Every time there’s another senseless act of mass-murder by a gunman with easy access to guns and ammo and a heaping helping of aggrieved entitlement, that’s when everyone in the political sphere suddenly remembers that mental health issues exist. Not that they often even intersect — just the mere fact that the guy (and it’s always a guy, and almost always white) killed a bunch of folks doesn’t actually say anything about their mental health. In fact, the Oregon shooter a few days ago passed a psych eval before his mass-murder. And yet everyone’s quick to say the problem here isn’t easy access to guns and ammo, but rather the murderer’s mental health.
John Oliver takes apart this situational and blatantly self-interested concern about mental health readily. Not that it’s hard, but nobody in the media is doing it, what with vested interests and an entire 33% of your country who thinks “a well regulated militia” means owning thirty guns in a misguided effort to try to take on the US government because you don’t like what some Republican has told you is going to happen to your gun rights.
On this Labour Day (or Labor if you prefer), remember how your day off came into being.
In Canada, in 1872, a parade was held by the Toronto Typographical Union in support of reducing the work week to 58 hours. George Brown, their boss, had police charge these unionists with “conspiracy”, resulting in 24 arrests. Another parade was held on September 3rd in protest of the arrests, and eventually the laws criminalizing union activity were repealed. Canada set their Labour Day to the first Monday of September in 1880, and it’s a national holiday.
In the States, after the Haymarket Massacre in 1886 where a number of workers were killed by police on May 3rd, and unionists rallied the next day to push for an eight hour work week and to protest the deaths of the workers the day before, acts which were widely speculated to have been done by the police at the behest of the corporate interests. The protest ended in riot when some unknown assailant threw dynamite into the crowd, killing seven officers and four civilians — an act that resulted in arrests of 24 anarchists, but is frequently speculated to have been committed by an anti-union provocateur. No bomber was ever brought to justice.
While most other countries had May 1 as their labour day to coincide with (or *be*) International Workers’ Day, Grover Cleveland feared May 1 would be used to commemorate the events of the Haymarket Massacre, so he set it to the same day as Canada’s instead. Unions continued to push for a 40-hr work week, and eventually won it — of course, unless you’re salaried, then you’re expected to work or be on call basically all the time without extra compensation.
Remember that people literally died for your labour rights, and that even despite the massive income disparity and corporate-tilted playing field, you might have it even worse if it weren’t for unions and labour rights advocates.
So, the official party platform for the CPC as of February 2014 apparently has a bunch of real turds in amongst their planks.
Given that Canada’s heading into an election within the next two months (and given that this election might be the last I can actually vote in, despite being a tax-paying citizen), I want to make sure that my vote and my voice counts. The talking points are that we should vote on policy, and here’s their policy.
We live in Canada all the time we can. Our family house is here. Professionally, I still have to think twice when I say “out” or “house.” I have to restrain myself from saying “eh?”. In 1978, that’s nearly 40 years ago, the Canadian government made me an Officer of the Order of Canada. The Governor-General gave me the Governor-General’s Award a while back. I am on your Walk of Fame in Toronto. My sense of humour is Canadian. But I can’t vote.
There’s a turn of phrase that’s been around for a while now: “entitlement culture”. The right wing has this meme that they’ve been foisting on the public that people who are on welfare, people who are on disability, people who are on social security, believe themselves to have certain “entitlements” and that their laziness — read, their expectation that they should get these things — suggests by itself that they shouldn’t actually get what they think they deserve. Interestingly enough, the targets of these particular memes are uniformly the underprivileged — those who are the hardest done by this society, those who have fallen on hard times and aren’t even allowed bootstraps by which to pull themselves back up.
It’s especially noteworthy that the language around this phenomenon is already so polluted by people horrified at the idea that people with nothing might actually need resources to help pull them out of the depths of their despair, and that this is one of those times when the truth of who has a sense of undeserved entitlement is the inverse — it’s always the people who already have it all and think they won it fair and square. The people who’ve spread the meme so successfully have turned the whole argument on its head. And what’s worse is, this same argument about entitlement is happening over and over again, in every single community, under a number of different names, about topics as diverse as birth control and police brutality and video games. In every case, the language is twisted to the advantage of the right-wing reactionary mindset, and somehow we who are anywhere left of Glenn Beck are caught flat-footed by it all, time and again.
There are dozens of disparate threads within my fields of interest with which I’m going to attempt to pick them all up and weave into a single unified tapestry. I may jump around quite a bit, apologies in advance. I’m going to have to start by defining some terms, before I start giving you some examples of what I’m talking about.
It’s not clear how long this workaround will last, but there are other avenues. One could, for instance, switch DNS to OpenNIC, or if changing DNS no longer provides enough of a workaround and these ISPs are forced by the government to shut down all traffic to Twitter’s servers, then you could instead connect to Tor or some other anonymizing VPN or proxy service.
When people complain that they’re being silenced for being blocked or moderated on a blog, I have to laugh — that’s not in any way an abrogation of your freedom of speech. Having all access to the internet cut off by a totalitarian government, on the other hand, is most decidedly one, and is most decidedly something we all must fight.
Surely New Scientist’s terrible choice in creating the “Darwin Was Wrong” cover happened not so long ago that the skeptical community has forgotten the sturm und drang that rightly came after it. And yet, here we are.
To explain: the science rag’s cover was designed to tease an article wherein the phylogenetic “tree” shape is explained to be less accurate than the more web-like structure with speciation and cross-pollination that we now understand to be the case today. So, Darwin was wrong, yes — but he was not wrong about evolution. And yet to this day, you will find creationists who use that misleading cover to suggest that evolution did not happen, therefore God. Despite being technically correct, the messaging was so poor as to cause splash damage, and atheists and skeptics were pretty mad despite the right-on-a-technicality nature of the problem.
So it’s honestly surprising to me that so many people are so bent out of shape over David Silverman’s poor messaging very recently at CPAC — no, not the people who are upset that what he said caused splash damage to women and was worth criticizing. I mean, the people who are bent out of shape over the CRITICISMS of such. Continue reading “David Silverman's "Darwin Was Wrong" Moment”→
Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said “in no uncertain terms” that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there. He was let go immediately.
“I’ve been vanished, disappeared,” Mr. Metcalf, 67, said in an interview last month on his gun range here, about 100 miles north of St. Louis, surrounded by snow-blanketed fields and towering grain elevators. “Now you see him. Now you don’t.”
This is almost identical to what happened with that Duck Dynasty jackass being suspended by A&E for saying stupid homophobic bullshit, only that story had a “happy” ending — right-wingers successfully rallied to demand that A&E reinstate Duck Dynasty because HOW DARE THEY TAKE AWAY HIS FREEDOM OF SPEECH by… exercising their own freedom to choose what gets aired on their network. And A&E caved, mistaking the conservative outcry for something actually approaching a morally justifiable standpoint.
I anxiously await the protest by Sarah Palin, Brian Brown, and the whole host of conservative loonies to demand that Metcalf’s column be reinstated. I further await the people running interference on the Duck Dynasty issue as being a matter of freedom of speech to say something, anything, about this guy’s column about guns.
Remember how Joe Barton apologized to British Petroleum for the government’s mild reproach and slap on the wrist after their oil spill destroyed the Gulf of Mexico and created a dead zone that will last for decades? Turns out he was one of the bigger names involved in the disinformation campaign waged by the tobacco industry.
Those of us who weren’t old enough or politically aware enough might not have known this fact about Barton, or might have let that information slip into the memory hole; we might otherwise think that this antiscience campaign waged by the oil industry against climate scientists is a unique phenomenon. Spreading this information about Barton’s and others’ tactics is therefore vital.
Normally, ad hominem is a fallacy. However, establishing a pattern of behaviour and modifying one’s treatment of or trust in another person based on such patterns of behaviour is entirely reasonable and rational. Seeing this man (and others, like Boehner) repeat the same tactics that worked so well in forestalling public acceptance of the truth behind tobacco’s deleterious health effects, used in a fight with vast and far-reaching consequences about the deleterious effects we as a species are having on our environment, is rather galling, but definitely useful information. It means we are forearmed against these tactics and can counter them. It means we are aware in advance of the fact that the people with their hands on the levers of political power in this country are not principled actors, and that they are more than willing to lie about reality for a quick buck to everyone else’s detriment.