chlorophyll-a map.

Part Four of a series

Industrial climate disruption – the disruption of the global climate as a result of human activity, especially our industrial consumption of fossil fuels – is more or less settled scientific fact. In order for industrial climate disruption to be incorrect, over a century of well-established science would have to be overturned. In addition, the operational principles of innumerable technologies derived from that well-established science would also have to be rethought. Some of the technologies that are derived from the same sciences that are responsible for the scientific certainty about industrial climate disruption include semiconductors, CCD-based cameras, microwave ovens, chlorophyll-measuring satellite cameras, nuclear energy, every model of thermal radiation ever performed, LED and fluorescent lighting, lasers, and nearly every modern communications system, just for starters.

While industrial climate disruption presents a clear threat to the libertarian values identified by the Iyer et…

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New NASA spacesuit looks an awful lot like Buzz Lightyear

Audra:

The substantive changes in the suit (e.g., flexible joints, etc.) seem perfectly sensible, but really? The author is tragically correct — it looks as close to Buzz Lightyear’s suit as I think that it could.

But this really inspires a number of questions…. Is NASA trying to inspire excitement about the space program by appealing to an American ‘pop cultural’ theme? Is NASA full of nerds who need to get a life? Why are we developing suits for deep space exploration anyhow?

Oh yeah and one other thing, rear entry? Really? That’s just a dirty joke waiting to happen.

Originally posted on WTVR.com:

[ooyala code="ByODVyNzp_JXQJrAKl67yhw5sZXB7LPr"]

(WTVR) –   NASA may be taking their next astronaut suit to infinity and beyond. The agency’s newest prototype suit looks a lot like the popular Disney character Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

The mostly white suit feature Buzz’s signature color prominently: neon green, and even has a large transparent dome similar to buzz.. It’s designed for deep space exploration, has flexible joints for better ease of movement and has a rear entry point making it easier for astronauts to take it on or off.

The prototype is named Z-1 according to Tested, a website run by Myth Busters stars Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. The website reports it’s just one of several  prototypes NASA is working on. It could be ready for the field by 2015.

While the Z-1 is now making headlines for its likeness to a popular Disney character, it’s been around for a little…

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I finally have a ‘for the children’ argument that works… PEOPLE with GUNS kill PEOPLE

In the last 48 hours, I’ve watched the gun control vs. wild west arguments in the media but mostly in social media and I’ve got to say that I think most people defending the American approach to gun ownership have lost their freaking minds. Let me summarize their positions… we have the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, ‘arm the teachers’ (eek), ‘but kids in China have been injured and some killed by random knifings’, ‘we’ll lose our freedom’, ‘guns = safety’ (LMAO on that one), and a whole slew of Karl Rove’esque approaches to argumentation that take verifiable information and twist it on its head using piss poor logic to try to distort the conversation (most of these people aren’t as good at doing it as Rove and I do wish they’d just stop). But I think my favorite appeal has to be the, ‘but vulnerable people (read women and kids in most of the comments) need access to guns to protect themselves or to be protected’. Are you kidding me?  For real?

It’s funny — I’ve traveled literally all over the US and bits of Europe by myself. I’ve walked in downtown areas of many major cities by myself after dark and sometimes even late at night. From the ages of 21 – 31’ish I lived by myself most of the time. I’ve walked my dogs in urban public spaces by myself both early in the morning and late at night (i.e., the two times of the day that women are most susceptible to personal attack… and my dogs are under 20 lbs, it’s not like they’re attack puppies). I’ve seen dodgy things, even had fairly dodgy encounters, but I can honestly say that I’ve never once thought to myself, ‘damn, if only I had a gun, I’d be more secure.’

Oh, and it’s not because I don’t know how to shoot. I grew up with guns, passed gun safety courses, and used to be a bit of an “Annie Oakley” type — give me a handgun, rifle, shotgun, and even a bow and I could hit my target from about any position (except sitting down… couldn’t ever really shoot that well that way). So, why have I never wished for a gun to keep myself safe? Not because I have some foolish sense of invulnerability, but because I’m situationally aware and believe that violence begets violence. I’m also pretty confident that with adrenaline, I make a pretty good accounting for myself in a risky situation.

But you know the thing that makes all of those things in the US MUCH more risky? The fact that the dodgy assholes could have guns. Here’s a scary number for you — in ALL of the industrialized world, 80% of the gun deaths are in the US. The fact that handguns are so readily accessible. The fact that in, 2009, for example that approaching 70% of all homicides in the US were committed with a gun. The fact that there are roughly 300,000 crimes committed with the aid of guns in the US each year. The fact that in just 4 years (2006-2010) almost 50,000 people were murdered in the US with guns... that’s the equivalent of wiping out my hometown or the undergraduate population of the University of Texas all in just 4 years.

So, would I trade our situation for the strange knife attacks in China or dogs, or any of the other weird ass excuses used by gun sympathizers in the last 48 hours to try to justify that some people are violent assholes, regardless of the weapons available to them? You’re damned skippy I would, especially for the CDC’s stated 500 accidental gun-related deaths of children in the US each and every year.

Oh yeah — and should I mention the fact that the CDC also has found that the good ole USA has a murder rate of children that’s 5x that of 25 other industrialized countries COMBINED. With relation to guns, it’s shocking…. American children, under 15 are 15x more likely to die of gun-related causes than kids in the other 25 industrialized countries COMBINED, gun-related homicides are 16x more likely than the other countries combined, firearms suicide rates are 11x higher, and unintentional gun deaths are 9x higher. And while we are a violent country (our child homicide rate for non gun-related murders is still 4x higher than the other industrialized countries), the difference even between the gun murder/death rates and non-gun death rates is pretty shocking.

So, I’m pretty confident when I say that if we take guns away, Americans living in the US may be able to send their kids in public without worrying they’re going to come home in a body bag. I’m not going to worry about nutsos with knives or packs of feral dogs quite yet… I think we have a much bigger fish to fry. PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE — both on purpose and by accident. We fool ourselves into thinking that we’re ‘safer’ because we can also buy guns to protect ourselves. We should not aspire to live in freaking Deadwood (i.e., a metaphor for the old west for those who didn’t get it). We should aspire to live in a society that is more safe and secure. There is no if, and’s, or buts — guns kill. Reducing firearm ownership/ access empirically leads to less violent societies.

That’s it. That’s why there should be no real discussion on this. This isn’t lying with statistics or trying to make weird comparisons to a string of strange knife attacks against children in a repressive society. This is the cold and simple reality — it’s empirical, it’s not emotional. We need to think rationally and the only rational response is to reduce firearms, better regulate them, and maybe trade in our useless war on drugs for a much more productive assault against assholes having guns. I understand that for the last decade Americans have become anti-intellectual — that reasoning and logic have become foreign to us as a people, but it’s time to stop watching the shadow people dancing on the walls, walk out into the sunlight, and think rationally.

Now, can we pull our heads out and stop having stupid discussions about all of this? It’s really exhausting. I get stuck listening to ‘for the children’ arguments about shit that’s stupid or just doesn’t matter all of the time. How about we actually talk about the safety of our children and do something for them now?  Because, statistically speaking, each day we wait is probably going to cost at least one more kid their life.

Aren’t we all tired of being sad for mass shootings?

For the second time this week, Americans are dealing with yet another mass public shooting. This time, more than 20 are dead — most of them kids. I have a very simple argument — everything Americans and American policy is doing on this issue is being proven to be fundamentally wrong over and over and over.

Look — as sad as the shooting in Connecticut is, and it is devastating, aren’t we all tired of being sad for mass shootings? At some point, perhaps those who make arguments about the necessity of the second amendment, the need for a ‘strong militia’, the horrors of a society that would limit (or eliminate) guns, how freedom requires guns, that in a society that limits/ bans guns only ‘criminals’ get them, and my personal favorite ‘guns don’t kill people, people do’ will have to concede that this shit is just unacceptable.

Clearly everything that Americans/ policy do right now just doesn’t work. As a society the US has violence problems and as a society the US fails to take appropriate legal precautions because of the same old crap arguments listed above. So, Americans and the rest of the world will have to watch the violence time and time again until we decide what’s more important — a safe society or a gun-toting society because clearly the two aren’t working together.And, sorry, but on this one I’m tired of having the conversation and being reasonable and open to other opinions. Until someone can propose a solution with proven effectiveness (with adequate and diverse expert sourcing), I’m just not interested.

REPOST: Fuck You, Men’s Rights Activists

From Jezebel:

 

Fuck You, Men’s Rights Activists

Kate Harding

This is Fuck You Week, Jezebel’s first annual week of desperate emotional cleansing and unhinged psychic purging.

Fuck you, first of all, for making it nearly impossible for decent men struggling with abusive partners or unfair custody arrangements to get the help they need and deserve. You have forever tainted those issues with your rage-filled, obsessively anti-woman horseshit, to the point where it’s become difficult for any rational, compassionate person to trust a man who claims he’s been screwed over in family court or abused by a female partner, even if he has.

That’s right—I fully understand that those things happen. I fully believe that men in those situations deserve help, and I know they’re generally less likely to ask for it than women are, not to mention less likely to find help there for them when they do go looking. I get how our society’s ridiculously rigid ideas about masculinity mean that men are brought up to believe needing help will make them look weak, especially if it’s a woman who’s terrorizing them. I know those same suffocating standards also encourage men to stifle strong feelings and any nurturing tendencies, which deprives them of the right to experience the full range of human emotions without shame. That completely fucking sucks! You know how I know all that, and why I think it sucks?

BECAUSE I’M A FEMINIST.

That’s the thing, MRAs. By and large, American feminists are really into equality, involved fathers, justice for all, dismantling bullshit gender roles, and helping folks leave dangerous relationships. We would be the natural allies of MRAs, if MRAs were sincerely committed to the causes with which they claim to be chiefly concerned. But no, today’s MRAs—unlike the 1970s movement that earnestly sought to free men, alongside women, from the constraints of gender stereotypes, or the 1980s branch that involved a lot of drum circles and crap poetry—are chiefly concerned with one thing, and one thing only: Putting feminists in their place. Which is in the kitchen at best and in the ground at worst, if you ask these unapologetically misogynistic bags of rot.

So fuck you, MRAs. Fuck you for showing up every time women speak, especially about rape and abuse, and trying to make it all about you. Fuck you for derailing threads about the victimsof Marc Lépine, a man who screamed about his hatred for feminists as he murdered fourteen women and injured many others, because you also hate feminists and want a fucking cookie for not killing anyone. Fuck you for making rape and death threats against young women who dared to protest a speaking engagement by a man who thinks little girls would enjoy being raped by their fathers if it weren’t for society telling them it’s dirty. Fuck you for whining about how unfair it is that women might wonder if you’re a rapist when you approach them out of nowhere, while completely ignoring how unfair it is that women feel the need to be on guard all the time in public. Or that if we relax and behave normally—drinking, dancing, dressing however we want—you will be the first motherfuckers in line to blame us for getting ourselves raped.

Fuck some of you for being so contemptuous of women, you don’t even believe in convicting rapists. Fuck all of you for doing your very best to propagate myths that make it harder for women to be safe—that we’re a bunch of lying temptresses who bang hapless men and file bogus rape charges for the lulz, for instance, or that we get into perfectly even fights with our hardworking, loving husbands, then call the cops and have them arrested because we’re spiteful bitches. Fuck you for blaming women, feminists, the legal system, and men who aren’t misogynistic assholes for your own inability to relate to other human beings in appropriate ways.

Fuck you for pretending your primary goal as a “movement” is anything other than control of women’s lives and bodies. Fuck you for being so delusional about how women behave in the real world, you fell for a parody of your worst nightmare—and lined up to support a guy who told you he’d punched his girlfriend. Fuck you for arguing, presumably straight-faced, that facing consequences for hitting your child is basically the same as being a Jewish person in Nazi Germany.

Fuck you for trying to make “misandry” happen. Your feminist enemies don’t hate men; we only hate men who proudly stand up for the rights of abusers, rapists, and deadbeat dads.

Fortunately, there aren’t very many of you, no matter how hard you try to build a “movement.” The simple fact is, most men don’t beat, rape, or resent caring for their own children, and thus have no need for the kind of support and “activism” you specialize in. The “work” you do guarantees you’ll continue to attract entitled shitbags who hate women, while driving away decent people who thought you might have something interesting to say—right up until they realized what you’re really about.

Finally, here is my reply to every pro-MRA comment that has been or will be left on this thread or any other: Fuck you.

 

Fiscal cliffs, mountains out of molehills

Is there anyone out there who isn’t tired of hearing about the ‘fiscal cliff’ in the US? In a season that is supposed to be about giving, humanity, and other “Christian” values, it seems like we get to December and we start seeing the economy used as a political football. And as normal, it seems as though the GOP and their media pundits couldn’t tell the truth if it bit them in the ass.

We saw so much evidence of creative economic storytelling during the November election, yet it seems like the conservative pundits want to keep the whoppers flowing. So, let’s just settle this right now. President Obama is a fiscal moderate at best whose spending has been as responsible as possible in this economy. In fact, both he and President Clinton demonstrate the greatest level of fiscal restraint from the White House in the last three decades. Forbes, a conservative leaning publication, explains that not only has President Obama run the smallest government in the last three decades but we have to go all the way back to Eisenhower to find a president with smaller government.  In fact, the graphic here is from the Forbes article cited above showing us that the Democratic presidents are the most fiscally responsible by a mile….

Presidential Spending

 

 

Even Ann Coulter argues that it’s time for the Republicans to realize they lost the election and they’re going to have to let the President govern. Less of an indicator that the Mayan predictions about the end of the world are near and more of a suggestion that there are fights worth fighting and this just isn’t one of them, I think this should tell the GOP to give up the fight. When the rigid positions are no longer financially profitable for someone like Ann Coulter, it probably suggests that most Americans would prefer if the two parties put their big kid pants on and work together.

 

But guess what? The fiscal cliff, end of times rhetoric, is just that — words. There are serious long-term consequences  if the children can’t play together to figure out a solution that’s good for Americans; however, instead of a cliff it’s a hill — one that we can go down with increasingly severe consequences, but also one that we can come back up if solutions are put in place to address the problem of the Bush tax cuts.

 

In the end, this issue is about what it’s been about for the last four years, getting both parties willing to do what’s in the best interests of the American people. Whether folks believe that there are better and worse routes to those ends based on political and economic dogma, that’s a fair conversation to have; however, aren’t we all just a little bit tired of lies, misdirection, half-truths, and a whole lot of ill-intended bullshit? The president has been using increasingly urgent sounding rhetoric (e.g., the fiscal cliff) to get people active — from ordinary folks writing into their representatives and senators to those elected officials themselves — and hopefully once the GOP comes to the table, that rhetoric calms. However, it is vital that once-and-for-all the GOP lawmakers people have elected actually start to represent the interests of their constituents instead of playing silly political games of obstruction that have slowed our recovery.

 

Less drama, more adult-like behavior!