You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

(CN: Mentions of death and fire damage)

Actually, yes; yes you do.

It’s a technique used to both fight and prevent dangerous wildfires. A section of forest, or field, or whatever other terrain is under threat is subjected to a controlled burn. This serves two purposes. The main one is that it creates a pocket of space of cleared material that cannot feed the fire. The wildfire burns to the edge of the cleared space, and finding no fuel, burns out.

Additionally, the controlled burn clears the area of dead vegetation and speeds up the rate at which nutrients are returned back into the soil. This helps speed the growth of fresh green vegetation, which prevents the likelihood of future wildfires developing.

It’s actually a tactic being used right now in British Columbia to help fight the devastating wildfires that have taken place this year. In fact, the current wildfires are as bad as they are right now in part because the use of fire in firefighting was dramatically decreased in the last several years because of the perception that fires are always harmful. Because people were more afraid of potential property damage now, or a reduction in tourism, than they were of the deaths and devastation that would result from not taking the appropriate preventative steps.

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You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire
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We Are Not Ironic Comeuppance

There are two comments that are rarely far off when self-proclaimed allies encounter anti-queer politicians.

“I bet he’s secretly queer.”

“I hope he ends up with a queer kid.”

Naïve, ironic, and insensitive in the trademark way of ignorant would-be allies, these comments rankle deeply. Much has been written about how the first of the two effectively assigns all responsibility for society-wide anti-queerness on queer people and absolves from same the straight people who invented and perpetrate it, so today’s topic is the other one.

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We Are Not Ironic Comeuppance

What’s in a TERF?

CN suicide, transmisogyny, violence

To the endless bafflement of people whose sense of ethical behavior does not include driving strangers to self-harm, the transgender community faces intense hostility. What is interesting in our case is that people with extraordinarily different overall ideologies come to equally intense hatred of transgender people in general and trans women in particular, and this makes some words we are tempted to use to encompass all of our detractors a poor fit. This brings is to that famously deadly group, the TERFs.

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What’s in a TERF?

The Rules – How To Not Get Banned From Alyssa’s Social Media

Today seems like a good day to articulate the rules that govern my social media. Having a document to reference when someone steps over a line is useful, and I am writing it.

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The Rules – How To Not Get Banned From Alyssa’s Social Media

Command and Convenience

It’s easy to deride philosophy classes.  Few people have jobs as philosophers, so the entire field is easy to dismiss as esoteric navel-gazing, dooming most of its practitioners to lives of unskilled menial labor.  But there are few classes outside my specialization that I found more beneficial than my philosophy courses, because I acquired very valuable skills there.  Philosophy courses present difficult problems, problems that require very careful terms and proofs, and set their students on them to flex and build brain pathways.  Those problems touch on virtually the whole of human experience, between the various classical branches: What is real (metaphysics)?  What is knowledge (epistemology)? What is truth (both)?  What is beauty (aesthetics)?  What is good (ethics)?

And every time my philosophy courses got around to that last question, one particular lump of nonsense would be treated with vastly outsized seriousness: the divine command theory.

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Command and Convenience

Chickadee

I don’t belong here.

The paths are the same, the same Australian umbrella trees and thickets of palms and little yappy dogs, the same pervasive sun and smell of car exhaust, but they feel foreign now.  I walk the 33 blocks to the grocery store that sells all the Latin specialties I quickly learn to miss when I’m away, and it doesn’t feel like coming home to something.  It feels like traveling a long way away for my weird exotic tastes, bits of the old country I like to keep around, like the immigrants who define my past.

I lived here from 1999 to 2009, but I got used to counting it as eleven years in my mind.  And I’ve finished with this place.

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Chickadee

The Moral and Intellectual Bankruptcy of Libertarianism

One of my first exposures to overtly atheistic reasoning was in some required reading for my 7th grade English class.  In the forewords and epilogues of Anthem, a short novel by Ayn Rand, I encountered a primer on Objectivism.  The appeal of a worldview that was not based on any notion of the supernatural and which loudly proclaimed that I was morally obligated to not do anything I didn’t want to do was substantial for a teenage boy who really did not enjoy yardwork.  For a little while, I lived in a frame of mind that would have leapt at the name “libertarian” on hearing it described.  Fortunately, I got better.

For the uninitiated, libertarianism might be thought of as the political outgrowth of Rand’s Objectivism, though it’s actually based on older modes of thought. It is a political philosophy that places personal liberty as paramount, standing in opposition to all forces that would limit or circumscribe that freedom.  At least, that’s what its claimants would like us to think it is.  And that is the last charitable thing I will say about it or them.

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The Moral and Intellectual Bankruptcy of Libertarianism